The Back Nine comes at you after a be-a-u-tiful weekend (that’s not from “Bruce Almighty”, it’s from the old WGGG jingle in the early 1960s) that saw some wild NFL games, another egg falling out of the Gators’ hoop basket and rumors that the national title game will eventually be over.
10. Watching Monday night’s game, you couldn’t help but think about whether or not Florida is close to being in a game like that. On the one hand, the Gators gave LSU fits defensively and the only other loss came to the team that will finish the season fifth in the country. So Florida is right there, correct? The roster is becoming better every day and the Gators have Cool Hand Kyle at quarterback again next season. Close, right? I have already heard this talk of “Playoffs or Bust”. Here’s where you expect me to pump the brakes on all of this talk about playoffs because I’ve been scarred by Lindsay, blah, bla, blah. Instead, you get this. Embrace the expectations. Revel in talking heads speaking kindly of you. Enjoy all the way-too-early rankings that will come out this week (mine included). It’s seven-plus months before you have to worry about the result of the game. Life’s too short.
11. Of course, the next several months will have a lot to do with what kind of season Florida has in 2020 (vision jokes sold separately). There is Nick Savage and there is spring practice and there is the transfer portal and there is everything else that goes with having a good summer. You could point out that Florida DID NOT have a good summer in terms of attrition in 2019 and still won 11 games and you would be correct. But maybe it was the difference between the playoffs and a NY6 bowl. Maybe it wasn’t, but I’m sure Dan Mullen would love to take this complete roster (with a few additions still to come) and go to camp without any defections or season-ending injuries or off-the-field problems. Of course, what coach would not want that kind of an off-season.
12. You know who should go into the transfer portal? Clemson. Let the entire program into the SEC. We could use another set of Tigers and Clemson already plays like an SEC team. It would lead to even bigger games in this conference. So come on over Clemson. Fans get to vote on which program gets bounced into the ACC. (Rhymes with Hazouri). Maybe I am getting silly because of this ridiculous wait between college football playoff games. The work done by the men and women handling too much time and the nightlife of New Orleans has been impressive. But if I hear another complaint from Dabo Swinney or read another story about gumbo I may get too-many-Hurricanes ill.
13. Whadya lookin at me for? I can’t explain what happened to the Gators last Saturday night except to say that college basketball is a long season with a lot of different ways to win and lose games. I can’ explain why a Mike White team took the night off on defense. The only thing I can do is tell you that this season is in front of this Florida team. The Gators still have seven opportunities to beat five teams ranked in the top 28 according to the NET Rankings, which is what the selection committee will use. (One of those teams that will come into the O-Dome is Baylor, which is the new No. 1 in NET rankings). The first of those chances is Saturday afternoon against No. 6 Auburn. But — ranked No. 53 — you can’t lose to mediocre teams in the meantime such as Tuesday night vs. 98th Ole Miss. I know there are a lot of people making a lot of noise about Mike White right now. Save your breath and watch the season play out.
14. When quarterback Jake Fromm decided to turn pro, there certainly was a feeling in the Gator Nation that things were going their way. Fromm was a Gator-killer, but he also was the quarterback who led Georgia into the limelight after years of a good-not-great. That momentum changed a bit when the Bulldogs landed Jamie Newman, the Wake Forest quarterback who has been compared to Joe Burrow in terms of accuracy. Newman was considered to be the top quarterback recruit among the transfer portalees ( made that up) and he is a big strong young man who might be the perfect fit in an offense that wants to get a little more out of the quarterback run. Note of caution for you Bulldogs fans — against ACC teams in 2019 he was sacked 15 times and threw nine picks. The East is going to be interesting next year on the field the way the West is going to be interesting in news conferences.
15. You may look as schmaltzy the way the two networks carrying the NFL games allowed David Baker from the NFL Hall of Fame to tell Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher on air that they were going into the Hall. But I thought it was kind of neat. I wonder if Cowher gets in without his TV work. I’m just asking, Pittsburgh fans. Don’t @ me. And why is Don Coryell not in? Anybody? Is it just a Super Bowl thing?
16. The playoff games certainly lived up to expectations (and by that I mean I missed half of my picks), especially the way Kansas City destroyed the Texans after the home team went down 24-0. Green Bay vs. Seattle was great theater and who had Lamar Jackson going out in the divisional round? On Sunday, we find out which teams will be in the Super Bowl, which only asks its teams to wait two weeks before playing the biggest game of the year. Put me down for Kansas City and Green Bay or just put me down for making those picks.
17. The Tweet of the Week goes to none other than the commish of the SEC, Greg Sankey — “Only in the SEC will people send Football Media Days scheduling suggestions…in January…for Media Days…that are in July. #ItJustJustMeansMore #MostInterestingConference.” Does this mean I can send my suggestion in for an SEC East coaches vs. West talent show on Friday night?
18. I played golf with Scott Dombek on Sunday and we chatted about the closing of West End Golf Course where so many people learned how to play. There was a time when 70 percent of the golf tournaments were played at the Par 60 course, mainly because of Scott, who is one of the best guys in the world. There is a point here and it is that Dombek played country music on Pandora the entire round. And I thought about doing a playlist of country songs. And then I said, “Naaaaaahhh.”
• “Soft Currents” by Alexandra Savior.
• “Saw Lightning” by Beck.
• “Misery” by Michigander.
• “Leaf Off/The Cave” by Jose Gonzalez.
• And for a deep old album cut, ”Blues Run the Game” by Simon & Garfunkel.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.