There is no greater authority on Florida football than Pat Dooley. OK, maybe Norm Carlson, the Gators’ esteemed, longtime former sports information director and resident historian. But Carlson is from inside The Swamp. As for a long-term objective view of the Florida program, there’s no one better than Dooley.
He’s no relation to the Dooleys who have resided in Athens for the last 54 years, by the way. But Pat Dooley has been covering this series since Vince Dooley was roaming the sidelines for the Bulldogs. The married father of two daughters has been working at the Gainesville Sun since 1987, and he covered the Gators as his stops in Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale before that.
He is also a Florida grad, so Dooley has seen this rivalry from that side as well. He can tell you all about the days when the Gators seemingly would lose to Georgia every year, despite the records and rankings. He was there for every one of Steve Spurrier’s 11 victories in 12 years, and for all those coaches who have paraded through Gainesville since.
So, naturally, we had to ask Pat to weigh in on the 2017 matchup and tell us a little about what’s going on in Gainesville. Be sure to follow Pat on Twitter @pat_dooley and read his blog HERE at Gatorsports.com.
In the meantime, we sent five questions Dooley’s way for The Opposing View. In exchange, I agreed to go on his always-entertaining podcast, “Dooley Noted.”
Here’s what Pat had to say:
1. OK, what’s the deal with Jim McElwain’s “death threats” rant? I put those two words in quotes because it sounds like there’s some question if there actually was some. What are your thoughts on all that?
Dooley: It was clearly not thought through like a Nick Saban rant always is. The reaction from UF tells you they were skeptical. He threw a lot of people under the bus. That said, if this truly happened it shows the underbelly of sports fans.
2. By the way, what is the feeling on McElwain in Gator Country? Though they’re back-to-back SEC East champions, I’m sensing some discontent.
Dooley: It’s still possible, but with the personnel losses Florida has had it is very unlikely. There are two factions. One wants him gone, the other wants to give him time and doesn’t blame him for the Knucklehead Nine.
3. You’ve probably witnessed more Florida wins over Georgia when the Gators weren’t supposed to win than any sportswriter in history. What will have to happen for Florida to pull that off this year?
Dooley: Here would be a start ― Florida has recovered zero fumbles this season. Nada. They’re gonna need some help with turnovers and Georgia is going to have to help. That said, UF is three points shy of being undefeated in SEC play against better opposition, so I don’t think it’s impossible.
4. Got to ask for your opinion and for an update, if there is any, on the nine guys suspended for alleged credit-card fraud. When is all that expected to be resolved and will we ever know exactly who did what?
Dooley: We know what they did. What we don’t know is if any or how many will be back next year. They haven’t practiced, so even if the case was resolved with preferred prosecution they won’t play this year.
5. What’s the deal with the Florida offense? Will we ever see those high-scoring days of the Fun-N-Gun or whatever Urban Meyer called his offense?
Dooley: It’s simple. They keep missing on quarterbacks, from John Brantley to Feleipe Franks. Oh, except that Will Grier guy. [Editor’s note: Grier, a former member of the Gators, transferred from Florida to West Virginia, where he’s lighting it up.]
I think it will be closer than the spread unless the Gators turn it over a bunch. Florida, to McElwain’s credit, always plays hard and they know the season is in the balance. I also predict a lot of hangovers on Sunday morning in South Georgia and Amelia Island. Georgia, 24-17.