The last Back Nine in the month of June comes at you from Rainsville after a lovely celebration of our 22ndanniversary. I am so lucky to have Karen and so many friends. Sorry, I didn’t mean to get sentimental.
10. Jeff Cardozo and I took a week off from The Tailgate because of the College World Series and boy we’ll have a lot to talk about today. But I want to start this column with some interesting things from the SEC football schedule because I know football is the way to draw you in. I spend a couple of hours studying the schedule and now I am aware of these facts:
* The SEC made an effort to get some conference games on that penultimate week of the season and there are four this season. Remember when everyone would schedule a cupcake the week before those rivalry games? It made for bad content. Florida isn’t playing Samford that week (instead it is on Nov. 13) and is headed to Missouri, hardly the kind of trip you want to make before the FSU game. But it is what it is. That should be the best of the four games.
* If there is a stinker of a Saturday this year in the conference, it is the second week of the season. The best game is Texas at Arkansas (which is interesting only because of the old Southwest Conference ties). Pitt at Tennessee doesn’t do much for me. Florida at South Florida has a little sexiness. There is one conference game, Mizzou at Kentucky. Luckily, the rest of the country bails us out with Oregon at Ohio State, Iowa at Iowa State and Utah at BYU.
* There is only one Saturday when everyone in the SEC is playing another SEC team and that day is Oct. 16 (Florida is at LSU). Should be a great day.
11. So, the point is that even though I am semi-retired, I’m still the college football nut I have always been, already anticipating the coming season. This will be different (but Grading the Gators will still be on WRUF.com every Saturday) because I can do what a lot of you have been doing and not missing big games. And I get to tailgate any time I want. But I will miss SEC Media Days. It was always the best part of my summers, going out for dinner with a bunch of writers and talking football and the business. Maybe they’ll leave an open seat for me.
12. By the way, I am going to continue to rail against people who call the start of the season when there are games being played the last Saturday in August “Week Zero.” It’s Week One. There is a Big 10 game that day. The season will have started. Stop calling it “Week Zero.”
13. The SEC will have both teams in the final of the College World Series, something that has happened three times previously (twice, it was Florida as one of the teams). I’m not sure what it says about the 2021 Florida team that it’s record against Vandy and Mississippi State was 3-1 and the Gators run-ruled the Bulldogs in the SEC Tournament. I guess it says that Florida showed against those teams it was a pretty good team. The problem was there were too many series when it didn’t look all that good. It was a weird season for UF. But I’ve said all I want to say about that.
14. The situation with North Carolina State getting bounced by the NCAA left me conflicted. The Wolfpack players, coaches and administrators knew the protocol for testing. So, you can’t really blame the NCAA or Vanderbilt for what happened. But how do you allow a packed stadium with no protocols and then penalize the team? I also believe in vaccinations. So, yes, I am conflicted. I feel bad for the players, but also know that they were willing to take a risk that backfired.
15. I saw this one on Twitter and happen to agree. Kind of. The faces of the United State Olympic team will be Caeleb Dressel and Grant Holloway, a pair of former Gators. Well, if you don’t include Simone Biles. Yeah, those will be the faces.
16. One thing the NBA Playoffs have shown us is that you have to have stars but you had better have role players who understand their responsibilities. That really goes for any sport. Except golf and tennis, of course.
17. The “Florida Four” this week involves the NBA Draft, which is coming a month from tomorrow. Here are the four highest UF picks in the history of the draft:
Neal Walk, No. 2, Phoenix, 1969.
Al Horford, No. 3, Atlanta, 2007.
Bradley Beal, No. 3, Washington, 2012.
Mike Miller, No. 5, Orlando, 2000.
Tre Man will be the next first rounder for the Gators, but won’t be as high a pick as those four. I’ve seen everything from No. 10 to No. 24.
18. I asked for some reader participation on the playlists and keep them coming. This one comes from Blake:
Beatles – If You’ve Got Trouble
Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas
T. Rex – Seagull Woman