Our weekly Heat Check arrives a day late due to Columbus Day. (Wait. That was last week? Never mind.) And we start at the obvious boiling-over point.
Todd Grantham, Georgia: He’s proving he’s a good defensive coordinator. (The Bulldogs rank eighth nationally in total defense.) He’s also showing he’s a bully. Giving the choke sign to an opposing player was bush league. Getting into it with the Vanderbilt coach — the Vanderbilt coach, I emphasize — after a victory tainted the whole winning effort and cheapened the Bulldogs’ brand, which had been in the process of undergoing some needed touch-up.
It’s one thing for players to get excited and stomp on a logo. (Georgia managed that trick at Vandy a while back.) It’s another for a grown man — Grantham is 45, which means he meets the Mike Gundy standard for grown-man status — to embarrass the program twice in 12 months. And I don’t buy the whole I’m-just-standing-up-for-my-players line: You can stand up for your players without baying at the moon.
(An aside here: I’d also be careful about angering this Vandy coach. James Franklin is going to beat some big names very soon.)
Don’t know what the SEC will do regarding Grantham. Don’t know if the SEC will do anything. Were I Greg McGarity and/or Mark Richt, I’d suspend Grantham for one game.
And who does Georgia play next? Florida. Yes, it’s a massive game for this football program. But sitting Grantham would also send a massive message: This is not how we do it at Georgia.
Now, do I think such a suspension will occur? Nope. But it should. Heat Index: Too darn hot.
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech: His team lost at Virginia and looked bad doing it. His postgame briefing was a classic in sardonic semi-humor. A highlight was PJ’s description of the long field goal attempt that was kicked “into the back of the line.” The word “bonehead” was invoked. From a dispassionate perspective, these sessions are always entertaining. That said …
I wonder, not for the first time, how Johnson’s players take them. No, they’re not in the room for his media sessions, but I’d imagine they read the highlights somewhere. I also imagine they hear similar sentiments expressed by PJ himself behind closed doors. And it’s undeniable that the feeling around Tech is that the Jackets win only when they do what the coach says and lose whenever they don’t.
And that, if you’re a player, gets old. As smart as a coach is — and Tech’s coach is very smart — he’s not out there getting smacked by 500 pounds of opposing manpower. Johnson is a great play-caller, but somebody wearing shoulder pads does have to make even the clever plays of his work.
I’m sure it’’s a lot of fun to play for Tech when everything’s working and you’re gaining 768 yards, but I wonder how much of a treat it is to be around Johnson when his team just laid an egg in Charlottesville. Can’t blame a coach for wanting more and better — that’s pretty much his job — but I think he needs to cut his men a bit more slack. Heat index: A chill pill for PJ would not be unwarranted.
By Mark Bradley