TWO BITS: Beal to Minnesota, Florida loses Hale

1 » Following up on OGGOA’s exclusive report from May 12 stating that former Florida Gators linebacker Brendan Beal would be transferring to another school, it has now been confirmed the former four-star high school recruit will be playing for the Minnesota Gophers in 2011-12 after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations. Beal, who received a medical hardship redshirt from the NCAA, will actually have three years of eligibility left when he finally suits up for Minnesota. Asked by GopherHole.com to comment on his reason for transferring out of Florida, Beal declined. “Sorry, I would not like to comment on that,” he said.

2 » Though the Gators were only one of his 17 scholarship offers, Florida (along with Penn State) was in the final three for four-star defensive tackle Joel Hale (Greenwood, IN). Unfortunately for head coach Urban Meyer, Hale publicly committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes Monday evening, becoming the school’s second commit in under a week. At 6’4” and 290 lbs., Hale’s commitment is No. 14 for the Buckeyes, one that will help them immediately get more athletic on the front line.

Tebow adds more supporters, lofty comparisons

Arguing whether or not Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL has seemingly become a national pastime with fans, league executives, former players, current players and analysts all having an opinion on his future without even seeing the former Florida Gators star step into a professional huddle.

Supporters and doubters alike realize that Tebow has some work to do in order to be a polished NFL quarterback. Nevertheless, what some term as “flaws,” others believe are characteristics that make Tebow unique and will allow him to succeed at the next level – perhaps even beyond his most ardent fans’ expectations.

ESPN spoke with a few former NFL signal callers known for their mobility – most prominently Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh – and asked them to evaluate Tebow’s ability to succeed in the pros.

Tarkenton: “I know that Tim Tebow is not the prototypical quarterback. I wasn’t either. Neither was Roger Staubach, even Bob Griese wasn’t. I had my own style of play and did OK. The only thing that will hurt him is coaches. Most coaches don’t understand quarterbacks. Don’t try to coach him into what he’s going to be. That would be a disaster. […] Peyton Manning can’t do what Tim Tebow does, and vice versa. […] The quarterback position is about playmaking, it’s about leadership. It’s a complex position you can’t test for.”

Read what else was said about Tebow and his future…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tebow adds more supporters, lofty comparisons

TWO BITS: Gators in MLB Draft, Tebow vs. Rivers

1 » As they await their opponent for the 2010 NCAA Super Regional likely to be hosted at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL, members of the No. 4 Florida Gators baseball team are on notice as the three-day 2010 MLB Draft begins Monday night at 7 p.m. Seniors outfielder Matt den Dekker and closer Kevin Chapman will likely be selected somewhat early in the process, especially considering it can go up to 50 rounds. Also poised to be picked at some point are seniors pitcher Jeff Barfield and outfielder Jonathan Pigott, junior second baseman Josh Adams, and redshirt sophomore pitchers Tommy Toledo and Justin Poovey. There are four other seniors on the Gators’ roster whose names could potentially be called. Unlike football and basketball, being eligible for or selected in the draft as an underclassman does not ruin eligibility; said player is not forced to hire an agent, sign a contract or leave school.

2 » Denver Post columnist Mike Klis took a different perspective on Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels’ decision to draft former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, saying he may be just what the team needs to finally equal or surpass the San Diego Chargers and their signal caller, Phillip Rivers. Here is an excerpt from Klis’ piece:

In Tebow, McDaniels believes he has a quarterback who can eventually match Rivers. Maybe not pass per pass, but play per play.

It’s too much to expect Tebow to keep up with Rivers this season. But maybe by 2011, Tebow can stare down Rivers and mix in 190 yards passing with a touchdown and 55 yards rushing with another touchdown. There’s the offset to the typical Rivers game against the Broncos.

Before he can beat Rivers, though, Tebow has to win over his locker room.

“When you earn respect from people, then they begin to like you, and then they believe in you, and then they begin to love you, and then you have a team that is united and cares about each other more than anything else,” Tebow said in a backroom session with The Denver Post. “And then you go out there and you play for each other, you play for your coaches and you win championships.”

Six home runs help Gators dominate Owls 15-0

In their most dominant performance of the season, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (45-15) throttled the Florida Atlantic Owls (37-24) 15-0 to win the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Sunday night at McKethan Stadium and advance to Super Regional competition.

Fueled by sophomore outfielder Tyler Thompson – who posted a three home run, six RBI performance in which he went 4-for-5 – the Gators smacked six homers over the outfield wall (a school postseason record) while simultaneously shutting out the Owls behind seven strong innings by freshman starter Brian Johnson (6-4).

Johnson also went 3-for-5 from the plate with a homer. Junior first baseman Preston Tucker (4-6, four RBI) and freshman catcher Mike Zunino (2-4) provided the other two dingers of the evening. In all, Florida tallied 19 hits and five walks, stranding 10 on base.

Relievers redshirt sophomore Tommy Toledo and junior Kevin Chapman tossed the final two innings of the contest to complete the shutout.

Johnson was honored with the Gainesville Regional’s Most Outstanding Player award after the game for his .625 (5-8) performance at the plate for the series and dominant outing from the mound on Sunday. UF as a whole placed seven players in eight spots on the All-Tournament Team, including Johnson, Thompson, Tucker, Zunino, senior outfielder Matt den Dekker and freshman pitcher Hudson Randall.

The win advances the Gators to Super Regional action for the second-straight year and fourth in the last seven. Gainesville, FL, will once again host the event, which will consist of a three-game series against the winner of the Coral Gables Regional (to be decided Monday night between Miami and Texas A&M).

Florida is 20-1 in night games at home this season and won its 13th consecutive game on Sunday. The Gators outscored their three opponents 32-5 over the weekend.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

Baseball tops OSU, softball eliminated from WCWS

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (44-15) took it to the Oregon State Beavers (32-23) early, scoring seven runs in the third innings to propel them to a 10-2 victory in the winner’s bracket semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional on Saturday night at McKethan Stadium.

Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis (10-2) tossed a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings and was relieved by sophomore Greg Larson, junior Matt Campbell and senior Chas Spottswood – all of whom shutout the Oregon State. Panteliodis’ 10th win makes him the first Florida pitcher since Alan Horne (2005) to achieve 10 victories in a season.

Offensively, the Gators were propelled by home runs from senior outfielder Matt den Dekker (2-4), junior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5) and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-3). Freshman third baseman Austin Maddox’s 3-5 day included two RBI and a run scored, and freshman designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-3) also had a nice performance from the batter’s box.

With the win, Florida advances to the final game of the Gainesville Regional, set to be played on Sunday at 7 p.m. against the victor of Oregon State vs. Florida Atlantic (36-23) match-up earlier in the afternoon. The winner will have to defeat the Gators twice in order to knock them out of the 2010 NCAA College World Series.

No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-9) was handed a different fate Saturday evening, falling 3-2 in a close back-and-forth game to the No. 6 Georgia Bulldogs (50-12) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. With the loss, the Gators were eliminated from the tournament and officially end their 2010 season.

Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (35-8), just hours after tossing a complete game shutout against No. 9 Missouri, started her second game of the day, once again going the distance. Tallying three earned runs (two in the first inning), Brombacher did her best to keep Georgia at bay but was unable to register a single strikeout.

Down much of the game, Florida rattled off runs in the fourth and fifth inning to tie it up 2-2. Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3) launched her third home run of the day and 19th of the season in the fourth, putting her alone at second-place in UF’s single-season record books. Pinch runner Lauren Heil scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, the Gators’ only other run of the game.

“We didn’t play our best; we played our hardest. I thought we went out and fought pretty heavily to the end,” head coach Tim Walton said after being eliminated. “It’s just one of those things, like we talked about two days ago, how hard it is to come back from the losers’ bracket. Anytime you’re eliminated it really hurts.”

Florida’s season ends with them sitting the school’s and Southeastern Conference’s single-season records in home runs (109) as well as six other program records in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.627), on-base percentage (.432), runs (432), RBI (402) and total bases (936).

It was also the final game in the college careers of seniors outfielder Francesca Enea and third baseman Corrie Brooks, who each appeared in the WCWS three times, played in four Super Regionals and won more games than any players in team history.

Photo Credit: University of Florida

Homers, pitching help Gators dominate Tigers

Three home runs and a standout pitching performance earned No. 4 Florida Gators softball (52-8) a 5-0 elimination game shutout victory over the No. 9 Missouri Tigers (51-13) in the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series on Saturday afternoon.

Freshman designated player Brittany Schutte (2-3, three RBI) knocked two dingers over the outfield wall in the fourth and sixth innings, and junior outfielder Kelsey Bruder (1-3) joined her with her own solo shot in the fifth.

Schutte’s two homers moved her into a tie for second on UF’s single-season list.

Florida’s five runs provided support for a stellar performance from junior starter Stephanie Brombacher (35-7), who overcame her propensity for picking her back foot up off the ground (which caused four illegal pitches on Thursday) to toss a complete game shutout with six strikeouts.

With the win, the Gators eliminated the Tigers from the WCWS and now move on to a second elimination game Saturday evening against No. 6 Georgia. The game will air live on ESPN and online at ESPN3.com.

Florida drops Bethune-Cookman 7-3 in regional

No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (43-15) looked like their normal selves Friday evening, taking down the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (35-21) 7-3 at McKethan Stadium in the 2010 NCAA Gainesville Regional. Freshman starter Hudson Randall (8-3) tossed a stellar 7.1 innings for the win, striking out a career-high 10 batters and not allowing a hit until the fifth inning. It marked his sixth-straight victory.

Florida’s offense provided Randall with plenty of support from the get-go, scoring four runs in the second inning and three more in the sixth. Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker and freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana each went 2-4 from the plate with two RBI and a walk apiece. Freshman catcher Mike Zunino (1-3) added the other RBI.

The Gators will continue Gainesville Regional action Saturday at 7 p.m. in a winner’s bracket game against Oregon State (32-22), which beat Florida Atlantic (35-23) 6-4 on Friday afternoon. The game will air live on Sun Sports and ESPN3.com.

UCLA’s John Wooden, a legend in coaching and life, passes away at age 99 (1910-2010)

With all former UCLA Bruins head basketball coach John Wooden did for the game of basketball, his impact was felt just as much off the court in the life lessons he taught his players, fellow coaches and just about anyone else who crossed his path. Wooden’s intelligence, game management and coaching style made him the most successful college basketball coach of all time, but his life lessons made him a legend. That is why, with his passing at the age of 99 Friday night, the Wizard of Westwood will be remembered just as well for what he said as for what he did as a coach.

Below are some of his greatest “Woodenisms,” courtesy of CoachWooden.com.

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

“Never mistake activity for achievement.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

“Be prepared and be honest.”

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

“Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

“It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”

“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.”

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

“Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

Players and coaches speak on the impact Wooden had in their lives:

Former UCLA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “It’s kind of hard to talk about Coach Wooden simply, because he was a complex man. But he taught in a very simple way. He just used sports as a means to teach us how to apply ourselves to any situation. He set quite an example. He was more like a parent than a coach. He really was a very selfless and giving human being, but he was a disciplinarian. We learned all about those aspects of life that most kids want to skip over. He wouldn’t let us do that.”

Former UCLA star Jamaal Wilkes: “He was always the boss. He always knew what to say. Even in the heyday of winning and losing, you could almost discuss anything with him. He always had that composure and wit about him. He could connect with all kind of people and situations and always be in control of himself and seemingly of the situation.”

Florida coach Billy Donovan: “John Wooden was a great coach and a great man. He was a man of humility who embodied the best in character and values, and exemplified what coaching is all about. 

I was fortunate enough to be honored with the Wooden Award in April, an award that now takes on added significance to me personally. I found out that I was being honored on his 99th birthday. To have the opportunity to go out to Los Angeles and see firsthand how great an impact he still has is something I will always be honored and humbled to be a part of. His legacy will endure forever.
”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: “Today, we’ve lost a giant in all of sport with the passing of Coach Wooden. Quite likely, his accomplishments as a college basketball coach will never be matched. Neither will the impact he had on his players or the greater basketball community. Many have called Coach Wooden the ‘gold standard’ of coaches. I believe he was the ‘gold standard’ of people and carried himself with uncommon grace, dignity and humility. Coach Wooden’s name is synonymous with excellence, and deservedly so. He was one of the great leaders – in any profession – of his generation. We are blessed that the sport of basketball benefited from his talents for so long. Coach Wooden and his wisdom will be sorely missed.”

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun: “My reaction is sadness yet at this point we have to celebrate maybe the most important guy in the history of the game. There has been no greater influence on college basketball not just about the game but the team. He gave so much to basketball and education. In my opinion if he’s not as important as Dr. Naismith, he’s right next to him.”

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim: “When I think of a basketball coach the only one I ever thought of was Coach Wooden. He had a great life and helped so many coaches until well in his 90s. Every time I talked to him he would give me some words of advice. He’s the best of all time. There will never be another like him, and you can’t say that about too many people. It’s a sad day but he had such an unbelievable run. I can’t tell you what he’s done for game of basketball and it’s not just the wins. It’s the attitude and the way he carried himself. I just can’t say enough about him.”

Former Arizona coach Lute Olson: “I always sat and chatted with him before our games at UCLA and about five years ago he asked, ‘Can I come out and watch one of your practices?’ … We had a jet pick him up at Van Nuys Airport, just a few minutes from where he lived, and bring him [to Tucson]. We had lunch and I asked if he could say a few words to the team. He said yes and spoke for 20 or 30 minutes. He never said a word about basketball, just talked about his philosophy of life and being the best that you could be. He has been anxious to be reunited with Nell for a lot of years, so this is not a sad experience for him I don’t believe. I don’t think there is anyone who had influenced the number of people in his life than he had.”

St. Johns coach Steve Lavin: “Even though we anticipated this day, the finality still strikes with a force equal to a ton of bricks. There was the common affinity we shared for Purdue and UCLA and that forged a unique bond. I turned to him for perspective at every critical juncture over the past 20 years. Ninety-nine years of goodness and now he’s back with Nell [his wife].”

“Coach Wooden leaves all of us a lasting legacy from a lifetime devoted to goodness. Coach believed the court was his classroom and basketball was a metaphor for life. He was an eternal learner and teacher. He was the best friend and mentor one could hope for and it is difficult to imagine a college basketball season without John Wooden being with us.

Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt: “The takeaways we all have been blessed with from knowing John Wooden are numerous. For all of his successes, he was such a humble man. Tonight, we have lost a true American icon.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari: “[Wooden was] one of the greatest coaches in any sport. He did it without being a bully and the players at the time probably struggled with the structure but when they left, there was a burning love for him. He is what this game is all about. When you talk about how he taught, how he was with his late wife. You talk about his character as a person. That’s what he was about.”

- L.A. Times: John Wooden dies at 99; UCLA basketball coach won 10 national titles
- Bill Plaschke (LA Times): Coach’s lasting lesson is one of simple devotion
- T.J. Simers (LA Times): John Wooden’s life was a love letter
- L.A. Times: John Wooden’s pyramid stands test of time


Image courtesy of ESPN

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