Florida Gators Press Conference: Urban Meyer steps down as head football coach

University of Florida president Bernie Machen, athletic director Jeremy Foley and Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer spoke with the media at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to officially announce and discuss Meyer’s decision to resign his position with the university effective immediately. In what seemed to be a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, Meyer left the Gators because he desired to spend more time with his family and children. Below are some notes and quotes from Wednesday’s press conference from all parties involved.

PRESIDENT BERNIE MACHEN

On Meyer’s other accomplishments: “Do you know that 86 of his players have already graduated from the university and another nine will graduate this weekend in our winners’ ceremony? Our football graduation success rate is No. 2 in the SEC – something he is very proud of and something I am very proud of as well. He’s also an outstanding member of our community. He and his family have been exemplary members of the Gainesville community.”

On hiring Meyer: “Urban was hired because of his commitment to excellence, because of his integrity and his commitment to his players. In every dimension he’s exceeded everything we could have hoped for as he carried out his duties here at the University of Florida. He took us to a new level. A level that will maybe be reached again but never exceeded. He leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Florida. We’re so proud of him and what he’s accomplished and the way he’s done so. He’s a true Gator.”

On Meyer’s future and legacy with Florida: “We’re hopeful he will remain with us in some capacity after he’s through coaching, but whatever he does we’re so proud to call him one of our own, and we’re so proud to say what he’s done for this university and this community.”

HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER

Opening statement: “Thanks for coming today. I appreciate Dr. Machen’s remarks. He has been tremendously supportive of myself and my family for over the last seven years. I have great love for the University of Florida, and I am very proud of what Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley – how they have helped us what we have accomplished here at the University of Florida. I’m stepping down as football coach at the University of Florida to focus on family and my other interests away from the sidelines.”

Read the rest of Urban Meyer’s press conference – along with what Jeremy Foley had to say about the coaching search – after the break…
Continue Reading » Florida Gators Press Conference: Urban Meyer steps down as head football coach

BREAKING NEWS: Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer retires

Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement from college football on Wednesday and a press conference will be held by the University of Florida including athletic director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen at 6 p.m.

“I have been a Division I football coach for the last 25 years and, during that time, my primary focus has been helping my teams win titles,” Meyer said in an official statement released by the school. “I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and I am a fierce competitor to my core. At this time in my life, however, I appreciate the sacrifices my 24/7 profession has demanded of me, and I know it is time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field. The decision to step down was a difficult one.

“But after spending more than two decades motivating and celebrating the young men I’ve been so proud to coach, I relish the opportunity to cheer for my three terrific kids as they compete in their own respective sports. I know how fortunate I am to be in a position to make this choice and to have a family that is as loving and supportive as my amazing wife and children have always been.”

Meyer, who will coach his final game with the Gators in the 2011 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2011, reportedly informed Foley of his decision over the weekend. The duo finalized the resignation on Tuesday.

“I am enormously grateful to the University of Florida and our tremendous fans for giving me the incredible opportunity to lead the football program,’’ Meyer said. “The support provided by school president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley has been an invaluable part of all that we have been able to accomplish over the last six years I have exceptional regard for my coaching staff who have always shared my passionate commitment to winning and to guiding the development of the young men of Florida football.

“Most important, I will be forever grateful to the student-athletes I have had the honor to coach and from whom I have learned so much. I will profoundly miss coming to campus every day to coach this team, but I will always be a Gator at heart, and I am confident that the program will continue to reflect the highest ideals of the University of Florida and collegiate sports.”

He is coming off his least productive year at Florida, finishing the regular season with a 7-5 (4-4 SEC) record even though the Gators brought in arguably the nation’s top recruiting class in the offseason.

Meyer leaves Florida having complied a 64-15 (36-12 SEC) record, two BCS National Championships, three BCS bowl game appearances, two SEC Championships in three appearances, and – at one point – a school-record 22-game winning streak. His .810 winning percentage is the best in UF history, he became the first coach in FBS history to post consecutive 13-win seasons, and he is the only coach to post three 13-win seasons in a four-year span.

Named “Coach of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated and the Sporting News, Meyer is the first coach ever to win two BCS National Championships and is one of five coaches to win a pair of national titles in his first four years at a school.

Meyer coached a Heisman Trophy winner in Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, a No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft in QB Alex Smith (at Utah) and has had 26 Gators selected to the NFL Draft since taking over the team. Seven Florida players have been first-round picks under Meyer including a school-record-tying three in 2010.

Foley also shared his early thoughts on Meyer’s retirement.

“When I first came to Florida in 1976, all anybody wanted to do here was win one Southeastern Conference championship,’’ Foley said. “As good of a coach as he is, he’s a better person. He’s given Gator fans and this program memories of a lifetime. When you win 22 games in a row and have back-to-back 13-win seasons, two national championships, it’s hard to quantify.

“People just need to understand what he did. Winning two national championships is really hard. He fell in love with the Florida Gators, he loves this place, and he’ll always be a part of our history. It was our privilege to have him as our football coach.’’

After falling to Florida State on Nov. 27, Meyer gave no indication that he would be leaving the program anytime soon.

“I can assure you we are going to rebuild this thing and build it up the right way and do it right. Obviously we are down a little bit. I didn’t believe we would be that far down – but we are,” he said. “How do you build up a program? I’ve done it a few times. You build it up with tough players, tough coaches, and you got to play better. You have to have a plan to win. […] With that said, we’re going to be rebuild it right though, not wrong. We’re going to rebuild it right.”

Asked on Nov. 18 to clarify his status for next year, Meyer assured the media that he would be returning to the sidelines for the 2011 season. “Oh yeah. One hundred percent. Absolutely,” he said.

OGGOA will continue updating this story. Stay tuned.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

Gainesville native returning home with Kent State

For most players and fans, the Florida Gators squaring off against the Kent State Golden Flashes is just another out-of-conference game against a mid-major opponent before the Southeastern Conference slate begins. However, for Kent State walk-on and Gainesville, FL, native Brian Frank, Thursday’s game is a dream realized.

Growing up in Gainesville before going off to prep school, Frank never thought he would play college basketball. With encouragement from his brother and the Oh Fours, Frank wound up playing Division III hoops for the College of Wooster before deciding to transfer to Kent State – where his father is a provost – last year.

And even though he broke his wrist last week and will be unable to play on Thursday, just being on the court at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center dressed in a college uniform means the world to this driven young man.

OGGOA spoke with Frank on Tuesday (thanks to the good people of the Kent State athletic department) and asked him what it meant to him to be returning to his hometown on a college basketball team.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Thanks a lot for sitting down with us tonight. I know you guys are in the middle of finals while simultaneously preparing for Florida in a few days. Let’s start with how it all began for you. What was it like growing up in Gainesville?

BRIAN FRANK: “It was awesome. I was really growing into my love for the game right around the time the Oh Fours came to UF. My brother is good friends with them and, being a kid in high school, having Taurean Green and Joakim Noah and Al Horford sitting in the stands to watch you play is really something. I think what really made me want to follow basketball was my brother’s close relationship with them. Growing up, my brother was always my inspiration and he continues to be the reason I play, but he would always try to bring the Florida players around me to give me a good look at what college basketball was all about.”

AS: Spending so much time with those guys, did they say something in particular that resonated with you or gave you that little extra push to give college basketball a shot?

BF: “They were just always real supportive of me. To give you an example, I was on Facebook today and Taurean messaged me to check how things were going. When the [Atlanta] Hawks came to Cleveland, Al got me a couple tickets to see them play. Little things like knowing they care about how I’m doing really means a lot. But if you’re looking for a quote… When Joakim was at my [Bucholtz] high school games, he would always yell, ‘Take it to the baja little Frankie!’ That was fun.”

Read the rest of our interview with Kent State’s Brian Frank…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gainesville native returning home with Kent State

Three Gators earn All-SEC honors from coaches

Three Florida Gators football players were voted by Southeastern Conference head coaches as members of their 2010 All-SEC Teams on Tuesday.

Senior safety Ahmad Black and senior punter Chas Henry were named All-SEC first-team selections, while junior cornerback Janoris Jekins was the only Gator to earn second team honors.

Black and Henry received the same recognition from the Associated Press on Monday; however Jenkins was also selected as a first-team player by the group and senior center Mike Pouncey garnered second-team appreciation that he did not from the coaches.

SEC coaches placed 10 Florida starters on their preseason All-SEC teams. Included on those lists were Pouncey, Jenkins and redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson on the first team, and Black, Henry, junior running back Jeff Demps, junior S Will Hill, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey and junior kicker Caleb Sturgis on the second team.

FOUR BITS: Outback, Horschel, Hart, basketball

1 » The Florida Gators may not be playing for a championship, but members of the team will return home from the 2011 Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL, with some swag. For participating in the game, each player on both teams will receive a Fossil watch, Jostens ring, $150 Best Buy gift card, $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card and a hat, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.

2 » Former Gators All-American golfer Billy Horschel earned his PGA Tour card at Qualifying School on Monday. Coming off a season in which he only participated in four events (missing the cut in each) before injuring his wrist and sitting out the remainder of the year, Horschel made the cut at 9-under par and is ready to finally begin his career. He also made the cut last December, finishing seventh in the event. Horschel’s PGA Tour card expired due to his lack of participation because of injury. Originally overlooked in this posting was fellow former UF golfer Will Stricker, who also earned his card at Q-school this weekend. Congratulations to both men.

3 » According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, four-star 2011 running back recruit Dee Hart (Orlando, FL) – a current Michigan commitment – will jump to Florida should head coach Rich Rodriguez be fired sometime soon. Hart, who reportedly desires to play in the spread offense, has dropped Alabama from his recruitment and seems to be concentrating on only two schools now. Of course, Hart could also end up in Gainesville, FL, even if Rodriguez keeps his job, especially if the Gators’ coaching staff can convince him that Rodriguez could be gone in a year while head coach Urban Meyer’s job security is arguably the best in the nation.

4 » FOX Sports college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, whose had his eye on Florida all offseason, contends that it is the Gators’ backcourt which is causing the majority of the problems for the team so far this year. Calling sophomore guard Kenny Boynton and junior point guard Erving Walker “shot-hunters,” Goodman agrees with head coach Billy Donovan’s passionate plea for the players to worry about making their teammates better rather than putting points on the board.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 13 recap

With the 2010-11 NFL season still in full swing, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 13 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance.OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the 13th week of the season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Six tackles (five solo), four passes defended, interception (no return)

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Team-high 10 tackles (five solo)
LB BRANDON SILER, San Diego Chargers: Team-high 12 tackles (nine solo)
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Five solo tackles (one for loss)
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Seven tackles (four solo), interception (five-yard return)

WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Four receptions for 34 yards (long: 28), touchdown
S MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Three solo tackles
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Two tackles (one solo), 1.5 sacks
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Solo tackle
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Three tackles (two solo), pass defended, interception (7-yard return)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Denver Broncos: Two rec. for 28 yards (targets: 5, long: 18)
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Two tackles, QB hit
DT JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three tackles (two solo, two loss), sack
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Minnesota Vikings: Solo tackle
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Three receptions for 51 yards (targets: 5, long: 35), touchdown
RB FRED TAYLOR, New England Patriots: Four rushes for nine yards (long: 6)
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Solo tackle
DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Two tackles (one solo)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Two receptions for 36 yards (targets: 4)
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1-for-1 for two yards, passing TD

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN — NO STATISTICS / DID NOT PLAY
C Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh Steelers), G Cooper Carlisle (Oakland Raiders) – QB Tim Tebow (Broncos), DE Derrick Harvey (Jaguars), DE Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers), QB Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins)

INACTIVES
LB Andra Davis (Bills), LB Channing Crowder (Miami Dolphins), WR Percy Harvin (Vikings), DE Jarvis Moss (Raiders), WR Riley Cooper (Philadelphia Eagles), LT Max Starks (Steelers)

NOTES
– This is Haden’s fourth-straight OGGOA Player of the Week honor; he has nabbed an interception in four consecutive games.
– Siler’s 12 tackles set a career-high.
– Nelson’s touchdown was the first of his professional career.
– Spikes’ interception was the first of his professional career
– Graham’s passing touchdown was the first of his professional career.
– Taylor saw game action for the first time since Week 3.
– KR Brandon James was cut from the Indianapolis Colts this week.

OGGOA RELATED: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

McDaniels’ canning leaves Tebow’s future murky

Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen finally fired head coach Josh McDaniels on Monday, days after his staff was accused of participating in “Spygate II” and approximately 24 hours after his team dropped its ninth game of the 2010 season. Though McDaniels won his first six games as head coach in Denver, he finished his short career an astoundingly awful 5-17 in his last 22 contests.

Depending who you ask, McDaniels either made a gutsy and intelligent call or colossal mistake in trading up for and drafting former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. Tebow, being selected by a coach infatuated with QBs and confident that he could mold him into a NFL-caliber signal caller, was pleased to be playing for the Broncos and was welcomed into the community with open arms even as some fans were skeptical of his ability.

Though Tebow has scored four touchdowns this year (three rushing in goal line packages, one passing), he was not utilized as much as McDaniels had promised and fans had hoped. With Denver inching further and further away from playoff contention in recent weeks, McDaniels was asked over-and-over again if he would play Tebow, a question that consistently elicited a response aimed at propping up starter Kyle Orton, who has thrived under McDaniels’ tutelage.

With McDaniels – one of two coaches in the league who were believed to be enthusiastic developers for Tebow (the other being New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick) – now out of a job, one must wonder what lies ahead in the player’s future.

“Thank you for everything you did for me Coach McDaniels, including drafting me into this great organization,” Tebow said via his Twitter account Monday evening. “I wish you nothing but the best.”

Should someone like Jon Gruden take over in Denver, Tebow would likely not miss a step and perhaps gain another prudent supporter. Then again the Broncos could also sign someone who wants nothing to do with the former Heisman Trophy winner, leaving him as a back-up or perhaps even trading him for pennies on the dollar to another club that believes they can develop him properly.

While Tebow’s long-term success or failure in the NFL is not even close to being determined, his immediate future in Denver is up in the air – a mile high.

Four Gators starters earn AP All-SEC honors

Four Florida Gators football players were selected by the Associated Press as members of their 2010 All-SEC Teams on Monday.

Senior safety Ahmad Black, senior punter Chas Henry and junior cornerback Janoris Jekins were named All-SEC first-team selections, while senior center Mike Pouncey earned second team honors.

With Black, Henry and Pouncey graduating – and Jenkins expected to declare his eligibility for the 2011 NFL Draft – none of Florida’s honorees will likely return for the 2011 season.

Southeastern Conference coaches placed 10 Gators on their preseason All-SEC teams. Included on that list were Pouncey, Jenkins and redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson on the first team, and Black, Henry, junior running back Jeff Demps, junior S Will Hill, redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones, redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey and junior kicker Caleb Sturgis on the second team.

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