8/20: Muschamp discusses injuries, names position leaders, rewards walk-ons

With the Florida Gators now having completed training camp and headed into fall practice, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media early Saturday to provided updates on how the team is progressing on both sides of the ball heading into the 2011 season, which begins on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic.

STATEMENT ON COACH HILL

As allegations from a Yahoo! Sports report suggesting he could have been involved in the illegal and illicit recruiting of players while with the Miami Hurricanes, Florida wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill received a vote of confidence from Muschamp on Saturday. “I’ve talked to Aubrey after the article came out. I feel very comfortable with he and I’s conversation,” he said. “I support Aubrey 100 percent. I’m glad he’s here at Florida, and that’s all I’m really going to comment on.”

BROWN INJURED, BACK SOON; BRANTLEY AND REED RESTING

Confirming a report from the Independent Florida Alligator, Muschamp noted that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown has indeed been out with a knee injury but is respected to return to practice next week. “I expect him probably next Wednesday or Thursday of next week,” Muschamp said.

He also said that redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley got the day off to rest his sore back and will return to action for the team’s scrimmage on Wednesday, while redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed returned to practice Saturday after missing 3-4 days for a sore hamstring. “[Brantley] has had a very productive camp,” he said. “We felt like Wednesday’s scrimmage was much more important as far as progressing our offense further to get ready for game plan than this one and if we needed to take a day off, [Saturday] was the best day to do it.”

LEADING FOR STARTING JOBS

Plenty of positions are up for grabs this fall due to graduations, players leaving early and the new coaching staff implementing difference schemes than a year ago. On Saturday, Muschamp explained that a few more starting jobs have been coming into focus over the last week of camp.

Senior punter David Lerner is currently set to start over freshman Kyle Christy. Lerner, a walk-on who learned in late July that he has Chron’s disease, has been practicing through the health issue and was put on scholarship by Muschamp this week. “Kyle Christy has done some really good things, has got a tremendous leg,” he said, “but David has punted consistently better.”

Redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan, who had been competing with redshirt freshman Chaz Green for the starting gig, has currently taken the lead and the chance to solidify the right side of the line.

With junior Xavier Nixon holding down the starting left tackle job, redshirt sophomore Kyle Koehne (who was backing him up) has been moved to left guard and quickly jumped ahead of redshirt freshman Ian Silberman and redshirt senior James Wilson, both of whom were competing for the position.

Florida’s starting offensive line (for now) consists of: LT Nixon, LG Koehne, C redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison, RG redshirt sophomore Jon Halapio, RT Patchan.

WALK-ONS REWARDED

Three other Gators walk-ons in addition to Lerner earned scholarships from Muschamp this week. The coach informed redshirt sophomore safety Tim Clark, redshirt junior linebacker Scott Peek and senior OT/TE William Steinmann that they had all received the honor after performing well during the spring and summer. Muschamp, a former walk-on himself, described them as, “Four guys that have all been in our program for a number of years, have both demonstrated themselves well on-and-off-the-field, academically they’ve done an outstanding job.” Muschamp said they made the announcement in front of the team and it was very emotional for all involved.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On practices being closed: “It was hot out there today. Ya’ll glad it was closed today?”

» Muschamp said the team got in a lot of good work in Saturday including stuff in the red zone, on third down and with all four special teams units. He said the band was at practice (so it was not totally closed) and the team worked an end-of-game scenario with 5:18 left on the clock. The Gators were in “full game day operation,” which Muschamp said resulted in a “very productive day.”

» The team will take pictures on Sunday and have its next scrimmage on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are when the Gators will start preparations for the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 3.

» Muschamp said sophomore safety Matt Elam had an interception on Saturday and is easily the most consistent player at his position. Everyone else has “shown flashes” but is still competing and trying to earn a spot.

» On the defensive line: “I really like our guys, but we don’t’ have any depth. [...] I feel very good about our talent level; we just don’t have any depth.”

» On redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose’s recent improvement: “Andre made a nice catch on a deep ball today. Andre, really the last couple of days, has taken a step forward. [...] I was very pleased with Andre today. He made a nice play on the side – well-covered, well-thrown ball. He just continues to show the consistency in his performance, and I’m very pleased.”

» On the AP Top 25 preseason poll: “I could care less about the poll.” When told the phrase is “couldn’t” care less: “I was never very good in English, I’ll be honest with ya.”

» On offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: “Charlie’s experience speaks for itself, and his track record – you all know that. From the standpoint of him working with the players is probably his strongest point. You really talk to people that played for him – whether it was at Notre Dame, New England or Kansas City – the players have a great respect for him because he’s all about the players. He’s hard on them, he’s tough on them, it’s tough love, but they have a great respect because he has answers when things don’t go right.”

» On closing practices to hide details: “That’s why we’ve closed everything. I do think it is an advantage for us this season. [...] We put a wild rumor out there about Wildcat. [...] That’s why we’ve closed things.”

» On redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar’s improvement this offseason: “The hardest thing for a young player is to consistently perform every day. You try to explain to them it’s your consistency in your performance [that’s important]. We’ve really challenged Quinton as far as, ‘OK, you want to be a starting receiver, I’m good with that. But to add your value as a player to this football team, you need to be on special teams.’ So when we have scout-look teams as far as our special teams, Quinton Dunbar’s the first guy that jumps in there if he’s not already on the special team. That to me shows tremendous strides and commitment to help our football team. He’s willing to go in there and give our guys a good look.”

» On comparisons between freshman QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett: “Well, I think they are very similar. They’re both athletic, big, strong, big arms, good decision makers. They both have a certain command about themselves as quarterbacks. Jeff’s probably a little more of a scrambler and a runner, as opposed to Jacoby. But they are very similar quarterbacks. Their skill set is very similar. Talking to Charlie about our plan as we move forward is – will be a very similar plan as far as gaming for them and putting them in situations to be successful.”

» On his demeanor at practice: “I’m just myself. There is a key to every young man and you have to find that key. I’m going to be who I am, and I don’t plan anything. I just kind of do what I do.”

» On freshmen playing early: “I always feel like the further your position is away from the ball, the better chance you got to play because your athleticism takes over quicker as opposed to you being close. I think it’s hard for offensive and defensive linemen – I’m not saying it’s impossible because I’ve had guys do it – to come in and play because the bodies are bigger, it’s a faster game, it’s a more complicated game than they’re used to.”

» On if he thinks the team is coming together: “I do. I’m cautiously optimistic when I say that form the standpoint of, what real adversity have we faced? I do think that we’ve battled through some tough practices heat, exhaustion, fatigue; I think we’ve managed that. I wouldn’t say we’ve passed with flying colors, but we’ve managed that. What’s going to happen when we get down 14-0? How are we going to respond to that? That’s when you find out a lot about your team.”

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“No eligiblity issues” with Debose, Patchan

The University of Florida released a statement Thursday indicating that Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan will both remain eligible for the 2011 season despite being named in a Yahoo! Sports report Tuesday detailing a booster’s illicit and illegal recruiting activities at Miami.

“We have been in communication with the NCAA and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports. Andre, Matt nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter.”

Florida also released a statement late Tuesday evening about wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill, who was also named in the report.

“While we declined comment for Yahoo’s request, Coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with, and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami.”

OGGOA RELATED: Hill, Debose, Patchan named in Yahoo! report on Miami booster providing improper benefits

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8/17: Rainey, Demps, Floyd, Howard, Elam speak

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preseason practice preparing for their first game on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing.

REPORTS: BROWN OUT WITH KNEE; NAMED GATORS ON FIELD

Citing a source close to the team, the Independent Florida Alligator reported Wednesday evening that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown suffered a knee injury during practice and “could miss up to three weeks.” If that timeline is accurate, Brown (likely one of the team’s two starters at cornerback this season) could miss the Gators’ first game of 2011 against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3.

Additionally, The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu reports that the three Gators named in the Yahoo! Sports report alleging illegal benefits and impressible recruiting activities at Miami – wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive tackle Matt Patchan – all participated in practice with the team on Wednesday.

THE WILDCAT IS BACK

Though offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has infused the Gators with an entirely new playbook, one carryover from the previous regime are some Wildcat formations featuring a trio of the team’s running backs – redshirt senior Chris Rainey, senior Jeff Demps and sophomore Trey Burton – taking direct snaps from the center and either reading rushing lanes or (rarely) throwing the ball.

“It’s fun,” Rainey said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I was nervous a little bit the first time, but I love it a lot. I ain’t never done it before. It’s fun, though.” Demps echoed a similar sentiment. “I haven’t been in the Wildcat very much, but when I got in it was pretty fun,” he added. “I can see the little hole a little faster and hit it.”

Rainey also conveyed his overall enthusiasm for Weis’s offense. “It feels good,” he said per The Sun. “I’m super happy. Everybody gets the ball in the offense. It’s not a one-man show. Basically, you see better. You see everything, you see the whole field. […] I’m super comfortable. I don’t even have to bring my playbook into the [meeting] room. I know everything. It took me a week to know it in the spring.”

As seems to be the theme, Demps shares Rainey’s opinion in the topic. “It’s a tailback-friendly offense,” he said. “It’s a run-first, pass-second offense. I think this year the running backs are going to get a lot of touches.” He also spoke about getting the ball deeper in the backfield. “It makes a difference,” Demps said. “You can actually see the holes developing and be able to track the linebackers and make your reads. The two yards was kind of fast, so everything was closing in on you [in the spread].”

DEFENSE PRAISES OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKERS

Every defender who spoke on Wednesday had something positive to say about their offensive counterparts, words that are likely music to the ears of fans who were disappointed with the offensive production one year ago.

Discussing Florida’s speedy running backs, sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd glowed. “Them boys – they can do it all,” he said about Rainey and Demps. “Preparing for a season with them two in the backfield is great because you’re going to get every look that you can possibly imagine. Rainey can cut on a dime, Rainey can do this, Rainey can do that, Demps can do the same thing. It gets you moving fast and gives you a better motor and all of that. That’s the plus side of it.”

For redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard, the Gators quarterbacks (especially redshirt senior John Brantley) are the biggest difference this year. “All I can say is the SEC better watch out, man,” Howard said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Brantley is on fire right now. His whole demeanor has changed. He’s taken charge of the offense. He’s running the show now and you can really tell it. In my eyes, he’s a Heisman candidate.” He provided equally lofty praise for freshman signal caller Jeff Driskel. “He’s great, man,” Howard added. “In my eyes, he’s the next Tim Tebow. He’s so fast. He’s explosive. If something happens and Brantley goes down, we feel reliable with him coming in the game.”

Sophomore safety Matt Elam, who tries to stop the team’s wide receivers all practice long, said two in particular stood out to him. “All of them are good, “Elam said. “The one[s] that stuck out the most to me [were] Frankie [Hammond, Jr.] and Quinton Dunbar. It seems like they don’t drop anything. They’re really good receivers.”

MUSCHAMP WINNING OVER THE TEAM

Whether you’ve noticed players tweeting #TEAMMUSCHAMP hashtags or the overall sense of camaraderie in the locker room, it appears that the Gators have once again become a cohesive unit after being pretty fractured during the 2010 season. As Floyd describes it, 2011 is a “new year, new era, and we’re just pushing forward,” with the team as a whole is looking to “control what you can control.”

He also opened up a bit about how the team is more unified this year. “The chemistry is way better on both sides of the ball,” Floyd explained. “We’re not just the offense and not just the defense anymore, we’re a team and we break as a team. After practice we don’t break it down as an offense and a defense, we break it down as a team.”

Evan Elam, who had a close relationship with former head coach Urban Meyer, is beginning to become a big-time fan of the new top dog, Will Muschamp. “I feel like [our relationship is] getting better every day,” he said. “He’s teaching me a lot, and I respect him a lot, and I’m learning a lot from him. So that’s making us closer.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Rainey on Muschamp’s attitude during practice: “We just saw him yelling at a trainer across the field and everybody looked at each other like, ‘Wow. He’s the real deal.’ He’s bipolar, too. Don’t tell him I said it.” (PBP)

» Rainey on Burton being an unselfish player: “He do[es] the same thing every year. He’s a ‘program guy,’ they call it. He’s great. He do everything right. I love him. We need people like that. It’s very rare. It would be nice to have the whole team like that.” (PBP)

» Demps on how he and Rainey are different: “I’d say he’s more shiftier than I am, but other than that we’re fast guys, tough and can run the ball.”

» Demps on where he is struggling “I have a little problem with protections. Going through the plays in the spring, I never really had a chance to go over the protections. I’m trying to catch up now.” (SUN)

» Floyd on how he likes playing on the end: “You can’t get double-teamed at that position; I’m loving it. I’m getting a feel for it, learning everything I can get, learning the situations and everything like that. It’s a good opportunity for me, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

» Floyd on the defensive line’s rotation: “It’s the biggest rotation we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’re doing good with it. Each player is learning and we’re just trying to get better.”

» Floyd on how often the defense is in the 3-4: “It’s pretty balanced 3-4 and 4-3; the whole front can play either position. Now it’s just seeing what we’re going to get and learning from it that way.”

» Floyd comparing Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn: “Different personalities, but you can say that – they have the same style of coaching, getting after it. The big thing with them is aggressiveness and sticking your face in someone.”

» Floyd on if the defensive line feels pressure to lead the unit: “We’re not really worried about it. We’re just honestly trying to get better every day and just learn what is told to us and taking what we learn in the meeting room out to the field.”

» Howard on which formation he is more comfortable playing in: “I’ve become more accustomed to playing a 3-4 now. It fits my body type and it’s working well with our team, so it’s going to look good this season.”

» Howard on the offensive line’s progression since last year: “The offensive line, I can really tell a difference from last year. They’re coming off the ball, they’re putting their face into the blocks, I think they’re going to help Brantley out a lot this year.” (ITG)

» Elam on freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson: “I expected a lot with him coming in, and he’s living up to everything I expected.”

» Elam on what he learned from Ahmad Black: “I learned a lot from him – practice tempo. I learned toughness and just the way to practice and how to approach things; how to approach practice and how to approach games. I learned a lot of mental things.”

» Elam on how Brantley has been playing: “Brantley has been looking real good to me. I’ve been seeing a lot of good things from Brantley this camp – a lot of good things.”

Source Key: SUN = The Gainesville Sun; PBP = Palm Beach Post; ITG = InsidetheGators.com

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Hill, Debose, Patchan named in Yahoo! report on Miami booster providing improper benefits

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

A report released Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports concerning the intricate dealings of a Miami Hurricanes booster who was jailed for heading up a $930 million Ponzi scheme contains the names of three members of the current Florida Gators football team.

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.

Of the seven coaches specifically named in the report, one is current Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, who was hired by head coach Will Muschamp as he assembled his brand new staff this past offseason. Hill, a former UF player and also the Gators’ new recruiting coordinator, was receivers coach at Miami from 2008-10 and added the recruiting coordinator role to his responsibilities last season.

Among the specific incidents, Shapiro or other sources say Hurtt, Hill, Stoutland, Pannunzio and Allen all delivered top-tier recruits to Shapiro’s home or luxury suite so the booster could make recruiting pitches to them. Among the players who were ushered to Shapiro while they were still in high school: [...] eventual Florida commitments Andre Debose (Hurtt) and Matt Patchan (prompted by Stoutland and Pannunzio) [...]

In accompanying reports detailing specifics about each coach and player, Robinson notes Hill was “on hand when three recruits – Andre Debose, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye – were brought to Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion for the purposes of the booster recruiting the players. Hill was on hand while Shapiro toured the players through his home and made a pitch to lure their commitment to Miami.” Shapiro also said he took the recruits out in his $200,000 Mercedes S65.

Robinson goes on to report that “Shapiro alleges he provided Debose with extra benefits during recruiting visits.” In addition to the dealings listed above, Shapiro said he “gave Miami equipment assistant Sean Allen approximately $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and instructed him to show Debose, Armstrong and Dye a good time. Shapiro said Allen ultimately used the money to take the players to nightclubs, including Take One Cocktail lounge and strip club.” Debose (now a redshirt sophomore) allegedly visited Shapiro’s house again “for another gathering” where he was “served food and drinks” and attended a meeting at Lucky Strike Lanes where Shapiro hosted recruits as they watched NFL games, ate and drank for free.

As far as Patchan (now a redshirt junior) is concerned, he allegedly joined “multiple members” of his family at Shapiro’s mansion for a meal. “Shapiro said the recruiting visit at his home was attended by the two Miami coaches, Patchan, Patchan’s mother, Patchan’s father and Patchan’s uncle.”

Due to their inclusion in the report, a situation may arise where Hill, Debose and Patchan might be forced to remain off the field at the very least as a precaution until a conclusion is reached one way or another on their respective eligibility.

As noted by Yahoo!‘s Charles Robinson early in the report, Shapiro’s admissions bring a lot of the Hurricanes’ recruiting practices into question and could severely damage the program and those associated with the allegations for some time to come.

All told, the length, breadth and depth of the impropriety Shapiro has alleged would potentially breach multiple parts of at least four major NCAA bylaws – and possibly many more. Shapiro described acts that could include violations of multiple parts of bylaw 11, involving impermissible compensation to coaches; multiple parts of bylaw 12, involving amateurism of athletes; multiple parts of bylaw 13, involving improper recruiting activity; and multiple parts of bylaw 16, involving extra benefits to athletes.

In addition to all of this, Robinson also details Shapiro putting bounties on the heads of star players from opposing teams, giving Miami’s student-athletes an even greater reason to play hard and make an impact on the field.

The booster told Yahoo! Sports he had a number of individual payouts for “hit of the game” and “big plays.” He also put bounties on specific players, including Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and a three-year standing bounty on Seminoles quarterback Chris Rix from 2002 to 2004, offering $5,000 to any player who knocked him out of a game.

In the one contest against the Hurricanes that Tebow participated in (Sept. 6, 2008), the Gators signal caller went 21-of-35 for 256 yards and tossed two touchdowns while also carrying the ball 13 times for 55 yards. He was only sacked once.

One more Florida reference from the report involves former Gators guard Teddy Dupay, whose name was used as an alias by Shapiro when registering rooms at the Mercury Hotel in South Beach for players to copulate with prostitutes.

The University of Florida declined Yahoo!‘s request to make Hill, Debose or Patchan available for comment, but associate athletics director of communications Steve McClain released an official statement Tuesday evening.

“While we declined comment for Yahoo’s request, Coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with, and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami.”

Robinson’s report, which details alleged widespread illegal activities throughout Miami’s football and basketball programs, can be read in full by clicking here.

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8/12: Brantley, Hammond, Dunbar talk offense

With the Florida Gators having completed their first two-a-day practice of the 2011 season, a number of prominent players from the offensive side of the ball met with the media on Friday to discuss how the team is progressing early on in camp.

OFFENSE COMING TOGETHER

The overriding sense on Friday is that Florida’s offense is a lot more fluid than it was at this time one year ago. Not only is redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley more confident in his abilities, his pass catchers are, too. And it doesn’t hurt that they are stepping up as well. “Coach [Aubrey] Hill has done a great job with them so far this camp,” Brantley said. “We’re seeing improvement every single day with route running. As long as they keep getting better everyday, we’ll be happy.”

Stepping out from among the pack is redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who head coach Will Muschamp and some of his teammates agree is the most consistent of the bunch. “[He’s] making plays, making the touch catches and making the easy catches that he’s supposed to make. And making people miss after those catches,” Brantley added. “You can tell that he’s been studying his playbook, and it’s been showing on the field.”

Hammond himself agrees with Brantley’s assessment. “[I’m] just getting down the plays,” he said. “It’s a new offense, so the biggest change is putting in the new offense and everybody getting up to speed and learning the new plays.”

DUNBAR STANDING OUT

Just like he did in spring ball, redshirt freshman WR Quinton Dunbar is coming on strong in the fall, proving he can be an electric and dependable target. “[He’s] just making plays when plays need to be made,” Brantley explained. “Anyone can catch the ball when no one’s around, but it’s what you do in traffic and on the go routes – if you can go up there over the cornerback. He’s just making plays.”

Dunbar himself said his connection with Brantley is strong and, while he is getting some praise, he appreciates being an under-the-radar player. “It means a lot to me because I’m just trying to help the team in any way,” he said. “So I go out there and work hard every day to get better.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Brantley said there is a pretty even distribution of practice snaps behind him for all three reserve quarterbacks. “They’re doing real good. Jacoby [Brissett]’s picked up on it real quick because he’s been here the shortest amount of time. Just like the receivers and just like everyone else, they’re getting better reach day.”

» Brantley also said that having some veterans on the offensive line is giving him some confidence and he is impressed in their production as well as that of senior running back Jeff Demps after running track this summer.

» Brantley on if the offense is game-ready: “We’re really close. These past three days have been really good for our offense. As long as we keep going, in this next week we’re going to be very game-ready.”

» Dunbar said he prefers the go routes and comebacks but says overall the wide receivers are running a wider variety of routes this year. “Vertical is a big part of this offense,” he said. “[Running] to set up the pass is a big emphasis.”

» Redshirt senior cornerback Moses Jenkins on what he’s up to: “I’m just trying to grind. I’m just going hard, studying my playbook, asking coaches more questions [about] film.”

» Jenkins on coming back from injury: “People don’t understand that when we’re out there playing, we don’t think about injuries. But when you get injured and you’re not playing, not playing hurts more. You’re watching your team win games and have fun and all of that.”

» Jenkins on the defense as a whole: “We’re going to be a lot tougher, a lot faster, a lot more physical. I can’t wait to get started.”

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FOUR BITS: Whitson, Calipari, Pittman, Schintzius

1 » The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association on Monday announced that Florida Gators right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson has been named a first-team Freshman All-American. One of 16 standouts to earn the distinction, Whitson is also in line for the National Freshman Pitcher of the Year award, which will be announced Tuesday. With an 8-0 record, 2.45 ERA and 83 strikeouts on the season, he the only player on the first team representing the Southeastern Conference.

2 » Remember when the Kentucky Wildcats and head basketball coach John Calipari defeated Florida in Lexington, KY and the school held a mini 500th victory celebration? Well, according to the NCAA, that should never have happened, and the organization is now taking steps to ensure that Kentucky does what they can to make that information public. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari’s 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK’s statement “must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release.”

Because the NCAA forced Massachusetts and Memphis to vacate a total of 42 victories achieved under Calipari due to a variety of transgressions, the governing body insists that his victory total was only 458 on that day and now stands at 467 for his career. For more on the matter, click here.

3 » Speaking with The Gainesville Sun after a recent visit to Gainesville, FL for a football camp, Gators four-star 2012 wide receiver commit LaTroy Pittman (Citra, FL) discussed his experience. “It felt great just getting out there, getting a feel for Coach [Aubrey] Hill, how he coaches and how he sees me,” he said. “As far as hands-on and doing drills, that was the first time I really got to see how he would coach me.” Pittman, Florida’s first commit of the 2012 cycle, plans to return for Friday Night Lights.

4 » Surviving a serious leukemia scare last year, former Gators C Dwayne Schintzius made his first major public appearance during a Florida basketball game on Feb. 24 and was in great spirits. Last week he attended a fundraiser for the Tampa Bay Sports Commission with the belief that he would be supporting his father, Ken, who was going to be handed an award from the Hillsborough County Sherrif’s alumni association. Schintzius was instead surprised to learn that he was being honored with a special award for courage. “He wouldn’t have wanted to come to the dinner but after I told him the award was for me, he said he’d come,” Ken told Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune. “It worked. We got him. We played it right to the hilt.” Though he has been praised extensively for his strength in fighting his disease, Schintzius wanted the praise to go where it belongs. “People are giving me an award, I guess, for fighting for my life,” he said. “I don’t deserve the award. The people at Moffitt [Cancer Center] are the ones who are the true heroes. They saved my life.” Click here to read more about Schintzius’s battle and the events of the night.

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Women’s football clinic was one for the books

Long-time OGGOA reader Jennifer contacted us last week and offered to share with our readers her experience at the Florida Gators’ annual Women’s Football Clinic hosted this year for the first time by new head coach Will Muschamp. Below is her account from the exciting day (pictures included).

I heard about this event about a year ago and always thought it sounded interesting. After rounding up a couple of friends, we registered and were off to Gainesville. The day started in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. After checking in, where we were given a t-shirt and small goodie bag, we were free to roam around the ballroom and meet the coaches. Even though I am a huge sports and Gators fan, with all of the new coaching changes, the only coaches I could recognize at first were Coach Muschamp, [linebackers/special teams coach] D.J. Durkin and [defensive coordinator] Dan Quinn. As we walked around we got autographs, took pictures and briefly chatted with the assistant coaches and grad assistant coaches. All were very friendly and seemed pumped up about the day’s activities.

One coach stood out among our favorites for his personality and friendliness, which only got better throughout the day. That was tight ends coach Derek Lewis. He was funny, saying a few times to the ladies throughout the morning and during some of the presentations that “tight ends” really are a football position. Another of our favorites was [wide receivers coach] Aubrey Hill, who when we took pictures with him, told us to “bring it in tight” and pulled us close for a picture with a huge smile on his face.

After mingling with the coaches in attendance, we proceeded to buy some raffle tickets and then moved over to the longest line, which was the opportunity to get a professional picture take with Coach Muschamp. We weren’t allowed to get his autograph or take our own pictures here, but many had the opportunity to do so later in the day as he was walking around. Also in attendance were Muschamp’s two boys and his wife, though they weren’t introduced to the crowd.

Everyone took their seats and the crowd got to listen to Coach Muschamp. It was similar to what you reported from the local Gator Gatherings. Then the crowd was given the opportunity to ask questions. He said why a few of the coaches couldn’t make it that day including [offensive coordinator] Charlie Weis, who he said had knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, and Mickey Marotti, who had a family obligation and “family comes first.” Coach Muschamp said he finished moving to Gainesville on Thursday and jokingly added that he still had lots of extra boxes, if anyone had extra time.

Read the rest of Jennifer’s story from the clinic including a few interesting details related to the football team…after the break!
Continue Reading » Women’s football clinic was one for the books

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Gators coach Muschamp’s contract released

Three months ago, the University of Florida released detailed contract information for the assistant coaches of the Florida Gators football program. Thursday, the school did the same regarding head coach Will Muschamp‘s five-year, $13.75 million deal.

According to Florida, Muschamp will earn $2,750,400 per season and received a $750,000 bonus upon signing his contract. Other bonuses include $500,000 if he is retained as coach through Jan. 31, 2016 (and $250,000 more if he is retained through Jan. 31, 2017), $200,000 per year from Nike, $75,000 for winning the Southeastern Conference Championship and $250,000 for winning the BCS National Championship. He will also have an annual expense account of just over $60,000.

Muschamp can be bought out for $500,000 but would be paid $2 million for every year remaining on his contract if the Gators decide to terminate him.

The second-largest contract among Florida’s coaches is that of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who signed a three-year, $2.625 million deal. The contract makes him the highest-paid assistant coach in school history. Weis will earn salaries of $765,000 in 2011 and $865,000 in both 2012 and 2013; he also received a $100,000 signing bonus.

A look at the coaching staff’s 2011 salaries compared with their counterparts in 2010:

2011 Coach2011 Salary2010 Coach2010 Salary
Will Muschamp
Head Coach
$2.75M
(5 years)
Urban Meyer
Head Coach
$4M
(6 years)
Charlie Weis
Offensive Coordinator
(Quarterbacks)
$765K
(3 years)
Steve Addazio
Offensive Coordinator
(Offensive Line)
$375K
Dan Quinn
Defensive Coordinator
(Defensive Line)
$490K
(2 years)
Teryl Austin
Defensive Coordinator
(Cornerbacks)
$440K
Brian White
Running Backs
$240K
(1 year)
Brian White
Tight Ends coach
$240K
Frank Verducci
Offensive Line
$290K
(2 years)
Scot Loeffler
Quarterbacks
$240K
Aubrey Hill
Wide Receivers
$230K
(1 year)
Zach Azzanni
Wide Receivers
$240K
D.J. Durkin
Linebackers/ST
$265K
(1 year)

D.J. Durkin
Linebackers/ST
$240K
Travaris Robinson
Cornerbacks
$230K
(1 year)
Chuck Heater
Co-Defensive Coordinator
(Safeties)
$305K
Derek Lewis
Tight Ends
$190K
(1 year)
Stan Drayton
Running Backs
$240K
Bryant Young
Asst. Defensive Line
$230K
(2 years)
Dan McCarney
Assistant Head Coach
(Defensive Line)
$330K
* White and Durkin are both in the second year of two-year contracts signed in 2010.

Contract notes (as of 2010):
- Asst. coaches receive a $10,000 bonus from Florida’s contract with Nike
- All coaches receive a car and other tangible incentives

Universal bonuses (as of 2010):
- BCS National Championship Game appearance – up to 30 percent increase
- Other BCS bowl game appearance – 20 percent increase
- SEC Championship Game appearance – 10 percent increase
- Non-BCS bowl game – 10 percent increase
- Bowl game with less than $2 million payout – one month’s salary increase

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