The Back Nine comes at you after the saddest Father’s Day ever despite all efforts by my two daughters and loving wife. I was my first one without a father and many of you know that pain. I was lucky to have so many with him.
10. When it’s talking season, it’s easy to flip and flop about the schedule that faces your team in the fall. And when they release the sale of single game tickets as Florida did today, it makes you examine it even more. And I’m flopping. I thought the schedule was manageable, but that was because of how soft it is at home. Let’s face it, while the marquee game of 2021 is Alabama at home, the SEC race for Florida will be decided in other stadiums around the Southeast. Florida will have only three SEC home games and five away from the Swamp, which is not uncommon (UF did it in 2019). So, if you chalk up the Alabama game as a loss, the Gators are going to have to win at LSU, at Kentucky, at Missouri, at South Carolina and in Jacksonville against Georgia. That is not impossible, but it’s not going to be easy.
11. There has been a lot of jibber-jabber about how good Kentucky might be this year and that the Wildcats have built a program that is ready to overtake Florida for the No. 2 spot in the East. Well, I know that no other Eastern Division team seems prepared to do that. But Kentucky? The Wildcats have lost 33 of 34 to Florida and found exotic ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. UK will be everybody’s pick to be third in the East. The program has voting rights, it lives there so much.
12. So, who will be third in the West if we assume Alabama and Texas A&M are at the top? And are we sure A&M is second? LSU seems to come into every season as the X-Factor team. Sometimes, they exceed expectations and sometimes they don’t live up to them because we never really know how to pin down those expectations. This could be a really good team, a playoff team. Or it could end up in another Outback Bowl. LSU had its one special season in 2019 under Ed Orgeron, but I think trying to figure them out is about as difficult as trying to figure out what he is saying.
13. The College Football Playoff continues to be a hot button topic especially with the outgoing Pac-12 commish Larry Scott demanding that the Power 5 teams all be guaranteed a spot in the Bigger Dance. Go off in the corner and count the millions you made for doing a bad job Larry. This is not a sweater you can steal (line from Arthur). You have to play your way in. Leaving out an 8-5 team that wins a conference championship warms my heart. In fact, I think you could see more conferences go to the Big 12 model and just get rid of divisions. That way, the two best teams play in the Conference title game.
14. Speaking of doing bad jobs, Mark Emmert, the puppet master of the NCAA, came out and said that the schools better come up with an NIL plan before July 1 or he’ll come up with one himself. What a dolt. You’ve had years to figure this out and now you are pushing a deadline. That’s just dummy.
15. I’m in this pool and you pick seven golfers for the majors and I liked my U.S. Open team. It included the winner in Jon Rahm and several other contenders. But it also included Victor Hovland, who was going to be my smart pick nobody else had. And then he’s warming up before the second round and a bit of sand flies into his eye. He tried to play but he couldn’t see. He finally withdrew. And now you see why I don’t gamble as a rule. I have Kentucky football luck.
16. Congrats to all of the Gators who made the Olympics, including coach Anthony Nesty as an assistant coach. I’m trying really hard to get into an Olympics mood. It’s coming slowly.
17. The “Florida Four” isn’t going to surprise anybody with the best Father-Son combos in Florida football history.
Willie Jackson, Willie Jr. and Terry must be the No. 1 combo.
With Lee and Travis McGriff a close second.
And then Fred and Kelvin Taylor.
And finally, Ray McDonald Sr. and Ray McDonald Jr.
Honorable mention to Bruce and Brad Culpepper, Wilbur and John James, Derrick and Jabar Gaffney.
Hope everyone had a great Father’s Day.
18. I’m going to try something next week and that will be to let someone else pick the three songs for the Back Nine playlist. Some will be celebrities and some just ordinary readers of this column. Well, I don’t mean you are ordinary. Just regular. Aw, forget it. So email your list to email@example.com and try to keep the songs fairly clean.