Fact and fiction in choke-gate

Even by SEC standards, it’s been interesting watching the arguments go back and forth concerning Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham giving Florida kicker Chas Henry the choke sign last Saturday prior to Henry booting the game-winning field goal in overtime.

Has it been overblown some? Perhaps. Anybody who’s been on a sideline in an SEC football game knows that things are done and said all the time that are lot worse than what Grantham did. The difference here is that he was caught on camera doing it.

Was it embarrassing, classless and juvenile for a grown man making more than $700,000 per year to be yelling at a college kid and telling him that he was going to choke? That would be a yes on all three fronts.

Does it make Grantham a bad person or some kind of detriment to Mark Richt’s coaching staff? No, and anybody who’s met Grantham or been around him knows so.

Is it possible that Henry might have helped ignite the situation by saying some things to people on the Georgia sideline first? Yes, there have been rumblings of that coming from the Georgia camp.

Should Grantham have apologized publicly? Yes. Better yet, should Richt have come out and apologized? That would be a more emphatic yes. Richt has a son playing college football. Wonder how he would feel if the exact same thing had happened to his son?

Does the fact that Florida coach Urban Meyer allowed Chris Rainey to play in this game have anything to do with this whole choking business? Absolutely not. Sure, it was awfully convenient that Rainey would return for the Georgia game, and the fact that Meyer allowed him to return to the team in the first place after sending a women a text message telling her it was “Time to die (expletive)” is a decision Meyer has to live with. But to somehow try and tie the two incidents together is nonsense. The Georgia fans’ real issue with Rainey is that he was a big reason the Gators beat the Bulldogs for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings.

Would the Georgia fans be raising immortal "you know what" if this same thing had happened with one of the Florida coordinators yelling at Blair Walsh right before he was about to kick the game-winner in overtime? I think we all know the answer to that.

And, finally, is it possible that the Florida-Georgia rivalry is simply one of those nasty rivalries that brings out the worst in people? I’ll answer this last question with a few of my own. Didn’t the Brandon Spikes’ eye-gouging incident happen in this game a year ago? Didn’t Meyer call two timeouts in the final seconds of a 49-10 rout just to rub it in two years ago? Didn’t Georgia’s whole sideline race into the end zone and start dancing, at the behest of Richt, and draw a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the Bulldogs’ first touchdown three years ago?

One thing we can all agree on is this: It ain’t a picnic when these two teams get together to play a football game.

Never has been and never will be.