The Back Nine comes at you after a lot of watching baseball games on my laptop and hoops on the TVs. I was not sedentary. I got up to grill.
- We all know about all of the major construction that Florida has been taking on of late and I’m hearing something besides a new baseball stadium and football building is in the works. Because it’s obvious that UF needs a new building to house all of its trophies. This weekend alone, Florida took home the SEC titles in gymnastics and men’s swimming and diving. This is how well the weekend went for the Gators — Florida defeated 18 ranked teams (if you count Miami as three and all the ranked teams UF beat in men’s and women’s swimming). At some places, that’s a good month. OK, I was kidding about the trophy building (although it’s not a terrible idea) because most of the hardware ends up spread out with the respective offices and practice facilities. (One day I’m going to count up how many there are at the Lemerand Center with all of the sports that share that building.) Those trophies are where they are for recruits to see, but I still like my idea of a Gator Museum with a bunch of them displayed. What? Where? It would reduce parking on campus? Never mind.
- There is no truth to the rumor that they have changed the name of the baseball field in Coral Gables to Kevin O’Sullivan Field at Mark Light Stadium. A-Rod may have paid for it, but Sully owns it. Florida’s three-game sweep was great baseball with two games that went to extra innings and a third that came down to the wire. Here’s a stat for you — in the last 35 games against Miami and Florida State, O’Sullivan is 31-4. That’s ridiculous. Things did get a little chippy (shocking) when Kirby McMullen homered off Alex McFarlane in the 10th on Saturday night to put Florida ahead. That’s one thing you learn as a freshman — don’t go on social media before a rivalry series. We’ll leave it at that. Florida is now No. 1 according to D1 Baseball, which is the poll we use at the Sun, which means the target is bigger. But who’s complaining?
- There seemed to be an overwhelming sentiment that Florida fans were happy that the Gators played hard right to the end at Kentucky in one of the few losses UF experienced as an athletic department this weekend. Another too-typical scoring drought, which have been part of this team’s issues all season, really hurt and Immanuel Quickley was on fire and there were some situations late when the Gator players might have let the crowd get to them. I’ve seen teams go up there and get smothered by the Big Blue Wave once Kentucky gets that big scoring run that you know is coming. At least Florida had a chance at the end of the game. Here’s the funny thing — I’m not sure how much respect I have for the NET Rankings system that the committee will be using. Florida went up two spots by losing to Kentucky. Kentucky dropped a spot by winning. And then Florida jumped another spot by having Sunday off. So, the Gators are at No. 33, which is again comfortably in the NCAA Tournament. For now. There are four critical games to go plus the SEC Tournament.
- Which means that Wednesday night’s 9 p.m. game (I’m getting too old for these late nighters) is a huge game — perhaps the biggest of the season — for the Gators for two reasons. It would be a big win on the resume (LSU is No. 30 in the NET) and it would help Florida try to secure the double-bye for the SECs. Florida already has clinched the fact that it won’t play Wednesday and is alone in fourth right now, but there are three teams within a game of the Gators. Although I think I would rather play Thursday during the day than get stuck in that late game Friday night as your first game in the tournament. But that’s just me.
- Florida’s gymnastics team really looks like something special. I don’t want to jinx anybody, but these women seem to have a drive to not have a repeat of last season when they didn’t make it out of regionals. One thing the two SEC titles Florida won this weekend did for UF was put the Gators in an excellent position to get back the All-Sports Trophy that Florida always seems to win. That was before Texas A&M won it last year. We’ll wait until the two basketball teams are finished to give you the standings for the award, which is given out by Gatehouse/Gannett.
- And one place where Florida will get more points than it did last year is in women’s basketball. I’m not saying coach Cam Newbauer has figured it out, but Florida appears to be headed in the right direction with its second win over a ranked team Sunday. Florida is 6-8 in the conference and that season finale at Georgia could be important in terms of where UF finishes (I’m going out on a limb, the Gators are probably not going to beat No. 1 South Carolina on Thursday). You can see the talent level has improved and it should get better next year with two big-time recruits coming in.
- Ah, the NFL Combine is upon us where the best players in college football go to find out what is wrong with them. The latest player with a problem is Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. His hands are not big enough. So go ahead, Bengals, pass on him. It’s in your DNA to screw this up. And, this just in, Jake Fromm’s hands are slightly smaller than Burrow’s. He’ll probably end up in the XFL. All kidding aside, it does matter (especially when it comes to holding on to the ball), but there are other things that matter more. Like arm strength and decision making and brains.
- The Tweet of the Week comes from Kyle Tucker, who covers Kentucky for The Athletic — “Teams ranked No. 1, 2, 4, 17, 18, 19 and 22 lost to lower-ranked or unranked teams yesterday. Yes, in fact, this NCAA Tournament is going to be complete chaos.” This has been a common theme all season. It should be awesome. But maybe it helped San Diego State to finally lose a game. The Aztecs would be better off being a two seed on the West Coast than a one seed on the East Coast and right now that’s likely how it would work out.
- In our effort to watch as many Oscar movies as possible without leaving the house, we rented “JoJo Rabbit” on Sunday night after all of the dust had cleared from another great sports weekend. It was really good. Not for everybody. But really good. Oh, and here’s a playlist that has nothing to do with the movie:
- “Snakeskin” by Deerhunter.
- “The Surprise Knock” by The New Pornographers.
- “For The First Time” by Best Coast.
- “Bad Decisions” by The Strokes.
- And for an old one, let’s go back to the good old days and remember this quote from Bhagavad Gita — “There never was a time when you or I did not exist. Nor will there be any future when we shall cease to be.” So listen to “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison. Sorry, I am in a mood.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.