Back Nine: New assistants bring better mood for Muschamp

Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 at 6:39 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where I felt like I was going to astronaut testing. Here, we're going to make it warm and humid, now freezing, now warm, now cold and windy. What's up? Best to stay inside and watch sports. Like the weather would have mattered.

10. There is nothing that will inject enthusiasm into a coaching staff like new coaches, especially when they join a staff that just went 4-8. You could sense that Monday when Florida coach Will Muschamp brought his three new coaches to meet the media (and with the exception of offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, never to meet with us again). Roper especially has an energy about him that is contagious and I sensed Muschamp was in the best mood I've seen him in a long time. The best thing Roper said? “Our whole philosophy on offense is points per game. Hopefully, we're a PPG team.” As the last coordinator Florida hired from Duke used to say, statistics are for losers and assistant coaches. But Roper understands that it doesn't matter if you are leading the league in yardage or time of possession if you are not scoring points. It's pretty simple in the end, that you have to score more than the other team. Another thing I took away from Monday — Muschamp said all jobs are open, but I don't believe him. He's not starting a true freshman at quarterback in the opener unless Jeff Driskel has another injury. Which is always possible. And I asked new offensive line coach Mike Summers about his strange season at Southern Cal, which had three different head coaches during the season. “There's a good chance I set the record for most head coaches in a year,” he said. “But it reaffirmed to me that if you have a good relationship with the guys you coach, they will follow you anywhere.”

11. I saw an interesting quote from John Calipari after his Kentucky Wildcats went to 2-0 in the league. "Look, we're still not there. I'm telling you," Calipari said. "But I'm looking around the country, and I don't see anybody there.” I beg to differ. I think undefeated Arizona, with three wins on the road against top-50 RPI teams, is there. I think unbeaten Wisconsin, with six wins against top-50 RPI teams, is there. But, of course, it doesn't matter if you are there now. You have to be there then. Does that make any sense? Back to the Wildcats, they should be able to build confidence in a league that isn't very good, but this week will be a challenge with a game tonight at Arkansas and a home game against Tennessee.

12. It's a good thing the Atlantic Coast Conference brought Pittsburgh and Syracuse into the fold this season. Otherwise, the league might look embarrassingly bad this year. Pitt and the 'Cuse are a combined 31-1 this season. The five ACC teams that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago (if you count pseudo-member Notre Dame) are 4-11 in league play. I watched Florida State, which may be the third best ACC team, demolish Clemson last week and then was stunned to see the same Clemson team handle Duke. And North Carolina is offering up to the NCAA Selection Committee. Don't worry, Louisville's on the way.

13. Maybe it's just me, but I was so looking forward to the NFL games on Saturday and Sunday, but they kind of left me wanting more. I know the Chargers rallied late to make it interesting and the 49ers' win was a gutsy performance. But after a season of high-flying football, there were only 14 touchdowns scored by the seven teams that didn't have Tom Brady. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was simply that you don't get to the division playoffs without a salty defense. Anyway, as wide open as everyone thought it was heading into these playoffs, we're left with pretty much what we expected and the potential for an unbelievable semifinal day. I'm going to take the 49ers and the Broncos in the Super Bowl. It should be great, especially if you don't watch any of the buildup (if they show Chris Berman at Candlestick one more time I'm breaking my TV; well, I'm breaking one of them) and just watch the actual game. Again, maybe that's just me.

14. And maybe it was just me that sat down to watch the 49ers and Panthers with no real rooting interest and found myself pumping my fist for San Francisco because of the boorish behavior displayed by the Carolina defense. I did notice Colin Kaepernick motion to the scoreboard after one of the Panther players became chirpy. I mean, act like you've been there before. Oh, wait. Three personal foul penalties didn't seem to slow Carolina down in the poor behavior department.

15. But I will also tell you another thing I took away from the NFL games — it doesn't matter how much you train, pay or discipline officials. They are going to screw up. There were so many missed calls and bad calls this weekend that I lost count. And I feel like I could be objective because I didn't really care who won any of those games. I was just watching for the entertainment, but, man, they blew so many calls. It almost made me appreciate SEC football officials. Almost.

16. Lane Kiffin to Alabama? Really? Todd Grantham to Louisville? Really? Am I in the wrong profession or what? Kiffin has not been successful at any of his three jobs as a head coach. His reward is to be named offensive coordinator at the best program in the country. Grantham's defenses have underachieved so much that Georgia fans are celebrating his move to Louisville. And he gets $1 million a year. As ridiculous as these two news items may seem, they could be great for those of us who write for a living. Some chemicals simply are not meant to go together. It could be noisy.

17. The Tweet of the Week came from NFL Stats originally and then from several other people. I couldn't read it enough — “Tim Tebow will remain the only Heisman QB to win a Playoff Game in the last 26 years.” Cam Newton couldn't get it done. Johnny Manziel, you're up next. Good luck with the awful team that drafts you.

18. Thanks to a couple of shots in the knee and a brace that makes me feel like Phil Trautwein I have been able to get back to the gym and that means the tunes have been cranking. Try these downloads — “God & Suicide” by Blitzen Trapper, Florence + The Machine's version of “Addicted To Love” and for the old schoolers out there get the new release of the very old recording of “After The Gold Rush” by Neil Young at The Cellar Door.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at

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