The Back Nine comes at you after a remarkably unproductive weekend unless you get credit for watching sports, drinking beer and annihilating chicken wings and if you do I am a magna cum laude graduate.
10. One thing we know for sure about coaching staffs in college football is that they aren’t settled until you get to fall camp (and even then you never know). Coaches are constantly looking for better situations whether they are financial or personal. It’s really difficult to have success and still keep your staff together, which makes what Clemson has done that much more amazing. So Florida has lost a pair of assistants in the much-traveled Sal Sunseri (Alabama) and Charlton Warren (Georgia). You can’t blame Sunseri for wanting to coach with his son, who was hired as a grad assistant with the Tide. One thing you have to remember is that you — as a fan — care way more about your school than any assistant coach. They are simply traveling salesman. No disrespect, intended. I thought (half-kiddingly) that because Florida had some openings maybe Dan Mullen could hire Urban Meyer to coach special teams. Meyer’s only making $100,000 as a faux associate athletic director at Ohio State. What I did find humorous was the Florida defensive backs on Twitter and their reaction that Warren would miss out on coaching the best DBs in the country. Instead, that job will be manned by Torrian Gray, who was a huge hire for Jim McElwain at UF in 2016 but left after one season for the NFL. The Lakeland connection keeps on giving. (He played at Kathleen).
11. You hoped it would live up to the hype and championship weekend exceeded those expectations. Two overtime games, one criminal no-call, the GOAT putting on a show and getting a break when it looked like he had thrown the game-ending pick, a 38-point fourth quarter in one game, a 57-yard game-winning kick in the other, Bill Belichick throwing his video tablet in anger like he was Nick Saban, a fake field goal and another LA-Boston finals matchup in a national sporting event. I went to a local establishment (twin bars are a great touch at Miller’s Ale House) and it was crazy exciting. The one sad thing is that we are down to one football game that matters. For fans of the Chiefs and Saints, there are no football games that matter. Sometimes I think it’s more difficult to lose the way those two teams did than to just lose because the other team was better.
12. Of course, I am going to weigh in on the NFL overtime. And this is not hindsight. Look, if the Chiefs get a stop and maybe they win and nobody is talking about the coin toss. Isn’t that what the Rams did? I’ve always hated the NFL overtime probably because I love college’s so much. I get that pro players don’t want to be out there for seven overtimes in a regular season game because the season is so long, but how about instituting the college rules when we get to the playoffs? Too exciting? At the very least, play the whole 15 minutes of overtime before declaring which team advances. The current rules are like if you went to extra innings in baseball but if the team batting in the top of the 10th scored the game would be over. Or only one golfer plays the first sudden death hole and if he birdies the other guy doesn’t get to tee it up. The late game drew the highest ratings in seven years so I don’t think you’ll see anything change.
13. Feel so bad for Keith Stone. This season was not going well for him but he was having a breakthrough game before tearing his ACL. Florida pulled out the win Saturday, which was vital. Now the Gators have to figure out how to win at home against Texas A&M tonight. Florida hasn’t beaten a Power Five team at home all season (although you can argue the Big East makes it a Power Six in basketball and Florida did beat Butler at home). Buckle up after tonight’s game because the next five games are against teams ranked in the top 31 in the new NCAA’s NET rankings. That means a lot of opportunities for the mighty Gators. UF is 36th in the rankings, although we’re still not sure what those rankings will mean on Selection Sunday.
14. So my daughter gets mad at me because I tend to be pessimistic when I am watching sports and rooting for one team or another. I think that happens when you spend your whole life watching so many games and being let down so many times. Anyway, for proof, I give you the Rams-Saints game and as we were getting ready to go watch it I told her, “The Saints are killing your team.” She likes the Rams as do I. The score was 3-0 at the time. Come on, man. I have to get a more positive outlook on sports and life. Anyway, the point is that as I was watching Florida-LSU gymnastics and the Gator ladies were on the beam, I kept expecting the worst because it is my nature. A bobble here, a slip there, maybe even a fall. Instead, it was an impressive performance that earned Jenny Rowland’s team the win to break LSU’s 35-meet home win streak. I always talk about the clutch gene. This team seems to have it. The third-ranked Gators tumble with No. 17 Kentucky on Friday at an unusual time, 5:45 p.m., as the launch of the SEC Network’s second-ever gymnastics tripleheader.
15. Boogie Cousins said last week that the Golden State Warriors are the most hated team in sports. That’s a pretty myopic viewpoint. I can name six teams which are more hated than the Warriors.
• The Cowboys.
• The Yankees.
• The Red Sox.
• The Patriots (probably should have put them first after Sunday).
• Alabama football.
• Whoever LeBron is playing for in a given season.
Golden State might be seventh although there would be some votes for UCF if that program was relevant before two years ago. True hatred has to be marinated for a long time. Duke basketball might be more hated than Golden State. Shoot me your thoughts on this. And please don’t include FSU football or Kentucky basketball. Those are more regional than national.
16. Don’t look now but Florida baseball and softball are around the corner. Baseball starts Feb. 15 at home while the women start a week earlier in Tampa. Softball is the preseason favorite to win the SEC for the fifth straight time. Baseball will be interesting because Kevin O’Sullivan will be starting a bunch of freshmen and may struggle early but be really good when we get to the late part of the season. I just can’t wait to see the next softball stadium, especially the press box. Hopefully they installed the recliner and wet bar I ordered.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to free agent baseball star and sworn enemy of all Atlanta Braves, Bryce Harper — “Confirmed: Just called Tony Romo to see where I’m going to play next year. #YoureAWizardTony.” It is amazing how good Romo is at calling what the next offensive play is going to be simply by looking at the offensive sets. I know he makes a lot of money at CBS, but I’d be tempted to throw a lot of dough his way to be a defensive coordinator. He may not want to work that hard.
18. Wouldn’t you know that just as my replaced knee is nearing 100 percent the other one goes. The X-rays were not good but I am going to try to gut it out for awhile, hopefully until the summer. But doubtful. Anyway, this playlist should lighten the mood:
• “Overexcited” by Guster.
• “Northern Lights” by Death Cab for Cutie.
• “In A Drawer” by Band of Horses.
• “7 Minutes” by Dean Lewis.
• And for an old one that really isn’t that old, “Allison Road” by the Gin Blossoms.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.