Pat Dooley’s Front Nine: February 5, 2021

The Back Nine comes at you while gearing up for a busy weekend that includes a little bit of everything including the most overwhelming game in any sport – Puppy Bowl XVII.

10. Now that both Signing Days are over and the second one that used to be a national holiday is now relegated to meh status, everyone can look at the rosters of their teams and forget about how they were ranked. That Nick Saban brought in the best class ever is simply opinion and conjecture, but the one thing that strikes fear into the heart of all of college football is that if he thinks they were worthy and he is going to be developing them, things will likely work out for most of this class. See, the recruiting class that this Alabama one beat out didn’t have that luxury. The 2010 Florida class had the coach quit while he was recruiting them and again after its first season. Maybe that contributed to why that class was nowhere near reaching its overall potential or maybe Urban Meyer was signing guys based on stars instead of eyeballs. But only two of the 28 players signed that year – Shariff Floyd and Matt Elam – made an All-SEC team during their careers at Florida.

11. Let’s face it, the transfer portal is the way to go if you’re not one of the elite programs and there are only five of them when it comes to recruiting – Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and LSU. Then there is another tier with teams like Oregon and Oklahoma and then a third tier with Florida. Meanwhile, the Gators have nine players from the portal on the roster and they may be the best players on the team. The points is – there’s nothing wrong with that. All that matters is what your roster looks like and plays like.

12. I’m not going to pile on the Gator basketball team for having another meltdown in the middle of the season. The concern is that it seems to happen at some point every season under Mike White, where Florida looks uninspired at times and loses to a bad team. Some of the blame has to go to the players, who made zero shots in the last six minutes. And basketball is a fickle game with no script. And five top 25 teams lost Wednesday night. The great thing about basketball is that you get to turn around in a few days and redeem yourself. Except that won’t happen to Florida now that tomorrow’s game with LSU has been canceled because of COVID issues within the Florida program. Oh well.

13. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for the Gators to strengthen what was a top 20 NET Ranking and has now slipped to 29th after that bad loss. In a way, it feels like UF must have ticked somebody off in the SEC office to finish with five road games in the last eight. Of course, that is now four in the last seven because of the cancellation. Anyway, it’s actually an advantage because you get more love from the NET from road wins and the Gators aren’t anything special at home anyway. Here’s is the finish including NET Rankings:

@ Tennessee 13th.
Texas A&M 137th.
@ Arkansas 30th.
Georgia 99th.
@ Auburn 63rd.
@ Kentucky 77th.
Missouri 31st.

14. Is it too early to hype up the gymnastics meet next week? Florida gets a bye week before the No. 1 Gators will take on the No. 2 LSU Tumblin’ Tigers in Red Stick next Friday. That, my friends, is appointment television. And it will be interesting to see the crowd for Florida’s second home volleyball match (the first is Saturday) when it goes head-to-head with the Super Bowl.
15. I can’t wait for the game on Sunday. What I won’t do is watch any of the buildup leading up to the Super Bowl. Really, can anybody tell you anything else you need to know? I have waffled a little on my pick and have decided I’m just going to watch it and root for offense. I think in that way, I will be pleased.

16. I announced on Tuesday that we will have a 26th Bob Dooley Invitational May 15 at Ironwood and it sold out in two days. You can get on the waiting list. We had to skip the tournament last year because of the pandemic and are a little trepidatious about this year but optimistic. Anyone wishing to donate gift certificates or potential silent auction prizes, you know how to reach me. The tournament benefits Stop Children’s Cancer and what we really need is someone to donate hole signs. Someone tossed the ones from 2019. I’m not saying who. Anyway, 352-317-3444.
17. Time for trivia and we’re going with a basketball question this week, even as we propel towards the final meaningful football game (there are FCS games this spring, but, really, you’re not that hungry). Florida has had a lot of great basketball players in its history, but only twice have the Gators had the SEC Player of the Year. We know that Keyontae Johnson was this year’s preseason Player of the Year, but who are the only two Gators to win the award at the end of the season?

18. And now comes the time on Sprockets when we … oh, sorry. I got distracted thinking about that Saturday Night Live sketch with Mike Myers. Instead, this is where we give you a movie or series recommendation and today is a complicated one. I loved the HBO movie “All The Way” which was about President Lyndon Baines Johnson and starred Bryan Cranston. The other day I stumbled across another movie that came out at roughly the same time five years ago called “LBJ” starring Woody Harrelson. Watch the first one, take a month off and come back and watch the second. The HBO movie is much better and the makeup on Harrelson and Jennifer Jason Leigh is almost comical. But the second one is well acted and the reason I ask you to watch both is because I think LBJ was an amazing story. Anyway, the answers to the trivia are Chandler Parsons in 2011 and Scottie Wilbekin in 2014. That’s it. That’s the list.

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