FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

1 » Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam, who just completed his rookie season, returned to Gainesville, FL recently in order to take classes in hopes of completing his degree program. While in town, the former Florida Gators star has also decided to take a job at FinishLine. According to his team’s website, Elam wanted to experience working in retail because he would like to open a sports merchandise store of his own someday. Elam has been working 20 hours per week at Oaks Mall since January. “I didn’t realize there was so much organization, so much planning. I didn’t realize there was so much to it,” he told BaltimoreRavens.com. “I just thought you’d say you want a shoe, so then you’d go back and grab a shoe. There’s way more to it. You have number coding. You have color coding, all of that. I just realized that there’s more to it than I thought.” Elam also said he has been recognized quite often but has no problem with the attention.

2 » Contrary to a weekend report that stated the Philadelphia Eagles had prioritized signing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin over Riley Cooper, ProFootballTalk.com reports that Cooper is by far the preferred potential signee. “We’d previously heard that the market for Cooper is expected to be active,” wrote Mike Florio. “Which means that, if the Eagles plan to keep him, they need to match or beat whatever Cooper could get as a free agent.” Cooper only earned $2.11 million during his four-year rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He had his best season – by far – in 2013, hauling in 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns. In his previous three seasons, Cooper had just 46 receptions for 680 yards and four scores.

Late Wednesday, The Philadelphia News reported that the Eagles and Cooper are nearing agreement on a multi-year deal that could be announced by the end of the week.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Elam, Cooper, Wilbekin, Andrews

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4 BITS: Andrews, Schintzius, Brewer, Calathes

1 » Name a major sporting event, chances are ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews has covered it. Talk about one of the most popular reality shows (Dancing with the Stars), her name pops up as a contestant who almost won it. Just over a month after college football has ended and with college basketball in full swing, Andrews will be taking on a new task: reporting live from the red carpet and interviewing some of the winners at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. She has been in Hollywood, CA all week taping segments for Good Morning America but is still a bit edgy for the event. “I’m really, really nervous for Sunday,” she told Newsday. “I was talking to a couple of my buddies who are in the NFL and I was like, ‘I’m really nervous.’ They were, like, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘I know you guys. I can talk to you guys. These people, they don’t know me. I’m really out of my comfort zone.’ It’s kind of cool to feel that way.”

2 » Surviving a serious leukemia scare last year, former Gators Dwayne Schintzius has been cleared as healthy and made a very public appearance at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Thursday to cheer on his Florida basketball team as they faced and defeated the Georgia Bulldogs. Wearing an “I’m Awesome” shirt, one worn by WWE wrestler The Miz, Schintzius stepped into the O’Dome for the first time in 21 years and was introduced by the public address announcer to an ovation. “I did come back for a football game, when they brought us back once, but never for a basketball game since the time I played,’’ he told GatorZone’s Scott Carter on Thursday. “Wasn’t sure if I felt right about it or [if] people would want me back. I do like coming back and I want to come back again.’’ Schintzius’s hesitation to return was due to some off-the-court issues he had as a player (including allegedly hitting a student with a tennis racket and quitting on the team well before the season was over) but all of that is in the past now. “I’m very proud to be a Gator,’’ he said. “I feel like I helped start something. I don’t want to call it ‘The House That Dwayne Built,’ because that’s not true. I helped to build it. Makes me feel good where the program has come.’’

“It was important to me for Dwayne to come back here,” head basketball coach Billy Donovan told the Tampa Tribune. “Every time I’m down in Tampa or St. Petersburg for a Gator function, Dwayne is there. He’s very supportive. He still feels part of it. Yet he never came back. I think he felt he wasn’t welcome here, but that wasn’t true. He is an important part of this program’s history. He needs to feel welcome here, regardless of what happened in the past.”

Read two more BITS on Corey Brewer and Nick Calathes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Andrews, Schintzius, Brewer, Calathes

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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: Andrews, Smith, SEC title, awards

1 » Two former Florida GatorsESPN reporter Erin Andrews and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith – partied together last night as the ABC television show Dancing with the Stars celebrated its 200th episode. Andrews snapped this picture of the duo doing the Gator Chomp during the event. Enjoy.

2 » Florida Gators women’s cross country captured the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championship on Monday in Columbia, SC, while competing at the title meet. Florida (60 points) bested the second-place finisher Arkansas Razorbacks (61 points) by a single point to take the crown. It is the fifth time the Gators women have won the conference title and second time in program history that they did so in back-to-back years (1996-1997). The Florida men’s team (69 points) failed in their effort, coming in third behind winner Arkansas (34 points) and the Alabama Crimson Tide (62 points). Monday’s win marks the second 2010 SEC title captured by UF so far this season with the soccer team coming through with a big win over the weekend.

3 » With the game-winning goal in the above mentioned 2010 SEC title game over the weekend, No. 8 Gators soccer senior defender Nicky Kit took home two additional honors on Monday – SEC Defensive Player of the Week and (one of) CollegeSoccer360.com’s Primetime Players of the Week. Kit earned the recognition for her 20-yard free kick goal to end the first half that ended up being a game-winner.

4 » Adding two more wins to their 20-1 record (13-0 SEC), No. 1/1 Florida volleyball also earned some recognition for two of its players on Monday. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week (fourth time this season) and junior middle-back Cassandra Anderson earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

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Gators dazzler, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews: “I really don’t think I’m that big of a deal.”

The last year has been one of ups-and-downs for former Florida Gators dazzler and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. From having to deal with an unfathomable episode regarding her privacy to performing on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and just recently signing a new two-year deal to remain a featured member of the ESPN broadcast team, Andrews has appeared strong, resilient and unrelenting. On the brink of the greatest undertaking of her career – hosting the first hour of College GameDay live on ESPNU and joining the cast of Good Morning America – she took time out of her schedule to speak exclusively with OGGOA about her career as a Gators dazzler, recent trials and tribulations, perspective on her own fame and love for the University of Florida.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in Tampa, was the University of Florida always at the top of your list for college? How did you wind up there?
ERIN ANDREWS: “Growing up in Tampa, there are three schools: Florida State, Miami and Florida. Obviously because Florida was closest to Tampa, Tampa is really like Gator haven. I made the comment one day to my dad, which he’ll never let me live down…because I was such a sports fan growing up, I said to him, ‘Dad, I really want to go to a college that has a good football team.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, that’s a great thing to live by Erin. I’m glad that’s what you’re choosing your education by.’ At the time it sounded really stupid, but actually it was kind of funny that it worked out that way because by going to Florida, I knew they had a great journalism program, but also because Florida has such a good football team, we were exposed to TBS, we were exposed to ESPN, we were exposed to all the national sports media coming to the campus to see the team, to see [head coach Steve] Spurrier. That was really good for me to kind of be around that at the time. Actually, that wasn’t a stupid comment.

AS: How much of an influence did your father’s [six-time Emmy Award-winner Steve Andrews] profession have on your major and eventual career?
EA: “My dad played a huge part in it. I grew up with my father being on TV. It just wasn’t a big deal to me. We’d turn on the TV at 6:00 and there was my dad. I grew up at the TV station; I played around on the TV set. So that just wasn’t a big deal – being in front of the camera – because I was so used to [watching] my dad. He was a giant sports fan, so that’s where I got my passion for sports and watching it and becoming familiar with the broadcasters and announcers that I liked – and the athletes. That’s where it all just kind of snowballed. I decided that I wanted to be a broadcaster. I loved the stories with coaches and athletes. I told my dad when I was young, ‘I want to do this for a living.’ He also laughed at me and said, ‘You know, everybody wants to do this for a living.’ I went to Florida, we checked out the journalism school. I really liked it. I just enrolled and it began – the whole process. The first couple years at Florida you don’t really get a taste of your major until probably your junior and senior year – that’s when I was very serious about it.

AS: You obviously spent a good amount of time at Weimer Hall but some of your most exciting times were likely at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. While at Florida, you were famously a member of the Dazzlers for four years. Was that something you had planned on doing from the beginning?
EA: “I grew up dancing my whole life with my little sister [Kendra Andrews]. That was just something I knew that Florida had – a dance team. I loved mine growing up and the experience that I had. I actually auditioned my senior year of high school and didn’t make the team and then went back out my sophomore year and I was on the team my sophomore, junior and senior season[s].”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gators dazzler, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews: “I really don’t think I’m that big of a deal.”

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Erin Andrews suing hotel chains for $1.2 million

Victimized by an interstate stalker who plead guilty to secretly filming her in the nude on numerous occasions in hotel rooms across the country last year, former Florida Gators dazzler turned ESPN reporter Erin Andrews filed suit Thursday against the man and seven hotel chains which she believes aided him in carrying out his illegal actions.

In March, Michael David Barrett, 48, was sentenced to a 27-month prison term and three years of supervised probation after he admitted to following Andrews from hotel-to-hotel over at least a period of nine months. Attempting to locate her, Barrett contacted at least 14 hotels to determine where and in what room she was staying; he was often provided with this information, which Andrews contends is an invasion of privacy.

Federal agents determined that, after finding out her whereabouts, Barrett would check into a room next to Andrews, alter the peephole device of her room and secretly shoot video of her before e-mailing it to a personal account.

Now that Barrett’s punishment has been decided, Andrews is demanding the hotels take responsibility for providing her room number and other personal information to a stranger without prior approval.

According to the Associated Press, her $1.2 million suit against the hotels claims “severe and permanent emotional distress” resulting from their inappropriate actions.

“Although I’ll never be able to fully erase the impact that this invasion of privacy has had upon me and my family, I do hope that my experience will cause the hospitality industry to be more vigilant in protecting its guests from the time they reserve a hotel room until they check out,” Andrews said in a written statement.

Though these memories still remain, she has moved on in recent months by starring in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars reality competition and signing a new contract with ESPN to remain with the network in an expanded role going forward.

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FOUR BITS: Rosario, Andrews, softball, NFL

1 » ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario, who was hoping to enroll at the University of Florida for its Summer A session, will instead join the Florida Gators for Summer B as he is stuck in New Jersey finishing classes. “Rosario might end up being one of the most important transfers Donovan has had in his career,” Katz wrote. “[He] will push Kenny Boynton in practice every day.”

2 » Former Gators dazzler and ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews finished third in her quest to win ABC‘s Dancing with the Stars competition. Andrews got further than many expected on the program and is rumored to have begun a relationship with her dance partner on the show. She is currently in the process of finalizing a new contract (including a significant raise) with the Worldwide Leader in Sports and hopes to expand her horizons beyond college sports and baseball.

3 » Two Florida softball players – juniors pitcher Stephanie Brombacher and outfielder Kelsey Bruder – have been named 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans by the College of Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Named to the third- and second-teams, respectively, each earned at least a 3.30 GPA.

4 » Former Gators inside linebackers Channing Crowder and Andra Davis were both in the news Wednesday. A report from the Sun-Sentinel states that Crowder may begin the season on the Miami Dolphins’ physically unable to perform list if his foot does not heal properly, while another from the Buffalo News infers that Davis is set to start for the Buffalo Bills alongside Paul Posluszny.

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FOUR BITS: Draft cards, Madden 11, Gator Chomp

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was drafted No. 25 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. Before that became official, league commissioner Roger Goodell had to announce it to the crowd at Radio City Music Hall. After that took place, some lucky kid snatched up the below card. Nice keepsake. Good luck getting your hands on it. Be armed with $1 million.

2 » Dressed in an sea foam green shirt and white Broncos hat, Tebow’s first rookie card looks more like something out of a family photo album than a card kids will have a desire to collect. But considering his No. 15 Denver jersey is already the top seller among rookies, it is no surprise that Prestige Football wants to capitalize on his brand ASAP.

3 » Though OGGOA has already shown you both pieces of cover art featuring Tebow on EA SportsNCAA Football 11 video game, now you can take a look at his likeness in the company’s Madden NFL 11 game, set to be released just a few weeks later.

4 » Former Florida dazzler and ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews continues her quest to reach the finals of the ABC reality television show Dancing With the Stars. Like she did earlier in the season, Andrews’ celebrated on the show Monday with a nice big Gator Chomp to show her UF pride and thank her fans. Enjoy.

Photo Credits: Panini America, IGN

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