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Phillip's blog: Sign of the times at Georgia

College football coaches preach to their players about making the right choices on and off the field, about not being overwhelmed by the moment.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

But not only did Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham make a bad choice, not only was he overwhelmed by the moment, he is now making excuses.

Grantham was caught on camera giving the choke sign and yelling at Florida kicker Chas Henry during overtime against Florida on Saturday. Henry made the field goal and Florida won 34-31,

It was a classless move. Granthan's excuse? Well, he's just such a competitor.

“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.”

OK, so the next step is to apologize, right? Nope.

"I've kind of basically said what I was going to say," Grantham said.

Georgia coach Mark Richt defended Grantham, saying "emotions run high." Maybe those high-running emotions are why Georgia players have worn a trail to the local jail in recent years.

Grantham ought to be ashamed for embarrassing himself and his employer, but he's really not. He writes it off as being a competitor. That says more about his character than anything else.

I really liked the way my friend Tony Barnhart put it this morning in his blog:

"This is totally unacceptable on any level. And I don’t want to hear this 'heat of competition' crap from anybody. I don’t care how intense a game is. A coach does not attempt to intimidate a student-athlete from another school. You don’t do it. Period."

Richt is a good man and a good coach. But my opinion is he lost control of his program, starting in 2007 with the infamous storming of the field after the first touchdown against Florida. By the next season, Georgia players were dancing and showboating like never before in the program's proud history.

Certainly, Richt has continued to recruit good players. While Florida has been dominating him, he's been dominating Auburn. And he'll try to extend that domination to five consecutive seasons next Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Richt will come to town with five losses and a tarnished image. He and his players can reduce the sting of the losses if they can beat Auburn and Georgia Tech and get to a bowl game.

Repairing that tarnished image is going to take a while.

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