The Back Nine returns after a wild weekend with a look at the trip to Baton Rouge, the Sox-less baseball playoffs and even a little golf thrown in for flavoring.
1. The Back Nine has to tell you that the atmosphere for Florida-LSU was what everyone expected. It was electric from the start. The police used a helicopter to survey the campus and estimated 180,000 people where there before the game. And all of them were in front of our car. On my list of most difficult places to get in and out of in college football LSU would rank third behind Auburn and Penn State. One more reason to love Game Day in Gainesville. One thing about that record crowd — when Florida would pick up a first down it would be so quiet you could hear Les Miles grinding his teeth.
2. And nice move by LSU to announce the day before the game that offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was getting a $50,000 raise to $450,000 a year. And then his offense produces 44 second-half yards and scores three points. Timing wasn’t good. Meanwhile, FSU’s coach-in-waiting is now 18-14 as FSU’s offensive coordinator. The biggest question in the universe isn’t, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s “Why is Charlie Strong not a head coach somewhere?”
3. Go back to Sept. 4. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You there? OK, Oregon has just suffered a humiliating loss to Boise State compounded by an Oregon player punching a Boise player and former coach Mike Bellotti descending from the press box to give Chip Kelly advice. Meanwhile in Denver, Josh McDaniels is being ripped daily for blowing it with Jay Cutler and struggling with Brandon Marshall. So which coach would you least like to be on Sept. 5? Fast forward to today and you see Oregon at 5-1 and ranked 13th and Denver is 5-0. It goes back to the 11th Commandment — Thou shalt let the season play out. It has to make the Gator Nation happy to see Andra Davis, who has been through so much with injuries, playing his tail off at linebacker for a surprising Broncos defense.
4. So you’re a quarterback and you get a choice. Which pass defense would you most like to go up against — Georgia’s or Georgia Tech’s? The two schools rank 97th and 98th, respectively, in Div. 1-A in pass defense. And the only reason Tech is that high is that FSU dropped a bunch of passes in the loss Saturday night. Are they feeding those young men too many peaches in Georgia? There wasn’t a lot of defense on the field in Tallahassee and I don’t want to hear that Tech’s offense is difficult to prepare for in a week. FSU just doesn’t have the defensive talent it used to. The Semis rank 108th in total defense. Mickey Andrews, time for you to go, too.
5. On my awful flight home from Baton Rouge (we turned around because of a faulty door latch, then sat on a runway in Atlanta for 20 minutes), one of the officials who worked the Florida-LSU game was a passenger. Tiger fans were giving him a hard time for all of those offsides calls. He said he could have called more because LSU simply could not line up out of the neutral zone. He even joked with one defender that his helmet was going to be covered in blue because the scrimmage line on TV is marked in that color. He also said the official who missed the call on Riley Cooper’s slingshot move past Chris Hawkins on Florida’s only touchdown was sick about missing the call. “He got sight-lined,” the official said. In other words, the way the receiver and defensive back were lined up as Cooper went down the field, the official couldn’t see Cooper use his hand to pull past Hawkins.
6. I have no trouble with anyone who votes in any of the polls voting for Alabama No. 1. Nick Saban’s team looks very impressive and has a better non-conference win than Florida. The only question I have is this — those of you who switched from Florida to Alabama this week, was Alabama’s win over a one-loss Ole Miss team by 19 really that much more impressive than Florida’s 10-point win over undefeated LSU? And I can promise you the Gators were in a tougher environment than the Tide. “Our players said that was the loudest crowd they have heard in a long time,” Strong told the Back Nine. Doesn’t really matter who is No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 3. If Florida and Alabama take care of business it will be settled on the turf in Atlanta.
7. If you are a Yankees fan, it doesn’t get much better than Sunday. You complete a sweep of the plucky Twins on the same day the Red Sox are swept because Jonathan Papelbon can’t get one stinking out. Hey, the best two teams in the American League should be in the championship series. Boston was just too erratic this season. And where do the Red Sox go from here with a team that is really old? Should be an interesting offseason.
8. One more college football note: Which SEC team is more of a disappointment — Ole Miss or Georgia? The Bulldogs look like they are heading for the Music City Bowl after being picked to finish second behind Florida in the East. But Ole Miss? A lot of us felt Ole Miss was overrated entering the season but its schedule set up so well it was hard not to pick them to be a contender. But I don’t think anyone saw Jevan Snead’s collapse coming.
9. Hey, we won the Presidents Cup. We almost always win the Presidents Cup. And I know why. The International team is as talented as the annual Euros Ryder Cup teams, but those guys on the European Tour bond all year and they treat it seriously. Our team tends to tighten up in the Ryder Cup. But in the Presidents Cup, everyone gets along. Most of the International players are full-time PGA Tour players. There is no animosity. That’s my theory anyway. You’re probably just thinking, “Who cares? It’s college football season.” Point taken.