Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason got into a heated verbal exchange with both Florida coach Dan Mullen and Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham during Saturday’s contest in Nashville, Tenn.
The incident occurred with the less than two minutes to play in the first half of the Gators’ 37-27 victory after Florida linebacker James Houston delivered a blindside hit on Vanderbilt’s Dare Odeyingbo during a punt return.
While Odeyingbo remained on the field near the Florida sideline, Mason went over to check on him. He got into an expletive-laced conversation with Grantham, and then Mullen joined in, apparently suggesting Mason return to his sideline.
At the same time, both team’s benches cleared. Both teams were called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph was ejected and initially refused to leave the field.
Houston was also ejected as he was flagged for targeting.
After the contest, Mason and Mullen exchanged a long hug while discussing the matter.
“I talked to Dan at the end of that ballgame, and that was just a matter of players down, and their player on the sideline had said something directed at me, and I said something back, and Dan gets mad — that’s how it started,” Mason told reporters. “At the end of the day, we’re just trying to make sure we can play the game the right way. Keep the game safe, and make sure everybody walks out of this.
“It’s a referee’s job to referee. Not ours. I got a lot of respect for Dan. He respects the process. So do I.”
Mullen also downplayed the incident in a postgame interview on ESPN.
“Derek and I are really close friends. He’s great. He knows that,” Mullen said. “He’s doing an amazing job here: You just look at what he’s been able to accomplish going to bowl games, coaching this team, how they play, how they compete. He does an amazing job. He and I are really close friends.
“We’re not gonna get into that publicly at all — Derek is a really close friend of mine — we gotta make sure our sideline is cleaner in that situation. I’m sure he probably thinks the same thing. There’s nothing carrying over from that. Nothing to get into publicly.”
–Field Level Media