Back Nine: Gator fans able to show up despite oppressive heat


Gator fans eat ice during the first half against Toledo in Gainesville on Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 2, 2013 at 11:31 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend filled with football, fun, food and flops. There were some really bad losses in college football, but only half of the teams are ever happy in a given weekend. Wait, we're talking about college football fans. It's more like 10 percent.

10. Bravo to the Florida fans who showed up on a demanding day to watch the Gators. I don't know how you did it. I had friends telling me they had never been more miserable at a game. And the ones who did show up did a heck of a job making it loud. Still, it was amazing to see so many empty seats for a season opener. I think it's a combination of reasons. The early kickoff is never good because a lot of fans don't want to get up at 5 a.m. and drive from four or five hours away for an hour of tailgating. Some of it was the opponent, although Florida has played a lot worse teams in the past to start the season. A lot of it was the heat and humidity. Some of it is definitely financial. Some of it is the problem that's not going to get any better and that is that the game was on TV. And I think a little of it is style of play. Whatever the reasons, that's two straight Gator games (the Sugar Bowl being the first) where the lack of a crowd was part of the story. There is no question Gator fans have been spoiled, first by Steve Spurrier and then by Tim Tebow.

11. The great thing about this week is that we have real games to talk about. And we have fans who have real games to gripe about. Gentlemen, start your teeth-gnashing. I saw someone make the comment on Twitter that college football fans have the same philosophy as baseball fans about umpires. They expect them to be perfect on opening day and then improve. You know it's college football season when the winning teams are being criticized. There is nothing bad about being 1-0. It was an amazing weekend, especially with all of the upsets by FCS teams. Perhaps the least surprising was North Dakota State's win over Kansas State. ND State has won the last two FCS national titles and has beaten an FBS team each of the past four years. But I'm wondering if I shouldn't have voted for QB Collin Klein for the Heisman Trophy last year. Obviously, he was a huge difference maker at Kansas State.

12. Which leads me to the story of the weekend and that was Johnny the Jerk. Johnny Manziel may be the single most disliked college football player ever after his displays Saturday. He's the anti-Tebow. Manziel has a level of arrogance that is off the charts, but part of the problem is that Manziel is the poster boy for entitlement. You can act like a moron and still play in the big game. You can break the rules and the NCAA will only slap you on the wrist. Manziel is incredibly talented, but he must have traded maturity and common sense to get that talent. Meanwhile, CBS is salivating over the game in two weeks when Alabama goes to College Station. I'll bet the network's executives wish they could put Manziel in one of those Hannibal Lecter straightjackets until game time because they're worried that at some point he may go so far that he cannot play against the Tide. If that is possible. Let me ask you this — as much as you may dislike Alabama and Nick Saban and root for the underdog, how many of you hope the Tide's defense eats Manziel for dinner?

13. We've always known that time of possession is one of the most overrated statistics in football. There are times when it is an indicator of how a team was able to control the game, but there was a game this weekend where one team had the ball for 40:14 compared to 19:46 for the opponent. The team with the big edge was Nicholls State, which lost to Oregon 66-3. Oregon had 772 yards of offense and didn't need a lot of time to gain those yards.

14. The Georgia-Clemson game was great TV and deserving of the monster ratings. Clemson appears to be one of the most electrifying offenses in the country. But … it's one game. The Tigers had eight months to get ready for it. They did it against a Georgia defense that most people felt was going to struggle early this season. Two years ago, Clemson beat Auburn and Florida State back-to-back to go to 9-0, then proceeded to lose to Georgia Tech, N.C. State and South Carolina. All I'm saying is that it's a long season and while Clemson's schedule sets up nicely with only two more ranked teams the rest of the way, the Tigers cannot lose a game and expect to play for a national title. We'll see. But one thing we won't see is how Louisville will fare against good teams. At least not until after the bowl games. UConn lost to Towson. South Florida lost to McNeese State. Louisville's remaining opponents won only four games on the first weekend of the season.

15. It was a sad day for a lot of Gator fans on Saturday when the news broke before the game that Tim Tebow had been cut by the Patriots. The Back Nine consoles you with this — Tebow will be fine. There are a lot of players who have been cut in August who don't have all of the support and opportunities that Timmy will have. I will always wonder what might have happened if Tebow didn't mess with his throwing motion after college. All I know is we never saw the same quarterback we saw at UF and it's more than just the step up in competition. I saw him throw some great passes in college and even in his miracle season with the Broncos he never looked comfortable throwing the ball. As I tweeted Saturday, at least he'll be available to be Mr. Two Bits. I'd recommend the Florida State game.

16. Great stat of the day — there are 78 players who were not drafted who made NFL rosters this season. Remember that when ESPN is turning the NFL Draft into a mini-series next year. Of those 78, only one was a former Gator player. Lerentee McCray is on injured reserve with Denver. On the other hand, all eight drafted Gators made their teams.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, who was on my Dooley Noted podcast at Gatorsports.com last week — “Paid to FCS teams & lost game: Ore St $450K, USF $400K, K-State $350K, Iowa St $350K, SDSU $325K, UConn $275K, Ga St $250K, So Ala $225K.” That's a lot of money spent on humiliation.

18. I put together an awesome playlist for our annual Kickoff The Season shindig Friday night, but everyone was having such a good time I'm not sure if many people heard it. Anyway, try these downloads — “All Of Me” by John Legend, “Reckless Forgiver” by Jars of Clay and for a deep old-timer's cut go find the Flying Burrito Brothers' version of “Wild Horses.”

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

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