The Back Nine comes at you and it’s Game Week which already feels different. The food tastes better, the drinks are colder and the clubs go into storage. Time to focus.
10. If you had stopped just about any Gator fan walking out of The Swamp on Nov. 25 and told that fan that the starting quarterback the next time he or she saw the Gators play was going to be Feleipe Franks, well, you might have been committed on the spot or been kicked in the shins. That was a dreadful day in an uneven year for the quarterback who was benched three times during the season and scorned on social media. (In that FSU game, in case you erased it from your memory, Franks was 18 of 39 with three interceptions including one returned for a touchdown). But when Dan Mullen made the announcement Monday that Franks will get the start against Charleston Southern, I think most fans said, “OK, let’s see what you did with him.” It’s clear Franks embraced the role of both quarterback and leader during workouts and camp, but let’s face it, it’s all about what he does in the games. He won the job last year and it didn’t go well except for that one play against Tennessee. The thing is that it’s easy to fall in love as a coach with a guy with a cannon for an arm, the ability to scramble and the experience only Franks can bring to the position that the other contenders cannot. As Mullen said, all of the quarterbacks are works in progress. We’re about to find out how much Franks has progressed.
11. I understand why Florida wears different uniforms during a season. I know that it helps in recruiting and players like to switch things up and the supplier wants different looks. But it’s nice that Mullen is going traditional in the opener with the blue jerseys and white pants. “First game here, you see that uniform combination and you know who that team is,” he said. “Everyone knows it’s the Florida Gators.” Bingo. It doesn’t mean there won’t be different uniforms in the future. But at least for one Saturday night, there is no question which team is on the field. And that makes this old man happy. By the way, the shoes the Gators will wear are beyond sweet.
12. Now that some of the dust has settled on the Urban Meyer fiasco and I have my computer back (I go through laptop batteries like Nick Saban goes through offensive coordinators), there are a few things I would like to say. The first is that if you know Meyer, you know that it has always been about his legacy. And that’s why he fought so hard not to be suspended at all. This is a guy who once asked what his overall record was minutes after a big win over Georgia. The reputation is tarnished and his statement and subsequent answers that followed the other night were like a big mustard stain on his legacy. Which is why he was so indignant that night and had to be shamed into a Twitter apology two days later. There are only two people who are qualified to go into Florida’s Ring of Honor. Tim Tebow goes in this year. I don’t think Meyer ever goes in. It was dicey before because UF was concerned at the reaction of the fans. Now, not a chance. The second thing is that this was a good example of why we need a different system. The NCAA can only enforce its rules, not morality. When it got involved in the Penn State scandal, it botched it so badly it had to come back and rescind some of the penalties. It would be great to have a college football commissioner or at least a commission to make personnel decisions, but that’s not going to happen. What we have now is such a conflict of interest when it comes to discipline, whether it be coaches or players, that it’s embarrassing. If you read Ohio State’s report, it was an invitation to get a new coach. Deleting old phone messages? Who is Meyer’s director of operations, G. Gordon Liddy? But Ohio State wasn’t going to get rid of a guy with Meyer’s record. It’s not like there are coaches like him growing on trees. And because of our system, the Buckeyes are still a playoff contender.
13. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s close and Ohio State is one of the teams in the argument, does the committee look at the fact Meyer was suspended and give the Buckeyes a plus the way it would if a player were injured or a minus for the obvious reasons. Anyone?
14. It was a bad August for college football all around, especially in the Big Tenish. But the games started last weekend and really crank up Saturday. We couldn’t be more ready. I did watch the Hawaii-Colorado State game Saturday and it was highly entertaining. Which is all football is supposed to be. Keep us distracted from everyday life, football. We need it. We need spectacular plays and stunning upsets and arguments about play calls and officials’ mistakes. And we know they are all coming. It’s going to be fast and furious for a few months here so grab something and hang on.
15. More than anything, I think we are all tired of speculation and what might happen and are ready for what will happen. We want to see something, not just hear about it. We want to be able to sit back on Saturday night and talk about what we saw, not what we were hoping to see. Just don’t get too excited or too worried about what happens because it’s Game 1 of an era. That goes for fans of any team with a first-year coach. It’s a process and we all know how patient fans are. Not.
16. I keep asking myself this question — if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were playing a winner-take-all match for $9 million on CBS on the same day as a boatload of college football games, would I watch? And the answer is that I would flip it over or maybe have it on the third TV with the sound off. Wait. I have to pay $40 to watch? Does it count as a major? OK, would I pay $40 to watch one round of a major? I think you see where I’m going with this.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com and pretty much sums up the way I feel about voting on the Associated Press college football poll —
“If I had an AP vote
Except I had Clemson No. 1.
18. Many thanks to Joe Cirulli and Gainesville Health and Fitness because I have shoes again and no excuses. And many thanks to Sara and Ironwood and the Phoenix Fox Foundation for putting on a wonderful golf tournament to help research for Muscular Dystrophy. No excuses there either. My comeback to tournament golf didn’t quite get the attention that Tiger Woods did, but I had more to overcome. Because it’s game week, here are the five songs you would hear walking in to the stadium if I was in charge of music:
• “Gator” by Jerry Reed.
• “Gator Country” by Molly Hatchet.
• “Dreamville” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
• “A Little Like Heaven” by Drew Copeland.
• “Boom” by P.O.D.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.