One week ago, former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee was hailed as a "home run hire" for UAB. But now the Blazers' new head football coach is in the uncomfortable position of having to explain his criminal record.
As an interview last Friday on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network showed, McGee has a hard time getting his story straight about brushes with the law that date from 1991 to 2007. In fact, McGee's account of a DUI arrest on Christmas Eve 2006 conflicts on several key points with published reports about the incident.
Why does McGee struggle to tell what would seem to be a fairly straightforward story? Why did UAB's highly paid PR executives allow the university's new coach to be so poorly prepared for an interview with one of the most high-profile sports talk-show hosts in the nation? Is McGee coming clean about what really happened on the night he was arrested for drunk driving?
You can decide for yourself by checking out the Finebaum interview at the video below.
As you watch, here is something that is worth keeping in mind. The No. 1 selling point for McGee as a head coach was that he worked under Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino, architect of perhaps the nation's top college offense.
But what did McGee actually learn under Petrino about the overall management of a college football program? What kind of program does Petrino tend to run?
A Sports Illustrated/CBS News report from March 2011 provides some troubling answers to that question. The six-month investigation showed that one in 14 players at major-college football programs has been in trouble with the law.
The University of Pittsburgh had the most football players with criminal records, according to the SI/CBS report. What two schools were tied for second? The University of Iowa and . . . the University of Arkansas.
Is Bob Petrino running a program filled with thugs at Arkansas? Substantial evidence suggests the answer might be yes. In his previous college stop, at the University of Louisville, Petrino did not leave that program in great shape. Steve Kragthorpe, who followed Petrino at U of L, said he inherited a program that won on the field but was riddled with academic and disciplinary problems. Kragthorpe had come from the University of Tulsa and was stunned by what he found at Louisville. From a March 2008 report at espn.com:
So when Kragthorpe left Tulsa to replace Bobby Petrino at Louisville before the 2007 season, he thought his renovation work was over. The Cardinals were coming off a 12-1 season in which they won the Big East championship and beat Wake Forest 24-13 in the Orange Bowl. Louisville returned 21 starters from that team, including quarterback Brian Brohm and myriad offensive weapons.
Who knew Louisville was actually in worse shape than Tulsa when Kragthorpe arrived?
"I was shocked," Kragthorpe said. "I've never seen anything like this."
Besieged by off-field and discipline problems, a Louisville team that was projected to finish in the top 10 in 2007 somehow limped to a 6-6 record. Kragthorpe dismissed as many as a dozen players he inherited from Petrino. In fact, Kragthorpe is still weeding out the root of what he believes caused last year's team to collapse. In February, starting cornerback Rod Council was kicked off the team after his arrest for allegedly robbing a gas station in his home state of North Carolina.
UAB has hired a coach with a criminal record, with a mentor who has a history of running rogue programs. What were President Carol Garrison and Brian Mackin thinking when they hired Garrick McGee? What were they thinking when they let him go unprepared on the Finebaum show?
Have a listen: