Asked Saturday afternoon if had indeed accepted a job with the Georgia Bulldogs, Tracy Rocker made no attempt to bridle his enthusiasm about the new gig
“Yep,” he said before shouting, “Go Dawgs!”
Rocker said it’s been a long time coming, him being able to say that. A native Atlantan, he said he has always been fond of the Bulldogs and everything UGA. Never mind that he was an All-America player and former coach at Auburn.
“I said that all the time growing up,” Rocker said of the ‘Go Dawgs’ phrase. “I grew up a Georgia fan. I got to watch them win the national championship in 1980. You grow older and become a player and things are different. But I’m very familiar with Georgia and the history of the program. I’m excited about getting to be a part of it.”
I was speaking to Rocker on the phone. He was in Nashville packing up his belongings for the trip South. I was in the media room at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., having negotiated several travel delays due to the weather. I was there to cover Saturday’s game basketball game between the Bulldogs and Kentucky. You can read the story about the predictable outcome HERE.
AJC reporter Michael Cunningham filed the original news story on Rocker’s hire as I made my way through three inches of snow from Blue Grass Airport to Rupp.
In any case, I found Rocker to be upbeat and genuinely excited about his new assignment. It was a nice, soft landing for the 47-year-old, 22-year coaching veteran. Rocker had made the switch from longtime college coach to NFL assistant with the Tennessee Titans just two years ago and it did not work out too well. The Titans fired head coach Mike Munchak on Jan. 4 and Rocker was not retained.
As it turned out, he said Georgia’s need for a defensive line coach made for the perfect opportunity at the perfect time. He interviewed with the Bulldogs late this week and “finalized everything” on Saturday.
“Life is funny sometimes,” Rocker said. “Things work out sometimes. The Titans decided to go in a different direction and all of the sudden the Georgia job came open.”
Rocker said the Bulldogs did not press him to get to Athens in a hurry. He’ll remain in Nashville to wrap up his affairs and pack up his belongings “until the middle of the week.”
“I’m looking forward to getting there,” he said. “It’s kind of like going home.”