The Back Nine: Sure, now decision on Grier looks off mark

West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson)

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where I watched so much sports I think my rear end may need shock treatment.

10. You are going to see these numbers this week so I might as well brace you. Will Grier has become a fringe Heisman Trophy contender (he has no shot as long as certain players remain healthy) and I have received more than one call from scribes looking for more detail on his departure. The numbers? Grier has thrown 26 touchdown passes for West Virginia. Florida quarterbacks have thrown five. One of those five was a last-play bomb. Two of them (against Kentucky) were to uncovered receivers. Another was a quick shovel-type pass in the backfield. The last time Florida finished a season with single-figure touchdown passes was when the Gators threw three. It was ugly. Don’t Google the highlights. Two things about Grier — 1. You could see the potential when he was at Florida and West Virginia is taking advantage of a fourth-year junior who has matured as an athlete and a father; 2. Hindsight is easy, but I wonder how many of the last five coaches would have helped Grier out the door at Florida rather than keep him around in what was admittedly a bit of a toxic situation. I don’t know what it was like in the locker room then, but I know what it is like on the field when Florida has the ball right now.

11. Just think how big this Florida-Georgia game would have been if the Gators had managed to pull off the last two wins. If Florida came into this game at 5-1 and 5-0 in the SEC, would the Gators really be two-touchdown underdogs? Two field goals. That’s all it would have taken and GameDay might have been here. Naw, Penn State-Ohio State is still bigger, but you never know. Speaking of which. Is GameDay ever going to be in Gainesville again? Is Florida ever going to be deserving again? It has been five years since the show’s last visit to The Swamp. You know, back when Chris Fowler was the host.

12. It almost seems too easy to pick on Butch Jones these days. My friend John Adams of the Knoxville paper wrote that the coach needs to go now before he wins enough of the back-end games on the schedule to curry favor. The Vols haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in 14 quarters with their revamped offensive staff and the one touchdown they did score (on defense) was punctuated by a double-bird flip to the crowd by a guy who didn’t even score it. And early in the game against Alabama, Tennessee ran a flea-flicker except the receivers didn’t get the call and were blocking instead of going out for a pass. Jones is 2-8 in his last 10 SEC games. But there is this — he has the same record in his last 11 games as Jim Harbaugh. So he has that going for him.

13. On the other hand, I give you Ed Orgeron. LSU was in the toilet after the loss to Troy, but responded to win three emotional games against Florida, Auburn and Ole Miss. And now there is a feeling the Tigers might challenge Alabama in two weeks. Those big-salaried assistants are starting to finally pay off. Meanwhile in State College, they were chanting “We Want Bama” after Penn State’s big win. When will they learn? And what’s a voter to do with South Florida? Charlie Strong’s team is 7-0, but the six FBS teams the Bulls have defeated are a combined 13-33. So where would you rank them? Discuss.

14. It Just Means More (and as Jim McElwain recently discovered it sometimes means too much) except when we’re talking about offense in the SEC East. Here are the national rankings for five of those teams:

• 103 — Florida.

• 111 — South Carolina.

• 113 — Kentucky.

• 125 — Vanderbilt.

• 126 — Tennessee.

So Florida has the third best offense in the East. That’s one way to look at it. There are four 0-4 teams in the conference right now and three are in the East. That’s not a good look. And as bad as the division is, Jones is about to go oh-fer in his Tennessee career.

15. Out of curiosity, I looked it up and Florida has a better APR score than FSU. So if there aren’t enough bowl teams with .500 records, Florida would get to go to a bowl game before the Seminoles. Excited yet? FSU now has to win four of its last five games to become bowl eligible after the loss to Louisville and one of them is at Clemson. Could Florida-FSU be for bowl eligibility? We could call it “The Bowl Bowl.” You can lay all the blame for FSU’s 2-4 record on the loss of its starting quarterback or the hurricane, but 2-4 is 2-4 and it seems that the team to its southeast has lost a lot more personnel and its coach has yet to threaten to tangle with a fan.

16. Thank you, Astros. As a longtime Yankee-hater (I’ll never get over Jim Leyritz) I was rooting hard for Houston to win Game 7. More than that, it was great for a city that went through so much to get a World Series. Two National League teams in the Series is pretty cool, too. I still have to be reminded that the Astros switched leagues.

17. Twitter can be evil, but it can also make me laugh, which is why I spend so much time on it. That and the fact that everybody tries to break stories there so it’s a great news source as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Anyway, these two Tweets of the Week made me laugh out loud. From someone named Adam Goodell, who says he is not related to the NFL commish — “The mayor from Jaws is still the mayor in Jaws 2. It is so important to vote in your local elections.” And from MikeWhiteHive — “Florida/FSU will be on 8:30 AM on Yahoo.” The two teams are a combined 5-7. Who saw that coming?

18. The Back Nine felt it was appropriate to lay some Jacksonville on you this week. That said, this column doesn’t necessarily endorse all of the music that appears below. Just saying.

• “Jacksonville” by Surfjan Stevens.

• “St. Johns River” by Reina Collins.

• “Swamp Music” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

• “Second Chance” by Shinedown.

• And for an oldie, because when I think of Jacksonville I think of going to a concert in Jacksonville in the pouring rain by the river and dancing with a girl who only had one leg and it was a really good day and this was the headliner so “Save Your Heart For Me” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at





  1. I wish folks would stop second guessing if UF should have made that promise to start when Grier became eligible. He either thought he was above getting caught, or not very smart. Our athletes are constantly told not to put anything new in your body that you haven’t had checked out. My daughter was Alberta for 3 years and even the mascots who are regularly tested are told the same thing.
    Also, I’m disappointed about the offense but the coaching staff has done a pretty decent job holding it together considering the number of scholarship players who have been out. I’m glad I don’t have over 80,000 people second guessing how I do my job every day (and countless more watching on TV)

    • Before popping off at the mouth about Grier wanting a promise to start, why don’t you read his side of what transpired when he tried to talk to McYet about remaining a Gator. That kid wanted to stick around…McYet will support 9 delinquents including his star receiver and RB, and YET force Grier out? McYet is a jack-ss. Google search about Grier’s side of the story…maybe alter your comment after.

      • Well, unfortunately Grier has already proven to be a cheat. People make mistakes and I forgive him; he’s young. But that doesn’t mean I give his word a lot of credit. I can’t say I have heard Coach Mac giving a lot of support to those 9 players other than to say, we’ll see how it turns out, BTW. I do think he cares about all his players but he also cares about the team. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. Still say he did the right thing. Neither (letting him stay or cutting him loose) was the ‘wrong’ decision as long as it aligned with his personal belief system.

  2. Pat, good comments and thoughts! Listen to most of the podcast last night, yes keep speaking as long as your mind stays in the spirit, only you know when your running on empty. (1) Glad for Grier, he “gets it”, fun to live the what ifs, but he and UF did the right thing at the time, that’s all any sensible people can do (2) USF, about 20-18 ranking, 7-0 deserves its, it will still work its way out in the end. (3) Please don’t re-live the Buck Bulew to Lindsey Scott play this week…CBS will do a replay (at least lib Vern is gone) and that will be enough…We and two other poor married student couples at Corry Village watched the game in our roach invested apartment (we had the biggest TV), who couldn’t afford to go to the game, are still yelling at the TV NO NO NO, please GOD NO!!! I still believe one of our guys was being held in the end zone replay. (4) I’m still hard case enough to give Charlie Pell the real credit for being the first Coach to turn around our program…we’ve been winners ever since! The insider UF politics back then was horrible and he still over came the situation. The violations were just as much UF’s admins responsibility.

    • I’m with you on Charley Pell. Coach Pell was a likable and accessible guy. Was easy to talk to and he listened to you. He suffered through a horrible season in ’79 but yet turned it around in ’80. I remember, at that time, it was the biggest turnaround from a season 1 to a season
      2 in college football history.

  3. DeWayne – I’m with you on Charlie Pell. Good Ol’ Churley pretty much martyred his career for the Gators. The ground game he cultivated with alums/boosters IS the foundation for the success this program continues to enjoy. Also agree on Lindsey Scott. Seen it enough. Don’t need to see it again. I can still remember when Vince Dooley OWNED the Gators. Fortunately for the Gators – and unfortunately for Dawg Scum – that role is now reversed. Vince Dooley will ALWAYS be the monster under my bed. But thanks to Super Steve, Dawg Scum routinely craps the bed when they see the Gators coming. Go Gators.

    • Amen Mark..the Ole Head Ball Coach made GA goal number ONE and now we are still hopefully going to catch them in my life time…going back to my UF school days, it still seems a football miracle. My three years of finishing my BSCE were Doug Dickey’s last year, 0-10-1 (tied GA Tech 7-7) and Pell’s 2nd year. Even back then 70K Gators would be leaving the Stadium yelling “its great to be a Florida Gator!”…ole the days of youth, 61 today! But at least I’m now a solid 9 handicap playing real completive Golf. Big difference! I give credit to Pell for the SEC Championship 84 & 85 teams with Galen Hall finishing the job. Those OL lines could shove anybody up the field!

  4. Comparing the gators and the dawgs, you did not mention that GA beat TN by 41 points and the gators were very lucky to win that game. The gators have not beaten a good team this year. Penn State drubs Michigan an the gators could not even move the ball against them. Michigan is no longer even rated. This is not a 5-1 team. It would great to upset Georgia but I can not see it happening. The coach continues to use a pro style offense without a QB that can run it. He fails to realize that the talent he has does not fit the style of offense he is trying to run.

  5. What is the real skinny about Grier’s departure? The reports I’ve seen was that his dad insisted he should be the starter when he returned off suspension and Mac wouldn’t or couldn’t guaranty it. So he took his ball and transferred. Is this really what happened? Who out there knows the real truth….I’d like to hear it?

    • There’s Grier’s side of the story and Mac’s side and then there’s probably the full truth in between. The fact of the matter is no one but the Grier’s and Mac know exactly what went down. Grier claims that he asked Mac what his plans for the future were. Mac supposedly told him he wasn’t going to tell him his plans. I’m not sure what answer Grier expected considering Franks still wasn’t signed, so unless Mac’s a fortune teller then he has no clue what the plans were, but apparently he felt disrespected by Mac’s “answer” and then they both mutually agreed it would be best for him to get a fresh start somewhere else. To me that’s where the actual truth gets a little foggy. Grier tries to make it seem innocent by claiming all he asked was what the plans were, but it probably came across to Mac as him more wanting to know for sure if he was going to be the starter as soon as he returned. Fact of the matter is the right decision was made cause if Mac catered to him after what he did, then that would’ve divided the locker room and made players think they could get away with anything or have this feeling of being bigger than the program, or they’d see star players getting preferential treatment. We all know what kind’ve locker room Meyer created with his “circle of trust” program he ran where star players were given preferential treatment. It’s easy to sit here now and say it was stupid of him, but it wasn’t at all. He made the right decision for the good of the program no matter how much they’re struggling at the position now. Hopefully Corral will make Grier an afterthought.

      • McYet certainly has control of the locker room…good thing he let Grier go…and yet he supports his 9 delinquents including that repeat idiot Calloway. At least Grier didn’t get away with anything…that will teach them.

  6. Good stuff, Pat.

    You bring up a good point about the enigma that is USF. Another team that should be scrutinized in EXACTLY the same way (but for some reason is ranked TWELVE spots higher than USF) is Wisconsin. Their opponents have been equally terrible, and they avoid BOTH Ohio State and Penn State in the regular season. Yet there they are ranked #5 in the latest AP poll. I’m not (yet) saying they are pretenders, but I’m suggesting to you that the Power Five bias is painfully real.


    Written by Will Grier. The dude wanted to stay but was pushed out. Why would you drive out a 5 star qb that had shown promise? For a bunch of transfers and Franks? But I dont blame McElwain, I blame Foley for hiring him. McElwain got a great offer and took it. Reality is he didnt have the experience needed to be Floridas coach. Just like Muschamp didn’t either. Not saying they wont be successful ever but at the point they were hired they weren’t ready to coach the Gators at the highest level. Lets not forget about Zook. Foley makes no sense. The guy follows the most successful coach at Fl Meyer with Mushamp?A guy that hadn’t been a head coach? Why? You had a bunch of momentum and spotlight on the program. Why not get a seasoned guy that had the experience? Not saying they would have been successful but it would make more sense. I at least have to give Muschamp credit for recruiting and defense. McElwain is suppose to be an offensive coach and the offense is garbage. I mean turn on the tv on saturdays and you see very average teams scoring points in creative ways. We gave him a chance but he is not the answer. He says the right things and crys but that doesn’t translate into being good. Two eastern conference championships when everyone sucked don’t mean anything. Getting blown out by Alabama like Spurrier used to blow out Kentucky tells you everything. We are not even close.

    Les Miles is sitting at home with a national championship ring, can recruit and has had some sort of success against Saban. And i’m sure he knows needs to modernize his offense and maybe get an modern offense coordinator. That would make sense to me.

  8. Tired of hearing about Grier. Grier, unfortunately, made his bed, paid the consequences, and then expected preferential treatement upon his return from suspension. I don’t wish him any ill-will, but that’s how it played out. Granted, it’s galling that the NCAA offered his ZERO leniency at UF but at WVU, they waived the remainder of his suspension so he would not have to wait until the 7th game of the Mountaineers’ season to play (no, the sit-out transfer year didn’t count against hi suspension).

    That said, at UF Grier struggled as QB until his fourth start against ‘Ole Miss, and had a great game. His great passing night was mainly because of a stellaer defensive and special teams performance that set up the Gator O with great field position most of the night, but lets face it, that Ole Miss game was the only actual “good” game he had at UF.

    Then the recent Gatorbait article interview with Grier came out and he outright said he was handcuffed at UF. One great game doesn’t convince me he wouldn’t have consistently handcuffed by OC Nussmeier, who is a tunnel-visioned control freak who has regularly handcuffed his QB’s.

    Four straight years and counting for Nuss with offenses not ranked in the top 100. The verdict is in… Nusmeiere needs to go, or you’ll see the same problems with Corral too.

  9. I love how people say you can’t look back and second guess the decision. I was shocked at the time that McElwain let him go. I thought at the time it could be a huge mistake. No matter how you slice it it was a bad call and may be the first domino that could end up costing him his job. Don’t get me wrong I understand why he did it. You have a player taking performance enhancing drugs which looks bad for the university. He’s gone for a year leaving a giant void in continuity. Del Rio is lighting up the practice squad, all you need is for him to be serviceable until Franks is ready to take the reins. But how often do you find a player who has the physical ability and field awareness like Grier. Del Rio doesn’t have his physical ability and Franks sees the field through the peep hole. He may develop considering his high school tutelage, but history usually shows otherwise. What really bothers me is that at Grier’s press conference he stands with him all solemn, says all the right things only to discard him a few months later. And for what a legal drug! All the while he lets Callaway get away with anything but murder. I just makes me question his sincerity.

  10. Old news. You cant go back. It’s hard to deal with toxic situations. Great talents like Tebow and wuerrfel can find that fountain of goodness in others at least for a few games.

    Whatever else anyone has to say I can’t remember a gator team in the headlines as much as these guys. Good or bad they generate the stories. One day things will be different. One more thing. I’m not for killing anyone over a football game.

  11. What do you mean “sure now”, anyone with half a brain knew it back then and said so! I plastered it all over this site, so did alot of other fans. All you are telling us Dooley is that YOU didnt have a clue back then!!!!!