ATHENS – It looks like Tracy Rocker may sit out this year rather than take another coaching job in football. And after nearly two decades as a defensive line coach, most recently at Georgia, Rocker has good reason.
Rocker’s son, Kumar Rocker, is a rising baseball prospect who will be a senior next year at North Oconee High School. The web site PerfectGame.com lists Kumar Rocker, a 6-foot-4 and 240-pound pitcher, as the nation’s top player in the 2018 class.
“This is the most time I’ve ever had to even watch him or even see him play,” Rocker said during an interview last Thursday on the Pat Dye show, which is syndicated in Georgia and Alabama. “I’ve watched him a little bit throughout the summer in my career. Now, I’ve been watching him every day. It’s kind of fascinating to watch him. They’re in high school ball now and they’re playing about .500 baseball. He’s playing good. Then after that, they start summer ball, which he’ll be traveling. But he’s doing good.”
Tracy Rocker has been reluctant to talk publicly since he was fired by Georgia the first week of February, for reasons that remain unspecified. But he agreed to appear on the show with Dye, who was his head coach at Auburn in the late 1980s.
Georgia is still paying Rocker his $525,000 salary this year.
“Me and the wife (Lalitha), I’ve never been at home with her, so she’s dealing with me a little bit,” Rocker said. “But the thing is, me and her will go for a walk, basically to go watch him play baseball. He plays three or four times a week. So that’s being enjoyable for me.”
While college jobs are basically all filled now, and most are in the NFL too, Rocker told Dye he hasn’t closed the door on going back to work this year.
“It’s been good, but I want to get back out there and coach,” Rocker said. “I’m going to wait it out and visit a couple of NFL teams throughout the OTAs (organized team activites) and see what happens and just keep plugging away.”
In the meantime, Rocker said he’s been “catching up with a lot of my family, which I haven’t done a lot of in my career.” That includes his 79-year-old mother. Rocker has coached at four different SEC schools (Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss), along with Cincinnati, Troy and West Alabama.
While he was with the Tennessee Titans from 2011-13, living in Nashville, Kumar Rocker attended baseball games at Vanderbilt, a national power, which contributed to his committing there.
Dye joked with him about changing his mind, presumably to go to Auburn instead. Rocker laughed.
“When he made that decision, we told him, it was like you used to say – once you make a decision, now we ain’t going back and forth now,” Rocker said. “It’s like I was taught, your word is your bond.”
Dye also asked Rocker for his thoughts on working for the two head coaches during his tenure at Georgia: Mark Richt for two years and then Kirby Smart.
“The thing I learned about Coach Richt was that you get so consumed with football, and then you tend to forget a lot of the little things about the family, your children because you’re so consumed with trying to win every Saturday, and recruit. He brought things back home for me to appreciate the little things, stop always griping or complaining. Think about how thankful you are to have this opportunity to be in the SEC, to have a family, to spend time with your family, to see your children grow up. Those are the things I cherish a whole lot learning from him because that’s what it always goes back to. Regardless when this is all over, it’s still about family,” Rocker said.
“And then to work for Kirby, it was like, he was with coach (Nick) Saban and I had been in that same defensive system for two years, the same type of atmosphere and approach that they had over at Alabama. We turned it around and had a pretty decent season last year.”