FOUR BITS: Harvin, Wambach, Martin, Lochte

1 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin on Saturday noted via his Twitter account that he would be having “minor surgery.” Most assumed the surgery Harvin mentioned was for his injured ankle, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. However, Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN radio reported Sunday that Harvin actually went in for an emergency appendectomy. He is expected to be back to normal health in 2-3 weeks and will spend the entire offseason rehabbing his ankle and trying to get back on the field in the summer.

2 » The U.S. Women’s National Team concluded its 2012 campaign and its Fan Tribute tour across the United States with a 4-1 win over China in Boca Raton, FL on Saturday night. Former Florida Gators striker Abby Wambach scored twice in the friendly, increasing her international goal total to 152 and pulling within six of Mia Hamm, who holds the record with 158 career international goals. Florida head soccer coach Becky Burleigh was in attendance at the match, cheering on Wambach and former Gators defender Heather Mitts, who plans to retire. USA outscored China 10-1 in the three-game friendly series and concluded the 2012 campaign with a 28-1-3 record. Wambach ended 2012 with 27 goals (second-most in her career) and was the only member of the USWNT to start and play in all 32 games.

3 » Former Florida defensive end Chris Martin, who transferred in from USC but only spent his redshirt season at UF before forcibly transferring again to another school, spent the 2011 season playing for City College of San Francisco, the fourth institution he has attended since the beginning of his college career. The former five-star recruit, now a JUCO transfer, committed to the Kansas Jayhawks and head coach Charlie Weis on Saturday, according to JayhawkSlant.com ($). Martin is familiar with Weis from his days with the Gators and also has a relationship with strength and conditioning coach Scott Holsopple, a former Florida assistant who Weis hired when he left following the 2011 season.

4 » Former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte, who set a pair of world record times at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships this past week, also concluded the event with six gold medals and eight total medals, setting a record at a short-course championship event. Lochte took gold and set world records in the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Individual Medley and finished first as part of four-man American teams in the 4×100 Meter Freestyle, 4×200 Meter Freestyle and 4×100 Meter Medley Relays. He also captured silver in the 200 Meter Backstroke and bronze in the 100 Meter Butterfly. Lochte was fully or partially responsible for eight of the 27 medals won by the United States at the event. Fellow former Gators swimmer Conor Dwyer joined Lochte with a gold in the 4x200M Freestyle Relay and picked up an individual bronze in the 200M Freestyle. Jemma Lowe, swimming for Great Britain, won a pair of bronze medals in the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Butterfly. Lochte was the only swimmer to set a world record at the event.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» In a poll conducted by ESPN and calculated monthly, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow topped the December list as the United States’ favorite athlete. Tebow is “just the sixth different athlete to finish No. 1 in the monthly rankings since 2007” and, in the 18 years of the poll, only 11 different athletes have ever held that distinction.

» In addition to the Top 10 list OGGOA posted Wednesday from CBS’s the Late Show with David Letterman, Tebow was also brought up on TBS’s Conan. Host Conan O’Brien, claiming he was absent the budget to air actual game footage, had his staff put together a recreation of his game-winning play from Sunday…with peanuts replacing the players.

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, January 12th

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FOUR BITS: Tebow 3:16, top 25s, Azzanni, Weis

1 » One of the most famous moments in professional wrestling history actually occurred outside of the ring as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was being coronated King of the Ring in 1996. As he was being interviewed, Austin caught a glimpse of a John 3:16 sign in the crowd and spouted, “You talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16, Austin 3:16 says I just whopped your ass!” The “Austin 3:16” phrase immediately became a hit in what is now known as WWE and spawned signs from fans, T-shirt sales and plenty of other merchandise. With Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow throwing for exactly 316 yards and averaging 31.6 yards per completion on Sunday against Pittsburgh (the final quarter-hour rating of the game was also a 31.6 overnight), Austin was asked by TMZ if he minded that it was being used with Tebow nowadays. “Austin 3:16 still rules,” he told the website. “If Tebow can throw for 316 yards again this weekend then hell, he can have the numbers and I’ll have no problem with it. A guy named John was using it before me so if Tebow can do it again, more power to him! I wish him all the luck in the world. […] I’m not a Denver fan but Tim’s a great role model for kids.”

2 » In the final USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll of the 2011-12 season, the Florida Gators earned a single vote, meaning the team was listed at No. 25 by one participating coach. The final rankings had Alabama as the unanimous No. 1 (59 first-place votes), four Southeastern Conference teams in the top eight and eight SEC teams receiving at least one vote. Missouri and Texas A&M, the two teams joining the conference next year, each received votes though neither finished in the top 25. The Associated Press Top 25 had Alabama as the overwhelming No. 1 (55 of 60 first-place votes) with LSU in second (one first-place vote) and Oklahoma State in third (four first-place votes). Four SEC teams were ranked in the top nine and six received votes with Auburn the only one unranked. Missouri got 23 votes in the AP poll, but Texas A&M did not receive any.

3 » Former Gators wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni, who was on the staff for just the final year under head coach Urban Meyer, has spent the past season as offensive coordinator and WR coach at Western Kentucky. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Azzanni is a top candidate to take over as WR coach for Wisconsin if head coach Bret Bielema has his way. “One of the [offensive coordinator] candidates knows Azzanni and would be fine with him as receivers coach,” the paper reports. “The other candidate doesn’t know Azzanni personally but would likely be on board with the hire.”

4 » Speaking of former Florida coaches, ex-offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who has taken over as head coach with the Kansas Jayhawks, has pulled two more Gators onto his staff. Weis announced Monday that he has hired former Florida graduate assistant Adam Sitter as director of high school relations and former Gators defensive quality control coach Scott Vestal as assistant director of football operations. He also plucked former Gators assistant strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Holsopple, who was named director of strength and conditioning with the Jayhawks last week.

Extra BIT » The artist who wrote and sang “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion),” a song that became popular in 1985, rewrote the single in Oct. 2011 due to being inspired by Tebow and what he was doing with the Broncos. John Parr told FOX31 Denver on Monday that he chose to do so in order to “honor…the way he lives his life as being a great example.” Though a studio version of the song has been available for a while, it is new to OGGOA, so feel free to listen to it below. (Thanks to reader Ajay for the heads-up.)

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Jeff Dillman hired as Florida strength coach

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has chosen Jeff Dillman as his team’s new strength and conditioning coordinator, the University of Florida announced on Tuesday.

Two sources close to the program told OGGOA last month that Dillman was considered a top candidate for the position and the likely successor to Mickey Marotti.

The former director of strength and conditioning at Appalachian State, Dillman met Muschamp when both were assistants at LSU. The former was a strength coach, while the latter was a linebackers coach and later a defensive coordinator under Nick Saban.

“What I like about Coach Muschamp is his intensity and his fire and his directness,” Dillman said. “That’s the same way I coach. I believe in coaching kids. I don’t believe in crossing your arms and putting your hands in your pockets. I’m a big, big believer in if you coach them hard in the weight room, and you coach them hard in running, when they get out on that field, it’s easy for them. It’s all about eliminating that gray area.”

During his three years at LSU, he worked with teams that have won BCS National Championships, competed in the Final Four and played in the College World Series.

“The strength coach is such an important part of your program,” Muschamp said in a school release. “Jeff has a championship pedigree. He’s been a part of several championship teams and that’s what we’re trying to be here at the University of Florida. He is my voice in the weight room when the coaches can’t have contact with the players. It’s very important for someone to share the same philosophies and approach as I do on how to build a championship program.”

He played football at Elon and Appalachian State and also served as an assistant strength coach at Louisiana-Monroe before taking the job at his alma mater. He has worked since 2009 as the head of physical conditioning at IMG Performance Institute.

In addition to earning bachelor’s of science degrees from Elon (exercise science) and Appalachian State (exercise science, concentration strength & conditioning), Dillman is in progress of completing a master’s of education from Louisiana-Monroe.

He is also a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).

Dillman does not, however, hold the Master of Strength and Conditioning classification that Marotti did, which made the former Florida assistant one of only 100 strength trainers in the country who possess that designation.

Muschamp and Dillman will also look to replace Florida’s former assistant director for strength and conditioning (football) Scott Holsopple, who left the program to take the top job at Kansas, according to CoachingSearch.com.

VIDEOS: Jeff Dillman speaks to the Manatee High School football team (1-2-3-4-5-6)

Photo Credit: Appalachian State University

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Floyd stepped up; players on Meyer, Marotti, Weis

With the Florida Gators hoping to end the season on a high note with a victory in the 2012 Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes, three players were made available to the media Tuesday to discuss a number of topics.

FLOYD DID “WHAT’S BEST FOR THE TEAM”

A career defensive tackle, sophomore Sharrif Floyd moved to defensive end before the season began at the request of head coach Will Muschamp, who was searching for a capable starter and depth at a very shallow position. “It was good on my part because it shows that I can do more than just what I’m here for. I can do what’s best for the team and learn things the best I can. I think it was a good fit for my resume this year,” Floyd said, putting a positive spin on the move.

With redshirt senior Jaye Howard and sophomore Dominique Easley manning the inside, Floyd played out of position on the end but still finished sixth on the team (and second on the defensive line) in tackles with 44 (18 solo, five for loss). “As I started to progress at D-end, I started noticing more teams just not coming my way. It was frustrating but at the end of the day it was make a play however it happens,” he said. “It was frustrating at the beginning until I started talked to my coaches about it. They told me to just hang in there and work with them. I did what was best for the team and came out as one of the leaders in tackles.”

That is exactly what Floyd did and though the plan was always for him to move back inside in 2012, Easley tearing his ACL has prompted that move to occur one game earlier. “[I’m] definitely more comfortable,” Floyd said of moving back to tackle. “Don’t like the way it happened or the reason why I went back in[side], but it happens in the game of football. I can’t be more excited. Three-technique is definitely my position now and until I’m done. Since I’ve been playing over eight-nine years now, I’ve been at D-tackle. I know it. I know all the blocks. I know what’s coming at me. There’s no thinking, there’s just going. I understand it a little more and there’s no need to be patient at D-tackle.”

PLAYERS ONLY SLIGHTLY FAZED BY DEPARTURES

Floyd, junior safety Josh Evans and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose each spoke about the impact and provided their unique opinions on former head coach Urban Meyer taking a new job at Ohio State, strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti leaving Florida to join him, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis taking the head coaching position with Kansas.

Floyd on how the team felt about Meyer’s decision: “There’s a lot of the guys on the team. We all got own opinions about things. I can’t really talk for everyone else but for me personally, I think that’s good for him. He’s going to do what’s best for him and his family. No hard feelings over here. If I saw the guy today, I would still shake his hand, talk to him, have a normal conversation. That’s the name of the game and it can happen anywhere. Congrats and good luck to him.”

Evans on Meyer’s choice and if the team was angry: “It was a shock. It was a little surprising, but we moved on and we’re past it. […] He’s a good coach, and I wish the best for him. […] I’m pretty sure there are some people that feel some type of way about it, but we don’t really discuss it as much.”

Evans on Marotti being a huge loss for the Gators: “That was big for us because he was a good coach and like a father to some players. That was a big loss because we came in here and basically everybody knew him as the strength coach. We got [Scott Holsopple] now and he’s a good strength coach, too. We kind of figured once Meyer took the job that it was a chance he probably was going to leave because we knew they were close, so everybody kind of had a heads-up on it.”

Debose on Weis suddenly departing: “It was a total shock. We had no clue that he was leaving. My reaction was that he had a great opportunity to be a head coach. I wouldn’t turn that down either. I wish him the best of luck.”

Debose on if Meyer’s decision or Marotti moving on was tougher: “Coach Marotti was just as important as Coach Meyer. I think Coach Marotti was a bigger shock to everybody because that’s our strength coach. He makes a lot of good decisions and he helps our bodies. For him to leave, that was a big shock.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Floyd on Muschamp’s proclamation that training camp was not hard enough: “If coach thinks it should have been tougher, than it should have been tougher. I’m behind whatever he wants to do.”

» Evans on redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown not playing: “To me that was a big loss because when I came in that was one of the first guys I met. Seeing him not play was difficult for me because we are real tight like brothers. He should be healthy after the season so he can get back in the spring and hopefully he can [play].”

» Debose on interim offensive coordinator Brian White: “Coach White is a great play caller. He has a track record; he has done it before. I’m behind him 100 percent. Coach White is a genius I feel like.”

» Debose said he had to work on his consistency each practice and looked to redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson as a model of consistency and high effort for him to follow.

» Debose on having so many transfers this year: “All I can say about that is: If you don’t want to be a Gator, you won’t be a Gator. And if you don’t, you’ll leave. They left.”

» Debose on how redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley will be thought of after the bowl game: “I think John Brantley will be remembered as a hard worker, great guy, good football player. I want him to go out with a bang. I want him to have a career game for the bowl game. Even if he didn’t, I would still think he had a solid career, but I want him to go out like a champ in his last game.”

» Debose on Muschamp hiring a replacement offensive coordinator: “Whoever he brings in, we know that he’s going to be the best for this program. We’re behind him 100 percent.”

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