Back Nine: Title games solid


Published: Monday, January 23, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 12:06 a.m.

After a weekend of grilling, chilling and swilling, the Back Nine comes at you with a Super Bowl rematch that will include Eli Manning taking over Indianapolis. Hey, at least Peyton won’t have far to travel to watch his little brother play.

10. One of the themes of this year’s Super Bowl will be about Eli Manning. Because we spent the year wondering if Peyton might get MVP votes because his absence exposed the Colts as a bad team and now we’re wondering if he’s the best quarterback in the family. Eli has won more road playoff games than anybody in NFL history and could win his second Super Bowl on Feb. 5. His playoff record is much better than Peyton’s and, of course, the best indicator is that Eli beat the mighty Gators twice and Peyton never could. (Although both of Eli’s wins were more about Florida than Manning. He didn’t throw a touchdown pass in either game.) Remember before the season when Eli was getting killed because he said in an interview that he belonged with the top echelon quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers? Anybody questioning that now?

11. Championship Sunday certainly was one of the more entertaining Super Bowl semifinals we’ve witnessed. Sometimes when you plan an entire day around a couple of games like that they don’t live up to expectations. But an overtime game and another that should have gone to overtime? It was amazing stuff. Unfortunately, with every winner comes a loser and in both games there was a goat. So who had a worse performance Sunday — Billy Cundiff, Kyle Williams or Steven Tyler? (Tweet of the week is still to come but this one from Fox News panelist Greg Gutfield said it all — “I went outside to put a raccoon out of its misery — then I realized my neighbor was watching Steven Tyler sing the Star-Spangled Banner.” Cundiff’s miss was stunning because he hooked the ball so badly he deserved a stroke and distance penalty. I expected the ball to eventually hit him in the back of the head like a boomerang. With Williams, his second fumble was a killer, but those things happen. The first — where the ball hit him in the knee — is another example of something that drives me crazy in football at all levels. If a punt returner has made the decision not to field the punt, why does he get anywhere near it? Baffling.

12. Brandon Spikes was a beast Sunday and made a nifty interception, but the Back Nine would give the Top Gator award to Ray McDonald, who had 2 sacks for the 49ers. Either him or Tim Tebow, who sang with Brad Paisley at a Denver concert. Seriously, if you thought Tebow’s throwing mechanics needed improvement …

13. … you should hear him sing. But seeing Tebow’s performance and watching the Giants-Niners game got me thinking about which decision do you think Jaguar fans regret more — not drafting Tebow or firing Tom Coughlin? Coughlin’s teams struggled in his last three years at Jacksonville, but he did guide the expansion team to eight playoff games and two AFC title games. The Jags have been to three playoff games since, while Coughlin has a chance to win his second Super Bowl in New York.

14. I know I pay too much attention to RPI and Bracketology in January but I can’t help it. Florida’s RPI right is 36 and we all know that the schedule is going to get much tougher which will improve the Gator RPI. But an interesting story is the team the Gators face Thursday night — Mississippi. The Rebels actually have a better RPI than Florida, but aren’t getting a lot of bracket love. All six of their losses have come away from home. When I wrote Sunday about how difficult Florida’s next dozen games will be, this was one of them because that place will be rocking and Ole Miss could use a signature win.

15. So Chip Kelly turned down the Bucs (who hasn’t?) and the Colts may soon hire Jim Tressel. Does this mean there’s a run again on college coaches. We thought the league had learned its lesson with so many college coaches failing miserably in the NFL, but maybe the owners are buying in again because of the success of Jim Harbaugh. Or maybe there just aren’t a lot of attractive candidates out there.

16. More proof that it’s an SEC world and the rest of you conferences are just living in it — Alabama is the football national champs after the win over LSU, South Carolina is the reigning baseball champion after beating Florida, which is ranked No. 1 heading into this season, and Kentucky is now No. 1 in the latest college basketball polls. Hmm, let’s see which sport we want to rule next.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Aaron Gleeman of NBCSports.com — “If you want to feel awful about humanity, do a search for tweets mentioning @KyleWilliams_10 right now.” I did and there were actually some funny lines but the disgusting death threats from 49ers fans made me want to wash the Twitter off my hands.

18. A special shout-out to Crosswinds, a local band that was rocking the Great Outdoors in High Springs Friday night. Try these downloads — “Devil’s Work” by Mike Snow, “Lafaye” by School of Seven Bells and for the old-schoolers we honor the late great Etta James with “At Last.”

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