Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: March 29

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that could have been spent indoors but shouldn’t have been. It was so nice outside, right?

10. Maybe this is just me, but I don’t think it is. We root like crazy for the underdogs on the first weekend, but then we are OK with them getting knocked off in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. Because while we love the drama of the first weekend, we settle into wanting the best teams in the Final Four unless we have a dog in the hunt. That’s where there was conflict in the Loyola-Oregon State team because Loyola was the lovable underdog three years ago, but now if threatening to be the new Gonzaga, who is nobody’s underdog. So did you root for Oregon State, which is a Power 5 school. I don’t think Power 5 schools can be cuddly underdogs. My way of solving the problem was to go hit golf balls.

11. There is another epiphany I had this weekend and that was the break for a fan base between games in the tournament is like winning games every day. Sometimes I wonder if the anticipation of that feeling of moving on is almost as good as moving on. For example, when Chris Chiozza hit “The Shot”, it felt like I was back in Madison Square Garden 10 minutes later to cover the Elite 8 game. That wasn’t enough. Tournament wins are best to be savored, like a good scotch. It’s also why fan bases lose their minds when their team loses in the tournament. They have anticipated the glow of victory – sometimes for days – and suddenly and without appeal the door is slammed shut. Anyway, maybe I thought too much this weekend.

12. Boy, did the NFL writers and national media have some fun with the Miami trade. There was more conjecture than a game of Clue. It appears to me that Miami is not stupid (something that you couldn’t have said at times in the past) and the Dolphins know this – the Patriots are buying groceries at Whole Foods again, Buffalo isn’t going anywhere and the Jets see to at least be trying. So, you had better be working at building a roster that can compete rather than hoping one of cobbled together. That division is going to be very interesting.

13. Of course, you can’t speak of Miami without speaking about the loss of Howard Schnellenberger, who passed away at 87. I spent some time around the great coach at those old Florida Sportswriter meetings and I would be smelling like pipe tobacco for a few days. People don’t realize where Miami was before he walked in that door and put an imaginary fence around the “state of Miami”, which meant he expected to get every South Florida recruit. He is the reason Miami became a power, restored credibility to Louisville’s program and built the Florida Atlantic program from scratch and yet he is not in the College Football Hall of Fame because there is a threshold of a .600 winning percentage and he took so many losses trying to rebuild. But he never lost a bowl game.

14. This is just a thought, but there is a lot of talk that the Major League All-Star game could move out of Atlanta because of the voting reform/suppression bill signed in Georgia last week. There was also a call to move the Masters, but, come on, I have a better chance of being on The PGA Tour. What I wonder is where the SEC stands on all of this. The conference has been very aggressive with its action when it comes to diversity and giving the athletes a voice. And I don’t know if the deal with the SEC Championship Game in the Benz has a contract that is impossible to get out of. But it will be worth paying attention to and certainly will be a question for Greg Sankey if we do have an SEC Media Days.

15. That was a pretty impressive showing by the UF softball team this weekend sweeping a top 15 LSU team. The Gators did it with a combination of pitching and offense. Florida won by a combined score of 21-7. The Gators have six different players with 10 RBI already this season and a sweep of LSU in anything is never a bad thing.

16. Baseball, well, that’s a different story. Getting swept at South Carolina kind of changes the way we look at this team. Maybe it’s not a team full of major leaguers biding their time in college. We told you this was going to be college baseball at its best this year and stuff can happen. it’s also a long season so you don’t want to be judgmental, but my take as an uneducated person is that the Gators take too many early pitches, getting themselves in holes rather than take a hack at the best pitch they are going to see. Like I know anything.

17. Congrats are in order for Bobby Finke, who won a pair of events in the NCAA Championships and helped Florida to a third-place finish. Finke set an NCAA meet record in the 1650 free. We now turn our attention to gymnastics and the regionals in Athens, Ga. It begins Thursday, but Florida doesn’t compete until the Friday evening session. If the Gators finish in the top two of the four teams, UF is in the finals Saturday. I know you probably already knew that, but I had to look it up.

18. The “Florida Four” takes you to the Heisman House for some numerology. Did you know that only one Heisman winner has worn No. 15? And yet, there have been four who have worn Nos. 7 and 11, the other statues outside the Swamp. Actually, there should be four statues and if there were, four players would have worn No. 8. No, I’m not letting the Eric Crouch over Rex Grossman thing go. Ever.

No. 7

Danny Wuerffel 1996

John Huarte 1964

Pat Sullivan 1971

Eric Crouch 2001

No. 11

Steve Spurrier 1966

Terry Baker 1962

Andre Ware 1989

Matt Leinart 2004

See, you learn something new every day.


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