FOUR BITS: MLB Draft, revenue, Walker, Spikes

1 » The 2014 MLB Draft begins Thursday night and unlike years past, members of the Florida Gators baseball team will not have their attention diverted from postseason competition due to the program being eliminated in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Also unlike previous years, Florida does not have anyone projected to go in the early rounds of the draft, though that does not mean that draft-eligible Gators will not leave the program early (there were no seniors on the roster).

Junior catcher Taylor Gushue should be the first Florida player off the board at some point during the second day of the draft on Friday (Rounds 3-10). Juniors right-handed pitcher Ryan Harris, first baseman Zack Powers (previously drafted), left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner, outfielder/RHP Justin Shafer, third baseman Josh Tobias (previously drafted) and second baseman Casey Turgeon (previously drafted) could all be selected. Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, is expected to be picked and choose to a professional after dealing with injuries throughout his Gators career. Florida will also have a number of players from its 14-member 2015 recruiting class drafted.

2 » USA Today on Thursday released its college athletic department financial database, and Florida checked in sixth nationally in total revenue by bringing in more than $130 million last year. Weighed against its $107 million in expenses, UF netted over $23 million (second to Alabama’s $27 million) in 2013. Florida brought in $1 million more in ticket sales ($24.6 million) and $2 million more in contributions ($48.4 million) compared to 2012, figures that increased for the third-straight year (2011-13) after dipping in consecutive years (2009-10). The Gators also spent $1 million more on coaching and staff ($41.9 million) compared to 2012 but were nearly $2 million below its nine-year maximum of $43.7 million in 2011.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: MLB Draft, revenue, Walker, Spikes

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FOUR BITS: Hill, Reed, Division IV, Idaho

1 » New York Giants safety Will Hill on Friday was officially suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2014 season, marking the third-straight year that he will open an NFL campaign unable to play due to league punishment. Hill was first suspended four games before the 2012 season for use of performance-enhancing drugs – he claims he tested positive for Adderall – and also missed the first four games of 2013 when he tested positive for marijuana and was suspended under the league’s substance-abuse policy. Undrafted after three seasons with the Florida Gators, the former five-star prospect did not play at all in 2011 and only got a chance with the Giants after supposedly staying clean of drugs and focusing on his familial duties during his year off. New York has “put a lot of time and energy into trying to keep Will Hill clean,” according to Tom Rock of Newsday. This suspension will likely end his career with the Giants.and could result in another missed season until if or when another team gives him a chance.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hill, Reed, Division IV, Idaho

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2014 SEC Spring Meetings: O’Dome, Miami, clock

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings continued Wednesday in Destin, Florida, with Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley among those that met with the media and divulged information about the future of the school and league. Below are some highlights from the second day of the SEC Spring Meetings.


Plans to renovate the Stephen C. O’Connell Center have been in the works for two years, but Florida is just now “closing in” on the nearly $50 million needed to complete the project, Foley told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson. Once the funding goal is reached and the project is officially approved, plans will be set into place for construction to begin in March 2015 with the goal of completing the process by January 2016.

Though Foley did not mention how the construction would affect other Gators sports like volleyball, women’s basketball and indoor track & field, he did note that Florida men’s basketball would likely play its non-conference home games throughout the state in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. (The Gators could also come to South Florida for more than their one usual game, which is played as part of the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise.) The idea would be to schedule two games in three days (Thursday-Saturday, Friday-Sunday) in each location. Florida played seven pre-January non-conference home games last season.

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2014 SEC Spring Meetings: Schedules, network

The 2014 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings got underway on Tuesday in Destin, Florida, with Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley, head football coach Will Muschamp and head basketball coach Billy Donovan all in attendance.

In addition to participating in league meetings, school representatives make themselves available to discuss a number of hot topics concerning the SEC and college sports nationwide. Below are some highlights from the first day of the SEC Spring Meetings.


Strength of schedule has been a key issue for members of the power five conferences now that the College Football Playoff has been put into place. With the SEC deciding to stick at eight league games and mandate at least one opponent from those four other conferences beginning in 2017, SEC schools are looking for ways to make their schedules even stronger going forward.

Muschamp on Tuesday said seemingly matter-of-factly that Florida is “probably going to move forward without playing FCS opponents.” As it turns out, the Gators do not currently have one on deck past 2014. Foley appreciated Muschamp’s sentiment, which falls in line with a recent Big Ten mandate, but does not necessarily think it is feasible. “In a perfect world, you play all [FBS] schools,” he told the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson, “but you also have to have 12 opponents.”

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban agreed with both Muschamp and Foley, noting that he would ideally like to schedule all non-conference games against big-five league teams before conceding that it is much easier said than done. “We can’t just call people up and say, ‘We want to have a game.’ It’s not like setting up a golf game,” he said.

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2013 SEC Spring Meetings notes – Days 1-2

The Southeastern Conference is currently holding the 2013 SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, FL with head coaches, athletic directors and presidents representing each school in attendance to discuss a number of league and national issues over the course of the week from Tuesday-Friday. Below are some notes from the first two days:

Quotes and information below attributed to Yahoo! Sports, the Associated Press, The Birmingham News, the Orlando Sentinel and The Gainesville Sun.

» Alabama head coach Nick Saban told a media contingent that Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and athletic director Jeremy Foley both apologized to him following remarks made by offensive line coach Tim Davis recently at a Gator Gathering in Melbourne, FL. Despite saying he was hurt by Davis’s words and even responding to a handful of questions about the “devil himself” comment the week it was said, Saban now says “it’s nothing to get too upset about” and that what Davis said “is not a reflection of the University of Florida, Will Muschamp or the program.” Late Wednesday, Muschamp added that he “was very disappointed” with Davis’s comments and confirmed that both he (Muschamp) and Foley had spoken with Saban. Muschamp also said he spoke with Davis and did not think his words were “reflective of his true opinion” of Saban. Hopefully this is no longer a topic of conversation.

» SEC commissioner Mike Slive, on Tuesday, said the league’s athletic directors voted unanimously (14-0) to explore assigning a “primary” host site to the conference’s men’s basketball tournament. With the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA already the permanent host of the football championship and Regions Park in Hoover, AL serving as the permanent host of the baseball tournament, the league feels a “primary” (read: not permanent) host site is needed for basketball at the very least. The Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN is already scheduled to host three of the next six tournaments and seems to be an early favorite to potentially become a primary host site.

Continue Reading » 2013 SEC Spring Meetings notes – Days 1-2

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TWO BITS: Bailey and Anthony, SEC schedules

1 » Four-star wide receiver singee Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) may not be on campus yet, but he is still receiving Florida Gators-caliber training this offseason. Bailey has been working with former Florida pass catcher Reidel Anthony (career totals of 2,274 yards and 26 touchdowns) over the last year to improve his game and get ready for the next level. The Gainesville Sun caught up with Bailey and Anthony recently to see how the arrangement is working out. “It’s great to have a mentor like Reidel to put me in the receiver mentality,” he said. “He has a lot to teach me and there’s so much stuff he knows that I don’t. I’m just taking it all in.” Anthony, who compared Bailey to a young Ike Hilliard because of his size and athleticism, is equally excited for the opportunity to play the role of teacher. “He’s really enjoying what we’re doing with him,” he said. “He’s soaking it up. He takes everything in and he’s willing to learn. He will go out and do whatever we ask him to do.” Bailey should be enrolled at Florida in June and will join the football team for summer practices.

2 » The Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings are currently taking place in Destin, FL, and as usual the annual event is being dominated by one topic in particular. This year, the focus is on the SEC’s schedule and whether the league will (a) adopt a nine-game conference schedule, (b) move to a 6-2 format instead of the current 6-1-1 format, or (c) keep the status quo in either or both areas. While a nine-game league slate is unlikely to be approved at this time (as is a switch to a 6-2 format with two opposite-division games rotating each year), the latter has been a more notable topic as it pertains to the Gators. LSU head coach Les Miles continues to pine for the change to 6-2, passionately explaining that he has to play Florida every year while Alabama (for example) gets an easier annual opponent in Tennessee.

Despite Miles’s continued protests, votes will likely be cast to keep the permanent rivalries (if a vote is even held in the first place) with UF still unfazed about facing LSU on a yearly basis. “We’re fine with it,” Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley told “I understand where Les Miles is coming [from] and I appreciate LSU’s point of view. But we think it’s a great game for us and a great game for college football. Yeah, it’s a tough game but we’ve got a lot of tough games in the SEC.”

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SEC announces new football, basketball schedules; Florida remains rivals with LSU, UK

Concluding the 2012 Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings in Destin, FL on Friday, the league announced that an agreement has been reached on new football and basketball schedule formats beginning in the 2013 and 2012-13 seasons, respectively.

The SEC will continue playing eight conference games in football but will shift from a 5-1-2 format to a 6-1-1 format now that two additional teams have been added to the league and each division has expanded to seven teams.

Under this format, each conference team will play all six of their divisional opponents, one permanent cross-division rival and one cross-division opponent on an annual rotation. The previous rotation consisted of two teams on a home-and-home series.

The Florida Gators and LSU Tigers will continue being cross-division rivals in football and extend a consecutive games streak that dates back 41 years to 1971. UF is 30-25-3 all-time against LSU (23-16-2 since the teams restarted their annual game).

The other six permanent cross-division rivalries (West-East) include: Alabama-Tennessee, Arkansas-Missouri, Auburn-Georgia, Mississippi-Vanderbilt, Mississippi State-Kentucky and Texas A&M-South Carolina. Arkansas and South Carolina were paired before Texas A&M and Missouri joined the conference.

Conference basketball schedules will expand to 18 games and also feature a permanent opponent with Florida taking on the Kentucky Wildcats twice each year. Teams will play eight of the 12 remaining SEC schools once and four others twice in home-and-home series on a rotating basis each year.

UK leads the all-time series against UF 93-33; the two teams have played a home-and-home series for 48 consecutive seasons dating back to 1965.

The other six permanent rivalries in basketball include: Alabama-Auburn, Arkansas-Missouri, Georgia-South Carolina, LSU-Texas A&M, Mississippi-Mississippi State and Tennessee-Vanderbilt.

An adjustment was also made to the SEC Tournament in basketball which will now feature double byes for the top four seeds and begin one day earlier on Wednesday. The opening round will consist of two “play-in” games between the four teams with the worst league records (No. 11 vs. No. 14, No. 12 vs. No. 13).

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FOUR BITS: Beal, Harris, Martin, Donovan

1 » The 2012 NBA Draft Lottery was held Wednesday evening in New York, NY and the potential destinations for Florida Gators freshman guard Bradley Beal may come down to one of two teams. With New Orleans leaping the pack and receiving the No. 1 overall pick (they are likely to select Kentucky forward Anthony Davis) and Beal likely to be selected with the second or third overall pick, he could be headed to Charlotte at No. 2 or Washington at No. 3. Neither Charlotte nor Washington (in any of their incarnations dating back to 1961) has ever selected a player from Florida. Should Beal make it past those three teams, Cleveland at No. 4 and Sacramento at No. 5 are two more options for him. Only Sacramento has ever selected a UF player (Jason Williams, 1998).

2 » The Gators received paperwork from former South Carolina forward Damontre Harris on Wednesday officially indicating that the player plans to transfer to Florida. After informing the team of his intentions on Saturday, Harris spoke with the Fayetteville Observer and conveyed his excitement. “”The best game I had my freshman year was there, and my sophomore year, that’s probably the best game I had,” he said. “The coaches have been joking with me a lot, so I just tell them it’s the gym and their fans, the atmosphere.” Harris said his comfort with the Gators’ coaches is one of the reasons he picked Florida. It is also the primary reason he left USC after the team fired head coach Darrin Horn and replaced him with Frank Martin.

3 » Speaking of Martin, he told the Tampa Bay Times that allowing Harris to transfer within the Southeastern Conference was a no-brainer for him because in the end it is all about the best interest of the player. “If that young man does not want to be at this school, then you shouldn’t hold him hostage,” he said. “Now we’ve got to compete against Damontre and I don’t like that. But why should I block him from going to the school he wants to play at, as long as things were handled the right way? […] As long as things are handled the proper way, as long as we all handle things like adults and educators and those kids and those families are up front and communicate with all the appropriate people, it’s no different than me getting out of my contract.” Martin knowing head coach Billy Donovan for quite some time undoubtedly helped him feel comfortable that Harris’s transfer was indeed handled “the right way.”

4 » Donovan spoke about a number of topics while at the 2012 SEC Spring Meetings on Tuesday. One particularly interesting statement he made was on redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario’s first year actually playing for Florida. “He had a lot to learn and a lot to grow up with in terms of being an everyday guy and being reliable every single day,” said Donovan, according to The Gainesville Sun. “More so than any other guy I’ve coached he’s had to deal with a lot of nagging injuries. The one injury that he’s always going to have to battle is he has a legitimately bad back. He’s had a hip flexors and a lot of different issues. He missed 25 practices so it’s hard when you miss as much time as he missed that he was able to get into a consistent rotation there. He had some good moments where I think he helped us in games and he had moments when he was a non-factor. I think playing against some of these older guys that he’s playing against right now and getting into a routine and having to come every single day and have to really play and compete, he needs that. He needs to be more consistent for us.”

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