Joshua L. Jones/Special
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity is pleased with the Bulldogs standing in the 2017 Directors' Cup.

Has Greg McGarity lowered the expectations for UGA athletics?

Cy Brown

Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at a Georgia coach who was named coach of the year, Maurice Smith’s development as he tries to make the Miami Dolphins, and Greg McGarity’s lowered expectations for UGA athletics.

Has UGA athletics lowered expectations?

With the college sports year ending after the College World Series, it’s time to take stock of where Georgia will finish in the Directors’ Cup standings, which rank college athletics programs based on how they perform in all sports.

At the moment, the Bulldogs sit in 13th place, but that should change soon. Texas A&M and Florida State both are competing in the College World Series and should move ahead of the Bulldogs. That likely will put UGA in 15th place in the final standings. UGA also finished 15th in 2016, following a 14th-place finish in 2015 and a 16th-place showing in 2014. The Florida Gators, who beat the Bulldogs in the biggest sports on campus this academic year, sit in fifth place.

Georgia sports fans have generally been disappointed with the state of the athletics program this year, with a chunk of the fan base pointing fingers at athletic director Greg McGarity and his leadership. McGarity has obviously sensed this, and made that clear in recent comments to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald:

“I think the narrative early on was we were not going to have a very good year,” McGarity said. “You never make that assumption until all the sports have concluded.”

From these comments, you’d think this 15th-place finish in the Directors’ Cup makes McGarity feel vindicated from all the criticisms from fans who expect better from UGA sports. But it shouldn’t. And he should know that.

Let’s take a look back to four years ago, the last time Georgia finished in the top 10 of the Directors’ Cup. Once again from Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald:

“We haven’t been in the top 10 as much as we’d like, but that is our goal,” McGarity said. “If you’re top 10, you have a chance to finish even higher.”

What a difference four years make. In that time, McGarity has gone from shooting for top-10 finishes on a regular basis to simply being happy that everything isn’t as bad as the fans might think it is. That’s quite a leap.

McGarity’s recent comment about the “narrative” of fans believing this has been a “very bad year” for Georgia sports doesn’t give Bulldogs fans enough credit. I don’t think most fans who follow UGA sports as a whole, not just football, are delusional about what this athletics program has going for it. The tennis and swim teams were as good as ever. The women’s track team showed major strides on its way to securing a national runner-up finish, which helped UGA advance in the Directors’ Cup standings late in the season. Most importantly, there’s lots of hope and belief surrounding the football program, even after a frustrating 2016 season.

But the issue was never over Georgia sports being “bad” in a traditional sense. The issue is over not being as good as fans think the program should be. The issue is that, while some programs are playing to their potential and others even above it, they aren’t the ones most important to Bulldogs fans.

The Gym Dogs were the golden standard in college gymnastics not too long ago, but the program has become a shell of itself. Georgia baseball has made just one NCAA Tournament appearance since making the College World Series final in 2008. Mark Fox’s teams have qualified for the NCAA Tournament only two times in his eight seasons as UGA men’s basketball coach. After making the NCAA Tournament for 20 consecutive seasons, the Lady Dogs basketball team has missed March Madness two of the last three years.

Being among the top 20 or so athletics programs nationally is something a university with the resources and history should do every year. It’s the least it should do. Georgia fans are upset because they want more and they used to get more. And they are upset because there is no clear reason for such a significant nosedive in so many of the sports these fans hold dear, other than poor leadership from the top of the athletic department down.

Comments such as the one McGarity made to the Banner-Herald on Tuesday suggest fans aim too high, that their ambitions are too large and that they should be happy with what is an average finish for a program of Georgia’s stature. But the fans’ expectations are the same as they’ve always been. It’s the athletic department that has moved back the goalpost.

Maurice Smith steps up in Dolphins practice

Former Georgia corner Maurice Smith wasn’t selected in the NFL draft earlier this spring, but he’s working hard to make the roster as a free agent for the Miami Dolphins. According to a tweet from Palm Beach Post reporter Joe Schad, Smith has been one of the more impressive undrafted players in Dolphins practices and came up with a pick on Wednesday.

Leonard Floyd on concussions: ‘You don’t think the same’

Former Georgia and current Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd saw his rookie campaign shortened by a series of concussions at the tail end of the season. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Floyd talked about how he felt while recovering from the concussions, and they don’t paint a pretty picture of head injuries in football.

“You just don’t feel normal,” the Bears’ former first-round pick said after mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday. “You know, it’s this thinking part, like you don’t think the same.

“I wasn’t thinking like I normally would think. And then I’d be staring off in space sometimes instead of paying attention.”

“It took me two months to really feel like I was back to myself,” he said in his first interview since Jan. 2.

Petros Kyprianou named coach of the year

Georgia women’s track coach Petros Kyprianou has been named the USTFCCCA National Outdoor Women’s Coach of the Year after leading his Bulldogs to a second-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last week.

4 Georgia women’s golfers named Golfweek All-Americans

Golfweek named women’s golfer Jillian Hollis to its All-America second team and Harang Lee to the third team on Tuesday. Rinko Mitsunaga and Bailey Tardy received honorable mentions.

ICYMI

Good dog

Who said dogs hate mailmen?