Josh Brooks has long planned to become Georgia’s athletic director

ATHENS -- Josh Brooks was asked Wednesday if he had some sort of “first 100 days” plan as he took over as Georgia’s athletic director. He didn’t laugh out loud, but the twinkle in his eye assured one and all that he was primed and ready to answer that question.

“Yes, I’ve always kept a list,” the 40-year-old Louisiana native said. “I’ve always had a lot of ideas.”

Ah, yes, those lists, those ideas. People who have worked with Brooks over the years marvel at his ability to create lists and then strike them off one-after-another. His ability come up with ideas and then turn them into realities is ultimately what turned him from a deputy athletic director, to an interim AD and then the full-time AD in the matter of just a few short years.

Brooks was unanimously approved as Greg McGarity’s successor in a specially called meeting of Georgia’s athletic board at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday. He was introduced to the Bulldog Nation in a digital-video news conference a short time later.

For the moment, Brooks is keeping those plans to himself.

“There’s some things big, some things small, that I want to attack early,” he said. “But, at the same time, we’re navigating through a difficult time with COVID, so this isn’t a time for a bunch of change.”

Whatever they are, his predecessor said Brooks will see them through.

“Yep, he’s wired that way,” said McGarity, who is now CEO and president of the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville. “He knows how to play the ‘what-if game’ and to mentally go through all that. He jots down a lot of notes and makes a lot of lists and always has a contingency for every plan.”

It was Brooks’ vision and ability to plan for everything that ultimately convinced UGA President Jere Morehead to hire Brooks over “a number of prominent athletic directors being very interested in the position.” Morehead said he didn’t know how many applicants Georgia fielded other than it was “a large number.” His instructions to an 11-person advisory committee and Todd Turner’s Collegiate Sports Association search firm were to interview only “highly-qualified candidates,” primarily “sitting ADs.”

Brooks was an exception, though he was for a short time in 2014 the AD at Millsaps College. But Morehead said Brooks “tilted the decision for me” during an exercise of hypotheticals conducted during their interview early last week.

“I put Josh through a number of scenarios that he probably didn’t enjoy about how he would handle this case or that case and what would he do,” Morehead shared. “I really liked his answers, and I really liked how he thought through what he would do in those situations and who he would consult and who he would call and what he would ultimately do.”

Brooks, an LSU graduate, gained a lot of experience since first coming to Georgia as an assistant director for football operations in 2008. After his return to UGA as senior operations chief in 2015, he was included in numerous high-level meetings and decisions with McGarity and Morehead.

His appointment also allows Georgia to keep intact what Morehead called a senior of staff of “other superstars.” Darrice Griffin was promoted to Brooks’ deputy AD post, and all other senior administrative positions will remain intact.

Brooks has not signed a contract, but Morehead he will soon and be paid “in the neighborhood” of what McGarity was earning. That is $700,000 a year, plus an annual longevity bonus of $25,000.

Brooks said Morehead informed him of his decision with a phone call Tuesday night. He said he told only his brother and his wife and children after that.

Virginia AD Carla Williams is among others considered for the position. That Brooks was chosen over such an elite field of candidates had him choking back emotion Wednesday.

“It’s surreal; it really is‚” Brooks said. “You’re not going to believe this, but I’ve had this goal, I’ve had this vision since I was in high school.

“People laughed at me, but I’d mapped out a plan.”

Of course he had. And now that planning will continue for Georgia.