Damon Evans' Very, Very, Very Bad Day: A DUI and a 'Friend'

First and foremost, there should be no giddiness about what is unfolding in Athens. That might be a bit much to ask in a conference defined by rivalries and hatreds, but let's hope it isn't. A man's career and life (in the metaphorical sense) hangs in the balance, and while there is room for a quip here and there, there's really not that much funny about the situation itself.

I'm not sure what Georgia should do in regards to Damon Evans. As someone who isn't an alumnus or fan of the university, I'm not sure it's my place to voice a strong opinion on it. But pointing out the obvious -- he made some very real mistakes, one of them that could have killed someone, and both of which raise enormous questions about his judgment -- is not, as I've seen some suggest, moralizing. Again, I'm not sure what Georgia should do. But if they decide to fire him, they have more than enough reasons to do it. Blutarsky also makes a good point: "If he were a player, we know what would happen to him."

Evans is not a player, of course, which works both to his advantage and disadvantage in this situation when the university considers whether to dimiss him.

Whether they do or not appears to still be an open question. University President Michael Adams' statement pretty much said as much:

Certainly this is not an example of the kind of leadership that I expect our senior administrators to set. I have high regard for Damon personally; I care deeply about him and his family and know him to be a man of integrity. He has sincerely apologized to me for the embarrassment this has brought upon the university. I was notified of this matter while away on vacation and will reserve further action pending a full review by staff and legal counsel.

Adams is as much politician as academician, and that will play prominently in the decision he makes. He will wait to see how the public -- i.e., Georgia fans and alumni -- react to this before making the final call. Evans knows that; the press conference was an attempt to get ahead of the curve and rally the UGA community behind him before things get out of hand.

A major issue is what we find out about the "friend" who was in the car with Evans when he was arrested. Whether that should matter much is a matter of perspective, but it changes the story from slight embarrassment to tawdry tabloid fodder. When you care about academic and moral standing -- and Adams does -- that's a big deal.

And it's important to remember that Evans is dealing with an audience of one. And that one will be listening to the people.

For football purposes, of course, the focus will be on whether a new athletics director would be more or less likely to dismiss Mark Richt following another disappointing season. The conventional wisdom is more; a new athletics director will want "his own man" in the highest-profile job in the department and won't have the relationship with Richt that Evans has. I'm not so sure. A weakened Evans might be less able to stand up to pressure from alumni and media if the 2010 season leads to calls for Richt's head. A new athletics director won't have much capital if things go downhill, but might have more than Evans -- particularly if he's given a grace period because of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the hiring.

We're a long way from all that, of course. There are many dominoes left to fall, and no idea of when they might begin to tumble.

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