FOUR BITS: Cincy ready, Boynton’s shooting

1 » One day after advancing to the finals of the Gator Holiday Classic with a dominating 62-35 win over the Southern Jaguars, Florida Gators women’s basketball (5-6) fell to the High Point Panthers (5-6) 75-68 at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with a team-high 11 points for the fifth double-double of her career (11 rebounds).

2 » Though they lost head coach Brian Kelly to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their interim coach, Jeff Quinn, accepted the head job with the Buffalo Bulls, the Cincinnati Bearcats are playing better than ever, according to quarterback Tony Pike. “I think this has been our best week of practice this season,” Pike said. “It’s been a relief to get back on the field. The success we’ve had this season had been overshadowed by the other stuff.” The Bearcats and Gators will both descend on New Orleans, LA, on Saturday to begin practice for the 2010 Sugar Bowl.

3 » A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Florida freshman guard Kenny Boynton has already delighted fans with his exciting play and aggressive style. His shot selection, however, leaves much to be desired. Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun took a closer look at Boynton’s struggles – the freshman sensation is shooting only 37 percent from the floor and a measly 21.9 percent from beyond the arc. In the Gators’ loss last Saturday against the Richmond Spiders, Boynton was 0-6 from three-point range, some of which were simply bad shots. “Kenny may have taken some bad shots, but I think the same thing can be said of the rest of our team,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “Guys are going to have ups and downs. He’s got to have the freedom to take good shots, to take unchallenged shots.” While his shot selection may be questionable, one key to Boynton’s success in the backcourt is his penchant to hold onto the ball; he has a sterling 2.25 assist-to-turnover ratio.

4 » Though Donovan and his players are certainly not making excuses, one of the reason’s for Florida’s recent struggles on the court (aside from the high quality of opponents faced) are their injuries. Only six of the team’s 11 scholarship players are healthy, with the frontcourt being especially banged up. Junior forward Chandler Parsons (torn leg muscle), redshirt junior transfer center Vernon Macklin (pulled gluteus muscle) and sophomore C Kenny Kadji (back) will all likely be good-to-go Tuesday. Freshman F Erik Murphy (shoulder), on the other hand, may sit and rest. “Those kind of injuries that we have right now are similar to a lot of teams and what they go through,” Donovan said. “But there’s no question [that other teams] have a lot more depth than we do right now.”

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FOUR BITS: Baseball ranked, Buffalo hires coach

1 » The Florida Gators baseball team has been ranked No. 9 in Collegiate Baseball’s preseason top 40 poll released Sunday. 2009 SEC Eastern Division Champions, the Gators were 42-22 overall in 2009 and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional in the postseason. The only SEC team ranked higher in the poll is the LSU Tigers at No. 2.

2 » Florida women’s basketball (5-5) defeated the Southern Jaguars (6-3) 62-35 in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Sunday in the first round of the Gator Holiday Classic. Sophomore center Azania Stewart scored a career-high 18 points as she led the Gators to victory. Florida will take on the High Point Panthers for the tournament title at 7 p.m. on Monday.

3 » Further fleecing the Cincinnati Bearcats staff, the Buffalo Bulls have hired Jeff Quinn (Cincinnati’s interim coach after Brian Kelly left for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish) as its new head coach. Though Quinn will not start until after the 2010 Sugar Bowl, his hiring spells relief for Gators fans who were hoping neither cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford nor quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler would be hired away for the job.

4 » Seniors quarterback Tim Tebow and softball pitcher Stacey Nelson, along with 28 other Florida student-athletes, graduated on Saturday. Here are two pictures:

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TWO BITS: Gators in for Moses, Patton speaks

1 » Four-star offensive tackle Morgan Moses (Fork Union, VA) has narrowed his college choices down to the Florida Gators and Virginia Cavaliers, according to JC Shurburtt of ESPN. A prep school standout, Moses has been committed to Virginia for some time but decided to open up his recruitment after head coach Al Groh was fired. He visited Gainesville, FL, this past weekend and came away impressed with what the experience. Moses will announce his decision within the next week and could be a monster get for the Gators.

2 » Solomon Patton, a three-star wide receiver commit from Mobile, AL, speaks with The Birmingham News about his commitment to Florida and his plan to enroll early for the spring semester in January.

Extra Bit » Former five-star Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end commit Chris Martin has given his pledge to the California Golden Bears. Though Martin’s choice was thought to be between the Gators and the Oklahoma Sooners, his decision to commit to Cal came after a recent visit and some encouragement by his parents.

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FOUR BITS: Riggs commits, Kelly, letdown, golf

1 » Florida Gators cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford visited the home of four-star CB recruit Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Thursday night and earned the St. Thomas Aquinas High School product’s commitment, according to a report from Rivals. Bedford still taking visits and bringing back commitments is a strong indication that he may not leave the Gators as was previously reported by other sources.

2 » Former Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Brian Kelly, who has now accepted the same job with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, will not coach his former team in the 2010 Sugar Bowl against Florida, according to university administrators. In the few hours since Kelly’s announcement, Cincinnati players have already begun bashing him in the press. “I didn’t want to hear it,” star wide receiver Mardy Gilyard said. “I’m fairly disgusted with the situation – him letting it last this long. Hopefully he’ll pack his things up and get to South Bend in a hurry.”

3 » Gators players, including redshirt junior left guard Carl Johnson, are making sure the team is up and ready for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. “Winning [22] straight games in a row is not much of a letdown,” he said. “We had the nation’s [longest] win streak there for a while. We’ve still got a BCS bowl game. We’ve still got another opponent. It’s not much of a letdown.”

4 » Golfer Greg Norman will host a 12-team golf tournament on Friday at the Tiburon Golf Club and two of the main competitors in the contest are former Florida players. Mark Calcavecchia and Brian Gay will pair together in the $3 million tournament.

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Strong to Louisville on hold, perhaps Notre Dame?

Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong could very well be the next head football coach for the Louisville Cardinals. But don’t expect any talks to begin until after this weekend, as University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has halted his pursuit of a new coach until after said candidate’s team has finished playing. Jurich’s patience is noteworthy and commendable, though he will be forced to seek out a replacement before bowl games commence and will likely begin speaking to Strong a day or two after the 2009 SEC Championship game.

Strong’s agent, Nathan Whitaker, told the Courier-Journal that he has yet to be contacted about the Louisville opening. One dark horse candidate for Strong’s services may very well be the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, as pointed out by a dedicated OGGOA reader named Travis who took some time out to tell us exactly why.

Travis finds it curious that Strong’s name has not yet surfaced in regard to Notre Dame’s opening. It may be a long shot, but not nearly as big of a long shot as you may think. With a report today stating the Fighting Irish are considering Connecticut Huskies defensive-minded head coach Randy Edsall, here are a few things to consider:

Five reasons Strong-to-Notre Dame may be in the cards…after the jump…
Continue Reading » Strong to Louisville on hold, perhaps Notre Dame?

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Gators take on No. 2 Spartans in Legends Classic

Facing their toughest test on the court since the 2006-2007 season, the Florida Gators basketball team (4-0) will take on the No. 2/2 Michigan State Spartans (4-0) in the opening game of the 2009 Legends Classic on Friday at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City, NJ. Florida will then face either the UMass Minutemen or Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday at either 5:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.

This is the sixth meeting between the Gators and Spartans, with Michigan State holding a 3-2 lead in the series. The Spartans won the last meeting 68-56 in Tampa in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament and also defeated the Gators 89-76 in the 2000 National Championship. Florida head coach Billy Donovan and Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo are contemporaries, having known each other since the early 1990s.

Much more on the Florida vs. Michigan State game as well as some notes on women’s basketball and volleyball after the jump…
Continue Reading » Gators take on No. 2 Spartans in Legends Classic

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FOUR BITS: Meyer to NFL? Bowden’s last trip? Tebow’s legacy. ’06 class. Hobbs quits.

1 » Speculation surrounded Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s future this week, forcing him to (for the third time in six months) declare he has no intention of coaching the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and plans to remain in Gainesville, FL. Would that declaration stop the talk of Meyer leaving? Of course not. Now we have Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com telling Gators fans that Meyer’s next destination will be the NFL and the Dallas Cowboysas soon as next year. While we here at OGGOA do believe the NFL is in Meyer’s future, we see him as the future successor to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick…half a decade from now.

2 » While on the subject of coaching, plenty is being said about Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden this week. One article focuses on the fact that Saturday’s game will probably be Bowden’s last trip to The Swamp. “[I’ve thought about it] a little bit,” Bowden said. “Not enough to distract me. But I’ve thought about it, yeah. Thought about how this might even be the last time I’m ever in Gainesville.” Another explains how Bowden never had a chance in recruiting Florida senior quarterback Tim Tebow. “We never had a chance,” he said. “Mom and dad went there, and I remember Bob Tebow saying that since Tim was little, that he wanted to play at Florida. To me, it was cut and dried.”

3 » With Tebow closing out his career, there are four years of memories and accomplishments to look back on. The Palm Beach Post writes that Tebow will leave a strong impression on Gator Nation and the state of Florida long after he has graduated. Everyone from teammates, coaches, teachers and school officials to analysts, ministers, mothers and even Governor Charlie Christ seems to agree. For a guy’s whose career is already unparalleled, Tebow will have success in life even if it is not in the NFL.

4 » Following up on our BIT from Thursday about the massive success of the 2006 recruiting class, the Gainesville Sun has gone as far as to declare it “the greatest recruiting class in school history – and one of the greatest in the history of college football.” One member of that class is redshirt junior offensive lineman Corey Hobbs, a four-star recruit who has only seen action in 11 games in his Florida career. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting Hobbs has decided to quit the football team following this season. Hobbs, who will be honored on Senior Day along with some of his other teammates, has decided to begin law school next semester.

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Urban Meyer crushes Notre Dame rumors Monday

With Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Charlie Weis on the hot seat and set to be fired any day now, Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has once again been shrouded in speculation about his future. For the third time in the last six months, Meyer took the time to refute any rumors about his interest in the Notre Dame job.

“I’ll dispel those rumors right now,” Meyer said during his Monday afternoon press conference. “I’m going to be the coach at Florida for as long as they’ll have me. We’ll make that clear.”

Prior to Meyer speaking, senior quarterback Tim Tebow was at the podium and asked a similar question about Meyer’s future. “I don’t think that’s anything he’ll do now, I think he’s enjoying his time here,” he said. “He loves working for [athletic director] Mr. [Jeremy] Foley. He loves being here at the University of Florida. He loves his players and I don’t think he wants to go to a place where he has to start fresh and start new. I don’t think he wants to do that. He enjoys being here. It’s the best place in football. I don’t know why he would leave. He’s enjoying it.”

Press Conference Notes:
– Redshirt sophomore back-up QB John Brantley was named Offensive Player of the Week for his three touchdown performance against the FIU Golden Panthers.

Michael Guilford, a walk-on defensive back/quarterback for the Gators who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2007, will be honored with his senior class next Saturday in The Swamp on Senior Day. “He’s got a terrific family, and we’ll just try to do the best we can to make that family feel at peace with what he did here, because he was a phenomenal young man and a phenomenal member of this team,” Meyer said.

– As he has been in the past, Meyer was emotional when discussing the Gators’ senior class, pausing multiple times during the press conference to compose himself and fight back tears when talking about the players.

– Meyer also mentioned that he believes Tebow has the intelligence and ability to coach Florida later in his football career.

OGGOA will have more news and notes for you later.

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