The Back Nine comes at you after a glorious weekend unless you were trying to field a punt at The Swamp.
- Before I get to the new Billy, let me talk about Saturday’s game. What a mess. It was overly-officiated and lasted an incredible 3:53 because of all of the reviews and excuses for four-minute blocks of commercials. Neither team played well and the funny thing was that a lot of college writers on Twitter were going on and on about how college football is so much better than pro football because of all of the exciting games and what rivalry games mean. Fortunately, most of those writers didn’t watch Florida-FSU. I’m assuming. But the Gators found a way to win the same way they have found ways to lose all year. I mean, they tried to give the game away and FSU isn’t good enough to take it. And, in the end, all that really matters is that Florida beat FSU and guys certainly didn’t quit. Now, they need to get better coaching. There were not only 13 penalties but numerous offsetting or declined penalties. Florida heads to the postseason ranked 122nd out of 130 teams in penalties. That gives you something to work on there Mr. Napier.
- My feeling about the new hire is that this IS kind of like getting another Billy, not just a play on the name of the best coach ever to come through UF in Billy Donovan. Napier knows what he is doing, but has to learn a lot about being a head coach in the SEC. Was it a good hire? I think so. Was there a better hire out there? Questionable. Was it a home run hire? Well, we’ll just have to see. Florida went and hired a coach who is great on relationships, is humble as heck and is passionate about recruiting and having the kind of recruiting organization that it takes to compete with the big dogs. In other words, they hired the anti-Mullen. Still, this is not a job for the thin of skin or days off. It is a great job, but it is a difficult one.
- The first thing Napier needs to address is that the culture at Florida has been damaged by this notion that one doesn’t need to bring it for every game. That was a problem for the last three coaches. Players need to understand that they’re not playing against you, they are playing against Tim Tebow and Steve Spurrier and Emmitt Smith. They don’t like Florida in this conference and want to beat them at everything. You have to prepare for every game with the intensity of a white-hot star.
- Meanwhile, Lincoln Riley really shook things up by stiff-arming LSU and taking the USC job. There were plenty of comments about him wanting to avoid playing in the SEC and that may well be a part of the reason for him winging his way to the west coast. The Pac 12 is as winnable as the Big 12. But USC is a premier job that has been mired in mediocrity and Riley has been killing it in SoCal in recruiting. Why he took the job is irrelevant. Almost as irrelevant as USC’s game Saturday against Cal, rescheduled because the Trojans thought they might need it for bowl eligibility. They do not. They are 4-7. And, of course, the SEC got a record 13 teams to be eligible for bowl games. A lot of 6-6 teams out there. That’s why they like those schedules with three softies. There are 13 6-6 teams in the Power 5 Conferences, 20 percent of their total number of teams.
- Nobody asked me, but I think LSU is now waiting for Bill O’Brien to finish Saturday and then will hire him. He was on Florida’s list as well, along with Matt Campbell. But they never had a chance with Scott Stricklin because Napier blew him away.
- My Biletnikoff vote is in and now I have to be prepared to vote for the Heisman on Sunday. The trouble is that I have no idea who I am voting for. What if Jordan Davis of Georgia and Will Anderson of Alabama had a wrestling match at halftime of the SEC game to decide it? I kid, of course, but they both have a chance to be on my ballot. I have never seen it this wide open since I started voting.
- The Picks did something in honor of Florida’s season. Dr. Football went 3-3, mediocre and right at .500 to pay homage to Florida’s 6-6 season. That’s 42-37-3 for the year, still ahead but not by much. On to the championship games:
* Georgia is favored by six to beat Alabama in the SEC title game. Bulldog fans probably consider that spread an insult. Alabama has probably been paying a lot of attention to Georgia this season and that may not be a good thing. Georgia rolls.
* Michigan is favored by 10.5 over Iowa in the Big Ten game and I think a lot of us had forgotten all about the Hawkeyes. Those are a lot of points, but I think Michigan covers and moves to the next round.
* I’ll bet Napier pays attention to the Pac 12 title game since Florida’s first opponent of 2022 will be in it. Utah is favored by three over a team it beat by 31 just two weeks ago. I’ll take not only the two Utes but all of the Utes.
* Wake Forest is favored by 2.5 over Pitt in the first Clemson-free ACC Championship Game in eight years. I wonder what the crowd will be like. I’ll take Pitt and the points.
* Now that Florida has a new coach, I should pick his game. Louisiana is a three-point underdog in the Sun Belt title game. Napier might as well get used to me not being a major homer … I’m taking Appy State.
- I know there is too much football here and not enough hoops, but this is almost the end of that, another season blown by us too quickly. Very impressed with how this team keeps playing hard. Should be an interesting test in Norman Wednesday night. Maybe the Sooners will have a football coach by then. And congrats to the women’s volleyball team for hosting another round of NCAA Tourney games. That’s 31 straight tournaments for women which is third only to Penn State and Nebraska. Florida faces FAMU at 7 Thursday as the No. 16 team.
- Last week, I gave you the four songs I would play on The Beatles Channel on Sirius if I was the guest DJ and had to pick four. This week, we move down the dial to the Tom Petty Channel:
* ”The Waiting.”
* ”Southern Accents.”