If you’re looking for a story that’s going to make waves across the SEC today, look no further than the news that after 15 years as a Georgia assistant, Rodney Garner is joining Gus Malzahn’s new staff at Auburn. Garner is one of the nation’s top recruiters and has served as Georgia’s recruiting coordinator since 1998, under both Jim Donnan and Mark Richt. Garner was UGA’s defensive line coach this past season as well as the Dawgs’ assistant head coach. He will have the same job titles and responsibilities at AU.
Garner was an All-SEC player on the Plains in the late-1980s. And make no mistake, his homecoming is major coup for the first-year head coach… and serious blow to Georgia as signing day is less than 50 days away.
Garner told The Atlanta Journal Constitution late last night that his decision was not about the significant raise he’ll receive:
“It was a very difficult decision. I’ve been approached many times about this opportunity. But it’s my alma mater. It may be more of a pride thing, just looking at where they are right now and felling like I really wanted to be a part of getting them back on track. I just felt like God was leading me in this direction. It’s something I prayed about and it was not an easy decision. I would not have left for any other reason than Auburn.”
Here’s how Georgia has fared nationally in Rivals.com’s recruiting rankings over the past decade:
2013 (current class): 9th
Not a bad run. Now, Garner can’t take sole credit for that work and there’s no guarantee he can help Auburn match Georgia’s recruiting prowess. But if you’re a Tiger fan today, there’s reason for optimism. And if you’re a Bulldog fan, there’s reason for disappointment.
On his way out the door, Garner did throw some love in Richt’s direction, saying: “Mark has been very good to me and I want people to know that. People need to recognize the body of work that Mark has done here. Here’s a guy who has been at Georgia 12 years and he’s gone to the championship game five times. Priot to him coming there, they’d never been to that game.”
Of course, Richt will now have to get to that game for the first time without Garner coordinating his recruiting efforts.
No two ways around it — a big get for Auburn and Malzahn.