1 » New York Giants safety Will Hill on Friday was officially suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2014 season, marking the third-straight year that he will open an NFL campaign unable to play due to league punishment. Hill was first suspended four games before the 2012 season for use of performance-enhancing drugs – he claims he tested positive for Adderall – and also missed the first four games of 2013 when he tested positive for marijuana and was suspended under the league’s substance-abuse policy. Undrafted after three seasons with the Florida Gators, the former five-star prospect did not play at all in 2011 and only got a chance with the Giants after supposedly staying clean of drugs and focusing on his familial duties during his year off. New York has “put a lot of time and energy into trying to keep Will Hill clean,” according to Tom Rock of Newsday. This suspension will likely end his career with the Giants.and could result in another missed season until if or when another team gives him a chance.
From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.
» Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons was involved in a card accident before his team’s game on Monday – don’t worry, he’s OK – when a woman ran a red light and hit his sports utility vehicle. What happened next? “She said she ran a red light and it was her fault,” Parsons told the Houston Chronicle. “She had a little car so it kind of messed up the front bumper of my car. She was OK. Asked me to sign her insurance card.” Parsons led Houston with 21 points in 40 minutes on Monday. He entered the game recovering from a hip injury he suffered last week.
» According to Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com, the Philadelphia Eagles have a high level of interest in Gators outside linebacker Ronald Powell. Kempski notes that Philadelphia has a history of selecting high-upside players that were ranked among the top players in the country coming out of high school seeing as the Eagles used a seventh-round selection on running back Bryce Brown in 2012.
» The final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll came out following the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and the individual ballots of all 32 coaches that voted were released as well. Five coaches – Tim Cluess (Iona), Matt Driscoll (North Florida), Tim Floyd (UTEP), Shaka Smart (VCU) and Don Verlin (Idaho) – voted Florida into the No. 2 spot over Kentucky, while four other coaches picked UF at No. 4 behind Wisconsin. One coach – Mike McConathy of Northwestern State – ranked the Gators fifth in the final poll.
Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 19-14 loss to the No. 10/11 South Carolina Gamecocks and upcoming home game against the Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday, Nov. 23. The game will kick off at 2:00 p.m. and air live only on pay-per-view.
RETURN IN QUESTION
It is not known whether redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) will be available to play on Saturday against Georgia Southern, and it is not expected that a decision will be made until later in the week.
Muschamp said that Murphy “threw lightly” on Sunday and felt more comfortable than he had in a while. But he has not yet been cleared to practice in full and the team currently preparing for redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg to be the starter.
Murphy called himself “day-to-day” and noted that he felt much better than last week. He estimated that he played at 60-70 percent against Missouri and was even healthier than that two weeks later when taking on Georgia. However, he reinjured the shoulder during the Vanderbilt game, which is why he was unable to play last Saturday.
“It’s getting better. After the game last week I really couldn’t move it, but now I’m able to move it and rotate and stuff like that. I got range of motion and stuff like that. It’s a lot better, getting better,” Murphy said.
Now estimating his health at 70-75 percent, Murphy hopes to get back on the field Saturday but cautioned that it will be a mutual decision between himself and the trainers.
“It’s all about if the ball’s coming out efficiently. If I can’t make the throws in practice, it’s not going to happen in the game,” he said. “Sitting out not practicing doesn’t help. It’s just kind of something we’re trying to figure out what’s best for the team and how we can be successful.”
Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson was suspended for the South Carolina game but would not have been cleared to play anyway due to an ankle injury he suffered against Vanderbilt. Muschamp said Roberson “ran well” on Sunday and will hopefully return to practice during the week. As long as he’s cleared medically, he can play on Saturday as his suspension as just a one-week punishment.
Additionally, Gators sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL) remains doubtful despite moving around on Sunday. The team hopes to have an update mid-week. Freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood, who took a hard hit late in the fourth quarter against the Gamecocks and looked to be shaken up, did not suffer a concussion but rather hurt his shoulder. He will be good to go this week.
The Florida Gators (4-6, 3-5 SEC) lost their fifth-straight game on Saturday, dropping five in a row in a single season for the first time since 1979, by falling 19-14 to the No. 10/11 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) on the road at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. Following his team’s loss, Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.
“Very proud of our guys’ effort. We followed the script of what we felt like we needed to do to win the game and that was ball possession, field position, eat the clock, play good defense – which we did for the most part through the night against a very good offensive football team. Extremely proud of our players and the way they’ve continued to fight in the game.
“A lot of negativity out there and these guys pulled together and showed you a little something what those guys are about. We need to make some plays in those situations to win the game. The bottom line is winning and we didn’t do it. We did not get the job done. So that’s on me. We’ll go back and continue to work hard and get these last two. We’re looking forward to that. …
“I’m extremely proud of our staff and our players of pulling together, trying to put ourselves in a position to win the game on the road against a very good football team. We just got to come up with a couple of those plays here and there. … We have our opportunities we got to make the plays and that’s on me. We got to keep working.”
FRUSTRATED MUSCHAMP TELLS FANS: “GET A GRIP”
Suffice to say, Muschamp was fired up at halftime Florida took a 14-6 advantage into the locker room. Asked after the game while his hand was all bloody and taped up, Muschamp explained, “I hit a chalkboard. Dumb.”
— Steve Johnson (@journo2go) November 17, 2013
Following the loss, Muschamp was asked about his team’s grit and toughness while going up against a ranked team with a third-string quarterback and a number of other replacement players due to injuries suffered by the Gators throughout the season.
“It’s not excuses. It’s real. It really is,” he said. “You can say what you want to say and you can write whatever the hell you want to write. It’s real. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for that locker room. To hell with me. I worry about the kids. These kids have fought their butts off.
“There’s a lot of negativity out there and some of our fans need to get a grip. They really do. They got a bunch of kids in that locker room fighting their butt off. They can criticize me all you want, I’m great with that, they pay me enough money to deal with that. But those kids don’t, they really don’t. And they’ve fought their butts off. And they’ve continued to fight and play hard.
“Nobody’s ever questioned their efforts. I’m just extremely proud of them and the resolve and the fight and pulling together like Florida Gators do. Extremely proud of them. We just didn’t get it done. That’s on me, that’s my fault, nobody else’s.”
APPRECIATIVE OF THE ADMINISTRATION
On Wednesday, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and president Bernie Machen released statements of unequivocal support for Muschamp and the job he is currently doing with the Gators football program. Given the opportunity to respond in kind, Muschamp did just that publicly.
The Florida Gators on Wednesday released a lengthy statement of support from the administration for head coach Will Muschamp, whose football program is currently standing at 4-5 (3-4 SEC) and facing its first losing season since 1979.
Below are Florida’s statements in full. OnlyGators.com will have more on this topic in the very near future, so stay tuned to this website.
Athletic director Jeremy Foley (unabridged):
“As athletic director, I’m a thousand percent convinced that Will Muschamp is the guy to lead this football program. Nothing has changed in what we feel about Will Muschamp from the day we hired him.
“Everyone around here wants the same thing. We want to do what is right for the University of Florida. We understand that this football season has not gone the way any of us wanted it to go, certainly not the way our fans wanted it to go, and most of all, not the way Will Muschamp wanted it to go.
“We have a history of being successful, we have a history of fixing things when they need to be fixed, and that is what is going to happen here, and Coach Muschamp is the one that will fix it.
“I understand the passion and the disappointment. But at the end of the day, we’ve got great fans, they love the Gators and their passion makes this place special. They are hurting, they want the program to be successful and we feel that hurt.
“We will get better under Will Muschamp’s leadership. This is not the quote-unquote dreaded ‘vote of confidence.’ This is just how we all feel around here. We have a strong faith and a strong belief in his capabilities, in his leadership skills, in his ability to evaluate what needs to be fixed.
“Go back to a year ago: we’re 11-1 and beat four teams in the Top 10 and he was SEC Coach of the Year. I don’t think that was a fluke. I think coaching had a lot to do with that. We’ll stay the course here. We’ll get it right. We’re not going to let Gator fans down. We want the same thing they want.”
President Bernie Machen (unabridged):
“I want the Gator Nation to know that I have full confidence in Coach Muschamp and his leadership of the football program.”
Head coach Will Muschamp has received a $250,000 raise and will now earn just under $3 million each year through the 2017 season, making him the seventh-highest paid coach in the Southeastern Conference.
According to the Sporting News, which first reported the raise, Muschamp will now bring home $2,928,971 per season before bonuses. That ranks him behind the following SEC head coaches, each of whom has more experience leading a program: Alabama’s Nick Saban ($5.5 million), LSU’s Les Miles ($3.8 million), South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier ($3.3 million), Georgia’s Mark Richt ($3.2 million), Arkansas’ Bret Bielema ($3.2 million) and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin ($3.1 million).
“[Florida president] Dr. [Bernie] Machen and I believe very strongly in Coach Muschamp and his leadership and we felt it was appropriate to adjust his salary to be more in line with the market value,” said Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley in a statement released to the media and first published by The Gainesville Sun.
Muschamp originally signed a five-year deal worth $13.75 million with Florida in 2011 but received a $500,000 bonus when the Gators, in Jan. 2012, extended his contract through the 2016 season. Just six months later, in Nov. 2012, Florida extended his deal through 2017 and paid Muschamp an additional $250,000 bonus.
He also receives $200,000 per year from Nike and has an annual expense account of over $60,000. Muschamp can earn bonuses of $75,000 for winning the Southeastern Conference Championship and $250,000 for winning the BCS National Championship in addition to universal salary increases for various bowl game appearances.
In his first two seasons with the Gators, Muschamp has tallied an 18-8 record. Florida had a four-game turnaround in 2012, going from 7-6 the previous season to 11-2 at the end of last year’s campaign. Muschamp, who was named Co-SEC Coach of the Year (along with Sumlin) in 2012, is 1-1 in bowl games, 2-0 against Tennessee, 1-1 against Florida State, 1-1 against LSU and 0-2 against Georgia.
Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press
By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor
The Southeastern Conference and ESPN jointly announced on Thursday the creation of the multi-platform SEC Network, which is set to launch on Aug. 6, 2014 as part of a 20-year media rights extension between the conference and World Wide Leader in Sports that will take relationship through 2034.
Termed the “longest agreement in all of sports” by ESPN president John Skipper, the deal not only locks up the SEC with ESPN as its primary rights holder but also ensures that 1,000 league games will be aired each year including 450 live on television. The other 550 contests will be distributed digitally across a variety of platforms.
“The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league. The agreement for a network streamlines and completes an overall media rights package that will continue the SEC’s leadership for the foreseeable future.”
College football, the only sport with all 14 schools’ coaches in attendance on Thursday, will obviously be featured prominently on the new channel. The SEC Network will televise 45 league football games each year, including three every Saturday of the 13-week season. CBS will continue to have first pick of each week’s SEC football games but will no longer have exclusivity to air an SEC game in the middle of the afternoon.
It took less than a year for “Project X” to completely transform into the SEC Network with the newest joint venture between the Southeastern Conference and ESPN set to be announced at a special event on Tuesday in Atlanta, GA, according to a report released Friday by the SportsBusiness Journal.
Commissioner Mike Slive admitted to Yahoo! Sports in March that an announcement about the SEC Network would occur in the following month and that is exactly what will happen on April 16 at noon.
“The Southeastern Conference has completed the buy-back of its TV, digital and sponsorship rights from third parties, clearing the final hurdles to launch its TV channel with ESPN next year,” SBJ’s Michael Smith and John Ourand reported Friday. “[The SEC Network] will be a national channel, with broad distribution within the SEC’s territory and sports-tier carriage elsewhere.”
ESPN – through its network, ESPN2, ESPNU and the standalone SEC Network – will carry every conference football contest not chosen by CBS as its weekly game.
ESPN, which previously owned all of the SEC’s television rights, had sold third-tier access to CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, IMG College and Learfield Sports. Those rights included one football game, eight men’s basketball games and other non-revenue sports that ESPN did not choose to air. The network is currently in the process of buying back syndicated rights that it sold to Comcast SportsNet and FOX Sports Net.
In order to make the SEC Network a reality, ESPN needs to own all of the league’s games. It has also taken over the SEC’s corporate sponsorship program and will also acquire the league’s digital rights, which the SEC is buying back from XOS Digital.
The SEC Network will launch in August 2014 with each school likely receiving $8-10 million per year on a contract set to last 15-20 years.
Last season, two of the Florida Gators’ 12 football games and 12 of the school’s 30 basketball contests (regular season) were not carried on national networks.
UPDATE: ESPN and the SEC sent press releases announcing a joint press conference scheduled for noon on Tuesday. Florida president Bernie Machen, who is also the Chairman of the SEC’s Presidents & Chancellors, will be in attendance alongside Slive, ESPN president John Skipper, ESPN senior vice president of programming Justin Connolly and more than 30 head coaches from the SEC (football, basketball).