The Back Nine: Coaches fan flames of conspiracy


This week the Back Nine reflects on a bizarre weekend of college football and, well, you talk about the World Series and the NFL. The Back Nine is going all-CFB with so much to discuss.

Complainin' Lane
Complainin' Lane

1. Man, the SEC office just can’t catch a break. Last week, Mike Slive made a very smart public relations move by suspending the officiating crew that blew calls in two games. (An SEC official confirmed to me that it was done because the league was getting killed nationally in the media.) And just when things start to calm down there are two more controversial calls. On top of that, the coaches who felt they were wronged can’t keep their mouths shut. Dan Mullen was upset about the replay official not overturning Dustin Doe’s touchdown and hopes he’ll be made to sit in a corner. Lane Kiffin was steaming about the discrepancy in penalties between the Vols and Tide and explained that was why he didn’t try to move the ball closer for Daniel Lincoln’s last-second kick. Which is hogwash, of course. And he was upset Terrence Cody wasn’t flagged for removing his helmet as he ran off the field while the ball was still alive. “I’m sure we’ll get one of those letters that really means nothing as Bobby (Petrino) got last week, but Florida and Alabama live on,” Kiffin said. Conspiracy theory, anyone? We used to joke that if one of the SEC elite teams was in trouble, Roy Kramer would give a nose-brushing finger move (like in The Sting) and suddenly a phantom flag would appear. But we were joking. I think.

Less cowbell?
Less cowbell?

2. Still, isn’t it time for the commish to step in and really punish one or all of these coaches who are violating SEC policy? I understand their frustration, but there is a way to handle this. Instead, coaches like Petrino, Mullen and Kiffin are appealing to their fan bases. “Yeah, I’m just as mad as you are. Let’s get torches and head to Birmingham!” Kiffin’s comments are right in Slive’s face. Let’s see how he reacts. Of course, don’t forget that the league also has a policy banning artificial noisemakers from league stadiums. I can still hear the cowbells.

3. This awful, disgusting football team in Gainesville (according to some of your e-mails) has a decent chance of clinching the SEC East on Saturday. If the Gators handle Georgia, and Tennessee beats South Carolina it would be over. And, yes, this would be the earliest that a team has clinched the SEC East and a berth in Atlanta. Usually, I’m upset I have to miss Tennessee-South Carolina because I’m covering Florida-Georgia. Not this year. We might have another 3-2 game.

4. The Back Nine usually defends the Fourth Estate but I have to wonder what is going on in the minds of The Associated Press voters. Look, you vote Florida or Alabama No. 1, I don’t care. But to flip-flop them in consecutive weeks makes no sense at all. Alabama won a tough, emotional game and Florida looked sloppy in beating a bad team. And that was enough reason to elevate the Gators back to the top? Maybe I shouldn’t get all hot and bothered because the poll is irrelevant anyway.

Bronco BCS busters?
Bronco BCS busters?

5. Which brings us to the BCS and the possibility we’re going to have another controversy and more hearings on the Hill. The senator from Idaho has the floor. Boise State got jumped by TCU and there is a real possibility Oregon, which was handled by the Broncos in the first week of the season, could slip past Boise with a win this week over Southern Cal. I think you are going to see some real manipulation of ballots down the stretch, which is why there has to be transparency.

6. The Back Nine has never been a friend of Starkville, but I have to give credit where it is due. The people at the stadium were incredibly friendly and there were event staffers who actually knew where we were supposed to park! Amazing. Baton Rouge could learn a lesson. We stayed in Columbus, Miss., and I highly recommend Old Hickory Steakhouse. Best steak I’ve ever had, and it’s just a little shack. Why is it the best restaurants in small towns have the least amount of neon?

Resilient Hawkeyes
Resilient Hawkeyes

7. It’s all about perception in college football. Florida won in Starkville for the first time in 24 years, won all of its games against the West for the first time since 1998, won its ninth straight SEC game away from home and 17th game overall … and the Gators are underachieving. Iowa barely beat Northern Iowa and Arkansas State and needed a last-second score to beat a .500 Michigan State team and the Hawkeyes are “resilient” according to ESPN’s Mark May.

8. More proof that every game is its own game. Texas Tech beat Kansas State 66-14. Kansas State beat Texas A&M 62-14. Texas A&M beat Texas Tech 52-30 on Saturday. Go figure. Or maybe it’s just proof that the Big 12 is wacky this year.

9. Because the most stunning score of the day that came across the crawl was Iowa State 9, Nebraska 7. The Cornhuskers committed eight turnovers in the loss. Apparently, the Big 12 North title will go to the seventh caller.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at


  1. Lame loses Crompton, who is actually looking pretty good right now, and has no viable backup in the wings right now to take his place next year. He will lose 4 OL’s, having run off about every decent backup already. He loses a great RB in Hardesty, an NFL first round DT, his only bigtime LB, and one of the best defensive players I’ve ever seen(Berry) is likely to go pro.
    If you think he’s full of excuses and whining THIS year, you ain’t seen nothin’.

  2. Do away with instant replay and play the game! Sometimes the call goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. A hard reality is that there is no instant replay in life and you have to play the hand your dealt.
    Go Gators!

  3. mark may can take my timmy tebow thong and wear it on his head to keep his lips shut for all i care.

    we’re a good team that is winning ugly, nail-biting, close games, but winning them none the less.

    ugly, ugly, ugly, all the way to another crystal football. cry me an orange and blue river!!! the process may be ugly but the outcome will be beautiful!

    ps: since brett favre is wasting percy harvin’s talents, can we please have him back?!!

  4. Seems that Florida gets hit with an ugly stick whenever they go to Starkville, but at least they came back with a win this year. Boys will be boys and no SEC team can ever be taken lightly. MSU played their hearts out, while the Gators seemed in a trance, except for Rainey. He deserves a lot more reps, but coaches seem determined to allow none of our backs a chance to settle into the game. I hope Doe and other show boaters have learned a lesson. It was a highly embarassing end to a great play.

  5. Kiffin is full of hogwash but what about Mullen? Is he? If Kiffin is whining after a loss, isn’t Mullen. Or does he have a valid point along with Kiffin and Pitrino? Let SC suffer a call like that and Steve goes ape. Is he whining? No conspiracy theory about Bama and UF but if these are honest bad calls, they will go the other way and not decided on the field by the players, as it should.

  6. Good point on the state of the Vols next season. I like how Kiffin continues to state how undermanned he is. What did Spurrier do in the same situation? I’m just tired of it, he needs to man p and admit he has SEC caliber talent. His Daddy sure knows how to use it, why can’t he?

  7. you dont get it! the AP has got it right and theyre the only really realistic poll. I agreed when they jumped Ala over FL last week because Ala played better. I also agreed when the jumped Fl back over Ala BECAUSE Ala barely beat a team that Fl beat handily. they are comparing apples to apples. The week before Fl didnt play as well as Ala did against Ark. If you look at their common opponents so far Fl has done a better job overall than Ala. Fl kept Ky to a lower score than Ala and put up more points on Ky than Ala. I used to hate both polls because once a team settled at a spot they didnt lose their place no matter how poorly they played. The coaches still do that nonsense but the AP for the last couple years has had some sense to their ranking, moving teams up and down also based on their level of play!

  8. The thing that amazed me in the Alabama/Tennessee game was there was no back up kicker for Tennessee. I was listening to part of the Tennessee feed on satillite radio and the announcers were saying the kicker had a bad hip and didn’t look good in warm ups. Then during the game he misses one FG attempt and had a 2nd attempt blocked earlier. Why not try your #2 FG kicker out? Maybe he didn’t want the officials to throw a phantom flag on his back up kicker…

  9. whining is in the eye of the beholder. Is Mullen whining? Is Spurrier whining when talking about Tiffin marking his spot with tape for a fg? Is the writer whining about Iowa being ranked so high? Is Kiffin? If we disagree with their point, it is whining. If we agree, it is telling the truth. If Kiffin is whining, so is Mullen. No slack. If Mullen isn’t whining, neither is Kiffin. Fair is fair. I personally agree with all the head coaches comments but do not buy the UF and UA conspiracy either. Some times, the breaks and calls go your way and sometimes not. Here is hoping for a UF and UA showdown in Atlanta.

  10. whining is in the eye of the beholder. Is Mullen whining? Is Spurrier whining when talking about Tiffin marking his spot with tape for a fg? If we disagree with their point, it is whining. If we agree, it is telling the truth. I personally agree with all the head coaches comments but do not buy the UF and UA conspiracy either. Some times, the breaks and calls go your way and sometimes not. Here is hoping for a UF and UA showdown in Atlanta.

  11. Pat, after reading Kiffins comments that suggested not only that the referees in the Bama vs Tenn game would throw a bogus flag to affect the outcome but that the League itself “takes care” of Alabama and Florida, I would be shocked and dismayed that, if upon further review, Slive would not go ahead and suspend the Tennessee coach.

  12. I can’t believe you put the jinx on Tebow with your column today. When was the last time a player came back for his senior season to accomplish something that it didn’t end in tragedy? You’ve had a tough schedule. And, this team is not as good as last year’s. Repeating is another thing that is pretty elusive, all apologies to the basketball team (you see what has happened to them.) Going undefeated is harder than ever. Pressure? There is no greater pressure than unrealistic expectations. And, after all of that, you get Bama, and then, if you are very lucky, BCS No. 2? He had better be one of the greatest players off all time on one of the best teams. That is a pretty tall order. “Are our expectations just a tiny bit too high.”

  13. I wonder when Tennessee fans will tire of Lane Kiffin’s antics.
    His smokescreens don’t really mask what is now being seen like a brat who doesn’t get his way and throws tantrums. Tennessee would probably be much better off with the MUCH more mature Monte. Maybe the big ‘ol guy they fired is looking a little better now?

    I think that some Gator fans’ rantings should be taken with
    a grain of salt (except by those on low sodium diets.)
    Gator fans did get spoiled with the high scoring teams of the past. Like you said a win is a win and everything can be fixed. I love the heart that the Gators show, that deserves our respect. Trying too hard can have negative results. Play loose, for fun, and will specific concentration on your “job”and winning will continue.