The Back Nine: Expect surprises


Mark Ingram (pictured) and his backup, Trent Richardson, are preseasonall-SEC tailbacks. (Photo by Doug Finger/Staff)

The Back Nine comes at you after a long week in the state of Alabama where the boys wear Bama bangs and the girls don’t. Met some lovely people there and it was good to see so many friends. But nothing better than coming home.

10. We went to Hoover with a lot of questions about the SEC and I don’t know that we got a lot of answers. I’m still not sure about the quarterback play in the league, and the coaches of the suspect passers said nothing to change my opinion. It also says something that Alabama had both the first-team tailbacks on the media team. I think that says more about the tailbacks in the league than it does about Alabama’s glut at the position. I know that leagues get judged by who wins it all, which is why the SEC is king right now with four in a row. But the Back Nine likes to look top to bottom. And when I look at the SEC from Nos. 3-to-10, well, they’re going to have to show me something. This could be a down year for the league unless there are some freshmen who change the landscape. We all know Florida and Alabama are Florida and Alabama, but would you be shocked to see both of them lose two games this season with all that has been lost. Of course, that’s why we’ve started to drool a little bit here at the end of July. A college season is about to hit us and we really don’t know what to expect except surprises.

11. Media Days as a whole were a success with no incidents and nobody asking about John Brantley’s virginity. Especially because he wasn’t there. Ahmad Black was much better than he was at the Sugar Bowl. It was kind of humorous that the only media guide that ran out was the SEC’s. For those of you wondering, Media Days isn’t moving in the foreseeable future. It would just be too expensive to transport all of the people who work for the league to a different town to make this mammoth undertaking work, according to a league source. If the league ever needed a PR hit in a southern state, then you might see it but where does it need one? Exactly. There had been talk about moving it to Jacksonville for a year but then you get Memphis and Atlanta, etc., wanting their turn. So Hoover it is.

12. There were more than 1,000 people milling around the second floor for Media Days including some who shouldn’t have been. The SEC strengthened its security this year, but on the first day there was still a guy in a bright red Alabama shirt and bright red Alabama visor sitting on the second row smiling while he listened to Nick Saban. We all just kind of laughed it off.

13. One of the big stories at SEC Media Days was Ole Miss and quarterback Raymond Cotton. The freshman had been talking about leaving Mississippi, and Houston Nutt implied that Cotton needed some sense talked into him. The right Rev. Nutt couldn’t get it done and Cotton is leaving. That means Ole Miss has two quarterbacks on scholarship. It is simply the way it is in college football these days. Quarterbacks take their ball and go home when there is adversity, like finishing second in quarterback competition. It should make you respect John Brantley that much more. He really is the exception to the rule.

14. Meanwhile, over at the ACC meetings this week in Greensboro, N.C., there is a sense that this could be the year the league gains some respect instead of putting up a resume the SEC uses to wipe dog poop off its shoes. By Sept. 12, we should know if the ACC is for real or whether we drop it below the Big East. Can North Carolina beat LSU? Maybe, but I like LSU unless the game comes down to the last possession (The Hat!). Can Virginia Tech beat Boise State? Count on it. Can Miami beat Ohio State? Doubtful. Can FSU beat Oklahoma? Maybe if the ACC goes 4-0 in these games, the league will be popping buttons and deservedly so. That’s one of the benefits of playing such tough non-conference teams early. It can really give your conference a boost. It can also be an embarrassment if you go 0-4.

15. By the way, I have made my early season upset pick after colleague Robbie Andreu picked Tennessee to beat Oregon (not gonna happen). Here we go. First game of the season, Southern Miss beats South Carolina on Thursday night. Larry Fedora has a really good offense and I’m just not sold on the Steve Spurrier-Stephen Garcia relationship. There you have it. Now off with you.

16. One thing we found out in Hoover was that Florida’s second game of the season against South Florida will be at 12:15 p.m. Just shows you the power of television, especially when television is paying the league a gajillion dollars. Everyone knows noon games in early September are not good and Florida has a pair of them. The fans don’t get as much time to enjoy themselves before the games and, more importantly, the heat makes it both uncomfortable and dangerous. But if ESPN wanted UF to play that game in the Sahara Desert it would get done.

17. I could comment here on the Tour de France or the Braves bad weekend in Miami or golf or tennis, but it’s football season peeps. I have declared it started so there will be none of this talk of other sports this week. Instead, congrats to Cornelius Ingram on his successful football camp for close to 250 kids in Hawthorne on Saturday. The C.I Foundation is on its way to being a force in our area.

18. Cranked the iPod there and back and exposed Robbie Andreu to some great music including the Shins, the White Stripes and some old school Glen Campbell. This week, try out these gems — “Let’s Go Surfing” by the Drums, “Animal” by Neon Trees and old-school peeps go for my favorite Beach Boys song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at You can listen to The Pat Dooley Show weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on 104.9 FM. And follow at


  1. OK, Dooley. I was thinking this was a pretty good column until the “old school Glen Campbell” comment. You journalists (or should I say you “Rhinestone cowboys”) really like to stir that controversy.