TWO BITS: Young to NBA? Brown off ESPN?

1 » When Florida Gators junior center Patric Young climbed the ladder and snipped his piece of Florida’s 2013 SEC Championship on Wednesday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, fans in attendance serenaded him with chants of, “One more year!” Asked after the game if he does indeed plan on remaining in Gainesville, FL for his senior season, Young said he is unsure at this point. “[The fans] are thinking about it, but I’m not thinking about it too much,” said Young, according to The Gainesville Sun. “You know I love being here. There’s no better program in America. I love playing for coach [Billy] Donovan. I’m going to do what’s best for me and my family and whatever makes me happy, honestly.” Young is currently projected to be a mid-to-late second-round selection by numerous NBA Draft analysts. His stock has actually dropped over the last two years as scouts have not seen him progress as much as they would prefer. Sticking with the Gators and putting the finishing touches on his game – improving his mid-range jump shot, becoming a more consistent rebounder, providing a sustained level of energy – could help him in the long run.

2 » According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitch, who received confirmation Wednesday from the network, ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown has decided to leave the company. “Jenn Brown is no longer working for ESPN,” spokesman Mike Humes told SI. “We wish her well.” Brown first began working for ESPN in 2006 and signed full-time with the company in 2010. She had her workload increase with the departure of Erin Andrews but appears to have been one-upped by Samantha Ponder, who took some of the higher profile network assignments that Brown may have been expecting to receive. Brown, a former Florida softball player, is the second member of the Gators family to leave the network in the last seven months after Andrews (a former UF dazzler) departed for FOX Sports in August. Former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer remains with the network as a college football analyst.

Extra BIT » FOX Sports Florida announced on Thursday that the Gators’ spring game, the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut previously set for April 6, will air live on Sun Sports at 1 p.m. Additionally, FSF will be airing the game live online at FOXSportsFlorida.com and replaying the contest on television the following Sunday and multiple times thereafter (check your local listings). Larry Vettel (play-by-play), Nat Moore (color commentary) and Brady Ackerman (sideline reporting) will be on the call.

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New FOX Sports host/reporter Erin Andrews: “Change is always hard…I had to do it for myself.”

Ending an eight-year run with ESPN in which she became one of the most popular figures in sports media, former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews left the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” on Friday and was announced as the newest FOX Sports employee in an official statement released by the network Sunday evening. On the brink of the greatest undertakings of her career – hosting a weekly college football studio show and roaming the sidelines of NFL games for FOX Sports – she took time out of her hectic schedule to go in-depth with OGGOA about her deal with FOX and the excitement she feels moving forward with a new employer.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: So, have you caught your breath yet?
ERIN ANDREWS: “No, and I’m still not sleeping very well to be honest. I’m just so – not anxious – but I think it’s just been really high-charged for the last month and really month-and-a-half. I’ve been seeking a lot of advice, making a lot of phone calls, doing a lot of soul searching. I’m just waiting for the crash. I’m waiting to be able to sleep through the night and for me to crash and relax. That really hasn’t happened yet.”

AS: I can understand that. I heard you on Dan Patrick [Tuesday] morning and he of course made a very good point that it is always easier to stay where you’re comfortable instead of trying something brand new. What would you say was the catalyst that made you decide to make this move and how difficult of a decision was it for you in the end?
EA: “The thing that was most attractive about FOX was the opportunity to be able to work events that I wouldn’t get to do with ESPN. It was important to still stay involved with college football because it’s my religion, it’s my life. I’m proud of where I went to school. I’m proud of the connections I’ve made. I’m proud of my relationships that I have in the sport. I’ve been getting text messages from Coach [Will] Muschamp to Coach [Les] Miles to Chip Kelly to Lane Kiffin. Everybody has really been wishing me well and congratulating me.

“It was important for me to keep [being involved in college football] because I feel like that’s really where I made my mark, but FOX has the NFL. They have the best games and they have the playoffs and they have the Super Bowl next year. They also have the baseball All-Star Game and the [League Championship Series] and the World Series. These are all events that, when I was in high school and I went to UF, I wanted to work these events. To be able to do all this and more – it all really messed up the whole picture with re-signing with ESPN and made me start thinking long and hard over the last month-and-a-half.

“Really over the last week was when I just got very emotional and started calling my friends and family and guys like Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen. I got advice from Coach K. I got advice from a lot of coaches and a lot of people just said, ‘I think it’s time for you to grow. I think it’s time for you to get better. You’ve done this. You’ve got the sideline reporting – now try something else.’ That is what was the most attractive about this opportunity.”

AS: Obviously you grew extremely close with Chris Fowler and the guys on College GameDay. How hard was it to break the news and let them know what you decided?
EA: “They were shocked. Actually Kirk [Herbstreit] told me he thought the deal was done. I think that a lot of people at ESPN were very shocked. I think that everybody expected I was coming back. Chris kind of had an idea what was going on. He’s here in New York and I’ve spent a lot of time with him and his wife, so he had a sense what was happening. I just called them the other day and I was hysterical. I was crying very hard. It was very important for me to let them know that I know there are a lot of people in their career that would love to work with guys like Chris and Kirk and Coach [Lee] Corso and our producers and David [Pollack] and Desmond [Howard].

“It was just very important for me to let them know that I felt very lucky and very spoiled. I was just so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with them. With College GameDay, I camped out at that show for four years at UF. To be able to be a part of that show – go to college campuses, take pictures with kids and really do what I was camping out for when I was at UF – it was a big deal for me. That show means the world to me. It makes me very emotional just to think about it.”

Read the rest of our in-depth interview with Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » New FOX Sports host/reporter Erin Andrews: “Change is always hard…I had to do it for myself.”

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Erin Andrews joins FOX Sports in major role

Ending an eight-year run with ESPN in which she became one of the most popular figures in sports media, former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews left the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” on Friday and was announced as the newest FOX Sports employee in an official statement released by the network Sunday evening.

College football on FOX just became must-watch TV this fall as the popular Erin Andrews, one of sports television’s brightest stars, rejoins the FOX Sports family. A versatile broadcaster whose talent bridges sports and entertainment, Andrews’ position includes hosting the new prime time college football pregame show, making significant contributions to the network’s NFL and MLB coverage, along with other marquee sports properties.

“Opportunities to add someone of Erin Andrews’s caliber don’t come along often and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to the FOX Sports family,” said executive producer, co-president and COO Eric Shanks. “Erin is one of the hardest-working, most-respected individuals in sports television and we expect her to have an immediate impact. In addition to having her anchor our new football show and studio coverage, we expect her to be a big contributor to our MLB and NFL coverage as well as other major events.”

Andrews said she is excited about her change of scenery and added responsibilities, which primarily includes a half-hour college football pregame studio show that will eminate from Los Angeles, CA each Saturday.

“To have the chance to not only host the primetime college football pregame show, but cover the NFL, MLB and various other incredible FOX Sports properties is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Andrews said in the network’s press release. “I couldn’t be more excited to get to work.”

She told Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch on Sunday that being able to be a part of NFL coverage “was a huge thing; it was always a dream. I always wanted to work in the NFL and they are offering me a role in it.” Andrews also said it was a “difficult move” but the “right” decision because it is “allowing me to do so many things that I probably would not have been able to do had I stayed at ESPN.”

News of her potential departure from ESPN broke on Friday; the network quickly announced that she was not returning after noting that a substantial offer was made to retain her services. ESPN did not offer to increase her on-air responsibilities despite the fact that she wanted a larger role with the network.

Andrews will change employers just two years after signing a new deal with ESPN that expanded her role with the network. She received her first hosting gig (the first hour of College GameDay on ESPNU) and did some work for ABC as a correspondent on Good Morning America as well as in other sports and entertainment capacities.

Andrews began her career in 2000 as a freelance reporter for FOX Sports Florida and joined the network full-time as a Tampa Bay Lighting reporter for Sunshine Network in 2001-02. She was then hired by Turner South to cover three of the four professional sports organizations in Atlanta, GA before being hired away by ESPN in May 2004.

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

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Erin Andrews leaves ESPN; joining FOX Sports

Updated July 1 at 5:00 p.m.

Former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews’s eight-year run with ESPN came to an end on Friday when the network announced that she left to pursue other interests.

“Erin Andrews leaving ESPN. She did great work for us and we made an aggressive offer to keep her. We wish her the best on her next chapter,” the network said in a statement.

Just minutes before ESPN’s announcement, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported that Andrews was being “aggressively” pursued by FOX Sports to take on “a major role in FOX’s college football coverage” and even went so far as to participate in a recent meeting with the network’s executives. FOX Sports is a prominent carrier of Pac-12 and Big 12 Conference games and has recently begun hiring major names (such as play-to-play man Gus Johnson) to broadcast these contests.

Deitsch learned Sunday that Andrews has agreed to a deal with FOX Sports and has been tabbed to host a half-hour primetime college football studio show beginning on Sept. 1. “Andrews will also have other assignments at FOX Sports, including a role in its NFL and MLB coverage,” he added. USA Today reports via a network spokesman that those responsibilities will be “significant.”

In addition to covering college football and basketball for ESPN, Andrews also has experience as a sideline reporter for MLB and college baseball on the national level.

She will join FOX Sports on Monday two years after signing a new deal with ESPN that expanded her role with the network. In addition to her duties as a sideline reporter, she was prominently featured on College GameDay, hosted the first hour of that program (broadcast on ESPNU) and did work for ABC as a correspondent on Good Morning America as well as in other sports and entertainment capacities.

Andrews began her career in 2000 as a freelance reporter for FOX Sports Florida and joined the network full-time as a Tampa Bay Lighting reporter for Sunshine Network in 2001-02. She was then hired by Turner South to cover three of the four professional sports organizations in Atlanta, GA before being hired away by ESPN in May 2004.

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

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FOUR BITS: lacrosse, softball, Andrews, Jenkins

1 » The biggest game in the two-year history of University of Florida lacrosse is set for Thursday evening as the No. 6 Florida Gators (12-1, 3-0 ALC) put their 12-game winning streak on the line against the No. 2 Northwestern Wildcats at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Led by sophomore attacker Kitty Cullen, who is tops in the nation in goals (61) and goals per game (4.69), Florida is undefeated (10-0) at home this season and will square off against Northwestern for the No. 1 seed in the 2011 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament. The Gators fell to the Wildcats 19-5 in 2010 but are playing much better in their second season, outscoring opponents 186-95 since losing their season-opening match to No. 3 North Carolina in overtime.

2 » In a game that was rumored to mark the return of senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher, No. 10 Florida softball didn’t end up needing their ace as they routed the Florida International Panthers 8-0 in a run-ruled six innings. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers (20-5) has gotten back into stride after two weeks of rough outings. She pitched a complete game and struck out nine batters while only allowing a pair of hits. Senior second baseman Aja Paculba (1-3, 3 RBI) put the game away with a big double in the fourth, but the Gators also received solid offensive contributions from senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-2, HR, RBI, R, BB), sophomore pinch hitter Samantha Holle (1-1, HR 2 RBI, R), freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, 2 R, BB) and sophomore designated player Kelsey Horton (1-2, RBI, R).

3 » ESPN announced a new set of endorsement guidelines on Wednesday and, based on the language of the memo, former Florida dazzler and network reporter Erin Andrews will be forced to end her deal promoting Reebok’s ZigTech line of shoes and apparel. According to the guidelines, “Any endorsement related to apparel, footwear or athletic equipment used for training, playing or participating in any sport or event ESPN may cover including the companies that manufacture and distribute any such material” are “subject to strict review and a strong presumption that they will not be approved.” The Oregonian reports that Andrews will be allowed to continue her endorsement of the brand through 2011 but forced to end it on Jan. 1.

4 » Gators senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins has been named to the 2011 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list, as announced by the organization on Wednesday. The Lott Trophy recognizes “student-athletes throughout the nation who have had the biggest impact on their teams both on and off the field.” Linebacker A.J. Jones represented Florida on 2010′s watch list.

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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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Erin Andrews on Urban Meyer’s impact at Florida

ESPN/ABC reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews was kind enough to speak with me Thursday afternoon to discuss head coach Urban Meyer’s decision to step down from his position with the University of Florida. We spoke at length about the impact he had on the football program and the school itself, and how much he meant to her on a personal level since they first met six years ago.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: In a column I wrote today, I discussed how Meyer seemed to have an impact on everyone he interacted with at Florida – even if it was not on a personal basis. How did he come across to you when you became familiar with him?
ERIN ANDREWS: “The one thing that impressed me with Coach Meyer right off the bat was: He wasn’t part of the bloodline with Florida. He wasn’t a former coach, he wasn’t involved with the program until he was hired. That kind of scared me because I was close to [Steve] Spurrier, I was close to [Ron] Zook. I was a member of the media – and as a grad – I want the inside access to my school. Especially when stuff like this happens. I had a great relationship with Zook, and Spurrier has always been wonderful to me.

“The one thing that impressed me about Urban was that he wasted no time in getting the alums involved. He’s just made us feel like we’re part of the university and part of all of it. I didn’t know him at all when he took over. But right off the bat with me it was, ‘E.A., it’s good to be a Gator!’ So I always appreciated how he made former Gators – people that weren’t involved in the program – made us feel like we were a part of everything he was doing when he was the head coach.”

AS: He seems to have made Gator Nation even stronger than it was when he got to UF. Have you noticed the same thing?
EA: “Coach and Tim [Tebow] had a lot to do with that. If you go back and you watch Tim’s Heisman [Trophy] speech, all it was is, ‘I love being a Gator. Go Gators!’ I really do. Every text message Coach would send me over the past couple of years always ended with, ‘It’s great to be a Gator!’ or ‘Go Gators!’ This new burst of energy, this new sense of pride in Gator Nation and what the community is and what the school is all about and what the football program is all about, I think Coach Meyer was perfect for that. He really adjusted and was exactly what the school needed at the time.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » Erin Andrews on Urban Meyer’s impact at Florida

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