FOUR BITS: Tebow, WNBA, Muschamp, Embree

1 » Is former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow being “blackballed by NFL teams because of [his] cult-like following [and the] media frenzy” that follows him? That’s the headline of Yahoo! Sports writer Mike Silver’s most recent article, one that is perhaps not that far off from reality. Silver spoke to an NFC head coach who said as much. “He seems like a great guy to have on a team, and I’d be tempted to bring him in as our backup, but it’s just not worth dealing with all the stuff that comes with it,” he said. Silver also learned that New England head coach Bill Belichick, believed to be a fan of Tebow’s, “hates” Tebow as a player, that according to an “organizational source.” “No chance. Plus they wouldn’t like the circus that comes with it,” the source added.

If the fans and media are legitimately the reasons that Tebow is unemployed at this moment, the absurdity of that fact cannot be understated. In the NFL – and most professional leagues – talent is supposed to win out. If you are talented enough to play the game – and smart enough to stay out of the gutter off the field – coaches say you deserve a spot in the league or at the very least a chance to compete. The school you attended, spot you were drafted (if you were drafted at all), race, religion and sexuality are not supposed to matter. Now the message is that if fans like you and the media cover you (too much), you are not welcome. Even if one does not believe Tebow is a starting-caliber quarterback at this time, there are 32 NFL teams, which means there are 64 backup quarterback spots in the league. Try making an argument that Tebow is not talented enough to be a top-32 backup in the league or even deserving of tryouts with teams to showcase his abilities while second-round bust John Beck – a colossal bust of a second-round pick entering his seventh year as a professional with a 3-7 record and QB rating of 67.6 – is working with New Orleans this weekend.

2 » The WNBA may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Los Angeles Sparks have been one team that Gators fans have been able to pay attention to over the years. In this picture taken on Thursday, former Florida head women’s basketball coach Carol Ross (now Los Angeles’ head coach), current Gators assistant coach Murriel Page (UF alumna and former Sparks player) and former Florida guard Bridget Pettis all pose for a picture while doing the Gator Chomp.

Read three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, WNBA, Muschamp, Embree

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Milton-Jones: “What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing for a championship?”

By Nicole Boyett – OGGOA Student Correspondent

The WNBA may not be a professional sport followed by many Florida Gators fans, but it is time for them to start taking notice if they haven’t already as the only woman representing the Orange & Blue in the league, DeLisha Milton-Jones, has been nominated as one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time.

During her time at Florida, Milton-Jones led the Gators to four NCAA Tournament appearances (including the 1997 Elite Eight) while earning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Associated Press All-American honors her senior year. She followed up her stellar collegiate career by playing in the ABL for two years before being was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. Now in her 13th WNBA season, Milton-Jones is one of the most accomplished players to step on the hardwood.

She has won two Olympic gold medals for Team USA (2000, 2008), back-to-back WNBA titles with Los Angeles (2001, 2002) and a pair of Euroleague Championships (2003, 2006) while also having been named a WNBA All-Star twice (2000, 2007).

At of the end of the 2010 season, she was 11th in the WNBA in total points, 10th in total rebounds, ninth in field goals made, 14th in free throws made, sixth in total steals, 13th in total blocks, 11th in minutes per game, and seventh in total minutes played. Despite her impressive career and overwhelming talent on the court, Milton-Jones continues to be overlooked as one of the greatest female basketball players to ever lace up her shoes. The hope is that her talent is recognized on July 23 when the WNBA announces the league’s all-time Top 15 players at the 15th annual All-Star Game in San Antonio, TX.

Milton-Jones sat down with OGGOA’s Nicole Boyett for an exclusive interview just a handful of games into her 13th WNBA season. Averaging 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, she continues to lead the Sparks and hopes to be recognized for the impact she has made on women’s basketball in the United States.

NICOLE BOYETT: What does it mean to you to be the only Gator in the WNBA and to have had such a long and successful career?
DELISHA MILTON-JONES: “I am proud that I’m the lone standing Gator in the league, but I’m also sad because I feel like there should definitely be more of us in the league. When [former Florida star] Murriel Page* decided to leave after her achilles injury, that was pretty much it for us, and I think that her and I both did a great job of representing the Gators all these years.”
*Page was selected No. 3 overall in the 1998 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. She is now an assistant coach under Amanda Butler at UF.

NB: As a Gator, you won SEC Player of the Year, were an All-American and went to the NCAA Tournament every year. With all of your accomplishments at Florida, do you get the opportunity to come back and talk to the team or head coach Amanda Butler?
DMJ: “It is difficult to support the team the way I would like to because, in the off-season during their season, is when I leave for Europe. After the WNBA season, I usually have a week, maybe less, to prepare myself for the next eight months in Europe, so there’s really no downtime for me. For the past 11 years, I’ve been playing in Europe as well as the WNBA year-round, so it is very difficult to get back. I wasn’t even able to come back when I was inducted into the WNBA Hall of Fame because it was during an important time in the season in Europe and the team wouldn’t allow me to come back, so I had to miss it. My mother had to go in my place. I’m hoping that – when it’s all said and done and I decide to retire – that they allow me to come back and be able to participate in the ceremony in a different way.”

NB: You’ve won two gold medals with Team USA, two WNBA Championships and two Euroleague titles. How do those compare to each other and how does winning a gold medal compare to winning a championship?
DMJ: “A championship is a championship, but they all feel good. I think the difference is that the gold medals probably have more value to me because it’s on the largest stage possible and I won. I consider myself to be so blessed, lucky, and privileged to have been a participant in several Olympics. That’s just a dream come true and it lets you know that you are in a category that many people would give their arm for just to be able to participate in. To be able to walk into the opening ceremonies and participate in the game is something that was so special that if I hadn’t gotten the gold medal, it wouldn’t matter because the memories will last a lifetime. Any time I think of that feeling, it just sends chills down my spine.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Milton-Jones…after the break!
Continue Reading » Milton-Jones: “What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing for a championship?”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Brantley, Arkansas, Page

1 » Remember how former Florida Gators center/guard Maurkice Pouncey was supposed to start at the latter position for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that fans should not jump to any conclusions considering the fact that Pouncey has actually been splitting time with incumbent starter Justin Hartwig at first-team center in recent practices. Whether or not Pouncey starts at center during the first week of the 2010-11 NFL season is of no consequence; already getting reps there is indicative of his bright long-term future with the team.

2 » Speaking with the Sporting News, former Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel said he doubted Alabama running back Mark Ingram could repeat his 2009 honor while putting Gators redshirt junior starter John Brantley firmly in the running. “I’m not just being a loyal Gator on this one – OK, maybe a little bit. Brantley has tons of young offensive talent around him and supposedly a new scheme that fits his style better so he could put up huge stats,” Wuerffel said. “Plus, the best teams on Florida’s schedule – Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Florida State – all return less than half of their defensive starters from last year. If UF loses two regular-season games or less,which I think is likely, Brantley will be in the discussion.”

3 » Arkansas radio personality Renee Gork was fired by her station – KAKS – on Monday after Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Bobby Petrino became enraged that she wore a Gators hat to his press conference on Saturday. According to the Associated Press, “Gork, a Florida graduate, said she grabbed the hat without thinking Saturday because it was raining outside. She also said she sent a letter of apology to the university and Petrino.”

4 » Former Florida star women’s basketball player and 11-year WNBA veteran Murriel Page was hired as an assistant coach under head coach Amanda Butler on Monday. Inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame this past April, Page (1994-98) was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference honoree in 1997 and 1998 and a finalist for the 1998 Naismith Player of the Year and Associated Press National Player of the Year awards. “Murriel’s professional experience, her passion for the Gators and the quality of person that she is makes her the perfect fit for our program,” Butler said in a UF release. “We looked at a number of different applicants from a variety of backgrounds and locations and Muriel stood out to everyone.”

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,