The Back Nine: Ready for practice


The Back Nine knows what this week is. It’s the week that college football teams hit the fields across America to get ready to entertain us. And after I got into my car last week and the in-car temperature read 113 degrees, better them than us.

10. You think the coaching staff at Florida isn’t jacked? This is the time of the year where they can barely contain themselves. In the bizarre world of college football, it’s almost like the coaches are the fans of a rock group and know that group is rehearsing but can’t listen to any of the music. And then the CD is released. That comes Thursday when Urban Meyer gets to see how his freshmen look after a summer of conditioning. In a text this weekend, Meyer referred to Thursday as his “freshmen Christmas present.” Ah, Christmas in August. A lot of you feel the same way. You’ve heard so much about this class and you’ve seen some of them in action. But that moment of the first full squad practice when they are all out there, well, it’s special. That’s your team. For the first time, that’s your 2010 Florida team. Now, let’s see what these Gators can do.

11. Meanwhile, the Gators who have already made their marks at UF are enjoying life with cash in their pockets. I did a blog on this Sunday but thought I would expand on it. The players who were drafted by the NFL in the 2010 draft from Florida are guaranteed a combined $52.4 million. Guaranteed! Boys, don’t blow it all on a bunch of cars. The maximum of the contracts they all signed — $119 million. Maybe we should start referring to them as the $119-million Gators. This also goes back to the whole “players should be getting paid” argument. Think Tim Tebow feels exploited now?

12. I’ve never thought college football players should be paid but it’s a waste of energy arguing anyway. If you pay football players, you have to pay all athletes. Most athletic departments are losing money. Texas A&M wants its Big 12 guarantee in writing because it owes the school $16 million. Paying athletes is not going to happen. And anybody who believes that a player willing to jeopardize his eligibility by taking $100,000 from an agent won’t do it if he’s getting $500 a month from the school is just naive. Players receive an education, food, books, housing and a lot of free clothes not to mention free adulation and free drinks at a lot of local bars. It’s not a bad life.

13. The Nashville Tennessean ran a list recently of the 10 worst coaching hires in SEC history. Don DeVoe, who replaced a fired Norm Sloan at Florida, made the list as did Lane Kiffin, Billy Gillispie and Mike Price. No Mike Shula? The name I kept waiting to pop up on the list was Ron Zook. But we all know better. In fact, the more my wife and I talked about it, the more we came to the conclusion Zook was one of Jeremy Foley’s better hires. Florida needed a buffer after Steve Spurrier and got one who did more than just serve as a bridge to the next great coach. He recruited his tail off and didn’t let the program sink into the abyss the way every other SEC school has at some point during the last two decades. Think about this — if Meyer had been hired from Bowling Green in 2002 and gone 9-3 Gator fans would have been all over him. So don’t talk about Zook’s tenure as a failure, but as a needed block in the foundation of the building we have today.

14. I was going through the September TV schedule because, yes, I am one of those guys. And I’m sure it has been like this before. But I couldn’t help but think how much the college football landscape could change by the time we get to October. For example, preseason top 5 team Boise State could be an afterthought. FSU could be a contender. So could Miami. Or not. We’ll know who Florida’s competition is in the East. Is Pitt for real? We’ll know. Is Notre Dame improved? We’ll know. Is Arkansas legitimate? We’ll know. Part of the Back Nine wants to dive in laptop-first. Another part wants September off just to soak it all in. Guess which will win.

15. Great fun watching Stuart Appleby shoot 59 on the last day to win the PGA Tour event Sunday, but is it good for golf when a guy breaking 60 isn’t that big a deal anymore? Let’s see, this year Paul Goydos already did it as did Ryo Ishikawa in Japan and a 17-year-old in a junior event in Alabama. Pardon the yawn, but I remember when it was a big deal. Al Geiberger did it in 1977 and it was 14 years before someone else did. Methinks it’s time to rein in the technology.

16. It was great to see Billy Horschel back on the course. The former UF golfer played in a Nationwide event last week in his first try back from wrist surgery. He missed the cut but was thrilled to be back playing competitively. Which brings me to this point — if Tiger Woods says he’s rusty from not having enough competitive rounds, why doesn’t he play in more tournaments? I’m just saying.

17. Just want to say goodbye publicly to Norm Froscher. I could tell a hundred stories, but the thing that is most important to note is that Norm had a wonderful heart. He cared about the people he covered whether it was an NHRA star or a high school coach. He will be truly missed by a lot of people.

18. OK, so the Back Nine is gearing up for a mid-August trip to Denver so the iPod needs some updates. I’m trying “Spectacular Girl” by Eels, “Marilyn” by larsen b and for the old-school in me “Save Your Heart for Me” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Nice laaady!

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