NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

At the conclusion of each year, on Dec. 31 to be exact, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. This year, which will go down as a difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 13 for 2013 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 13 for 2013 to end your year on a positive note!

13 » OFFSEASON GARBAGE
The time between the conclusion of spring practice in April and the start of summer practice in July can be long and seemingly endless for some, especially the media, which drummed up controversy where none should have exited in May. Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis, taking part in a Gator Gathering with boosters, jokingly referred to Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “the devil himself.” The slight was made public and Saban took great offense, despite the fact that Davis was kidding. Davis got called “a classless backstabbing coward” for his joke and received other undue ridicule.

Two months later, one of the top college football headlines was a report that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer actually turned in Florida (and running backs coach Brian White) for a petty secondary recruiting violation that the NCAA deemed to be meaningless. Meyer denied his actions and got taken to task for reporting his former school, especially considering he has previously been accused of violating NCAA secondary recruiting rules in a similar fashion.

12 » LACROSSE AND VOLLEYBALL COME UP SHORT
With revenge on their minds and the program’s first national title within reach, Florida lacrosse failed to take down Syracuse on the latter’s home turf in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Orange got the best of the Gators for the second-straight season, winning 13-9 on May 18 after picking up a controversial victory in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. UF had the opportunity to make SU pay while trying to win a championship but instead sent its fourth-year players – the first senior class in program history – home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Florida volleyball saw its 2013 season come to a crashing halt when it fell 3-2 at home to Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One of the top seeds in the tournament and a potential national title team, the Gators allowed their in-state rival to knock them out of postseason play as UF failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Like the lacrosse team, which sent its upperclassmen out in a disappointing fashion, the same happened to senior middle back Chloe Mann.

11 » SAME TEAM!
The moment that checked in No. 1 on ESPN’s own Not Top Plays of 2013 was simply a microcosm of Florida being unable to get out of its own way this year. Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar blocked each other on a rushing play that actually gained some positive yardage against Georgia Southern in the second-to-last game of the season. In the same game, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye was accused of gouging an opponent’s eyes.


Continue Reading » NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

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FOUR BITS: Walk, Elam, Driskel, Kitchens

1 » Former Florida Gators center Neal Walk, the highest-drafted basketball player in school history (No. 2 overall in the 1969 NBA Draft), is featured in last week’s Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now?” issue. In the piece, Walk discusses how vegetarianism and drug use affected his performance on the court and eventually caused him to get traded away from the Phoenix Suns. He eventually played in Italy but was arrested for drug possession and soon ended his career. Walk, who renamed himself Joshua Hawk in the 1980s following a spiritual journey, has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 26 years after being diagnosed with atrophy. He had the opportunity to return to the Suns shortly after retiring and remained with the franchise up until recently being let go in Oct. 2012. Be sure to pick up the latest copy of SI for a detailed and immensely interesting look at Walk’s life and career.

2 » After going through the 2013 NFL Draft process without an agent, Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has decided not maintain his stance not to hire one and will instead negotiate his own rookie contract, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The No. 32 overall pick in April, Elam is being advised by his brother, seven-year veteran NFL safety Abram Elam, who is currently a free agent. Matt Elam’s rookie contract will be a four-year deal worth $6.8 million with a $3.3 million signing bonus, terms that are already worked out under the slotting system that was agreed upon during the last collective bargaining agreement between league owners and the NFL Players Association. He plans to get the deal done before the start of training camp. Other Gators rookies unsigned as of press time are Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans.

Read two more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walk, Elam, Driskel, Kitchens

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15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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SIX BITS: Zunino, Horschel, Wambach, Elam

1 » Former Florida Gators catcher Mike Zunino earned his first career MLB start on Wednesday for the Seattle Mariners, opening the game behind the plate and batting sixth. Zunino went 1/4 with a strikeout in the game, registering his first big-league hit during his second at-bat. Had Nick Franklin not held up at third base, Zunino also would have registered his first career RBI.

2 » Billy Horschel is the only former Gators golfer competing in the 2013 U.S. Open this weekend and plans to make a statement with his attire. Should Horschel make it to Sunday, which is likely considering he is fourth in the FedEx Cup standings at this time, he will don a dark pair of pants featuring octopi. Really. See here.

3 » Though no further information was provided, U.S. Women’s National Team star striker Abby Wambach on Wednesday tweeted out this picture of her hanging out with New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. “Hey @BrandonSpikes55 nice chillin’ with you. Gators nation forever. No doubt! #newpatsfan,” she wrote on Twitter.

Check out three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Zunino, Horschel, Wambach, Elam

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1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to wrap up the 2012 season, look ahead to the upcoming spring practice and discuss some of the recent changes and issues within the program.

PUNISHMENT HANDED DOWN

Muschamp announced Friday that freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities pending the outcome of his legal affairs. Dunker was arrested Monday on a third-degree felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released on his own recognizance on Thursday and claims that he paid $600 for the scooter not knowing it had been reported stolen.

“I met with Jessamen Dunker [Friday] morning. I have suspended him from all team activities until we get more information,” he said. “I just met to him face-to-face [Friday] morning for the first time for 15 minutes. Once we get a little bit more information, then we’ll move forward, but he’s suspended from the team at this time. We’ll address that further when I know more.”

THREE MORE GATORS LEAVING PROGRAM

It was also announced Friday by Muschamp that redshirt juniors wide receiver Stephen Alli and defensive lineman Kedric Johnson will both be graduating in the spring and moving on from the Florida football program.

Muschamp said that Alli plans to go to graduate school; should he remain at UF, he will have the opportunity to join the team as a graduate assistant. Johnson “may play somewhere [else] next fall,” Muschamp said, and the two are planning to discuss it.

Furthermore, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tommy Jordan, who never stepped on the field for the Gators due to nagging shoulder problems, has applied for a medical exception to remain on scholarship but no longer play football.

CLEANING UP SOME INJURIES

Muschamp once again noted that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all had scopes on their various injuries this month.

“We expect all three of those [players] to participate at some point in spring. I don’t know when that will happen, how much contact there will be. I’ll know more as we move forward,” he said.

Junior WR Solomon Patton (broken arm) is “doing really well,” according to Muschamp. He has already been cleared for non-contact work during the spring.

Additionally, sophomore punter Kyle Christy had minor shoulder surgery and will be fine for spring football. “He played pretty well with it. I don’t know why we did surgery, but they felt like he needed it,” Muschamp said.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

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FOUR BITS: Evans, Reed, Strong, Kitchens

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all underwent arthroscopic surgery on Monday, according to the school. All are expected to be healthy enough to return to the field by March for spring practice.

2 » Florida senior safety Josh Evans told OGGOA on Tuesday that he has received an invitation to the 2013 NFL Combine as well as a projection from the league of being selected anywhere between the third and fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Evans is currently in Boca Raton, FL training for both the combine and the 2013 East/West Shrine Game. He has signed with agent Malik Shareef of Dimensional Sports, Inc. Friend of OGGOA Darren Heitner also reported Tuesday that redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed has signed with agent Mike George of SFX Sports Group.

3 » One player who will not be on the field for the Gators this spring is senior offensive/defensive lineman Nick Alajajian. After fracturing his right knee back in August, Alajajian missed the entire 2012 season. He has spent most of the year tweeting about returning to football, but a Florida spokesperson told GatorCountry.com’s Mike Capshaw that Alajajian did not apply for a medical hardship and therefore he has no more eligibility and his career is over. He earned one start in 32 games over four years, the first three of which he spent on the offensive line before transitioning to defense prior to the 2012 season.

4 » Just moments after the conclusion of the 2013 Sugar Bowl, Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong was swarmed by family, friends, reporters and his players as he celebrated his team’s victory. Also stopping by to congratulate Strong after the game were some of his Gators including redshirt senior left guard James Wilson, redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, redshirt senior linebacker Lerentee McCray and senior LB Jon Bostic (likely among others). Check out the video below.

Extra BIT » Friend of OGGOA Whitney Holtzman snapped the below picture of junior LB Darrin Kitchens staying on the field to sing the alma mater with the band at the conclusion of the Sugar Bowl. We retweeted the picture moments after Holtzman posted it on Twitter and within a short period of time it went viral with her shot being picked up nationally. Kitchens himself quickly found out that his actions meant a lot to Florida fans and took to Twitter two days later to express his gratitude for the kind words that were sent to him via the social networking service. “I’m touched. I didn’t think my gesture would impact so many people. I’m honored to have made so many of you proud. God is to be praised ,” he wrote.

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Florida Gators end season ranked in the top 10

With Alabama staking claim to its third national title in the last four years on Monday night in Miami Gardens, FL, the only thing left to be determined for the 2012 season was how the final top 25 polls would shake out early Tuesday morning.

The Florida Gators, which entered the 2013 Sugar Bowl ranked No. 3 in the BCS and No. 4 in both the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and AP Top 25, were penalized severely for being upended by a Louisville Cardinals team listed in the bottom fifth of the rankings.

Florida checked in No. 10 in the final USA Today rankings, behind three other two-loss teams it defeated during 2012, and No. 9 in the last AP poll, one spot ahead of FSU.

For his team finishing in the top 10, Gators head coach Will Muschamp will receive a $50,000 bonus in addition to the $100,000 bonus he was already awarded for leading the team to a BCS bowl game berth.

Louisville subsequently finished No. 13 in both rankings, jumping up five spots in the former and nine in the latter.

Florida concluded the 2012 season with a 5-2 record against the top 25 teams in the nation. UF picked up victories over Texas A&M (No. 5/5), South Carolina (No. 7/8), Florida State (No. 8/10), LSU (No. 12/14) and Vanderbilt (No. 20/23) but fell to Georgia (No. 4/5) and Louisville (No. 13/13).

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Alabama (56), Oregon, Notre Dame, Georgia, Texas A&M
6-10: Stanford, South Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Florida
11-15: Kansas State, LSU, Louisville, Boise State, Oklahoma
16-20: Northwestern, Utah State, Texas, Oregon State, Vanderbilt
21-25: San Jose State, Cincinnati, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, Tulsa

Last Week 1-5: Notre Dame (56), Alabama (3), Oregon, Florida, Georgia
6-10: Kansas State, LSU, Stanford, Texas A&M, South Carolina
11-15: Oklahoma, Florida State, Clemson, Oregon State, Boise State
16-20: Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Louisville, UCLA, Utah State
21-25: Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, San Jose State, Texas

ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25
This Week 1-5: Alabama (59), Oregon, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia/Texas A&M
7-10: Stanford, South Carolina, Florida, Florida State
11-15: Clemson, Kansas State, Louisville, LSU, Oklahoma
16-20: Utah State, Northwestern, Boise State, Texas, Oregon State
21-25: San Jose State, Northern Illinois, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Nebraska

Last Week 1-5: Notre Dame (60), Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Oregon
6-10: Georgia, Kansas State, Stanford, LSU, Texas A&M
11-15: South Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida State, Clemson, Oregon State
16-20: Northern Illinois, UCLA, Utah State, Michigan, Boise State
21-25: Northwestern, Louisville, Nebraska, San Jose State, Kent State

* Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Snell’s Slant: What the hell happened to Florida?

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

What in the world happened to Florida? The last time we saw this team, it was hitting Florida State in the mouth and running up and down the field on its in-state rival. On the flip side, Louisville looked as if it did not even belong in a BCS bowl after losing two of its last three regular season games. It is truly amazing the difference one month can make. And it’s exactly why they play the game on the field and not on paper.

The Gators clearly got outcoached, outplayed and outsmarted in every phase of the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Wednesday. The Cardinals were obviously the more focused team on a night where both squads were being showcased on a national stage for the whole country to see. One team took advantage of the moment.

What was so amazing about Florida’s failure is that this team played the toughest schedule in the country and went 4-1 against teams ranked in the top of the BCS standings. All five of those teams were better than Louisville. That brings me back to my original question: What the hell happened? Why did a team so much better lose to a team that is definitely not at the same level?

Continue Reading » Snell’s Slant: What the hell happened to Florida?

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