FOUR BITS: Georgetown, Tucker, Wambach

1 » Making an appearance on 1010 XL radio on Tuesday, executive director of sports and entertainment for the City of Jacksonville Alan Verlander confirmed that tickets for the Navy/Marines Corps Classic will be bundled with the Jacksonville Jaguars-Indianapolis Colts game and will begin at $1,000. That package would include two tickets to watch the Florida Gators take on the Georgetown Hoyas on an aircraft carrier and two more to see Jacksonville-Indianapolis on that Thursday. Verlander also noted on the program that a well-known artist will hold a concert before the Florida-Georgetown game. A press release is supposed to be available Thursday with tickets going on sale Monday. OGGOA reached out to Verlander late Tuesday and is currently awaiting his reply.

2 » The University of Florida has chosen former Gators outfielder Preston Tucker to represent the school when the men’s athletic program accepts the 2012 Capital One Cup at the ESPYs in Los Angeles, CA on Wednesday. It is the second-straight year that Florida’s men’s program has won the award; forward Chandler Parsons was in L.A. to accept the award one year ago.

3 » Former Florida striker and current U.S. Women’s National Team star Abby Wambach is a part of the latest edition of ESPN Magazine – “The Body Issue.” In it, Wambach and a number of other big-name athletes bare all in carefully chosen poses that show plenty of skin but hide their private parts. Check out the picture of Wambach in the magazine, an extensive interview with her about the process and a video of her discussing the experience (below).

4 » The Gators announced the hirings of two more coaches over the last few days as Janice Olivencia was added to the women’s golf team as an assistant on Friday and Nic Peterson was named an assistant track coach (jumps) on Monday. Olivencia, who played for Texas, served as an assistant for South Florida last season after spending seven years playing professionally. UF notes that “she was the first Puerto Rican woman to have ever qualified to play on the Ladies European Tour.” Peterson comes to Florida after a successful career as an assistant at Texas Christian by way of Nebraska, where he competed and served as a volunteer coach.

Extra BIT » Though she did not confirm it directly, new FOX sports reporter/host Erin Andrews did not dismiss the fact that she interviewed for a hosting gig on X Factor, a story first reported by SPORTSbyBROOKS and more recently by Entertainment Weekly. EW (and E! Online) noted on Monday that Andrews has some stiff competition for the gig going up against names like Stacy Kiebler, Mario Lopez and Rocsi Diaz (among others). “Sources emphasize that prospective hosts are still being interviewed and actual testing for the gig is not expected for several more weeks,” EW reports.

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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: Nixon, Raymond, Akra, Tebow

1 » Alachua County Court records show that Florida Gators senior offensive tackle Xavier Nixon was cited on April 12 for unknowingly operating his vehicle with a suspended/revoked license for the second time in as many years. Nixon, first cited for the same traffic violation on March 24, 2011, elected to appear in court for the charge and had his hearing held on May 31. He agreed to a partial payment option for the $148 fine (including $86 in court costs) and paid $25 but did not continue making payments, building late fees and having the citation forwarded to a collection agency. Now represented by attorney Huntley Johnson after receiving a second citation on April 12, Nixon again elected to appear in court for the latest charges but has since paid his fines from the initial citation in full. He owes another $148 for his latest transgression. It will be determined how that is paid and how his case will be settled in a scheduled court appearance on June 13 at 9 a.m.

2 » Former Florida tennis player Lisa Raymond made the record books on Monday after she and partner Liezel Huber were anointed the new No. 1 doubles pairing in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association. Raymond, who has been ranked No. 1 at one time or another for 117 total weeks in her career (this will be the 118th), is now the oldest player ever to hold the top spot in the WTA rankings. “It’s definitely a lot more special this time than ever before,” he said. “I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my career, and I found the right partner, too. Liezel and I always say it’s about the team – you win together and you lose together, and you work hard together. This is gratifying for both of us – and for me at 38, to be back to No. 1 after such a long road, it feels amazing.”

3 » In November, ESPN’s Erin Andrews was caught in the middle of a Gatorade shower as then-No. 22 Baylor celebrated a 45-38 upset of No. 5 Oklahoma. Andrews, who said afterward that it was the first time she had been caught in a Gatorade shower in her career, joked that it was an awesome experience even though her iPhone was not working well after the bath. Another former Gators dazzler, Kristina Akra, has apparently been hit with more Gatorade showers in the young 2012 Major League Baseball season than Andrews has in her career. According to the Washington Post, Akra was nailed with Gatorade for the third time already this season after the Washington Nationals (the team she covers as a sideline reporter for MASN) achieved a walk-off victory on Saturday. Akra previously worked with FOX Sports South helping out with coverage of Southeastern Conference football.

4 » Hip-hop artist Wale said on ESPN‘s First Take on Monday that he only expects New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow to start a maximum of one game this season, noting that he’s seen “ambidextrous ninth graders” throw better than Tebow. He even went as far as to wager cutting his hair on Tebow starting fewer than six games in 2012. In the same segment, Hugh Douglas (who promised to go to church if Tebow beat the Jets on Nov. 17) gave the former Heisman Trophy winner plenty of support and predicted that he will be starting full-time for New York by week four. As the New York Post reports, Tebow already has future Jets cheerleaders on his side.

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SIX BITS: coaches, Beal, NBA, Andrews, Schutte

1 » The Florida Gators recently let their own senior writer, GatorZone’s Scott Carter, in the football meeting rooms for two days as coaches watched film and prepared for spring practice. Three notes in particular stood out in the piece. (1) Former NFL safety Lance Schulters dropped by the facility. (2) Head coach Will Muschamp “fiery” when learning that some of his players’ lean-body mass and fast mass figures were not up to par. (3) Former Boise State backup quarterback Bush Hamdan is a football intern with the team. Doing a bit of research, former Florida graduate assistant Ryan Solesky (2006-09) has also returned to intern with the team.

2 » Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal has the NBA in his future but whether or not he decides to go pro after this season is a decision he has yet to make. “I have no clue,” he said. “I haven’t even really thought about it. Right now, I don’t know. I haven’t put too much thought into it. When that time comes I’m going to talk to Coach [Billy] Donovan and my family and we’re going to have to sit down and talk about it. When that time comes, it comes.” Beal also said he will be happy no matter what he decides. “If I leave, I still played a great year of college. I enjoyed it,” he said. “If I stay, it’s only going to make me get better. Either way it goes, I’m gaining something positive out of it.”

3 » Two former Florida players had top-notch performances in the NBA on Tuesday. Memphis Grizzlies center Marreese Speights scored a season- and team-high 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block in a 116-111 double-overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Just under 500 miles away, forward Chandler Parsons scored a team-high 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting with seven boards, six dimes and a steal to lead his Houston Rockets over Oklahoma City. Parsons also registered another impressive dunk, this time over Serge Ibaka.

4 » Could Erin Andrews’s time at ESPN be drawing to a close? The network confirmed to SportsBusiness Journal this week that the ACC Tournament was “the last scheduled assignment for Erin Andrews” as her “contract [is] coming up.” However, the Worldwide Leader also said that they “hope to renew her.” Andrews signed a two-year deal with ESPN in 2010, one that saw her duties increase. In addition to doing sideline reporting and working on stories for College GameDay, Andrews was given hosting duties for the first hour of the program on ESPNU and a role on Good Morning America on ABC. She was even on the red carpet interviewing celebrities prior to this year’s Oscars. Andrews had a number of intriguing offers for her services in 2010 and is expected to have as many – if not more – as she is set to become a free agent again this year.

5 » No. 4 Gators softball’s title chances have taken a hit as it appears that junior catcher Brittany Schutte, the team’s batting average leader (.477) who also has three homers and 23 RBIs in the young season, broke her jaw on March 2 and is out of action indefinitely. “If we get her back at all this season, it won’t be for a long time,” head coach Tim Walton told The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley. Schutte has already missed eight games and “had surgery on March 5 to insert a plate in her jaw and wire it shut.” With Florida losing so many power hitters to graduation last season, Schutte’s bit bat fit in nicely in the middle of the lineup. The Gators will be unable to replace her hitting but have classmate Kelsey Horton filling in for her behind the plate.

6 » Florida women’s basketball earned an at-large berth to the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Monday, learning that they will be participating in the event for the 13th time in school history and first since 2009. The Gators will take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in first-round action on Sunday with the winner likely facing the undefeated and top-ranked Baylor in second-round action. Below is a video courtesy of of the team celebrating their berth.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, McDonald, Haden, Andrews

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has had a star-studded last few days. In addition to being introduced along with the rest of his team by comedian Will Ferrell before Wednesday night’s game (“He’s a Scorpio and a horrible dancer,” Ferrell said of Noah), he was also name-dropped during the latest episode of the sitcom Whitney on NBC. Following a Chicago-Philadelphia game last week, Noah met up with champion eater Takeru Kobayashi, a greeting that was captured by his YouTube channel.

2 » Speaking of Noah, the Bulls’ star center told the Chicago Tribune last month that his rough start to the 2011-12 season was in part due to the pressure he felt after signing a five-year, $60 million contract extension in 2010. “Sometimes you feel like because you’re given so much money you’re expected to do things. That’s not the right mentality to have as a player,” he explained. “I have to play my game. I have to have fun out there. If I don’t, I’m not the same player.” Without an offseason to work on some of the kinks in his game, Noah started exceptionally slow, shooting poorly and turning the ball over more often than he should be. Now back into the swing of things, he has posted double-digit points in eight of his last 10 games (including five-straight double-doubles from Jan 23-30). “I’ve always been a player who reacts well to criticism and doubters,” Noah said. “I feel my teammates were always behind me. But I knew as well as anyone how poorly I was playing. And not only wasn’t I playing well, but I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I wasn’t playing loose out there. I was playing tight. In the beginning of the year, I was overthinking a lot. I was going through a lot of things personally. I feel a lot more comfortable now. I have to stop overthinking and just play.”

3 » San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, who was a full-time starter in 2011 for the first time in his career and played exceptionally well throughout the season, was arrested early Wednesday for an outstanding warrant after being pulled over by police for a traffic violation. McDonald had been arrested in 2010 for suspicion of driving under the influence to which he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation that included a fine and a requirement to complete a first offender’s DUI class. With no proof of that class having been completed, a warrant was issued on Aug. 9, according to the Sacramento Bee. Police said McDonald was cooperative with authorities upon being pulled over and arrested and was released early the next morning. He is not expected to face any additional discipline from the NFL or his team.

4 » Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden is a unique guy both on and off the field. In addition to being one of the best secondary players in the NFL, he has also found a soft spot for the city of Cleveland and has embraced his fans nationwide through his Twitter account. Below are a few pictures he has tweeted recently (clockwise) of him shooting pool on a table filled with his sneakers, hanging out with Erin Andrews (“We should have done the @TimTebow pose!), “Tebowing” in front of his Rolls-Royce Phantom and showing off his newest draft day tattoo. He did not tweet the final picture, which has been spread online via a variety of sports blogs.

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Erin Andrews caught in Baylor Gatorade shower

Coaches are not the only ones getting Gatorade showers these days. Working as a sideline reporter for No. 22 Baylor’s 45-38 upset of No. 5 Oklahoma Saturday night on ABC, ESPN’s Erin Andrews was caught in the crossfire of one just seconds after interviewing Robert Griffin III (21/34, 479 yards, four touchdowns, 72 rushing yards) on the field in the middle of the school’s student body. She appeared rather happy afterwards seeing as it was the first time it had happened in her career. Andrews posted the following video on YouTube shortly after being covered in Gatorade.

Erin Andrews on Twitter:
Such an awesome night..even tho my iPhone is not working well after G’ade blessed to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do..


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