The Back Nine comes at you after a low-key weekend that was much needed before a trip to the Panhandle and then it is really on.
10. It would be easy for Billy Napier to lean back in his chair and announce to the Gator Nation, “How you like me now?” But that is not his style and this is hardly surprising to him, this incredible success in recruiting. This was the second “Four Dog Weekend” for the Gators (I use the term “Dog” with the utmost respect) and it should be firing Gator fans up. And look, this recruiting class is really just the beginning. This is going to be the norm because now you have a building that is more than a drawing and now you have relationships. But the key is putting a product on the field that makes players want to be a part of what you are building and that starts Sept. 3.
11. I’m not saying that Florida has to be playing for an SEC title in Napier’s first year. But there has to be signs that this is a program that is doing it the right way and it is coming fast with the players that are being brought in. I have little doubt that those things will happen. The pessimist in me is being chipped away by Napier’s personality and commitment to detail, but I would like to see it on the field. Don’t forget that this recruiting haul isn’t going to help Florida this year.
12. But they are building a wall of a defensive line. One thing to remember about team rankings in recruiting – the power of the five-star. You can have one of them and eight four-stars and be ranked higher than a class with 18 four-stars. And those are subjective rankings anyway. I said this on the radio the other day and I am sticking to it – it’s nice to have a normal football coach at Florida.
13. I am looking forward to a tour of the Heavener Building that opened up for the players on Sunday and looked as impressive as promised. Give Jeremy Foley credit for getting it started, Scott Stricklin credit for seeing it through, Chip Howard credit for being the overseer of the project and Napier for adding 39 different changes to the building, some which required knocking down walls according to The Athletic. And certainly, the boosters who contributed millions deserve a ton of credit, too. It’s a different era of Florida football and it feels exciting to be around for it.
14. No surprises in the first Associated Press poll released Monday. Same top 5. Utah is seventh instead of eighth. Florida would be ranked No. 38 based on its votes. So, it is No. 7 vs. No. 38 and the spread is Utah giving two. Hey, the Swamp is gonna Swamp.
15. Everywhere you looked (if you watched as much preseason football as I did), there was a Gator doing something. Kaiir Elam slapping away a pass, Dameon Pierce running over people, Kyle Trask being named the Bucs player of the game. The talent has been here. It just needed the right guy to steer the ship.
16. Someone had a great Tweet the other day and I am paraphrasing, but it said, basically, that the guy who wouldn’t play Kyle Trask over Feleipe Franks, refused the give the ball to Pierce more than seven times a game and was forced to play Anthony Richardson over Emory Jones is now going to be an analyst for ESPN? I hate to Dan Mullen-bash, but these are simply facts. Think how differently we thought about Mullen a year ago at this time.
17. Scottie Scheffler is now my new favorite golfer. You know why. If you don’t, Google it (with Cameron Smith). This whole LIV vs. the PGA thing is going to turn me away from golf on TV. But I love the game so much. I also know that during football season, it has been the normal way of life to put the clubs in the closet, but I have a reason for playing golf. In the last years of his life, I asked my Dad if there was anything we could do for him, A cruise, a day at the beach, a flight to Paris to have dinner? “I just want to play golf one more time,” he said. He couldn’t do it physically, but that stayed with me so if you see me whacking it around, know I am on a mission to honor Bob Dooley. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
18. I’m giving everyone an assignment over the next couple of weeks and that is to come up with a great playlist for your tailgate Sept. 3. Think it through. Don’t just come up with cliché songs. Here are some you can try:
* “Somebody Like You” by AM and Shawn Lee.
* ”Gator Country” by Molly Hatchet and I am going to cram this song down UAA’s throat until they start playing it multiple times at games.
* And for a really old one, “Sure Gonna Miss Her” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and believe it or not I saw them in Jacksonville in the 1980s and they were old then.