Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ron Polk ain't walking through that door again

Nor do we need him to. Despite just releasing its coach from his contract yesterday, Georgia baseball is in a good position to bring back a winning tradition. The current roster is stable. The recruiting grounds are near and plentiful. And the program has a history of success. The park has even had some recent upgrades. (Although it could stand a full overhaul, that's a post for another day.) Still, all in all it's not a bad place to manage a college baseball team. And, there's the draw of being able to not only play against the Southeastern conference, but also in nearby professional parks like Turner Field and Coolray.

Additionally, the HOPE Scholarship program allows the coach to utilize his roster more efficiently and work around the limitations of the 11.5 cap. A smart kid with talent can still get a full ride at Georgia without the coaches having to award a full point towards his glove. That's a huge advantage against Georgia's competitors.

All of them really, except for one. Danny Hall arrived at Georgia Tech just as the HOPE Scholarship was building walls around the state of Georgia keeping its top tier graduates in. Hall has flourished on North Avenue during his 20 years, mainly because he's a good coach and a great recruiter. Perno was doing a good job of keeping up and even pulling ahead before things turned in a different direction. He was an aggressive recruiter. When it was working, the results easily followed. When it wasn't, the wheels came off.

All of that to say that despite the absolute nightmare that was this past season, this baseball team can be a quick fix. A large part of the squad that absolutely embarrassed their in state rival is back. They're also the team that didn't back down from Vanderbilt last month, a team that had one of the best seasons ever in SEC baseball. Georgia will get Nagle (P), Stephens (C) and Welton (OF) back next season after losing them to injuries for the duration of 2013's schedule. Key components are in place to turn things around quickly. What's not in place is a coach.

Enter Greg McGarity. The still fairly new athletic director at Georgia who has not had to make a big hire as yet. He's replaced a coach in three women's sports thus far: volleyball, golf and gymnastics. Unlike those coaching searches, this one will define him in the eyes of many alumni and fans. As Tyler points out, this is the guy that will likely lead the search to find Mark Richt's eventual successor. There's also a decent chance he'll be looking for a new hoops coach as well. We're going to learn something about how he conducts these searches and how well he sells the University of Georgia.

Will he enter those future searches on the firm ground of having jump started his baseball program back on the road to success? Despite the last few years and despite the need for better facilities for the program, the head coaching job for Georgia baseball is still one of the elite spots in the nation. Will McGarity treat it as such?