Kansas City Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend (a former UF standout) during a news conference before Super Bowl LVIII at Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa last week. [Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports]

Pat Dooley’s Back Nine: Was Townsend worthy of Super Bowl MVP Consideration?

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that saw the end of one season and the beginning of another. At least that was the way I saw it.

10. The last football game of the season delivered in many ways, especially the final quarter and OT. But up until then, I thought I was watching an Iowa game. Hats off to the Chiefs who find different ways to win games. And when you do that often enough, you have a dynasty. The scary part is how many the Chiefs could end up winning. I’m a Patrick Mahomes fan and he certainly did his part. Six years in the league, three Super Bowl wins, four Super Bowl starts, six division titles. Maybe we toss around G.O.A.T. titles too easily, but why is Andy Reid not in that competition?

11. The MVP is almost always going to a quarterback and Mahomes was certainly deserving. But I would have at least considered Tommy Townsend, not only for his punting, but for his snatch of a wayward snap that allowed a 57-yard field goal to be kicked. Congrats to all the Gators who earned Super Bowl rings, although it does seem weird to me that Jim Kelly and Dan Marino don’t have one but Trey Dean soon will.

12. I was as disappointed as anyone not to see Fred Taylor get into the NFL Hall of Fame, but you never know how those votes are decided. If he had the same stats as a member of the Jets or Giants or Cowboys, he’d be in already. I was hoping he’d get elected in part because we could bring up the argument about whether he should get into the Ring of Honor. I’m not sure why you have a Ring of Honor if nobody can get into it.

13. I saved Florida basketball for this spot because it was a couple of days ago, but we should all just be happy there is a roof on the O-Dome. Because if that spectacular pass by Riley Kugel had been a Tyreese Samuel dunk instead of a hard foul (should have been flagrant), that place would have gone nuts. It still went nuts throughout the game as Gator fans flexed their muscles just as they have in so many sports – both winning and losing teams – during the last couple of years. Maybe it’s a COVID bump, but I hope it lasts.

14. There is no real way to explain that the last time Auburn beat Florida in Gainesville, the Florida coach was Lon Kruger. Let that sink in for a while and explain to the youngsters who Lon Kruger is. Florida is 28-8 against Auburn in that span. It’s not like Auburn has been without players. Maybe the Gators see the other shade of orange and blue and get fired up.

15. At any rate, it was a big win for Florida, but anyone who thinks Florida is in the tournament isn’t paying attention. It’s closer, but still have a lot of work to do. Part of that will be to avoid bad losses and that’s what they face Tuesday night at home against LSU. While Florida has elevated itself to 31stin the NET Rankings, LSU is 94th. These Tigers are good enough to beat Florida, even if they are 1-5 in true road games this season. The Gators need to play with the same energy as they did against Auburn.

16. Softball got cranked up with five games in Tampa and certainly the freshmen pitchers held their own. Especially Olivia Miller, who threw the first perfect game for a freshman in the history of the program. And a special shout out to the women’s basketball team getting its first road win of the season at Mississippi State. I watched the whole game and thought I was seeing the men’s game from the day before all over again. Florida dominated and really needed that win.

17. Just when Florida’s football program was gaining some momentum, the strength coach leaves after five weeks on the job. Craig Fitzgerald is like BFFs with new Boston College coach Bill O’Brien and thus will be following him to Chestnut Hill. Craig, we hardly knew ye. The Gators will be fine.

18. The clock is ticking on the 29thBob Dooley Invitational with a limited field this year. Don’t get caught watching the pain dry. If you make the deadline, you’ll probably hear this playlist coming up behind you:

WRUF.com sports columnist Pat Dooley can be heard on “The Tailgate” along with Jeff Cardozo from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday on 98.1-FM/AM-850 WRUF.


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