ATHENS — Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has built a reputation over the past 10 years for being a kind, gentle man who doesn’t get angry.
That changed quickly on Friday.
“I don’t take things personal, but when our institution suffers, it upsets me greatly,” said McGarity, fuming at the news that Vanderbilt won’t bring a team to Athens on Saturday for the Bulldogs’ scheduled Senior Day.
“When something effects our school, it’s extremely frustrating.”
The No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (6-2) were scheduled to play the 0-8 Commodores at 4 p.m. on Saturday, but news broke Friday that the academically-oriented SEC school was not prepared to field a team on account of COVID-19.
Georgia already experienced Missouri bowing out of an earlier season meeting on account of COVID-19, and then having the SEC office shuffle its bye week on account of Florida’s two-week COVID-break.
The Bulldogs fans, players and players’ families were furious.
“They should be angry, and we’re angry, too,” said McGarity, who will vacate his post as AD on Dec. 31.
“It’s just extremely frustrating and extremely disappointing, especially if the game on the 19th can’t be played, and that’s what we fear.”
— JT Daniels (@jtdaniels06) December 4, 2020
It’s a realistic concern when one considers how uncompetitive Vanderbilt has been in football over the years, and the institution’s lack of commitment to the sport.
The Commodores lost 41-0 last Saturday at Missouri, and reports surfaced players were threatening to opt out on the heels of Vanderbilt utilizing a female as its kicker.
“Hopefully Vandy will be prepared to play (Dec. 19),” McGarity said without much conviction.
“It’s just so frustrating when you have coaches and players and support staff that make significant sacrifices to stay safe, and they do so, and then they have no competitive benefit other than their health.
“We have shown the ability to stay healthy by being disciplined and following the advice from Coach (Kirby) Smart and (Head trainer) Ron Courson. We are an example of what can be done with discipline and a desire to play college football.”
Vandy might wanna cancel next years game too… cuz we might drop 70 on them now😡
— Blair Alan (@balanfork) December 4, 2020
McGarity said the SEC did not discuss the potential for teams who couldn’t field teams to forfeit in the meetings leading up to the season when considering how to deal with the potential for COVID postponements.
“The intent and the commitment by every institution was to play the game unless COVID prevented you from playing the game,” McGarity said. “I’m not questioning anyone’s integrity, if young people want to play, they will make the sacrifices to do so, and unfortunately some may have not followed protocol.
“We’ve proven over the last 11 weeks you can battle the virus. South Carolina went straight through, give them credit. But injuries do kick in, as well as COVID.
“One thing for sure, COVID has nothing to do with fairness. In the COVID world there is no fairness.”
McGarity asked Georgia fans to be patient and appreciative of their program.
— Jermaine Johnson II (@ii_jermaine) December 4, 2020
“I do know it’s so disappointing to everyone: players, fans, staff, and we just ask everyone to stick with us and know they can be very proud of the way our young men and coaches have approached this season,” McGarity said. “I’m extremely proud of the way these young men have listened and illustrated they love the game of football and they want to play.
“I can’t say that about everyone. If you want something bad enough you’re gonna do what you’re told to do.”
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) December 4, 2020