Tebow takes over SportsCenter for another hour

ESPN spent the vast majority of the 11 a.m. edition of its flagship program SportsCenter taking a look at Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow from a number of different angles on Thursday. The network spoke about Tebow for approximately 50 minutes while covering the some other news of the day in between his segments.

The show began with a highlight package of clips from Denver’s victory over Pittsburgh in the wild card round of the 2011-12 NFL Playoffs, capped by Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to ice the game.

Read the rest of this TebowCenter post…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tebow takes over SportsCenter for another hour

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Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2011 (check out Saturday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From former players ending their accomplished careers to coaches and current players being part of some of the biggest news stories this year, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2011. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 11 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

11 » LEGAL ISSUES/EMBARRASSMENTS HANG OVER PROGRAM
Like 2009 and 2010, Florida could not escape its share of unfortunate arrests and embarrassing incidents in 2011. It started simply enough early in February when a pair of Gators swimmers – Lily Ramirez and Daniela Victoria – were arrested and indefinitely suspended from the team after being accused of shoplifting from Nordstrom at the Orlando Mall. Next up was Florida senior outfielder Bryson Smith, who was picked up on March 13 for driving under the influence. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested in Gainesville, FL three weeks later and charged with a trio of misdemeanors for failing to obey a police officer, possession of a drug (Viagra) without a valid prescription and resisting arrest without violence. The month of April was a tough one for the basketball team. Forwards Erik Murphy and Cody Larson were arrested in St. Augustine, FL and charged with third-degree felony burglary charges after allegedly breaking into a car, and team manager Josh Adel was also arrested for principal to burglary for allegedly serving as a lookout. Charges against the players were eventually reduced and each settled their respective case, while Adel had all charges against him dropped. Additionally, former Florida F Dan Wener was charged with a DUI even though he blew below the legal limit (0.08) on the Breathalyzer twice. The State Attorney’s Office eventually dropped his charges due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.

Unfortunately the year of brushes with the law was just getting started for the Gators. It surfaced on April 24 via a news report that both linebacker Chris Martin and defensive end Kendric Johnson were cited with misdemeanors for possessing approximately two grams of marijuana each in their respective vehicles on separate occasions. Former Florida WR Reche Caldwell was arrested one month later for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. Gators runner Andries Dumisane Hlaselo had the darkest arrest of the year, being picked up in June after being accused of rape and sexual assault. He was immediately dismissed from the team. The Florida football team had the remainder of the year’s arrests. Sophomore safety Matt Elam was cited for underage drinking for the second time in as many years in July, and an August report noted that freshman defensive back De’Ante Saunders was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in May. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely was arrested on Sept. 13 on a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest without violence, and freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served with a written arrest for underage drinking just one day later. Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley had the last brush with the law of 2011 as he was accused of attacking a former Alabama player early in October but was cleared of the charges one month later. All-in-all, for every positive thing accomplished by the Gators in 2011, there always seemed to be something negative about the program just around the corner.

10 » SIX BECOME A PART OF THE GATOR NATION IN THE SKY; THREE SUFFER SERIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES DURING THE YEAR
It would be difficult to recount everything that Gator Nation has gone through in 2011 without remembering those close to the University of Florida who left us for a better place or suffered through serious medical issues in the past year. Young and old, these Gators departed too soon or had plenty to deal with as the year went on. Jimmy Carnes (76), a former Gators track and field coach, passed away in March after losing a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Former linebacker/safety and three-time Super Bowl winner Godfrey Myles (42) suffered a massive heart attack in June and, while in the hospital on life support, had a stroke that took his life. Former punter and 12-year NFL veteran Don Chandler (76) also lost a long battle with cancer in August. Mike Heimerdinger (58), who was diagnosed with cancer early in the year, passed away in October. He was a former graduate assistant and wide receivers coach at Florida and won consecutive SEC titles with the team from 1984-85. Ending the year on a sad note, beloved Gainesville, FL businessman and former Gators long snapper Harold Monk III (42) died suddenly in December. OGGOA once again sends our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men.

Florida freshman linebacker Neiron Ball was the first of three members of the Gators family to suffer serious health issues during the year. He was rushed to the hospital in February after a blood vessel in his brain ruptured as part of a congenital vascular condition. The doctors were able to stop the bleeding and Ball was released from the hospital four days later, but he was forced to miss the entire season for recovery purposes. In the middle of the year, Miami Heat guard/forward Mike Miller was lucky enough to have his wife give birth to a daughter named Jaylen. Unfortunately for the family, she was forced to spend two weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit after doctors found that she had five holes in her heart upon being born. The Millers eventually brought Jaylen home with them in a bit of a coincidence considering they actually donated $1 million to a pediatric intensive care unit at children’s hospital in his home town in 2007. Later that month, former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which he is currently still recovering from and will continue to do so over the next few months.

Continue Reading » Top 11 for 2011: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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ESPN’s Hoge offers mea culpa on Tim Tebow

ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge, who sounded off on Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow on Twitter in August, writing that “it’s embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow,” began to change his tune about the second-year signal caller in an interview Monday with ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning.

Though Hoge once believed that “college credentials do not transfer to NFL, rah-rah speeches do not work” and that someone like Tebow “must possess a skill set to play [and win],” he is beginning to rescind some of those comments.

“My analyst eyes have been clouded by something that’s more important in sports than trophies and Super Bowls,” Hoge said at the beginning of a two-minute exaltation (audio). “I wrote a book last year called “Find a Way,” and those words have always inspired me to help me live the dream and fight to live. The living part of the dream was playing in the NFL; the fighting part was to beat cancer when I was diagnosed with cancer.

“As I watch what Tim Tebow – and actually the Denver Broncos – are doing, I’m not saying they’re going to win a Super Bowl, but the lessons that they are showing what sports is about. Regardless of your skill set – and I’ve been obviously hard on Tim Tebow, very critical of him as a quarterback and his skill set. Those eyes have clouded probably something that’s more important in sports than a standard skill set but how you maximize that skill set. What you do with what you’ve been given and how you work at it, how you harness it, how you build it.

“Once guys get in the NFL, you can’t teach them anything anymore. They know everything. To watch a guy that has worked as diligently, a coaching staff that has molded an offense around what they do well, it’s a great life lesson. If they don’t win a Super Bowl, does that mean they’re not champions or they’re not winners? Absolutely not. In fact, I think that’s one of the wrong things in sports – if you don’t play in a Super Bowl or win a Super Bowl, you weren’t a champion or you weren’t a winner. There are so many people who never play there that are winners and are champions.

“And I’ve been wrong on a lot of levels with him. The opportunity now is to shed light on what an amazing story on how he has worked, persevered, changed, his diligence. All of those [are] things that you try to teach young people, that you want sports to really be about. What makes sports great is there are life lessons to be taught there.

“You have a certain skill set. Will you work hard on that skill set and will you give it all you have? You can look in the mirror [and say], ‘I gave it all I had, and I don’t have anything to be ashamed about or embarrassed by.’ That to me is what I see in the Denver Broncos and in Tim Tebow. I’ve been wrong on a lot of levels, and I’ve become now a huge fan in watching not only the Broncos play but Tim Tebow play.”

Hoge’s rants on Tebow did not conclude with his August tweets as he continued to dismiss the player’s success on numerous occasions via the network’s various media outlets. However, like so many others who once doubted Tebow’s ability to win, it appears as if Hoge is finally willing to let the results speak for themselves.

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ESPN going all-in with Tim Tebow on Wednesday

ESPN announced Tuesday that the network has decided to spend one full hour of SportsCenter on Wednesday (2-3 p.m.) highlighting, discussing and debating one man – Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

The hour, which is expected to feature at least 10 separate segments on Tebow, will cover the NFL’s most debated player from a number of angles.

There will be highlights of his fourth-quarter comebacks, a live report from the Broncos facility, a touchscreen segment, a feature from Ed Werder “Winning the Tebow Way,” a top 10 consisting of Tebow’s greatest moments, and a segment dedicated to his fantasy football impact. ESPN will also have former players and current NFL analysts debating Tebow’s development on the field as well as his future in Denver.

OGGOA will feature live coverage of TebowCenter for the entire one-hour period on Wednesday via Twitter with a complete recap here on OnlyGators.com.

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OGGOA Week In Review: Nov. 27 – Dec. 4

Considering so much has gone on over the past week in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its second edition. (Yes, it covers an eight-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts that have been written this week just in case you happened to miss a thing or two.

OGGOA COLUMNS
» An in-depth look at former Florida head coach Urban Meyer going to the Ohio State Buckeyes was published in the latest edition of The Silver Lining. The 3,500-word piece looks at Meyer’s decision from every possible angle (some tidbits you will not find elsewhere are included) and provides you with all the information you need in order to draw your own conclusion.

» OGGOA had the unique opportunity to review “The Play That Changed College Football,” the latest edition of the ESPN documentary series SEC Storied.

» Following Florida basketball’s loss to the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange, former Gators forward Adam Allen posted the latest edition of Allen’s Alley, explaining in what areas Florida has room for improvement.

EXTRA
While Al Michaels and Bob Costas are discussing the Denver Broncos improving to 6-1 this season with quarterback Tim Tebow starting, former Gators wide receiver now NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth does the Gator Chomp. (Thanks to OGGOA follower Chaz.)

FOOTBALL
» Meyer agreed to coach the Buckeyes beginning in 2012. His signing was officially announced prior to OSU introducing him at an on-campus press conference. In between, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley wished Meyer the best of luck with his new employer.

» Two Gators – redshirt freshmen safety Joshua Shaw and defensive end Lynden Traildecided to transfer on Tuesday. Shaw and Trail each chose to transfer for different reasons, and OGGOA also spoke with Trail for an exclusive interview about his decision and promise to remain a Florida fan.

» Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was announced as the cover athlete for the premiere edition of NFL Magazine, set to go on sale Dec. 13 for $4.99.

» OGGOA confirmed that strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti would join Meyer and has already left the program for the Buckeyes.

» Florida announced that it accepted an invitation to the 2012 Gator Bowl.

» While on the media teleconference to officially accept the bowl bid, Gators head coach Will Muschamp confirmed Marotti’s departure, said sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will undergo surgery on his ACL Wednesday and discussed a number of other topics relating to the bowl game.

» Florida four-star running back recruit Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) decommitted from the Gators after a significant miscommunication with the coaching staff and completely eliminated UF from his list.

BASKETBALL
» One of the greatest television commercials to feature a college coach was published on OGGOA for your enjoyment. Florida head coach Billy Donovan does a press conference praising the variety of offerings from Florida Gulf Seafood.

» Donovan earned his 400th career win as UF routed the Stetson Hatters 96-70 Monday evening. Freshman guard Bradley Beal led the way with career-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also discussed what winning his 400th college basketball game meant on a number of levels.

» It was determined that junior forward Erik Murphy did not tear his meniscus but rather had a deep bone bruise and may be able to return for the Arizona game on Wednesday.

» Despite it being a close game throughout, the Gators fell to the Orange 72-68 on the road in Syracuse, NY. Junior G Kenny Boynton started slow but finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

» Following Florida’s loss to Syracuse, Donovan pointed to turnovers, poor rebounding and players missing in action as the reasons why UF struggled. Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario was benched during the contest because Donovan was not pleased with where his head was at heading into and during the game.

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Review – ESPN documentary series SEC Storied: “The Play That Changed College Football”

The second of four documentaries set to air on ESPNU this year as part of the SEC Storied documentary series, “The Play That Changed College Football” is an intricate look at the first Southeastern Conference Championship Game played in 1992 between the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-0) and No. 12 Florida Gators (8-3).

Directed by Jeff Cvitkovic and narrated by Luke Perry, the film is centered on the thesis that one game – and more specifically one play – “helped shape how conferences are constructed and championships are decided.”

When the SEC expanded to 12 teams (adding Arkansas and South Carolina) nearly two decades ago, then-commissioner Roy Kramer chose to format the conference into two six-team divisions and add a championship game that was previously unheard of in Division I college football.

The prevailing thought was that a SEC team would never win a national championship because even if one got through the regular season undefeated, the team could be canalized in the title game and ruin its chances at national glory. What Kramer saw, however, was not the risk but instead the rewards of increased exposure, television revenue and conference prestige.

“You had a chance to have a team play for the national championship. Now, all of a sudden if they lose this game, they’re gonna lose their shot at a national championship. I was concerned we had shot ourselves in the foot,” he admitted.

The former commissioner is honest and forthcoming when admitting that, while he may be considered a visionary now, he was one play away from potentially being a pariah. Luckily for him, the former came true and not the latter.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s review of ESPN’s latest documentary…after the break!
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Urban Meyer to Ohio State? The timeline.

Updated Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.

Rumors have been circulating seemingly since the day he stepped down from his post with the Florida Gators that Urban Meyer would return to being a college football head coach sooner than later. When Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel resigned on May 30, it appeared as if Meyer’s next destination was a certainty.

Throughout the last six months, Meyer has spent his time working as a college football analyst for ESPN, doing speaking engagements across the country, making appearances and spending time with his family. He has also – on numerous occasions – denied any specific intent on returning to coaching in 2012 though he has admitted more than once that he does miss carrying a whistle.

Over the last few days, however, the murmurs regarding Meyer’s future and Ohio State’s coaching situation have gotten louder. It appears inevitable to many that he will be donning the scarlet and grey sooner than later.

Here’s a look at a timeline of how things have shaken out since Tuesday:

» The New York Times published a story Tuesday noting that Meyer had met with Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne one week ago in Miami, FL to discuss his school’s coaching position. Meyer, according to the story, declined the opportunity but “expressed his desire to return to coaching.”

» Two days later, BuckeyeGrove.com writer Kyle Rowland tweeted the following: “Same plane that came from Gainesville to OSU airport was in Miami when Urban Meyer met with Univ. of Ariz. That meeting took place in Miami.”

» CBS Sports’ NFL insider Mike Freeman then referenced a report he read on Scout.com Thursday, tweeting that “Urban Meyer has agreed to coach OSU for 7 years, $35 million. If true, whoa.”

» After that began to circulate, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples attempted to set the record straight with a tweet of his own: “Spoke to someone who would know tonight and was told any report of a deal between Urban Meyer and Ohio State is untrue.”

» However, Buckeyes blog Eleven Warriors quickly took to Twitter to divulge what they had uncovered: “We are 99.7% sure Urban Meyer has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of Ohio State. Solid sources. Plural.”

» Shortly after, The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley texted Meyer directly and asked him specifically about the rumor that he had accepted the OSU job. “No truth to it,” Meyer replied via text.

» Meyer’s wife Shelley also made a statement after being contacted by WCJB TV20 and asked if her husband had agreed to coach Ohio State. “No, he did not,” she told the station.

» SPORTSbyBROOKS then posted a full story about the Meyer situation Friday evening, reporting that a “deal between Meyer and Ohio State was consummated in principle earlier this week in Columbus but not signed.”

Brooks goes on to cite specifics of the agreement including a “generous compensation package” and a promise from the school to provide him with the ability to hire the “highest-paid assistant coaching staff in college football history.”

» Saturday morning, Associated Press writer Larry Lage asked Meyer about the deal. He declined comment. He also questioned ESPN analyst Chris Spielman (rumored by Brooks to be a future Meyer assistant) about the situation, and Spielman said there was no deal between Meyer and OSU.

» While doing color commentary for the Michigan-Nebraska game at noon, Meyer addressed the rumors on the air (video): “I know it’s that time of year. I’ve not been offered any job, and I’ve certainly not accepted any job,” he said.

» Minutes later, ESPN.com released its version of Brooks’s story, noting that “Ohio State has been in contact with Urban Meyer about becoming the school’s coach” but “no contract is in place and no announcement likely would be made until after the regular season.”

» UPDATE: Dooley had an extensive conversation with Meyer over the weekend about the rumors that he might return to coaching. Meyer denied reports of interviews with both Arizona and Ohio State but did say he would consider an offer from the latter institution. “I’m in a good place right now mentally and physically. So if something happens with Ohio State, I’ll have a decision to make,” Meyer said. “If there is a decision to be made concerning Ohio State, there will be a lot that will go into it. But right now, there is no decision to be made.”

He also noted that the three reasons he resigned from Florida will have to be taken into consideration before making any move. “The concerns are still there,” Meyer added. “No. 1 – my health. No. 2 – my family. No. 3 – the state of college football. I’ve done some research into the second one. I’ve found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it.”

It is not surprising that Ohio State and Meyer would both want to wait until the end of the 2011 regular season before announcing any type of agreement. Doing so in-season would be disrespectful to both interim head coach Luke Fickell and Meyer’s current employer. That is, of course, unless there truly is nothing to announce, which appears to be less and less likely as things progress regardless of Meyer’s denials.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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Gators place No. 1, No. 2 on ESPN’s Top Plays

Each night ESPN compiles a Top 10 plays of the day and airs the segment on SportsCenter. Thursday evening, a pair of plays made by Florida Gators held the top two spots. The No. 2 play featured is an alley-oop from senior point guard Erving Walker to sophomore center Patric Young in the Florida-North Florida basketball game. The No. 1 play, of course, was Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow‘s 20-yard, game-winning touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

Tebow’s touchdown was also SportsCenter‘s Highlight of the Night:

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