The Back Nine comes at you after a very nice weekend working on my Christmas joy. I even found a place that had the Big 10 Network. Then, everything went to pieces.
- I am starting with basketball today because that is the freshest wound for Gator fans (although Nick Evers to Oklahoma is right up there). This may be harsh, but this season is starting to remind me of the football season. You know, get off to a good start, everybody falls in love with the team and then the flaws start to show and losses pile up and, well, you know what happens next. The difference is that Mike White is a really good recruiter. However, Sunday’s loss was the third in four games and the noise is getting loud again. White does a good job of ignoring the noise, but Florida is now 62nd in the NET Rankings and the conference season is right around the corner.
- I believe one problem that Gators have this season is that there are a lot of players on this team that are still experiencing things for the first time even though they are older players. White said his team was starstruck at the beginning of the game Sunday. (From the tip, we weren’t licked in,” said Phlan Fleming. And I believe that a lot of these older players – who were good players on bad mid-major teams – sometimes feel they have to take control of the game the way they used to and get a little dribble happy. Of course, if Tyree Appleby’s three goes in, everybody’s celebrating today. This is a streaky team shooting the ball and can only be as good as the number of minutes Colin Castleton can stay on the floor (26 minutes before fouling out against Maryland).
- The news that Anthony Richardson is out for the bowl game because of knee surgery leaves us with more questions about what the quarterback situation will be in 2022. We have no idea what the conversations are like between Billy Napier and his quarterbacks. All we know is that Emory Jones gets one last shot to finish this season and the guys behind him have thrown fewer passes than Malik Davis (he has one).
- Which is why I am surprised that Florida is still a 6½-point favorite over UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl. Florida has better players than UCF, but this game is a much bigger deal for the Knights and Florida is operating with a coaching staff in transition. The good news is that Napier continues to build this staff and the hires have been impressive so far.
- I can finally reveal my Heisman vote and it was exactly the order they finished. I regretted not voting for Will Anderson, but fell victim to the thought that two Alabama players on the ballot was too much. Anderson actually finished with more first place votes than third-place Kenny Pickett. There were 48 different players listed on ballots, which tells you that college football was awesome this season. There were 17 different players who received first-place votes. And there were 45 voters who didn’t cast a ballot. Hey, even an old man like me can operate a computer.
- That was a surprising and surprisingly easy Florida win in women’s basketball on Sunday. The women are now 9-3 and most importantly gave Florida wins over FSU in football, basketball, and women’s basketball. So there.
- The two-TV system was working very hard this weekend and the golf was a lot of fun to watch, although my man Billy Horschel finished a stroke back in the team competition. That course in Naples looked like it would eat my lunch.
- It’s time to start picking bowl games and if you think there are too many, don’t watch them. This isn’t “Clockwork Orange” where they pry your eyes open and make you. My goal is to see at least a quarter of every single one. Dr. Football missed on the Navy-Army game (Navy goes first since it won) so The Picks are now 45-40-3 for the season. Poppa needs a new pair of Skechers:
* Appalachian State is a 3-point favorite over Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl and it will be defense vs. offense. I like offense so give me the points.
* BYU is giving seven to UAB in the Independence Bowl and it seems like BYU had a better year than to travel to Shreveport, but I digress. Give me BYU and give the points.
* Oregon State is giving seven to Utah State in the LA Bowl. I watch more football than anyone and have never seen either team play. So, take the points.
* Louisiana is giving 4½ against Marshall in the New Orleans Bowl and I wonder if that skeleton staff will be able to handle it. But I’m not betting against the Cajuns again.
- For today’s playlist, well, here’s today’s playlist. That’s all I have:
* “Too Much of A Good Thing” by The Sons.
* ”On The Road to Find Out” which is one of my favorite Cat Stevens songs.
* And to put you in the right mood, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney.