Back Nine: How many UF wins?


Will Muschamp has a plan, but a tough schedule looms.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.

The Back Nine had an uneventful weekend unless you count watching golf, football and baseball or grilling chicken or a date night with your better half or learning a new song on the guitar eventful. Wait a sec, I had a great weekend.

10. Every time I think about this upcoming football season, I see trouble for the Florida Gators. Maybe it's because I have been watching the games from last season and still can't figure out how this team won 11 games. Maybe it's because of the early injuries. Mostly, it's because of the schedule. I only see one gimmee game on the sked and that's Georgia Southern. And certainly, expectations for Gator fans were permanently elevated after the run from 2006-2009 to the point that going 11-1 and taking a trip to New Orleans wasn't enough to get many fans off the couch. So now we are here preparing for the 2013 season and there's only one thing that will make this a successful season — going to Atlanta. The trouble is, of course, that there are at a minimum six SEC fan bases who expect to go to Atlanta and another three or four who think it's possible. That means there are going to be a lot of disappointed teams at the end of the season. I look at Florida and I see what I saw last year — a nine-win team. Whether the Gators go over that number or under it or hit it right on depends on a lot of things, but one thing I've come to believe in three years. I've gotten to know Will Muschamp and had many discussions with him about what he's trying to do. I like his plan. And if he likes his team, Gator Nation, you should like it to. The guy knows what he's doing. And if you can't be optimistic BEFORE the season begins, your glass has a leak in it.

11. OK, I've got your first weekend of college football planned out. Thursday, you make sure there is no late afternoon meeting because you have to kick off the season with a beauty when North Carolina plays at South Carolina at 6 p.m. Sneak a peek at Utah State-Utah during commercials and then watch Ole Miss at Vandy at 9:15. If you can talk your boss into giving you a sick day Friday, maybe stay up and watch Rutgers at Fresno State and USC at Hawaii. But I wouldn't waste a sick day so early in the season. On Friday night, the games aren't great and will mostly be background noise at parties and restaurants as you welcome friends back to town, but you can scout Miami when it hosts Florida Atlantic at 8. Saturday, you go to the Gator game and make it home or to a sports bar for the second half of Miss. State-Okie State. Then, get situated with your favorite cold beverage and junk food for Alabama-Virginia Tech at 5:30, Washington State at Auburn at 7, Georgia at Clemson at 8 and LSU-TCU at 9. I highly recommend more than one television. If you still have any adrenaline left, Northwestern at Cal at 10:30 might be a good one. On Sunday, you tell your family that you want to do something special with them because this is the last non-NFL Sunday and the games are stinky. Monday night brings you FSU at Pittsburgh at 8 p.m., which is worth the watch. There, got it?

12. So Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were the TNT attraction on the weekend (TNT had the early coverage of the PGA when the back of the field played) and Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy were too far back and nobody chased down the leaders. So we had the compelling Jason Dufner-Jim Furyk duel at Oak Hill. I literally fell asleep at one point watching it. I'm not taking anything away from Dufner, who played one of those special final rounds that seemed to be the norm in this year's majors, but watching him play is like watching, well, watching me watching him. He plays like the dip he keeps in his bottom lip is laced with Quaaludes. “For me, golf is a little bit more boring I think,” he said after winning his first major. “It's pretty matter of fact. I hit it in the fairway or I didn't; I hit the green or I didn't. Usually I'm struggling with the putter, so there's not too much to get excited about with that.” One cool thing is that Dufner and his wife received a sapling from the General Manager at Oak Hill and also gathered some acorns to plant back in Auburn, Ala., where they are building a home. You're having your morning coffee 10 years from now and look out the window and there's a tree from your first major? Not bad.

13. Meanwhile, I give you Tiger. Nice pick, huh? This season, he went 5-of-8 in non-majors and 0-4 in majors. That should tell you that it's mental … or karma. But as golf writer Steve Elling pointed out, Tiger has won only twice in 26 tournaments where the par is 70, which Oak Hill was. He need those par-fives to score. Still, Tiger is listed as a 5/1 favorite to win The Masters in eight months. At the same time, a bookmaker in England has prop bets as to how many majors he will win in 2014 and the favorite is “none.”

14. You may have heard this but next year's U.S. Open will be on Fox Sports 1, a new sports network that will try to compete with ESPN. Of course, it will try to compete with ESPN the way the USFL tried to compete with the NFL. Hopefully, Donald Trump doesn't get involved. I'm all in favor of more sports on television, but I'll miss Johnny Miller on the U.S. Open. If I can give the new network, which launches Saturday, some advice it would be this — there is a bit of a backlash against ESPN for taking small stories and making them the biggest stories in America for days. Try some perspective.

15. The Back Nine noticed that Louisville is not going to permit its players to sign autographs at its fan day. Meanwhile, across the state, Kentucky fans were able to get anything signed. Alabama players and coaches have been signing footballs and helmets for years at their fan day, and at Florida they are only allowed to sign posters distributed by the schools. This goes back to another problem with the NCAA, that compliance directors around the country interpret the rules differently. This is another time when it would be perfect for Mark Emmert to stand up and say something, a definitive answer to the question of signing at fan days. But to stand up, it requires a spine. To me, the perfect answer is that players can sign, but you are only allowed to bring one item to the fan day and that item would be marked by the school. That way, if it shows up on eBay, you know where it came from, and if it has no mark you have reason to question the student-athlete.

16. The Collegiate Licensing Company came out with its annual list of revenue brought in for the last year through merchandising (a total of $4.62 billion) and Texas was No. 1 for the eighth straight year (that's a lot of Valero Alamo Bowl T-shirts). Talk about the rich getting richer, six of the schools in the top 10 were SEC schools — 2. Alabama, 5. Kentucky, 6. LSU, 7. Florida, 8. Georgia and 10. Arkansas. The SEC also had four of the next 10. If you are wondering, Florida State placed 21st and Miami 37th.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to Washington Post writer Kent Babb — “In the Pats locker room, a camera guy has a mishap and yells, ‘Jesus Christ!' (Tim) Tebow, in earshot, looks at the guy and says: ‘He loves you.'” And later, “I promise that Tebow tweet was 100 percent true.” Like we would doubt him.

18. Lot of music and Howard Stern on the trip to the Panhandle last week where I had a wonderful time with the Gator clubs in Destin and Pensacola. Try these downloads — “Shake” from The Head and the Heart, “Mykonos” from Fleet Foxes and thanks for the suggestion, and for the old-timers out there “New York Mining Disaster 1941” by The Bee Gees.

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