Chavis-to-Georgia rumors still alive — and why not Garner? (UPDATE II)

Rodney Garner has been getting raises. But he never has gotten a shot at the defensive coordinator's job. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Rodney Garner has been getting raises. But he never has been given a shot at the defensive coordinator's job. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@AJC.com)

(UPDATED BELOW WITH CHAVIS COMMENT)

(SECOND UPDATE WITH RICHT SAYING GARNER IS NOT A CANDIDATE)

When I posted a blog Tuesday morning about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis telling one of his players that he was not interested in the Georgia job, contrary to rumors, the last thing I expected was that it would unravel into some inane and profane race debate. After becoming aware of it last night from a reader (while I was covering the Hawks’ dreadful performance), I had to close commenting and eventually deleted about 60 comments.

It’s with that, and some trepidation, that I inform you of one thing and ask another this morning:

♦ Chris Low, the respected SEC football writer at ESPN.com, posted a blog this morning with the headline, “Chavis on Richt’s radar at Georgia.”

♦ If Bulldogs coach Mark Richt doesn’t get the coordinator he wants to replace Willie Martinez, would it be so awful if he promoted Rodney Garner?

First on the Chavis thing. I wouldn’t have brought it up a second day in a row if somebody like Low didn’t report it. (Notice I wrote Low, not ESPN in general). An excerpt from the blog:

In talking to several people close to the situation, Richt has serious interest in Chavis and is prepared to throw some serious money at the veteran defensive coordinator, who headed up Tennessee’s defense for 14 seasons prior to joining Les Miles’ staff at LSU for this past season.

Chavis makes a lot of sense. He’s a proven commodity and knows the SEC well. The Tigers were 12th nationally this season in scoring defense, allowing 16 points per game. They gave up just 18 touchdowns in 12 games. Only five teams nationally yielded fewer touchdowns this season.

Low also pointed out this interesting stat:

Since his promotion to defensive coordinator at Tennessee in 1995, he’s 7-3 against the Bulldogs in Sanford Stadium. That includes LSU’s 20-13 win over Georgia this season.

If Richt has some super secret candidate on his radar that nobody has mentioned, he deserves kudos for being so stealth. There has been nothing to indicate that, however. Chavis obviously would be a strong hire. But the likelihood of him leaving LSU after only one season  — when he stayed at his previous school for 20 — would be surprising. If nothing else, Chavis — like so many others — might just get a raise out of this.

Now, about Garner. He is not a coordinator. But the case can be made he is the second most important football coach at Georgia after Richt. Why? Because he’s the recruiting coordinator. He keeps getting raises because other schools keep coming after him because he keeps landing all of those 37-star recruits we obsess about.

After Martinez’s firing, there were a flurry of unsubstantiated rumors, mostly on Twitter, that Garner resigned after learning he was not a serious candidate for the defensive coordinator’s position. Garner shot down those rumors, obviously. He stayed for the Independence Bowl game and, with the aid of only two grad assistants, he directed a strong defensive performance in Georgia’s win over Texas A&M.

The fact Garner has never been the defensive coordinator — or presumably has received a strong offer to call plays for another school — has led to this perception that he is not worthy of that position. If that’s true, here’s my question: Why not? Doesn’t he deserve the chance? It’s a topic that I don’t know has been given the attention it deserves.

(UPDATE: Chavis says nothing to quell speculation)

Our Tim Tucker has blogged about Chavis’s non-denial/denial at a Capital One Bowl press conference when asked about the Georgia job. You can click the link above, but here’s an excerpt:

Asked at a Capital One Bowl news conference in Orlando about his possible interest in the Georgia defensive coordinator job, Chavis said:   “Well, we’re excited about what we’re doing at LSU, and my focus has been on LSU and will continue to be on  LSU. We have an opportunity to win 10 ballgames, and certainly that is what we want to do. We’ve got an opportunity to be the third team in the SEC to win 100 ballgames in a decade, and certainly that is what we want to do.

“So that is where our focus is going to be.  I’ll talk as long as you want to about LSU and about our players. I’ll be happy to do that.”

In other words:  no comment about the Georgia job.

Didn’t exactly put that rumor to rest, did he?

(SECOND UPDATE)

Richt told Tucker this morning that Garner is not a candidate for the coaching job. That confirms what most of us thought — that if he was going to get the job, it would’ve happened by now. Richt also said the job search could take longer than expected.

Richt sidestepped a question on Chavis. An excerpt:

Richt would not comment today on his interest in LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis or any other candidates. But he did say that Rodney Garner, the only holdover on Georgia’s defensive staff, is not under consideration for the DC job.

“No, Rodney is not a candidate for the job. He knows that,” Richt said. “We’re just still in the search.”

As for all the rumors swirling throughout Bulldog Nation about the search, Richt said: “I’m not taking any pleasure at all in what people might be going through out there. All I can say is . . . when I do have that decision made and it’s ready for public consumption, I’ll let everybody know. My goal is to get the right man for the job.”

Asked specifically about Chavis, Richt said: “I’m not going to make any comment on these things until we’ve got our man.”

492 comments Add your comment

BlackSmoke

December 30th, 2009
9:51 am

I think Garner is a great recruiter and position coach, but not sure if he knows enough about the LBs and DBs to be a very good DC. I could be wrong, but I don’t think a promotion of Garner to DC will sit well with the UGA faithful.

FUGLYDAWG

December 30th, 2009
9:56 am

Jeff – Do Garner & Chavis have any relationship issues from UT that would make/break Chavis moving to UGA?

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 30th, 2009
9:56 am

Second! Or first loser…

[...] Despite a few denials, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis’ name keeps coming up in connection to Georgia’s open DC job.ESPN.com’s Chris Low reports that Richt has “serious interest in Chavis and is prepared to throw some serious money” at him.  That might mean a $600,000 salary and a three-year deal for the man called “Chief.”  He makes $450,000 in Baton Rouge.Meanwhile, Chavis’ players say he’s more fired up for the Capital One Bowl than he has been at any point this season.  (Because he’s about to land a higher-paying gig closer to home?)Team MVP Harry Coleman says, “I would be real surprised if he left.  He was the key (to the season).  He got the best out of all of us.  It would be real surprising if he left.”Les Miles is aware of rumors of Georgia’s interest in his coordinator, but he says the Bulldogs have not asked for permission to speak with Chavis.When asked if he had talked with Chavis about the rumors, Miles responded: “We have not discussed Georgia in any way.”Finally, if Chavis — like several other candidates already — nixes Richt’s advances, would Georgia fans accept the promotion of longtime assistant Rodney Garner? [...]

Ryno

December 30th, 2009
10:00 am

Garner has pimped himself out plenty to be a DC…anywhere in DI, but there’s been no takers. Maybe it’s because he’s only a good DL coach if he has a couple of Seymours or Pollacks. He can’t seem to get it right without them.
That was not a strong D performance against A&M. It was a mistakefest by them. Since I’m not a uga fan, I hope he is named the DC, or I would even settle for Chavis. They are exactly the same…great coaches when they have great players. The difference is that Chavis can’t be bothered to recruit as hard as Garner. Either way, it’s win-win for the rest of the SEC.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 30th, 2009
10:01 am

Failure to go outside the current staff would be seen as more of the same by the Nation.

Papadawg

December 30th, 2009
10:01 am

I’m not sure if Coach Garner is qualified or not but DCs have to start somewhere to become a experienced coach. I just hope that political correctness doesn’t get in the way of a qualified man including Coach Garner

Jeff Schultz

December 30th, 2009
10:01 am

Fuglydawg — That’s a great question, but I’m not aware of anything.

Jeff Schultz

December 30th, 2009
10:03 am

Ryno — “Pimped” is kind of a strong word. There’s nothing wrong with an assistant coach looking to better his situation. Now if you called Bobby Petrino a pimp, I’d have no problem with that.

GW

December 30th, 2009
10:03 am

Does Garner, deep down inside, WANT to be DC? That job catches a lot of flak. Why is this nonstory still a story? Every DC in America will soon be on this speculative list. Just wait til Richt announces it. Anybody will be an improvement.

lefty fielder

December 30th, 2009
10:04 am

i’m not a defensive guru so somebody answer: what did garner and the kids do against TAM to have such a good game defensively that willie and co. might not have done? . . . just askin

Some Sense

December 30th, 2009
10:04 am

Real simple, guys…neither Chavis nor Gardner is as good as we can get. Hope Gardner stays as what he is right now. Just continue to be patient…CMR will knock your socks off w/ his pick and who the guy brings w/ him.

Way too much at stake to do any less.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 30th, 2009
10:04 am

CMR’s coaching tree is a stick. Sorry, BVG.

dbc

December 30th, 2009
10:05 am

I think if Garner was the right man for the job, Richt would have shifted his staff around after last season and made him DC. Then he might not have had to fire his best friend WM, who could still be a position coach. No. The Dawg nation wants/needs new blood.

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 30th, 2009
10:05 am

Petrino is a pimp. There, I said it.

Dawg Tired

December 30th, 2009
10:06 am

Jeff – Obviously Coach Richt does not think Garner is ready to be the DC or he would have simply promoted him. Do you think Coach Richt might know something about Coach Garner’s coaching abilities in that they have been on the same staff for 9 years? Nuff said.

DAWG A

December 30th, 2009
10:06 am

Jeff… with all the names out there whom do you think would be the best hire for Georgia and would take the defense to the highest level?

MountainDawg

December 30th, 2009
10:08 am

If Rodney Garner doesn’t get the DC after almost single handily coaching the D in a bowl win, he needs to jump ship for more money like every other coach in the country. Especially since no one else seems to want the job!

"Chef" Tim Dix

December 30th, 2009
10:11 am

Think of it this way: A DC hunt that ends up with Garner would equal the Falcon’s rehiring Marion Cambell.

Fair and Balanced

December 30th, 2009
10:12 am

GA has no business in promoting someone to a position that is as important as the DC. Richt tried this already and failed with CWM is still at some risk with Bobo and needs to get a grip on this concept. The way the game is played now, GA (and everyone else in the SEC) must go out and hire proven talent. Hire a 5 or 6 and try to move him up to a 7 or 8 after 5 years is dumb. Go out and hire a 10 and get on with winning with the talent that keeps coming to UGA!

Jeff, I was thanking the same thang...

December 30th, 2009
10:15 am

Richt has been loyal to a fault and now show little loyalty to Coach Garner. I think that Coach Garner deserves a chance. He might do a fantastic job.

No guarantees that another man would do a better job.

Coach Garner has been at UGA for what 12 years and deserves a shot. Seems like a good coach and a great guy.

What??

December 30th, 2009
10:15 am

Since Gardner has been with UGA and Richt for some time now, Richt has had the opportunity to evaluate Gardner’s ability to develop a defensive game plan, study of film etc. If Richt had observed those qualities in Gardner I believe Richt would promote him to DC immediatly. You really have to take a look at the big picture and understand that IF Gardner has the needed skill set, Richt would promote him.

I would be willing to bet that Richt is working very hard with Gardner to develop those skills so that he can excell and be promoted in the future.

ugapeach

December 30th, 2009
10:16 am

I agree with GW. Has it ever occurred to anyone that Garner does not want the DC job? He is already Assistant Head Coach and no other school has been able to lure him away. I think Coach Garner is happy where he is or he would have left a long time ago.

Dawg327

December 30th, 2009
10:17 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t DC a demotion for Garner? He already holds the higher title with Assistant Head Coach. I guess he could add DC to that title, but I’d rather see someone new in here.

dawg gone it

December 30th, 2009
10:19 am

A good recruiter isn’t automatically a great DC. Worst case scenario, Garner could suck as a DC, and it would take away his focus from recruiting.

On the other hand he did do a good job against A&M.

TennerseeisHeehaw

December 30th, 2009
10:21 am

Well, Texas A&M shot themselves in the foot alot, and I would harldy call that a solid defensive performance, more like average at best. If we want to compete with the floridas of the league then we need a proven DC, this is no time to experiment.

Tucker T

December 30th, 2009
10:22 am

If Garner wants to be a defensive coordinator I think he needs to go to a smaller school and get some experience before jumping up to the position with one of the top programs in the country. He is a great recruiting coordinator so that’s why UGA keeps him around. He would have been let go with the rest of the defensive coaches if it wasn’t for the recuiting. It doesn’t have to do anything with race. CMR needs to make a big hire here with a proven coordinator, not someone trying it for the first time.

La Jolla Dawg

December 30th, 2009
10:23 am

Jeff, any idea of who Florida is talking to? The Urban Meyer debacle seems to have taken them off course for at least a few days, but I’d love to know if UGA and U of F are talking to the same candidates. With regard to Garner, has anyone requested to interview him this off season? Seems like his stock has cooled a bit and that is why he is content to stay put.

barking dawg

December 30th, 2009
10:24 am

sometime we cant see beyond our nose .garner might be whatwe have been looking for.

Kids stuff

December 30th, 2009
10:26 am

i know..offer Obama the job! he’s a proven leader..yeah right

Hillbilly Deluxe

December 30th, 2009
10:28 am

As I said yesterday, if John Chavis feels the need to deny it, then there must be something to it. Up is down; down is up. Nothing can be taken at face value these days. (see:Urban Meyer)

RonnieGarDner

December 30th, 2009
10:29 am

Can’t be Garner for the simple fact that some idiot UGA fans can’t even pronounce his name. They seem to write articles and call in on the radio etc. and pronounce his name “GarDner”. You know like the guy that plants flowers or raises vegetables.

matt r

December 30th, 2009
10:30 am

All year it has been evident that things need to get shaken up over there, with some fresh perspective. Promoting from within does not shake things up.

11-2 GEORGIA TECH in ORANGE BOWL

December 30th, 2009
10:34 am

Thanks for a great season
………………………………..ACC CHAMPS

DogGoneGaDawg

December 30th, 2009
10:34 am

Bobby Petrino is a pimp.

Lacey UnderVols

December 30th, 2009
10:35 am

Forget Garner. He is already gone. Period.

Matt

December 30th, 2009
10:35 am

Chavis wont leave LSU. He’s already making 450,000 and didn’t UGA balk at paying the VT DC 500,000? It’ll take that if not more to move Chavis. If anything, Chavis will get a longer deal with more money. Let’s hope the more money thing can figure out 3rd and long…

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

December 30th, 2009
10:35 am

If Garner was promoted which i think is likely , would he still have the time to be the super recruiter that he is , he would be responsible for all of the defense and that would have to cut down on the time he spends recruiting .Is that the reason he has not been considered before by Richt ? As soon as he is named DC and UGA has an off season recruiting his defense better be in the top 10 or the wailers will start again . and God forbid a bad defensive year and a off class it would be worse than this year with free willie
GO DAWGS

DogGoneGaDawg

December 30th, 2009
10:36 am

11-2 GEORGIA TECH in ORANGE BOWL: ACC Champs but not state champs.

DogGoneGaDawg

December 30th, 2009
10:39 am

Hey Schultzie: If Petrino is a pimp without question should we then deem you unquestionably a Tech Pimp?

Papadawg

December 30th, 2009
10:39 am

I’m just glad all we’re looking for is a DC and not in the mess the Forida Gators are in right now. Somebody needs to make up their mind if they’re going to Coach or not

FFF

December 30th, 2009
10:41 am

UGA dominates Tech in the series…..60-39-5

takedowndawg

December 30th, 2009
10:42 am

Our defensive line has not been dominate since Pollack and Co. left. Coach Garner IS an excellent recruiter and is in my opinion an average DL coach when one looks at other DL in the conference. Promoting him to DC at this time in his perfomance level sets him up for the FIRING LINE if the defense does not drastically improve immediately. The alumni and supporters will not tolerate a passive, soft, “bend not break” approach to defense at Georgia in the futue. We need fresh proven new blood. Thanks, Coach Garner for being a grade A recruiter for UGA.

BG

December 30th, 2009
10:46 am

Garner is making 300K a year and that is more than most DC’s make. Garner does not have the experience needed to be a DC at any sec school. UGA needs to hire a coach with years of experience being a DC.

UGA dwells in mediocrity

December 30th, 2009
10:48 am

As long as UGA and it’s fans think that the defense did a good job in the Shreveport bowel, they will continue to be a middle tier SEC team. They gave up almost 500 yards and 20 points to a sub .500 team. Quit drinking the Kool aid.

Garner is Great

December 30th, 2009
10:48 am

Garner is a crucial piece to our success, but he needs to stay just where he is. I am afraid that if he gets promoted that our recruiting will take a hit because he will not be as focused on that anymore. He is incredible at his job and needs to keep doing it. Give him a huge raise and go hire some “new blood.”

staugdawg

December 30th, 2009
10:48 am

Nothing against Garner, but Jerrod Johnson looked awful and very mistake-prone. Georgia should have had 6 interceptions and 2 pick-sixes in that game. That A&M team look abysmal. UGA needs new blood – why hasn’t Ellis Johnson or Tyrone Nix’s names been thrown around?

Eskimo Joe

December 30th, 2009
10:50 am

Garner–tremendous recruiter, solid d-line coaching, tremendous coach, but needs coaching experience with LB’s and DB’s first to become a DC.

DogGoneGaDawg

December 30th, 2009
10:50 am

The same thing that cost Ray Goff his job is the same thing that will keep Garner for the DC job. One needed only to look around the NFL at all the great UGA players and then look at UGA finishing in the middle of the pack in the SEC. Garner has done a great job recruiting but an average job of coaching the DL. Just look around the NFL at the DL players from UGA. And Owens, Weston and Atkins will be there next year.

Judge Dawg

December 30th, 2009
10:50 am

Jeff, stop trying to stir up internal controvery at UGA. CMR will get his coach without your opinions. How about 6-8 stories about the defensive coaching problems at Tech?