For 14 years and 11 months, Rodney Garner had been a member of the Georgia coaching staff. Somewhat stunningly, that run has ended less than a month shy of its 15th anniversary — and ended by a school in UGA’s conference, no less.
With a “Welcome Home, Coach Rodney Garner” tweet late Thursday night, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs confirmed that the longtime Bulldogs assistant has been hired as the latest addition to Gus Malzahn‘s first coaching staff. The school subsequently sent out a release making Garner’s hiring as assistant head coach/defensive line coach officially official.
“We are excited to announce Rodney Garner as our assistant head coach and defensive line coach,” Malzahn said in a statement. “Rodney is one of the top defensive line coaches in college football who has had great success in the Southeastern Conference. It is great to welcome an Auburn man back home.”
Garner was a football player at Auburn from 1984-1988 and served as an assistant at his alma mater from 1993-95. He was hired by then-UGA head coach in January of 1998 as DL coach and recruiting coordinator. “Assistant head coach” was added to Garner’s title in 2005.
“Auburn has always been a very special place for me and my wife, Kimberly, who is also an Auburn graduate,” Garner said. “I owe a lot to Auburn and the men who helped mold me to who I am today both professionally and personally. I’m very appreciative to Coach Malzahn for this opportunity and I feel very strongly that I can be an asset to the program. I have a lot of love for Auburn and I felt this was a great chance to help give back to a place that has given me so much. I look forward to helping get Auburn back to where it belongs.”
As noted by Gentry Estes of 247Sports.com, this is the first assistant coaching vacancy for Mark Richt since February of 2011.