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.
But that’s not exactly what set Franklin off. (h/t SPORTSbyBROOKS)
If you want the transcript of that, here ’tis:
… 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.
That’s reinforced by what Franklin was evidently selling recruits afterwards.
… 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.
And let’s see what Grantham takes from this.
UPDATE: Mark Bradley, in throwing the fish bait out, offers this warning:
(An aside here: I’d also be careful about angering this Vandy coach. James Franklin is going to beat some big names very soon.)
Is it too much to hope that Georgia Tech could play Vanderbilt real soon? The Bradley column pondering that meeting of coaching legends would be epic.