TWO BITS: Tebow to interview Driskel, Kansas set

1 » The SEC Network on Tuesday announced that the channel will kick off with a three-hour edition of SEC Now that will feature a number of segments of interest to Florida Gators fans. Starting at 6 p.m., the show will open with an essay featuring 31 familiar Southeastern Conference voices including former Florida swimmer Dara Torres. The program will then air live from the network’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Dari Nowkhah and Maria Taylor hosting the program. As part of the broadcast, SEC Now will have “live whip around reporting” from all 14 schools with former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore live in Gainesville, Florida. (Tebow, of course, will serve as an analyst on SEC Nation during the season.) While on campus, Tebow will have a sit-down interview with Florida redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel (likely taped earlier in the day). The Gators and head coach Will Muschamp will also be featured as one of three programs in all-access segments with an exclusive look at spring practice. The program will air until 9 p.m., at which point the network will debut its latest SEC Storied documentary, “The Stars are Aligned.”

If fans would like to participate in the broadcast, UF announced Wednesday that they can be a part of live shots featuring Tebow and Tessitore at 6:05 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. outside the Heavener Football Complex next to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

RELATED: First two weeks of the SEC Network’s schedule

2 » ESPN announced on Tuesday details of Florida basketball’s showdown with the Kansas Jayhawks as part of the 2014 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. UF and KU will square off on Friday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. in the featured game of a doubleheader set to air on ESPN. Florida took down Kansas 67-61 in the first challenge in 2013, so the Jayhawks will certainly be looking for some revenge on their home court.

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4 BITS: Pounceys, Rainey, Parsons, Big Brother

1 » As former Florida Gators centers Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey await word on the civil lawsuit that has been brought against them in a nightclub incident where three patrons allege the brothers committed battery, among other acts, it appears as if only one of the two will actually be formally charged by law enforcement. According to Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald, the attorney for the victims claims that that Miami Beach Police Department will charge Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers with misdemeanor battery, while Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins will only have to contend with the civil suit. However, the Pounceys’ attorney does not believe a misdemeanor battery charge is on the horizon. “Until such time [as an assistant state attorney is assigned to review the evidence], no charges can be formally filed against either of my clients,” he told Beasley. “From what we’ve discovered, the evidence supporting the battery claims is flimsy, at best.” No charges have been filed as of press time.

2 » Two days after being praised by Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for his on-field ability and chance to make an impact with the franchise in 2014, former Gators running back Chris Rainey was cut for a violation of team rules. Pagano did not offer any explanation about Rainey’s dismissal in a press conference the next day and no light had been shed on the incident…until Thursday night. While tweeting during the Indianapolis-New York Jets game, Rainey send the following two messages consecutively: “Yeah im piss watchin the colts game when I should be out there too. Even tho I didnt break no f**kin team rules, not even,” he wrote first. “Nice TD Boom even tho u was in the hallway with me that nite when we was horsing around with the fire extinguisher. Man up like I did.”

Rainey in those messages was referring to RB Dan Herron, nicknamed “Boom,” who he is insinuating was involved in some mischief with a fire extinguisher presumably during training camp. Hours later, Rainey deleted the aforementioned tweets and issued the following statement: “Hello twitter fam, my apology for my cousin mistake earlier. I wasn’t aware of his actions til now. He’s been check truly sry, God Bless! My twitter account is in my control now, my apology once again. Goodnight twitter family and God Bless!!!” More likely is that Rainey tweeted his true, passionate feelings while watching his former team and then realized how sharing those thoughts made him look to prospective employers afterward. Either way, the earlier tweets seem to check out. According to the Indianapolis Star, a fire extinguisher was used in a break room at the team hotel on July 27, setting off a fire alarm. Rainey was released the following morning.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Pounceys, Rainey, Parsons, Big Brother

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SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

1 » Former Florida Gators center Marreese Speights was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving under the influence in Tampa, Florida. According to the Bay Area News Group, Speights blew Breathalyzer tests of .103 and .106, well above Florida’s legal limit of .080. He was initially pulled over for “failure to yield right of way while pulling out of a driveway” and subsequently failed roadside field sobriety tests before having the alcohol content of his breath examined. Speights, on the second year of a fully-guaranteed three-year, $10.97 million contract with the Golden State Warriors, has been charged with a second-degree misdemeanor but was released on $500 bond. He was celebrating his 27th birthday on Monday.

2 » Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal was one of three players cut by USA Basketball on Monday as the organization reduced its roster to 16 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball. Now on a break, USA Basketball will resume its training camp on Aug. 13. It will have approximately two weeks to trim four more players from the roster ahead of the international event. Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons is one of the 16 players still competing for spots and the only former Gators player still in camp.

3 » Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper has missed consecutive practices with a foot injury and was seen in a walking boot at his team’s last practice. Cooper had a career year in 2013, hauling in 47 passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns; he is expected to see his role increase in 2014 now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the franchise. Prior to stepping on the field last season, Cooper found himself surrounded by controversy off the field when a leaked tape of him screaming a racial slur at a security guard made national news. He recently said that it still haunts him to this day. “Obviously, I was very embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed about the situation,” he told NFL Network’s Michael Irvin last week. “Words hurt, and I’m crushed by it. But it felt good to know my teammates were supporting me. … It meant a lot to me. That was a huge deal, nationwide. That is a big deal. And to have the support from the guys that know you, it means a lot.”

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Speights, Beal, Cooper, Reed, Caldwell

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2014 Battle 4 Atlantis bracket released; Florida Gators to open tournament vs. Georgetown

The Florida Gators will take on the Georgetown Hoyas in the opening round of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which will be held from Nov. 26-28 at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Guaranteed to play three games in as many days, the winner and loser from the Florida-Georgetown game will take on either Wisconsin or UAB. With consecutive victories, the Gators would play in the tournament’s championship game.

UF is 2-2 all-time against GU. The teams last met on the deck of the USS Bataan in the 2012 Navy-Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville, Florida. The game was halted at halftime due to condensation collecting on the court and did not resume.

Florida’s first game will tip on Nov. 26 at 9:30 p.m. and air live nationally on AXS TV, which is available on major television providers including AT&T Uverse, Charter Cable, Xfinity TV, DirecTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FIOS, among others.

Should the Gators lose that showdown, both of their remaining contests would remain on AXS TV. If Florida wins, its latter two games would air live nationally on ESPN.

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SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

1 » ESPN announced on Monday that the Florida Gators will help kick off the network’s annual 24-hour college basketball marathon when they host the Miami Hurricanes on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. live on ESPNU. Florida is one of four Southeastern Conference teams that will participate in the event, joining Auburn, Kentucky and South Carolina. The two featured contests for the marathon include a doubleheader on Nov. 18 featuring Duke vs. Michigan State at 7 p.m. and UK vs. Kansas at 9 p.m.

2 » For the third time in the last two offseasons, a former Gators football player has been sidelined for the entire season after suffering an injury during practice. The New York Jets announced on Saturday that linebacker Jermaine Cunningham suffered a torn Achilles and will miss the entire 2014 campaign. Cut in training camp last year by the New England Patriots, Cunningham was not picked up by the Jets until November. He played in two games for New York without registering a tackle and was considered on the roster bubble for 2014 entering team workouts.

3 » The Arizona Cardinals on Friday announced the signing of former Florida offensive tackle Max Starks, who barely played in the NFL in 2013 after spending less than a month on the roster of the St. Louis Rams. A 10-year veteran who has started 96 games in his career, Starks is well-known by head coach Bruce Arians, his former offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether Starks ultimately makes the team out of training camp remains to be seen.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

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Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

Drawing similarities between a coach who led a team to its worst record since 1979 with another who won back-to-back national titles is a tall task, but Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that in a radio interview on Thursday.

While once again expressing his complete confidence that head football coach Will Muschamp is the right man for the job, one who can turn the Gators back into a contender after leading the program to a 4-8 record in 2013, Foley explained in-depth to Buddy Martin of WOCA 1370 AM how he saw – and still sees – in Muschamp many of the characteristics that made head basketball coach Billy Donovan successful.

“I’m not saying Will and Billy are the same person, but [when I hired Muschamp] I saw the same energy, I saw the same passion, I saw the same enthusiasm, I saw the same track record in terms of he coached for some of the greats, certainly Nick Saban,” said Foley.

Continue Reading » Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

Best- and worst-case scenarios

Between e-mails, messages on social media, comments here on the site, radio interview questions and text messages from friends, I seemingly get asked on a daily basis how good or bad I think the Florida Gators football team will be in 2014.

It’s simple, really.

No one knows. There are some analysts predicting Florida pieces together a shocking turnaround, while others believe the Gators will only be marginally better than they were a year ago. Consider how many variables there are in regards to any given team succeeding or failing, let alone a storied program coming off its worst season since 1979.

Therefore, let’s look at the absolute best- and worst-case scenarios for Florida in 2014…

Best-case scenario: Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel stays healthy and puts it all together with an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who finally allows him to utilize his full skill set… Florida’s shuffled offensive line solidifies under position coach Mike Summers… Head coach Will Muschamp finds a way to put forward a top-notch defense despite another batch of top talent leaving the program in the offseason… UF starts the season 4-1 with its lone loss to Alabama, finds a way to beat LSU at home, earns Muschamp his first victory ever in the Florida-Georgia game and takes the SEC East crown, putting it in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2008… Despite falling to its SEC West opponent in the league title game, UF earns the fourth spot in the first College Football Playoff as a two-loss team and is eliminated in its playoff game.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

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Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule

Florida Gators basketball released the team’s entire 2014-15 non-conference schedule on Tuesday, though times and network assignments will not be announced until closer to the start of the season.

The Gators will face at least three (but up to seven) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while also participating in special events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC-Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Potential opponents for Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis include Butler, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

“This difficult schedule will not only prepare our team for league and postseason play, it delivers a terrific lineup of marquee games for our fans,” said Mike Hill, UF’s executive associate athletic director for external affairs, in a school release. “From hosting the defending national champions, to renewing the Miami rivalry, to playing in perhaps the toughest tournament ever assembled, this schedule has it all for the Gators.”

Below is the official 2014-15 non-conference schedule:

Continue Reading » Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule

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