GAINESVILLE -- Back on the blog after a nice vacation. Watched a few movies. Saw a few beaches. Lost my wallet in the Intercoastal. Picked ticks off my legs in Alabama. Thought about building an ark after 10 straight days of ran. Good times.
Now I'm back in front of the computer. Good to be back. I'll be heading over to McKethan Stadium in a few to watch the UF baseball team take on Bethune-Cookman in the Gators' opening game of the NCAA regionals. Game starts at 6:30 p.m.; Check back for updates. Before I head out, I wanted to get caught up on some news and notes.
First order of business ... Why is everyone all of sudden hating on the Gators? First Mike Bianchi at the O-Sentinel wrote THIS. Then, Dave Hyde at the Sun-Sentinel wrote THIS. Talk about your Tribune Company double teams. Bianchi is apparently still put off by Urban Meyer's robotic public persona. The thing about Urban is this: He has a hard time faking it. You know how some people are so phony that they can make you think they like you even when they hate you? Well, that's not Urban.
[PICTURED, The guy reporters love to hate. QUESTION, Will Urban Meyer ever start stroking the egos of insecure newspaper hacks? Let's hope not. Urban, I will lose all respect for you if you suddenly stop laughing at all my questions.]
I'm sure some of you guys out there can relate to this. When I'm around someone I don't really like, I usually let them know it through body language, abbreviated responses and general lack of respect. Well, that's Urban.
As for Hyde's well-written column on the Gators' arrest record during the Meyer years, I've got a two-word response: Tim Tebow. The national media is so enamored with UF's cover boy that nothing else matters. Tebow is like Teflon. While Lefty is in Gainesville, nothing will ever stick.
Second order of business ... Has anyone been watching the NBA playoffs and wondering aloud this thought: Gee, I bet Billy Donovan is regretting his decision to return to UF right about now.
[PICTURED, A guy longing for his own Dwight Howard.]
Donovan could have been the coach of the Orlando Magic two years ago but instead chose to stay in Gainesville and coach college basketball. Two years later and the Magic is on the brink of the NBA Finals and the Gators are having trouble treading water. Donovan lost star point guard Nick Calathes to pro basketball one year after losing power forward Mo Speights to the NBA. Now, UF's only point guard is 5-8 and the Gators are banking on a 6-foot freshman shooting guard to get them back to the NCAA Tournament. Don't hold your breath.
Third order of business ... Speaking of Calathes, many thanks are in order to the young Mike McCall for updating the blog when the news broke. Thanks, Mike. I've read through the comments and can't help but laugh. All of sudden UF fans hate Nick Calathes? The guy carried the team for two years and had to play alongside guys like Dan Werner, Chandler Parsons and Walter Hodge. Calathes paid his debt. Good luck in Greece, kid.
Fourth order of business ... So it looks like the Memphis basketball team might end up having to vacate its trip to the national finals in 2008. Note to Mike Slive ... beware.
Fifth order of business ... The current four-year contract for the annual Florida-Georgia football game is set to expire in 2010. If Georgia is content with its current subaltern status -- inferior to the Gators, boardroom pawn -- then the Bulldogs should continue conceding home-field advantage to its biggest rival and keep the game in Jacksonville.
[PICTURED, A man apparently content with coaching in the shadow of Urban Meyer.]
Look, I get it, folks. Save your hate mail for someone else. I'm all for keeping the game in Jacksonville. There's nothing like seeing half the stadium in UF orange and blue and the other half in UGA black and red. But from Georgia's perspective, this rivalry needs to be moved to a home-and-home series. (And that does not mean move the game to the Georgia Dome. Yuck! Nothing could be more stale and corporate.)
If Georgia enjoyed watching Florida dominate the Southeastern Conference for the last 20 years, then the Bulldogs should continue playing in Jacksonville. If Georgia wants to up its chances of winning the SEC East every now and then, then the rivalry needs to alternate between Athens and Gainesville.
And, please, save the monetary argument for someone else. Jacksonville's payout might be comparable to a home game for both teams but for Georgia, the money (and, more accurately, the potential money) is not the same as a home game when the rivalry is played in Jacksonville. How many SEC championships has Florida won in the last 20 years? How many national titles has Florida won in the last 20 years? Now compare that to UGA's success. UF's championships have equated to big bucks and the root of those championships was grounded in a permanent home-field advantage of the Gators' biggest rivalry game. Just one man's opinion.
Sixth order of business ... The No.1-ranked UF softball team won its first game of the Women's College World Series on Thursday, blanking No.9 Arizona 3-0. UF ace Stacey Nelson struck out 12 batters. The Gators play No.5 Michigan at 9 p.m. on Friday. ESPN will carry the game.