UGA’s Grantham fires back at Florida’s Muschamp

Florida coach Will Muschamp stirred up fan bases on both sides of the rivalry with Georgia when, speaking at a booster club in Jacksonville this week, he was asked about the Bulldogs’ two-game winning streak.

“Well, it’s not going to be a long winning streak, I can assure you,” Muschamp shot back. “We’re very comfortable (saying that).… Very disappointed for our football team and the Gator Nation that we didn’t get the job done. Looking forward to the game this year.”

Georgia had a chance to respond to Muschamp’s assessment Wednesday in the person of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. He was at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel and Conference Center on the alumni association-organized speaking tour called UGA Days.

“I mean, what do you expect him to say,” said Grantham during an interview session with reporters shortly before speaking to fans and alumni. “Will’s a guy that I know personally, and I think he’s done a good job at Florida. I think he’s very competitive, as we all are as coaches. He’s a guy that wants to win. I think he’s just trying to fire up the people in Jacksonville.

“The bottom line is, in this league you win with individual performance and mental and physical toughness, and you do it on the field. The fact is, the last two years we’ve won in Florida and we’ve won the SEC East. From that standpoint, that stuff has no effect on me.”

Muschamp cited the Gators’ turnover issues in last year’s 17-9 Georgia victory and characterized them as self-inflicted.

“Obviously, when you turn the ball over six times, you’re not going to win many games,” Muschamp said. “We fought through a lot of adversity we created for ourselves in the game. It just didn’t work out.”

Grantham took exception to that. Obviously he feels the Bulldogs should be given some credit for coming up with the football.

“We actually created six turnovers, and we were plus-3 for the game,” Grantham said. “In this league, when you turn the ball over, you’re going to have a hard time winning. The last two years we’ve had 62 (takeaways), which is second only to LSU. If we’re plus-1 since I’ve been here we’re right around 92 percent win. It’s a critical point, we emphasize it and we work it every day.”

He said it: Grantham said he likes the progress of rising sophomore Josh Harvey-Clemons at defensive back. But he added that his presence there has as much to do with outside linebacker as safety. “With him being a safety, James DeLoach is on the field (at Sam linebacker) and that’s a combination we like,” he said.

Robinson joins staff: Grantham is limited in what he can say because of hiring protocols, but he basically confirmed Christian Robinson’s tweet earlier this week that he was joining the Bulldogs’ staff as a graduate assistant.

“Unofficially, I guess,” Grantham said. “It’s not official. He has to go through the process, but if he can clear the program he’ll be with us.”

Robinson, a part-time starter at inside linebacker the past two seasons, decided to “hang up his cleats” after getting a free-agent tryout with the St. Louis Rams.

Standing O for Adams: Outgoing UGA President Michael Adams received a standing ovation from the crowd of about 200 who paid an average of $35 to attend Wednesday night’s program.

Adams, who retires in June, mostly talked about academic growth at UGA and the joys of serving, but he did weigh in on athletics. He said he expects more change coming, but doesn’t necessarily think it’s a good thing. “I think we need to stay distinctly collegiate,” he said, but added later, “We’re not through with the dissolution of conferences.”

No hire yet: Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox confirmed that operations coordinator Jonas Hayes is a candidate to fill the vacancy on his coaching staff. But he would not call him a favorite to land the job formerly held by Kwanza Johnson, who left to join the staff at TCU.

“It’s still open,” Fox said of the position. “I think it closes Thursday or Friday, so we’ve still got some time on that. There’s been a lot of interest, so we’ll get a good coach in here.”

Fox said he’d like to have somebody in place by the start of summer school, which begins in early June.

Etc.: Defensive end signee Leonard Floyd enrolled at UGA for the May mini-semester, according to Grantham. … Fox said Jonas’ twin brother, Jarvis Hayes, has returned to UGA to complete his degree. … Fox said junior college transfer Cameron Forte would not be able to enroll in June with the rest of the signees in the 2013 class. However, he expects him in July.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.