The Back Nine comes at you after a two-week absence to get my second knee replacement. I’m now three-quarters bionic. Going through airports is going to be rough.
10. Bear with me on this because I’ve been under a lot of medication lately, but it feels to me like Florida fans — and that includes players and former players — are getting awfully cocky over a 10-win season. Last week’s “14,000” campaign — the number of days since Georgia won a national title — was another indication of that. Yes, you want some swagger and confidence and it has been pretty clear Dan Mullen — who has a little of both Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier in him — has focused on the Bulldogs as Florida’s top rivalry game, but it might be smarter to pick on a program that you’ve beaten more than three times in the last eight meetings. It’s not even that UF fans are waking a sleeping bulldog, Georgia is woke and would have played in two straight national playoffs if someone had hidden the special teams playbook from Kirby Smart. There is no question anybody with a right mind would prefer the last 30 years of Florida football over the last 30 years of Georgia football. But the truth is that Georgia is where Florida wants to be. And the Gators are not going to get there on social media.
11. That’s the funny thing about a football season in that not all 10-win seasons are created equally. Florida had 10 wins in 2015, but there certainly wasn’t this kind of off-season chest-puffing going on. Three reasons:
• The Will Grier situation put a damper on any future expectations because Florida was still wandering in the wilderness looking for a quarterback.
• Jim McElwain never let UF fans get all that excited with his us-against-the-world mentality.
• Most importantly, Florida ended the season with a thud losing to FSU and Michigan, the exact opposite of last season.
I’m not saying Florida fans should not be excited about the direction the program is heading. But it still feels like there are different tiers of college football and Florida is on the second one behind Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
12. So another thing they did while I was out was propose a change in college football’s overtime rules to avoid the kind of seven-OT thriller we had last year between LSU and Texas A&M. And nobody seems to like the plan of having teams just go for two after five OTs. Look, I get that player safety is important to the NCAA (when it’s convenient, that is), but they want to change a rule for the rare times games go that long. So they really aren’t doing anything. I wouldn’t touch it, but I do have one proposal if you really want to get the players off the field quicker. Let’s face it, anything you do is going to be different than an actual game so how about this — each team gets the ball on the three and has a choice of kicking an extra point or going for two until the game is decided? That way you would avoid the bastardization of the stats that is my one pet peeve about overtime.
13. So I watched the Derby, studied the replays and read a ton of columns written by people who know way more about horse racing than I do. Here is my conclusion (as if it matters) — there was a foul and I had no trouble with it being called. But I could have lived with it being ignored like so many before it. The worst part was seeing the emotions of the trainer and jockey only to see their dreams wiped away in the rain at Churchill Downs. It reminded me of the Auburn-Virginia game, which again was the right call, but we’ve seen those whistles be swallowed before. Anyway, I wonder if in five years anyone who is not a racing fan will be able to tell you the name of the winning horse in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
14. I have a lot of theories as to why Florida senior pitcher Kelly Barnhill has gone from unhittable to unpredictable this year. It might be a change in pitching coaches or the fact she has thrown more innings this year than any of her previous three seasons. Or it could be that the league has caught up to her. Certainly, a 1.69 ERA and 27 wins is nothing to scoff at, but it has been different this season. I think it will be fascinating to see if she turns it on in the postseason, which starts Wednesday at the SEC Tournament.
15. There may not be a sport on campus that gets less attention than lacrosse and that’s likely because the sport isn’t recognized by the SEC. But Mandee O’Leary has done another great job this year in winning the American Athletic Conference Tournament (boy, could Florida use those SEC All-Sports points this year). The ladies head to Chapel Hill for the NCAAs, their ninth straight trip to the Big Dance. Meanwhile, it’s never a bad weekend when you sweep FSU in any sport as men’s tennis did Saturday to advance to the next round of the NCAAs. The Tennessee Vols come to town this weekend and don’t forget the final three rounds of the NCAA Tournament are in Orlando.
16. When you go through a major surgery, you are overwhelmed with the efficiency and kindness of the people taking care of you, especially my main man Dr. Hari Parvataneni, who has now sliced me open three times. It also is a reminder of how lucky I am to have a wife who took “in sickness and in health” to heart. The Karen Cafe made this whole ordeal tolerable. But more than anything, it made me realize that laying around watching TV all the time is not for me. If I see one more episode of “Mom” or “Two and a Half Men” I’m gonna scream.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Pope Francis, although I’m guessing his Holiness does not follow me — “We need a journalism that is free, at the service of truth, goodness and justice; a journalism that helps build a culture of encounter. #DefendMediaFreedom”
18. It’s pretty amazing how the body works. You work so hard at the gym to lose weight and it comes off incrementally. Then, you spend a little more than two weeks laid up with little exercise and you lose 19 pounds in 19 days. That may say something about my regular consumption of barley and hops. I just know I can’t wait to get mobile again. Try this playlist:
• “Television” by The Dove and the Wolf.
• “Special Announcement” by The Felice Brothers.
• “Alligator” by Of Monsters and Men.
• “Crowbar” by Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes.
• And for an old one, because one of the eight million things I watched over the last two weeks was a Glen Campbell Show with David Gates as a guest star, “It Don’t Matter To Me” by Bread.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.