The Back Nine comes at you after our cities burned and people suffered and reporters were terrorized. And we were without sports. This was not a good weekend for America.
- I did not expect COVID-19 to be shoved aside on the last days of May. It’s still an issue and please do not think it has gone away. But obviously, what is happening in the streets of our country has been difficult to watch. There is a reason Colin Kaepernick took a knee way back when and not much has changed except he is out of football. I imagine when we do start sports again there will be all kinds of silent protests. I saw that several people pointed out that it’s not enough to say “I am not racist” and instead you need to be anti-racist. I go back to my first day of high school at St. Augustine High. It was the first day of integregrating the school. I was going to the bus and was suddenly surrounded by a bunch of older white students. They were angry because I had been talking to a black student in class. I escaped without too much of a beating, but spent that whole year in fear. I am amazed we haven’t evolved very much from 1968. We’ve seen these kinds of protests before. The key is to not forget them and why they took place. Don’t let hatred slink back into the crowd and return later. Words and protests bring light to the subject. But only real change is truly the answer. Yes, we need sports to come back. But sports is simply a distraction, not a solution.
- Meanwhile, in the sports world around here, the news was made by student-athletes. Certainly, the good news was that Lorenzo Lingard, the transfer from Miami, will be eligible this season and adds to an interesting running back room. Then on Saturday, we got the news that Andrew Nembhard is leaving, but not for the NBA. Instead, he will transfer. Now, according to my emails, this freaked people out. I don’t think anybody expected him back and that would include a coaching staff that was one over the limit in scholarships. One thing that you need to understand is that when your recruit five-stars, you get a lot of baggage with them. They all have their advisors and camps and — this is an educated guess — they probably felt Nembhard was not getting better. His 3-point shooting percentage went down last season even and his impact on the games was not what you would expect for a guy that played the most minutes of anybody on the team in each of his two seasons. And so, we bid adieu to a guy who leaves with a mixed legacy. He’ll always have that shot against LSU in the SEC Tournament.
- One thing for sure, those people who thought these Gators were hard to watch because they played slow ball will be happier with what Florida will put on the court this season. The game went through Nembhard and Kerry Blackshear and neither would win a foot race with Scottie Lewis with a half-court head start. If you could have picked two of the four players thinking about leaving, you would have taken Keyontae Johnson and Lewis. And Tre Mann likely will still be back. Some of you out there need to quit whining about players leaving. It’s basketball. Last year, there were more than 1,000 hoopsters who entered the portal. And this year, there are 205 who declared for a draft that will only select 60 players. It’s just the way it is. Players in all sports come and go. So do coaches. You’re rooting for a team, first and foremost. Or, as Jerry Seinfeld says, “You’re rooting for laundry.”
- Got a call last week from the SEC about my interest in covering the SEC Media Days this year. They were just taking the pulse of different writers and broadcasters in the 14 SEC cities. My answer was pretty predictable — I don’t know. I don’t know where we will be health-wise in the middle of July. Right now, today, the idea of being in an area with a lot of people still gives me the willies. But in six weeks, I might feel differently depending on what is happening in Atlanta. We might be headed for something that was my idea several weeks ago, which would be Media Day at each school where there would be a limited number of media members and questions could be submitted. We could do four one day, three the next, and so on and watch the others on TV. Obviously, we desperately need content, but after making it through almost 11 weeks of this, I don’t want to blow it now.
- That’s the thing, we still don’t have any idea what the first game will look like in terms of fans or media. Or tailgating. What happens in the NBA and golf and the NFL (and baseball if the knuckleheads can ever work it out) could have a lot to do with what we look like in the fall. If all things go well and there is a gradual inclusion of fans, you could see the pattern followed in college football. I could definitely see a September with limited fans followed by an October with more and then full stadiums in November. But any answer on anything beyond tomorrow is still speculative. We all just have to be patient.
- It kind of hit me Sunday after my wife and I played a little golf and went to a place that had proper social distancing for dinner (please support local businesses). There was this eerie realization that another weekend without sports was starting to feel really weird. Like, at first it was hunkering down for the long haul and then it was making Saturday and Sunday nights a movie or binge watching night and then we kind of got used to it. But now it’s getting to be surreal. Like we are in some kind of bad movie. Like “Arthur 2” bad.
- Whatever happened to the Murder Hornets?
- The Tweet of the Week goes to my good friend Phil Rogers, who writes for Forbes and is a baseball junkie. Technically, he’s repeating something but I thought it was appropriate — “Heard this today and liked it. If you want to help change your society, ask yourself this: What’s something simple I can do that will have a positive impact on my block?” Let’s all work on it.
- This is a good time to go sit in a comfortable chair or on a raft in a pool and let some tunes chill you out. Not that there is ever a bad time for that. Here’s a fun playlist:
* “Some Samurai” by TOLEDO.
* “Down The Line” by Beach Fossils.
* This is one of my favorite songs covered by one of my favorite artists which is a long way to get to “Manic Monday” by Billie Joe Armstrong.
* “The Middle” by Trampled By Turtles.
* And for an old one, I heard this either on a movie or while binge watching something, but I had not heard it in forever so “Goin’ Down” by The Monkees.