NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

At the conclusion of each year, on Dec. 31 to be exact, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. This year, which will go down as a difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 13 for 2013 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 13 for 2013 to end your year on a positive note!

13 » OFFSEASON GARBAGE
The time between the conclusion of spring practice in April and the start of summer practice in July can be long and seemingly endless for some, especially the media, which drummed up controversy where none should have exited in May. Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis, taking part in a Gator Gathering with boosters, jokingly referred to Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “the devil himself.” The slight was made public and Saban took great offense, despite the fact that Davis was kidding. Davis got called “a classless backstabbing coward” for his joke and received other undue ridicule.

Two months later, one of the top college football headlines was a report that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer actually turned in Florida (and running backs coach Brian White) for a petty secondary recruiting violation that the NCAA deemed to be meaningless. Meyer denied his actions and got taken to task for reporting his former school, especially considering he has previously been accused of violating NCAA secondary recruiting rules in a similar fashion.

12 » LACROSSE AND VOLLEYBALL COME UP SHORT
With revenge on their minds and the program’s first national title within reach, Florida lacrosse failed to take down Syracuse on the latter’s home turf in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Orange got the best of the Gators for the second-straight season, winning 13-9 on May 18 after picking up a controversial victory in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. UF had the opportunity to make SU pay while trying to win a championship but instead sent its fourth-year players – the first senior class in program history – home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Florida volleyball saw its 2013 season come to a crashing halt when it fell 3-2 at home to Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One of the top seeds in the tournament and a potential national title team, the Gators allowed their in-state rival to knock them out of postseason play as UF failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Like the lacrosse team, which sent its upperclassmen out in a disappointing fashion, the same happened to senior middle back Chloe Mann.

11 » SAME TEAM!
The moment that checked in No. 1 on ESPN’s own Not Top Plays of 2013 was simply a microcosm of Florida being unable to get out of its own way this year. Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar blocked each other on a rushing play that actually gained some positive yardage against Georgia Southern in the second-to-last game of the season. In the same game, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye was accused of gouging an opponent’s eyes.


Continue Reading » NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

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Keep an eye out for Tim Tebow on your TV

Unless something unexpectedly changes over the next few weeks, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will not play a down of football in the 2013 NFL regular season after failing to earn a roster spot with the New England Patriots in August.

Though there have been a rash of quarterback injuries this season and a number of less successful and talented signal callers were signed by franchises across the league, Tebow’s phone did not ring with another opportunity. Teams are either not interested in Tebow’s talent, still balking at the so-called “circus” that follows him…or both. And he has shown no willingness to attempt and extend his career by taking a shot at playing across the border in the CFL or even at home in the AFL.

Instead, he has spent the entire year out west working on his game with personal instructors while exploring another career path – broadcaster. Tebow has even gone so far as to hire Creative Arts Agency broadcast agent Nick Khan to represent him in what are believed to be serious negotiations with a number of networks.

It should come as no surprise then that ESPN, which is launching the SEC Network in August 2014 and looking for a headline-grabbing talent, and CBS, which owns the rights to the Southeastern Conference game of the week, are two of three major networks already vying for Tebow’s on-air services.

According to Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com, FOX Sports is also in the running though certainly a distant third both in terms of current plans and potential opportunities.

McIntyre reports that ESPN plans for Tebow to have a featured role on the SEC Network in what could be considered the “Kirk Herbstreit chair” on the new channel’s version of College GameDay. The program would be hosted by Rece Davis (taking Chris Fowler’s spot) and also feature Paul Finebaum (for Lee Corso) and another former SEC player (who would take on a hybrid Desmond Howard-David Pollack position).

Update: The SEC Network announced Friday that Joe Tessitore will host the show, which has been titled SEC Nation.

Continue Reading » Keep an eye out for Tim Tebow on your TV

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SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

1 » A pair of former Florida Gators were signed by NFL franchises on Wednesday. After spending the first 11 weeks of the season out of the league due to the Pittsburgh Steelers cutting him following an offseason arrest, running back Chris Rainey was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and is expected to contribute as a returner. Linebacker Jermaine Cunningham has bounced around the league this year. After being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason, Cunningham was picked up by the San Francisco 49ers but never activated and released in about a month. The New York Jets have since decided to add him to their roster and see if he can provide some depth as the team hopes to make a run at the playoffs.

2 » The two Gators in the NBA arguably having the best seasons so far are a couple of the youngest players to have entered the league. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons began turning heads last year but has continued his stellar play in 2013-14 with 20 or more points in six of 12 games with two of those efforts resulting in double-doubles. His latest top-notch effort came Wednesday when he posted 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals in a loss at Dallas. Parsons was 7-of-10 from the field and 4-for-5 from downtown. Perhaps more impressively, second-year guard Bradley Beal has registered 19 or more points in seven of 11 games (including four-straight) with the Washington Wizards. On Wednesday, he notched 26 points, eight dimes and seven boards, going 6-for-7 from three to lead Washington over Cleveland.

Check out two more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Rainey, Cunningham, Beal, Parsons, Tebow, Noah, Crowder, Brewer

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Mike Pouncey served grand jury subpoena “related to” Aaron Hernandez investigation

Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, a teammate and close friend of tight end Aaron Hernandez when both men played for the Florida Gators, was served a grand jury subpoena by the Massachusetts State Police shortly after his team’s 27-17 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough, MA.

According to SI.com’s Pete Thamel and Greg A. Bedard, who broke the story Sunday evening after speaking with a “source with knowledge of the matter,” the subpoena served to Pouncey is “related to” the Hernandez investigation.

The source indicated that police are focusing in on Hernandez’s potential involvement in interstate gun trafficking, which is being investigated by several agencies in multiple states — at least Massachusetts, New York and Florida.

The extent of Pouncey’s potential involvement is undetermined, but police are focusing on multiple transactions that involve him and Hernandez.

Pouncey has not been charged with a crime as of press time. Whether he is in the future remains to be seen. More likely than not, investigators see him as a material witness in their case against Hernandez, one who may be able to assist the state in gathering the necessary evidence to achieve a conviction once the case goes to trial.

Hernandez has been charged with first-degree murder – and five other gun-related offenses – in the September death of Odin Lloyd. He is also considered to be a prime suspect in a July 2012 double murder committed in Massachusetts and a February 2013 shooting of an associate in South Florida.

RELATED: Documents paint damning picture for Aaron Hernandez

It is unknown whether Pouncey’s brother, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, has also been subpoenaed.

RELATED: Pouncey brothers wear “Free Hernandez” hats to club

This story is currently developing and OnlyGators.com will have more information as it is made available.

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TWO BITS: Spikes paid? Foley vs. agents.

1 » Georgia-based football agent Terry Watson of Watson Sports Agency, who is facing 14 felony counts for violating North Carolina’s athlete agent law, may have made payments to Shelby, North Carolina-native linebacker Brandon Spikes, potentially while he was a student-athlete playing for the Florida Gators. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, which cites interviews and court documents relating to the state’s case against Watson, “athletes at three schools other than UNC have been named in court papers” including one from the University of Florida.

Relating specifically to Spikes, the paper sources Patrick Jones, listed as a “close friend of Watson’s,” who “recalls wiring money to Brandon Spikes” but is unable to pinpoint an exact date. “One affidavit appears to document Jones providing Spikes with $212 in March 2011,” which is nearly a year after he was selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

2 » In related news… Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is one of 65 athletic officials whose name appears at the end of a nine-page memo calling for major changes to agent laws. According to the Associated Press, the memo pushes “for changes that would include broadening the law to cover agents, runners, financial advisers, marketers or anyone else who tries to sign athletes or provide gifts to jeopardize their eligibility” and was sent Thursday to a United States government “committee that will meet later this month in Chicago to consider updates to the Uniform Athlete Agents Act.” The law, which currently exists in 41 states along with the District of Columbia and U.S. Virgin Islands, was adopted in 2000 by the Uniform Law Commission.

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FOUR BITS: NFL, Donovan, Mooney, Parsons

1 » The names of a few former Florida Gators popped up on the NFL transaction wire this week. Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and wide receiver David Nelson were signed by the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets, respectively, on Tuesday. Cunningham was released by the New England Patriots after never even suiting up for the team during the offseason, and Nelson was cut by the Cleveland Browns after his knee flared up during the preseason.

On the other side of the coin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived safety Ahmad Black (who started for them this season), and the St. Louis Rams cut offensive tackle Max Starks, who was signed just two weeks ago.

2 » ESPN’s Andy Kats noted on Wednesday that Gators head coach Billy Donovan has decided not to take advantage of the NCAA pushing up the start of basketball practice and will instead begin Florida workouts on Friday, Oct. 11. He opines that the move is being made to give senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin extra time to get back in the team’s good graces. Though that may have an ounce of truth to it, the actuality is Donovan would prefer to have his team practice more in a shorter period of time rather than three total hours per week over an additional month. “[He] likes to hold double sessions over weekends and you only have 30 practices over 42 days before [the] season opener,” correctly noted The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway.

3 » Grabbing a recruit three years before he graduates high school is a risky proposition, but it sounds like the Gators’ latest basketball pledge is in for the long haul. 2016 power forward John Mooney (Altamonte Springs, FL) committed to Florida on Saturday, the school he has always wanted to attend. “I don’t see this being an Austin Rivers situation at all,” Mooney’s head coach at Lake Brantley High School, Mike Cuff, told Brockway. Cuff also said Mooney averaged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman on varsity despite only taking 6-7 shots per game. Brockway also spoke with Mooney’s Nike Team Florida coach Tom Topping, who noted that the player “projects as one of the better basketball players in his class,” something that is “not just my opinion.”

4 » Grantland.com’s Juliet Litman takes a closer look at Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons and his incredibly busy summer, which she concludes is an “aggressive attempt to become a famous athlete/fashion icon,” something she personally finds “strangely endearing.” OnlyGators.com will be speaking with Parsons prior to the start of the 2013-14 NBA season.

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SIX BITS: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Jeff Demps is active on an NFL regular season roster for the first time in his career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to bring him aboard on Monday, the cut-off date established by the league for Demps’s roster exemption. Demps was traded by the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay in April but did not put on a helmet until after the preseason concluded as he spent the entire summer and offseason running track. Now officially a member of the Bucs, Demps will likely handle kick return duties and play sparingly on offense. He has not played a snap of meaningful football since Jan. 2, 2012.

2 » Out of work since being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason following an arrest (on a charge that was later dropped), RB Chris Rainey has received a couple of workout opportunities over the last few months. His latest was with the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Rainey ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash during the workout, but “the Chiefs have decided that they currently don’t have a spot for him.”

“Ran a 4.29 in the 40 and kill the workout too. Waitin on the Kansas City chiefs to get back at me or Watever team now. God is Good!!!” Rainey tweeted on Monday.

Check out four more Florida Gators news BITS (two videos)…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Demps, Beal, Murphy, Horschel, Easley

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TWO BITS: Will Powell or Tebow play tight end?

1 » A nugget of news was buried deep in a well-written Yahoo! Sports feature on Florida Gators redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell. According to Eric Adelson, Powell revealed that there have been internal discussions about him seeing some time at tight end once it is determined that he is fully healthy. “Once I’m feeling good,” he said, “I’m sure they’ll work something in for me.” Powell was recruited by then-Florida head coach Urban Meyer at both defensive end and tight end and told he would have the opportunity to play both. Once Meyer left and head coach Will Muschamp took over, Powell transitioned to the BUCK position and the Gators simply did not have a need for him on offense with Jordan Reed still on the roster. But with Florida now struggling to find playmaking ability among its current tight ends and Powell finally healthy, his versatility may very well be utilized by the coaching staff this year.

2 » According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, quarterback Tim Tebow turned down an “inquiry” from an NFL franchise to join the team’s roster at a different position. King reported this nugget Thursday night on NBC, noting that the player remains focused on playing quarterback in the league. “I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback,” said Tebow in a prepared statement after being released by the New England Patriots.

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