The Back Nine survived Friday night’s vicious storm by seeking refuge in a place where we could stay hydrated (wink, wink). Special props to my nephew Frankie who was one of apparently 380,000 students who graduated this weekend.
10. The Back Nine doesn’t know who deserves more credit — the 100,000 or so people who attended the Kentucky Derby in a downpour (I guess those big hats came in handy) or the couple of thousand who dealt with the parking issue and brutal heat and humidity to watch Florida sweep LSU. I can’t imagine what it was like to sit out in the stands Saturday or Sunday, but that’s why God invented press boxes.
11. And speaking of the Derby, maybe we can crank up this question on the radio — does the horse win the race or the jockey? I know, it takes two to gallop, but you see Calvin Borel win three of the last four Derbies and it’s not a coincidence. Especially the way he maneuvered Super Saver on a muddy track. Of course, the casual fan only wants to know one thing — are we going to see a Triple Crown winner? The Back Nine, of course, is clueless on horse racing except to know how to bet a trifecta. Stay tuned.
12. All was quiet on the college football expansion front over the weekend especially in the Big 12 where commissioner Dan Beebe has been conspicuously quiet during all of the hoopla over super-conferences and carpetbagging. Maybe he knows what I think is a real possibility. Follow me on this. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney has been aggressive, so aggressive he nudged SEC commish Mike Slive into firing back. The Big East is trembling, the ACC is worried and the Pac-10 is being forced to consider expansion as well. The Big Ten holds all the cards right now, as everyone else waits to see what will happen. But what if Delaney has been sending out propaganda about a 16-team league and the other conferences following suit to force Notre Dame’s hand. Think about it. If we end up with The Revolution, what’s Notre Dame going to do? End up playing Navy, Army and Sun Belt teams every week? But all this posturing could force Notre Dame to convert to the Big Ten giving that league 12 teams and stopping The Revolution. Just a theory.
13. It appears Florida will come up short in its bid to win the SEC regular season in softball this year. Losses at home to Kentucky and at Tennessee with a seventh-inning lead will haunt Tim Walton’s team into the offseason, but the real culprit is Mother Nature. Because of rainouts, Florida will likely finish 20-4 in SEC play (the Gators play host to awful South Carolina this weekend). If Alabama sweeps Mississippi State, the Bulldogs will finish 23-4. That’s an .851 percentage to an .833 for UF. So despite beating the Tide twice in Tuscaloosa and having the same number of losses, the Gators will finish second. That is, unless, Mississippi State can pull off a win this weekend.
14. It has not been the Year of the Bulldogs in baseball this season. Georgia is 3-16 in the league and 13-30 overall. Mississippi State is 5-15 in the SEC and 20-22 overall. There won’t be Bulldogs in Hoover at the SEC Tournament later this month, but there are still 10 teams in contention for the eight spots. Kentucky and Tennessee are tied for ninth, two games behind eighth-place Alabama, which hosts UF this weekend. There will be only eight teams in Hoover, but there could be nine in the NCAAs from the SEC. Kentucky is 27th in the country in RPI.
15. My Sunday column on my recommendations for the NCAA with its eight play-in games drew plenty of responses, including one e-mail that offered a suggestion of what to call the event. “The Junior Prom.” I like it. Now that I have offered my suggestions, here’s what I think the NCAA will do. Because the basketball committee will struggle with where to seed teams if they play off the last eight at-large teams, they will instead have the last eight teams in the tournament play and seed them at 16. They will play these games at two sites — Dayton and Oklahoma City. And nobody will watch.
16. The Back Nine doesn’t get too excited about the NBA, but the playoffs are worth a look-in, especially at the start of all of the fourth quarters. But I might watch a little more of the Orlando-Atlanta series, which should be interesting. It’s kind of funny that the Gators on each side are bookends for Billy Donovan’s career at UF. Jason Williams was with Donovan in his first season but had to sit out because he transferred with Billy from Marshall. Al Horford represents the team that ended Florida’s nine-season NCAA streak with a bang by winning two straight titles.
17. Tiger Woods has played in two tournaments since his dalliances blew up in his face and in each tournament we have seen something we never saw before — he looked like he gave up. It happened at 14 on the final day at Augusta when he didn’t bother to line up a putt and missed, and it happened again throughout the back nine at Quail Hollow where he missed his first cut in a non-major since 2005. Clearly, his head isn’t on straight. That shouldn’t be surprising. Remember when Woods announced he was getting married and some people wondered if marriage could keep him from breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors? Who’d have thought then that it wouldn’t be marriage but his inability to be a faithful husband. According to the National Enquirer, Woods was required at sex rehab to list every woman he cheated with during his marriage. He came up with 121 names. I don’t even know 121 women.
18. It feels like summer is here so we need to finish up the playlist. Let’s download “Why Do You Let Me Star Here?” by She and Him, Kelsey’s favorite song “Do Better” by Say Anything and for the old-schoolers, “Joanne” by Michael Nesmith. Yes, that Mike Nesmith.