FOUR BITS: bball, Cooper, Hernandez, Murphy

1 » Florida Gators rising senior center Patric Young has received plenty of attention over the last two offseasons by posting videos of strongman workouts with the team’s strength & conditioning staff. This year, Florida taped all of the players participating in the impressively difficult workouts and compiled their efforts in the video below.

2 » Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and running back Mike Gillislee are the first former Florida teammates to speak out in defense of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, who blurted out a racial slur at a concert that was caught on video and has since begun a – what appears to be quite sincere – apology tour. “I think Riley is a great guy,” Pouncey told FOX Sports Florida. “I think obviously he made a mistake. I just feel bad for him because he’s a good friend.” Pouncey also said he never had an inkling that Cooper would have those thoughts in his head and plans to lend his former teammate his support soon. “When the time’s right, I will,” he said. “But right now I know he’s going through a tough time and I just hope for nothing but the best for him.” Gillislee called Cooper a “great person” and someone that “doesn’t have a bad character.” He said he doesn’t think much of him making the comment and hopes people can move on from the unfortunate incident.

UPDATE: On Friday, Cooper was suspended from all team activities while he undergoes counseling. He released the following statement through the team:

“The last few days have been incredibly difficult for me. My actions were inexcusable. The more I think about what I did, the more disgusted I get. I keep trying to figure out how I could have said something so repulsive, and what I can do to make things better.

“Right now, I think it’s important for me to take some time to reflect on this situation. The organization and my teammates have been extremely supportive, but I also realize that there are people who will have a tough time forgiving me for what I’ve done. The best thing for me, and for the team, is to step away for a period of time.

“During this time I’m going to be speaking with a variety of professionals to help me better understand how I could have done something that was so offensive, and how I can start the healing process for everyone. As long as it takes, and whatever I have to do, I’m going to try to make this right.”

Speaking of Cooper, here are some other links to stories, columns and videos relating to the situation. NFL.com: Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks | ESPN.com‘s Ashley Fox: Riley Cooper won’t be an Eagle for long | Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel: Most deserving of apology from Riley Cooper: the security guard doing his job

3 » Jailed former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez professed his innocence for the first time…in a handwritten letter sent to a fan that wrote him a letter of support. TMZ obtained the letter, which includes a line at the end with Hernandez requesting it not be leaked to social media. “The world just makes things out of false accusations … and it will all die down, especially when they say NOT GUILTY,” Hernandez wrote in part. “All the people who turned on me will feel like crap. … [I] can’t wait to sign [autographs] again when I’m playing again [and] prove all the haters WRONG.”

4 » Chicago Bulls rookie Erik Murphy turned around his life and career in his final two seasons playing under head coach Billy Donovan at Florida, so much so that his much younger brother – 2017 forward Tomas Murphy – is seriously considering playing for the Gators…in four years. The younger Murphy was officially offered a scholarship by Florida this week, though he is likely quite a while away from making his decision. His brother Erik told OnlyGators.com last month that Tomas has UF and Duke (where his other brother, redshirt sophomore F Alex Murphy, is playing) ahead of the pack early in the process. Tomas also has offers from Boston College, Maryland and Rhode Island, among others. “He’s a monster,” a college coach told CBSSports.com’s Jeff Borzello. “At this stage, he’s better than both [his brothers].”

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Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

The 2013 offseason started out relatively calm and normal for the Florida Gators football program with some players deciding to leave school early to play professionally and others choosing to try their luck at another university. Suddenly, starting on Jan. 10, a string of arrests, poor decisions, injuries and negative headlines began taking over the spring and summer for the Gators. Below is a timeline* of one of the most bizarre and controversial offseasons in Florida football history.

* While all of the news below was sour for Florida or its players in one way or another, obviously some of the occurrences (arrests, suspensions) are significantly more egregious than others (players transferring, coaches leaving). The standout, headline-making stories that either painted the program in a negative light or were exceptionally newsworthy during the summer are highlighted in red.

Luckily for Gators fans, with fall practice officially opening on Friday and the 2013 college season exactly one month away, the offseason is now over.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

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Florida removes Hernandez All-American brick

The Florida Gators on Thursday decided to publicly erase former tight end Aaron Hernandez from their past when they removed his All-American brick from the front of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and later announced other reminders of Hernandez have already been taken down throughout the team’s facilities.

Hernandez, currently jailed in Massachusetts and awaiting trial on six charges including first-degree murder for the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, was named a First Team All-American by the Associated Press in 2009 after leading the Gators with 68 receptions for 850 yards and five touchdowns that season.

He also won the John Mackey Award, handed out to the nation’s best tight end, for his efforts during that campaign.

Florida’s University Athletic Association released the following statement on Thursday:

We didn’t feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez. We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility, such as the South Endzone team area, locker room, football offices, Heavener Complex Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility.

We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this (brick removal) was a more complex process to complete with our vendors.

The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July.

What do you think? Did the school act too soon or was the brick removal appropriate?

Below are pictures of the Hernandez brick being removed and replaced courtesy of University of Florida professor Ted Spiker (first), Gainesville Television Network‘s Julie Quittner (second, third):

Continue Reading » Florida removes Hernandez All-American brick

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SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

1 » Former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews and softball player Jenn Brown, just over one year ago, were both working as sideline reports for ESPN with the former taking on a bunch of other duties as well. Neither remains with the network today, but Andrews and Brown each have a great opportunity to shine with their new company. Andrews, who was hired by FOX Sports last July, spent 2012 sitting at a studio desk as host of a primetime college football pre-game show while also serving as a sideline reporter for major sports events including the MLB postseason. According to SB Nation, her duties will increase this season with the launch of the FOX Sports 1 network. Andrews will move from the primetime half-hour show to hosting a new college football pregame show that will air on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, going head-to-head with ESPN’s College GameDay. Before leaving ESPN, Andrews was given hosting duties for the first hour of College GameDay, which aired from 9-10 a.m. on ESPNU.

Brown, after spending a short stint working with NBC, has signed a deal with the NFL Network, according to The Big Lead. She will start appearing on-air Thursday when she hosts the network’s Total Access show though the breath of her duties is currently unknown. “I’m thrilled to get back to the NFL,” she told the website. “The first sports job I had was on Inside the NFL. Covering college football for ESPN was a great time and I learned a lot, but it’s good to get back to the NFL.”

2 » Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears sat down with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons to discuss what OnlyGators.com reported almost three weeks ago – Parsons’s role in luring free agent center Dwight Howard to Houston. “I spent a lot of time during the summer in L.A.,” Parsons explained. “We kind of just hit it off. We literally would text every day. [Howard would] call me at 8 p.m. with a question and then he’d call me at midnight with the same question. … I was just that guy trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. We have very similar personalities. We are both outgoing. We’re always smiling. We like to have fun. I made him really comfortable that he was not only coming to a really good team, but a team with his friends.” Parsons also talks about his pitch, being involved in the official meeting and where he was when he learned Howard chose the Rockets.

Read and watch four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Andrews, Brown, Parsons, Beal, Zunino; Aaron Hernandez updates

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SIX BITS: Morrison, USA, Calathes, Pouncey

1 » Florida Gators sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison and head coach Will Muschamp – and even Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel – get the Taiwanese animation treatment in this video about Morrison’s two arrests in five weeks.

2 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal are joining 26 other players on Monday to participate in the 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp in Las Vegas, NV. Though Parsons does not have much experience competing internationally, Beal was involved with USA Basketball as a high schooler and has represented his country before. Both men will have the opportunity to impress head coach Mike Krzyzewski from July 22-25 in hopes of earning placement on the 2013-16 U.S. Men’s National Team that will participate in international competitions, qualifiers and eventually the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unfortunately for Beal, he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his leg and is not expected to be able to participate in contact drills during the camp.

3 » ESPN.com‘s Marc Stein reported late Sunday night that the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies are in “advanced discussions on a trade” that would send former Florida Gators point guard Nick Calathes‘s rights from Dallas to Memphis in exchange for future draft considerations. Calathes, a second-round selection by the Mavericks in the 2009 NBA Draft, has never played in the NBA. He has spent the last four years playing basketball in Greece (2009-2012) and Russia (2012) and was named the 2013 Eurocup Most Valuable Player after leading his team, Lokomotiv Kuban, to a championship while averaging 12.9 points, 6.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. UPDATE: Calathes’s rights were officially traded Monday afternoon. It is currently unknown if or when the Grizzlies will bring him to the league.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Morrison, USA, Calathes, Pouncey

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SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

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Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Main Post – News & Notes: Muschamp’s shot at Meyer, injuries, players, coaches | Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Dominique Easley predictably steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

With the Florida Gators drawing criticism for the way the program has dealt with its players following brushes with the law, spurned on by the drugging up of past Gainesville, FL, police reports following the recent first-degree murder charge against Aaron Hernandez, head coach Will Muschamp felt it was necessary to address the topic while at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Tuesday.

Muschamp called the Hernandez incident “a horrible tragedy” and “something bigger than a Florida problem,” noting that he feels for the victim and believes the entire situation is a great misfortune. “We’re talking about a life,” he said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a horrible situation.”

He later took things a step further, stating matter-of-factly that it is the job of a college coaching staff to watch over the players it recruits to join the program not only on the field but off of it as well. He said the coaches owe it to those players and their parents to do whatever they can to ensure the student-athletes head down the right path.

“You’re 100% responsible,” Muschamp said.

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SIX BITS: Grow, Murphy, Parsons, Horford, Hernandez, Lee, Haslem

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Monty Grow, best known for a vicious hit on West Virginia quarterback Darren Studstill during the 1994 Sugar Bowl [Video], was arrested Sunday night on child abuse charges after leaving a three-year-old girl unattended in a car outside the Diamond Dolls strip club in Redington Beach, FL. The girl’s mother had tracked her via GPS in his car and called the police when she realized that her daughter was stationary at that location for an extended period of time. Grow, 41, left the girl in the car for approximately 20 minutes; he ran up to the car upon leaving the club and admitted to leaving her unattended, telling police he was just making a quick stop inside to collect money that was owed to him by an employee of the strip club. He was released on $5,000 bail on Monday. Grow played at Florida from 1989-1993 but was suspended for the 1991 season after testing positive for steroids. He played two years in the NFL after leaving college.

2 » Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy put together a much-improved showing during his second NBA Summer League game, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-of-5 from three) in 33:37 on Monday night. Murphy was 0-for-6 from downtown in his first game and has now picked up 17 fouls in 52 combined minutes over his two contests.

3 » Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons is getting a lot of attention for his style as of late. A viral video attempt by the sports management company that represents him, Relativity Sports, takes a comical look at how obsessed some are with Parsons’s hair.

Read three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Grow, Murphy, Parsons, Horford, Hernandez, Lee, Haslem

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