The Back Nine comes at you after a busy week that included one of the best concerts I have ever seen, two run-rule softball games between top seven teams and (ho-hum) another national championship for the mightiest Mouse.
10. Dan Mullen didn’t seem too bothered by three bye weeks in this year’s schedule now that the Miami game has been moved up to Aug. 24. “Ask me in December,” he said. Mullen, speaking at the spring practice kickoff news conference Monday, said Florida works so hard at scheduling time off for the players he’s not concerned with the odd schedule. “I think we do a pretty good job of giving the players time off and trying to make sure they are healthy,” Mullen said. “Probably more than anyone else.” Still, I wonder whether all of those bye weeks will make it difficult to get into a rhythm. The bye Saturdays are Aug. 31 (after Miami and before UT Martin), Oct. 26 (after South Carolina and before Georgia) and Nov. 23 (after Missouri and before FSU). “It’ll be something different,” Mullen said. “It’s like when people ask about the bye week, does it come at a good time? It does if we win the next game. It’s all just a scheduling deal.”
11. There were two questions I was asked this weekend that stayed with me. One was this — could LSU have to vacate its Wednesday win over Florida? That was a nice try by some Gator fans, but even if that does happen — and it wouldn’t happen soon — Florida does not inherit a win. I’ll deal with Will Wade later. The second one was whether or not Florida deserves to go to the NCAA Tournament. Not will they get in, but should they? And my answer right now would be no, not right now. I know Florida is still 33rd in the NET Rankings. I know ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still has Florida in as an 11 seed. I know the bubble is soft for now. But I just don’t think Florida has beaten enough good teams. Certainly, a loss to Arkansas on Thursday in the SEC Tournament would be the final bad straw. We’ll see which team shows up. The funny thing is, there also is a path to the SEC Tournament final. It’s been that kind of season.
12. OK, Will Wade. I don’t think LSU had a choice, but to suspend him and Javonte Smart. If you play a player who you think may have committed NCAA violations, the consequences are medieval. Wade had to be suspended, because he tried to use the Bruce Pearl defense, which is to tell your bosses to leave you alone. Somehow that worked for the shell game that is Bruce Pearl, but the FBI didn’t have a wiretap of Pearl talking about an offer with a now-convicted middle man. Wade can say the “offer” was a scholarship and maybe promises of playing time or whatever defense he wants to use. But while lying to the NCAA may make you sit out a few seasons in the ESPN studios, lying on the stand in court can send you to jail. I know that a year ago we all thought Sean Miller at Arizona was going to get fired (and a year later, it looks like he may be gone), but this is not good for the young coach. And to those fans who booed and chanted negative things at LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, you know how I feel about the guy. But that was some misguided mob mentality. It figures that Alleva would finally do something right and get booed.
13. Mouse Holloway could not have a more anonymous spot for his office in the Lemerand Building on the UF campus, tucked into a corner so he doesn’t even have to use the front door. He likes it that way. Sorry, Mouse, but people are starting to notice you. The Florida track and field coach won his fifth indoor track and field NCAA title, ninth overall. Talk about a dynasty, those have all happened since 2010. Which made me think about the debate about the greatest coaches in UF history in any sport. I have always believed it is Billy Donovan slightly ahead of Steve Spurrier. But Holloway is one championship away from having a ring for all of his fingers and both thumbs. There is the advantage of having four opportunities a year (men and women and indoor and outdoor), but he’s the only one in the last decade to have won so many titles. There’s a reason he has a 10-year contract.
14. One of the best parts of my job is dealing with special athletes who play the game at a high level and also are really interesting when it comes time to be interviewed. Softball senior Amanda Lorenz fits into that category. She helped Florida avoid a sweep by Tennessee with two homers on Sunday and said this after the game — “We need to play like ourselves every day. We aren’t good enough to come to the ballpark and hope to win. We need to come every day and hunt and attack and not take anything for granted. We need to make the most of every opportunity we get.” Who wouldn’t want to coach her? Of course, she is also hitting .468 with 24 RBIs in 26 games.
15. People are freaking out about Antonio Brown getting traded to the Raiders (what city are they in again?) and getting a huge contract because, well, because the perceived bad guy won. And there is no question the Steelers lost. Brown got what he wanted. You don’t have to like the way he went about his business, but in the end it worked for him. And make no mistake about it, Jon Gruden upgraded at wide receiver by trading Amari Cooper last year and trading for Brown. Cooper is good. Brown is different-level great. It will be fascinating to see how it all works out in the locker room and don’t forget that one of the teams on the short list to be in “Hard Knocks” this year is his new team.
16. This just in — Spurrier is a pretty good coach. No matter what you think of the Alliance of American Football and no matter how much ESPN purposefully ignores it, the Head Ball Coach has his Orlando Apollos unbeaten and two games clear of everyone halfway through the inaugural season. He always likes to talk about a player or a coach’s “track record” and we all know about his. All of these teams from what I can see are about even in talent and Spurrier just keeps winning.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from @cbcasithappens, the Twitter handle for a talk show I had never heard of but I am now following just because this is the biggest laugh I had all weekend — “A man threatened to sue a magazine for using his photo in a story about all hipsters looking the same — only to learn it’s not him in the picture.” For photos of a hipster doofus, see Kramer, Cosmo.
18. So my wife and I went to see The Avett Brothers at the St. Augustine Amphitheater and, of course, it was amazing. But I wanted to plug the venue because going to a concert there is spectacular. So organized, so friendly. Remind me to tell you about the summer I spent playing Settler No. 3 in “Cross and Sword.”
• “No Hard Feelings” by the Avett Brothers and if you don’t like song we can’t be friends. It was so cool in concert.
• “The Sapling” by David Gray.
• “Are You Bored Yet?” by the Wallows.
• “My Man” by Delacey.
• And because I finally got around to seeing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and I don’t know why it took so long, the oldie for the week will be “Keep Yourself Alive” by Queen.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.