The Back Nine: We’re all going to change

Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Courtesy of UAA]

The Back Nine comes at you after the first full week of no sports on TV and more time watching network news than ever. Wash your hands. Please.

  1. There are a lot of things I miss as we deal with this pandemic. You know what one of them is? Human contact. I miss sitting in the O-Dome on that back row and having people come up to shake my hand or give me a hug. I miss high-fives and pats on the back. As much as I miss the things we took for granted, that’s one that sticks out as we get deeper into this. When we come out of this, there are a lot of things we will appreciate if we get back to normal. The spirit of being a community that rallies around its sports teams is another. Perhaps we’ll all be different, less likely to criticize coaches, players and more likely to appreciate the work put in by all of them. Sorry for being so melancholy, but that’s the mood a lot of us have felt enveloping us as we try to press on.
  2. Of course, the one sport that is going strong is football free agency. Tom Brady to the Bucs is at the top of the list and if we do have an NFL season, it’s going to be fascinating. Here’s the thing — I’ve never been a Bucs fan, but I have been a Brady fan. So am I a Bucs fan now? I always liked Philip Rivers, so am I rooting for the Colts now? It’s all so confusing. Imagine if you play fantasy football. 
  3. One thing that has been a standing story we have done in the last few years is to give you our 10 top moments in Gator football during the academic year. So with a shortened sports year, what would they be? My No. 1 would be Billy Donovan Night at the O’Connell Center. It could not have been more special and the way Florida played against Vanderbilt only made it that much better. Seeing all of those great players brought back so many memories and Donovan was truly overcome with emotion as they named the court after him. Yep, that’s No. 1.
  4. And No. 2 would have been the Auburn football game. All of the buildup to that game was reminiscent of the LSU game the year before. That Florida was able to overcome all of those Kyle Trask fumbles made it an incredible day in The Swamp. I said it then and I’ll say it now — The Swamp has never been louder from the start of the game to the end of it. No. 3 and No. 4 would be the two comebacks by the basketball team from 20-plus points down against Alabama and Georgia. The FSU football game would be No. 5. That’s it. That’s the list.
  5. So I have this idea. If we get an all-clear by the beginning of May, have an SEC baseball tournament in Hoover, Ala., and a softball tournament in Tuscaloosa where it was scheduled. If teams choose not to participate, that’s up to them. Players who participate do not lose a year of eligibility. But the winners receive an SEC trophy. No fans, but TV is invited with no on the field interviews or news conferences. Do you get the idea I am desperate for televised sports? I watched dodgeball Sunday. Not the movie, but the actual sport. 
  6. 15. It will be interesting to see how the NCAA ends up handling the eligibility issues. There are those who favor all seniors who did not get to play for a championship getting an extra year, not only those who lost a majority of their seasons. I’m not sure how it would work with roster management, but the end result could be that more scholarships are available for more athletes. That’s not a bad thing. 
  7. Each year we give out an All-Sports Trophy to the team that has the best overall program in the SEC. We started doing it after the SEC stopped because Florida kept winning it every year. But The Sun has always felt somebody should still keep track. Florida was on its way to regaining the trophy after Texas A&M was the surprising winner last year. But the trophy is another casualty of the suspension of play in so many sports. It’s an All-Sports Trophy, not a “Some Sports Trophy.” 
  8. There has been a lot of funny stuff on Twitter this week, but this one caught my eye from Jeff Borzello of ESPN — “Whoever decided to put the time/score on the screen at all times deserves a Nobel Prize.” They have been showing a lot of old games in different networks and it’s difficult to believe that this is a fairly modern innovation. How did we survive without it?
  9. As we continue to go stir crazy, movies and music are getting us through. If you haven’t seen “Tiger King”, give it a shot. (And it’s not about Tiger Woods.)  It’s wild. So is this playlist:

* “Is Everybody Going Crazy” by Nothing But Thieves.

* “Stoned and Starving” by Parquet Courts.


* A great version of “Into The Black” by the Chromatics.

* “Everything in Its Right Place” by Radiohead.

* And for an old one, “Driver’s Seat” by Sniff ‘N’ The Tears, a terrible name for a group but it’s also what we are doing with no March Madness.


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