FOUR BITS: UConn wins, One Shining Moment, Orange & Blue Debut, Gator Growl

1 » Two days after eliminating the (1) Florida Gators in the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the (7) Connecticut Huskies went on to win the entire thing, claiming the national championship with a wire-to-wire 60-54 win over the (8) Kentucky Wildcats. UConn’s victory was a fitting end to the 2013-14 season for Florida, which saw one of only two teams to hand it a loss during the campaign capture the title as opposed to a team in Kentucky that it beat three times in a single season.

2 » The 2013-14 incarnation of CBS‘s famous One Shining Moment tournament recap featurette included six appearances by the Gators starting with a little girl doing the Gator Chomp at the beginning. Senior center Patric Young was shown three times, first at “the ball is tipped” (0:25), then for his big block against Pittsburgh (1:39) and finally on a dunk (1:47). Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin‘s halftime buzzer-beater three-pointer against Pittsburgh was not included, but he was shown celebrating afterward (2:10). UF was also in the video on a play in which it got dunked on by UConn.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: UConn wins, One Shining Moment, Orange & Blue Debut, Gator Growl

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

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Getting into Navy/Marine Corps Classic featuring Florida and Georgetown will cost you

One month ago the Florida Gators and Georgetown Hoyas announced that their college basketball programs will begin the 2012 season by participating in the Navy/Marine Corps Classic on Nov. 9 off the coast of Jacksonville, FL.

Set to compete onboard a U.S. Naval carrier on the water outside an active military base, Florida and Georgetown will go head-to-head one of three currently scheduled games set to be played on naval ships in honor of Veterans Day.

And while fans are undoubtedly excited to see their favorite team competing on a large stage in such a high-profile game, attending the contest in person may not necessarily be within the realm of fiscal possibility for many Gators.

Interviewed live Tuesday by host Frank Frangie on Sports Radio 1010XL in Jacksonville, executive director of sports & entertainment for the City of Jacksonville Alan Verlander provided some insight on how fans may be able to acquire passes for the game.

According to Verlander, who said an official press release with exact details is scheduled for Thursday, the cheapest way to attend the two-day event is for $1,000 with packages set to be sold for as much as $50,000. However, that cost will cover a lot more than just the ability to watch Florida and Georgetown square off live on the carrier.

“It’s not just $1,000 for one basketball game,” he cautioned. “It’s $1,000 for a whole two-day event.”

[View Florida-Georgetown Sponsorship Packages]

The City of Jacksonville is technically not allowed to sell tickets “to an event on a navy base or any military base that is active,” so instead they partnered with the Jacksonville Jaguars to create “sponsorship packages” for a two-day event.

Those packages will include a V.I.P. party for the Jaguars game on Thursday, passes to the basketball game, parking and the ability to attend a pre-game fan festival on the military base (including a concert from a “big-name entertainer”) prior to Friday’s contest.

“We’re creating a fan fest on the [military] base before the basketball game,” Verlander explained. “Envision this: You’ve got an aircraft carrier on the coast there…and then right adjacent to that you have a huge fan festival, and we’re trying to bring in a big-name entertainer. We’re in talks right now with a big-name entertainer that everybody’s heard of.”

He also noted that a portion of the money paid for each sponsorship package will go to purchasing tickets so members of the military can attend the football game on Thursday and the press release notes that “proceeds from the sponsorship packages will go to support local military and veterans efforts.”

“The aircraft carrier that they’re bringing is going to have 3,000 servicemen and women that will go to the Jaguar game the night before and then obviously go to the basketball game,” Verlander told OGGOA on Wednesday. “Part of each package is helping send those servicemen and women to the [football] game.”

Only 8,000 passes will be disseminated for the basketball game with 3,000 going to members of the military. Of the remaining 5,000, Verlander said 4,400 should be available to the public with UF and GU each receiving a small allotment of their own.

“The actual attendance on the deck will be 8,000. That’s as many as we can seat. We fully anticipate it selling out very quickly,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard ticket.”

Verlander also told OGGOA that he and the universities both hope that students will be able to attend the game though it is currently unknown how many tickets will be available. Season ticket holders will have to spring for the sponsorship packages.

“We’re looking at potentially doing some kind of thing for the students – students at both Georgetown and Florida – but it would be on a very limited basis. We’re still looking at that right now as far as students go,” he said. “If you’re a Gator season ticket holder, really the only way to [go to this game] is to buy one of these packages. It’s not because we’re trying to be exclusive or anything like that; it’s a major event to put on with major expenses and it’s a one-of-a-kind of event that we’ve got to be able to pay for and partner with the military and do it the right way.”

Read the rest of this story on the Navy/Marine Corps Classic…after the break!
Continue Reading » Getting into Navy/Marine Corps Classic featuring Florida and Georgetown will cost you

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FOUR BITS: Injury updates. Hogs’ Smith out? Tebow/Mallett are opposites. Gator Growl.

1 » Florida Gators injury update for Saturday vs. Arkansas Razorbacks:
CB Moses Jenkins (concussion) – Out. Read this OGGOA story.
LB Jelani Jenkins (ankle) – Doubtful.
DL Lawrence Marsh (ankle) – In protective boot again. Doubtful.
DL Jaye Howard (knee) – Called “50-50” by Meyer. Questionable.
– Redshirt freshman Omar Hunter and senior Troy Epps will rotate on the inside.
WR Carl Moore (back) – Remains Out and struggling to get healthy.
CB Jeremy Brown (back) – Also remains Out, progressing faster than Moore.

2 » Arkansas Razorbacks star running back Michael Smith is being called a “game-time decision” by head coach Bobby Petrino to play on Saturday against the No.1 Florida Gators. Smith’s status remains in doubt after he tweaked his right hamstring in a Hogs win over the Auburn Tigers last weekend.

3 » Standing 6’7″ and 238 pounds, Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett is an example of your prototypical NFL passer. Tim Tebow, at 6’3″ and 242 pounds, serves as more of a physical threat with his strength, but often tucks and runs when Mallett would bide more time in the pocket. To paraphrase Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel, Tebow has finally met his physical match – and polar opposite – at quarterback.

4 » Featuring former Gators National Championship and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel as host and entertainment including comedian Dana Carvey, band O.A.R. and dance troupe Jabbawockeez, the 2009 Gator Growl is looking to be a big-time hit. The world’s largest student-run pep rally is in its 86th year of existence and looks to entertain Gators fans and visitors Friday night in The Swamp!

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FOUR BITS: Defense is Strong; Gator Growl; Bet

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators and No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide are on top of the college football mountain – both literally and figuratively. While a meeting between the leaders of the East and West in the SEC Championship game seems inevitable, it is not the teams’ high-powered offenses that will take them there. Instead, it is defense that separates Florida and Alabama from the pretenders. Dave Curtis of the Sporting News may have put it best to Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated: “You know how in the NCAA tournament you have those years where the Final Four has two No. 1 seeds on one side and a four and a six on the other?” he said. “Well, if the Dec. 5 SEC Championship were a national semifinal, Florida and Alabama would be those dueling No. 1 seeds.”

2 » The Gators top-ranked defense has only given up 6.4 points per game, five less than their average last season. In fact, Florida’s defense is so dominant that its players may finally earn defensive coordinator Charlie Strong the head coaching gig he so richly deserves (and has for years). After I posted this, I came across a new article by the New York Times stating that a previously snubbed Strong is making a major case for himself. “It’s time for college football to make a statement,” writer Lenn Robbins says.

3 » With the LSU Tigers in the books as a 13-3 win, the Gators look ahead to the Arkansas Razorbacks next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in The Swamp. But before kickoff can commence, Florida’s annual Gator Growl homecoming event will be taking place Friday night. Featuring comedian Dana Carvey, band O.A.R. and dance group the JabbaWockeeZ, the largest student-run pep rally looks to be as entertaining as always. And if that wasn’t enough, former Gators star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel will be hosting the festivities instead of Albert and Alberta. 2009’s show theme is “Legends of the Swamp,” and the students plan to honor one of the best senior classes ever to run out onto Florida Field.

4 » It was not just the Gators that won on Saturday night as Florida Congressman Adam Putnam won a friendly bet with Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana’s First Congressional District. Putnam, a UF graduate, won a case of root beer produced by the Abita Brewing Company of Louisiana from Scalise, who would have received some of Florida’s Natural Orange Juice should LSU have been victorious.

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