TWO BITS: Florida soccer advances to Elite Eight; Gators volleyball captures 21st SEC title

1 » No. 10 Florida Gators soccer on Sunday advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2014 NCAA Tournament after taking down the No. 16 Texas Tech Red Raiders 3-2 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators may have fallen short of winning their league crown, but Florida is making a significant effort in NCAA play, moving on to the quarterfinals for the fifth time in program history and first since 2003. UF got on the board first with senior midfielder Havana Solaun striking the ball from 20 yards out; it deflected off the goalkeeper’s outstretched hand, and then the post, before finding the back of the net and putting the Gators up 1-0 at 14′. Florida went ahead 2-0 at 21′ after scoring on a glancing header by sophomore forward Savannah Jordan, which came off a free kick from senior MF Annie Speese. Texas Tech fought back with consecutive goals at 37′ and 64′ to tie thing sup, but Speese notched the game-winning goal at 81′ to send UF forward in the postseason.

The Gators will travel out west to continue their trek toward the NCAA title as Florida will next take on the Stanford Cardinal on Friday at 10 p.m. in Palo Alto, California.

2 » It was an eventful week for No. 6 Gators volleyball, which captured the outright 2014 Southeastern Conference Championship on Friday with a 3-1 win against the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford, Mississippi. The SEC regular-season title is Florida’s second in the last three years and 21st in the last 24 seasons (1991-2008, 2010, 2012), all of which have come under head coach Mary Wise. On Sunday, the Gators won their 18th-straight match of the season, taking down the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Florida has its longest winning streak since 2010 and will play its final games of the regular season on Wednesday vs. South Carolina and Saturday at Texas.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Kentucky

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 69°F (feels like 71°F), showers (50%), winds ENE at 12 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network – alternate channel (Allen Bestwick, Chris Doering, Kayce Smith)

Streaming Video: SEC Network via WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 112/192 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EKU COLONELS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Dean Hood
Record: 5-4 Record: 9-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Ohio Valley

Odds: NONE

SENIOR DAY

Friday Final: Preparing for an emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

Continue Reading » Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Kentucky

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Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. UL-Monroe – Donovan trying to turn ‘I’ and ‘me’ into ‘we’


Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Doug Bell, Jon Sundvold)
Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 108/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 8 FLORIDA GATORS ULM WARHAWKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Keith Richard
Record: 1-1 Record: 2-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt

Odds: Florida -21 | O/U 131

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy since the last game? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Story: Chris Walker primed for 2014-15 season debut on Friday

MUST-READ PRIMER: Can the Gators keep it going with a rebuilt starting five?

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 8 Florida Gators vs. UL-Monroe – Donovan trying to turn ‘I’ and ‘me’ into ‘we’

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Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley: ‘We’re not getting into an arms race’ with our facilities

While in-state rivals and Southeastern Conference foes have been making substantial, multi-million dollar upgrades to their football facilities – including adding exorbitant indoor practice facilities – over recent years, the Florida Gators have stood firm that their amenities are above or on par with any team in the nation.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley took that stance again on Monday while addressing whether he agrees with some external murmuring that Florida’s facilities are no longer up to the program’s lofty standards.

“I wear orange and blue goggles a lot, and I’m certainly willing to have wide-open eyes, but I don’t agree with the assessment that our facilities have fallen behind,” explained Foley. “We judge our facilities based on [whether] they help our programs be successful. Do they make an impact on their ability to be successful? Whether that’s a weight room for football or a gymnastics practice studio, whatever have you.”

It’s not that the Gators have been lacking in making upgrades to their stadiums, locker rooms, weight rooms or multiple sport offices. Rather, Florida has been ahead of the curve in boosting its stadiums and support structures, especially for the football program.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley: ‘We’re not getting into an arms race’ with our facilities

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Who’s next? Here are 15+ candidates to replace ousted Florida coach Will Muschamp

Updated on Monday at 11:13 a.m.

For the third time in his tenure at the helm of the Florida Gators‘ University Athletic Association, athletic director Jeremy Foley will be tasked with hiring a new head football coach, this after dismissing Will Muschamp (27-20, 17-15 SEC) on Sunday.

A Gators program that has reached lows not previously seen since the late 1970s is in need of a major boost, and Foley will be searching for a coach to get Florida back to its position of dominance in the state, Southeastern Conference and nation.

What characteristics will Foley likely be looking for as he makes this hire? Head coaching experience, for one; UF’s most successful football hires have held the position before, albeit at less-prestigious schools. Foley will also want a “name” coach, one that excites boosters, fans and the recruiting base as the Gators look to make up major ground following consecutive seasons of mediocrity. Lastly, Foley may desire an offensive-minded coach, though one that is balanced and successful will certainly do.

Here are 15+ coaches who could be leading the Florida football program in 2015.

Gary Patterson
Head coach, TCU

Hire him: Patterson, 54, has spent the last 17 years leading the Horned Frogs, serving as defensive coordinator from 1998-2000 and head coach from 2001-present. He has been at the helm of the program as it has progressed into its fourth conference this century but has found a way consistently recruit well and dominate his competition despite being the third- or fourth-most distinguished school in his state. Patterson’s streaks of success have been significant. He went 21-4 from 2002-03 in Conference USA, 22-3 from 2005-06 in the Mountain West and 47-5 during his final four seasons in the MWC (2008-2011), leading TCU to back-to-back BCS bowls (2009-10). After spending two years getting adjusted to the Big 12, Patterson’s Horned Frogs are presently 9-1 and one of the top four teams in the College Football Playoff. He has proven coaching talent and ability to lead a program but has yet to have the opportunity to do so at a major institution.

Hold up: A Kansas State alumnus, many believe Patterson would like to return to his alma mater once Bill Snyder, 75, decides to retire. Past that, Patterson is very much a defensive-minded coach, though he has understood the importance of offense and TCU’s attack is currently ranked fifth nationally, scoring 45.9 points per game in 2014.

Continue Reading » Who’s next? Here are 15+ candidates to replace ousted Florida coach Will Muschamp

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Will Muschamp fired as Florida Gators head coach, will remain with team through season

Updated at 3:20 p.m.

Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley has fired head coach Will Muschamp, hours after Muschamp’s team collapsed in the fourth quarter and fell to South Carolina 23-20 in overtime, though a Florida release terms the parting of ways as Muschamp “stepping down at the end of the regular season.”

A Gainesville, Florida, native in his fourth season at the helm of the Gators football program, Muschamp is 27-20 (.574), 17-15 (.531) in Southeastern Conference play, but will have the opportunity to improve his final record as he will remain at Florida for the final two games of the regular season.

“Upon evaluation of our football program, we are not where the program needs to be and should be. I’ve always said that our goal at the University of Florida is to compete for championships on a regular basis,” Foley said in a statement. “Coach Muschamp was dedicated to developing young men both on and off the field. Our student-athletes showed tremendous growth socially and academically under his leadership. His players were involved in campus activities, engaged with the local community and represented the University of Florida with pride.

“I will be forever grateful to Will and his staff for their unwavering commitment to the University of Florida and the mission of our athletic program. He will be missed by everyone in our athletic department – from the people that worked in his office to the people that painted the fields. Will knew everyone and they knew him and everyone in the building loved working with him. Will is as fine a man as you will ever meet, and I will always cherish our relationship with him and his family.”

A source told OnlyGators.com at approximately 9:30 p.m. Saturday night that the necessary parties had been notified hours earlier that Muschamp would not remain at UF.

With three season left on his contract, Muschamp could receive approximately $2 million per year plus an additional $1 million, making his total buyout from the University of Florida almost $7 million if he is fired by the school. It is unknown what sum Muschamp will collect if his departure is indeed a resignation.

Muschamp will remain with the Gators for their final two regular-season games against Eastern Kentucky and Florida State. Foley and school President Bernie Machen also asked previously-fired coach Ron Zook to stay on for the remainder of his 2004 season, calling it “something he deserves” and the “honorable thing to do.” Muschamp’s dismissal comes exactly 10 years and 27 days after Zook’s firing.

Continue Reading » Will Muschamp fired as Florida Gators head coach, will remain with team through season

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Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith diagnosed with hairline fracture in non-shooting hand

Updated on Sunday at 11 p.m.

No. 7 Florida Gators basketball (1-0) may be without the reigning SEC Sixth Man of the Year for its Monday showdown with the Miami Hurricanes (1-0) as the program announced Saturday that redshirt junior forward Dorian Finney-Smith has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his left, non-shooting hand.

Finney-Smith suffered the injury – initially believed to be a sprain – early in Florida’s 68-45 win over William & Mary on Friday. After heading to the locker room for tests and a wrap, he returned to the court and led the Gators with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds, a steal and an assist.

X-rays were done after the game, but the results were not released until Saturday. On Sunday, head coach Billy Donovan noted that Finney-Smith has “two hairline fractures on two fingers,” though the injury should not affect his ability to play if he feels up to it.

Continue Reading » Gators F Dorian Finney-Smith diagnosed with hairline fracture in non-shooting hand

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Twitter Chatter: Former Gators comment as Florida melts down against South Carolina

In a new feature here on OnlyGators.com, we take a look at what former and current Florida Gators players had to say on social media during and after the game.

Florida (5-4, 4-4 SEC) led late but ultimately melted down against the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5 SEC) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Despite holding a seven-point lead with less than a minute to play, the Gators failed to convert a first down and subsequently had their punt blocked. The Gamecocks took advantage, rumbling for a touchdown on their ensuing possession and eventually upending their hosts in overtime.

Check out all of the tweets…after the break!

Continue Reading » Twitter Chatter: Former Gators comment as Florida melts down against South Carolina

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