Georgia may poach Florida for Evans’ replacement

Sooner or later, within the next few hours, days or weeks, the Georgia Bulldogs will fire athletic director Damon Evans. From his decision to drive under the influence to his actions upon being stopped by police officers, Evans has made it nearly impossible for the University of Georgia to keep him employed much longer.

Because of this, the Bulldogs will need to hire a new athletic director, and The Florida Times-Union’s Gene Frenette believes Evans’ replacement will come from the school’s biggest rival – the University of Florida.

Greg McGarity, a Georgia graduate and the executive senior associate director under athletic director Jeremy Foley, has been with the Florida Gators since 1992. The university describes his current responsibilities as the following:

Oversees the swimming & diving and women’s tennis programs, event operations, facilities, video services, risk management, information technology and communications, purchasing, auxiliary services, aviation operations and strength and conditioning programs. Assists Athletics Director in supervision of football and men’s basketball programs.

Essentially Foley’s right-hand man, McGarity was up for the UGA job in 2003 and could very well be the university’s top candidate when the position opens up.

Teams in pursuit of NBA free agents Lee, Miller

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudamire may be the names being most talked about right now as far as NBA free agency is concerned, but two former Florida Gators products are also highly coveted and being wooed by teams with varying needs throughout the league.

Former New York Knicks forward/center David Lee, who averaged career-highs of 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in 2009-10, is one of the most prominent second-tier free agents on the market. The Knicks have interest in re-signing Lee, but it appears more likely that he will catch on elsewhere seeing as he does not want to wait and find out whether or not New York hits a home run or strikes out with James.

According to reports, the Boston Celtics were the first team to contact Lee – just after 12:01 a.m. on July 1 – and are pursuing him the strongest. He will also visit with the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat.

Also available is former Washington Wizards guard/forward Mike Miller, who posted averages of 10.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season. The Los Angeles Lakers are hot after Miller and have already offered him a five-year, $30 million contract. They have given him a deadline of July 6 to accept or decline the offer as the team looks to add one more piece for head coach Phil Jackson‘s final season.

Miller previously spoke with the Knicks – who contacted him just after free agency began – and the Heat; he is said to be very intrigued by the possibility of joining New York if the team acquires one or two marquee stars.

UPDATE: After signing point guard Steve Blake to a four-year, $16 million contract, the Lakers have withdrawn their offer for Miller; however, he is expected to be a person of interest as a complimentary peace for teams that sign the major players in free agency.

Photo Credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

FOUR BITS: Marshall, Fontana, Andrews, UGA AD

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker, 1992 NFC Defensive Player of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler Wilber Marshall has decided to speak out about the proposed 18-game NFL season because he believes it is a money grab and will take a serious toll on players’ bodies. “I take meds just to walk,” he told Florida Today. “I don’t like taking them. I know what they do to the liver. I saw what happened to Walter [Payton]. So far, my head’s good. It’s just the rest of my body that doesn’t work. […] They should keep it at 16 games and eliminate the two preseason games anyway. But you know how it is. It’s all about the NFL making money, and not about the players’ health.”

2 » Florida freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana was named to the Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove Team on Wednesday, the first player in school history to earn such an honor. The only freshman on the nine-player team, Fontana posted a .986 fielding percentage and only committing four errors in 279 chances in 2010.

3 » In the process of re-signing with ESPN, former Gators dazzler and current sideline reporter Erin Andrews will be featured in the August 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. Complete with an alluring photo spread, Andrews was interviewed by George Wayne who, safe to say, asked her some pretty ridiculous questions. Among them: “Do you have man-size feet like Paris Hilton?” “What is the one thing you take when feeling constipated?” and “What gets me to the vomitorium is that faux romance between you and that cheesy ballroom dancing partner of yours. What was with this tabloid fake romance?” Luckily for OGGOA’s male readers, Wayne’s somewhat absurd interview comes along with a video of Andrews’ photo shoot.

4 » Georgia Bulldogs athletic director Damon Evans was arrested on charges of driving under the influence Wednesday evening. Evans, driving a 2009 BMW, was pulled over just before midnight and is said to have smelled of alcohol while failing a field sobriety test. He refused a breathalyzer test and was released on his own recognizance Thursday morning. The University of Georgia is expected to release a statement sometime soon; some believe the school will ask him to resign.

Photo Credit: Patrick Fraser/Vanity Fair

FOUR BITS: Tebow, Meyer, Richard, free agency

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will have plenty of doubters to prove on throughout his career with the Denver Broncos, but he is most concerned with making his new head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Brian Xanders feel confident in their decision to select him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. “I definitely take pride in the coaches picking me and take pride in the fact that I want to prove them right,” Tebow told NFL.com. “That’ll be a goal of mine in playing in the National Football League – to prove coach McDaniels right and to prove Brian Xanders right and to prove the people that supported me right. That’s something that I’ll take pride in trying to do.” As to him playing as a rookie? “I don’t even think about it like that,” Tebow added. “I think about every day I have to get better, and if I do that, then I’ll be satisfied with myself and going in and getting better every day. Because that’s all I can control and that’s what I’m going to worry about.”

2 » Just one year ago, amid speculation that he might be headed elsewhere, Urban Meyer agreed to a six-year, $24 million contract to remain head coach at Florida. According to ESPN’s Mike Fish, who spoke with Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, Meyer is on the verge of finally signing his new deal, the terms of which were finalized way back on Aug. 3, 2009. “It’ll get signed sometime in the next month or so, if not sooner,” Foley said. “There are no hang-ups. Bottom line, he has a [previously signed] contract that has four years left to run on it. It’s not like he doesn’t have a contract. And he is getting compensated at the new rate. We have an agreement with Urban Meyer at the new rate, and the contract will get signed here shortly.” Regarding Meyer’s health, Foley remains unfazed. “It’s going to be fine,” he said. “It’s not like I have to worry about him having those issues day-to-day. He is a high-energy guy. He is a guy who has total commitment to what he does. I don’t think that has changed.”

3 » Former Gators forward/center Chris Richard, who appeared in 18 games for the Chicago Bulls last season, was waived by the team on Wednesday. Richard averaged 2.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes of action per game and was signed after fellow Florida F/C Joakim Noah was injured during the season. He will likely be signed to Chicago’s summer league roster and may find himself back on the team next year.

4 » With NBA free agency beginning literally as this is typed, some former Gators are available to be signed and others may factor into potential sign-and-trade scenarios. Former New York Knicks F/C David Lee, former Washington Wizards guard Mike Miller and former Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem are three of the most prominent “second tier” free agents available. Lee also has the possibility of being involved in a sign-and-trade situation, and Noah could always be moved off of the Bulls in an effort to get a bigger-name free agent under a long-term contract.

Extra BIT » Squidbillies is the name of a cartoon aired during Cartoon Network‘s Adult Swim programming block. Tom Treebow is the name of its new character, a parody of Tebow. He will debut on the show on July 11, but you can catch a glimpse right here.

Photo Credit: Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post

TE Cornelius Ingram: “At the end of the day, there’s nothing like being on the field.”

After two years of rehabbing his torn anterior cruciate ligament, two years of watching while other tight ends succeeded in his stead and two years of sitting in the background while yearning to get back on the field to play his favorite sport, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram decided to spend his free month before 2010 training camp begins starting a charity and spending a half hour talking about his career and life with OGGOA. The former Florida Gators breakout star, now back in town to relax with family and work out with some of his former coaches, reminisced about his struggles, successes and what he hopes to accomplish in his hometown.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s start off with the most important question first…how is your knee? Last we heard you were back to full speed and participating in mini camp.
CORNELIUS INGRAM: “That’s 100 percent correct. I feel good. I was able to go through OTAs and minicamp and I had a pretty successful one as well. I feel good. The knee’s back to 100 percent, so I’m excited about the season.”

AS: Obviously it is tough going into a situation where you are hoping to contribute right away only to get backtracked with basically the same injury again. What were your thoughts when you found out you had to sit out another full year after tearing your ACL?
CI: “It was tough. If anybody is doing something that they have a passion for and they love it, regardless if its sports or not, it’s tough when you love to do something and it’s something you’ve been doing your whole life – it’s very hard to sit out and watch other guys be successful. I’m a pretty competitive guy, so I’m always trying to do my best at whatever I’m doing. It was very tough being [injured] two years in a row. But the good thing I can say – I was still able to go to meetings. I was lifting weights; I was still able to watch film with the team during the course of game week. I still felt like I got better in certain areas, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like being on the field.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Cornelius Ingram…after the break!
Continue Reading » TE Cornelius Ingram: “At the end of the day, there’s nothing like being on the field.”

CHOMPING: Why 2010 will not be a repeat of 2007

The 2007 season was arguably the worst the Florida Gators have played since head coach Urban Meyer took over the program in 2005. That is often what happens when a team’s starting quarterback (Chris Leak) graduates, it loses the majority of its defensive starters to the NFL Draft (defensive linemen Jarvis Moss, Ray McDonald, Marcus Thomas and Joe Cohen, safeties Reggie Nelson and Ryan Smith, linebacker Brandon Siler) and a few other key pieces leave as well (wide receiver Dallas Baker, running back DeShawn Wynn).

Considering the departures following the 2009 season (QB Tim Tebow, WR Riley Cooper, tight end Aaron Hernandez, center Maurkice Pouncey, cornerback Joe Haden, DE Carlos Dunlap, S Major Wright, LBs Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham) appear eerily similar (if not greater) to those that occurred before 2007 got underway, many might expect the Gators to experience a similar downfall. Perhaps they will go from back-to-back one-loss seasons to a similar 9-4 record, 5-3 performance in the Southeastern Conference and maybe even a bowl game loss?

Here is why those that think the sky is falling may be too reactionary…
Continue Reading » CHOMPING: Why 2010 will not be a repeat of 2007

FOUR BITS: Young going for gold, Pagan thinking, Gilbert leading, Bullard eliminated from WWE

1 » Competing with the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men, Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) already wow’ed his coaches and is now impressing his opponents, too. Below are his stat lines thus far:

- June 26 vs. Virgin Islands – 5/7 for 11 points, nine rebounds in 10 minutes
- June 27 vs. Mexico – 2/4 for four points, eight rebounds, two blocks in 20 minutes
- June 28 vs. Argentina – 4/5 for 11 points, five rebounds in 16 minutes
- June 29 vs. Canada – 1/2 for two points, one rebound, one block in 10 minutes

Young will join his team in the tournament gold medal game on Wednesday at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antoinio, TX, against Brazil. Also of note is former Gators five-star guard commit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL), who set a FIBA record with nine consecutive three-pointers in the USA’s defeat of Canada. Rivers went 3/6 from the field and 9/12 from beyond the arc while posting a tournament-high 35 points.

2 » Almost immediately after committing to Florida, there were rumors that four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) may change his mind. The Gators’ second-best 2011 recruit overall behind quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), Pagan committed back in April, telling Rivals that head coach Urban Meyer “stood up, did a little dance and gave me a hug” when he accepted the scholarship offer. “I decided that I definitely wanted to lock in my spot with the Gators and be part of this team,” he said in April. “I think I’m firm [with my decision]. I don’t plan on taking any more visits or seeing anywhere else. I’m sure people say it all the time, but this feels like home. Florida makes me feel like I am at home.” Now Pagan calls himself “about 50 percent on Florida, but the commitment is still there. It’s strong,” adding that he will “announce whether I’m going to Florida or look elsewhere before the season starts” on Aug. 27.

3 » Florida Today caught up with Florida redshirt senior offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert and picked his brain about a few topics including what happened at the end of last season. “We had guys thinking they were better than they were and weren’t playing up to their potential,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got this saying, ‘No primos and no rock stars. Go out and do your job.’ Everybody is going to work the same amount, and there aren’t going to be any superstars on the team. I think everybody – especially after watching that SEC game in Atlanta – everybody has fire and desire to handle things in a different way because my feeling is, I didn’t think we were that ready. We had a good game plan in and we had the players to beat Alabama, but we weren’t ready to go out there and get the job done because I guess we had been there before. That’s what it seemed like to me. We weren’t as focused. That week of practice wasn’t as it usually had been. It was different.” As for this year? “It’s our time. It’s our team,” he said. “That’s what [the seniors] go by. So anything that goes on, they say this is your team; you have to make the decision; you have to be the leaders; you have to step up. It’s our responsibility. I think we have the guys still who can do the same thing — get back there — because we have a talented group coming back. I think we can be better.”

4 » Former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard‘s (ring name Titus O’Neil) mission to become World Wrestling Entertainment’s next breakout star ended on Tuesday as he was eliminated from the WWE NXT television program. O’Neil, whose background as a football player and master’s degree recipient from the University of Florida was played up heavily by the producers/announcers, did a Gator Chomp when at the top of the entrance rap and was quite powerful in the ring. However, as some might agree, he was one of the least dynamic personalities on the show and was scripted to both lose matches and make mistakes throughout his short time on WWE television.

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

ESPN set to sign Erin Andrews to multi-year deal

Former Florida Gators dazzler and current ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews has agreed to sign a new multi-year contract with The Worldwide Leader in Sports after her deal expires on July 1, according to USA Today.

Though her new role with the network is yet to be defined, one should expect Andrews to see an increased role on the network from this point forward. With Suzy Kolber and Michelle Tafoya already (wo)manning the sidelines for ESPN‘s signature show – Monday Night Football – it will be interesting to see what other responsibilities Andrews is given in addition to her duties during college football, basketball and baseball games.

When questioned about how imminent the agreement with Andrews is, ESPN‘s executive vice president Norby Wiliamson said, “We hope to have a deal signed soon.”

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