So it was no surprise to them when Georgia’s fiery defensive coordinator got into it with Vanderbilt coach James Franklin after a game last season.
“We see that almost every day,” linebacker Michael Gilliard said Tuesday, breaking into a smile.
The fifth-ranked Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) are getting set to play host to the Commodores, rekindling memories of last year’s wild finish.
Georgia was up by 16 in the third quarter, but Vanderbilt had a chance to pull it out in the closing seconds. The Commodores blocked a punt and got the ball back at the Bulldogs 20, only to come up short of the end zone on the final two plays.
Things really got crazy after the clock ran out. Franklin came across the field to shake hands with Georgia coach Mark Richt and apparently had some sort of altercation with a Georgia player. Grantham jumped into the fray, screaming at Franklin. The coordinator made no apologies for his actions, though he did issue a statement calling it an “unfortunate” incident that he hopes to learn from.
Turns out, it gave Grantham even more credibility in the locker room than he already had. His guys will do just about anything for their leader, even though he’s usually harder on them than he is the other team.
“Anytime a coach on the opposing team comes at one of our players, our coaches should step in. We were glad to see coach Grantham step in and have our backs for that,” said defensive back Sanders Commings, a former Westside star. “He told us he was a players’ guy and he would have our backs no matter what.”
While Richt wasn’t necessarily happy with the way things ended a season ago, he makes no apologies for hiring a coach with Grantham’s demeanor.
“I knew he had lot of fire,” Richt said. “I wanted that in the guy who was going to lead the way for us on defense.”
Franklin said he’s moved on since last year’s game, which got downright chippy at times and resulted in half-game suspensions for three player – two from Georgia, one from Vanderbilt.
“Everybody else is going to talk about it, but I know coach Richt’s going to focus on playing the game and the fundamentals, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Franklin said. “It was an emotional, passionate, great game last year. But we’re going to do what we do every single week and focus on (this) game.”