SIX BITS: George, Bostic, Demps, Tebow, Caldwell

Aside from a story specifically about the events that took place on Monday, OGGOA chose to refrain from posting new material out of respect for those in Boston, MA. Below are six stories from Monday that we did not cover at the time.

1 » Senior forward Jennifer George was chosen with the No. 33 overall pick in the third round of the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever on Monday, becoming the first Florida Gators women’s basketball to be selected in the event since Sha Brooks in 2009. George is the 17th Florida player to ever be picked in the WNBA Draft and joins an Indiana team that concluded the 2012 season by winning the league title. She will not, however, be the only former member of the Gators to be a part of the Fever as former Florida head coach Mickie DeMoss is currently serving as an assistant coach.

2 » Could senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic be the third Florida player selected in next week’s 2013 NFL Draft. According to veteran analyst Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net, Bostic – who is widely expected to be a third-round selection – may be drafted even higher. “In recent conversations, I’ve been told it’s a distinct possibility he could slip into the late part of the second frame,” Pauline writes. “Teams like the fact that Bostic is a three-down defender and offers the potential of being a day-one starter.”

3 » After informing the New England Patriots that he had decided to return to the track but also hoped to continue his football career – a move that would involve missing much of training camp and perhaps even a few early-season games – running back Jeff Demps was thought to be a goner from the organization. And while that may very well wind up being the case, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reports that another option may be on the table – a trade. Demps’s agent Daniel Rose told Howe that the Patriots have discussed a possibility, which is not much of a surprise considering New England’s propensity for making deals (especially around draft time).

Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: George, Bostic, Demps, Tebow, Caldwell

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Urban Meyer on Tim Tebow: “I think he’s going to win a Super Bowl.”

Tim Tebow detractors appear to be multiplying by the day, but his former head coach with the Florida Gators is most certainly not one of them.

In an interview with WOCA 1730 AM on Wednesday, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer said that he still maintains a strong relationship with the New York Jets quarterback and believes in his abilities on the football field just as much as he did when he was coaching him in Gainesville, FL.

“I think I’m like every Gator fan and anybody that just appreciates great people and great warriors. There’s got to be a team – it all comes down to one team believing in a human being or believing in an athlete or a player. I think I got the same feeling as most everybody that watched him and grew up with him,” he said.

“All they need is to let him get his foot in the door and he’s going to win games, and I think he’s going to win a Super Bowl. I still believe that, probably because I spent as much or more time with him as any other coach. I have that much confidence in him.”

Meyer went on to describe their relationship, saying he and Tebow still converse “very frequently, once a week probably” though they have not spoken in the last few weeks.

The coach and former pupil went to lunch a few months ago when Meyer was in New Jersey recruiting the Tri-State Area. He felt Tebow was still in good spirits despite being traded from the Denver Broncos following the 2011 season and barely stepping foot on the field with the Jets in 2012.

“He’s a positive guy. He wants to win. He’s a winner. He’s always won. This losing thing doesn’t really sit well with him,” Meyer said. “He wants to be on a team that’s…he believes New York is committed to win. He has a lot of respect from Coach [Rex] Ryan. He’s a guy that’s pretty positive all the time, but I could see there was a little bit of worry in his face, concern.”

Recent word nationally (and out of New York) is that the Jets tried to find a trading partner for Tebow at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. If New York is unable to trade Tebow – a likely scenario because team sources have already let it be known that the player will be cut if a trade partner is not found – he is expected to be released when free agency begins in early March.

As far as Meyer is concerned, NFL teams should definitely be interested in Tebow as long as they are willing to give him a legitimate opportunity to succeed.

“You put Tim Tebow on a team with great players, he’s going to be a great quarterback,” Meyer said.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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SIX BITS: Muschamp, Young, Valentine, Tebow

1 » It appears as if Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and members of his coaching staff recently met with Luther Campbell, the former frontman of 2 Live Crew known as Uncle Luke. Campbell, who has a strong and long-time association with the Miami Hurricanes, is a known pornographer, hosts a Miami radio show, writes a column for the Miami New Times and recently ran for mayor of Miami-Dade County. He is also the defensive coordinator at Miami Northwestern High School.

2 » Could Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young be on his way to the Seattle Seahawks to join defensive coordinator Dan Quinn? It is all speculation at this point, but Seattle did just lose defensive line coach Todd Wash to Jacksonville and Quinn may very well wish to bring Young along for the ride and his first NFL coaching job. The Gators recently hired Brad Lawing as assistant head coach and defensive line coach (with a focus on the defensive ends) rather than promoting Young from assistant defensive line coach (with a focus on defensive tackles) to the full role. Young has received overwhelmingly positive reviews as a coach and recruiter over his two years at Florida. He is not yet signed for 2013 but is on a one-year renewable contract.

Read four more BITS in this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Muschamp, Young, Valentine, Tebow

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FOUR Tebow BITS: Elway, book, support, Vatican

1 » Interviewed Thursday on the Boomer & Carton radio program up in New York, Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway spoke at length about quarterback Tim Tebow and his NFL career. Asked first if he thought Tebow could succeed in the league long-term, Elway admitted that it was a possibility. “I think in the right situation – he wants to and his drive to play and that’s what he wants to do – in the right situation, I think it’s a possibility. He’s got to be in the right situation,” he said. Furthermore, Elway addressed Tebow’s immense fan support and said that he had to push that aside when deciding what was best for Denver going forward. “Tim has a loyal fan base behind him. It’s a lot of people that really want to see him,” he said. “I think Tim Tebow has a lot of fans. … I went with what was best for the Denver Broncos, and Peyton Manning was best for the Denver Broncos.”

Elway was also asked about the report that the Broncos gave Tebow the option to choose his trade destination. He confirmed that the situation was reported accurately but also praised Tebow for what he did during his time in Denver. “We had two options – Jacksonville or the Jets. We laid it out to time and said, ‘It’s up to you.’ I’m not going to tell you which deal I liked better, but I will tell you that we did give him the option. He ended up picking the Jets, thinking that was the best opportunity for him,” Elway said. “As I’ve said about Tim, he’s a good kid and he works his tail off. He did a lot of good things for us in 2011. We were 1-4; when he came in, we won seven out of eight games after that, won a playoff game. So, he did a lot of good things for us.”

2 » The Nielsen Company this week released “State of the Media: 2012 Year in Sports” which, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, included plenty of mentions of Tebow. Per the Nielsen list, Tebow had the best-selling sports biography of the year with his “Through My Eyes” selling 116,000 copies (not including sales through Wal-Mart) or more than three times the next person on the list (R.A. Dickey – 39,600 copies). Tebow also checked in with an N-Score (endorsement potential rating) of No. 4 among mothers and No. 2 among people 65 years of age or older.

3 » It’s always interesting to see which random athletes support Tebow. Enter Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday, who told 94WIP radio in Philadelphia, PA that he is a big fan of the player. “I mean, how can you not [like him] though? His trophies. I guess everybody says he’s not a quarterback, but when he’s played quarterback even for the Broncos, he’s won games which is all that matters,” Holiday said. “I don’t know man, it’s about winning games right? I’m not saying skill-wise he’s the best one, but he got the wins. Well, he used to get the wins.”

4 » According to the Catholic News Service, the Vatican has asked Tebow and Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin to appear at a sports conference with the hope of encouraging athletes to compete in a moral manner. The sports conference, titled “We Believe in Sports,” is being put together by the Pontifical Council for Culture. “We want to work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports,” Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda said. “[We want] to help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic, because if the current state of affairs continues, all is lost.” As noted by the Christian News Network, neither athlete has yet to accept the invitation and it is unknown if either will as “some Christians refuse to work with the Vatican because they believe that its traditions and teachings are unBiblical.”

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Top 12 for 2012: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2012 (check out Sunday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From breathtaking moments, game-changing and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting world records, Florida accomplished some unique athletic feats in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 On the Field Moments of the Year.

12 » MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH
If there was a theme to Gators athletics in the spring it was Florida teams falling short of their goals. In addition to men’s indoor track & field, women’s outdoor track & field and men’s swimming & diving all just coming up just short of winning major titles, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse and softball all gave valiant efforts but faced immense disappointment in the end. It all started with the Gators basketball team, which advanced to the Elite Eight for the second-straight year and once again choked away a late lead and failed to advance to the Final Four. Up 11 points with 8:14 left in the game, Florida was outscored 18-3 down the stretch by Louisville, which held on for the 72-68 victory. The Gators hit just 1-of-12 shots over the final 8:14 while also going 1-for-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch and 0-for-9 from downtown over the final 20 minutes. Gymnastics did just about everything it could during the 2012 NCAA Super Six in late April but came just short of earning the first national title in program history, falling 197.850-197.775 to Alabama and losing by 0.075 points. Next up was softball, which looked primed to return to the championship game of the 2012 Women’s College World Series for the third time in the last four years. Instead, Florida got upended 10-1 by eventual national champion Alabama in the finals of the 2012 SEC Tournament and was eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2012 NCAA Tournament due in part to suspensions levied against three key players. It was the first time since 2006 that UF did not at least advance to the Super Regional. A controversial finish led to another tough loss for lacrosse (see No. 9), leaving one sport to provide the ultimate disappointment to Gators fans in 2012.

Perhaps most heartbreaking for Gators fans was seeing a baseball team that was the national title favorite from the very start of the season fall fast and finish the campaign without a single title. Cruising along in the SEC Tournament with a one-run lead and three outs to go in the championship game, Florida baseball collapsed against Vanderbilt, allowing its opponents to score five runs on five hits in the top of the ninth and hold on for the title. Junior closer Austin Maddox imploded after coming on to get the final three outs, giving up a lead-off double to right and eventually allowing Vandy to tie the game after a sacrifice bunt, hit batter and suicide squeeze. It only got worse from there. The Commodores accomplished a double steal, hit an infield single, loaded the bases (intentional walk, double steal, intentional walk) and then pulled off a triple steal to score their third run of the inning. A two-run single put the nail in the coffin as the Gators allowed more stolen bases in a single frame (seven) than had ever been given up in an entire SEC Tournament game in the history of the event. With horrible memories of the SEC Tournament behind them and the NCAA Tournament upcoming, Florida hoped to use the experience to improve as a team. The Gators did advance to the College World Series but were swept right out of it with consecutive losses. Florida fell 7-3 to South Carolina in its first game before allowing an unranked Kent State team to register a 5-4 upset victory in the second game. The Gators coughed up four unearned runs, committed two errors and failed to plate runs despite having numerous opportunities to hit with runners in scoring position. With so much talent on the roster and a track record of success – the team got to the championship series just one year earlier – Florida baseball legitimately blew a great national title chance.

[Read: The Silver Lining – “Failure” is not a dirty word]

11 » FLORIDA SWEEPS FSU IN FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, BASEBALL

For the first time in school history, the Gators swept the Seminoles in football, basketball and baseball (5-0) in a calendar year. Florida State having a historically successful baseball team has stood in the way of Florida’s ability to accomplish this feat in the past, but Gators baseball completed its first regular-season sweep of the Seminoles since 1958 by earning a 9-2 victory in Gainesville, FL, 4-1 victory in Jacksonville, FL and a 6-3 win on the road in Tallahassee, FL. Florida football bounced back from consecutive losses to FSU with a 37-26 beat down in Tallahassee, and UF basketball matched the football team’s intensity with a 72-47 rout on the road.

Continue Reading » Top 12 for 2012: On the Field Moments of the Year

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Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2012 (check out Monday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From crazy occurrences and strange decisions to receiving major awards and being involved in the biggest sports stories of the last 12 months, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

12 » A WACKY YEAR, INDEED
For every major story and exciting moment that occurred in 2012, there were plenty of instances in which Gators fans could not do anything but shake their heads, furrow their brows or shrug their shoulders at something they just saw or heard. Below is a list-within-a-list of the 10 most absurd moments of the year (sorted chronologically). Don’t worry, the rest of these stories are much shorter, so keep reading.

(1) Right in the middle of spring practice on Feb. 17, with coaches raving about team chemistry and noting massive improvement from the previous year, junior safety Matt Elam tweeted out a picture that looks like junior defensive end Dominique Easley riding his scooter inside the Florida football facility and around the Gator Head the players touch before heading out to the field each week. (2) One week after playing his last game as a member of the Gators basketball team, then-senior point guard Erving Walker found himself in trouble with the law when he was charged on March 30 with two misdemeanors for allegedly stealing a taco from a street vendor and evading police in Gainesville, FL. (3) Need a lesson on how to turn off an employer? Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney went off on an epic Twitter rant on April 12, sending out derogatory statements about his wife and cousin (fellow former Gators star cornerback Lito Sheppard) only to claim three hours later that his account was hacked. (4) What better way to honor your favorite player than to get your hair cut and designed to look like him? That’s what San Antonio Spurs fan Patrick Gonzalez did for forward Matt Bonner. Gonzalez’s hair cut nearly got him suspended from school on May 16, but it also got Bonner’s attention and resulted in a pair of tickets and a meeting at a playoff game. (5) After some rather mundane barbs went back-and-forth between Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin over the summer, Mayor Nancy Berry of College Station, TX decided to post a comedic video of her poking good-natured fun at the former Texas defensive coordinator on June 1.

(6) Hours after taking home the first NCAA Outdoor Championship in program history on June 10, Gators track & field suffered a serious scare in the air when its plane suffered a cracked windshield at 37,000 feet and underwent a rough landing in Tuscaloosa, AL. The windshield shattered after the plane landed but everyone was OK. (7) How do you answer a quarterback controversy and answer questions about which signal caller is going to start the first game of the season? Start both of them! That’s what Muschamp did on Sept. 1 when sophomores Jacoby Brissett (quarterback) and Jeff Driskel (wide receiver) both came out with the starting offense on its first play from scrimmage against Bowling Green. (8) With Muschamp leading the team, he is sure to find his way on this list at least once per year. In a 13-day span, Muschamp made headlines by being himself. After Florida defeated LSU at home on Dec. 7, he decided to celebrate by crowd surfing over his own players in the locker room. Two weeks later, at halftime against South Carolina, Muschamp vented his frustration about the officiating to Brady Ackerman of the Gator Radio Network. He saw an official walking by as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms and made sure to make it known how upset he was at some of the calls in the first half. “Well, we just gotta continue to capitalize on what we’re doing and OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” (9) With ESPN’s College GameDay in Gainesville for the South Carolina game, having former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte on set as the guest picker was an easy and obvious decision for the network. Never did ESPN guess that he would find difficulty in reading off the list of picks provided for him. (10) Why is Chad Johnson in Gainesville … and why is he meeting with Florida? Those were questions fans asked on Nov. 2 when it was revealed that the NFL free agent wide receiver – fresh off being embarrassed on national television when he was cut by the Miami Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly hitting his wife – had shown up in town and was taking pictures with players on the team one day before UF took on Missouri.

Continue Reading » Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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Reports: Jaguars ready to link up with Tim Tebow

Updated on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

As it is clear that quarterback Tim Tebow will no longer be a member of the New York Jets come 2013, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Saturday that “league sources say it is a virtual certainty” the former Florida Gators star “will land a job back home with the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Tebow, with one year left on his rookie contract, reportedly plans to request a trade or outright release at the end of the season, a move that the Jets will undoubtedly honor as the team no longer wishes to have him on its roster.

The door would then be open for Tebow to join his hometown Jaguars, which were also involved in trade discussions for him this past offseason.

UPDATE: On Sunday, NFL.com‘s Ian Rapoport reported similar details, noting that a team source conceded Tebow “will be a Jaguar” in 2013. He also said a trade is possible if Jacksonville wants to ensure it acquires him; the compensation would be “peanuts” and not anything significant.

Rapoport’s news is coming directly from the Jaguars, not Tebow’s contingent. He also points out that the jobs of the head coach and general manager are in jeopardy, but Tebow’s acquisition would occur regardless of who is running the team from the front office.

After acquiring future Hall of Fame signal caller Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos fielded calls for Tebow and got high levels of interest from New York and Jacksonville. Each team offered a fourth-round pick and $3 million for an advance that had already been paid to Tebow, prompting Denver to give him the ability to choose his new home.

Tebow ultimately picked the Jets because conversations with the team’s executives and coaching staff led him to believe he would have a better opportunity to play right away and potentially win the starting quarterback job down the road. Instead, he barely saw the field in 2012 and was passed over this week when head coach Rex Ryan chose to bench Mark Sanchez and start third-stringer Greg McElroy in his place.

The Jaguars’ interest in Tebow is two-fold. In addition to being an extremely popular hometown hero whose presence would help fill the EverBank Field and bring life to a down franchise, Tebow could also compete for the starting job with 2011 first-round draft choice Blaine Gabbert and veteran Chad Henne.

Continue Reading » Reports: Jaguars ready to link up with Tim Tebow

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Gators on SI’s most memorable moments of 2012

Sports Illustrated on Friday released “The 112 of ’12,” a list of its best sports moments, memes and memories of 2012. Four spots on the list have at least some connection to the Florida Gators. clicking here.

OGGOA will be releasing our annual “Top 12 for 2012″ lists on Dec. 30 and 31.

No. 22 – TEBOW TIME IN OVERTIME
Tim Tebow had an uncanny knack for lifting Denver to unexpected late victories over the course of the 2011 season. ‘Tebow Time’ hit its head-scratching crescendo in the playoffs. In his first postseason start, Tebow threw for a career-high 316 yards to lead the Broncos to an implausible 29-23 overtime win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 8 in the AFC wild-card round. After blowing a late 10-point lead, the Broncos won on the first play of OT when Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard score. It was the shortest overtime game in NFL history (11 seconds).”

No. 42 – U.S. WOMEN WIN SOCCER GOLD
“It seemed unlikely the Olympic women’s soccer tournament would replicate the excitement of the 2011 World Cup. But the U.S. women made it a gold-medal run to remember. In the semifinals, aided by a controversial, rarely enforced six-second call on Canada’s goalkeeper, the Americans outlasted the Canadians 4-3 in one of the greatest matches in Olympic history. The U.S. rallied from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits in the second half to force extra time. Then Alex Morgan scored on a header in the waning seconds of added time to send the U.S. to the gold medal match, a 2011 World Cup final rematch with Japan. The U.S. exacted revenge, winning 2-1 for its third straight Olympic gold.”

No. 88 – THE FACES OF FLORIDA’S WILL MUSCHAMP
“Say this for Florida football coach Will Muschamp: He’s not afraid to express his emotions. They don’t call him “Coach Boom” for nothing. His facial expressions — starting with the intense death stare on his first Florida promotional poster — are a sight to behold. From the referees to his own players, it’s never a good idea to be on Muschamp’s bad side. But for the Gators, it’s working. After a disappointing 7-6 record in his first season in Gainesville, Muschamp has completely reshaped the 11-1 Gators in his own image: a tough, defensive-minded group that climbed to No. 3 in the final BCS standings and nearly found its way into the national title game.”

No. 98 – WILL GRIER THROWS FOR … 837 YARDS?!?
“This fact is indisputable: Will Grier, a junior quarterback for Davidson Day School in North Carolina, had the greatest passing day in high school football history in November when he threw for a ridiculous 837 yards and 10 touchdowns in a 104-80 playoff victory over Harrells Christian Academy. But his numbers won’t be recognized by the National High School Sports Record Book because of a confusing technicality, as Raleigh’s News and Observer explains. The recognized national record is 764 yards by David Koral in 2000. Either way, Grier was a top target of some of the nation’s premier college programs: the four-star 2014 recruit committed to Florida on Dec. 19.”

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