The Back Nine: Winning weekend for UF

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Not a miracle, just a big win
Not a miracle, just a big win (AP photo)

The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful weekend that was. How nice was the day Sunday? Depends on who you were rooting for. Eh, Canadians?

10. Really nice win for the American hockey team. I watched the end because it took me awhile to find it on MSNBC after I watched “Frost/Nixon” on HBO. Yes, I do lead quite an active life. Had the Americans not scored a late empty-netter, it would have been the same score as the Miracle on Ice 30 years ago almost to the day. But puh-lease do not equate Sunday night’s U.S. win to the Americans win in 1980 over the Soviets at Lake Placid. The two events aren’t in the same stratosphere. The next announcer I hear make the comparison or call it Miracle on Ice II is going to receive the ultimate punishment from the Back Nine. He or she will be tied to a chair and forced to watch the first movie about the 1980 hockey team with Karl Malden playing Herb Brooks with about as much passion as a bag of wet towels. It’s not close, peeps. Stop it. And stop complaining about the hockey being on MSNBC while ice dancing was being shown on the big boy network. I have some news for you, hockey fans, you are not the demographic that is bringing NBC killer ratings this Winter Olympics. But your wife or girlfriend or significant other is.

11. The hockey was a nice way to end a fantastic weekend of watching sports in our area. And it was an incredible weekend for Florida, which went unbeaten for this huge weekend. The biggest win was the narrow escape by the men’s basketball team at Ole Miss, but right behind it was gymnastics’ win over Georgia and women’s basketball’s over the Bulldogs. Baseball swept and gave the fans some walk-off drama. I made it to softball and gymnastics Friday, baseball and Urban Meyer’s golf tournament Saturday and just sat back and enjoyed Sunday with my parents, who came over from St. Augustine. The great thing about the weekend was that the stadiums were packed.

Another rare Mack Attack for Florida (AP photo)
Another rare Mack Attack for Florida (AP photo)

12. Which wasn’t the case Thursday night when Florida’s men played Auburn. Hey, it’s just the way it is. One thing you have to say about this Gator team is that you shouldn’t leave early. Eight of UF’s games have been decided on the final possession. The Back Nine didn’t think Florida played particularly well Saturday at Ole Miss but gutted out the win. What was baffling was the way CBS labeled it an elimination game. Yeah, for Ole Miss. Had Florida lost and won out, it would have been a lock for the tourney. Arkansas-South Carolina last week was an elimination game. One thing the NCAA committee has to look at is Florida’s 6-0 record against the West. You can’t consider a West team over Florida. You just can’t. I think Florida is in right now, just like the Gators were out last week. If Florida splits these last four regular-season games, Billy Donovan is back in the tournament. Tuesday night’s game is ginormous for that reason and because a win over Tennessee would move UF closer to that East No. 3 spot that is ideal if you’re not getting a bye in Nashville.

Closer Nick Maronde struggled. (Photo by Jasmine Luoma/Special to Gatorsports)
Closer Nick Maronde struggled. (Photo by Jasmine Luoma/Special to Gatorsports)

13. While Florida baseball swept South Florida and it’s obvious the No. 1 recruiting class in America is going to have a major impact on this season, it was baffling to see Florida fall behind 6-3 on Sunday because of the performances of closer Nick Maronde and set-up man Greg Larson. The two combined to allow five hits and five runs in one-third of an inning. The Back Nine will chalk it up as just one of those days. Other than those two, Florida pitchers allowed four runs in 27 2/3 innings. And it appears Matt den Dekker (.462 for the weekend) is ready to have a bounce-back season at the top of the lineup. It will be interesting to see which team ends the season with a better batting average — baseball (.279 after three games) or softball (.306 after 10 games).

Tiger's got his own rules (AP photo)
Tiger's got his own rules (AP photo)

14. Now that I have had some time to digest and reflect on Tiger Woods’ robotic performance last Friday, it seems to me that he still feels entitled. He said his feeling of entitlement was the reason for his multiple infidelities. He showed off on Friday that he feels he’s entitled to have different rules with the way he dealt with the “gathering,” that he waited so long to speak and that he demanded the media treat him differently than any other celebrity. Tiger has been treated with kid gloves during his time on the Tour and has been standoff-ish with the media. Find one writer who covers golf who feels like he really knows Woods. He doesn’t need the media and he knows it. And he shows it every chance he gets. That’s fine, but it’s possible to be a big shot and still treat people nicely. Like, you know, signing autographs.

15. After seeing video of Tim Tebow’s version of “Extreme Makeover” I am more convinced than ever that he will go in the first round. Tebow has drastically changed his throwing motion, so much so he could even play for Steve Spurrier now. It’s not so much that he has changed his motion, and watching the grainy Zapruder-like film on ESPN only showed you that he can do it in workouts, but the fact that Tebow is willing to put this much work in to change something that had been very successful is going to impress NFL teams. Florida could very easily have five first-round draft picks in Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Aaron Hernandez, Maurkice Pouncey and Tebow. The most Gators ever selected in the first round was three in 1989. Can you name them?

Camilo Villegas isn't happy with his driver (AP photo)
Camilo Villegas isn't happy with his driver (AP photo)

16. I can’t think Camilo Villegas slept well after missing a two-foot putt that would have sent him to the final of the Match Play Championship. His first drive the following day against Paul Casey landed in the desert and that was that. You have to give the former Gator golfer credit for coming back to hammer Sergio Garcia in the consolation match Sunday. Could be a big year for Villegas.

17. The Back Nine was startled to see this headline Monday — “Meyer will retire.” Again? Turns out it was Northern State hoops coach Don Meyer. It’s still a big deal because he has won more games than any coach in college basketball history. For extra credit on trivia, where is Northern State?

18. Just downloaded the new album from the B-52s. No, I didn’t know they were still around either. It’s vintage — campy but entertaining. The Back Nine recommends it. Also, get Stevie D and the No Shows “Time Will Tell.” Really good stuff. And old schoolers need to have “Jessica” by The Allman Brothers, the best song ever to play with the top down.

19th hole: Trivia answer — Trace Armstrong, David Williams and Louis Oliver were first-round picks in ’89. And Northern State is in Aberdeen, S.D.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9-FM. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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