The Back Nine: Gators got grooving late in South Carolina game, haven’t stopped since

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Florida players celebrate after the Peach Bowl college football game win against Michigan on Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. Florida won 41-15. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Back Nine comes at you after a very Peachy four days in Atlanta that included a lot of Chick-fil-A, a world class hospitality room and a dominant performance I didn’t see coming.

10. So I want to take you back to a place in the not-too-recent past when things looked pretty bleak for this Florida football team. The Gators were coming off losses to Georgia and Missouri and trailed South Carolina 31-14 late in the third quarter. Then, Dan Mullen got his groove back. From that point until the end of the season, Florida scored 166 points and won four consecutive games. During that stretch, the Gators averaged 7.1 yards per play. Oh, and the defense gave up a total of 39 points in three-plus games. It’s difficult to maintain championship performances all season, which is why I have so much respect for Alabama and Clemson. But this run that Florida has been on is the first time we’ve seen anything like it since 2008. I don’t want to overreact to this finish because it will be a different team next year. But the players who return will know even more that the plan that Mullen and Nick Savage and the rest of this staff had will yield tangible results.

11. We all know that bowl games are different animals and that you never know how teams are going to treat them. And I do get tired of the cliche “that team wanted it more.” But cliches can sometimes be true and this one certainly was. There were Michigan players who played their tails off, guys like Chase Winovich played through a variety of injuries while teammates sat it out. But there was no doubt which team wanted it more and the evidence was the number of players crying after the game. I doubt you’d have seen the same thing if Michigan had won and that is not a criticism. I don’t think the Wolverines were overly excited to be playing Florida again and probably figured they’d just push the Gators around as usual. “A lot of people thought they were just going to come out, punch us in the mouth, push us around because they’re bigger than us,” said Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. “We showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight and treated it like a regular week. I don’t know how they prepared. But I don’t think they prepared too well.”

12. Meanwhile, the rest of bowl season has pretty much reeked on ice, especially the two playoff games. Some of the performances are downright embarrassing to the coaches who didn’t get their teams ready because you are usually playing a team that is roughly similar in talent. South Carolina still hasn’t scored against Virginia. Army just scored again against Houston and Georgia Tech still can’t come from behind. Of course, Houston pulled a very NFL-like move by firing Major Applewhite after two seasons. Who do you think you are, Houston? Man, there are some entitled boosters out there in the world of college football.

13. Because of those bad semifinals (which has become the norm in the playoff era), you’ve heard the talk go from “We must expand” to “We need to contract.” What’s the point of expanding when you probably are going to get worse games? At least that’s the argument. We are also hearing the hindsight argument that Notre Dame shouldn’t have been included despite a 12-0 record. I think Georgia is a better team, but at some point losing has to be part of the criteria. And anyone who thought Notre Dame should have been in before the game (including all of you who thought the Irish might win) and changed their minds after the game cannot be taken seriously.

14. It was a real bombshell to hear Mark Richt was quitting at Miami, but he just couldn’t deal with it all. The Miami fan base is a rough crowd and when you take them to the top of the roller coaster and then it derails on the way down, it’s going to get ugly. Every fanbase has its lunatic fringe, but Miami has more than anybody and the word is that the soft-spoken and religious Richt just got tired of it. This was a guy who went from 10-0 in year two to losing nine of the next 16 games. That doesn’t play well anywhere, but certainly not at a place where there are so many delusional and entitled fans. Also, Richt fell victim to the reason there are nepotism rules at some places of work. Like Bobby Bowden many years ago, he was too stubborn to get rid of his son (Jon) from the staff when things were blowing up, giving the fanbase one more target that could be taken personally. (Also, he didn’t have a quarterback, which is kind of a big deal). So Manny Diaz will take over after a few days on the job at Temple where I’m sure he told his players how important it was to buy in. And we wonder why players sit out bowl games.

15. I saw this stat Monday, that the six highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL did not make the playoffs. Those six quarterbacks made $171 million and produced 31 wins. That’s not real efficient. But here is my question — did this happen because there wasn’t enough money left under the salary cap to build a good team around those quarterbacks or are the young guns still working under their rookie contracts just that good? Or did the teams with those six quarterbacks overpay badly? It’s not like the surviving quarterbacks are all young whippersnappers because we have Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers still playing, but the youth movement is going to make this an interesting postseason. My bold predictions (also known as wild guesses) for the wild-card playoff games — Houston over Indianapolis, Chargers over Ravens (I’m sure I will be burned on this one), Dallas over Seattle and Bears over Eagles.

16. My New Year’s resolutions are too numerous to mention. But the most important one is to be a better person. I’m not a bad person, but I could be better. It starts right now. By the way, how strange was it to have a bowl season without FSU to cheer against? OK, it starts NOW.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Pat Forde of Yahoo, one of the best in the business — “Everyone: Georgia Tech and Miami might have set a new standard for no-showing a bowl game. Purdue: Hold my boilermaker.” Yeah, there were a lot of teams who no-showed their bowl games, but Purdue has to be one of the all-timers with its performance against Auburn. That was the best example of how a running clock wouldn’t be such a bad idea in some bowl games. It was also an illustration of something Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson told me Thursday, that the top four of the SEC and Big Ten were even but the next four, not so much.

18. Just wanted to say that the Peach Bowl people did an amazing job in everything and it was a real pleasure. For players, coaches and media, the bigger the bowl, the better the experience. Anyway, here’s a new playlist:

• “Talking Straight” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

• “Middle America” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.

• “If I Say” by Mumford and Sons.

• “To Be” by Foxwarren.

• And because he caught a lot of shrapnel on Twitter after his performance at halftime of the Orange Bowl, for an oldie let’s go with “The Best of What’s Around” by the Dave Matthews Band.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

120 COMMENTS

  1. ND’s wins told the story ahead of time, especially the lack luster win over USC at the end of the regular season. They were a good team in 2018, but were obviously not a top four team. Today we will see if OSU should have been in or UGA (who proved they were a top four worthy team in the SEC Championship).

    I’ve changed my mind back to my pre-CPF position that we all know the best team will always be in the top 2-3 ranked teams. The best team will not be found in the 5-8, period. And what most of the Media hates to admit is its a fact that the SEC Championship Games is second only to the NC game. Its still like a sold out Heavy Weight bout event to everyone living south of the Ohio River. Other power Five Conferences cannot duplicate it, mainly because the SEC has a geographic layout advantage.

    Pat: Happy New Years! You and Robbie do a pretty good job! I do a lot of technical letter writing, writing is HARD WORK. Your stats and behind the scene insights are entertaining. Your pre-game predictions and everyone else’s are pointless to me. Its OK to state our “feelings” based on some facts and circumstances surrounding the coming games, but Robbie was over the top with his MI beatdown comments. He was showing hope against the Gators with his “neutral comments”. It was a very hard season to follow, but had over the top drama! Ever week we were all wondering “what will happen, which team will show, Franks is growing, right???, etc.” I predict next season will be much easier to follow.

    • I think the loser in the SEC Championship game will just need to accept that in some years, the game is a play-in to the College Football Playoff. And frankly, there is nothing fundamentally unfair if you’ve just lost –at the end of the season– to a team that makes it into the CFP.

      Notre Dame was just a poor job of evaluation by the committee. Heck, they almost lost to Vanderbilt and also played much-closer-than-they-should-have-been games against Ball State, Pitt and the 2018 edition of USC. But that said, how do you put a two-loss Georgia into the CFP over an undefeated Notre Dame? Correct or not under the CFP criteria, it ain’t gonna happen.

      Oklahoma belonged in the CFP, on the theory that you need at least two other teams to have a four-team playoff.

      • Nashville: Exactly on the ND evaluation…I would have put OSU in. Yes, UGA is likely a better team, BUT they did get “eliminated” by Bama. Even though I’m a die hard Gator/SEC guy, OSU would have added some regional value to the system…way better than an overrated ND.

      • Nashville, I agree with your assessment that the SEC CG is a “play-in” game for the CFP, and I think it’s time that the other Power 5 CG’s become play-in games, as well. Winning has to be the major criterion for earning a spot in the CFP. StLGator has argued convincingly that expanding the playoff will devalue the regular season, but I would contend that excluding undefeated teams based solely on opinion of their strength of schedule devalues the regular season, too. Winners must be rewarded with losers paying the price of exclusion.

        What I think we need to do is decide whether we want a playoff that determines the “best” team (subjective) or the “winning” team (objective). I argue that it must be objective criteria, i.e. winning, that determines the champion. At some point, the “best” team must prove itself by winning the game(s) on the field. If we just want to crown the “best” team as champion, you could make a legitimate case for UGA being crowned champions last season even though they lost the game to Bama. After all, they dominated Bama for most of the game and only lost because of a fluke missed assignment in the secondary on the winning play, ergo, UGA was the “best” team.

        Sounds silly doesn’t it, but that’s what you get when you don’t respect the results of the game on the field. It’s the same argument that says UGA is still in the top 4 now despite losing two games. How does that respect the results on the field? One can argue that OSU is better than ND, but that embarrassing loss to Purdue says otherwise. ND beat every team they faced in the regular season, and who’s to say OSU would’ve fared better against Clemson than ND?

        I think an expanded playoff to include all the Power 5 champions and, at least, the highest ranked Group of 5 champion is warranted. If those champions are not worthy, the playoff will weed them out. If some conference runners-up want to claim they were better than some conference champs, they had the chance to prove it in the regular season by winning their own conference (how’s that for valuing the regular season?).

        I respectfully disagree with DeWayne that teams 5-8 can’t compete with the top 4. In Sugar Bowl history, teams from outside the top 4, a number of which were outside the top 8 and some even unranked, have defeated a top 4 team 17 times and tied once in 45 tries. Obviously, that’s still a losing record, but it’s enough to prove those teams can be competitive. An 8 team playoff may not happen for a number of legitimate reasons, but I do think teams 5-8 can compete at least as well as teams 3 and 4 did this season.

        • “ergo” they were NOT the “best” team because a game consists of ALL the plays!! Otherwise I would agree with most of what you said.
          Strength of schedule Must play into it. It is the only legitimate way to keep teams like ND out, who played a very weak schedule. They kept UCF out for playing a weak schedule, how subjective was that? The Sports oligarchy has always favored ND even when, like this year they played a soft schedule like UCF. It cant be because they won some NC’s back in the 1st half of the last century, so it must be because they belong to the richest and most powerful church in the world! Look, most of the supreme court judges are catholic! The power and influence shouldnt have any place in the sporting world but ND is a perfect example that they do. I for one, am sick of the favoritism! Im so glad each year when they lose so the sports oligarchs cant favor them, except have them too high in the polls!

          • I agree with you, Daz, that UGA was NOT the “best” team, and I didn’t mean to imply that I did. As Rush Limbaugh says (or used to, at least) I was “illustrating absurdity by being absurd”. However, I do think that sometimes the “best” team doesn’t win, and that’s ok. It’s fine with me if people want to think the losing team is still the “best” team, but it’s not fine with me if people want to say the winning team is undeserving of the title “champion” just because those people don’t think the winner is the “best” team. The team that wins is the team that deserves the title.

      • Who belonged in was OhSt. It is so common to have a game where you overlook your opponent like they did Purdue who was hopped up on a little cancer patient. They Showed against Mi they should have been in instead of ND.
        Georgia! Georgia cried all week that they were slighted! When I heard their whining and that their #1 CB was out I knew they had the wrong mentality to win. Sure enough they lost miserably to a lesser talent of TX! I had made my wagers 2 weeks ago before knowing all that or else I wouldnt have bet on them. I was able to make an ingame bet on Tx to make it a wash! Otherwise I got LSU, Al, Aub, OhSt, Clemson, Uf and Duke winners all correct. Saban sat on the 6yrd line and refused to score for more than the last minute of the game thus screwing me and all the Bama fans who bet on their team(bittersweet for them, team wins and they lost a bundle). the only one I got dead wrong was SC(found out later they had top guys out). Altogether I made a sweet bundle.

    • BSCE1981 – This is the very reason that I believe that ND should have to play in a conference. The way it is set up now it is based on undefeated teams from the top 5 conferences and the opinions of whomever is responsible to fill out the best 4. I find it unfair that ND gets a pass, yet UCF gets opinionated out of the chance to prove they belong. I intended to wager a bet on UCF against LSU, but I believe that UCF if considered the favorite by the odds makers in Vegas. So I am not going to wager since the odds are not in my favor. GO GATORS!!!

      • I agree, Ed. In fact, I think getting all the FBS teams in conferences is the proper start toward a true playoff where teams earn their way in by their record rather than being awarded a spot by a subjective evaluation of their record. It may never happen because of the desire to preserve tradition, but the FBS should probably be trimmed to about 80 teams, so the teams can more reasonably be considered to be equal in opportunity. There may be even more than 50 teams that don’t have even a puncher’s chance at an FBS title, and it seems reasonable to me to put them in a separate division between FCS and FBS, so they can have their own championship.

      • Smart move gator ed, since they lost. UCF had a very weak schedule and I knew they would lose to LSU, to the tune of $500. If you knew how to analyse them you would know that LSU doesnt match up well with UCF yet i still knew they would win because they are a superior talent. Ga only got beat because they whined all week about being out of the CFP. That right there shows they had the wrong attitude to go play and win; poor is me isnt a winning attitude nor does it show a team thats prepared. Thats on their coach and shows they have a coaching problem!

        • UGA lost like Bama a few years ago in the Sugar…losing the SEC Championship is a gut kick, UGA did not have the fire of UT because the real game was past. UCF vs ND would have been an interesting even match. OSU, I hate to admit, had the talent to be in the final four, ND was a level below the others (examine the individual games played, nothing special there). Beating MI early in the season isn’t a WOW factor win, the full season proved it. An honest CFP would have put ND in UCF’s category, eliminated by analysis.

        • Daz – my secret was really not a secret, but LSU had several injuries and that is why I believe that Vegas odds were in favor of UCF. I only wanted to wager had the odds been heavily in favor of LSU. Anyway it saved me a saw buck. I did win $18.00 in draftkings on a $3.00 bet on the NFL. Also UCF played better against LSU than GA did against the steers and ok that is enough…lol. The biggest thing about these Bowl games is the wait time between the last game played and post game play. That is where great coaching comes into play, and we showed that we absolutely have an upper echelon coach. Thank you Coach Dan Mullen and Staff…..hope you all have a great new year! And Gator-6, UCF didn’t embarrass themselves and played pretty close. That no one can take from them and they should be recognized for that. All I am saying is that UCF has shown that they should have been given a chance last year as well. Look at it this way – who comprises the majority of UCF players? Florida boys that’s who. Don’t forget that they also lost Frost to Nebraska and went undefeated in their regular season with a new coach. UCF only lost by 8 points to LSU. See my point yet??? LOL. Anyway I always try to fight on the side of what should be right in my eyes. The main thing is that our GATORS are hot shit and they are only going to get hotter! GO GATORS!!!

          • Well, the game wasn’t as close as the score alone would indicate, but I’ll cede your point just the same Ed — because you’re passionate, number one, and number two, because I’m all about chances for the underdog too. I had pretty strong positive feelings about UCF as well, until they started the “national championship” nonsense (which Frost himself wouldn’t even endorse)…..and of course, the recent untoward deportment of their AD. That’s been hashed out, of course, and there isn’t much left to say about it at this time.

            One interesting and even amusing thing about UCF tho — many of the folks on here who fervently believe they should have been a CFP team the last couple of years, are the same ones who just as fervently state that you can’t be a CFP team without a Top-10 — preferably a Top-5 — recruiting ranking, and gobs of 5* recruits to boot. I know they’re fervent about it because they usually append the word “Fact” to it, as if saying so actually makes it so.

            UCF’s recruiting rank for the last four years, however, has been 71, 65, 55, and 57 — with zero 5* players and only two 4* players in that time — with seventy 3*s. So that more or less makes a point that player development once a program has them, tends to outweigh numbers of stars before they show up. THAT, I’d never take away from UCF……or USF either, for that matter…… but it also negates the above argument for CFP teams (as long as one maintains that UCF should be a CFP team). The solution to all this debate, in my mind anyway, is to expand the playoffs to include the best 3 Group of Five conference champions. If UCF, or Fresno State, or Boise State, etc, beats everybody that way — hell, I’d even crown them Champions of Life too and addition to National Champions (maybe they’d name the final game the “Butch Jones Bowl” or something, I don’t know). But if the GOF teams don’t survive, make your case again next year like everybody else has to!

            Huah?

          • Excellent point about the star rating system, 6. Generally speaking, I think the “experts” are right about the 4 and 5 stars, but UCF, USF, and even CDM at MSU have proven that so-called 3 stars can be coached to compete with the supposed “big boys”.

            I like your playoff idea incorporating the 3 highest ranked GOF champs. If the Power 5 runners up want to complain about being “better” than GOF champs, then they have two options as I see it: win their conference or jump to a GOF conference and prove it on the field.

            Oh, just one more thing: not that you’ve done it, 6, but for those who’ve offered the “disinterested and nothing to play for” excuse for a possible LSU loss to UCF and the actual UGA loss to TX, it seems to me to be just making excuses for losing. It also devalues the results of the games on the field, and if you disrespect the result of one game, how do you pick and choose which game results to respect? Will the Bama-Clemson winner really be the NC if we arbitrarily pick and choose the game results we like?

          • You know, Joe, it reminds me of an old saying among infantrymen “back in the day” — 65 will remember it for sure — “THE MAXIMUM RANGE OF AN EXCUSE IS 00 METERS”.

  2. I don’t believe Dan Mullen “got his groove back” late in the third quarter against South Carolina; I don’t think he ever “lost” his groove in the first place. What he did, in rather classic Dan Mullen style, was finally convince his team to “get THEIR groove back”. That inconsistency was in fact the untold, behind the locker room story of the Gators in 2018 — and when they overcame it, when the light bulb went on, they realized as a TEAM that not only did they have character but that character really does matter. Call it gumption, call it drive, call it motivation — hell, call it anything but late to the chow hall — that’s the factor that I’m most proud of these Gators for.

  3. Pat, you make your best sense each week in your “Back Nine”, when you simply converse with us. It’s always a treat and I’m glad you’re still covering the Gators. I’m hoping you keep it up a long time ahead. You and Robbie missed on these 2018 Gators with your picks. It will be interesting to see your outlook about August 27-30 as we approach a new season with an almost entirely rebuilt offensive line.

    These Gators believed. From their first meeting with Dan Mullen to the shock and awe of their initial morning with Nick Savage, running the campus linked by a heavy rope with their new head coach in stride, the tone and outlook of the program dramatically shifted. Mullen turned in the best first year coaching job at Florida since Steve Spurrier in 1990. He has a different approach that Steve but a similar motif. We’re in for many more good times with Mullen heading our program.

    Best wishes to you and your family, Pat, for a satisfying New Year!

  4. HAPPY NEW YEAR AND GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY PAT!

    “So Manny Diaz will take over after a few days on the job at Temple where I’m sure he told his players how important it was to buy in. And we wonder why players sit out bowl games.” – Pat Dooley.

    Couldn’t have said that better Pat.

  5. I am not personally a “booer” at games. I think it’s right to support the players. However, I actually believe that the booing franks received in the South Carolina game worked. It made him play angry and fired up to PROVE the fans wrong especially when running. And I’m doing so, I think he discovered that he truly could play harder. That to me ended up being a huge moment for franks. He played with a new passion the whole rest of the season. I never would have thought so at the time, but the booing he received might have been the best thing to ever happen to him.

  6. Pat, as you emphasized in your podcast, I read your back nine with cheers and mostly smiles of yeah, “that’s right…!”

    Some thoughts regarding your article: Miami and FSU are okay…oh yes, on game day, I want to beat them as much as anyone! However, they are part of the Floridian family so always treat them like family. I agree, some boosters do have that entitlement view. That would be a good resolution, “give w/o any attached strings. Although, thank goodness for the big boosters! Lastly, winning helps to have that feel good feeling but our Gators and the Peach Bowl organization made this game a terrific experience! Go Gators!

    • Sorry Nassau but FSU and Miami are not family they are enemies. It is to our advantage that those programs are down because of recruiting. Miami is already getting burned on the trail, FSU still doing well but not as well as usual. Miami has negative recruited us for years, they are dirty scoundrels. Same with FSU.
      So screw them and their delusional and entitled fans

      • Jonesee, I like your passion as ill-advised as it may be IMO. Relatives attend these school’s so they are truely family. As far as recruiting, everytime we disc them we potentially alienate half of all available recruits and open the door for more critical coalitions between FSU, Miami, UGA, OSU, BAMA, All…against Florida! The State has enough recruits for all of us but let’s keep them in-State! Let’s build a Florida Coalition! Go Gators!

        • Nassau don’t follow your so called Florida coalition deal. If we miss on a Florida recruit, is it better for us if he chooses FSU, Auburn, Miami,UGA or Bama?
          I rather he goes to an out of state team, preferably one we don’t play rather than make FSU or Miami better and thus more desirable for other top recruits

          • And I don’t believe there are any multi team coalitions against us.
            College football recruiting is dog eat dog, every one is looking out fot themselves.

          • THIS JUST IN:

            Miami AD “Guarantees” Win Over Gators in 2019 Due to Hire of Manny Diaz to Replace Mark Richt.

            No foolin’. What’s with these ADs? Did I miss something, or is this suddenly the WWF? Next thing you know, the UCF Athletic Director will claim that since they only lost to LSU by 8 points, then they are the uncrowned SEC champions or something.

            Well, at any rate somebody better tell Dan Mullen — otherwise he might accidentally spoil their victory party. By mistake, of course.

      • CO, I root for UF, then the SEC, then Florida teams and when none of them are in a game I usually root for the underdog. Im loyal to UF, the SEC and my state, in that order regarding sports! I also hold no ill will against any team, its just a game, life’s too short. I also understand that my, or your rooting will have no influence on who will win, it will only have an influence on the Rooter, his character and his personality. I have many friends that are fans of UF opponents. We get along because we dont take it personal. I know one guy who does and I can never make friends with him. He is just BITTER. Thats what his zeal has gotten him!

        • I also root for UF and then the SEC and who ever plays Miami. Lately I have been rooting against FSU and UGA on the theory that if those programs are down it will help us in recruiting. After UGA’s players made such arses of themselves on social media after OKU & ND lost it is easy to root against that conceited team. Reminds me of all the talk from the LSU A holes after our game was cancelled because of the hurricane.
          I do root for the second tier Florida teams although UCF has made it tough to root for these past two seasons, hopefully they come back to Earth now.
          And the thing is if you are exposed to obnoxious fans form one of those teams you can’t help but root against that team. That is the case with my aversion to Miami. But I get it that life’s too short and it’s only a game. My best friend was a Miami fan until his daughter went to FSU, now he’s a semihole but still my best friend. No bitterness on my part just don’t like obnoxious fans, players or ADs (Jpoe Avella & Danny White).

  7. Pat please explain how the top 4 of the SEC and Big10 are even? It is obvious they are not, not even close.
    The best Big10 team is OSU and they ain’t even with Bama. Ain’t even with UGA. Could they be even with the Gators? Nope, Gators are better. LSU probably too. That’s 4 SEC teams better than the one best Big10 team.
    Michigan, PSU?? Let’s see what UK can do to PSU. But you should have set Shea Patterson straight. Guess the Gators did that for you though.

    • Actually, properly analyzed OSU is better than UF. We even have a head to head to prove it. They beat MI by 69, we only beat them by 41 just 1 game later. OSU isnt as good as Bama I dont think but I think they should have had a chance to prove that. They are 1 of the 4 best teams in the nation, UF is not. After Ga’s bowl game it could well be argued that OSU is much better than Ga thus better than LSU who lost to Ga! But after OSU, its true that the next 3 Big10 arent even close to the top 4 of the SEC. UF proved that with their bowl game!

      • Hey Daz happy New year bud.
        Whether OSU is better than UF is very debatable, and to score 69 or 41 is very similar, both are very large numbers and show dominance.
        Saying OSU should have been in the playoffs instead of ND is hindsight now that the games have been played and we know the scores. And your logic of OSU being much better than UGA and thus also LSU is terribly flawed. But hey that’s why college football is so much fun, the only absolutes are on the field results, the rest is pure speculation.

      • I don’t know how anyone could argue OSU is much better than UGA, thus better than LSU etc etc. Lets be real here and acknowledge the fact that a 5 point win against Washington in the Rose bowl, which just so happened to be the only Rose Bowl Meyer has coached in and was his last game coaching, isn’t that impressive. You’d have to imagine they were trying to give everything they could to give Meyer a huge win to end his career in his only Rose Bowl and they could only muster up a 5 pt win. They didn’t look that great at all. UGA was clearly not interested in their bowl game and had they faced OSU in the playoff, there’s no doubt in my mind they would’ve destroyed them. LSU beat UCF with 12 starters not playing, so again not sure how you come to the conclusion that they’re also better than them. It’s very debatable that the Gators are playing as good of football right now as anyone not named Bama or Clemson, so it’s not definitive that OSU is better than them either. ND had a very bad day against a team that very well could win the title, it doesn’t mean they didn’t deserve to be there over OSU or UGA. They did everything they needed to do with their power 5 schedule. It’s just impossible to overlook OSU’s 29 pt beatdown by a Purdue team that had 56 pts scored on them in the first half by a bad Auburn team.

      • LSU beat Jawga 36-16, and we beat LSU 27-19, and Ga beat us 36-17. So MY theory is, if we borrow the 20 points that LSU beat GA by, and add the 8 that we beat LSU by, add that 28 to the 17 that we scored against GA, that gives us 45 and GA 36 and means we were actually the SEC East champs again and got screwed out of our chance at Bammer this year ! ( all of this borrowed from the UCF school of football champ logics ) Am I right or what ?

  8. UGA and Ohio State are the only teams imo that could hang with either Clemson or Bama. UGA had their shot however and you can’t blame OU for getting in ahead of Ohio State. Notre Dame getting annilated should make the committee a little more apprehensive about taking them in future years. Think 2012 (I realize not CFP) and 2018…both times they get the nod, they get completely worked. Yes Notre Dame was undefeated but so was UCF so I don’t think you get in just cause you were undefeated. Especially given that ND doesn’t have to worry about a championship game. At the end of the day, it won’t really matter too much until people catch Bama and Clemson. They are the best two teams without question. Until UF gets more depth, LSU gets a QB and/or UGA gets better big game coaching, it will be Clemson vs. Bama.

    • I’m sorry but you can’t compare UCF’s undefeated season with ND’s. There’s no way in hell UCF goes undefeated playing the same power 5 schedule ND faced this season. After watching LSU beat them with 12 starters not playing, there’s no arguing that.

      • Joe, I am not defending UCF but I think you are wrong on how they would have finished with ND schedule. ND barely survived Ball St, Vandy, Pitt, USC. and they were within were smashed by Clemson. UCF was within a score of LSU. Yes they were w/o a lot of starters but UCF was without it’s QB. I am not saying UCF deserved to be in the top four but I am saying ND did not deserve to be there.

  9. Happy New Year to everyone!!!

    Pat – You got good stuff. You not only report and offer interesting perspectives, you also entertain. I love the way you weave stories, drop idioms that I sometimes have to Google the meaning, and odd analogies, By the way, I miss those out of left field analogies. Perhaps you’ve taken too many shots from them which caused you to tone them down a bit recently but I do get a kick out of those. I know I’ve called them corny in the past but it’s a poor choice of word. I think odd and unexpected is a better description. Now please don’t take this negatively, but I wonder if the playlist does anything for anyone. I always skip reading that paragraph because I’m not into music. I would rather read another interesting tidbit about sports. Maybe it’s selfish of me but I feel I got short changed a paragraph out of the expected nine if that makes any sense.

    • Pat: I know your a music guy and that’s great, but this modern pop and “non country stuff” is very low grade commercial garbage…sorry but I’m also from the 70s which had true talent (including song writers). This will sound corny, but you need therapy by listening to Willie’s Roadhouse XM Radio. Ray Price, Lefty, Jim Reeves, Pasty, Glenn, Johnny Cash & Horton and all the others had unique voices and could do wonders with the notes and songs. TALENT!

      • I agree. Today’s “country” is mostly disguised pop music. If those so-called country artists want to make pop music, that’s fine, but let them just admit it, like Taylor Swift eventually did, and pitch their songs to pop stations. Don’t put it on country stations and call it country when it clearly isn’t. I heard a critic say country music has an inferiority complex, and I think that’s a great way to put it. Nashville seems to be ashamed of the traditional country sound and wants to turn country music into pop music in order to be more like Hollywood and appeal to a “broader” audience. In doing that, it will lose its true identity and alienate fans of traditional country music like you and me. Unfortunately, they obviously don’t care about us.

        • Joe, I haven’t listened to a country station besides Willie’s Roadhouse since John Anderson did a concert out here — literally in my backyard — last summer. Boy, was it ever great hearing him say GO GATORS after singing Seminole Wind! (Not that he had a choice since my little section of the mosh pit was pretty vocal about it, which probably surprised him way out here in Texas)

          • That’s why I love the Tune-In Radio app on my phone. There are some great classic country stations around the country that you can get online through Tune-In for free wherever you have a decent signal on your phone. Most car stereos have Bluetooth capability these days, so you can link your phone to your car stereo speakers and it sounds just like you’re listening to on-air radio. I particularly like 103.9 The Possum in Montgomery. They have great classic country songs and some killer promos by Sam Elliot.

            BTW, John Anderson is one of my favorites, and “Let Go of the Stone” is a great song that I think too few people are aware of.

          • I agree with you, Sly, BS, Joe; I never read that song list and couldnt care less about it. I understand that he does it for pinace , to make his writing style, so I never had commented.

          • I think too old, 65, and I hate to admit it as much as you do.

            I still dig the late 50’s and 60’s Beach Music — which I really didn’t know was called Motown until I had to move up north for two years. That, and Country music with twang….the latter died out some time ago now, but Dewayne mentioned Ray Price earlier…..man, you never heard music as beautiful as him singing San Antonio Rose!

      • Me and friends lived inside many rock concert speakers at the Mobile Municipal Auditorium during the 1970s, saw all the great ones! TALENT! Today’s Pop Country is similar to the dark ages of Disco…just temporary, commercialized juke that no one will every remember….just pulling one from the past basket of tremendous pool of real talent: Listen to Ray Price’s “Night life”, his voice with that steel backup guitar cannot be replicated…today’s juke is ALL the same “been down to the river with my do anything girl friend, straw hat juke”. Yes, the play list has no “value” to an otherwise good column, it doesn’t fit the “Back Nine”…just my perspective.

  10. Plenty of good times ahead for Florida. I agree that FSU and Miami negatively recruit us. I am cordial to them but I do root against FSU in pretty much every game. Since my brother-in-law went to Miami, I root for them some but this season they were so up and down.

    Dan Mullen is showing plenty of energy, positive things, and good player development. This has to look good to recruits.

    I agree on the playlist. I have never heard of most of the bands and don’t care for most of the rest that are listed. Go Gators!

  11. Pat Forde “one of the best”??? He’s another limp-wristed sports whiner who bleats about unproven racism in coach hiring, and other liberal-approved topics. I know all these sportswriters are lefty’s, but I’m sick of hearing their politics.

  12. Anyone else impressed that all the SEC bowl teams except SC have scored at least 33 points. Although at the moment, MSU seems to be in danger of breaking that trend. I think it should be every team’s goal to score like the Big 12 and play defense like the SEC. It seems very telling that the one coach who still doesn’t seem to get it is Will Muschamp.

      • Happy New Year gents! I’m a little late with my response on this good column from Pat because my family has “distracted” me the last day and a half!

        I’ll begin by repeating that EVERY week of EVERY football season I cheer for only two teams: the Gators and whoever is playing Notre Dame. I don’t even do that to Miami and FSU, for which I will enthusiastically cheer whenever they play ND!

        Since I was a kid, I’ve really HATED the mostly underserved, exalted coverage ND gets from ALL the sports media EVERY darned year! Regardless of how poorly ND ends a season, we can count on them being placed in the preseason Top 10 the following season, where they proceed to rise in the rankings until they play their 1st game vs. a really good team and get their asses handed to them!

        This season, the stars aligned for ND and all the good teams on their schedule, except for Michigan (whom they barely beat) had bad seasons. Still, 12-0 in the FBS MUST be respected by the CFP Committee. So, I supported AND STILL support ND getting one of the 4 playoff slots. The LAST thing we need now is for ND to play the same silly game UCF has played for nearly 2 years, until yesterday (Thank you LSU!) Undefeated FBS teams MUST BE DEFEATED, or (unlke UCF) they’ll have a legtimate claim to the NC!

        Finally, to answer 6’s question above, because ND is NOTRE DAME, I fully expect Coach Meyer (named Urban after a Pope) to “unretire” if something happens and Coach Kelly loses his job. It is the ONLY coaching job I see Mrs. Meyer ever allowing Urban to “unretire” for. Winning a NC with/for his beloved Irish would cement Meyer’s place in CFB history, as the ONLY coach to EVER lead 3 different schools to NCs. Not even Nick Satan has done THAT!

        Go Gators!!!

          • Notre Dame is a private university. If the day ever comes when they’re faced with hiring Urban Meyer, they won’t have to worry too much about the kind of political pressure the media can bring to bear on public institutions. Besides, the media likes ND and wants to see it succeed. So,they will low key the discussion of Meyer’s past sins.

          • And therein lies the rub, StL — let me put this delicately so as not to offend anyone’s transitory sensitivities — why an entirely post modern, secular media would favor a Christian school is truly astonishing.

    • They were showing the end of the OSU game and the Gatorade bath, and him in the locker room handing over the whistle. The look in his face says he’ll be coaching. I wonder if he’ll be coaching by proxy at OSU? But the look in his face says he’s not done. He is leaving OSU in a better position than he did us. My opinion only which has no monetary value and maybe no value otherwise, at least this is digital and is not taking up paper and ink. And Daz it is a shame ND gets all the media coverage and puts out what they did last weekend. IF they were all (ND) in in the ACC they would not have been in final 4. There have been many great points on taking conference champions vs selection. While I understand the champion version I thin there would be some real duds. Though I think over time that would improve but I do agree letting a 7 or 8 win team in while yes they are champions of their respective conference might lead to some awful games. But no matter how it was done I would still be watching.

      • Just speculating here, but an 8 team playoff will lead to more dispersion of elite talent over time. More FBS programs will be able to realistically offer elite recruits a chance to win NCs, while simultaneously getting early playing time AND staying closer to home.

        More dispersed talent will lead to more parity in the top 25, which in turn will mean more teams with more losses legitimately competing for NCs due to more mediocrity, just as in the NFL. THAT will mean the days of super teams like Alabama, Clemson, the Nebraska of the 90s, or the Miami of the 80s will become a thing of the past. On the other hand, it will also mean teams with 3 and 4 losses WILL win NCs.

        I, for one, will miss not seeing the Alabama level of excellence on a regular basis again.

        • Stl good point and a definite possibility. The only thing I thought might and again might keep that from happening is the college player is there with some exception 3-4 years with constant turnover where in the NFL there are players that are there for much longer periods though that too is not like in the past. I’m not for the everyone gets a prize though I see the possibility of diluting the game.

        • I hadn’t thought of it that way, StL. That’s a high level of critical thinking, buddy — I for one think it would be a good outcome, but while a 3 or 4 loss team COULD possibly win an NC, it is not likely that they WILL win an NC. But what if they did? Don’t see it as a disaster, as long as they won it on the field.

        • StL, I’d like to see an 8 team playoff for selfish reasons, mainly because the possibility of upsets, like in March Madness, would add an interesting twist. On the other hand, I’m fine with 4, because even the 15 games it takes most teams to win a NC is asking a lot of the athletes if we truly still want to consider them “students”, as well.

          I do think your reasoning is excellent regarding the possible ramifications of an 8 team playoff. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it mediocrity, but it would most likely result in more “good” teams and fewer “great” teams. Like you, I’d miss seeing the great teams.

          • Joe, with all due respect, March Madness is what makes NCAA basketball special. Nobody really takes regular season games seriously, beyond winning enough of them for the RPI ratings to land your team in the NCAA tournament.

            On the other hand, Purdue eliminating Ohio State from this season’s playoffs in October and Ohio State, in turn, eliminating Michigan in November is what makes FBS football special. The regular season is a 12 game elimination tournament. Lose one game badly and you may not make the playoff. Lose two and you most likely won’t.

            That relentless pressure on all top 25 teams to keep winning every week of every regular season is UNIQUE in all American sports. It’d be a shame to lose it for some occasional playoff upsets.

            Go Gators!!!

          • I hear you StL. I don’t think we’re that far apart in our opinions, but I do think regular season basketball is exciting when you get big time match-ups, and it does influence tournament seeding as well.

            I guess my point about an expanded football playoff is to properly dispense of undefeated Group of 5 teams. Everybody automatically assumes an undefeated Group of 5 team isn’t deserving of a playoff spot because of their schedule, but that’s just speculation. Including them in the playoff would make that determination objectively on the field. I see your point about the uniqueness of the weekly pressure to win, but for those Group of 5 teams, even winning every week isn’t enough to get them in.

          • Well Joe, after watching UCF lose to LSU a thought crossed my mind, “What if that had been a regular reason game and over the following 3 or 4 weeks that very same UCF team had to play Texas A&M and Georgia?”

            Do you believe anybody would still be arguing about the legitimacy of their playoff claim after playing that gauntlet? Win all those games and they’d be begged to take a spot in the playoff just to see if they can beat Bama too. Lose another one, after losing to LSU, and we wouldn’t have heard a peep out of Danny White about the CFP.

            So, it IS about strength of schedule. All Danny has to do is schedule those 3 game in the same season and win all but one of them, along with winning ALL the usual cup cakes on their yearly schedule.

            Easy peasy!

          • Can’t argue with that, StL. The problem UCF has now, though, is that they’re so good it’s a no win situation for Power 5 teams to schedule them. It’s a tough game for the Power 5 team, and if they win, some will still say it was only a Group of 5 team. If your argument is that UCF (or insert name of most recent Go5 upstart team here) really isn’t that good, then it’s no feather in the cap of LSU, Auburn, Georgia, A&M or whoever plays them to win that game. In that case, the Power 5 team might as well play Charleston Southern to get the guaranteed W and a one week break from the regular season pressure you speak of.

            If the schedules of the Go5 teams aren’t going to be respected, and they have no shot at making the playoff, then there’s no point in having them remain in the FBS. Either put them in their own division or realign the conferences to mingle them in with the “big boys”, so their schedules will be considered legitimate.

            Just think of how UF could’ve benefited the last several years had the GoF already been sent to another division. We could’ve had a Top 70 offense instead of being stuck in the 100’s! Go Gators!

  13. Thoughts on SEC after bowls. UGA, MISSOU, didn’t have the team concept in their games and it showed. The culture there is different and that showed too. This is what is going to put us over the top in a few years. If coach can keep the culture and attitude we will be a force on the field. Thank you to our players that have declared that played for their team mates. Risk…. Yes, but those team mates helped get them to this point. Can’t wait for next year. Good luck to those that are leaving, pick up the rope to those that stayed and those arriving. Here’s to a better season. Go Gators!