The Back Nine: Almost there for SEC

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports

The Back Nine comes at you after a full weekend of sports. To quote the great Yosemite Sam, "What in tarnation is going on?" For the first time since March, I didn't have enough TVs.

10. Of course, we're still waiting for the real football season to get started and the pessimists are waiting for the bad news after Labor Day that could still derail it. But it does feel like there will be SEC football as long as this next weekend goes well with the ACC cranking up. I know the best game of the weekend might be Syracuse at North Carolina, but I think we'll all take it. We're only a little more than two weeks away from SEC games, plus Miami-FSU. I'm trying to think positively. And the U.S. Open, the golf one not the tennis, is less than two weeks away. I'll get to the NFL in a minute. I hate to say it, but I'm getting fired up.

11. So you sit here in your spare time looking for ideas and this one came to me — how may teams on the current Florida schedule have winning records against the Gators? The answer is three — Georgia, Missouri and Ole Miss. But that made me think about this — who cares who won games when you weren't alive? If you are keeping track of how a team has done against your team, the only thing that matters is what has happened while you have been paying attention. For example (I may be losing people here), my first Florida game was in 1962. Florida is 30-27 against Georgia (thanks to Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer) since I started following the Gators. Florida is 10-5 during that same time against Ole Miss. Missouri? Nothing I can do about it.

12. ESPN had 14 of its staff members pick the College Football Playoff field. Half of them picked Florida. Half of them picked Georgia. Which is perfect. I think right now it's a dead heat as far as who wins the East and so much can happen between now and then. Injuries, virus, opt-outs. Someone could come out of nowhere to be an All-SEC performer on either team and someone could let their fans down. That's the beauty of the game, even though it has become way too predictable as far as the playoffs go. And especially this season. There's no telling what might happen. We all just hope it happens.

13. I saw this Tweet from Matt Hinton, who is an interesting follow on Twitter, that a former Florida player may break the record for number of years in college. And it's not Sam Dolson. (Inside joke there). Justus Reed was signed by Will Muschamp in 2014 and played in only two games in three years. He has had two medical waivers so he is in his seventh year now, only the fifth player to get seven seasons. But with the NCAA Oprah rule (You get another season! And you get another season!) he could play an eighth season. You know, like Hunter Renfrow did at Clemson (just kidding). Reed, by the way, is now at Virginia Tech and not far from getting an AARP card.

14. OK, so I know you all have been waiting for this because every year I make my picks for the NFL season and, well, you forget them as soon as the newspaper hits the recycle bin. But here they come anyway:

Division winners

AFC: Bills, Ravens, Titans, Chiefs.

NFC: Cowboys, Vikings, Saints, Seahawks.

Wild-cards: Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Packers, Bucs, 49ers.

Super Bowl: Patriots over the Bucs. Naw, just kidding, but how cool would that be? Seahawks over the Chiefs.

15. There are rules and some of them you can question, but cannot change on the spot. What happened with Novak Djokovic in the other U.S. Open left the rules officials with no choice but to default him. There is a simple way to solve this problem — don't hit a ball at an official. It's not that complicated. He didn't mean to hit her in the neck, but he know he was hitting it in her general direction. Seriously, I watched 10 minutes of the tournament and it was just people discussing it with him. And then he was gone and I was back to basketball.

16. It feels like there are so many "Oh, no!" moments these days with so many celebrities in the world of sports and entertainment leaving us. But when they hit you right in the gut, it is a different kind of sadness. We lost Karen's brother last week. He would have been 55 on Sunday. He loved watching sports and was a fiercely loyal brother so, as you can imagine, we were friends. I have this image of Michael coming to our old house on 6th Street and walking in with his hands full for an all-day mission of watching football. Our dog Maddux jumped on him with his front paws way up on Michael's chest. Mike went down, but slowly, inch by inch for the comic relief. I guess you had to be there. There has been a lot of sadness around our house because of how much he was loved and how much he cared about other people. I miss you already, Big Mike.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes form Connor O'Gara of Saturday Down South —"We're about to enter the second week of September. Joey Gatewood, Justin Shorter and Otis Reese have still not heard whether they're eligible for the 2020 season. All of them transferred no later than January. Again, it's about to be the second week of September." Shorter, of course, is at Florida. It's almost like we're used to the NCAA's incompetency.

18. I did something I haven't done since I was a much younger man, which was to play 27 homes in one day. I'm not moving too well today. Luckily, I had this playlist to keep me going:

•* "A Shot of Rhythm and Blue" by Arthur Alexander, which was playing as we ate tacos outside in downtown Gainesville, which almost felt normal.

• "Miss September" By Liz Phair.

•"One Story Town" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

• "Living In New York City" by Francis Dunnery.

• And for an old one that captures my mood of late, "As Tears Go by" by The Rolling Stones.

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