FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

1 » On Oct. 29, 2010, one day before the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs square-off in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL, four former student-athletes will be inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Representing the Gators are linebackers Wilber Marshall and Scot Brantley, while LB Knox Culpepper and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski will be honored as former Bulldogs.

2 » A quick blurb from friend of OGGOA, former Florida football player and host of “The Morning Drive” on ESPN Radio in Ocala/Gainesville, FL, Brady Ackerman via his Twitter account Monday evening: “I am hearing that [head coach] Urban [Meyer] has made [the] team accountable for everyone this offseason. In an effort to develop leadership – a mistake hurts everyone. Meyer is trying to develop leaders and accountability with his team this summer. That will be put to test with the arrest of Hammond. The rule is if one guys messes up – everyone pays. Hammond, who is now suspended, is causing the team a little ‘extra’ running this week. I think the message will get home with the team this week and expect the rest of the summer to be quiet from ‘nonsense.’”

Two more BITS on Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

Former Florida DL McDonald arrested for DUI

San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald was arrested Saturday night after California Highway Patrol authorities suspected he was driving under the influence, according to Comcast SportsNet.

McDonald, who was booked into San Mateo County Jail at 7:57 p.m. and was released just under two hours later, is scheduled to appear in court on July 22.

Further details are not currently available.

“The 49ers are aware of the recent matter involving Ray McDonald,” a team spokesman told CSN. “Ray informed the organization of the situation immediately Saturday evening. We take these issues very seriously, but will reserve further comment at this time as this is an on-going legal matter. The 49ers will continue to gather the facts and monitor the developments closely.”

UPDATE: Though his lawyer advised him not to discuss the specifics of his arrest, McDonald, 25, provided the following statement to the media on Tuesday.

“I just wanted to let you all know that whenever this works itself out, you’ll know everything that’s going on. And I just want to apologize for making this a distraction because that’s not my intent.

My intent is just to come out here and work hard and try to win ballgames this year. And I don’t want this to be a distraction for the fans, my family, my teammates. That’s pretty much it.”

McDonald, 25, is the second player associated with the Florida Gators to be arrested for DUI over the last few days, joining current redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who was also busted for possession of alcohol by a minor.

Photo Credit: Morgan Petrosk/Associated Press

Broncos’ Bailey impressed by Tebow’s dedication

Denver Broncos veteran cornerback Champ Bailey may not have the responsibility of choosing his team’s starting quarterback, but he knows plenty about signal callers after facing them in the NFL for 11 years and bringing in 46 interceptions while defending 107 passes. As a Broncos team leader and future Hall of Famer who has faced some of the best passers in the game, Bailey’s glowing impressions and early evaluations of former Florida Gators QB Tim Tebow hold a lot of water.

“See that?” Bailey asked while watching Tebow get in extra practice on his own a few fields away. “That’s Tebow. It’s long after practice and he’s still out there. That’s what he does. That’s not for show. He’s not just doing that because the media is here today. He does that every day.”

Bailey told ESPN that Tebow’s work ethic is unmatched and that, while his reputation precedes himself, he is already impressing teammates.

“We’re all interested in it,” Bailey said. “He has the team behind him. We heard so much about Tebow before he got here and he’s a big story. But everything he has shown shows that he can succeed. The guy just works at his job so much. [...] I’m impressed. I like what I see so far.”

Tebow, who said upon being drafted by Denver that his first goal was to win over his teammates, was happy to hear what Bailey said about him afterward.

“That’s what I want ,” Tebow says. “It means so much that my teammates believe in me and know that I’m working hard. That’s why I’m here. […] It’s 24 hours football. I love it. This is how I’m going to spend my summer.”

He may be third on the depth chart at this point, but it is widely believed that Tebow will see the field plenty in 2010 – potentially as a third-down specialist or in a role similar to that which he played on Florida’s 2006 National Championship team.

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

TWO BITS: Shipman to UCF, Meyer wakeboarding

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Ray Shipman told UCFSports.com on Sunday that he will be transferring to play football for the Central Florida Knights. It came out a few weeks ago that Shipman had decided to change sports; now it is a done deal. “It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since I stopped playing football after my freshman year of high school,” Shipman told the site. “Everybody in football was real surprised that I stopped. Now I want to go back to it. People think it’s just me changing sports, but to me I’m going back to my first love.” His cousin, quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey, plays at UCF which, ironically, just hired former Florida assistant Donnie Jones as its new head basketball coach. Shipman plans to play safety for the Knights and has yet to speak to Jones about any interest in basketball.

2 » Head coach Urban Meyer has been trying to relax and spend more time with his family this offseason, and what better way is there to do that than wakeboarding? In a promotional spot for Nautique, a boat manufacturer, Meyer is shown steering the boat while his daughter Gigi and some professionals tear up Lake Santa Fe. Enjoy.

REPORT: Texas A&M prefers SEC over Pac-10

When conference realignment became a hot topic a few weeks ago, a contingent of six Big 12 schools – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado – were expected to leave the conference and join up with the Pac-10, with Nebraska also deciding to part ways and become the 12th member of the Big Ten.

A report Sunday from Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com states that, while Colorado and Nebraska have already left, a retooled 10-team Big 12 may be able to stay together if conference commissioner Dan Beebe can secure a substantial television contract. Texas is reportedly considering all options and would be amenable to earning as much as $17 million per season under the new deal.

In the same article, Brown notes that Texas A&M “has been in deep discussions with the SEC and as of Saturday night had enough votes on its Board of Regents to join the SEC” rather than potentially following Texas and company to the Pac-10. The SEC, which covets Texas and Oklahoma for expansion, would settle on adding Texas A&M due to the expanded reach it would receive in the Dallas and Houston television markets.

[UPDATE: Texas A&M turned down an official offer to join the Pac-10 on Sunday.]

However, if Texas decides to remain in the Big 12 – Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are tied-in as well – chances are Texas A&M would also stay put.

Should Texas A&M choose to join the SEC, it’s 100-year rivalry with Texas would be in jeopardy, but it would pick up its old natural rivalry with Arkansas, which flourished at one time in the now defunct Southwest Conference.

Hammond arrested for DUI, alcohol possession

Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. was arrested early Sunday morning on charges of driving under the influence and possessing alcohol as a minor, according to an Alachua County police report.

Both appear to be his first offenses.

Hammond, who impressed during spring practice and was set to get major playing time in 2010 as a top receiver, was booked at 4:47 a.m. by the University Police Department.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, which obtained the police report from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, Hammond was allegedly “speeding, swerving and driving” with two open 750-ml bottles of Crown Royal whiskey in his car (one in the back seat, one in the trunk). He was traveling faster than 45 miles per hour on Gale Lemerand Drive at 2:09 a.m.; University of Florida campus is a 20-mph zone.

The police report described Hammond as “uncoordinated” with “glassy” eyes and slurred speech. He failed his on-site sobriety tests and registered breath samples of more than double the legal limit (.08) at .188 and .191.

Hammond has been released from jail after meeting with an Alachua County judge and has already been suspended from all team activities, according to Gators associate athletics director for communications Steve McClain.

OGGOA will update this story when more information is available.

Errors doom Miami as Florida advances to 2010 NCAA College World Series with 4-3 win Saturday

Advancing to the 2010 NCAA College World Series for the first time since 2005, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (47-15) defeated the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes (43-20) 4-3 in extra innings Saturday after Miami tied a postseason school record with seven errors including three in the final two innings.

As the away team at McKethan Stadium in the second game of the 2010 Gainesville Super Regional, Florida was down 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning. Hurricanes shortstop Stephen Perez was charged with a throwing error on a routine ground out hit by Gators freshman catcher Mike Zunino (0-3), which advanced all runners and scored the tying run.

Florida would blank Miami in the bottom frame and move on to extra innings where Gators freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (0-5) led-off by reaching base on a misjudged fly ball by Canes right fielder Chris Pelaez. Fontana advanced to second and later to third on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore RF Daniel Pigott before being driven home by a RBI-double down the right field line by freshman third baseman Austin Maddox (1-5) two batters later with two outs.

UF went up 4-3 and held on to the lead as sophomore reliever Greg Larson earned his third save of the season with a strikeout in 0.2 innings. Freshman pitcher Steven Rodriguez (2-0) earned the win in relief after cleaning up the bottom of the ninth inning and earning an out in the tenth.

Both starting pitchers produced fantastic outings as Gators freshman Hudson Randall posted five strikeouts and only allowed two earned runs on three hits in 6.2 innings, and the Hurricanes’ Chris Hernandez allowed one earned run while striking out four and letting up both three hits and three walks in 8.1 innings.

Florida led 2-0 going into the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring the first run in the fifth after two errors helped senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (1-2, three walks) cross home plate; den Dekker scored again in the seventh when freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (1-3, two RBI) hit an RBI-single to right center field with two outs.

Men were on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when head coach Kevin O’Sullivan removed Randall for closer Kevin Chapman, who immediately gave up a three-run shot to Miami OF Nathan Melendres (1-3, three RBI) to give the Hurricanes their first and only lead of the game.

Florida’s hopes of ending the best-of-three series early looked to be doomed until a string of errors erased UM’s one-run lead.

The Gators continued a 15-game home winning streak and are now 30-9 all-time at home during NCAA play with the victory Saturday. Miami still leads the all-time series 124-99-1, but Florida has mounted a 62-45-1 record in Gainesville and defeated their in-state rivals four times in five games (7-1, 6-9, 4-2, 7-2, 4-3) this season. O’Sullivan is 4-0 against the Canes all-time in NCAA action.

Photo Credits: University of Florida

One down, one to go: Florida trips up Miami 7-2

A dominating performance from sophomore starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis coupled with an onslaught of runs in the third and fourth innings propelled No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (46-15) to a 7-2 victory over the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes (43-19) in the opening game of the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional on Friday night at McKethan Stadium.

A complete game effort from Panteliodis (11-2), including a career-high 12 strikeouts and a streak where he retired the final 14 batters he faced, allowed Florida’s bullpen to rest and remain available for game two of the best-of-three series on Saturday at 7 p.m.

In addition to forcing 12 batters to whiff, Panteliodis scattered three hits over nine innings and only allowed one walk during the affair.

Stepping up at the plate for the Gators were freshmen third baseman Austin Maddox (1-5, run) and catcher Mike Zunino (1-4), who tied for the team lead with two RBI apiece. Outfielders sophomore Tyler Thompson (1-3, solo home run) and senior Justin Pigott (2-4) each scored two runs, and sophomore Preston Tucker (0-2) walked thrice.

Miami committed two errors Friday night, both of which led to unearned runs not attributed to Hurricanes starter David Gutierrez (5-3), who was pulled from the game after allowing seven hits and one earned run in four innings. Catcher Yasmani Grandal scored the team’s only runs on a two-RBI homer in the fourth inning.

UF out-hit UM 9-3 and left more runners on base, too (9-1).

Game two of the Gainesville Super Regional will feature freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97 ERA) taking the mound for the Gators against junior Chris Hernandez (10-3, 2.77 ERA) for the Canes. If Florida wins, they will move on to the 2010 NCAA College World Series; should they lose, game three will be played Sunday at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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