Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2010 (check out our post tomorrow), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players signing huge contracts to current team members being a part of some of the biggest news stories in sports this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

10 » FIVE BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2010 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon and suddenly in all but one case. Lamar Abel (21), a walk-on defensive lineman, suffered cardiac arrest while volunteering at a roadside cleanup event with his fraternity in Gainesville, FL. Former safety John Curtis (24) committed suicide in Bellvue, WA. Hall of fame safety Jarvis Williams (45) passed away after an acute asthma attack. Former Gators basketball player and friend to the program Augie Greiner (76) died in his home. And long-time donor and Bull Gator George Steinbrenner (80), most famously known as the owner of the New York Yankees, passed away in a Tampa, FL, hospital. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

9 » ERIN ANDREWS GETS JUSTICE, STARS ON TV, RE-SIGNS WITH ESPN

Former Florida dazzler and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews had a much better go of it in 2010. Though her stalker plead guilty to his charges in court in December 2009, she spent a good portion of 2010 making sure he was brought to justice (27-month prison term) while also spreading word across the country that violence against women from sexual predators cannot and should not be tolerated. Simultaneously, Andrews participated in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and even dropped a few Gator Chomps along the way. She ended up finishing third in the competition but parlayed her talent on the sidelines into an enhanced gig with the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Andrews signed a new two-year deal with ESPN, which included a role hosting the first hour of College GameDay live on ESPNU, appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and more of a presence on the family of networks. She also spoke with OGGOA on two occasions, first in a wide-ranging interview that received significant publicity and later to share her thoughts on the resignation of head coach Urban Meyer.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Obama, rankings, Greiner

1 » Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah had a coming out party of sorts for the Chicago Bulls in his third NBA season, averaging career highs in points (10.7), rebounds (11.0) and assists (2.1). After a busy offseason and free agency period, Chicago is now looking to sign Noah to a long-term deal, according to ESPNChicago.com. Apparently Noah’s agent Donald Dell is already in talks with the Bulls, and the two sides are relatively close to an agreement. “I’m not really worried about it. I think everything’s going to happen with time and at the end of the day, I’m really excited about the upcoming season,” Noah said.

2 » In the meantime, Noah had the opportunity to play basketball with none other than President Barack Obama (and a few other NBA All-Stars) in an effort to entertain wounded troops in Washington, D.C. over the weekend (see picture above).

3 » Back in May, OGGOA looked at what some college basketball experts had to say about Florida entering the 2010-11 season ranked in the top 10 in preseason polls. The result? All three agreed that the Gators would hold such a distinction when the season began. And while that may be the case, two Florida players realize that is all talk. “Obviously, we like that people are showing us attention, ranking us high, but we also know that none of that stuff matters, senior forward Chandler Parsons said last week. “Really it feels the same way,” sophomore guard Kenny Boynton said about the upcoming season.. “We haven’t accomplished anything this year. It’s basically just people talking right now. My expectations definitely are a way better record than what we had last year. We want to definitely get deep in the tournament. Overall, I think we should be a much better team.”

4 » Augie Greiner, a former player and friend of Florida basketball, passed away this past weekend. OGGOA did our best to pay tribute to his contributions to the Gators, but in a special to FOXSports Florida, Bill Koss does perhaps an even better job. Do yourself a favor and learn a little bit more about Greiner, a man who has had a greater impact on the University of Florida basketball program than you know.

Photo Credit: White House

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Greiner dies, Florida basketball loses a friend

Former Florida Gators basketball player and friend to the program Augie Greiner has passed away. He was 76.

A student-athlete from 1953-56, Greiner was nicknamed “the Gun” due to the fact that he was a shooter who loved to have the ball in his hands. He won the MVP award as a freshman and was the backbone to the basketball team for four seasons.

“I never have seen a shot I didn’t like,” he once said, according to the University of Florida.

After college, he continued playing in men’s leagues in Ocala while opening up what eventually would become a successful business – Greiner’s Clothing – in 1962. Greiner was also enshrined in the F Club Hall of Fame as a Distinguished Letterwinner, one who has “made major contributions to the University’s athletic program through personal time, effort, interest and many years of continued service.”

More than three decades ago, Greiner established the Ocala Tip-Off Club in order to raise money and provide scholarship endowments for the Florida basketball program; he did this while also serving as a member of the Gator Boosters Board of Directors. The club has allotted funds for more than a half-dozen scholarships to-date and is the largest of its kind in the state.

When UF decided to hire Billy Donovan as the Gators’ head coach in 1996, Greiner was there from the get-go to support the team and its new leader. He would meet with Donovan privately, attend practices and even take players aside to provide some individual advice when necessary.

And when Donovan temporarily left Florida for the NBA only to return to the school days later, Greiner was believed to have been a close confidant and perhaps even one of the motivating factors in the decision. Over the years, the Donovans and Greiners have kept in close contact and developed a unique and lasting friendship.

It should be no surprise that an office in the basketball complex is named after Greiner due to his contributions to the program over the years and love for Gators basketball.

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Greiner family and will update this story.

Photo Credits: University of Florida

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