The Back Nine caught up on some sleep Sunday night and Monday morning so it’s coming at you with a fresh mind and a clear head. At my age, you know that’s probably not true.
10. Actually, I ducked into the smoking lounge at the Atlanta Airport because it was next to my gate and it had two NFL games on. Bad move. It may take me a few days to breath properly again. But when I come to, I still won’t know who will be Florida’s new coach. I said before, I’m not discounting anybody. But it was funny the way we scoreboard watched a little differently, mentally eliminating anyone who had a bad showing. I thought about writing down every coach who has been suggested to me either through social media or in person, but that would require a second legal pad. Because there seem to be more legitimate candidates, it would seem harder to strike out but there are going to be a lot of Power Five jobs open. Florida did get the jump on everybody but I don’t believe that’s really an advantage. You’re not going to contact somebody until their season is over and you can always gauge their interest through back channels. Florida made its move when it did because it was perfect legal timing for the firing, not to get a jump on the hiring.
11. Looking back, Ron Zook wasn’t so bad, huh? I mean, he never had a losing record. He almost won the East back when the East was still legit. He just followed the wrong guy at Florida. It’s hard to put your arms around how bad this Florida team has become because, well, it has become epicly bad. In the end, it goes back to recruiting because there just aren’t enough special players on this team. Of course, there aren’t enough players period. Florida’s situation at linebacker was a concern going into the season and it’s pathetic now. There was a feeling when the suspensions were handed down that the two suspended linebackers might be bigger blows than the starters because Florida was badly needing depth there. It’s starting to show up. In the last two games, Florida has allowed opponents to rush for 519 yards and a once-proud defense is now 85th in the nation in yards per attempt allowed.
12. Saturday is a good time to be alive and on a recliner. There are seven games between ranked teams and that doesn’t include one we thought might be huge (FSU at Clemson) before the season started. In fact, I’m having a difficult time trying to whittle The Picks down to 10 games. Maybe I’ll just go ahead and pick 12. If Iowa totally wrecks the Big Ten playoff chances by beating Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes may get kicked out of the league. Heck of a job by Kirk Ferentz this year. Of all, the games I didn’t see coming (and there have been about 50), Iowa scoring 55 on Urban Meyer had to be at the top of the list.
13. Be careful now. Yes. We all think Baker Mayfield will win the Heisman Trophy, but that’s this week. Things change in November and we still have a lot of football to play. That said, I don’t see who is going to catch him. Saquon Barkley has fallen off and Bryce Love missed one game with an ankle injury and came back to rush for only 66 yards last week. Meanwhile, Mayfield threw for 598. Late in the game, he threw an interception and had Oklahoma State come down and scored to win the game, we might not be having this conversation. That’s how fickle the Heisman voters can be. But if I were Mayfield, I’d be getting a new suit.
14. Three schools have a shot at Bagel City this year and it is mind-boggling to think that all three could happen because we are so late in the season. Iowa State has yet to lose a fumble this year, which is a tribute to new coach Matt Campbell considering the Cyclones lost eight last year. That’s the good stat. The bad stats? Texas State is the only team in FBS without an interception this season. And Florida is still the only one without a fumble recovery. There are 13 FCS teams with double-digit fumble recoveries in 2017. Florida has zero. Stunning.
15. ESPN ranked the top 50 college basketball players for this season and KeVaughn Allen checks in at No. 34. This is going to be an interesting season for Allen, who should get more open looks, as ESPN noted, because Florida has more options on offense. But he is going to have to fill the role of point guard when Chris Chiozza is out and with a league full of young phenoms there are not going to be many nights off on defense. I’m not sure there has been a more anticipated basketball season since the national champs came back to go for a repeat, in part because football is so depressing. It is, after all, a basketball school … and a baseball school … and a volleyball school … and, well, you get the picture.
16. I tend to bristle when I hear an athlete say after doing something violent “that’s not who I am.” Yeah, it kind of is, A.J. Green. It may not be you every day of your life and it may not be the way you were raised and you may feel like it was an out of body experience, but you did it so it’s in there somewhere. Athletes like to say that when they make a mistake it doesn’t define who they are but, sorry, it’s part of the definition. The fight between Green and Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey was another embarrassment for a league that is fighting image problems. The NFL could take a lesson from college football where our fights tend to be in the stands and mostly in Miami.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to Dr. Saturday (Twitter doctorates are not that hard to obtain) — “Hi did you enjoy your extra hour of sleep last night? No I wasted it watching the officials in Arizona-USC make the game take 5 hours.” And there was this from AP college football expert Ralph Russo — “I suspect this officiating crew will be getting a call from the league office on Monday. And maybe a ‘lesser’ assignment next week.” USC was called for 13 penalties and still managed 642 yards and 30 first downs. It is amazing to me how you can watch a game with only a handful of penalties in one conference and if you transposed the exact same players and plays in front of another conference there might be 25 penalties.
18. I have to say that usually we dread the trip to Missouri every other year, but this one went incredibly smooth. Flights were great, no traffic going to the stadium or in the airport. The only downer was that we saw a lot of dead deer on the side of I-70. Oh, and only one team showed up at the game. Anyway, this playlist made it to the Show Me State:
• “I Was a Fool” by Sunflower Bean.
• “No Roots” by Alice Merton.
• “King for a Day” by Anderson East.
• “Wild and Reckless” by Blitzen Trapper.
• And because I overdosed on two Tom Petty tribute magazines on the flights (thanks Kelsey) I went with an old deep cut that is one of the favorites — “Something Big” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley