Garner, the assistant head coach, defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator with the Bulldogs, assumes the same position with the Tigers in a move that will challenge Georgia to acquire a comparable replacement.
For, Garner as a recruiter has been phenomenal and at the heart of UGAs ability to stay relevant during his tenure. He said an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was not an easy decision to return to Auburn, where he was an offensive line from 1984-88.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Garner told the AJC. “I’ve been approached about it many times about the opportunity. But it’s my alma mater. It may be more of a pride thing, just looking at where they are right now and feeling 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.”
He has worked for just two head-coaches, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt.
“It’s just time,” Garner said in the AJC. “I’ve been at Georgia 15 years. It’s been awesome. Worked for two great head coaches at the University of Georgia. Jim Donnan gave me the opportunity to come here, who I have a tremendous amount of respect and love for. And then Coach Richt who retained me and I worked for him for 12 years. Coach Donnan is already in the Hall of Fame, and I’m sure Coach Richt will be one day. So it was a very difficult decision.
“It’s difficult because you’re going to a rival school,” Garner said. “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. Prior to him coming there, they’d never been to that game.
“I look at what he’s done there for 12 years, the way he’s done it, the way he’s won with class and integrity, and he’s just been a great guy to work for. So it’s hard leaving him. I mean it really was. But everything I hear about Coach (Gus) Malzahn is that he’s that same caliber of man, cut from that same cloth, and I think it will be a family-friendly environment, which is important to me, with a wife and six daughters.”