The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 27

Florida basketball staff reloads

Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan knew for a while that he would have two staffers leaving the program this offseason, and it all became a reality last week when assistant to the head coach Mark Daigneault and video coordinator Oliver Winterbone both departed to join the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.

Daigneault was hired as the head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the 66ers, while Winterbone accepted a basketball information analyst position with Oklahoma City’s front office. (The 66ers are moving from Tulsa to Oklahoma City this season.)

Donovan did not wait long to fill the staffing holes and keep his machine running.

On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that Donovan will hire veteran assistant coach Billy Schmidt to fill the off-court assistant position vacated by Daigneault.

Schmidt has spent the last 11 seasons coaching under Brian Gregory including eight at Dayton and the last three at Georgia Tech. He was Gregory’s first hire, joining the Flyers after spending nine seasons coaching in major conferences. Schmidt’s journey began as a manager with Wake Forest (1988-92) but continued with stops at Tennessee (1994-97), Northwestern (1997-2000) and under Tommy Amaker both at Seton Hall (2000) and Michigan (2001-03).

OnlyGators.com learned Monday evening that Donovan has also desired to hire Peter Gash to replace Winterbone as video coordinator.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 27

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SIX BITS: SEC Network, Roper, Mincey, Wilbekin

1 » ESPN announced on Wednesday that it has reached a deal with Cox Communications for the cable operator to carry the SEC Network at its launch on Aug. 14, 2014. This is great news for Florida Gators fans, which can now be sure that they will be able to watch their team on the city’s biggest provider. Cox Cable is available to fans in five of the 11 states that host Southeastern Conference teams. With AT&T U-verse, DISH Network and Google Fiber on board, now Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon FIOS and DirecTV remain as the major operators not currently signed on with the SEC Network for launch. However, AT&T’s proposed purchase of DirecTV could make that agreement easier, and the merger between Comcast and Time Warner makes it likely that one of those dominoes will fall soon after the other as Comcast appears to be the next in line to make a deal with the World Wide Leader in Sports. Company spokesman John Demming claims that Comcast and ESPN are “working out final details” for the network with an agreement expected to be announced “in the near future.”


Continue Reading » SIX BITS: SEC Network, Roper, Mincey, Wilbekin

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11/9: Florida vs. Vanderbilt post-game report; Muschamp takes responsibility for Gators’ failures

The Florida Gators (4-5, 3-4 SEC) hit rock bottom on Saturday by falling 34-17 to the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-4, 2-4 SEC) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on homecoming. After his team’s fourth-straight loss, Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.

ANSWERING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

» Opening statement on Florida committing four costly turnovers: “Not going to win many games turning it over four times and spotting them the ball on the 10, the 22, the 4 and the 10. We’re not good enough to overcome critical mistakes like that. … Emotionally it takes the wind out of your sails when you turn the ball over. You throw it to them and give it to them inside the 10-yard line three times, you’re just not going to win. We’re not good enough to overcome those things.”

» On why the Gators have struggled to come from behind in games: “Right now we’re not strong enough mentally to handle that. A year ago, maybe earlier in the year, we were. Right now we’re not. It’s a woe-is-me mentality right now, and we got to overcome that. Our leadership needs to step forward. … We’re going to move forward with the guys that are willing to accept challenges and opportunities that sometimes are difficult, sometimes are tough.”

» On his opinion of fans booing and his altercation with a fan last weekend: “That doesn’t bother me. You know what, I made a mistake last week, I made a real mistake with a very passionate, passionate Florida fan [who] was telling me his opinion of me. You know what? That’s fine. That’s fine. They pay their ticket, they can boo all they want. That’s good. Doesn’t help our program. That’s fine.”

» On whether he is worried about his job and/or plans to make changes to his staff heading into 2014: “You evaluate everything at the end of the season, and that’s what I certainly will do. I’ve done that in my first two years and will do it again this year. I’m not worried about that.”

AH-MAZING TOUCHDOWN

The lone bright spot for the Gators on Saturday was a terrific touchdown grab by freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood. Though Murphy’s pass was initially deflected by the defensive back, it ricocheted off his foot and into there air where Fulwood grabbed it with his feet in the end zone. Check it out below, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

“I was happy for Ahmad. He’s worked hard. He’s really developed himself, practiced well and [we’re giving] those opportunities to a guy that’s’ going to continue to be a really good player here,” Muschamp said.

Continue Reading » 11/9: Florida vs. Vanderbilt post-game report; Muschamp takes responsibility for Gators’ failures

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FOUR BITS: New uniforms?, Floyd, Doering, PGA

1 » Three-star Florida Gators offensive lineman commit Roderick Johnson (Delray Beach, FL) updated the avatar on his Twitter account recently with the picture below (left), which appears to who a modified version of the football uniform with thicker numbers in a different font. As can be seen by the comparison picture next to it (right), the different font is significantly thicker and the design appears adjusted so that there is a thinner outline in both blue and orange around the numbers. To each their own as far as design tastes go, but this number change looks to go along with Florida’s total transition to a new font for the entire sports program. Uniform changes across college football are mostly headed in a modern and streamlined direction; UF looks to be going for the opposite if this big block style has indeed been adopted for the uniforms, too.

UPDATE – Jan. 29: OGGOA has confirmed with a source close to the program and an incoming player that these are indeed the new uniforms for 2013 and are being shown to recruits and players as what they will be wearing next season. The jersey, which appear to feature a sweatbox under the numbers similar to what is used on NFL jerseys, is also made of a lighter more breathable material that Nike uses in its shoes. There are no changes being made to the pants or helmet at this time.

2 » Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is quickly rocketing up the ranks as more and more scouts get a chance to watch his film. Floyd, who was originally thought to be a low first-round pick when he declared early, now has an opportunity to go in the top 15 of the 2013 NFL Draft in April. Former general manager Scott Pioli told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King recently that Floyd is one of the juniors available at this time. King then went on to list him as the third-best overall because of his “position and scheme flexibility,” competitiveness, toughness and ability to be “consistently disruptive in the pass rush” as well as “the type of player who makes those around him better by making the offense concentrate so much on stopping him.”

3 » The Gainesville Sun on Monday published a feature by Robbie Andreu about future Florida preferred walk-on wide receiver Case Harrison and how former Gators walk-on WR Chris Doering, a family friend, is serving as a mentor as he gets prepared to join the team. “Obviously there are a lot of similarities between the two of us,” Doering said. “[Walking on] is a difficult process. There are not a whole lot of walk-ons that are given an opportunity. I think I can certainly tell him some of the valuable things I learned along the way at Florida to be a successful walk-on. I can give him some insight that would allow him to compete immediately. I can help him with advice off the field and tips on the field.” Like Doering was when he joined the Gators, Harrison is a life-long fan and local product. “When you’re talking about guys like me and Case, you’re talking about guys that are already fully invested in Florida football before they even get there.”

4 » Saturday at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open was University Day with golfers dressing up in school colors before teeing off. Though play was mostly suspended due to rain and fog, former Florida golfers Billy Horschel (who began the day in second place just a few shots behind Tiger Woods) and Camilo Villegas donned orange and blue. Villegas also competed in the University Challenge – which consisted of four players hitting “shots from the North No. 4 tee box at a square grid 40 yards away that included 20 glass panes,” according to The San Diego Union-Tribune – and wound up winning $10,000 for the school as a Gators pane was the only one left remaining at the end of the competition. Horschel posted a third-round 76 on Sunday which dropped him far down the leaderboard as Woods’s advantage grew over the course of the day.

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FOUR BITS: Lochte, Bell, Parker, football on TV

1 » The 2012 London Olympics are just two weeks away and more than two dozen current and former Florida Gators student-athletes and coaches will be participating in the games. Swimmer Ryan Lochte, who will have multiple opportunities to bring home gold medals for the United States, recently participated in an ESPN The Magazine story about the “real games” that take place in the Olympic Village. Lochte estimates that 70-75 percent of Olympians have sex with fellow Olympians in the Village: “Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.” He also said he hopes to take advantage of the opportunities presented by living in the Olympic Village this time around (he had a steady girlfriend in 2008 and was faithful to her while in Beijing, China). “Now I’m single, so London should be really good. I’m excited,” he said.

2 » Three-star defensive back Tre Bell, who committed to play for Florida in April, put on a show at a camp held by Nike in Oregon last week. As you can see below in the video from FOXSports.com, he was all over the field making plays and even threw in a few Gator Chomps for good measure. Bell is not listed on either the Rivals250 or ESPN 300 as of press time but that may change soon if he continues to play at a high level.

3 » A five-star forward and the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation for 2013, Jabari Parker (Chicago, IL) recently released his top 10 on Twitter and included Florida in that list though he did mention that it was in no particular order. Also in his top 10 are Brigham Young, DePaul, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina and Stanford. Landing Parker will be difficult for the Gators and head coach Billy Donovan though it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Florida’s primary target continues to be five-star power forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL), the No. 6 player in the 2013 class, who the Gators hope to team up with five-star point guard commit Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL).

4 » Florida announced Friday that “an exclusive off-season special” on Gators football (featuring an interview with head coach Will Muschamp and “exclusive all-access footage from spring practice) will air Sunday, July 15 at 9:30 a.m. on Sun Sports. Also on television Sunday (at 3 p.m. – check your local listings) will be an episode of Havoline Football Saturdays in the South featuring former Florida wide receiver Chris Doering. Replays for the Gators football offseason special are as follows: July 16 at 4 p.m., July 18 at 10:30 a.m., July 19 at 6 p.m., July 25 at 5 p.m., July 29 at noon, Aug. 2 at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 16 at 11 a.m., Aug. 26 at 9:30 a.m. (all on Sun Sports).

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Shane Matthews: “A tough situation for Johnny”

When college football fans think about Florida Gators football in the 1990s, three names in particular come to mind: head coach Steve Spurrier and quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel. A three-time first-team All-SEC selection (1990-92) who finished fifth in the 1991 Heisman Trophy voting as a junior, Matthews set Florida’s career passing yards record, led the SEC in passing for three consecutive years and led the Gators to their first official SEC Championship.

Finishing his college career 9,287 yards and 74 touchdowns, Matthews moved on to the NFL where he played for 14 seasons as mostly a back-up with Chicago, Carolina, Washington, Cincinnati, Buffalo and finally Miami.

Enshrined in the University of Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2002, he spoke to us on Tuesday as a precursor to his involvement in the 90’s Gators Celebration benefiting Desire Street Ministries during this all-important weekend in Gainesville, FL (more information below).

Matthews gave us almost 30 minutes of his time; unfortunately, OGGOA experienced some technical difficulties during the interview. Even though 50 percent of the conversation was missed, we were able to recover a portion of it for publication, which you can read below along with some summary answers to our other questions.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You spent 14 years in the NFL, first seeing extensive playing time during your sixth season in 1999 (167-of-275 for 1,645 yards and 10 touchdowns). What did it feel when you were actually given the opportunity to show your stuff?
SHANE MATTHEWS: “The reason I lasted as long as I did in the NFL was because of my mind. I could learn plays in a second, an entire playbook in a day and never have to look at it again. I was only 6’3” 190 lbs. at the most. Didn’t have the arm strength or the size to take a pounding, but when I did get my chance, I had some good games and some good moments, but I also had some bad ones. That just comes with the position. You’re going to play well at times, you’re going to play poorly at times. I enjoyed my 14 years in the NFL. In 14 years, I think I only played in 35 games, so I knew my role on teams – didn’t rock the boat – tried help the other quarterbacks and the coaching staff knew they could count on me.”

AS: With Saturday’s game featuring two of Florida’s greatest coaches, how do you compare and contrast Spurrier and current head coach Urban Meyer?
SM: “Urban and coach Spurrier are a lot alike – extremely strong competitors. However, they run their programs differently. Urban’s a great motivator, kind of runs a tight ship and keeps everybody in line, where coach Spurrier is kind of that laid back southern personality. His practices are more laid back and relaxed by comparison. The biggest thing is, coach Spurrier is an offensive-minded head coach where Urban is a defensive-minded head coach. Both of them have done a tremendous job for the University of Florida.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Shane Matthews…after the break!
Continue Reading » Shane Matthews: “A tough situation for Johnny”

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SIX BITS: Harvin, Haden, Miller, Wilbur, Kentucky

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was added to the Minnesota Vikings injury report on Thursday with what is being called a hamstring injury. Minnesota did not decide to release how severe the injury is but the Vikings certainly need Harvin on the field Sunday night for their divisional rivalry game against the Green Bay Packers. Harvin has been a big scoring threat for Minnesota recently, returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown last week and hauling in two receiving touchdowns the previous week.

2 » Grabbing his first career interception last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants more playing time, and he just might get it, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “I thought he had his best week of practice since he’s been with us,” head coach Eric Mangini said of how Haden prepared last week. “I think that he’s starting to understand what it means to be a pro. He’s starting to understand what it takes to prepare each week, and there’s no doubt in my mind that that week of preparation, the way that he was last week, led to his best performance since he’s been here. If he keeps developing, he’ll keep pushing for playing time. That’s what you want. That’s what I want. That’s what he wants, and I don’t mean I’m looking to replace anybody. I’m looking for him to get better to push those guys to replace them because that competition makes everybody better.”

3 » Miami Heat forward Mike Miller, who is currently participating in his first preseason with the team after being signed over the summer, injured and possibly broke the thumb on his shooting hand Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. Teammate and fellow former Florida player power forward Udonis Haslem told the Associated Press that doctors believe the injury is “not season ending.”

4 » Former Gators punter Eric Wilbur has been shining this season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, and his ability to kick “high and deep angled” punts has provided his team with “a stunning field-position advantage,” according to the Hamilton Spectator. “We’re asking him to place the ball in a certain spot, so there were a couple which could have been better but overall it was excellent,” said special teams coach Dave Easley. “He gets tremendous height on the ball because he’s got a very, very strong leg.” Wilbur may be asked to kickoff as well next year for Hamilton though his eyes are still set on a bigger stage. “My ultimate goal is to be in the NFL,” Wilbur told the paper. “But I love it up here. I love the atmosphere, I love the games. If I have to stay up here, I’ll be happy.”

5 » Upsetting South Carolina last week at home, Kentucky’s fans were rightfully excited. After the final whistle blew, plenty of blue-and-white faithful stormed the field to celebrate – something that is seen all over the country after a home team upsets a top-ranked opponent. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Southeastern Conference, such celebrations are not allowed under league rules. That is why, on Thursday, Kentucky was fined $25,000 for a sportsmanship policy violation by the SEC. The policy that was violated states that “access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area.”

6 » Join former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel and Desire Street Ministries for a 90’s Gators Reunion Celebration from Nov. 12-13 in Gainesville, FL. Wuerffel and other Gator greats like WR Chris Doering, QB Doug Johnson, QB Shane Matthews, WR Travis McGriff, offensive tackle Jason Odom, safety Lawrence Wright and others will be in attendance to celebrate a great decade of Florida football while raising money for DSM. For more information on the event and how you can participate, please click here to read the invitation.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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