The Back Nine comes at you with mixed feelings. It’s Bob Dooley XXVII week and I alternate between fist pumps and nausea. Which means it is like the previous 26 of them.
10. Let us start not with the Massacre on Hull Road, but with another SEC title for UF. This one came in men’s tennis, the program that would be carrying the banner if UF’s athletic teams were walking into an Olympic-like setting. Give them a ton of credit for going unbeaten in the SEC, then taking the conference tournament. And kudos to the men’s golf team for getting this close to winning the SEC before falling 3-2 to Vanderbilt. And to lacrosse for winning another conference championship.
11. But, of course, the weekend was dominated by the baseball and softball teams coming to a crossroads-type weekend only to step in a sinkhole. I think I looked this up correctly, but there was a little brain fog – this is the first time in the history of Florida athletics that baseball and softball have both been swept at home on the same weekend. One reason neither of these seasons are going the way we thought they would is that home field hasn’t been much of an advantage. The two teams are a combined 7-15 in SEC home games. That’s not good no matter where you’re from. Maybe they should have stuck with the old parks.
13. The other reason is that both of these teams – and let us please remember that softball is 35-12, not 12-35 – are struggling is the lack of hat clutch RBI producer. Both teams in the last few weeks have had walk-off opportunities they couldn’t take advantage of. But that’s the thing – both of these teams can find different ways to lose games. Now, they have to find different ways to win them. Which is easier said than done when your two most important players – Hannah Adams and Hunter Barco – are on the shelf.
14. Enough of that. Let’s talk some football where we see Billy Napier touring the state and pleading for NIL money. The two new coaches are going to have to do this because we live in a different world. You may want these kids off your lawn but it’s not like anything in the new world order is going to change back to the way it was. I’ve said it before, that the kids are getting blamed for what the grownups created with their greed and stubbornness.
15. There are two that could change on college football. One is targeting where a school could appeal a second-half call so that it doesn’t affect the player in the next game. The other is for officials to file a report if they believe a player was faking an injury to slow down the pace of play. That sounds like paperwork Radar and Klinger need to file to get fresh tongue depressors. Look, there is a way to make targeting much fairer without decreasing the safety factor. If a guy targets another player, you know it. I know it, the officials know it. He’s out. But if the review official notices that helmets may have collided during a tackle, let it go. And if a player goes down, he has to sit out two plays. Or even three. That would certainly slow down the rate of stoppage of play for non-injuries.
16. And while you’re at it, just go ahead and make me college football commissioner. I’ll solve the NIL problems, too. Transfer portal? Naw, too late.
17. There is a story I want to tell but maybe I will save it for my podcast. Oh, let’s do it. When Will Muschamp lost to South Carolina in inexplicable fashion in 2014, I wrote a column saying that he had to go. Great guy, but Florida needed to make a change because the lack of offense and the old Doug Dickey “avoid losing” philosophy wasn’t cutting it. It was a painful press conference. Will knew he was done. Fast forward to Saturday when a package came in the mail – a signed Georgia helmet signed by Kirby Smart that Muschamp procured. This is hardly the first time he has done something like this. The point is that he is a guy who gets it. And the other thing is that those people who believe I’m soft on coaches because I want to get something for my golf tournament don’t get it. They are separate animals.
18. Working on a playlist for my cart on Saturday (you ride, I pick out the music) and these will be on it:
* “Big Sur” by The Thrills.
* ”Another Nail In My Heart” by Squeeze.
* ”Southern Cross” By Crosby, Stills and Nash.