FOUR BITS: baseball, McCray, violations, Macklin

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (11-1) continued their early season dominance, thrashing the visiting Florida Atlantic Owls (8-5) on Tuesday evening at McKethan Stadium. Florida topped FAU 16-1 in the contest, taking a 9-0 lead through two innings and cruising the rest of the way. Freshman left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner got the spot start and picked up the first victory of his young career, striking out three batters while allowing one run (unearned) on three hits in four innings. Junior catcher Mike Zunino (3/3, 5 RBI, 2 R) smacked two home runs in the game, hitting a two-run shot in the first and a three-run bomb in the second. Senior center fielder Tyler Thompson (2/4) added a homer of his own and matched Zunino with five RBIs and two runs. Senior right fielder Preston Tucker (2/4, 2 RBI, 3 R) and freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon (2/3, RBI, R) were also efficient from the plate, adding to the Gators’ impressive total. Florida will step back on the diamond Wednesday night when they host Florida A&M at 7 p.m.; the game will air live on Sun Sports (check your local listings).

In other baseball news…freshman designated hitter Taylor Gushue was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday. Gushue hit .400 with two homers, four RBIs and three runs over the weekend in Coral Gables, FL.

2 » The New Orleans Saints are currently under investigation by the NFL league office for maintaining a bounty for hard hits and knockout plays maintained by former defensive coordinator Greg Williams. Williams, a member of the team’s coaching staff from 2009-11, was with the squad for their Super Bowl XLIV season. Also on the team that year was former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, who had incredible postseason and wound up hitting a pair of veteran quarterbacks – Minnesota’s Brett Favre and Arizona’s Kurt Warner – exceptionally hard in their respective matchups during the playoffs. The NFL fined McCray $25,000 for some of his hits on Favre, including one which caused an eruption on the Saints’ sideline. According to Sports Illustrated, “an on-field microphone directed toward the sideline caught an unidentified defender saying, ‘Pay me my money!’” following the play.

3 » Florida has self-reported a total of 12 secondary violations to the Southeastern Conference since April 2011, the Orlando Sentinel reported on Tuesday. Spread amongst the football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, volleyball and swimming programs, 10 of the 12 violations included some form of impermissible contact with four instances being incidental pocket dials. Most punishments, whether mandated by the school or convergence, included lengthened non-contact periods with the particular recruits. One notable exception was the women’s basketball team taking part in an “off-campus, team-building exercise” with each player forced to pay $12 for participating and coaches losing two hours of instruction per student.

4 » Power forward Vernon Macklin has not seen much court time this season with the Detroit Pistons as he stuck depth-wise behind four/five other players, but he told the Detroit Free Press this week that he has kept a positive disposition in spite of his not being able to play on a nightly basis. “It’s tough, but it’s not hard to stay focused because I got guys like Ben Wallace and Greg [Monroe] and those guys talking to me a lot and telling me to get my work in,” he told the paper. “It’s not really hard to stay focused. I just got to understand that I’m going through a bump in the road right now. But I’m going to get better and keep on learning, and one day I will be able to play.”

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TWO BITS: Larson’s future, Johnson’s nomination

1 » Roosevelt High School head coach Lee Taylor, who has been teaching Florida Gators 2010 three-star forward commitment Cody Larson for the last few years, spoke with the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday afternoon about the player, calling him a “terrific human being.” Taylor told the Sentinel’s Jeremy Fowler that Larson is aware of his mistakes, has learned from them and takes the entire situation as a growing experience. “I think Cody understands this whole process will make Cody a better player and a better person,” Taylor said. “He’s a smart, terrific kid who does well in the classroom. Getting away and going to Florida will really help him move forward.” OGGOA’s Story

2 » Florida baseball’s left-handed starting pitcher and designated hitter Brian Johnson has been named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award watch list, according to the University of Florida. He is on one only 25 players to be recognized on the list and could receive it on July 2. Johnson, in his short career, is already a two-time SEC Freshman of the Week who is 4-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 53 innings. In the batters box, he is hitting at a .385 clip with 10 RBI and a grand slam.

Extra Bit » Former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, who won Super Bowl XLIV as a member of the New Orleans Saints, sat down for a wide-ranging interview with SportingNews. McCray touched on winning the big game, playing for defensive coordinator Gary Williams and what he would like to do when his NFL career is over.

Extra Bit II » Check out this video of Larson from one of his local news stations:

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TWO BITS: Tebow set to speak at Winged Foot

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will be the keynote speaker at the 21st Winged Foot Scholar Athlete awards banquet dinner on May 27 at the Naples Grande. The organization awards scholarships to deserving student-athletes from Collier County (like former Miami Dolphins punter Ray “The Mule” Finkle**). Big-name speakers preceding Tebow at this event include head coaches Urban Meyer (2009), Lou Holtz (2008), Tony Dungy (2001) and Steve Spurrier (1994).

**Finkle: soccer style kicker who graduated from Collier High June 1976; Stetson University honors graduate class of 1980; holds two NCAA Division I records – one for most points in a season, one for distance; former nickname “The Mule;” the first and only pro-athlete ever to come out of Collier County…and one hell of a model American.

2 » Two weeks later, the Tebow family’s Focus on the Family Super Bowl XLIV advertisement is still drawing attention. While, for the most part, viewers found the commercial to be harmless and not worthy of the controversy surrounding it, FotF believes it was a success for their organization. However, a Christian research firm named Barna Group disagrees, saying the spot did nothing to convey a particular message and was neither as memorable nor as clear as the group hoped it would be.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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FOUR BITS: Harbison, Dr. Indelicato, McCray

1 » Clemson Tigers co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison has removed his name from consideration for the Florida Gators defensive coordinator position according to a report by FootballRumorMill.com. The Post and Courier reports that Harbison told his head coach Dabo Sweeney on Thursday that he is staying put. Habison may very well have declared he is no longer a candidate or (more likely) the Florida coaching staff decided he was not a good fit and he is simply trying to save face. It is believed that Arizona Cardinals DB coach Teryl Austin is the Gators’ top candidate to replace George Edwards.

2 » University of Florida orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Indelicato, the team physician for the football and men’s basketball teams, will be honored on Feb. 20 as a “Champion With Heart” at the Gainesville Heart Ball. Though he has four championship rings with the Gators, Indelicato calls the award “the greatest honor of my life.” Read the rest of his story at The Gainesville Sun.

3 » One of the best long distance runners in Florida state history, Matt Mizereck (Tallahassee, FL) has committed to run at UF in the fall. The 2009 Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year, 2009 Footlocker Cross Country All-American and three-time individual state champion signed his letter of intent on Tuesday. “I really felt comfortable being with the team,” Mizereck told the Tallahassee Democrat. “They were like automatic best friends. I felt the atmosphere with the University of Florida was phenomenal.”

4 » Former Gators defensive end Bobby McCray, now a Super Bowl XLIV champion with the New Orleans Saints, was interviewed by Jim Rome on his national radio show Wednesday. The audio is available below.

Bobby McCray on Jim Rome – 02/10/10

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TWO BITS: Tebow focused on football, new critic

1 » Now that his Super Bowl XLIV commercial has aired and there are just over two weeks until the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow will focus his attention solely on improving his football aptitude and mechanics, according to his agent Jimmy Sexton. “It’s going to be nothing but football between now and the Combine,” Sexton told Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.

2 » Speaking of Tebow’s Super Bowl advertisement, an interesting turn of events has transpired since it aired on Sunday. The heavily controversial commercial, which was determined by the majority of the viewing public to be rather bland and insignificant, has drawn the ire of the National Organization for Women. The pro-choice NOW, which was previously against the ad due to its pro-life slant, has now taken umbrage with a different part of its content. “I am blown away at the celebration of the violence against women in it,” NOW president Terry O’Neil told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s what comes across to me even more strongly than the anti-abortion message. I myself am a survivor of domestic violence, and I don’t find it charming. I think CBS should be ashamed of itself.”

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FOUR BITS: McCray’s ring, Sunday sports wrap

1 » On Sunday, New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray became the 13th former Florida Gators football player to win a Super Bowl as his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Miami, FL. The Saints’ starting defensive end, McCray totaled two tackles and a quarterback hurry during Super Bowl XLIV. He is the first former Gators defensive player to win a ring since DE Kevin Carter did it with the St. Louis Rams in 2000 (Super Bowl XXXIV).

2 » While most of the country was focused on the Super Bowl, the Florida women’s basketball team (13-10, 6-4 SEC) was in Gainesville, FL, hosting the Mississippi State Bulldogs (15-9, 6-5 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The Gators kept it close all game, eventually pulling out a hard-earned 80-78 double-overtime victory. Senior guard Lonnika Thompson scored all of her 11 points in overtime while classmates G Steffi Sorensen and forward Sharielle Smith each recorded double-doubles. Redshirt sophomore G Jordon Jones was responsible for the game-winning free throws with only 2.7 seconds left to lift Florida for the win.

3 » Following in the footsteps of their male counterparts, the No. 7 Gators women’s tennis team (5-0) completed a sweep at home over the weekend. The Florida women took on and defeated the Troy Trojans 7-0 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex. No. 13-ranked freshman Allie Will and No. 81-ranked senior Marrit Boonstra each won their singles matches and combined as the No. 26 doubles duo to take the event’s first doubles match 8-1.

4 » The Florida club cycling team took home the annual Swamp Classic in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday. Called “one of the most dominant teams in the nation,” by The Gainesville Sun, the Gators group seemingly dominated the event from start-to-finish. For more, read Ray FItzGerald’s report here.

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Tim Tebow’s Focus on the Family commercial

Two different Focus on the Family commercials featuring former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam Tebow aired Sunday on CBS during pre-game and live game coverage of Super Bowl XXIV in Miami, FL.

Focus on the Family Super Bowl commercial featuring Tim and Pam Tebow:

Focus on the Family pre-game commercial featuring Tim and Pam Tebow:

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SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

1 » The 2009 NFL Playoffs may have begun with seven but only one former Florida Gators player has made it to Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. That man is New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, who did not have a dominating regular season but has had quite an impact on his team’s first two playoff games. Making it a point to hit both Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre hard, McCray knocked each out of the game for a short period of time. Now he will turn his focus on NFL MVP and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. Keep an eye on No. 93 throughout the game on Sunday.

2 » All of the pre-2010 NFL Draft attention has been focused on former Gators QB Tim Tebow (wide receiver Riley Cooper has received a little, too), but linebacker Brandon Spikes is preparing for the biggest job interview of his career, too. Staying quiet while training and working out after a sub-par (for him) season, Spikes is doing whatever he can to impress scouts at the NFL Scouting Combine from Feb. 24 to March 2. “I’m anxious to get started,” Spikes told Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel. “Hopefully, I can go to the league and grab it by the neck.” Speaking about the future at Florida, Spikes was optimistic. “Those younger players know what we started and the legacy we have here. They just want to keep it going. I say it all the time to my younger group, the linebacker corps, those guys are talented. The sky’s the limit for those guys. If they continue to work and buy into the program, they’ll have the same success.”

Read how Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Frankie Hammond fared in track and field action and how gymnastics and tennis performed this weekend after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: McCray in Super Bowl, weekend wrap-up

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