FOUR BITS: Hodge, Hurt, Parsons, Meyer

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Walter Hodge was named Most Valuable Player of the Puerto Rican Baloncesto Superior Nacional league on Wednesday. Hodge, playing for Captanes de Arecibo, easily won by picking up 70 votes, 32 more than second-place finisher Mike Harris. One-time Gators G David Huertas finished fourth with 33 votes. Hodge received 11-of-31 first-place votes and appeared in 19-of-31 ballots. “I’m happy with the award and I thank God for keeping me healthy throughout the year. [This was] always a dream,” he said. “I have achieved several goals and now lack the greatest with the championship.” Hodge averaged 16.9 points per game while leading the league in assists (6.9) and steals (1.8) per contest. Also playing in BSN is former Florida G Mike Rosario, who is teammates with Huertas on the Ponce Lions.

2 » The best way for bottom-of-the-roster football players to prove to new coaches that they deserve to keep their spot is to report to training camp in shape and ready to learn. Former Florida offensive lineman Maurice Hurt apparently did the opposite and will start camp with the Washington football team on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list simply because he reported “out of shape,” according to new head coach Jay Gruden. The No. 217 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Hurt started all eight games he played as a rookie but just one of 13 contests in 2012. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery ahead of the 2013 season, which he started on the PUP list before eventually being moved to injured reserve when he was evaluated in practice and not deemed capable of playing.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hodge, Hurt, Parsons, Meyer

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Coach Muschamp goes through ESPN’s car wash

Just hours after completing his first Gator Gathering in Lakeland, FL, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp traveled to Bristol, CT and was put through ESPN‘s self-named car wash – appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one business day. OGGOA followed Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and has put together the following recap:

He started the morning on the set of SportsCenter, where anchor Josh Elliot interviewed him about becoming a head coach and taking over the Florida program.

Then Muschamp headed over to First Take on ESPN2 where host Jay Crawford covered a wide variety of topics with him.

Read, view and listen to the rest of his day in Bristol…after the break!
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Urban Meyer speaks at Outback Bowl press event

In Tampa, FL, alongside athletic director Jeremy Foley, Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno and ESPN/ABC color commentator Jon Gruden for a 2011 Outback Bowl press event on Thursday was Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer. Though the event was aimed at promotion for the bowl game and its sponsors, Meyer spent a good portion of his time there answering questions about his recent decision to step down from his position at Florida.

“I’M HERE TO HELP IN ANY WAY”

Though Meyer will not be the head coach of the Gators next year, he is hopeful that he will be able to remain with the program – or the athletic department – in come capacity. How he will do that is currently not known and may be up to his eventual replacement.

“I want to be a part of college football. I don’t know [how]. I’m still working on that. I want to help,’’ Meyer said. “I’ve been asked and requested to remain at Florida for as long as they’ll have me. They’ve been very gracious, and I’m here to help in any way. I’ve got an idea, but we’ll have to wait until the new coach gets here. I still want to help the University of Florida. […] It’s all up to [the new coach]. There will be no ego. For people who know me, it’s all about Florida, helping out. If that’s minimal, it’s minimal.”

Foley was sure to make it clear that Meyer would help in any way – if wanted – but would not impede the Gators from hiring someone who does not want his assistance. “It’s all as good as can be and I think that helps us going forward. I’ll bring that up [to coaching candidates]. He will not do anything around the program where he’s not welcome. He’s smarter than that,” Foley said.

Meyer added that he plans to keep his family in Gainesville, FL, and hopes to stay in the area for “a long time” even though he definitively added, “I’m not coaching next year.”

IT WAS A “YEAR-TO-YEAR” DECISION

With Meyer coming back so suddenly after resigning last season, the general understanding by the public was that he would be back at Florida for good as long as his health held up. However it seemed to be a dirty little secret throughout the entire program that Meyer could very well end his career (at least temporarily) after the 2010 season and that an understanding of that arrangement had been reached previously.

“I wanted to stretch as much as I could because I have an obligation to this program and our coaching staff,” Meyer said. “I couldn’t think for a minute about my secretary, about the video people. That’s all I could think about last year at this time. It’s still hard this year, but at least I think there’s some preparation now that went into it.”

Meyer claims to be “at ease” with his decision “because my boss is at ease and he’s got a plan and I’m doing the best I can to assist with the plan.” He said he would be happy and willing to assist Foley in a search for a head coach, but noted that he would provide his help at request of his boss.

DECISION WAS EASIER THIS TIME AROUND

With the full support of his family and a realization that he could now be the father he always wanted to be in the back of his head, Meyer noted that deciding to step down after this season was easier – but still not easy – on this occasion.

“[Shelley] was great. She was not great last year. That was a really tough deal last year,” he said. “That had a lot to do with this year. I just hope you guys never have to go through what I had to. And if you do, it comes out the other end positive. For me, it came out real positive. I’ve never been closer with my family, stronger in my faith. That was an eye-opener. The relationship I’ve got with my wife and my children, if it’s 1-10, it’s 11.”

QUOTES

Meyer on the recruits: “They’ve been good. Everybody’s waiting. I’ll let them know when I know something.”

Foley on hiring a new head coach: “This is the third time I’ve been through this process, and I understand the intense interest it generates. It’s good. It says a lot about Florida. We’ll be getting into developing candidates. We know the expectations here. We have the same expectations. We know the type of job it is, we know the challenge. We look forward to moving ahead very quickly.”

Gruden joking about Meyer’s future: “I’d like to thank Jim McVay and the Outback Bowl for giving me a ticket back to this stadium. Let me be the first to start the rumor of Urban Meyer to the Denver Broncos. I can say that now because I’m a broadcaster.’’

Gruden serious on Meyer’s future: “I think eventually maybe when his kids grow up, maybe he gets the itch again. But right now, I think he needs to catch his breath. The guy might be really tired, you know. He really might be tired. He won two national titles. The SEC is not for everybody now. It’s tough to win.”

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CHOMPING: Florida’s 30 arrests under Meyer

The number is 30. Not 27, not 34 – 30. Thirty arrests of Florida Gators student-athletes under head coach Urban Meyer. Thirty mistakes that he is apparently solely responsible for because, in addition to doing everything in his power to teach these kids the difference between right and wrong in the limited time he has with them, he is in charge of their personal lives, too. Thirty times, you might think, said players first thought about the values that Meyer, his coaching staff and his support staff have been trying to instill in them and consciously made the decision to ignore. Thirty instances in which Meyer is at fault because he’s the figurehead and, much like how a quarterback is the one who gets the praise or blame for a win or loss, the onus falls on his shoulders.

Except it is not all Meyer’s fault. He may be responsible, but the blame needs to be placed where it belongs – on the players.

It’s not like Meyer encourages his players to break the law or does not take the correct steps to help solve the growing problem. If you want to find Meyer guilty of anything, it may be caring too much. Is it wrong that a man responsible for over a hundred young men each year chooses to wait and see how a situation proceeds or is resolved legally before making a final decision on a particular person’s life?

Read the rest of this entry…after the break.
Continue Reading » CHOMPING: Florida’s 30 arrests under Meyer

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SIX BITS: Meyer, Fricke, Murphy, James, Patriots

1 » On the heels of FOX Sports’ piece about Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday comes another from the New York Times’ Pete Thamel, who notes that Meyer has a new perspective on his coaching career these days. In fact, it even led him to discard his Blackberry for a time being in place of an “older model with no Internet connection. He programmed seven numbers in it – for his four immediate family members, his two sisters and his father. No one else knew the number.” His wife, Shelley Meyer, is happy with his progress and health now. “As scary and hard as it was on the family and the team, so much good has come out of it,” she said. “The way he is now, he could go 10 more years.” Even strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti noticed something wrong with Meyer’s weight – by looking at his butt. “When he’d walk, his pants would sag halfway down,” Marotti said. “He looked like one of our players. He completely lost his entire rear end.”

2 » A university spokesperson announced Thursday that senior Florida basketball guard Hudson Fricke has decided to transfer to Milligan College. A walk-on who only played 22 minutes in three years, Fricke’s only points came on four free throws during the 2007-08 season. OGGOA wishes him the best of luck with his new team.

3 » Recapping what coaches learned during Oakland Raiders training camp this offseason, Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa Times notes that former Gators wide receiver Louis Murphy “is far and away the Raiders’ best and most dangerous receiver” even though he “still drops too many passes for a real level of comfort. Murphy, who caught 34 balls for 521 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, was the team’s best WR and second-leading pass catcher in 2009-10.

4 » Tough night for former Florida kick returner Brandon James on Thursday. While returning a punt for the Indianapolis Colts, James muffed the catch, allowing the Green Bay to recover the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. Additionally, rookie cornerback Ray Fisher returned a kickoff 58 yards for a TD. With Devin Moore likely to be the team’s primary returner, there is a chance James loses his opportunity with the Colts.

5 » No. 9 Gators soccer (2-0) looks to stay undefeated Friday night as they take on the Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1) at 6 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

6 » Conspicuous by their absences Thursday night were New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, neither of whom participated in the team’s third preseason game. Hernandez missed practice this week with an undisclosed injury, and Cunningham has yet to participate in a single NFL down this season. Both, however, are expected to see major playing time this year. Florida rookie LB Brandon Spikes, who did play, recorded seven tackles (five solo) and a quarterback hit.

Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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Gators dazzler, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews: “I really don’t think I’m that big of a deal.”

The last year has been one of ups-and-downs for former Florida Gators dazzler and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. From having to deal with an unfathomable episode regarding her privacy to performing on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and just recently signing a new two-year deal to remain a featured member of the ESPN broadcast team, Andrews has appeared strong, resilient and unrelenting. On the brink of the greatest undertaking of her career – hosting the first hour of College GameDay live on ESPNU and joining the cast of Good Morning America – she took time out of her schedule to speak exclusively with OGGOA about her career as a Gators dazzler, recent trials and tribulations, perspective on her own fame and love for the University of Florida.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in Tampa, was the University of Florida always at the top of your list for college? How did you wind up there?
ERIN ANDREWS: “Growing up in Tampa, there are three schools: Florida State, Miami and Florida. Obviously because Florida was closest to Tampa, Tampa is really like Gator haven. I made the comment one day to my dad, which he’ll never let me live down…because I was such a sports fan growing up, I said to him, ‘Dad, I really want to go to a college that has a good football team.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, that’s a great thing to live by Erin. I’m glad that’s what you’re choosing your education by.’ At the time it sounded really stupid, but actually it was kind of funny that it worked out that way because by going to Florida, I knew they had a great journalism program, but also because Florida has such a good football team, we were exposed to TBS, we were exposed to ESPN, we were exposed to all the national sports media coming to the campus to see the team, to see [head coach Steve] Spurrier. That was really good for me to kind of be around that at the time. Actually, that wasn’t a stupid comment.

AS: How much of an influence did your father’s [six-time Emmy Award-winner Steve Andrews] profession have on your major and eventual career?
EA: “My dad played a huge part in it. I grew up with my father being on TV. It just wasn’t a big deal to me. We’d turn on the TV at 6:00 and there was my dad. I grew up at the TV station; I played around on the TV set. So that just wasn’t a big deal – being in front of the camera – because I was so used to [watching] my dad. He was a giant sports fan, so that’s where I got my passion for sports and watching it and becoming familiar with the broadcasters and announcers that I liked – and the athletes. That’s where it all just kind of snowballed. I decided that I wanted to be a broadcaster. I loved the stories with coaches and athletes. I told my dad when I was young, ‘I want to do this for a living.’ He also laughed at me and said, ‘You know, everybody wants to do this for a living.’ I went to Florida, we checked out the journalism school. I really liked it. I just enrolled and it began – the whole process. The first couple years at Florida you don’t really get a taste of your major until probably your junior and senior year – that’s when I was very serious about it.

AS: You obviously spent a good amount of time at Weimer Hall but some of your most exciting times were likely at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. While at Florida, you were famously a member of the Dazzlers for four years. Was that something you had planned on doing from the beginning?
EA: “I grew up dancing my whole life with my little sister [Kendra Andrews]. That was just something I knew that Florida had – a dance team. I loved mine growing up and the experience that I had. I actually auditioned my senior year of high school and didn’t make the team and then went back out my sophomore year and I was on the team my sophomore, junior and senior season[s].”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gators dazzler, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews: “I really don’t think I’m that big of a deal.”

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OGGOA’s 2010 Orange & Blue Debut news, notes

With the Florida Gators 2010 spring practice sessions now complete, there was plenty of newsworthy information coming out from the 2010 Orange & Blue Debut on Sat., April 10. Rather than publishing it all in long form, OGGOA thought it would be best to lay it out piece-by-piece. Football returns in full-force in the summer.

Check out OGGOA’s full coverage of the 2010 Orange & Blue Debut…
Continue Reading » OGGOA’s 2010 Orange & Blue Debut news, notes

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FOUR BITS: Transfers, Shelley, Haden, Thompson

1 » Over the weekend, Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel and OGGOA went back-and-forth about the potential transfers of Florida Gators basketball bench players guard Ray Shipman and center Kenny Kadji. Fowler caught up with their former AAU coach, Matt Ramker, who informed him that the duo is expected to remain with Florida. “They are happy at UF and are looking forward to next season,” Ramker said.

2 » Speaking with The Salt Lake Tribune, Shelley Meyer said her husband and Gators head coach Urban Meyer is “150 percent better.” Now that he is back at work, Meyer’s wife is keeping tabs on him in the same respect he stays on top of recruits. Sending him multiple texts ensuring that he is eating, exercising and resting, Shelley claims it is “part of my plan. I’m keeping an eye on him and I’m looking for signs. What happened to Urban was a huge wake-up call that he couldn’t go on like he was.”

3 » In a question-and-answer session with The Gainesville Sun, former Florida cornerback Joe Haden said he felt the pressure of running an improved 40-yard dash at Pro Day last week. Asked how important 40 times actually were, Haden agreed that they were overrated. “They don’t really measure how you run on the field during a game,” he said. “You may be running with someone who runs a 4.2, and you might not be able to run a 4.2, but if you can run with him and cover him, you’re OK. But it’s part of the process and I respect that.” Haden also admitted that he did not do much to help Meyer’s heart issues, playing an April Fool’s joke on him last season when he and former Gators safety Major Wright told their coach they planned to transfer.

4 » One of the biggest disappointments of the 2009 Florida football season was the lack of development of now-redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Though he failed to make much of an impact throughout the season, Thompson is confident he can turn it on in 2010 with new quarterback John Brantley. “I feel I had a good Sugar Bowl,” Thompson told the Sun. “I know now I’ve got to come out hard every day because I pretty much should be the No. 1 guy.”

Photo Credit: Willie J. Allen, Jr./St. Petersburg Times

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