Jockey releases video in support of Tim Tebow

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow received a message of support from one of his sponsors, Jockey, in a video posted by the company on Saturday.

The brand has also posted a new billboard in Denver, CO featuring Tebow.

Click here for more Tebow-Jockey related stories and videos from OGGOA.

NCAA’s newest rule changes just a small step

The NCAA on Thursday announced that its Board of Directors has approved a variety of sweeping rule changes that improve academic standards, provide further support to student-athletes and revamp the basketball recruiting process.

“These changes demonstrate a remarkable resolve by presidents,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a press release. “They represent a return to and a focus on values that are at the core of what intercollegiate athletics are all about. They also represent a clear signal to the world about what we care about and what we stand for.”

ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE

The NCAA has mandated that the minimum Academic Progress Rate (APR) to participate in postseason activities for any given team will be raised to 930 from its previous level of 900. The implementation will take a few years, but the NCAA set up a three-level penalty structure including loss of practice time and postseason suspension, coaching suspension and financial aid reductions

Furthering this goal, the Board of Directors also decided that junior college transfers that hope to join a four-year institution must have a 2.5 grade-point average instead of the 2.0 previously required and must meet a number of other qualifications as well. They also created an academic redshirt for first-year students to receive aid and practice but not compete if they are not immediately eligible.

SUPPORTING STUDENT-ATHLETES

Another piece of legislation was passed that effectively gives student-athletes on full scholarships with or without additional financial aid the ability to receive up to $2,000 in additional monies in order to cover the full cost of attendance for their university. It is one small step the NCAA is taking to try and ensure that student-athletes are able to receive enough financial aid.

“It’s not going to deter rule-breakers but should help out kids who don’t have enough to pay a bill or two,’ CBSSports.com‘s Bryan Fischer told OGGOA on Thursday. “If players or agents or coaches want to break the rules, they’re still going to. This isn’t a deterrent so much as it is increasing the amount of aid to players.”

Another perhaps greater changed made by the NCAA was approving “multi-year grants up to the full term of eligibility” for student-athletes “though one-year grants will remain the minimum.” In other words, colleges can promise players four-year scholarships that cannot be reduced or cancelled for on-field reasons – only academic ones.

In addition to ensuring student-athletes receive an education and fulfill the “student” part of the name, the change may provide an advantage to smaller schools that could potential promise full grants while larger institutions may not be willing to offer as much.

“If a kid wants to play in the SEC or go to the NFL, he’s still going to go to places like Florida if they’re that caliber of athlete,” Fischer said. “I don’t think it will have as big an impact as people are making it out to be in sports like football because the vast majority of scholarships are renewed currently.

“It could give a small advantage to schools like Stanford or Vanderbilt who can tell parents they’re guaranteed a great degree. It might hurt depth at some schools. Multi-year scholarships could be huge in equivalency sports like baseball though.”

BASKETBALL RECRUITING

No longer will basketball coaches be restricted in the number of times they can call, text message or contact a potential recruit via social media. The NCAA is allowing unlimited contact between the two parties as long as that contact remains private; public messaging would violate the organization’s rule that schools cannot publicize their recruiting efforts.

This change has been adopted for a number of reasons but mostly because coaches and schools were often receiving secondary violations for what wound up being minor instances or perhaps even accidental contact.

“The most important change is that communication is much more deregulated,” Fischer said. “Coaches don’t have to worry about accidental texting or calling a recruit, and in many ways we’ll see who really wants to work on the recruiting trail.”

The NCAA also implemented new contact rules and earlier visits that, as Fischer explained, “move the rules more in line with what is actually happening.

Coaches are now allowed to contact student-athletes earlier in the recruiting cycle, and recruits can take official visits beginning Jan. 1 of their junior year of high school. Representatives of a university can also visit a recruit’s school during their junior year for evaluation purposes with some restrictions.

CONCLUSION AND OTHER RULE CHANGES

With these changes, the NCAA is proving that they have recognized the need to reform some facets of collegiate athletics and understand that changes have to be made going forward in order for the system to continue long-term.

Fischer thinks the commitment to reform is one that has a chance of lasting as long as the organization continues to take steps in the right direction.

“The takeaway from these reforms is that the Presidents and the NCAA are serious about making changes,” he said. “They know all about the negative press and the issues facing the organization and are committed to fixing things. It might not be the right avenue in some cases but at least they’ve gotten the message that it’s time to change.”

Additions to the changes written about above:

– Universities can provide financial aid to former student-athletes who want to return to college to complete their degrees even if their eligibility has been exhausted athletically.

– The July recruiting period in basketball will be three four-day periods that span from Wednesday evening to Sunday evening.

– The April recruiting period in basketball will be limited to “certified events that begin after 6 p.m. on Friday and before 4 p.m. on Sunday.” No contact may occur during the Final Four, standardized tests or over Easter weekend.

– Coaches can begin contacting junior-year student athletes beginning on June 15, 2012, while the rest of the provisions go into effect on Aug. 1, 2012.

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Gators basketball in top 10 of preseason polls

The preseason Associated Press Top 25 Poll was released Friday and, like the USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll announced last Thursday, has the North Carolina Tar Heels slotted as the overwhelming No. 1 team in the country with 62 of 65 first-place votes. North Carolina, which received 30 of 31 first-place votes in the USA TODAY/ESPN poll and returns all five starters from 2010, is one spot ahead of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Four Southeastern Conference teams made the respective polls including Kentucky [No. 2-USA, No. 2-AP], Vanderbilt [No. 7, No. 7], the Florida Gators [No. 10, No. 8] and Alabama [No. 17, No. 19].

The 2010-11 Gators were ranked No. 11 and No. 13 heading into last season, which saw them win the SEC and end the year with a record of 29-8 (13-3 SEC) that included an appearance in the Elite Eight round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

WeekGator BaitRecordAP Top 25USA TodayNCAA RPI
Preseason--No. 7 (1,153)No. 7 (568)-
2W 68-45 vs. William & Mary1-0No. 8 (1,127)No. 7 (560)-
3L 69-67 vs. Miami
W(OT) 61-56 vs. ULM
2-1No. 18 (467)No. 16 (303)-
4L(OT) 65-66 vs. Georgetown
W 56-47 vs. UAB
L 64-75 vs. North Carolina
3-3NR (40)No. 24 (60)-

USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES POLL
Preseason 1-5: UNC (30), Kentucky (1), Ohio State, UConn, Syracuse
6-10: Duke, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Memphis, Florida
11-15: Pittsburgh, Baylor, Kansas, Wisconsin, Xavier
16-20: Arizona, Alabama, Michigan, Texas A&M, UCLA
21-25: Marquette, Cincinnati, Gonzaga, California, Missouri

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
Preseason 1-5: UNC (62), Kentucky, Ohio State (1), UConn (2), Syracuse
6-10: Duke, Vanderbilt, Florida, Louisville, Pittsburgh
11-15: Memphis, Baylor, Kansas, Xavier, Wisconsin
16-20: Arizona, UCLA, Michigan, Alabama, Texas A&M
21-25: Cincinnati, Marquette, Gonzaga, California, Missouri

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

TWO BITS: soccer’s title shot, SEC-Missouri fail

1 » No. 18 Florida Gators soccer (14-5, 7-3 SEC) will compete against the No. 22 South Carolina Gamecocks (14-5, 8-2 SEC) for the Southeastern Conference regular season title for the third-straight year when the two square off in their regular season finale on Friday. This time around, South Carolina holds a lead on Florida and is guaranteed at least a share of the title. A victory by the Gators would force the Gamecocks to split the title at least two ways. LSU could win their match against Arkansas, giving all three teams a share of the regular season championship. The contest will air live on FOX Sports Florida at 7 p.m., so be sure to check your local listings for availability. Admission at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL is free and open to students as well as the general public.

2 » The prevailing sentiment for quite some time has been that the Missouri Tigers would become the 14th member beginning in the 2012-13 athletic year. That eventuality took a step closer to becoming reality this week when Missouri gave their chancellor permission to seek out options and the authority to make a decision regarding conference alignment. With only formalities seemingly standing in the way between the Tigers joining the SEC, college football fans have simply been waiting on an official announcement by the two parties. Thursday evening, the SEC mistakenly published a number of stories on its official website announcing that Missouri has joined the conference and took them all down as soon as possible. However, the remnants of the postings are available in the website’s search history and screen captures of some of the stories have made their way around the internet. In the end, it all just went to confirm even further that the SEC will have 14 teams in 2012 and the East division will gain a new member – likely Mizzou but potentially Auburn.

Four-star TE Kent Taylor commits to Gators

Two days after losing a second-year tight end due to transfer, the Florida Gators picked up the top player at the position nationally in the 2012 recruiting class.

In front of friends and family at Land O’Lakes High School, four-star TE Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL) committed to the Gators on Thursday during a ceremony in which he received his jersey for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“It was just about where I am going to get used and the best place to play early,” he told InsidetheGators.com on Oct. 4 when his mind was made up. “It was a place where I felt I could have the whole experience of education, football, socially, and spiritually.”

Taylor – a 6’5”, 220 lbs. pass-catcher who is the ideal player for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s system – chose Florida over offers from Florida State, Georgia and Penn State. He is the second tight end to commit to the Gators for 2012.

“I really like Coach Weis’s offense,” Taylor said back in May. “I’ve talked to a couple of people who have played for him and they have all told me you definitely would like to play for Coach Weis.”

Florida already has four-star TE Colin Thompson (Warminster, PA) on board and is likely planning to take a third player at the position, too.

While Taylor is ranked as the No. 1 tight end and 55th best player in the country by Rivals, Thompson is also highly touted at No. 6 and 215th, respectively, by the recruiting service. Their spots are swapped by ESPNU, which has listed Thompson at No. 1 and 85th and Taylor at No. 4 and 147th overall.

Read more, watch a video and check out the commitment list…after the break!
Continue Reading » Four-star TE Kent Taylor commits to Gators

TWO BITS: Tebow video, Mitchell doubtful

1 » The folks over at Next Media Animation decided to give the story of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow a Taiwainese animation makeover. The result – covering his NFL career up to this point – can be found below:

Tebow was also referenced twice Wednesday evening during the latest episode of South Park on Comedy Central – once in the opening scene and again later in the program.

2 » Heading into the bye week, the Georgia Bulldogs were hopeful that star wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell would return to action against the Florida Gators. Head coach Mark Richt even listed him as “questionable” and said the team expected him to get back on the field. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mitchell was downgraded to “doubtful” by Richt on Wednesday, though the coach is “hopeful” that things will turn around in the next few days. Mithcell remains sidelined with a pulled hamstring he suffered two weeks ago against Tennessee. He has not practiced this week and may not even be healthy enough to join his team on the road trip.

10/26: Quinn used bye to work on fundamentals

As the Florida Gators prepare for the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against the No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 29 at a neutral site in Jacksonville, FL, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media late Wednesday to discuss the bye week and his team’s upcoming contest.

GATORS GET BACK TO THE BASICS

With so much to improve on after three-straight losses, Quinn said he used the bye week to focus on the players themselves and not the game plan for Georgia. He gave each player – and each position – separate assignments to concentrate on in order to improve the most efficient way possible.

Like always, Quinn wants the improvements to begin up front in the trenches. “Let’s play better at the line of scrimmage,” he said. “I thought at the last outing that performance was better. Playing blocks at the line of scrimmage and tackling were going to be such a big emphasis for us.

“As you go back through the bye week, you go through the games, take out some calls of what we’re doing well, statistically look at the film and [point out] the things we’ve had trouble with. Is it worth in these certain calls staying with it or getting rid of them and adding something new? That’s kind of what we did. We made a real big emphasis at the line of scrimmage and [with] tackling during the bye week. Just a hard ball, fundamental, hand placement technique [standpoint], and I felt it was real beneficial for the team.”

Quinn noted that the defense spent additional periods during practice on tackling drills, ensuring that this would not be an issue going forward this season. “The biggest thing is you drill it a lot,” he explained. “Each day you devote some practice time to not just the technique but angle tackles and open-field tackling. It’s more just the time spent on it.”

NEEDING ELAM AND POWELL TO SUCCEED

Sophomores safety Matt Elam and buck linebacker Ronald Powell have played quite differently through the first seven games of the season. While Elam has been the model of consistency and versatility, Powell had one big game and has struggled otherwise.

“Matt provides a lot for us on defense. For him to be a guy who can come from safety and then move down into nickel is really a key guy for us – he can play two positions. I was really pleased with the way he played nickel in the last ballgame,” Quinn said proudly. “He’s a good player at both spots. Sometimes with a lot of good players, the closer they get to the line of scrimmage, sometimes they get in the action. I wish I had another one. I’d play him at both spots.”

Quinn was less complimentary of Powell overall but said he believes the extra work during the bye week may have done a lot to help him going forward.

“When we got together, for him, two of the things we had were his pad level was one thing that we thought he could really improve on, and his use of the hands was something that he worked on hard in the week,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”

In addition to Powell needing to improve his game, he appeared to injure his neck/shoulder during the LSU game and did not travel with the team to Auburn. He returned to practice during the bye and is a full-go this week.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On not having caused any turnovers in the last three games: “It’s a big emphasis for us. […] Certainly some are going to come from the way we can rush the quarterback better. That’s part of it. When we play on third down. We’ve played a few good running clubs the last few weeks – teams that were committed to running. That factors in a little bit. No excuses. [We] got to get the football. It’s something we address with everybody each day, too.”

» On Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray: “He’s really a talented quarterback. […] He gets a lot of velocity on the ball; he can really get it out of his hands fast. He’s a guy that can make plays both with his arm and with his feet. You make a big emphasis on how you pass rush him, get your contain and make sure you’re pushing the pocket and things like that. He provides a real challenge for you because he is a dual-threat.”

» On the Bulldogs’ big offensive line: “Both of their tackles are big guys. Usually you have to be leery of what the offensive line is listed at as you could be plus or minus some – both in the NFL and in college. Sometimes they’re listed at 330 and that guy hasn’t been 330 in four years. They certainly have a big front, and it’s a good challenge for us.”

» On if he is excited to participate in his first Florida-Georgia game: “It’s kind of cool that there are some Gators here that can talk you through that – with Terry Jackson and Marquand Manuel. […] It’s kind of cool to be a part of it. Everybody says the build-up and the ride to the stadium and everything. Although I’ve seen it on TV, and you’ve seen the pictures of the stadium and everything, and it looks like exactly like the kind of environment that you’d want to coach in. I can’t wait.”

» On the Bulldogs stomping on the field in 2007: “I have seen that reply a number of times – on an endless loops. I’m ready to see something else.”

TWO BITS: Easley’s allegations, Christian & Clark

1 » Allegations against Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley for supposedly committing battery on Oct. 1 are not being thrown out by the University Police Department and instead have been sent to State Attorney Bill Cervone to rule on, The Gainesville Sun reported Wednesday. Cervone has officially received sworn complaints against Easley (for battery) and alleged victim Reggie Myles (for disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and theft) from the UPD. He will decide whether or not to file charges against either or both of the men in the coming days after reviewing the documents. Myles, a former Alabama football player, accused Easley of attacking him on the Gate 2 walkway outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

2 » Since officially leaving the team Tuesday, former Gators sophomores tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark have each spoken with the Palm Beach Post about their decision to transfer. Christian said Wednesday that he “wasn’t fitting into the program” and was not “very happy with my role” as a blocking tight end as opposed to a pass-catcher. Clark indicated that he made a mistake leaving in the middle of the season, calling it a “bad choice” but said “it’s done now” and that he has no hard feelings with the coaching staff. “I just thought it would be better for me to try somewhere else and get a fresh start,” he said. The Post reports that Christian has already spoken with Louisville, South Florida and Central Florida as potential future destinations.

Extra BIT » Former Florida soccer star Heather Mitts, a member of the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Team that competed in the 2011 World Cup, has been practicing with the boys’ soccer team at Chaminade High School in St. Louis, MO. Below is a video from ESPN of Mitts talking about the decision and how it benefits her professionally.

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