The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend getting my sea legs back and sleeping a lot. Oh, and watching the Gators dominate in the Olympics.
10. There is this misconception that the college football season begins on SEC Media Days. Nothing could be further from the truth. When SEC Media Days ends, we are still about six weeks away from the first SEC game of the year. No, the start of college football season was Sunday, because we are now in August and there will be games played in August. Of course, these are games you will watch in August but wouldn’t watch in November if they were playing in your driveway. Still, here are the highlights on Week One (if you call it Week Zero, we can’t be friends):
* Nebraska at Illinois, 1 p.m., Fox.
* UConn at Fresno State, 2 p.m., CBS Sports Network.
* Hawaii at UCLA, 3:30 p.m., UCLA.
It’s not much of a list, but it’s football.
11. I thought it was interesting that the Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavhoff came out and said that we may have to take another look at the 12-team playoff because of the moves by Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC. And there were others in power at their respective conferences who said they were worried that the SEC could have 10 teams in the new playoff. First of all, that’s foolishness. The SEC had a banner year last year and still would only have had five teams in. The only other one in the top 25 was Texas. The better the conference, the more likely there will be cannibalization. If I was a conference commissioner, I would be more worried about staying at four and realizing there could be a lot of seasons where the SEC could have three of the four.
12. Although I will say the strength of schedule dynamic will be off the charts for the SEC when it adds the newbies. I’m still not sure if they will do pods for scheduling purposes and whether they will go to a nine-game season. But a team could easily have a schedule that includes Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M and Florida. Perhaps the best thing about this expansion is that it will allow the league to be more creative in scheduling and not go 10 years between trips for teams across divisions.
13. So, the SEC now has 11 of the 17 top revenue generating universities in the country. Don’t ask why this happened. I have heard a lot of gnashing of teeth also about how this isn’t good for the sport. And that’s probably right, but we have to wait for the dust to settle. There’s no telling what everything will look like when it is all over. Look, there is no commissioner of the sport, the NCAA has been rendered ineffective and Greg Sankey doesn’t mess around. The SEC is the best conference as much as anything because it has had three consecutive forward thinkers in the commissioners chair instead of waiting for someone else to act.
14. I don’t know who I am a bigger fan of today. Calaeb Dressel or Bobby Finke. Finke was amazing down the stretch in the grueling 1,500 meters. He got both my wife and I up off the couch screaming. What a great Olympics so far for the University of Florida.
15. And what do you know, old Xander Schauffele wins a gold medal with a couple of big putts. He is usually the pick of a lot of so-called experts (and myself) to win majors, but always falls short. Good for him. He will win a major soon.
16. Really sad over the weekend to hear that Greg Larson passed away at the age of 73. Greg, like all of us , was flawed, but I played more golf than him than anybody in the world when he was the sports columnist at the Times-Union in Jacksonville. More than anything, he showed me that coming up with new ideas for columns was an art form and he was the best in the business. I remember the one time he timed with a stopwatch how long each athlete actually played their sport, eliminating the time spent waiting on a tee or changeovers in tennis or time between snaps in football. It was typically Larson. I’ll miss the big lug who was also the inventor of the term “googan” and was the first to call my Dad the “unofficial mayor of St. Augustine.”
17.The “Florida Four” today gives you the other four times that Florida had a pair of NBA Draft picks. That there were only four others tells you a lot about the lack of tradition in this program pre-Billy Donovan:
2011 – Chandler Parsons (38th/Rockets), Vernon Macklin (52nd/Pistons)
2007 – Al Horford (3rd/Hawks), Corey Brewer (7th/Timberwolves), Joakim Noah (9th/Bulls)
2000 – Mike Miller (5th/Magic), Donnell Harvey (22nd/Knicks)
1984 – Ronnie Williams (48th/Celtics), Vernon Delancy (67th/Bucks)
18. Obviously, on a couple of five-hour flights to LA and a side-trip to Santa Barbara, there was a lot of music consumed. So here is this week’s playlist:
* “Coastline” by the Hollow Coves.
*” Oklahoma” by Nate Currin.
*And for an old one, “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations.