The Back Nine: Meyer on the mountaintop


Urban dominance
Urban dominance

The Back Nine returns with a look at the sorry states of Southern Cal football and SEC basketball as well as your weekly music advice. Oh yeah, there’s also some Gator stuff in here.

1. We start out with the nugget that Urban Meyer is now the winningest coach in SEC history (by percentage, minimum of five years, shipping and handling extra). Put that in your pipe, Lane Kiffin. His winning percentage in SEC games is an even .800 (32-8) and on Saturday night he revealed the secret to this season. “After the Tennessee game, I quit going on the Internet,” he said. “I haven’t pushed the ‘on’ button on my computer.” Which is why we brought the Back Nine back to print this week. Just kidding. In case you were wondering, Nick Saban is at .746. Neither of those percentages include the SEC Championship Games. Add those in and Meyer is 34-8 against SEC teams. And there are only four active SEC coaches who can claim wins over Meyer — Houston Nutt, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier and Mark Richt.

2. Which is why Florida fans should be reveling in their glory instead of grousing about the offense. Think about it, peeps. You are witnessing the last games of some of the greatest Gators ever. You have won 20 straight games. Your four rivals (Georgia, FSU, Tennessee and Miami) have 16 losses this season. Does it get any better? Take a breath and relax this week.

"What's your deal?"
"What's your deal?"

3. I mean, you could be a Southern Cal fan. What the heck is going on there? Two straight losses and the Pete Carroll defense has allowed 102 points in those two games. To make matters worse, Jim Harbaugh went for two up 48-21. Carroll went after Harbaugh after the game. “What’s your deal? What’s your deal?” Carroll said as they met at midfield. To which Harbaugh responded, “What’s your deal?” Wow, Jimmy, did you go to Retort School to come up with that one?

4. And the Stanford band has returned to form. The halftime performance was a tribute to USC alum Joe Francis, creator of “Girls Gone Wild” and alleged tax evader. Beautiful. Sometimes we forget college football is supposed to be about making fun of other people. It isn’t? Nevermind.

Union County Tigers pride
Union County Tigers pride

5. So how’s your Heisman Trophy ballot? Me, too. Looks like my NCAA hoops bracket with all those names crossed out. The Case Keenum bandwagon came to a screeching halt. Heisman by-law 10.4(a) states that a “player cannot be considered a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy if his team loses to Texas El-Paso and Central Florida in the same season no matter how he plays in said games.” It’s a rule. Well, more of a guideline. Amazingly, the guy from our area with the best shot at making the trip to New York in December isn’t Tim Tebow but C.J. Spiller. And Tebow’s best chance of winning the award may rest in the hands of Charlie Strong. If his defense stuffs Mark Ingram in the title game and Florida wins to go to 13-0, Tebow still has a chance. The Season of the Weird wouldn’t have it any other way than to be sitting here in the middle of November with no clue as to who will win the Heisman.

6. Now Toby Gerhart has found his way to the Heisman conversation. He’d have a better chance if I had any faith in the voters. Too many people have votes, some who don’t even cover college football. Gerhart has rushed for 401 yards in his last two games, Stanford upsets of top 10 teams. But I’ll bet there are plenty of voters who wouldn’t know him if he walked into their newsrooms. Or they would think he was there to fix the Xerox machine.

7. This is going to sound crazy, but as long as we’re talking about awards, how about Meyer for coach of the year? I know the award tends to go to a coach who brings his team from nowhere to great heights, and Harbaugh would be a strong candidate. I’d bet on Nick Saban getting the award in the SEC because of all the talent he lost. But when you think of everything Meyer has had to deal with this season and how he has kept his team focused on the prize, he certainly deserves some consideration. Just a thought.


8. Bonehead move by Bill Belichick on Sunday night going for it on fourth down on his own 28 because he was afraid to give the ball to Peyton Manning. It backfired, of course, but if the Patriots converted he’d be a genius. Fine line, eh? I wonder if anyone used the headline “Fourth and Dumb.” Probably not. Jack Del Rio has Maurice Jones-Drew fall down on the 1-yard line to run time off the clock before kicking the winning field goal and he’s the smart guy. If the field goal had been blocked, not so smart. See, it comes down to whether you win or not. How you get there is irrelevant. Except for Florida.

9. So the SEC is supposed to be better in hoops this year, huh? Nice start. Mississippi State loses to Rider and Alabama loses to Cornell. Uh, that’s the wrong way to boost your conference RPI. Face it, teams are not going to be able to rely on strength of schedule again this year because it’s what you do in the pre-conference schedule that matters. Once you get into conference play, it’s not going to change.

P.S. Oops, almost forgot to give you the weekly music tip. The Back Nine highly recommends “The List” by Roseanne Cash (a great CD, and I usually don’t listen to country), “Love Me Dead” by Ludo (very witty) and go download some old school Monkees. Just don’t play it too loud with the car windows down. Not good for your image.

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


  1. Kudos for the Florida Gators for going 10-0 so far in the season and for going 8-0 in SEC play! Justin Trattou is a man in defense and quite a cool guy. Great pick and follow up run dude! Meyer is the best coach in CFB and Jim Harbaugh is the next Urban Meyer. What do you think of that Lame Kitten? You can keep your boy K’Nukeese, we don’t need him…What? You got rid of him? See, your mouth is self -destructive but you are too proud and dumb to accept it or correct it. All that cockyness is going to fire back at you. As ugly as we are winning I have a good feeling my Gators will bring their A game to the SECCG against Bama. We play great against good teams and we let the little teams climb up on us. It was so sad to see Spurrier being so cold and quick to shake Urban’s hand after the game, I guess the OBC hates loosing a lot but I was impressed as his play-calling and he will always have a special place in Gator Nation (except when he coaches against us). I hope Florida continues to make history and achieve that elusive undefeated season that we all dream about since we won our firts National Championship.
    GO GATORS!!!

  2. Meyer needs a wake up call!!!!!!!! He understands using two quarter backs, because he used Leak and Tebow in his first year and WON a NATIONAL Championship. For crying out loud Meyers, when your star is struggling to go through the receiver check downs and throw the ball, put in Brantley, he has a pure passing motion and does not lock on to one or two receivers! You arrogance and dedication to Tim is commendable, but it is making you lose clear and concise ability to coach a team with an unclouded mind. You are TOO close to the quarterback! Get a new pair of unadulterated eyes and rotate quarterbacks when one is struggling or Alabama is going to clean your clock!

  3. It’s much harder to stay on top than to get on top. Just ask Andre Agassi. Players are hungry for success when they haven’t had it; fearful of losing when they do. It’s amazing the Gators have been number 1 for most the season. They will win at FIU and open a can of (you know what) on the Noles. Won or lose in the SEC, they have had a great season. Every Gator fan should be proud of what they have done.

  4. Ugly winning?
    8-0 against the teams in the teams in the nations best conference playing their hearts out to knock off the mighty Gators. Great games and Florida was a couple of plays away from making any of them blowout victories. Can’t wait to see this team play it’s heart out and go out in style against Florida State. The Swamp is going to be rocking as the Fans have their last chance to show how much they appreciate what may be the most memorable collection of players to ever play Gator Football.
    Playoff time the Gators will find that chip back on their shoulders and that has usually been a very good thing.

  5. Can’t believe how everyone is dumping on Belichick. Manning already had two 80-yard drives in the game that took less than 2 minutes or less. You have Tom Brady at QB and if you manage 2 yards, you take the ball out of Manning’s hand and win the game on the spot . Why in the world is everyone just assuming that kicking it away wins the game, or increases the chance of winning more than going for the first down?

  6. I just can’t get over how stupid Nu’keese Richardson is.
    How on earth did this kid even pass entrance into a University, albeight Tennessee. Not a pillar of academic distinction.

    Suffice to say Nukkie would not have made it into Vanderbilt.

    As for my beloved Gators. I’ve made it over the hump. i no longer care how much they win by. I’m convinced that we are JUST good enough to beat everybody. The saying goes that a great defense always beats great offense, no matter the sport.

    Oklamoha will agree and so will the rest of Florida’s opponents.

  7. I learned a long time ago that a win by 1 or 100 is still a win and that there is no such thing as a “pretty loss”, just doesn’t exist in football. I remember the late 70s and the 80s (born in ’67 so I can recall the twilight of the 70s) and I’ll take the 90s and this century to date (and yes even the Zook years) over those any day of the week. I’m loving the 10-0 mark this year and the 20 game win streak, do they make my blood pressure skyrocket every week… yes they do but they are still my team.

  8. Thanks for writing exactly what alot of Gator fans have been thinking…man, we are a winning team. That is what is most important in the scheme of things. I don’treally like to think about some of our Gators leaving after this season. It is too sad. I love them all!! No matter how the offense or defense plays, we have been winning and looking pretty darn good in the stats, so why are we so gloomy. We are Not! Not any longer! We are the Florida Gators and it is Great!!

  9. no doubt Urban is a great coach, you ever heard of a guy name Tim Tebow who is absolutely perfection for a QB in an Urb offense.

    there’s alot of Urban to thank for the last 4 yrs. but come on guys the guy is the luckiest coach in the history of college football to have a guy like Tebow to come along when he got started at UF. Talk about timing, if he slips in the next 4, dude should become a stock broker, what timing.

    let’s be realistic and take a look at Myer after the next 4.

    I know everyone will talk about what he did with Curtis Leak, if it weren’t for the worst give away in the history of the SEC title game, that Ark. dude that tried to field a punt over his shoulder on his own 5 and the fraud that Ohio State has proven to be…..

    don’t get me wrong Patty about Urban Myer, the next 4 will be interesting. if dude bats 800, he’s a legend along the lines of Bear Bryant.

  10. Urban, your love for this years Gator team shows through by the way they play four full quarters has hard as they can run. This team respects their coaches, is so thankful for the fan support, and makes Gator Nation proud with a “W” at the end of each game! I’ve never had so many goose bumps as I’ve had this year reading the recaps of the games and which different player made an impact in securing the “W”. This has been a TEAM effort from the start, and I know we will finish strong in Atlanta!!! Go Gators! We’re all proud of you!!!!!

    Steve F

  11. I’ll say it again. Which game is it that the offense hasn’t been good enough? Remenber 1979 (or was it 80)? 0-10-1! Anyone who gripes about the offense needs to take a stoll down memory lane. Thanks Gators! I love 10-0 and a #1 ranking. Enjoy the ride folks.

  12. As a longtime Gator these are the salad days and Ill be amazed if we ever see the likes of the success weve had since Tim and Urban teamed up. Im goin to be completely bummed when all these class act seniors and whatever juniors leave early walk out of the swamp for the last time so im cherishing every game this year even if they arent things of beauty to watch. Tim and company will be ready for the putrid red tide when its foul stench rolls into the gdome.
    I didnt think wed ever see another player come along that could match danny w. but Tim showed up so maybe lighting can strike the same field three times. Until then ill enjoy watching tim prove all the naysayers wrong in the nfl. I normally like most of what PD writes but am stupified that as close as he is to the program he still cant see that Tim should win the heisman this year (and last year also.) Absent any clear cut superstar name ANYONE other than Tim who should win? Who else would you pick to lead your team to victory in a close game at the end of the fourth quarter. Given a little blocking and some decent play calling and nothing else working he takes the team on his back and runs it down the field on his own like hes done so many times before. The numbers dont come close to telling the whole story. How come no one says anything about mccoy being in the game and throwing for stats in the 4th qtr with a 40-14 or whatever lead over baylor? Hes been doing the same thing all year. Tim came out in 2nd qtr in one of our early easy games and early in the other one also. were rollin and goin in for an ez score at end of GA game and meyer pulls tim out, i thought that was dirty on meyers part there, you could tell tim wanted that one after a frustrating second half. texas has a lot of baylors on there schedule and the rest of the big 12 stunk this year also. put him in the sec the last 4 years and see what kind of numbers he has. the other guys shouldnt even be considerd. If you have a choice between a good qb and a good rb like ingrahm its a no brainer, the qb wins every time as hes multi dimensional vs a one diminensional rb. tim has more turnovers this year than normal but look at the details on all of them, a tipped pass here and there, riley doesnt come bak for the ball and e berry gets a lucky pick that probably hit the ground anyway (bad angle on the replay) hi snap and b james drops the handoff and that counts as a fumble on tim, hes stretching out after a great run on ut and a big linebacker grabs the ball and makes a textbook strip, that one guy barely gets a pinkie toe in on the sideline pick etc, i cant think of any that were blatantly bad turnovers on tims part. i do see a lot of dropped balls and poor blocking however and like the class act he is all he ever has is praise for his teammates all the while doing whatever has to be done to win all the close games. Sorry for the rambling, but Tim gets the Heisman 07-09 in my opinion and why dont they wait till after the bowl game to pick it anyway. GO GATORS! keep wining,,its great to be 10-0.

  13. I n all kinds of weather we all stick together and like I always said Defense wins games and I hope Urban stay on top of this mountain
    for many years and i have been a Gator since 1979 but the 2 seasons have been my favorite don’t change a thing just win baby
    Go Gators can’t wait to get back to the Swamp Dome

  14. Gator Fans need to accept the fact that Urban Meyer is the most conservative coach in the country. His game plan starts with great defense. Defensively, they begin each game playing not to lose. Keeping everything in front of them. Linebackers play a lot of zone coverage. bend but don’t break. As the game progresses the D just keeps turing down the screws. One they are in the lead, then the stunting begins. if they can get to a 2 score lead Meyer turns the D loose. Lots of blitzes coming from unexpected places. Defensive backs breaking on the ball. Lots of substitutions to fresh legs. With this D, the beauty of the plan is revealed in the 4th quarter. The Gator D dominates in the 4th. This progression has been true in almost every game over the last 2 seasons. The offense plays basically not to lose the game. Meyer insists on establishing the run even when he knows it won’t work. The opposing Offense must believe the Gators will call a run on any given play. Meyer calls runs when there are 9 defenders in the box! Even the passing game often looks like the running game. Lots of dink and dunk, especially to the backs and tight end. Only throw longer passes to the wide receivers when they are wide open. This has especially been the plan since the melt-down at Mississippi State, a game we dominated totally and almost lost due to two totally inexplicable turnovers in the passing game. If the Gators are in the lead they protect the lead. If it’s close they play a little more aggressively to try to get up to that 2 score margin. If the conservative playcalling doesn’t work and the game stays close, then, well it’s more of the same. If the Gators can stretch the lead, then perhaps a couple of long throws are warranted, but only if the receivers are wide ope. The Miss. State game made a believer out of Tebow. He is playing more cautiously than at any time in his career, which is part of the reason for the sacks. Against South Carolina he passed up a wide open Riley Cooper in the end zone and ran the ball instead. The game plan for the Gator O is simply, “Don’t Lose The Game with Stupid Turnovers when you have the best defense, punt game, and overall special teams in the country”. Some Gator fans don’t like that, but up there somewhere, Woody Hayes has a huge smile on his face. Expect more of the same against FSU and Alabama. Both of very beatable as long as the Gators play great D and don’t turn the ball over, no matter what the offense does.

  15. This would be great if my 50-year-old eyes could read it. What possesses the editors to use a readable font/type size (12 pt for example) for everything else on the site including responses to your blog yet have your blog set in 4 pt agate type? It’s a good thing your readership is ever expanding and it is obvious the editors are doing everything they can to make your work more readable/useable. As for me I’m heading to the Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego site. It’s type size is suitable for 6 year olds and 50 year olds alike. While certainly not as interesting as what you produce at least I can read it.

  16. Great blog and I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ll take these Gators and their winning ways anyday over any other team! I don’t care how they win, as long as they win. I appreciate the work ethic of this team and the way they go about things off the field. Lets all enjoy the ride because it doesn’t always come around. Go Gators!

  17. funny how Michigan coach comes in and has to change everything right away. His record speaks for itself.. Meyer comes in ,adjusts to Chris Leaks abilities,and his record also speaks for itself.Ole Rich is a disaster.Gators on top pof the world

  18. Yeah, I’m one who gets frustrated by our playcalling and offensive futility. And I still believe that we need to get a good short controlled passing game going or we will not reach our goals this year. BUT, I am also smart enough to realize that we have the best of the best with Urban and Charlie so that at the end of the day, I can’t get TOO wound up and I have to have faith in this coaching staff. Urban has already taken us to the promised land twice so he can stay and do it his way forever as long as l’m concerned. I hope we step up to the pump and give Charlie some Monte Kiffin size $$$ so he can just remain happy being a Gator and not have to deal with all that other nonsense that Urban has to endure daily. GO GATORS!!!

  19. This team puts you through the wringer every week and then wins. Interesting formula, I guess they are trying to get us ready for next yr when everyone leaves. Yes, Urban and Charlie are hard to beat. The loss of Harvin/Murphy are big, but to me, the bigger loss was Mullin. His play calling was really really clutch. You look back at the big games it seemed like he always dialed up the right calls at the right time. The 1st drive against Ohio St. The final drive against ‘Bama. And of course the final drive against Oklahoma. The play calling was unreal.

  20. Last year, we were 9-1 with the players they say we miss this year, but we are 10-0. We have all the opportunities we had this time last year, but we are the defenders, #1, the team everybody wants to beat. Last year when we had to win a game without one of the players we miss this year, we did. Nearly all of the ingredients, without mentioning names, are in place to do it all again. How much better can it get? All the best to our former players, our current players, our coaches………….Goooooooo Gators!!!!!!!!

  21. I think Harbaugh’s retort was just perfect. Allow me to translate:

    Carrol: “Hey, what do thing you’re doing, running the score up like that?”

    Harbaugh: “Huh? Oh wow, the nerve of you. The Pete. Wow. Hey, buddy, what about all the times you ran it up on us. Stanford. The Stanford to you, pal. Ha ha. Deal with it.”

  22. I think Harbaugh’s retort was just perfect. Allow me to translate:

    Carrol: “Hey, what do thing you’re doing, running the score up like that?”

    Harbaugh: “Huh? Oh wow, the nerve of you. The Pete. Wow. Hey, buddy, what about all the times you ran it up on us? I bet you thought you’d hide out here in pac10 land beating up on the little 9 forever. In your face, clown, in your face.”

  23. Thank you for reminding the fans what we have! I’m not that old (well, ok, I’m 52), but I’ve been rooting for Gator football since Spurrier was QB. I’ve been frustrated by the offensive play calling more than once this season, but I’m beyond delighted that the team is 10-0. Sure we knew something different during the high scoring years but we still saw the mid-late season slump where we lost a game or two. For those of us who lived through eons of “wait ’til next year!” and even that truly painful 0-10-1 season, these days of 10-0 with the possibility of the 3rd National Championship in 4 years are heady indeed!

  24. From my perch on the banks of the Columbia River up here in the great Northwest, I agree with Pat. Let’s relax and enjoy the ride. It won’t last forever. But then I graduated in ’64, so I have known years of football misery. Like the Auburn game I went to a few years after graduation. If I remember correctly, we were beaten 66-0 at home. As I sat in my end-zone seat in old Florida Field, I watched a old Gator alum stagger up the steps towards the exit muttering, “Wait ‘till next year, wait ‘til next year. I’ve been waiting ‘till next year my entire life.” I’m not sure he lived long enough to experience the Glory.

    Anyway, be thankful you aren’t U Dub fans like my wife and three daughters.

  25. Two of my favorite people mentioned in one column, Elaine Kiffin ( the only person alive who has made Raider’s owner Al Davis look ethical in a dispute) and Pete The Cheat Carroll.

    Both USC and UT will be on probation within a year. Mark my words.

    Will the mighty Gators face a more dangerous quarterback than Christian Ponder this year? Ponder that.

    Salutations to the Gator’s 2nd Stringers on defense. Experienced, athletic, dedicated young men giving us the best DEPTH on defense in UF History.