Florida AD Jeremy Foley answers questions, expects to spend $1 million on cost of attendance

In a question-and-answer session held on the program’s official website, as well as another on its Twitter account, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley discussed a number of topics including how the recently-passed cost of attendance legislation will affect his program next season.

“The cost of attendance that passed is obviously an opportunity for us to do something that we’ve all talked about for our student-athletes for a number of years now. In essence, it increases the value of their scholarship. There’s going to be a financial impact for us, a little over a million dollars,” he explained via the school’s website.

“But it’s money well spent and certainly I think the new autonomy structure has allowed that to happen. It excites us that we had the flexibility to do something like that, and I’m sure there will be more changes in the future.”

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Florida Gators set to begin construction on $15 million indoor practice facility

Updated at 2 p.m.

The Florida Gators announced Wednesday that construction is set to begin on a $15 million indoor practice facility for the football team that will be “ready for use by early September.”

Florida scrapped its original plans to build a smaller, 70-yard facility, opting instead for a 120-yard “synthetic turf football field” inside a building that will also allow for “three camera platforms, satellite training-room facilities, equipment storage and restrooms.”

The construction project is so large, according to the school, that it will result in a new plaza being built, including a new entrance for the baseball stadium.

“This is something we have talked about internally for some time,” Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a release. “We have always been able to utilize the O’Connell Center as an indoor option for the football team, but with the renovation starting this spring, it will no longer be available.”

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Back in Florida, assistant Randy Shannon ready to lead Gators back to championship status

More Florida Gators assistant features: Terrell Williams | Geoff Collins | Tim Skipper

The last time Randy Shannon was in Gainesville, Florida, he showed his displeasure with then-Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer for, in Shannon’s eyes, running up the score in a 26-3 win. A lightning-fast handshake at midfield became the buzz of college football, but it was just the start of a memorable season for Florida.

Six-and-a-half years later, Shannon is the one donning the orange and blue for new head coach Jim McElwain as they look to help lead the Gators back to the success the program last realized during that 2008 season, when Florida won its second national title in three years under Meyer.

Named the Gators’ associate head coach, co-coordinator (whatever that means) and linebackers coach, Shannon was able to make a jump to Florida from Arkansas by sheer happenstance. One year after Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema hired Shannon, he began insisting that his assistants sign a no-compete clause restricting them from leaving Arkansas and going to another Southeastern Conference program. Shannon’s contract did not include that clause, so he picked up McElwain’s phone call and took advantage of a better opportunity to succeed, this one in his home state.

“It’s just another opportunity to work with some great people. I had a great time at Arkansas; we did some great things at Arkansas. It’s just another step of being with guys like Coach Mac, Coach [Doug] Nussmeier, Coach [Geoff] Collins and other guys on the staff, getting on the same page and having excitement,” Shannon explained.

“Being at Florida, there’s a ton of programs in the country but there’s only a few programs in the country like Florida. Just to be honest with you. You think about what Florida has accomplished football, basketball, track and field, baseball. If you look at it for the last couple of years, they’ve probably been in the hunt for the national championship or won it in [each of those sports in] the last six or seven years, and I’m not even counting gymnastics and other sports.

“When you have a program like that, and you have an athletic director that believes in other sports accomplishing championships like football, that excites you as a person. Sometimes as a person you don’t want to ever stay the same and get comfortable with a situation. Being at Florida, you can never get comfortable because you always have to live on the edge. You always have to have the mind that you want to win the championship, not just settle for second.”

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Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.

14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET

Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.

13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.

Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.

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Florida athletics receives largest-ever $12.5 million donation for student facility

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association on Friday announced receipt of $12.5 million from an anonymous donor, which is being billed as the largest-ever donation to the program.

The $12.5 million will go towards a massive $25 million renovation to the Office of Student Life, which the Florida Gators believe will be a huge benefit to current athletes and a massive recruiting tool for future Gators.

The renovation will improve academic programs for all 480 Florida athletes across 21 varsity sports. Renovations will begin in March for what will be named the Otis Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence.

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Durkin: Cox out for bowl, McGee hopes to stay at Florida, Gators prepare for Birmingham

Florida Gators interim head coach and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Thursday to discuss the early portion pf practice ahead of the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, injuries, roster developments and the team’s preparation for the East Carolina Pirates. Florida and ECU will square off on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 12 p.m. at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

UP-AND-COMER SIDELINED FOR BOWL

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. began to show some flashes as the 2014 season came to a close, but he will be unable to take advantage of the 20 bowl practices to take his game to the next level ahead of spring practice.

Cox, who announced on social media that he underwent surgery, has officially been ruled out for the bowl game after having a procedure on his hip.

“Bryan Cox had surgery and he will be out for the bowl game,” Durkin said. “It was a hip injury, something that was deteriorating over time that he needed to have done.”

In his second year of on-field action, Cox finished with 29 tackles (six for lost yardage) and four sacks. He will likely step into a starting role with the Gators in 2015.

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The Silver Lining: McElwain’s staff decisions, comments from Muschamp and Mullen

You’re getting what you wanted

Over the last two seasons – and a little before that as well – my inbox, the @OnlyGators Twitter account and the comments section here on OnlyGators.com have each been inundated with requests and demands for Will Muschamp to lose his job. And while it may have taken longer than many of you have wished, it happened. Muschamp was fired, athletic director Jeremy Foley hired a new head coach Jim McElwain and – though some of you were not pleased with that replacement – the program is headed in a different direction.

Well, you know what happens when one head coach gets fired and another is hired in his place? The coaching staff changes, too. That’s the name of the game. It’s how this process works and thinking otherwise is absolutely foolish.

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SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

1 » The Florida Gators football team held its annual team banquet on Saturday. Awards were handed out for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may have proven to be during the season. Below are the 2014 award winners along with some explanations and details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Mike Mcneely
* Third-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon
* Second-straight year that Herndon won the award.
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Clay Burton, Hunter Joyer, Max Garcia, Antonio Morrison
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Alex Anzalone, Gideon Ajagbe, Andre Debose, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: R.J. Raymond, Dakota Wilson |
Defensive: Ryan Parrish | Special Teams: Garrett Stephens, Roger Dixon
* Second-straight year that Parrish won the award.

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