The Back Nine: Florida will come down on mask-less
The Back Nine comes at you after watching way too much football this weekend and that's something I never dreamed back in July I would be saying.
10. As we watched so many games in so many different circumstances we found ourselves doing a lot of mask-checking and screaming at the TV at student sections bunched closely together. There were moments when I wondered if we might be seeing the last weekend of college football. FSU has promised to do a better job policing the issues for its next home game after most of the fans were shown not wearing masks, including a couple on the screen as the graphic about the rules was flashing next to them. I know that Florida is close to releasing its plan and it will not include ejections for those not wearing masks during the game. Instead, you will lose your ticket privileges for future games.
11. And the way they will know who is sitting in what seat is that fans will have chair back assigned seats which will be spread far enough apart for social distancing. That will include chair backs for the 2,000 students who will win the lottery and get tickets (although you can only win the lottery once this season). I know Florida is taking all of the proper precautions to allow the game to be attended safely and it does beat the piped in crowd noise that seemed so ill-timed Sunday night at the Cowboys-Rams game. It was almost distracting for the viewers.
12. So let's get to the football for the weekend which was not good if you occupy the middle of the Big 12 or Tallahassee. First, the Semis, who looked exactly like the team we last saw in 2019. FSU 2020 is going to be a product of lackluster recruiting over the previous three seasons. This isn't on coach Mike Norvell. There are some great players on that FSU team, just not enough of them. Still, at least FSU only lost a conference game (albeit to the team that was picked to finish last in the ACC). The Big 12 losing three games to the Sun Belt was, well, crazy. Again, even with the virus and the limited slate, college football delivered on Saturday with a bunch of upsets (Les Miles bobbleheads now 50 percent off). Oklahoma and Texas and Oklahoma State, how about you just play a round-robin the rest of the season?
13. Dan Mullen watched some football as well when he wasn't worrying about his stadium burning up (has a tractor fire ever received so much publicity?) Mullen saw what I saw, which was a lot of little things that were not handled properly. Certainly, everyone expects some sloppy play, but for the most part, it didn't look like the start of college and pro seasons as it looked like a couple of weeks in. "You see a lot of little mental errors you don't usually see," Mullen said Monday. For all of the SEC teams who still have a wait ahead of them, watching games should help make the players understand how important those little things are. Like blocking on field goal tries. Sheesh.
14. In the first Associated Press vote without the teams not playing and with games to evaluate, the teams I struggled to rank — Miami (still not sold), Louisiana (how high?), BYU (may finish the season 1-0) and I still haven't put Tennessee in my poll. I have to see more than a win over Indiana. Anyway, my top 10:
5. Notre Dame
7. Oklahoma State
10. North Carolina
The process could get really interesting if the Big Ten decides to start playing. Could you have a 2-0 Ohio State team ahead of a 6-0 Clemson? This season gets more bizarre with every passing day.
15. Is there something in the water in Tampa Bay that makes quarterbacks throw the ball to the other team? Tom Brady rarely throws interceptions and then he puts on the pewter and throws two bad ones, including a Pick Six to Janoris Jenkins? The over-analysis this week will be delicious, especially because Bill Belichick won without him. Of course, he was playing the Dolphins, a team I will ignore until there is a new quarterback with the initials T.T.
16. In conclusion, I had way too much fun watching football this weekend. It wasn't like I had people over or made my $50 chili, I just watched because football was back. And let's hope we get a few good games this week to go with our Winged Foot. It's still nowhere near to normal, but there were times when it felt that way on Saturday. I've seen the light get dim in the eyes of a lot of people who love the game and it was nice to see it back.
17. While there were a lot of easy cheap shots thrown at FSU on Saturday night (really, Miami fans? You've lost two straight to Georgia Tech) and certainly at the Small 12. We really shouldn't throw too much shade on the Big 12 because without them we might not be playing football. Still, the Tweet of the Week goes to college football writer Matt Hinton — "Big 12 power rankings 1. Oklahoma 2. Covid 3. Ragin' Cajuns 4. Arkansas State 5. Texas (as a concept) 6. Chuba Hubbard's twitter 7. Kansas jokes 8. Texas (actual) 9. Oklahoma's backups 10. West Virginia."
18. Last week was rough with the funeral we attended for my brother-in-law. The thing that hit me is that so much of the grief isn't as much for the departed, but for the ones left behind who are really suffering. So I listened to a playlist that was a mix of happy and sad.
•"Return Me" by Emily Barker.
• "High Feeling" by the Cordovas.
• "Stay As Long As You Like" by Low Cut Connie.
• "Jump Start" by The Hang Ups.
• And for an old one — and this is old because I remember listening to it on cassette as I drove home from Jacksonville after my interview to be executive sports editor of the Gainesville Sun 33 years ago (nailed it!), "Faster Than the Speed of Night" by Bonnie Tyler. Please, don't judge me.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.