Let’s get right to the point, shall we? Rodney Garner is in line for a position at Auburn University. It’s not the first time Garner’s name has popped up for a potential job at another SEC school, but it’s the first time that I can personally see it as a definite possibility.
Now, let me be clear here, I don’t have any inside information, nor am I connected in such a way that I can say any of what I’m about to say with so much certainty it should be considered truth. I am simply offering my opinion based on what I have heard, read, and seen over the last few hours. Nothing more, nothing less.
So, here it goes:
1. He’s ready for a change of scenery:
In case you missed it, there have been subtle rumblings on Georgia’s defensive coaching staff, since the arrival of Todd Grantham in 2010, that Garner might not have been Grantham’s first choice to coach the defensive line. Garner was the one guy with a ‘hands-off’ sticker attached to his name and Grantham was asked to accomodate. Grantham obliged, of course, because he was the new kid in town, but it was clear that both Garner and Grantham would be tolerating each other no matter how it looked from the outside.
That said, you’d have to think that Grantham would love to bring in a guy with more coaching experience for his scheme than Garner because, one thing is certain, the performance of the defensive line hasn’t been as consistent as you’d like considering the level of talent that has marched onto it over the last couple seasons—talent that I have to add was largely brought in by Garner.
That said, Garner has had plenty of challenges to deal with in making the transition to the 3-4—the first of which was finding a nose to play the position. After one was tabbed, it took a full season before the position was fully realized and, even after it was, injuries made it difficult to keep production efficient. And, given that, it’s unfair to criticize Garner’s ability as a defensive line coach.
2. He’s tired of being passed over for the defensive coordinator job:
I don’t know it with any certainty, but I have often wondered if Garner felt a bit slighted by the fact that Richt went outside to find a defensive coordinator after Willie Martinez was fired. Garner was put in charge of the unit for the Independence Bowl, but had to step aside once the Grantham hire was made.
To be fair, however, no school has ever come after Garner as a defensive coordinator. His reputation as a great recruiter of talent cannot be denied, but it’s unclear whether he has the ability to run a defensive unit with any level of success. And, honestly, if Garner has ever been the littlest bit ticked off by being looked over, he hasn’t muttered a word about it publicly. So, again, this is just speculation on my part.
3. Georgia may not be willing to pay to keep him:
As I said in the beginning, this isn’t the first time Georgia has heard Garner’s name pop up for a position elsewhere. However, with Auburn having already filled most of their assistant jobs—including the hire of an offensive line coach on yesterday—you’d have to think that in the end this will come down to money.
Twice already, Georgia has stepped up to the plate and opened up the checkbook to oblige Garner. Will they do so again?
It’s anybody’s guess what Garner will do in the end, but he has stayed at Georgia for less money in the past and has repeatedly stated how much of a role his family has played in his decision to remain in Athens. They like the area, have a great home there, and don’t wish to uproot. If Georgia comes up with the money—say 50-75k more per year—then I think he’ll stay…differences with Grantham aside.
If they don’t, however, I think he’ll bolt and take his chances.