The Back Nine comes at you on Halloween, so read it all with Vincent Price’s voice in your head.
10. The Gator Nation is in a state of disarray right now because many of you believe that Billy Napier is the guy that is going to bring you back and you want to be patient. But, at the same time, you are 1-4 in the SEC with a 50-50 chance to even make a bowl game this year. And you are now 3-12 in your last 15 SEC games. My point is that Gator fans are trying to give Billy Napier a chance, but he is testing what little patience the Gator Nation has. Nobody is seeing any drastic improvements and we have to assume the foundation is being built properly. But there is nothing in the won-loss record to make you think this is going to turn around this season.
11. Just look at the last six coaches at Florida prior to Napier. None of those coaches lost four SEC games after eight games as the head coach. Shoot, Steve Spurrier didn’t lose his fourth until his fourth season. That said, all of those coaches – from Spurrier to Ron Zook to Dan Mullen – were all left better rosters than Napier was. Of course, you could argue that he is not getting the most out of the players he was stuck with, but part of the process is going to be getting a roster cobbled together with a bunch of dudes willing to do their jobs on every play. And that is not there yet.
12. So, I guess what I am saying is that you are either in this for the long haul as Gator fans or you might as well quit like Twitter. You see the players Georgia put on the field. You see what having two defensive coordinators (Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp) with all kinds of SEC experience means when you can also stack the third, third, first and second rated recruiting classes on top of each other. I don’t know that things are going to get better before they get worse. I don’t know for sure if Napier can take Florida back to where it once belonged. I only know that he should be given a chance.
13. Because Florida has pushed all of its chips to the middle of the table with Napier and no coach at UF has ever been set up better to succeed. But just because you spent a trillion dollars on support staff, a new facility, and your recruiting budget doesn’t guarantee anything. It just gives you the opportunity to play on a level surface (although with NIL I’m not sure anyone is playing within the rules). Florida is in a position to be great again. We just don’t know when it will happen and – to be honest – nobody is sure IF it will happen.
14. Hey, it’s basketball season anyway. The Gators kick it off for real next Monday on both the men’s and women’s sides. Both teams should be really good, but the league is so difficult. Kind of like football. Except the part about Florida being really good. Anyway, good luck to both coaches as they muddle through their exhibition games Tuesday (men) and Wednesday (women).
15. And a tip of the visor to Mart Wise, who has another Florida volleyball team in position to try to win another SEC title. The Gators lead Kentucky by half a game and Georgia by a full game with six games to go. Two of those are against Kentucky at home in less than two weeks, but the Gators play host to Missouri Friday at 7 p.m.
16. I didn’t watch a lot of NFL and haven’t seen a minute of the World Series because I lean towards college sporting events. But I have paid attention to what is going on and it is amazing to see the big brands such as the Steelers, Bucs, Rams and Packers all floundering under .500. Which brings me back to a proposal bouncing around in my head of making college football one big 60-team league and giving the best teams the toughest schedules instead of the way it is set up now. Just a thought.
17. It could have been worse. Or better. If Ole Miss doesn’t let Texas A&M score a late touchdown or if Florida scored one more point, Dr. Football would have been perfect on The Picks. Instead, a 3-1-1 record makes it 22-21-1 for the year. Pretty mediocre. Let’s finish strong:
* Florida is a 3-point underdog at Texas A&M, the Gators home away from home because of lazy scheduling by the SEC. Sorry, I’m in a mood. Somehow, Texas A&M will find a way to win in part because the roster is better even if it is younger than Florida’s.
* In the really big game, Georgia is giving 8.5 points at home against Tennessee. This feels like found money. I am leaning towards the Vols straight up and taking them and the points in the latest Game of the Century (until the next one later this season).
* Alabama is giving 14 points to LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tigers were a difficult team to figure out in the preseason and nothing has changed in that regard. I’ll take the Kelly Blue Books and the points.
* Clemson is giving only four at Notre Dame which doesn’t seem like much for the fifth-ranked team in the country against an unranked team. The Irish were a bit of a surprise blowout winner over Syracuse last week, but I don’t think it will happen again. Take the Fighting Dabos and give the points.
* FSU is favored by 8.5 points at Miami. Unfortunately, both teams can’t lose. Take the Semis.
18. The gym, the car, the golf course. So much going on, so little time to put together playlists for the seven people who like them. I may be exaggerating. There may not be seven. Here’s the latest:
* “These Are The Days” by Inhaler.
* ”First High” by Nicki Lake.
* And for an old one, “Day After Day” by The Pretenders.