Billy Donovan stands behind embattled Florida Gators colleague Will Muschamp

During his team’s media day on Wednesday, Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan threw his support behind an embattled colleague, head football coach Will Muschamp, noting that the entire athletic program is “all in this together” and hoping for a positive outcome to the football season.

“I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for Will,” Donovan began.

“Obviously for him, I look at things a little bit differently. Certainly he took over a situation that was really, really challenging, in my opinion. I thought he imposed his style of play on his team. I thought the year before, I saw an unbelievable change inside of his team from a physical standpoint from year one to year two.

“The way they had to handle all the injuries last year was something, to me, that was just totally insurmountable to ever overcome. You can’t lose the level of players – and I respected the way Will handled it because he never used that as an excuse – but the truth is you can’t lose that many good players and be good. You just can’t.

“I look at their team, even this year, there were times last year where I watched and you saw them kind of – I think Will talked about this, ‘Woe is me,’ all that stuff – their team is not that way at all. I think the guy has done an incredible job of changing the culture in terms of his team from one year to the next in a very positive way.”

Donovan respects Muschamp so much, in fact, that he invited him to speak in front of the Florida men’s basketball team this summer. Donovan hoped bringing Muschamp in would help enlighten his players on how quickly things can turn from success to struggle simply from the loss of personnel – whether due to graduation or injuries.

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Mike Slive to retire as SEC commissioner in 2015

The Southeastern Conference on Tuesday announced that Commissioner Mike Slive, who will have served in the role for 13 years, will retire on July 31, 2015. Slive also personally announced that he will be “beginning treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer for which he was treated in the late 1990s.”

“I have been blessed in more ways than I can count and I will have as much passion for this job on my last day as I did on my first,” said Slive in a press release from the league.

“I consider my health situation a temporary detour in a remarkable road that has allowed me to meet amazing people, experience incredible events and celebrate historic victories. I will relish my final year in this position and look forward to being the biggest fan of the SEC for many years to come.”

The prognosis for the Slive to recover is “good,” but he will nevertheless leave his post at the SEC six days after his 75th birthday. At that time, he will “serve in the role of consultant to the conference for a period of four years.”

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Florida Gators considering indoor practice facility

The Florida Gators may build an indoor practice facility for the football team after all.

Despite athletic director Jeremy Foley stating repeatedly that an indoor practice facility was not a priority for the program, the Gators have submitted to the Florida Department of State a notice of bid/request for proposal requiring “design/build services” for “Project UAA-35, Indoor Football Practice Facility (Main Campus).”

University of Florida’s Athletics Association (UAA) is considering the possibilities of providing an indoor practice field for the football program on its current practice site located immediately north of McKethan (baseball) Stadium on the University of Florida campus. Also, a new storage building will be built at the NE corner of the football practice field to provide space for a satellite athletic training space, hydration station, toilet, and field maintenance equipment storage.

The total project budget is $11,900,000.00 including site improvements, underground utilities, fees, surveys & tests, total building comissioning, furnishings & equipment, and contingencies.

According to Florida spokesman Steve McClain, who sent a statement to The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu, there are no plans currently on the horizon for the facility.

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9/29: Muschamp talks injuries, support, secondary

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team begins preparations for the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC). Florida will look to extend its nine-game winning streak against Tennessee on Saturday at noon when the Vols will host the Gators at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

INJURY UPDATES

While Florida’s injury issues are nowhere near as bad as they were in 2013, the team is certainly dealing with some injured Gators one-quarter of the way through the season.

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (meniscus) will be sidelined for Saturday’s game as expected, though Muschamp hopes he will be able to return against LSU. Junior Jonathan Bullard will take many of his snaps on the interior.

Florida’s defense may also be without redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor (knee swelling), who is listed as “questionable-to-doubtful” this week. Freshman running back Brandon Powell (hamstring), who has not played since the opener against Eastern Michigan, received a similar designation from Muschamp on Monday.

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2 BITS: Muschamp gets season, UF drug testing

1 » During a radio interview with Mike Bianchi on 740 The Game out of Orlando, Florida, this week, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said head coach Will Muschamp will keep his job through the end of the season, at which point Foley will make a decision on the future of the program. “You never judge or evaluate a program based on one game or one season,” Foley told Bianchi. “That’s just not how we do things here. We’re going to evaluate where we’re headed — where the players are, how is recruiting going, what type of staff we have, are we better? That’s going to be plain for all of us to see, but it’s also going to be played out over the course of 11 games, and we’ll see where we are when we get to the end of the season.” Florida’s defense, helmed by Muschamp, has allowed nearly 1,100 yards of offense in its last two games, coughing up a school-record 645 yards to Alabama last Saturday. The Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) next face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, Oct. 4; Florida will be looking to extend a nine-game winning streak in the series.

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, September 25

Due to the off week and Will Muschamp’s only media appearances being scheduled for Wednesday, this week’s The Silver Lining was pushed to Thursday. It will next be published on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Jelani Jenkins, the NFL’s Leading Tackler

It’s easy to forget how much of an impact former Florida Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins had during his time with the team and some of that has to do with how often he was dealing with injuries in college.

Even the Miami Dolphins, which selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, did not appear to know what they had in Jenkins until they had no choice but to start him in Week 2 and 3 of this season.

Due to his performances the last two weeks, which have earned him back-to-back OnlyGators.com Player of the Week honors, Jenkins now leads the NFL with 25 total tackles and 35 combined tackles.

Not too shabby, huh?

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Snell’s Slant: Enough is enough, time for changes

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

Why does this feel like we’ve been here before? Reflecting on Saturday’s game brings me back to the 2013 season finale against Florida State when Florida of course wanted to win but might have settled for a moral victory, a hard-fought close game.

Yes, the Gators did fight hard on Saturday. Yes, the game was close (21-21) early in the second half. But Florida lost by 21 and neither an actual win nor a moral victory was in the cards. Plus, when did the concept of the University of Florida playing for a moral victory ever even become acceptable? When did it become OK to play to keep the score close?

The empty feeling in the pit of my stomach is the unquestionable fact that the Gators have become irrelevant on the national stage. Maybe I was just drinking Will Muschamp’s Kool-Aid when he said this was the best and most talented team he’s had in his time at Florida. Perhaps I just wanted to believe Florida was on its way. The fact of the matter is, I was wrong, and the Crimson Tide had absolutely no problem proving that they remain in a completely different league than the once-mighty Gators.

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FOUR BITS: Muschamp and Foley, Noah, Horschel

1 » Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley took head coach Will Muschamp/s place during the weekly WCA Gator Hotline Show, which airs on Thursday evenings during football season. (In fact, Muschamp will only appear on the program five of the 12 times it airs in 2014.) Anyway, Foley answered a number of phone calls during the program, including one in particular from a voice that sounded oddly familiar. “Bill from Gainesville” jumped on the air to praise Foley for the job he was doing, suggesting that he should permanently sit in for Muschamp on the program. He then took a jab at Foley’s favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, before jumping off the air. With no attempt made to disguise his voice, “Bill from Gainesville” was quite obviously Muschamp himself having some fun with his boss. Check out the audio below.

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