The Back Nine: We won’t back down

Florida fans sing "I Won't Back Down," in honor of Tom Petty during the Gators Homecoming game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

The Back Nine comes at you with another series of thoughts without actual sports being played, which is kind of like a meatless buffet. No offense, vegans. Or UFC fans.

  1. It feels as if it has been around forever and in a way 31 years (when it was released) does seem like a long time ago. But the tradition didn’t start until Tom Petty left us in 2017 and later that week he was honored at the Florida-LSU game. You all know the story of “I Won’t Back Down”, the song that seems to hit home every time things are going against us. But this week, after a video was released by the Frankel Media Group and promoted on social media it really hit me how it has become an anthem in a short period of time for Gator Nation and the city of Gainesville. I mean, in the season after it started to be played at the end of the third quarter of Florida games, the Gators didn’t win a game against a Power Five opponent and fired the coach. The song overcame that. It lives stronger than ever. That’s why Ryan Frankel and his creative people chose it for the short video about what we are all dealing with. “We’re looking at Gainesville in a way we’ve never seen it,” he said. “It’s totally empty, but full of spirit. Gainesville has an incredible spirit and it feels like a theme song for people who call Gainesville home.” So they produced the video, enlisted pianist Ryan Baker to put a special spin on it and offered it up to the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, Alachua County and others. “Mostly, we did it for ourselves,” Frankel said. The video ends with this message:

Stay Safe.

Stay Strong.

Love, Gainesville.

11. I wasn’t going to just tease you and not let you see it. It has more than 10,000 hits already. Maybe it’s because I have lived in Gainesville for 45 of my 65 years on the planet, but I get a little emotional every time I watch it.

  1. What a day Saturday could have been. It was cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon and the threat of rain was an idle one. As usual, we found stuff to do, maybe cleaned the garage or mowed the lawn or played bad golf. But Saturday should have been the final home game played at McKethan Stadium. And it also should have been the 26th Bob Dooley Invitational at Ironwood. Instead, both venues were closed for business. The difference is that Ironwood will reopen and the Mac will be reduced to rubble. And that baseball season has been smashed like a bug, but we still may have a golf tournament or at least some kind of an auction to raise money for Stop Children’s Cancer. Like everything else, the virus will tell us when and if. 
  2. The latest response to the response was some response. I am speaking of the hot water that Kansas is in with the NCAA. The 92-page counter-response was a doozy and it’s difficult to see how a school who protected a bag man for so long isn’t going to be punished severely. And coach Bill Self certainly is going to eventually serve some kind of suspension and show cause. Of course, that’s what I thought about Bruce Pearl and Will Wade when all of the FBI wiretaps were released. It’s amazing how some schools will fight to the death for corrupt coaches as long as they win, but fire good people if they don’t. I question the messages being sent to the students at these institutes of finer learning.
  3. As we reached the end of “The Last Dance”, it’s natural to think about what other teams we’d like to see one about. That team and that situation was unique and I’m not sure you could recapture that magic the way ESPN did with Michael Jordan’s blessing. If you try to localize it, certainly the best one already has been done about the repeat basketball champions, but there are two I would love to see. One would start in Doak Campbell Stadium in 1994 as Florida blew a 31-3 lead, went through the bloody fight at the Sugar Bowl and into the undefeated 1995 season that ended with one of the most embarrassing losses in UF history. And, of course, the final chapter would be losing at Doak, recovering to beat Alabama and then winning the national title. I’d love to get all the details behind the stories. The other would be Tim Tebow’s final season when Florida had the most miserable unbeaten team in America and what led up to that. I volunteer to produce either one of these. 
  4. The NFL did its big schedule reveal. But first leaked the schedules for each team to the media that covers those teams. Which has always been weird. Anyway, don’t put too much stock in any rankings of who has the toughest and easiest schedules because we know how things change annually in the NFL. Last year’s cupcakes may win a division and last season’s playoff teams can end up with high draft picks the following year. One thing I find interesting is that Washington plays 13 of its 16 games at 1 p.m. And there are no night games. Now, fans complain that they miss out on prime-time games, but every coach loves the idea of his team being able to get into a routine for every game instead of sitting around waiting to go to the stadium. So you heard it here first, watch out for Washington this season.
  5. It appears we’re going to get some baseball starting in July with new rules and a new playoff structure. Teams may not be able to play in their stadiums. I would expect that around the same time, we are going to get a decision on what to do about college football, although it could be sooner. I don’t see any way they are going to have any Media Days in any conference unless they did this — have each one at each school. It would give the SEC Network the content it desperately needs and allows us to social distance. Questions can be submitted electronically. I go back to what I wrote Sunday — we all are going to have to deal with a new world, but the goal is to get back to normal eventually. 
  6. The Tweet of the Week comes from a Twitter account called @TheTweetofGod and I get that it’s a parody account but I think it’s pretty good. Anyway, here it was — “I got a new guy up here and he’s rambling. Does anyone know what ‘Wop-Bop-A-Loo-Bop-A-Lop-Bam-Boom’ means?” That’s both funny and sad because we lost Little Richard over the weekend, the man who inspired the Beatles and Muhammad Ali’s catch-phrase “I Am The Greatest.” The music in heaven is getting ridiculously good, as we lost the great Betty Wright also this weekend. 
  7. Here on earth, I know that some readers love The Back Nine playlists and some people think they are stupid. Just give this one a try and see if you don’t feel just a little bit better after it’s wrapped up:

* “Down At The Lah De Dah” by Jimmy Buffet.

* “Rodeo Clown” by Randy Rogers and Wade Bowden.

* “Look For The Good” by Jason Mraz.

* “We’ll Make It Through” by Ray LaMontagne.

* And for a great oldie that we can all take to heart, “Shower The People” by James Taylor.

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



  1. LSU Men’s Basketball Coach, Will Wade & FBI wiretaps:

    ”Tell him we’ll pay him MORE THAN THE NBA MINIMUM.” -LSU Head Coach, Will Wade.

    LSU should FIRE HIM NOW! And the SEC & NCAA SHOULD INVESTIGATE! I was alive and well in the 1980’s in Hogtown, and I REMEMBER, NCAA AND SEC (your investigations of Florida).

    So where, oh where, is the LSU Tigers’ INVESTIGATION for MONEY PAYMENTS to LSU athletes?!?!?!?!?!

    Both INSTITUTIONS are a SHAM -if NOTHING is done!

    Sincerely, Greg Ines (gatorgi70x).
    Yea, I’ll sign my REAL NAME to that!

    • Greg, probably for the same reason that members of a certain political party seem to be immune from prosecution. But I digress.

      This scab needs peeled off!

      –Neal Trent
      (the artist formerly known as Gator-6)

  2. Pat wb here
    I really wish coach Mike would tell Nimrod ( I know it’s not his name) that his time as a FL Gator is come and gone. If it takes this long to bleed orange and blue then we don’t need you. It is a privilege to be a FL Gator. I have always pulled for this young man but their are people that want that spot.