FOUR BITS: Pitino, Brown, SEC awards, Tebow

1 » Former Florida Gators basketball assistant Richard Pitino was named the new head coach for the Florida International Golden Panthers on Monday, signing a five-year, $1.25 million contract. At 29 years old, Pitino becomes one of the youngest head coaches in the country but properly noted that does not mean he is incapable of being successful in his new job. “People say I’m young, but I tell them I may be young, but I’m not inexperienced,” he said. “It may not always be pretty. It may not always be easy. But we’re going to get it done.” Pitino last worked under head coach Billy Donovan two seasons ago, leaving Florida before the 2011-12 campaign to work for his father in Louisville. “It is great to have Richard back in the state of Florida,” Donovan said in a school release. “FIU has hired a tireless worker and an excellent recruiter to build their program. I’m excited for Richard and I’m excited for FIU.” Pitino is the seventh assistant to work under Donovan and eventually be named a head coach joining Anthony Grant (Alabama), Donnie Jones (Central Florida), John Pelphrey (formerly at Arkansas), Lewis Preston (Kennesaw State), Larry Shyatt (Wyoming) and Shaka Smart (VCU).

Pitino on Donovan:: “Working for Billy Donovan was one of the greatest things I could have done. I was an assistant under my father and I really didn’t want to leave home, but Billy reached out to him. When I worked for Billy I learned so much because he wasn’t my father. They have a lot of similarities, but they are really not [the same]. They have completely different approaches on how to do things. For me to work for Billy, who has three Final Fours, and my dad, who has six Final Fours, that’s a combined nine Final Fours and three NCAA Championships. For me to be able to learn under those two guys, I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

2 » One of four players to file a lawsuit against the NFL this week, former Gators offensive tackle Lomas Brown claims – citing the recent bounty scandal surrounding New Orleans – that the league did not properly protect its players from concussions. According to the Associated Press, Brown and the three other players “do not claim in their lawsuit to be victims of [Gregg] Williams’s bounty system but cite it as the latest example of a culture that has left former players with debilitating conditions.”

3 » A pair of current Florida student-athletes – juniors tennis player Lauren Embree and left-handed pitcher/first baseman Brian Johnson – picked up SEC Player of the Week awards from the conference on Monday. The Gators baseball program also got another piece of good news as they regained their No. 1 national ranking in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 Poll while receiving nine-of-31 first-place votes.

4 » The Tim Tebow news cycle has not slowed down now that he is no longer in Denver. The latest New York Jets quarterback received a big donation for his charity over the weekend as a married couple pledged $100,000 just to spend a day with him. The auction took place at the Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic, and Tebow himself was extremely touched at both the bid and donation. “It was very humbling, and you don’t necessarily feel worthy,” he said. “That day I feel like I’ve got to do a few extra things to be special, you know? I’ve got to try to be a little bit better.” Tebow was also the subject of a recent look-a-like contest held by the Double-A Jacksonville Sun. The winner was a Jacksonville, FL high school student named Jacob Carter who said that his grandmother suggested he participate in the event.

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Gator Bites for Monday, April 16

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. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah continues to play a major role for his team, posting a line of 20 points and 17 rebounds (13 offensive) on Sunday night to help lead Chicago past Detroit in overtime. Noah now has 21 double-doubles on the season though that was his first in the month of April.

» Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford told OGGOA on Friday that it is “realistic” to believe that he will be able to return to his team for the playoffs after tearing his pectoral early in the season. Horford, who has missed almost the entire shortened season, said he doubts he will be at 100 percent when the playoffs begin because he will not have the proper time to practice and condition. However, he hopes to be able to contribute in some way and help his team win.

» Unlike Horford, Golden State Warriors F/C David Lee will not see a basketball court again this year. Lee, whose Warriors are out of the playoffs and vying for a better draft slot, will be benched for the remainder of the season after injuring his groin last week. He was already dealing with a hip injury and will be rested mostly for precautionary reasons. Lee averaged nearly a double-double this season, posting totals of 20.1 points and 9.6 boards per game.

» Julie Quittner of Gainesville Television Network sent over a copy of her interview with former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey that aired on Friday. In the piece, Quittner asks Rainey directly about the allegations made recently in a Sporting News column about former Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Below are a few standout questions/answers from the interview:

Did you see the incident when Billy Gonzales was apparently choked by Percy Harvin at practice and apparently he wasn’t disciplined for it? Is that a situation where maybe guys like that got away with certain things?
Rainey: “I heard that story from players; I ain’t never saw it and just like I said, players like that…certain players even the coaches are scared of and there are certain players that the players were scared of but you can’t just answer a question like that because they’re good in sports and you just can’t do nothing about it.

What do you mean by scared?
Rainey: “Scared, like a player if you’re scared of another player…just like that. Coaches can be scared of players.”

What do you have to say to the fact that [safety Bryan Thomas] said at one point that the program got “out of control”?
Rainey: “It wasn’t ever ‘out of control’ they just were scared of certain players and when the younger guys can’t do nothing but watch and see, you’re scared for your life too, so you just got to be quiet because if you say the wrong thing, you might get beat up from him or get in trouble by a coach.”

Do you remember incidents here that happened with [those elite players] specifically that you can remember them getting special treatment or something being covered up for them?
Rainey: “I don’t remember everything being covered up, but I just know a lot of stuff that happened through my college career…like you see people doing bad stuff off the field, fights, getting in trouble in school, whatever it is but if they made it to the NFL, they made it. It’s too late now.”

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Monday, April 16

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FOUR Tebow BITS: hospital, opinions, video

1 » The Tim Tebow Foundation announced Wednesday that they will be building a brand new children’s hospital in the Philippines in conjunction with CURE International. “I was born in the Philippines and my parents have been missionaries to that area since 1985. The Philippines have always had a special place in my heart,” Tim Tebow said in the official press release. “I’m excited to be a part of this hospital that will bring healing to thousands of children who would not otherwise have access to care.” Construction costs for the hospital, located in Davao City and featuring a 30-bed surgical facility as well as a Timmy’s Playroom (which provides faith, hope and love to children before and after their surgeries), are expected to be around $3 million. Groundbreaking will take place in January 2012 with an expected completion date of mid-2013.

2 » NFL.com reporter Jeff Darlington tackled two stories on the former Florida Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback this week. The first consisted of Darlington spending time with Denver head coach John Fox, who explained how and why he is tailoring his offense to better fit Tebow. The other, including thoughts from NFL players who are fans of Tebow, focuses on the thousands of Tebow haters who claim that the quarterback’s faith and how he expresses it are the main reasons they dislike him.

3 » Former Gators and Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said on The Dan Patrick Show Wednesday that he is a fan of Tebow and would have loved to play with him back in the day. “I like his spirit,” he said on the show. “I like the way he approaches the game. He’s a competitor. He’s not a quitter. He’s a winner. He wants to get better. [...] He’s a great person.”

4 » In the second Taiwanese animation to feature Tebow, the video below features a recap of his entire life as opposed to the first one, which focused on his come-from-behind victory against the Miami Dolphins a few weeks ago. It appears as if Next Media Animation got positive reviews of their first attempt and decided to provide their viewers with some background this time around.

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Tim Tebow speaks on charity, the draft and his future at autograph signing in Palm Beach

Life has been a whirlwind for former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow ever since his team took down the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. From being the subject of a documentary to changing his mechanics and participating in both the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl and 2010 NFL Scouting Combine to making media appearances, hosting autograph signings and scheduling individual team workouts, Tebow has been on the move while trying to figure out where it is that he will actually move to on a more permanent basis in about a month’s time.

Saturday, Tebowmania took over Palm Beach County, as the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion participated in an autograph signing/charity event partially benefiting the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s meeting with Tim Tebow…after the break!
Continue Reading » Tim Tebow speaks on charity, the draft and his future at autograph signing in Palm Beach

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SIX BITS: 2010 class, Tebow, Smith, awards

1 » Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer spoke candidly with The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley after National Signing Day on Wednesday. He was surprised there was not a worse reaction to his temporary resignation but actually had fun dispelling numerous rumors about his next job. “[Five-star defensive end Ronald Powell called me at 3 a.m. and] wanted to know if I was going to ESPN to replace Lee Corso,” Meyer said. That’s what he had been hearing. I just laughed.” Four-star offensive lineman Chaz Green, Florida’s last commitment, had the same question. In the end, for a man dealing with stress, his 2010 recruiting class gave him the best gift of all: relaxation. “I left my phone on (Tuesday) night but I went to sleep,” he said. “I got up, no messages. What is that? That’s the first time since I have been married I wasn’t on the phone at midnight the day before Signing Day. And we were done with the faxes by noon.”

Five more BITS including Tim Tebow’s new organization, Emmitt Smith’s upcoming honor, the women’s basketball team’s loss and much more after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: 2010 class, Tebow, Smith, awards

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