The Picks: Stricklin seeking to put more spark to Gators’ schedule

Florida coach Dan Mullen, right, talks with UF Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, left, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last season. [Matt Pendleton/Correspondent]

We do a lot of conversing in this column about college football scheduling. This is an extremely important subject on a Saturday when Dr. Football doesn’t have to work and could spend 15 hours watching football with only a pot of chili and a spoon.

We all want big games every Saturday but know there is also a business side to it for athletic directors. Sometimes they yield to coaches who beg for a soft schedule rather than play the better teams. Sometimes becoming bowl eligible is more important than giving your fans a superior product.

For Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, it has been a battle to get home-and-home series with Power Five teams. He has been successful in some cases — Texas, Utah, Colorado, Miami — but there are still holes for an AD who wants a minimum of 10 Power Five games a season in the future.

Most notably, Florida has a hole for the 2026 and 2027 seasons. 

So Stricklin did what any “with it” AD would do. He went to social media. 

Most of you know by now about his Tuesday tweet where he let all of the Power 5 athletic directors know that the Gators are looking for games.

“I just wanted to generate conversation about what our intentions are,” Stricklin said. “I didn’t want there to be any confusion.”

Stricklin heard back from some ADs both on social media and on the phone. You may ask why Stricklin didn’t just pick up a phone in the first place. He talked to dozens of ADs about scheduling games but they didn’t always respond with a serious interest. 

So what better way than to put it out there for the Tweeters to see? Not only are you announcing your presence with authority (“Bull Durham” reference noted), but you are creating more options for negotiations.

It’s a bold move, Cotton. Let’s see how it works out for the Gators.

Anyway, we move on to this week’s games and The Picks. Last week, a very strong 9-1 (Bad Missouri. Bad). That’s 64-21 for the season and maybe I should take the week off and rest on my laurels like Florida and Georgia and Tua Tagovailoa’s ankle.

Naw, it’s a college football weekend. Let’s go! (Isn’t that what the kids say these days?)

AUBURN AT LSU: Did you see the play last week when LSU quarterback Joe Burrow’s pants were pulled down and his bare rear end was exposed? Made me laugh. “I’m glad my pants didn’t fall down,” said Tigers coach Ed Orgeron. Naw, he’s waiting for Alabama to do that to him. (Sorry, that was too easy.) I have a feeling this is a fourth-quarter game. Of course, all halves include a fourth quarter. Now I’m just getting silly. LSU, 34-21.

WISCONSIN AT OHIO STATE: Illinois was the ultimate trap game, especially when the Wisconsin players looked across the field and thought the dad from “Good Times” was coaching the Illini. I know, another archaic reference. Ohio State, 30-19.

NOTRE DAME AT MICHIGAN: Jim Harbaugh said that any speculation about him going to the NFL was “total crap.” (Insert doody joke here). Notre Dame, 28-21. 

SOUTH CAROLINA AT TENNESSEE: You know what would be something? If Jarrett Guarantano leads Tennessee to a win and Jeremy Pruitt grabs him by the facemask as he comes off the field and tells him, “Good job.” Or am I the only person who thinks that would be interesting? South Carolina, 24-17.

MIAMI AT PITT: I think this is a big game in the Coastal Division. I think both teams are in the Coastal Division. Pitt, 28-10. 

MISSOURI AT KENTUCKY: Come on, Missouri. Play like you have a pulse on the road. You’ve lost to Wyoming and Vanderbilt on the road. Literally, the only two things those two schools have in common is that they have both beaten Missouri in football. Kentucky, 20-17.

MISS. STATE AT TEXAS A&M: Remind me again why we all thought the Aggies were going to be so good this season? A&M is literally going to make a bowl game on the backs of three soft non-conference opponents and the dregs of the SEC West. Texas A&M, 34-18.

PENN STATE AT MICH. ST.: Why do I literally (just seeing how many times I can use that word this week) get the feeling that Michigan State is going to make us turn this game on with five minutes to go? Of course, it could be just to get away from another Baker Mayfield commercial. Penn State, 38-20.

SYRACUSE AT FSU: The Orange dudes have yet to win an ACC game this year. And it’s not like the ACC is difficult. To think that I had Syracuse in my preseason Top 25. The shame. FSU, 29-27.

ARKANSAS AT ALABAMA: You put this last and people may not notice you snuck it in there. Oh, yes, I had a wonderful record last week. Tee-hee. Alabama, 40-14. 

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



  1. I’m going to let you in on a secret that has eluded the sportswriters. Please keep this quiet. JimBo Fisher isn’t a good coach without James Winston. Also, Keller Mond is an average QB on his best day. $70 million does not mean you are a good coach – only a good negotiator. Remember our secret when you make your picks.