Back Nine: Not one-year hire


Florida coach Will Muschamp argues a call in the first half against Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. (AP)

Published: Monday, October 17, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 17, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where we were reminded that Auburn is the easiest road trip in the SEC for Florida, which is why they don't play every year.

10. When you are losing games you are going to come under criticism. Everything you do is going to be scrutinized. Urban Meyer heard it last year. Heck, Steve Spurrier heard it during a two-loss season. Ron Zook was always hearing it. That's the monster that was created at Florida by the head ball coach and then fed by the Urbanator.




The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where we were reminded that Auburn is the easiest road trip in the SEC for Florida, which is why they don't play every year.

10. When you are losing games you are going to come under criticism. Everything you do is going to be scrutinized. Urban Meyer heard it last year. Heck, Steve Spurrier heard it during a two-loss season. Ron Zook was always hearing it. That's the monster that was created at Florida by the head ball coach and then fed by the Urbanator. That's why losses to the two best teams in the country followed by a loss on the road in an amazing environment to the defending national champs are not tolerated by the Gator Nation. Take yourself back to the preseason and remember your mindset. You saw a young team with a new coaching staff and a brutal schedule and that is one reason there was no buzz about this team. Now, what if I told you that John Brantley would be injured in the second quarter of the fifth game? I have little doubt Florida beats Auburn with Brantley, which would mean the Gators would be in control of their own destiny in the SEC East. That's where the injury really hurt UF. They weren't beating Alabama or LSU with Brantley. And we said before the season that this team could not afford a lot of injuries. And what has happened? And we all knew this team had a small margin for error and couldn't afford bad breaks (or brutal calls). And what has happened? I'm not saying Gator fans shouldn't be disappointed. But this wasn't a hire for one season.

11. Part of the problem for Florida the past two years, as it is for many teams, is the inexact science of recruiting and the attrition that takes place these days in college football. Of the 2007 class that included 27 signees, only 13 remained at UF last year, although there are five still with the team as fifth-year seniors. That was a great class, but so many of them moved on to the NFL or elsewhere. Only half of the 2008 class is still with the team. Only nine players in the 2009 class are making any contribution at all to the Gators 2011 team. The Back Nine is not making excuses, because there are no excuses at Florida. But it's going to take some time to get Florida back to the elite level. I know Gator fans are not known for their patience, but it's reality.

12. That doesn't make this offense any easier to watch. The last time a Florida team scored fewer than 27 points in three consecutive games was in 1988 when the Gators scored 12 in three straight losses during a 7-5 season. You can't win if you don't score. But it's not like Will Muschamp doesn't get that. It's not easy for Charlie Weis to call a great game with freshman quarterbacks who have had limited practice time. Jacoby Brissett didn't take a meaningful practice snap until the week after Brantley's injury and Jeff Driskel has been hampered in practice by his own ankle injury. But, as I wrote following the Auburn game, the players around the quarterbacks have to start making plays.

13. It's a good news/bad news situation any time Florida nearly loses an important member of the nation's best athletic department. I heard that senior associate athletic director Mike Hill came close to getting the athletic director's job at North Carolina so I checked with UF athletic director Jeremy Foley. “He was a finalist and he came close to getting it,” Foley said. “It's his alma mater which is why I think he was interested. Mike is a quality, quality guy. It's like when Billy Donovan came back to the Gators. Mike being with the Gators is good for the Gators.” It's also good for the community. The Hills would have been missed. You always want what's best for great people like Mike Hill, but we benefit from his family staying in town.

14. It's amazing how things are working out for Mark Richt. After two weeks, he was on the hot seat again at Georgia, but now his team is in position to win the East in part because of the soft SEC schedule the Bulldogs have and in part because Brantley and now Marcus Lattimore went down with injuries. South Carolina still controls its own destiny but two-thirds of its Big Three are gone. I'm not taking anything away from Georgia's five-game winning streak, but the four conference wins are against teams with a combined SEC record of 1-13. The final three are against teams with a 5-7 conference record.

15. While the Missouri-to-the-SEC thing has quieted, I'm told it's still not dead for 2012. Let's hope it isn't because we're going to see an unbalanced SEC schedule next year if the league has 13 teams. I'm sure it will only be for a year because the 13-team league simply will not work. The league may be stuck with it for a year, but I can assure you the SEC will be at 14 teams by 2013 one way or another. Prepare for a lot of complaining if the SEC is at 13 teams next year when the schedules come out.

16. Watching the coverage of the death of Dan Wheldon was sobering and sad, especially when they were interviewing his fellow drivers. If anything, the Back Nine hopes that everyone stopped to realize there are more important things than winning and losing and fantasy football and the Jim Harbaugh-Jim Schwartz controversy. Sports are a diversion. What happened in Las Vegas is reality. Prayers go out to the family.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from CBSSports.com national golf writer Steve Elling — “Tiger Woods drops to 55th in Official World Golf Rankings. The way Tiger hits it off tee, now Sammy Hagar tune will be stuck in head all day: ‘I Can't Drive, 55.' ”

18. The iPod was rocking as we drove by all of the cotton fields on the way to Columbus, Ga., and then to Auburn. Try these downloads — “Stay” by Mayday Parade, “Broken Bird” by Jack's Mannequin and for the old school in you try “People Got To Be Free” by The Rascals.

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

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