The Back Nine comes at you and I can’t decide whether to start with the winning or losing coach from the Florida-LSU game. College football is crazy.
- There is a defense for the defense. I know it is there. I just have to find it. I mean, Todd Grantham’s unit did shut out Vandy last week and only gave up one offensive touchdown to Kentucky and the reason LSU scored 49 points was the 21 points it got off Florida interceptions. Not buying it? Neither am I. One reason Florida ranks 121st in turnover margin is that the defense hasn’t been able to generate any (although the 12 picks thrown by UF quarterbacks do not help). And the Gators are 39th in total defense — which is better than last year’s historically bad performance — but that’s not what anyone was looking for this year. I know Florida lost two starters for the season – one in camp and one on the second game – but that happens in college football. You overcome that by recruiting better. Florida has plugged defensive holes with the transfer portal, but it’s just a mediocre group of players on what is now a mediocre team.
- So, what are you saying? Well, it’s time for a change. Todd Grantham has shown he can be a great coordinator, just not for every game. And that should not be up to the so-called Gator Standard. There aren’t many fans in his corner, but all that matters is whether the head coach is. Dan Mullen knows that they have had to piece things together on defense, but one reason is recruiting. And Grantham bears some of the blame for that. This is the fourth year of the program and you have no middle linebackers who look like middle linebackers. Mullen should call Charlie Strong and tell him he will make a move after the season. A change must be made.
- I don’t feel in any way that Mullen is on the hot seat that some fans and media types want to place him on. He could be next season if we see more of the same. I mean, 2-6 in your last eight Power Five games (with a win over Vanderbilt) is certainly unacceptable if you don’t make some moves to pull together a fractured fan base. The funny thing is that Mullen did a tremendous job of getting the Gator Nation under the same tent when he arrived. Now, he’s finding out how quickly it can turn. This is the SEC and it is Florida, where a couple of decades of elite football under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer are expected to be the norm even though in some ways they were an aberration.
- And so, the losing coach of that game is under fire and the winning coach gets fired. Is anybody happy? Ed Orgeron’s press conference Sunday night was one more bizarre part of his bizarre story. And then, I read Brody Miller’s story on The Athletic and got a better idea of why Coach O will be gone when the season ends. Orgeron won a natty, divorced his wife six weeks later and made chasing skirts (including the wife of an LSU official) as important as his football team. And don’t forget that he was also dealing with Title IX allegations. Winning matters. Mediocrity with so many red flags rarely works out. Unless you are Will Wade.
- Orgeron may have a finish more like Jim McElwain than Gene Chizik, which is the most-used comparison because both were fired two seasons after winning a national title. Here’s what I mean – McElwain was fired because of off-the-field issues, although they were not similar. It was when the losing compounded the issues (death threat presser, ripping the administration and fans, treating other sports as unimportant) that the decision was made at about the same time of the year even though he had won two straight SEC East titles.
- While I sit here wondering who the next LSU coach will be (ignore all speculation; it’s just agents at work getting their clients’ names into the media mix), I also wonder several things about Saturday’s game. Like why Dameon Pierce had one first half carry (for a 7-yard touchdown) and why it seems that Jacob Copeland is invisible in the first half of games. My friend Dan may have put it best, that Florida is like Roseanne Roseannadanna in that it’s always something. If it’s not eight false starts, it’s four interceptions. If it’s not a missed extra point, it’s a blocked extra point. If it’s not struggling to stop the pass, it’s giving up a thousand yards rushing to a team that can’t run. The bottom line is that this is a pedestrian team and I am surprised just how pedestrian it is.
- It was another mediocre Saturday for The Picks, 3-3 against the spread to take it to 22-24-2 for the season. Maybe I should go back to not picking against the spreads. Just thankful I don’t actually have a gambling problem. Even my bad fantasy team is in a free league where I invest nothing and can make zero-point-zero.
On to this week, because even though the Gators have a bye, The Picks never take a week off:
* The LSU at Ole Miss game should be interesting, maybe one of the more interesting games of the weekend. With Orgeron a lame duck and Kiffin feeling his oats, you can understand the line favoring the Rebels by 11. There is a part of me that believes the Tigers will play like they did against Florida, but a bigger part says the team that gave up 42 to Florida will do at least that again. Take Ole Miss and give the points.
* Tennessee is a 27.5-point underdog at Alabama and one reason the number is so high despite the Vols playing so well the last three games is the injury to quarterback Hendon Hooker. This is a rivalry game that could be another Tide-al Wave. Take Bama.
* N.C. State was an underdog to Miami when the spread first came out and the money started pouring in against a team that is 2-4. So, the Pack is now a 3.5-point favorite. Stay away from this game. But since I have to make a pick, take N.C. State and give the points.
* Same thing with Clemson being a favorite at Pitt and now a 3.5-point underdog. Is this Pitt team for real? Will Clemson figure it out on offense? Yes and no. Take Pitt.
* Southern Cal at Notre Dame has the Irish as a 7-point favorite and I didn’t even realize the Trojans are still playing football. Take the Irish.
* This is a strange one in that Oklahoma State is undefeated but a 7-point underdog at Iowa State. It is so strange that I know whoever I take will be wrong. So, I’ll take the points.
- A message to the Braves – Thank you. Look, I know we were up 2-0 last year and lost the series to the Dodgers. I know it is far from over. But those two nights of baseball with back-to-back walk-offs made this old man overwhelmingly happy. Now, if we can just get Freddie Freeman going.
- I needed some music to cheer me up Sunday and came up with this playlist:
* “Dry The Rain” by The Beta Band.
* ”Swingin Party” by The Replacements.
* And one of my George Harrison favorites “That’s What It Takes.”