1 » The Florida Gators announced Tuesday that Ray Graves, a former head football coach and athletic director at the school who passed away in April at the age of 96, will be honored with a decal on the team’s helmets this season. The decal reads “RG: The Bull Gator,” referring to Graves’s nickname while he was coach of the Gators from 1960-69; he led Florida to a 70-3-4 (38-19-3 SEC) record with a 4-1 mark in bowl games and four top-20 national finishes. UF was Graves’s only head coaching job. He led Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier and a future NFL Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Jack Youngblood, while with the Gators. Graves was also Florida’s coach during the invention of Gatorade, and he remained UF’s athletic director until 1979 after serving in the role for 19 years.
Former Florida Gators head coach Ray Graves passed away Thursday evening at the age of 96, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Graves, Florida’s first prominent head football coach who earned the nickname “Bull Gator,” led the Gators from 1960-69, going 70-31-4 (38-19-3 SEC) with a 4-1 record in bowl games and four top-20 national finishes.
Former Florida Gators defensive end Jack Youngblood can generally be found in a jovial mood, enthusiastic to talk about his collegiate and professional careers, always willing to lend his opinion about a variety of football-related topics.
And while he once again had no problem sharing his thoughts on a variety of topics Thursday while on 740 The Game out of Orlando, FL, his tone became disapproving and bothered when discussing former Florida (now Ohio State Buckeyes) head coach Urban Meyer on the air with host Mike Bianchi.
Youngblood, a seven-time Pro Bowler and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who is also a member of the Gators’ Ring of Honor and UF Athletic Hall of Fame, explained that he once considered himself close with Meyer but no longer sees the coach in the same light.
“Very much so,” said Youngblood when asked if he was disappointed with how Meyer left Florida. “When somebody tells me something to my face confidentially, I expect it to be the truth. When it turns out to not be the truth, that doesn’t sit you very high on my Christmas card list, put it that way.
“[He told me] several things – that character was the No. 1 thing he was recruiting on, that was the main thing he was going to recruit on, character. That didn’t happen. And then all of the stuff at the end of the deal, it got convoluted and ‘I’m sick’ and ‘I needed some time off’ and then ‘I didn’t take time off’ and ‘I’m doing television,’ which if it’s not more intense than being a head coach, I don’t know what is.
“There was just no consistency to me, from my perspective.”
1 » ESPN on Monday released its Super Tuesday schedule, and Florida Gators basketball will be featured on three primetime games – vs. Missouri on Feb. 4 at 9 p.m., at Tennessee on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. and at Vanderbilt on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. Florida had previously been announced as the visiting team for ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Kentucky, a contest that will tip-off at 9 p.m.
Also on Monday, OnlyGators.com learned that the Southeastern Conference will announce the 2013-14 league schedule this week. OnlyGators.com can also report the Gators’ 2013-14 SEC opponents. Florida will face Kentucky (permanent rival), Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee twice each as rotational opponents. (The SEC’s 18-game schedule features five home-and-home series and eight opponents that a school will play once each, four home and four away.) UF will host Georgia, Missouri, LSU and Texas A&M and leave Gainesville, FL, to take on Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt on their respective home courts.
2 » Former Florida defensive end Jack Youngblood explains what it is like for a Gators football player to prepare for game day in this video from the school’s marketing wing.
Abby Head On, the eighth SEC Storied documentary aired by ESPNU and first focused solely on a former Florida Gators student-athlete, will debut on Wednesday at 8 p.m. OGGOA was afforded the opportunity to watch an advanced copy of the documentary, which takes a close look at the rise of soccer striker Abby Wambach.
Toughness, grittiness and attitude are just a few of Wambach’s hallmark characteristics, ones she developed as a child, enhanced as a standout at Florida and fully realized as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team. The decision by co-directors Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby to choose former Gators defensive end Jack Youngblood to narrate parts of the documentary was not only a nice touch for Florida and SEC fans but also a deft choice as it set the tone for the feature early.
Abby Head On begins with a look at Wambach’s game-winning goal in the 2004 Athens Olympics (and her boisterous personality) but quickly moves on to her upbringing in Rochester, NY and how toughness, intensity and competitiveness were all instilled in her at a young age. Having to compete with a bunch of brothers for her parents’ attention made participating in sports attractive from the get go.
Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach will be the subject of ESPNU‘s eighth SEC Storied documentary, OGGOA has learned.
Abby Head On, which is set to premiere on May 15 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU, will be officially announced by the network later Monday. The film chronicles Wambach’s collegiate career with the Gators, international accomplishments with the U.S. Women’s National Team and quest to break Mia Hamm’s international scoring record.
After surprising the soccer community by choosing to attend Florida over powerhouse North Carolina, Wambach led the Gators to four-straight SEC Championships (1998-2001), two Final Fours (1998, 2001) and an NCAA Championship (1998), which remains the soccer program’s only national title to this day.
Individually while playing for UF, she was a two-time SEC Player of the Year (2000-01) and SEC Freshman of the Year (1998) who was also a four-time All-SEC First Team selection and three-time first-team All-American.
Wambach left Florida upon graduation as the school record holder in goals (96), game-winning goals (24), points (242), assists (49) and hat tricks (10); she maintains the No. 1 spot in each of those categories to this day.
Former Florida Gators wide receiver Carlos Alvarez was officially inducted into the prestigious College Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2012 class in a ceremony held Saturday in South Bend, IN.
One of 79 All-American players and nine coaches made eligible for selection by the voting committee last year, Alvarez was voted in May 2011 to be one of 16 inductees (14 players, two coaches) enshrined in July 2012.
He played on the Gators for three seasons (1969-71) and still holds three school records for career receiving yards (2,563), receptions in a single season (88) and receptions in a game (15). Alvarez also set the then-University of Florida and Southeastern Conference career receptions mark with 172 catches in 1971.
“I’m hardly ever speechless, but I am,” he said in May when he learned of the honor. “When you look at college football and the number of people who have played…I feel honored just to be mentioned.”
Alvarez is the third Florida player elected to the Hall of Fame since 2006.
He is also the ninth overall representative of the Gators to be enshrined in the hall, joining coaches Charlie Bachman (1978), Doug Dickey (2003) and Ray Graves (1990), and players linebacker Wilber Marshall (2008), running back Emmitt Smith (2006), quarterback Steve Spurrier (1986) and defensive ends Dale Van Sickel (1975) and Jack Youngblood (1992).
“Carlos is a great example of all that is good in college athletics. His tireless work and commitment to excellence translated into success both on and off the field,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a school release. “He has maintained his level of commitment and success in his professional career as well. I’ve had the opportunity to see Carlos a number of times when he visits Gainesville and he remains a tremendous ambassador for our program. The honor is well deserved.”
Photo Credit: University of Florida archives
With two weeks ago being the two-year anniversary of ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive and considering he released a brand new book the very same day, former Florida Gators defensive lineman Jack Youngblood sat down with us recently for an exclusive and extensive hour-long interview about his life and career.
The first University of Florida student-athlete to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Youngblood is also a member of Florida’s Ring of Honor, the College Football Hall of Fame and the UF Athletic Hall of Fame. He has as accomplished of a career as any player who has put on the orange and blue of the Gators after being named first-team All-SEC and All-America in 1970 and also being selected as the No. 20 overall pick in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft.
Youngblood went on to be named to seven Pro Bowls and be selected as a first-team All-Pro five times while also winning NFC Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons (1975-76) and the Los Angeles Rams’ Most Value Player award three times (1975-76, 1979). He played in five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl and had his No. 85 retired by St. Louis prior to being inducted into the team’s Ring of Fame in 2001.
Since retiring for the game of football, Youngblood has done some acting work, served as an analyst with numerous media outlets, and co-hosted Wal-Mart’s Great Outdoors program, which used to air on ESPN on Saturday mornings. He also wrote a biography, has held a number of football administration jobs and continues to work to this day.
OGGOA’s three-part interview with Youngblood covers his college days and professional career while also highlighting some interesting stories and moments in his life and his take on today’s game. This is part three of that interview..
ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s talk a little bit about the new book. It obviously covers all of the people who have inspired you in your life. Outside of your family and coaches, who would you say is the one person who really lit a fire under you and helped you realize how good of a football player you were or how dominant you could be?
JACK YOUNGBLOOD: “From a football perspective, I would have to say the number one influence had to be Merlin [Olsen]. The life-changing moment for a young kid coming out of the University of Florida, a defensive linemen drafted into what was left of the Fearsome Foursome – one of the dominant forces in the 60s in the National Football League. When I got there in 1971, two of them had moved on and I was trying to find a way to figure out how I could fit into the picture. I knew that I definitely wasn’t going to play inside, but how do I fit in next to Merlin Olsen? I thought it was going to be a short trip. Merlin certainly was a tremendous influence on helping me understand how you played at that level.”
AS: Some will say that the best story in the book is about one of the scariest moments of your life, when you had a gun in your eye. The trigger was pulled but luckily for you the chamber was empty. Everyone will be reading about that in detail in the book, but how did you get in that situation in the first place and what happened when you heard the click and nothing happened?
JY: “It was really an innocent situation. We were at a club in Logan, Utah one evening just having a quiet beer. I had a buddy with his girlfriend with him and we had work the next morning so we called it early around 9:30 or 10:00 and went to our cars parked out behind the establishment there. I walked out along with one of my old wrestling buddies from Idaho. These two guys were hassling one of our friends and the girl. I saw it and walked up and said, ‘What’s the problem here?’ These two little loudmouths kind of turned around and tried to get in my face a little bit. I said, ‘No, no, no. Just go on. Leave these kids alone.” I broke it up. Nothing physical, just stepped in between and said we should go our separate ways. This one guy, he takes off and it’s kind of dark in the place without a whole lot of light but enough. I didn’t think anything of it. The other guy was standing there and I said he should go on and get about his business.
“My buddy had gone ahead of me and he was at the car. He hollered at me, ‘Look out, Jack! He’s got a gun!’ [The gunman] had slipped between two cars and I didn’t see him. He came up behind me, and by the time I was hollered at, he was sticking the gun in the back of my head and when I spun around, it was in my eye. That’s when I heard the snap. At that moment the pain was excruciating. My first thought was that he just put my eye out. The next thing I remember – because you go into a state of shock to a certain degree – was [my friend] Darrell going ‘Don’t kill him Jack! Don’t kill him!’
“I got him by the throat on the hood of a car, and I’ve got the gun. I took the gun away from him and pinned him and do not remember any of that. And then I looked down as I’m over him, I notice that there’s blood gushing on him. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, that’s nasty. That’s my blood.’ I was bleeding all over everything. Fortunately, there again, divine intervention. You don’t catch an empty chamber by chance.”
Read the rest of our interview with Jack Youngblood…after the break!
Continue Reading » Youngblood: “That’s when I heard the snap.”