17 Gator Bites for Monday, January 14

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Florida Gators junior forward Will Yeguete as seen Gator Chomping his way into your living room after his team took down LSU 74-52 on the road on Saturday. Animated GIF created for OnlyGators.com by photekxl.

» In addition to being the first center in NFL history to be named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in the league, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey learned Saturday that he has also been voted a 2012 NFL All-Pro by the Associated Press for the third-straight year. Pouncey was also named to USA Football’s All-Fundamental Team this season.

» Fresh off winning the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year award for the first time in her illustrious career, former Florida striker Abby Wambach received some more great news when she was allocated to her hometown team – the Western New York Flash – on Friday by the brand new eight-team National Women’s Soccer League. Wambach, a native of Rochester, NY, was like all players able to submit a list of requested destinations for the league’s initial allocation and of course put the Flash, which are set to play home games in Rochester, at the very top. Though not every player in the league received their top choice – including other U.S. Women’s National Team stars – most were happy with their destinations. None more so than Wambach.

» According to multiple reports, Gators freshman defensive back Willie Bailey has chosen Louisville as his transfer destination. Bailey chose to leave the program in early December in a decision that was a long time coming as he was not likely to see the field much for the duration of his career.

Check out 13 more Gator Bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » 17 Gator Bites for Monday, January 14

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Maurkice Pouncey named to third Pro Bowl

Pittsburgh Steelers center and three-year veteran Maurkice Pouncey was named Wednesday to his third-straight Pro Bowl, becoming the first center in NFL history to receive the honor in each of his first three seasons.

The former Florida Gators star has been selected every year he has been in the league. He did not play in the 2011 Pro Bowl due to being on a Super Bowl team but started in the 2012 Pro Bowl. He will also start the 2013 game after receiving the most fan votes at center for the AFC.

Pouncey is the 20th former Florida player to be picked for the Pro Bowl; his nomination in 2010 made him the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Percy Harvin). Former Gators have received 58 total nominations to the game and have been honored with a selection to the Pro Bowl in 36 of the 43 years it has existed.

Harvin was named to the 2010 Pro Bowl following the 2009 season, making it four consecutive years that a former Florida player has been recognized. He likely would have made this year’s event had he not injured his ankle in the middle of the season.

A player many believe has been snubbed from the Pro Bowl is Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey. Analysts believe he had the better season of the two brothers.

The 2013 Pro Bowl is set for Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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SIX BITS: Muschamp, Tebow, Parsons, Horford

1 » Yahoo! Sports took a closer look at the Florida Gators football program that has been remade this season under head coach Will Muschamp. As part of the feature, a couple of players described how fractured the team had become under Urban Meyer. “Toward the end of Coach Meyer’s time here, a lot of guys were out for themselves – not buying into the team concept,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter explained. “He was out for himself, so they thought the same thing. … Guys were showing up late for practice and workouts. Guys were supposed to be back on Sunday and didn’t get back until Monday. There was no discipline.” Muschamp also discussed his recruiting philosophy in the piece. “I’ll turn my back on a five-star guy if he isn’t a good guy,” he said. “I have zero reservations about that. Zero reservations. … I’m the recruiting coordinator here. You’re not a good guy, you go somewhere else. We’ll play you. We’ll beat you.”

2 » The New York Jets will face Arizona on Sunday, three weeks after quarterback Tim Tebow fractured his ribs in a game. Though Tebow has been dressed for each of the last two game and even played two weeks ago, he missed last week’s contest. Head coach Rex Ryan on Wednesday said Tebow will again be cleared to play on Sunday. Whether or not he actually steps on the field remains to be seen.

3 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, off to a great start in his sophomore NBA season, missed Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City and is undergoing an MRI on his right shoulder on Thursday. The MRI is believed to be precautionary, and he is expected to return on Saturday if he is cleared by team doctors as expected.

Be sure to check out three more BITS after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Muschamp, Tebow, Parsons, Horford

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Chandler, Tebow, Trail

1 » For the second-straight year, Florida Gators head basketball coachBilly Donovan is participating in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge, a charitable contest where coaches are vying to win money for an organization they choose to represent. Donovan, who is in the contest for the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, could win $100,000 for the organization just as he did one year ago when Florida fans cast the most online votes for him and the foundation. The eight-week-long contest began Jan. 18 with a winner being announced March 9. There were only 14 participants in 2011 but that number has increased to 48 this year. For more information and to vote for Donovan and the foundation (which supports Shands Hospital at UF), go here and click on South Region. Former Gators assistant coach Anthony Grant (Alabama, The Sweet Home Fund) and head coach Lon Kruger (Oklahoma, Coaches vs. Cancer) are also participating though Grant is also in the South Region with Donovan.

2 » Former Florida wide receiver and 11-year NFL veteran Wes Chandler has agreed to be the WR coach at California, the school divulged Wednesday evening. Though it will be just his second stint on the college level (Central Florida, 1994-95), Chandler has coached receivers in NFL Europe (1995-1999), the NFL (2000-2008) and the UFL (2009). He was a first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC player with the Gators who made it to four Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in his NFL career. Chandler was also inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 1989 after catching 92 passes for 1,963 yards and 22 touchdowns in his four years at Florida. He was the team’s leading receiver for three-straight years from 1975-77.

3 » On ESPN’s Jim Rome Is Burning Wednesday, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was asked about quarterback Tim Tebow, the impact he had on the team this year and how good he can be in the future. “I think Tim has a lot to prove still,” Bailey said on the show. “He’s proven he can win some tough games. Now it’s just being consistent. One thing about him, he’s going to work at it, and I’m behind him 100 percent.” Bailey also said “the sky is the limit” for Tebow and believes that he will have plenty of time to improve his arm starting this offseason, Tebow’s first as the primary signal caller with the club.

4 » Another former Gators player has found a new home with defensive end Lynden Trail enrolling at Norfolk State this week. Trail, who transferred following the 2011 regular season, transferred for playing time reasons after failing to dress most games and not stepping on the field once this past year.

Extra BIT » You want Tebow pizza? You got it.

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4 BITS: Tebow, Starks, Schottenheimer, Speights

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow set a number of football records on Sunday, but he also wound up making headlines in some off-the-field statistics, too. According to the Sports Business Journal, the Denver-Pittsburgh games registered a 25.9 overnight rating for CBS, which slates it as the largest-viewed AFC Wild Card game since 1988. Additionally, the final quarter-hour of the game (8-8:15 p.m.) pulled in a whopping 31.6 overnight rating. Tebow also made history on Twitter, setting a new sports tweets-per-second record with 9,420. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell points out that Tebow’s tweets-per-second on Sunday shattered the previous sports record, which had the 2011 Women’s World Cup final game at 7,196 tweets/second. Other comparisons Rovell provided were Steve Jobs’s death (6,049 t/s), the Osama Bin Laden raid (5,106 t/s) and last year’s Super Bowl (4,064 t/s).

2 » Another happening from Sunday night’s game, albeit an unfortunate one, is that the injury to Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks knee appears to be a bad one. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Starks has an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament that is believed to be a tear. If he did indeed suffer a torn ACL, Starks will begin the 2012 season like he did this year – unemployed – and will have to try and work his way onto a NFL roster as he begins to heal. Starks was a free agent heading into the 2011 season but was signed by the Steelers as the team’s offensive line became decimated with injuries. Center Maurkice Pouncey, who was named to his second Pro Bowl this year and earned his first Associated Press All-Pro honor, missed Sunday’s game with a high-ankle sprain.

3 » Before NFL action began Sunday, a tweet from ESPN insider Adam Schefter got some Gators fans buzzing: “Brian Schottenheimer never withdrew his name from consideration for the Florida OC job.” Schottenheimer, the current offensive coordinator of the New York Jets, was previously thrown around as a name to consider for UF’s opening. However, the New York Daily News reported last week that he had withdrawn his name from consideration and was not a possibility for Florida. At the time there were no reports that the school had even reached out to him as a potential candidate. A former backup quarterback for Danny Wuerffel with the Gators under head coach Steve Spurrier, Schottenheimer has very little college coaching and recruiting experience (1999-2000). He has worked mostly as a NFL coach since 1997 and has been a quarterbacks coach since 2011, holding the role of offensive coordinator for New York since 2006.

4 » Maybe playing time really will do new Memphis Grizzlies center Marreese Speights well. Traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to Memphis on Jan. 4, Speights saw six minutes of action in his second game with his new team. However, the Grizzlies put Speights in for 29 minutes on Sunday and he responded with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. It remains to be seen how Speights will perform the rest of the season, but he said last year that consistent minutes are what he needs to take his game to the next level.

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Pouncey named to second-straight Pro Bowl

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey became the third Florida Gators player in as many seasons to be named to the primary NFL Pro Bowl roster.

He was selected as a starter for the AFC this year after being picked as the backup for Nick Mangold of the New York Jets last season.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin and Pouncey earned Pro Bowl nominations 2009 and 2010, respectively. Harvin started for the NFC as a kick return specialist, while Pouncey did not play due to being on a Super Bowl team.

Pouncey is the 20th former Florida player to be picked for the Pro Bowl; his nomination in 2010 made him the fifth to receive the honor in his rookie season (Cris Collinsworth, Jevon Kearse, Emmitt Smith, Harvin). Former Gators have made a total of 57 appearances in the game and have participated in 35 of 42 total Pro Bowls.

The Denver Post reports that former Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is a second alternate for the AFC. Should two of New England’s Tom Brady, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and San Diego’s Philip Rivers not participate in the game, Tebow would get the nod and take the trip to Honolulu, HI.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is the primary alternate behind New England teammate Rob Gronkowski and San Diego’s Antonio Gates.

Photo Credit: Unknown

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SIX Tebow BITS: SNL denied, reading, Elway’s endorsement, Pro Bowl, Piers, Fallon, speaking

1 » Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow may not be “cashing in on his wildfire popularity” yet (reportedly turning down offers for “multiple national media and endorsement opportunities” as well as a chance to host Saturday Night Live), according to Pro Football Talk, but he will be working with Pizza Hut soon. In a Wednesday press release, the pizza chain announced that Tebow will be a part of the BOOK IT! Reading Program next year. He will read Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss on Feb. 15, 2012 during America’s Big Storytime, an event which drew more than half a million viewers in 2011. Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! Program will donate money to the Tim Tebow Foundation on behalf of his participation.

2 » On the football front, Tebow has finally received a complete endorsement from Denver vice president of football operations John Elway, an executive who has been hesitant to fully get behind him up to this point. Elway told the Associated Press on Tuesday that “Tim Tebow’s not going anywhere. I mean, he’s going to be a Bronco and we’re going to do everything we can and hopefully he’s that guy.” He has previously said that he plans to work with Tebow on his footwork and throwing motion in the offseason in hopes of helping him improve heading into the 2012 season.

3 » Whether or not Tebow earns a spot on the AFC’s roster for the 2011 Pro Bowl remains to be seen but there’s no doubt that the fans want to see him in Honolulu, HI. In the fan-based portion of Pro Bowl voting, Tebow finished third among AFC quarterbacks only behind New England’s Tom Brady and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. His 633,000 votes were 44 percent of what Brady received (1.45 million) and two-thirds of Rothelisberger’s total (935,000). That does not necessarily mean he will make it to Honolulu because the votes of coaches and players will also be taken into account. Tebow finished fifth among all NFL quarterbacks with only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New Orleans’s Drew Brees also finishing in front of him. Carolina’s Cam Newton came in sixth overall and third in the NFC with 625,000 votes. (Numbers are rounded.)

Read three more Tebow BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX Tebow BITS: SNL denied, reading, Elway’s endorsement, Pro Bowl, Piers, Fallon, speaking

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Nat Moore: “I’m a Gator…that’s my No. 1 love.”

The Miami Dolphins will be hosting a special Gator Day celebration on Sunday to honor the 2008 national champion Florida Gators football team that won the 2009 BCS Championship 24-14 over the Oklahoma Sooners on Jan. 8, 2009 in Miami Gardens, FL. To commemorate the occasion, OGGOA sat down with Dolphins vice president Nat Moore, who had much to do with setting up this unique celebration.

Moore played for the Gators and head coach Doug Dickey from 1972-73 after transferring from a junior college. He played running back for two years and earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference as well as honorable mention All-American awards in 1972 after running 145 times for 845 yards with nine touchdowns and catching 25 passes for 351 yards and four more scores. A Gator Great who was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978, Moore earned his degree from Florida two years after entering the NFL.

After the 1973 season, Moore was selected by Miami with the No. 78 overall pick in the third round of the 1974 NFL Draft. He joined a Dolphins team coming off of back-to-back Super Bowl wins including the perfect season of 1972. Miami moved Moore to wide receiver, and he rewarded them with a Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro season in 1977, when he hauled in a league-high 12 touchdowns. Moore retired from football after spending his entire 13-year career with Miami. He broke nearly ever Dolphins receiving record at the time of his retirement, concluding his career with 510 catches for 7,547 yards and 74 touchdowns and earning him a spot in the team’s Honor Roll.

Since retiring from football, Moore has been involved in a variety of activities. He serves as a vice president with Miami, runs the Nat Moore Foundation and at one point was a broadcaster with Sun Sports for Gators football. He now does preseason broadcast work with the Dolphins in addition to his other duties.

OGOGA had the opportunity to speak to Moore for a half hour about his time at Florida, experience in the NFL, idea for a celebration of the Gators and opinions about some players he has come across throughout his career as a broadcaster.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What was it that led you to the University of Florida considering you were born in Tallahassee and went to high school in Miami?
NAT MOORE: “As a kid growing up in Miami, I felt like I really wanted to get away to focus on my studies and have less distractions. You go to Gainesville and basically you’re there for two things. One – to get a good and solid education, and two – a chance to develop your craft in whatever athletic endeavor it is. For me, it gave me a chance where all my friends would be new friends unless they were up there from Miami or Tallahassee. It was close enough that I wasn’t too far away from home if I got homesick. It was a university that my basketball coach in junior college had played baseball with Doug Dickey, so that was the entry into attending the University of Florida. It was always the right place for me, and they were an up-and-coming program in the SEC.”

Read the rest of our interview with Nat Moore…after the break!
Continue Reading » Nat Moore: “I’m a Gator…that’s my No. 1 love.”

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