Back Nine: Plenty of Gator connections in a frigid Super Bowl


Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 at 11:19 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a strong weekend that included a lot of basketball watching, grilling and about three minutes of the Pro Bowl. There is no format that will make it interesting. Just give it up.

10. What I don't get about the Pro Bowl is why we didn't have THREE STRAIGHT DAYS OF REPORTS ABOUT HOW THE WEATHER COULD BE A FACTOR. For gosh sakes, we have become a country where the weather and its effect on a football game becomes bigger than the zone blitz or Omaha audibles. Look, I know the Super Bowl is to the sports world what Texas is to the country. Everything is bigger. But I have already grown weary of the talk about the weather for this Super Bowl. It's an outdoor Super Bowl in New Jersey on Groundhog Day. Of course it is going to be cold. But unless there is a snowstorm that is so severe I can't see the yard lines, I don't care. You know why? It won't be cold on the couch of whatever Super Bowl party I attend. Ay-yi-yi. The weather aside. It's time for me to make my Super Bowl pick, which will tell you which team not to bet on. I would advise all of you to try to stay as sober as possible because I think this is going to be one of the most interesting Super Bowls unless an icicle falls on Peyton Manning's neck. I'll take Denver, 28-24.

11. There are plenty of Gator connections in this game and that's without mentioning Manning's lack of success against the mighty Gators or the fact his only Super Bowl win came over Rex Grossman (in more weather-related news, it rained during that game). Obviously, Percy Harvin could be a huge factor depending on his health (hmmm, when have we heard that before?) Jeremy Mincey and Bubba Caldwell both play for the Broncos and have certainly contributed. Dan Quinn, who was Florida's defensive coordinator way back when it won 11 games, is doing that job for Seattle and doing it quite well. He's getting help from former Gator defensive back Marquand Manuel, who is a secondary assistant coach. Manuel also played in Super Bowl XL for the Seahawks. By the way, there are 16 players from SEC schools on the two rosters, tied for the most with the Pac-12. But more interesting to me is that there are 10 players from FCS schools on the rosters. Remember that when you're going goo-goo for recruiting classes.

12. He can do it to you. I get that, Rick Ray. I understand that Marshall Henderson can make you want to chew nails. But you can't cuss at him. The Mississippi State coach did just that Saturday, but was smart enough to apologize right away. It was the second-best apology of the weekend. The best came from author and sports writer Jeff Pearlman, who referred to our friend Erin Andrews as “the Kardashian of televised sports” in a blog he wrote for his website after her now-famous interview with Seattle's Richard Sherman — “In a word: Awful. Writers are responsible for their words. They're supposed to measure what they write, then measure it again and again and again. Sometimes, unfortunately, I fail to measure. An impulse shoots through my brain, and I fire away, press SAVE, then press PUBLISH. I have an idea of what I want to convey, but I don't bother to make sure it's conveyed properly. Guilty, times 1,000.” That's the thing about this new world we live in. It's easier to publish something you will regret and it's also easy to fall into the trap of believing only your friends or people who like you are following you on Twitter or Facebook or reading your blogs. For example, Florida defensive tackle Leon Orr sent this tweet for all to see to former Gator lineman Ian Silberman this week — “Once you leave UF you not a gator NO MORE, CHANGE YOUR AVA! … smh.” For the Twitterly-challenged, he was referring to Silberman's picture (or avatar) next to his Tweets which still showed the linemen in a UF jersey. Smh stands for shake my head. I think.

13. So there was this discussion among the media boys and girls at Saturday's Florida-Tennessee game — which is the SEC's third-best team? We all know Florida and Kentucky are alone at the top and the only two locks for the NCAA Tournament. I thought Tennessee was the third-best team until I saw them Saturday. It wasn't just that the Vols lost. They looked mentally soft. I'm sure it will be different at home when they face the Gators, but there was a lot of quit in that team when Florida wore them down. So you say Ole Miss? There is an argument to be made there. But the Rebels really haven't beaten anybody. LSU might have the third-best talent, but on Saturday night the Tigers were down 19 to Alabama before rallying to make it interesting. Missouri might be the third-best, but those losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt are baffling.

14. The other discussion was about rivalries and how there aren't many in the SEC. I'm sure the in-state games such as Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Mississippi State-Ole Miss and Auburn-Alabama mean something, but not anywhere near the scale they do in football. Really, the No. 1 rivalry in the SEC is whoever is playing Kentucky. No. 2 may be whoever is playing Ole Miss and Henderson. Florida-Tennessee is a rivalry and that's why we saw the O-Dome packed and throaty Saturday. But, for example, as intense as LSU-Alabama and Florida-Georgia are in football they are just another conference game in hoops.

15. I heard someone on national radio referring to East Coast bias because we're not giving Arizona's basketball team enough praise. Uh, the Wildcats are an overwhelming No. 1 in both polls despite the fact that there is an unbeaten Syracuse team out there. To be honest, I thought a team that was flying under the radar in terms of national publicity was Florida. A lot of that has to do with the SEC. And then The Associated Press poll came out and Florida had jumped to third. So never mind.

16. An Alabama website called rollbamaroll.com ran a story the other day about how Alabama is expected to sign 27 players in this class and, as a result, will have to cut seven players currently on scholarship who have yet to get their degrees. Meanwhile, Tennessee has 33 commitments and is still recruiting hard. I thought the SEC had taken steps to get oversigning under control. I guess I misunderstood.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Michigan basketball player Spike Albrecht right after the Wolverines' big win over Michigan State — “Last thing I'm gonna say about tonight's game … The J Biebs chant was kinda funny lol.” Albrecht has the “old” Justin Bieber haircut (not the newer one in his police mugshot) which I refer to as Bama Bangs because everyone between 13 and 21 in Alabama seems to have the same haircut. The Michigan State fans were chanting “Jus-tin Bie-ber!” when Albrecht went to the foul line. It made me laugh.

18. So I think I've found the perfect way to spend an evening. Salmon and chicken on the grill, a sporting event on TV but with the sound down because the announcers rarely add anything and some killer tunes blasting through my Jawbone Jambox. Well, it was perfect on Sunday anyway. Try these downloads — “We Don't Eat” by James Vincent McMorrow, “Palmistry” by Great Lake Swimmers and for an old-school deep cut try “Legend of A Mind” by The Moody Blues.

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

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