The Back Nine comes at you a day late, because of the Gator basketball opener which was the first time I’ve seen the Gators win in person at anything in awhile (I’m 0-1 in volleyball).
10. So let’s start with all of the Chipmania. There are three reasons why it makes no sense to hire Chip Kelly and one big reason why we could still see it happen. First, there’s his NCAA baggage, which goes against everything the previous AD stood for. Second, there are his public proclamations that he preferred the NFL to college because you drafted instead of recruited — which I get — but it is a bit of a red flag. Third, there is his reputation as being kind of a know-it-all who is tough to deal with both in college and the NFL. Florida just fired a coach because he didn’t fit in so that would be a concern. The reason it could happen — it would scare the living daylights out of the rest of the SEC if Florida brought in a coach with his offensive pedigree. It’s a risk/reward thing with Kelly.
11. Whatever ends up happening, it feels like the SEC East is going to be really interesting in the years to come. The knock on the division has been that the better coaches have been in the West and as long as Nick Saban is over there that’s not going to change. It would be hard to believe that Tennessee is going to strike out again and have to settle for a Butch Jones-type of coach. As it stands now, the East is a miserable 2-10 against the West with two games to go (LSU at Tennessee this week and Missouri at Arkansas next week) which means it cannot possibly get to the five wins it enjoyed (kind of) last year. Which isn’t exactly a high bar.
12. The question for much of this season has been the over/under for new coaches in Hoover, Ala., for next year’s SEC Media Days. It’s been a fluid number. We know there are two openings. Will Matt Luke hang on at Ole Miss? Possibly. Barry Odom seems safe now at Missouri. Kevin Sumlin is likely out at A&M, but what if he closes with wins over Ole Miss and LSU? If Dan Mullen takes another job, that opens up Mississippi State, but he may stay right there. I’m putting the number at three. Over or under?
13. I have harped all season about how bad the special teams are for Florida and that whoever the next coach is needs to make them a priority. They may be the worst I have seen at UF. Here’s the national statistics to back up what you already know:
• Punt returns — 118th.
• Kickoff returns — 94th.
• Opponent punt returns — 107th.
• Opponent kickoff returns — 129th (to be fair, only four have been returned).
• Blocked punts — tied for last.
Here’s another stat for you — Florida ranks 122nd in long plays from scrimmage. And, as we all know, got its first fumble recovery (technically) when a punt bounced off a South Carolina player. So you take an offense that doesn’t create explosive plays and almost never give them short fields while constantly giving the opponents short fields and that’s how you get to 3-6.
14. UAB may be coming to Gainesville as a 10 1/2 -point underdog, but think about this — what would the spread have been in August? UAB was coming off two years of inactivity. Florida was going to kick down the door in Atlanta. With the Gators down to an NFL-sized roster, I’m not sure that spread isn’t too big. Bill Clark has done a tremendous job with the Blazers considering what that program has been through. And he has some financial incentive after his contract extension was approved Monday. He gets $35,000 if he wins eight games (UAB is 7-3) and $40,000 if he gets to nine (he is already guaranteed $30K for seven wins). The Blazers finish up next week with 0-10 UTEP.
15. As the walk-ons were entering Monday night’s basketball game Egor Koulechov stood with his arm around KeVaughn Allen watching. When walk-on Andrew Fava dished for an assist, Kevarrius Hayes did a big Gator chomp on the sidelines. So it appears that these guys really like each other and we all know how important chemistry is on a basketball team. Of course, it’s easy to be all smiles when you are blowing out the opponent in the home opener. The fact that Hayes has added the 15-foot jumper to his game is just another thing defenses are going to have to deal with this season. This team is a long way from being the product we’ll see in SEC play, but we’ll know a lot more about it after the trip to Portland and three games in four days against strong opposition.
16. On the one hand, I love that the NFL is allowing elaborate celebrations now. They make me laugh and I appreciate the creativity. But it’s just so idiotic for players to taunt their opponents after a big play and incur a penalty. And for the life of me, can someone explain what Tre Boston was doing after picking off Blake Bortles (on a gift) and dancing out of bounds instead of trying to get more yardage with still plenty of time on the clock? Anybody? “Instead of advancing the football because they’re still in the game with all three timeouts … I’ve never seen it before,” San Diego coach Anthony Lynn said. Just dummy.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to ESPN’s Chris Fallica, also known as The Bear — “Two years ago, Al Golden was fired after a 58-0 loss to Clemson. In a little more than two weeks from now, Miami will likely be playing Clemson for a spot in the CFP. Funny how things come full circle.” Or how a program can quickly turn it around with the right coach.
18. We went heavy Beatles on the ride up to Columbia as we concluded the traveling portion of this football season. The last time Florida didn’t make a bowl the commissioner let me go to three games in one day with him. I’m looking at you Greg Sankey. Try this playlist to help you forget my lame attempts at humor:
• “Lemon to a Knife Fight” by The Wombats.
• “Spent the Day in Bed” by Morrissey.
• “Throw Me in the Water” by Wild.
• “Birthday” by JP Cooper because mine was Tuesday and by now the Beatles version feels like an FM radio cliche.
• And for an oldie on the 25th anniversary of the release of “Automatic for the People” which is one of the best albums ever, “Nightswimming” by R.E.M.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.