Against the Florida Gators in the
World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, on Saturday, Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray threw three interceptions including one in overtime that was a big part of his team losing the game. Georgia also let Florida – with a struggling offense – tear them up for 450 total yards of offense including 231 and four touchdowns on the ground.
However, in an age where actions are brought to light after-the-fact and football players are run through the ringer because someone happened to capture a heat-of-the-moment action on video, we come to you this Tuesday and wonder why coaches are not being held to the same standard.
The first thing many of you will notice about that video clip is Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt calling a timeout in an attempt to ice and rattle Gators senior punter/kicker Chas Henry. (Hint: It didn’t work, Henry made a 37-yard game-winning field goal just moments later.) But if you look just a bit closer, you will see Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wringing his hands around his own throat and screaming out to Henry, “You’re gonna f’n choke! You’re gonna choke!”
Grantham was so loud and so violent in his motion that Henry appears to have noticed it while on the field preparing for one of the biggest moments of his life.
Just one year ago, after a video of former Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes appeared on YouTube showing him clearly jamming his fingers in Bulldogs running back Washaun Ealey‘s facemask but not hurting him in any way during a rough tackle, head coach Urban Meyer addressed the situation and suspended him for a half. The media laughed and ridiculed Meyer for his light punishment leading Spikes to release a statement and then voluntarily sit the entire game on his own accord as not to distract his team.
Remember: In football, if a player makes a great play and celebrates by even motioning his hand under his neck in any manner, it’s a penalty.
Yet more than 48 hours have passed since Grantham, a leader for young men in an amateur sport, gave this clearly obscene gesture and not only has no apology been provided (even simply to his employer – the University of Georgia), the team’s coaches and school administration have failed to address the situation and refused comment.
Where are the columns of outrage from Paul Finebaum, Mike Bianchi, Dennis Dodd and Gregg Doyel? Why haven’t Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon whined about Graham’s actions on Pardon the Interruption?
Hypocritical? Yes. Surprising? No.
Grantham didn’t hurt anyone. He didn’t put his hands on an opposing player or hold up the middle finger or anything of the sort. Nevertheless, he should be held accountable for his actions – an adult in a position of authority should know better no matter how excitable and important the moment.
No one is calling for Grantham to be fired or even suspended. He made a mistake – mistakes happen. People lose their cool. It is understandable. But at least have the decency to stand up like a man and apologize when you’re wrong. If you ask that from a 21-year old college senior, it is the least you can expect from a 44-year-old coach.
UPDATE: A response from Richt…though not nearly what one would expect. “I’ll just say that emotions run high,” Richt said. “People do things they probably wish they didn’t do, so I think that [the choke sign] was what was being communicated. I don’t think he’s necessarily proud of it. We’re just going to learn from it and move on.”
UPDATE II: Tuesday evening, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Grantham who appeared to halfheartedly express regret about making the gesture but refused to provide any sort of apology or admission of guilt. “As a competitor, sometimes you get caught up in the heat of the moment,” Grantham said. “I wish the situation hadn’t happened. It was a tough, hard-fought game. They won it, and I’m ready to move forward and finish out the year strong.” Grantham also told the paper he spoke to Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity about the incident. Asked whether or not he owes an apology to Henry, Grantham said: “I’ve kind of basically said what I’m going to say.” Great example to set for your students, Todd.