Back Nine: Picking Peyton over Tebow was an easy decision
Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 20, 2014 at 9:53 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a long weekend of spending way too much time watching sports. OK, I didn't just watch sports. I did see a couple of movies.
10. We all know the NFL is a quarterback league and on the biggest day of the year it came down to which quarterback played better. There are a million things you could take from Championship Sunday, but the bottom line is that Peyton Manning was brilliant and Tom Brady was pretty average and Russell Wilson was way more solid than Colin Kaepernick. But spare me the praise for John Elway because he made the decision to cut Tim Tebow loose and get Manning. Anybody not blinded by Tebow-mania knew it was the right thing to do at the time. Let's see, I have a quarterback who I don't think can play and I have a chance to get one of the best of all time. What should I do? Look, Tebow fans didn't have to like it at the time and I'm sure this week we'll hear from Tebow haters who will point out Timmy is out of the league and Manning is in the Super Bowl. But it was a no-brainer of a decision. Let's not act like Elway discovered a cure for lupus. That's all I'm saying.
11. I am happy the Seattle-San Francisco game between the teams who now form the most intense rivalry in sports (which also leads to abysmal behavior) was not decided by an official's call at the end of the game. The “all-star” crew of officials missed enough calls during the game to last a season. Maybe that idea of bringing together the best officials rather than have the best crews do the biggest games wasn't such a good idea after all. Someone needs to explain to me why San Francisco chose to go at Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman with the game on the line. The guy is the poster player for shutdown corners. His postgame interview with Erin Andrews was stunningly honest (he and Michael Crabtree have a history and it's not a good one) and he wrote a column for SI.com explaining his comments. Hey, this job is difficult enough without the players chipping in with columns. It should be an awesome Super Bowl and like Commissioner Roger Goodell, I am announcing that I will watch the game outdoors. And wear flip flops. Just not in New York.
12. I watched a lot of SEC basketball this week and I get that some people would prefer waterboarding to watching the teams in this league play. Florida, as we know, is a really good team and Kentucky is extremely talented (Memo to CBS' Clark Kellogg — we get that the Wildcats are young. They are every year under John Calipari. Leave it alone.) And then there are a handful of teams which have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament, such as Tennessee, Missouri and Ole Miss. And then there are some teams which will be tough to beat on the road but have no prayer of making the tournament unless it finishes up at Madison Square Garden. But there is one constant in this league — nobody can shoot free throws. Missouri is the only team in the SEC that is ranked in the top 100 in free-throw percentage. The average ranking for league teams is 230th in the country. Only five teams are in the top 200. I can't explain why, but I also know that it's not just the SEC. Of the 25 teams ranked in the latest Associated Press poll, 14 of them are ranked 145th or worse in free-throw percentage. Could be an interesting March where no game is over.
13. Maybe it's because the players are being asked to shoot more free throws. With the new point of emphasis on hand-checking fouls, free throws are up slightly over last year and teams are scoring a few more points per game. But what I have seen is a wide difference between what one official sees as a foul and what another sees. It's almost as if the officials have been given the license to interpret what is and what is not a foul. And their emphasis on the perimeter has almost been negated by muggings down low that are not called. I don't know that the game is better or necessarily any cleaner. But the real test will be in the NCAA Tournament.
14. Florida's basketball team will certainly have an interesting start to the 2015-16 season. Get ahead of yourself much, Dools? I was curious so I checked. Assuming that the University Athletic Association raises the $50 million or so it needs to renovate the O'Connell Center, the construction would start in March of '15 and would not be completed until Florida was eight games or so into its season. So all of Florida's early games would be played away from Gainesville. Obviously, there would be games in the state against nonconference opponents that would serve as neutral site games.
15. Just four years ago, there were 53 players who declared early for the NFL draft. This year, that number has grown to 98. There are a bunch of reasons why so many players are bolting and none are the same. But I think one reason players are more likely to go out these days is that they know it's not the end of the world if they fall to the fourth or fifth round. Just get on a team, play well and cash in on your second contract. That's the theory. There is also a bit of a stigma for players who use their entire eligibility. It's almost like something is wrong with them.
16. Arkansas may be basketball's version of Georgia in football. Every game is exciting at the end. The Razorbacks have played three straight overtime games (losing two). Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was on the SEC conference call and referred to it as “cruel and unusual punishment.” But if you're on your recliner with a cold beverage, they have been incredible. Can you imagine if college basketball settled its OT games like college football and each team got one possession from half court and if they were still tied in the third overtime they had to take a 3? That would be wild.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Gentry Estes, who writes for a website that covers Georgia but that's not why this is a great tweet — “Seeing a lot of negative media reaction to Richard Sherman. That's why we end up with bland quotes from so many. Nothing wrong with real.” I couldn't agree more, but that's what we do. We demand honesty and real emotions and then pick the players or coaches apart who dare utter the quotes that we drool over when we're typing them in. Or is that just me?
18. My goal this week is to clean up my iPhone's music and eliminate the songs that my daughter has on it and add a bunch of new songs and get some really strong playlists ready for college basketball's postseason. Well, that's the plan anyway. These are definitely going to be downloaded — “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead” by Stars, “Flicker, Fade” by Taking Back Sunday and for an old-school song, well, I forgot how good this was until I heard it again while watching “American Hustle” but give a try to “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?” by The Bee Gees.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.