ATHENS — Josh Brooks knows better than anyone that when it comes to Georgia athletics, football is driving the revenue train, and Coach Kirby Smart is the conductor.
Brooks sees it as his job to shovel coal in the engine and lay down the tracks.
“I understand there are coaches who are stars,” Brooks said, asked about the dynamics in this modern era of multi-million dollar football coaches making several times the salary of their athletic director bosses.
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“If this were a movie set, I’d be the director and they’d be the actors, right? And we have to find ways to make them successful, and we’ve entrusted Kirby to lead this football program. He knows what he needs to be successful. It’s our job to support him, and that goes for every coach.”
It just so happens that Brooks understands football better than most, having served as Mark Richt’s director of football operations at UGA (2008-11). And years before that, the 40-year-old Brooks was an LSU football equipment manager under Nick Saban and student assistant coach.
“Having worked on that side of the aisle …. you’re really more on the coaching side than the administration side,” Brooks explained on a Wednesday Zoom call after his hire was announced.
“When you’re in the trenches coaching, and you’re fighting for every recruit and to win every game, you understand why you fight for the little things.”
Did Georgia find its guy, or what?
Fact is, Brooks was considered a shoo-in once former AD Greg McGarity announced his year-end retirement on Dec. 1.
RELATED: Josh Brooks immediate favorite with McGarity stepping down
Brooks has worked closely with McGarity the past five years, most notably overseeing the West End Zone project and ongoing construction of the $80 million football building.
And, as UGA’s scholarly President Jere Morehead indicated, Smart was consulted on the hire, giving Brooks the thumbs up.
“I would just like to add that I did have conversations with Coach Smart,” Morehead said after DawgNation asked Brooks about the football coach.
“And I don’t want to put words in his mouth so I’ll let you [media] talk to him directly, but I think you’ll find that he is supportive of this decision.”
Here are three more takeaways on Brooks from his introductory press conference:
Win at everything
Brooks essentially put all of his coaches on notice, declaring the same sort of championship attitude and aspirations Smart brings to football will be expected across the athletic department.
“Of course, we all want to win in the major sports, but I want to win in every single sport we compete at,” Brooks said. “I want us to perform at a level where we’re competing and winning championships at the highest level.
“Every single day, every year, I want to find ways for the University of Georgia athletic department to get better. We can never settle, we can never rest on our laurels.”
Innovation with respect to tradition
Brooks used the new lights at Sanford Stadium as an example of how to maintain tradition while moving forward with necessary changes.
“When we started talking about colored lights in the stadium, there was a little bit of pushback immediately, like, ‘Don’t turn this into some disco or some party; this is the sacred Sanford Stadium,’ “ Brooks said.
“That was a balance, I think, of innovation and tradition. We kept the tradition that we had started of lighting up the fourth quarter, [while] adding in the red lights and doing something more dramatic. That’s what I’m looking for. How do we build upon traditions without wiping them away but building on them and making them better?”
Brooks said he plans to roll out more concepts and changes over the next year.
Emphasis on community
Brooks made it clear he will embrace UGA’s home of Clarke County, something that has not been made much of a priority over the years in several respects.
“My kids go to public school here in Athens, (and) I have a heart for the schools here,” Brooks said. “I want to commit a need-based scholarship for kids in Clarke County. There’s just tremendous need in this county, and I want to help. I think anything we can do to help kids in Clarke County whether to know that they have a future and could be a part of attending this university. I want to do everything in my power to help that.”