Back Nine: Could this season be worse than 0-10-1 for Gators?
Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 25, 2013 at 8:08 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a lost weekend in Gainesville. But it has given me an inflated sense of power because so many of you truly believe I am making all decisions on Florida's hirings and firings. Thanks.
10. So it's up to me to give you some optimism, right? Oh, not about this Saturday's game. If you think Florida has a chance against Florida State you must be hanging around with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. This is about next year. I know the Missouri and Vanderbilt games got away from this team, but in the other five disasters (we don't call them losses in Gainesville anymore), the average point differential was 6.0. Which means the Gators are only one play (per game) from being 9-2 heading into the FSU game. What, you're not buying into that? I tried. One thing that is obvious to me is that if you are going to build a team based on the power running attack you had better have a deep roster. Because when injuries happen, there are no Band-Aids big enough. If you are a finesse team, it's easier to play around injuries. And for all you Georgia Southern fans who sent me emails, I know about the history of your program, probably more than most sports writers. But Saturday wasn't about you unless you are an Eagles fan. It was about the program that lost, not the program that won. And that's what I wrote about.
11. Thin-skinned? Not me. I can take all of the inebriated fans who call and email at 2 a.m. to call me spineless and weak. I can deal with all of the people who corner me for the length of a sitcom to explain to me why they know more about this program than coaches. I can handle the tweets from anonymous people with avatars of their dogs or cats (or eggs) who question my manhood. Because I know enough Gator fans who have a rational view of things, I don't let the lunatic fringe get to me. We all know this is a low point in Florida's football history. Nobody expects you to be happy or indifferent. I know very few of you really believe that you stick together in all kinds of weather unless you're carrying pitchforks and torches when the storms are at their fiercest. This has been a bad year. The only question is whether it is the worst ever? My wife said the other day, “Thank God, we have 0-10-1.” Yeah, except this might be worse than 0-10-1. That team was really bad offensively, averaging less than 10 points a game, but (as someone who covered the team) after awhile everyone became numb to the losing and nobody wanted to fire the first-year coach. That team is now looked at as “lovable losers.” There's not much loveable about this team.
12. Our electronic Heisman Trophy ballots came in this week (am I allowed to reveal that?) just in time because I have no idea who I am going to vote for right now. As you may know, I think anyone who votes now should have his or her ballot taken away because the season is far from over. I always wait until after the conference championship games. There was a Twitter movement among the writers I follow for Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron after Johnny Sharpie's repeat hopes were dashed by LSU's defense and Bryce Petty couldn't get Baylor's unstoppable offense into second gear. The thing is, nobody knows what is going to happen with Jameis Winston. And I now have Boston College running back Andre Williams on my mental radar. It's all so confusing.
13. You have to feel for Aaron Murray, who has been one of the faces of SEC football for the last few years. He made it a clean sweep for the SEC East when he suffered an ACL tear against Kentucky. Every East quarterback has missed multiple games with an injury this year. This is a tough league, but that still is unusual. I've had people question Florida's strength and conditioning coaches because of all the Gator injuries, but just look at all the teams around the country. Vanderbilt lost its entire secondary against Tennessee (three injuries, one targeting).
14. This is going to be a strange offseason without a bowl game for Florida fans and those of us who cover the team as well. Talk about a lost season, how about lost Marriott points? But it's not like next year is a guarantee either even though Florida has three softies to pad the win-loss record. Assuming the Gators can beat Kentucky at home, they will probably have to beat Tennessee and Vanderbilt on the road to be a bowl eligible team. I'm not saying they can't beat South Carolina or LSU at home or Georgia in Jacksonville (a must-win for Muschamp), just pointing out the minimum needed. According to the current BCS standings, Florida plays five of the top 17 teams next season. Thanks for nuthin'.
15. I hate to say this, and I never thought I would write this, but this season has changed my feelings about football. I actually prefer the NFL to the college game. The reason is simple — the NFL games are better. Maybe it's a one-year aberration, but even the college football games we have looked forward to have been boring for the most part. It pains me to say it, but I look forward to Sundays more than Saturdays as we wind down the college season. I know the NFL lacks a lot of the traditions and pageantry of college football, but when I sit there on a Thursday and have a hard time finding 10 college games worthy of The Picks, well, college football needs an overhaul.
16. My wife and daughter thought I was having a heart attack Saturday night while we were eating, because I went all Fred Sanford on them when a crawl appeared on ESPN that Brian McCann had signed with the Yankees. I knew the Braves were going to lose him and he signed with a team that needs catching help for a ton of money. All that makes sense, but it still hurts to see one of my favorites go play for the Evil Empire.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com — “Vandy is now 9-6 in last 15 SEC games. Program had only won 13 SEC games in previous 10 YEARS before James Franklin arrived.” Which is why Franklin will likely be gone after this season if the right job opens up.
18. There is not a noisier postgame press box than the one at Florida so the headphones and Spotify were huge Saturday. Try these downloads — “January Hymn” by The Decemberists, “Jezebel” by Iron & Wine and for a deep old cut “Mary, Mary” by The Monkees.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.
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