Former longtime Gainesville Sun sportswriter Pat Dooley contributes on a weekly basis to Gators Wire with “Pat Dooley’s Book of Lists,” chronicling his thoughts on the past, present and future of Gators sports. Look for more frequent contributions during football season.
At some point this football season, we will be able to put it all — NIL’s, commitment videos, the transfer portal and an expanded playoff that may be four years away — all of it behind us and concentrate on actual football games.
And being a fan, you know that you are going to feel about every emotion during the season, including the joy of seeing fill stadiums.
That’s why Dr. Football is here to offer you some guidelines for college football. I used to call these Commandments, but then I had to change a few, and I don’t think you can use that phrase when your rules are flexible.
No, these are just things that you should take to heart if you want to truly enjoy this football season. Years of watching the game qualify me (at least in my mind) to present these not so much as a doctrine, but more like advice.
You still have a couple of months left to go on vacation, get stuff done around the house and inform your niece that you won’t be attending her wedding because it’s scheduled for a football Saturday.
Once we get to late August, it’s time to buckle up and get ready for what should be an entertaining college football season. It will be more fun if you stick to these guidelines:
Every game is its own game
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Do not look at what Team A did against Team B and think you have figured out what will happen when Team B plays your team. Coaches make adjustments. Players go through different levels of confidence and want-to (not to mention relationships with girlfriends).
Some teams match up better with the team they are playing this week. Some teams don’t match up at all.
The point is that every game is its own game, not the sum of all previous games. I give you Florida-LSU last year, reluctantly. We all knew Florida would roll a 3-5 LSU team that had a mess of a situation at quarterback. But the Tigers rolled the dice with a new quarterback, Florida may have been too full of itself, someone threw a shoe and the next thing you know, THAT game was its OWN game.
There can't be too many bowl games or games on TV
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Never complain about any football games being on TV.
Nobody is making you watch them any more than anyone is making you binge-watch The Queen’s Gambit. It’s your choice and the great thing about college football season is that there are stretches where we go weeks without an empty day of televised football.
But people seem to be obsessed with the notion that there are too many bowl games, as if they are being insulted because 6-6 South Alabama is playing 7-5 North Texas State in the Dollar General Bowl.
Don’t be one of these people. And don’t be the kind of person who is incredulous because there are football Saturdays where there are more than 10 hours straight of football on TV.
If you are, we can’t be friends.
Every season comes down a handful of plays in a handful of games
AP Photo/Thomas Graning
We all know that until a game is a blowout, every play matters. But when you look back on a season, there are usually a handful of plays that you know were the difference in your record.
If the ball had bounced this way, you might have made the playoffs. If that receiver made the catch he had made 100 times, you might have won your division. Or, because that kick bounced off the upright and fell over the crossbar, you made a bowl game.
And we always know that every season comes down to a few close games and whether you won or lost. The problem is that we don’t always know which games will decide it before the season.
No player or coach is trying to make your life miserable
Brad McClenny-USA TODAY NETWORK
Nobody drops a pass because they are out to get you. Evan McPherson didn’t miss that kick in the fog against LSU to make you angry. (Although the social media reaction may have pushed him into the NFL).
Doug Dickey never tried to lose a game. In fact, his mantra was to “avoid losing.” Will Muschamp wanted to be Florida’s coach forever, not get fired.
Everyone who has any affect on any football game is trying to win. Some could try harder and a lot could try smarter. But none of them are out to get you.
Pregame chatter and fiery rhetoric mean nothing
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Games are won on the field, not the locker room. Remember the halftime speech by Tim Tebow at the 2008 national title game? About how the offense was going to take the kickoff and drive it right down the field? Florida went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half.
It’s funny how you never hear about the great speeches that resulted in a team losing a game. It doesn’t mean they weren’t great speeches. It’s just that they really don’t have much of an effect once helmets mee helmets.
Same with trash talk. Sometimes it backfires. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Either way, don’t worry about it.
You can look back, but it's best not to stare
The great Tom Petty gave us a lot of advice in his song lyrics, and this was one line that has stayed with me (from “Big Weekend”).
You can look back at the great teams or players at Florida. But they’re not coming through that door. Concentrate on the guys who are on this team instead of scratching a phantom limb.
Football is about capitalism and the rich always get richer
© Bethany Baker / The Coloradoan
It may change with the new playoff system, but unlikely. The NFL is socialist because it gives the worst teams the best players via the draft and gives the best teams the toughest schedules. And it has a salary cap.
There is no salary cap in college football and schools spend whatever they feel necessary to get the best players. They also make their own schedules as far as non-conference games go.
What if there was a salary cap in college football? It would be interesting.
You must have a minimum of two TVS if you're going spend the day watching games
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
And when I say minimum, I mean minimum. Never invite me over on a football Saturday so you can be constantly changing the channels.
And don’t give me picture-in-picture.
College football offers so much that I actually plot out which games I will watch on which TVs all day. If you have more than two TVs and people watching with you, it’s best to number each television. “Sack on 3!” “Pick on 1!” You get the idea.
Expect the unexpected whether in individual games, conference realignment or coaching changes
Butch Dill/Getty Images
Every time you feel like college football has settled down, a coach either jump ships or is unexpectedly fired. And if you think you’ve seen everything on a football field, I give you the shoe throw.
College football has changed drastically in the last few months. That simply sets it up to change again.
It's television's world and we're just living in it
Tanya Breen via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Why in the world would a Florida September game be scheduled for noon? Why can’t we know when the Florida-LSU game will be so we can make plans.
TV pays a majority of the bills. TV tells the athletic directors what to do and when to play. You don’t have to like it. Just accept it and enjoy the fact that you have so many games to watch.
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