Pat Dooley’s Back Nine (March 21st)

The Back Nine comes at you with eyeballs that are still bouncing from watching so many basketball games (and seeing so many bad calls):

  1. The difficult part about being a fan is that you are going to go through tough stretches no matter which laundry you are rooting for. Certainly, this has been a rough year for Florida fans in the two biggest sports. But unfortunately, that is what you signed up for because you know it can’t be great forever. Even the best programs have their rough stretches. I don’t know if Scott Stricklin has found the two leaders to take Florida to a better place, but I know he has kind of pushed all of his chips in.
  2. Billy Napier is more of a known commodity than Todd Golden but that’s because most of us had never heard of Todd Golden. It seems like a risky hire and one that follows the Jeremy Foley path of hiring a young coach who people will tell you is the next great thing. We’ll see. I just know what my wife said Sunday night when they panned to a shot of Texas Tech fans celebrating the end of the game.  “I wanna be happy again.” We all want to see you happy again Karen. But I will caution Gator Nation that as exhausting as this last four or five months have been, there is no promise that it’s going to get better right away. It might take a while because of the rosters on both teams right now. Actually, I don’t know if Florida’s basketball roster right now is even conducive to having a practice.
  3. And so, they both ended, these college basketball seasons. And in both cases, no matter how hard you rooted, it was probably just as well that they did. Watching the men go 1-for-22 from three in the second half wasn’t something that caught us off guard. We’ve seen that movie before. And for all the good Kelly Rae Finley did to get Florida to the tournament, they weren’t getting past the second round anyway. I remind you that this is why we live here, because the end of hoops just morphs into the beginning of something else.
  4. For the life of me, I can’t explain how the SEC laid such an expensive egg in the NCAA Tournament (and had to listen to Miami fans chanting “S-E-C!”). LSU, I can understand with an interim coach and what they went through the week of the game. Alabama has been flaky all year and lost one of its leaders early in the game to injury. Auburn had been heading in the wrong direction going into the Big Dance going 5-4. Kentucky, Tennessee, I can’t explain. I thought this was going to be a special postseason for the conference. I was wrong and there are a lot of angry fans in Lexington (where they followed the worst season ever with the worst postseason ever) and Knoxville (where they call the coach Regular Season Rick Barnes).
  5. And those jobs are safe (I think). Six SEC coaches were fired and one changed jobs because the heat became too nasty. Hey, the league wanted to take basketball more seriously and nothing says you’re serious more than a pink slip. It’s going to be a different SEC basketball Media Day next year. But, hey, Mike White will be there.
  6. Florida baseball and softball both went on the road and came away with an SEC series in their back pockets. Boy, Hunter Barco is looking more and more like one of those aces Kevin O’Sullivan has had in the past that you can count on either winning or giving you a chance to win every time he goes out. The approaches at the plate have been way better than last year, too. But he is having to count on freshmen in the bullpen and can’t find a reliable third starter. So, it will be interesting to see where this goes from here since there are 27 more games in baseball’s best conference.
  7. I can’t believe I waited this long to congratulate the women’s gymnastics team for the sweep. Winning the SEC Championship after going 13-0-1 in the regular season tells you a lot about this team. Especially because it wasn’t like any other team had to struggle for Florida to win. The Gator ladies just kept putting up scores and the rest of the teams watched the life choked out of their chances. And especially we want to give a pat on the back to Trinity Thomas for overcoming the Dooley jinx of doing an interview with me on Wednesday and still winning the All-Around title. She’s pretty special.
  8. And that I waited this long to talk about the spring game moving to a Thursday night. OK, Gator fans wanted someone who made recruiting the highest priority, but this one is a little baffling. I would think the attendance will dip for a Thursday night game that doesn’t count, but I guess Billy Napier knows what he is doing (he said, hopefully).
  9. We took a long trip on Sunday to pay tribute to the great life of my father-in-law Bob Meisenheimer. It was very lovely and he is already missed, a guy who truly lived. On the way home, we listened to Howard Stern and then I put this playlist on:

* “Seventeen Going Under” by Sam Fender.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAifgn2Cvo8

* ”Into Your Arms” by the Lemonheads.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjkz20-Cd7w

* And for an oldie (kind of), this band keeps popping up on Facebook that does great covers, especially of Beatle songs so, “You Can’t Do That” by the MonaLisa Twins.

 

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