Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Main Post – News & Notes: Muschamp’s shot at Meyer, injuries, players, coaches | Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Dominique Easley predictably steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

With the Florida Gators drawing criticism for the way the program has dealt with its players following brushes with the law, spurned on by the drugging up of past Gainesville, FL, police reports following the recent first-degree murder charge against Aaron Hernandez, head coach Will Muschamp felt it was necessary to address the topic while at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Tuesday.

Muschamp called the Hernandez incident “a horrible tragedy” and “something bigger than a Florida problem,” noting that he feels for the victim and believes the entire situation is a great misfortune. “We’re talking about a life,” he said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a horrible situation.”

He later took things a step further, stating matter-of-factly that it is the job of a college coaching staff to watch over the players it recruits to join the program not only on the field but off of it as well. He said the coaches owe it to those players and their parents to do whatever they can to ensure the student-athletes head down the right path.

“You’re 100% responsible,” Muschamp said.

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2013 SEC Media Days – Gators ready to rock

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players | Easley steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio represented the team on Tuesday by participating at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL. Below are highlights from Muschamp’s session along with some player comments.

MUSCHAMP FIRES A SHOT AT URBAN MEYER

Before he stepped up to the main podium, Muschamp spoke with reporters in a side session and was asked about Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer turning in Florida and running backs coach Brian White (Meyer’s former team and former assistant coach) for a minor secondary recruiting violation. Meyer and OSU also reported UF for what they perceived to be another recruiting violation last year.

“We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules,” Muschamp said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples. “They certainly know something about NCAA rules.”

Muschamp continued: “It’s really a dead issue. In both situations we were turned in by Ohio, the University of Florida didn’t do anything wrong.”

PUNISHMENT STILL UP IN THE AIR

Muschamp also told reporters that he has not decided whether sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will be suspended for any games due to his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery one month ago. He has already been disciplined by the Gators but additional punishment has yet to be determined.

Morrison accepted a deferred prosecution agreement from the State of Florida and will pay fines, perform community service and complete other tasks during a six-month probationary period in order to get the charge expunged from his record.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced Tuesday that only two players would be limited heading into fall training camp – redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman and freshman LB Alex Anzalone – both of whom are nursing shoulder injuries after going under the knife during the spring.

He expects both players to eventually return to practice in the fall but noted that each would likely miss 10-12 sessions before being cleared by team trainers. Otherwise, he believes the Gators are “pretty healthy” on the injury front.

Redshirt junior BUCK Ronald Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season with a pair of anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, will be cleared for the start of fall practice.

“Probably the guy I’m most excited to see is Ronald Powell,” Muschamp said. “Here is a guy who has been through a lot of adversity. He’s been cleared to go after it in fall camp. A guy I’m really excited to get back on the field to see is No. 7 running around in orange and blue, a guy that’s been through an awful lot. Two surgeries. Never complained. Never got down about anything. [He] is truly a great individual and excited that he’s a leader of our football team as well.”

POSITION-BY-POSITION ANALYSIS

As part of his 2,400-word filibuster opening statement, Muschamp went in-depth about each position on the Florida football team and often spoke at length about particular players. Below is a breakdown of what he had to say about those positions.

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2013 SEC Spring Meetings notes – Days 1-2

The Southeastern Conference is currently holding the 2013 SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, FL with head coaches, athletic directors and presidents representing each school in attendance to discuss a number of league and national issues over the course of the week from Tuesday-Friday. Below are some notes from the first two days:

Quotes and information below attributed to Yahoo! Sports, the Associated Press, The Birmingham News, the Orlando Sentinel and The Gainesville Sun.

» Alabama head coach Nick Saban told a media contingent that Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and athletic director Jeremy Foley both apologized to him following remarks made by offensive line coach Tim Davis recently at a Gator Gathering in Melbourne, FL. Despite saying he was hurt by Davis’s words and even responding to a handful of questions about the “devil himself” comment the week it was said, Saban now says “it’s nothing to get too upset about” and that what Davis said “is not a reflection of the University of Florida, Will Muschamp or the program.” Late Wednesday, Muschamp added that he “was very disappointed” with Davis’s comments and confirmed that both he (Muschamp) and Foley had spoken with Saban. Muschamp also said he spoke with Davis and did not think his words were “reflective of his true opinion” of Saban. Hopefully this is no longer a topic of conversation.

» SEC commissioner Mike Slive, on Tuesday, said the league’s athletic directors voted unanimously (14-0) to explore assigning a “primary” host site to the conference’s men’s basketball tournament. With the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA already the permanent host of the football championship and Regions Park in Hoover, AL serving as the permanent host of the baseball tournament, the league feels a “primary” (read: not permanent) host site is needed for basketball at the very least. The Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN is already scheduled to host three of the next six tournaments and seems to be an early favorite to potentially become a primary host site.

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SEC, ESPN officially announce SEC Network

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

The Southeastern Conference and ESPN jointly announced on Thursday the creation of the multi-platform SEC Network, which is set to launch on Aug. 6, 2014 as part of a 20-year media rights extension between the conference and World Wide Leader in Sports that will take relationship through 2034.

Termed the “longest agreement in all of sports” by ESPN president John Skipper, the deal not only locks up the SEC with ESPN as its primary rights holder but also ensures that 1,000 league games will be aired each year including 450 live on television. The other 550 contests will be distributed digitally across a variety of platforms.

“The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “We will increase exposure of SEC athletics programs at all 14 member institutions, as we showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league. The agreement for a network streamlines and completes an overall media rights package that will continue the SEC’s leadership for the foreseeable future.”

College football, the only sport with all 14 schools’ coaches in attendance on Thursday, will obviously be featured prominently on the new channel. The SEC Network will televise 45 league football games each year, including three every Saturday of the 13-week season. CBS will continue to have first pick of each week’s SEC football games but will no longer have exclusivity to air an SEC game in the middle of the afternoon.

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SEC Network set to be announced on Tuesday

It took less than a year for “Project X” to completely transform into the SEC Network with the newest joint venture between the Southeastern Conference and ESPN set to be announced at a special event on Tuesday in Atlanta, GA, according to a report released Friday by the SportsBusiness Journal.

Commissioner Mike Slive admitted to Yahoo! Sports in March that an announcement about the SEC Network would occur in the following month and that is exactly what will happen on April 16 at noon.

“The Southeastern Conference has completed the buy-back of its TV, digital and sponsorship rights from third parties, clearing the final hurdles to launch its TV channel with ESPN next year,” SBJ’s Michael Smith and John Ourand reported Friday. “[The SEC Network] will be a national channel, with broad distribution within the SEC’s territory and sports-tier carriage elsewhere.”

ESPN – through its network, ESPN2, ESPNU and the standalone SEC Network – will carry every conference football contest not chosen by CBS as its weekly game.

ESPN, which previously owned all of the SEC’s television rights, had sold third-tier access to CBS Collegiate Sports Properties, IMG College and Learfield Sports. Those rights included one football game, eight men’s basketball games and other non-revenue sports that ESPN did not choose to air. The network is currently in the process of buying back syndicated rights that it sold to Comcast SportsNet and FOX Sports Net.

In order to make the SEC Network a reality, ESPN needs to own all of the league’s games. It has also taken over the SEC’s corporate sponsorship program and will also acquire the league’s digital rights, which the SEC is buying back from XOS Digital.

The SEC Network will launch in August 2014 with each school likely receiving $8-10 million per year on a contract set to last 15-20 years.

Last season, two of the Florida Gators’ 12 football games and 12 of the school’s 30 basketball contests (regular season) were not carried on national networks.

UPDATE: ESPN and the SEC sent press releases announcing a joint press conference scheduled for noon on Tuesday. Florida president Bernie Machen, who is also the Chairman of the SEC’s Presidents & Chancellors, will be in attendance alongside Slive, ESPN president John Skipper, ESPN senior vice president of programming Justin Connolly and more than 30 head coaches from the SEC (football, basketball).

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2012 SEC Media Days – Slive, Spurrier, highlights

The 2012 Southeastern Conference Media Days began on Tuesday in Birmingham, AL and will last for three days concluding on Thursday. Though the Florida Gators contingent will meet the media on Wednesday morning, below are some highlights from the first day of the event, which featured SEC commissioner Mike Slive and representatives of South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

COMMISSIONER MIKE SLIVE

» On improved minority hiring in the league: “Today we have three minority head football coaches, eight minority head basketball coaches and five minority women’s basketball coaches, all bucking a national trend as outlined in a recent [Associated Press] article. I am very grateful that the hiring of minority coaches in the Southeastern Conference is no longer a story; it is simply part of who we are.”

» On providing student-athletes with a true “full ride” scholarship: “It remains important for us to continue to focus on increasing the amount of a full scholarship to provide student-athletes with financial resources to meet the full cost of attendance. And we also need to eliminate rules, for example, that are hurdles for former student-athletes to come back after their eligibility is exhausted. And if they’re committed to getting their degrees, we need to have financial aid rules that allow us to do that.”

» On avoiding a situation like what recently occurred at Penn State: “We must maintain an honest and open dialogue across all levels of university administration. There must be an effective system of checks and balances within the administrative structure to protect all who come in contact with it, especially those who cannot protect themselves. No one program, no one person – no matter how popular, no matter how successful – can be allowed to derail the soul of an institution.”

» On the current SEC Network and plans for a national network: “The SEC Network syndicated package that now reaches 80 million homes and includes such markets as New York, Chicago, Boston and LA, amongst others. On a Saturday afternoon, it’s ESPN’s third most widely distributed platform behind only ESPN and ESPN2. [...] There has been a whole lot of speculation about ‘Project X.’ Is it still a secret? I don’t think so. But we now call it ‘Project SEC.’ Our objective long term to work with our television partner to provide fans with greater access to favored teams, more opportunities to watch rivals and more insight into who we are: a conference of 14 great universities. I’d love to say more. I know you want me to say more. I won’t say more. I will, though, before I get too much older and before you get too much older.”

SOUTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH STEVE SPURRIER

» On how things have changed at USC: “A lot has changed at South Carolina in seven years. Yeah, I got a couple good friends that have been there for 30, 40 years and so forth. One of the guys said, ‘We used to come to the ballpark hoping for a good game. If we’re playing Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, we were just hoping for a good game, not get blown out. Now we sort of come to the ballpark thinking we’re going to beat those guys. We’re sort of mad if we don’t.’ I said, ‘That’s the way you’re supposed to feel, mad or a little upset if you don’t beat them.’”

Read the rest of this post (including more from Spurrier)…after the break!
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Billy Donovan says SEC schedule needs balance

When the Southeastern Conference signed a new television deal with ESPN in 2008, the network requested that the league adopt a scheduling format in which conference games were mostly played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday so as many contests as possible could be aired on ESPN‘s array of channels.

Though commissioner Mike Slive received approval from the SEC’s coaches to adjust the schedule and make the deal, the league has found and continued to do its best to work out kinks in the scheduling ever since.

During No. 13/14 Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan‘s press conference on Monday, he spoke at length (nearly nine full minutes) about one major flaw in the schedule – teams being forced to play late games on Thursday and early games on Saturday. This type of scheduling, he argues, provides the players with little (if any) time to rest and the coaches with even less time to put a solid game plan in place.

Florida is set to face Ole Miss Thursday at 7 p.m. on the road before turning around and returning home to take on No. 16/18 Mississippi State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Donovan’s complete thoughts on the issue and how he believes it makes the SEC schedule unbalanced for some of the teams in the league is available…after the break.

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Missouri Tigers become 14th SEC member

It’s official. After months of speculation, the Missouri Tigers announced Sunday that they will be leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference effective July 1, 2012 for the 2012-13 athletic season.

The addition of Missouri (and Texas A&M in September) marks the first expansion for the SEC since it added Arkansas and South Carolina and split into divisions in 1991. Though it has yet to be officially announced, the expectation is that Mizzou joins the East division.

“The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference are pleased to welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC,” said Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida. “The University of Missouri is a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions.”

“The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri,” Missouri chancellor Brady J. Deaton said. “In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success. The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university. We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league.”

“I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. “Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012.”

GETTING TO KNOW MISSOURI

UNIVERSITY
Established: 1839
Location: Columbia, Missouri
Enrollment: 33,805 (fall 2011)
Campus: 1,372 acres
Colors: Black and “MU gold”
Motto: Let the Welfare of the People be the Supreme Law
President: Dr. Brady J. Deaton
Notes: First public insitutation of higher education west of the Mississippi, member of the Association of American Universities, world’s most powerful university research reactor, one of six public universities in the United States with schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agriculture and law all on one campus

ATHLETICS
Nickname: Tigers
Mascot: Truman the Tiger (named after President Harry S. Truman)
Facilities: Faurot Field (football), Mizzou Arena (basketball), Taylor Stadium (baseball)
Men’s sports: Football, basketball, baseball, cross country, golf, swimming and diving, track and field, wrestling
Women’s sports: Basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball
National titles: 3
Conference titles: 71 (6 in the Big 12)
Band: Marching Mizzou
Previous affiliations: WIUFA, Independent (1890-1892, 1898-1906), Missouri Valley/Big Six/Big Seven/Big Eight, Big 12
Athletic director: Michael Alden

FOOTBALL
First season: 1890
Stadium capacity: 71,004
All-time record: 622–515–52 (.545)
Traditions: Invented homecoming, Harpo’s goal posts
National titles: 1 “claimed”
Conference titles: 15 – 1893-95, 1909, 1913, 1919, 1924-25, 1927, 1939, 1941-42, 1945, 1960, 1969
Record vs. Florida: 1-0 (W 20-18 in 1966 Sugar Bowl)
Heisman Trophy winners: 0
College Football Hall of Fame: coaches – 5, players – 7
Pro Football Hall of Fame: 2 – Kellen Winslow, Roger Wehrli

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