It’s July 1, 2011, and things are a bit calmer than they were a year ago. Last year on this date we awoke to find a rumor, and then rumor turned to fact. We wondered if Damon Evans’ arrest was survivable, but then the police report hit and did us the favor of making a clean break the only possible outcome.
We’ve already talked about new athletic director Greg McGarity’s first year. His changes have mostly been behind the scenes, but there have been changes, and we’re mostly positive about them. We would remind McGarity that there’s a rapidly-approaching expiration date on the “that’s how we did it at Florida” talk, but we can’t disagree that he’s leaned on that experience to make some solid decisions and actions.
It’s a little too soon to expect many of McGarity’s actions to have much impact on the performance of Georgia’s teams, and they haven’t. July 1st also means the annual release of the NACDA Directors’ Cup ranking of athletic departments. Georgia placed 20th which is exactly where they were a year ago.
Georgia’s 829 points and 20th-place finish were third-best in the SEC behind Florida (#4) and LSU (#19). LSU finished only 2.5 points ahead of Georgia. Though the Bulldogs didn’t drop in the final standings from a year ago, it’s still the low point for the program since 1997. This year was better if you go by the four biggest sports: football, baseball, and men’s and women’s basketball all made the postseason. There were no team national titles this year, though men’s golf and women’s swimming and diving each finished second.
Georgia started the year with a weak showing among fall sports that left them tied for 131st out of 172 programs. Georgia doesn’t offer 3 out of the 8 fall sports, so they were already behind. But a weak football season and sub-par seasons for women’s soccer and volleyball left the 25 points awarded by making a football bowl game the only points Georgia would record in the fall.
Things improved during the winter. Both men’s and women’s basketball made the postseason. Gymnastics remained out of the national title picture but still added points as did swimming and track and field. Bulldog winter programs added 359 points – not bad considering Georgia only competes in 7 of the 15 winter sports.
Georgia’s spring sports were again the strongest group of programs. Every spring sport in which Georgia competed earned Directors’ Cup points: 445 in total. Baseball, golf, tennis, softball, and track and field all placed. In fact, the 50 points picked up by baseball was the difference between Georgia finishing out of the final top 20.
McGarity seems to have maintained the athletic department’s sound financial footing while maintaining and even improving academic metrics. But athletic programs are ultimately judged on the field. Most Georgia fans use the football program as their indicator for the health of the athletic department, and that makes sense given how important that sport is to the bottom line and the ability of every other program to function. But it will also be interesting to watch the Directors’ Cup over the next few years to see if McGarity’s leadership can produce a rising tide and more championships across the department.