Pat Dooley’s Front Nine: February 26

The Front Nine comes at you on the precipice of another special weekend of Gator sports and they are going to all be that way for a while. Sit back and enjoy.

1. If this is Friday, there must be another mock draft available on one of the websites. Try not to get too excited over the prospect of Kyle Pitts being the No. 2 pick, but I guess it could happen. Florida hasn’t had a second-round pick since 1950 (Chuck Hunsinger, Bears) and the only thing more amazing than that is that the Gators have never had the first pick in the draft. I think we are all rooting for Pitts to go as high as possible not only because he was an incredible player, but always seemed to be a good guy. Just as a side note, here are the members of the Ring of Honor and where they were drafted:

Steve Spurrier – 3rd pick, San Francisco.
Jack Youngblood – 20th pick, LA Rams.
Wilber Marshall – 11th pick, Chicago.
Emmitt Smith – 17th pick, Dallas.
Danny Wuerffel – 99th pick, New Orleans.
Tim Tebow – 25th pick, Denver.

2. One thing that the men’s basketball team did by beating Georgia and Auburn in back-to-back games was make the trip to Kentucky less important. It doesn’t mean Saturday’s game is not important, it’s just not a must-win to make the NCAA Tournament. Although it certainly would help with Florida’s seeding. The way Kentucky is playing now, that would be the last team I would want to play from the SEC even with Arkansas now riding an eight-game winning streak after it’s big win over Alabama Wednesday. We’ve seen this late-season surge before with John Calipari’s teams, but to be a factor in the NCAA Tournament, you have to be IN the tournament. At 8-13, it’s going to take a special weekend in Nashville. The thing about this league right now that I was talking about with Tom Leach on UK Radio, I can see any one of eight teams winning the conference tournament. But I wouldn’t put any team past the Sweet 16 in my Big Bracket.

3. The NCAA came out with its guidelines for how it will deal with teams that have to pause because of COVID-19 on Thursday and it’s pretty clear we are heading for what could be a bizarre tournament. Look, we understand that one way or another, they are going to play a tournament. It would be a financial disaster to miss two in a row. But the rules that have been put in could lead to some strange matchups. That said, I don’t know what I’d do differently. You’re going to see some forfeits. Brace for it.

4. For example, you could see this scenario. Let’s say Florida is the eighth seed in a bracket and two days before the tournament, the No. 1 seed in that bracket has to be pulled out of the tournament. The NCAA will replace that team with the first team left out. So Florida beats the ninth-seeded team and its next opponent has to forfeit because of positive tests. Florida could be in the Elite Eight without beating anybody any good. Now we hope that doesn’t happen and certainly having the teams all bubbled up in Indianapolis should help. But it is going to be interesting. Can you imagine after the year these players and coaches have been through, to fight can claw your way into the tournament even with a bad seed to find out you can’t play and the season is over?

5. I still can’t see the SEC getting more than six teams in unless Ole Miss makes a run here late or Kentucky wins the SEC Tournament. One thing I have learned is not to take the NET Rankings too seriously but pay attention to the Quad 1 and Quad 2 wins. I’ve lost you haven’t I?

6. I will be curious to see what the Florida softball team will do when it gets to SEC play because the young women are used to a much more difficult non-conference schedule. It’s not going to get much tougher against unranked Louisville, but the Cardinals have won three straight after starting the season 0-4. Certainly, a 9-0 start should help build confidence for Florida and the schedule will get much more difficult with FSU and the SEC on the horizon.

7. Once again, there is plenty to do around town if you are fortunate enough to get tickets. Not only softball, but baseball plays a home series with Samford starting tonight and it is also your last chance to see the No. 1 Florida gymnastics team with a home meet against Auburn. The start time is later than normal at 8:15 and then it is off to Alabama for the final regular season meet and to Huntsville, Ala., for the SECs. Meanwhile, men’s swimming and diving is trying to win an SEC title, both soccer and women’s basketball are having their Senior Days this weekend, men’s tennis is at LSU and women’s tennis is home against LSU (take deep breaths), volleyball faces Tennessee in Rocky Top today and men’s golf is at LSU. A great and underrated Beatles song says it perfectly – “It’s All Too Much.” (By the way, I heard a great live cover by The Flaming Lips of this song. Check it out.)

8. It’s Trivial Trivia Time and today’s question is one you should get – Who is the only player to lead the University of Florida basketball team in scoring in each of his four seasons? Think fast.

9. OK, we wrap this one up with another suggestion of something to watch although with all of the Gator sports going on you certainly should not be bored. We’ll go with this because it was an interesting week. First, Jeff Cardozo proclaimed on our Tailgate show that he had never heard of Roseanne Roseannadanna. I had to educate him and Seth Harp found a clip to play on the show. Then, I was telling the story at home and my daughter Kelsey asked me what Saturday Night Live seasons she should go back and watch. I told her the first season and then the seasons with Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and the late Phil Hartman. You should as well. The trivia answer – Ronnie Williams from 1980-83 led Florida in scoring all four years, the only Gator to ever do that. I used to refer to him as “The Burrowing Animal” because he’d somehow come out of a sea of arms underneath and lay it in. And One!

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