TWO BITS: Tebow starting, Caldwell working

1 » Appearing Friday on The Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio, the network’s AFC West blogger Bill Williamson predicted that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will start this season for the Denver Broncos – beginning in week 12. Williamson believes Kyle Orton will play the first 10 games of the season, and Tebow will take the reigns if the team is no longer in playoff contention. ESPN Insider notes that “Williamson points out that Tebow was drafted not to serve as a clipboard holder or gadget play extraordinaire, but to play starting QB, and he will be given the opportunity to do so unless Orton comes through with a very solid season.”

2 » One of the best things about following athletes on Twitter is the ability to read their streams of consciousness when going off on a tangent or speaking passionately about an issue. Monday, former Gators wide receiver Andre Caldwell of the Cincinnati Bengals expressed his desire to take his game to another level while putting some responsibilities – like family and friends – on the back burner for a short period of time.

“Training camp starts in [nine] days. I can’t wait. I dedicated my entire offseason to getting better and working hard – now it’s time to show it off,” Caldwell wrote. “I worked extra hard this whole offseason. I haven’t had much time to hang out with family and friends. I’m trying to accomplish my dream and be the best WR in the NFL, and the only way I know how to be the best is to work harder than every WR in the league. My friends and family say I’m selfish and I have changed [be]cause I don’t make time for them. I tell them I’m chasing my dream. Am I wrong? People say I have become crazy and my work ethic is insane, but my love for the game is much crazier and failure is not a[n] option. I see and hear all the comment[s] these report[er]s write and how they write me off, but it just add[s] fuel to this fire burning inside me.”

Extra BIT » Former New York Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent was a thorn in the side of the Boston Red Sox, so it is no wonder that having his son – and Florida freshman – Cody Dent playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the summer was a “risky” move. “The first day they were joking about Bucky (Bleeping) Dent,” Cody told The Gainesville Sun. “I just laugh along with it. It’s all good humor.” The move was a suggestion by head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who elicited a funny response from the elder statesman. “I texted Sully and said, ‘What are you trying to do, get my son killed?” Bucky exclaimed. Never nervous while playing professionally, watching his son play makes Dent jitter. “I can’t sit still,” he said. “I’ve go to move because I get really nervous. Way more nervous than when I played. I’m sitting there in the College World Series and he’s playing third base against Florida State and I’m going, ‘Oh God, he’s 18 years old, there’s 20,000 people in the stands and national TV,’ and I’m sweating bullets.”

Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

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FOUR BITS: Chapman, Parsons, Macklin, Brown

1 » Drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals, Florida Gators junior closer Kevin Chapman realized his dream and solidified his future by officially signing with the team on Monday. Posting a 1.64 ERA and 3-0 record with 11 saves in 43.2 innings last season, Chapman struck out 44 batters and only walked seven. He has been assigned to the Royals’ Class A affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League and will do his best to work his way through the minor leagues and into the majors soon.

2 » While a number of the NBA’s top free agents were deciding their futures last week, some of college basketball and high school basketball’s top players participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, OH. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla was on-site and had this to report about the two Gators who were invited:

Redshirt senior forward/center Vernon Macklin
Macklin is not a fluid athlete but is tough around the basket and gives a very good effort. He’s a big key for a Gator resurgence this season.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons
Parsons played well at the camp, showing an ability to slash to the rim and make jump shots, as well. For a right-hander, he’s a very dominant left-handed driver. I would work on that right hand the rest of the summer if I were Parsons.

An interview with Jenn Brown and update on Dwayne Schintzius…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Chapman, Parsons, Macklin, Brown

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New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a Florida Gators booster, passes away at 80

New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has passed away. He was 80.

Steinbrenner, who will be remembered for leading the Yankees to 11 American League pennants and seven World Series victories as its principal owner, ceded day-to-day control of the team to his sons Hank and Hal Steinbrenner in 2006 as his health began to fail and he spent more time in Tampa, FL.

Purchasing the team for $8.7 million in 1973, Steinbrenner’s shrewd business acumen, tough decision making and unparalleled demand for success raised the Yankees’ value to over a $1.5 billion at the time of his passing.

He had notable disagreements with the commissioner’s office, fellow owners, managers and even his own players but also made significant and game-changing baseball moves in his career including being the first owner to sell his team’s television rights, turning the Yankees into a worldwide brand, signing free agents like Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and Alex Rodriguez, and building the most lavish stadium in baseball history.

Steinbrenner’s son Hal, the franchise’s co-chairperson, general partner and de facto public face who earned a Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida in 1994, is one of the reasons his father decided to become a full-fledged Bull Gator and generous contributor to the Florida Gators program.

Though Steinbrenner did donate the lights at McKethan Stadium to the school in 1977, his largest contribution is the Steinbrenner Band Building, which was made possible by a generous gift commitment (believed to be in the seven-figures) from the family in 2002. Completed in the spring of 2008, it is located adjacent to the Music Building and serves a number of purposes for The Pride of the Sunshine, The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band.

He also donated $260,000 in 1989 to help UF build the College of Veterinary Medicine’s large animal hospital and another $400,000 in 2005 which went toward the purchase of an equine imaging machine. Steinbrenner owned stables and horses.

Recently, George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL, hosted The Florida Four, a two-game baseball tournament featuring arguably the four best schools in the state including the Gators. It was something Steinbrenner had hoped to see before he passed on, and he had the chance to do just that on March 2.

“As a past collegiate coach, it is George Steinbrenner’s dream to create this event for Tampa,” said Felix Lopez, the Yankees’ senior vice president.

A native of Ohio, the only time Steinbrenner did not root for Florida was during the 2006 BCS National Championship; instead, he cheered on his Ohio State Buckeyes.

“I wish the University of Florida luck in the championship game,” Steinbrenner said at the time, “but I have to say that I’m rooting for Ohio State.”

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Johnson, Fontana named to USA National Team

Youth was a strength for Florida Gators baseball (47-17) this past season, and the 2010 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team has recognized that by choosing two Florida freshmen – pitcher/designated hitter Brian Johnson and shortstop Nolan Fontana – to represent their country in a number of upcoming competitions.

.Johnson and Fontana are two of 22 college baseball players who will take somewhat of a world tour over the next few weeks.

The U.S. will play against minor league teams on its home soil, then a five-game series against Korea, face the Japanese Collegiate All-Star Team in a friendly at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, NE, travel to Taiwan, for four games against Chinese Taipei and conclude their tour at the FISU World University Championship in Tokyo, Japan.

The U.S. will be going for its fourth consecutive FISU World title (2004, 2006, 2008).

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FOUR BITS: Marshall, Fontana, Andrews, UGA AD

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker, 1992 NFC Defensive Player of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler Wilber Marshall has decided to speak out about the proposed 18-game NFL season because he believes it is a money grab and will take a serious toll on players’ bodies. “I take meds just to walk,” he told Florida Today. “I don’t like taking them. I know what they do to the liver. I saw what happened to Walter [Payton]. So far, my head’s good. It’s just the rest of my body that doesn’t work. […] They should keep it at 16 games and eliminate the two preseason games anyway. But you know how it is. It’s all about the NFL making money, and not about the players’ health.”

2 » Florida freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana was named to the Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove Team on Wednesday, the first player in school history to earn such an honor. The only freshman on the nine-player team, Fontana posted a .986 fielding percentage and only committing four errors in 279 chances in 2010.

3 » In the process of re-signing with ESPN, former Gators dazzler and current sideline reporter Erin Andrews will be featured in the August 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. Complete with an alluring photo spread, Andrews was interviewed by George Wayne who, safe to say, asked her some pretty ridiculous questions. Among them: “Do you have man-size feet like Paris Hilton?” “What is the one thing you take when feeling constipated?” and “What gets me to the vomitorium is that faux romance between you and that cheesy ballroom dancing partner of yours. What was with this tabloid fake romance?” Luckily for OGGOA’s male readers, Wayne’s somewhat absurd interview comes along with a video of Andrews’ photo shoot.

4 » Georgia Bulldogs athletic director Damon Evans was arrested on charges of driving under the influence Wednesday evening. Evans, driving a 2009 BMW, was pulled over just before midnight and is said to have smelled of alcohol while failing a field sobriety test. He refused a breathalyzer test and was released on his own recognizance Thursday morning. The University of Georgia is expected to release a statement sometime soon; some believe the school will ask him to resign.

Photo Credit: Patrick Fraser/Vanity Fair

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Seminoles chop Gators 8-5 in elimination game

Faced with elimination from the 2010 NCAA College World Series and the end of a stellar season, No. 3 Florida Gators baseball (47-17) lost their second-straight game for only the third time all year, falling 8-5 to the unranked Florida State Seminoles (48-19) on Monday evening at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, NE.

The Gators entered the series hoping to earn their 48th win of the season – one which would tie the program high (2005) – but could not come away with a victory after first falling to UCLA 11-3 on Saturday.

Freshman starter Hudson Randall (8-4) was blasted by the Seminoles for four earned runs in 2.2 innings including a solo shot by outfielder Tyler Holt (3-4, two RBI, three runs) to lead-off the first inning and a three-run homer by outfielder/pitcher Mike McGee (2-4, four RBI, two runs) in the bottom of the third. Freshman Brian Johnson, in relief, fared a little better but still allowed two earned runs in 3.1 innings. Sophomore Anthony DeSclafani and junior Kevin Chapman each gave up an earned run of their own before senior Greg Larson threw the final out.

For the Seminoles, Brian Busch (6-2) only allowed two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Geoff Parker tossed 2.1 innings of shutout relief before Daniel Bennett entered for an attempt to close out the game. However, Bennett would give up a three-RBI double to sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker (1-5) in the top of the ninth before being pulled for McGee (S13) who forced freshman catcher Mike Zunino to line into an infield double play to end the game.

Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-4, two runs), freshman designated hitter Austin Maddox (2-5, RBI) and senior outfielder Jonathan Pigott (2-4, RBI, run) led the way for Florida offensively, but the team was unable to put a rally together until it was too late.

FSU defeated UF for the fourth time in five meetings this season; the Seminoles are also responsible for ending the Gators’ season twice in the past three years after knocking the 2008 team out of the NCAA Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.

Photo Credit: Daniel J. Muprhy/ Omaha World-Herald

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/21): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 4:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN2 / ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Mike Martin
Starter: RHP Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.95 ERA) Starter: LHP Brian Busch (5-2, 3.97 ERA)
Record: 47-16 Record: 47-19
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida State leads the all-time series against Florida 119-96-1; however, the Gators have a 3-0 record against the Seminoles in the NCAA College World Series and are 10-3 against them (including seven of the last eight) in the NCAA Tournament.
» The two teams will be squaring off for the fifth time in 2010 with every game taking place in a different city. FSU is 3-1 this year against UF, winning in Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee; Florida won at home.
» O’Sullivan, throughout his time in Gainesville, is 4-7 against the Seminoles; 3-0 at home, 1-3 in Tallahassee and 0-4 at neutral sites.
» The last time these teams played in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators fell 17-11 at the 2008 Tallahassee Regional.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-5 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 434-282 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-12 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-13 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-16 when trailing after six, 2-15 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-15 when down through eight.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and slugging percentage (.591).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.355), runs (65) and hits (87). He is also on an eight-game hitting streak.
» Freshman shortstop Nolan Fontana…who is hitting at a .333 clip through six NCAA Tournament games with nine walks, seven runs, three RBI, two doubles and a homer.
As of the beginning of the College World Series…
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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2010 NCAA College World Series Gameday (06/19): No. 3 Florida Gators vs. No. 6 UCLA Bruins

Location: Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium – Omaha, NE [Capacity: 23,170]
Game Time: 7 p.m. (EST)

TV: ESPN / ESPNHD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 3 Florida Gators No. 6 UCLA Bruins
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: John Savage
Starter: LHP Alex Panteliodis (11-2, 3.39) Starter: RHP Trevor Bauer (10-3, 3.02)
Record: 47-15 Record: 48-14
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY / RECORDS:
» Florida leads the all-time series against UCLA 3-1, including a 2-0 record in the NCAA Tournament. The teams have never meet in the College World Series.
» The Gators will be making their sixth appearance in the CWS (first since 2005), while the Bruins will be there for the third time (first since 1997).
» Ironically enough, UF and UCLA are the only two teams to also reach the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series – the women faced-off in first round action on June 3.
» Against common opponents this season, the Gators are 11-2, while the Bruins are 6-1.
» Florida’s 47 wins this season is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 team, which finished as a runner-up in the CWS and a record of 48-23.
» The Gators are 14-12 on the road and 2-4 at neutral sites in 2010.
» Florida has outscored opponents 431-271 this year, is 36-4 when scoring first and 11-11 when their competition does so. They are also 34-3 when registering more hits than their opponent and 10-12 otherwise.
» The Gators are undefeated when leading after six innings (41-0), seven innings (44-0) and eight innings (43-0), but only 1-15 when trailing after six, 2-14 when losing at the end of the seventh and 3-14 when down through eight.
» Sophomore starter Alex Panteliodis, with 26 career strikeouts in NCAA competition, is seven away from tying the school record for most in the NCAA Tournament for a career (John Burke, 33, 1991-92). He is also two wins away from tying the school record the most career wins in the tournament (Tommy Boss, 4, 2002-05).
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker is two stolen bases away from tying the school record of in the NCAA Tournament (David Eckstein, 6, 1994-97).
» Junior second baseman Josh Adams and senior OF Jonathan Pigott are each three doubles away from tying the school record of career doubles in the NCAA Tournament (Jeff Corsaletti & Justin Tordi, 6, 2002-05 & 2003-05).
» Sophomores first baseman Preston Tucker and OF Tyler Thompson are each three home runs away from tying the school record of career homers in the NCAA Tournament (Mario Linares, 7, 1988-91).

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97)…who have led the team from the hill this season with sterling performances and a combined 3.69 ERA.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (71), multiple-RBI games (21), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-30 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 66 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.358), runs (64) and hits (86).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.48 ERA (42.2 innings) in 30 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 18 saves are have tied the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 17-2 with 18 saves and a 4.18 ERA in 243.1 innings, while its starters are a combined 30-13 with a 3.78 ERA in 304.2 innings.

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