Vanderbilt offensive tackle Wesley Johnson said there was lots of “extra-curricular stuff” going on but stopped shy of calling Georgia a dirty team.
“No, they weren’t that dirty,” Johnson said. “Speaking from my point of view, I haven’t seen anything so far that would lead to (Georgia being dirty). I know they played hard. They kind of played their defense the same way we play our offense.”
Translation: lots of players were flapping their gums, but there wasn’t much more going on than that. (Although I’m guessing Kwame Geathers strongly disagrees.)
It’s a tempest in a teapot that’s good for James Franklin’s image. A few days closer to Cocktail Party time and nobody’s gonna give a rat’s ass about it. Then we can focus on what’s really important: blaming Mike Bobo for the weather and travel conditions.
Matt Melton’s back with his breakdown of conference performance. Don’t take the SEC numbers too seriously because of the skewed sample size, particularly in the case of Arkansas which has only played two conference games so far. But it’s still a fun look:
There’s no getting around how pleasant it is to dodge ‘Bama and LSU this year. The surprise is that South Carolina and Georgia stack up better against the West than you’d expect.
Offensively speaking, this ain’t the year of the spread. The Tide and the Dawgs are the top two offenses in conference play. It’s also interesting that there are very few SEC defenses that qualify as downright awful.
By the way, look how similar Tennessee’s and Vanderbilt’s numbers are. If Bray isn’t back by the time those two meet, that could turn out to be a closer struggle than was anticipated.
You know, I thought James Franklin’s let’s get ready to rumble moment on the field Saturday night was sparked by him taking offense at what he perceived as dirty play by one or some of Georgia’s players. I didn’t think he went about his business in the best way, but I could understand his being upset.
… In video captured by WSMV-TV in Nashville, Franklin talked to Georgia coach Mark Richt on the field about Georgia “rubbing our face in it right after the game. And then your coach when I tell him about it, then he goes after me and the fight starts.”
Richt responded by telling Franklin: “That’s what I thought happened.”
Oy vey. At that point, Richt’s got to wonder what in the hell he’s gotten himself into. All he wanted was a nice little “good game, coach” exchange after a too close for comfort win. Instead, he found himself inserted into a scene straight out of middle school.
I mean, this turned out to be about a head coach at the conference’s most uppah-crust school taking offense at being verbally dissed by a twenty-something kid? Seriously? If I’m Mike Slive, I’d be tempted to announce as punishment that Franklin and Grantham are being sent to time-out without supper.
The thing is, though, while I don’t doubt that Grantham foolishly reacted in the heat of the moment, there’s a part of me that wonders if there wasn’t something more calculating behind Franklin’s actions. And I’m not the only one.
… And what I got out of his “we won’t back down” press conference is that he — very rightly — had his team come into this game determined not to be the patsy. Georgia is a wobbly traditional heavyweight that they could land some punches against, so Franklin wanted to be the aggressor. That was evident from the trick plays, the fake punt, the chippiness, the chop blocks, etc.
I don’t begrudge them that. If you want to take over Vandy and have it be something other than Vandy, then you go hard after a team like Georgia.
I do begrudge the passive aggressive “we’re gonna play with class” posturing after the fact. Franklin wanted this fight and he got what he asked for. It’s disingenuous for him to feign surprise at the outcome.
… Sealand said he felt like running on the field in support of his future college coach. “Honestly, it got my heart pumping, and I know with a lot of the recruits around me, it got their hearts pumping, too. It gave me a lot of pride about Vanderbilt and made me realize how much I love that school already without being up there yet. Coach Franklin has won his players over, and has already won me over, too.”
East Paulding defensive lineman LaDarius Banks, “Honestly, I liked the confrontation. I’m all for getting after it. At a certain point, though, it’s college football and you’re supposed to conduct yourselves accordingly. As of right now, there are a lot of players on Vanderbilt’s team from Georgia, and what happened on Saturday is going to stir up a good rivalry over the next few years.”
Banks met with Franklin after the game. “I can’t really explain how Coach Frankin was … OK, he was pissed. All the other coaches were trying to calm him down. Everybody was fired up about what happened.”
Come to Vandy: we may not win much, but at least we won’t take anybody’s shit anymore. You know, that’s not the worst sales pitch in the world for a program that largely been a doormat for decades. Matt Zemek’s buying it.
The part Franklin likely didn’t count on, but turned out to be the bonus that made the confrontation so much bigger, was Grantham’s rapid combustibility. If he’s being chewed out by Richt and McGarity, it ought to be over his stupidity in responding, not his passion. That’s the life lesson he needs to take away from this.
Particularly because, as Groo notes, the coaches on Georgia’s sideline weren’t doing a good job keeping emotions under control during the game.
… The discipline and execution that had led to four straight dominant defensive performances were abandoned. We’ll let the players describe what happened. Ray Drew:
We kind of fell apart (in the second half), let emotions run a little too high, and things started going every which way.
We were out of position on a lot of plays, which is the mental part of the game, and the quarterback took control of the game.
They’re not reaching for excuses – that all happened. You could see the missed tackles, the personal fouls, the loss of containment, and the gaping spaces left by players out of position. No other way could Vandy roll up 200 yards of rushing.
Unfortunately, there was no one on the sideline able to reel the emotions back in. If someone was trying to get heads back in the game, they didn’t make much progress. After the game Grantham was well within his place to take up for his players, and that will be appreciated in the locker room. During the game though Grantham and the other defensive coaches needed to recognize that their players were caught up in the emotion and get everyone settled down and focused on their assignments. They failed in that respect, and that should bother us a lot more than whatever went on afterwards.
That, too, reinforces my impression that a lot of this was calculated on Franklin’s part. That’s not bad coaching, although you wonder how sustainable it is over the long haul.
And don’t take my word for Franklin’s nature here. Take his:
“I’m not a guy who really has a whole lot of regrets,” Franklin said. “I’m really calculated and pretty thought out in the things that I do, for the most part. I am an emotional guy, as most of you guys know.”
Well, after a home loss, he’s got his team on the map for the moment. That’s something. Let’s see what he does with it from here.
The ripple effect from the SEC going to thirteen (and perhaps very soon to fourteen) schools is causing the Big 12 and Big East to scramble to stay viable. (The Big East had the added problem of having two of its members grabbed by the ACC so that it would remain viable.) That means continuing the trend of poaching the few mid-major programs which are acceptable either in terms of marketability or consistent top 1o rankings that we saw start with the Pac-12’s acceptance of Utah.
There are a few possible B.C.S. discussions that everyday fans would care about. That would include adding a B.C.S. bowl game — the Cotton Bowl is commonly mentioned — to increase the number of B.C.S. bids and changing the limit of two teams per conference for B.C.S. games.
Jim Delany is hardly nonplussed by these developments.
… Plus One was ultimately seen as a gateway to a bigger playoff, and college football still appears a long way from trending in that direction. During the expansion boom the past two years, a common refrain was that the march toward 16-team superconferences would inevitably lead to a playoff.
Delany said he did not see that.
“I think the number of systems that you have in the structure has stayed the same,” he said. “I don’t see how the politics change much by the size of those units.”
And why should he be? As long as slapping a BCS label on a bowl results in more bucks coming in the door and letting more schools from AQ conferences slop at the money trough, life is good. From his standpoint, what does college football need a playoff for, anyway?
Illinois? Illinois? What were you thinking, Blutarsky? Forgive me, football gods, for I have sinned. I will strive to do better with this week’s ballot.
This week it came down to choosing the team ranked 100th in total defense or the team ranked 94th in total offense for the tenth spot. I held my nose and went with Oklahoma State over Kansas State.
Ironically, I think I saw a quote from Mike Gundy along the lines of there being three great teams in college football this season: Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma. He’s right about that. Almost every other team on my list has question marks, such as the ones I’ve already mentioned in making the last pick, or horrendous strength of schedule numbers, like Wisconsin’s (Sagarin’s #131) and Stanford’s (Sagarin’s #90).
You know what school besides those top three doesn’t? Clemson, believe it or not.
The school I’m starting to feel guilty about leaving off the list is Houston. The 6-0 Cougars have a stronger SOS ranking (Sagarin’s #120) than Wisconsin does.
Ballot composition took about 25 minutes. I’d say at least twenty of those minutes came from staring at my navel about the tenth slot.
“And Georgia fans, don’t be turds. Enjoy this. Soak it up. It’s awesome. If you don’t win this year, it’s still not a failure. It’s a heck of a run. Back-to-back in the Playoff era hasn’t been done. So, to ask for a third I feel like it’s gluttonous. I feel like it’s not OK. But we’ll be in the mix.”-- David Pollack, On3.com, 5/9/23