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Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has committed millions of dollars of resources to the Georgia football program.

Own the East: Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity

Chip Towers

Editor’s Note: It may be time for the Georgia Bulldogs to take back the SEC East in 2017. We’ve featured the most important UGA players, coaches, fans and staff for the upcoming season in a 20-part video series, which you can binge-watch right here.

ATHENS – It’s not easy being Greg McGarity these days. The Georgia athletic director of the last seven years is a man UGA fans — or a lot of the noisy ones, at least —love to hate.

But like him or not, McGarity still occupies the highest position at one of the most respected and successful athletic empires in the nation. And, now, football coach Kirby Smart is his most important employee. As such, McGarity is going to do everything in his power to see that Smart succeeds.

To date, McGarity’s other hires haven’t gone that well. He has hired two gymnastics coaches, two volleyball coaches, a soccer coach, a baseball coach, a women’s golf coach, a women’s basketball coach and a track coach. So far, only the track coach seems to have worked out well since Petros Kyprianou was just named national coach of the year after his second season.

But let’s face it, the majority of fans — and certainly those who donate thousands of dollars a year to the athletic association — really don’t care what the track team does. Football, and men’s basketball, to a lesser degree, are the engines that pull the mighty train that is UGA’s $128 million athletics empire.

Forgetting the economics of the situation, Georgia fans simply want their team to win in football. They really don’t ask that much. They want the Bulldogs to beat Florida regularly and win an SEC championship every once in a while. Yes, they’d love to claim a national championship once every few decades or so, but just playing for one sometime this century probably would suffice for now.

Nobody knows this better than McGarity, whose UGA contract expires in 2019. It’s not a coincidence that Smart has been the recipient of more than $100 million in increased spending on football. It’s no fluke that Smart now has one of the largest football support staffs in the SEC.

It’s because McGarity needs Smart to be successful. And Smart, in kind, needs to keep McGarity happy. For better or worse, McGarity has the combination to the safe, and Smart needs him to open it to get what he needs.

Click here to see more of “Own the East,” our 2017 season preview of the Georgia Bulldogs in video form.

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