NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!

14 » SEE YA NEVER

Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).

13 » CHARACTER CONCERNS

Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.

12 » UNEXPECTEDLY UNDRAFTED

It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.

11 » BAD OMENS

Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

Continue Reading » NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Florida diving coach Donnie Craine passes away

Florida Gators men’s and women’s diving coach Donnie Craine, 61, died Thursday afternoon in a boating accident 260 miles south of Gainesville, Florida in Bokeelia.

According to The Associated Press:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is investigating the accident, says two vessels turned in the same direction near Pine Island in southwest Florida and collided. Two people were aboard one boat, and four in the other. The others in the crash suffered only minor injuries and did not require treatment.

Craine had just completed his 37th year as a coach, 32nd at UF. His accomplished career both started (1976-81) and has now ended (1989-2014) with the Gators.

“Our thoughts are with Mindy, their family and all who had a chance to know and be coached by him,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a school release. “This is such sad news about Donnie Craine. Donnie loved being a Gator and spent his career here coaching our men’s and women’s diving athletes. He will be missed.”

Craine was named the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year in 1985 while at Arkansas and SEC Men’s Diving Coach of the Year in 1988 with LSU. He was also a six-time SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year with the last three of those awards coming as the head coach at Florida (1998, 2010-11).

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Craine coached divers to five individual national championships (two with the Gators) and 19 SEC titles (12 at Florida).

Along with head swimming coach Gregg Troy, Craine helped the Gators program win two women’s NCAA Championships, 11 women’s SEC Championships (eight-straight) and eight men’s SEC Championships (five-straight).

“You’ll never meet a nicer guy than Donnie Craine,” Troy said. “He was caring for not just the athletes he worked with, but for everyone he came in touch with. He was a tremendous family man. This is a great loss to everyone.”

OnlyGators.com sends our deepest condolences to the Craine family.

Photo Credit: Unknown

Tags: , , , ,

Perfect game, SEC records top Gators’ weekend

The season may have just begun for No. 5/5 Florida Gators softball, but the ladies did not waste time getting off to a fast 5-0 start at the USF Wilson DeMarini Tournament in over the weekend. Florida defeated Marshall, Florida Gulf Coast, Long Island, North Carolina State and USF by a combined 53-3 score; the Gators shut out three of their five opponents and scored 17 runs in the first four innings of their season-opener.

The highlight of the weekend for softball came Saturday when senior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher tossed the second perfect game of her career to send Florida to a 9-0 shutout victory over N.C. State. Brombacher needed only 67 pitches to do the deed; she struck out six in her five innings of work. Ending up 3-0 at the tournament’s conclusion, Brombacher struck out 19 in 14 innings of work, did not give up a single earned run and only allowed four hits in her final game of the weekend against USF.

Softball may have won five games in three days, but a veteran diver did her best to earn all of the weekend’s accolades for herself.

Not to be overshadowed was the Gators women’s diving team, led by senior Monica Dodson, who broke two Southeastern Conference records and won two gold medals in the diving portion of the 2011 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Dodson, a three-time All-American, won the three-meter event (six dives) with a score of 373.85 on Friday; she followed that up with a victory in the platform event (five dives) with a score of 325.20 at the final day of competition on Sunday. For her efforts and achievements this season, Dodson was named the 2011 SEC Women’s Diver of the Year. Florida diving coach Donnie Craine was honored after the event with his second-straight SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year award, an honor that puts him second all-time in conference history.

Check out the other UF sports that had a successful weekend…after the break!
Continue Reading » Perfect game, SEC records top Gators’ weekend

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Swimming finishes second at SEC Championships

Competing for four days in the Gabrielsen Natatorium at the University of Georgia, the No. 6 Florida Gators men’s and No. 7 women’s swimming and diving teams each finished in second place at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Championships. On the men’s side, the Auburn Tigers took first place by only 19 points (784-765), while the Georgia Bulldogs finished ahead of the Florida women by a larger margin (824.5-698).

Men’s coach Gregg Troy and women’s coach Donnie Craine led the Gators’ efforts all season long, bringing home recognition for themselves while assisting numerous student-athletes in reaching accolades of their own. The men’s and women’s teams combined for 14 SEC Championship titles (six and eight, respectively), two SEC records and six school records. Florida also earned 18 NCAA automatic qualifying marks/times.

2010 Florida SEC Awards
SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy
SEC Women’s Diving Coach of the Year – Donnie Craine
SEC Men’s Swimmer of the Year – Conor Dwyer
SEC Women’s Swimmer of the Year – Gemma Spofforth
SEC Women’s Diver of the Year – Kara Salamone
Commissioner’s Trophy, High Point Award (Men’s) – Conor Dwyer, Shaune Fraser
Commissioner’s Trophy, High Point Award (Women’s) – Gemma Spofforth

Check out Florida’s numerous new SEC titles, SEC records, school records, NCAA qualifiers and more after the break!
Continue Reading » Swimming finishes second at SEC Championships

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,