The Back Nine comes at you after a couple of weeks off that included way too much golf and way too much sun. If you didn’t miss me, I get it. If you did, I appreciate it.
10. As we continue to ride this roller coaster called COVID-19, one thing that we don’t think about a lot, but maybe should when we are doing our Top 25 teams and our lists (and our predictions that won’t work out) is that home-field advantage may take the season off. We don’t know if and when they will allow anything close to full capacity at college games. If there are 15,000 fans at a game where an underdog is hosting a highly-ranked team, is it really going to matter? I think you’ll be able to hear the snap counts. This may skew thing even more in favor of the HAVES and away from the HAVE NOTS. Clemson and Ohio State don’t need big home crowds. They already have a personnel advantage. Think about the LSU game for Florida this season if there is a limited crowd. You know what might end up being one slight advantage for the home teams? If the visitors decide to fly in the day of the game instead of the night before as some NFL teams are considering. Obviously, you couldn’t do that for a noon game. Anyway, as an AP voter, these are all thing I’ll consider when filling out that first ballot of the season.
11. On Tuesday of last week, I went on a rant on my podcast about how I thought there would be no college football season. Today, I feel that — one way or another — it will be played. That’s the Coronavirus Yo-yo we have been experiencing. Every day, you hear or read something that changes your mind. We do know this – the clock is ticking. Much of the optimism about a college football season was based on how we had so much time before the start of the season. And then you binge-watched “Dead To Me” and all of the Marvel movies and suddenly the ticking clock sounded as if it was inside your head. Bottom line – you’ll have a definitive answer by Aug. 1. Until then, we are all taking educated guesses. We know that we are going to see a strange football season. It may be conference games only, but all we know for sure is it will be at least a “30 for 30’’ 10-part series next August.
12. One thing that kind of flew under the radar was a story by Dan Wolken of USA Today about how Learfield IMG is trying to get out of or renegotiate rights fees for college programs. Florida is one of those schools and we’ll see how it goes, but understand that 54 of the 65 Power Five programs have deals for their multi-media rights to IMG. Obviously, this isn’t the only company trying to get reduced rates because of the lack of college teams playing spring sports or the uncertainty surrounding this football season. The deals these schools made helps out drastically when you look at the salaries of almost all of the coaches on the campuses. When you read a contract for a high-profile coach and see he or she makes $900K a year for “media”, that money isn’t coming from the Gainesville Sun.
13. It appears that there really has been climate change in a different way. Because the climate has changed in regards to Americans finally having to address the way people are treated differently because of the color of their skin, the stubborn Dan Snyder is being pounded by a loss of revenue to the point it looks like he will change the name of his NFL team. There is a lot of support for “Red Tails” in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen and that’s a good one. I prefer the Washington Generals in honor of the team that always loses to the Harlem Globetrotters. Now that this nickname seems destined to change, it’s also time for the Braves, Chiefs and Seminoles to stop encouraging the Chop. It’s really ridiculous and I say that as a huge Braves fan and closet Chiefs fan. Stop the music. If people still do it (like the UF “Gator Bait” cheer), you can’t stop it, but if you stop promoting it, the war chant will fade out eventually.
14. If you are looking for an outlying SEC team to win one of the two divisions in the conference, this stat will help you pump the brakes a bit. Since the league expanded in 2012 and Missouri and Texas A&M were added, four teams have dominated the conference standings on a consistent basis. Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Florida are a combined 190-66. The rest of the league is 124 games under .500. Only Texas A&M (34-30) and Auburn (33-31) are the other teams to have winning records in SEC games since 2002. Just throwing that out there, especially for the Tennessee fans (22-42) who think the Vols are back.
15. I know there are not a ton of fans watching televised golf out there even though it’s about all that is on these days, but what a story Bryson DeChambeau has become over the last month. He has the body of the Hulk and the swing of Happy Gilmore. And the personality of a girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party (SNL reference). His complaints about a cameraman catching him while he was throwing a fit on the course – in the field of play – caused the golf writers who already find him insufferable to really turn on him. He’s now the favorite go win at The Masters, but I can see him with a three-shot lead going to the back nine (the other one) and trying to kill one on the 10th tee and hitting it through the window of a cabin and freaking out. The talking heads on CBS kept referring how he has changed the way the game is being played by gaining 45 pounds with this crazy diet that includes six protein shakes a day, eggs, bacon, steak, potatoes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I think most golfers would rather not look like Drax from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
16. The Nick Markakis decision to opt out of this shortened season is understandable in part because he spent time on the phone with Freddie Freeman, who sounded horrible. The virus affects different people in different ways. I’ve heard of athletes who felt bad, tested positive and the next day they were fine. But I don’t blame anybody who wants to sit out this season in any sport. We are all being selfish in our desire to see sports played and there is no doubt that finances are a huge factor, especially the college football decisions. I just hope this country is not showing just how selfish it can be. I’m looking at you, person who won’t wear a mask even though LeBron James can practice basketball while wearing one and Mike Trout can run the bases while wearing one. You’re just picking up Hungry Man dinners and wine at the grocery store. You can gut it out.
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Rob McLamb, a writer who covers NC State and the Hornets for The Wilson Times – “Last night I had a dream that Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong were set to face each other in the men’s singles final of the French Open. Sigmund Freud is dead, so I’m leaving that gem to the screenwriters in Hollywood. Make it happen.” Here’s the thing – as desperate as we are for sports on TV, I’d watch it.
18. I heard a lot of great music during the time off (I know, I know. There were stories in the paper written by me and all over our website. It’s called getting ahead of the chains.) I didn’t get a sense many people missed my playlists, but every time I think nobody likes them I remember the delightful woman I met in the airport last fall who listens to them on Spotify every week. So there. And here:
* “Honeybee” by The Head and The Heart.
* “The End of That” by Plants and Animals.
* This version I had never heard before of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” by one of my favorite groups, Trampled By Turtles.
* “Higher Up” by Parker Ainsworth.
* And for an old one, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.