Mark Fox may be feeling the heat

Coming into this season, I tried to avoid ramping up talks pertaining to the length of tenure that Coach Mark Fox may or may not have as the head basketball coach at the University of Georgia. I felt like such commentary might put a damper on a season that had yet to begin, even though some questioning of Fox’s ability to lead this UGA team certainly seemed deserving.

For starters, how did a team with the SEC Player of the Year in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope manage to finish with a sub-.500 record?

Or, why is it that Georgia has had just one winning season in Fox’s four years as head coach?

Under Fox, the Dawgs have reached the NCAA tournament once, though arguably that might have happened with or without him considering the talent he inherited in Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie.

While I may have resisted to mention Fox’s vulnerability in regards to remaining the Dawgs’ skipper, other media outlets did not shy away from putting CMF on their preseason “Coaches on the Hot Seat” lists:

NBC Sports, Athlon Sports and Yahoo Sports all listed Fox as a candidate that could potentially be ushered out the door at season’s end.

After 11 games this year already it appears that Fox is going to need a major turnaround in conference play to salvage his job. Though Georgia is 6-5 on the season, the Dawgs have yet to beat a team from a power conference, losing games to Georgia Tech, Temple, Nebraska and Colorado – this does not bode well for SEC play.

In CBS Sportsline’s RPI rankings, UGA currently sits at #271 in the nation – the lowest ranked team from a power conference. The Dawgs schedule thus far has been far from daunting – #303 in the country according to the same poll – which makes their barely above .500 record even more troubling.

As recently as December 5th, Daniel Karpuc of RantSports.com wrote an article – Top 10 College Basketball Coaches on the Hot Seat – identifying the coaches that were in the biggest trouble in terms of stability after the first month of the season.

Guess who Karpuc pinned down as the coach with the hottest seat? I will give you a hint: he spends a majority of his time inside Stegeman Coliseum.

Karpuc cited Fox’s amazing records at Nevada, but then he went on to say that since Fox came to Georgia “the success has faded” and he is now “on the clock”.

I will be the first to admit that I was fully onboard with Mark Fox’s hiring, and I was excited to see what he would bring to the program heading into the 2009-2010 season.

However, I am going to need to witness a major change in the direction of this year’s team before I can feel comfortable with CMF leading the Dawgs into the 2014-2015 season.

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11 thoughts on “Mark Fox may be feeling the heat

  1. I think that Fox won at Nevada because, for reasons unknown to me, he had better players there. Why he can’t recruit here is a mystery to me, even given UGA’s far less than stellar basketball history. I. too. was onboard with the Fox hiring, and some pretty fair coaches (Donovan, Calipari) have said that the man is a good coach. But the empirical record is not good. As for Howland, I was a big admirer before he went to UCLA. The players out there just did not seem to want to play his defense first, grind it out half-court offensive game although that style worked well in the Big East.

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    1. I thought Fox was a good hire at the time too. But in the passage of time, he has demonstrated traits in handling of the team that have few defenders. No point in re-listing them. So far this year there is little good news to discuss. The optimism about the future is now based upon a coaching change. Maybe a little unfair only a third into the season, but we all know what’s ahead. CMF does not like change or criticism, so expect not much improvement. As the losses mount, the team may lose desire. I’m still a fan and will watch every game that I can.

      i

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    2. Could his inability to recruit big-time post players – ones that can play with their backs to the basket – be a direct result of his offensive scheme? Fox’s offense does not offer many opportunities for posts to just sit down on their defender and receive the ball on the block. On the contrary, often times UGA’s center can be found at the top of the key distributing the ball, and the other post usually receives the ball in the short corner.

      If I were a major post prospect, I am not sure that I would want to be a part of Fox’s offensive sets.

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      1. Good point Hoop. The only time Georgia has looked good on offense under Fox was when we played through Thompkins on the high post. We may have a chicken and egg situation as far as whether the scheme hurts recruiting or vice-versa, but clearly we have had zero low post presence in 5 years. Time for a change.

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      1. I didn’t mean to imply that Howland was a bad coach but maybe that he is becoming increasingly out of touch with today’s offense-first brand of players. If Howland could recruit here, he could win consistently. I don’t even think that he would need the volume of 4- and 5-star players he had at UCLA to do so as long as he could turn his recruits (including a few reasonably talented bigs) into his type of players–mentally tough guys who believe they can beat anyone. That’s the kind of guys he molded at Pitt and, interestingly, the kind of guys Harrik developed here and elsewhere). Anyone know the source of the claim that Howland could be interested?

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  2. There might be an advantage to going ahead and firing CMF in January rather than waiting. Would give us a leg up on finding a new coach and could potentially lead to some of the weaker players transferring, which would be good to make room for some SEC quality players.

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