9/7: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators just days away from their second game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the UAB Blazers, he spoke with the media during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week two action.

PLAYER UPDATES

Aside from his opening statement, Muschamp did not have an opportunity to discuss the Gators specifically because all questions surrounded the Texas A&M Aggies joining the SEC any day now. At the start of the call, he said freshman tight end A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus) was the only player ruled out this week but did not provide updates on some other injured players including sophomore running back Trey Burton (bruise), redshirt senior wide recevier Deonte Thompson (head), redshirt junior WR Omarius Hines (hamstring), redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring). He said earlier in the week that Burton, Thompson and Hines were all expected to be healthy, while Brown and Clark would be either probable or questionable depending how they performed in practice and the training room.

Muschamp was not asked about the status of sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, though he likely would have avoided that question and provided a “no comment” reply anyway as the NCAA inquiry is ongoing.

SEC/TEXAS A&M THOUGHTS

On the future of the SEC and other conferences: “I really think we’re heading toward the 16-team leagues eventually. I think there will be four of them at some point, if you ask me personally.”

On if Texas A&M is good fit for SEC: “Their game day atmosphere is very much like the SEC. They’ve got a great backing and tradition and recruiting base is somewhat similar from the standpoint that they do go into Louisiana. When I was at LSU, we recruited against A&M a lot, especially in the southern region. I know they still continue to recruit in Louisiana, so certainly I think it’s a good fit.”

On if Texas A&M joining the SEC helps recruit Texas: “We recruit the state of Florida first of all, and then obviously our region, and if it were to happen, it would certainly help open up some things. […] We do recruit nationally from the standpoint of we’ve got a great, outstanding academic institution, we got a great tradition, and we do attract some kids maybe outside of the state of Florida who want to be Florida Gators.”

On how the SEC could be affected recruiting-wise: “If you look at LSU and Arkansas, and you think back to when Arkansas was in the Southwest Conference and the number of great players they had from the Dallas area, just because that’s where their games were played. The exposure – you’re constantly on television, you’re playing in the state, you’re getting closer to home – all of those things would certainly help those two schools and the Mississippi schools. After that, I can’t really comment on the schools on the eastern side because we really focus our recruiting closer to home here unless there’s a national kid here or there.”

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Report: Floyd’s eligibility hearing held Tuesday

Though it has neither been confirmed by the University of Florida nor the NCAA, a hearing to determine Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s eligibility was reportedly held on Tuesday.

The Gainesville Sun’s Jeff Barlis, who spoke to Floyd’s high school head coach Ron Cohen, reports that Cohen wrote a letter describing “Floyd’s background, his character and what kind of clothing and travel expenses were paid for by Cohen and other members of Floyd’s George Washington High School community,” which was sent to UF and presented at the hearing.

“It was about an hour-and-a-half hearing,” Cohen told the Sun. “They told their side and [the NCAA] listened. Now they have to interpret it and decide how they want to react to it. There was no indication. We just have to wait and see.”

Cohen has been the only party who has spoken about Floyd’s situation and has consistently held that, to his knowledge, the player did nothing wrong in high school that should have his eligibility held in question.

Floyd, one of the nation’s top prospects, was invited to the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl but could not afford the travel costs. In an effort to help him finance the trip, his guidance counselor Dawn Seeger suggested he participate in a bake sale; it raised enough money to send him to San Antonio, TX.

“Supposedly that’s part of it,” Cohen said Tuesday. “That’s why I was questioned. I know the cookie sale was still being brought into it. But again, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I don’t know how it went. They didn’t tell me.”

While at the event, Floyd was one of three top-rated prospects (linebacker Ronald Powell, safety Matt Elam) to commit to the Gators.

Though Cohen has mentioned the bake sale specifically, the NCAA could have other concerns about Floyd’s eligibility. With everyone staying tight-lipped about the situation, more may not be known until a final decision is made – likely in the coming days.

Five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, PA) choosing the Gators

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Report: NCAA to hold Floyd’s hearing Tuesday

It came as a shock to fans following the Florida Gators when they learned just minutes before Saturday’s season opener that sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was declared ineligible by the University of Florida and could not participate in the game.

Set to start at defensive end for the Gators, Floyd was declared ineligible due to “an issue that is not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida,” the school announced. UF did not, however, say specifically why they were forced to declare the former five-star recruit ineligible.

A report from the Palm Beach Post on Sunday notes that Floyd’s high school coach, Ron Cohen, said the NCAA’s hearing with the player is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Gators have not confirmed this and will not until speak on the matter until the situation is settled one way or another.

Cohen also told the Post that he “believes” Floyd’s “name came up with the NCAA” in regards to North Carolina’s pursuit of him as a top high school prospect.

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Sharrif Floyd ruled ineligible before opener

Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, set to start at defensive end for the team in 2011, was declared ineligible by the University of Florida prior to Saturday’s season opener against the Florida Atlantic Owls.

The school released the following statement just before the game:

“We have declared Sharrif Floyd ineligible and he is not eligible to compete until his eligibility is reinstated the NCAA. We have been and will continue to work with the NCAA until this matter is resolved. This is an issue that is not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida. We will not have any additional comment on this matter until it is resolved.”

A five-star high school prospect and one of the top players in the Gators’ stellar 2010 recruiting class, Floyd is expected to be a big-time contributor for Florida this fall.

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4 BITS: Taylor retires, volleyball, Baker, Brown

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Fred Taylor, a 13-year NFL veteran who spent the majority of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, will sign a one-day contract with the team on Friday and officially announce his retirement. Taylor – who has rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns while catching 290 passes for 2,384 yards and eight touchdowns – was a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in 2007 who is only one of 30 players in league history to have rushed for more than 10,000 yards. He was a three-time Southeastern Conference champion (1994-96) and one-time national champion (1996) at Florida and was named as a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC member in 1997. A member of the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame, Taylor spent his first 10 years in the NFL with Jacksonville before playing his final two seasons with the New England Patriots. The No. 9 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, he is Jacksonville’s all-time leader in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns.

OGGOA will have more on Taylor’s retirement on Friday. Stay tuned.

2 » Looking to avenge a come-from-behind victory by the Gators in the Sweet 16 of the 2010 NCAA Tournament, No. 25 Florida State Seminoles volleyball strode into the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on a mission Tuesday evening. Fortunately for No. 9 Florida (3-0), the Gators were able to push back their opponents and sweep the Seminoles 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-22) in front of a school-record 1,901 students (total attendance: 4,631). Florida has won all nine sets in which they’ve played this season and continues to claw their way to victory each match. Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy notched a triple-double in the contest with 12 kills, 10 digs and 17 assists. The trio of senior middle-back Cassandra Anderson (eight), senior outside hitter Stephanie Ferrell (seven) and senior OH Kristy Jaeckel (six) combined for 21 kills on the evening as the Gators improved to 28-2 against FSU under head coach Mary Wise.

3 » Former Gators wide receiver Dallas Baker is set to make his debut with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL on Sunday and is excited for his opportunity to get back on the field. Baker, who was signed by the Montreal Alouettes in April but traded to Saskatchewan in August, only played in three games with the former team and caught just three balls for 28 yards. He found himself on the bench with the Roughriders and now, after a teammate got injured, he will finally get back on the field. “I’ve always been a guy who’s been in a situation like this, so [waiting] really wasn’t tough at all,” Baker told The Regina Leader-Post. “It was all about being patient and that’s something that I was used to.” Baker also spoke to the paper about his uncle and fellow former Florida star Wes Chandler. “When I got drafted, he was like, ‘Hey, that’s the easy part,'” he recalled. “I thought it was the hard part. He told me the things to do to be a professional athlete. He told me to never get complacent. He also told me, ‘Watch and learn. If you see a vet do something, that doesn’t mean you can do it – especially if you know it’s wrong. […] But if you see a vet do something like staying late watching film, pick up on that.'”

4 » Though he was released by the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, former Gators defensive end Alex Brown has already heard from at least three teams who are interested in his services this year. “I talked with my agent, and three teams have made contact,” Brown said on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “We’re just trying to figure out what’s best for my family and what’s a really good situation for me to go in. I would love to go play in a 4-3, so there are a lot of teams out there that still run a 4-3 that could use a defensive end that still has a little bit left. So hopefully I can find a good place that my family and I can feel comfortable with.” One possible destination? The team that drafted him – the Chicago Bears. “It would be crazy to do another Gator Chomp in Soldier Field. That would be nuts,” he said.

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All healed, former Gators safety Dorian Munroe plans to make most of opportunity in Toronto

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison

For every college football player who spends his career bellyaching about playing time or feels his coaching staff is not doing enough to help him move on to the next level is a guy who remains humble, keeps his head down and fights to earn his keep.

You usually see this type of gusto from walk-ons who are thrilled to have a place on the team and hope to earn a scholarship by proving they can work as hard and perform as well as the highly recruited players who intend to use their college careers as a springboard to the NFL.

But what happens when a four-star recruit listed as one of the top players at his position nationally works just as hard as any other player, earns the starting role he sought his whole career and is injured – not once but thrice – and told to kiss his career goodbye?

Those unfortunate circumstances are what former Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe faced. Rather than fall by the wayside as another talented athlete who could not escape injury and wound up giving up on his dream, he has kept his head in the game, searched for the right opportunity and realized that any chance you are given to succeed is better than no chance at all.

Entering his redshirt junior year with Florida in 2008, Munroe was set to start and play extensively in the secondary. While doing voluntary workouts in Gainesville, FL on July 7, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and was forced to miss the entire season.

He rejoined the Gators in 2009 with his knee healed and his mind set on returning to form. After going through an extensive rehabilitation process, Munroe shined in the Orange & Blue Debut, grabbing an interception and proving that he was ready to play once again as part of a four-man rotation at safety.

His comeback would not be without another bump in the road, however, as he tore the meniscus in his right leg in August and missed the first seven games of the season. Munroe made his triumphant return to the field against Georgia on Oct. 31, starting on special teams and taking home the Special Teams Player of the Game award.

Little did he know that the first game he participated in after nearly 16 months on the mend would also be the last time he ever put the full Florida uniform.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s feature on Dorian Munroe…after the break!
Continue Reading » All healed, former Gators safety Dorian Munroe plans to make most of opportunity in Toronto

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Did implicated players receive NCAA immunity?

When Yahoo! Sports released its extensive report on the illegal benefits scandal surrounding the Miami Hurricanes, seven players who were neither current nor former members of the team were also implicated. Among them were Florida Gators redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan.

On Thursday the University of Florida, after receiving approval from the NCAA, announced that both players were eligible for the 2011 season even though they were named in the report and may have received some form of improper benefits.

“We have been in communication with the NCAA and there are no eligibility issues with Andre Debose and Matt Patchan as it relates to recent reports. Andre, Matt nor the University of Florida will have any additional comments regarding this matter.”

According to CBSSports.com, the NCAA’s decision to approve the eligibility of Debose, Patchan and a number of other players named in the report may have been due to the organization using it’s “limited immunity” clause.

“Limited immunity” is a little-known procedure granted to NCAA investigators to get information from a player “when such an individual otherwise might be declared ineligible for intercollegiate competition,” according to the NCAA Manual.

The NCAA’s vice president of enforcement Roe Lach, without being overly specific, told CBSSports.com‘ Dennis Dodd that her organization did take a special step in order to move forward with its investigation.

“The enforcement staff has been given, by the membership, a pretty important investigative tool,” Lach said. She added that they are able to use said tool “when we think that’s really our only shot of getting that information.”

While no one at the NCAA will confirm that limited immunity has been used in this case, one source close to the investigation told CBSSports.com that “apparently they chose to give these guys limited immunity … which means they’re all eligible.”

It is unknown whether or not the NCAA specifically used this concept with Debose and Patchan or if the organization simply determined that neither was involved to an extent that was worth pursuing considering the extreme breadth and depth of its investigation.

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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.

4 »

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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