UGA assistant coach Garner has deep ties to both sides of rivalry

Rodney Garner has been a part of the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry for nearly three decades.

UGA assistant coach Garner has deep ties to both sides of rivalry
Yousef Baig

He’s been in Athens since January 1998, and wears many hats for Georgia: assistant coach, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

But Garner’s link to the rivalry began as an offensive lineman for Auburn in the late ’80s.

In his senior year with the Tigers, he was an All-SEC selection and a captain of the 1988 Southeastern Conference championship team that was coached by Pat Dye, a former Georgia football player.

As a Tiger, Garner said there was no bad blood between the two schools and they had a mutual appreciation for each other.

“(We had) a lot of respect for Georgia when I was there,” he said. “It’s only about 10 minutes from the state of Georgia, so you really had a kinship. The schools are so similar, and the towns are so similar.”

After Garner graduated, he was a jack of all trades for the Auburn football program, serving as recruiting coordinator, tight ends coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1990-95.

He coached the offensive line and tight ends at Tennessee for two years before arriving at Georgia in 1998.

Garner admits that he still cheers for the Tigers when they aren’t the upcoming opponent on the schedule.

“(I cheer for them) all the time, 100 percent,” he said.

Despite his history with the program, Garner approaches this week just like any other.

“It’s just the next ballgame,” he said. “I know it’ll be a very difficult game. I hope our kids realize that. They’re not going to lay over for us.”

Although Auburn has struggled this season and has yet to win a conference game, Georgia’s coaches have made sure their athletes don’t sleep on the opponent and are respecting the tradition.

“You can rest assured that they respect Georgia just like Georgia respects Auburn,” Garner said. “They’re two really good programs and they’ve got the oldest rivalry in the South. It’s a very significant ballgame — always has been, always will be.”

Georgia can clinch a berth in the SEC championship game with a win on the road this weekend, and Garner doesn’t care if it’s by beating his alma mater or not.

“I think it’d just be sweet to clinch the division,” he said. “I really wouldn’t care who it’s against.”

After being dismantled by South Carolina, Georgia’s assistant coach is happy to be in the position his team is in.

“For them to bounce back … and still have a chance to win the Eastern Division and have an opportunity to go back to Atlanta, I think it would be a great reward for these young men for all their hard work,” Garner said. “It shows what we sacrificed all winter, all spring, all summer and fall camp. That’s the reward at the end of the day.”

NCAA doesn’t reduce Gurley suspension on Georgia appeal

by Marc Weiszer

Three weeks after Todd Gurley was first suspended by Georgia, there is finally closure. UGA assistant coach Garner has deep ties to both sides of rivalryYousef Baig An... Full Story

Follow marcweiszer

marcweiszer

From late last night RT NCAA doesn’t reduce Gurley suspension on Georgia appeal http://t.co/BRj6MY6obY #UGA

2 hours ago