The game between No. 11 Florida and Vanderbilt was exciting enough on its own. The Commodores jumped to a 21-3 lead but couldn’t hold it, and the Gators rallied for a 37-27 win, their 14th consecutive in Nashville. But the action when the clock was running was not the most entertaining thing to happen at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday. Not even close.
After Florida’s James Houston IV laid a de-cleating block — for which he was flagged for targeting and ejected from the game — upon Vanderbilt’s Dare Odeyingbo, who remained on the turf long after the hit. That drew Vandy head coach Derek Mason and defensive line coach C.J. Ah You to check on their player. While at midfield, someone from the Florida sideline said something to Mason, Mason said something back, and all of a sudden grown men were being restrained by other grown men.
Asked by ESPN’s Tom Luginbill at halftime what was said, Florida head coach Dan Mullen said the conversation would have to be referred to SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and coordinator of football officials Steve Shaw.
But by the time the game ended, Mason and Mullen had calmed down, and the two head coaches exchanged a warm, lengthy embrace at midfield.
That hug-it-out mentality extended to their respective post-game press conferences.
“Derek’s a great, really close friend of mine,” Mullen said. “And I think, our sideline, we’ve got to make sure we’re cleaner in that situation and he probably thinks the same thing.”
On Monday, SEC spokesman Herb Vincent told The Tennessean that no punishment would be handed down to either side for the altercation, citing the cooler heads each side displayed after the game.
“Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were appropriately administered on the field by the officials,” Vincent told the paper. “Any discussion about decorum among the coaches will be handled privately between the conference office and the participating institutions. Both coaches appeared to put this issue behind them in their post-game midfield meeting and post-game comments.”