VU accepts player's suspension, plans to 'move on to Army'

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:20pm

Vanderbilt center Logan Stewart and two Georgia players have been suspended for the first half of their teams’ next football games, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive announced on Wednesday.

The ruling comes after the league reviewed tape of Saturday’s game between the two schools. The league deemed that Stewart and Georgia defensive lineman Kwame Geathers and defensive back Shawn Williams all violated NCAA rules with flagrant or unsportsmanlike conduct.

Stewart will miss the first half of Vanderbilt’s game against Army on Saturday, while Geathers and Williams will sit out the opening half against Florida on Oct. 29.

“I understand the commissioner and the SEC needed to do what they feel is appropriate,” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ll keep moving forward and learn from it. Logan addressed the team about it [Wednesday] and I addressed the team. That’s it. We’re going to move onto Army.”

Stewart and Geathers both were flagged on the same play with 13:09 left in the fourth quarter of Vanderbilt’s 33-28 loss to Georgia.

Stewart, a sophomore, was penalized for an illegal block. The SEC said Stewart was in violation of Rule 9-1 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which states that a “flagrant personal foul offender shall be disqualified.”

“If you watch the tape, Logan you can see he was running and he was trying to get his hat across [on the block on Geathers’ knee],” Franklin said. “There was a point where in my opinion watching the tape he wasn’t going to be able to get his hat across and he should have pulled off and he didn’t.”

Geathers was then penalized for committing a personal foul. The SEC said he violated NCAA Football Rule 2-32-1-a for fighting.

Earlier in the game, with 2:08 left in the third quarter, Williams committed a flagrant personal foul. The league found that he violated Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which reads, “No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.”

Most likely replacing Stewart at center will be Wesley Johnson, who moves over from left tackle. Johnson played center the first four games of the season while Stewart recovered from a bout of mononucleosis. Redshirt-freshman Andrew Bridges has backed up Johnson and could make his first start at left tackle.

“We have been pleased with him, the reps he has gotten in,” Franklin said. “He is a big physical guy. He is getting bigger and stronger every day. He moves extremely well. This will give him an opportunity to step up and that is what this game is about. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to build us some more depth. ... The experience we had earlier in the year will help us now. Then hopefully we can get to a point where we can get him in at halftime and go from there.”

No punishment was issued on an altercation between Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Video shows Franklin pointing at Williams as he walked off the field. Grantham, who afterwards said he was sticking up for his players, then walked up to Franklin, yelling and pointing in his face. The two coaches and the two teams had to be separated.

Another video surfaced earlier this week that showed Franklin talking to Georgia head coach Mark Richt afterwards.

Franklin told Richt that his players were “rubbing our face in it right after the game. And then your coach [Grantham] when I tell him about it, then he goes after me and the fight starts.”

Richt responded, “That’s what I thought happened. I apologize.”

On Tuesday, Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams said he didn’t think his players or coaches were at fault during the postgame altercation.

“If I find fault with our kids or our coaches I will sit down and talk to them about what they did wrong,” Williams said. “I have not had to sit down and talk to our coaches or our kids about anything they did wrong.”

2 Comments on this post:

By: Bellevue on 10/19/11 at 2:09

Football is a contact sport. And, on occasion, players on both sides ignore what they are taught and allow their emotions to cross the line of sportsmanship.

Coaches, however, are held to a much higher standard when the emotion factor comes into play. Their job is to teach, guide and lead young men in the right direction by exhibiting personal discipline, setting a good example and adhering to a positive role model perception.

In my view, neither Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin nor Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham attached themselves to any of these qualities.

Grantham says he was defending his players after Franklin allegedly initiated a verbal confrontation with a Georgia player at the conclusion of the game. From this corner, if James Franklin had an issue with the opposition, he should have tempered his emotions, shook hands and went to the locker room and simply filed a complaint with Mike Slive of the Southeastern Conference. It's what social advocates call "walking away". After all, this was a football game; nothing more, nothing less.

James Franklin labels himself as passionate, energized and focused. I would ask that he attempt to keep life and football in their proper perspective.

Larry Vick

By: localboy on 10/19/11 at 2:53

"Coaches, however, are held to a much higher standard when the emotion factor comes into play. Their job is to teach, guide and lead young men in the right direction by exhibiting personal discipline, setting a good example and adhering to a positive role model perception." While elegantly voiced, sorry, at this level these young men are the same age that many of us either entered the service or the workforce and had to grow up quickly - these guys are old enough to differentiate between their own and their coaches on and off the field actions and decisions. They'll hardly be emotionally scarred by seeing such a display. As you so correctly put it, after all this was a football game, nothing more, nothing less.