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More Choke Talk, Less Chalk Talk

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham spoke last night about the choke sign he showed to Florida’s Chas Henry before Florida’s game-winning field goal on Saturday.

“As a competitor, sometimes you get caught up in the heat of the moment.  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.”

When asked if he felt like he needed to apologize to Florida’s kicker, Grantham said, “I’ve kind of basically said what I’m going to say.”

Should he have apologized?  Yes.  And there is a difference between saying “I wish it hadn’t happened” and “I’m sorry I did it.”  But I still don’t believe this to be the greatest sin ever committed on a college football field.  Which apparently puts me in the minority.

Jeff Schultz of The AJC says Grantham’s actions were flat-out wrong:

“It’s over the line.  It’s not even a close call.”

Yes, it was wrong.  But what should the punishment be?  Hanging?  Stoning?  Personally, I’ve always been partial to the Iron Maiden.

Tony Barnhart, also of The AJC, has an opinion about punishments:

“… if I’m in charge at Georgia, three things would happen today:

**- Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will be informed that he’ll be watching Saturday’s game with Idaho State from somewhere other than Sanford Stadium.

**- His wallet will also be considerably lighter because I’m taking a sizable chunk of his $750,000 salary.

**- He would know, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever repeated the behavior in question again and it could be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, he would be fired on the spot.”

There’s more…

“But before Mr. Grantham moves on he is going to apologize to Chas Henry and apologize to the University of Florida.  Then he’s going to apologize to the University of Georgia for embarrassing the institution on a national stage.

“Then he will accept a one-game suspension and a fine and keep his mouth shut.”

Wow.  No one respects the opinion of Barnhart more than me, but a “sizable” fine and a suspension for a gesture?  To be honest, I did a double-take when I read the headline of his latest piece. 

Sure, Grantham has brought some embarrassment to Georgia over his choke sign, but that’s partially due to our own tendency to overreact to anything and everything.


Last week Tennessee’s Derek Dooley said his team was as confused as the Germans at Normandy and it drew national attention because it might possibly maybe could’ve offended someone.  He didn’t compare football to war or compare lost games to dead bodies.  He gave a famous example of a group that got confused and didn’t know what to do without receiving orders first.  Result: Headlines, anger and tsk-tsk-tsking on talk radio.

Now Grantham shows a choke sign to an opposing player and everyone’s up in arms again. 

What would happen if someone pulled a Woody Hayes in this day and age?  Execution at the 50-yard line?

I realize that I’m in the minority on this one.  Everyone seems to be weighing in and most appear to come down on the side that Grantham should be punished severely.

When I hear of Paul Finebaum playing it up on his radio show, I know that he’s probably just stirring the pot.  But when I see Barnhart so angered over the issue, I pause for a second thought.

Still, I come back to the fact that this was just a gesture during a football game.  In a week in which an SEC football player has died of cancer, I think this choke sign needs to be put in proper perspective.

Grantham’s name is now mud.  He surely got a stern look or two when he met with Mark Richt and new AD Greg McGarity over the matter.  And I’m willing to bet you’ll never see another unsportsmanlike gesture from him or any other Georgia coach.

If you do, then you tan some hides. 

But at this point, I continue to feel that this whole issue is a wee tad bit overblown.  Just a smidge.  Maybe?


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