Back Nine: Heat won't wilt Gators
Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 29, 2013 at 9:24 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend when Gainesville decided to remind us just how hot and humid it can be this time of year. Gotta love those noon starts for football in August.
10. It won't be fun for the fans when the Gators play Toledo at 12:21 p.m. to start the season (predicted high for the game is 89 degrees) on Aug. 31, and I mentioned that to SEC commish Mike Slive in Hoover. “It'll be hot in Birmingham that day, too,” he said with a laugh. His point is that it's hot everywhere in the SEC that time of the year and one fan base is going to have to deal with it because ESPN said so. I remember when I was a kid and the Gators always started the season with a 1 p.m. game often against a team from the Midwest because that team would wilt. I looked it up on the Weather Channel site and Toledo will start camp with temperatures in the high 70s and the temperature will creep into the 80s only a few times in August. You gotta believe the mighty Gators will be better prepared for the heat. So they have that going for them.
11. Still, Toledo is a dangerous opening game for UF, which will be trying to break in several new starters on defense (including three new linebackers) as well as a new tight end, tailback and two new offensive linemen. The Rockets won nine games last year, and you might remember that they took Arizona to overtime to start the 2012 season. They have a senior quarterback in Terrance Owens and all but one member of their offensive line returns. On the other hand, Toledo loses all but one of its back-seven defensive players and gave up 74 plays of 20 or more yards last season. Toledo also lost three of its final four games last season after Matt Campbell started his coaching career with nine wins in his first 10 games. Can you tell that the Back Nine is ready to write about actual football games instead of police reports and watch lists?
12. Yes, I've already mapped out my TV plans for the first three weeks of the season. One thing that hurts the viewing is that so many schools have fallen into the trap of making sure they have one good non-conference team on their schedule and that's it. In the SEC, almost every school falls into that category. In fact, there are three schools who will play no teams currently in the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten-ish, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC). Kentucky plays Louisville, which will be in the ACC next year, and Arkansas plays Rutgers, which is headed for the Big Ten next year. Texas A&M doesn't make any effort at all. Its biggest non-conference game is against SMU. Only three schools face two games against Power Five conference teams — Florida (Miami and FSU), Georgia (Clemson and Georgia Tech) and South Carolina (North Carolina and Clemson). Critics can point to the fact Florida hasn't played a non-conference game west of the Mississippi since 1983, but I'd bet there isn't one coach in college football who would trade schedules with Will Muschamp.
13. Muschamp received a nice raise and anyone who spends any amount of time with the Florida coach knows two things — the guy works his rear off and that raise wasn't about money, but about letting recruits know Florida is all in with Muschamp. Or maybe it was just a coincidence that the story broke on the same day of Friday Night Lights camp. At any rate, UF and Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan are working on a new deal as well. It should be finalized soon.
14. Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports did a piece this week in which he ranked the 25 Most Intriguing College Football Coaches. There were four former UF coaches on the list (Urban Meyer at No. 2, Charlie Strong at No. 9, Bob Stoops at No. 11 and Steve Spurrier at No. 19) but not the current coach. I know this will really bother Muschamp. That was meant to be sarcastic. Nick Saban was No. 1 on the list. I'd have Meyer at No. 1 myself. No coach is under as much scrutiny as Meyer right now. Did you see his stint at the mike at Big Ten-ish Media Days? There were no questions about football.
15. More than 12 years ago, after watching my wife give birth to our daughter Kelsey, I wrote a column and in it I said that I would forever be a fan of anyone who put family first with something on the line. It's one reason I'm a Phil Mickelson fan and now I am a Hunter Mahan fan. To walk away from the lead and a possible $1 million paycheck at the Canadian Open says a lot about Mahan. His wife gave birth to Zoe Olivia Mahan early Sunday morning in Dallas. You're a lucky girl, Zoe.
16. Every time I watch a Braves game (remember when they were always on TV?), I wonder how they are winning so many games with so many guys hovering around a .200 batting average. So I looked it up and found that there were 12 teams in baseball with worse batting averages and that the Braves' .250 average is right around the major league average (.251). So it's not a bad-hitting team, just an average-hitting club with good pitching. Meanwhile, they had a Hall of Fame ceremony in Cooperstown with no living players being inducted because the ones who are eligible are walking under the clouds of steroid suspicion and the league is getting ready to announce more suspensions in the Biogenesis case. Not good for the sport.
17. The Tweet of the Week is from Tony Gerdeman, who writes for TheOzone.com — “Johnny Manziel should just stick to going to parties at Texas A&M, but he's probably not that familiar with the campus.” This after Manziel was booted from a frat party in Austin. What would a week be without a Johnny Twitter behavior story?
18. Getting ready to start my tour of Gator Clubs around the state so the music is going to be vital. I just downloaded these gems — “The Border Line” by Goldspot, “Full Circle” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and for a deep album cut “Home and Away” from Humble Pie.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.