FOUR BITS: Olympics, Brissett, Tebow, Harvin

1 » The Florida Gators official announced on Thursday something that has been long rumored – the team will honor current and former University of Florida student-athletes that participated in the 2012 London Olympics at halftime of the team’s home game against the LSU Tigers on Saturday. Featured at the event will be swimming medalists Ryan Lochte and junior Elizabeth Beisel as well as track & field medalists Christian Taylor and Will Claye, who make up just four of the more than 20 athletes and coaches being honored at halftime.

2 » Could sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett be on his way out the door? It’s possible, says Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels, who recently spoke with the Palm Beach Post’s Matt Porter. In a series of tweets sent out Thursday, Porter notes that “Brissett is all-in this season [and has] no plans to transfer” yet also notes that West Virginia and South Florida are potential destinations. “He’s making the most of a situation he’s not happy with, but he knows that’s his team right now,” Daniels told Porter. “If he doesn’t get his chance, I’m pretty sure he’s leaving.” Brissett getting “his chance” would probably only occur if starter and classmate Jeff Driskel went down with some sort of injury or pulled a 180 and began regressing dramatically.

3 » Despite quarterback Mark Sanchez playing horribly through the first four games of the season, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is not planning to insert Tim Tebow as his starter any time soon and said as much during media availabilities this week. But while Ryan may not be ready to make a chance, team owner Woody Johnson could insist on it, especially if the Jets continue playing this poorly. NFL.com reporter Jeff Darlington wrote this week that New York must embrace the inevitability of Tebow starting, a move that could very well turn the team’s season around. Also interesting about Darlington’s piece is the opening two paragraphs, which detail the lack of support Tebow had with the Denver Broncos from the get-go.

They marched one by one through the second floor of the Denver Broncos’ training facility, each quarterback stopping first in offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s office to hear the same message that would then be echoed like a corporate line from coach John Fox.

“Stay ready,” McCoy told Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, a story relayed by one team source and corroborated by another. “We’re not sure how long this is going to last.”

4 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has already done some amazing things in his young NFL career but still managed to add another honor this week when he was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September. Harvin, whose franchise-record 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week undoubtedly fueled his receiving of the award, did not receive any honors last year after racking up the awards during his rookie campaign in 2009. He is currently averaging 74.75 yards on 7.5 receptions per game this season but has yet to find the end zone as a receiver or rusher.

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FOUR BITS: Patriots, WWE, Fallon, Tebow

1 » New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose team now has six former Florida Gators on its roster after signing running back Jeff Demps last week, explained Thursday why he has picked up so many players from the team over the years.

Via the Boston Herald.

“First of all, obviously, Florida has a lot of good football players. It’s a great football state. The University of Florida has great athletes and great players at their school, as do a lot of the other Florida schools. I had a good relationship with Coach [Urban] Meyer, as I do with Coach [Will] Muschamp, so maybe we had a little more insight or opportunity to evaluate or whatever. And we felt like those particular players that we drafted there fit our system and what we were doing. Now, not everybody worked out. Some worked out better than others. But that particular class — the [Jermaine] Cunningham, [Brandon] Spikes, [Tim] Tebow, [Aaron] Hernandez, [Percy] Harvin the year before that, [David] Nelson, the receiver [Riley] Cooper — those guys in those couple years there. For whatever reason, [Meyer] asked me to speak at a clinic. Charlie [Weis] was there last year.

“So I just had a little more opportunity to interact with those players in that school, and they were available at the particular times that we were drafting and so forth. Some of it was coincidence. Some of it was maybe a little more homework in a player like Aaron Hernandez, that talent-wise obviously should have been drafted a little higher than what he was, but we were comfortable with Aaron and taking him the time we did. That’s worked out pretty well for us, so sometimes that little bit extra getting to know the player, the person and so forth can come into play. You never know in the draft process. You just never know how it’s going to go.

“Certainly, coincidence is a part of it. Demps, we didn’t really — the guy was running track, so the way it turned out this year, a lot of that was coincidence. It wasn’t that big of a plan, but we’re happy we have the opportunity to work with Jeff and see how it goes.”

2 » On the latest edition of the WWE’s YouTube program Outside the Ring, former Florida defensive end Thaddeus Bullard (known by his wrestling name of Titus O’Neil, one half of The Prime Time Players) takes tag team partner Darren Young on a tour of UF. The duo check out some major sites on campus, visit the athletic facilities, meet with Muschamp and Billy Donovan and do some Gator Chomps along the way.

3 » Model-turned-television host Tyra Banks was a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday and participated in a skit called Brainstorm in which one person (Banks) gives an answer and another (Fallon) provides the humorous question afterward. The first two answer-question segments on the skit had to do with former Gators, namely Tebow and Olympian Ryan Lochte.

4 » Speaking of Tebow, he was a guest on the WFAN radio show co-hosted by former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason on Thursday but did not get the verbal beat down in person that Esiason has previously provided him with over the airwaves. Esiason previously said that, if he were a member of the Jets front office, he would cut Tebow because he does not benefit the team in any way. On Thursday, however, he was mostly complimentary of Tebow while lobbing him some softball questions that the player, of course, knocked out of the park.

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Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

The 2012 London Olympics concluded on Sunday with the Florida Gators bringing home 16 event medals including four gold, six silver and six bronze over the course of 19 days worth of action across the pond.

In an effort to highlight the Gators’ praiseworthy accomplishments while simultaneously recapping over two weeks worth of athletic action, OGGOA presents this wrap up of the presence that Florida’s athletes made at the Olympics. Below you will find facts, figures and highlights of what the Gators accomplished from July 25 through Aug. 12.

You can check out the Olympic results as they happened as well as the official Gator Nation vs. The World medal count and plenty of other information by checking out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

FACTS AND FIGURES

» If Gator Nation was its own country, it would have been ranked 17th overall in the final Olympic medal both in weighted and grand total calculations. The Gators won as many gold medals (four) as Jamaica and Czech Republic and captured one more than Spain, Brazil and South Africa (among others).

» Twelve Florida athletes won a grand total of 18 individual medals (16 event medals) for three countries. Fourteen of the 16 medals won were captured for the United States.

» 35.3 percent of the Gators that competed in the Olympics (12-of-34) won at least one medal. 50 percent (17-of-34) at least reached a final or competed for a medal.

» Ryan Lochte (swimming, United States) led the way with five medals including two golds (one shared in a relay with Conor Dwyer), two silvers and a bronze. Following Lochte with two each were Elizabeth Beisel (swimming, United States) and Will Claye (athletics, United States), who both brought home a silver and a bronze.

» Three other Florida athletes won gold including Christian Taylor (athletics, United States), Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts (football, United States). The rest of the medals included a silver each from Tony McQuay and Jeff Demps (athletics, United States) as well as a bronze each from Lisa Raymond (tennis, United States), Melanie Booth (football, Canada) and Novlene Williams-Mills (athletics, Jamaica).

» Beisel is the only current UF student-athlete that medaled in the Olympics. She will be entering her junior year in 2012.

» Seventeen countries were represented by Gators including the United States (11), Great Britain (6), Cayman Islands and Iceland (two each) and Australia, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Spain and Tunisia (one each). Florida athletes also competed in five sports categories including swimming (19), athletics (10), football (three), basketball and tennis (one each).

Read the rest of “Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics” after the break…

Continue Reading » Florida Gators at the 2012 London Olympics

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FOUR Olympic BITS: Lochte, Wambach, band

1 » Former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte said he was disappointed in his performance at the 2012 London Olympics, but it appears as if he will use that as motivation going forward after saying Sunday that he plans to not only compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics but participate in more events as well. “I’m probably going to swim more events in 2016, and I’m going to swim as long as I’m having fun,” he said. Lochte plans to concentrate on shorter events but will keep swimming the 400 Meter Individual medley, an event he says he has not lost in three years. “I told my coach, ‘I’ll stop swimming that event when someone beats me,” he said. Lochte will prepare for 2016 outside of Gainesville, FL as he will now be training on the West Coast. He did say, however, that he will visit from time-to-time to work with Florida head coach Gregg Troy and strength and conditioning coordinator Matt DeLancey.

2 » Already 32 years old, U.S. Women’s National Team striker Abby Wambach also told the Associated Press over the weekend that she has designs on remaining with the team the 2016 Olympics despite the fact that she’s had a nagging Achilles injury over the last three years. “It’s eased over the last couple of weeks, and I am happy,” she said. “I’ve even been talking about for sure playing through the next Olympics right now if my body can hold up.” Wambach, who entered Monday’s quarterfinals match against Canada with 142 goals in 186 international matches, would almost guarantee herself of matching and surpassing Mia Hamm’s international goal record.

3 » Though Lochte admitted that he was disappointed in his Olympic performance, fans expressing a similar sentiment after having their expectations raised to impossibly high levels have been criticized by some for having those opinions. Taking a different look at Lochte’s successes and failures is Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde, who notes that the effort is what should be praised even if the accomplishments fell short in the eyes of some. “Michael [Phelps] and Ryan are the only guys who have ever done that,” Troy told Forde about the program that the duo took on in London, England. He also notes that Lochte is in a special category with Phelps as two American generalists who “have remained elite across three Olympiads” as each won I.M. medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

4 » The University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band completed its Olympic experience one week ago but posted the video below upon their return featuring all 230 band members singing the school’s alma mater at the Tower of London. Check it out:

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Beisel, Claye add bronze medals to Florida’s haul

Junior swimmer Elizabeth Beisel ended her journey at the 2012 London Olympics with a bang, and former Florida Gators jumper Will Claye started his in the same fashion as the duo each reeled in a bronze medal for the United States over the weekend.

Beisel, who previously captured a silver medal in the Women’s 400 Meter Individual Medley on July 28, became the second-winningest Gators athlete of these Olympics so far (Ryan Lochte) with a bronze in the Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke on Friday.

One of the favorites in the event, Beisel was treading water in fourth place most of the race but fought hard over the final 50 meters to sneak into third and capture the bronze with a time of 2:06.55 (+2.49).

On the second day of athletics action, Claye found himself in a battle for a medal in the Men’s Long Jump. In second after his second jump (8.07m), Claye quickly got bumped down to fifth but was given three more jumps as he was still in the top eight.

He used the first of his new set of jumps to register a mark of 8.12m, which put him back in line for a silver medal. However, Australia’s Mitchell Watt was dynamic on his final two jumps and first took then increased his lead on Claye, hitting 8.13m on his fifth try and 8.16m on his sixth to claim the silver for himself.

Claye, who captured the first field medal in Gators history and the first Men’s Long Jump medal for the Americans since 2004, will be one of three former Florida student-athletes competing in the Men’s Triple Jump, which begins on Tuesday at 5:45 a.m.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Monday), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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Lochte strikes out on gold but adds silver, bronze

Earning five medals in the 2012 London Olympics is nothing to sneeze at though former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte (United States) has likely found a measure of disappointment in his performance at these games.

With an opportunity to add two more gold medals to his catalog, Lochte was caught from behind by two swimmers in the finals of the Men’s 200 Meter Backstroke and never sniffed first place when he went head-to-head against Michael Phelps in the Men’s 200 Meter Individual Medley less than 30 minutes later.

Lochte racked up a bronze and silver in those respective events on Thursday, giving him a total of five medals (two golds, two silvers, one bronze) in London. He lost out on the 200M Backstroke gold by 0.53 seconds and the 200M I.M. gold by 0.63 seconds.

As of press time, Lochte is the most decorated Olympian in London with his five medals though Phelps, who will also swim the Men’s 100 Meter Butterfly and possibly the Men’s 4X100 Meter Medley Relay, has an opportunity to surpass him shortly.

Phelps continued building on his career record with his 20th Olympic medal on Thursday and could get that number up to 21 or 22 before he officially retires.

Lochte has now racked up 11 career Olympic medals including five golds, three silvers and three bronzes. He plans to return for the 2016 Rio Olympics and increase that total.

Joining Lochte in the pool on Thursday were two Gators and one future Florida swimmer competing in the Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke.

Junior Elizabeth Beisel (United States) swam the best semifinal race and advanced to the finals on Friday. Joining her is incoming freshman Sinead Russell (Canada), who finished eighth. Stephanie Proud (Great Britain) missed out on the finals by one place and just 0.28 seconds, finishing slightly behind Russell.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Friday), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

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Lochte and Dwyer lead USA to gold in 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay, help Phelps set Olympic record

Tuesday was redemption day for Ryan Lochte and the United States relay team, which made up falling short on Sunday by dominating the Men’s 4×200 Meter Freestyle Relay and earning their third-straight Olympic gold medal in the event.

Lochte and fellow former Florida Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer swam the first two legs of the race, giving the Americans a significant and crucial two-second lead through the first 400 meters. Ricky Berens and Michael Phelps took it the rest of the way and cinched a 3.07-second victory for the United States.

For Lochte it was his ninth Olympic medal and third (second gold) of the 2012 London Olympics. He now has five golds, two silvers and two bronzes and has medaled in all but one Olympic final in which he has participated (Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle on Monday).

The gold for Dwyer is his first career Olympic medal; he swam in the event’s preliminary Tuesday morning and finished fifth in the Men’s 400 Meter Freestyle on Saturday.

The cushion provided by Lochte and Dwyer, which was expanded by Berens, gave Phelps a nearly impossible-to-lose four-second lead. He cruised all the way to the end, breaking the career Olympic medals record by capturing his 19th career medal (15 golds, two silver, two bronzes) spanning three Olympics.

Also in the field for the event was Sebastien Rousseau (South Africa), whose relay team finished in seventh place, 9.95 seconds behind the Americans.

No other Florida swimmers competed in medal events on Tuesday though Jemma Lowe (Great Britain) advanced to the finals of the Women’s 200 Meter Butterfly after finishing eighth overall (2:07.37, +1.47) in the semifinals. She will be the only former Gators swimmer competing for an individual medal on Wednesday.

Florida also had athletes in action on the soccer pitch and tennis court on Tuesday.

For recaps of their performances, a full schedule (including updated events for Wednesday), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.

Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

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Lochte, Spofforth fall short of medals on Monday

The Florida Gators came away without a notable victory on Monday for the first time in three days of action in the 2012 London Olympics, neither medaling nor having an athlete advance in their respective event.

Swimmers Ryan Lochte (United States) and Gemma Spofforth (Great Britain) both had the opportunity to medal on Monday though each fell short in their respective race.

For Lochte it was the second tough blow he has been dealt in as many days. He finished fourth in the Men’s 200 Meter Freestyle with a time of 1:45.04, 1.90 seconds behind the gold medal winner but just 0.11 seconds out of the silver medal (which wound up being a two-way tie). It is the first time in Lochte’s career that he did not win a medal in an Olympic event in which he participated.

On Sunday he was caught from behind in the final leg of the Men’s 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay by France’s anchor Yannick Agnel; the Americans, which were favored to win the event, finished 0.45 seconds behind the French and earned the silver medal.

Angel also took individual gold from Lochte in the 200M Freestyle on Monday.

Spofforth competed in the finals of the Women’s 100 Meter Backstroke and finished fifth in 59.20 seconds, 0.87 seconds out of the top spot. Though she did not medal, her world record time of 58.12 seconds (which she set in 2009) remained intact.

Be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics for a full schedule, live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count.

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