Back to Dr. Naismith’s game and the positives that I see out of this hire:
First, UGA needed a change, plain and simple. Mark Fox gives the Bulldogs this opportunity right out of the gate. He has no prior notions about the basketball program being a Midwest guy coaching towards the West Coast. This, in my opinion, gives him an opportunity to change the culture of the players and change the image of how UGA basketball is run. It is easy to be concerned with the fact he has no current connections to the Southeast, but the man has been successful at winning basketball games and getting talent to play at Nevada. He had to build relationships over time to get strong personnel in Nevada and judging from his success over the last 5 seasons, I believe that he has the ability to build superior relationships in Athens. His mentor from Nevada, Trent Johnson, had no prior connections to the Southeast and won 27 games at LSU last season. UGA definitely does not have the recent record of LSU nor does it have their roster, but this should give Mark Fox some insight as far the job that he has taken and the work that he must do.
Second, it looks to me that Coach Fox has the ability to develop players. UGA has not developed the skills of its players throughout the tenure of Dennis Felton. Mike Mercer was an undisciplined mess and he, along with Takais Brown, took whatever Felton had built over his first few years and threw it out the window when they were kicked off/left the team. Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss were the only two players that I can honestly say I saw get better during their time at UGA. I hate to speak poorly about Coach Felton because he is a good man and worked hard for the University, but his way was no longer working. There is enough talent in the Classic City to be competitive in the SEC and field some semblance of an offensive game plan. Trey Tompkins, Dustin Ware, and Travis Leslie (if eligible) have individual unique talents. Barring their transfer, and it will take one helluva sales job to keep the current roster intact, Mark Fox with his record, can build a team with those young players. Over 40 players were in the NCAA tournament this past season on non-Georgia teams, get one to two of those players a year and you are moving in the right direction.
Thank You Coach Felton, at least someone won a Title on the Trade School Gym Floor, ba da boom!
Third, Bobby Knight wasn't and would never be the answer. Simple question, where does Bobby Knight leave you in two to three years when he is sick of coaching? Yes, he won 20 games every full season but 2004-2005 at Texas Tech, but he is burnt out. Do you as a fan really want to end up with Pat Knight as your coach after he is fired by the brass in Lubbock? Personally, I don’t. Mark Fox is fresh and hungry while Bobby Knight is probably still in that bunker at the golf course (caution, extreme language):
Fourth, this is funny:
I think he could hang with Steve Newman (Sorry Steve, but you were not good).
In closing, is Mark Fox the splash that Anthony Grant would have been? The simple answer is no, but for two guys coaching at the same mid-major level, they have been equally successful. Grant ultimately didn’t have the interest in UGA that our fans had in him. The Parker Executive Search firm put UGA in a position to hire an experienced coach that UGA, for all intents and purposes, probably never would have considered. A coach that is a new direction for a program in turmoil and I see nothing wrong with a new direction. Damon Evans is not an idiot and is one of the bright young minds in college athletics, like Damon, let’s give this guy a shot.
Good Luck Coach Fox and welcome to the best nation on Earth, Bulldawg Nation.