Back Nine: Pac-12 sounds off on SEC schedule
Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 5, 2014 at 8:29 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that included the best Kentucky Derby party you could ask for (guess who drew the winning horse?) and way too much time spent watching baseball, basketball and golf.
10. The Pac-12 coaches sounded off on a conference call last week about the SEC not going to nine conference games, which was nothing more than advance politicking. Those coaches want to make sure the College Football Playoff committee recognizes that a tie should go to the team that plays the most conference games. The Pac-12 not only plays nine, but also has 10 games against Power Five conferences (counting Notre Dame), the same number as the SEC. I’d still rather play a Pac-12 schedule than an SEC schedule, but the point is well taken. It was a calculated risk that the SEC took by sticking to eight conference games and a big question will be whether the SEC lost any clout by not winning it all last year. The Back Nine pointed out last week why the SEC stayed at eight, but I wonder if, say, UCLA gets in as the fourth team with 11 Power Five opponents (Virginia and Texas in the non-conference) over a team like Auburn or Alabama, which each play only nine, if that changes some minds in our conference. The nine-game conference season isn’t dead in the SEC, but it will take a special set of circumstances to get it passed. By the way, do you realize we’re only 69 days away from SEC Media Days?
11. Florida’s sweep of Arkansas in softball was important for the Gators in their pursuit of the Halifax Media SEC All-Sports Award. It allowed UF to finish in a tie for third in the conference with Georgia, which still has the lead in the overall standings. Florida’s baseball team will pick up points on Georgia, but the number is still to be determined with two series left. Florida has Vandy and Tennessee while the Bulldogs have Ole Miss and Kentucky. Georgia is tied for 12th, but with a strong finish could end in the top half of the league because teams are so bunched together. Certainly, this race will come down to track and field. It’s that time of the year when things get really interesting around here for the spring sports and for the All-Sports honor.
12. Florida’s baseball sweep of Alabama was another example of why this team reminds me at times of the Florida basketball team. Despite those two losses to Jacksonville and Florida A&M, the Gators shook them off and swept the next two SEC series to make it 11 in a row in the conference. The reason they remind me of the hoopsters is that they find ways to win games and always seem to play to the level of the opponent. I don’t think anyone thought this baseball team would be 18-6 in the conference at this point. The Gators are now second in the nation in RPI and seem assured of hosting at least a regional and probably a super regional if they advance. Softball is in the same boat. Did I mention that things are getting interesting?
13. It’s NFL draft week, thank goodness. Finally, the rampant speculation and smokescreens will end. Expect a lot of trades in the first round and a lot of mistakes because they happen every year. I heard someone say the other day that Johnny Manziel has been the most-analyzed player in draft history. Uh, did everyone forget about Tim Tebow? I seem to remember every aspect of his life and throwing motion dissected like a fetal pig. I shouldn’t be amazed any more to see the so-called experts change their evaluations of players from day to day. Status quo doesn’t sell or bring you to their websites or eyeballs to the tube.
14. I’ve said before that I’m not a big NBA fan, but I do love the playoffs. Five Game 7s was almost too good to be true and, while not all of them lived up to the billing, it was certainly entertaining. But it does seem like we’re all just watching sidebars to the eventual coronation of the Heat again. When we were watching Bradley Beal’s one year at Florida, we all knew he’d be a good pro, but he’s exceeded my expectations. No time to relax because we’re already into the next round. And I still don’t know how to feel about the Clippers. Part of me wants them to win, because of all they have been through and part of me doesn’t because I don’t want to see anything happen that’s good for Donald Sterling. I wonder how many people in America even knew who Sterling was before he became a national villain?
15. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Muschamp family after the death of Will’s father. Herbert Larry Muschamp was 79 when he passed Thursday. I’ll always remember his beaming face when Will was introduced as the Florida head coach. Larry had so much to do with Will being who he is, both as a man and a football coach.
16. It’s time for The Players Championship and it should be a wide-open race. Gator alums Billy Horschel, Matt Every and Brian Gay will be in the field this year. Congrats are certainly in order for J.B. Holmes, who battled back from a pair of brain surgeries to win last week in Charlotte (he keeps a piece of his skull that was removed in a jar at home). I’m not sure what to think of Phil Mickelson heading into this week. He had two great ones and two awful ones at the Wells Fargo. But he does like the course at TPC Sawgrass. Of course, so do I but I’ve never broken 80 there.
17. The Tweet of the week comes from a parody account I follow from Alan Garner. You know, the fatty in the “Hangover” movies. His tweets are pretty funny — “Twitter is like the fridge. If you're bored, you keep opening it.” That sums up Twitter perfectly.
18. It’s that time of the year when a boring day can be saved with a little pool time and the iPhone (cold beverage optional). Try the latest version of “You’re the One That I Want” by Angus and Julia Stone. It actually makes it a good song. And “Black Flies” by Ben Howard. And for an oldie, a reader suggested “I Got A Line On You” by Spirit. I’m going with it.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.