The Back Nine: Marlins’ case bad for college football

Members of the Florida National Guard monitor vehicles at a COVID-19 testing site outside of Marlins Park on Monday in Miami. The Marlins home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night has been postponed as the Marlins deal with a coronavirus outbreak that stranded them in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that was glorious until we all woke up to a bad news Monday. Monday, Monday. Can’t trust that day.
10. I had a whole spiel I was going to present about college football, carefully thought out with some sources speaking under the cloak of anonymity. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. But then came the news that the Marlins clubhouse was the latest hotspot for the virus, resulting in games being postponed. I know that the powers that be of college football are watching closely to see what happens in the NBA and MLB before eventually making their own decisions. So that’s not good. It’s not good for anybody. We don’t want to overreact, but baseball was four days in when this happened. It’s not like college football is now going to cancel, but it’s another setback for trying to have a season.
11. Because this is supposed to be the week we get the answer, right? No, not really. There are meetings that will take place, but we will not get THE answer. Instead, we are more likely to get an update sometime later this week from each of the conferences. It’s so strange that Oklahoma moved up its game with Missouri State to Week Zero. I mean, I get it in theory that it would allow for an extra open week, but that game will not be played. I’d bet cash money on that. Remember back in May when administrators were singing that Rolling Stones song? "Tiii-iiii-iiime is on my side. Yes it is." Well, now, they are trying to get time back on their side and the only way to do that is to postpone the start of the season, which would give them all more time.
12. Which is why I think we will eventually see a nine-game season that begins in October. Now, this is assuming we see any season at all. (Not a big fan of a spring season. Didn’t this whole pandemic thing START in the spring?) I think you will see most conferences play eight conference games with a plus one for rivalry games. The championship games will move back a couple of weeks to allow for off-weeks. There are nine Saturdays in October and November. As Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) said in "Jaws" — "You got any better suggestions?" I know you do and I have received several, including a 16-week season with two weeks off between games. I guess we’ll leave it to the smarter people because it certainly hasn’t been the smarter people that have us in this mess (he said to the woman not wearing a mask at Publix wandering around looking for a fight).
13. All right, I probably should get away from the Dooley Downer portion of this column, but I will say this. Watching baseball this weekend reminded me of college football in this way — everyone does it differently. Some guys wear masks in the dugouts, some don’t. Some wear them only on the bases. Some guys hit homers while wearing a mask. Some umpires wear masks. Some only put them on to argue with managers. Everybody does their own thing. Just like the rudderless college football where some teams shut down because of three positive tests and some ADs still think they can put 50,000 in the stands.
14. That said, it was really a terrific weekend because I finally was able to fire up the second TV in the sports room of the Dooley Dome. I was able to see Brady Singer’s major league debut and was actually nervous. That was the thing that stood out about the weekend — that I had butterflies and that feeling where you have to consciously control your breathing because a (insert team here) game is coming down to one pitch. It has been 20 weeks since I felt that. And it felt good.
15. Count me as someone who likes the rule being used that puts a runner on second to start every extra inning. And not just because the Braves won Saturday. Of course, the pitchers don’t like it. I wouldn’t like it if I was a pitcher. But it will get the games over quicker within this bastardized season. Dude, they are playing 60 games. It’s going to be wild and crazy, guys. Deal with it. And I also prefer the cardboard cutouts in the stands to the cold, empty seating behind home plate such as what we saw at Nationals Park. In fact, if Florida does play football this year and can’t let fans in I’d pay to get a cutout of my dog sitting on the 50-yard line right next to a couple of cardboard Gator greats.
16. I would like to show you the Top 25 I have prepared for the Associated Press that is due next week, but it keeps changing so much it looks like I left a pen in the wash with white shorts. There is ink everywhere. Why would it change? I keep watching old games from last year and change my mind about where a team should be ranked. And let’s face it, we’re ranking teams without any idea what a schedule is going to look like. I will say this — it’s nice to get back to watching old games as a novelty rather than a necessity.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Jayson Stark of The Athletic and — “The strangest but truest extra inning of the year:
The #Royals managed to score a run in the 10th today – despite zero official at-bats!
Ghost runner on 2nd.
Sac bunt
Sac fly.
Runner thrown out stealing.
Baseball! (In 2020!).”
Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t have enough players and you’d have a ghost runner? Ah, the good old days.
18. This playlist is going to start off sad. Just a warning:
* It was devastating news that Camilo Villegas lost his 22-month-old daughter Mia, who was suffering from tumors on her brain and spine. Something like this leaves you speechless, so I’ll let Pink do the honors with “Beam Me Up.”
* “Anybody Else by Bash Pop.
* “Good To Be Alive by Brendan Benson.
* “Turn Around by The Postal Service.
* And for an old one, from one of my favorite albums ever “Pet Sounds” from The Beach Boys, um, which one do I go with? OK. “I Know There’s An Answer.”
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. Even sportwriters can read tables of data, they have to in order to review player stats. So all of us should go look at this CDC page,

    Column 5 clearly show the mortality number is 142,710 for ALL deaths, including pnuemonia, while column 6 shows a very normal flu like mortality of 58,148 deaths for COVID-only. So the news is CHOOSING the FAR HIGHER number to scare sportswriters and university professors, who can all see the number-swapping con game going on.

    Join the side of truth, Pat, and the side of our youths who are not getting sick much at all, and the side of infectious disease science, which says YOU CAN’T STOP A FLU, you can only slow it down. Sweden is already on the other side of this, life is back to normal their. As with every flu season, mostly COVID has affected those with other health impaired issues, not healthy athletes nor those aged 1-55. CDC graphs for all of this are available.

    Please stop peddling politics on the sports page.

    • atlasRocked: We agree with you, take politics off the sports page and move it to the Forum on our site here. Our readers tell us Gators sports is what they want to read. Thanks for your contributions, but the Forum is perfect for your opinions on COVID-19.

  2. Watch Major League Baseball’s handling of the virus outbreak in the Marlins’ clubhouse. Long term, it’s the key to how and when the NFL and Power 5 Conferences will start their football seasons.

    So far, MLB management has handled the Marlin situation in a very pragmatic way. They’ve doubled down on continuation of their season as planned, with a virus “rain delay” of the next Marlins and Phillies games to respond to this outbreak. The players who tested positive were quarantined and should be placed on the “fifteen-day (virus) disabled list.” Roster expansion will allow the Marlins to replace them and carry on with their season. The cancelled Marlins-Orioles and Phillies-Yankees games will be rescheduled later in the season. The quarantined players will eventually return to play and life will go on.

    The only important piece missing from this very pragmatic MLB solution is being argued over by politicians in Washington as we speak. ALL major sports in America, along with all businesses, hospitals and doctors MUST have liability protection against being sued out business by anyone who’s infected inside their facilities, or in their care and develops serious virus complications, or dies. Without such legal protection, no sane sports league will be able to realistically carry on with their season in the face of a virus that, absent a new vaccine, will not go away any time soon.

    BTW, liability protection is also the key to bringing the fans back into the stands in a responsible way. This weekend’s baseball games clearly demonstrated that we need the fans back in the stands!

    GO GATORS!!!