The Back Nine comes at you after a crazy weekend dominated by two things – the weather and Florida’s newest national champions. At least that’s what I thought until Sunday afternoon when Mike White flipped off Florida and Tom Brady crashed the bracket reveal.
- 10. That Mike White decided to get out of town was not a surprise. We had been hearing rumblings about the Florida coach being burned out on the Gator Nation, especially because it was affecting his family. He certainly did not seem happy here the last two years mostly because of the negativity. That he went to Georgia was a bit of a stunner. I would guess that Georgia fans are less than enthused but they need to look at it this way – you hired a young coach (45) who has seven years in the SEC Wars and has never had a losing record in conference play. If he can do for Georgia what he did for Florida, Bulldog fans will be thrilled. Of course, he couldn’t give Florida fans what they wanted, which was to win every game by 30 points and win multiple titles. I hope the squeaky wheels in the Gator Nation are happy.
- Not that I expected anybody to be happy with how this year turned out. Nobody thought this was an NIT team going into the season and certainly not after the first six games. From that point, the Gators went 13-13 which is why they are not dancing. The last two games were 2022 Gator basketball in microcosm – start out with a miserable first half (26 and 25 points), fight back and fall short. Basketball is a game of runs, but Florida’s problem all year was that their bad runs lasted way too long.
- So what now Gators? Pay attention to no lists because I know Scott Stricklin is not. In fact, I have a feeling he is already on the move, although an announcement could be delayed by the NCAA Tournament. It’s not my money and it’s not my program. But I would swing for the fences. However, there is the question of how good this job is. Certainly, it’s not a destination job since the last three UF coaches left of their own accord. The fan base has crazy high expectations, not enough to fill the arena for home games or travel to road games like the true bluebloods do. But that doesn’t temper what they expect. If Stricklin cannot land a big fish, he needs to throw some money at the program the way he did with the football program. I’m not saying at that level, but things were growing stale.
- Let us give praise to the coach who just won his 10th national title. Mouse Holloway has a knack and think about this – Florida won the national championship in women’s indoor track without an indoor track. That went away when the O-Dome was reconfigured. I remember asking Holloway about that and he just shrugged and said it wasn’t a big deal. Well, winning the natty is a big deal. Special shot out to Grace Stark, who win the 60 meters and the 60 hurdles. Someone knows how to coach those 60 hurdles because Florida is now home to the men’s (Grant Holloway) and women’s NCAA record holders. Well done, ladies.
- Saturday was not a bad day. Not a bad day at all. Kentucky lost in the SEC Tournament sending all of those Big Blue fans home sad and Will Wade was fired. Might have been the best day of the entire basketball season (although some Gidiots would say that was Sunday). I still think Kentucky could win it all, but after watching Oscar Tshiebwe in person a week ago I was thinking, “Man, if Kentucky gets a not-picky Pac-10 crew it could be in trouble.” He plays a very physical game and we know that college basketball officials are wildly inconsistent. It hurt the Wildcats in Tampa when he was lost for close to the final four minutes of the game. As far as Wade goes, I thought my friend Pat Forde described him perfectly as a “greasy grifter.” LSU should be ashamed he was their coach for as long as he was without the school taking action, but the good thing is that he is gone from this league and hopefully from college basketball forever.
- When you are filling out your brackets today, remember this one tip – forget what you just saw. If you are like me, you watched a lot of conference tournaments over the weekend. But those tournaments aren’t like anything else. You never know how a Virginia Tech (for example) is going to play in the big tournament after playing so well in the conference tournament. Same with teams that went one-and-done. It’s a new world when the season gets really serious.
- Yes, the women got a bad seed and are going to a bad place (I spent a month in Storrs, Conn., one weekend) and have to face another Florida team (amazingly there are six in the field and four are playing each other). I’m sure Florida moved down at least one seed line when Kiki Smith was lost for the season. The Gators also had a non-conference schedule that did it no favors and lost four of their last five. Still, a 10 seed is pretty low and they were probably put there just so they could match up teams from Florida. Whatever, they are in the field,
- Sunday was not a good day for baseball and softball. Baseball lost to a winless Seton Hall team and softball was shut out at home. Things get really interesting for baseball starting this week with FSU Tuesday and a road series at Alabama. I guess we all need to shift some gears.
- There is a lot of car shuffling going on at our house (long story), so I never know what kind of music I will have access to, but I know you will like this playlist. I think:
* I have been on a Pink Floyd kick lately although I have always been a big fan and sometimes forget how “Dark Side of the Moon” made me feel the first time I heard it laying by the pool at the old Palms Hotel in St. Augustine. That pool is no more but this song lasts forever – “Time” by Pink Floyd.
* ”Black Summer” new from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
* And this one has been in my head since a segment of Howard Stern – “Creep” by Radiohead. I mean, I always loved the song, but it’s staying with me this time. (Language warning sold separately).