Florida once again dropped from Top 25 polls

Taking a step forward last week, the Florida Gators (9-3) completely fell out of the latest ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls after being upset by the Jacksonville Dolphins 71-68 in overtime on Dec. 20. A 11-point win over Radford two days later did not help Florida’s case as it is once again on the outside looking in even after taking down the then-No. 6 team in the country just over a week ago.

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)-

ESPN/USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Kansas State, Michigan State, Purdue, Kentucky, Baylor, Minnesota, Memphis, Tennessee, Florida, Notre Dame, Illinois, Texas, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, Louisville

This Week 1-25: Duke (31), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, Missouri, Purdue, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Louisville, Central Florida, Memphis, Baylor, Wisconsin, Illinois
+ Florida received 33 votes, good for 32nd overall

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Duke (64), Ohio State (1), Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Missouri, Georgetown, Kansas State, Michigan State, Kentucky, Purdue, Baylor, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Central Florida, Texas A&M

This Week 1-25: Duke (65), Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State, Villanova, Georgetown, MIssouri, Kentucky, Purdue, Texas, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Central Florida, Michigan State, Memphis, Louisville, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Temple
+Florida received 35 votes, good for 32nd overall

FAIRFIELD GAME CANCELED
Due to severe weather in the northeast, UF’s scheduled game against Fairfield on Tuesday has been canceled. It will not be rescheduled this season. Florida will next face Xavier in Cincinnati, OH, on Dec. 31. “We’re certainly disappointed for our fans that the game had to be canceled but it wasn’t for any lack of effort from Fairfield trying to get here, it was conditions that were out of everyone’s hands,” Gators head coach Billy Donovan said in an official statement.

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Injuries force four Gators to miss Outback Bowl

Four Florida Gators upperclassmen – including starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins – will be unable to play against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to injuries suffered during the 2010 season.

In addition to Jenkins (right shoulder), redshirt senior offensive lineman Maurice Hurt (right knee) and redshirt senior defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (right hip) and Terron Sanders (right shoulder) will not play for the Gators in Tampa, FL on Jan. 1. All had surgeries to correct their injuries after the season and are still in recovery.

For Hurt, Marsh and Sanders, the trio of veterans have played their last game in the orange and blue. Jenkins’ situation is not as settled. He is expected to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft but could very well return to Florida next season if he so chooses.

Jenkins may or may not be healthy enough to participate in the NFL Combine. If he is not of complete health, he could still attend for interviews and general evaluations with workouts delayed for Florida’s Pro Day.

The University of Florida confirmed the players would miss the game on Monday.

Tim Tebow rallies Broncos to win at Mile High with two touchdowns in fourth quarter

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow scored two touchdowns in his second straight start on Sunday including a game-winning six-yard rushing score that propelled his team over the Houston Texans 24-23 at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.

Tebow, who passed for 100 yards in the first half and threw an interception into the end zone on his team’s first offensive series, eclipsed that mark in the third quarter alone and finished the game 16-for-29 for 308 yards.

He tossed a 23-yard touchdown to running back Correll Buckhalter mid-way through the fourth quarter and added his rushing TD in the closing minutes.

Houston, which had a 13-point lead over Denver going into the fourth and has the NFL’s worst secondary statistically, allowed Tebow to orchestrate two 12-play touchdown drives to end the game – one for 74 yards and another for 76 yards.

Tebow also completed a career-long 50-yard pass coming out of the half to wide receiver fellow former Florida Gators star Jabar Gaffney.

In his two career NFL starts, Tebow has combined to throw the ball for 446 yards, rush for 108 yards and score four touchdowns including two through the air and two on the ground. His 308 passing yards are the most by a Denver rookie since Hall of Fame signal-caller John Elway (1983).

Sunday marked Tebow’s home debut as the Broncos’ starter. He will lead the team in its final game of the season next Sunday in Denver against San Diego.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Meyer, Foley speak on Addazio taking Temple job

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio was officially announced as the new head coach of the Temple Owls on Thursday. Excited and thrilled to earn his first head coaching job in the collegiate ranks, Addazio was his usual passionate and emotional self at the introductory press conference. After it concluded, the University of Florida released a story that included statements from two of his former bosses.

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer: “I’m happy for Steve Addazio and his family. Steve has been extremely loyal to me and the University of Florida and I will be forever thankful for his unwavering commitment. His energy and passion have been well-documented and he is a tremendous recruiter and motivator. He is well respected by his peers and his players and I wish him nothing but the best.”

University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley: “Steve has been a big part of our success. Everyone that knows Steve knows what a loyal and passionate coach he is. He cares deeply about the players he coaches and he was a great motivator in the locker room. He has the ability to relate to players, but still maintains their respect. He was one of our top recruiters and his ties to the Northeast will be a good fit for Temple. More than anything, Coach Addazio is a good man with a good family.’’

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Florida starts strong, finishes flat against Radford

Suffering a devastating upset to Jacksonville on Monday, the No. 19/20 Florida Gators (9-3) rebounded slightly with a 66-55 victory over the Radford Highlanders (2-9) Wednesday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Junior point guard Erving Walker, who led Florida in points for the second-straight game and was perhaps the most efficient offensively he has been all season, posted 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting while going 5-for-7 from downtown and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. He scored a season-high 21 points for UF on Monday.

Radford, which is 340th in the nation in points per game and field goal percentage and has now lost nine-straight games, never led in the contest but was only down seven points going into halftime and ended up losing the game by 11 after facing a game-high 18-point deficit late in the second half.

The Highlanders turned the ball over five times in the first 4:30 of the game, allowing the Gators to jump out to an early 13-1 lead. Radford did not make its first field goal until 12:22 remained in the first half but went on a 7-1 run to cut Florida’s lead to 23-16.

UF coughed up the ball nine times in the first half and shot a paltry 3-for-12 from beyond the arc. Senior forward Chandler Parsons dished five assists in the period, one more than the entire RU team.

The second half began in a similar fashion for both Radford and Florida. The Highlanders committed seven turnovers in the first 5:17 of the half, and the Gators used a 14-2 run to jump out to a 45-28 lead. Controlling the game most of the half, Florida went up a game-high 18 points and looked to cruise to the finish line until Radford exploded on an 11-3 run to cut UF’s lead to 64-55 with 1:05 left in the game.

The Gators forced a season-high 23 turnovers in the contest, and their nine treys tied their top mark for the year. Head coach Billy Donovan won his 340th game Wednesday night, tying him for third all-time in Southeastern Conference history.

Parsons finished the game with nine points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals but missed all four attempts from downtown. Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton continued to struggle shooting, finishing 4-of-13 (3-for-9 from three) with 11 points.

Senior F Alex Tyus grabbed five boards and was an efficient 4-for-6 from the field for eight point, while redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin added six points and six rebounds. Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin saw 20 minutes off the bench and scored the first three-pointer of his career to go along with two assists.

Florida now has nearly a week off to celebrate the holidays before they face Fairfield at home on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. The game will air live on ESPNU.

Other statistics from the box score:
– Sophomore F Erik Murphy: 2-of-7 for four points, four rebounds, two blocks
– Freshman F Will Yeguete: 3-for-4 from FT line, five points, five rebounds (four off.)
– Radford shot 50% from the field against Florida after averaging 36.5% on the season.

Steve Addazio hired as Temple Owls head coach

A source inside the Florida Gators football program confirmed to OGGOA Wednesday afternoon that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has been hired by the Temple Owls to be the team’s next head coach.

Addazio, who interviewed for the position on Monday, struggled over the last two seasons as Florida’s offensive coordinator but is considered a terrific position coach, recruiter and motivator who always does his best to get maximum effort from his players.

He was named ESPNU’s recruiter of the year due to the major part he played in helping corral the Gators’ top-ranked 2010 recruiting class and served as interim head coach for Urban Meyer after he briefly stepped down and then during his recovery last year. Addazio replaced Meyer at numerous public speaking engagements and helped fill in the coaching staff with new hires after it was ravaged by departures when former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong accepted the Louisville head coaching position.

Addazio has coached in college since 1995. He served as offensive coordinator at Indiana from 2002-04 before being plucked away by Meyer to coach the offensive line and tight ends at Florida, a role he held for two years. Meyer promoted Addazio to assistant head coach from 2007-08 and then to offensive coordinator after Dan Mullen left to take the top job with Mississippi State before the 2009 season.

Much maligned by Gators fans for his tenure as the team’s playcaller, Addazio’s future with Florida appeared bleak with Meyer stepping down and new head coach Will Muschamp looking for an offensive coordinator with both college and NFL experience.

He is the ninth assistant coach under Meyer who has gone on to become a Division I head coach following in the footsteps of Gregg Brandon (Bowling Green), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Mike Sanford (UNLV), Tim Beckham (Toledo), Mullen, Doc Holliday (Marshall), Strong and Dan McCarney (North Texas).

Signing a five-year deal at Temple, he will replace head coach Al Golden, who recently left to accept the same job with the Miami Hurricanes.

A press conference will be held in Philadelphia, PA, on Thursday though Addazio is expected to coordinate the Gators’ offense in the 2011 Outback Bowl.

This story was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

TWO BITS: women’s basketball, Frazier, Strong

1 » Participating in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center-hosted Gator Holiday Classic, Florida Gators women’s basketball (10-3) defeated the Alabama State Hornets (2-7) and Robert Morris Colonials (4-6) in consecutive days to capture the tournament title. Florida’s freshman guard Brittany Shine was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Performer after accounting for 47 points and 10 assists in a two-game span. Also honored after the event was freshman G Jattera Bonds, who scored 16 points and notched 12 assists to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. The Gators dominated the Hornets 95-38 on Monday and took it to the Colonials 70-50 on Tuesday.

3 » With Florida basketball struggling already this season, there is plenty of anticipation from fans to see 2011 five-star shooting guard Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) burst on the scene next season. While Beal is expected to be the next great player to step foot in the O’Connell Center, 2012 four-star SG Michael Frazier (Tampa, FL) – also a Gators commitment – is making a name for himself during his junior season. Frazier posted 45 points in the Bright House Networks Tournament Championship game on Tuesday, leading his team to a 71-69 victory while earning MVP honors. He scored 110 total points in three games in the tournament including 40 in the semifinal game.

Extra BIT » Former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, currently in his first season as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, led his team to victory in the 2010 Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, FL. Strong’s Cardinals defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles and head coach Larry Fedora, a former offensive coordinator of the Gators. Louisville’s victory marked the team’s seventh bowl game win since it started playing football in 1912 and capped an inaugural season in which Strong posted a 7-6 record. The Cardinals finished 4-8 in 2009.

Lochte sets two world records, wins seven medals

Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, a three-time Olympic gold medalist who is just hitting his prime in the international swimming community, set two world records and won seven medals at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, over the weekend.

The two world records Lochte set – in the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys – were the only individual world records reached in international swimming in all of 2010 after the high-tech bodysuits responsible for many of the record numbers in the 2008 Olympic Games were banned at the beginning of the year.

Lochte competed in eight events overall and won gold in all five of his individual contests. He also led the United States to gold in the 400-meter medley relay, earned a silver medal with his team in the 800-meter freestyle relay and did not medal after finishing fourth in the 400-meter freestyle relay.

Before Lochte can enter a pool for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, he will first compete in the 2010 FINA Long Course World Championships in Shanghai, China and then the U.S. team trials.

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Swimming Team will be coached by University of Florida head coach Gregg Troy. Lochte is expected to attempt to compete in eight events with hopes of matching 2008’s big victor Michael Phelps.

Lochte won six gold medals in August at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships and was named back-to-back Male Athlete of the Year during the USA Swimming Foundation Golden Goggle Awards in 2009 and 2010.

Photo Credit: USA Swimming

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