SIX BITS: Florida-Kentucky, Rainey, UT violations

1 » It has been more than 30 years and 15 games since the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the Florida Gators in The Swamp, and while head coach Urban Meyer has been tempering expectations noting his upcoming opponent’s recently blossoming offense, Kentucky is looking to make a statement this year. “[People are going to be skeptical] until we start beating quality opponents,” Wildcats running back Derrick Locke said Monday. “Even if we do beat some, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to beat the teams we haven’t beat, and then we’ll get respect.” Head coach Joker Phillips agrees. “[Games like this are] what you come to Kentucky for,” he said. “This team will not be a team intimidated by The Swamp or playing in a game like this.”

2 » The last time Florida played Kentucky, the Gators dominated the contest 41-7 on the road in Lexington, KY. But the emotion most took away from that game was fright, not excitement, due to then-quarterback Tim Tebow being knocked out cold with a concussion. Wildcats defensive end Taylor Wyndham was responsible for the initial hit that knocked Tebow out but hopes he is not seen as a villain. “Hopefully [I get treated] just like anybody else,” Wyndham said of walking into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. “I’m sure I might get a couple boos, but it’s not a big deal.”

3 » Gainesville, FL, attorney Huntley Johnson, who is representing redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey for his aggravated stalking charge, told the Palm Beach Post that his client has been overcharged. He will likely have some idea of where Rainey stands by the end of the week. “It doesn’t fit the elements of the crime,” Johnson said. “This kid was never going to hurt her. She knew he wasn’t going to hurt her. The fact that he misspoke in the text is not something to crucify this kid for. […] He’s devastated. He cared and cares tremendously for this woman and he cares about being a student at the University of Florida and he cares about being on the football team. […] This is not the kid to draw the line on. I’ve represented a lot of kids over the years. It’s an easy statement to throw stones at, but this kid is a great kid. Period.”

4 » As the Gators offense continues to progress week-to-week, one important factor that must grow is redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley’s trust in his receivers. After Saturday’s game against Tennessee, Brantley says that is as high as ever. “I didn’t put the ball in the best spot, but they made me look good, that’s for sure,” he said at a media availability Monday. “I trusted them before the game and now I really trust them. If I don’t make a perfect throw or anything like that, they’re going to make up for it, they’re going to make some great catches.”

5 » Documents obtained by ESPN on Monday revealed that the Tennessee Volunteers have “self-reported several NCAA violations involving its men’s basketball team, including nearly 100 impermissible phone calls to various recruits” over a two-year period. Additionally, the documents revealed that assistant coach Jason Shay “approved lodging expenses for the parents of three recruits [who] were allowed visits that extended beyond the NCAA mandate of 48 hours.” Though the Volunteers are chocking these mistakes up to “poor record keeping or miscommunication,” Tennessee’s subsequent punishments while they await a NCAA ruling may prove otherwise.

6 » OGGOA’s thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of former South Carolina Gamecocks WR Kenny McKinley, who was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound suicide late Monday evening. He was 23. Head coach Steve Spurrier spoke about McKinkely and recently meeting with him. “I saw him here – he came to the Georgia game,” Spurrier said. “He seemed in good spirits. Great smile like he always had. I don’t understand it if it happened the way they say. It’s hard to comprehend. Kenny was certainly one of my favorite all-time players. He was a wonderful guy. It’s hard to figure out why this happened. It’s a sad day.”

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Tennesee punishes coaches for NCAA violations

Currently under investigation by the NCAA for recruiting violations in the form of impermissible phone calls, the Tennessee Volunteers basketball program has proactively punished four members of its coaching staff, the school announced during an official press conference Friday at 3 p.m.

The NCAA believes Tennessee coaches purposely made excessive phone calls to recruits from unauthorized phones and may have even attempted to mislead and deceive investigators. The organization has already sent the school a formal letter of inquiry.

The Volunteers have decided to reduce head coach Bruce Pearl’s salary by $1.5 million through 2015 (the end of his contract) while also delaying a $500,000 retention bonus the school was set to pay him by 17 months from November 2012 to June 2015.

Additionally, “Coach Pearl will not be permitted to engage in any off campus recruiting for a period of one year,” Tennessee officials ruled. He will be stuck speaking to recruits on campus from Sept. 2010 to Sept 2011.

Three Volunteers assistants – Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay – were also punished. Each received a 25 percent reduction in their salaries and off-campus recruiting bans of nine months, one year and three months, respectively.

Other penalties the school self-imposed on the four men include:
– Requirement to attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar in June 2010
– Not allowed to make recruiting phone calls from Aug. 7-14, 2010
– A 33 percent reduction in official recruiting visits for 2010-11 – from 12 to 9
– A 20 percent reduction in “recruiting opportunities off-campus” – from 130 to 104
– No official or unofficial visits for the weekends of Sept. 17-18 and Sept. 24-25, 2010

The NCAA continues to investigate Tennessee’s football program for impermissible practices but has yet to send a formal letter of inquiry to the school.

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