The Back Nine comes at you after a busy weekend because we are inside three weeks until the 28th Bob Dooley Invitational. I didn’t sleep much. I have a problem.
10. While the Back Nine is always happy to talk about golf, we hardly ever talk about Gator golf and there was a real joy in my house when we got to wake up and eat French Toast and watch the Gators try to win an SEC title. And then, THEY DID for the first time since 2011. John Dubois clinched it, but special shout out to Matthew Kress, who had to beg his way onto J.C. Deacon’s team and got the clinching points in both matches Saturday before obliterating his Vanderbilt opponent in the title match. It was pretty emotional for Deacon and his assistant Dudley Hart and I did get a little rambunctious because SEC titles are still a big deal around here and J.C. is as good a dude as you can be around.
11. It turns out that not having Brandon Neely wasn’t that big a deal for Florida in its series against South Carolina. Neely doesn’t knock in runs and that’s where Florida fell short in a Lost Weekend. The Gamecocks are really good on the bump and especially at home and Florida only scored 10 runs in three games. The Big Three went 7-for-32 with a bunch of strikeouts and weak at-bats. It’s difficult to win any games when you don’t score. Hey, this season will not be defined by one series on the road, but Florida needs to have a big week with four straight games at home.
12. Of course, we got to see another impressive homer by Jac Caglianone. I’m curious what Gator fans think since it seems obvious that the home run record that was tied last year by Wyatt Langford is going to be shattered. Lot of hard swings, but it’s not something that’s new to college baseball. Ah, just sit back and enjoy the bombs.
13. If Florida has anybody who can pitch in the circle, it must be coming next year. Because Florida heads into tonight’s finale at Tennessee with an ERA of 5.39 in SEC games, the second worst in the league. That seems unfathomable for a program that has had so many star pitchers. If you watched the Sunday night game, you could see Tim Walton getting frustrated with the inability to throw strikes.
14. But he also may have the player of the year in the conference in Skylar Wallace. She now has 15 homers and in the best conference in the country she is hitting .532. But she can’t pitch and Florida heads into tonight under .500 in league play. I kind of gave up on this team last year and then they went all the way to Oklahoma City, so I know better. But can somebody get somebody out?
15. College football made the move to have the clock stop stopping (is that the right way to put that?) after first downs except the last two minutes off the half and game. This is being done under the guise of safety (fewer plays), but we all know the reason is that TV wants to get closer to the NFL model. This is not over because Steve Shaw, the NCAA rules editor, said it was the first step in an effort to shorten the game.
16. You can say that the 90,000 people at a Florida game don’t care about the length of it but remember that nine different schools had an average of more than three million viewers for their games last season and two (Ohio State and Alabama) had more than five million (Florida had 2.57 million per televised game). Remember, we are all just watching TV shows and the networks are the ones paying all of these exorbitant sums of money. Just the way it is.
17. I mentioned the golf tournament, but I want to make sure that people in this community understand how much I appreciate what they are willing to do to help the charity (Stop Children’s Cancer) and ease my anxiety. My wife is trying to get me to do breathing exercises, but I’m not sure they will work when I’m wide awake worried about potential weather, but we will see. Anyway, thank you Gainesville.
18. You know, I tried to watch another LIV event and even though I like music in my cart when I play, it was incredibly off-putting. So, I quit watching. Instead, I came up with this playlist:
* “Go Down River” by The Heavy Heavy.
* “Off My Mind” by Joe P. I assume the P does not stand for Paterno. (It’s actually Parella).
* And for an oldie, “Livin’ Thing” by Electric Light Orchestra.