Legendary NFL coach, historic Florida Gators athletic director Bill Arnsparger dies at 88

Former Florida Gators athletic director Bill Arnsparger, a figure who made one of the most important decisions in school history, passed away Friday in Athens, Alabama, at the age of 88.

Following a storied coaching career, Arnsparger was named Florida’s athletic director in 1986; he was tasked with cleaning up the Gators athletic program following numerous NCAA sanctions for rules violations.

As such, he hired two new coaches for the school’s primary athletic programs, bringing on former Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier in 1990 to coach the football team and Lon Kurger for basketball in 1991. Spurrier, of course, turned the Gators’ football team into perennial winners and national champions in 1996. Kruger led Florida basketball to its first Final Four (1994).

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New NCAA hand check rule could affect Florida

Updated on Nov. 11 at 5:00 p.m.

In an effort to create more offense and reduce physicality, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel adopted a number of new rules in June. The one making the most noise as teams prepare for the start of the 2013-14 men’s college basketball season on Friday is the rule regarding hand checking, which has been eliminated from the game entirely.

“Tons of fouls, a lot of free throws, long, ugly games. Hopefully fans can prepare for that. It is going to be frustrating,” explained former Florida Gators head coach Lon Kruger, who has led Oklahoma since 2011, in a conversation with USA Today.

Coaches across the nation are worried that games will stretch longer due to the new rule, which they believe will ultimately have the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than promote flow and offense, they think it will force more whistles to sound and too many games to be decided on the free throw line.

The Gators may very well have experienced the effect of the new rule first-hand during their exhibition game last Friday. Florida shot 39 free throws against Florida Southern, three more than it attempted in any game last season and the most since UF took 40 foul shots against Auburn on Feb. 18, 2010.

“The one thing I can’t tell you – and I think the officials even said during the game they’re still adjusting to some of these rule changes and the way the game needs to be officiated. I think there’s going to be a huge adjustment period for everybody at least the way they’re talking about interpreting these hand check rules, contact rules, block charge rules,” head coach Billy Donovan said after the 110-88 exhibition victory.

“All those kind of things are going to be an adjustment period for coaches, players and the officials. We did get to the free throw line a lot, but I don’t know if that’s maybe because of some of the new rules or did Florida Southern foul that much?”

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Chandler, Tebow, Trail

1 » For the second-straight year, Florida Gators head basketball coachBilly Donovan is participating in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge, a charitable contest where coaches are vying to win money for an organization they choose to represent. Donovan, who is in the contest for the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, could win $100,000 for the organization just as he did one year ago when Florida fans cast the most online votes for him and the foundation. The eight-week-long contest began Jan. 18 with a winner being announced March 9. There were only 14 participants in 2011 but that number has increased to 48 this year. For more information and to vote for Donovan and the foundation (which supports Shands Hospital at UF), go here and click on South Region. Former Gators assistant coach Anthony Grant (Alabama, The Sweet Home Fund) and head coach Lon Kruger (Oklahoma, Coaches vs. Cancer) are also participating though Grant is also in the South Region with Donovan.

2 » Former Florida wide receiver and 11-year NFL veteran Wes Chandler has agreed to be the WR coach at California, the school divulged Wednesday evening. Though it will be just his second stint on the college level (Central Florida, 1994-95), Chandler has coached receivers in NFL Europe (1995-1999), the NFL (2000-2008) and the UFL (2009). He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC player with the Gators who made it to four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in his NFL career. Chandler was also inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 1989 after catching 92 passes for 1,963 yards and 22 touchdowns in his four years at Florida. He was the team’s leading receiver for three-straight years from 1975-77.

3 » On ESPN’s Jim Rome Is Burning Wednesday, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was asked about quarterback Tim Tebow, the impact he had on the team this year and how good he can be in the future. “I think Tim has a lot to prove still,” Bailey said on the show. “He’s proven he can win some tough games. Now it’s just being consistent. One thing about him, he’s going to work at it, and I’m behind him 100 percent.” Bailey also said “the sky is the limit” for Tebow and believes that he will have plenty of time to improve his arm starting this offseason, Tebow’s first as the primary signal caller with the club.

4 » Another former Gators player has found a new home with defensive end Lynden Trail enrolling at Norfolk State this week. Trail, who transferred following the 2011 regular season, transferred for playing time reasons after failing to dress most games and not stepping on the field once this past year.

Extra BIT » You want Tebow pizza? You got it.

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