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SEC suspends 2 Georgia players, 1 Vandy player

Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, center left, talks with Georgia head coach Mark Richt, center right, following an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin, center left, talks with Georgia head coach Mark Richt, center right, following an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Donn Jones)
By Charles Odum
AP Sports Writer / October 19, 2011

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ATLANTA—The Southeastern Conference suspended two Georgia players and one Vanderbilt player on Wednesday for the first halves of their next games as punishment for incidents in the Bulldogs' 33-28 win on Saturday.

Vanderbilt center Logan Stewart and two Georgia players, defensive tackle Kwame Geathers and defensive back Shawn Williams, drew the suspensions. All are starters.

The suspensions will be served when Vanderbilt plays Army this week and Georgia plays Florida in Jacksonville on Oct. 29.

Geathers hit Stewart after Stewart was called for a flagrant personal foul in the fourth quarter. Williams drew a flagrant personal foul in the third quarter.

The SEC made no public ruling on Vanderbilt coach James Franklin or Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who had a heated exchange on the field after the game.

"Any action taken there would be handled internally between the league and the schools," SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

As Grantham and Franklin exchanged words after the game, players had to be pulled apart by coaches and Vanderbilt police.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he discussed the incident with SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

"It s certainly not representative of the Georgia way," Richt said in a statement released after the suspensions were announced. "I have always trusted the commissioner's judgment and understand and accept the decision. We'll learn as well as grow from this situation and now turn our attention to preparing for Florida."

According to video posted by WSMV-TV in Nashville, Franklin told Richt his confrontation with Grantham was set up by postgame comments from Williams.

The TV station has video of Franklin telling Richt that Williams "comes up, after a tough game talking ... to me. Yeah, rubbing our face in it right after the game. Then your coach (Grantham), when I tell him about it, then he goes after me and the fight starts."

Grantham landed in trouble last year for making a choke sign as Florida lined up for the winning field goal.

Grantham released a statement on Monday in which he stopped short of an apology but explained he was standing up for his players.

"I love my players," Grantham said. "I appreciate their hard work and investment in our program. I feel a responsibility and loyalty to protect and stand up for them. Also, I feel it is important to educate them on all areas of life.

"While my intentions were genuine, I feel it was unfortunate that things escalated to a confrontation. These actions were not representative of what this institution stands for. However, I will use it as a learning experience for myself as well as my players so that we all become better men."

Franklin on Monday expressed regret about the incident.

"I would've liked when we didn't win the game we could've left the field and shook hands and been men of character all of us and walked off the field and do a great job representing our institutions and the conference," Franklin said.

Richt said he wants Georgia players and coaches to "keep our poise."

"For me personally, I like it when coaches can walk across the field and shake hands and say good luck next time," he said.

A Vanderbilt spokesman said the school would have no comment on the suspensions.

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AP Sports Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville contributed to this report.