It’s that time of year when we inevitably wonder if Mark Fox will keep his job as Georgia’s basketball head coach.
This is getting to be an annual event. It usually happens after Georgia loses a tough game, one they probably should have won. Sure enough, Saturday the Bulldogs lost to Kansas State by five points for their fifth loss in the last six games.
With Tuesday night’s win against 23rd-ranked Florida, the Bulldogs are 13-8 overall and 4-5 in the SEC. Despite that victory, with 10 regular season games left, all in the conference, Georgia may again be playing for Fox’s job.
We’ve heard this story before the last few years.
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This is Fox’s ninth season as head coach. Why are we asking yet again if Fox can survive as head coach? Why do we wonder if athletic director Greg McGarity cares enough about basketball to make a change?
Of course, the question could be asked if the Georgia fan base cares. It’s late January, so most Georgia fans are more curious if another five-star football prospect will sign with the Bulldogs next Wednesday compared to fretting about a must-win basketball game against Florida.
We are supposed to believe Fox is close. He just got his best prospect ever to make a verbal commitment. Ashton Hagans is a five-star point guard from Covington, but he is still two years away. More impressive prospects seem to be taking harder looks at the Georgia program, which is way overdue.
But is this just a way to lengthen Fox’s tenure in Athens? Maybe some will believe if Fox is fired, they will lose these great prospects. When Hagans verballed to Georgia, some wondered if that bought Fox more time.
It shouldn’t. Fox has had plenty of time. His Georgia program has made the NCAA tournament twice, but both teams lost in the first round. So, eight complete seasons and not one win in the big dance?
Why is Fox even still in Athens?
Georgia should have learned with the previous football coach that you can’t hang onto coaches just because he’s a nice guy, or that you believe he is a good coach. This is about results, and for Fox to be 73-73 in SEC play in his career in Athens should be enough to have him fired.
For whatever reason, Fox has not made Georgia basketball relevant. He hasn’t brought the casual fans, the ones who love football but just aren’t that interested in basketball, back into the fray. He would have done that if he had simply won more games.
Should this year’s team be struggling like this? Fox has the SEC’s leading scorer in Yante Maten, but his team is last in the SEC in scoring (69.3 points per game). They’ve lost more leads than you want to realize. And they just seem average.
The last 10 games will likely be Fox’s final test, and it will be difficult. Georgia plays home-and-home with Florida and Tennessee, and they host Auburn. That’s three ranked SEC teams. Even if Georgia goes 5-5 in this final stretch, that would be a 17-13 record and 8-10 in the SEC.
Would that be good enough for Fox to stay? It shouldn’t be. It should be unacceptable. It should be the final nail in Fox’s coffin. Why keep someone who has yet to take the program to the next level after nine seasons?
Georgia will never be a basketball school. We know that. But it should be better than what it is in basketball. Fox was a good coach, but it might simply be time to try someone else. Fox got his chance, and the expectation should be that Georgia might simply be able to do better.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on “Middle Georgia’s ESPN” – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at email@example.com