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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FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, pep rally, Florida-Miami

1 » The 2014 NBA Draft is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. with three former Florida Gators hoping to be selected among the event’s 60 picks. The first and possibly only player who will be drafted during Thursday night’s proceedings is center Patric Young, who has a late-first, early-second round evaluation. Young has mostly been projected as an early second-round pick but made it up to No. 30 (last pick of the first round) in a mock draft by ESPN‘s Chad Ford earlier this week. However, on Thursday, Ford moved Young all the way down to No. 42, predicting that he gets snagged by the Houston Rockets. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin nor forward Casey Prather will likely be selected, though a team could take a flier on Wilbekin late in the process.

“I think Wilbekin is one of those guys that can make a team. I don’t think he’s a guy that will necessarily be drafted,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas in a conference call this week. “I think Wilbekin is probably a better pro prospect than Aaron Craft, but just because you’re a good college player, it’s a tough transition at that position to get to the NBA. He’s not as quick or explosive or quite as good of a shooter as some of the other guys who are out there – or as big.”

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Florida Gators women win 2014 Capital One Cup

The Florida Gators women’s athletic program was officially announced Thursday as the winner of the 2014 Capital One Cup.

It is the first time in program history that the women have obtained the award, though Florida’s men’s program captured the first two honors in 2011 and 2012.

In the four-year history of the award, the Gators are the only athletic program to win both the men’s and women’s cups.

Awarded annually to each of the top men’s and women’s Division I college athletic programs in the country, the winner of the Capital One Cup is determined by a scoring system in which points are awarded sport-by-sport depending how respective teams finish in NCAA Championships and the final official coaches’ polls.

Florida (152 points) dominated its competition, winning the cup by an 42-point margin over UCLA (110) and finishing 63 points above the next team from the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M (89).

The Gators led the way with championships and first-place finishes in gymnastics and softball. Florida also finished in the top 10 nationally in six other sports: indoor track & field (third), outdoor track & field (fourth), lacrosse (fourth), tennis (fifth), swimming (sixth) and soccer (10th).

UF’s men’s athletic program is currently ranked third overall but first among SEC teams with 86 points. Florida is 12.5 points behind the leader, Notre Dame (98.5), but 45 points ahead of the next SEC school, Auburn (41). The men’s standings will become final after the conclusion of the 2014 Colege World Series.

The women’s victory earns the University of Florida a total of $200,000 to go toward student-athlete graduate-level scholarships. The Gators will be presented with the Capital One Cup at the 2014 ESPY Awards on July 16 at 9 p.m.

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Florida hires J.C. Deacon as men’s golf coach

Less than two months after men’s golf coach Buddy Alexander announced his retirement following 27 years on the job, the Florida Gators found his replacement in UNLV Rebels assistant coach J.C. Deacon.

An assistant with the program from 2011-14, Deacon, 31, rejoined his alma mater six years after concluding his career as a student-athlete (2001-05). He helped lead UNLV to the 2002 Mountain West Championship. Deacon then spent nearly seven years playing professionally, winning two titles in his career and working on PGA Tour Canada from 2007-10, before getting into coaching.

Deacon becomes the 15th men’s golf coach in program history at Florida, stepping in for the exceedingly accomplished Alexander, a three-time GCCA National Coach of the Year and eight-time SEC Coach of the Year who won two national titles (1993, 2011) and eight SEC crowns (1989, 1991-94, 1999, 2003, 2011) with the Gators.

“When I finally had the chance to sit down with J.C. Deacon, everything I had been hearing over and over about him was apparent. There is much to offer with our storied golf program and J.C. will bring that message to the golf community,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in the school’s announcement.

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TWO BITS: Florida-Georgia, Billy Donovan

1 » Though the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to let the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs choose whether to offer EverBank Field‘s new cabana seating for the annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the schools have turned down the opportunity both for 2014 and the foreseeable future. The 17 cabanas, which according to the Associated Press can seat a maximum of 640 people, take up the space of 7,000 seats that Florida and Georgia would otherwise be able to sell for the game. The athletic directors for both schools prefer to have temporary seating added in that space rather than waste the real estate. “Our No. 1 priority is to have the same number of tickets available to our fans and we don’t have an interest in any scenario that reduces the number of tickets,” Gators AD Jeremy Foley told the AP’s Mark Long. Jacksonville removed 9,500 seats as part of its new renovation but should still come close to its capacity of 84,000 for the game.

2 » ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, after speaking with personnel throughout the NBA, listed Florida head coach Billy Donovan as the coach in the college ranks who best prepares his players to be professionals. “He runs a lot of pro stuff and integrates a lot of wrinkles,” a league executive told Goodman. “He has an innovative playbook. … He just gets it.” The rest of the 12-person list, in order: Ben Howland (unemployed), John Beilein (Michigan), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas), Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech), Rick Pitino (Louisville), John Calipari (Kentucky), Sean Miller (Arizona), Tony Bennett (Virginia).

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FOUR BITS: Bostic, Prather, hidden ball trick

1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”

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