The Back Nine: LII best Super Bowl of them all

Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton throws a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles on a reverse pass play in the first half Sunday against New England in Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis. Burton played college ball at UF. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The Back Nine comes at you after a mixed weekend where I saw awful basketball and unbelievable football. What, you too?

10. So let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. I thought the commercials were overall pretty good, especially the Tide, the Bud Light, the one with Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman and, of course, M&M’s with Danny DeVito. I laughed out loud at several of them (especially the Giants take on “Dirty Dancing”) which is the goal. Some of them seemed more about the commercials than the product, but that’s not unusual. Overall, B+. Halftime was spectacular looking, but I don’t listen to a lot of Justin Timberlake music so it seemed like one long song until he did the Prince Tribute and the final song that even I have heard a million times. It would have been better if he had just done a series of SNL skits. But I respect the talent and the dancing, so I give it a B-. The production of the game had its own problems with a 26-second black screen that made everyone where I was wonder if someone had accidentally turned off the TV. And I love Cris Collinsworth to death, but he missed badly on both Eagles touchdowns that he thought should be ruled no catch. In fairness, who knows what a catch is, but if they had taken away the winning score I, like so many people on Twitter, would have been done with the NFL.

11. Oh, yeah, there was a game. I’ve seen all 52 and been to a bunch and I have to say that was the best one ever. Of course, I love offense. And I was rooting for the winning team. It is amazing to me how the Patriots could get so many receivers wide open against a defense that was supposed to be first-rate. But more than anything, this Super Bowl was about Doug Pederson, who went the opposite of every coach who tightened up on the biggest stage. Now, the big question — what do the Eagles do with Nick Foles? The dude is going to make a lot of money somewhere.

12. The call I especially loved was the fourth-down reverse pass from former Florida player Trey Burton to Foles. I’m a big believer of reverses inside the 5-yard line and an even bigger believer that you always need to have one special play for that kind of situation. Burton became only the second Gator to throw a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl (Rex Grossman in XLI was the other). You think the Gator quarterback drought is bad right now, think about this — Sexy Rexy is the only Gator to have ever played quarterback in the Super Bowl. Unless you count Cam Newton. And I don’t.

13. We turn our attention to Gator basketball. Reluctantly. Saturday’s display was pretty pathetic and you could sense that Mike White’s frustration is at 10. I heard it in some of his comments during his Thursday night coach’s radio show before the game. The most alarming thing is how many times the Gators have lost a second-half lead this season, in seven of the eight losses. There is still time to right the ship down the stretch, but the schedule has been made so much more difficult by two things — as White said in so many words, there are no secrets anymore when it comes to beating Florida and the league continues to show anybody can beat anybody. Maybe these guys are getting worn out from having a short bench, but these are the seven games Florida has had a second-half lead and lost (they never led FSU in the second half):

• Duke, up 17 with 10:15 to play.

• Loyola-Chicago, up 1 with 17:02 to play (OK, that’s a bit of a reach but it counts).

• Clemson, up 12 with 17:24 to play.

• Ole Miss, up 8 with 12:53 to play.

• South Carolina, up 9 with 18:15 to play.

• Georgia, up 5 with 13:52 to play.

• Alabama, up 6 to start the second half.

I know basketball is a game of runs, but when it starts going bad for this team, the shot selection is brutal.

14. Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin met with some media members before the Alabama game and talked about his inclusion on the College Football Playoff committee among other things. One thing he mentioned was that it is possible that the capacity for games in The Swamp could be reduced to try to make it more comfortable for the fans. It worked in Exactech Arena and I’m sure anyone who has tried to fit into those tiny spaces to watch a game will be in favor of a little more room if that happens.

15. So I was watching a basketball game Sunday and, forgive me for not paying attention to the Big Ten, but I was shocked to see that Wisconsin is now 10-15. So I took a gander at last year’s Sweet 16 and it shows how much college basketball can change in a year. Of those 16 teams, half of them have at least seven losses this year.

• UCLA 16-7.

• North Carolina 17-7.

• Butler 17-7.

• Oregon 15-8.

• Florida 15-8.

• South Carolina 13-10.

• Baylor 13-10.

• Wisconsin 10-15.

The Sweet 16 teams from 2017 with the best records? Purdue 23-2, Xavier 21-3 and Gonzaga 21-4. So there’s that.

16. The SEC continues to beat up on itself, but there are still eight teams in the top 50 of RPI. Someone mentioned to me the other day that the problem with the league is that there is no top, but I beg to differ. Auburn and Tennessee are at the top and look like dangerous NCAA Tournament teams. Everybody else? Meh. It’s a tough league to figure out elsewhere. South Carolina got its big win against Florida and hasn’t won since. Georgia got its big win against Florida and then was blown out by Mississippi State. (Do we sense a theme here). Arkansas finished up getting swept by LSU. It’s a good league, better than ever, but I’m still not buying eight teams into the field. Avery Johnson said after the game Saturday the league might get nine in. Not so fast. The last four weeks are going to sort things out and the tournament in St. Louis may see as many as four teams needing to do something to get in.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from, believe it or not, whoever does the Twitter feed for Hardee’s — “We are excited to serve everyone biscuits tomorrow morning at our Philadelphia location but in order to do that it needs to be not burned down please.” Good thinking.

18. So I made this playlist of the songs of my newly single days when I was living in Windmeadows and we had parties that STARTED at 1 in the morning. This was like in the late-’90s. No, not the 1890s. Anyway, my daughter killed it out thinking she was just purging it off her phone (it’s complicated), so I have to start over again. Instead, I give you this:

•“I Only Lie When I Love You” by Royal Blood.

•“Patient” by Caroline Pennell.

•“No Hard Feelings” by the Avett Brothers and if you are a fan you must watch the documentary on HBO.

•“Got It Wrong” by the Wild Feathers.

•And for an old one that came up when I was making that other playlist and made me smile, “Heading For The Light” by The Traveling Wilburys.

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


  1. Pat,
    There are 2 signs of losing games leading after half.
    Bad in game adjustments by coaches
    Players get tired and worn out (also bad in game adjustments by coaches).
    Good sign is game preparation they start the games on fire. start second half strong(half time adjustments).

  2. shot selection is brutal – well put. this is supposed to be a more talented offensive team than last year, but ??? plenty of offensive skill on this team, but highly questionable offensive play. an odd combination. still think the ceiling is plenty high, but so many times this team is playing from floor level. don’t think it’s the coaching. it’s as if the players are giving up and taking the easy way out by jacking up a shot without a conscience, and without working for the best shot. names withheld to protect the guilty.

    • Sly: The AD was asked about it and said everything is on schedule, but the order of sport may change. Still no confirmation of where baseball is going. Stricklin said that sometimes timelines can change because things come up. Look for more info in March.

  3. Gators basketball – It’s a make/miss game if you are a jump shooting team. But as you point out, Pat, the Gators aren’t losing because their good, open shots aren’t falling. They’re not even missing bunnies (which has plagued past teams). When they have bad games, they miss a LOT of BAD shots (often early in the shot clock). Where’s the discipline? Where’s the “muscle memory”? They have plenty of film of well-played basketball (starring themselves!) to draw on. C’mon guys. You can do this. You already have.

    Super Bowl Halftime Show – Am I the only one who was distracted by the horrible wardrobe (at least it stayed in place this time)? Timberlake looked like he had been painting the house. And what was the kerchief about? The back-up dancers onstage? “In Living Color” called and wants the “Fly Girls” back. The crowd on the field with bright shirts? Was that The Wiggles? Really? The Prince thing was o.k. The light display outside saved that segment.

  4. This Basketball team just drives me crazy! When they are hitting shots they appear to be able to beat anybody. When they are not, there are no actual basketball plays, and that is on the coach. They come down the court with the momentum shifted to the opposition, and they look like they are lost. There certainly should be a called play from the bench to try and get them back on track. But nothing. I do know one thing, despite the Elite 8 last year, losing to FSU, Georgia and possibly Tennessee, year in and year out will not endear White to Gator Nation, basketball or football. The Alabama game effort was an embarrassment. I had to turn it off. White better prepare this team more, or changes will come.