Back Nine: Ready or not, here comes college football ... finally
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 at 7:09 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you with a little different sense of urgency and a big smile. It's game week, people, so you had better be ready. As if you have a choice.
10. I was a little surprised to see UF coach Will Muschamp reduce the suspension of linebacker Antonio Morrison. I get that Morrison probably shouldn't have been arrested in the first place (for his second incident) and that the charges were dropped, but Muschamp knew when the suspension was handed down that it was likely the charges would be dropped. He was suspending Morrison for two games because he was in the wrong place and certainly at the wrong time. I'm sure Morrison did everything he was asked to do since the arrest and missing the opener is probably suspension enough for the earlier incident where he allegedly hit a bouncer. You could tell in the last two weeks that the suspension could be reduced just by the way Muschamp answered questions about it. But I'm still a little surprised.
11. As I was driving my daughter to school Monday morning, I pointed out a car that had Gator flags flying. “You're going to see a lot of that around here,” she said to me. I think she was being sarcastic. There's something special about being within days of the first games but there is also this kind of feeling like you have when you're getting ready to go on a scary ride and you kind of want to wait for the next car because you're not sure you're ready. OK, maybe I'm the only one who feels that way. I still don't know how to feel about this Florida team. I like this team, but it's going to be the toughest road of any team in college football. OK, I guess I am ready for it to start. After a weekend of watching Little League baseball and high school football on ESPN, it's time for the big boys to go to work. And for us to enjoy. There is nothing like college football and in a lot of ways it's difficult to explain it to a non-fan or someone who believes that the NFL is better. I've quit trying. I'm just happy it's here.
12. I don't gamble (except when I drive on NW 13th Street in the rain) but I do look at the Las Vegas betting lines because I'm always interested to see what the spreads look like. To be honest, the one that caught my attention was Florida vs. Toledo. Depending on which Vegas sports book you like, the Gators are favored by anywhere from 21-to-24 points. Now, I understand the spreads are set to bring the most money to both sides of the bet, but that seems like a lot of points. After all, Toledo won nine games last year and has a lot of seniors on offense. And I'm not sure Florida will try to beat Toledo by 21 points. Under Muschamp, Florida has shown a penchant for playing at the level of its opponent. Last year, the Gators beat only three teams by more than three touchdowns (Kentucky, South Carolina and Jacksonville State). I expect this to be a competitive game, much like last season's opener against Bowling Green.
13. The injury that has shelved Chaz Green for the season is another example of how valuable Tyler Moore is to this team. He was slated to start at guard for the injured Jon Halapio and instead will start at tackle for the injured Green. It also means Florida will start the season without the entire right side of the offensive line if we assume a healthy Halapio and a healthy Green would have started. We all believed when camp started the offensive line would be a strength of this team. I'm not so sure now. Green wasn't a great player last year, but he was certainly serviceable. He also ate up a lot of snaps at right tackle.
14. The New York Times had a lengthy piece this weekend about how ESPN controls college football. It was well done, but hardly a surprising revelation. Let's face it, the network is basically controlling the SEC right now. You will play when we want you to play and who we want you to play. It won't be long before ESPN will be consulted by college football athletic directors about who they will face in the non-conference schedule. Actually, in some cases, it already is happening.
15. I don't want to get all preachy but this thought occurred to me while watching some of the NFL exhibition games. We wonder how college football players can throw it all away by getting kicked off their respective teams for rules violations. We wonder how they can be so selfish. We wonder how they can feel so entitled. And I give you Terrelle Pryor, Janoris Jenkins and Tyrann Mathieu. All three were booted from some of college football's most powerful programs and all three are doing just fine in the NFL. They might have lost a bit off their first contracts, but they can also look back and say that losing their final years of college football wasn't that big a deal. That's hardly the lesson we want to see taught, but it's the reality. You're more likely to have your career derailed by getting fat than getting in trouble.
16. I have to say I wasn't a big fan of the whole FedEx points race in golf when it first was introduced, but it got me watching last week when you had an incredible field (and incredible views) at The Barclays. When Tiger Woods missed that putt from off the green on the final hole, don't you think there was a part of him that was thinking, “Thank goodness I don't have to swing the club again?” He was in major pain.
17. The Back Nine is seriously considering dropping this segment of the column because Twitter has changed so much. It used to be a bunch of funny and pithy comments, but now it has turned into people promoting their work or quoting coaches and players from their news conferences. I'm as guilty as anyone, but I will do my best to go back to being snarky on Twitter. Anyway, the Tweet of the Week comes from Mandy Mitchell, my old friend who works for WRAL in Raleigh — “Ran a Spurrier sound bite at 11 last night and our anchors could not stop laughing at his "humor.” Try covering the guy Never a dull moment!” He's been cracking me up this summer as well.
18. I finally figured it out (it only took me a year) and was able to get the numerous songs I purchased from iTunes on my old iPod and transferred them to my iPhone. Then I ate iDinner, brushed my iTeeth and went to iBed. Anyway, it was a big deal to me and made me actually look forward to going to the gym. Try these downloads — “Another Is Waiting” by The Avett Brothers or you could just wait until their entire album comes out in the middle of October (can't wait), “Southern Sun” by Boy & Bear and for an oldie, “Can't You Feel My Heart Beat” by Herman's Hermits.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.