Clemons: McGarity has room to gloat — but won’t

Facebook has its redeeming qualities, such as giving me the chance to see what old friends from college are up to, and the chance to share news with a wider audience instantly.

But the worst aspects of the site are, well, the worst. I think we were better off before being buried in our phones on the Book of Face.

One of the few redeeming features is On This Day, a time capsule of your old statuses and pictures that allows you to see what you were doing one, two or however many years ago.

Come the first week of December, many University of Georgia football fans will see they were preparing themselves a nice dish of crow to be served in 2017.

Of course, the man who most deserves the apology will never squawk about it. His name is Greg McGarity, and he was very possibly the most hated man in Georgia two years ago this month.

McGarity was the man who ultimately made the decision to fire Mark Richt as head coach of the Bulldogs after 15 seasons.

“Coach Richt and I met Sunday morning to discuss the status of our football program and we mutually agreed that he would step down as head coach and would have the opportunity to accept other duties and responsibilities at UGA following the bowl game,” McGarity said Nov. 29, a day after the Bulldogs beat Georgia Tech.

The vitriol was immediate, and several of my friends who follow the Red and Black said they were done.

Richt, it must be said — it was always the disclaimer — was a good man. He graduated his players. They did things the Right Way.

But Georgia had at that point not won a Southeastern Conference championship in a decade. Since the legendary 1980 national championship season, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee all have won titles.

Yeah, even Auburn.

McGarity did have some support for his decision. Grumbling had of course begun in the fan base over a perceived lack of progress in the Bulldog Nation, but reaction most definitely wasn’t positive in the wake of the termination of Richt.

“McGarity is the one that should be fired,” one Georgia fan wrote on the Facebook page of The Walton Tribune, our sister paper, at the time.

The woman, from Loganville, wasn’t alone in her sentiments. I saw several sentiments on social media suggesting Richt, not McGarity, should go.

I never got it. Yes, Richt is a great man. But Georgia had reached its peak under his watch and McGarity recognized it.

He hired Kirby Smart, a Georgia graduate who was serving as defensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama, to succeed Richt.

I don’t like to say “I told you so” but … well, who am I kidding? I love to say it.

“McGarity came to the realization Richt’s ceiling was 10 wins. Why not go for someone who can take you higher?” I wrote in the Dec. 6, 2015, Tribune.

“I get that it will be sad to see Richt on the Miami sideline but the gamble here is that Georgia finally breaks a string that’s at 35 years and counting without a title.

“You Georgia fans don’t know what you’ve been missing. With Smart, you may finally figure it out.”

I’m not sure even the most optimistic Georgia fan thought we’d be in the first week of November 2017 and have the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the first College Football Playoff poll — a ranking attained after a 42-7 walloping of Florida a day before the school decided to fire its coach.

Two years ago, the roles were reversed. Florida beat Georgia en route to the SEC East championship and I think that’s when McGarity made his decision to terminate Richt and pursue Smart.

I don’t know if Georgia is going to win a national championship this year. I have my doubts, or maybe my hope-nots, because I’m pulling for Alabama as I have since I was about 3. But this year has removed any doubt Smart can get Georgia to the promised land.

Book it, and don’t forget to thank Greg McGarity.

David Clemons is the editor and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is dclemons@covnews.com. Twitter: @covnews.