2012 SEC Media Days – All-SEC, coaches speak

The 2012 Southeastern Conference Media Days concluded Thursday in Birmingham, AL. Though the Florida Gators contingent met the media Wednesday, below are some highlights from the final two days of the event, which featured Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Kentucky. Quotes courtesy of transcripts created by ASAP Sports.

FLORIDA GATORS ON ALL-SEC TEAMS (as voted by the media)

Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (first-team specialists), junior safety Matt Elam (second-team defense), senior tackle Xavier Nixon (third-team offense), junior defensive linemen Sharrif Foyd and Dominique Easley (third-team defense), senior linebacker Jon Bostic (third-team defense), redshirt junior kick returner Andre Debose (third-team specialists). [SEC coaches selected eight last week.]

Florida tied for fifth with the most selections (seven) though most of them were on the third team (five). The media picked the Gators to finish tied for seventh overall in the SEC and third in the SEC East (12 first-place votes).

GEORGIA HEAD COACH MARK RICHT

On having seven home games this season (one more than usual): “I love having seven home games. I’d like to have 12 home games if we could, certainly for our fan base and for our players. This season is one that I think the amount of home games is outstanding. The fact that we always play Florida in Jacksonville is going to give you a cycle of every other year not getting that one home game, but it’s certainly worth it to play in Jacksonville.”

On being picked by the media to win the SEC East (and that the media is usually wrong): “I hope the media’s right this time. But we haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t played a game. We haven’t won a game. We know our league is tremendous. We know the Eastern Division is going to be a rough road. All we’re trying to do is prepare the best we can to hopefully play the very best we can play and maximize the potential of this football team. Hopefully that will be good enough to get back to Atlanta and hopefully play a little bit better this time around.”

On the upcoming four-team playoff: “I think the four team playoff is going to be outstanding. I’m not sure who’s going to decide who the top four teams are, but hopefully we’ll get a chance to have one and maybe two teams play out of our league if the season’s just right. One of the reasons why I like it is it doesn’t destroy the bowl system the way it is. Some people may not like it the way it is, but I think the bowl system is outstanding. I think our regular season games are huge. I’m talking about the entire BCS. [...] I just hate to see a day where we might play Florida, and whether you win or lose, you still go to the playoffs, no one thinks it’s that big of a deal. It is a big deal every game we play. I don’t want college football to lose that.”

Check out thoughts from eight more coaches…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2012 SEC Media Days – All-SEC, coaches speak

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Leak, Tebow, Meyer

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, acting team leader with point guard Derrick Rose sidelined for the remainder of the season, looked very much like his young teammate during Game 2 on Tuesday when he performed a quick crossover and broke the ankles (figuratively) of Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young.

2 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak, the new starter for the AFL’s Orlando Predators, has also decided to continue his career as an analyst and sports commentator by accepting a new gig. Leak will join Chris Childers as a co-host for College Sports Coast-to-Coast on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation, the company announced via press release on Tuesday. The show airs weeknights from 7-10 p.m. and Leak will appear on the program multiple nights each week. “SiriusXM College Sports Nation offers college sports fans outstanding coverage of their favorite conferences, schools and players all year long and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Leak said in the release. “I still get amped up every spring, like I did when I was at UF, knowing a new college football season isn’t far off. I look forward to talking directly with the fans about the BCS, this year’s national title contenders and the teams and players that you’re going to want to keep an eye on from now through the upcoming season.”

3 » New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan told ESPNNewYork.com’s Rich Cimini on Tuesday while at a charity event that he is thrilled about having QB Tim Tebow on the team and thinks he brings a lot to the table. “It’s exciting to have a young guy that has experience in the playoffs and is learning the system,” he said. “I think he’s an excellent backup quarterback. I think he’s an outstanding football player. We’ll see what we can come up with.” Ryan expanded on his “football player” comments as well. “Everybody recognizes the competitiveness. The guy’s a winner, no question. People get tired of me saying it, but how do you not describe this guy as a football player? That’s what he is. He’s got size, he’s got strength, he’s got speed and he can throw the football.”

4 » With former Florida head coach Urban Meyer going to Ohio State, there should be no doubt that plenty of comparisons and parallels will be made throughout his tenure with his new employer. One thing that will not be the same is that Meyer plans to use a no-huddle offense at OSU, something that he sent former Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen to Missouri to learn but never implemented at Florida. “The minute you go no-huddle, you lose the intangibles and the immeasurable leadership of guys like Tebow and Mike Pouncey,” he told ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach. Meyer, during his year off from coaching, travelled across the country and picked up plenty from all the other head coaches he visited while working for ESPN. The no-huddle, up-tempo offense he is installing may be similar to another school that has recently gained prominence. “All you’ve got to do is look at Oregon,” he said. “We’re committed to it. We’re going to pop a huddle once in a while, but we’re committed to it.”

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Tebow takes over SportsCenter for another hour

ESPN spent the vast majority of the 11 a.m. edition of its flagship program SportsCenter taking a look at Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow from a number of different angles on Thursday. The network spoke about Tebow for approximately 50 minutes while covering the some other news of the day in between his segments.

The show began with a highlight package of clips from Denver’s victory over Pittsburgh in the wild card round of the 2011-12 NFL Playoffs, capped by Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to ice the game.

Read the rest of this TebowCenter post…after the break!
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The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

Urban Meyer is off to Ohio State to coach the Buckeyes, fulfilling a lifelong dream and continuing his storied career just 10 months after choosing to leave Florida because it was “time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.”

Gator Nation was rocked when the more-solid-than-ever rumors began a week ago and continued its uproar Monday when it was confirmed and later officially announced that Meyer would indeed be heading to Ohio State.

Plenty is being said in regards to whether or not Gators fans have a right to be upset at Meyer for taking a job just months after declaring that he needed to reevaluate his health and relationship with his family but there is not one correct answer as to how Florida fans should feel about Meyer’s decision and the way in which this situation unfolded.

Whether the perception is that Meyer was dishonest when communicating his intentions for leaving Florida, a culprit of circumstance with his dream job suddenly becoming available years sooner than expected, or a college football addict unable to satisfy his fix while sitting behind a desk working for a major network, each observation has its own legitimate merits to be considered for evaluation.

Let’s take a more complete look at the situation by examining each angle of the story.
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

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DE Carter (2/2): “I walked away on my terms.”

In part one of our interview with Carter (published on Friday), he discussed deciding to attend Florida, his immense success playing for the Gators, being a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft and winning a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You spent six years with St. Louis before being traded to the team that you beat in the Super Bowl, Tennessee, after three-straight seasons of at least 10 sacks. Was a change of scenery something you were looking forward to?
KEVIN CARTER: “I was looking forward to a change at that point. The year where we won the Super Bowl, we were at the Pro Bowl and I got a call from Coach [Dick] Vermeil and he was stepping down as the coach. There was a little bit of controversy over him leaving and the timing with Mike Martz taking over the head coach, and there was a little bit of pressure there. Looking back on it, I wish that it had been handled a little bit classier in a better way just for respect for Coach Vermeil. He walked in, in his opening press conference, and told us, ‘In three years, we’ll be world champs.’ And we were. Call it what you will, the man is wonderful and one of the best coaches I’ve ever had the honor and privilege of playing for. Things kind of changed at that point. The next year we lost in the first round of the playoffs and things were a little rocky with my status with the team. At the time I was going through contract negotiations, and I had played six years for the same team and kind of outplayed my contract. The team you’re on usually isn’t going to give you that kind of free agent money, love. I was thankful and glad to get out of there and get to Tennessee. Tennessee gave up a first-round pick to get me there. It was a match made in heaven. Coach [Jeff] Fisher was awesome. At that point I needed a change, wanted a change, and was grateful to go to Tennessee.”

AS: Let’s skip ahead a bit and talk about when you moved over to the Miami Dolphins for two years and got to play on a pretty dominant defense with guys like Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Vonnie Holliday, Junior Seau, Sam Madison, Keith Traylor and David Bowens. What was that experience like?
KC: “It was actually amazing. It was a great team; it was a great defense to be a part of. It was a lot of fun. We didn’t have, I guess, the balance and the tools offensively or the experience, but on defense… Our defense was, like you said, it was an all-star defense. It was so awesome. And we killed people. We had a great defense those couple of years that I was there. We didn’t have quite the balance [on offense]; Miami’s is forever trying to find another quarterback that can be half the man Dan Marino was…still an on-going search for a quarterback. It was a really cool experience. For me, I grew up in Tallahassee [and thought] the Dolphins had the sweetest uniforms. I was like, ‘Man, I can’t wait to wear all white.’ It was so cool. I had a great time just, as I look back in my football chronological history, being a part of the Miami Dolphins organization – such a historically great organization. Don Shula was and still is the man. I had an opportunity to meet him a couple times. It was cool paying down there. I wish timing had dictated differently the circumstances, especially getting our offense and from a head coaching standpoint. Nick Saban is probably one of the best college coaches to ever live. But in those two years, you know, he obviously decided to make the adjustment and go back to college and not make the adjustment to stay there in the NFL. Timing was bad.”

Read the rest of part two of our interview with Kevin Carter…after the break!
Continue Reading » DE Carter (2/2): “I walked away on my terms.”

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FOUR BITS: Zook on Muschamp; Black; Wambach

1 » As a defensive-minded coach with no former head coaching experience, new Florida Gators boss Will Muschamp has been compared to former Florida and current Illinois head coach Ron Zook on numerous occasions. Florida fans, obviously, hope the comparison ends there as Zook’s tenure with the Gators (while successful from a recruiting standpoint) was filled with underwhelming records (23-14 combined) and early eliminations from the title hunt each year.

Appearing on ESPN 1000′s GameNight out of Chicago, IL on Monday, Zook offered some advice for Muschamp on his new gig. “The thing is you got be yourself,” he said. “Don’t try to be anybody else. It’s one of those jobs all you can do is the best you can do. You can’t get tied up with all the other stuff. Believe me, there’s a lot of noise in the system down as there is at a lot of places. He’ll do fine. There’s a great state base there, and he’s a good football coach. There’s no doubt they’ll do fine.”

2 » With the NFL lockout nearing its conclusion, former Gators safety Ahmad Black is excited to finally play professional football for his favorite team growing up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Selected by Tampa Bay with the No. 151 overall pick in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, the 2011 Outback Bowl Most Valuable Player has his sights set on a starting job but hopes to contribute in any way he can.

“I want to try to get a starting spot, but if not, then a significant role on the team,” he told the Pewter Report. “I really just can’t wait to get in there and do my thing.” In the meantime, he has been staying in shape and making sure he is ready to go when the season starts. “I’ve been pretty much training four or five times a week,” Black said. “I’ve been doing a lot of outside stuff, going to the beach and trying to relax a little bit. I know that once we start it is going to be crazy.”

3 » Returning to her hometown of Rochester, NY with locals chanting her name, former Florida striker and U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach celebrated as the city honored her with “Abby Wambach Day.” As a member of the Women’s Professional Soccer league’s magicJack squad, Wambach was in town for her team’s game but did not play even though the league set an attendance record (15,404) due to the appearance of her and other members of Team USA (Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan). “I hope I didn’t disappoint too many people tonight, but my body really needed a rest,” she told the crowd at halftime. “Honestly, I’m humbled [by your support].” Read more about Wambach’s return to Rochester and the reception she received.

4 » For the second time this offseason, Muschamp will travel to Bristol, CT to participate in another Car Wash at ESPN. Consisting of appearing in nearly all of the network’s programming over the course of a given day, the Car Wash often includes spots on First Take, SportsCenter, College Football Live and a variety of ESPN Radio programs. Muschamp, along with five other Southeastern Conference coaches (including Steve Spurrier and Dan Mullen) will be at the Worldwide Leader on Monday, July 25. The rest of the league will participate in the Car Wash on Tuesday.

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Steve Addazio hired as Temple Owls head coach

A source inside the Florida Gators football program confirmed to OGGOA Wednesday afternoon that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has been hired by the Temple Owls to be the team’s next head coach.

Addazio, who interviewed for the position on Monday, struggled over the last two seasons as Florida’s offensive coordinator but is considered a terrific position coach, recruiter and motivator who always does his best to get maximum effort from his players.

He was named ESPNU’s recruiter of the year due to the major part he played in helping corral the Gators’ top-ranked 2010 recruiting class and served as interim head coach for Urban Meyer after he briefly stepped down and then during his recovery last year. Addazio replaced Meyer at numerous public speaking engagements and helped fill in the coaching staff with new hires after it was ravaged by departures when former defensive coordinator Charlie Strong accepted the Louisville head coaching position.

Addazio has coached in college since 1995. He served as offensive coordinator at Indiana from 2002-04 before being plucked away by Meyer to coach the offensive line and tight ends at Florida, a role he held for two years. Meyer promoted Addazio to assistant head coach from 2007-08 and then to offensive coordinator after Dan Mullen left to take the top job with Mississippi State before the 2009 season.

Much maligned by Gators fans for his tenure as the team’s playcaller, Addazio’s future with Florida appeared bleak with Meyer stepping down and new head coach Will Muschamp looking for an offensive coordinator with both college and NFL experience.

He is the ninth assistant coach under Meyer who has gone on to become a Division I head coach following in the footsteps of Gregg Brandon (Bowling Green), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Mike Sanford (UNLV), Tim Beckham (Toledo), Mullen, Doc Holliday (Marshall), Strong and Dan McCarney (North Texas).

Signing a five-year deal at Temple, he will replace head coach Al Golden, who recently left to accept the same job with the Miami Hurricanes.

A press conference will be held in Philadelphia, PA, on Thursday though Addazio is expected to coordinate the Gators’ offense in the 2011 Outback Bowl.

This story was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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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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