Urban Meyer answers Dan Patrick’s questions

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer appeared on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday morning and answered questions about deciding to take a new job, the reaction he’s received from Florida Gators fans and some of his thoughts about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Below are some of his most interesting responses from the interview. You can listen to the entire 11-minute segment by clicking here.

On if he has been surprised about the reaction he received from Florida fans: “Yeah, I was. I tried to say I didn’t watch or didn’t listen. I did. I heard some of it. Not from Jeremy or the president or the people that know that we put every ounce of everything we had or six years in there. There were fans that were upset when we beat Tennessee only by 10 points. I mean really upset. I tried not to let that bother me, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t say it didn’t bother me a little bit. I heard the word ‘dishonest.’ That couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. Yeah, that’s a shame.”

On if he ever thought of not taking the Ohio State job: “Oh yeah. The contact was made on that Sunday, but I kind of was watching all fall and this whole NCAA thing, you just don’t know until you know. I’ve always been an Ohio State fan as far back as I can remember, and a chance to go home [was great]. I’m not going to do something that’s not the right time. Once I was able to visit with people and do the homework I needed to do, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

On if he thought he would be back in the game this soon: “I was planning on giving it more time than one year. Who would ever imagine your home state, Jim Tressel is a great coach. They were doing great things here [so I] never even had any thoughts about that. And then when things started to move, that’s when it all changed.”

On if OSU is going to be his last job: “I think so. I’m never going to make…I’ve made some comments before that came back to haunt me because you just don’t know. I hope so.”

On how concerned he was about Tebow’s throwing motion: “Big-time. There were a lot of people that recruited him out of high school that said he couldn’t play quarterback, and I was one of them. When I first saw the high school film [from] his junior year, I was very concerned. As a matter of fact – and he gives me a hard time still about it – he wasn’t my top-rated quarterback. And then I watched him play a baseball game and I walked away saying, ‘That’s the most competitive human being I’ve ever seen.’ He moved to the top of the list real fast. And then we had him in a camp, and his competitive will [impressed me]. I’m not one of those guys who believes that because he’s got an elongated throwing motion that has any impact on him winning or losing a game. I’d much rather have that guy who’s going to find a way to get a first down. I was very concerned.”

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Muschamp confident in future of Gators offense

Losing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis – a four-time Super Bowl winner – to a head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks after just one year wearing orange and blue may be a tough pill to swallow for some. Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, however, is confident that his team will not miss a step either in the 2012 Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 against the Ohio State Buckeyes or going forward next season.

After he confirmed that Weis would be leaving the team at a bowl game press conference Thursday in Jacksonville, FL , Muschamp announced that running backs coach Brian White would take over play calling duties for the contest.

“Brian’s an experienced play caller. He’s a great idea guy. He’s been a coordinator before. He’s had tremendous success as a coordinator before, and he’s a guy I got tremendous confidence in,” he said.

Though White will be a substitute in the interim and may be a candidate for the permanent job, Muschamp does not know who will be taking over long term. He does, however, know the direction the offense is going to be heading.

“We are going to remain a pro-style offense, and I will go hire the best offensive coordinator in the country,” he said. “We need to improve offensively; it’s pretty obvious. We look forward to taking those steps forward.”

He did not express a shred of trepidation when saying that he and the Gators will have no problem finding the right replacement.

“We’re at the University of Florida. We’re going to be able to hire an outstanding football coach that’s going to fit what I want done within our offense and within our systems. That’s what we’re going to do, and I’m going to take my time on it to make sure we hire the right guy and get the right fit,” he said.

Weis is the third staff member to leave Florida since the regular season finale against Florida State. Strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti and director of football operations Mark Pantoni both left UF to join former head coach Urban Meyer’s new staff at Ohio State. Offensive line coach Frank Verducci, a close friend of Weis’s, may also follow him to Kansas, though that remains to be seen.

Despite a few defections, Muschamp refused to say the staff has been “raided” and remains confident in the coaching staff staying by his side heading into 2012.

“Our staff hasn’t been raided,” he said. “Our strength coach left with a guy that he’s been friends with for 25 years, and I totally understood that was a possibility when I retained Mickey. But Mickey’s a good strength coach and he did a good job for us. And our offensive coordinator got a head coaching job, a multi-million dollar deal. That’s not getting raided.

“When you’re at the University of Florida, and you hire a really good staff, what a compliment it is to the job you did hiring people that other people want your coaches. You know what? We’re going to hire really good coaches. Next year, we’re going to win, and they’re going to come want to get our coaches again. It’s a great problem to have. You know what? There are a bunch of people calling my cell phone – that is off right now – that want to come to the University of Florida.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES

» Muschamp, when asked if he had guys in mind for the offensive coordinator job, lit up and responded, “Oh yeah.”

» When asked if Jacksonville head coach Kerwin Bell was a possibility, he did not dismiss the notion whatsoever. “I know Kerwin. He’s an outstanding football coach and certainly will be under consideration,” he said.”

» Muschamp said having a prior relationship with his new hire is not the most important thing but “it would help obviously because you know them a little bit better and, when the bullets start flying, you know how they’re going to respond and react.”

» Asked if he would be leaning on any of his coaching friends for advice, Muschamp quipped, “Most of my friends we got to beat, so no.”

» Most of all, Muschamp is interested in having continuity in the staff in the future. “If guys get a promotion and guys get a step up, I think that’s great and I support it. It says a lot about the guys you hire – that they do a good job, are good football coaches, are good men and are good recruiters. I’m very pleased with the continuity of our staff and do not anticipate any changes moving forward,” he said.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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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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