Florida basketball staff reloads
Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan knew for a while that he would have two staffers leaving the program this offseason, and it all became a reality last week when assistant to the head coach Mark Daigneault and video coordinator Oliver Winterbone both departed to join the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.
Daigneault was hired as the head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the 66ers, while Winterbone accepted a basketball information analyst position with Oklahoma City’s front office. (The 66ers are moving from Tulsa to Oklahoma City this season.)
Donovan did not wait long to fill the staffing holes and keep his machine running.
On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that Donovan will hire veteran assistant coach Billy Schmidt to fill the off-court assistant position vacated by Daigneault.
Schmidt has spent the last 11 seasons coaching under Brian Gregory including eight at Dayton and the last three at Georgia Tech. He was Gregory’s first hire, joining the Flyers after spending nine seasons coaching in major conferences. Schmidt’s journey began as a manager with Wake Forest (1988-92) but continued with stops at Tennessee (1994-97), Northwestern (1997-2000) and under Tommy Amaker both at Seton Hall (2000) and Michigan (2001-03).
OnlyGators.com learned Monday evening that Donovan has also desired to hire Peter Gash to replace Winterbone as video coordinator.
Gash began his career as a student assistant at Lynn University before becoming the youngest video coordinator in the country when LaSalle tabbed him for the position in 2007. He then moved on work as a graduate assistant at Indiana under Tom Crean before joining the Florida Atlantic staff as director of basketball operations under Mike Jarvis.
Jarvis promoted Gash to assistant coach in 2011, and he remained on FAU’s staff until June when a new coach was finally hired to replace Jarvis after he resigned months earlier. Gash is a close friend of Florida assistant coach Matt McCall, who is entering his fourth season with the Gators in 2014-15.
In other Gators basketball news, junior guard/forward DeVon Walker underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL on Wednesday. Here he is in his hospital bed.
Walker will miss the entire 2014-15 season.
Jeremy Foley: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Just as Steve Spurrier stands on his own as a Southeastern Conference legend, The Believer is a standout feature in the SEC Storied documentary series, which first launched in September 2011 on ESPNU and now continues on the SEC Network.
If I am being candid, I was a bit taken aback when initially learning that Kenny Chesney would be involved in the production but there is no doubt that his superb narration (albeit much of it in first person) compliments tremendous direction by Shaun Silva.
The Believer opens with many of those interviewed later in the documentary dropping entertaining and often funny one-liners about Spurrier. This sets the stage nicely for the remainder of the piece, which starts at the beginning of his life and uncovers some little-known facts about his tremendous accomplishments as a high school athlete.
Details of Spurrier’s recruitment to Florida are particularly interesting. As it turns out, then-Gators head coach Ray Graves had a brother who was a postmaster in Knoxville, Tennessee. That brother told Graves to check out Spurrier, who was none-too-pleased with potentially operating the single-wing offense for the Volunteers.
Spurrier visited Florida and got sick during the trip; Graves stayed by his side throughout his hospital stay. Soon afterward, he committed to the Gators and the rest is history.
For the Florida fan watching the documentary, Spurrier goes a bit in-depth about winning the 1966 Heisman Trophy, explaining that it was likely a 40-yard game-winning field goal that clinched the award for the career quarterback.
There are also plenty of old pictures and video clips of Spurrier at UF, many of which the average viewer has probably not seen before.
One strange admission from a friend of Spurrier’s during the film was that he would likely have chosen to coach Tennessee over Florida if given the opportunity while at Duke. Luckily for the Gators, that job was filled, and Spurrier found his way back to UF.
“All I know is it was the perfect coach at the perfect place at the perfect time.” – G.A. Mangus, quarterback
“If you believe in him, he’ll show you a world you can’t imagine.” – Errict Rhett, running back
“It was rock-n-roll, fun-and-gun, visor-throwing, guys flying around. It was just cool.” – James Bates, linebacker
“I’ve never been around a guy that had a greater grasp of what another team is going to do and his feel for the flow of a ball game. He had the upper hand on any coach that lined up on the other sideline.” – Chris Doering, wide receiver
“He just has this knack of timing of when to take shots. He’s always seemed to pull the right play at the right time.” – Danny Wuerffel, quarterback
The Believer, which includes comments from Spurrier’s colleagues of past and present like Phil Fulmer, Bob Stoops and Will Muschamp, also takes a quick look at Spurrier’s wife, Jerri, who Bates in particular got emotional about when discussing the type of impact she has had on her husband’s players. “Jerri Spurrier…she’s…she’s…sorry, I’m crying…she warms my heart,” he said through tears.
It eventually ends with the producers having a dozen or so of Spurrier’s former players meet him at midfield at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, to reminisce about their time together.
A number of former Florida players, specifically Rhett, discuss how difficult it is to watch Spurrier coaching South Carolina. They still root for him, of course, but doing so in games against the Gators proves to be a tough task.
“The way he coached us and the success that we had lives with us every moment of our life. Every part of my life is impacted by those four years playing for Coach Spurrier,” Wuerffel says towards the end.
The Believer debuts on the SEC Network on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Not Only Gators: The Emmys in Review
We covered The Emmys here in last week’s The Silver Lining with me jotting down a number of picks and predictions for the main awards. This week, I get to grip about the award winners and show itself.
– Louis C.K. winning a writing award for Louie.
– True Detective director Joji Fukunaga winning for “Who Goes There,” which I said last week is one of the best individual episodes of television I have ever seen.
– Sofia Vergara being spun around on a pedestal during the annual speech from the president of the Academy. It was not sexist; it was funny. Heaven forbid a sexy woman get laughs for showing herself off.
– The Colbert Report winning best variety series. It was a banner year for the program and the submitted episode was drop-dead hysterical.
– Lead acting awards for comedy going to the appropriate parties in Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jim Parsons. While Louis C.K. certainly deserved to win for his program, Parsons is quite funny in his role as Sheldon Cooper and there is nothing wrong with him being recognized for it.
– Jimmy Kimmel and Amy Poehler for writing their own stage bits and winning the night.
– Billy Crystal delivered a tremendous tribute to Robin Williams, though I wish the clips after his speech went on for longer as there were plenty of brilliant moments to share from Williams’s television career.
– The banter and eventually makeout session between Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Craston, who was incredibly deserving of his honor as well.
– Seth Meyers. I have no doubt the jokes he delivered that got laughs were written by Tina Fey and/or Amy Poehler.
– Weird Al Yankovic. It’s 2014.
– Modern Family winning three Emmys, including best comedy series, in a year with at least three other better comedies out there (Louie, Parks & Recreation, Veep), one of which was not even nominated (Parks). Modern Family fell off a cliff this past season and is so formulaic now that it is embarrassing for the Academy to continue lauding it. Seinfeld, the best sitcom of all time, only won best comedy once during its entire run.
– Cranston winning best actor in a drama. Look, let’s be honest, this really is not “bad” but just unfortunate. He won the award for achievement over the duration of hisseries, not solely for his work this season. Matthew McConaughey was the best actor this cycle for his work as Rust Cohle in True Detective and nothing will change my mind in that regard.
This Week’s Movie Trailer
SEC Storied – The Believer:
The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…
Best “SEC Storied” documentaries (ranked):
1. The Believer
2. 40 Minutes of Hell
3. The Play That Changed College Football
5. The Book of Manning
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