SIX BITS: Masters, Brissett, Booth, Tebow, PIT

1 » Only one of the two Florida Gators golfers competing in the 2013 Masters moved on to weekend play. After hitting an even 72 in the opening round on Thursday, Brian Gay shot a +2 (74) on Friday and is currently tied for 37th, three strokes above the cut line. Senior T.J. Vogel, who earned a spot in the major as an amateur event winner, was not as fortunate. He shot a +5 (77) on Thursday but was able to bring his score down with a +3 (75) on Friday. Vogel missed the cut by four strokes, ending his special weekend earlier than he would hoped. “I just had a good time,” he said Thursday after his first round. “This experience, I can’t even explain even in words. I’m just having such a great time playing in front of so many people and it’s just a really cool feeling when you know you hita great shot and you got people cheering for you. And I’m not used to that yet. It’s just really cool.”

2 » Former Florida QB Jacoby Brissett sounds more than slightly perturbed that he lost the starting job to Jeff Driskel last season. In a feature penned by Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com, Brissett indicates that he did not receive a fair shot to start for the Gators before throwing a barb at Driskel for his performance in the last game of the season. “It wasn’t right,” he said of the competition. “In the saying that God don’t like ugly, it came up to us in the Sugar Bowl when we couldn’t throw to save our life.” He then took a second shot at Driskel, basically questioning his former teammate’s work ethic while explaining why it was Brissett who should have started at Florida. “Just my competitiveness, I don’t think it was matched with that other guy,” he said. “The willingness to put in that extra work to win.”

Read four more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Masters, Brissett, Booth, Tebow, PIT

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FOUR BITS: NCAA, volleyball, Mularkey, Dillman

1 » The NCAA on Tuesday chose to recognize some of the top players and teams that have participated in NCAA Tournaments, as well as many of the top moments to occur in those events, over the last 75 years. The organization picked the 2006-07 incarnation of the Florida Gators as one of the top-25 teams and also recognized center Joakim Noah as one of the top-75 players ever to participate in the tournament. Noah was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 tourney after he registered a then-record 29 blocked shots in the event and averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. Both Noah and the 2006-07 UF team are finalists in their respective categories, which will be voted on before awards are presented at the 2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, GA.

2 » Florida junior middle back Chloe Mann, who put together an impressive 2012 campaign for a Gators volleyball program that exceeded its preseason expectations, was named a First Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Wednesday. Mann was honored along with outside hitter Ziva Recek, who was named Freshman of the Year by the organization. Florida as a team lasted until the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament where it fell to three-seed Texas. The Gators concluded the season with a 27-5 record and their first SEC Championship since 2010.

3 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, now head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was hospitalized on Monday on the advice of a team trainer after feeling ill at his team’s facility. He was released shortly after being admitted and was healthy enough to return to practice on Tuesday. Mularkey’s first year with Jacksonville has been anything but productive as the Jaguars are currently 2-11 and have lost nine of their last 10 games. This is his second NFL head coaching stint as he previously led the Buffalo Bills to a 14-18 combined record from 2004-05.

4 » As much as head coach Will Muschamp has been credited with turning around the Gators football program, strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman is in many ways equally deserving of praise. Dilliman recently sat down with his hometown paper, the Richmond County Daily Journal, and discussed both how he arrived at Florida and what he thinks of what the team has accomplished this season. Throughout the year, Dillman received plenty of credit for the team’s performance against LSU and how it stood up to the long season from a conditioning perspective. In the interview, he turned around and put the praise back on Muschamp for how the team was run this year. “At the end of the day, it’s the program,” he said. “It goes back to Coach Muschamp and the kids because they worked their butts off. We all have a job to do and Coach Muschamp lets me do my job. All the kids come in and believe in what we are trying to accomplish. Coach is big on keeping it real. My staff and I will be honest with a player, but we also want to keep a positive environment. I have a philosophy of actions trigger feelings and feelings trigger actions. Good things come out of being positive and negative things come out of being negative. I always try to be positive while training an athlete.”

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FOUR BITS: Lochte, Leak, Tucker, Jaguars

1 » Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte, set to be one of the primary faces/athletes representing the United States in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics was announced as the fourth male to ever grace the cover of American Vogue magazine when the June cover was released on Monday. Lochte appears on the cover alongside women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo and tennis phenom Serena Williams. The three men that were previously featured on the cover of Vogue – Richard Gere, George Clooney and LeBron James – each appeared alongside a female model “Cindy Crawford, Gisele, and Gisele again, respectively,” the magazine notes.

2 » Traded to the Orlando Predators recently after falling out of grace with the Jacksonville Sharks, former Florida quarterback Chris Leak will start his first game with his new team on Friday. Leak, who has already appeared in two games for Orlando as a backup and has amassed 78 yards and three touchdowns on 9-of-17 passing, hopes to turnaround the season for a team that has started a paltry 1-7. The Predators hope Leak can be the team’s starter for a long time and have plans for him to be a franchise player as long as he succeeds.

3 » Gators senior right fielder Preston Tucker will begin his final regular season series in the orange and blue looking, in part, to set the school record for career hits. Smacking a single on Tuesday, Tucker tied former Florida outfielder Mark Ellis for the career mark with 319 hits; one more and the record is all his. UF is set to face Auburn in a three-game road series Thursday-Saturday before beginning postseason competition.

4 » As part of an outreach program that will attempt to generate “excitement and energy” for the team heading into the 2012 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be visiting Gainesville, FL with a “Jaguars Caravan” including players, coaches, cheerleaders and other team representatives, according to The Gainesville Sun. As part of the event, which will take place on June 6 at Tioga Town Center from 6-8 p.m., Gators fans will be able to see some familiar faces in former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville’s head coach), current Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey and former Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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.

» In a poll conducted by ESPN and calculated monthly, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow topped the December list as the United States’ favorite athlete. Tebow is “just the sixth different athlete to finish No. 1 in the monthly rankings since 2007” and, in the 18 years of the poll, only 11 different athletes have ever held that distinction.

» In addition to the Top 10 list OGGOA posted Wednesday from CBS’s the Late Show with David Letterman, Tebow was also brought up on TBS’s Conan. Host Conan O’Brien, claiming he was absent the budget to air actual game footage, had his staff put together a recreation of his game-winning play from Sunday…with peanuts replacing the players.

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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Replacing Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator

With the surprise resignation of Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who decided to take the head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday, still the big news of the day, one of the major questions arising is a simple one: Who will replace him? OGGOA has complied a list of candidates who could replace Weis:

Kerwin Bell
Head Coach – Jacksonville Dolphins

Hire him: Bell is almost everything Florida is looking for in an offensive coordinator. He’s talented, runs a pro-style offense at Jacksonville, has professional experience as a player (four years in the NFL, four in the CFL) and coach (two years as offensive coordinator of the Toronto Argonauts) and is a Florida alumnus who was a quarterback on the Gators football team from 1983-87. His JU team features a strong down-field passing game but is also balanced with a solid running attack. Bell told The Gainesville Sun directly that he would be interested in returning to Florida, and a source close to him told OGGOA Thursday evening that he would listen to any offer head coach Will Muschamp might have for him. With orange and blue coursing through his veins, Bell would be loyal to the program and would have no designs on leaving anytime soon.

Hold up: Despite his success both with Toronto (2000-01) and Jacksonville (2007-present), Bell is relatively inexperienced as a college football coach. He spent six years as the top man at Trinity Catholic High School between the two jobs and is currently a coach in the FCS, which is a far cry from the SEC. Weis had total control over Florida’s offense, and it remains to be seen if Muschamp (inexperienced in his own right as a head coach) would be comfortable giving Bell that same power.

Brian White
Running Backs Coach – Florida Gators

Hire him: One of the most experienced coaches currently on staff, White has been an offensive coordinator before during his time at Wisconsin and has been a part of two national championship teams. He is one of the Gators’ best recruiters and is multiple on offense, already proving his ability to coach up running backs and tight ends at Florida. (He also coached quarterbacks and wide receivers at UNLV.) White is well-known and trusted by the players considering he is one of two holdovers remaining from Urban Meyer’s regime and has been with the team since 2009. He could be the safest move in terms of continuity, especially in recruiting where he has excelled during his time at UF.

Hold up: Though he has served previously as both an offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator, White has not called plays since 2007. He will have what may be considered a tryout at the 2012 Gator Bowl, where he will temporarily take over for Weis as Muschamp looks to make a permanent decision on a future offensive coordinator. White is also not the “sexiest” candidate – he has absolutely no NFL coaching experience, something that Muschamp appeared to lean on with his first staff.

Bell and White individually may each be capable of running the Gators’ offense, but hiring co-offensive coordinators is not out of the realm of possibility for Muschamp. Bell (quarterbacks) and White (running backs) each specialize in a different area of the offense and could serve as passing game coordinator and running game coordinator, respectively. Florida had co-defensive coordinators under Meyer with Greg Mattison and Charlie Strong, and the defense was the backbone of the team while both were on staff. Expect Muschamp to give this idea serious consideration as Bell would love to return to the Gators but would likely want more than a “quarterbacks coach” title and White will feel he is deserving of additional responsibilities (and money) considering his work ethic and experience.

Al Borges
Offensive Coordinator – Michigan Wolverines

Hire him: Currently helping turn around Michigan, Borges has served as a college offensive coordinator for 25 years, getting his start back in 1986. He spent four years with Auburn (2004-07), crossing paths with Muschamp during his final two years with the team. When you talk about experience – Borges has it – and his pro-style offense has proven that it can be tailored to utilize speed and quickness.

Hold up: Another candidate without professional experience, Borges’s resume should be enough to overcome that. However, he just took the Wolverines job this year and – considering that offense is on the upswing – probably won’t be too inclined to change jobs after one year. Although he has been an offensive coordinator for a quarter century, he has done it at nine different stops and spent two years or less at five of them, only staying at Portland State, UCLA and Auburn long-term.

Stan Hixon
Wide Receivers Coach – Buffalo Bills

Hire him: He has never served as an offensive coordinator, but it might be time for the 54-year-old to take a step up to the next level. With coaching experience on both levels (14 years in college, 13 in the NFL), Hixon moves on at will and picks his poison. He worked at LSU for four years (three alongside Muschamp) and has plenty of experience both coaching in the SEC and recruiting top-tier players. He left that job to take one with the Washington Redskins, where he stuck for seven years, and has spent the last two coaching pass catchers with the Buffalo Bills (under head coach Chain Gailey – former UF player and GA). Hixon was born in Lakeland, FL and could see Florida as a great opportunity. He is well-known for getting the most out of unknown players and helping them reach their full potential.

Hold up: Hixon has never been an offensive coordinator. He hasn’t called plays for any extensive period of time and has not coached in college in nearly a decade. Some position coaches remain such for a reason, and Hixon may have turned down offensive coordinator opportunities in the past in order to concentrate on the job he does best.

Bobby Williams
Tight Ends/Special Teams Coach – Alabama Crimson Tide

Hire him: Another coach with a history alongside Muschamp (at LSU and the Miami Dolphins), Williams has served under Nick Saban for seven years coaching wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. He was a head coach for three years at Michigan State (beat Florida 37-34 in the 2000 Citrus Bowl) and has extensive SEC recruiting experience. Williams’s versatility is a major plus.

Hold up: Like Hixon, Williams has never been an offensive coordinator and play caller, but his time as a head coach adds another level of experience. His loyalty to Saban is obvious and many believe the chances of him leaving his side are not good.

Paul Chryst
Offensive Coordinator – Wisconsin Badgers

Hire him: Considered one of the best offensive coordinators in the game right now, Chryst would be a huge hire for Muschamp and the Gators. He’s had immense success with Wisconsin and would do great as the “head coach of the offense” with total control over the unit.

Hold up: Chryst has been a candidate for head coaching jobs and may be unlikely to move from Wisconsin unless it is to run his own program. Florida is undoubtedly a step up but probably not enough of a difference for him to move across the country. A year or two of immense success with the Gators could springboard him to a top job, but he is doing fine up north and may be able to pick his spot sooner than later staying put.

Scott Linehan, Brian Schottenheimer, Mike Mularkey
Offensive Coordinators – NFL

Breakdown: Linehan, Scottenheimer and Mularkey all have connections to the program but each has his own reason for not giving much thought to the Florida job. Linehan, who was offensive coordinator under Saban with the Dolphins while Muschamp was there, is leading a burgeoning unit with the Detroit Lions and is unlikely to leave a secure job and take a cut in pay unless he really wants to get back into the college game. Mularkey, a former Gators tight end, has never coached at the college level and is closer to a NFL head coaching job as current offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons than he is to leaving the team and going to Florida. Schottenheimer, currently the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator, was a backup quarterback under Steve Spurrier at UF but also has no college coaching or recruiting experience. He would be the most likely out of the three to have any interest in the job considering he is heavily criticized as Jets’ offensive coordinator and could be on the outs up in New York.

Steve Spurrier, Jr.
Wide Receivers Coach – South Carolina Gamecocks

Hire him: Spurrier, Jr. has been a WR coach at Oklahoma and Arizona and spent time working under his father at Florida, with the Redskins and now at South Carolina. He played college football at Duke and got his master’s degree at UF. He may feel it is finally time to step out of his father’s shadow and up into an offensive coordinator job, and returning home could be especially sweet for him.

Hold up: According to a number of people – including his father – Spurrier Jr. is not ready to be an offensive coordinator. He’s had opportunities to call plays and lead the offense at USC only to have his father demote him back to WR coach and call the plays himself. He probably won’t be a legitimate candidate, but you never know.

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FOUR BITS: Temple, Gorman, Hounshell, Mularkey

1 » New Temple Owls head coach Steve Addazio has made his first hire, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Addazio has tabbed Florida Gators offensive assistant Justin Frye as his offensive line coach. Frye played under Addazio at Indiana and joined Florida’s staff in 2009.

2 » Four-star safety recruit Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL) plans to announce his commitment on Wednesday at the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game and is expected to choose between the Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida – which desperately needs safety help in the 2011 class – is considered by recruiting analysts to be the favorite to land Gorman. He is ranked as the No. 8 safety (No. 85 overall recruit) by ESPNU and No. 10 safety (No. 174 overall) by Rivals. OGGOA will update you on Gorman’s decision tomorrow.

Current UF commits also participating include five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-stars tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), athlete/S De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL) and wide receiver Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville, FL).

3 » One Florida commitment who will not be enrolling early next week as originally planned is three-star offensive lineman Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH). Hounshell, who remains committed to the Gators, said he will not be graduating early from high school and will instead take his time making his final decision. “I just don’t want to rush the most important decision of my life,” he told the Lake County News-Herald. “I was supposed to be moving down Wednesday, but it looks like I’ll be going back to school.” The only other school Hounshell is considering as of press time is Notre Dame.

4 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, currently the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, will be interviewing for the head coaching jobs with both the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns at some point this week. Mularkey has served as a position coach and coordinator most of his post-playing career but was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2004-05.

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