Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: December 21

The Back Nine comes at you after a Championship Saturday that included a show we have seen before. I’m looking at you, defense.

10. Now that this wild and crazy college football season is basically over in Gainesville (bowl games are just pretend games made for TV, especially in 2020), I think it is important even in the rubble left behind to appreciate what we just saw. The SEC played 97 percent of its games and Florida played 100 percent of its games. There was no shortage of content on TV even when people complained that there weren’t any good games. We will have a playoff and people can scream that it’s unfair, but that’s what we all signed up for – an unfair season in a sport that is already not fair with a broken playoff system. We knew different conferences would play a different number of games. Life isn’t fair. College football isn’t fair. This season certainly was not fair. But it certainly beat the alternative that we were staring at this summer.

11. We also were able to marvel at the Unicorn. We may not see another one like Kyle Pitts around for a long time. I’m going to miss watching him play and its stunk that we only had eight games with him this season. Any player who is named an All-American gets an inscribed paver outside the Heavener Building. Pitts is a lock, I would think, the first since Vernon Hargreaves III did it in back-to-back years (2014, ‘15). When Aaron Hernandez was convicted, Florida pulled his paver and replaced it with a blank one. I think they should pull that blank one, slide the others up and restore some order instead of people asking why this one is blank. Of course, it’s not my money.

12. There is also this before I get a little negative – this Florida team, albeit in bizarre circumstances, became only the fourth Gator team to win eight conference games. The others were the 1965, ‘96 and 2009 teams. And UF qualified for a New Year’s Six Bowl game for the third straight year. Yeah, I know. YOU WANTED MORE! I can hear you. Think about a world where there was no COVID-19 and Florida played its original schedule and there is no Texas A&M road game and they get LSU with a full stadium. They might have been playing Alabama for seeding purposes in the College Football Playoff. But the virus happened and we all had to deal with it and I think everyone over there deserves a ton of credit for getting us through the season, especially the players who sacrificed so much.

13. But you knew I couldn’t get through this without some negativity and it involves a defense that has a chance to be the worst in Gator history. Now, we have no idea which players will show up for the Cotton Bowl or if there will even be one, but Florida has allowed 315 points so far. The most ever allowed by a Gator team was 331 in 2007, the year Tim Tebow won the Heisman and a bunch of freshmen started on defense. The highest average allowed per game ever is 29.3 in 1946. This defense is at 28.6 and rising. The record for first downs allowed is 262. Florida has allowed 249. Like I said a few games in, this defense had a shot at being historically bad. And still had a chance to win it all.

14. Steve Spurrier once told me, “Statistics are for losers and assistant coaches.” And nuts like me who want to quantify both excellence and incompetence. He didn’t say that last part. I did. And I’m sure Todd Grantham is aware of these stats. At least I hope he is.
15. My Heisman ballot went out Sunday and I’m not allowed to reveal who I voted for or the Downtown Athletic Club will have me drawn and quartered or at least send me a mean letter. You can guess who was at the top of my ballot but I took the task at hand very seriously while wearing a mask and not basking in the glow of getting my grades in fast after the game. Then I grabbed a flask and decided to ask my wife if she wanted any but she was already drinking from a cask and speaking with a Basque accent. OK. No more clues.

16. My Associated Press Top 25 ballot looked like this at the top – 1. Bama 2. Clem 3. ND 4. A&M 5. OSU 6. Cincy 7. Okla 8. Fla 9. Coastal 10. Indiana. Yes, with three losses Florida may be too high. But the Gators lost three games by 12 total points despite making a ton of mistakes in each of them. They were really close to going 11-0 with an all-SEC schedule and two missed weeks because of the virus.

17. The Tweet of the Week goes to college football guru and radio genius Matt Hayes – “The SEC CG is perfect reason why Ohio State should not be in the CFP. Gators were 6 points away from No. 1 team. Same Gators team that lost at home to LSU a week earlier. Actually playing games – against teams who know your personnel and what you do –is dangerous. Not playing = easy.” You are correct sir.

18. So my wife surprised me on Sunday because she decided to watch a movie I love. So we enjoyed it together. I think. And since it was a Christmas movie I decided the Florida Four Pack would be mt four favorite Christmas movies. And let me settle one thing – if a movie has Christmas as a backdrop (I’m looking at you “Die Hard”), it is not a Christmas movie. A movie has to be ABOUT Christmas to qualify.

1. “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
2. “Scrooged.”
3. “Elf”.
4. The original “Miracle on 34th St.”

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