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Questions for you: Of the 10 coaching changes made by Greg McGarity, excluding Kirby Smart, how many of the remaining nine coaches were successful hires? When it comes to hiring head coaches, what is Greg McGarity’s success percentage? Less than 50%?
— UGA X, @hawk1784
You’re close. I’ll break those down in a second. This could end up being the last key hire for McGarity, whose contract runs through the summer of 2019. Well, check back with us after this, or next, baseball season. But in a way, this basketball hire might be the biggest test for McGarity himself, and one of the final tests for his legacy.
Smart, as you alluded to and has been chronicled, was more of an institutional decision, involving the entire administration, the Board of Regents, key boosters, etc. Smart was an obvious and available choice, and the desire to not lose out on him was a huge factor in moving on from Mark Richt.
The firing of Mark Fox is the reverse of that. A decision was made to move on when it became apparent that the on-court progress had stagnated. There is no obvious Georgia-connected coach out there. It’s a more open-ended search.
McGarity has made 10 coaching changes since he was hired in 2010. Some have been firings, some have been retirements. The two best hires so far, excluding Smart, actually have been coaches who were already on staff and were promoted: track and field coach Petros Kyprianou, whose team just won a national championship in women’s indoor track, and women’s basketball coach Joni Taylor.
When McGarity has reached outside the Georgia circle for a hire, the results haven’t been as good.
Here are the hires in chronological order and how they have done so far:
Lizzy Stemke, volleyball: Stemke was McGarity’s first hire, after the 2010 season. She had been an assistant at Nebraska. Stemke was fired after five seasons, with a 79-105 overall record and 32-80 in the SEC.
Danna Durante, gymnastics: Durante, who had been the coach at California, was hired after Jay Clark was fired in 2011. Georgia’s best finish under Durante was fifth at the national meet. Durante was fired last year after the team finished 12th at the national meet.
Scott Stricklin, baseball: Stricklin, who replaced David Perno after the 2012 season, had been the head coach at Kent State, and prior to that an assistant at Georgia Tech. He had an ideal résumé, but so far it’s been a struggle. Georgia has yet to reach the NCAA Tournament in Stricklin’s four seasons, and his record with the Bulldogs was 104-119-1 overall and 43-75-1 entering this season. The Bulldogs are 11-5 this season but have yet to start SEC play.
Josh Brewer, women’s golf: Brewer was an assistant at Southern California when he was hired in 2012 to replace Kelly Hester, whose contract was not renewed. Hester, a Georgia alumnus, is now the coach at Clemson, which qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year. Georgia, under Brewer, has qualified for the NCAA nationals once in his four years, finishing 18th two years ago.
Billy Lesesne, women’s soccer: Lesesne, who had been an assistant coach at Duke, was hired after the 2014 fall season to replace Steve Holeman, who was fired after the team lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Georgia has had three straight losing seasons under Lesesne, including last fall, when the team was 4-12-2 overall and 0-9-1 in SEC play.
Joni Taylor, women’s basketball: Taylor, who played at Alabama, was an assistant coach at Georgia for four years before being promoted to replace Andy Landers, who retired after nearly four decades as coach. Then-associate athletics director Carla Williams, who played for Landers at Georgia, played a key role in the decision to promote Taylor in April 2015. Georgia finished the 2017-18 season with a 25-6 record, and the Bulldogs likely will hear their name called when the women’s NCAA Tournament bracket is released Monday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). They missed the tournament last year and went out in the first round in Taylor’s first season, which was 2015-16.
Patros Kyprianou, track and field/cross country: Kyprianou was an assistant coach at Georgia for seven years before being elevated in 2015 to replace Wayne Norton, who was not retained. This has been a home-run hire so far, with Kyprianou guiding the women’s indoor track team to a national title last week, and the other track teams also contending for titles. Kyprianou oversees essentially six sports: men’s outdoor track, indoor track and cross country, along with the women’s teams in the three sports.
Kirby Smart, football: So far, so good.
Tom Black, volleyball: Black is off to a good start, guiding Georgia to records of 22-12 overall and 10-8 in the SEC. The Bulldogs didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, but they had their first winning season in four years.
Courtney Kupets Carter, gymnastics: The former Georgia great is nearing the end of her first season as coach. The team is 4-8 entering its meet Friday at Utah, which will be followed next week by the SEC championships.
The current tally: Three successful hires, two failures, three heading in the wrong direction, and two that are too early to tell.
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