The Back Nine: So many trophies

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[Courtesy of SEC]

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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 pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Pat, on #16, criteria for NFL evaluation of QB’s you wrote: “there are other things that matter more [than hand size]. Like arm strength and decision making and brains.”

    When did “decision making and brains” make it onto YOUR LIST of “things that matter more”??? I’m pretty sure it happened sometime after Feleipe Franks went down to injury at Kentucky and you no longer had to defend his boneheaded QB play!

    I’ll bet he probably has “big hands” though!!!

          • Dunno Daz, different leadership I suppose? Different attitude toward their subscribers? Different priorities? What a waste of talent, tho.

        • Galvez, when a Gator in Louisianna, one in Missouri, and another in Texas are the only ones responding to a Pat Dooley missive — well sir, that says about all there is to say. Go Gators back at ya, Buddy Rho!

          • Hold on a minute! I’m still here! I’ve been under the weather and out of the loop (just learned there was some Super Bowl halftime show controversy about J-Lo pole dancing), but I’m still alive!

            I guess I’m a bit of a “Pat defender”, or is it “Pat homer”? I think he’s in a difficult position; it’s similar to Paul Finebaum, but on a much smaller scale. Those who hate Alabama call Paul a “homer”. On the other hand, those who bleed Crimson accuse him of being a “hater” when he truthfully points out some chinks in the Bama armor. On our local scale, Pat is in the same position. If he criticizes Franks too much, he’s the one pointing out the Emporer has no clothes. If he ignores too many of Franks’ warts, he’s “drinking the coaches’ Koolaid.

            Either way, to Arnold’s point below, whether you love Pat’s articles or merely tolerate them, I think we all agree it’s much more interesting to not only read the article, but to also have 30-40 comments, sometimes in conversation format, to sort through after the articles. Arnold, I always enjoy the comments almost as much, and sometimes more, than the articles themselves. If just getting emails about the articles is enough to satisfy GS.com, why not just do like ESPN and dump the comments section altogether?

            Gator-6 is completely accurate when he claims a noticeable drop-off in comments. There was a time when a big football game would result in 100+ comments on the main article and 50+ on supporting articles. It’s demonstrably not that way anymore. First, the registration ran off some people, and then the subscription ran off a great deal more. There are some new guys, but they don’t seem to comment as much and aren’t willing to get into extended conversations nearly as much as the old crew did.

            Arnold, I love the Gators and I love the format on GS.com. Please fined a way to bring it back to its glory days!

          • Thanks, Joe. Good points all. We will attack more content by using the resources available and by incorporating contributions from other Gannett newspapers, as we did the Palm Beach Post with the former UF players in the Super Bowl pieces and the Austin-American with a recruiting player profile.

            Gator-6 does bring interesting points, but I was just wondering how he was gauging the lifespan of Gatorsports.com. And he let us know his analytics, which are not used by the suits at corporate to keep the site operational. The silent subscribers who have emailed their concerns have not shown interest in commenting under stories, but they, like you, also enjoy to just read the stories/comments as long as non-UF sports talk stays out of our content (like the race for the White House) or that we not forget other Gator sports (gymnastics, softball, etc.) in our coverage on the site. When I see an uptick in my email inbox, I figured one in our commenting crew got political.

            We appreciate all the subscriber support and constructive critiques. Not only do I work at the Gainesville Sun/Gatorsports.com, I’m also a subscriber.

          • I’m glad my old pal, Joe Shiver, is back in the mix too after a brief hiatus……and to find out that even Arnold has to subscribe! Which, I say again (since to this day I eschew the word “repeat” given that it increases the accidental likelihood of great quantities of artillery raining down on one’s position), I certainly don’t mind doing either as long as sufficient numbers of fellow Gators do too.

            Not to beat a dead horse to death, tho, I would submit that the whiz kids at corporate, in all their esteemed brilliance like so many times in recent history the corporate whiz kids at Big Army have done, simply chose the wrong metric. Accordingly, they don’t get it at all.

            Bah humbug. I’ll go back to sitting on the front porch smoking cigars, cussing, and throwing rocks at passing cars!

      • Howdy, Gator-6: How are you gauging reader interest on Gatorsports.com? Subscribers were on the rise by the end of football season and new clicks on our stories reach impressive numbers. Readers not commenting on stories does it mean there’s a lack of interest. A lot of folks are on here just for the articles or photos. We receive enough emails to believe it. I think one reader enjoyed the comments from you all. Chill, spring football is a couple of weeks away. And thank you for your continued support.

        • Arnold, it’s so good to see you back on here that it feels like a birthday. Thought you retired or sumpin.

          It’s not, IMO, the number of clicks that are the benchmark (although I can certainly endorse that as one measure). The standard was set in years past, so let me amplify that to answer your question. To understand it, you have to read Daz’s response above to take his meaning. The writing has always been top notch, as have the layout, format, and ease of posting — truly the best in my opinion. Now, is Daz, a very engaging and perceptive guy I might add, saying that he found nothing of interest in Pat’s article to respond to? Yes, as far as that goes at the surface — but he’s also saying at another, and I think equally important level, that since there was a dearth of posts in response he didn’t find anything to sink his teeth into and respond to the responses too.

          And therein lies the rub, Arnold. The hallmark of Gatorsports before last August was lively member response and a lot of it. No other site could achieve that — sure, they had good writing as well, but they couldn’t ever come close to the level of discussion or the intensity of differing opinions, much less the level of comradship and collegiality that this site developed. It was distinctive. It’s not now, but it was. It was self sustaining, you might say — something we looked forward to being involved in every day, even with the occasional contention among us.

          So what happened? I don’t personally believe it was the money in most cases, although I will concede that was probably the case in some instances. Rather, I think it was the sudden, awkward, no notice and rude way in which it was done. Believe me on that, since our (the readers/members) sense of kinship with Gatorsports was suddenly either damaged or, in a lot of cases, broken after that. And we lost a lot of guys to that one stroke, guys who made this what it was. I’m just thankful that we still have the guys we have, but pardner, it sure gets lonesome on here sometimes.

          Hope this answers your question, bud.

          • Like ”the eye in the sky never lies,” (film of games, practice, etc…), the wise Arnold is always watching us. And 6, sometimes like today, I fall into Mr. Feliciano’s comment category, ”Readers not commenting on stories does it mean there’s a lack of interest.” I love ’em all though, even Pat and Robbie (lol). And we’re here, present! Occasionally ”tardy” (even though, ”I don’t feel tardy!” -Van Halen shout-out). Go Gators!

        • Arnold, thanks for your reply. It’s good to know you guys listen to our comments regarding the site and comment frequency. We love the Gators, and we love GS.com, and we don’t want to see either go away.

          Regarding other sports, some readers are die-hard football fans, while others, like daz, Sly, BSCE1981, and me are interested in most all Gator sports. Just last night I watched some of the gymnastics meet at UGA and was amazed at the ability and poise of our ladies. Baseball and softball are already racking up W’s, and March Madness, the greatest event in sports, is almost upon us, and our Gators are securely in the field…for now.

          Speaking of basketball, I don’t know, and don’t need to know, all the details behind Kevin Brockway’s departure, but you lost “a keeper” when he left. Basketball coverage has suffered mightily since then. Pat and Graham try, but they just don’t have the basketball insight that Kevin has. They also have the primary responsibility of football for Pat and football plus recruiting for Graham, so they just don’t have the necessary time. Kevin also covered baseball and softball, so now the coverage for those sports is suffering.

          Regardless of whether we are “just football” or “all-sports” fans, we all want the same thing: good articles about all the sports and good conversation in the comments sections afterwards.

          Go Gators!

  2. I will be taking a 40 day break from sports fandom altogether after today. It’s a personal choice. I still love you all and and will return. Not that I expect anyone to care but thought I should share in case anyone wonders. Meanwhile, please keep the peace and hold down the fort in case there are any attempted alien invasions.

        • One thing for certain, I’m not making fun of Joe Biden anymore. This is medical, this is incipient, and this is sad. Somebody who loves him should really get him to quit.

          Actually tho, I thought it looked like a blend between the food fight in Animal House and the scene in Anchorman where every newsman is fighting!

          • Those movie scenes you mention are right in line with what I saw too. CBS lost control of their “show” early and never really got it back. It would be comical if it weren’t so damned serious.

        • Yep, Dems have “Progressed” to the edge of outer darkness…USA GDP is only about $22T and these “stupid old people” (tech sense) dream of taking all the money from the job providers and then another $40T on top of that? I guess the “47% can do simple math.

          Readership comments are way down. And Pat’s comment about the Good ole days with the Gita person’s comment shows the poor guys hopelessness…sad when people believe in secular thoughts for the future, choosing no future.

          • Yep 6, we all have choices, I’m good with people believing differently, as I’ve studied, that’s the way it’s going to be…basketball is somewhat entertaining.

    • I didn’t read far enough last night, Sly, and didn’t see your comment. Thanks for the info. It helps to know why other folks you’ve come to know and count on for comments are suddenly gone.

      Your comments are truly thoughtful and insightful, and I will miss them in your absence. I hope you are doing well and that your “personal choice” has nothing to do with your health.
      Look forward to seeing you back after your hiatus, Sly. Go Gators!