I must admit that I did not see this coming, and I think it’s a real shame. While there have been rumblings ever since the 2010 Regionals disaster about Jay not living up to Suzanne, no coach coming into this program would have been able to replicate that success.
While there were areas he needed to work on as a coach, the team was improving each year under his leadership. Even though this year’s group had a disappointing finish at Nationals, they were the most cohesive team with the most potential for success of the three during his tenure, even if the raw talent level was higher in 2010. It was clear that he was starting to find his footing in this position. The expectation that championships would immediately follow after Suzanne left was unrealistic. This is a rash move by Georgia and one that will backfire when a new coach comes in who is similarly unable to deliver championships right away.
Success in NCAA gymnastics is so dependent on trust and emotion and everyone buying in to the process. It is probably unique among sports in that way. In other sports we hear a lot about how the concept of team chemistry is overrated, but it is essential in NCAA women’s gymnastics. Not understanding that is an error. It takes time to build that kind of trust and chemistry and attitude for a program. Georgia was starting to get on its way toward rebuilding the program, and short of coaxing Suzanne out of retirement, they will be right back at 2010 again with a new coach.
There will be all kinds of speculation about who will replace Jay, but the pool of qualified candidates with the experience necessary who also want the job is extremely small.