Georgia Football: Why Mark Richt Shouldn't Have Let Rodney Garner Leave

Brian Jones@Brian_L_JonesContributor IFebruary 21, 2013

January 2, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs assistant head coach Rodney Garner during the overtime of the 2012 Outback Bowl against the Michigan State Spartans at Raymond James Stadium. Michigan State Spartans defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 33-30 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rodney Garner was a valuable member of the Georgia Bulldogs coaching staff.

He was not only the defensive line coach. He was also the recruiting coordinator as well as the assistant head coach. So, in a sense, the Bulldogs lost a leader at three positions when he left for the same positions at Auburn, his alma mater.

If all goes according to plan, Auburn should have success under new head coach Guz Malzahn and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, which would enhance Garner's chance to become a head coach.

With that said, Richt should have done more to keep Garner in Athens.

When defensive coordinator Todd Grantham was interviewing with the Saints, a few fans worried about losing him, fearing his departure would lead to a new defensive system and set the team back.

But the concern should have been about losing Garner. It could be argued that he was the best defensive coach on the staff.

Since his arrival in 1998, Garner has mentored players like Marcus Stroud, Richard Seymour, Geno Atkins and DeAngelo Tyson, who all went on to have success in the NFL.

He also helped David Pollack become one of the best defensive players in SEC history. Pollack was a three-time All-American who won the Bednarik, Hendricks and Lombardi awards in 2004.

Garner also recruited all these great defensive linemen, which is another reason why Richt should not have let him go.

While serving as the recruiting coordinator at UGA, Garner has been responsible for landing not only the top defensive linemen, but some of the top players in the country.

From current stars like Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley to past performers like David Greene and Boss Bailey, Garner has played a big role in bringing these high-level players to Athens.

Now that Garner is with Auburn, he will be able to continue to build relationships with the top recruits in the Southeast and the rest of the country.

But instead of persuading these recruits to come to Georgia, he will now try to get them to play for a school that is one Georgia’s oldest rivals.

And if one doesn’t think Garner is that good of a recruiter, 247 sports named him one of the top 50 recruiters in the country, and Rivals put him in the top 25.

Garner recently persuaded defensive end Carl Lawson and defensive tackle Montravius Adams to sign with Auburn, further embellishing his reputation as a top recruiter. What makes those signings more interesting is that both players are from the state of Georgia.

Everyone, including Richt, knew that Garner would not be at Georgia forever. He  has been a hot commodity for the last few years, and he is on his way to bigger and better things.

But for the Bulldogs to get to the top of the college football mountain, Richt needs to have someone like Garner by his side.

Could offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who is also a strong recruiter, now take Garner's place?