Meyer speaks on expansion, recruiting and 2010

Not always up for extensive one-on-one interviews, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer granted Joe Rose of 560 WQAM in Miami, FL, 15 minutes of his time on Thursday and answered questions spanning a number of topics that fans have been waiting to hear him discuss.

Meyer, who makes it a point to appear on Rose’s show once or twice a year mostly due to the fact that it is popular in the recruiting hotbed of South Florida, said he would not necessarily be against Florida’s in-state rivals being added to the mix of a potentially expanded Southeastern Conference in 2012-13.

“I think that would be great for the SEC,” Meyer said. “I have not done the research, I [would need to] ask a lot of questions. […] I know one thing – our commissioner and our office, they won’t be caught by surprise because we got the best people. It’s phenomenal the job they do. That’s a natural fit – the two schools you just mentioned – we play one of them every year anyway and the other is a great rivalry as well.

“As a coach, you look at it and say, ‘Here we go, let’s go add a couple more powerhouses.’ [But then] you have to go play them.”

He also noted that the SEC’s recent dominance is likely the cause for the immediate need for conference expansion across the country.

“As far as interest on a national level, as far as quality of play, right now the SEC is the best,” he opined. “The television contracts, the interest level that’s taking place in the SEC is forcing some of these other conferences to react. It’s going to be interesting. The one thing you can rest assured though, commissioner Mike Slive – the guy’s phenomenal. He has got his hand on some buttons if we have to do what we have to do.”

One facet in which adding Miami and/or Florida State to the conference could potentially impact the Gators is in recruiting. When it comes down to it though, Meyer is more than confident about the prowess of his program in that area.

“Our best recruiters are our players,” Meyer said. “I didn’t even go on the road the last three weeks because I was not allowed to do that. The fact that we have the facilities in place now, we have the players in place, we have an excellent coaching staff. I don’t want to say it recruits itself, because it doesn’t, but the best salesmen you have are the people that are involved in your team. Our current team right now is very close. Our team has had success in the classroom and on the field.”

That success is one of the reasons why Florida had to deny four-star athlete Travon Van admittance to the school. Van winding up with former Gators assistant coach Doc Holliday and the Marshall Thundering Heard was no coincidence – the two coaches remain close. In fact, Meyer took a bit of offense to Rose questioning if any dirty recruiting was involved on Holliday’s part.

“Doc’s a great friend – so [the decision] was nothing behind the scenes. That was in the forefront. The person that we’re talking about – I’m not even sure I’m allowed to mention it – but that was all done in conjunction,” he said. “There was no shady play or something like that. There was going to be an admission issue at Florida. Guys like Doc Holliday –he’s great for college football, he’s a great man and he’s a great friend. The most important thing is making sure the student-athlete has a place to go to school.”

Regarding 2010 recruit Kevin Nelson accusing his coaches of dirty recruiting, Meyer said he didn’t hear about those comments and that Florida worries “about its own business.” Nevertheless, he touched on the subject of how bad ugly recruiting can get.

“It’s a little bit like Tim Tebow. Tim, when he first came to Florida, he was The Chosen One. And then I’ve never seen a young man go through the scrutiny [he did and] just get picked apart,” he lamented. “I don’t think it’s necessarily me…maybe it is….but I think people just want to take a shot at something that’s doing OK. We’re very proud of our program here.”

When it comes to the Gators’ latest group of incoming freshman, Meyer once gain praised five-star safety Matt Elam and said he is looking forward to getting all of his players on the field as soon as possible this summer.

“Matt Elam is going to play. It’s done,” Meyer said emphatically. “He had a heck of a spring, he’s a heck of a kid, comes from a great family, we’ve known about him forever. We feel very good about our freshman class. Our [defensive line] – those kids are going to play. We don’t redshirt here at Florida – you go play. That’s why we recruit them and that’s why they’re here. We need some help because we lost a lot of really good players. I’m about as excited for [summer to begin on] June 24th as I’ve ever been.”

The most telling statement Meyer made during his conversation with Rose was his response to being questioned about how difficult it is to recruit nationally. Contrary to popular belief, it is an absolute non-issue for the program.

“We don’t want to recruit national. That’s one of the big sales why I wanted to come coach at Florida, because it’s a regional recruiting school,” he noted. “I have no interest in getting on a plane and flying across the country. We don’t recruit nationally, what we do is we cherry pick a little bit. If there is some kind of draw or some kind of interest – one of the best players in the country – we’ll go and make a run at them. Because of our brand, lately, we’re getting involved in that. That’s not what we do. What we do is try to do the best job we can in South Florida and Georgia and obviously the rest of the state of Florida, and then we’ll go cherry pick a little bit. This has been a unique year for out-of-state kids to jump all over it. They are some great players. I would like to, out of 25, have 18 in-state-ers or [from] south Georgia and in-state.”

Meyer also spoke on a variety of other topics, which you can read…after the break:
Continue Reading » Meyer speaks on expansion, recruiting and 2010

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2010 NCAA Gainesville Super Regional Gameday: No. 4 Florida Gators vs. No. 11 Miami Hurricanes

Location: McKethan Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 5,500]
Game Times: [1] Fri. – 7 p.m. (EST); [2] Sat. – 7 p.m.; [3] Sun. (if nec.) – 7 p.m.

TV: [1] ESPN/ESPNHD; [2-3] ESPN2/ESPN2HD
Online: ESPN3.com
OGGOA Live Updates: via Twitter

No. 4 Florida Gators No. 11 Miami Hurricanes
Head Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan Head Coach: Jim Morris
Record: 45-15 Record: 43-18
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

HISTORY:
» Miami leads the all-time series 124-97-1 over Florida but has a losing record in Gainesville, FL, with UF leading 60-45-1.
» The Gators are making their fourth Super Regional appearance in school history – all have been within the last seven years. The Hurricanes will play their 10th Super Regional, last beating the Orange & Blue in the event with a two-game sweep in 2004.
» Florida is 28-9 (.757) at McKethan Stadium during NCAA play, sweeping the Gainesville Regional two years in a row and knocking Miami off in 2009.
» The Canes have won the head-to-head NCAA match-up 12 of 17 times, ending the Gators’ season on eight different occasions.
» Florida faced Miami in a three-game regular season series in Coral Gables, FL, earlier in 2010, winning two of three games (7-1, 6-9, 4-2) for the first time since 2007.
» Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is 5-6 against the Hurricanes all-time, 3-6 during the regular season and 2-0 in NCAA play.
» Strength of schedule: Florida’s was third in the country, trailing Miami and Alabama.

KEEP AN EYE ON…
» Gators starting pitchers…sophomore Alex Panteliodis (10-2, 3.39), freshman Hudson Randall (8-3, 2.97) and freshman Brian Johnson (6-4, 3.97) are a combined 16-2 (.889) with a 2.40 ERA at McKethan Stadium in 2010.
» Freshman sensation Austin Maddox…a third baseman who can play three other positions, has garnered numerous awards while leading the Gators in RBI (68), multiple-RBI games (20), home runs (17) and sacrifice flies (five).
» Sophomore first baseman Preston Tucker…who leads Florida in batting average (.375, 15-40) over the last 10 games with eight RBI, five runs and five extra-base hits (two homers). He also is tops on the team with 16 doubles on the year.
» Senior outfielder Matt den Dekker…a speed demon leading UF with a 23-for-29 conversion rate on stolen bases, he is tied for fifth on the program’s career list with 65 stolen bags and leads the 2010 team in batting average (.361), runs (62) and hits (84).
» Junior closer Kevin Chapman (3-0)…has a team-low 1.28 ERA (42.1 innings) in 29 appearances. He is tied for second in the SEC with 11 saves. As a team, Florida’s 17 saves are one shy of the team’s single-season record (1991).
» The Gators bullpen…which is 16-2 with 17 saves and a 4.20 ERA in 240 innings, while its starters are a combined 29-13 with a 3.86 ERA in 289 innings.
» The ACC Player of the Year…junior catcher Yasmani Grandal leads Miami (and the ACC) in batting average (.411) slugging percentage (.729) and on-base percentage (.538). He is also tops on the Hurricanes in hits (88) and total bases (156), and second in home runs (14) and RBI (58).
» UM’s junior starter Chris Hernandez (10-3)…who is the team’s most dominant pitcher and a flame thrower, leads the ACC in ERA (2.77) and wins.

STREAKS:
» The Gators’ 45 wins so far in 2010 is the program’s highest victory total since the 2005 NCAA College World Series runner-up team finished 48-23.
» Florida is currently riding a 13-game home winning streak.
» The Gators have outscored opponents 420-266 in 2010, are 34-4 (.895) when scoring first and 11-11 (.500) when their opponents do. Florida is 33-3 (.917) when out-hitting opponents and 9-12 (.429) the other way around. UF is also 9-3 (.750) in one-run games, 39-0 when leading after six innings, 43-0 aver seven and 42-0 after eight.
» Florida has committed an SEC-low 50 errors in 60 games and boast a .978 fielding percentage – good for tops in the conference and seventh nationally.
» The Gators’ season totals of 107 doubles and 80 home runs are the most since the 2005 team (113 and 85, respectively).
» Florida is batting .311 against left-handers and .299 against righties.

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FOUR BITS: UM recruit blasts UF; Demar Dorsey

1 » Speaking about the Florida Gators coaching staff to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, Miami Hurricanes three-star freshman linebacker Kevin Nelson (Gainesville, FL) decided to rip his hometown team. “Grimy, two-faced and disrespectful,” Nelson called the coaches. He also accused them of what some might call dirty recruiting by saying the coaches told him that “Miami hasn’t won any ACC championship[s] since going to the ACC, and that [head coach] Randy Shannon is going to leave after this year, and that I might not get any playing time.” Nelson claims he rejected an offer from Florida (many believe it was pulled), but also says he has always been a Miami fan.

2 » Canes three-star freshman cornerback Devont’a Davis (Gainesville, FL) added that the Gators disrespected him because they did not extend an offer to him – a hometown player and fan of the team. “It offended me that they didn’t make an offer because I’m the best cornerback in Florida and live down the street,” he said. This follows-up what he told Rivals on Sept. 21. “I’m real disappointed in Florida,” Nelson said of not having an offer at the time. “They didn’t even invite me to the Tennessee game, so that was very disappointing to me. So even if they do offer me, I’m out.”

3 » A former Florida commitment, five-star safety Demar Dorsey left the program just before National Signing Day, though the specifics of that split are still hazy. Dorsey claimed he decommitted, but it is widely believed that the Gators stopped recruiting him due to a variety of concerns (juvenile arrests) not including academics. He was expected to sign with either the Florida State Seminoles or Michigan Wolverines and eventually chose the latter. New reports out of Ann Arbour, MI, state Dorsey is out as a member of the incoming class even though he qualified academically with the NCAA. ESPN called him “in limbo.” Dorsey would have the choice to go to another program with an open scholarship (the Seminoles are rumored) or sign with a junior college.

4 » Former Florida guard Orien Greene has been suspended for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for tamping with urine samples he submitted for a drug test while playing professional basketball in Amsterdam. Greene allegedly used another person’s urine when providing his sample. However, he only has a year of suspension remaining because he was initially suspended on March 12, 2009. Greene started his college career with the Gators before transferring to Louisiana-Lafayette. He played for Sacramento, Indiana and Boston in the NBA before playing in Europe.

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SIX BITS: W-tennis advances, Tebow’s tracker, Slive’s contract, Emmitt’s homecoming

1 » Advancing to the 2010 NCAA Tournament semifinals for the 20th time in the last 24 years, the No. 3 Florida Gators women’s tennis team (28-2) swept the No. 11 Miami Hurricanes (20-6) 4-0 on Saturday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA. The No. 5 doubles pair of senior Marrit Boonstra and freshman Allie Will defeated the No. 6 Miami pairing 7-6 DNF; both No. 65 Boonstra and No. 8 Will also won their singles matches. No. 9 freshman Lauren Embree was impressive in her victory over No. 7 Laura Vallverdu, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. Florida will face no. 2 North Carolina (30-4) on Monday at 1 p.m. for a chance to advance to the championship game.

2 » As if the media’s obsession with Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow had not previously reached a peak – it has now. ESPN.com has just unveiled a “Tim Tebow Tracker” for its unique Tebow Watch page. It is not yet filled with much content (mostly things you have read elsewhere – cough, cough), but as the offseason progresses it should get filled up quite nicely. You can check it out by clicking here.

Four more BITS on the SEC commissioner’s contract, a honor for Emmitt Smith, golf advancing and baseball losing its regular season finale…after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: W-tennis advances, Tebow’s tracker, Slive’s contract, Emmitt’s homecoming

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, NFL Draft, Young, Maddox

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is a rare football player. Not necessarily just because of his talent but more so due to his star power. OGGOA touched on this a while back, but Sarah Talalay of the Sun-Sentinel took a more in-depth look on Monday. One of the reasons he is so likable to sponsors: “You have a good feeling he’s a guy who’s going to stay out of trouble and be looking to make a positive impact on people and the world,” Millsport account director Darin David said.

2 » Florida has an opportunity to do something special beginning on Thursday with the chance for as many as 13 former Gators to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft. Though, in all likelihood, the number of UF players drafted will be 10, it would be the most in the school’s history and certainly more than the in-state rival Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles have had in recent memory. Then again, the Gators have a long way to go to catch up with the Hurricanes when it comes to overall NFL talent.

3 » Though Florida basketball and head coach Billy Donovan are bringing in plenty of frontcourt players, four-star commit Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) says he has no plans on being a one-and-done player no matter how well he performs his freshman season. “I don’t care how good I do at Florida, I will be there either three or four years and get my degree,” he told The Florida Times-Union. “I’ve always wanted to play in the NBA, but I have a backup plan and that’s to have an education. That ranks second, right behind my faith, in terms of importance. I eventually want to do something else in basketball, whether it’s to be an announcer, work for a team or have a business involved in the sport.” [Thanks to OGGOA reader UF_84 for the heads-up.]

4 » Freshman catcher Austin Maddox has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week. Leading the No. 7/9 Gators baseball team with a .538 batting average and three home runs while slugging 1.462 over a three-game series against the Kentucky Wildcats, Maddox also totaled five RBI and five runs. He is the fourth Florida freshman this year to win the honor.

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TWO BITS: UNC wants Rivers, Shipman’s transfer

1 » Florida Gators fans have grown nervous that five-star 2011 guard commitment Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL) may end up changing his mind and picking the Duke Blue Devils rather than playing basketball in Gainesville, FL. According to Evan Daniels of Scout, the Gators now also have the North Carolina Tar Heels to worry about. Apparently head coach Roy Williams is headed down to watch Rivers workout and the junior will likely give the school permission to recruit him. Though he remains committed to UF (something that could change at any time), other schools are entering the mix and obviously piquing his interest.

2 » Now that sophomore guard Ray Shipman has decided to transfer from Florida, several “high-major schools” are vying for his services according to Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald. Shipman’s high school coach, Mark Lieberman, told Goodman that he has already been contacted by a number of teams including Shipman’s hometown Miami Hurricanes, which would likely be near the top of his list.

Extra Bit » It did not take ESPN’s Page 2 long to take a crack at the Gators and head coach Urban Meyer for his actions after practice Wednesday. Patrick Hruby released a copy of Meyer’s new media policy for journalists covering the team. This is a parody.

Some of the funnier excerpts:

“DO NOT … Question innocent and delicate student-athletes who, like newborn fawns, cannot be expected to hold opinions and/or speak for themselves, nor understand adult concepts such as context and consequences”

“Media members that do not adhere to the above guidelines will be removed from team practice, barred from games and forced to live with the knowledge that they are, in fact, bad girls and guys.”

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TWO BITS: W. basketball’s losses, lacrosse’s win

1 » Whether it was the season itself, head coach Amanda Butler’s style or a variety of other factors, three players have left the Gators women’s basketball team. Trumae Lucas, Tessah Holt and Christal Caldwell have all exited the program, which went 15-17 on the season and failed to make the NCAA Tournament after doing so one year ago. The women (short staffed by the transfers) also lost their second-round WNIT game against the Miami Hurricanes, falling 77-64. Sophomore center Azania Stewart had a team-high 18 points with six rebounds and four assists.

2 » On Saturday, Florida lacrosse (5-3) took down No. 17 New Hampshire Wildcats (4-3) 15-3 at home at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Freshman attacker Ashley Bruns scored six goals as the Gators won their first game against a ranked opponent in program history. Florida’s defense only allowed New Hampshire 11 shots and three goals over the course of the entire match.

Extra Bit » The Gators won seven events at the Black and Gold Challenge hosted by the University of Central Florida at the UCF Track and Field Complex on Saturday. For details on each event victory, click here. Track and field returns to action and Orlando, FL, next Saturday to participate in the UCF Invitational.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Tishman, Shepard, tennis

1 » For all of the flack that former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has received about his mechanics and throwing motion, perhaps forcing a player to tinker with something that they have used to reach a high level of success is not the best thing to do. (Who would have thunk it?) Bruce Feldman of ESPN breaks down an instance where adjustments like these did an injustice rather than facilitated an improvement, focusing on the story of Steve and Chris Walsh of the Miami Hurricanes.

Additional note: ESPN NFL Draft talking heads Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay have both upgraded their projections, agreeing that Tebow will likely be a second-round pick in the upcoming event. However, both made sure to state that picking him that early is indeed “a reach” by any team that does so.

Three more BITS on Tishman, LSU’s Sheppard and women’s tennis after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Tishman, Shepard, tennis

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