The Back Nine comes at you after a long trip that went remarkably smooth (for me; they lost Robbie’s bag) including a new SEC record for pregame hotel-to-parking-spot of 16 minutes. No medals required.
- One of the biggest first steps a football program can make is to find a way to win on the road. And sometimes, that’s why it makes sense to hire an established head coach who knows how to do it. Now that Florida has wrapped up its true road schedule for another football season, it seems like a good time to point out that the head coach of the Gators is now 7-1 in true road games (10-2 at home, 2-2 neutral). If you are looking for a trend, it really is about the offense. Florida has averaged 32 points a game on the road. Winning on the road isn’t easy for anybody, but it continues to be Mullen’s forte. The only true road loss was to a team that is ranked No. 1 in the nation.
- Mullen is also on the verge of possibly (did I hedge that enough?) winning at least 10 games for the second year in a row. The only two coaches who have done that at UF are the obvious choices. Steve Spurrier did it for six straight years from 1993-to-1998 and again in 2000 and 2001. Urban Meyer did it in 2008 and ’09. And that’s it. This concludes this edition of “Open Week Reflections.” Anyway, I thought I’d point these things out because there was a touch of negativity in the fan base after a win — a win, mind you — over a team that embarrassed you the last two years. The game was plodding. It wasn’t overly entertaining. But you win road games any way you can. After Florida’s touchdown on the replay reversal made it 20-6, I quit writing down play-by-play. Unless Florida made some blunders, Missouri wasn’t scoring two touchdowns. That’s how well Florida played on defense and against a team that had scored at least 34 points in every home game this season.
- Well, LSU vs. Georgia will be some SEC title game. LSU looks unstoppable now, right up to and through the national title game. I saw an interesting Tweet this week about how the Bulldogs could play four straight games in Atlanta — Georgia Tech, SEC, College Playoff (and lose) and the Kickoff Classic (against Virginia). We get more rankings tonight and see how the committee feels about a Tua Tagovailoa-less Alabama team. The Tide is going to need to pound Auburn next week with Mac Jones at quarterback to have hope.
- And for those criticizing Nick Saban for having Tua in the game, it was the second quarter. Have you never been to a college football game and see it flip so fast you almost missed it? I repeat, it was the second quarter and you were playing a team in their stadium. Yes, that was a costly injury for the young man, but he was playing the game he loves. Last week, he was a hobbled warrior who showed his courage. This week, he shouldn’t have been playing. I get confused.
- The news that Scott Frost received a contract extension had some buzz in the Missouri press box (actually, there are two press boxes, one for home media and one for visiting media. I wonder what they get for lunch over there?) Nebraska has fired its last four coaches and all four coaches had at least a .500 record and a total winning percentage of .583. Now they extend a coach who is 8-14 and was everybody’s summer crush. Here’s the thing: every college football program is different. I’m a big believer that schools should be more patient with their coaches, but sometimes it gets too toxic to handle, especially behind the scenes. If they believe Frost has all the attributes to be a good head coach and he doesn’t want to be anywhere else, give him the necessary security to not feel the pressure. I don’t know if Nebraska football can be great again. But I know that it can’t — and this applies to almost everybody — if it keeps hopping from one coaching bandwagon to another.
- It was a less than ideal weekend for the Gators other than the football win. Soccer had its season end with a one-and-done, volleyball lost a five-setter and first place in the SEC and basketball lost at UConn. The question I get the most these days is, “What’s wrong with the basketball team?” And the truth is that we know so little about these guys, because we haven’t seen them but a handful of games together. I think they just need some confidence, especially Noah Locke (22.7 percent from three) and Tre Mann (16.7%).
- Last week was a rough one and if I seemed more grumpy than usual or distant, I apologize. On Friday while I was on the road, we had to let our sweet golden retriever Daisy go after her long bout with cancer. She was so low maintenance that she rarely even barked. She wasn’t much of a retriever, but she sure was golden.
- The Tweet of the Week comes from Field Yates of ESPN (stay with it until the end) — “Active number of consecutive winning seasons (2019 included) 0: ARI, ATL, CAR, BUF, CIN, CLE, DEN, DET, GB, JAX, MIA, NYG, NYJ, OAK, TB, WAS
1: CHI, HOU, IND, SF
2: BAL, LAC, LAR, MIN, NO, PHI
3: DAL, TEN
8: 9: 10: 11: 12: 13: 14: 15: 16: 17: 18:
- I either need a new phone or someone riding on every plane in the next seat to show me what I’m doing wrong because I thought I downloaded a movie and could never find it. Is there anything worse than an old man trying to figure out technology? At least the tunes were good:
* “Wars” by Of Monsters and Men.
* “All Mirrors” by Angel Olsen.
* “Comeback Kid” by Sleigh Bells.
* “Good Woman” by Cat Power.
* And for an oldie, because I need something bright and cheery and silly today, “Good Morning Starshine” by Oliver.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.