If you went to any home games this past season, you surely saw Greg McGarity sitting at the end of the officials' table. An awkward front row seat indeed. But a telling one nonetheless.
On Saturday, Mark Fox will celebrate his two year anniversary as Georgia's head basketball coach. The workings of a new deal will make it a little sweeter. When it happened two years ago I said that the Fox hire was symbolic of where the hoops program is on the national landscape. AD McGarity working out a new deal for Fox is the next step in the right direction.
Sure this is a no brainer, but it doesn't mean we can't pick it apart a little:
What coulda been. On the surface this season fell below many expectations. I look back on it and think we never saw a complete 40 minutes except for a handful of times (read: Auburn in GA Dome). The players seemed close to knocking the lid off several times, but goshdarnit!! the rules insist on playing the entire second half.
Despite those frustrations, if the Dawgs had made a little run in Charlotte and perhaps gotten a little lucky...Fox would be inking an even bigger deal. On the other side of things, it's important to recognize that had UGA not made the tourney the huddling between McGarity and Fox would be bigger news. For that I think it's important to appreciate that we not only have a coach who's taking the program forward, but he also knows what it takes to get a dance card in March. In short, that February 8th loss to Xavier sure tasted sour but it put our team in front of a Selection Committee member.
What it is. An SEC East foe just rehired and is at the edge of a steep dropoff. Our chief in-state rival just rehired as well. Giving a successful coach a raise ensures stability and gives these high profile recruits he's visiting something to cross off the Cons list. I don't expect McGarity to empty the wallet too much here. Instead, providing a salary commensurate with the SEC and regional hoops fraternity is in order.
The next step. There's a lot of pieces in play for next season. I once thought there was no way we'd keep Thompkins and Leslie. Now I would be surprised if Leslie left and think there's a fair
longshot Trey does too. Then there's the remaining scholarships to delve out and Fox is in the running for some quality kids that would need little development. It's just a matter of how many we need and how many we can get. More on this later.
All that to say that it's the next contract negotiation that's really important. It's the next job openings that tie Fox's name to them that really spice things up. He was never going to leave UGA for NC State.
But...if he keeps making strides we could be real happy with where we end up. If he can keep the letters U-G-A in the mouths of the Selection Committee members, he'll also keep those same letters in the mouths of big time AAU players.
That is when the 40 minute salary contracts and headlines mold together. That's when Coach Fox proves me right...he is our hardwood hero.
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