The Back Nine comes at you with a heavy heart after the events of this weekend that make you wonder if our flag should just be kept permanently as half-staff.
10. I have been telling people all summer that the Aug. 24 opener for Florida against Miami might be a real slugfest and low-scoring. One reason is Miami’s defense. Another is the Miami offense. In fact, last year’s Hurricanes reminded me a lot of the 2016 Florida Gators. The defense was good enough to win nine games, but the offense was so woeful that it couldn’t be a special season. Both teams went 9-4 (although 2016 Florida won its division). Those Gators were fifth in total defense and 116th in offense. Last year’s Miami team was fourth in defense and 105th in offense. There is reason for optimism in Miami because of transfer quarterback Tate Martell and offensive coordinator Dan Enos, but this will be the first game together and I think Florida’s defense has a chance to be really good. So take the under. At the same time, it will be fascinating to see what kind of gameplans each coach comes up with after having a whole summer to think about them.
11. My vote in The Associated Press poll isn’t due quite yet, but I threw together my first rough draft. And there are a lot of scratched out teams inserted elsewhere in the poll. For one thing, I forgot Missouri, which was unranked in the coaches poll because the Tigers are on probation (for now) but eligible for the AP poll. There were several teams I struggled with including Florida, Texas and Notre Dame. I still have time to play around with it and I know you are breathless with anticipation. One thing I am really thinking about doing is ranking Alabama at the top over Clemson. Not to be different. My reason would be that if I had to pick one team that I felt was a lock to get into the College Football Playoff, it would be the Tide. Nick Saban is ticked off and the schedule isn’t that tough (South Carolina and Tennessee from the East, nobody of note in the non-conference). So if the poll comes out and there is one first-place vote for Alabama, you’ll know where it came from. Although I doubt there will only be one.
12. One interesting thing about the coaches’ poll that came out last week was that FSU received four points to land among the “also receiving votes.” I have no problem with any sports information director or directors (we all know who votes) who slipped the Seminoles into the bottom of their poll or polls, but it made me wonder about the last time the Seminoles were unranked in the preseason. That would be 2008 when they received 53 points to start the season 29th (also not making the top 25 that year was an Alabama team that went 12-0 heading into the SEC title game). FSU’s preseason rankings in the 10 years prior to that season — 19, 20, 5, 7, 12, 1, 8, 4, 3, 19. It just goes to show you how things can change in college football even if it feels like it’s the same teams at the top every year. Here’s another tidbit from the 2008 coaches’ poll. These teams were ranked — Kansas, Tennessee, Illinois and Wake Forest.
13. I think this would make a great betting game, even if it would take an entire season to get a winner. You get a dozen people together and each has to pick all nine Power Five conference division winners (which includes the Big 12 winner because it doesn’t have divisions). The key would be to pick some team that nobody else is picking (and get it right). OK, I’ll start:
ACC Atlantic — Clemson (still so easy in that division).
ACC Coastal — Virginia Tech (sending Bud Foster out with a title).
Big 12 — Oklahoma.
Big Ten East — Michigan.
Big Ten West — Wisconsin.
Pac-12 North — Washington.
Pac-12 South — Utah.
SEC East — Georgia.
SEC West — Alabama. I thought about LSU after I had a vision and I think it told me this is LSU’s year although it was speaking Orgeron so it was hard to understand.
First 11 people who email me their picks will be in my little contest. All you will win is bragging rights, but it might be fun. I’ll keep track.
14. I didn’t watch the Hall of Fame speeches and not sure I could have lasted four hours anyway. But there was some powerful stuff in almost all of them. I’ve been to Canton for three of them — Larry Csonka, Lee Roy Selmon and Jack Youngblood — and they do an amazing job making the weekend special for everybody involved. Twitter was freaking out over what may be the best bust of all time. Ed Reed’s was glorious. I still don’t understand why Lomas Brown isn’t in, but I’ve given up worrying about it. However, I’m still not done fighting for him to get in the UF Ring of Honor.
15. Danny White, the athletic director at UCF and brother of Florida’s basketball coach, keeps banging the drum for a Florida-UCF series. With a caveat. “We’re not going to do two games at somebody else’s stadium and then a neutral-site game in Orlando at Camping World Stadium,” White said. OK. Only thing is, that’s never been a UF consideration or a discussion, just an assumption that Florida would not play on the UCF campus.
Or perhaps White just keeps setting up parameters in place that will mean his team never has to actually play a big-time program in the regular season because, in the end, that could be the worst thing that could happen to UCF. It’s a theory, one I happen to subscribe to.
16. The Back Nine received a release about the odds for a ton of different college football related items and the one that caught my eye was the odds of Urban Meyer coaching again in 2020 are 3-to-4 so get ready for the return of Meyer to the sidelines. Here’s the thing — I truly believe he will coach again but he’s not going to Akron or UTEP. I mean, it would have to be the right job like Southern Cal or Notre Dame. Maybe Auburn? Naw, he doesn’t want to go head-to-head with Nick Saban. All I know is that I can’t do a radio show in this country without being asked about it. Inquiring minds want to know. That same website lists the over/under for Kansas wins at 2.5 and CJ Henderson as the No. 2 favorite (behind LSU’s Grant Delpit) to win the Jim Thorpe Award. I think that’s enough gambling talk for the day.
17. There is no Tweet of the Week. I had to get off Twitter for 48 hours because I couldn’t take it anymore. I go on there to see what’s going on with different teams or watch highlights or read funny comments. But there was nothing funny about this weekend. It was just depressing. Our hearts get broken and then the pieces get broken again. And again.
18. I had a little setback with the new knee, probably because I overdid it on the golf course. Man, I caught the fever and played three straight days and tweaked something. That gave me time to work on this playlist:
• “Introspective” by Oliver Tree.
• “Tell Me When It’s Over” by Sheryl Crow (featuring Chris Stapleton).
• “Hold Me” by The Teskey Brothers.
• “Summer Girl” by HAIM. Hey, it’s not too late for a summer song.
• And for an old one, I give you a song that came up during what has become called “Back Porch Karaoke” at my house. Yes, there were bottles of fermented substances involved. It’s kind of becoming a thing. Anyway, “Walking on a Thin Line” by Huey Lewis and The News.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.