Gators up slightly in latest Top 25 polls

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners held on to their preseason No. 1 spot in both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls Sunday. The Florida Gators, after defeating the UAB Blazers 39-0 at home on Saturday, rose slightly in both mostly due to teams ahead of them losing their games.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

This Week 1-5: Oklahoma (44), Alabama (8), LSU (7), Boise State, Florida State
6-10: Stanford, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Nebraska
11-15: South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Oregon, Michigan State
16-20: Ohio State, Florida, Arizona State, Auburn, West Virginia
21-25: Texas, South Florida, TCU, Baylor, Mississippi State

Last Week 1-5: Oklahoma (43), Alabama (9), LSU (7), Florida State, Boise State
6-10: Stanford, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Nebraska
11-15: Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oregon, Ohio State
16-20: Michigan State, Mississippi State, Florida, Missouri, Penn State
21-25: Texas, Auburn, Arizona State, West Virginia, TCU

This Week 1-5: Oklahoma (32), Alabama (9), LSU (17), Boise State (2), Florida State
6-10: Stanford, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Nebraska
11-15: South Carolina, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Michigan State
16-20: Florida, Ohio State, West Virginia, Baylor, South Florida
21-25 Auburn, Arizona State, TCU, Texas, Mississippi State

Last Week 1-5: Oklahoma (32), LSU (17), Alabama (9), Boise State (2), Florida State
6-10: Stanford, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Nebraska
11-15: Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Oregon, Arkansas, Ohio State
16-20: Mississippi State, Michigan State, Florida, West Virginia, Baylor
21-25: Missouri, South Florida, Penn State, Texas, TCU

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

9/10: Florida vs. UAB post-game notes, quotes

With the No. 18 Florida Gators‘ early non-conference schedule now wrapped up and a 39-0 victory over the UAB Blazers in the books, OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game with notes and quotes from head coach Will Muschamp and some of Florida’s players.


Sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd missed his second-straight game due to suspension (he will return for Tennessee), but two other notable players did not dress on Saturday. Neither redshirt sophomore wide receiver Stephen Alli nor redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail donned a uniform and Muschamp did not provide reasons.

Additionally, redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring) continued to sit out due to injury. During the contest, senior running back Jeff Demps (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) got dinged up but Muschamp implied after the contest that neither injury was serious.


Before he answered questions about Saturday’s victory, Muschamp gave an opening statement about the game touching on some positives and negatives that he noticed.

“Obviously any time you win it’s a positive and to win 39-0, it’s very difficult nowadays in college football or in any level of football to get a shutout. I’m very proud of our defense but really you got to attribute a lot of that to our offense in the second half. The ability to be able to run the football – that was kind of the plan to win at halftime when we were presented those circumstances. Very pleased with the victory, but I think the red zone offense is disappointing, the defense created one turnover had an opportunity on two other situations.

“I thought we had a chance to get there. We had some miscommunications defensively; I don’t know if we played as well as we would have wanted to play against this football team defensively. Procedural issues are very frustrating – had to take two time outs in the first half – we can’t afford to do that as we move forward in the SEC.”


Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey’s 162-yard effort on Saturday once again showed that he is turning into a one-man gang for the Gators’ offense. With four touchdowns in two games, he has accounted for nearly half of the team’s end zone trips and approximately one-third of their offensive yardage. Muschamp was, once again, impressed with Rainey’s output but said it is not coming as much of a surprise to him.

“Since I’ve been at the University of Florida, I’ve watched a guy who is extremely competitive; he’s a great practice player. You ought to come watch a practice – you know, if we ever open it up. It may not happen and he’s a senior,” he joked. “He is extremely electric with the ball in his hands and a lot of fun to watch. You watch him compete in practice – he blocks hard in practice – he does everything that you want a good football player to do to contribute to your football team.

“He brings a certain energy to the football player. He’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s worked hard. He’s competitive, he’s tough and God’s blessed him with an awful lot of ability. […] You see certain guys that have a certain bounce about themselves every day in practice. Chris has that. He positively affects everybody in the organization. A guy that’s really passionate about what he does. He likes football, really enjoys playing football, and I’m glad he’s a Gator.”


Florida honored America during the game by commemorating September 11th with a pre-game video, halftime band tribute, ribbons painted on the orange stadium walls and in-game announcements but nothing was more stirring than watching cheerleaders and players run onto the field with American flags before the game began. Muschamp said that everyone who carried a flag has/had a relative in the military.

Those players included sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley, Brown, redshirt junior linebacker Lerentee McCray, sophomore safety Matt Elam, junior left tackle Xavier Nixon, freshman CB Loucheiz Purifoy and freshman S Jabari Gorman. Additionally, sophomore fullback Jesse Schmitt (who got a carry in the game), will be a commissioned second lieutenant upon graduation.

“9/11 affected us all in different ways. Certainly a very irrational occurrence that happened – very difficult to deal with – so I wanted to pay our respect to those people,” Muschamp said. Nixon also spoke about what it was like to carry the flag out of the tunnel. Flag: “It feels great and prideful. I felt good,” he said. “I saw my mom’s face and it almost brought tears to my eyes because I’m very proud of my parents.”


Through two games, the Gators have accounted for 18 penalties for 120 yards (not counting yardage lost due to plays being called back). Muschamp was aggravated with the fact that the team committed nine penalties for 65 lost yards on Saturday and let it be known that would be a point of education this week.

“We had a miscommunication one series on a call on third down – it’s not what we wanted to be in. We had some penalties that put us behind. I believe we finished the game with nine penalties – too many penalties,” he said. “We had offsides defensively in critical situations, especially third down – disappointing. Discipline issue – penalties, and you can’t afford to have those. You can’t put yourself behind the sticks offensively, especially in the red zone when the pass zone is condensed and it’s tougher to run the football and then people outnumber you in the box. We’re going to go back and look at it and make the corrections we need to make.”


Having left the season opener early due to a bruise, sophomore RB Trey Burton came on strong in Florida’s second contest, rushing for 46 yards on just a handful of carries and accounting for a touchdown as well. Burton came in as a power back and also took some Wildcat snaps, including one he ran in for a score. “Most importantly it gives Rainey and Demps a break,” he said of his performance on Saturday. “They don’t have to be in every single play. Thankfully Coach [Charlie] Weis is giving me the opportunity to play running back and I really enjoy it.”

Muschamp said he was pleased with what Burton is able to accomplish with his versatility. “I think you see him line up in the slot, you see him line up at fullback, you see him line up at halfback. He’s really good in protection. He’s an outstanding receiver,” he said. “You saw him tonight running the football, getting his pads downhill. It provides for us to get a bigger back in the game with the same personnel grouping on the field with taking a Chris or a Jeff and putting them in the slot with some of our one-back stuff. He’s just a really good player. Football comes very easy to him – he gets it, he understands it. Really happy he’s a Gator.”


The Gators may have scored every time they entered the red zone on Saturday, but Weis was visibly upset on the sideline because Florida failed to convert each trip into a touchdown. Not only did some penalties push UF back, miscommunications and badly executed plays forced the Gators to kick more field goals than they want. Considering Weis believes kicking a field goal in the red zone is a failure, Florida’s offense has a long way to go to be successful in his eyes.

“We moved the ball the whole first half, we just got in the red zone and you just can’t have those critical errors in those situations. It’s demoralizing for an offense to kick field goals in the red zone,” Muschamp explained. “You want to leave with points regardless, that’s the first thing, but when you get down there, you got to put seven on the scoreboard, especially with where we’re heading.

“That’s something we got to get corrected. And it’s disappointing. If they make a good play defensively, we can live with that. We don’t like it, but we can live with it. But when you shoot yourself in the foot, that’s what you can’t [have]. And that’s what we did tonight.”


Elam ripping the ball out for the first fumble recovery of his career also resulted in the Gators’ first turnover of the year – more than six quarters into the 2011 season. Junior LB Jon Bostic said after the game that it was nice to get the monkey off the unit’s back, but he agreed with Muschamp, who said that one is not nearly enough. “We want to get three. Your chances of winning a game go to 90 percent when you get three turnovers,” Muschamp said. “We just preach over and over again – the game is called ‘football’ for a reason. It’s all about the possession of the ball.”

Florida failed to register a sack on Saturday and the front seven continue to struggle getting consistent pressure on the opposting quarterback. UAB did have a veteran offensive line in the game, but UF must improve in that area overall if they want to win SEC games. Muschamp said he was not so much concerned about the sacks as he is about players hitting the quarterback.

“The sacks are going to come hard when you play an offense like that. The ball is out. It’s a quick passing game; it’s a controlled passing game. There’s not a vertical passing game down the field so it’s going to be difficult to get sacks,” he said. “I don’t look at sacks as much as I look at hits on the quarterback. That’s really important because you’re hitting the guy every snap. I think we got good pressure at times, but the turnovers we need to pick up. We need to do a better job of that.”


» Muschamp on controlling the ball and running the clock: “I’m very proud of being able to line up and run it when they know we’re going to run it and we’re still able to run it and take possession of the ball because we’re going to have some games where we’re going to have to do that. Where we’re going to have to slow the tempo down offensively and help our defense play good team football. That was what we wanted to do at halftime.”

» Muschamp on opening up the offense with some wildcat/direct snaps: “We install for the season. We game plan each week to win the game and do what it’s going to take to win the game. Each week we pull a package offensively, defensively and special teams what we’ve got to do to win the football game. We wanted to use some of those things this week. We felt like it gave us a good advantage to win the game.”

» Muschamp on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s performance: “I thought John again played very well, did what we asked him to do within the offense. Again with some of the communication issues, when we had a couple guys go down, we have to iron out. The first person I’m going to blame is me. As a staff we have to get those things communicated better on the field. We’ll get together as an offensive staff tomorrow morning and find out what we got to do.”

» Muschamp on Floyd: “I support Sharrif Floyd. My issue – I stand by it 100 percent – that’s how I feel about the situation. I’m going to move on with it and we’re going to move on with it as the University of Florida.”

» Muschamp on junior RB Mike Gillissle’s touches: “Mike certainly brings some value to our team because he’s different than what we have. You look at Jeff and you look at Chris and they’re both speed backs, they’re both perimeter backs. We do run them inside purposely at times. Mike certainly is a guy that can give us some tough yards in the middle. We run a little different path with him as far as the inside power, the inside zones. He’s a downhill runner. Very pleased with Mike’s progress to this point.”

» Muschamp said he is very pleased with the effort from redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs up to this point. He noted that Sturgis has hit from as far as 56 yards in practice but the team’s goal is always to get to the 35 because he is very solid from 52 yards out.

» Brantley on the heavy amount of running the offense did: “The running game was working. Our line did a great job opening up those holes for the running backs. If it’s working, stay with it. That’s Coach Weis’s mentality and that’s what we did.”

» Brantley on the game-opening flea-flicker: “We were working on it all week. We were hoping to get the right look and we did. I got hit on the play, so I really didn’t see much of it, but I heard the crowd cheering so I knew it was good.”

» Brantley on Floyd’s absence: “One of our brothers was down, and we just had to step up. The other defensive linemen, the offense had to step up to make up for that and we definitely missed him.”

» Rainey on his exciting performances: “I’m just doing my job and trying to score the touchdown for the team. I give a lot of credit to the O-line and the receivers because they’re doing a good job blocking out there.”

» Rainey on his quick moves: “I’ve been working on it a lot more – trying to cut fast and not slow down when I cut.”

» Rainey on taking direct snaps: “It was fun – the first time I was doing it so I liked it. I hope we keep doing it. You can see everything – you see like five different holes and you just got to choose one.”

» Rainey on how Muschamp relies on his mindset in practice: “When I’m happy, the team happy. They tell me if I’m down, they down.”

» Nixon on the offense’s ability: “It’s potential is limitless. We’re as good as we want to be any day. The only way we do bad is if we play bad against ourselves – if we mess our own game up with penalties, mental errors and things like that.”

» Burton on getting ready for SEC play: “These first two games help prepare the young guys for the SEC games because they get to get in, play, get a lot of reps. I know as a team we’re really excited to start SEC football. It’s going to be fun.”

» Burton on what he’s told freshmen about playing in the SEC: “I tell them it’s no joke. Every mistake you do they’ll capitalize on it. It’s a little faster. The guys are a little better. Just overall a lot more fun.”

Gators smoke Blazers 39-0 in The Swamp

Saturday night in The Swamp may not have been as electrifying as fans had hoped for going into the game, but the No. 18 Florida Gators (2-0) were plenty effective in their effort, earning the team’s first shutout since 2006 in a 39-0 defeat of the UAB Blazers (0-1) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey turned in a career performance, compiling 162 yards of total offense and a rushing touchdown on 16 carries and three receptions one week after scoring three touchdowns in a single game. As a team, the Gators posted 512 yards of total offense with the defense holding the Blazers to 300 less (212).

Led out of the tunnel by American flags, Florida commemorated September 11th throughout the evening with ribbons on the stadium’s orange walls, a pre-game video tribute, coaches wearing FBI hats, a stirring halftime rendition by the Pride of the Sunshine marching band, and a variety of other actions to remember those lost a decade ago.

Receiving the ball first, Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose returned the opening kickoff 50 yards, and redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley followed that up with a wobbly 40-yard flea-flicker caught by redshirt freshman WR Quinton Dunbar just five yards from the end zone. Florida was unable to convert a touchdown, however, settling for the first of three field goals from redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis.

The Gators used Rainey and senior RB Jeff Demps almost exclusively on their next drive with the duo combining for 61 of 62 yards earned. Sturgis kicked a 35-yard field goal as Florida failed to take advantage of consecutive red zone opportunities.

After a three-and-out, UF got the ball back again and counted on Rainey and Demps to lead them down the field. A 32-yard touchdown run by Rainey was negated by a holding call on redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio, but Brantley hit redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson with a 24-yard strike to put the Gators on the Blazers’ 18-yard-line. Down at the three, freshman fullback Hunter Joyer took the first carry of his career in for a touchdown, giving Florida an early 13-0 in the first quarter.

Senior punter David Lerner saw action for the first time after a six-play, 27-yard drive stalled in the second, and the Gators added Sturgis’s third field goal of the contest on their next drive after sophomore RB Trey Burton impressed with three carries for 30 yards including a big 26-yard gain down to UAB’s four-yard-line.

Starting from their own 21, the Blazers were forced backward as junior linebacker Jon Bostic sniffed out a reverse and completed a 13-yard tackle for loss. Three plays later, UAB snapped the ball past their punter and UF earned a safety.

Receiving the ensuing kick at the Blazers’ 37-yard-line, the Gators charged right down the field. Brantley completed an 18-yard strike to Debose, and Burton finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put Florida ahead 25-0 at the end of the first half.

UAB got the ball back to start the second half and began driving on UF, but sophomore safety Matt Elam stripped a 16-yard completion – the first forced fumble of his career – which was recovered by freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson for the defense’s first turnover of the young season.

Brantley found Dunbar over the middle for 18 yards and Burton took a draw play 12 yards in the ensuing seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive, but Rainey accounted for 42 of the yards including the 19-yard touchdown that gave the Gators a 32-0 lead.

The Blazers attempted a fake punt on their ensuing drive but fell a yard short of converting, turning the ball over to Florida just 36 yards from the end zone. Junior RB Mike Gillislee, who entered the game for Demps in the first half, carried the ball three-straight times for 19, four and 13 yards, his final rush resulting in a score.

The Gators took their foot off the pedal after that, entering their entire second-team offense and defense in the game and winding the clock down with their running game. Florida possessed the ball nearly 13 minutes longer than UAB (36:29-23:31) and achieved 17 more first downs (28-11) in the contest.

UF totaled 300 rushing yards on the evening and did not turn the ball over once. Sturgis, in addition to making all of his kicks, forced two touchbacks deep into the end zone.

Brantley finished a respectable 12/19 for 195 yards on the evening, and Dunbar was the team’s leading receiver with 58 yards. Rainey led the Gators with 119 yards on the ground, followed by Gillislee (79) and Burton (46). All three rushers averaged more than 7.2 yards per carry. Elam registered a team-high seven tackles; and Bostic added five.

Florida converted all seven of their red zone attempts but only scored touchdowns on four occasions. The Gators were 4/12 on third down and held the Blazers to 1/10 in the same scenario; however, UF’s defense did not register a sack the entire evening and the team has a whole committed nine penalties for 55 yards, a stat head coach Will Muschamp was none-too-pleased with after the game.

Saturday’s win marks the seventh-straight season that Florida has started 2-0, and the Gators hope to improve to 3-0 for the sixth consecutive year next week as they take on Tennessee at home. The game will air live on CBS at 3:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: John Raoux

No. 18 Florida Gators vs. UAB Blazers Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 83°F, isolated thunderstorms
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

SiriusXM: 220/199
Online Video: WatchESPN
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Neil Callaway
Record: 1-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Conference USA
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -23.5; O/U 53.5


Need to catch up on the Gators before week two action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 7 p.m. in The Swamp.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense


» Florida is 1-0 in the all-time series against UAB, defeating the Blazers 51-3 in 2002, the only time the teams squared off.
» The Gators are 36-15-3 against current members of Conference USA and have not lost to one such opponent since 1979. Florida last squared off against C-USA member Central Florida in 2006 and claimed a 42-0 victory.
» Florida has won 88 percent of its home games (118-16) since 1990, the best home winning percentage in the nation. In that period, the Gators are 56-4 against non-conference opponents and 92-4 against unranked teams.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Nine Florida players earned their first starts last Saturday in the season opener as freshmen safety De’Ante Saunders and cornerback Marcus Roberson; redshirt freshmen tight end Gerald Christian, wide receiver Quinton Dunbar and right tackle Chaz Green; sophomores defensive tackle Dominique Easley and S Matt Elam; redshirt junior linebacker Lerentee McCray; and redshirt senior transfer left guard Dan Wenger took the field with the Gators’ first team. It is the first time in school history that a pair of true freshman started the season opener in UF’s secondary.
» Florida’s offensive line did not allow a sack last Saturday.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (304) since 2000; however, UF did not obtain any in its season opener, finishing with a -3 turnover margin (interceptions). Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (68) since 2008.
» UF did not punt the ball last week but sophomore WR Solomon Patton blocked one which was returned for a touchdown. He has blocked a punt in back-to-back games dating back to last season (2011 Outback Bowl).


Florida and UAB have only met on one other occasion – Aug. 31, 2002 – when the Gators stomped the Blazers 51-3 in Ron Zook’s first game as the team’s head coach. Florida outgained UAB 643-240 in the contest and Rex Grossman went 16/26 for 337 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor Jacobs broke the Gators’ single-game receiving record with 246 yards and two scores on eight receptions, while Earnest Graham took 13 carries down the field for 182 yards and two touchdowns.


» Acitve: Soph. RB Trey Burton (bruise), redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson (head)
» Probable: Redshirt junior WR Omarius Hines (hamstring)
» Questionable: Redshirt jr. CB Jeremy Brown (knee), soph. WR Robert Clark
» Inactive: Soph. DT Sharrif Floyd (suspension), fresh. TE A.C. Leonard (meniscus)


» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley…who completed 70 percent of his passes (21-of-30) in the season opener for 229 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions. Brantley only had a 60.8 completion percentage in 2010 with more picks than scores but is said to have been revitalized by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
» Running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey…who are co-starters in the backfield and two of the most dynamic and explosive players in the SEC. Demps and Rainey combined for 272 total rushing and receiving yards with five touchdowns against FAU. Rainey became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, while Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark and had four runs over 20 yards in the contest.
» Sophomore Trey Burton…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver.
» Elam…who stood out all offseason as the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary and moved into a starting role in 2011. He notched four tackles in the season opener good for second-best on the team
» Sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell…who steps into a new position somewhat unique to Muschamp’s defense. Powell started one game as a true freshman but has earned that role permanently this season and achieved a sack against FAU.
» Defensive tackles Easley and redshirt senior Jaye Howard…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (18 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard had a sack in the season opener, while Easley registered three tackles including one for a loss.
» Redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins…who had a team-high five tackles last Saturday including a big-time hit that earned him the team’s first Hard Hat Award.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on two field goal attempts including Florida’s first points of the season – a 51-yarder on UF’s first drive.

» QB Bryan Ellis…who started the final nine games of the Blazers’ 2010 season and finished with 2,940 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He leads a strong UAB passing attack that hopes to keep UF on its heels throughout the contest.
» RB Pat Shed…who is the team’s leading rusher for a year ago with 847 yards on the season. He also plays a role in the passing game and amassed 471 receiving yards as well as seven total touchdowns for the Blazers.
» LB Lamanski Ware…who is UAB’s defensive leader as well as a team captain in his senior campaign.

NCAA suspends Florida Gators DL Sharrif Floyd two games, forces repayment of $2,700

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

Florida Gators sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd has been suspended for two games and must “arrange repayment” of $2,700 to charity before he is eligible to return to the field, according to a decision handed down by the NCAA on Thursday.

Floyd, who sat out Florida’s Sept. 3 season opener against Florida Atlantic, will also be forced to miss Saturday’s game against UAB before he can return to action against Tennessee on Sept. 17 if all conditions are met.

The university declared Floyd ineligible for violations of NCAA preferential treatment rules, including receiving $2,500 cash over several months from an individual not associated with the university. Floyd used the money for living expenses, transportation and other expenses. In addition, he received impermissible benefits prior to enrollment, including transportation and lodging related to unofficial visits to several institutions. University of Florida was not one of these schools.

Based on the mitigating circumstances in the case, the withholding condition was reduced from a potential four games to two. In its decision, the reinstatement staff cited the totality of Floyd’s circumstances, including his personal hardship that led to the impermissible benefits being provided to the student-athlete by someone other than a legal guardian or family member.

NCAA vice president Kevin Lennon said the organization’s decision on Floyd came after great deliberation. “We examine each situation carefully and consider all elements related to a student-athlete’s individual circumstances and the violation,” he said. “This gives us the flexibility to tailor the conditions of reinstatement that take into account all details and are in the best interest of the involved student-athlete.”

University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley commented on Floyd’s situation in an official statement released by the school.

“It is important to note that Sharrif brought this matter to our attention and we reported the facts to the NCAA this past February. We were comfortable with the information we provided, yet the NCAA staff interpreted that there were violations. In accordance with NCAA rules, we declared him ineligible for the season opener and requested restoration of his eligibility. Sharrif has been extremely forthcoming throughout the process and the NCAA has commented on his honesty and openness.

“Sharrif grew up in an environment where he didn’t have the things most of us take for granted – food, shelter and clothing. In the absence of parents, there were kind people, in no way affiliated with the University of Florida, who were not boosters or sports agents, that helped him along the way to provide those things that he would otherwise not have had. This is not an issue about his recruitment to the University of Florida or any other University.

“Sharrif Floyd is an outstanding young man and we are very proud that he represents our program. We are all disappointed that he had to deal with this situation, but he will move forward and be stronger for this.”

Gators head coach Will Muschamp expressed his displeasure in the NCAA’s ruling in another official statement released by the school Thursday evening.

“I’m angered, disgusted and extremely disappointed that Sharrif will have to miss two games.

“In my opinion Sharrif is getting lumped into what is bad about college athletics. As we indicated in the statement Saturday night his issue was not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida or anywhere else.

“Sharrif is what is good about college athletics – his life is about survival, struggle, disappointment and adversity. I have recruited kids that did not know where they would sleep that night or what they would eat. Growing up, Sharrif was one these kids. Sharrif’s life is also about triumph, honesty, integrity, determination, perseverance and character. The NCAA stated that he received preferential treatment; there is nothing preferential about his life.

“He grew up with only his great grandmother and still sends her Pell Grant money so she can pay her bills. How many kids do you know that would do that? I know one – Sharrif Floyd.

“I want to make it clear that this issue is not about sports agents, Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida or anywhere else. The issue is about his survival and the only reason the NCAA, the SEC and the University of Florida were aware of these issues is because Sharrif brought them to our attention last February. He came forward because, as I said before, he is honest and because of his integrity.

“The toughest day that I have had as a head football coach at Florida was the day that I had to tell Sharrif that he could not play in our game vs. FAU last week. I took away part of his family.

“He had tears in his eyes and said ‘What have I done wrong?’ I told him he did nothing wrong. It wasn’t any easier to tell him today that he would be missing Saturday’s game.

“I have two sons at home- if they end up like Sharrif I will consider myself a successful father.”

The NCAA’s official statement on Floyd’s punishment does not specifically state where or from whom the $2,500 in preferential treatment came from.

When handing down a penalty, the organization takes into account “the type of violations and value of benefits, if a significant competitive advantage was gained, [and] the student-athlete’s responsibility for the violations.” The Gators took the proper steps and declared Floyd ineligible on their own before requesting reinstatement, an action that allowed the NCAA to review the request and form a decision.

Separate reports this week had the NCAA inquiring into arrangements Floyd had with his high school coach Ron Cohen and the Student Athlete Mentoring organization.

Donovan reinstates Gators forward Murphy

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan announced via an official statement Thursday that junior forward Erik Murphy has been reinstated from his indefinite suspension and will rejoin the team this week.

“Erik Murphy has served his punishment,” Donovan said. “We’re all disappointed with what transpired, but there’s no question Erik has learned a great deal through the whole process and understands what a great opportunity and privilege it is to play college basketball.”

Arrested in April on a third-degree felony burglary charge for allegedly breaking into a car in St. Augustine, FL, Murphy had the charge reduced to a second-degree criminal trespassing misdemeanor in May and accepted a plea deal that included a small fine and community service among other penalties.

Murphy, expected to start for the Gators this season, was arrested alongside redshirt freshman F Cody Larson, who entered a plea of not guilty and has an Oct. 31 sentencing date. Larson could be in violation of his probation stemming from an arrest in South Dakota that occurred before he committed to Florida in 2010. He was also indefinitely suspended until his legal issue is settled, which may not be for some time.

Reports: Floyd’s issue may be tied to S.A.M.

Florida Gators sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd remains ineligible to play as fans continue to wonder exactly why. His high school coach, asked about a bake sale Floyd held to raise money to fund football trips, assumed the NCAA‘s issue related to that. However, it appears as if Floyd eligibility may be tied to another party.

According to South Carolina newspaper The State (subscription required), Floyd and South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Damiere Byrd are being held out of action because of their association with Student Athlete Mentoring, a Delaware-based non-profit organization that “provide[s] supplementary support to high school student-athletes in both their academic and athletic endeavors.”

The State reports that S.A.M. president Steve Gordon had been contacted by the NCAA about assistance he provided Floyd and Byrd, and a spokesperson for South Carolina confirmed that “Byrd’s eligibility issue and the SAM Foundation are ‘connected.’”

“They haven’t told me that I did anything wrong. All I know is they are punishing Damiere and Sharrif for something they didn’t do,” Gordon told the paper.

Reaching out to Gordon on Thursday was the Palm Beach Post, which quoted him as saying he believed his organization was the reason for Floyd being ineligible.

“Yes, we helped Sharrif, so I guess that’s what it’s about,” he said. “It’s with regard to my foundation’s support of Sharrif when he was in high school. That’s what I’ve been led to believe.”

Gordon also told the Post that the NCAA has been investigating S.A.M. since last October and questioning him about Floyd as early as seven months ago.

“The way the NCAA runs their organization with the clandestine secrecy and their actions of impunity really just confounds me and gets my goat when all I am trying to do is help inner city kids who don’t have two nickels to rub together to experience as much as they can so they can make informed decisions,” Gordon said, according to The State.

Neither the University of Florida nor the NCAA have stated when a decision would be made on the eligibility of Floyd and Byrd. After releasing their initial statement on the subject, UF has refused subsequent comment.

Gator Bites for Thursday, September 8th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we try to catch them with Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Remember back in April when Florida Gators forwards junior Erik Murphy and redshirt freshman Cody Larson were arrested for allegedly trying to break into a car? Since then the felony chargers were reduced to misdemeanors for both parties and Murphy accepted a plea deal that netted him fines, community service and a few other minor penalties. Larson’s situation, on the other hand, is not even close to resolved. The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway reports that he will have a Oct. 31 sentencing date to determine what legal action will be taken against him. He had previously entered a not guilty plea but could change it on the day of sentencing. As individual Florida basketball drills begin this week and practice starts on Oct. 15, according to Brockway, Larson’s status remains up in the air. The duo is currently indefinitely suspended from the team, though the expectation is that Murphy will be reinstated now that his legal situation is settled.

» Gators baseball received a commitment Wednesday evening as outfielder Max White chose to continue his career in Gainesville, FL. Also a left-handed pitcher, White is recovering from shoulder surgery and chose Florida over LSU, Central Florida, N.C. State, Maryland and North Florida, according to the Sun. “I have always wanted to play for Florida,” he told the paper. “To be in the situation where all of my hard work could possibly lead me to play for them — that is a great feeling. I just want to keep at it and I especially do not want them UF to see me slack off.”

» Florida head football coach Will Muschamp is known for his fiery demeanor on the sidelines. This fan video shot from the season opener against Florida Atlantic shows a mini-tantrum he threw during the game.

Read the rest of the Gator Bites (and watch four videos) after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, September 8th

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