FOUR BITS: Moore, Tebow, soccer, interviews

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Kestahn Moore received some good news Thursday evening when he learned that the Tennessee Titans decided to sign him and bring him into camp as a free agent. Moore, who was signed with Kansas City in training camp a year ago and was worked out by Tennessee last November, is back with the team on a trial basis and could play as soon as Saturday against St. Louis. He told The Tennessean that he originally thought he was heading to Nashville, TN just to work out for the team. “That’s why you have to stay ready and working out,” he said. “I’ve got a chance now and I am ready.”

2 » Speaking with the Associated Press on Thursday, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow found humor in the alleged $5,000 bounty placed on his head by a Miami Hurricanes booster. “I didn’t know about that,” Tebow said. “It’s funny, though.” Tebow, who said he had “good memories” from his one game against Miami, is confident that no one went after him during the game. “That’s never what you want in sports. You’re playing to win,” he said. “You go hard. I mean, it’s a violent game, people get hit, people get hurt. But to go out there and purposely try to hurt someone? I don’t believe in that at all. That’s not why we play the game. So, that’s unfortunate if some people would go [such extremes]. But I don’t think all the Miami Hurricanes went out there trying to hurt me or anything because I had quite a few friends, as well. So, I think there were a lot of good players on that team, good kids on that team.”

3 » Just like the volleyball team, Florida soccer received plenty of praise from Southeastern Conference coaches this week. Surveyed in preseason poll, 11 of the 12 league coaches chose the Gators to win the 2011 SEC title. Additionally, two Florida soccer players – senior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis and redshirt junior defender Kathryn Williamson – were named to the watch list for the 2011 Hermann Trophy, the highest individual award in NCAA soccer.

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Over the last few weeks, OGGOA has conducted a number of interviews and posted them throughout the site. Due to the large amount of content posted each day, we wanted to make sure you did not miss any of them. Below are all of the the interviews that have been conducted since early July. A list of all of our exclusive interviews is available as a widget on the right sidebar of every page.

- Defensive lineman Kevin CarterPart I | Part II
The three-time SEC champion, first-team All-SEC member, first-team All-American selection, No. 6 overall draft pick, two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and UF Athletic Hall of Fame member spoke to us about his time with the Gators, extensive NFL career, charity work and new job as a television analyst while also providing some unique insight on head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

- Center/forward Al Horford8/17/11
The two-time national champion and two-time NBA All-Star, who was also a member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie Team caught up with OGGOA for the second time to discuss his new contract, relationship with the Oh Fours, thoughts on the NBA lockout and decision to play for the Dominican Republic National Team.

- Punter Chas Henry8/12/11
Just days after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, Henry spoke with us about NFL lockout ending, his fantastic opportunity in Philadelphia, winning the Ray Guy Award and, of course, his game-winning field goal against Georgia.

- Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones7/8/11
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA champion and two-time Euroleague champion who is also a two-time WNBA All-Star, was a No. 4 overall draft pick and was up for inclusion on her league’s Top 15 Players of All-Time list, Milton-Jones talked with OGGOA student correspondent Nicole Boyett about her time at Florida, extensive career, desire to come back and help the lady Gators and more.

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Hill, Debose, Patchan named in Yahoo! report on Miami booster providing improper benefits

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

A report released Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports concerning the intricate dealings of a Miami Hurricanes booster who was jailed for heading up a $930 million Ponzi scheme contains the names of three members of the current Florida Gators football team.

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.

Of the seven coaches specifically named in the report, one is current Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, who was hired by head coach Will Muschamp as he assembled his brand new staff this past offseason. Hill, a former UF player and also the Gators’ new recruiting coordinator, was receivers coach at Miami from 2008-10 and added the recruiting coordinator role to his responsibilities last season.

Among the specific incidents, Shapiro or other sources say Hurtt, Hill, Stoutland, Pannunzio and Allen all delivered top-tier recruits to Shapiro’s home or luxury suite so the booster could make recruiting pitches to them. Among the players who were ushered to Shapiro while they were still in high school: [...] eventual Florida commitments Andre Debose (Hurtt) and Matt Patchan (prompted by Stoutland and Pannunzio) [...]

In accompanying reports detailing specifics about each coach and player, Robinson notes Hill was “on hand when three recruits – Andre Debose, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye – were brought to Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion for the purposes of the booster recruiting the players. Hill was on hand while Shapiro toured the players through his home and made a pitch to lure their commitment to Miami.” Shapiro also said he took the recruits out in his $200,000 Mercedes S65.

Robinson goes on to report that “Shapiro alleges he provided Debose with extra benefits during recruiting visits.” In addition to the dealings listed above, Shapiro said he “gave Miami equipment assistant Sean Allen approximately $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and instructed him to show Debose, Armstrong and Dye a good time. Shapiro said Allen ultimately used the money to take the players to nightclubs, including Take One Cocktail lounge and strip club.” Debose (now a redshirt sophomore) allegedly visited Shapiro’s house again “for another gathering” where he was “served food and drinks” and attended a meeting at Lucky Strike Lanes where Shapiro hosted recruits as they watched NFL games, ate and drank for free.

As far as Patchan (now a redshirt junior) is concerned, he allegedly joined “multiple members” of his family at Shapiro’s mansion for a meal. “Shapiro said the recruiting visit at his home was attended by the two Miami coaches, Patchan, Patchan’s mother, Patchan’s father and Patchan’s uncle.”

Due to their inclusion in the report, a situation may arise where Hill, Debose and Patchan might be forced to remain off the field at the very least as a precaution until a conclusion is reached one way or another on their respective eligibility.

As noted by Yahoo!‘s Charles Robinson early in the report, Shapiro’s admissions bring a lot of the Hurricanes’ recruiting practices into question and could severely damage the program and those associated with the allegations for some time to come.

All told, the length, breadth and depth of the impropriety Shapiro has alleged would potentially breach multiple parts of at least four major NCAA bylaws – and possibly many more. Shapiro described acts that could include violations of multiple parts of bylaw 11, involving impermissible compensation to coaches; multiple parts of bylaw 12, involving amateurism of athletes; multiple parts of bylaw 13, involving improper recruiting activity; and multiple parts of bylaw 16, involving extra benefits to athletes.

In addition to all of this, Robinson also details Shapiro putting bounties on the heads of star players from opposing teams, giving Miami’s student-athletes an even greater reason to play hard and make an impact on the field.

The booster told Yahoo! Sports he had a number of individual payouts for “hit of the game” and “big plays.” He also put bounties on specific players, including Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and a three-year standing bounty on Seminoles quarterback Chris Rix from 2002 to 2004, offering $5,000 to any player who knocked him out of a game.

In the one contest against the Hurricanes that Tebow participated in (Sept. 6, 2008), the Gators signal caller went 21-of-35 for 256 yards and tossed two touchdowns while also carrying the ball 13 times for 55 yards. He was only sacked once.

One more Florida reference from the report involves former Gators guard Teddy Dupay, whose name was used as an alias by Shapiro when registering rooms at the Mercury Hotel in South Beach for players to copulate with prostitutes.

The University of Florida declined Yahoo!‘s request to make Hill, Debose or Patchan available for comment, but associate athletics director of communications Steve McClain released an official statement Tuesday evening.

“While we declined comment for Yahoo’s request, Coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with, and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami.”

Robinson’s report, which details alleged widespread illegal activities throughout Miami’s football and basketball programs, can be read in full by clicking here.

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Schnellenberger begins swan song in The Swamp

A 52-year coaching career will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2011 season as Florida Atlantic Owls head coach Howard Schnellenberger is set to officially announce his retirement from football on Thursday.

After resurrecting the program and eventually winning a national championship with the Miami Hurricanes in 1983, Schnellenberger was tasked with starting a Florida Atlantic football team from scratch when he was hired by the school as director of football operations and eventual head coach in 1998.

The Owls began playing football in 2001 and have been coached by Schellenberger ever since. Now at 77-years-old, he will take his 57-63 all-time record at the school into his final season, which begins with a road game against the Florida Gators on Sept. 3.

Though Schellenberger has never beat Florida with his FAU team, a defeat he handed the Gators as coach of the Hurricanes in 1980 stays with him to this day.

In the final game of the 1980 season, Miami traveled to Florida and upended the Gators 31-7. However, a notable occurrence during the contest keeps the game in the minds of fans and football historians.

With a 21-7 lead, the Hurricanes tacked on a late touchdown to go ahead 28-7. Florida fans, who were incensed throughout the game, responded by throwing oranges and ice at Miami’s players, cheerleaders and coaches. Ticked off at the actions of the fans, Schellenberger (whose team had regained possession of the ball) called a timeout and kicked a field goal on the game’s last play, rubbing the loss in even more.

He has not had much luck playing in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since then. The Hurricanes were topped 17-14 in 1982 and routed 28-3 the following year. He returned to Florida with his Louisville team in 1992 and lost 31-17 before dropping a 59-20 final to the Gators with his Owls squad in 2007.

Schnellenberger has had a storied college coaching career and also spent some time in the NFL and USFL. He’s won a national championship, credited for recruiting Joe Namath to Alabama, and been honored by Louisville with a football complex that bears his name. Florida Atlantic will open a brand new on-campus football stadium in 2011, a goal of his from the first day he took the job.

While 2011 will be a year of celebrating Schnellenberger’s career – a time filled with honors and gifts and speeches – the one thing he is unlikely to earn is another victory at The Swamp, a venue that has had his number for the past 29 years.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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June 5, 2011: Gators dominate on the diamonds

Something special happened for Gator Nation on Sunday. In a 10-hour period from approximately noon until 10 p.m., Florida Gators fans got the opportunity to watch their teams dominate in a fashion not normally seen at this stage of collegiate athletics.

Over the course of three games – two on the softball diamond and one on a baseball field – Florida defeated two of their rivals thrice, outscoring them, out-hustling them and outclassing them in a way possibly never seen before.

No. 4 Gators softball, which went head-to-head with the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in a pair of win-or-go-home games in the 2011 Women’s College World Series, set numerous event records in a 16-2 dismantling early in the afternoon and added a few more in their 9-2 victory later that evening.

In between, No. 2 Florida baseball took on the Miami Hurricanes in the finals of the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Gators routed the Canes 11-4 and moved on to host the Super Regionals.

Let’s take a look at what Florida accomplished on Sunday:

- The Gators outscored their opponents by a total margin of 36-8.
- A total of eight home runs were hit with sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte connecting in both softball games.
- The teams combined for 34 RBI on 32 hits, record 15 walks and stole four bases.
- Pitchers vs. Florida had a combined 12.05 ERA. Alabama’s posted a 14.58 ERA, while Miami’s throwers allowed seven runs in their contest. Crimson Tide ace Kelsi Dunne registered a 36.67 ERA against the Gators, allowing 11 earned runs in 2.1 innings.
- Florida’s starting pitchers combined to allow a total of five earned runs while notching 18 strikeouts. They registered a 2.04 ERA as a group.
- Florida baseball swept their regional, going 3-0.
- Gators softball won their second and third elimination games of the event after defeating No. 7 California one day earlier.

Softball’s records:

- The 11 runs scored in the first inning of their opening game on Sunday were the most in any inning in WCWS history. The previous mark (nine, 2010) was held by UCLA in a victory against UF just one year ago.
- The Gators scored more runs on the Crimson Tide in one inning than they had given up in a single game all season. Their 16 total runs scored (through just three innings) are the most allowed in a single game by UA softball in school history.
- Florida tied the WCWS team record for homers in a game (four).
- The Gators’ 15 RBI are a WCWS single-game record.
- The 41 total runs scored by Florida so far in the WCWS are as many as every other team in the field combined. The total is currently the second-most in WCWS history.
- The Gators advanced to the WCWS Championship Series for the second time in the last three years and will once again face a Pac-10 opponent.
- Senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder set WCWS event record for most runs scored (nine).
- Schutte set UF’s single-season home run record with her 21st & 22nd bombs.

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Florida baseball sweeps Gainesville Regional with 11-4 rout of Miami, will host Super Regional

The Miami Hurricanes hoped to end their drought against No. 2 Florida Gators baseball on Sunday but failed to keep the momentum they had at the end of their game earlier in the day against the Jacksonville Dolphins. In the final game of the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at McKethan Stadium, the Gators (48-16) scored early and often, routing the Canes (38-23) 11-4 to advance to the Super Regionals.

Florida got things rolling right out of the gate. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana reached on a single, senior center fielder Bryson Smith followed him with a walk, and junior right fielder Preston Tucker capitalized by hitting a three-run bomb down the right-field line to give the Gators an early 3-0 lead. Miami got out of the inning with three-straight outs but not without first being placed in a decent hole.

After a scoreless second, Florida poured it on in the third by scoring eight runs and coming away up 11-0. With men on first and second and no one out, sophomore catcher Mike Zunino bunted to advance the runners; however, Smith would score from third on a throwing error from the catcher to the third baseman, which allowed Zunino to reach base. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson then singled up the middle, scoring Zunino (0-3, R, BB) and Tucker; he would advance to second on the throw home.

Junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott (1-5, RBI, R) doubled to left center to plate Thompson (1-5, 2 RBI, R) after a pitching change. He crossed home just one batter later when redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (3-4, RBI, R, SB) singled to right. Ramjit then stole second, advanced to third on a single to right by sophomore third baseman Cody Dent, and ran home when Fontana (1-5, RBI, R) hit a sacrifice fly to left. Dent (1-3, R, 2 BB) and Smith (2-4, 3 R, 2 BB), who singled to right with two outs, both came home when Tucker (2-4, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) ended the hit parade with a two-RBI double off the right field wall.

The Gators held the Hurricanes scoreless for much of the contest thanks to a top-notch outing from junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis. Panteliodis (6-2) tossed 6.2 innings of shutout ball before giving up a solo shot in the bottom of the seven. He finished with four strikeouts on 66 pitches and gave up one earned run while scatting five hits.

Miami rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth but could not reduce their deficit any further. UM has now lost eight-straight games to UF and 11 of the last 12.

As the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Florida will also host Super Regional action, which begins on June 10. The Gators will take on the winner of the Atlanta Regional, either Mississippi State or Georgia Tech, in a three-game series to determine who will advance to the 2011 College World Series.

2011 Gainesville Regional Honors
Most Outstanding Player: Preston Tucker
All-Tournament Team: Nolan Fontana, Alex Panteliodis, Daniel Pigott, Tyler Thompson, Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino

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Gators baseball walks off with 5-4 win over Hurricanes in Gainesville Regional action

The rivalry may have been taken to another level Saturday as No. 2 Florida Gators baseball and the Miami Hurricanes squared off at McKethan Stadium in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Florida (47-16) came back from a two-run deficit and eventually took a 5-4 victory on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to advance to the regional finals and send Miami (37-22) to an elimination game.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall got the start for the Gators but was pulled after six innings of solid work. Junior RHP Tommy Toledo (5-3) pitched a strong ninth inning and came away with the victory.

Scoreless for two innings, Miami got on board first in the third to take an early 1-0 lead. The Hurricanes started the inning with a double and sacrificed a bunt and fly to bring the runner home. UM added a second run in the fourth, scoring a lead-off single with a one-out stand-up double.

Feeling the pressure, Florida succeeded in tying the game in the bottom of the inning. Junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) got things going with a double, and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino followed suit to send him home and reduce the Gators’ deficit. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (2-4, RBI) kept the double parade going, smacking a ball to deep right to score Zunino (2-4, RBI, R) and knot the game up at 2-2.

UF kept the scoring run going in the fifth as sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana connected on a single to score redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit, who led off the inning with a double. Fontana would advance to second on a bad throw and move over to third when senior center fielder Bryson Smith (2-3) singled. Continuing his hard-hitting afternoon, Tucker stepped into the box and doubled off the right field wall to plate Fontana and give Florida a 4-2 lead.

Miami looked to be going down in the top of the sixth but salvaged the frame to get on the board and draw the game closer. RF Dale Carey hit a clutch two-out double down the left field line to get on base and was singled home by third baseman Brad Fieger to put the Canes just one run behind the Gators. UM capitalized again in the seventh as second baseman Zeke DeVoss began the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and came around to tie the game on a single by LF Rony Rodriguez.

The visitors threatened in the top of the eighth and ninth, but great pitching from Toledo (1.0 IP, K, H) negated a lead-off double in the latter inning to get Florida out of a jam. Gators junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott started the bottom of the inning by getting on base because of an error by the shortstop, advanced to second on a balk and was joined on base by Ramjit (1-3, R, BB), who was walked. The duo moved to second and third after a wild pitch and were joined on the bags when P Daniel Miranda walked his second batter of the inning, sophomore 3B Cody Dent (0-3, BB).

With all the pressure on him, Fontana (2-5, RBI, R) stepped up to the plate and hit a game-winning single to left, scoring Pigott (0-4, R) and sending Florida into the Gainesville Regional championship game on Sunday.

The Hurricanes have now lost seven-straight games to the Gators and 10 of the last 11. Four of Florida’s runs were scored due to opportunities provided by UM errors.

Miami will face Jacksonville at noon with the winner taking on UF in the finals at 4 p.m., live on ESPNU. The Gators only need one more victory to advance to the Super Regional, while either Miami or Jacksonville would have to defeat Florida twice.

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Florida women’s tennis defeats Miami 4-1 in Elite Eight, advances to 2011 NCAA Final Four

Advancing to the Final Four for the second-straight season and 21st time in the last 25 years, No. 2 Florida Gators women’s tennis (29-1) won a nail-biter against the No. 7 Miami Hurricanes (21-7), beating them 4-1 in the Elite Eight of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at Taube Tennis Stadium in Stanford, CA on Sunday.

With the No. 2 pairing of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Alex Cercone down 7-5 to Miami’s No. 5 duo, Florida wound up winning the other two doubles matches to take the doubles point. The No. 45 team of sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen won their match 8-4, and the pair of sophomore Caroline Hitimana and junior Joanna Mather took their contest 8-5 to clinch the point for the Gators.

No. 53 freshman Olivia Janowicz captured the first singles point (6-4, 6-2) for Florida, but Miami answered when Gabriela Mejia beat No. 91 Oyen 7-6(1), 6-1. No. 7 Will defeated No. 6 Bianca Eichkorn in straight sets (6-2, 6-1) to give the Gators a 3-1 advantage with three matches remaining in the contest.

Two of the final three matches entered in the third set and both were within a game of each other; UF was well behind in the third. No. 54 Cercone wound up finishing first, clinching the victory for Florida with a 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 win. No. 42 Mather led her opponent, but No. 17 Embree was trailing in her match as the day came to a close.

The Gators will participate in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening; Florida is set to take on No. 6 UCLA (22-5) at 7 p.m. in Stanford.

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Gators tennis teams advance to Sweet 16

Sunday was a special day for the Florida Gators tennis program as both the No. 8 men’s and No. 2 women’s teams advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament after sweeping their opponents on a sunny day at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, FL.

After a weather delay forced their contest to continue Sunday, the Florida men (20-8) got the day started early and shut out the No. 27 Miami Hurricanes (15-9) 4-0.

The No. 17 duo of senior Alexandre Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura, Jr. led the doubles teams, winning their match 8-2. Joining them to cinch the doubles point was junior Nassim Slilam and sophomore Billy Federhofer (7-6).

No. 7 Lacroix (6-1, 6-1), No. 89 Slilam (6-2, 6-2) and freshman Spencer Newman (6-0, 6-4) all won their singles matches; Newman’s victory clinched the contest for the Gators. Lacroix’s singles win propelled him to historic status. He is now the all-time overall wins leader in school history with 209 career victories.

The Florida women (27-1) wrapped up the afternoon in similar form, shutting out the South Carolina Gamecocks (14-11) 4-0 behind a strong team performance.

The 45th-ranked team of sophomore Lauren Embree and freshman Sofie Oyen made short work of their opponents, beating them 8-2 for the Gators’ first doubles win. Freshman Olivia Janowicz and junior Joanna Mather followed them with an 8-3 victory, clinching the doubles point for Florida.

No. 7 sophomore Allie Will absolutely trounced No. 44 Anya Morgina of South Carolina, stifling her in straight sets (6-0, 6-0). Helping her complete the sweep for the Gators were No. 42 Mather (6-2, 6-2) and No. 54 freshman Alex Cercone (6-0, 6-3); the latter victory clinched the match.

Florida men’s and women’s tennis will play later this week in Stanford, CA. The men compete on Thursday at 3 p.m., while the women take the court on Friday at 3 p.m.

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