Back Nine: Across-the-board success for Florida teams no accident
Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 24, 2014 at 10:54 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend with a lot of basketball watching and the best chicken parm in the world thanks to my wife. Who goes to St. Augustine and stays indoors the whole time? Me.
10. Before I get to basketball, I feel compelled to comment on the bizarre Nick Saban effort to have the clock count down by 10 seconds before an offense can snap the ball. Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema both cite player safety in making their appeals to the rules committee. Not that they have any hard evidence. This rule has no chance of passing when it's voted on March 6. If any of these coaches were truly concerned about player safety, they'd ask for a rule that cuts the season down to 10 games. Fewer opportunities for injuries, right? Well, that's not going to happen either. Saban doesn't need my advice (although he could have used it in the last second of the Iron Bowl), but what he should have done was go to the rules committee and said this, “Hey guys, I've been hearing from some of the TV executives and they are not happy with these hurry-up offenses because they can't show replays and get their promos in. They say it will be reflected in their next rights negotiations.” That rule would be passed in three seconds.
11. For all of the Gidiots who have been extremely critical of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley because they wanted him to fire Will Muschamp, you probably don't care that Florida is ranked No. 1 in men's basketball, softball and men's swimming where the Gators just won another SEC title and are ranked No. 3 in gymnastics and No. 5 in lacrosse. Those things don't happen by accident. Meanwhile, this basketball team will have another ring painted on the bull's-eye that has been on its collective backs with the No. 1 ranking. Tonight, we'll get an indication of how they're going to handle it. Vanderbilt is a dangerous team in that airplane hangar of a gym. I thought the Commodores had hit the wall a few weeks ago with their seven-player rotation (three starters play 36.9 minutes or more). They had two straight losses and looked listless against Texas A&M last Saturday. But they fought back to win that game in OT, lost by three at Missouri and handled Auburn.
12. And, of course, the 'Dores are now 7-7 in the league because everybody is 7-7 in the league. Well, seven teams are 7-7. It's the League of Ordinary Teams. It's not that the SEC is bad, it's just that it's not good. There is Florida and there is Kentucky and somehow there is Georgia and then there is everyone else. The Sleepy Seven have just enough talent to beat you and not enough talent to win consistently. I'm not sure if the first two days of the SEC Tournament are going to be incredibly interesting or incredibly boring.
13. It will be interesting to see who the SEC coach of the year will be. The obvious choice would be Billy Donovan, who lost three senior starters and has had to withstand injuries and suspensions and still have his team unbeaten in the league. But Kevin Stallings and Mark Fox at least should be in the argument. OK, that was a quick argument.
14. Here's one thing I don't get about Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology. He still has Tennessee in as an 11 seed. The Vols are 15-11 with a 58 RPI. And I get that there aren't a lot of teams from mid-major conferences who will get bids if they don't win their conference tournaments. And I get that Tennessee is not a team I'd want to face if I was a six seed. But the Vols were swept by Texas A&M and haven't shown much away from home. Lunardi may be putting too much into that blowout win over Virginia in December. But that's part of the fun of this time of year. He's usually right, but not always.
15. One of the things that caught my eye at the NFL Combine was A.C. Leonard having the best time among tight ends. I'm not saying he would have made a huge difference if he could have stayed out of trouble and been Florida's tight end in 2013, but he would have made a difference. I know there are some of you who watch the Combine with great interest and I know it's important to the teams and the players, but it's as boring as watching the Winter Olympics to me. I kept up my boycott over the killing of stray dogs throughout Sochi. How'd we do?
16. I'm not a NASCAR guy, but I always watch parts of the Daytona 500 because it's their Super Bowl. I even went back to it after a six-hour rain delay. And while I had a rooting interest (Jimmie Johnson, it turns out, likes a lot of the same music I do), it was a great story to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. win. I covered the 500 10 years ago when he won and it was such a huge story. This one felt even bigger. It will be interesting to see where it takes him this season.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Hays Carlyon who covers the Jaguars in Jacksonville for the Times-Union — “Consider this with (Jadeveon) Clowney: WR Mike Evans (6'4, 231) ran a 4.53 and everyone loved it. Same time as Clowney (6'5, 266).” Twitter was pretty weak this week. It used to be about pithy comments and interesting observations. All I'm getting now are 40 times and 2016 commitments. I'm going to spend the rest of the day unfollowing a lot of people to try to weed out the boring.
18. I'm getting plenty of song recommendations and will continue to use them in future weeks so don't get discouraged if you haven't seen yours yet. But my neighbor Randy left these for me in the seat of my car so I have to use them — “Burden of Tomorrow” by The Tallest Man on Earth, “Time Spent in Los Angeles” by Dawes (I think I used this one before but I can't find it, so, what the heck) and for an older song but not really an oldie “Transcendental Blues” by Steve Earle.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.