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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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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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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TWO BITS: football awards, less Tebow on ESPN

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2012 award winners, according to the University of Florida, along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Michael McNeely, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that Sturgis won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jon Bostic, Jeremy Brown, Caleb Sturgis
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Omarius Hines, Lerentee McCray, Sam Robey
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Dominique Easley, Chaz Green, Jon Halapio, Ronald Powell, James Wilson
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon | Defensive: Alex McCalister, Jeremi Powell | ST: David Campbell, Rhaheim Ledbetter

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Xavier Nixon | Defense: Dominique Easley, Matt Elam
* Second-straight year that Easley won the award.
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd
Most Valuable Player Offense: Mike Gillislee | Defense: Matt Elam ST: Loucheiz Purifoy, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award for the offense (Chris Rainey). Second-straight year that Elam and Sturgis won the award for defense and special teams, respectively.
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Bostic, Matt Elam
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Mike Gillislee
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award (Chris Rainey).
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jon Bostic, Josh Evans, Sharrif Floyd, Frankie Hammond, Jr.
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam, Mike Gillislee, Jon Halapio, Omar Hunter

2 » New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has barely seen the field since being traded last offseason. Now the head of ESPN is promising fans that they will see much less of him on their television sets as well. In an conversation with John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, ESPN President John Skipper said he recently told his production staff to reduce the amount of coverage that the networks give to Tebow and his exploits. “I said, ‘Guys, we didn’t handle this very well. Going to training camp wasn’t a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long,’” Skipper explained. “Training camp was fine. The guy’s very popular. In our business, we want to drive ratings. You’ve just got to keep long-term, short-term in mind.”

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Gameday: No. 2 Florida Gators vs. South Carolina

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 80°F, sunny, winds W at 9 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $100 on TiqIQ

TV: CBS/CBSHD (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 2 FLORIDA GATORS No. 7 USC GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 6-0 (5-0 SEC) Record: 6-1 (4-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3.5, O/U 41

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what has been going on with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Florida ignoring the BCS hype | Spurrier discusses the Gators | Brent Pease confident in passing game | Updates from Muschamp and Spurrier

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Florida will be featured on College GameDay for a nation-leading 35th time in school history. The Gators will be hosting the program for the 12th time but first since Nov. 28, 2009. UF has already appeared on College GameDay twice this season (2-0) as the visiting team at Texas A&M and Tennessee. Florida is 7-4 overall as hosts in Gainesville and 23-11 all-time when featured on the program.

» OGGOA’s Q&A with ESPN analyst Desmond Howard
» ESPN: Seven video previews of UF-USC

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida leads South Carolina 23-6-3 in the all-time series and boasts a 12-1-0 advantage in Gainesville with its first and only loss coming in the last meeting (2010). The two teams have played consecutively every year since 1992; the Gators are 17-3 in those games but have lost the last two marking their first time falling in consecutive games to the Gamecocks since the 1930s.
» UF is 4-3 against USC over the last seven years since Spurrier took over.
» Florida is 11-1 against unranked opponents and 2-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011. The Gators earned both victories over ranked opponents this season, defeating Tennessee on the road and LSU at home.
» This is the highest-ranked South Carolina team that Florida has ever faced.
» The Gators have started the season 6-0 for the first time since 2009 and the eighth time overall in school history.
» Florida defeated a ranked opponent at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2008 and beat an SEC West team in Gainesville for the first time since Oct. 17, 2009.
» The Gators were 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have started the 2012 season 3-0 in that category with all three victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» Florida is 9-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 10-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-3 when scoring first and 10-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators have scored on 19-of-20 red zone trips (95 percent) but have only converted 11 of those possessions (55 percent) into touchdowns.
» Florida has converted 32-of-83 of its third-down attempts (38.6 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 26-of-92 on third down conversions (28.3 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is out-possessing opponents by an average of 7:48 through six games, a margin that ranks fourth nationally.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 98-23 in the second half and 57-10 in the fourth quarter. UF was the only team in the nation that had not allowed a fourth-quarter point until giving up 10 last week.
» Florida had a stretch of not allowing a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is sixth in scoring defense nationally (12.3 points per game).
» The Gators are +7 in turnover margin through six games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (329) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed seven interceptions so far in 2012 (three games with two each) and is already closing in on its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in five games.
» The Gators are sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered one in 2012.
» South Carolina is facing its third top-10 opponent in as many weeks.
» Before losing last week, the Gamecocks had a school-record 10-game win streak.
» Spurrier is four wins away from holding sole possession of the school’s all-time wins record for a head football coach.
» South Carolina is the least penalized team in the SEC, losing an average of 34.3 yards per game via penalty.
» The Gamecocks are 12th nationally in total defense (296.3 yards per game).

Read the rest of the Florida-South Carolina preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sidelines.
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 2 Florida Gators vs. South Carolina

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ESPN video previews of Florida – South Carolina

Updated on Saturday at 2:45 p.m.

With ESPN College GameDay now in Gainesville, FL for the showdown on Saturday between the No. 2 Florida Gators and No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks, ESPN has been promoting the contest heavily both on the network and online. Below are nine videos previewing Saturday’s big-time Southeastern Conference game.

College GameDay Saturday Showdown picks segment:

Will Muschamp, Steve Spurrier speak about the game:

Watch SEVEN more ESPN videos…after the break!
Continue Reading » ESPN video previews of Florida – South Carolina

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Q&A with College GameDay’s Desmond Howard

ESPN College GameDay will emanate from Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2009 on Saturday as the No. 2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) host the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on CBS.

It was announced Wednesday that Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte will be on hand to be the guest picker for the show, which will be set up and aired from the grass outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s façade that faces University Drive.

To get fans ready for the program and game, OGGOA had the opportunity to sit down for a question-and-answer session with ESPN‘s Desmond Howard, one of the three analysts who are part of the College GameDay crew.

Be sure to tune in to ESPN on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon!

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: This is the third time already this season that Florida will be featured on College GameDay. How have you seen the Gators progress and improve from when the program was on-site for the Texas A&M game until now?
DESMOND HOWARD: “That’s simple. The offense has gotten better. Jeff Driskel has gotten more confident. I think the players around him are more confident in him, and the running game with [Mike] Gillislee has become more solidified. They’re playing a very physical brand of football on the offensive side and defensive side, so those are the biggest differences so far?”

AS: The first BCS standings were released on Sunday and obviously Florida being ranked No. 2 was a major point of argument for some. How do you feel about the Gators deserving that spot in the initial standings and do you really think the BCS is worth arguing about so early in the season?
DH: “I don’t have a problem with it at all. It’s like people need something to argue about and debate about so they talk about the BCS rankings. We’re in the middle of October. If anyone knows anything about football, you understand that this is going to shake itself out. Especially with Florida at No. 2 and Oregon at No. 3. You have Alabama at No. 1 so those teams, if they keep going the way they’re going, one of them is going to cancel the other one out. If this was Nov. 22 or something like that, then we’ll be having a conversation. But like I said, they’re still going to play each other in the SEC Championship if they stay on the same course they are on right now, so what is there to argue about? So no, I don’t have a problem with the BCS rankings whatsoever.”

Read the rest of this Q&A with Desmond Howard…after the break!
Continue Reading » Q&A with College GameDay’s Desmond Howard

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Florida Gators doing best to ignore BCS hype

Gator Nation was energized on Sunday night when it was officially announced on ESPN that the Florida Gators, one year removed from a 6-6 regular season that appeared to leave little hope for the program in the near future, were ranked No. 2 in the first BCS standings released for the 2012 season.

Florida, which was ranked No. 1 by the computers and edged Oregon for the No. 2 overall spot, was immediately the hot topic of conversation by broadcasters.

Did the Gators deserve to be the No. 2-ranked team?

Most believe the answer to that question is yes considering Florida has racked up a 5-0 record in the Southeastern Confernece with three come-from-behind second-half victories (two on the road), two wins over ranked opponents (one that was a top-five team) and another over a team that is currently ranked in the top 25.

Can Florida maintain its high ranking?

That is where the debate raged and will continue until the end of the regular season.

If you ask the Gators about being just one spot behind defending national champion Alabama in the latest BCS, you will not hear much debate or celebration for that matter.

“I guess it’s something that came out [Sunday],” senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic said dismissively on Monday. “It’s only halfway through the season. We still got a long way to go. We still have some more SEC opponents on our schedule ahead of us. Everything is not said and done yet.”

“It’s whatever,” redshirt senior defensive lineman Omar Hunter added. “That’s not going to get you to Atlanta or to the national championship. [We] still got a lot more games to play and it’s whatever right now.”

In fact, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was the only player who even mentioned Florida being deserving of some praise even if it is an empty honor at this point.

“We don’t get too caught up in the rankings, but we’re undefeated and we had a tough schedule,” he said. “The rankings don’t matter until the end of the season, but we’re 6-0 and that’s what we look at. We can’t be any better than we are now.”

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators doing best to ignore BCS hype

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