Originally created 11/04/99

No question of Harrick's committment



BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Jim Harrick expected to get a little grief over his on again-off again courtship with Georgia.

It started on his second trip to Georgia, when a lone fan questioned his commitment to the Bulldogs.

"I was walking through the airport and some guy yells `Hey, Harrick, you got Velcro on that shirt?"' Harrick said Wednesday at the SEC's annual media day. "He thought it was funny, and really I guess it was."

Harrick doesn't hear much of that kidding anymore. Seven months after accepting the head coaching job, Harrick is finally attached to Georgia.

"I never hear anything about it from the Georgia people," he said. "That time has passed."

But there was a time at Georgia when no one was very sure of Harrick, and for good reason.

One day Harrick had accepted the head coaching job at Georgia, the next day he was back in Rhode Island deciding he wanted to continue coaching the Rams.

A day after that he was Georgia's coach again, and no one knew what to think.

"We were kind of in limbo for a minute," Georgia guard Adrian Jones said. "He accepted the job and we were happy, then he declined it and we were shocked. Then he accepted it again and we were relieved."

"But we were kind of worried for a while that he'd decline it again," Jones said.

He didn't, and on the eve of his first exhibition game as Georgia's coach, Harrick explained he was always committed to the program.

"After I came down to Georgia and had the press conference, I felt like I needed to go back to Rhode Island and talk to the people there," he said.

Once back in Rhode Island, where his son was an assistant on his staff, Harrick realized how difficult it would be to leave his family behind.

Georgia's nepotism laws prevented him from hiring his son as Bulldogs assistant, so the rest of his family couldn't join him in Athens.

"I got really emotional about that," he said. "But after a family meeting, my kids told me I had to go because I had made a commitment to Georgia, and I'd always been about honoring commitments."

Harrick said he was lucky he couldn't contact Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley during the time he was waffling between his decisions, otherwise Dooley might not have taken him back.

"Thank goodness Dooley was in North Carolina in a cave or somewhere else unreachable because I couldn't find him and that gave me five or six hours," Harrick said. "When I finally got him, he understood."

And so did the Bulldogs, who were grateful to get a coach who had not only won a national championship at UCLA, but also took Rhode Island deep into the NCAA tournament.

"We saw what he did with Rhode Island and hope he can do that with us," Jones said. "He's been great. He's one of the most enthusiastic coaches I've ever played for. And he knows a lot about the game -- he shares something with us every day."