ATHENS -- Rodney Garner just laughed. He was still incredulous, more than a week later, and had in front of him the culprits: The media.
Two weeks ago, the Georgia football program, for whom Garner serves as assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator, sent Penn State a letter. It notified the sanctioned program it would recruit 19 of its players, as now allowed by the NCAA.
Garner said the Bulldogs made small inquiries on just a few players and quickly moved on. But the letter to Penn State still ended up in the hands of the public, thanks to intrepid media and fast compliance by UGA.
Georgias got some open records laws, Garner said, laughing, then adding. They need to call Nick and see what list they sent in.
Of course, Nick Saban and his Alabama team dont have quite the roster management problems that Georgia does.
Garners ribbing of the media was good-natured. He was also candid about those roster management issues that the Bulldogs have faced: Four players dismissed this offseason, several more transferring, and a couple recruits not qualifying academically. The result has left Georgias scholarship numbers perilously low, under 70 total, while their SEC opponents will be at or near the NCAA limit of 85.
Weve had a lot of attrition, Garner said. I dont know what other people do, but I know we run a pretty stringent program. Weve had some unfortunate things pop up. Im not saying its a common occurrence, but theres probably other programs that are going through similar things depending on what kind of structure they have.
Garner returned to his point that the attrition was the result of the Bulldogs own discipline.
A lot of those guys, we made the decision to cut and move on. It wasnt a university decision or whatever. Its What do we want this program to be, Garner said. Its a double-edged sword, but what do you want? You can sweep this under the rug, you can have this, you can have that, but is that really want you want?
The natural follow-up, then, is whether Georgia should have recruited with a better eye toward character.
Garner did say he felt the Bulldogs have good kids on the roster. And dismissed players such as Isaiah Crowell and Chris Sanders didnt have a history of trouble when they arrived on campus.
Youre constantly trying to evaluate character, Garner said. But its just like -- do you have kids? I raise mine, I try to make them, I want them to do this, I want them to do that. But, shoot, theres some days where they annoy the heck out of me. They dont always do what I want them to do.
No matter the root cause, Georgia has to find a way to replenish its ranks. It already has 24 commitments for the 2013 class, and -- by reading the new SEC roster management rules -- can sign up to 34 players, as long as it gets nine early enrollees. That is because of back-counting early enrollees to the 2012 class.
Garner acknowledges that Georgia did pursue a few Penn State players, whom he could not name because of NCAA rules.
There were a couple guys that were some need positions that we looked at to see if there were some interest where it couldve worked, he said.
But recruiting, and roster management in general, isnt something that is so easily done, according to Garner.
Youre just trying to manage your roster, that youre making critical decisions. Trying to project not just this year, next year, two years, three years, he said. We dont have the luxury of the NFL where we can go and draft and get on the wire, trade, get all Plan B and stuff like that. You wish you could but we cant.