The Back Nine comes at you still shivering from the weekend. There was the Stop Children’s Cancer tournament in the cold rain Friday and then the Gators’ performance on Saturday night. Apparently, they didn’t get the memo that Halloween was last week.
10. There will be plenty of speculation as to why Dan Mullen made the move he did when he did, cutting loose Todd Grantham and 20-year coworker John Hevesy on Bloody Sunday. To me, it seems like a coach who is trying to save his job, which is a good indication he really does want to be here no matter how many people say it looks like he doesn’t. Or maybe there were some shouting matches in the film room. I don’t know. I just know that it’s never a good thing to revel in the firing of anybody because of the effect on their families. But Grantham had to go and he went out with a bang. Two bad offenses had record-breaking days against his defense. That’s after Mullen gave him a pass for the 2020 season because of the pandemic. I never trusted a guy who would throw the choke sign at a kicker while screaming obscenities at him. Especially when that kicker was Chas Henry. I never let it go.
11. If there was one play I would show to someone who asked me to explain what “Third and Grantham” is, I would pull out the tape of the second quarter of the South Carolina game. Florida is down 13-10, it’s third-and-8 and Grantham runs a funky blitz with two guys coming from the same side. Josh Vann is so wide open for the touchdown (a new level of quarantined) it may have been the last straw for Mullen. That play was the biggest of the game. And there is no defending it. Grantham was a sub-par recruiter and an inconsistent coach. The Hevesy thing was a bit of a surprise, but it has been in the wind for a couple of weeks. Florida’s rushing game has been slowed down drastically since teams realized that eight-in-the-box was the way to beat Florida. First four games – 322.5 yards. Next five games – 146.5 yards.
12. So, now what? This season has long been over, but I’m not big on firing coaches in midseason because it’s not fair to the seniors. But that tells you how desperate Mullen is at this point. It’s not just about who he hires, it’s whether Mullen changes. That’s not easy to do. I know he’s probably seeking my advice and has lost my number, but here is my makeover plan:
* Hire someone to help you with press conferences. We used to love the Dan Mullen of the first couple of years. He’d kid around and talk golf and actually hang out for a few minutes after it was over. Now, he’s an angry coach who wants to get it over with. And stop saying dumb things that the fan base and media can turn into a bigger deal than it is.
* Spend the summer re-evaluating what has become a stale playbook.
* Embrace recruiting like you never thought was possible.
* Hire a guy who coaches special teams only and make it truly one-third of the game again.
* Oh, and about those openings.
13. You know how I feel about Charlie Strong. He’s an excellent recruiter who played a huge part in those excellent classes Urban Meyer brought in (and lured Teddy Bridgewater to Louisville). He knows how to motivate and keep players in line. They aren’t quitting on Strong. And I would seriously think about Phil Trautwein, a two-time national champ now at Penn State, for the offensive line.
14. One more thing – quit giving the players an excuse to lose. A lot of people have pointed to that Oklahoma debacle as the reason Florida didn’t show up against South Carolina because their goals had vanished. Mullen dismissed the Cotton Bowl game as an early spring warm-up with no sense of urgency. I think it goes back to the LSU game when he held out Kyle Pitts and clearly did not have the team ready to play. He was thinking about the next week and Alabama. The players picked up on it. So, it is part of their DNA that there are times when it is OK to mail it in. That mindset must be erased.
15. Here’s a gem of a stat that kind of sums it all up. Brett McMurphy of Action Sports Tweeted it out Sunday:
“Worst Power 5 records last 10 games vs. P5 opponents:
South Carolina 2-8
Is that a bad thing? My gosh, the embarrassment just continues.
16. A good week for The Picks going 4-1 with Florida the only miss. Maybe it should count as two misses since I only missed it by 41 points. The overall record is now 34-28-3, which means I can have an extra scoop of ice cream. On to this week:
* I’m not going to bother with the Florida game. Let’s just move on. Texas A&M is a 2-point favorite at Ole Miss. It will be interesting to see where that goes as the week goes on. I’m going with the Rebels just because A&M is an offensive mess.
* Mississippi State is getting 5.5 points at Auburn and while Mike Leach has done a great job this year on everything but coaching his field goal kickers, Auburn is a different team at home. Give the points.
* Tennessee is lighting it up offensively. Say hello to Georgia. The Bulldogs are 20.5-point favorites. I’ll take the points and prepare for a butt-kicking.
* Miami is on a roll with three straight wins after it looked like Manny Diaz was in trouble. To be honest, the Hurricanes have been must-see TV all year. Their games have been incredible. FSU needs to beat Miami AND Florida to get bowl eligible (with a cupcake thrown in the middle). That’s not happening. The ‘Noles aren’t winning both of those games. Which is why you take Miami and give three points.
* Arkansas is the flavor of the month again with Sam Pittman getting his team bowl eligible. I love how hard his team plays. LSU? I never know how hard that team is going to play. But the Gumbo Eaters are at home so take the 2.5 points.
17. Congrats to Harrison Bader on winning his first Gold Glove. Certainly deserving. Also, to my man Adam Duvall. Before you know it, they will be back at it. But there is talk of a strike, which is OK with me. I want to enjoy the Braves winning it all for as long as possible.
18. Yes, we did play 18 holes of golf on Friday. We had to keep going because we couldn’t stop making birdies. And we won the tournament. Yay, us! That was easily the highlight of the weekend (others may disagree). Here’s a playlist to match the mood among Gator fans:
* “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.
* ”Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.
* And a special one for a certain coach, “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys.