The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful weekend if you were near any body of water. And that includes pools, but not kiddie pools, endless pools or standalone pools. You have to draw the line somewhere.
10. Sometimes you are watching a football game from the previous season (OK, maybe it’s just me) and you start to see a theme or perhaps you just imagine one. But this is what occurred to me with my feet propped up (maybe it was just the blood rushing to my head) — this conference is full of X-factor teams. By that, I mean, there are so many teams who feel like they could be really good or really disappointing, Usually, there is a team or two I feel that way about. But this season it certainly feels like there is Alabama and maybe Georgia and then a bunch of X-factor teams. For example, LSU might contend for the College Football Playoffs. Or it may lose in the second week against Texas, never recover and end up in the Belk Bowl. Texas A&M is a team I am tempted to pick second in the West, but I count five games on the schedule where the Aggies could be underdogs. Will Muschamp told The Back Nine recently that this is his best team in Columbia, but is it good enough to have a real shot at the East or is it fighting for bowl eligibility late in the season? Of course, there are the mighty Gators who could be really good, but with a tough schedule and a new offensive line it can go south quickly. Anyway, it’s a mix throughout this conference of teams with legitimate aspirations that could give way to bitter realizations. That’s why we play the games and remember, some team will lose every game that is played this year.
11. For example, take the over/under totals released by Fan Duel last week. There could be some easy money there in both directions. And there are a lot of them you had better stay away from.
Alabama 11 wins (run away, fast, because you are one fluke play away from breaking even at best).
Arkansas 6 wins (even with a soft non-conference schedule, I don’t think the Razorbacks are any better than barely getting bowl eligible).
Auburn 8 wins (now here’s a bet you could fall in love with, especially if the Tigers beat Oregon to open the season).
UF 9 wins (seems like it’s right on the number).
Georgia 11 wins (if I were going to bet, I’d go under because of cross-division games against Auburn and Texas A&M).
Kentucky 6 wins (here’s a lock for you so bet the over).
LSU 9 wins (my gut is the Tigers won’t win nine games, but I don’t know which side they will end up, Remember? X-factor?)
Miss. St. 8.5 wins (can’t see it; bet the under).
Missouri 6.5 wins (what if Kelly Bryant goes off and takes advantage of skill position talent?).
Ole Miss 5 wins (don’t you have a feeling the Rebs will get bowl eligible?)
South Carolina 6 wins (bet the over and thank me later).
Tennessee 6.5 wins (am I missing something here?)
Texas A&M 7.5 wins (hardest team to predict because of the schedule so stay clear of the Aggies).
Vanderbilt 5 wins (why would you bet on Vandy in anything other than baseball?)
12. On the same day the Mets paid Bobby Bonilla $1.1 million not to play, Florida paid Jim McElwain $1 million not to coach its football team. (Here’s where I usually inject a joke about being in the wrong profession). We’ve chronicled all the things that went wrong here with McElwain (death threats were — more than anything — an out for the people at Florida who wanted him gone), but it still seems amazing that a coach could be 16-3 at one point in his career in SEC games and be fired three games later with overwhelming support from the fan base. I keep reminding people that McElwain won 10 games his first year just like Dan Mullen. But it feels different. Or — again — is that just me?
13. Meanwhile, another former Florida coach is a hot topic on sports radio talk shows because it’s the time of the year when stories get invented and take on lives of their own. And the next thing you know, they happen. Anyway, there are a lot of people who are convinced that we are watching the same movie with Urban Meyer, that he will spend a year on TV and end up at Southern Cal next year. I know he is at least talking to former assistants about another ride and he may be joking, but he may not be. Could it be that he left Ohio State because he didn’t like the way he was treated and wants to coach again? The thing is, the perfect job has to open up and the best chances for Meyer would be a bad season for the Trojans or Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly turning pro. Or maybe Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. But if none of those things happen, I can’t see him coaching Florida International just to coach.
14. The frenzy of NBA free agent signees Sunday blew up my phone and made me wonder what it must have been like for reporters who actually had to stay on top of it. It feels like the league is wide open with a lot of teams who can win their conferences (except, of course, the Knicks, who can’t even tank the right way). You’ll need a scorecard to keep up with all the changes and the guy who wants you to get off his lawn is screaming today about players being greedy and no loyalty. Just remind him that — as the great Jerry Seinfeld said — we’re just cheering for laundry. (“It’s different guys every year. You’re rooting for clothes, when you get right down to it. We’re screaming about laundry.”) For those of us who are not, who change like the wind, it’s a little more confusing. I started rooting for the Celtics because of Al Horford and Brad Stevens, but I can’t root for Philly. Sorry. No way. I think I’m going to be a Pelicans fan. Is that a thing yet?
15. Today will be appointment TV viewing, as the Americans try to reach the final of the World Cup. I watched Friday at a restaurant, saw a goal and got home in time to see the second goal. That takes real talent. Megan Rapinoe has become the latest hero for people who only watch women’s soccer when it’s the World Cup (or the villain for people who don’t understand the concept of free speech). It’s almost like the Miracle on Ice in that Friday against France was the one the USA had to win and it felt like a final, but there is still work to do. England is the opponent, Fox is the network, 3 p.m is the time. Pull up a chair.
16. Congrats to the two Florida Track Club runners who are going to the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta in February. Enoch Nadler qualified in December and just last month Kelly McCoy Griffin qualified in Duluth. He trains her and she is not a professional runner, so that is pretty impressive for the mother of three. I am neither a professional runner nor a mother, and both seem incredibly difficult things to do separately, let alone together.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from someone named Brian Penter, a UF grad in Atlanta (I think), who offers up some food for thought — “The SEC has won 21 National Titles in football, basketball and baseball in the last 20 years. Schools who have not contributed:
– the Mississippis
– the newcomers (Mizzou and A&M)”
I will leave this here without comment. I’m not sure one is needed.
18. Well, the fairways are no longer safe. I hit a bucket and played three holes at Ironwood on Sunday. The fever is back, despite a few chili pepper shanks on the range. And I’ll need a new playlist for tooling around the golf course. (Seriously, ever since cell phones took over our lives, every third golf cart has some tunes going. Maybe they should put chargers in the carts).
• “Cringe” by Matt Maeson.
• “Forgive Me Friend” by Smith and Thell.
• “Shine a Little Light” by The Black Keys.
• “Shinin’ “ by The Allman Betts Band. Yep, the kids got together to start a band and it’s awesome.
• And because there might have been some impromptu karaoke on the back porch Saturday night as we once again celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (we’ll stop now), “I Started A Joke” by The Bee Gees.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.