The Back Nine comes at you as we get ready for football camps, which means we’re about to get ready for football games, which means we’re about to delete the old games we’ve been watching and make some room for real ball.
10. For all of the blather about the SEC Media Days being the unofficial opening of college football, this week is truly the start of the season. I mean, people are actually practicing. Coaches get control back and just in the nick of time although not quickly enough in places such as Pittsburgh and Tuscaloosa where the last week of the offseason meant some late-night phone calls. For the next month, what you are hoping to hear from the closed-down camps is no news. Because no news in August is definitely good news. In some places, there won’t be much news because camps are shut down to the media. LSU coach Ed Orgeron practically let the media call plays when he was interim coach, but has completely shut it down as head coach until the third week in August to install the new Matt Canada offense. You know, because BYU is so known for spying on its opponents.
11.As Florida begins camp with some lofty expectations, the most pressure isn’t on the head coach. It’s on the coordinators. Doug Nussmeier had been hamstrung talent-wise in his two years as offensive coordinator, but there is no excuse for being in the 100s in total offense. If Jim McElwain’s dog can run the offense, suit her up. Nussmeier has all the tools this year to have a strong offense and several options at quarterback. And Randy Shannon will have pressure because he’s stepping in as defensive coordinator with a huge raise and no depth at linebacker. I think Florida’s defense is going to fall off just a bit, but the key is not to let it drop significantly. It will be fun to see which players emerge defensively because you know some will.
12. This year I will be an Associated Press voter and already I’m second-guessing my preseason ballot. I have a feeling Alabama might lose a couple of games this year, but a lot of people have gone broke betting against Nick Saban. I have not idea where to put Clemson. Same with Oklahoma. Do I go bold and put Oklahoma State in the top five? I like Kentucky and Pitt because of their schedules, but is it enough to vault either team into the Top 25? I’ve got a few days at the beach to think about it. I take this voting stuff more seriously than you might think because it will all end up on message boards.
13. Remember the NFL? That league that used to dominate the offseason before the NBA went all Kardashians? Well, the NFL actually has a fake game this week on Thursday. Man, this was the quickest summer I can remember. I guess that’s what happens when you follow the rainiest June ever with the rainiest July ever. Time goes by faster when you’re not having fun. Anyway, I know it’s the NFL season because Blake Bortles just threw another interception.
14. Um, am I crazy here on the brink of football season to be looking forward to the 2020 Olympics. I guess I have a touch of Dressel Fever. Caeleb Dressel, the 20-year-old Gator swimmer from Green Cove Springs, getting three golds in one night at the World Championships and tying Michael Phelps’ overall medal count has people pointing to Dressel as the next Phelps. Just let him be the first Caeleb Dressel. Phelps was happy to see it and posted on Instagram, “This kid is on fire!!” Gosh, with all that water around you’d think it would be easy to put him out.
15. Words cannot express my feelings for all of the people who played a part in the 23rd Bob Dooley Invitational. There were a few blips (two tents and one cart were casualties) and some things I’ve never seen before (like the Wood Memorial winner hitting a tee shot off a jello shot, then drinking it or a tent blowing over a tennis court fence). But after waiting five weeks because of the flooding at Meadowbrook, the tournament was a huge success and the silent auction raised a record amount for Stop Children’s Cancer. I love you Gainesville. Your generosity and compassion make me proud to live here. Now, can you turn off the rain? Asking for a friend. Actually, asking for Meadowbrook owner Chris Marcum, who did an amazing job getting that course in great shape after what happened in June. To all of the people who helped in one way or another, I thank you, my family thanks you and Stop thanks you.
16. All right, enough with the weepy sentiments. Let’s get serious. Are you ready for what we’re all about to experience? Because we had a short summer with baseball going deep into June and football camps starting earlier than normal. We are only a few weeks from 10 straight months of intense sports for the Gator Nation. That’s one thing that makes it great to live here. Try to enjoy August. Maybe a trip to one of the springs or the Hawthorne Trail or a summer concert or a night of playing board games with the family. It’s about to ramp up again. Better get your tailgate plans in writing.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to all of the people who tweeted something about how Dressel could have beaten the shark that Michael Phelps raced. Actually, Phelps raced an animated shark. And lost. Those of you old enough will remember the prime time special when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault and found nothing. Sometimes we are real suckers. For example, I give you McGregor vs. Mayweather.
18. Now that the golf tournament is over, it’s time for football season with a little vacation squeezed in. But the main thing is getting back into the gym, because the last week was not good. Luckily. I have this playlist:
• “The Concept” by Benjamin Gabbert.
• “The Things We Used to Share” by Thomas Sanders.
• “Making All Things New” by Aaron Espe.
• “Love Brought Weight” by Old Sea Bridge.
• And an oldie you may have to go look up but you’ll remember it when you hear it “How Do You Do?” by Mouth & MacNeal. Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.