Some old-time Vol football fans trace the decline in the team’s fortunes to letting assistant coach Rodney Garner go to the University of Georgia. The outstanding recruiting classes at the University of Tennessee in the 1990s began to decline and coincide with the rise of Georgia’s fortunes under Mark Richt.
At the end of this season, Georgia played in the SEC championship game. Auburn was in the process of firing its coach after a miserable season. Auburn hired Garner away from Georgia.
According to Rivals, a premier recruiting site, Auburn finished with the number nine recruiting class in the country. Georgia came in at number 12. Tennessee was number 20, behind Vanderbilt.
Garner, who played at Auburn, left the Vols in 1998 and was the recruiting coordinator for Georgia for the last 15 years.