FOUR BITS: Noah, basketball, Eckstein, Robinson

1 » Despite being sidelined for a large portion of the preseason with a groin injury, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah told reporters Sunday that he is “100 percent” sure he will be active for his team’s season opener on Tuesday. Noah has not played more than 66 games in an NBA regular season since 2008-09, but he posted career-highs of 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 blocks last year.

2 » Florida Gators basketball held a “secret” scrimmage on Saturday against Georgia Tech in Valdosta, GA. Though no official score was kept and no one in attendance is allowed to discuss either the outcome or news from the scrimmage, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (citing a source) reported that both Gators point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill – stood out as the most impressive players on the court. Additionally, as expected, senior forward Will Yeguete (knee) was sidelined while junior guard Eli Carter (leg) saw limited action.

3 » Former Florida shortstop David Eckstein received a shout-out on a recent episode of NBC’s Parks & Recreation, which just so happens to be OnlyGators.com’s favorite active sitcom (though it is unfathomably on hiatus at this time). The law firm plaque utilized in the last episode to air includes a number of sabermetric measurements along with Eckstein’s name. (Image courtesy of Deadspin.com)


And how did Eckstein respond? By making a fake commercial for said law firm, of course.

4 » 2014 five-star forward Devin Robinson (Christchurch, VA) will make his verbal commitment official on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., and Florida has been after him hard as of late. Not only did Robinson pay a visit to Gainesville, FL, on Oct. 11, head coach Billy Donovan went in-home with the 20th ranked player in the nation just five days later and has definitely made an impression on the young man. Indiana is believed to be UF’s main competitor for Robinson, and head coach Tom Crean (who had assistants visit Robinson previously) smartly delayed his in-home visit with the prospect until night before he makes his decision. Robinson took his official visit to IU on Oct. 4.

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FOUR BITS: transfer, Sugar Bowl, graduation

1 » Florida Gators freshman defensive back Willie Bailey, a three-star recruit out of Hallandale, FL who did not see the field in his first season with the team, has decided to transfer and pursue his college football career elsewhere. According to Bryan Holt of InsidetheGators.com, who spoke with Bailey’s high school coach ($) and confirmed that the decision has been made, the transfer was a long time coming though he left still very fond of Florida. The Gators are expected to see plenty of attrition this offseason with some players transferring, others graduating with eligibility remaining and even other potentially leaving early for the NFL. The school has not yet confirmed Bailey’s transfer, and the player has not determined his future destination.

2 » It is still very early in the 2012-13 season, but Florida basketball has been turning heads with its play through seven games this campaign. The Gators are now ranked second nationally in scoring defense and third in scoring margin, meaning the team is still putting up plenty of points while holding opponents to low averages. Perhaps most impressive is that Florida has accomplished all of this without a full complement of players. Read more about what the Gators have done so far and what can be made of the team’s early non-conference success in my newest commentary for ITG.

3 » Florida is having a tough time selling tickets to the 2013 Sugar Bowl, and a recent report from the Orlando Sentinel makes the situation seem dire. According to the Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson, who spoke with UF senior associate athletic director of communications Steve McClain, the Gators have sold just 6,500 tickets to the game despite being contracted to purchase a total of 17,500. Florida’s opponent in the game, the Louisville Cardinals, has already sold more than 14,000 tickets out of its 17,500 allotment. This is the second time in as many Sugar Bowl appearances that the Gators have struggled selling tickets. Florida only sold approximately 12,000 tickets to the 2010 contest, which was also quarterback Tim Tebow’s last game in a Gators uniform. The Southeastern Conference can buy up to 3,000 tickets out of Florida’s allotment, which means the school is still on the hook for approximately 8,000 tickets. More tickets will certainly be sold in the next two weeks, but UF will not come close to selling out of its allotment as fans prefer to save significant money and watch at home or purchase tickets closer to the game at cheaper prices due to the overwhelming inventory available. If more than 7,000 tickets go unsold after the SEC helps out, those tickets will cost the university approximately $1 million.

4 » A total of 25 former and current Gators student-athletes are set to receive their degrees during fall commencement on Dec. 15. Below are some standout names on the list, which can be viewed in full by clicking here.

David Eckstein^ – Baseball – Political Science
Daniel Pigott – Baseball – Building Construction
Jon Bostic – Football – Health Education and Behavior
Frankie Hammond, Jr. – Football, Track & Field – Telecommunication
Omarius Hines – Football – Anthropology
Omar Hunter – Football – Anthropology
Lerentee McCray – Football – Anthropology
Matt Patchan* – Football – Anthropology
Sam Robey – Football – Criminology
Caleb Sturgis – Football – Sport Management
McKenzie Barney – Soccer – Telecommunication
Erika Tymrak – Soccer – Criminology
Kathryn Williamson – Soccer – Psychology
Teresa Crippen – Swimming – Sport Management
Genevieve LaCaze – Track & Field – Applied Physiology and Kinesiology
Tangerine Wiggs – Volleyball – English

^ Eckstein (1994-97) is 37 years old.
* Patchan has a year of eligibility remaining.

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey’s stock, Crowder, Eckstein

1 » Former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey, expected to be the only member of his team picked in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, told the Sporting News on Monday that he will attend the event if invited regardless of what the NFLPA asks rookies to do. “I haven’t been invited yet, but I’m hoping to get invited,” Pouncey said. “I’ll bring my brother up there and a couple of my family members. I’m going if I’m invited. I just feel like it’s a dream I’ve wanted my whole life. We’ve busted our tails to be in the draft, and it’s a dream come true.” He understands this might ruffle the feathers of some veterans but explained that the day is about the rookies. “I’m not too worried about [any backlash],” he said. “I respect their feelings because they’re great players. But as far as them keeping us from going to the draft, I’m totally against it.”

2 » Speaking of Pouncey, former NFL head coach Brian Billick – who also spoke highly of safety Ahmad Black – praised his versatility on his daily blog published for WNST AM1570 in Baltimore, MD. Below is a portion of what he wrote:

When you watch Pouncey play, you see a good athlete that plays light on his feet, but can anchor down and get physical when needed. That athleticism is on display when you watch him pull on counter and trap plays. He runs a tight line through the hole and gets to the second level quickly to clear a path for the running back. His initial punch is powerful and he keeps good leverage to hold up the defender at the line of scrimmage. […] Late in the game as fatigue sets in, Mike tends to stand up straighter and bend at the waist rather than the knees. He will need to fight off the urge to be a consistent performer in the NFL. Because of his versatility and body of work, Mike Pouncey will be the first interior lineman to be selected.

3 » There has never been any attempt by OGGOA to hide our admiration for Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder. Proving our fascination with his ability to make any interview interesting once again, Crowder spouted off on ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. on 560 WQAM in South Florida on Monday, nothing that the high-haired analyst cost him a bunch of money coming out of the University of Florida by over-projecting him. “Mel Kiper and all, he messed me over,” Crowder said. “He lied to me, said I was a top-20 [pick] had me go out and spend X amount of dollars and then owe the bank stuff. They’re just guessing like we guess.” Obviously Kiper didn’t force Crowder to spend a penny; he was being facetious in the statement.

4 » A family man first and baseball player second, former Florida second baseman David Eckstein has decided to put his playing career either on hold or on the shelf permanently in order to donate a kidney to an ailing family member. The Ecksteins, who Yahoo! Sports’ ThePostGame reports have had “five kidney transplants with six more anticipated” as a family, did not ask David to give up his over the years because of a MLB career that earned him millions. He took it upon himself to save a family member’s life this time around. “Everything my family went through gave me a life lesson at an early age that a game is just a game, it’s not life-or-death,” he said. “But along with that, it taught me to never take a day for granted. I’m looking forward to the transplant. I consider it a privilege. I knew at some point it would be my turn.” Also donating a kidney for his family is former Gators player Rick Eckstein, David’s brother. Read the rest of writer Steve Henson’s amazing story on the Ecksteins here.

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Tebow, Nike, Eckstein

1 » Facing his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie center Maurkice Pouncey continued his next-level play as a youngster stuck right in the middle of a veteran team. He was excited to play so close to home and showed it with how he played all game. “It felt amazing,” Pouncey told The Lakeland Ledger of playing Tampa Bay. “I’m 20 minutes from Tampa, and pretty much all of Lakeland came up here to support me.” Also having Pouncey’s back is veteran wide receiver Hines Ward, who thinks the former Florida Gators star will truly be something special. “He’s had a lot of help from all of the veterans. Right now, he’s learning on the run,” Ward said. “When Maurkice gets three or four years into the league and finally figures this whole thing out, look for a lot of Pro Bowls. […] When the game slows down and he starts seeing the defense and making the calls, he’s going to have Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl.” As far as how the two get along? “I love everything about the kid – the tenacity, he doesn’t quit. Unfortunately, I hate him because he’s a Gator,” said Ward, a Georgia Bulldog, “but I love everything about him.”

Also… Asked by the paper about his brother, senior center Mike Pouncey‘s, snap problems earlier in the season, Maurkice had the following to say: “When I first moved over, I had the same thing. I had the horrible snaps, snaps everywhere. He is such a high profile player, everyone’s going to notice it. Even the commentator said it last night that he’s still one of the best linemen in college football. The snaps will get better. They’ve been getting better all along.” Has he given him any advice? “Nah, I’ve always thought my brother was a better player than me. Don’t tell him that, though.”

2 » For the first time in his short career, Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was the team’s No. 3 quarterback and technically listed as inactive for its game Sunday. he reason? Head coach Josh McDaniels‘ game plan did not call for Tebow. “[We] didn’t have anything [in the game plan] relative to Tim being in the game and playing a role in it, and we’ll try to do that the best we can each week,” McDaniels said.

3 » Tebow may not have seen the field Sunday, but he has been hitting television screens as one of two players prominently featured in Nike‘s newest commercial. Check out this trailer where he and Detroit defensive tackle Nndamukong Suh watch a Manny Pacquiao fight while getting fitted for suits.

4 » Check out this feature story on former Gators now San Diego Padres second baseman David Eckstein put together by the Los Angeles Times on Monday. Eckstein has become an instrumental part of the resurgent Padres in his two years with the club.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

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