Meyer and Tebow interviewed on the air Tuesday

Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow were both interviewed Tuesday, by Rich Eisen of NFL.com and sports talk radio host Dan Patrick, respectively. Below are choice quotes from each interview. Links to the complete audio can be found at the end of the post.

Meyer on if he will ever coach in the NFL: “I think we’ll cross that bridge somewhere down the road. I’ve always loved the NFL and growing up that was always a dream.”

Meyer on his current plans: “I’m going to go out to ESPN to work on the BCS National Championship. Those are great folks out there. I’m going to try that for a little while and then see where I’m headed.”

Meyer on if the opportunity to coach Tebow in Denver is appealing: “Somewhere maybe way down the road. Not now. Absolutely not. Not now.”

Meyer on Tebow’s potential for success in the NFL: “He’s going to be a winner if given the right opportunity.”

Meyer on New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick: “He is the most in-depth person I have ever been around. He comes down [to Gainesville, FL], he meets with every one of our prospects, he works them out himself and he’ll go spend up to an hour on each player with me and our coaches finding out what we think of them. That’s why they rarely make mistakes.”

Meyer on if his conversations with Belichick appear on the field: “Oh yeah, no question. He told me from way back how he was going to utilize Brandon Spikes and how he was going to utilize Aaron Hernandez.”

Meyer on having a one-on-one conversation with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell: “I reached out to him at first. Ever since then we’ve been fairly good friends. There’s a lot of great things going on right now in professional and college football. But there are also some things headed in a very destructive direction.”

Meyer on what should be done to fix the problems: “It’s the same thing since the beginning of civilization. If you set a law, you have to have a punishment for it.”

Meyer on if college football should have playoffs: “The system is pretty good for an imperfect system. […] When I was at Utah, I was a big fan of the playoff system. But when you get to a place like Florida, if you had to play one more game after we played Oklahoma, I’m not sure we could have lined up. […] I don’t know if they could ever do a playoff.”

Meyer on if he will ever coach again: “I’m not sure. I’m not ready to answer that yet. I’m anxious to move on with the next chapter.”

Tebow on the weirdest thing he’s been asked to sign: “I have signed a baby – more than once. The forehead’s been asked a few times. It kind of reminds me of Will Ferrell, but it’s pretty funny”

Tebow on Meyer leaving the Gators: “I just congratulated him because I knew it was the right decision for him and his family. I really believe that.”

Tebow on if Meyer will ever coach again: “Give me three years and then ask me again.”

Tebow on if he could see Meyer coaching in the NFL: “No I could not. He likes investing in young men.”

Meyer’s NFL.com interview (at 27:30) | Tebow’s Dan Patrick Show interview

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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.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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FOUR BITS: Tebow starting, Addazio leaving?

1 » Four quarterbacks were selected within the first 85 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft, yet Denver Broncos rookie Tim Tebow – picked No. 25 overall in the first round – is the only one of the bunch yet to start a game at QB for his team this season. That will change Sunday as Tebow will take his place behind center for the 3-10 Broncos in relief of injured starter Kyle Orton (ribs). Tebow, who has taken almost every first-team snap in practice this week, already has four touchdowns this year (three rushing) but has played sparingly for Denver up until this point. The head coach who drafted him and believed in him, Josh McDaniels, is no longer with the club, and Tebow will be starting behind an offensive line that allowed Orton to be sacked 34 times in the team’s first 13 games. Nevertheless, all eyes will be on Tebow at 4:15 p.m. (ET) expecting him to show he has what it takes to play QB in the NFL.

2 » According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio will interview for the head coaching job with the Temple Owls. Addazio, who has never been a NCAA head coach, has been coaching in college since 1995 and is not likely to be retained at his current position by new Florida head coach Will Muschamp. Though a majority of fans are pleased with Addazio’s past success as a recruiter and coaching the offensive line, his struggles managing the Gators’ offense over the last two seasons have drawn their ire. Addazio is not the only candidate for the job but would be a big pick-up for a smaller school as he could bring in top recruits and likely perform better as a head coach than a coordinator.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has missed his team’s past two games after his severe migraine headaches acted up again, is expected to return to the field this week. Harvin has undergone plenty of treatment for his migraines since entering the NFL, but doctors have continuously failed in pinpointing their cause or minimizing their affect on him. According to the player, he now has a “clear mind” and practiced “more explosive than when I left” after spending a week at a Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, meeting with a migraine specialist. Harvin is now on a new medicine that will help him control other triggers that might cause the headaches. “We covered pretty much every base. We’ve got a plan to prevent it, we’ve got a plan if it comes, and we’ve got a plan if it’s real bad,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

4 » Certain BCS bowl teams may be having problems selling out the tickets for their games, but Florida has had no issues getting rid of their allotment for the 2011 Outback Bowl. The Gators have sold their assigned 12,000 tickets for the event and fans are snatching up plenty of the non-allotted tickets to see head coach Urban Meyer lead the team for the last time against the Penn State Nittany Lions and soon-to-be 84-year-old head coach Joe Paterno.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

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Stoops denies he is close to signing with Florida

Head coach Bob Stoops may leave the Oklahoma Sooners for the Florida Gators He also may not. Either way, Stoops explained to Tulsa World on Saturday that reports stating he is close to signing with Florida are false.

“Not true, whatsoever,” Stoops told the paper‘s Dave Sittler via text message. “I’m out recruiting [for Oklahoma] as we text.”

A seven-time Big 12 champion who also captured a national title after serving as the Gators’ defensive coordinator under head coach Steve Spurrier, Stoops has been the object of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley‘s affection for years.

Foley has tried to hire Stoops on two other occasions but was rebuffed both times.

Though Stoops is widely believed to be the University of Florida‘s number one choice, word out of Gainesville, FL, is that Boise State Broncos head coach Chris Petersen not far behind in Foley’s pecking order.

Petersen, who has led Boise State since 2006, has never won fewer than 10 games in a season, is 2-0 in BCS bowl games (0-2 in non-BCS bowls), and has won four Western Athletic Conference titles in five seasons. He is also a two-time Paul “Bear” Bryant Award winner as Coach of the Year (2006, 2009).

Other current head coaches rumored to be up for the Florida job – in no particular order – include Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, Connecticut’s Randy Edsall, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Southern Mississippi’s Larry Fedora and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, in line to succeed Mack Brown, is also believed to be an option.

Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino was thought to be a top candidate for UF, but he reportedly agreed to seven-year contract extension on Friday. Petrino was supposedly Foley’s number two choice when he hired current/former head coach Urban Meyer.

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Everyone has a history with Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer. Here’s mine.

I have a history with Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer. No, he never coached me. I don’t know what it was like to play under him, have his performance demands insisted upon me or feel like his approval is the most important thing in the world.

My grades were never judged by him, the type of young man I grew up to be in college was not due to his influence, he never praised me for being a positive member of the community and he didn’t have to punish me for stepping out of line.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t know how he affected others – guys like Vernell Brown, Tim Tebow, Ahmad Black and Chris Rainey (just to name a few). And that doesn’t mean he had no affect on my life – because he did.

While I run this website impartially and with as little positive bias toward Florida as possible, I do have a handful of my own stories and opinions about Meyer – ones I almost shared just over a year ago when he retired the first time.

RECOGNITION AND A PAT ON THE BACK

Meyer’s tenure at Florida began as my time working in the Sports Information Department at the University Athletic Association was coming to an end. His first season (2005) was my last, and the press conference for his second National Signing Day (2006) was one of the final events I covered for the University of Florida.

The football offices were crazy the week leading up that signing day. Everyone knew the names of the players who had already provided their verbal commitments; everyone had heard how big of a deal it was to reel in Tebow and Percy Harvin. But no one knew more than Meyer – not by a long shot.

Standing, listening, watching and later transcribing Meyer’s words as he officially announced the 2006 signing class, you could tell he was excited. It was my impression that Meyer knew this class had “it,” though it was never in my wildest dreams that they could win a National Championship the following season.

Well, that’s how I felt until I bumped into Meyer at a softball game.

Days after the Gators recruiting class was signed, sealed and delivered, I was working the softball press box. A friend called to tell me she was there, and we met outside to talk for a few moments so I could take a break. Knowing my love for football, she asked me a few questions about this Tebow guy everyone was talking about, and I went on-and-on telling her that he was a special player and the way Meyer spoke about him, he’s the type of player that could win this team a title.

Whether I was speaking at a high volume or he was around me at an opportune time, Meyer saw me walking back to the press box and sidled up next to me. Smiling wide, he said he always saw me running around the offices, asked for my name and said he appreciated how passionately I spoke about the team. He added that with hard work anything was possible, including a national title. A few pleasantries and a pat on the back later, he was off to watch the rest of the game – with his family.

I saw Meyer on-and-off after that at Florida functions or even randomly around town. He remembered my name every time – and always made it a point to say hello.

2009 BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

The 2007 BCS National Championship win was great, but as someone who spent his life growing up in South Florida, having the opportunity to see the Gators play for the title at then-Dolphins Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, was something special.

The game was exciting, it was emotional and the celebration when the clock stopped was seemingly endless. There are sporting events (good and bad) in my life that have made me teary-eyed, very few that have made me cry. I cried tears of joy that night. Not when the players celebrated on the field, not when the trophy was being presented to the team but instead when Meyer stepped down from the podium clutching the crystal football like it was a baby, looked up at the adoring crowd and finally headed off into the tunnel.

Only a day later did I found out that Steve, a close friend of mine, was on the field that night working for FOX Sports. Snapping pictures of everything he could, he happened to be back in the tunnel when Meyer walked through alone. “All right, coach! High five, coach!” Steve exclaimed. Meyer stopped, looked at him, cradled the trophy and gave him a passionate high five as his smile grew even wider.

TREATING FLORIDA LIKE IT WAS HIS FAMILY

Fans, his players, his opponents, his staff and the media respect and have a deep appreciation for what Meyer has achieved on the field. His accomplishments are many but regardless of what he did, Meyer was unable to escape condemnation.

From arrested players to altercations with the media to accusations of being disingenuous, Meyer was harshly criticized whenever the opportunity presented itself. I suppose the phrase “with great power comes great responsibility” can be put into play here, but that is not a reason or excuse for how he was treated on a consistent basis.

Looking back on the criticisms tossed his way, all of them appear to stem from the very reason Meyer has decided to leave the Gators – family. Meyer treated every staff member and every player like a member of his extended family. The program he built at Florida preached family values in recruiting, in coaching and in life. He wanted to teach his players to be responsible and accountable – whether that meant posting good grades and donating time to charity or rebounding from unfortunate life mistakes.

When players were arrested under Meyer, his No. 1 priority was not getting the pressure off his back by cutting them lose, it was trying to rehabilitate them and giving them an opportunity bounce back – using football as a reward. When he felt a player of his was unfairly portrayed by a media member, he (over)reacted harshly because in his eyes it was like a family member was being attacked. And when he chose not to throw his coaches under the bus this season when many of them share in the blame for a lackluster finale to his career at Florida, he was protecting the family he built.

From close and from afar, I have always felt like a part of that family. Meyer was not just the reason the football team has been successful over the last few years, he was and remains integral in the growth and enduring strength of the Gator Nation.

Family is not something that is recently becoming important to Meyer – it always has been. The difference is that he is finally comfortable realizing which family needs his attention the most right now – and it’s not the one wearing orange and blue.

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Tim Tebow sends best wishes to Urban Meyer

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow, selected No. 25 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft after playing four seasons with the Florida Gators under head coach Urban Meyer with whom he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and two BCS National Championships, released the following statement Wednesday after learning Meyer decided to call it quits on his Florida coaching career.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to play for a man who will be remembered as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. But Coach Meyer was more than just a coach to me: He was a father figure who cared about me as a person and taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget.

“I respect that Coach Meyer had the courage to make the decision that was right for himself and his family. He will be blessed and better off for it. I am truly glad that he’s happy and no matter what, we both will be Gators for the rest of our lives.

“While change is never easy, the University of Florida will find the right head coach to continue its proud football tradition and will have the full support of Gator Nation. I wish Coach Meyer and his family all the best going forward, and they will always be a big part of my life.”

UPDATE: Tebow spoke further about Meyer on Friday.

“I’ve talked to him pretty much every day, multiple times. I’m proud of him. It takes a lot to leave something that you love like that, like coaching, like the University of Florida, but he knew what the right thing was to do for him and no one else knew that except for him,” he said. “He just wanted to spend more time with his family, and that was the most important thing to him, and I thought that was great. I respect him even more for making a decision like that.”

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Gators return to Top 25 after rout of ‘Dores

Ending a three-game loosing streak last week that had previously knocked them out of every Top 25 poll, the Florida Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) continued their progression upward with a 55-14 beat down of the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-7, 1-5 SEC) on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN. On Sunday, Florida reentered both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls. Out of the top 25 for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer after their loss to Mississippi State, the Gators did receive votes in both polls last week.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY
Last Week 1-25: Oregon (51), Auburn (4), Boise State (3), TCU (1), Alabama, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, LSU, Stanford, Arizona, Missouri, Michigan State, Iowa, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Baylor, Nevada, Florida State, North Carolina State
*Florida received four votes.

This Week 1-25: Oregon (50), Auburn (4), TCU (2), Boise State (3), Wisconsin, LSU, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Alabama, Iowa, Arkansas, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Arizona, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Central Florida, Florida, Texas A&M

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-25: Oregon (49), Boise State (7), Auburn (2), TCU (2), Alabama, Utah, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska, Stanford, Oklahoma, LSU, Arizona, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan State, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Baylor, North Carolina State, Florida State, Nevada
*Florida received two votes.

This Week 1-25: Oregon (49), Auburn (2), TCU (2), Boise State (7), LSU, Wisconsin, Stanford, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Iowa, Arkansas, Utah, Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida, Central Florida

BCS
Last Week 1-25: Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise State, Utah, Alabama, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, LSU, Ohio State, Missouri, Stanford, Michigan State, Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Baylor, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Florida State, North Carolina State

This Week 1-25: Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise State, LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Alabama, Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arizona, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Nevada, Florida, South Carolina, Kansas State, Texas A&M

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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11/1: Straight from the Gators’ mouths…

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, freshman QB Trey Burton, junior running back Jeff Demps, senior center Mike Pouncey, senior safety Ahmad Black and senior linebacker Brandon Hicks answered questions for the media on Monday about a variety of topics concerning the Florida Gators and their win on Saturday over the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, FL. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

BRANTLEY, BURTON COMFORTABLE WITH EACH OTHER

Brantley waited for his turn. He sat behind the legendary Tim Tebow and watched as he returned to school after winning a Heisman Trophy and BCS National Championship in back-to-back seasons. He has been criticized softly by some of his coaches and harshly by many of his team’s fans, yet Brantley has kept his cool and is embracing head coach Urban Meyer’s decision to share his position with a true freshman who has a Tebow-like talent for running the option. Just ask him.

“We run the option really well – it’s what we’ve done really well here for the past few years. We wanted to get that back in the system,” Brantley said. “If that means to put someone else back there to run it, by all means let’s do it. That’s what’s been successful and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. […] Anything that can help the team I’m all for. […] I knew coming into the season we’re an option team. If that means to bring in another quarterback, do that, I’m all for it.”

While Gator Nation certainly appreciates Brantley’s flexibility, he has also made it easy on Burton by befriending him while sharing the spotlight. “He’s a great dude, awesome football player,” Burton said of Brantley on Monday. “I love hanging out with him. Him and I joke around every day, every time I see him we say ‘What’s up?’ to each other. We hang out all the time. I can’t say enough about him. He’s one of my best friends on the team. […] Whatever we can do to win, him and I both have the same feelings. It doesn’t matter if we play or we don’t play, as long as we win, we’re happy. And that’s truly how both of us feel.”

DEMPS “SLOWLY BUT SURELY” GETTING HEALTHIER

Hobbled for three consecutive games before returning at 90 percent capacity on Saturday against Georgia, Demps (foot) remains on the mend but is trying to reach perfect health. Unfortunately, he is still experiencing sharp pains going through the top and side of his foot when attempting to change direction while running, something he has high hopes will be corrected soon. He is currently wearing a soft protection brace on his foot – not tape – and is getting 20-25 reps each practice in order to stay in game shape.

“It’s coming along pretty good – slowly but surely. [I’m] getting good treatment by our training staff,” he said. “Right now I’m able to practice in limited reps, but the reps that I am getting are quality reps. Right now I’m able to run straight ahead pretty well, but it’s kind of hard for me to change direction. […] It’s been tough. At times I’ve gotten frustrated, but at the same time I have to stay positive and keep my teammates going and at the same time they have to keep me going.”

GETTING OFF THE FIELD ON THIRD DOWN

For the second-straight game, Florida’s defense is having difficulty getting off of the field on third down. Against Mississippi State, UF was unable to stop the run; with Georgia the problem was stopping QB Aaron Murray from completing long third down passes.

“Third down is key. That’s like our money down. I’ve been on this team a while and third down used to be us getting off the field a little bit quicker,” Black said. “We can improve, we can get better. That’s what practice is for.” Hicks also notices it is an issue. “To let a team convert on a third down, and it’s third and long, it hurts the defense as well. It feels like we didn’t do our job,” he said.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/1: Straight from the Gators’ mouths…

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