Four years ago, hopes were high on the Hilltop. Rob Sgarlata had just been promoted to head coach from defensive coordinator of the Georgetown football program after former Head Coach Kevin Kelly resigned following a 2-9 season.

Sgarlata was a Georgetown football lifer who finished his playing career as one of Georgetown’s all-time leading rushers and served as team captain in 1993. Sgarlata moved onto the coaching ranks as an assistant coach in 1995. The young assistant was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2004, a position he held until he took over for Kelly.

Since Sgarlata took over four seasons ago, his tenure has not gone as planned.

The team has a record of 11-33 in Sgarlata’s four years at the helm of the program, and the future looks grim for Georgetown football after finishing 1-10 this season, including a winless 0-8 Patriot League record.

There is no question the wheels fell off for the Hoyas this season. Georgetown’s normally staunch defense, which Sgarlata has led for 13 years, took a major step back this season, allowing 27.2 points per game compared to last season’s 23.2, good for fifth out of seven teams in the Patriot League.

In previous seasons, the team relied on its defense to bail out a struggling offense, which has finished sixth or worse in scoring in the Patriot League in every season since 2011. With the combination of an abysmal offense and a struggling defense, the result was an on-field product that lost to teams by an average margin of 16 points per game.

Besides having on-field struggles, Sgarlata continues to make questionable decisions off the field that affect this program’s ability to compete on the field.

Sgarlata’s recruiting tactics have been lukewarm at best. Look at Georgetown football’s Instagram feed and you will see the hashtag “#DefendTheDistrict” in many posts. That refers to Georgetown’s ability to defend its home turf in games, as well as securing top recruits from around the talented DC-Maryland-Virginia area.

So far, the results have not been good at all. Of its roster of 98 players, only 14 players are from the DMV. Of those 14 players, only six were starters this season. For a coach who has placed an emphasis on establishing a pipeline to take advantage of the talent-rich DMV, the results through four years have been very discouraging.

The Hoyas’ talent deficit is clear, but there are solutions to bridge the gap between the Hoyas and their opponents, solutions that Georgetown continues to turn its back against.

In 2013, the Patriot League decided to allow its schools to offer football scholarships. All seven schools jumped at the opportunity and began offering scholarships to players — except Georgetown.

With other Patriot League schools offering scholarships, Georgetown is placing itself at a clear competitive disadvantage by not following suit. Although that decision may have been made above Sgarlata, it is not fair to expect Georgetown football fans to continue to support a team that is not exhausting all its options to improve.

Prior to Georgetown’s 41-2 thrashing at the hands of Harvard at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium this season, Sgarlata spoke about the importance of the game in relation to his goal of defending the District.

“Being able to go down to a stadium like RFK to make a statement about defending the District, it’s really special for us,” Sgarlata said. “Hopefully this is the first of many games we have down there.”

The Hoyas did make a statement — the wrong kind. Throughout Sgarlata’s tenure, the Hoyas have played two or three games per season against Ivy League opponents. In those games, Sgarlata’s team is 3-8. Against Harvard specifically, Georgetown has been regularly outclassed on the field, evidenced by a cumulative score between the two teams of 151-22 over the last four years.

It is important for a rebuilding team like Georgetown to schedule a couple of games against tough opponents to get a true measure of how much they are progressing as a team. However, playing a 14-time Ivy League champion, Harvard, annually, where the games are usually decided by the end of the first quarter, only contributes to a culture of losing.

Change in the program has already begun after this season’s dismal results, as offensive coordinator Michael Neuberger was fired this week. If the Hoyas want to resurrect this program and stop being the bottom-dwellers of the Patriot League, further changes must be made, or else Rob Sgarlata could be the next man out.

Aidan Curran is a senior in the McDonough School of Business.

One Comment

  1. Jimmy Brooks says:

    Just because something is listed as “commentary” doesn’t mean a writer can’t do just a little more than the bare minimum of research before placing blame squarely on one person and calling for his job.

    1. Just getting little facts straight, like Georgetown being 0-6 in the Patriot League would be a place to start. Still zero wins, which is obviously not good, but not realizing that their are only seven teams in the league (with Georgetown being one) makes it tough to take the rest of this seriously. Still, minor compared to the rest of the problems with this piece.

    2. The issue of scholarships: The title of this piece is “Sgarlata to Blame for Football Team’s Failure”. Did the writer ask anyone if it was Coach Sgarlata’s idea to not award athletic scholarships, like the rest of the Patriot League? Also, wouldn’t someone ask if not offering scholarships may be at least a minor cause in why the program has only 14 of its 98 roster players from a “talent-rich” D.C., Maryland, Virginia area? Georgetown is expensive and a free education at a competitor seems like a better deal. Also, the absence of scholarships, which would seem like a major issue, is strangely not mentioned until the 11th paragraph and then mentioned as a “solution” like others have not thought of this before.

    3. Also, when calling for someone’s job it’s helpful to have some context of the history of the program. I read 3-8 against the Ivy League as impressive compared to what Georgetown has done historically. Georgetown is 5-32 against Ivy League opponents overall, so 3-8 seems pretty good.

    4. Did the writer consider the injuries to key defensive players or the tougher non-conference schedule this season as a consideration of why they they might have given up two more touchdowns than in 2016? Also fairly minor, but another sign that not much research was done for this piece is that the 27.2 points allowed is tied for fourth in the League, not fifth.

    Regular readers of The Hoya deserve better than this.

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