What happened in last night's game is why I am bearish on the program right now. Sure, Fox inherited a very different team than Billy Donovan did at Florida, but the program Donovan built at Florida has the same basic inherent issues that Georgia does, namely alumni and student's preference to support football, football dominance of the landscape, and plenty of other things to do in the college town they are in. They also have one big issue we don't: Proximity to a major basketball talent pool. Donovan began coaching at Florida in 1998, dead in the middle of the Fun n' Gun days of the Ole Ball Coach, and after Lon Kruger left the cupboard bare and moved to a 'better' program at Illinois.
He made the NCAA tourney in his second season, made the National Championship Game his fourth season, and won back to back national championships in 2006 and 2007. His teams have played in the NCAA tournament in 14 of his 16 seasons. The other two, they lost after deep runs in the NIT.
That's right, the floor for Florida's basketball program is
Think about that. Nearly every person I have talked to about Georgia basketball has said a variation of the same thing: get to the NCAA every other year, but just make a post season tournament. Even though we took the NIT banners down in the Felton years, our fans would likely be ecstatic over a deep NIT run. In other words, our expected ceiling is lower than Florida's floor.
That. Is. Bull. Shit.
I'll grant the Gators pass the eyeball test as one of the best teams in the country right now. However, it is ridiculous to me that our University and its supporters don't expect more from all of our athletic programs. And this isn't about Florida. Or Mark Fox, for that matter. This is about expecting the very best and finding a way to get there. It is about building athletic programs that are based on consistent excellence on and off the field. We should want to be more than Nebraska, circa 1995. But that is what we are. A football school with a couple of other notable strong non-rev programs (noting that we should be proud of those programs, which I am).
Why aren't the same people that were demanding Mark Richt's head after one losing season doing the same in basketball in the midst of a third losing season in four years? Why aren't the students doing so? Why can't the boosters that power athletic department decision making see the inherent upsides of a top ranked basketball program (and baseball and women's basketball, for that matter), and the peril of not caring about anything but football? Why can't the University administration see the upside to that in terms of positive publicity, increased enrollment/applications, increased dollars to the academic mission of the University from the athletic department?
Or maybe the question is, why don't those people care?
We are in the midst of the worst SEC season, as far as quality teams goes, in 15 or more years. The SEC is likely to only get three and no more than four teams in the NCAA tournament Georgia is only going to win one or two more games, at the most. This is a season we should have been able to make hay with, even with a one star roster. Instead, we are looking at ten or fewer wins.