The Back Nine comes at you with thoughts on the bowls so far, Chandler Parsons’ shot and the Gators’ amazing performance in the Big Easy.
1. OK, so where does it rate? Parsons’ heave from 75 feet was an improbable ending to a bad basketball game neither team seemed to want to win. We may look back and see it as the difference between Florida being in or out of the NCAA Tournament. I still say the best shot in UF hoop history was Mike Miller’s against Butler because of what it turned into. Corey Brewer’s against Georgetown in 2006 has to be up there. But for pure drama, Parsons was the best in Gator history. Forever, he’ll be remembered for that shot. But it doesn’t disguise the warts on this basketball team. The ugliest one with the hairs growing out of it — Florida can’t shoot a lick. The Gators are shooting 29 percent from 3-point land and have threatened their streak of 593 games with a 3 on too many occasions. Trouble is, they’re not talented enough to put up a lot of points other ways. You saw at the end of regulation when Erving Walker dribbled around until the clock was winding down and launched a bomb. This team already has more significant wins than last year’s but even in another weakened SEC, the Back Nine is looking at a .500 season. We’ll see.
2. Maybe the problem was they were shooting from too close. Maybe 75 feet is Florida’s range. By the way, Florida’s RPI is still a low 77th in the nation. UF probably needs 10 wins in conference play to make the field.
3. New Orleans had everything. Decadence, angst, deadline, rich food, beads cascading off balconies, controversy. Everything but sleep. I saw three young men arrested on Bourbon Street and some other things I’d rather not talk about. I found out Cincinnati fans will do the Gator chomp for beads. (Their lame cheer was about to drive me crazy. I kept waiting for a Gator fan to yell out, “Earl’s in trouble.” It’s a college baseball reference so most of you won’t get it.) One of the neatest things I did out there was sitting in the Cajun Cabin with oysters watching three TVs on Jan. 1 next to a table of Auburn fans who got to celebrate a win three times. Very entertaining. That was easily the best of the bowl games so far.
Maybe it’s just because I was in New Orleans for a week, but are Georgia Tech and Iowa still playing in the Orange Bowl? I haven’t heard a peep.
4. We probably should have seen Florida’s onslaught of Cincy coming for two reasons. 1. While Florida was going through a coaching upheaval, Charlie Strong was still there. Urban Meyer was still there. Brian Kelly was long gone. 2. This was the first time all season the Gators played without pressure weighing down on them. They were loose and relaxed. So was the offensive coordinator. Somewhere in Baton Rouge, Billy Gonzales had to be shouting at his TV, “Oh yeah, NOOWW you throw it all over the place!” I said all along that I thought Meyer and Steve Addazio coached tight all year with what was on the line. One reason Gonzales is gone is that he became frustrated that his receivers were mostly asked to block.
5. If you are scoring at home, Drew Copeland smoked me in the bowl picks. Hey, when I picked Cincinnati, it was three weeks before the game and I thought the Gators would be facing Alabama Syndrome. Look at all that happened after I made the pick. I know, excuses are for losers and assistant coaches. Congrats to Drew.
6. A week ago, if you had polled the media that covers the SEC, I’m pretty sure South Carolina would have been the pick to win the SEC in 2010. Now, not so much. One day, the Gamies will realize that you can mix business and pleasure on bowl trips. Until then, you’re going to see the kinds of performances you did Saturday. Nice effort. The SEC could use an Alabama victory in the title game. The league is 5-4 right now and 5-5 wouldn’t look so hot.
7. It will be interesting to see where Florida winds up in the final poll. If there is a blowout in the final game, I’d bet on third. If not, fourth. If Ole Miss doesn’t sneak into the last poll, the SEC will have only three teams ranked.
8. Most surprising bowl game — Wisconsin over Miami. I’d have bet the farm on the ‘Canes which is why I don’t gamble or own a farm. Best moment — Bobby Bowden being carried off the field. Most embarrassing moment — tie between Ann Bowden trying to make out with Bobby so she could get in the pictures and the field conditions at the Capital One Bowl. Next time someone tells you that the student-athlete’s safety is what matters most, show them a clip of that disgraceful situation.
9. Heard some great music in New Orleans, especially at Mulate’s. But for you iPodders I am recommending this week “Here’s Where the Story Ends” by The Sundays, “Hooray For Beer” by Bowling For Soup and an old school download of George Harrison’s “This Song” never hurt anyone.