SEC Network adds Florida QB Jesse Palmer

Former Florida Gators quarterback Jesse Palmer has been hired as the lead college football color analyst for the SEC Network, which is set to launch this fall.

The network announced Wednesday that Palmer and legendary play-by-play man Brent Musburger will serve as the lead announce team for the upstart channel, which will air its first game on Aug. 28 when Texas A&M visits South Carolina.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, May 10

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Defensive lineman Brad Culpepper on Wednesday became the second former Florida Gators player in the last three weeks to join lawsuit against the NFL. Culpepper is the lead plaintiff one of two concussion lawsuits (Brad Culpepper et al v. NFL) filed by the Locks Law Firm against the NFL. “The lawsuits are identical to the other suits filed by Gene Locks, asserting counts of fraud, conspiracy to defraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, loss of consortium and seeking declaratory relief and medical monitoring,” according to Paul Anderson. Former Florida offensive tackle Lomas Brown is part of a separate suit against the NFL that cites the recent bounty scandal as evidence that the league did not properly protect its players from concussions.

» Former Gators running back Emmitt Smith admitted this week that, while he appears to be in perfect health now, he is worried that all of the hits he took over his football-playing career may come back to haunt him both physically and mentally in the future. “The evidence is starting to pile up. You are talking to a guy who carried the ball more than anybody in NFL history. So why wouldn’t I worry? I pray about it,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He also spoke about the tragic death of Junior Seau and reuniting with some of his former Dallas Cowboys teammates.

» Former Florida linebacker Dustin Doe has been re-signed by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL after appearing in just three games for the team last season. Doe registered two tackles each on defense and special teams in 2011 but spent the majority of the season on the practice squad. He is hoping to become a permanent member of the active roster this season as he attempts to continue his career.

» Speaking of players looking for new homes, it appears as if defensive tackle Marcus Thomas will be donning a different uniform in 2012. After spending the first six years of his career with the Denver Broncos, Thomas will be moving on to what he hopes are greener pastures, according to The Denver Post, which reports that it is unlikely Denver re-signs him this season. A selection in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Thomas has been a productive member of the Broncos throughout his career. However, Denver only wants to bring him back on a one-year deal while Thomas is looking for a multi-year agreement. The Post notes that at least two other teams are interested in Thomas’s services but will likely wait until after June 1 to sign him to a contract.

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ESPN to go All-Access with Gators on Aug. 8

Even though the Florida Gators have closed their fall practices to fans and the media, the team has decided to make an exception for ESPN and will provide studio analyst Jesse Palmer, writer Chris Low, a cameraman and a photographer with an all-access pass for a special behind-the-scenes look at the program on Monday, Aug. 8.

Titled Inside the Program: Live with the Gators, the feature will allow Palmer to “conduct live interviews with head coach Will Muschamp, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and multiple players throughout the day,” according to an official press release from ESPN.

These segments, along with some other elements (mentioned below), will air at least once per hour on SportsCenter, First Take and College Football Live; each will streamed live on ESPN.com for those without access to a television.

Additionally, College Football Live will televise a practice drill live at 3:30 p.m.

Additional elements include:
» Still photographer posting images on ESPN.com throughout the day
» Video of training room, cool tubs, etc.
» A ride-along on the bus to the stadium
» Live shots during breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Gator Room
» Video and interviews with players
» Post-practice interviews

OGGOA will have live coverage on Twitter throughout the day but will also compile the segments in a post at the end of the day here on OnlyGators.com.

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Florida Gators featured on College Football Live

Florida Gators football was profiled Wednesday on ESPN‘s College Football Live program in a discussion forum featuring analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Robert Smith, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and former Gators quarterback Jesse Palmer. The panel discusses Will Muschamp‘s transition from defensive coordinator to head coach, players finding the “hunger” to win, getting the team to play like a “blue collar” group, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis‘s impact and whether or not redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley can turn it around after a tough first season as the starter.

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Coach Muschamp goes through ESPN’s car wash

Just hours after completing his first Gator Gathering in Lakeland, FL, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp traveled to Bristol, CT and was put through ESPN‘s self-named car wash – appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one business day. OGGOA followed Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and has put together the following recap:

He started the morning on the set of SportsCenter, where anchor Josh Elliot interviewed him about becoming a head coach and taking over the Florida program.

Then Muschamp headed over to First Take on ESPN2 where host Jay Crawford covered a wide variety of topics with him.

Read, view and listen to the rest of his day in Bristol…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

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ESPN adds Erin Andrews to College GameDay

In a press release Monday, ESPN announced that its two-time Emmy Award-winning program, College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, will expand to three hours – with the first hour being aired exclusively on ESPNU – and feature a new personality, former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews.

The show will maintain Chris Fowler as its host and Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard as its analysts, while adding Andrews to the team. She will anchor “several segments during the first hour on ESPNU, and contributing reports, interviews and features during the ESPN portion of the show,” according to the release.

“As part of her role, Andrews will also work as the sideline reporter on the game from which College GameDay originates from, if the game is on an ESPN network (ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, etc.). In addition to her responsibilities across ESPN platforms, Andrews will provide select reports on ABC’s Good Morning America throughout the year.”

In related news… former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer will continue as an analyst on ESPN’s College Football Primetime and College Football Live as well as during Saturday pregame, halftime and postgame studio segments on ABC.

Also in related news… former Gators softball player Jenn Brown will join Primetime as a sideline reporter during its Thursday games.

Photo Credit: Patrick Fraser/Vanity Fair

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