Report: Health issues part of Meyer’s resignation

Though Urban Meyer said at a press conference on Wednesday that he was stepping down from his position as head coach of the Florida Gators because of his family, The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports that Meyer’s decision was made – at least in part – due to a scare over increased health risks.

“Meyer was told by doctors last week that the symptoms he continues to experience – including burning sensations in his chest – would raise his cardiovascular risk factors, so he decided it necessitated his resignation,” Dooley reports, according to an unnamed source. “Meyer had been told a year ago that if his symptoms continued it would increase his cardiovascular risks if he kept coaching.”

The fact that Meyer was made aware of this news last week coincides with him previously and repeatedly denying any plans to resign. Even during his press conference on Wednesday, Meyer gave an indication that his health played a role in his decision.

“To say that there wasn’t a scare, that would be incorrect,” he noted. “But that’s not the reason for this press conference.”

Meyer’s current symptoms are not the same as the esophageal spasms that caused him serious chest pain last year. Apparently “the spasms have been under control” but the “other symptoms have continued,” according to the Sun.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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Source: Muschamp to hire Applewhite, Akina as Florida’s coordinators

A source close to the Florida Gators football program informed OGGOA early Sunday morning that new head coach Will Muschamp plans on hiring current Texas Longhorns assistant head coaches Major Applewhite and Duane Akina as his respective offensive and defensive coordinators at the University of Florida.

Applewhite, who was also the running backs coach at Texas, has been with the program since 2008. He was previously the offensive coordinator at Alabama (2007) and Rice (2006). A quarterback with the Longhorns from 1998-2001 who set a number of records at the school, he got his first job as a graduate assistant at Texas (2002-04) before moving on to be the QB coach at Syracuse (2005).

Akina has coached for 32 years spending 22 of them coaching defensive backs. He has been with the Longhorns since 1992 and has coached three Thorpe Award winners (six finalists) and 23 secondary players who have made it to the NFL.

It was also learned early Sunday morning that a handful of Florida’s assistants will have the opportunity to retain their positions on the staff.

OGGOA will continue updating this story and attempting to confirm the information in the above report as more information is made available to us.

BREAKING NEWS: Will Muschamp hired as Florida Gators next head football coach

The Florida Gators have hired Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as their newest head coach.

“This is a dream come true to be the head coach of the Florida Gators,” said Muschamp according to an official release from the University of Florida. “I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television. I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the back yard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville.”

He continued, “I’m eager to get to work and represent this great institution. I’m very thankful for the opportunity given to me by President Dr. Bernie Machen and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. I promise to bring a tremendous amount of passion and energy to work every day and my goal is to have our team bring the same type of attitude in everything we do both on and off the field. I want our team to play hard, with relentless effort and with toughness. We want to make the Gator Nation proud.”

Muschamp, the coach-in-waiting under Mack Brown at Texas, has never held a head coaching job before. Prior to coordinating the defense for the Longhorns, Muschamp held the same position with Auburn (2006-07), the Miami Dolphins (2005), LSU (2002-04) and Valdosta State (2000).

Having turned down head coaching opportunities at schools like Clemson, Tennessee and Auburn over the years, Muschamp was named the successor to Brown in Nov. 2008; however, Brown is expected to coach Texas through at least 2016.

Now the 23rd head coach in Florida history, Muschamp is a former resident of Gainesville, FL, who lived there for 10 years as a youngster. At 39-years-old, he is the second-youngest coach in the Southeastern Conference.

Foley, who departed Gainesville for Austin, TX, at approximately 8 a.m. and arrived back in town at 8 p.m. on Saturday, wasted little time in signing a new head coach after Urban Meyer officially resigned on Wednesday.

“Coach Muschamp is someone we targeted from the beginning and he is the guy we wanted,’’ Foley said. “He is the only person we met with and the only person we offered the job to.”

He also raved about Muschamp’s experience and dedication.

“We are thrilled to have Coach Muschamp lead our football program,” Foley said. “When we started the search for our next head coach we wanted a coach who was familiar with the Southeastern Conference. We wanted a candidate who was a relentless recruiter and was familiar with recruiting in the state of Florida.

“We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage. We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida. Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more. He is a grounded family man with a wonderful wife and two children and we welcome them into our Gator family.”

Meyer approved of the hire, noting that his replacement is a top-notch recruiter.

“He’s a tremendous recruiter,’’ Meyer said. “I have bumped into him many times over the years on the road while on recruiting trips.”

Florida will officially announce the hiring of Muschamp at a press conference at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Stoops denies he is close to signing with Florida

Head coach Bob Stoops may leave the Oklahoma Sooners for the Florida Gators He also may not. Either way, Stoops explained to Tulsa World on Saturday that reports stating he is close to signing with Florida are false.

“Not true, whatsoever,” Stoops told the paper‘s Dave Sittler via text message. “I’m out recruiting [for Oklahoma] as we text.”

A seven-time Big 12 champion who also captured a national title after serving as the Gators’ defensive coordinator under head coach Steve Spurrier, Stoops has been the object of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley‘s affection for years.

Foley has tried to hire Stoops on two other occasions but was rebuffed both times.

Though Stoops is widely believed to be the University of Florida‘s number one choice, word out of Gainesville, FL, is that Boise State Broncos head coach Chris Petersen not far behind in Foley’s pecking order.

Petersen, who has led Boise State since 2006, has never won fewer than 10 games in a season, is 2-0 in BCS bowl games (0-2 in non-BCS bowls), and has won four Western Athletic Conference titles in five seasons. He is also a two-time Paul “Bear” Bryant Award winner as Coach of the Year (2006, 2009).

Other current head coaches rumored to be up for the Florida job – in no particular order – include Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, Connecticut’s Randy Edsall, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Southern Mississippi’s Larry Fedora and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, in line to succeed Mack Brown, is also believed to be an option.

Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino was thought to be a top candidate for UF, but he reportedly agreed to seven-year contract extension on Friday. Petrino was supposedly Foley’s number two choice when he hired current/former head coach Urban Meyer.

12/9: Donovan provides his post-game opinions

The No. 24 (for now) Florida Gators (7-2) won their second-straight game by double digits on Thursday, defeating the Kent State Golden Flashes (7-3) 65-52 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Head coach Billy Donovan spoke to the media after the game and had plenty to say about his team’s performance.

FLORIDA IS ABOUT DEFENSE IN 2010-11

With the Gators struggling mightily on offense, Donovan has made it a point to tell the team that playing great defense gives Florida the best chance of being successful for the remainder of this year through the (potential) postseason.

“The biggest thing everybody wants to talk about is our shooting. That’s been up-and-down and certainly we have not shot the ball great,” he said after the game. “The thing that’s gotten probably lost the last three or four games is how much these guys have improved defensively. […] It’s been four-straight games now that we’ve kept people below 40 percent for the game.”

He continued, “We’re going to have to be a defensive team because we are going to have nights where we score and then we’re going to have some nights where we struggle. We got to find ways to get stops; that has to be something we hang our hat on.”

Donovan shares his thoughts on the offense and two players…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/9: Donovan provides his post-game opinions

FOUR BITS: Troy coaches USA, Spikes suspended

1 » Florida Gators head swimming coach Gregg Troy was named the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Swimming Team on Wednesday. Troy, who was named the 2010 Coach of the Year by USA Swimming and earned three similar awards this year, is only the second Florida coach in school history to lead a U.S. Olympic National Team (Jimmy Carnes in track and field). “It’s certainly a tremendous honor any time you have the opportunity to represent your country,” Troy said in an official press release. “If you ask any young swimmer what tier goal is, they’ll all tell you it’s to go to the Olympics. I think coaches are no different. I’m fortunate to have an athletics department at Florida that makes [coaching] available to me, as well as a tremendous coaching staff that I work with here that can help me go forward towards London.”

2 » New England Patriots rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes was suspended four games by the NFL on Friday for violating the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy, according to the Boston Herald. Spikes, who will not appeal the suspension, is a rookie starter for New England who is fourth on the team in tackles with 61. He is expected to be back in time for the first round of the playoffs.

“I’ve been contacted by the NFL and informed that I will be suspended four games for the detection of an illegal substance in a drug test,” Spikes said in a team statement. “The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug. The integrity of the game is very important to me. I understand the league’s ruling and apologize to my teammates, the fans and the Patriots organization for this mistake.”

3 » Also receiving some bad news on Friday was Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has recovered from his other injuries but has been dealing with a severe case of migraine headaches for the last two weeks. Harvin missed last Sunday’s game and is listed as doubtful this week (25 percent chance to play). He has been Minnesota’s most consistent pass catcher this year – with team-highs in yards (627), receptions (51), targets (81) and receiving touchdowns (4) – and is also the primary kickoff returner with 40 attempts for 933 yards and a touchdown.

4 » The Columbus Lions of the Southern Indoor Football League announced the signing of two former Gators – cornerbacks Wondy Pierre-Louis and Markihe Anderson – on Friday. The Lions are defending SIFL champions.

Photo Credit: David Silverman/New England Patriots

Urban Meyer speaks at Outback Bowl press event

In Tampa, FL, alongside athletic director Jeremy Foley, Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno and ESPN/ABC color commentator Jon Gruden for a 2011 Outback Bowl press event on Thursday was Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer. Though the event was aimed at promotion for the bowl game and its sponsors, Meyer spent a good portion of his time there answering questions about his recent decision to step down from his position at Florida.

“I’M HERE TO HELP IN ANY WAY”

Though Meyer will not be the head coach of the Gators next year, he is hopeful that he will be able to remain with the program – or the athletic department – in come capacity. How he will do that is currently not known and may be up to his eventual replacement.

“I want to be a part of college football. I don’t know [how]. I’m still working on that. I want to help,’’ Meyer said. “I’ve been asked and requested to remain at Florida for as long as they’ll have me. They’ve been very gracious, and I’m here to help in any way. I’ve got an idea, but we’ll have to wait until the new coach gets here. I still want to help the University of Florida. […] It’s all up to [the new coach]. There will be no ego. For people who know me, it’s all about Florida, helping out. If that’s minimal, it’s minimal.”

Foley was sure to make it clear that Meyer would help in any way – if wanted – but would not impede the Gators from hiring someone who does not want his assistance. “It’s all as good as can be and I think that helps us going forward. I’ll bring that up [to coaching candidates]. He will not do anything around the program where he’s not welcome. He’s smarter than that,” Foley said.

Meyer added that he plans to keep his family in Gainesville, FL, and hopes to stay in the area for “a long time” even though he definitively added, “I’m not coaching next year.”

IT WAS A “YEAR-TO-YEAR” DECISION

With Meyer coming back so suddenly after resigning last season, the general understanding by the public was that he would be back at Florida for good as long as his health held up. However it seemed to be a dirty little secret throughout the entire program that Meyer could very well end his career (at least temporarily) after the 2010 season and that an understanding of that arrangement had been reached previously.

“I wanted to stretch as much as I could because I have an obligation to this program and our coaching staff,” Meyer said. “I couldn’t think for a minute about my secretary, about the video people. That’s all I could think about last year at this time. It’s still hard this year, but at least I think there’s some preparation now that went into it.”

Meyer claims to be “at ease” with his decision “because my boss is at ease and he’s got a plan and I’m doing the best I can to assist with the plan.” He said he would be happy and willing to assist Foley in a search for a head coach, but noted that he would provide his help at request of his boss.

DECISION WAS EASIER THIS TIME AROUND

With the full support of his family and a realization that he could now be the father he always wanted to be in the back of his head, Meyer noted that deciding to step down after this season was easier – but still not easy – on this occasion.

“[Shelley] was great. She was not great last year. That was a really tough deal last year,” he said. “That had a lot to do with this year. I just hope you guys never have to go through what I had to. And if you do, it comes out the other end positive. For me, it came out real positive. I’ve never been closer with my family, stronger in my faith. That was an eye-opener. The relationship I’ve got with my wife and my children, if it’s 1-10, it’s 11.”

QUOTES

Meyer on the recruits: “They’ve been good. Everybody’s waiting. I’ll let them know when I know something.”

Foley on hiring a new head coach: “This is the third time I’ve been through this process, and I understand the intense interest it generates. It’s good. It says a lot about Florida. We’ll be getting into developing candidates. We know the expectations here. We have the same expectations. We know the type of job it is, we know the challenge. We look forward to moving ahead very quickly.”

Gruden joking about Meyer’s future: “I’d like to thank Jim McVay and the Outback Bowl for giving me a ticket back to this stadium. Let me be the first to start the rumor of Urban Meyer to the Denver Broncos. I can say that now because I’m a broadcaster.’’

Gruden serious on Meyer’s future: “I think eventually maybe when his kids grow up, maybe he gets the itch again. But right now, I think he needs to catch his breath. The guy might be really tired, you know. He really might be tired. He won two national titles. The SEC is not for everybody now. It’s tough to win.”

Florida punter Chas Henry wins Ray Guy Award

Florida Gators senior punter Chas Henry was named the winner of the 2010 Ray Guy Award at the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards in Orlando, FL, on Thursday night. The first player in University of Florida history to win the award, Henry was also one of three finalists for the honor in 2009.

Henry, who was also named a 2010 Walter Camp All-America first team at the ceremony, punted 44 times for 2,042 yards with a 46.4 average this season. That average was not only the best in the nation this year but also set a school record. A unanimous first-team All-SEC selection, Henry beat out 2009 Ray Guy Award winner, fellow semifinalist, and Georgia punter Drew Butler for this year’s award.

Though he was not honored for the kicking duties he was responsible for after junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was ruled out for the season with a back injury, Henry’s achievements on Thursday spoke to the impact he had as one of the most valuable players on the Gators in 2010.

Photo Credit: Stephen Morton/Associated Press

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