UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM VANDERBILT COACH JAMES FRANKLIN (1:33 P.M.) AND GREG McGARITY AT TOUCHDOWN CLUB OF ATLANTA MEETING (1:45 P.M) .
UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM TODD GRANTHAM (11:25 A.M.). . .
ATHENS — Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity has already met with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham regarding the postgame confrontation with Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin on Saturday and the Southeastern Conference is in the process of reviewing the incident.
McGarity, who was in Nashville on Saturday, said he discussed the situation with Georgia head coach Mark Richt by telephone on Sunday, then met with Grantham face-to-face at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall early Monday morning. Meanwhile, both Georgia and Vanderbilt have been asked by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive to submit written reports to the league office for review.
“I spoke with the Commissioner earlier today and they are in a sort of fact-finding process now,” McGarity said. “We’ll submit a report either verbal or in writing. I’m sure Vandy will do the same and then, basically, we’ll see what happens at that point in time.”
As for his meeting with Grantham, McGarity said, “I’d just say those discussions will remain private, but I’ve addressed it with both Coach Richt and Coach Grantham. There were lessons to be learned here. Obviously the conduct that was displayed was not representative of how we want to conduct ourselves after a hard-fought game.”
Grantham and Franklin were caught on video in a heated, finger-pointing exchange immediately after Georgia’s 33-28 win over Vanderbilt had concluded. Moments before that, Franklin is observed yelling at Georgia safety Shawn Williams.
The Bulldogs were flagged three times for personal fouls in the game and, in one instance, it appears Georgia noseguard Kwame Geathers tries to punch a Vanderbilt player. But McGarity said UGA’s reports to the SEC will not address anything that took place during the game.
“The conference does that anyway,” he said. “That’s part of their normal, standard operating procedures where they’ll go through it. Each team submits plays to review and they review things without either team submitting them. That’s just basic standard operating procedure there, things that happen during the game. I’m sure they’ll review the clips and I’m sure they’ll review the personal fouls. They do that all the time. That’s part of their weekly tasks.”
SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom confirmed the postgame confrontation is being investigated.
“The conference office is gathering information from all parties about the incident,” Bloom said via email. “Too early to comment on it.”
Bloom indicated the SEC might have a response by Tuesday.
Grantham, in his second season as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator, was reprimanded by UGA last year after directing a choke signs toward Florida kicker Chas Henry before he tried a game-winning field attempt in overtime.
Grantham told the AJC Monday morning he regretted his actions after Saturday’s game.
“First of all, I love my players and appreciate their hard work and investment in our program,” Grantham said. “I feel a responsibility and loyalty to protect and stand up for them. However, I feel it’s important to educate them in all areas of life. While my intentions were genuine, I feel it was unfortunate that things escalated to a confrontation. However, I’ll use it as a learning experience for myself as well as my players so that we all become better men.”
Meanwhile, Franklin was asked at his weekly news conference on Monday if he had followed up on the incident. He said he Richt talked via telephone about the situation on Sunday and indicated there had been some correspondence with the SEC office.
“We have a very, very talented commissioner and they’ll do their job and do what they think is right and we’re going to move forward,” Franklin said as video of his 1 p.m. news conference was streamed live via the school’s website. “I have tremendous respect for the University of Georgia, their history, their program, their coach. We had a hard fought battle with a lot of passion, with a lot of emotion. . . . Some things got a little bit out of hand and I know myself and Coach Richt — I don’t want to speak for him — would have liked for the game to have ended a little differently and been able to just walk off the field.”
Asked specifically if he had any personal regrets with the way he behaved at the end of the game, Franklin said: “I’m not a guy who really has a whole lot of regrets. I’m pretty calculated and pretty well thought out for the most part with the things I do. I am an emotional guy, as you guys know.”
Speaking to the Touchdown Club of Atlanta today, Greg McGarity had more to say about the matter:
“I think the whole story will come out at some point in time. Right now both institutions are basically filing a report to the Southeastern Conference office on really what happened from Todd’s standpoint and, I’m sure, from Coach Franklin’s standpoint. That will go to the commissioner, and then we’ll see where things go after that. But I don’t think there’s any question that . . . at the end of the day that’s not the way you want to end athletics competition. It’s kind of like Mark said after the game: ‘At the end of the game, you want to go over there and shake the opponent’s hand and move on to the next game.’
“I won’t get into specifics, but I think if you ask Todd if he had to do it over again, I think he definitely would do some things differently. I think that’s not the way you want to represent your institution on either side. At the end of the day, I think you’ll see that. But I know Todd is in the process of making a statement. We want to get ahead of this and deal with it up front to where there’s nothing out there that we need to be worrying about the rest of the week.
“It was kind of like we saw at the end of the NFL [49ers-Lions game] yesterday –- I think we had a situation there with a couple of coaches. Things get heated. There probably are a lot of things people would like to take back, but at the end of the day that’s not what needs to happen in college athletics. We need to talk about the student-athletes and what they did that day — and not reduce it to where things off the field are the topic of discussion during that day. So it’s something we’re really not proud of, and we’ll deal with it and learn from it and also teach our student athletes on the positives and negatives of situations like that.”
AJC reporter Tim Tucker contributed to this report.
|– Chip Towers and Tim Tucker