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 GatorVision.tv 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 bath..so blessed to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do..

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FOUR BITS: Tebow’s billboard, Hill’s thoughts, Brown’s new gig, Andrews on Kimmel

1 » The billboard in downtown Denver, CO featuring words and images supporting Denver Broncos back-up quarterback Tim Tebow has finally arrived – just not by the hands of those who promised to erect it in the first place. According to the Denver Post, a company named Multiline International Imports decided to utilize a large digital sign by their business (located just east of the I-25 highway) for this purpose. Check out the Post’s story on the billboard, which also includes one additional picture of it.

2 » Former Florida Gators safety Will Hill, who signed with the AFL’s Arizona Rattlers on Wednesday, told the Palm Beach Post Friday that he did not regret leaving Florida early and he would have made the same move still knowing the path his career has taken. He also said that his use of marijuana at the University of Florida was the main reason teams did not sign him even as an undrafted free agent.

“I had smoked in college,” he told the Post. “It wasn’t about failing drug tests, but the coaches knew I smoked, and that’s what the NFL asked about. My problem was off the field. By me doing this I can stay in shape and still look at the NFL. I had off the field problems like partying and things. That’s what kept me from the NFL. If I clean up my act and show I can still play, I can still get there.”

Read a BIT on Jenn Brown and watch another of Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow’s billboard, Hill’s thoughts, Brown’s new gig, Andrews on Kimmel

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No. 22 Florida Gators vs. FAU Owls Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 72°F, partly cloudy
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPNU/ESPNUHD
SiriusXM: 205
Online Audio: GatorVision.tv
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(22) FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA ATLANTIC OWLS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -34.5; O/U 50

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators after a long offseason? No problem. OGGOA has been here the entire time. Check out the links below and do your homework on the team’s offseason before the final exam Saturday evening.

Latest depth chart | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

As first reported by OGGOA last Friday, former Florida dazzler now ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was in Gainesville, FL on Monday to interview Muschamp. The segment will air live on College GameDay (which starts at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN) and will be followed by a discussion between Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso about Muschamp and what impact he will have on the team in 2011 and going forward.

A clip of Andrews’s interview with Muschamp is available below:

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is 1-0 in the all-time series against Florida Atlantic, defeating them 59-20 in 2007, the only time the teams squared off.
» The Gators have never lost a game against a current member of the Sun Belt and are 13-0 against such opponents.
» Florida is 77-27 all-time to start the season and 62-6 in the friendly confines of Florida Field. The Gators have won 21 consecutive season openers, the second-longest streak in the country (Nebraska, 25) and best in the SEC by 10 games.
» Muschamp will take the field with Florida as the team’s head coach for the first time on Saturday. He has never served as a head coach on the collegiate level before and, at 40-years-old, is the second-youngest to hold said position in the SEC (Dan Mullen, 39).
» On the other side, Schnellenberger will be beginning his 27th year at the helm of a college football program – his last as he will retire at the conclusion of the 2011 season. He is 157-140-3 all-time and 57-63 at FAU since taking over the team 11 years ago.
» After defeating the Gators the first three times he faced them with Miami (1979-81), Schnellenberger has failed to notch another win. All four of his losses (1982, 1983, 1992, 2007) were games played in Gainesville, where he has not won in 31 years.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida has won 88 percent of its home games (117-16) since 1990, the best home winning percentage in the nation. In that period, the Gators are 55-4 against non-conference opponents and 92-4 against unranked teams.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Florida Atlantic have only met on one other occasion – Nov. 17, 2007 – when the Gators stomped the Owls 59-20. Quarterback Tim Tebow went 25/34 for 338 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the air and also rushed 11 times for 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Andre Caldwell did most of the receiving with 13 catches for 164 yards, but tight end Cornelius Ingram corralled a pair of touchdowns and 60 receiving yards. After UF scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter, FAU answered back with 13 points to start the second quarter. However, the Gators outscored the Owls 38-7 the rest of the way to hold on for the victory.

INJURIES

» Active: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (back)
» Questionable: Redshirt junior cornberback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (shoulder), redshirt junior receiver Omarius Hines (hamstring)
» Inactive: Freshman tight end A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Brantley…who completed only 60.8 percent of his passes (200-of-329) for 2,061 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2010 butis said to have been revitalized by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s pro-style system.
» Running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey…who are co-starters in the backfield and two of the most dynamic and explosive players in the SEC. Demps and Rainey, both of whom missed game time in 2010, combined for 917 rushing yards (6.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground as well as 332 receiving yards and three scores through the air.
» Sophomore Trey Burton…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam…who stood out all offseason as the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary. Elam played in all 13 games in 2010 and is looking to make a name for himself this year.
» Sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell…who steps into a brand new position somewhat unique to Muschamp’s defense. Powell only started one game as a true freshman but will be entrenched from the get-go in 2011 as a hybrid player.
» Sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd…who is a defensive tackle but moved to defensive end this year to help the team. Floyd also started one game as a true freshman but plenty of pressure on his massive shoulders as a full-time starter in 2011.
» Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard…who is the man in the middle for the Gators and is the most experienced player (17 starts) on his side of the ball.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. His consistency on special teams should help the Gators be more confident overall.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC
» RB Alfred Morris…who was the team’s leading rusher in 2010 with 928 yards and seven TDs. A redshirt senior, Morris is being counted on as the Owls’ primary playmaker.
» QBs Graham Wilbert…who will make his first start for FAU. The signal caller battled for his job all spring and summer but is very inexperienced only having thrown five passes in his college career.

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Erin Andrews fills in for Ripa on Regis & Kelly

ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews filled in for Kelly Ripa as co-host of Live with Regis & Kelly Wednesday morning in an appearance met with rave reviews by fans of the television program.

Andrews, who has extended her brand recently by appearing on Dancing with the Stars and Good Morning America while also doing endorsements for Reebok’s ZigTech brand and helping raise awareness for prostate cancer and the implementation of anti-stalking laws, spent all morning with notorious Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan Regis Philbin on the nationally syndicated program.

Below are two videos of her appearance courtesy of Timothy Burke. The first is the beginning of the show, and the second is a five-minute clip of Andrews playing with a bunch of puppies. You can view them after the break.
Continue Reading » Erin Andrews fills in for Ripa on Regis & Kelly

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TWO BITS: Andrews’s cameo, Muschamp’s gaffe

1 » ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews will be up on the silver screen in the near future after filming a cameo in the upcoming movie I Hate You, Dad staring comedian Adam Sandler. Andrews, who will have a very small part in the movie, is part of a cast that also features such big names as Leighton Meester, Susan Sarandon and James Caan. Other actors/celebrities also appearing in the film include Andy Samberg, Will Forte, Ciara, Vanilla Ice and Dan Patrick. “I had like four lines, and it was the coolest thing ever,” she told Complex.com. According to IMDB, the movie is about “A disagreeable father who moves in with his son before he’s about to get married.” It is currently filming and does not have a scheduled release date.

2 » Whether you want to call it a gaffe on his part or a case of someone else taking a comment a bit too seriously, a thought provided by Gators head coach Will Muschamp at the 2011 SEC Media Days a few weeks ago has the University of Florida’s faculty union president John Biro perturbed. Asked about what it takes to build a quality team, Muschamp responded, “You can’t have union guys. Those are the guys who make a great play and then take the next play off because they think they are in a union.” According to The Gainesville Sun, Biro (who confessed that he does not pay attention to football) was not amused by this comment. “Obviously he’s been watching too much TV and all the union-bashing going on,” Biro told the paper.

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FOUR BITS: Blakely, Wright, Goble, The Voice

1 » In a conversation with Rivals affiliate AuburnSports.com, former Florida Gators running back Mike Blakely discussed at length his departure from the team and decision to transfer to the team he actually wanted to play for, the Auburn Tigers. “On signing day, I didn’t even want to sign,” he said. “I didn’t even want to put my name on the paper. But I saw the boys around me doing it and I was like, ‘Might as well do it.’ I knew I was doing the wrong thing. I signed and regretted it.” Blakely says that, contributing to his displeasure, was the head coaching change from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp, the offense switching from the spread to pro-style, and having (what he thought at the time was) unnecessary surgery on his shoulder.

Now looking back on his short time with the Gators, Blakely has fond memories of his former teammates and Muschamp, who he says he appreciates, respects and will still call ‘Coach’ whenever he sees him. Blakely goes into great detail about his situation and has plenty to say; click here to read the rest of the story.

2 » The NFL is currently investigating the usage of images of a handful of its players by Exxxotica Expo 2011 in promoting its May event in Miami, FL. According to the ABC affiliate WLS-TV in Chicago, IL, an on-the-field picture of former Florida now Chicago Bears safety Major Wright was used in advertisements for the event. Billed as one of the party’s hosts, Wright was featured in the ad alongside pictures of players from the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Though Wright cannot personally be held liable, the Bears are upset that their team was featured on the ad, and the NFL is bothered by the company violating licensing rights. “While Wright could not be reached, he is a fixture in Miami’s South Beach party scene, and he appears in ads and videos as the host of similar club events,” WLS-TV reports.

3 » Gators assistant women’s golf coach Jay Goble has been named head coach of the Baylor Bears. From the University of Florida: “Florida reached the postseason and improved in each of Goble’s three seasons in Gainesville. In 2009, the Orange and Blue finished 16th in the NCAA East Regional, eight spots shy of the top-eight finish needed to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The following season, the Gators placed 11th in the NCAA East Regional and in the 2011 NCAA East Regional, secured a berth in the NCAA Championships after landing in seventh.”

4 » Whether or not you are a fan of the new singing competition The Voice on NBC, it was interesting to learn Tuesday night that the show features a pair of connections to Florida. Kendra Andrews, the fiery redheaded sister of ESPN reporter and former UF dazzler Erin Andrews, is not only the main choreographer on the program, she also appears from time-to-time as a backup dancer (including last night during the second-to-last performance). Additionally, Casey Weston, a singer on Adam Levine’s team, is the sister of Gators junior volleyball player Sundai Weston. Should you wish to vote for her, you can do so up to 10 times (for free now through Monday) by calling 1-855-VOICE-02. Good luck to both ladies for the duration of the program.

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