Florida Gators gymnastics wins share of second-straight NCAA National Championship

By Jordan McPherson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After trailing for most of the Super Six for the second-straight year, it came down to sophomore Bridgette Caquatto pulling off a miracle for No. 1 Florida Gators gymnastics, which forced a late tie and split the 2014 NCAA Championship on Saturday night in Birmingham, AL.

UF’s final competitor in the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, Caquatto needed to score a 9.95 on floor if the Gators wanted to earn a share of the national title with the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners.

And she delivered, matching her career-high mark for the third time this season as Florida locked up with Oklahoma for the lead just one year after winning the title for the first time in program history.

“It was absolutely incredible,” Gators head coach Rhonda Faehn said in a post-meet interview. “Our athletes, I mean, they knew what was on the line, and they just competed their hearts out.”

Florida and Oklahoma both posted a 198.175 — the highest score in Super Six history — and subsequently split the title after a long delay as judges attempted to ensure there was no method by which to break the tie. By tying with the Gators, the Sooners became just the sixth program to finish in the top spot. LSU (197.600) finished in third and Alabama (fourth, 197.550), Georgia (fifth, 197.050) and Nebraska (sixth, 196.500) rounded out the field.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators gymnastics wins share of second-straight NCAA National Championship

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Hunter perfect again; No. 2 Florida tops No. 1 OU

Junior Kytra Hunter did it again.

For the second time in as many meets, Hunter stepped onto the mat with poise, held her head high, took a deep breath and put together a flawless turn at the floor exercise. The result was the same, too: perfection.

Led by Hunter’s 10.0, No. 2 Florida Gators gymnastics (4-0, 2-0 SEC) shut down the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) on Friday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville FL, defeating its third ranked and second top-five opponent in four meets this season.

Just one week after Hunter and sophomore Bridget Sloan, the last two defending champions in the NCAA All-Around respectively in 2012 and 2013, posted back-to-back 10.0s on floor, the duo came close to replicating their effort.

First up was Sloan. She failed in her charge, picking up a measly 9.950 after her routine rocked the O’Dome. Little did her teammates, coaches or the fans in attendance know what would come next from Hunter.

Continue Reading » Hunter perfect again; No. 2 Florida tops No. 1 OU

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Gators at No. 22 in 2011 AP preseason poll

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners earned the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press preseason poll released Saturday with the Florida Gators being slotted in the bottom fifth of the rankings at No. 22.

Oklahoma received 36 of 60 possible first-place votes with Alabama (17), Oregon (4), LSU (1) and Boise State (2) rounding out the top five.

Other Southeastern Conference teams ranked by the AP this preseason include 2010 SEC East champion South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 15), Georgia (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20) and 2010 SEC West champion Auburn (No. 23).

The Gators were ranked No. 23 by USA Today in their coaches preseason poll.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

Florida began the 2010 season at No. 4 in the AP top 25 and No. 3 in the USA Today poll but finished unranked after going 8-5 (4-4 SEC).

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Gators at No. 23 in USA Today preseason poll

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners earned the No. 1 spot in the USA Today coaches preseason poll released Thursday with the Florida Gators being slotted in the bottom fifth of the rankings at No. 23.

Oklahoma received 42 of 59 possible first-place votes with Alabama (13), Oregon (2), LSU (2) and Florida State rounding out the top five.

Other Southeastern Conference teams ranked by USA Today this preseason include 2010 SEC East champion South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 14), 2010 SEC West champion Auburn (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20) and Georgia (No. 22).

Florida began the 2010 season at No. 3 in the USA Today poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press top 25 but finished unranked after going 8-5 (4-4 SEC).

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Stoops denies he is close to signing with Florida

Head coach Bob Stoops may leave the Oklahoma Sooners for the Florida Gators He also may not. Either way, Stoops explained to Tulsa World on Saturday that reports stating he is close to signing with Florida are false.

“Not true, whatsoever,” Stoops told the paper‘s Dave Sittler via text message. “I’m out recruiting [for Oklahoma] as we text.”

A seven-time Big 12 champion who also captured a national title after serving as the Gators’ defensive coordinator under head coach Steve Spurrier, Stoops has been the object of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley‘s affection for years.

Foley has tried to hire Stoops on two other occasions but was rebuffed both times.

Though Stoops is widely believed to be the University of Florida‘s number one choice, word out of Gainesville, FL, is that Boise State Broncos head coach Chris Petersen not far behind in Foley’s pecking order.

Petersen, who has led Boise State since 2006, has never won fewer than 10 games in a season, is 2-0 in BCS bowl games (0-2 in non-BCS bowls), and has won four Western Athletic Conference titles in five seasons. He is also a two-time Paul “Bear” Bryant Award winner as Coach of the Year (2006, 2009).

Other current head coaches rumored to be up for the Florida job – in no particular order – include Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, Connecticut’s Randy Edsall, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Southern Mississippi’s Larry Fedora and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, in line to succeed Mack Brown, is also believed to be an option.

Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino was thought to be a top candidate for UF, but he reportedly agreed to seven-year contract extension on Friday. Petrino was supposedly Foley’s number two choice when he hired current/former head coach Urban Meyer.

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USC Trojans lose scholarships, face two-year postseason ban from NCAA

Reports from ESPN and the Los Angeles Times Thursday morning stating that the USC Trojans football program would face a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins when the NCAA released its sanctions for the university later in the day were confirmed by the organization at 3:00 p.m.

Specifically, USC will lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period (can only accept a maximum of 15 per season), may only have 75 players under scholarship at any given time in that same span, and will vacate the 2004 BCS National Championship and every victory from the 2005 season.

Though the NCAA could not force Southern California to relinquish its 2004 Orange Bowl win against the Oklahoma Sooners, the BCS came out Thursday evening and did just that. It is currently meeting to finalize a decision to have the 2004 title vacated; a new National Champion will not be named. Additionally, the Associated Press will not strip the program of its 2004 title.

Under investigation due to numerous violations in both the football and men’s basketball programs (specifically involving stars Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo), the Trojans had been awaiting a ruling from the NCAA Committee on Infractions for months. The postseason ban will specifically relate to the football team, but the NCAA has handed down penalties to the basketball program as well. The NCAA’s penalties are listed below:

Football:
– Two-year postseason ban; four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
– Loss of 30 scholarships over three years (maximum 15 allowed per season)
– Reduction of outstanding scholarships to 75 per year over three years
– Vacated 2004 BCS National Championship*
– Vacated 2005 season – new record: 0-1
– $5,000 fine
– Bush’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
– Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Basketball
Self-imposed
– One-year postseason ban from Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament (already served)
– One less scholarship for 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons
– Three recruits released from respective National Letters of Intent
– One less coach allowed to recruit for 2011 class
– 20 less days to recruit for 2011 class (from 130 to 110)
– Vacated 2007-08 season – new record 0-12
– $206,020 returned to NCAA as payment for 2008 NCAA Tournament appearance
NCAA-mandated
– Four-year probation (June 10, 2010 to June 9, 2014)
– Mayo’s individual and team records erased; he may not assist the university financially or with recruiting; complete disassociation
– Boosters and the like disallowed from traveling with the team, attending practice, participating in camps or having access to the sidelines or locker rooms

Women’s tennis:
– Former student-athlete used the athletic department’s long distance to make 123 calls (cost: $7,000) to her family during her admission
Self-imposed
– Vacated all wins from Nov. 2006 to May 2009 in which the player participated

As far as Bush’s Heisman Trophy goes, the NCAA could not strip him of the award, though the organization might. “The Heisman Trophy Trust will have a comment at the appropriate time,” the group said Thursday. “Until that time, it will have no comment.”

The NCAA’s report claims USC showed “a lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits, and unethical conduct by an assistant football coach.”

The Trojans have released statement through the university’s Sports Information Department stating that the university will appeal some of the penalties imposed by the NCAA. Due to this appeal, punishments will not go into affect until a decision is rendered – possibly delaying the inevitable and extending the school’s sentence. From Todd Dickey, senior vice president for administration:

We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them. However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings in the NCAA Committee on Infractions Report. Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report.

We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions. We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree with our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties.

Read the NCAA’s report on USC’s violations here

OGGOA will continue updating this story throughout the day.

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SIX BITS: LSU, Macklin, gym, NCAA honors, Tebow

**PLEASE NOTE: OGGOA is undergoing a server switch that began Friday night at 9 p.m. (EST). Should you have any errors, everything will be fixed and back to normal shortly. Thank you for your patience and for reading OGGOA!**

1 » Florida Gators basketball (11-5, 0-2 SEC) is looking to rebound from losing five of its last eight games as it takes on the LSU Tigers (9-7, 0-2 SEC) Saturday at 8 p.m. at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will air live on FSN. Both teams are winless in Southeastern Conference action this season, and the Gators have not defeated the Tigers since March 11, 2006. Florida trails the all-time series 60-37.

2 » Two things must happen for the Gators to get back to prominence, the team must regain its swagger and redshirt junior center Vernon Macklin needs to stay out of foul trouble. If this was not obvious enough from watching the team play its last two games, both The Gainesville Sun and The Florida Times-Union are happy to break it down for you. “He’s just got to be smarter with what plays he puts himself into and what plays he doesn’t,” head coach Billy Donovan said. The Florida coach also expanded on some of the team’s recent difficulties to the Miami Herald‘s Joseph Goodman. “The loss of eight really, really good players over the last three years has probably been more of an impact on us,” Donovan said. “I think our team would look a little bit different with Nick out there right now; our team last year would have looked a little bit different even with Maurice out there.” Even so, Donovan is not opposed to bringing in one-and-done players in the future to give the team enough talent to make the March Madness run it so desperately has been waiting for since back-to-back National Championships. Donovan is also trying to give the team a much-needed wake-up call.

Four BITS on gymnastics, Tim Tebow and other Gators sports after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: LSU, Macklin, gym, NCAA honors, Tebow

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SIX BITS: Vandy, Carter, Bedford, recruiting news

1 » REMINDER: Florida Gators basketball begins 2010 Southeastern Conference play Saturday at noon on ESPN2 against the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. Just an hour later at 1 p.m., the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air live on NBC. OGGOA will have live coverage of both games.

2 » Former Florida running backs coach Kenny Carter said that, though his move to the Louisville Cardinals appears to be a lateral one, it will help advance his career. “Florida has been great to me,” Carter told the Orlando Sentinel. “I learned so much from Urban [Meyer]. I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s a dream job for 95 percent of coaches. But there are a lot of factors that go into a coaching move while most people think it has something to do with the team they are leaving. I want to be a head coach one day, and in order to be a head coach, there are things involved in that process. Helping a program from the ground up and working for Charlie [Strong] really intrigued me.” Carter will also help organize special teams with Louisville.

3 » In its first meet of the 2010 season, No. 4 Gators gymnastics fell to the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners 195.275 to 196.250. Florida won the vault but lost on bars, beam and floor while competing on the road in Norman, OK.

4 » Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong officially announced Friday that former Gators cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford has been hired as his defensive coordinator.

5 » Conflicting reports emerged that three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) received a scholarship offer from Florida earlier this week, but in the end none of them truly matter. Johnson, who claims he received an offer from the Gators to play defensive back, has reaffirmed his commitment to the Iowa State Cyclones. “They want me to play DB,” Johnson told Chris Hays of the Sentinel. “I’m a running back. I run the ball. That’s what I do.”

6 » Four-stars athlete/safety recruit Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback commitment Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, OH) will be visiting Gainesville, FL, this weekend according to Rivals.

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