Three players have been suspended after Saturday's melee between Georgia and Vanderbilt, but Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, who got into a verbal squabble after the game, escaped without reprimand.
The SEC issued a statement Wednesday handing down first-half suspensions to Vanderbilt center Logan Stewart, Georgia defensive lineman Kwame Geathers and Georgia defensive back Shawn Williams. Stewart and Geathers, as seen in the above video, were suspended for their altercation during the fourth quarter, and Williams was suspended for a flagrant personal foul in the third quarter.
But what wasn't addressed was the conduct of Grantham and Franklin, who incited another small tussle after the game. Franklin told Georgia coach Mark Richt that a Georgia player was taunting his team after the 33-28 loss and that Franklin approached Grantham about it. Grantham became upset at the allegation and started yelling at Franklin and sticking his finger in his face. The two had to be separated by several people, including a Vanderbilt player.
Yet none of this highly publicized episode is even addressed by the SEC. Grantham did have words with Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity the Monday after the game, but the school will handle Grantham's punishment internally.
How can the SEC punish the players and not even mention the actions of the coaches? Even in the heated NFL exchange between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Swartz last Sunday the NFL at least acknowledged it happened. Neither coach received a fine, but the league said it reviewed the film and because no punches were thrown, decided no punishment was necessary.
The SEC didn't even come out and say that. It seemingly swept the entire thing under the rug and pretended like it didn't happen. Maybe neither coach should have to face a suspension, but at least the league could say it did its due diligence, investigated the matter and realized there was no punishment necessary.
Even the suspension of Geathers is a little suspect. While Geathers did throw a punch, he was the victim of an illegal late hit by Stewart that could have seriously injured him. Stewart's hit appeared malicious and probably should have resulted in a game suspension rather than just a half.
Geathers' father, Robert Geathers Sr., told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that his son could have been seriously injured by the late hit.
"I've played football and been around football all my life," said Geathers Sr., who played in the NFL for 13 seasons, "and if you watch it you see this kid speed up while everybody else is slowing down and he's locked in on my son's leg. If you look closely you can see the guy give a thumbs up to the sideline and the coach telling him 'good job.' I was, like, 'Wow!' I could be sitting here today telling you how my son's surgery went."
Stewart does make some sort of gesture to the Vanderbilt sideline, but it's difficult to tell what he's doing.
Georgia will undoubtedly feel the first-half losses of Geathers and Williams against Florida more than Vanderbilt's loss of Stewart against Army. And while this was an ugly incident all around, the SEC didn't handle the discipline as well as it should have.
- Todd Grantham