The Back Nine: Two bye weeks are a good thing

[Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend where I really didn’t watch much sports, which is about as rare as a white rhino. I was unavoidably detained. But I caught up quickly.

10. Even with so much going on in so many different sports around here, the biggest story last week was a football one. My take on Florida-Miami possibly moving up a week as a kickoff to the 150 Year Celebration of college football was different than most because the first thing I wondered was whether or not a waiver to start the season Aug. 24 would set a precedent. It probably won’t because the NCAA can say this is a one-time thing, a special occasion. But it should. For player safety and to have more flexibility in scheduling (especially with so many games postponed in the last few years because of hurricanes), I’ve never really understood why college football doesn’t start a week earlier all the time. (The weird thing for Florida and Miami is that if the waiver goes through they will each have three open dates. That’s a lot of chili-making for yours truly). But in most years, starting a week earlier would mean every team would get two bye weeks. I don’t see how that is a bad thing. One thing for sure, with a game on Aug. 24, SEC Media Days will feel a lot more like the start of college football because Florida will start practice a week earlier.

11. There isn’t a Florida fan in the world who wasn’t bitterly disappointed at the performance of the Gators on Saturday night in the O’Connell Center. The loss to Georgia wasn’t crippling, but it certainly didn’t help UF’s chances to reach the NCAA Tournament. Florida dropped to 35th in the NET Rankings, and Joe Lunardi has the Gators as a nine seed. But if UF loses these last two games against two really good teams and goes one-and-done in the SEC Tournament, hello NIT. Beat LSU on Wednesday night and it covers up the loss to Georgia. But we have no idea how this team will respond because of its schizophrenic nature. The bottom line is that this team is weak mentally. I thought Mike White had the quote of the year after the game. “Certain teams can get casual at home,” White said. “We’re certainly one of them.” This Florida team has been good on the road, and that will earn some points with the selection committee. But for some reason, these guys aren’t as competitive at home (4-4 vs. SEC). Georgia was not as bad as its record, but it was almost like the Gators just assumed they would win because they were playing at home. That doesn’t cut it.

12. One of the few things I did get a chance to watch was Tennessee’s demolition of Kentucky, which told me more than anything that the two teams are about even. The Vols are fourth in the NET and Kentucky fifth. It could be that the SEC Tournament will be for a No. 1 seed if both teams win their last two games and get to the championship game in Nashville. Either way, the SEC has two teams with a shot at winning it all, and I wouldn’t count out LSU. There are six teams in the country with only one loss on the road — LSU, Gonzaga, Virginia, Duke, North Carolina and Houston. That’s usually a good indicator of the best teams when it comes to the postseason.

13. The Florida baseball team became the first SEC team in history to hit three grand slams in a game, and the Gators certainly feasted on Winthrop pitching. A series like that can pad your stats, especially when you hit .429 in three games. The weekend bumped the Gators’ overall batting average all the way up to .287 heading into Tuesday night’s tonight’s game against Florida Gulf Coast. Kevin O’Sullivan said it was going to be a roller-coaster ride early in the season, and he was right on.

14. The NFL Combine told the rest of the world what we already know — that speed in the SEC is at a different level. It seemed like my Twitter feed just kept bubbling about ridiculous 40 times SEC players were running. And then there was Jachai Polite, who apparently didn’t take the Combine seriously and was considered one of the biggest losers in Indianapolis. Polite has time to get his stuff together before Florida’s Pro Day on March 27, but he needs to get the right people around him to work on his speed and get the extra weight off. He was listed on the Florida roster at 242 and weighed in at the Combine at 258. It didn’t look like it was good weight either. Look, the Combine is a bizarre exercise, especially the interview part of it (where one player was asked if he had both testicles and another was asked to be in a staring contest), but it’s part of the job.

15. Kudos to the Florida gymnastics team for winning the SEC, and you could tell from the videos and photos that the ladies really enjoyed it. Florida has one more meet — at home against Penn State on Friday night — before the postseason cranks up with the SECs in New Orleans. Florida won three conference championships in less than a week, which should certainly help with the Gatehouse SEC All-Sports standings.

16. I did watch a little golf Sunday, and it was a great finish even if the announcers were a little over the top in their coverage. Sheesh. One story that is getting a lot of play in the golf world is that players are complaining about the new rules even though they knew they were coming and waited until they were actually applied to whine. The USGA fired back at Justin Thomas for his complaints, pointing out that the time for feedback was last year when the new rules were being rolled out. All I know is that watching players have to drop from knee level is the silliest thing I have seen in sports this year. Of course, it’s still early.

17. The Tweet of the Week as we approach Madness and welcome the swoopers into the world of college basketball comes from the Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller — “I wish ESPN/CBS/Fox would require its color commentators to take a crash course in bracketology and at least get a cursory understanding of it. So many of them spout nonsense, but keep talking about it like they are experts anyway.” Yeah, take that.

18. A long time ago, someone who was observing the media boys who covered the Gators on the road referred to us as “third-graders with beer.” After attending a wedding this weekend, I can tell you it still applies. My head hurts. Here’s your playlist:

• “All Over Now” by The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan’s last song with the group before she passed away.

• “High As A Kite” by Weezer.

• “Talk About It” By The Mowgli’s.

• “You Mean The World To Me” by Freya Ridings.

• And for an old one, let’s go with “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by the Temptations.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. The NCAA defines the college football season as starting with Memorial Day weekend and ending the first weekend in December. They consider all conference championship games part of the regular season. So technically all SEC teams not named Alabama or Georgia had their second bye on Dec 1. The smart thing to do is bump the conference championship games back a week to add another open date. In 2005 the university presidents voted to give up a open date to schedule a 12th game. How long do you think the additional bye would last before it would be sacrificed on the alter of the all mighty dollar? Just for the record, both Army and Navy had 3 open weeks in 2018.

  2. I suppose the remark “from Memorial Day…” is sarcasm or a slip of the mind. Memorial Day is in May, blough. May-Memorial. 2 M’s. Labor Day is what you meant, or the NCAA is a slave driver… with 7 months of college football.

  3. Pat, I’m not trying to be overly sensitive here, but can you please stop using the word “schizophrenic” so inappropriately and incorrectly. It does not mean multiple personalities, and it never has. It is offensive to those who have and care for individuals who actually have that disease. I like your articles and I have been a fan since my undegrad days in the early 2000s, but just wanted to point it out since it’s clearly a lack of education, not a lack of character, on your part.

    • Triangle, I would go with inconsistent to describe our basketball efforts, not schizophrenic. For Pat: “Schizophrenia is characterized by thoughts or experiences that seem out of touch with reality, disorganized speech or behavior, and decreased participation in daily activities. Difficulty with concentration and memory may also be present.
      Treatment is usually lifelong and often involves a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and coordinated specialty care services.” I am not comfortable with the “weak mentally” comment either. Inconsistent focus, effort, execution and a lack of Chiozza-like leadership and drive are symptomatic of this team’s woeful play.

      • SHP – I think that young and immature would be a better word’s here. There could be many variables at play here, so there could potentially be dozens of descriptive words used here. Take your pick, but one thing I find baffling is how people that read articles can take words personally. I do understand both sides of the argument, but Pat Dooley wasn’t using that word to be meant as a slight to anyone with that disease. In fact, I have tried to quit correcting anyone because it creates butt hurts among certain human beings. It is going to happen one day where there will only be about a dozen words that we can use because all of the rest will offend someone somewhere. Just please take into account what the composer of the article intends and not what the reader perceives. Can’t we all just get along? GO GATORS!!!

        • Ed, I didn’t take the word personally, I took it literally because by definition that is what schizophrenia is and it doesn’t accurately describe our basketball team. Triangle Gator mentioned that it was offensive. I figure the composer desires to be understood and maybe use vivid words rather than copping out to a vague and general and seriously inaccurate characterization. Are you okay then, if someone uses the word redundant when in context the appropriate word would be ridiculous? You exaggerate but may be correct in that our society might be relegated to a dozen or so words. While there may a dearth of words, I hope those words are used correctly. I wasn’t trying to be provocative, but maybe criticism, even without sarcasm, should be eliminated as just another burr under the saddle, which also causes butt hurts, mostly to horses thankfully.

          • SHP – I was stating that the meaning can have many different uses as it doesn’t mean the disease. I included the definition from Merriam Webster Dictionary and you can see he used the term properly. It could mean that the team lacked emotion and were just playing like they were delusional and that they just had to show up to win. I do agree that Dooley could have used a better word, but we all aren’t perfect all of the time. So taking this literally would mean taking all of the definitions meaning and not just the disease. I am assuming, of course, that the intended usage was meant to be some of the actions produced by the disease and associated with how the players played. I may have reacted overly strong with my reply. It isn’t as much as what you and triangle stated as it is that in today’s society it is as though everything seems to offend somebody. If it is intended to be malicious then I would say go after them with both barrels. But if the intentions were to describe how players seemed to play during a game, then I would say if it offends you then you are taking one meaning of the term and confusing it with the intended meaning. This is why I included the definition with my reply. I also didn’t intend to seem mean in my reply, but it is hard to convey an intent fully with the way we use our words on these computers. I have to quit commenting on others comments no matter how much they irk me…lol. I meant nothing personally, just defending word usage. GO GATORS!!!
            Schizophrenia noun
            schizo·​phre·​nia | \ ˌskit-sə-ˈfrē-nē-ə
            Definition of schizophrenia
            1. medical : a mental disorder that is characterized by disturbances in thought (such as delusions), perception (such as hallucinations), and behavior (such as disorganized speech or catatonic behavior), by a loss of emotional responsiveness and extreme apathy, and by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life
            — called also dementia praecox
            Note: Schizophrenia often involves an inability to orient oneself with reality, a withdrawal from social interactions, and a failure to integrate thoughts with emotions so that emotional expression is inappropriate. There are several subtypes of schizophrenia, including paranoid schizophrenia and those types marked by catatonia or hebephrenia.

          • “I’m shizophrenic and so am I”. Ha, ha. Actually, the person saying that is unknowingly referring to Multiple Personality Disorder, a particular variant of the Dissociative Disorders. Whether or not MPD is a valid diagnostic entity itself is somewhat controversial, but that is beside the point. Schizophrenia is basically a brain disorder, ie, neurological, but it is treated by the mental health community regardless since its implications are nonetheless devastating to afflicted individuals and their families.

            I agree with both of you, and to further Ed’s point I suggest we ban the letter “e” for the rest of the week and see what happens; it’s almost coming to that in our PC culture. But I also take Phil’s point, since if anyone has ever had a family member or loved one afflicted with this disorder, or knows someone who has, his reaction is very valid.

            How many days left until the O&B game? I can’t wait if this is what we’re left with in the meantime. Psychology Psucks! GO GATORS. 🐊🏈

          • SHP – I want to apologize as I really need to stay out of conversations that others have regardless of my stance on said opinion. It has just gotten so bad that people are being offended about everything. I heard that people are hating white men just for being white men. I am not racist and I don’t understand how this world of ours is getting worse. So in the future I will try my best to stay away from conversations that can hurt feelings. There are exceptions that involve other teams fans trolling our site. GO GATORS!!!

  4. I really love college football. I think this a little bit early. The heat is going to be unbearable. Just an idea, but maybe they should consider have this games in a dome stadium. That seems to me good for all, the fans, and the players. This just an idea……..Good Day…….🐊🏈

  5. Well, I enjoy our comments about sports, especially Gator sports. I will try to focus on that and not get NIT picky over words or phrases. Don’t want to be confused with CMW’s team, which is clearly a basket case. Go Gators!

    • Good one, Phil! I still think 19-14 gets them in the Dance, though. Obviously, getting to 19-14 is much tougher having to beat LSU, but it’s possible, especially if the Kevarrius Hayes that showed up in Nashville shows up in Gainesville tonight. Go Gators!