2 BITS: SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Miller, Hernandez

1 » The Southeastern Conference and Big 12 announced Thursday that the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which began last season, will undergo a significant format change. Instead of being 10 games played over three days in the fall, it will now be 10 games played in one day early in the spring. That date has been set for next season with all 10 games tipping off on Saturday, January 30, 2016, though match-ups have not yet been determined at this time. “Moving the Big 12/SEC Challenge later int he season will raise the profile of this event and give our coaches, student-athletes and fans the attention that it deserves,” said Mike Slive, the SEC’s commissioner. The 10 games will all be played on ESPN networks with the four SEC teams not given match-ups going head-to-head against each other on the SEC Network that day.

The Florida Gators wound up playing a home-and-home series against Kansas in the first two iterations of the event, hosting the Jayhawks last season and travelling to Lawrence, Kansas, this fall. Florida is expected to host an SEC/Big 12 Challenge game in 2015-16, though renovations to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center would have proved that difficult if the game was played during its previously-scheduled window. Whether the event was moved to help accommodate UF remains to be seen, but the scheduling adjustment was not just made for next season but for the duration of the event’s existence.

Continue Reading » 2 BITS: SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Miller, Hernandez

2 BITS: Tebow wins at golf, Hernandez trial begins

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was a hit on Wednesday during a pro-am event at the 2015 Phoenix Open as he earned $40,000 for his charity by winning a closest-to-the-pin contest on the famed par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale. Tebow’s shot fell approximately 11 feet away from the hole and drew solid applause from the crowd in attendance. Participating in the event alongside former Florida coach Urban Meyer and professional golfer Patrick Reed, Tebow was a favorite of many in attendance, including former Gators running back Emmitt Smith. Smith’s group (fourth) finished one spot ahead of Tebow’s team (tied for fifth) in the pro-am.

Continue Reading » 2 BITS: Tebow wins at golf, Hernandez trial begins

FOUR BITS: Hill, Parsons, Pro Bowl, Haden

1 » For the second time in the last 14 months, former Florida Gators safety Will Hill is a wanted man. According to The Baltimore Sun, a warrant is out for Hill’s arrest in his home state of New Jersey as he allegedly owes $16,588.18 in back-due child support. Hill, then a member of the New York Giants, was arrested on the same charge in Dec. 2013. After not being selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, he spent an entire season out of the league while he tried to clean up his act and was picked up by the Giants in 2012; he remained on the team for two seasons despite being suspended twice for violating NFL drug policies. New York stood by him after his 2013 arrest but cut him on June 2, 2014, four days after the league handed down a third drug suspension. The Baltimore Ravens took a shot on Hill, who once again claimed to be reformed, and it paid off. Hill missed the first six games of the 2014 season but started most of the Ravens’ remaining contests, earning $368,824 for the duration of the campaign. For his career, Hill has made $1.03 million but lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to his three suspensions (14 missed games). His one-year deal with Baltimore expired; whether he gets another opportunity in the NFL remains to be seen.

“Will Hill, he has a lot of talent,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh in his last press conference of the season. “It’s something that we always knew. He also has a great love for the game. He learned our defense throughout the course of the season, which it’s not easy to do that. We have a tough defense. We do a lot of good stuff back there. But he was running the show pretty well back there toward the end of the year.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Parsons, Pro Bowl, Haden

Fastbreak: Dorian Finney-Smith helps Florida scrape past Alabama 52-50

The Florida Gators‘ season was not saved on Tuesday night, but Florida (11-9, 4-3 SEC) did avoid blowing yet another double-digit lead as it inched its way past the Alabama Crimson Tide (13-7, 3-4 SEC) in the final seconds of the contest to pull out a 52-50 win at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

The Gators, losers of three-straight games, avoided dropping four contests in a row for the first time since 2003-04 as head coach Billy Donovan improved to 10-0 all-time against the Crimson Tide.

OnlyGators.com breaks down Tuesday’s action with 10 quick-hitters:

It was over when: Alabama erased a five-point Florida lead as Ricky Tarrant drained a three (giving him 12 points in the half) with two minutes to play. Still tied with less than 30 seconds left, Gators redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith received a pass beyond the arc, pump faked and drove the lane to finish with a hammer dunk, putting UF up 52-50 with 22 seconds to play. It wound up being the game-winning basket for the Gators, as Finney-Smith delivered a block at the other end to negate a shot attempt and conclude the contest. “It was a little anger, I struggled tonight, but my teammates did a good job staying together when adversity came,” Finney-Smith told ESPN after the game. Added Donovan: “I thought he had a pretty decent look to take a three, it was probably a smart decision to drive it, obviously with the way it finished up. … It was good to see him go to the rim strong like that.”

Continue Reading » Fastbreak: Dorian Finney-Smith helps Florida scrape past Alabama 52-50

Gameday: Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide – Donovan struggling with inconsistent team

Location: Coleman Coliseum – Tuscaloosa, Alabama [Capacity: 15,383]
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Sean Farnham, Shannon Spake)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 92/191 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Anthony Grant
Record: 10-9 (3-3 SEC) Record: 13-6 (2-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -1.5


The Gators are not a good team losing games, they’re a floundering group of players still trying to find their footing 19 games into the 2014-15 regular season. This is not opinion, it is fact, and it is Donovan’s unwavering belief, too.

To a similar point, Florida has not played well for 40 minutes in quite a while. It may put together some solid 30-, 20- or 10-minute stretches, but the Gators getting the most out of their abilities for 40 minutes? That is not happening.

“This group is never ‘all right.’ Ever. Ever. They’re not. They’re ‘all right’ when I can see them do it day in and day out. And they really, really struggle in that area. They really, really struggle,” Donovan said on Monday.

Continue Reading » Gameday: Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide – Donovan struggling with inconsistent team

Florida Gators announce Orange & Blue Debut spring game set for April 11

The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that the program’s spring football game, the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut, will emanate from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, April 11.

It will be the second-straight year that Florida will hold its spring game on the second Saturday in April after generally holding it on the first Saturday in previous years.

The spring game has taken strange twists in recent offseasons. In 2013, due to a roster ravaged by injuries and the Gators only having six healthy offensive lineman, Florida basically ran a glorified practice.

Last season, despite holding a strange “selection show” for marketing purposes, Florida ran first-team offense against first-team defense (and so on). Therefore, instead of there being two teams going against each other – one wearing orange, the other blue – both defenses wore orange and both offenses wore blue.

Of course, the 2014 game also ended in a 23-23 tie.

The Gators said Tuesday that they will have additional details to announce about the 2015 spring game in the future. The 2014 spring game did not air live on television and was only available live online for $3.99.

Three-star DE Jabari Zuniga commits to Florida

Two weeks after visiting the Florida Gators, rising three-star defensive end Jabari Zuniga (Marietta, GA) decided to commit to the program and become the 10th member of its 2015 recruiting class.

A NC State pledge who was also evaluating an offer from Arkansas, Zuniga was recruited by Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who after taking over the Gators’ defense made the player a primary target.

Continue Reading » Three-star DE Jabari Zuniga commits to Florida

2016 WR Rick Wells commits to Florida Gators

The 2015 recruiting cycle may be moving at a snail’s pace for the Florida Gators, but the program added a 2016 prospect on Monday as wide receiver Rick Wells (Jacksonville, FL) announced his intent to sign with the Gators in one year’s time.

Wells (6-foot-2, 187 pounds) was just offered a scholarship Monday afternoon by Florida running backs coach Tim Skipper, according to Gator Country‘s Andrew Spivey, and obviously did not waste time in making his decision.

“Just Committed to University of Florida #ChompChomp” he wrote on Twitter.

Continue Reading » 2016 WR Rick Wells commits to Florida Gators

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