With the season is winding down, Florida Gators baseball (28-25, 13-14 SEC) is limping to the finish line rather than charging towards it the way head coach Kevin O’Sullivan had envisioned. UF dropped two of three games to the Auburn Tigers (31-20, 11-16 SEC) in its last home series of the regular season and once again fell below .500 in conference play. Florida has now come up short in six of its last seven Southeastern Conference contests, dropping back-to-back series to LSU and AU.
The Gators struggled to hit consistently all weekend, falling behind early in all three games. In Friday’s series opener, the Tigers jumped out to a 6-0 lead, notching three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings. A four-run seventh helped UF get back in the game but ultimately did not change the outcome as AU held on for a 7-4 victory.
Junior right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford (4.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) did not have his best stuff in the series opener and Auburn took advantage. O’Sullivan yanked Crawford early, hoping his bullpen could tame the Tigers, but the move did not work.
AU busted the game open, scoring three more runs to extend its lead to 6-0. Florida fought back, but the deficit proved to be too much. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (2/5, RBI) and freshmen outfielders Harrison Bader (1/4, RBI, R) and Richie Martin (1/4, RBI, BB) knocked runners home in UF’s four-run seventh, but the Tigers kept the Gators off the board in the other eight innings.
Current Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been accused of paying a player while serving as defensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers, according to a report released Wednesday evening by Selena Roberts of Roopstigo.com.
Auburn’s Tainted Title: Victims, Violations and Vendettas for Glory is a detailed look at rampant corruption that has allegedly been occurring at Auburn. Allegations range from academic fraud and payments to players to special treatment both from local police and the university’s internal drug testers, though much of the story is uncorroborated.
Within the report, former Tigers safety Mike McNeil alleges that, following a tough practice in 2007, he was sent for by Muschamp and slipped a payment.
McNeil recalls having a difficult day at practice in 2007 and then-defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, calling him into his office. “I had no clue what it was about because I’d never directly asked him for anything,” says McNeil. “He slid about $400 over to me. He went into a drawer and gave me money and said, ‘Is this enough? Is this good?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’” Muschamp, now the head football coach at the University of Florida, denied the payment through a spokesperson.
McNeil is currently awaiting trial on charges of armed robbery.
Muschamp served as defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2006-07 but resigned on Jan. 4, 2008 to accept the same position with Texas. He turned down a raise offered by the Tigers for the position with the Longorns, one that made him the highest paid assistant coach in the Big 12 at the time. Near the conclusion of his first season with Texas, Muschamp was anointed “coach in waiting” behind Mack Brown and had his salary doubled. He took over as head coach of the Gators in 2011.
Though Florida sent over a denial as part of Roberts’s report, the University Athletic Association may be issuing a separate statement at some point soon as this story begins to pick up steam across the college sports landscape.
Roberts previously worked at the New York Times and Sports Illustrated and was the lead writer of the 2009 report that exposed numerous MLB steroid users including prominant New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
UPDATE I – 9:45 p.m.: Since the report was published, three of the players quoted within the piece have denied that parts of the story are true. “Man this article is outrageous and isn’t true. The media will do anything for a juicy story smh #sad,” tweeted Mike Blanc, McNeil’s former roommate. “The one thing that is quoted by me is what I said, no more no less..END OF STORY,” wrote Daren Bates on his Twitter account. Neiko Thorpe was even more matter-of-fact. “While I spoke to Selena Roberts about Mike I have just read her article & not only am I misquoted but my words are very out of…context. We didn’t talk about NCAA violations or recruiting. I’m proud 2 have played at Auburn & the opportunities it gave me,” he tweeted.
UPDATE II – 11:45 p.m.: Muschamp, through a school spokesman, denied the allegation levied against him once again, this time to AL.com. No quote was provided.
UPDATE III – April 4, 1:30 p.m.: On Thursday, Muschamp issued a denial directly to The Gainesville Sun. “Totally deny it,” he said. “I don’t know where this is coming from.”
The No. 2 Florida Gators men’s swimming and diving program entered the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships on Wednesday looking to get over the hump and take home the title for the first time in 20 years. After leading the pack for the final three days of the event, the Gators finally accomplished that feat on Saturday, taking home the 34th SEC Championship in team history and first since 1993.
Florida (1408.0) beat the Auburn Tigers (1196.0) for the title, snapping a 16-year winning streak and reclaiming the pool after finishing second to Auburn for 11-straight years. The No. 11 Gators women (1190.5) were not as lucky, finishing third behind the Georgia Bulldogs (1420.0) and host Texas A&M Aggies (1296.0).
The men’s and women’s teams combined for eight individual SEC Championships (five and three, respectively). Florida also won four individual awards and earned 21 NCAA “A” time automatic qualifying marks.
2013 SEC Awards (4)
» SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy
» SEC Commissioner’s Trophy (High Point Winner, women) – Elizabeth Beisel
» SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year – Natalie Hinds
» SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year – Cassie Weil
No. 6/7 Florida Gators (21-3, 11-1 SEC) basketball plowed its way through yet another Southeastern Conference opponent on Saturday, outscoring the Auburn Tigers (9-16, 3-9 SEC) by 25 points in the first half and holding on for a dominant 83-52 victory on the road at Auburn Arena in Auburn, AL.
The victory was the Gators’ eighth by 30+ points this season, five of which have now come in SEC play.
Florida shot 50 percent from three in the contest, hitting 15-of-30 shots from beyond the arc while registering 25 assists on 31 made baskets. The Gators scored 18 points off 14 turnovers and swiped nine steals on the afternoon.
Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario scored 18 first-half points and registered a new career-high at Florida, scoring a game-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with five assists. He was one of four Gators to score in double figures.
Freshman guard Michael Frazier II drained 6-of-7 threes for a career-high 18 points, and senior guard Kenny Boynton hit 4-of-9 treys for 16 points. Boynton also grabbed five boards and dished four dimes.
Senior forward Erik Murphy brought down a game-high six rebounds while swishing 3-of-4 triples for 11 points. Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin ran the offense well throughout the contest, registering a game-high 10 assists.
Florida took the upper hand from the get go, using a 9-0 run to jump ahead 13-3 less than five minutes into the contest. Still leading by 10 midway through the half, Rosario jump-started a 12-3 run with consecutive layups. He first hit a reverse scoop layup before running back on defense, grabbing an impressive steal and going coast-to-coast for an old-fashioned three-point play.
Consecutive three-pointers by Boynton and Frazier vaulted the Gators ahead by 21 points, and Florida closed the half on a 10-0 run to take a 47-22 lead at the break.
The Gators eventually doubled up the Tigers 72-36 with eight minutes left in the second half on the back of a 17-4 scoring stretch that included five-straight treys including three-in-a-row from Frazier.
Guards Chris Denson and Jordan Price did most of Auburn’s scoring, combining for 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. The rest of the Tigers’ roster went 9-of-36 combined.
Florida remains on the road when it travels to Columbia, MO on Tuesday to take on Missouri for the second time this season. The game will air live on ESPN at 9 p.m. The Gators beat the Tigers 83-52 in Gainesville, FL on Jan. 19.
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Taking on Auburn this Saturday in a game that is sure to have plenty of good seats available, Florida is looking to win its fifth-straight contest in the series and 15th in the last 16 meetings between the two teams.
And while the Tigers do hold a 87-72 all-time record against the Gators, head coach Billy Donovan has dominated Saturday’s hosts by winning 17 of the 21 games he has coached including six of eight at Auburn.
However, the last time Florida came to town (Jan. 20, 2011), it was truly anyone’s game. The Gators shot 28.3 percent from the field and 19.2 percent from downtown, needing eight-straight points to come back from a three-point deficit with two minutes left.
Reflecting back on that game during a media availability on Thursday, Donovan said an overriding lesson can be learned from how the team persevered that day.
“What it shows is when you’re playing in a league, regardless of who you’re playing against, if you don’t come out and you don’t play well, it’s really, really hard to win. That was probably a game for us that we were fortunate to win,” he said. “Almost being three years ago, I don’t know what we take from that game in particular just because I think both teams are different. But at the same point, that game is no different than right now any game you play. You have to come in and you really have to play well because if you don’t play well, it’s hard to win.”
With a starting lineup featuring four seniors and one junior, Florida’s experience can help it overcome many – but not all – of the obstacles teams face during the season.
“Our guys have been through a lot in terms of their own personal experiences playing,” Donovan said. “Those guys have been through a lot, and I think that they know what to expect. With all that being said, if you don’t come and you don’t play well, it doesn’t make a difference how much experience you have.”
One-seed Florida Gators soccer (17-4-1) captured the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday for the first time since 2010 by scoring two first-half goals and adding an insurance goal in the second half as part of a shutout victory over the six-seed Auburn Tigers (12-10-1).
No. 10 Florida topped Auburn 3-0 at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Orange Beach, AL, winning its second SEC title of the 2012 season after bringing home the regular season crown (11-2-0 SEC) on Oct. 25.
Junior forward Adriana Leon got the Gators on the board for the first time at 27’, scoring her fifth goal of the season on a give-and-go with assists from sophomore midfielder Havana Solaun and senior F/MF Erika Tymrak.
Florida was able to double up just four minutes later at 31’ when Tymark, off passes from Solaun and senior MF Holly King, struck the ball into the lower left corner of the net for her eighth goal of the year. She was later named the 2012 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player (three goals, three assists).
The Gators played tough defense in the second half but lost a key player due to injury. Senior MF Jo Dragotta contested a ball in the air and took an elbow to the side of her head. She remained on the field for a number of minutes but eventually walked off the pitch wearing a neck brace but under her own power.
Solaun added an insurance goal for UF at 70′, finding the back of the net on a corner strike off a nice pass by Tymrak.
Florida outscored the opposition 8-1 in the SEC Tournament, defeating Ole Miss 2-1 on Wednesday and Missouri 3-0 on Friday. Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Burke was in net all 270 minutes and saved 15 total shots.
The SEC Tournament title is the 10th in the program’s 18-year history but the first for Florida since 2010. The Gators also captured their 12th regular season crown this year, the team’s first since winning five-straight from 2006-10. Becky Burleigh has now led UF to 22 total SEC titles in 36 opportunities since she took over as the program’s first (and only) head coach in 1995.
Florida now awaits word on its seed for the 2012 NCAA Tournament; UF will learn where it is slotted during the selection show airing live on NCAA.com on Monday at 7:30 p.m. The Gators are looking to win the program’s third NCAA Women’s College Cup in school history and first since 2001.
Just another day chillin’ with my mom watching her gators win another sec championship!!!Congrats. @gatorzonesoccer now onto ncaa’s
1 » Only two weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season and a second former Florida Gators offensive starter has gone down with a serious injury. New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who had six receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown in Week 1, got rolled up on during his team’s game on Sunday and seriously injured his ankle. Though the exact injury has not been announced publicly, it is believed that Hernandez suffered a high-ankle sprain as tests after the game revealed that he did not break any bones. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Sunday that the Patriots are expecting Hernandez to be out up to six weeks, a timeframe consistent with a high-ankle sprain (as was the fact that he left the stadium on crutches with his foot/ankle in a protective boot). Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Nelson tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last week and will miss the rest of the season.
2 » A fan video posted on YouTube after the now-No. 14 Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers happened to catch head coach Will Muschamp celebrating. Check him and all of his Gator Chomps out below (you can skip to 0:30 if you wish):
3 » Since OGGOA’s last update on the team, Florida women’s soccer has remained somewhat average, now boasting a 4-3-1 (1-1-0 SEC) record just two games into league play. The Gators defeated New Mexico 3-2 at home on Sept. 9 to close out their non-conference schedule and split a pair of weekend road matches. Florida fell 2-1 to the Kentucky Wildcats (6-1-0, 1-0-0 SEC) on Friday, taking an early 1-0 advantage with a goal from redshirt senior forward McKenzie Barney at 13’ but allowing UK to score two unanswered goals (one in each half) on their way to victory. The Gators did just the opposite on Sunday, coming back from an early 1-0 deficit to force overtime and win just 10 minutes into the period. Florida took a 2-1 overtime victory over the Auburn Tigers (4-5-0, 0-2-0 SEC) thanks to strikes from senior midfielder Holly King (73’) and junior F Adriana Leon (100’). UF will now look to rely on some home cooking as the Gators host four-straight matches over the next two weekends.
4 » OGGOA was equally negligent in covering volleyball last week though No. 13 Florida (8-2, 2-0 SEC) has rattled off five-straight wins over the last two weekends. The Gators won the self-hosted Active Ankle Challenge in dominant fashion with big victories over the Jacksonville Dolphins (3-0: 25-18, 25-11, 25-11), Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (3-1: 25-15, 25-14, 23-25, 25-12) and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (3-1: 22-25, 25-15, 25-21, 25-22). On the Georgia Tech roster is former UF head coach Urban Meyer’s daughter Nicki Meyer, who registered 11 digs for GT.
Florida began league play this past weekend with a pair of road victories. The Gators earned a hard-fought 3-2 victory (23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 15-13) over the Arkansas Razorbacks (9-3, 0-1 SEC) on Friday before putting together a dominant 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-14, 25-18) of the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats (6-5, 0-1 SEC) on Sunday. Junior middle back Chloe Mann led the way with a combined 25 kills on the weekend, but senior right side Tangerine Wiggs was equally impressive with a combined 23 kills of her own. Florida will host Missouri on Friday in their only action this week.
Extra BITS » Two OGGOA readers sent in pictures this week. The first, by baker Reuben Romney, is a cake he sold to a Florida State fan with orange and blue cake on the inside (they laughed). The second, by Ray, is a graphic representation of the nickname Hot Light Hammond, in reference to redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.‘s play making and love for Krispy Kreme donuts.
No. 2 Florida Gators baseball (41-16) continued their winning ways over the Auburn Tigers (30-27), outscoring their opponents 6-1 in the opening round of the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Tuesday at Regions Park in Hoover, AL.
Florida just concluded the 2012 regular season with a three-game series at Auburn last Thursday-Saturday. The Gators picked up two wins over the Tigers and outscored their hosts 20-6 over the three-day period.
UF sophomore right-handed pitcher Jonathon Crawford was excellent in his outing, improving to 5-2 by allowing just one run (unearned) on two hits with four walks and a career-high nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Junior lefty Steven Rodriguez, senior RHP Greg Larson and junior closer Austin Maddox combined to toss the remaining 3.1 innings, allowing a single hit while striking out two and walking one.
Freshmen batters provided most of the offense for Florida on Wednesday. Left fielder Justin Shafer (2/4) drove in three runs (two in the second, one in the sixth), and second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/3, R) smacked a two-run double in the sixth. The Gators also got a RBI from junior catcher Mike Zunino (1/4), whose two-out double extended UF’s lead to 6-1 in the seventh.
Florida will have a day off before facing a yet-to-be-determined opponent on Thursday.