The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 27

Florida basketball staff reloads

Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan knew for a while that he would have two staffers leaving the program this offseason, and it all became a reality last week when assistant to the head coach Mark Daigneault and video coordinator Oliver Winterbone both departed to join the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.

Daigneault was hired as the head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the 66ers, while Winterbone accepted a basketball information analyst position with Oklahoma City’s front office. (The 66ers are moving from Tulsa to Oklahoma City this season.)

Donovan did not wait long to fill the staffing holes and keep his machine running.

On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman reported that Donovan will hire veteran assistant coach Billy Schmidt to fill the off-court assistant position vacated by Daigneault.

Schmidt has spent the last 11 seasons coaching under Brian Gregory including eight at Dayton and the last three at Georgia Tech. He was Gregory’s first hire, joining the Flyers after spending nine seasons coaching in major conferences. Schmidt’s journey began as a manager with Wake Forest (1988-92) but continued with stops at Tennessee (1994-97), Northwestern (1997-2000) and under Tommy Amaker both at Seton Hall (2000) and Michigan (2001-03).

OnlyGators.com learned Monday evening that Donovan has also desired to hire Peter Gash to replace Winterbone as video coordinator.

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8/26: Optimism and confidence surround Florida as Muschamp kicks off game week vs. Idaho

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to open up game week ahead of the first game of the season against the Idaho Vandals at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor also shared some comments to kick off game week.

This post was updated Wednesday will comments Muschamp made during his weekly appearance on the Southeastern Conference media teleconference.

OPTIMISM AND CONFIDENCE

A new season is on the horizon for the Gators, and Muschamp knows that his team is ready for the opportunity to prove to doubters that 2013 was a fluke and not how Florida football is supposed to be played. He has seen the renewed drive and dedication from his team on the field, in meeting rooms and during events outside of the facility. Now he just hopes that UF will be able to put it all together on Saturday.

“Any time you go through a tough time in your life, you reflect and you get humble and you work hard and you pull together and you understand that people around you are close to you. Certainly in the building, number one, but within that locker room, number two, I’ve seen a very close-knit unit,” he said.

“In that locker room, there are a lot of guys that know how to practice, know how to practice the right way. They know how to compete and get after each other but also how to take care of each other. It’s been a lot of fun in training camp. I’ve really enjoyed being around the guys. You can see the camaraderie and togetherness in this football team, and I really look forward to seeing them competing in front of our fans.”

Taylor said the excitement around the program is palpable, and the Gators have an opportunity to ride the wave of momentum into the season by pulling off a victory over the Vandals.

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TWO BITS: Gators soccer, Florida All-Access

1 » The No. 8 women’s soccer team opened up the 2014-15 athletic season for the Florida Gators on Friday with a dominant 3-0 win over the in-state rival Miami Hurricanes at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Senior forward Jillian Graff scored two goals, the first in the eighth minute of the contest, and sophomore F Savannah Jordan added one of her own to fuel the victory. The match marked the first in Florida’s 20th season of women’s soccer, each of which has been led by head coach Becky Burleigh. The Gators have won seven of the last eight Southeastern Conference regular-season titles and were predicted by the league’s coaches to finish on top of the SEC once again this year.

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 6

Looking for more gold in Cleveland

Giving up more money, more years and a starting role, former Florida Gators forward Mike Miller officially inked a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, returning to the side of LeBron James for the second time in his career.

Miller will continue his career at a rate of $5.6 million with the Cavaliers. Cleveland gave the 34-year-old a player option for the 2015-16 season for the second year of that deal as well as a 15 percent trade kicker should it try to move him.

A two-time NBA Champion, the 2001 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2006 NBA Sixth Man of the Year has put together an exceedingly successful career since being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. In fact, he may very well be the most successful former Gators player in NBA history when his total list of accomplishments is taken into account.

Now with his sixth team, Miller will spend his fourth season next to James. During the first nine seasons of his career, Miller’s teams won just 46.2 percent of their games; however, over the last four, he’s been winning games at a 68.3 percent clip. Miller no doubt expects that that trend to continue with the Cavaliers.

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Jeremy Foley sees similarities in Florida Gators coaches Will Muschamp, Billy Donovan

Drawing similarities between a coach who led a team to its worst record since 1979 with another who won back-to-back national titles is a tall task, but Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley did just that in a radio interview on Thursday.

While once again expressing his complete confidence that head football coach Will Muschamp is the right man for the job, one who can turn the Gators back into a contender after leading the program to a 4-8 record in 2013, Foley explained in-depth to Buddy Martin of WOCA 1370 AM how he saw – and still sees – in Muschamp many of the characteristics that made head basketball coach Billy Donovan successful.

“I’m not saying Will and Billy are the same person, but [when I hired Muschamp] I saw the same energy, I saw the same passion, I saw the same enthusiasm, I saw the same track record in terms of he coached for some of the greats, certainly Nick Saban,” said Foley.

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Gators bristle at “hot seat” talk for Will Muschamp

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley is not the only member of the athletic program dismissing the notion that head football coach Will Muschamp is on the proverbial “hot seat” entering the 2014 season.

Despite the fact that Muschamp is coming off a 4-8 campaign in 2013, Florida’s worst record since 1979, and has failed to put together a single dynamic offense in three seasons at the helm of the Gators, players on both sides of the ball insist that Muschamp’s job status is the furthest thing from the team’s mind.

“We don’t really listen to none of the outsiders,” explained junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. on Monday. “We’re all we got – my brothers, my coaching staff. That’s how it’s going to be here.

“Our job is to fight adversity and our job is to make the Gator Nation happy and get Florida back on top where they used to be. When we do things like that, there’s no worries about no job or no hot seat.”

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Jeremy Foley again throws full support behind Will Muschamp, talks Meyer, Spurrier, Donovan

In an appearance Thursday afternoon on ESPN Radio’s The Paul Finebaum Show, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley once again threw his full support behind head football coach Will Muschamp ahead of the 2014 season.

Muschamp, who last season led an injury-plagued Florida team to its worst record (4-8) since 1979, has been written about plenty this offseason as the top name on college football’s list of coaches on the proverbial hot seat.

Foley did not deny that Muschamp is facing a pressure situation in 2014 but had no problem making it clear that he trusted him to right the ship after it sunk just seven months earlier.

“If you’re not being successful in this business, you’re going to catch heat no matter what the sport is or who the coach is, and we understand that,” Foley explained.

“We hired Will three years ago now and felt very strongly about his capabilities and his talents. Certainly in year two, I think those were on full display when we finished 11-1. Last year didn’t go our way; we’ve never made any excuses about it. It’s not who we are. It’s not good enough. We need to get better and nobody understands that more than Will.

“It doesn’t change and didn’t change how we felt about him. If you feel strongly about somebody, sometimes you just got to take the heat and you got to go and be strong. That’s what we did there, and we’re excited for the future under Will’s leadership.

“He made some tough calls himself by making some changes in his coaching staff. Now we just got to go do it. The University of Florida is not a 4-8 program. That’s not who we are. We’re going to be better, and we’re excited about the future under Will. [We] feel the same way about him as the day we hired him.”

RELATED: Foley puts legacy on the line by sticking his neck out for Muschamp

Finebaum also asked Foley how difficult of a decision it was to ultimately keep Muschamp in the fold and not jettison him out of the program.

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Renderings released of Stephen C. O’Connell Center redesign not from winning firm

Updated on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

Architectural firm NBBJ on Tuesday shared with Sports Illustrated three renderings of its upcoming $45 million renovation of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Unfortunately, according to the Florida Gators, NBBJ did not win the contract for the redesign of the O’Dome and the renderings showcased nationally on SI.com are not what the venue will look like after construction is completed in December 2015.

The University Athletic Association then announced that Davis Architects and CPPI Construction Management, working in conjunction with TLC Engineering, just began design meetings with the school on Tuesday.

Though Davis Architects’ portfolio is not as modern as NBBJ’s work, the firm based in Birmingham, Alabama, has more experience designing collegiate athletic facilities, mostly within its home state.

The company built UAB’s Blazer Stadium (Birmingham), Auburn’s Auburn Arena (Auburn) and Alabama’s Coleman Coliseum (Tuscaloosa), and also performed two end zone expansions on Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa).

Davis Architects completed the $4.5 million renovation of the O’Dome’s gymnastics studio in December 2012, expanding the area to 18,000 square feet (adding 6,600 square feet) while upgrading offices, training rooms, equipment and electronics.

CPPI designed and constructed the $52 million expansion of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, adding 3,000 seats to a new club level in 2012. It is also responsible or the construction for the stadium’s west concourse renovations, sky box additions and Heisman Trophy statue installation.

Furthermore, CPPI built the Heavener Football Complex, Ring Tennis Complex, basketball practice facility, entire lacrosse facility and indoor tennis facility; it also and made additions or renovations to the baseball locker room, Lemerand Center, softball complex, golf club house and swimming & diving facility.

Construction on the multipurpose venue is not scheduled to begin until March 2015.

When the concept for the project was first announced in 2012, the renderings below were released by the University of Florida to The Gainesville Sun:


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