Missouri Tigers become 14th SEC member

It’s official. After months of speculation, the Missouri Tigers announced Sunday that they will be leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012 for the 2012-13 athletic season.

The addition of Missouri (and Texas A&M in September) marks the first expansion for the SEC since it added Arkansas and South Carolina and split into divisions in 1991. Though it has yet to be officially announced, the expectation is that Mizzou joins the East division.

“The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference are pleased to welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC,” said Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida. “The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions.”

“The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri,” Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton said. “In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success. The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university. We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league.”

“I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012.”

GETTING TO KNOW MISSOURI

UNIVERSITY
Established: 1839
Location: Columbia, Missouri
Enrollment: 33,805 (fall 2011)
Campus: 1,372 acres
Colors: Black and “MU gold”
Motto: Let the Welfare of the People be the Supreme Law
President: Dr. Brady J. Deaton
Notes: First public insitutation of higher education west of the Mississippi, member of the Association of American Universities, world’s most powerful university research reactor, one of six public universities in the United States with schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture and law all on one campus

ATHLETICS
Nickname: Tigers
Mascot: Truman the Tiger (named after President Harry S. Truman)
Facilities: Faurot Field (football), Mizzou Arena (basketball), Taylor Stadium (baseball)
Men’s sports: Football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, wrestling
Women’s sports: Basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball
National titles: 3
Conference titles: 71 (6 in the Big 12)
Band: Marching Mizzou
Previous affiliations: WIUFA, Independent (1890-1892, 1898-1906), Missouri Valley/Big Six/Big Seven/Big Eight, Big 12
Athletic director: Michael Alden

FOOTBALL
First season: 1890
Stadium capacity: 71,004
All-time record: 622–515–52 (.545)
Traditions: Invented homecoming, Harpo’s goal posts
National titles: 1 “claimed”
Conference titles: 15 – 1893-95, 1909, 1913, 1919, 1924-25, 1927, 1939, 1941-42, 1945, 1960, 1969
Record vs. Florida: 1-0 (W 20-18 in 1966 Sugar Bowl)
Heisman Trophy winners: 0
College Football Hall of Fame: coaches – 5, players – 7
Pro Football Hall of Fame: 2 – Kellen Winslow, Roger Wehrli

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Texas A&M Aggies become 13th SEC member

It’s official. After months of speculation and some recent litigation, the Texas A&M Aggies announced Sunday that they will be leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012 for the 2012-13 athletic season.

The addition of Texas A&M marks the first expansion for the SEC since it added Arkansas and South Carolina and split into divisions in 1991.

“The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors are pleased to welcome Texas A&M University to the SEC family,” said Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida. “The addition of Texas A&M University as the SEC’s 13th member gives our league a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions.”

“The Southeastern Conference provides Texas A&M the national visibility that our great university and our student-athletes deserve,” Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said. “We are excited to begin competition in the nation’s premier athletic conference. This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically, and I believe the [SEC] gives the Aggies the best situation of any conference in the country.”

The two-step process, which included SEC presidents voting to extend an invitation and Texas A&M officials accepting the invitation, was officially completed Sunday because the threat of a lawsuit from some other Big 12 schools stalled the process.

“On behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans, I welcome Texas A&M University to the SEC family,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “Texas A&M is a nationally-prominent institution on and off the field and a great fit for the SEC tradition of excellence—athletically, academically and culturally.”

The Aggies will now become the SEC’s 13th member and will likely join the conference’s West division, leaving the league unbalanced at least in the short term.

Consequently the Big 12 is now left with only nine teams after Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left the former 12-team conference over a year ago.

The Big 12 has made adding a 10th member a priority, while the SEC has said it will take time to decide on and invite a 14th team. Should the SEC add a team that would geographically fit in the West division, Auburn would likely switch to the East.

GETTING TO KNOW TEXAS A&M

UNIVERSITY
Established: 1871
Location: College Station, Texas
A&M? Agricultural and Mechanical
Enrollment: 46,522 (spring 2011)
Campus: 5,500 acres
Colors: Maroon and white
Official greetings: “Howdy!” “Gig ‘em
President: Dr. R. Bowen Loftin
Notes: Receives land, sea and space grants from the government; first public institution of higher education in the state; provides more commissioned officers to the U.S. Armed Forces than any other non-service academy college

ATHLETICS
Nickname: Aggies
Mascot: Reveille (collie)
Facilities: Kyle Field (football), Reed Arena (basketball), Olsen Field (baseball)
Men’s sports: Football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field
Women’s sports: Basketball, softball, cross country, equestrian, golf, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball
National titles: 12 (not counting equestrian)
Conference titles: 139 (not counting fencing)
Highest Director’s Cup finish: No. 6 (2009-10)
Fanbase name: 12th Man
Band: Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band
Previous affiliations: Southwest, Big 12
Athletic director: Bill Byrne

FOOTBALL
First season: 1894
Stadium capacity: 83,002
All-time record (as of 2010): 674-443-48 (.599)
Traditions: Standing all game; Midnight Yell; Bonfire
National titles: 1 – 1939
SWC titles: 17 – 1917, 1919, 1921, 1925, 1927, 1939, 1940-41, 1956, 1967, 1975, 1985-87, 1991-93
Big 12 titles: 1 – 1998
Highest Top 25 finish (post-1990): AP – No. 7, Coaches – No. 6 (1992)
Record vs. Florida: 1-1 (L 6-42, Oct. 13, 1962; W 37-14 Jan. 2, 1977)
Heisman Trophy winners: 1 – John David Crow (1957)
College Football Hall of Fame: coaches – 5, players – 10
Pro Football Hall of Fame: 1 – Yale Lary

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8/16: Muschamp’s updates on players, scrimmage

With the Florida Gators fully entrenched in fall practice and having completed their first scrimmage, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media early Tuesday and provided updates on how the team is progressing on both sides of the ball heading into the 2011 season, which begins on Sept. 3.

FRESHMEN ROBERSON, DRISKEL STEPPING UP

Every year there seems to be a few freshmen who take it upon themselves to earn major playing time in their first season. Two players who have already begun proving themselves, according to Muschamp, are four-star cornerback Marcus Roberson and five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Competing with seniors, juniors, sophomores and fellow freshmen, Roberson in particular has stood out and could supplant all of them as the latest Florida freshman to start at cornerback. “I think he could possibly start. He’s played well,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to play the best players. I don’t care what grade they are, where they’re from, it don’t matter to me.”

Driskel, fighting with redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and classmate Jacoby Brissett for the back-up QB job behind redshirt senior John Brantley, has emerged as the leader for the job after showcasing his intangibles during a great performance in the team’s first scrimmage on Saturday. Muschamp said Driskel completed approximately 70 percent of his passes during scrimmage while Brantley (who he again said is “far and ahead” of the pack) was around 60 percent.

“His growth process from spring, obviously he has worked extremely hard through the summer dedicating himself to the playbook and learning what to do and how to do it and why we’re doing it that way,” Muschamp said*. “He’s had a very good camp at this point.”

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER & POSITION UPDATES

» Redshirt junior Lerentee McCray – Listed as a defensive end, McCray has earned the starting strong-side linebacker job and is being backed up sophomore Darrin Kitchens. Muschamp said he can also play the buck position if needed, though it will not be his primary assignment. Sophomore Ronald Powell starts at buck linebacker, and redshirt sophomore Kendric Johnson has been backing him up.

» Senior punter David Lerner – Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and getting IVs regularly when participating in practices and workouts. Lerner is the likely back-up to freshman Kyle Christy, who enrolled in January and is expected to be the starter. “He was diagnosed with Crohn’s in July, and his body is taking to the medication. There have been a couple days where he hasn’t felt well, and I’ve just told him to take it to the house, just go and get some rest. He’s in high competition right now to be our starting punter – he and Kyle both. David has had a great camp. This is something he will battle and be fine.”

» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins – “Both of them have played, so they understand what it takes to be successful in this league. Both of them are extremely intelligent. God’s blessed both of them – they’ve got really good athletic ability. They’re both instinctive players and they like playing the game. And they’ve learned to be better communicators, in my opinion, from spring to now. That, to me, is where they’ve taken the next step as players. We need for both of them to have really, really good seasons, and I certainly think they’re both capable of having really good seasons.”

» Sophomore Sharrif Floyd – Listed as a defensive tackle, Floyd has spent most of his time at defensive end for depth reasons but is also being moved inside during rush situations. He joins senior William Green and redshirt junior Earl Okine as the team’s primary DEs.

» Redshirt senior Jaye Howard, redshirt junior Omar Hunter and sophomore Dominique Easley are all rotating inside at the nose tackle/three position. Redshirt freshman NT Leon Orr is also “coming along” because he has kept his weight down and improved his endurance.

» Redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson – “I want to say this about Deonte: He is a senior and a guy that we really challenged in the offseason about special teams and understanding, if you want to play after college and if you’re not the lead role at your position in the National Football League, you’ve got to play special teams. The guy has done a phenomenal job on special teams. He’s on our punt team; he’s on our kickoff coverage team. I’m very proud of his effort.”

» Freshman De’Ante Saunders – The cornerback has been spending time at nickel but will be worked out at safety soon as the team is in need of trustworthy tacklers. “Pop is playing well. He deserves the opportunity to be a starter at this point,” Muschamp said. “Pop has played more nickel than anything – more than even at corner. We need to shore up some things at safety as far as our tackling is concerned, our space play is concerned. Pop has got good instincts on the back end – when to play the ball, when not to play the ball. We’ve got to tackle better at that position; we cannot continue to miss tackles in the secondary.”

» Freshman Chris Johnson – Listed as a safety, the 5’9”, 205 lbs. Johnson will continue to be worked out at linebacker in order to improve depth at the position. “Chris Johnson is undersized but is a guy that can run and strike,” Muschamp said. “He’s instinctive in the box. He’s got natural box instincts. He comes down in the box and naturally gets it. That’s part of being a good linebacker – having some sort of instincts.”

» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose – Currently in the second group of pass catchers because he continues to be inconsistent in his performance practice-in and practice-out. “[He's] got to block better, got to catch the ball better, got to run routes better – there’s a lot of things,” Muschamp said. “But it’s consistency in your performance. You can have one great day, and the next day has got to be a great day. You can’t be up-and-down in your performance in this league. The teams are too good.”

» Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley – “Had a good scrimmage yesterday, did some nice things, had an interception. He’s a guy that’s got to continue to progress.”

» Redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Taylor – “[He] is an instinctive, tough player and has done a nice job with some things. Mike has got to continue working on football off the field. He likes sticking his face in there; he likes the physicality of the game, but we’ve got to play smarter at that position.”

» Redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian – “We feel like he’s a very good on-the-ball tight end, blocking. He can also do some things as far as movement is concerned because he’s really a tight end and a fullback. Some tight ends can’t move very well, they don’t move very well as far as the point-of-attack and blocking. Fullbacks do. Some fullbacks can’t line up on the line of scrimmage and block the edge because they don’t have the length to block against some of the defensive ends and outside ‘backers they play against. Gerald can do both, and we will use him to do both.”

» Senior tackle William Steinmann – A walk-on who has only seen action in 18 games over three seasons, Steinmann is also being tried out at tight end as an additional blocker.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the grind of fall practice: “The older players understand the grind of camp, they understand how to work through camp. The younger players generally let the external circumstances – the heat, the fatigue, the soreness – soak in a little bit, and that’s when they lose their mental focus. Those are things we’ve got to battle through at this point.”

» On the difference between running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey: “About 0.4 seconds maybe, I don’t know. Jeff I would say is a little bit bigger stature-wise. The other day he did a really nice job chipping one of our defensive ends coming out on protection. I thought he may have cracked his ribs – he turned him upside down.”

» The team worked on end-of-game situations with hopes of putting a bit of pressure on the players in order to test their resolve. The scrimmage consisted of 130 snaps.

» The heat index was 118 degrees on the field Tuesday morning during practice. Muschamp understood the heat and wanted his team to play in those conditions. “You find out a lot about your leadership especially when you face some adversity. We put them in some adverse situations on both sides of the ball,” he said. “You find out a lot about your football team at this time. We’re going to use the heat to our advantage. We ought to be used to playing in the heat and when its hot. When we started camp, we worked early in the morning and late at night to avoid [the heat]. Now it’s time to shore up and get ready for that – we’re going to use that to our advantage.”

» Muschamp said a few prominent individuals recently met with the team including the Southeastern Conference head of officiating Steve Shaw, University of Florida president Bernie Machen, former Gators safety Lawrence Wright and Iraqi war veteran Lt. Greg Gadson (who inspired the New York Giants in 2008).

» On inheriting a roster and not recruiting it himself: “At the end of the day, they’re Florida’s players. They’re not my players.”

* Driskel quote courtesy of InsidetheGators.com

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SEC to Texas A&M: No thanks (for now)

Amid speculation that the Texas A&M Aggies had decided to join the Southeastern Conference and were simply waiting on approval from the league’s hierarchy, the SEC’s presidents and chancellors met on Sunday to discuss expansion and including Texas A&M in their league. University of Florida president and the chair of the SEC’s presidents and chancellors, Bernie Machen, released the following statement on behalf of the league at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”

The short version: We have decided not to take action to expand our conference at this time but reserve the right to do so in the future. Take care of the odds and ends on your end and we will start this process over from the beginning.

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Machen for SI: grayshirting is “reprehensible”

University of Florida president Bernie Machen, published in a feature piece for SI.com, calls offering grayshirts to student-athletes “reprehensible” and says taking away a scholarship from a player is “disgusting” and a “nefarious practice.”

Imagine the feeling if the student finds out, literally a few months before enrolling, that the institution is backing out of the contract. It is too late in the summer to go back to one’s second choice. The student is told he will have to wait until next year. Sorry, but no acceptance, no scholarship. That’s it.

In Division I college football this practice is known as “grayshirting” and, unfortunately, there are universities that sanction this activity. The universities, with full knowledge of what they are doing, extend more athletic scholarships than they have. These schools play roulette with the lives of talented young people. If they run out of scholarships, too bad. The letter-of-intent signed by the university the previous February is voided. Technically, it’s legal to do this. Morally, it is reprehensible.

What makes Machen’s comments particularly interesting are two stories that have come out over the last two recruiting cycles involving Florida Gators either offering or at the very least discussing grayshirts with high school players.

Rivals reported in Jan. 2010 that the Gators proposed the use of a grayshirt to three-star tight end recruit Michael McFarland, noting that he would not likely be strong enough to compete in the Southeastern Conference at his current build.

“When I went up there they threw out on the table the whole grayshirt thing,” McFarland said. “There have been times I wanted to do it and there were times I didn’t want to do it because I wanted to get up there and go play. [...] They didn’t say they were going to do it but they gave me the option.”

Florida decided the move was not necessary; McFarland joined UF in the fall.

This year, four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels have noted that former Gators head coach Urban Meyer offered Brissett the opportunity to grayshirt, a move the player scoffed at.

It is important to note that there is a serious distinction between a team offering a grayshirt before a player has signed a National Letter of Intent and a team delaying or pulling a scholarship after that process is concluded. Machen is discussing the latter.

Entering into an agreement with a student-athlete that he or she will wait a year if they wish to play at a particular university where the player knows of the intentions and agrees to the move ahead of time is quite different than locking that player up and forcing him or her to abide by your decision after the fact.

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Muschamp speaks on recruiting, Weis, Brantley

New Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp was a guest of Joe Rose on 560 WQAM in Miami, FL on Thursday and spent time with the former Miami Dolphins tight end discussing a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.

Like Urban Meyer before him, Muschamp was likely informed of the importance of having a presence in the South Florida media as the area is a recruiting hotbed and Rose’s show is arguably the most notable sports talk show in the mornings. He frequently talks about high school football and picked Muschamp’s brain on recruiting in the area.

“There’s a lot of young men that are going to sign out of each state. The key is evaluation and taking the right guy,” he said. “There’s a lot of really good football players in South Florida – tremendous. You take Palm [Beach], Broward and Dade County – there’s phenomenal football players. I’d say probably over 200 kids out of those three counties are going to sign Division I scholarships. [You have to] take the right guy that’s going to do a nice job academically for you, is going to represent your university in a first-class manner and play well on the football field.”

He was also asked to describe any notable differences between the recruiting process in the state of Texas and region of South Florida.

“It’s not different. We have an evaluation process that we’re going to go through with each young man. From on and off the field, different critical factors at each position that we look at that we decide that this is a type player we want to have at the University of Florida,” Muschamp said. “Just like I did when I was defensive coordinator at Texas when I ran the defensive [recruiting] board. We’ve got certain things that we’re looking for at each position. It’s about evaluation. It’s about taking the right guy. Not necessarily taking the best player at that position; he might not be the right fit for your football team or your university. That’s a huge part of what we do as coaches, is evaluating and taking the right players because there are a lot of good football players out there.

“I’m not worried about the guys that don’t sign at Florida, I’m worried about the ones that sign at Florida. We need to do a great job of developing those players. A lot of these young men that go other places, I’m going to see them once a year. So I’m not as worried about them as I am the ones we are going to have on our campus.”

Rose noted that Muschamp must be excited about having current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as the biggest name on his staff, something the new head coach felt comfortable enough to open up about.
Continue Reading » Muschamp speaks on recruiting, Weis, Brantley

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BREAKING NEWS: Will Muschamp hired as Florida Gators next head football coach

The Florida Gators have hired Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as their newest head coach.

“This is a dream come true to be the head coach of the Florida Gators,” said Muschamp according to an official release from the University of Florida. “I grew up watching the Gators and whatever other SEC team was on television. I have great memories watching SEC football with my father on Saturdays and playing football in the back yard with my two brothers right here in Gainesville.”

He continued, “I’m eager to get to work and represent this great institution. I’m very thankful for the opportunity given to me by President Dr. Bernie Machen and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. I promise to bring a tremendous amount of passion and energy to work every day and my goal is to have our team bring the same type of attitude in everything we do both on and off the field. I want our team to play hard, with relentless effort and with toughness. We want to make the Gator Nation proud.”

Muschamp, the coach-in-waiting under Mack Brown at Texas, has never held a head coaching job before. Prior to coordinating the defense for the Longhorns, Muschamp held the same position with Auburn (2006-07), the Miami Dolphins (2005), LSU (2002-04) and Valdosta State (2000).

Having turned down head coaching opportunities at schools like Clemson, Tennessee and Auburn over the years, Muschamp was named the successor to Brown in Nov. 2008; however, Brown is expected to coach Texas through at least 2016.

Now the 23rd head coach in Florida history, Muschamp is a former resident of Gainesville, FL, who lived there for 10 years as a youngster. At 39-years-old, he is the second-youngest coach in the Southeastern Conference.

Foley, who departed Gainesville for Austin, TX, at approximately 8 a.m. and arrived back in town at 8 p.m. on Saturday, wasted little time in signing a new head coach after Urban Meyer officially resigned on Wednesday.

“Coach Muschamp is someone we targeted from the beginning and he is the guy we wanted,’’ Foley said. “He is the only person we met with and the only person we offered the job to.”

He also raved about Muschamp’s experience and dedication.

“We are thrilled to have Coach Muschamp lead our football program,” Foley said. “When we started the search for our next head coach we wanted a coach who was familiar with the Southeastern Conference. We wanted a candidate who was a relentless recruiter and was familiar with recruiting in the state of Florida.

“We wanted a candidate who was high energy and had been on the big stage. We wanted a candidate who was respected by his players and his peers and we wanted someone who had a passion for the University of Florida. Coach Muschamp is all of those things and more. He is a grounded family man with a wonderful wife and two children and we welcome them into our Gator family.”

Meyer approved of the hire, noting that his replacement is a top-notch recruiter.

“He’s a tremendous recruiter,’’ Meyer said. “I have bumped into him many times over the years on the road while on recruiting trips.”

Florida will officially announce the hiring of Muschamp at a press conference at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

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Florida Gators Press Conference: Urban Meyer steps down as head football coach

University of Florida president Bernie Machen, athletic director Jeremy Foley and Florida Gators head football coach Urban Meyer spoke with the media at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to officially announce and discuss Meyer’s decision to resign his position with the university effective immediately. In what seemed to be a bittersweet moment for everyone involved, Meyer left the Gators because he desired to spend more time with his family and children. Below are some notes and quotes from Wednesday’s press conference from all parties involved.

PRESIDENT BERNIE MACHEN

On Meyer’s other accomplishments: “Do you know that 86 of his players have already graduated from the university and another nine will graduate this weekend in our winners’ ceremony? Our football graduation success rate is No. 2 in the SEC – something he is very proud of and something I am very proud of as well. He’s also an outstanding member of our community. He and his family have been exemplary members of the Gainesville community.”

On hiring Meyer: “Urban was hired because of his commitment to excellence, because of his integrity and his commitment to his players. In every dimension he’s exceeded everything we could have hoped for as he carried out his duties here at the University of Florida. He took us to a new level. A level that will maybe be reached again but never exceeded. He leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Florida. We’re so proud of him and what he’s accomplished and the way he’s done so. He’s a true Gator.”

On Meyer’s future and legacy with Florida: “We’re hopeful he will remain with us in some capacity after he’s through coaching, but whatever he does we’re so proud to call him one of our own, and we’re so proud to say what he’s done for this university and this community.”

HEAD COACH URBAN MEYER

Opening statement: “Thanks for coming today. I appreciate Dr. Machen’s remarks. He has been tremendously supportive of myself and my family for over the last seven years. I have great love for the University of Florida, and I am very proud of what Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley – how they have helped us what we have accomplished here at the University of Florida. I’m stepping down as football coach at the University of Florida to focus on family and my other interests away from the sidelines.”

Read the rest of Urban Meyer’s press conference – along with what Jeremy Foley had to say about the coaching search – after the break…
Continue Reading » Florida Gators Press Conference: Urban Meyer steps down as head football coach

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