Georgia reacts to USC-Clemson brawl

South Carolina and Clemson won't be going to bowl games. That's what their athletic directors announced Monday.

And Georgia and Georgia Tech won't be going down that same road. That's what they promised on the heels of the brawl between the Gamecocks and Tigers that led to Monday's bowl ban.

"I think it needs to be addressed," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "It's become a big issue."

The fight in Clemson came one day after a vicious melee during an NBA game between Indiana and Detroit, and the combination of the two has made athletic security a national topic.

Although last year's Georgia-Georgia Tech game featured seven personal fouls, four on the Bulldogs and three on the Yellow Jackets, neither side thinks Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game in Athens will escalate to anything close to what happened in Clemson or Detroit.

"Mark (Richt) is a class act," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "I think he'll address his team, and I'll address my team about the character and class part of the game. I would be very disappointed if anything like that happened in this ballgame."

Richt said he will talk to his players about having a plan going into the game for how to handle a heated moment.

"Hopefully, we can think about what would be the right thing to do," he said, "then, if something does get heated, we'll have a lot better chance of doing the right thing."

Gerris Wilkinson, a junior middle linebacker for Georgia Tech, said the Yellow Jackets hear "all the time" about not making bad decisions on the field.

"It's just a matter of being smart about the whole situation," he said. It's an emotional game, but it's really no excuse for anything like that. You can't let emotions get out of control like that. I think this team is smart enough and has enough restraint. There are always cheap shots. There are cheap shots in every game. Even though somebody might do something to you that's unsportsmanlike or uncalled for, you've got to get them between the whistles."

Clemson police chief Gregory Harris told The Greenville News that it took about 90 police officers to break up the fight between the Tigers and Gamecocks. No extra security personnel will be added at Sanford Stadium for Saturday's game. In fact, both Matt Brachowski, Georgia's director of event management, and Jimmy Williamson, UGA's chief of police, said fights on the field like the one in Clemson are more the responsibility of the coaches and game officials than security forces.

Georgia has more than 125 uniformed police officers working security at every game, and that does not include state patrol officers who work traffic before and after the game and watch from the end zone during the game, Williamson said. The university employs a private security force of 450 that has duties ranging from bag checking to field security.

But none of those people should be jumping onto the field of play to stop a fight, Williamson said.

"We wouldn't go out on that field until the very end," he said, adding police shouldn't become involved unless it appears coaches and officials can no longer handle the situation or if they are asked to step in.

Georgia stressed security awareness Monday morning during its weekly senior staff meeting, athletic director Damon Evans said.

"We're just making sure we've dotted all our Is and crossed all our Ts," he said. "There is a heightened awareness because of what has gone on around the country."

Georgia is in its first year of a sportsmanship program called Bulldog Pride, which stresses the importance of good behavior.

"Everyone is aware one of our guiding principles is sportsmanship," Evans said.

The last time Georgia and Georgia Tech came to blows was 1993, when a large fight broke out in a Grant Field end zone late in a 43-10 Bulldog victory. No one expects a repeat this season, but, as Richt said, "I don't think anybody went into that (South Carolina-Clemson) game thinking they were going to get into something like that."


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