Muschamp discusses Weis at Gator Bowl presser

In Jacksonville, FL to promote the 2012 Gator Bowl alongside Ohio State Buckeyes interim coach Luke Fickell, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spoke less about the game and more about the breaking news that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis decided to accept the head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks.

“Charlie took the University of Kansas head football job today. He informed me about a couple of hours ago. I’m very happy for him and his wife Maura. I’m really excited for them,” he said after making an opening statement. “Getting an opportunity to be a head coach, it’s a great compliment to our staff. We’ve had numerous schools contact me about prospective coaches on our staff. For him to have the opportunity to be a head coach again, I know he’s really excited about it, and we certainly wish him all the best.”

Though the news comes as a shock to Florida fans, Muschamp said he was aware that Weis was interested in the position and does not have any problem whatsoever with him taking it even after he promised to be in Gainesville, FL long term.

“In the recent days he was contacted about the job and we talked about it, and he told me it was an opportunity that he wanted to take. I support him 1,000 percent,” he said. “Any time – in our profession is no different than the business world – when you’re able to take a step up, I support it 1,000 percent. In a situation when you’re a coordinator and you got an opportunity to be a head coach, I support it 100 percent. That’s what he wanted to do.

“I asked him and said, ‘Is this something you’re really interested in?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I want to talk to them. If I wasn’t interested, I would not talk.’ So I said, ‘I support you 100 percent if that’s what you want to do. I think that’s great.’ Now when guys make parallel moves, I don’t think that’s great. If guys can further their careers, I think that’s great.”

“There aren’t many opportunities you get to be a head coach,” Muschamp added. “I know with Charlie, the last one didn’t end the way he wanted it to. He’s an outstanding football coach. He’s a family man, and I’m extremely happy for him and his wife, Hannah and Charlie, Jr.”

He also noted that Weis’s supersized contract doesn’t hurt the decision-making process.

“When you talk about a five-year contract and the amount of money that people are willing to pay you nowadays, quite frankly I don’t blame him. That’s what happens. That’s the reality of coaching and business,” he said.

Muschamp was also asked to evaluate how Weis did in a Gators polo and said he appreciated how much effort put in even if things started faltering after redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley got injured on Oct. 1.

“I think Charlie did a good job,” he said. “Obviously we had an awful lot of confidence offensively going into the fifth ballgame of the year. We lost our starting quarterback and we played with two freshman quarterbacks – who are going to be outstanding, who are very good players, and I’m very excited about their future.

“At the end of the day we had the injury, we lost some confidence offensively, we got out of kilter, we started searching for answers and things we can do against good people. When you lose that confidence, it’s tough to regain that confidence. Considering the situations and the circumstances, I’m very pleased with the job he did.”

Weis’s Florida offense finished 102nd nationally in yards per game (334.17) and 72nd in scoring offense (25.58 points per game). He will take over a Kansas program sorely in need of a boost after a multi-year downturn.

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OGGOA Week In Review: Nov. 27 – Dec. 4

Considering so much has gone on over the past week in regards to the Florida Gators, the OGGOA Week In Review returns for its second edition. (Yes, it covers an eight-day period, but let’s just all agree to ignore that.) Be sure to check out all of the posts that have been written this week just in case you happened to miss a thing or two.

OGGOA COLUMNS
» An in-depth look at former Florida head coach Urban Meyer going to the Ohio State Buckeyes was published in the latest edition of The Silver Lining. The 3,500-word piece looks at Meyer’s decision from every possible angle (some tidbits you will not find elsewhere are included) and provides you with all the information you need in order to draw your own conclusion.

» OGGOA had the unique opportunity to review “The Play That Changed College Football,” the latest edition of the ESPN documentary series SEC Storied.

» Following Florida basketball’s loss to the No. 3/4 Syracuse Orange, former Gators forward Adam Allen posted the latest edition of Allen’s Alley, explaining in what areas Florida has room for improvement.

EXTRA
While Al Michaels and Bob Costas are discussing the Denver Broncos improving to 6-1 this season with quarterback Tim Tebow starting, former Gators wide receiver now NBC color commentator Cris Collinsworth does the Gator Chomp. (Thanks to OGGOA follower Chaz.)

FOOTBALL
» Meyer agreed to coach the Buckeyes beginning in 2012. His signing was officially announced prior to OSU introducing him at an on-campus press conference. In between, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley wished Meyer the best of luck with his new employer.

» Two Gators – redshirt freshmen safety Joshua Shaw and defensive end Lynden Traildecided to transfer on Tuesday. Shaw and Trail each chose to transfer for different reasons, and OGGOA also spoke with Trail for an exclusive interview about his decision and promise to remain a Florida fan.

» Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow was announced as the cover athlete for the premiere edition of NFL Magazine, set to go on sale Dec. 13 for $4.99.

» OGGOA confirmed that strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti would join Meyer and has already left the program for the Buckeyes.

» Florida announced that it accepted an invitation to the 2012 Gator Bowl.

» While on the media teleconference to officially accept the bowl bid, Gators head coach Will Muschamp confirmed Marotti’s departure, said sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will undergo surgery on his ACL Wednesday and discussed a number of other topics relating to the bowl game.

» Florida four-star running back recruit Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, GA) decommitted from the Gators after a significant miscommunication with the coaching staff and completely eliminated UF from his list.

BASKETBALL
» One of the greatest television commercials to feature a college coach was published on OGGOA for your enjoyment. Florida head coach Billy Donovan does a press conference praising the variety of offerings from Florida Gulf Seafood.

» Donovan earned his 400th career win as UF routed the Stetson Hatters 96-70 Monday evening. Freshman guard Bradley Beal led the way with career-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also discussed what winning his 400th college basketball game meant on a number of levels.

» It was determined that junior forward Erik Murphy did not tear his meniscus but rather had a deep bone bruise and may be able to return for the Arizona game on Wednesday.

» Despite it being a close game throughout, the Gators fell to the Orange 72-68 on the road in Syracuse, NY. Junior G Kenny Boynton started slow but finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

» Following Florida’s loss to Syracuse, Donovan pointed to turnovers, poor rebounding and players missing in action as the reasons why UF struggled. Redshirt junior G Mike Rosario was benched during the contest because Donovan was not pleased with where his head was at heading into and during the game.

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2012 Gator Bowl teleconference: Easley out, Marotti gone, Meyer lingers over game

The Gator Bowl Committee held a teleconference Sunday to officially announce that the Florida Gators (6-6) will face the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-6) in the 2012 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl set for Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Ohio State interm head coach Luke Fickell each spoke about a variety of topics on the call.

EASLEY OUT FOR GATOR BOWL AND LONGER

Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who went down with a knee injury against Florida State, has torn his anterior cruciate ligament and will have surgery on Wednesday, Muschamp said. He will be forced to sit out the bowl game and miss all of spring practice, too.

Easley’s recovery time will likely take longer than six months, which means his being able to return for summer practice is in doubt. Redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter will likely start alongside redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard in the bowl game.

MAROTTI ON HIS WAY TO OHIO STATE

Muschamp confirmed OGGOA‘s reports that Florida strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti has decided to leave the program and work at Ohio State under new head coach Urban Meyer beginning in 2012.

“Mickey left to go to Ohio State, but our coaching staff is in tact,” he said. “We’ve had coaches on our staff have other opportunities. I’m excited about the continuity of our staff and our staff that’s in place.”

As far as replacing Marotti goes, Muschamp said there is a ways to go until that decision is made (and it probably will not come until after the bowl).

“I’m going to take my time on that. That’s a critical hire,” he said. “Mickey did a great job at the University of Florida, and I appreciate his efforts, but we need to get stronger. We need to get physically and more mentally tough, and it starts there in the weight room. That’s a critical hire for me.”

MEYER’s SHADOW HANGS OVER BOWL GAME

Despite the fact that he will not be coaching the Buckeyes in the game, Meyer will undoubtedly be the most talked about storyline when the game is discussed. Fickell said that he thinks all of the anxiety will be on the Gators’ side even if Meyer is slightly uncomfortable with the matchup.

“It might be a unique situation for the other people involved, but for our coaches and our players, I don’t know that it will be much of a difference,” he said.

“For Coach [Meyer], I imagine it’s going to be a little bit harder. Just to know the situation and the matchup. I’m sure there are a ton of people at Florida that he loves and respects, as well as players that he loves and respects. I think there might be a little bit more anxiety there than with the rest of us.”

Fickell also said that Meyer’s familiarity with UF’s roster probably won’t play much of a role in OSU’s preparations.

“I don’t know that’s a huge, huge part of what we do. You can have some ideas of guys, but you can get that from coaches that play against other guys, coaches that were on somebody’s staff a year before. That might be a little bit a part of something, but it still comes down to what you do,” he said.

Muschamp dismissed the notion, saying that he does not believe Meyer’s job at Ohio State will be a distraction to Florida because “we’ve moved on.”

NOTES and QUOTES

» Muschamp on accepting the bowl bid: “We’re so excited to play in front of all the Gator fans there in Jacksonville and in the state of Florida.”

» Muschamp on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s status: “We’re going to do what we got to do to win the football game. John’s disappointed with the way he played the last game there in the swamp. He’s disappointed and so are we. He’s fine back from that game.”

» Muschamp on Florida transitioning: “Right now at Florida, we’re very disappointed with a 6-6 season. It’s not acceptable, and we were 7-5 the year before. We’re going through a little transition at Florida as well. We’ve got to get back to numbers as far as recruiting is concerned. We are in a bit of a transition with these two years back to back.”

» Muschamp on Ohio State already selling their allotment of tickets and what florida fans need to do: “They need to support the Florida Gators, and I appreciate them. We have the best fans in the country, and they’re upset and they’re frustrated and I don’t blame them. Our guys are going to work hard and put on a good show there against Ohio State.”

» Muschamp on offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s injured hip: “He’ll probably have some hip surgery done after the bowl game, but he’s fine.”

» Muschamp on if he is encouraged about the last week of recruiting; “It’s going great. Recruiting has been outstanding. First of all you’re recruiting with the University of Florida. It’s a great school, great campus, great tradition of football program and a great staff. A hard working staff in recruiting. Players can very easily see where we’re headed with this.”

» Fickell on his relationship with Muschamp: “I’ve known will for a few years. I know that he’s just taken over and probably had some ups and down as well. That’s probably why we’re record-wise in a similar situation. [...] I can tell you that if they’re going to take on the personality of their head coach, they’re going to be tough, they’re going to be well-coached and they’re going to be disciplined. That makes for two similar teams.”

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Florida accepts invitation to 2012 Gator Bowl

After completing their worst regular season performance since 1979, the Florida Gators (6-6) have accepted an invitation to play the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-6) in the 2012 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

The game will air live at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 with Mike Patrick, Craig James and Jeannine Edwards assigned to the contest by the network.

Held continuously since 1946, the Gator Bowl is the sixth oldest college bowl game and the first one televised nationally.

It is one of three Southeastern Conference-Big Ten games set to be played on Jan. 2, getting the fifth selection from the SEC and fourth from the Big Ten.

Florida has participated in the event eight times in its history, posting a 6-2 record including a 27-10 win over North Carolina State in their last appearance in 1992. Ohio State has not played in the game since 1978, when they lost 17-15 to Clemson.

(That OSU appearance, the team’s only time playing in the bowl, led to the firing of head coach Woody Hayes, who struck a Clemson player that ran onto his sideline after catching a pass with the game winding down.)

The Gators are 1-0 all-time against the Buckeyes, defeating them 41-14 for the 2007 BCS National Championship in Glendale, AZ.

In addition to the game being a rematch of the 2006 national championship, it features a further level of intrigue seeing as head coach Urban Meyer recently agreed to take over the Ohio State program in 2012. However, current head coach Luke Fickell will lead the Buckeyes in the bowl game as Meyer does not take over until next year.

Each school will earn nearly $3 million for participating in the bowl.

Florida will be appearing in its 21st consecutive bowl game, a mark that ranks first in the SEC and second nationally.

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FOUR BITS: Finley, Marotti, Tebow, Brewer

1 » Former Florida Gators linebacker Dee Finley confirmed to OGGOA Thursday night that he has chosen to transfer and finish his collegiate football career with the Division II North Alabama Lions. Finley, who decided to leave Florida on Oct. 12, will return to his home state and attend a school just four hours north of his hometown. Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins transferred to play for the Lions after being dismissed before the season by head coach Will Muschamp and has done very well during his time at North Alabama this year.

2 » Two former Florida players have told OGGOA over the last couple of days that Gators strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti is indeed headed to Columbus, OH to team up once again with head coach Urban Meyer at his new post with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite reports that Meyer was also after linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin, OGGOA has learned that Durkin plans to stay put and remain with Florida for 2012. However, as the Columbus Dispatch noted on Thursday, Meyer is also interested in bringing over UF wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill. Hill joined the Gators staff under Muschamp after Meyer left.

3 » Former Florida teammates quarterback Tim Tebow and wide receiver Percy Harvin will do battle this weekend when their respective teams – the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings – do battle this week on the NFL gridiron. Harvin, who obviously has plenty of experience playing with Tebow, has been helping Minnesota game plan this week for the Heisman Trophy winner. The Vikings are using backup QB Joe Webb as a Tebow clone in practice in an effort to stop the Tebow train and (5-1 as a starter this year) and lead Minnesota to just its third victory of the season. The Vikings, however, have the ninth-ranked run defense in the league, so Tebow and broncos head coach John Fox may have to use his arm to succeed this week.

4 » After bouncing around between a number of teams of last season, former Gators forward Corey Brewer hopes to have found a more permanent home with the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. While head coach Rick Carlisle told Brewer that he is pleased with his effort, rebounding and ability to attack the basket, he pointed out that Brewer must improve his jump shot going forward. “We were shooting a lot trying to get my jump shot to be consistent,” Brewer said in mid-November, according to ESPNDallas.com. “All the other things I do well, but I need to be a consistent jump-shooter, especially in our offense. The way we pass the ball you get a lot of open shots.” Brewer may not have done much to help Dallas win last season, but he hopes to be an integral part of the team winning its second title in 2011-12. “I always felt like this was a good move for my future. We have a lot of guys that are aging and I feel like I’d get a chance to come here and help,” he added. “I was happy to be on the team last year and I helped as much as I could, but I knew I wasn’t going to get much time. But now, it’s a new year.”

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SIX BITS: Marotti, Driskel, Meyer, rings, Tebow

1 » Now that Urban Meyer had donned the whistle for the Ohio State Buckeyes, it is time for him to fill up his staff. Meyer has already plucked director of football administration Mark Pantoni (who was reportedly fired from his post) from the Florida Gators and is not surprisingly trying to bring strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti along for the ride, too. Sources close to the program have confirmed to OGGOA that Marotti is leaning towards leaving Florida for Ohio State. Apparently a decision has already been made but has yet to be announced by one party or the other. Rumors are that Meyer is also looking to bring linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin over to the Buckeyes though his former tight ends coach (now running backs coach) Brian White has already decided to stick with the Gators, according to ESPN.

2 » Despite freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett passing him on the depth chart in the middle of the season, classmate Jeff Driskel is planning on staying right where he is to compete for Florida’s starting job in 2012. “Great to be a gator. Here for the long run,” he tweeted on Monday. Driskel’s father also told ESPN that his son has not even considered leaving the program. “Jeff wants to be the quarterback at Florida,” Jerry Driskel told the network by text. “That has never changed.”

3 » The News-Journal‘s cartoonist Andy Marlette created the following piece of art, depicting Meyer running away from The Swamp off to his new job with Ohio State.

4 » Former Gators reserve offensive lineman Brad Hiers’s home was burglarized and a pair of national championship rings were stolen on Nov. 20, according to News Channel 8. He reported the break-in to police and has been calling pawn shops in hopes of finding his rings and getting them returned to him. “My hope is that people will talk about it. And then say, ‘Oh yeah, I know those are stolen’ and at least have a heart and get ‘em back somehow,” he told the station. He also said he is not inclined to simply order replacements, which do not hold the same sentimental value.

5 » According to beat writer Evan Woodbery, Florida head coach Billy Donovan’s daughter Hasbrouck, a champion rider, has committed to attend Auburn and compete with the school’s equestrian team. Hasbrouck has already accomplished plenty in her young career and won a number of tournaments including some this year.

6 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow had the top selling NFL jersey for months after being drafted in 2010. Now that he is the (somewhat) permanent starter and Denver is winning, his jersey sales have begun rocketing up the charts once again. Tebow had the second-best selling jersey among NFL players last week, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell and how has the sixth-best selling jersey this year (beginning in April).

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The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

Urban Meyer is off to Ohio State to coach the Buckeyes, fulfilling a lifelong dream and continuing his storied career just 10 months after choosing to leave Florida because it was “time to put my focus on my family and life away from the field.”

Gator Nation was rocked when the more-solid-than-ever rumors began a week ago and continued its uproar Monday when it was confirmed and later officially announced that Meyer would indeed be heading to Ohio State.

Plenty is being said in regards to whether or not Gators fans have a right to be upset at Meyer for taking a job just months after declaring that he needed to reevaluate his health and relationship with his family but there is not one correct answer as to how Florida fans should feel about Meyer’s decision and the way in which this situation unfolded.

Whether the perception is that Meyer was dishonest when communicating his intentions for leaving Florida, a culprit of circumstance with his dream job suddenly becoming available years sooner than expected, or a college football addict unable to satisfy his fix while sitting behind a desk working for a major network, each observation has its own legitimate merits to be considered for evaluation.

Let’s take a more complete look at the situation by examining each angle of the story.
Continue Reading » The Silver Lining: A look at Urban Meyer to OSU

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Urban Meyer announced as Ohio State coach

The Ohio State Buckeyes held a press conference Monday evening to announce that Urban Meyer would take over as head coach following the team’s bowl game this year.

Meyer, who signed a six-year, $24 million contract on Monday, will also receive “supplemental compensation bonuses based on achieving certain milestones including academic accomplishments for the football program, and retention payments of $450,000, $750,000 and $1.2 million if [he] is still employed as head coach on January 31, 2014, January 31, 2016 and January 31 2018, respectively.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled to lead the Ohio State University football program,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to come back to my home state where I was born and where I grew up, where I went to school and met my wife.”

While answering questions during the announcement, Meyer explained that he did not plan on returning to coaching so soon and made an exception for Ohio State that he likely would not have made if any other program came calling for his services.

“If not for the coaching position at Ohio State, I would not have coached this year,” he said. “A year ago, in my mind, I was convinced I was done coaching.”

He also spoke about his health, one of the main reasons he cited for stepping away from the Florida Gators following the 2010 season.

“Health-wise I feel great,” Meyer said. “I had a health scare a couple of years ago that made me sit back, reflect. I didn’t feel right. But I feel fantastic now.”

Meyer did not mention Florida by name until he was more than nine minutes into the press conference. When he did, he lauded his former school, calling coaching at the University of Florida an unparalleled experience.

“My six years at Florida, Florida was my dream job,” he said. “Everybody says: ‘Is Ohio State your dream job?’ That’s a term that’s thrown around really loosely. To say I as this big and wanted to coach at Florida. No, I’m not from Florida. The way Coach [Steve] Spurrier and the way I really became a huge fan, I wanted to coach there.

“I will always be a Gator, will always be a part of that situation. Jeremy Foley, had a great conversation with him today and yesterday. Bernie Machen, the president down there, is one of my great friends. However, this is my home state, and it’s great to be back home.”

Meyer also called his initial staff at Florida in 2005 “the best coaching staff, group of assistant coaches maybe in college football history” and blamed his “pursuit of perfection” with the Gators as the reason he fell victim to increased stress in his final two years at the helm. “I’ve been to a place I’m not going to go back [to],” he said.

He also maintained that the “state of college football” was another reason he chose to step down following the 2010 season but that he has learned to stop trying to fix major NCAA, agent or drug issues and instead “keep it in center field.”

Addressing Florida’s well-publicized arrest record under his watch, Meyer explained that the majority of players who were in trouble at UF was exaggerated.

“Sometimes you’re in a college town where things get – anything – all of a sudden it’s on the front page of the paper. So the issues we had – I see numbers of arrests and the numbers I see are exaggerated. I know what we’ve had to deal with. If we had one, that’s too many,” he said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to mentor, to discipline and to educate young people. And we’ve had a pretty good track record.

“We ran some bumps in the road at the University of Florida. Does that mean we had bad kids? I’ll fight that forever. No, absolutely not, we did not have bad guys. Did they make stupid mistakes? Yeah, I’ve made a few stupid mistakes [too].”

Meyer said that the Buckeyes did not make initial contact with him until Nov. 20, and the two sides did not meet in person until Nov. 23. He received a formal offer from Ohio State on Sunday and signed the contract Monday morning.

As part of his annual salary, Meyer will receive $700,000 in base compensation, $1.85 million in media, promotions and public relations monies, $1.4 million from apparel/shoe/equipment monies, $40,000 contributed to his retirement and $10,000 for a paid Coca-Cola appearance. Other off-field bonuses can be earned for the team’s yearly academic progress rate and graduation success rate.

He can earn $50,000 for winning the Big Ten Leaders Division, $100,000 plus an additional contract year for each Big Ten Championship Game victory, $150,000 for a BCS bowl game appearance, and $250,000 for a BCS National Championship Game appearance.

Meyer will also receive a $1,200/month stipend for automobile costs, a full golf membership, use of the school private jet (including 35 hours of personal use per year) and 12 tickets to each game among other benefits.

He will not coach Ohio State during their bowl game in January but will begin recruiting for the Buckeyes and assembling a coaching staff immediately.

Reports are that he has already hired Florida director of football administration Mark Pantoni away from the Gators and may make overtures to linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti as well.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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