Will Georgia Assistant Rodney Garner Seek Independence After Shreveport?

Kimberley NashSenior Writer IDecember 6, 2009

Tis the season for swirling rumors and the latest one rests on the fate of the lone, remaining, member of coach Mark Richt's defensive staff—defensive line coach, Rodney Garner. 

He, along with two grad assistants, will be coaching the defense when the Bulldogs take the field against Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl.

Garner, whom some felt was a possibility to replace defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, is thought to be bitter over a slight by coach Richt.

There were rumblings that he had resigned.

As a matter of fact, Twitter user, and former Bulldog great, David Pollack offered this tweet to the masses which only added more fuel to the "Garner's gone" fire: "The Rodney Garner train is gaining steam, alot (sic) of folks believe he is leaving now".

The "story" of why Garner was upset went as follows: He entered coach Richt's office and asked if the coordinator's job was his. Richt's response was 'no'. Garner resigned on the spot.

Now, obviously, coach Garner has not resigned. At least not yet.

However, if he is indeed miffed about Richt's overlooking him, then how far from the truth is the story?

Fans from both the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee seem to think that coach Garner is joining their school's staff in 2010.

Tiger fans are interested in the recruiting possibilities that teeming him up up with newly minted head coach, Larry Porter , could bring.

Porter, recently of LSU, was one of the primary reasons behind LSU's No. 1 recruiting class last year and if Garner were to join his staff as defensive coordinator, the two could make quite a 1-2 punch at Memphis as Garner really knows how to recruit the State of Tennessee. 

The sticking point for Memphis, however, could be money. 

It is not known how much the Tigers are able or willing to offer Garner for his services, nor is it thought that he would be willing to leave the SEC to go to Conference USA just to have a shot at being a defensive coordinator. 

Honestly, though, it doesn't seem like the job that would give him the level of competition needed to boost his chances at an SEC level coaching job but that's just my opinion.

A more interesting scenario is Garner making a return to the Vols. 

Lane Kiffin has seen some defections this season with the loss of both Frank Wilson , their wide receivers coach and recruiter extraordinaire, as well as Eddie Gran , the running backs coach. 

That leaves a bit of a void in Kiffin's staff and he may be tempted to offer Garner another nugget or two to bring him back to the University of Tennessee, again—although his position would be no better than what he is at Georgia right now. 

Monte Kiffin is the defensive coordinator and stands to be so for at least another year or two, if not longer. 

Ed Orgeron is their current defensive line coach and, unless the rumors of him going back to California are true, he stands to continue being so next season as well. 

The likely spot that Rodney would find would be on the offensive side of the ball as either a tight ends coach or a line coach, neither of which would be in keeping with his goal of being a defensive coordinator.

The move would have to be bolstered by the promise of better pay and the possibility of tutoring under one of the great defensive minds in Monte Kiffin.

That said, is that enough for Garner to leave? More money wasn't good enough last year? Would it be enough this year?

Even more, if Orgeron, the current defensive line coach at Tennessee, were to leave for the University of Southern California, would the possibility of more money and a possible future promotion to defensive coordinator be more tempting—assuming that both Lane Kiffin and Monte Kiffin remain?

They would certainly seem to add a wrinkle that wasn't there in Tennessee's offer last year.

So, how does the Independence Bowl tie-in to all of this?

Well, Garner could see the opportunity to coach as either a resume builder or a tryout.  If he does well, he will have some ground to stand on with coach Richt and any other interested school. 

Honestly, it seems a bit too convenient that it has come to this point. Is coach Richt giving him this chance just to see if he has the goods? 

And if he proves to be fruitful in his efforts and still gets the shaft, will Rodney then take his recruiting prowess and SEC contacts with him to Tennessee—whether that be Memphis or Knoxville?

Only time will tell how all this plays out but the idea that Georgia could end up with a total overhaul of it's defensive coaching staff is something that has to have a lot of SEC schools panting and wondering about the state of Bulldog football. 

For now, don't read too much into anything you might hear or see because, honestly, it's all speculation. 

We shall see how much truth there is to rumor as the SEC coaching carousel continues to turn.

Now, on to Shreveport!