Pat Dooley’s Back Nine (January 23rd)

10. Certainly, Saturday night’s basketball win over Mississippi State was a big one. But let’s face it – the season is about to be defined. In the first place, there is no guarantee that the Bulldogs will still be a top 75 team at season’s end which would qualify as a Quad 1 road win (the Bulldogs are currently 63rd). The Gators play host to South Carolina this week, but then UF is at Kansas State (16th in NET), Tennessee (2nd), at Kentucky (38th) and at Alabama (3rd). Somewhere in that brutal stretch, Florida has to find at least one win.

11. I can’t understand why this team has gotten off to so many miserable starts and then got off to a tremendous start in one of the tougher places to play in this conference. Maybe they changed the pregame meal. Or maybe they just hit some early shots and had confidence to play fearless basketball. That tells me this is a fragile team mentally that does not handle adversity well. But how do we explain the way this team has fought back after so many bad starts? Maybe this team is simply unexplainable.

12. I know this, we always hear about how everything changes once conference play starts and all you have to do is watch one game between any two SEC teams and it is a different animal than what we have seen in the pre-conference schedule. It’s not just the SEC obviously. But it’s crazy how much more you can get away with in conference games.

13. Before I get to the NFL games (and pick them wrongly), I hope everyone is paying attention to what Ben Shelton is doing in the Australian Open. He plays in the quarterfinals Tuesday, pretty heady stuff for a 20-year old who had never left the country before this trip. It could be enough to make me fall back in love with professional tennis. It’s very cool.

14. OK, so the Jags season ended, but they put up a fight and fell victim to Travis Kelce because he’s ridiculous. The thing about this run for Jacksonville is that the franchise needs to capitalize on this. (I know they don’t need my advice). You have a state with no sales tax, warm weather and the next great quarterback who has that IT factor. I know that free agents go mostly with the biggest offer, but this is a window of opportunity for Jacksonville.

15. And now we have the semifinals all set (nice game, Dak) and it’s the two best teams in Philly and San Francisco in the NFC and the two best quarterbacks in the league in the other. Boy, if the college football playoffs with even more teams can be anywhere near as interesting as these NFL games, it’s going to wear a hole in my recliner. Between the playoffs and everything else I watched, I feel a need for the gym.

16. By the way, I am picking the Eagles vs. the Bengals so get your bets down and don’t bet on the teams I am picking. I went 1-3 last week and it’s possible I may retire Dr. Football after this season. The Picks have been as mediocre as Florida’s last two football seasons.

17. Man, I just want to get some gas. Or go to the Publix. Or pick up some take-out. You would think I was still working for the newspaper the way people want to complain to me about the way Florida handled the Jaden Rashada situation. Is it possible that Florida handled it the right way? Just asking. One day, we will get answers. I want the truth. Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t handle the truth. And I did not order the Code Red.

18. I spent a lot of time last week working on the 28th Bob Dooley Invitational which is May. People have been so generous. If you want to donate gift cards from your business or be a volunteer, let me know (my email is patrickdooley54@gmail.com). Here is today’s playlist:

* ”Stick Season” by Noah Kahan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWG6apzIWAk

* ”The Story” by Brandi Carlile. (I may be a little late to the party on this one but I saw her performance on a recent Saturday Night Live and was blown away.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8pQLtHTPaI

* And for an old one, my wife had on a Pandora Station on the TV while I was cooking burgers the other day and it was nothing but songs from the 1980s. And I hate to say it, but the ‘80s are oldies.  Wha’ happened? “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears. Love the Beatles tribute that this song is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEQKy8g5UK4

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