The Back Nine comes at you wondering if anybody is going to track my next plane trip in a couple of weeks. Come on, guys, it would make me feel important.
10. As we enter another week of Chipmania, is it possible that there has been a lot of bad information out there? It’s a coaching search so that is a lock. Is it possible that Florida has been on this Chip Train for a lot longer than one plane trip to New Hampshire on Sunday? Is it possible that Kelly really, really wants to coach again and has a tough decision to make and wants to take some time because his move to the NFL didn’t work out so well? Is it possible that athletic director Scott Stricklin has done a terrific job with this search in so many ways, but it still comes down to whether a coach wants to be here in Gainesville? Is it possible the job hasn’t been offered to anyone yet? Is it possible that there is no news conference scheduled as we sit here today? Is it possible I know more than you think I know and way less than I think I know?
11. So the firing of Jim Mora came on his birthday, which tells you about the urgency UCLA felt to make a move. Otherwise, let him have his cake and ice cream first. Instead, AD Dan Guerrero (interesting side note — his flirtation with Andy Lopez when Guerrero was at UC-Irvine led to the Florida coach’s eventual firing in 2001) sang this song to Mora:
You say it’s your birthday.
We’re gonna fire you, yeah.
You say it’s your birthday.
Here’s 12 million dollars.
You say it’s your birthday.
Let’s go to New Hampshire.
Mora was a curious hire to begin with, but started his career 29-11 before finishing it 17-19. That said, I thought the Bruins played their tails off on Saturday night and who wouldn’t have fallen for the crazy punt return fake? (Google it; it’s hilarious.)
12. It’s just the world we live in that agents are able to negotiate ridiculous buyouts and schools are willing to pay them. While we wait to get the final word on how much money Florida is paying Jim McElwain (apparently some writer’s cramp issues on those signatures), we do know that the influx of TV money is making it easier to toss cash around like it was Monopoly money. Let’s assume Bret Bielema and Kevin Sumlin both get the ax and you add those buyouts into the mix of McElwain and Jones. There will be a lot of money being paid to guys not to coach. I definitely got into the wrong profession. (Insert “duh” here).
13. They imploded the Georgia Dome on Monday and it made me sad even though it was hardly a surprise (now THAT would have been a story). Other than The Swamp and maybe even including it, no stadium has been a bigger part of my professional and personal life. There are so many obvious great memories of championships won and wandering through the bowels to get interviews after Florida wins and losses. But it was more than that. There was the tornado SEC Tournament, still one of the most memorable events I have ever covered. There was Steve Spurrier vs. Doug Johnson in an NFL game. There was that time Arkansas beat Kentucky in the SEC Tournament after Nolan Richardson told us he brought four suits because he wasn’t going home early. There was the Les Miles impromptu news conference after he had been linked to the Michigan job (wonder if he wishes now he had taken it?) But my favorite memory came in 2008 after Florida beat Alabama in the SEC title game when I was on the field and my wife was in the front row of the stands and we were talking loudly about spending a week at Fort Lauderdale Beach for the national title game and she kept asking me to get pictures of the celebration on her phone. That should be my Groundhog Day.
14. Oh my, Baker Mayfield. You’re not starting against West Virginia (neither is Will Grier, but that’s another story) and you can’t be a captain in the game? That’ll teach you not to make obscene gestures at the other sideline. What is the deal with the Heisman Trophy that apparently one of the prerequisites is you have to have the maturity of a 7-year-old on a Fun Dip bender? (Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel). At least their bodies of jerk came after they won the award. There are going to be Heisman voters who will put Mayfield lower on the ballot or leave him off altogether because of his latest transgression. Seriously, who is the last Heisman winner to sit out the start of the game for disciplinary reasons? Your answer should be Rex Grossman (2002 Orange Bowl), but that would have meant the voters watched football in 2001 and didn’t give the award to Eric Crouch. There are voters who are going to wait and watch how some other candidates do and, to be honest, this might be as close as Lamar Jackson has been all season to repeating because of the disappointment in Mayfield. Me? I can’t tell you that. It’s against the law. Just know that I’m waiting until the last regular-season games are played.
15. Sunday’s narrow win for Florida’s basketball team over New Hampshire (first time ever that state has appeared three times in a Back Nine column) may be just what the team needed, but we’ll have to wait and see on that. They know that shots don’t always fall, but do they understand why and do they grasp how important it is to do everything else well when the rims are repelling everything? And have I made any sense at all? The one thing I have noticed early in this basketball season around the country is how few teams have a big guy to rely on for interior points when the outside shots are not falling. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
16. After Deanne Rose missed an opportunity for a golden goal in Florida’s Sweet 16 matchup against Washington State, UF soccer coach Becky Burleigh told the freshman during a break, “Look at me. Take a deep breath. You’re going to score.” And she did on Sunday giving the Gators a double OT win and a trip to Columbia, S.C., for an Elite Eight game against South Carolina on Friday. That means the Gators will be spending Thanksgiving on the road, which certainly is better than the alternative. “I called Jerri Spurrier and asked her if she could help us out with a place in Columbia for dinner for the entire team.” Burleigh said. “She hooked us up.”
17. The Tweet of the week goes to my pal Chris Low of ESPN — “Having done this for 30 years, I’ve never seen anything rise to this level of lunacy with all the Gruden stuff. Not even close.” This was after the infamous Jon Gruden mistaken sighting at Calhoun’s in Knoxville. It would be even funnier if we weren’t dealing with our own levels here.
18. Because I have finally given in and decided to get my left knee replaced next month, it wouldn’t hurt to drop a few pounds over the next three weeks so I’m starting with this playlist for the gym:
• “It’s A Shame” by First Aid Kit.
• “Holding On” by The War on Drugs for my buddy Rick who insisted I check out the new album (he was right).
• “Sail On The Water” by Molly Parden.
• “Highway Tune” by Greta Van Fleet.
• And for an old one that keeps playing on the limited Eagles channel on Sirius “Wall of Confusion” by Joe Walsh.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.