Back Nine: Gators buying into Muschamp?
Published: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 11:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 1, 2011 at 11:09 p.m.
The Back Nine is back and raring to go after a wonderful week in Palm Beach (try the wings at the Thirsty Turtle in Juno Beach) and the kind of recharging everyone needs before football season. It's on.
10. During the last week I watched a few Florida games from last year that happened to be on various channels and it is still hard to understand how a team with that much talent could lose five games and three of them badly. It has been well-documented that there was a rift between the veteran players and the younger players who came in with a lot of hype. I think it was more than that.
This is just a theory, but to me it was almost like the older players on the Gator team felt like they were left behind. There had been so much success and then all of the superstars left (Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, Maurkice Pouncey) and they were expected to keep it going. But it wasn't like they played with a chip on their shoulders. It was more like they were like an old man waiting in line behind a kid with his hat on backward, his pants hanging on his hips and his iPod on 11. They were grumpy. They were Dana Carvey's old SNL character. “In the old days, we didn't have any of your fancy three quarterbacks. We had one quarterback and he ran over people and it was good and we liked it.” Just a theory.
11. So the big question is whether or not Will Muschamp can get this team to buy into what he's selling. It's pretty clear that there will be no coddling of players, even though the numbers are down. There is talent at Florida, but the offensive and defensive lines are thin. I don't buy into the argument Ron Zook left Urban Meyer a better team than Meyer left Muschamp. The team Zook left behind included a bunch of under-achievers (see: Dallas Baker) that Meyer turned into men. We have no idea what Muschamp is going to do with the players he inherited. I may look back in a couple of years and agree with the argument, but right now it's impossible to tell.
12. You know it is going to happen. There will be a team or two or three that we think will be really good this year that will fall flat on their faces. I'm not sure it will be like last year, though. There were seven teams ranked among the 2010 preseason AP top 16 who were unranked at season's end. That includes No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Texas and No. 9 Iowa. Meanwhile, the two teams who played for it all were ranked 11th (Oregon) and 22nd (Auburn). Most of the preseason pundits have Oklahoma playing against an SEC team in the national title game. Based on last year, we should throw that possibility out. I've bounced all over the place this summer. Right now, I'm leaning to a Nebraska-Alabama NC game. Of course, two weeks ago I picked LSU to win the West. But that was before I spent some time with Alabama's players. That's a very confident team. The Back Nine's final, lock-down, no-doubt, bet-the-house pick will come in our special football preview section later this month. All suggestions are welcomed.
13. While I was gone, North Carolina made a bizarre decision in firing Butch Davis. It wasn't bizarre that the Heels let him go, but the timing made no sense. It's almost like someone woke up Chancellor Holden Thorp and read him all of the problems that have plagued the football program over the last year. Maybe there was something else going on behind the scenes, but it was almost like North Carolina decided to forgo this football season and regroup. Weird.
14. I know this is getting long, but I've been on vacation. I missed you guys. Maybe you can explain to me how Plaxico Burress got a $3 million contract. Anyone? Oh, and the Braves lost their 10,000th game Sunday. That's all? Every single one takes a little chunk out of my heart.
15. I said all summer that I didn't want to hear all of the details about the NFL lockout and negotiations. Just tell me when it's over. Now that it's over, the NFL has my attention again. What a wild week with all of the dealing going on. Between football cramming months of personnel decisions into one week and baseball's trade deadline Sunday it was enough to have your head spinning. To be honest, I'm still not sure who is where. The main thing is that we have the NFL back and while I'm a college guy I still enjoy the pro league. If only for the fantasy football.
16. The Tiger Woods influence is understood by those of us who follow golf and for those of you who don't his return to the Tour is enough to make you watch the next few weeks. All you need to know about what Tiger has meant for golf is to know that already there are 72 PGA Tour players who have earned more than $1 million this year. About to join that list is a good friend to the Bob Dooley Invitational. Chris Couch, the former UF golfer, had another good week and has made $913,000 this season. Chris DiMarco, another former UF golfer, is up to $707,000. He's really had a nice comeback season. Former Buchholz golfer Bobby Gates is 111th on the money list and has to keep playing well to make the top 125. On the other hand, former Gator golfer Billy Horschel needs something big to happen down the stretch. He's 197th on the money list.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from ESPN's Scott van Pelt during the debt ceiling debates, who finally has realized something I figured out a long time ago — “It's sad that the Senate/House are as married to their own ideology as two message board lunatics from rival SEC schools. #figureitoutfolks.” Oh, I figured it out a long time ago. Democrats v. Republicans is just like Auburn-Alabama.
18. It's football season, which means the iPod will have to show some versatility with parties, tailgates, workouts and road trips. Because it's that time of the year, try these — “Long Willie Jackson” by Mama's Love, “This is Gator Country” by Sister Hazel and for the old-school in you “Backfield in Motion” by Mel and Tim.