ESPN College GameDay at Florida on Oct. 20

ESPN College GameDay will emanate from Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2009 as the No. 2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) host the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS in a game that could go a long way to determining which team will win the SEC East and head to Atlanta, GA in December.

The Gators will be making their third appearance on the program this season. Florida was last featured three times in 2009 – on the road at LSU and in back-to-back weeks at home against Florida State and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. UF has appeared as a visitor in GameDay programs hosted in College Station, TX and Knoxville, TN already this season.

The Gators have been featured on the program a total of 35 times, most out of any team in the country (Ohio State is second with 29 appearances). Florida has hosted 12 times, second-most in the nation (Ohio State – 13) The Gators are 7-4 overall as hosts in Gainesville and 16-7 when playing in a GameDay contest elsewhere.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and contributor Samantha Steele.

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ESPN College GameDay at Tennessee on Sept. 15

ESPN College GameDay will eminate from Knoxville, TN next Saturday as the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers (2-0, 0-0 SEC) host the No. 18 Florida Gators (2-0, 1-0 SEC) in a game that is set to be played at Neyland Stadium live on ESPN at 6 p.m.

The Gators will be making their second appearance on the program in as many weeks after being left off for two full seasons. Florida was last featured three times in 2009 – on the road at LSU and in back-to-back weeks at home against Florida State and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta, GA for the SEC Championship.

ESPN will take the program to Knoxville for the eighth time and first since 2004. Tennessee is 2-5 all-time when hosting the program but 0-3 all-time when Florida comes to town for GameDay.

The Gators have been featured on the program a total of 34 times, most out of any team in the country (Ohio State is second with 29 appearances). Florida is 5-1 against Tennessee when GameDay features the showdown. The Gators are 7-4 overall in Gainesville, FL and 15-7 when playing in a GameDay contest on the road.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and contributor Samantha Steele.

The network has not yet announced the broadcast assignments for the game.

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ESPN College GameDay at Texas A&M on Sept. 8

ESPN College GameDay will eminate from College Station, TX next Saturday as the Texas A&M Aggies (0-0) host the No. 23 Florida Gators (1-0) in a game that is not only the season opener for the home team but also their first-ever league game as a newly-established member of the Southeastern Conference.

Florida will take on Texas A&M at Kyle Field on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be aired live on ESPN at 3:30 p.m.

The Gators will be making their first appearance on the program in two seasons after last being featured three times in 2009 – at home against Florida State, on the road at LSU and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta, GA for the SEC Championship.

ESPN will take the program to College Station for the third time since it began in 1993; the Aggies last hosted GameDay on Nov. 4, 2006.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack and contributor Samantha Steele.

The network will put Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Herbstreit (color commentary) and Heather Cox (sideline reporter) on the call for the featured contest.

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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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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: Bilas, Lunardi, Young, lacrosse

1 » Speaking with ESPN’s Jay Bilas early in the week, OGGOA was told by the college basketball analyst that he believes the Florida Gators‘ problems begin and end with the players and not head coach Billy Donovan. “I think this is a player issue, I don’t think this is a coaching issue,” he said. “When you’re watching a team and you say, ‘Geez, it doesn’t look like they’re going after it as hard as they’re capable of doing.’ That’s not the coach, that’s the players.” Bilas maintains that Florida losing Will Yeguete is a bigger deal than maybe even fans understood at the time because of “his ability to come in and do dirty work” along with his size, length and the fact that the team does not have to run plays for him while he’s on the court. He is most concerned with the group’s passion, something Donovan has spoken at length about recently.

“I don’t think over the last two-three weeks or so, when I’ve watched them play, they’ve played hard but they haven’t ‘wowed’ you with how hard they played. And they haven’t ‘wowed’ you with how together they’ve been,” he said. “There was a time early in the year where I thought they were really a together group, and they don’t look as connected right now. That probably helps explain it. Maybe Will Yeguete not being there is a part of that. They’ve looked more individual than team lately. They’ve got some really good individual players, but it doesn’t really matter often times how good your individuals are. It’s how good they are collectively. I think Florida is really capable. I’ve watched them a lot this year. I like their team, but they haven’t played nearly as well as they’re capable of playing over the last two-three weeks.”

2 » OGGOA also got a chance to catch up with ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi, who currently has the Gators slotted as a five-seed and No. 17 overall. Lunardi admits that he is “relatively bullish” on Florida compared to some of his colleagues and said that UF’s loss on the road to Georgia did not hurt the team as much as some may think. “I would say [it dropped them] half a seed line,” he said. “It was a road game against a not-terrible team. It’s not like they lost to Georgia Southern on the road. I have them with two losses against teams not under consideration [for the tournament] and that would be at Georgia and at Rutgers, who [are] good but not great BCS teams on the road. Not killer losses in my eyes at all.” Furthermore, Lunardi noted that the Gators could push themselves to a low three or high four seed if they win the 2012 SEC Tournament (which would most likely include defeating No. 1 Kentucky) but must try to avoid losing in the second-round action against either Alabama or South Carolina. “We’ll just have to see where they go out if they don’t’ win the tournament and against who,” he said. “If the team that knocks them out is Kentucky, that’s not going to hurt them.”

3 » After sophomore center Patric Young went through what sounds like his worst practice in a Florida uniform on Wednesday, one in which Donovan came down exceptionally hard on him, he desperately in need of a pick-me-up. Young responded with two quality practices on Friday and Saturday and was then called into the Gators’ coaches offices where there was a phone call waiting to him. According to Florida, former Indianapolis Colts head coach, motivational speaker and mentor to athletes Tony Dungy was on the line to inspire and enlighten Young. “It was unbelievable to think that someone like that would take the time to talk to me,” he told the school’s website. Dungy told Young that he was also stubborn as a youngster but that succeeding in sports requires giving it 100 percent all the time and that he must “suck it up [and] take coaching better and come at it with a different mentality.” Young explains, “My whole life, I guess I didn’t take coaching very well and now, finally, it’s started to affect me. My coach my senior of high school, we butted heads every now and then, too. I wasn’t used to a guy getting on me like that. And Coach D is 10 times worse. He cusses at you and hurts your feelings.”

4 » No. 5 Gators lacrosse (5-2) picked up their first victory against a ranked opponent this season, defeating the No. 15 Georgetown Hoyas (2-1) 12-9 on the road in Washington, D.C. Florida jumped ahead to an early 3-0 lead but fell behind 4-3 before scoring three more goals to take a 6-3 lead with 7:02 left in the first period. The Gators led 7-5 at the break and basically traded goals with the Hoyas the rest of the way though neither team scored over the final 8:15 of the contest. Junior attacker Gabi Wiegand scored five goals on five shots and was supported by two goals each from classmates Kitty Cullen, Ashley Bruns and Caroline Chesterman. Florida will have a quick turnaround as the team returns home to host Temple on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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