AN OPPOSING VIEW
Pat Dooley is the man when it comes to covering Florida football.
The married father of two daughters has been working at the Gainesville Sun since 1987 — he was in Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale before that — and served for a long time as executive sports editor and columnist. He’s also a UF grad, so he’s seen this rivalry from all sides, the tortured days when the Gators would lose to Georgia every year despite all odds to the Steve Spurrier years when they couldn’t seem to lose if they tried.
One of my favorite features of Dooley is his weekly “Back Nine” column. An avid golfer, he waxes on nine different news items and it’s always entertaining. Check out THIS ONE on the heels of his trip to Baton Rouge for the Florida-LSU game.
You can follow Dooley on Twitter @pat_dooley and you can read his blogs HERE.
1. Will Grier versus Treon Harris. What are your thoughts on the effects of Harris taking over the offense. And do you buy Grier’s “I consumed something I didn’t know was illegal” defense?
Dooley: Grier was the better quarterback, which is why he won the job. Taller and sees the field better. But the difference isn’t that big. The players love Harris and they’ll play hard for him. As for Grier, it’s hard to say whether he made a dumb mistake or thought he could get away with it. His contrition seemed heartfelt.
2. Jim McElwain = Urban Meyer or Will Muschamp? Or one of those other two coaches that have been there since Mark Richt came to Georgia? And how’s McElwain to work with for you guys in the press?
Dooley: Definitely not Will Muschamp because he knows how to win close games and he gets offense. To be honest, he’s a unique character. Pretty demanding inside the office and tries to duck questions sometimes behind his folksy image. I think the media here, especially myself, has warmed up to him. We’re still not thrilled with not being able to talk to freshmen (just a stupid rule that Muschamp also had) and there are things that remain hidden. But he’s been more open with us on information as he has gotten to know us. He’s learning who he can trust.
3. Last year’s 418-yard rushing effort by Florida is still one of the most inexplicable games I’ve witnessed between these two teams. How does Florida explain it and, given the way things shook out, where’s that sit game sit in Gators’ annals?
Dooley: Longtime radio host Larry Vettel and I put out a blog when he retired on our 10 most inexplicable results during our time in Gainesville and that was No. 1. I mean, Florida kept running the same play and it kept working. The thing is, UF fans were thrilled to end the losing streak to Georgia but it also meant Muschamp was closer to saving his job so that was a caveat. As far as big UF wins over Georgia, it doesn’t rank in the top 20.
4. What did you make of that cattle call for kickers, where does it stand heading into Saturday’s game and how’s Austin Hardin’s confidence holding up?
Dooley: Hardin, I believe, did not make his coach happy when he pulled out of the Tennessee game saying his leg hurt. They have a couple of former walk-ons who left the team but now are back. Hardin started strong before missing a couple in a row and is a good kickoff guy. But McElwain and UF fans will cringe of this comes down to a big field goal.
5. You’ve covered this game from all sides for a long time. How would you describe the rivalry in this century?
Dooley: One thing about Florida-Georgia is that it will always leave you with a lifetime memory. Back in the day, the Gator Bowl would also leave you with a stink on your clothes. It’s different now in the new stadium. More than anything, it’s the Spurrier dominance, which came after years of Georgia’s dominance, that was the most incredible thing.
Dooley’s prediction: I make my pick Friday. I am leaning towards Florida. Georgia can’t be as bad as it looked against Mizzou. The Tigers make every offense look bad, including its own. Florida fans are just happy they’re not going into the game with a coaching deficit.