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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Urban Meyer hired to coach Ohio State Buckeyes

Just 10 months after coaching his final game with the Florida Gators, Urban Meyer has agreed to don a whistle once again after deciding to become the next head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes beginning in 2012, sources confirmed to ESPN Monday.

Meyer, who has spent the 2011 college football season as an analyst for ESPN, has also been traveling around the country making appearances at events, viewing his daughters’ volleyball games and spending time at home in Gainesville, FL with his wife and son.

A two-time national champion at Florida, Meyer was named Coach of the Decade by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News in 2009. He led the Gators to a 65-15 record with three 13-1 seasons while at the helm, was 36-13 in Southeastern Conference play and won five of the six bowl games Florida played in during his tenure.

Prior to signing with UF, Meyer won Coach of the Year after leading Utah to a BCS bowl in 2004 and going 22-2 in two seasons. He also went 17-6 from 2001-02 at Bowling Green.

Meyer initially resigned from his post with the Gators on Dec. 26, 2009 due to a health scare but changed his mind – choosing to take a leave of absence instead – and returned to the team on March 17, 2010 for the following season.

Florida went 8-5 during his final year at the helm, and Meyer resigned once again on Dec. 8, 2010 citing his health and decision to spend more time with his family. His final game with the Gators was a 37-24 victory over Penn State in the 2011 Outback Bowl.

An offensive coach at Ohio State from 1986-97, Meyer is a native of Ashtabula, OH who played and graduated from Cincinnati before receiving a master’s degree in sports administration from OSU.

He will take the reins of the Buckeyes from Luke Fickell, who was promoted from co-defensive coordinator to head coach after Jim Tressel was fired in the offseason. Fickell is expected to be retained on the staff at a to-be-announced position.

Tressel was head coach of Ohio State from 2001-10, winning one national championship (2002) and six Big Ten titles (2002, 2005-09) while at the helm.

He resigned in the spring of 2011 after the school learned that he withheld information and lied to NCAA investigators in order to keep players on the field. Tressel had already been suspended by OSU for failing to notify the school of NCAA violations.

The NCAA has yet to fully sanction the Buckeyes but is expected to do so in the offseason. Meyer accepted the Ohio State job aware that punishments are pending.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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Urban Meyer again denies Ohio State report

Further publicizing a report from WKMG-TV in Orlando, FL, FOX Sports noted Wednesday morning that former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has “agreed in principle” to a seven-year, $40 million deal to take the top job with the Ohio State Buckeyes beginning in the 2012 season.

The report goes on to state that Meyer is set to pull linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin and strength and conditioning coach Mikey Marotti from Florida’s staff and make them defensive coordinator and director of football operations, respectively.

Meyer, however, issued another denial of even being offered the OSU job, which was released by his current employer ESPN.

“I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place. I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further,” he said.

The New York Times reports that Meyer’s denial is genuine in the sense that he has not yet accepted the job because he has a few hurdles to get overcome:

There are a handful of obstacles Meyer must clear before further engaging with Ohio State, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. That includes speaking with his entire family over Thanksgiving and further researching just how significant the N.C.A.A. sanctions against Ohio State may be.

READ: Urban Meyer to Ohio State? The timeline.

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Urban Meyer to Ohio State? The timeline.

Updated Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.

Rumors have been circulating seemingly since the day he stepped down from his post with the Florida Gators that Urban Meyer would return to being a college football head coach sooner than later. When Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel resigned on May 30, it appeared as if Meyer’s next destination was a certainty.

Throughout the last six months, Meyer has spent his time working as a college football analyst for ESPN, doing speaking engagements across the country, making appearances and spending time with his family. He has also – on numerous occasions – denied any specific intent on returning to coaching in 2012 though he has admitted more than once that he does miss carrying a whistle.

Over the last few days, however, the murmurs regarding Meyer’s future and Ohio State’s coaching situation have gotten louder. It appears inevitable to many that he will be donning the scarlet and grey sooner than later.

Here’s a look at a timeline of how things have shaken out since Tuesday:

» The New York Times published a story Tuesday noting that Meyer had met with Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne one week ago in Miami, FL to discuss his school’s coaching position. Meyer, according to the story, declined the opportunity but “expressed his desire to return to coaching.”

» Two days later, writer Kyle Rowland tweeted the following: “Same plane that came from Gainesville to OSU airport was in Miami when Urban Meyer met with Univ. of Ariz. That meeting took place in Miami.”

» CBS Sports’ NFL insider Mike Freeman then referenced a report he read on Thursday, tweeting that “Urban Meyer has agreed to coach OSU for 7 years, $35 million. If true, whoa.”

» After that began to circulate, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples attempted to set the record straight with a tweet of his own: “Spoke to someone who would know tonight and was told any report of a deal between Urban Meyer and Ohio State is untrue.”

» However, Buckeyes blog Eleven Warriors quickly took to Twitter to divulge what they had uncovered: “We are 99.7% sure Urban Meyer has agreed to a deal to become the next coach of Ohio State. Solid sources. Plural.”

» Shortly after, The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley texted Meyer directly and asked him specifically about the rumor that he had accepted the OSU job. “No truth to it,” Meyer replied via text.

» Meyer’s wife Shelley also made a statement after being contacted by WCJB TV20 and asked if her husband had agreed to coach Ohio State. “No, he did not,” she told the station.

» SPORTSbyBROOKS then posted a full story about the Meyer situation Friday evening, reporting that a “deal between Meyer and Ohio State was consummated in principle earlier this week in Columbus but not signed.”

Brooks goes on to cite specifics of the agreement including a “generous compensation package” and a promise from the school to provide him with the ability to hire the “highest-paid assistant coaching staff in college football history.”

» Saturday morning, Associated Press writer Larry Lage asked Meyer about the deal. He declined comment. He also questioned ESPN analyst Chris Spielman (rumored by Brooks to be a future Meyer assistant) about the situation, and Spielman said there was no deal between Meyer and OSU.

» While doing color commentary for the Michigan-Nebraska game at noon, Meyer addressed the rumors on the air (video): “I know it’s that time of year. I’ve not been offered any job, and I’ve certainly not accepted any job,” he said.

» Minutes later, released its version of Brooks’s story, noting that “Ohio State has been in contact with Urban Meyer about becoming the school’s coach” but “no contract is in place and no announcement likely would be made until after the regular season.”

» UPDATE: Dooley had an extensive conversation with Meyer over the weekend about the rumors that he might return to coaching. Meyer denied reports of interviews with both Arizona and Ohio State but did say he would consider an offer from the latter institution. “I’m in a good place right now mentally and physically. So if something happens with Ohio State, I’ll have a decision to make,” Meyer said. “If there is a decision to be made concerning Ohio State, there will be a lot that will go into it. But right now, there is no decision to be made.”

He also noted that the three reasons he resigned from Florida will have to be taken into consideration before making any move. “The concerns are still there,” Meyer added. “No. 1 – my health. No. 2 – my family. No. 3 – the state of college football. I’ve done some research into the second one. I’ve found that it is possible to have balance between your job and your family, that there are coaches out there who are doing it.”

It is not surprising that Ohio State and Meyer would both want to wait until the end of the 2011 regular season before announcing any type of agreement. Doing so in-season would be disrespectful to both interim head coach Luke Fickell and Meyer’s current employer. That is, of course, unless there truly is nothing to announce, which appears to be less and less likely as things progress regardless of Meyer’s denials.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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11/15: Florida at Ohio State post-game notes

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators played their first road game of the 2011-12 season on Tuesday evening, falling 81-74 to the No. 3/3 Ohio State Buckeyes at Value City Arena in Columbus, OH. After the game, head coach Billy Donovan and some Florida players discussed the contest they just played.


A lot can be said about Tuesday’s clash between Florida and Ohio State, but two areas in which the Gators were noticeably deficient were in hanging onto ball and taking advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe. UF coughed the ball up nine times in the first half and on seven more occasions after the break. OSU, on the other hand, only turned the ball over seven times the whole game.

“That allowed them to really get back in the game,” Donovan said of the miscues. “We had a stretch where [Mike] Rosario turned it over twice and our backcourt, I thought, turned it over way too much. Any time you turn the ball over, that’s not good playing on the road against a good offensive team. The turnovers on the road certainly hurt you. It’s going to be good for our guys to watch the film.”

Freshman guard Brad Beal was the worst offender with a game-high five turnovers, but senior point guard Erving Walker gave the ball up three times (officially), as did sophomore G Kenny Boynton. Walker and Boynton also combined to go just 4-for-9 from the free throw line, something Donovan blamed on himself.

“We have not shot enough – as much as we need to,” he said about free throw drills during practice. Donovan noted that more time had not been spent on those shots because the team had been doing too much preparation early in the season with installations and trying to perfect other areas of their game.

Florida missed eight free throws and shot just 61.9 percent from the line.


The Gators started the game on fire and used the hot hand of junior forward Erik Murphy to jump ahead 14-6 after he hit his third three. Then things started to fall apart, and it appeared to start with Florida rushing possessions and taking bad shots.

“As the game wore on in the first half, we were taking too many shots too quick,” Donovan said. “We didn’t make good decisions of what was open and what was available to take advantage of. We got into some quick shooting, certainly in the second half we did, which allowed them to open up the game.

“When we moved the ball side-to-side and really got it popping around there – the ball was moving and we were getting penetration, kick-outs, inside and out, we were very effective scoring. When the first guy tried to make a play, it usually resulted in something bad.”

Though others were also to blame, Walker certainly took some bad shots early in the game. He finished 1-for-6 from the field and 0-for-3 from downtown with just four points.

“Erv got off to a tough night shooting. One of the things that he can learn from and grow from is an understanding…for Erving when things are not going great for him, there’s still so many other things he can do for our team,” Donovan insisted. “He’s such a good, solid player. He’s made a lot of big shots, and he’s done a lot of great things for us.

“But he’s got to understand that as a catalyst back there, he’s got to almost show a disposition and attitude of great mental toughness that is not going to break or wilt at all. As a senior, he has such high expectations for himself that he probably at times puts too much on his shoulders. He’s got to understand that he’s got a bunch of guys with him that can help.”


Apparently a conversation with former Gators star Joakim Noah helped Young prepare for the task of defending 2010 Freshman of the Year Jared Sullinger. Young said the two spoke before the game and Noah communicated to him that he had to change his shape in order to play better defense against such a talented player.

“A lot of guys lull themselves to sleep and just stand and give him opportunities to duck them in. I had the mindset, I talked to Joakim Noah earlier, [he told me] ‘Pat, you stand up too much on defense. You stand straight up. If you stand up like that, any post player in the country will duck you in,’” Young recalled. “Coach Donovan has really been emphasizing position on me as well. So this game I really focused on staying low. Every time he came on offense he was going to feel my presence. I was going to let him know I was there and not give him anything easy.”

Sullinger scored 16 points on Tuesday but only hit 50 percent of his shots (half of his points came from the free throw line though Young only committed two fouls in the game). Donovan noted that Young defended him quite well.

“Overall I thought Pat’s size and strength against him was a big help. [Sullinger] never really got deep, deep post position where he could just catch, turn and score,” he said. “I got a lot of respect and admiration for [Young] as a frontcourt player to play and battle against Sullinger and only really get one shot off and play with that energy. I was proud that he never got frustrated in the game and just kept playing.”


» Donovan on how Ohio State got separation in the second half: “We got off to a really good start, which I think you want to do on the road, and then it went back-and-forth. Our defense in the first half was really good. We let Sullinger get to the free throw line a little too much, but I thought we did a nice job on him as a team and I thought Pat did a good job. We, for a period of time there, shots were not going in for us and we needed to have a better resiliency in terms of that we need to go back and play defense. When you play good teams and go on the road, you got to have something to fall back on when shots aren’t going. Maybe the first eight minutes we were shooting 29 percent and they were up around 60 [percent] that enabled them to get it around 8-10-12 and we were trying to fight back.”

» Donovan on OSU PG Aaron Craft: “Clearly he dominated the game from start to finish. He was the whole key to me in the game. More importantly, he really did it defensively. He physically beat up our guards. I’m not saying that our guards got fouled – it was totally within the context of the rules of the game. He physically manhandled our guards I thought, and he did it against everybody. Steals, strips, loose balls, drives – he’s as good as any guard there is out there. I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for him because he’s a tough, hard-nosed kid who probably does not get the respect in my opinion that he deserves.”

» Beal on the Buckeyes: “We were caught off guard at times where we weren’t guarding the ball well enough. They really just played better than our guards.”

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No. 3 Ohio State tops No. 8 Florida 81-74

The No. 7/8 Florida Gators flew to Columbus, OH looking for a signature victory early in the season against a new rival and one of the top teams in the country.

Florida (1-1) did not succeed to that end but held serve against the No. 3/3 Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0), falling 81-74 in a Global Sports Shootout game on Tuesday night.

Ohio State senior guard William Buford led all scorers with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and Buckeyes sophomore center Jared Sullinger contributed 16 points and five rebounds in his team’s winning effort.

Florida opened the contest with an early 8-2 lead and jumped ahead 14-6 with 14:07 left in the first half after junior forward Erik Murphy hit his third-straight shot from downtown.

It did not take long for Ohio State to answer as OSU took advantage of nine first-half UF turnovers and outscored the Gators 10-3, holding a 35-32 lead at the break.

The Buckeyes came out firing in the second half, scoring five unanswered points and using a 15-6 run to take a 12-point lead with 13:42 remaining. Ohio State put their foot on the pedal at that point, eventually going up a game-high 16 points with under eight minutes to play.

Florida, however, refused to go away. Freshman G Brad Beal scored five quick points on a trey and layup, and Murphy put back a missed layup by Beal to complete a 7-0 run that cut UF’s deficit to single digits, 64-55.

The Gators were unable to maintain their newly found momentum, allowing OSU to keep a significant lead for the remainder of the contest. Junior G Kenny Boynton hit a pair of threes with less than a minute to play, but it was too little too late for Florida.

Beal led the Gators with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting (3-for-7 from downtown) but also coughed up a game-high five turnovers.

Sophomore C Patric Young, tasked with guarding Sullinger all evening, finished 14 points and 12 rebounds for his second-straight double-double. Boynton and Murphy also scored in double figures, contributing 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Senior point guard Erving Walker, tasked by head coach Billy Donovan to be a game manager this year, had four assists, three turnovers and six rebounds. He scored just four points and was 1-for-6 from the field (0-for-3 from beyond the arc).

Florida went 11/22 from downtown on the evening and outrebounded Ohio State 34-25 (10-5 offensive) but gave up nine more turnovers (16-7) and hit 14 fewer free throws (27-13). UF shot just 61.9 percent from the line compared to 79.4 percent by OSU.

The Gators have less than 48 hours to prepare for their next opponent as they are set to return home to take on North Florida on Thursday at 8 p.m. The game will air live on FOX Sports Florida; check your local listings for availability.

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