The Back Nine: Being a realist about Gators’ chances

Florida players. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Back Nine comes at you after a couple of weeks away, some of it spent giving unsolicited advice to a pair of friends who had knee replacement surgery. Good luck to Chris Harry and Karen Kearney. I feel your pain.

10. The ballots at SEC Media Days went pretty much as expected down the line, although it was strange to see Texas A&M get no votes to win the SEC and four teams from the East each get one. That just goes to illustrate how difficult the Aggies’ schedule is. But if we are talking only about whether or not A&M can win the West, sure it can. Texas A&M gets Georgia on the road late in the season and the usual cast of characters from the West. The Clemson game has nothing to do with whether the Aggies can win their division (although it could affect their confidence level). I think coach Jimbo Fisher’s team is one of seven who can be in Atlanta — Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Auburn and A&M. Greg McElroy made a good point in Hoover, that so many of us are high on Mizzou that it has almost become a cliche and now people are drifting back the other way. As you can tell, I’m looking forward to the offseason being over. I’m starting to confuse myself.

11. For example, it drives me crazy when people refer to the games of Aug. 24 as “Week Zero.” I’ve chastised many a radio host for saying that (not that it has done any good). Florida and Miami play that day. Last I heard, it’s not an exhibition game. It counts, therefore, it is Week One. It’s the true start of the season. But then you look at another team’s schedule and start to say, “Well, I like their chances in that game in Week, um, two, er, three.” So I give up. The only way to have semi-intelligent conversations with football people is to refer to it as Week Zero. Or Maybe Week One-Half? No? The implication of Week Zero just bugs me. I’ll get over it.

12. One thing for sure, Gator fans are probably tired of hearing or seeing or reading me be less than optimistic about their team. I’m being a realist, with a touch of the pessimism that became part of my DNA thanks to Lindsay Scott, 0-10-1 and two four-win seasons in the span of five years. Here’s the thing — if you had asked any Gator fan how he felt about 2019 late in the third quarter of the South Carolina game, down 21 and heading for a third straight loss, I doubt if any of you would have been thinking Florida will be a top-10 team this year. But Florida rallied against a beat-up defense, beat a 5-7 FSU team two weeks later and handled a Michigan team missing several key players in the bowl game. Hence, the optimism. I’m not taking anything away from what those UF players did, but I think the national perception of Florida is that the Gators are back. They’re not back yet, because getting back means getting to a ridiculously high standard on the field set by Steve Spurrier and continued by Urban Meyer. That standard is so high that two of the last three coaches fired had a combined record of 45-26. That gets you an extension at some places. The bottom line is that I think Florida has enough talent (and I am a big fan of this coaching staff) that the Gators could go 11-1. I think their first 22 could compete with almost any team in America.They also could go 7-5 if the breaks go against them. Anyway, the first Associated Press poll comes out Aug. 19, so mark your calendars.

13. Usually, when a guy is ruining my Sunday by blowing away the field at a major, I am rooting against him. But Shane Lowry? Come on. He’s Irish, I’m Irish and it was in Ireland and there was nobody compelling to root for to catch him. So I definitely enjoyed his walk up the fairway to the 18th green and even got a little emotional when he was hugging his family members. Just a year ago, he sat in his car crying after his opening round in the British Open. “Golf is a weird game,” he said. Amen to that. I don’t even like Guinness, but it felt like I should have one out of principle. So that’s it for the majors for more than eight months. Goodbye, golf. Hello, replays of old football games on TV.

14. Because while Steve Spurrier coined the phrase “talking season” to describe this time of year, I’m all listened out. Yes, we’ve heard the Clemson-Alabama rivalry heat up even more and we’ve heard Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald blame phones for the decline in attendance (talk about fighting a losing battle) and we’ve seen the magazines and preseason accolades and Jim Harbaugh say that controversy has followed Urban Meyer wherever he has gone (are they getting nervous at Fox?) And even though we have the earliest game ever, it’s still a month away. So what this month really is for football fans is Reliving Season. My favorites are the old games that I can’t remember who won so I can watch them as if they were live. One thing that still amazes me is why it took so long to get the time and score on the screen all the time. I don’t know how we watched football back in the day.

15. Caeleb Dressel wins races and sets records like you and I eat lunch. The guy is amazing and the 2020 Olympics are going to belong to the former Gator swimmer. So there’s that to look forward to.

16. It would be easy for the Atlanta Braves — with a 6.5-game lead 101 games into the season — to just go with it and count on their incredible young talent to get the job done in the postseason. But they do not have enough pitching to win it all and they have to make a move for another starter and a closer. It will mean dipping into that rich farm system, but you have to go for it when the opportunity is ripe. That’s my opinion as a Braves fan and I’m sure I am the first person to let them know that they need more pitching. Splitting that series with Washington was big, but I would hope they have loftier goals than winning the division.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to Thomas Goldkamp of 24/7Sports — “Bad news: I gained several pounds while on vacation. Good news: That was enough to get me on the Rimington Award watch list this year.” If you are not on a watch list, you might consider the transfer portal. I say that jokingly, but you know I am not a fan of watch lists. Theoretically, everyone is on a watch list.

18. We went with a heavy Howard Stern rotation for the trips to and from Hoover, Ala., and his interview with Kim Goldman, the sister of murdered Ron Goldman, was riveting and revealing. But I still had time to find you this playlist:

• “Darling Buds of May” by Viva Brother.

• “Champion” by Bishop Briggs.

• “The Celestials” by The Smashing Pumpkins.

• “Fire” by Sister Hazel.

• And because my wife and I went and saw “Yesterday” when I got back from SEC Media Days and loved it, for an oldie “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles.

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


  1. Don’t think we’re not “realists” too. The majority of us recognize that Rome wasn’t built in a day, are fully aware of our warts both real and imagined as well as new vs residual — and don’t expect a true championship team for another couple of years. But we are Gators and we are permitted to express or delight or our concerns as passionately as we feel like. That said, I do believe journalists strive so hard to be “objective” that it colors their perceptions. The New York Times calling 9/11 terrorists “freedom fighters” is one extreme example, but a lessor, day to day example might be the reluctance of our own sportswriters to get too excited about what they are seeing and drape it under the cloth of “being realistic”. Perhaps.

    • Touche’. I agree. Being a sports journalist is hard, but most of them make it hard on themselves. Everyone wants to predict the future and reach the conclusion before the process plays out. But that’s life. We all do it. Enjoy the process and let the end be whatever it is.Of course, we all want a NC. And right now! But if a process, which requires patience and little less omnipotence by the media, gets us there and consistently at that level in the next few years, I am willing to wait. Speaking of “objectivity” the Gainesville guys have friends nationally. Easy to be called a homer , so even easier to bend over backwards to sound objective by minimizing the achievements of the home team. Just listen to Frank Frangie’s radio show every once in a while. Frank is a great guy , but will only pick the Gators if every national writer does so. He would rather be reasonable than right.

    • I consider myself a realist, perhaps a contrarian to many. I don’t usually make predictions unless I’m pretty confident. I do see us having a great season this year. Next year, however, looks to be a different story if I may make a ridiculously way too early prediction.

        • Dang Sly, I’m gonna see G-6’s bite and add a chomp. I seem to recall a previous post from you about upcoming attrition at the wide receiver position, and I see your concern. But I believe CDM will continue to recruit and develop. And I believe he will continue to develop game plans around to strengths of his personnel on the field. Time will tell.

    • Hey Neal – I am about to give two opinions and one likely won’t be well received. Now having stated that, I watched the GATOR – LSU game yesterday from 2016 and we beat them in their home. Remember that was the hurricane year and we had to switch home games? There was a remark about our O-line being young and inexperienced, yet they played pretty well overall. By stating that we could have a pretty good O-line or it could be worse. I am just wanting it known that we have a good reason to be optimistic. And I believe that I commented on a DAZ opinion about the GATOR – UGA game where we could have won that game had it not been for 3 crucial turnovers. We played them pretty tight. Now for the comment sure to rile some GATOR feathers…LOL…I believe that we have been too harsh on MAC for his tenure here. That 2016 game we won against LSU put us back in the SEC Title game for a second year in a row. We had a bunch of injuries as well and still lost to bama. How many teams have beaten bama lately? Last year was mostly due to players that MAC and his staff brought in, so I am just stating that we didn’t have it as bad as most want to make it out to be. Well that was my 1.5 cents worth, so let the Gator Ed bashing begin…LOL…it is ok I can take it. GO GATORS!!!

      • Not from me, Ed — I soured on Mac towards the end, but you are in good company with that belief. Sly and a few others think the same, for instance, and when it comes to Sly he makes a good case for sure. Now, all thru that 7 year stretch I kept on thinking we could have possibly gotten Dan Mullen or Charley Strong — but the timing was all wrong for either. Lets just say “it was what it was” and anyway, things worked out for the best in the end.

        What you up to in these dog days of summer? I broke out and hauled off to the gun club range last Friday, and felt sick from the heat — besides, nothing would work. I’m ready to stay inside until October!

        • Neal – I had some trees that came down in a storm about 3 weeks ago and I am still dealing with that. The humidity has been so high here that you get a right cross to the face every time you exit the front door. It is a good weight loss program though…lol. I can go out my back door and fire my weapons on my property. I still need to zero my AR15 and I just bought a KEL TEC 22 Mag. that I need to play with. I am going to build a target area where I feel better about not hitting any neighbors…lol. The weather is awesome right now after a cold front went through. I am getting more outside work done while the weather and my health allow it. I also just finished watching the 1997 Sugar Bowl win over fsu for our 1st National Championship. Man if our receivers this year can play anywhere near the receivers from that game we will have a very special team. Man I really like the SEC channel. Other than that just staying in the A/C waiting for cooler temps. GO GATORS!!!

          • A tad cooler down here….barely a tad…..but this damn medication for the last year and a half washes me out in any type of heat. Going to try again this Friday super early when it’s half way cooler — c different guns this time.

      • I don’t think any Gator fans question the talent that Mac brought in. What everyone rips him for is how he ran his program, specifically the S&C program, and his inability to maximize the talent and last year proved that.

  2. I’ve been seeing a lot of realism out there — for once. Most people I have talked to say they’d be happy with a 10 win season. They’re not even demanding 10 wins…

    Btw, what the heck is the implication of Week Zero?

    • The implication to me is that it’s an exhibition game, TJ. Which it’s not, so why the angst over just calling it what it is: Week One? It doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not we get to Atlanta in December, but it sure as hell matters to us Gators and the few Hurricane fans that actually show up for games.

      I was one of those cats who was pretty darn close to demanding 11 wins this year — thankfully we’ve got several guys on here with more steady reasoning who will gently call you out when you start to go overboard too early. Now I expect and will be happy with 10 wins again….for this year anyway. I just want progression from year to year until we get there.

      • To me, even if we don’t win more games than last season, progression will be winning all the games we’re favored in. No more losing games to teams like Kentucky. Dominate the games they’re favored in and if they lose, be in it till the end. That will be progression for me. Also, beat Missouri already. It’s getting a little bit ridiculous to keep losing to that program.

        • LOL, yep. I want to see a well-coached/disciplined team, which means fewer penalties and being “ready” to play the teams you are supposed to beat, instead of looking on to “next week’s big game”.

      • How about Week Only One since it is the only game that week?

        Yeah, it’s meaningless as far as conference play goes. And it’s a way bigger deal for the Canes since they still haven’t won their basketball conference. It matters for recruiting (sort of – [laughs in Transfer Portal]). Mostly it’s just a fun game.

        The thing I love most about college football is the rivalries and rivalry games. That emotion makes big games. This IS a big game. And I’m going to enjoy the Hell out of it with Canes fan brother and cheer like a berserker for the Gators and still love my team win or lose.

  3. Message boards other than here seem to be less realistic. It’s just my opinion, but this seems to be a little older group of posters. Most of us are BS fans (before Spurrier), and understand it’s tough to get to the top. I’ve seen lots of 11-1 & 12-0 predictions on other boards. Most forget how much grumbling there was after the Missouri game. Mullen will get us there, but it wont be easy….and not likely this year.

      • Uhg, I went to every home game during the 0-10-1 season (student section ). If I recall correctly, the basketball team was something like 5-22 that year. The real “next year” days. I am thinking 10 victories again this year, but no matter what…GO GATORS!

        • Or a 21-year old Bushmills single malt, even if it is (as my best man, a Mr. Brendan McCaffrey once called it, “a Protty drink.”

          Not that I am one to turn down a good Scotch, 6.

          Or for that matter, Japanese whisky, for which I am (recently) acquiring a real taste.

          Or good old Woodford Reserve.

          Or, well you get the picture…

          • Multi octane 6, Albert D, aged scotch, JD, Guinness, better beers not light, Nicaraguan Rum (sucked actually but when in Rome)

          • Nicaraguan rum? I’d say they grow the hands down best tobacco on the planet, bar none. But Nicaraguan rum? Now that’s odd. Try Barrelito….never leaves Puerto Rico except in your luggage, but has no equal anywhere in the world. Another 33 year old memory brought to you by old Uncle NealyBob!

          • I am not a fan of rum, unless it is aged, like a Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario. It’s from Guatemala.

        • Gator-6 – I actually prefer my single malt no older than 15 or 16 yr. (18 max). There are a few labels I prefer the 12 to anything older. Just a matter of personal preference. I like the sweet more than the peat (smoke). Too much aging mellows sweeter scotches into marshmallow oblivion. Leave a little bite, please.

          • Ballantine (which I think is still exported), or Highland Cream (which isn’t) — no discernible excess sweetness, yet a very smooth bite, the mellowness remaining in the texture. I hasten to add that is a 33 year old memory as of this August 28th, darn it.

          • GatorGopher and Neal – I am not sure what I drank, but I know it was single male Scotch and it went down like water. It was on the boat at Loch Ness (YES, that Loch Ness) tours that I had my first real Scotch. All I know was that it was very good and that you could become an alcoholic very easily on that stuff. I was wearing my GATORS shirt while I was there as well. I have a pic to prove it somewhere. If I can find it I will share. GO GATORS!!!

          • Ed, from the sound of where you’ve worn that Gator shirt, I suggest that we nominate you for “International Gator Ambassador At Large”. You know, last year — or maybe it was in 2017 — we actually had a Gator alum who lived in the UK and would get the games on delayed broadcast like we used to do on AFN in Germany and other places. He hasn’t posted in so long now that I can’t recall his name, but he sure was a good guy. Maybe he’s still posting under a different handle since the registration change….if so, sure wish he’d identify himself again.

  4. Well since I like ribbing Pat, what kinda’ ”realist” are you being Pat by saying. ”11-1 or 7-5?”
    Why not just say, 6-6 and a Belk Bowl, or 12-0 and heading to THE ATL? Well, I see this Gator football team winning 10 games or more ‘IF’ they can stay healthy AND the O-line gels quickly. Otherwise, a 9-3 type season is what I’ll expect. Ultimately, T.W.L.O.C.P. in J’ville determines the East, as it should! Go Gators! Just win baby!

  5. Robbie – with that explanation, I think I can cut you some slack. You make a good case for being realistic. As Sparky notes, most of us have been around these parts for awhile and can remember the not so good ole days. One of my lasting childhood memories is rushing home from church to watch the Doug Dickey show and after the 4th of 5th game of EVERY year we heard, “wait’ll next year”. Coach Spurrier and that other guy raised the bar and expectations and we’re all glad that they did. But realism (pessimism?) comes naturally around here.
    That said, I agree with the sentiments here …. this team has the talent and coaching to go 11-1 but it wouldn’t surprise many to have a misstep or five and go 7-5. I have a difficult time right now believing 7-5. I’d say 9-3 at the worst. But what the heck do I know, Vegas has never been kind to Rog.

  6. Who wrote this? The article has Pat’s slug line but Robbie’s byline. First half has Robbie’s perpetual pessimism. Second half has Pat’s sports variety and music selections. Is the Gainesville Sun’s copy editor on vacation?

    In any event, I don’t understand the pessimism. Every team in America has a roster that changes every year. It’s not like we have new starters on the offensive line and all our opponents are returning starters at every position. Every team has fresh faces every year.

    Pat, or Robbie, or whoever wrote this article, is engaging in a planning failure called steady state analysis. The other guys will have weak spots and holes to fill too. The other guys had good players leave their programs over the summer too. Georgia literally has no returning starters at receiver.

    The observations about South Carolina, FSU and Michigan are fair. But it’s just as important to realize, particularly in light of recent seasons, that the Nick Savage strength and conditioning program got the Gators to the end of the season in superior condition. And that the Nick Savage strength and conditioning program probably changes the reality of this season’s offensive line for the better. And that this coaching staff put this these players in a mental place where they could come back against Vandy and South Carolina.

    Sometimes things are exactly the way they seem.

    And it seems like the Gators are well on the way to being back.

  7. Realism? In 2006 we had many of the same position issues going into the season. Had come of some struggles. I can understand pessimism to a point. We’ve struggled with coaching. I said this felt different(better, right) last year. That was proven as the year went along. Could it have been luck? Yes, but I don’t think so. We have someone building a team with realistic principles, realistic goals, realistic expectations coaches not ours. Maturity will be the issue. Have they matured enough to handle the success, maintain the discipline, the resiliency to come back from adverse situations, to win and maintain the edge. We have the players, we have the coaches, now the unknown is can they do it? Time will tell. Can they do it?

    • Same thing my old 1SG used to ask PSGs about individual soldiers: Will he fight? And about their respective platoons: Will they fight?

      65, I’d say if the transformative beliefs that finally showed up last year really do carry over to this year, and I think now that we really know Dan Mullen that the answer is “Yes they will”………..then the answer to “Can they do it” is decidedly YES THEY CERTAINLY CAN. No matter what any sports writer says, no matter what any of us say. But time will tell as you said, because we haven’t played a damn down yet and because we won’t know for sure until we do and because that’s hit a point now where it’s driving me bat do-do insane waiting for the season to start! Maybe one of your famous count down clocks might help a little about right now? 🤔

  8. I have a lot of realistic expectations that have nothing to do with wins and losses. I expect we will see innovative play calling on both sides of the ball. I expect we will see talented, hard working athletes make amazing plays on both sides of the ball. I expect to see a commitment to excellence in all three phases of the game. I expect to see an extremely well-conditioned team that improves throughout the season. I also expect a head coach who will never make excuses for losses (my defense was beat up) and will always take responsibility for the performance of his team– the whole team.

    I expect a head coach who has very high expectations and does not care if certain people consider them “unrealistic.” I expect a head coach who understands those who expect mediocrity will usually get it.

    I also expect us to face some extremely talented and well-coached SEC teams that will come ready to fight and bleed for 60 minutes. We will see steel clashing with steel as the best teams from the greatest football conference in America gather unleash hell for 60 minutes of football glory.

    Who will win? Who will lose? We’ll see. But for the first time in many years, I expect to see a team week in and week out that strives for greatness, and that is enough.

    • JAWS – This is part of an article from a different site: It all came together in those last four games, though. Oft-maligned quarterback Feleipe Franks completed 65% of his passes and averaged 13.7 yards per completion (and 5.7 yards per non-sack carry) while throwing zero interceptions. Splitting time with the since-departed Jordan Scarlett, Lamical Perine averaged 8.4 yards per carry. The receiver quintet of Van Jefferson, Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney, Josh Hammond and Tyrie Cleveland combined for 13 catches and 180 yards per game. Florida won its last four games, finished 10-3 and rose to ninth in S&P+ and seventh in the AP poll. The Gators ended up 15th in Off. S&P+, too, easily their best mark — and their most Florida-like mark — since Tebow was quarterback.
      We overreact to small samples sometimes in college football. (Honestly, what choice do we have? The entire season is a small sample!) But it’s not hard to treat end-of-2018 Florida as New Florida when you look at what the Gators return. Franks is back for his junior season, as are two efficient backs in Perine and backup Dameon Pierce, plus all of the aforementioned wideouts. Todd Grantham’s defense, 17th in Def. S&P+ last year, returns eight starters as well.
      There’s basically one giant hole on the two-deep. It’s a pretty important one:
      After years of underachievement, the Gator line was downright good in 2018, paving the way for Florida to rank 14th in rushing marginal efficiency, 20th in stuff rate and first in passing downs sack rate. But now it has to replace four starters. Some combination of veteran reserves and young blue-chippers has to at least replicate last year’s steadiness.
      Still, on paper this projects as the best Florida team in quite some time, one that is balanced and experienced and able to beat you several ways. Per S&P+ (in which they are projected sixth overall), the Gators are a double-digit favorite in each of their first five games before things get tricky down the stretch — they’re underdogs against LSU and Georgia and only minor favorites over Auburn, South Carolina and Missouri.
      If the Florida of late 2018 shows back up starting in Orlando to face Miami, then there is a good chance the East is not only a two-team race, but a race between two teams actually interested in scoring points.

  9. Diehard Gator fan for 45 years and no I’m not sold on the Gators. Franks will dictate how the season goes. If you watched film you would see he got very lucky on several TD throws. In short, everything went our way the second half of the year, we will not be so lucky this year unless we are really that good and I don’t think we’re there yet.

    • I don’t (realistically) think we are “there” yet either, Two-Niner…….with “there” defined as a SEC champ and Playoff team. But that’s a long way from saying we won’t be “there” in a couple more years if we continue this trajectory with or without luck. Luck is part of the game for everybody when you come right down to it, and the ball can bounce either way. But I know you know that, so let me ask you this: Do you really think “luck” was involved in the second half of last season going our way? I’ll certainly respect your opinion if you still answer in the affirmative, but consider that we became a team in the second half of last year when three things finally happened that separated us from a gathering of rather talented individuals: (1) the coaching finally took root, (2) the system was finally mastered, and most of all, (3) the players started believing they could. That’s a far cry from sheer luck; on the contrary, it took a lot of coaching, teaching, and mentoring as well as plain old hard work from the players. But at least…..GO GATORS!

      • Gator-6, I agree, the system is working and if we stay healthy and keep our noses clean we should have a great year but to be a playoff team Franks has to be mature and not listen to all the talk. He has a great arm and it hid his mistakes last year, he needs to master his craft, pump fakes, look off DB’s and for god’s sake don’t scramble to the right every time your protection breaks down, I find it hard to believe I’m the only one who noticed this. Also as the article says we ran into a bad FSU and a depleted Michigan but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. “If” by chance something happens to Franks I love our backups and with the most stacked running back and recieving corps in the SEC and our stout defense I’m ready to go. I’m usually the one drinking the Coolaid and If our OB’s play smart I do think the skys the limit. I think what I’m trying to say is “I’m ready for the season to start.”

        • No disagreement in these quarters, bud. Franks may or may not be here when we get to the playoffs, but I’m excited about what’s coming up. I wish I could go to sleep and wake up to August 24th…..come hell or high water, and I don’t care if the lovely Gator-3 scolds me for a week: I’m going to the Gator man cave in the garage, c a gallon of ice tea, light up a 6.5×60 La Flor Dominica Double Ligero, push a wad of Copehagen between my cheek and gum, and watch the Gators beat Miami. And then probably pass out, but what the hell, it’ll be worth it.

  10. Been a Gator fan since 1960 (6 yrs. old). Became a became a basketball coach. My son played HS and small college football. His opinion, which I share, is a great 2019-20 Gator season is 10 wins. A good season is 9 win. But 2020-21 will be Year of the Gator. This season, questions about O-line and secondary depth are there.

  11. This is one of the toughest schedules we’ve had in a few years imo. Must wins for me are Miami & FSU for in state supremacy. Getting one or two Ws against LSU, Mizzou & UGA would be great. AU, USC, UK, UT & Vandy are all tough as well. I’m happy at 9-3 this season, another 10-2 would be great. My expectations are high but a new young OL usually requires a learning curve. Looking forward to a super football season. Go GATORS!

  12. I don’t like being more concerned with Missouri than I am the rest of our schedule. We need to start dominating them, period. Even though, given the choice, I’d rather beat UGA than Mizzerie, it would suck to lose to those Tigers yet again.

    As for Pat’s knee replacement friends, I had both of mine done back in 2011. The Summer of Pain. I have to look away when an athlete goes down with a knee injury. Coming out of surgery is hell, but the rehab puts you through all of Dante’s Nine Circles.

    With that said, my music selection come from Richard Klein, “I Can’t Stop My Leg!”

  13. Yes, Pat’s “prediction” is a bit wishy-washy and pessimistic. But I look at this way: if you were forced to put $100,000 of your hard-earned money on your prediction of the Gators, do you think you might be a little more conservative than what you can just spew out unfettered into the ether of online sports chat? I know I would have to curb my optimism in that position. Well, for a sports writer whose livelihood is in print with all his thoughts bare naked before us, those predictions are much like the grand wager. The sports writer actually DOES have something on the line and can’t let what he puts in writing be clouded by overzealous optimism.
    Please note, Dooley did mention in the article the recent 4-win seasons of which I’m sure his predictions before those campaigns must now seem to have been wildly optimistic.

    • “…those predictions are much like the grand wager. The sports writer actually DOES have something on the line…”

      Not really, or both Dooley and Robbie would be reporting on the living conditions under one of the I-75 overpasses after their stellar work calling UF games last season.

  14. I don’t understand why Pat has to diminish the USCe comeback WIN, the weak FSU WIN and the Michigan WIN, and say we aren’t back yet. Well, we ARE back from 4-win seasons, where the three teams mentioned here would have beaten us. What aren’t back to is fielding a national championship caliber team, which any fan wants, which CDM will bring in another year or two.

  15. I’m a realist also, Pat. I’m such a realist that when I look at the 45 wins the 2 fired coaches had and realize that most of them were against pansies and more than a few of the 26 losses were also against pansies I know for certain why they were fired. The Gators hadn’t been able to play with the big boys consistently for several years until Coach Mullen returned. Recognizing the cold hard facts is what makes someone a realist.

  16. Oh my! I am going to scroll through the 50 posts so far and say this: Good luck with this one Pat! I do agree with this: “All you need is love” was a great Beatles song. Time to read some posts…

  17. “One thing for sure, Gator fans are probably tired of hearing or seeing or reading me be less than optimistic about their team…” DUH!

    “But Florida rallied against a BEAT UP (South Carolina) defense, beat a 5-7 FSU team two weeks later (SOUNDLY), and handled a Michigan team MISSING SEVERAL KEY PLAYERS (so were we!) in the bowl game”. Yet, you are “not taking anything away from what those UF players did”??? No further comment…it would be way less than kind!

  18. Perfect article and thread for the talking season.

    They can call it what they want. It will be an epic beat down of the Miami Hurricanes by the Florida Gators as the first game of the 2019-20 season.

  19. Some of this stuff about diminishing opponents the Gators beat last year is nuts. It’s nuts because this line of argument cuts both ways.

    Against Kentucky, Marco Wilson goes down in the first few minutes of the game and Davis Reese and CeCe don’t play. Kentucky outplayed us and deserved to win, but it was a one-score game until the last few minutes. We probably win that game with Marco Wilson playing the entire game. Two lock-down corners completely changes what the defense can do.

    A great deal of Georgia’s success in November came when isolating an elite wide receiver against a three star cornerback.

    And for the record, Michigan wasn’t missing “several” key players. They were missing a running back, a defensive end and a linebacker. Pretty much analogous to us against Kentucky. We barely lost to Kentucky. Michigan got boat-raced.

  20. As I said yesterday…people are going to be surprised this year! It will all be up to Franks performance how far this team goes. I believe he will perform at least as good as the later part of last year. If he excels, see you in Atlanta. I guarantee you that several opponents on our schedule will get a beat down. This will not be a Muschamp/mcElwain struggle to win with defense team; they will score some points! and thus be exciting, even in defeat.

    • Too true Daz if you lose playing a complete game on O and D and were in it ’til the end man to man leaving it all out there it will be the beginning of greatness. Winning those game will be greatness.