Is the SEC ever going to step in and put an end to this story?
That’s what we’re left asking ourselves as yesterday a longer clip of James Franklin’s postgame conversation with Mark Richt hit the internet. In it, you can hear Franklin explain to Richt why he tried to give an earful to UGA defender Shaun Williams:
Franklin: “36 comes up, after a tough game, talking s— to me.”
Franklin: “Rubbing our face in it right after the game.”
Richt: “He’s a dumbass.”
Franklin: “And then your coach, when I tell him about it, then he goes after me and the fight starts.”
Richt: “That’s what I thought happened, I apologize. It’s horse s—, horse s—.”
Franklin then complained about Williams’ actions to — it appears — Georgia assistant coach Bryan McClendon.
Franklin had a right to be ticked. I don’t think there’s an adult coach in the country who’d want to be taunted by another school’s disrespectful player. And as for all of the “he went after our player” nonsense coming from UGA fans this week, you know very well that Franklin’s actions were far, far, far from being Woody Hayes-esque. He tried to yell at Williams from 10 yards behind him.
That’s when Todd Grantham got involved. And rather than listening like an adult, he simply went off like he’s got a fuse about two inches long. In the process, he once again became a YouTube sensation. Predictably, many Dawg fans are fine with that, too. (Georgia fans aren’t acting any differently than fans of any other schools fans would act, by the way. If Grantham had been wearing Kentucky blue, MSU maroon, LSU purple, Tennessee orange or any color in between, he’d be getting praise from the hometown supporters and a finger wag from everyone else.)
Richt handled things as he should have. He listened to Franklin’s complaint. He apologized for the over-the-top actions of his player and coach and he made his views on taunting pretty clear. You can be sure Richt doesn’t want to run a program where players pop off to opposing coaches. That’s bush league and if a Vandy player had done the same to a Georgia coach, Bulldog fans would still be screaming bloody murder today.
But that part of the story — save maybe a reprimand to Grantham for his actions — is likely history.
As for two players involved in an on-field brouhaha during the game, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that its likely suspensions of some sort will be handed down by the SEC office.
On The AJC’s site you can view the clip — literally — of Vanderbilt center Logan Stewart going low into the back of the knees of Georgia defensive tackle Kwame Geathers. Talk about bush league. Stewart’s away-from-the-ball blocking efforts could have left Geathers with a serious injury.
Geathers reacted hotly, of course, but in throwing a retaliatory punch he likely secured himself some time on the bench. The SEC has a history of sitting players who commit flagrant, dangerous penalties or throw punches.
The AJC’s Chip Towers suggests Williams — the player who taunted Franklin and the Vandy sideline at the end of the game — might face league discipline as well for the two personal fouls calls he brought upon himself during the contest.
If Stewart misses any time, it could come this weekend against Army or the following week — if the league chooses to enforce a suspension during conference play — against Arkansas.
But if Geathers or Williams is placed on the bench, it would come in Georgia’s next game… against Florida.
Of all the people involved in Saturday’s unnecessary dust-up, Richt seems to be the one who was the most calm, cool and collected. Ironically, he’s also taking a whole lot of heat for his actions.
Some Georgia fans have claimed that Richt never should have apologized to Franklin and should have acted as foolishly as Grantham. (Yeah, because AD Greg McGarity was clearly happy with Grantham’s behavior.)
Other UGA fans (and a few radio hosts who had me on yesterday) are taking Richt to task for running a program where players taunt and earn personal foul penalties and where an assistant coach can wind up a YouTube sensation two years in a row.
The verdict: There were no winners on Saturday night. And if the SEC doesn’t act quickly to get this story off the front burner, you can chalk up the league office as a loser in this mess, too. Time to end the bad pub.