ESPN, SEC Network reach agreements with Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks

Florida Gators fans across the state of Florida and country can rest easier as ESPN and the SEC Network announced Thursday that they have reached a deal for the channel to be distributed by Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks when it launches nationwide on Aug. 14.

Already set to be available on AT&T U-Verse, DISH Network, Google Fiber, Cox Communications and Xfinity TV, as well as a variety of local cable carriers, SEC Network will now be in approximately 60 million homes after these latest agreements.

“We know we have customers who want the SEC-ESPN Network, and are pleased to bring it to them,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition for Time Warner Cable in a press release. “This deal will help ensure that fans and alumni of SEC universities won’t miss any important games.”

Multiple reports over the last few weeks have DirecTV near a deal with ESPN to carry the SEC Network. It and Verizon FIOS are the only major providers not currently slated to have the channel when it launches.

Every major cable operator in Florida, plus DISH Network subscribers, now has access to the SEC Network. DirecTV is available throughout the state, while Verizon FIOS currently only available in Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

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FOUR BITS: Hodge, Hurt, Parsons, Meyer

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Walter Hodge was named Most Valuable Player of the Puerto Rican Baloncesto Superior Nacional league on Wednesday. Hodge, playing for Captanes de Arecibo, easily won by picking up 70 votes, 32 more than second-place finisher Mike Harris. One-time Gators G David Huertas finished fourth with 33 votes. Hodge received 11-of-31 first-place votes and appeared in 19-of-31 ballots. “I’m happy with the award and I thank God for keeping me healthy throughout the year. [This was] always a dream,” he said. “I have achieved several goals and now lack the greatest with the championship.” Hodge averaged 16.9 points per game while leading the league in assists (6.9) and steals (1.8) per contest. Also playing in BSN is former Florida G Mike Rosario, who is teammates with Huertas on the Ponce Lions.

2 » The best way for bottom-of-the-roster football players to prove to new coaches that they deserve to keep their spot is to report to training camp in shape and ready to learn. Former Florida offensive lineman Maurice Hurt apparently did the opposite and will start camp with the Washington football team on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list simply because he reported “out of shape,” according to new head coach Jay Gruden. The No. 217 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Hurt started all eight games he played as a rookie but just one of 13 contests in 2012. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery ahead of the 2013 season, which he started on the PUP list before eventually being moved to injured reserve when he was evaluated in practice and not deemed capable of playing.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hodge, Hurt, Parsons, Meyer

FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

1 » Five days after junior guard/forward DeVon Walker tore his ACL and four days after the news officially broke, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has addressed losing a key role player for the entire 2014-15 season. “DeVon had two years under his belt. He was really finding out who he was as a player and looking good at workouts,’ Donovan said in a story on the school’s website. “I feel terrible for him because he had worked so hard to get himself to this point.” Florida also announced that Walker, who tore the ligament during an individual workout, is scheduled to go under the knife at some point later this summer.

2 » According to The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the torn labrum suffered by Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is likely to keep him out up to eight weeks of the regular season, three more than initially predicted. Though Pouncey was only projected to miss the Dolphins’ first four games (the team has a bye week in week five), he is now a candidate to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season. Players on that list cannot return to their team until after the sixth game of the season. Pouncey will be included on the PUP list during training camp and into the preseason, but Miami will have the opportunity to decide whether to keep him on it before the first week of the regular season.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walker, Pouncey, SEC Network, Noah

The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

What is this?

In case you missed it last week, The Silver Lining is a new weekly column exclusively on OnlyGators.com that combines news, opinion and entertainment. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.

DeVon Walker: A season over before it started

Breaking news came through Saturday afternoon that Florida Gators junior guard/forward DeVon Walker, a rotation player who made headlines last year for transferring in the offseason only to change course and return to school, tore his ACL on Friday and is consequently expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season.

Walker, who originally transferred due to playing time concerns, wound up making seven starts and playing in 35 games last year as his teammates dealt with injuries and suspensions. His energy and defense were bright spots – as was his three-point shooting on occasion (he drained 8-of-14 threes over a five-game stretch in league play) – but Walker still averaged just 2.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

It is for that reason that his injury does not strike a major blow for Florida basketball. The Gators will get along fine without Walker next season. Junior Michael Frazier II will start at shooting guard, and five-star freshman Devin Robinson has a great shot to play major minutes at small forward with redshirt junior Alex Murphy currently not cleared to play until the spring semester (pending an NCAA waiver).

Nevertheless, it is interesting that Walker’s serious injury – which a UF spokesman eventually confirmed to OnlyGators.com on Monday – has not even been mentioned publicly by the university. Walker may only be a role player but he is a scholarship student-athlete in a major sport and had an impact on the team last season.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 23

2 BITS: Erik Murphy traded, Darrin Kitchens cut

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Erik Murphy is in the process of being traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who reports that he will be one piece of a four-player transaction between the teams. Cleveland will receive Murphy, John Lucas and Malcom Thomas in exchange for Carrick Felix, a future second-round pick and $1 million. The Cavaliers are in the process of acquiring non-guaranteed contracts in hopes of eventually trading for Minnesota Timberwolves F Kevin Love, meaning Murphy could wind up being moved and/or waived again in the near future.

Murphy, who signed a two-year, $1.31 million rookie contract, is due a non-guaranteed salary of $816,482 in 2014-15 with a team option for $1.15 million in 2015-16. He was originally selected with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls but was waived on April 3 as the team hoped to clear cap space. Utah nabbed him off the waiver wire two days later. While his NBA future is completely up in the air, Murphy will spend the summer competing for the Finnish national team in the 2014 World Cup of Basketball.

Murphy played just 62 minutes over 24 games during his rookie season, averaging .231 on 13 field goal attempts and failing to drain any of his three attempts from beyond the arc. Playing for Utah in NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas, Nevada, Murphy was .333 from the field and .250 from long range.

2 » One day after injuring his leg during training camp, former Gators linebacker Darrin Kitchens was waived-injured by the Buffalo Bills. Kitchens, a long shot to make the team anyway, was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft.

Muschamp’s fifth trip through ESPN’s car wash

Updated at 5:00 p.m.

Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, Connecticut, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp went through ESPN’s “car wash” by appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one day. It is the fifth time Muschamp is being put through the wringer by ESPN after previously participating in April 2011, July 2011, July 2012 and July 2013.

OnlyGators.com is following Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and updating this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his appearances. Due to most of Muschamp’s spots not airing live, this post will be updated into the night.

CAR WASH SCHEDULE*

Now that Muschamp’s day – which included one live television spot, a handful of taped segments, four taped radio interviews, two taped podcasts, a number of photo shoots and four print interviews – has come to a close, below is where you can find some of his segments before Tuesday comes to a close.

1:45 p.m. – SportsCenter (ESPN)
1:45 p.m. – SVP & Russillo (ESPN Radio)
6:30 p.m. – College Football Live (ESPNEWS)
7:45 p.m. – Sedano & Stink (ESPN Radio)
10:30 p.m. – Freddie Coleman (ESPN Radio)

Muschamp started the day with a customary ESPN Images photo shoot.

He then participated in a number of interviews, all of which will either be tape delayed on the radio or available on podcasts.

Muschamp’s day continued with some taped video segments set to air at yet-to-be-determined times. He taped two more radio interviews and filmed five different segments.

Continue Reading » Muschamp’s fifth trip through ESPN’s car wash

Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Idaho and Eastern Michigan

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators football opens in 2014 reclamation project season with a pair of non-conference home games as has been tradition for the program in the recent past.

Florida kicks things off against the Idaho Vandals under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in a contest that will air live on ESPNU.

There is perhaps no better opponent for the Gators to face coming off the program’s worst season since 1979. The Vandals went 1-11 in head coach Paul Petrino’s inaugural campaign with their sole win coming on homecoming, 26-24 over Temple.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS IDAHO VANDALS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Paul Petrino (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 1-11 (N/A)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt (2014)
Common Opponent (FSU): 0-1 Common Opponent (FSU): 0-1
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 115th (18.2 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 123rd-last (46.8 ppg)

Continue Reading » Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Idaho and Eastern Michigan

TWO BITS: Spikes, Kitchens; Payton decommits

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators linebackers currently playing for the Buffalo BillsBrandon Spikes and Darrin Kitchens – were taken off the field on Monday. According to NFL Network reporter Albert Beer, Spikes’s hip had been bothering him and he retreated to the trainer’s tent shortly after colliding with another player. However, later reports noted that it was not Spikes’s hip that had acted up but rather he was being treated for dehydration. Moments later, Kitchens was carted off the field with what Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski termed as “an apparent left leg injury” suffered “during special teams work.” Spikes is on an incentive-laden one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Bills, while Kitchens is attempting to make the team after not being selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Kitchens signed a three-year, $1.53 million contract with Buffalo and is set to earn $420,000 this season.

2 » For the second time in the last three days, the Gators have lost a 2015 commitment. Three-star wide receiver Tristan Payton (Jacksonville, FL) announced Monday on Twitter that he is no longer committed to Florida after originally pledging to join the team on Feb. 24. An underrated prospect who jumped on UF’s offer after he received it while attending Junior Day at the school, Payton is now believed to be heavily leaning towards USC after recently visiting the program. The Gators now have just eight players committed for the 2015 cycle.

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