Greg McGarity wasn't handed the keys to a smooth-operating car that was on cruise control in the summer of 2010. Instead, McGarity arrived on the scene to see a once-powerful car that had been driven into a ditch.
Damon Evans was not good for Georgia's athletics department. Too many people focus on his arrest and embarrassment of the University as the reason why… but that's simplifying his tenure at Georgia. It also glosses over the fact that Georgia's athletics department was going backwards – and how.
But this year's Director's Cup standings, although they are only a one-year snapshot, are the data that prove my point that things are vastly better now than they once were. Georgia finished 2010 in 20th place nationally – not good enough; not good enough at all. That was Evans' final year at the helm.
Not surprisingly Georgia was 20th a year later. McGarity then started making changes at head coaching spots, and the results have started to show. Georgia slid up to 18th last year, but will finish no lower than 10th this year (the Bulldogs are 9th right now, but North Carolina's appearance in the College World Series will push them above the Dawgs).
And no worse than 10th is where Georgia belongs.
It's a little complicated, but the Director's Cup takes the top 20 sports for each Division I institution and assesses points (equestrian, one of the Dawgs' stronger sports, is not recognized by the NCAA). For the SEC, there is no margin of error the way there is for some of the Big Ten and Pac 12 due to lacrosse, wresting and other sports.
The main reason Georgia has surged in the all-sports standings is two-fold: there is a new confidence from the organization – specifically its head coaches – that didn't exist previously; McGarity's new hires have paid off so far.
Only two coaches remain that Evans hired – Mark Fox and soccer coach Steve Holeman.
If you look at the five-year trend from 2009 until today, Georgia is getting more points in the sports it is always good at (football, women's swimming and diving, tennis) and also getting some points in sports that have not always been very strong (cross country).
In other words, the department is running more efficiently, and efficiently = results. Put simply there are no more sock audits.
There are still challenges to a robust athletics department – particularly the development of a competitive men's basketball program on a year-to-year basis. Evans diagnosed quickly that he could leave a legacy in Athens by helping to guide the men's basketball program to national prominence.
That hasn't happened so far and continues to be a challenge for McGarity. Georgia has 20 varsity sports that are eligible to receive points in the Director's Cup… men's basketball ranks 19th in total point accumulation over the last five years at Georgia (only volleyball is worse).
What McGarity has done so far is impressive – don't underestimate the lack or morale in Athens before he took over. But to make a lasting impact at Georgia, McGarity will have to figure out how to make men's basketball a winner at Georgia. Obviously that's a challenge as it has never been done before.
Georgia All-Sports Results by Sports 2009-2013