Posted by: furmanbisher | December 21, 2008

College Athletics and Economics 101

Some events that rattle my cage have recently taken place, not that decisions made by Georgia Tech and Georgia State affect me personally.

First, the sudden and shocking dismissal of Mary McElroy as director of athletics at Georgia State casts a pall over the school’s impending venture into football. That was a big stretch as I saw it from the first, an inner-city campus with no facilities and not even a football. Nevertheless, this appeared to be the golden project in Mary McElroy’s administration. Now, she is gone, dismissed by president Carl Patton, who himself departs into retirement shortly. The timing is such that most any of us with any feel for college athletics are left stunned.

What is to follow? How does Bill Curry continue his recruitment in the view of such uncertainty? How is the program to continue and on what level? Is this just an interim, will the program continue as planned, or is it bound for the “future projects” basket? Dr. Patton and his office owe those involved, the school and its student body, and Bill Curry and all those so invigorated by the prospect of a football team, a clear and honest explanation. Beginning with, who will succeed McElroy, and is this the sounding of the death knell of football at Georgia State?

Georgia Tech—well, I thought everybody was happy with Paul Johnson and the course of football, including PJ. Yep, he far exceeded what most had expected in his first season. I can’t say I was too surprised. I’ve been a PJ follower and admirer from the time he was at Georgia Southern, and he only underscored it all at Navy, where winning had been lost in the mist until he arrived. Now, Georgia Tech is so ecstatic that the first response is to sweeten the pot. Nail him down. Not that $1.6 million wasn’t a pretty good return for a first season. A 9-3 record, and finally bowl invitation to be proud of, finally beating Georgia—all things Tech people like to have in their Christmas stocking. But is that a demand that Dan Radakovich jump through the hoop as if protecting Tech from invaders? Johnson already had a 7-year contract.

Isn’t $1.6 mil pretty good pay, for a first season, at least? There’s no guarantee that he’ll be 9-3 and beat the Bulldogs every season. For that matter, he might even light it up, but don’t act as if he is being underpaid. As they say in games, let’s see him do it again, and then we’ll talk.


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