Back Nine: Hot UF softball team ready to play UAB in the heat


Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 at 5:46 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend of covering softball and thanks to the ladies for winning Saturday early so I could try my hand at grilling chicken wings. They were pretty strong.

Facts

NCAA Softball Gainesville Super Regional

At Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium

Saturday

UAB (40-17) vs. Florida (55-7), 1 p.m., ESPNU

Sunday

Florida vs. UAB, Noon, ESPN

x-UAB vs. Florida, 3 p.m., ESPN

x-If necessary

10. It was fun to watch a team that could actually hit the ball out of the park after covering so much baseball this season. Tim Walton's softball team only had one hit Sunday, but that was an aberration. If I was going to give out an award for the coach of the year on campus this academic year, it would have to go to Walton. It's a long time between games for the Gators and the Alabama-Birmingham team they face will be coming to Gainesville believing it is a team of destiny. It's not like the Blazers are red hot — they are 5-4 in their last nine games. But they won when they had to in the Louisville regional. UAB has never been to a regional final and its win over UCLA in Louisville was played in front of crickets and tumbleweeds. It will be a rowdy crowd in Gainesville. And it will be hot. Thanks for the 1 p.m. and noon starts ESPN. I can't explain why it is but the hottest place on the UF campus is that softball stadium.

11. Meanwhile, Florida's baseball slide continues. Today's game in the SEC Tournament is huge, I believe, in the Gators' quest to make a regional. I know that there are a lot of people who think Florida is in no matter what happens. I'm not one of them. Should the Gators lose today, that will mean they would have lost nine of their last 11 games in SEC play. I know their schedule has been the toughest in the nation but you have to win some games, don't you? I don't mean to disparage this team because there are reasons why it has struggled. Certainly, when you're a thin team players are going to wear down late in a season. I don't think there is any question that has happened to these Gators. But I'm just not sure they are worthy of an NCAA bid. It's been so bad that Georgia fired Dave Perno after his Bulldogs won two of three against Florida. Perno's a good guy who went to Omaha three times as Georgia's coach, but when your career record in SEC games is 29 games under .500 it might be time for a change.

12. This much we know — there will be an SEC team in Oklahoma City because Alabama and Tennessee are playing for a berth in the Women's College World Series. The league had 11 teams in the field and six are still alive in the Sweet 16. (Who knew that Mike Slive's expansion plan was all about expanding the softball footprint? Both Missouri and Texas A&M are still playing). There certainly is a chance for SEC baseball to have nine teams in the field when the bids are announced Monday. To have 20 teams in the postseason for the two sports with bats would be unprecedented. Who said it's a football conference?

13. The non-story that ESPN turned into a major story last week about UF line coach Tim Davis referring to Nick Saban as “the devil himself” at a Gator Boosters meeting is a perfect example of how our world has changed. My friend Tony Barnhart put it simply, but accurately on CBSSports.com when he wrote, “I'm more concerned about what this controversy — and the mere fact that it is a controversy — says about us and the state of the sport.

“Has college football gotten so big — is there so much money and prestige involved — that the game has totally lost its sense of humor?” Yes, I'm afraid it has.

14. First it was Bobby Stoops, then it was Charlie Weis bashing the bottom of the SEC and saying the have-nots are the reason the SEC is overrated. I have one thing to say to Weis — pick any team from the SEC, any team. Let's go play. Anywhere you want. I didn't think so. When Stoops says something like that, we listen and debate. When Weis says it, we just laugh.

15. We take it for granted each year that Florida will win the All-Sports Trophy, which it did again this year. And that's a big reason why the SEC quit awarding it — because Florida kept winning it. But to be that dominant in a conference that takes itself so seriously is pretty amazing. I've said it before but one thing that keeps me energized is that Florida is so good in so many sports that covering them is both relevant and interesting.

16. Let me get this straight — the New Orleans Hornets are going to be the New Orleans Pelicans (what a ferocious nickname) and the Charlotte Bobcats are going to be the Charlotte Hornets? Who gets to be the Bobcats? I have news for Michael Jordan. He can change the team's nickname but I can still smell that team from here.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Adam Kramer, who covers college football for Kegs ‘n Eggs and the Bleacher Report — “So BetOnline has Alabama -15.5 over Virginia Tech while 5Dimes has the Tide -23.5. Not sure I've ever seen numbers like that.” I'm not a betting man, but just seeing point spreads for college football gets me fired up. Those are surprising numbers, but Virginia Tech is coming off a 7-6 season and Nick Saban gets his teams ready for the openers.

18. So Sirius has had a station for the last week or so that plays nothing but Tom Petty songs. Life is good. Try these downloads — “12 Fingers” by Young The Giant, “The Disorder” by The Features and for the old school Tom Petty fans try “Mystery Man” off the first album.

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

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