The Back Nine comes at you after a wonderful weekend in Daytona Beach where there were a lot of stories at the Spurrier reunion and most of them I can actually tell.
10. It must be difficult for Jim McElwain to trust Antonio Callaway from now on. The wide receiver has let down his coach so many times you’d think it was intentional. And I know the hot take will be that Callaway has to be booted off the team. Myself, I’d have given him more of a suspension (and that certainly is a possibility) than the other members of the Maleficent Seven because this isn’t the first time he has been caught using poor judgment. I’d also have him on such a short leash he wouldn’t be able to turn his head without feeling the tension. I understand Gator fans who feel that he and his friends have tarnished the good name of the school and the football program and sucked out the positive air that was being pumped into UF football. I just don’t feel the incidents are enough to warrant expulsion. It’s close, believe me. You can’t help but wonder if people who do such knuckleheaded things understand how much they are hurting themselves at the next level, but that’s almost a rhetorical question.
11. It will be interesting to see how this whole deal affects a football team that was walking around with a lot of Twitter swagger. It also has affected the line (Michigan was a 2½-point favorite and it has gone up to as much as 4½) and McElwain’s roster has the girth to sustain these one-game suspensions. But a loss to Michigan would be a gut punch that might be difficult to recover from because of the circumstances. On the other hand, the suspensions don’t knock the hopes for the season off the rails. They are more of a flat tire. McElwain and his staff are trying to change that tire NASCAR style, but it won’t be that easy. The best word to describe this whole thing wouldn’t be debilitating or devastating or deflating. It would just be disappointing.
12. Meanwhile, In Daytona Beach, Steve Spurrier held the first of what he hopes are many reunions of all of the Gators who played for him and it was a special night that included a little walk-through on the beach where there were more trick plays than we have seen the last two seasons. I will say the news of the issue at UF started to spread and more than one player said to me, “Just when it looked like we were turning the corner.” Hey, it can still be turned once the new tire is in place. The biggest surprise to me was that Darren Hambrick was there and I’ll just leave it at that. Jesse Palmer straightened me out on a story I’ve been telling about his first game in Baton Rouge. There was a man near the fence while he was warming up who kept yelling at him to come over. He thought the guy, who was dressed in neutral colors, might be friends of his parents. So he sauntered over. And the guy’s wife says, “I’m going to climb over this fence and %$@*)*^% kill you. My first real road game in the SEC.” By the way, I read where former LSU player Jacob Hester said Florida is now LSU’s biggest rivalry game. Get in line, buddy.
13. If college football had a commissioner, I wonder what Callaway’s suspension would have been, but that’s neither here nor there. We are told repeatedly that running backs in the NFL are a dime a dozen and then one gets suspended and Vegas flips out. You know who else flipped out? Fantasy owners who don’t know whether to take and stash Elliott or wait and hope. I’m sure he’s real concerned about them. I have to make my picks on division winners soon, but I’m too busy with my pet project this summer — by Sept. 1 I will be able to tell you which teams are in the ACC Coastal and Atlantic without looking it up.
14. Even though I am old, when I think of Frank Broyles — who passed away Monday — I think more about the announcer than the coach. Of course, some of that is because the mighty Razorbacks weren’t in the SEC back when Broyles was coaching, but he’d come into your living room on Saturdays with Keith Jackson so many times you felt like you knew him. This was back when a game being on TV was a huge deal.
15. The shot Justin Thomas hit on 17 was one of those career makers. And it’s a great story that he and his junior golf buddy won back-to-back majors. But did the PGA Championship suck you in or were you flipping around to find some NFL preseason action? The tournament is moving to May for a reason and I’m still not sure that golf is settling into a niche role unless Spieth or Rory McIlroy have a chance to win. This may be the best group of young golfers we’ve seen on Tour, but golf needs a personality injection.
16. Things I don’t get — ESPN’s countdown to the start of college football season excludes the FBS games next Saturday, many of which are being carried by ESPN; major golf tournaments not on TVs where I am working out; Game of Thrones; people who get angry when college football polls are released; how airlines now charge for so many of the routine seats on a plane; why school starts so early.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from former Gator golfer (and a St. Augustine guy) and PGA Tour caddy Paul Tesori, who was the first guy I saw on Twitter to point this out — “All 4 winners of major championships this year had six letters in their first name and six in their last name. Well played Justin Thomas.” Here’s another interesting tidbit — of the four major winners, Sergio Garcia at The Masters was the biggest underdog according to Vegas.
18. I’ve already made two “football season is almost here” playlists on my phone but I think it’s time for another now that we can really feel it around the corner. We’ll start with these:
• “She Chose Me” by Randy Newman.
• “hostage” by Billie Eilish.
• “The Death of You & I” by Isaac Gracie.
• “The Evil Has Landed” by Queens of the Stone Age.
• And for an old one, “Friday on My Mind” by The Easybeats.
I should have warned you I was going to be all over the place.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.