The Back Nine: Keeping same coaching staff difficult trick

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Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen looks across the field during the Florida Gators home game against the South Carolina Gamecocks on November 10, 2018. The Florida Gators beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 35-31. [Lauren Bacho/Staff Photographer]

The Back Nine comes at you after a remarkably unproductive weekend unless you get credit for watching sports, drinking beer and annihilating chicken wings and if you do I am a magna cum laude graduate.

10. One thing we know for sure about coaching staffs in college football is that they aren’t settled until you get to fall camp (and even then you never know). Coaches are constantly looking for better situations whether they are financial or personal. It’s really difficult to have success and still keep your staff together, which makes what Clemson has done that much more amazing. So Florida has lost a pair of assistants in the much-traveled Sal Sunseri (Alabama) and Charlton Warren (Georgia). You can’t blame Sunseri for wanting to coach with his son, who was hired as a grad assistant with the Tide. One thing you have to remember is that you — as a fan — care way more about your school than any assistant coach. They are simply traveling salesman. No disrespect, intended. I thought (half-kiddingly) that because Florida had some openings maybe Dan Mullen could hire Urban Meyer to coach special teams. Meyer’s only making $100,000 as a faux associate athletic director at Ohio State. What I did find humorous was the Florida defensive backs on Twitter and their reaction that Warren would miss out on coaching the best DBs in the country. Instead, that job will be manned by Torrian Gray, who was a huge hire for Jim McElwain at UF in 2016 but left after one season for the NFL. The Lakeland connection keeps on giving. (He played at Kathleen).

11. You hoped it would live up to the hype and championship weekend exceeded those expectations. Two overtime games, one criminal no-call, the GOAT putting on a show and getting a break when it looked like he had thrown the game-ending pick, a 38-point fourth quarter in one game, a 57-yard game-winning kick in the other, Bill Belichick throwing his video tablet in anger like he was Nick Saban, a fake field goal and another LA-Boston finals matchup in a national sporting event. I went to a local establishment (twin bars are a great touch at Miller’s Ale House) and it was crazy exciting. The one sad thing is that we are down to one football game that matters. For fans of the Chiefs and Saints, there are no football games that matter. Sometimes I think it’s more difficult to lose the way those two teams did than to just lose because the other team was better.

12. Of course, I am going to weigh in on the NFL overtime. And this is not hindsight. Look, if the Chiefs get a stop and maybe they win and nobody is talking about the coin toss. Isn’t that what the Rams did? I’ve always hated the NFL overtime probably because I love college’s so much. I get that pro players don’t want to be out there for seven overtimes in a regular season game because the season is so long, but how about instituting the college rules when we get to the playoffs? Too exciting? At the very least, play the whole 15 minutes of overtime before declaring which team advances. The current rules are like if you went to extra innings in baseball but if the team batting in the top of the 10th scored the game would be over. Or only one golfer plays the first sudden death hole and if he birdies the other guy doesn’t get to tee it up. The late game drew the highest ratings in seven years so I don’t think you’ll see anything change.

13. Feel so bad for Keith Stone. This season was not going well for him but he was having a breakthrough game before tearing his ACL. Florida pulled out the win Saturday, which was vital. Now the Gators have to figure out how to win at home against Texas A&M tonight. Florida hasn’t beaten a Power Five team at home all season (although you can argue the Big East makes it a Power Six in basketball and Florida did beat Butler at home). Buckle up after tonight’s game because the next five games are against teams ranked in the top 31 in the new NCAA’s NET rankings. That means a lot of opportunities for the mighty Gators. UF is 36th in the rankings, although we’re still not sure what those rankings will mean on Selection Sunday.

14. So my daughter gets mad at me because I tend to be pessimistic when I am watching sports and rooting for one team or another. I think that happens when you spend your whole life watching so many games and being let down so many times. Anyway, for proof, I give you the Rams-Saints game and as we were getting ready to go watch it I told her, “The Saints are killing your team.” She likes the Rams as do I. The score was 3-0 at the time. Come on, man. I have to get a more positive outlook on sports and life. Anyway, the point is that as I was watching Florida-LSU gymnastics and the Gator ladies were on the beam, I kept expecting the worst because it is my nature. A bobble here, a slip there, maybe even a fall. Instead, it was an impressive performance that earned Jenny Rowland’s team the win to break LSU’s 35-meet home win streak. I always talk about the clutch gene. This team seems to have it. The third-ranked Gators tumble with No. 17 Kentucky on Friday at an unusual time, 5:45 p.m., as the launch of the SEC Network’s second-ever gymnastics tripleheader.

15. Boogie Cousins said last week that the Golden State Warriors are the most hated team in sports. That’s a pretty myopic viewpoint. I can name six teams which are more hated than the Warriors.

• The Cowboys.

• The Yankees.

• The Red Sox.

• The Patriots (probably should have put them first after Sunday).

• Alabama football.

• Whoever LeBron is playing for in a given season.

Golden State might be seventh although there would be some votes for UCF if that program was relevant before two years ago. True hatred has to be marinated for a long time. Duke basketball might be more hated than Golden State. Shoot me your thoughts on this. And please don’t include FSU football or Kentucky basketball. Those are more regional than national.

16. Don’t look now but Florida baseball and softball are around the corner. Baseball starts Feb. 15 at home while the women start a week earlier in Tampa. Softball is the preseason favorite to win the SEC for the fifth straight time. Baseball will be interesting because Kevin O’Sullivan will be starting a bunch of freshmen and may struggle early but be really good when we get to the late part of the season. I just can’t wait to see the next softball stadium, especially the press box. Hopefully they installed the recliner and wet bar I ordered.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to free agent baseball star and sworn enemy of all Atlanta Braves, Bryce Harper — “Confirmed: Just called Tony Romo to see where I’m going to play next year. #YoureAWizardTony.” It is amazing how good Romo is at calling what the next offensive play is going to be simply by looking at the offensive sets. I know he makes a lot of money at CBS, but I’d be tempted to throw a lot of dough his way to be a defensive coordinator. He may not want to work that hard.

18. Wouldn’t you know that just as my replaced knee is nearing 100 percent the other one goes. The X-rays were not good but I am going to try to gut it out for awhile, hopefully until the summer. But doubtful. Anyway, this playlist should lighten the mood:

• “Overexcited” by Guster.

• “Northern Lights” by Death Cab for Cutie.

• “In A Drawer” by Band of Horses.

• “7 Minutes” by Dean Lewis.

• And for an old one that really isn’t that old, “Allison Road” by the Gin Blossoms.

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

20 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not a NFL fan at all, but did catch the final five minutes of the Saints game. They didn’t lose, they were “prevented from winning”. Read there is a petition with over 500K signatures, claiming the Commissioner can declare a rematch! Pro ball is just a dud. I’m afraid a college style playoff system would lead to a dozen FG extended OTs.

    Pat: Hope you have good fortune with the other knee. I know a 84 year old guy who had his first replacement last year and brags/demonstrates how he precisely followed the rehab instructions and thus has FULL mobility and still plays golf! He’s also headed to the second operation. This is meant for encouragement!

  2. Sorry, Pat. I hate OT in college. Giving the team ball at the 25? Lazy. You take kick coverage out of it and neuter the defense. Who remembers the Georgia game a few years back? The Gators get a turnover and return the ball to the 9. In a real game situation, that’s First and goal. OT? Nope. Have it at the 25, boys. Good luck. Yuck! And why should OT stats count in such a contrived game situation? A 17-17 game can turn into a 41-40 shootout. No thanks.

    As for the NFL – how hard can this possibly be? Both teams get at least one possession. Easy peasy. Not a radical change. But infinitely more fair.

    • Nah, College OT rulz. I would vote for the complete the quarter argument. The current rule sucks, dependent on winning the coin toss. Bunch of crap. College OT provides fairness and allows for scheming and with the mandatory 2-pt on the 3rd possession, usually quick closure.

  3. On the officiating front, the blown call in the Saints/Rams game is garnering all the press as you would expect. It was not a “missed” call as some label it, as the official was standing right there watching the whole play. It was a flat out choke on his part. But there was a call late in the Chief’s/Pat’s game that was also a game changer. As the Pat’s were driving and down by 3 points, they had a 3rd down pass from Brady that was incomplete. But instead of having to punt the ball back to KC, there was a roughing the passer called on KC. But replays from every angle showed the defender had reached out and hit Brady on the shoulder, and somewhat mildly at that. But, being New England, of course they get the call. First down Pat’s, and game over. No wonder Brady is still playing at 40! I’m not a fan of any of the playoff teams, but I think both the Saints and Chiefs got hosed.

  4. Not an NFL fan at all, watched some of the games this weekend though. My impression is that the Chiefs look like your average Big12 team with lots of scoring and no defense, as soon as the Pats won the toss I knew it was game over and sure enough they marched down the field and scored the winning TD. Saw that phantom roughing call on Brady but I don’t think it mattered more than the call against the Saints, either way I don’t have a dog(or cat) in this fight so it don’t matter.

  5. Sorry about the knee! Speedy recovery! As for the NFL- bad calls all around. Hard to believe these officials haven’t been tainted with some of the freak calls and non calls. Still, no game comes down to one play, one call. Had the call been made on the pass interference targeting play, maybe the Saints fumble on the next play? You never know.

  6. I’ve never recovered from the NFL’s odd behavior w tebow. I would treat my rock stars better…they did realize the spread was the right way, at least the top teams. The bucs not so much, oh well.
    It looks to me like the NFL integrity has to be in question after the lost Angeles call…I watched a few plays anyway but since it’s not the Gators I don’t really care anymore.
    I appreciate a good salesperson so let’s ease up on assistant coaches. We seem to find good defensive coaches so losing one or two is not the big deal it would be elsewhere, although it probably hurts to change the week of the national championship game. I know bama hopes sunseri can upgrade their pass rush but I’m not sure it will stop the inevitable decline in Tuscaloosa that started recently.

    • I agree totally! What the NFL did to Tebow is one of the top 5 reasons I no longer watch NFL games. In chronological order they are:

      1. I lived in St. Louis when the Cardinals (who were so awful in the 80s they couldn’t fill Busch Stadium) abandoned St. Louis fans because the city wouldn’t build them a new, “bigger” stadium.
      2. I was a Dolphins fan when Wayne Haizenga forced hall-of-famer Don Shula into early retirement because he would only guarantee him 3 more years as HBC. He then hired Jimmy Johnson, who walked away after 3 years anyway and took the Dolphins’ NFL relevance with him.
      3. I’m a hardcore Gator and really resent the way the Broncos ran Tim Tebow out of Denver after he took them to the playoffs and no other NFL team could find him a landing spot, not even as backup.
      4. I’ve lived in St. Louis long enough to watch the Rams abandon LA fans for not building them a stadium and then become the 2nd franchise to abandon St. Louis fans for the same reason.
      5. The coup de gras (for me) was the NFL tolerating Colin Kaepernick’s stunt and all the follow-on player disrespect for the flag of a nation that’s made possible their privileged lives just for playing a children’s game.

      The NFL has clearly “moved on” from needing or wanting my patronage.

  7. 1. I’m calling for a boycott of the Super Bowl since the best two teams may not be playing in it (but the real reason is we’re not NFL fans).

    2. I say that OT should be some form of field goal competition to decide the winner. After all, the name of the game is football.

    3. Studies have shown that the clutch gene is a myth. Many people believe Michael Jordan was clutch because he has won so many games on the last shot but his shooting percentage when the game was on the line is the same as during the rest of the game. Makes great heroic stories though.

  8. The officiating in the Saints game. The choke call, as one poster put it, is on the money. That is a no call that makes the conspiracy theorists come out of the woods…or the doctors. A ref has to have a disconnect between his eyes and brain to not call that one. That will be the easiest call a ref could make. As I thought a the time, and has now shown to be true, the defender did it purposely expecting a flag bc he didn’t want to give up the TD. The call against the Chiefs was just a bad call. You have to see it first, not think it happened. The ref thought it happened. He anticipated the call. I think it is time the NFL starts hiring refs who can physically keep up with the game. From legs to eyesight. It is a big field. There is a lot to see. There are guys out there who look like the knight at the end of Indiana Jones and the the Search for the Holy Grail flick. I have dirt in the back yard younger than some of these guys. I know experience means a lot, but there must be a happy median somewhere. It is still football. Holding in high school is still the same as in the NFL. Alternatively, perhaps a better way to use instant replay, without undue delay.Overtime in the NFL is a joke. And the reason for doing it the way they do is an even bigger joke. Since when did the League really give a damn about these players and since when did they become the biggest sissies in professional sports? The justification for not doing it a different way is they don’t want to over tax the players and extend the game? Really? You expanded the schedule from 12 games to 14 games to 16 games. You have 4 useless pre-season games. But you want to protect players by reducing the time of the most important games of the season? Get rid of the damn pre-season for one thing. You can reduce the number of games per year by at least one game. 15 games is more than enough. And make the playoffs a real winner/loser situation , instead of making the winner of the coin toss the winner of the game in the name of “safety”.

    • Since I am partial to underdogs, I’m going to side with the refs. Blame it on the weather and the greedy networks. It was so cold out there that anyone would suffer a brain freeze after being outside for hours while the networks extend the game by cycling through the same commercials over and over every chance they get.

  9. Other than the regional teams, the most hated team in my world is Norte Dame Football. Most seasons they’ve played a weak schedule against traditionally weak golden helmet teams. This is their record against their more frequent opponents: Navy (76-13), Army (39-8), BC (14-9), Pittsburgh (48-21), Purdue (56-26), GT (28-6). Other lopsided rivalry records include; Indiana (23-5), NW (38-9), Air Force (23-6), NC (18-2), Stanford (19-13).
    They play only a few teams regularly that are traditionally good, and rarely will play more than 2 or 3 good teams in the same year; Michigan St (47-29), Miami (17-8), Michigan (17-29), USC (46-37).
    People may grow a dislike for Alabama, Yankees, Red Sox, or Duke but these teams play tough schedules every year, and face fierce playoff games prior to the possibility of a championship series invite. Unlike the coddled ND football team.

  10. Hevesy and Gonzalez have been with Mullen for quite a long time. Gonzalez for 6 years and Hevesy for 10. That’s pretty impressive as well, considering they’re both really great coaches who I’m sure a lot of teams would like to have, NFL included.

  11. I noted that a Saints player has dug into the NFL rule book and determined that the Commissioner, in cases like these, can decide to replay the game:
    a. from the time of the infraction
    b. in its entirety
    Because of the lunacy and audacity of the obvious pass interference no-call against the Rams at the end, the Commissioner should pick either point a or b above. This is for the integrity of the game and for fairness, in general.
    Pat, why don’t you lead this charge?