Pat Dooley’s Front Nine: March 26

The Front Nine comes at you after another one of these weeks that went by too quickly. Maybe that’s what happens when you get old.

1. I get a sense that Dan Mullen likes the 2021 football team he will put on the field, but now it is up to them. Florida did a smart thing having spring so early to make sure the Gators were able to complete their work. And now, the grunt work starts. Building your bodies and your minds, becoming one with the universe, grasshoppa, when it comes to the skinny post pattern. One thing Mullen said last week was interesting in that these guys have four months to get ready for fall camp but they have to understand what they are trying to accomplish and what they need to do to accomplish those goals. If this team has a great offseason, I think it can be a great team. And then everybody can ease down from the top steps of that Georgia bandwagon.

2. I guess what I am trying to say is that I like the roster, but this will be a different team. And because it will be different, Georgia will be the lazy pick to win the SEC East at SEC Media Days. Remember my theory – if a team wins its bowl game (which has little to do with the next year’s team) and returns its quarterback, it will be elevated in the rankings. Florida did neither. Remember all that love the Gators got in the pandemic offseason of 2020? That won’t be happening this year. Not that it matters.

3. Look, I know that the people putting on this NCAA basketball tournament had their reasons for scheduling it the way they did, but unless you are a basketball fan or have a dog in the hunt, you may have forgotten the tourney is still going on. Of course, if you are a Florida fan, you don’t want to talk about it anyway. You are probably wondering who I will pick since I did so well on my bracket (at last glance, I was in 3,989,987th place on the ESPN board). My new Elite Eight – Baylor, Loyola, Arkansas, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Alabama, Michigan, USC. And if you place any bets on my picks, you are crazy.

4. Big weekend for the balls and bats crowd as the Florida men head on the road to face South Carolina and the women play host to No. 15 LSU and are coming off a numbing walk-off loss to UCF. The baseball team has only played two road games this year, so this will be an interesting test. The Gamecocks are 12th in the league in hitting and that’s what facing Vanderbilt can do to your batting averages. Here’s a stat that kind of surprised me – Florida leads the league in errors. That probably isn’t sitting well with Kevin O’Sullivan.

5. Any team that navigates this pandemic and has a good season deserves applause in my opinion so I’m offering it up for the volleyball team, which finished the regular season 19-3. It was not an easy adventure playing the same team on consecutive nights during the season, but Mary Wise’s team did the job and will find out next Sunday where they will play in the postseason.

6. I have to say that I was a little stunned to see Lon Kruger retire even though I understand it. I’ve always liked the guy and one of my first major dates with my wife was at Lon Kruger’s house. The guy has quite a legacy, taking two different schools to the Final Four and, gosh, the one here was incredibly emotional. But his career also shows you how difficult it is to win in the NCAA Tournament. Kruger took five different schools to the Big Dance in 20 seasons and was knocked out on the first weekend 15 times. It. Is. Hard.

7. It’s awfully difficult to keep up with everything that happened with the frenzy of NBA trading on the heels of NFL free agency. Just tell me when the playoffs start. There were guys traded from one team to another and I didn’t even know that were playing for that team. It’s all too much.

8. OK, it’s Trivial Trivia Time and, in honor of Kruger retiring (whenever I hear “Kruger” I am reminded of the feats of strength of Festivus), the trivia question is this – name the five coaches who have won the most games as a Florida men’s baseball coach. The answers say a lot about the program’s history.

9. We were discussing the awful sequels to “The Magnificent Seven” the other day and to truly understand how bad they are, you have to see the original. I don’t know why I have developed this new affection for bad movies, but “Return of the Seven”, “Guns of the Magnificent Seven” and “The Magnificent Seven Ride!” starring Lee Van Cleef as the hero were all made from 1966-72 and were all pretty bad. The remake with Denzel Washington in 2016, however, was pretty good. The answer to the Trivial Trivia:
1. Billy Donovan 467.
2. Norm Sloan 232.
3. Mike White 123.
4. Sam McAllister 119.
5. Lon Kruger 104.

Maybe I should do a big story on Sam McAllister, who had six losing seasons and no Twitter account.

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