TWO BITS: Tebow to interview Driskel, Kansas set

1 » The SEC Network on Tuesday announced that the channel will kick off with a three-hour edition of SEC Now that will feature a number of segments of interest to Florida Gators fans. Starting at 6 p.m., the show will open with an essay featuring 31 familiar Southeastern Conference voices including former Florida swimmer Dara Torres. The program will then air live from the network’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina, with Dari Nowkhah and Maria Taylor hosting the program. As part of the broadcast, SEC Now will have “live whip around reporting” from all 14 schools with former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore live in Gainesville, Florida. (Tebow, of course, will serve as an analyst on SEC Nation during the season.) While on campus, Tebow will have a sit-down interview with Florida redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel (likely taped earlier in the day). The Gators and head coach Will Muschamp will also be featured as one of three programs in all-access segments with an exclusive look at spring practice. The program will air until 9 p.m., at which point the network will debut its latest SEC Storied documentary, “The Stars are Aligned.”

If fans would like to participate in the broadcast, UF announced Wednesday that they can be a part of live shots featuring Tebow and Tessitore at 6:05 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. outside the Heavener Football Complex next to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

RELATED: First two weeks of the SEC Network’s schedule

2 » ESPN announced on Tuesday details of Florida basketball’s showdown with the Kansas Jayhawks as part of the 2014 SEC/Big 12 Challenge. UF and KU will square off on Friday, Dec. 5 at 9 p.m. in the featured game of a doubleheader set to air on ESPN. Florida took down Kansas 67-61 in the first challenge in 2013, so the Jayhawks will certainly be looking for some revenge on their home court.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, NCAA, Bates, Quinn

1 » In Charlotte, North Carolina, for the SEC Network‘s formal media day on Wednesday, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow told the Associated Press that “his agent has fielded some calls from interested NFL teams” but declined to name which ones and said no deal is currently on the horizon. ESPN, to its credit, is completely open to Tebow trading in his suit for pads and has made it clear that he can return to the network at any point if such an opportunity presents itself. “I love doing this,” Tebow said. “I want to do this for a long time. I love talking football, and I love being around it.” While behind the mic, Tebow does not plan to have any Florida bias, though he told Sports Illustrated that he will obviously always be a Gators fan.

”The important thing is that you don’t take you being a fan, your bias or your past experiences into account as far as me rooting for Florida. Obviously I’ll be a Florida fan my entire life. But when I’m evaluating teams, I’m not going to be evaluating as a fan of Florida. I’m going to be evaluating as a quarterback in the SEC, someone who grew up watching it, someone who has had a lot of experience and has been in every situation. That’s the premise I’m going to be looking from. Everybody’s going to be able to do that. It’ll be hard for Marcus [Spears] not to root for LSU, but he can do that. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I know [Paul Finebaum] really likes Alabama. That can’t be easy for him to say. You can kind of take one hat off and put on another one and that’s your focus.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, NCAA, Bates, Quinn

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FOUR BITS: SEC Network, McCray, Bostic, Tebow

1 » The SEC Network on Wednesday announced a distribution agreement with Charter Communications that now puts the channel on eight of the 10 largest television providers nationwide and in more than 91 million households. ESPN also released individual animations for each school that will be seen on the network whenever the program is covered. The one made for the Florida Gators can be seen below (after the break because, for some reason, it is set to auto-start, which is annoying):

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: SEC Network, McCray, Bostic, Tebow

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

Best- and worst-case scenarios

Between e-mails, messages on social media, comments here on the site, radio interview questions and text messages from friends, I seemingly get asked on a daily basis how good or bad I think the Florida Gators football team will be in 2014.

It’s simple, really.

No one knows. There are some analysts predicting Florida pieces together a shocking turnaround, while others believe the Gators will only be marginally better than they were a year ago. Consider how many variables there are in regards to any given team succeeding or failing, let alone a storied program coming off its worst season since 1979.

Therefore, let’s look at the absolute best- and worst-case scenarios for Florida in 2014…

Best-case scenario: Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel stays healthy and puts it all together with an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who finally allows him to utilize his full skill set… Florida’s shuffled offensive line solidifies under position coach Mike Summers… Head coach Will Muschamp finds a way to put forward a top-notch defense despite another batch of top talent leaving the program in the offseason… UF starts the season 4-1 with its lone loss to Alabama, finds a way to beat LSU at home, earns Muschamp his first victory ever in the Florida-Georgia game and takes the SEC East crown, putting it in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2008… Despite falling to its SEC West opponent in the league title game, UF earns the fourth spot in the first College Football Playoff as a two-loss team and is eliminated in its playoff game.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

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FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, five Gator Chomps

1 » The SEC Network launches in less than a month, and former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is signed on to be a featured analyst on the channel. While Tebow, by all accounts, is prepared for his new gig, he has certainly not given up on his desire to play in the NFL this season. According to a report from FOX 10 out of Phoenix, Arizona, Tebow has been spending plenty of time in Scottsdale training with Ian Danney in the scorching sun. The video clip below shows Tebow playing Danney-ball, a game in which players toss a 10-pound heavy ball over a net on a sand volleyball court.


In other Tebow news… A new poll has Tebow out of the top 10 when ranking the most popular athletes in the nation; he came in No. 8 just year ago while prepared to enter training camp with his third NFL team. Tebow is also prepared to open his third PDQ restaurant chain, this one at the Oakleaf Town Center in Jacksonville, Florida. He has already cut the ribbon at one location in Ocala and has plans to open another in Gainesville in the next six months.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Parsons, five Gator Chomps

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4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

1 » During an interview with the Boomer and Carton Show on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson was asked about former teammate Aaron Hernandez and whether he ever had an inkling that the former tight end was be capable of going off the rails. “You know, there was definitely some tendencies – I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t – but it was a huge surprise,” he said. “It really shocked me. Because this is a guy I saw get into a fight in practice and [he was] crying 15 minutes later because he had just hurt his teammate. So this was a guy who was extremely sensitive, he was extremely vulnerable, but the thing is, he was who he hung out with. So if he was hanging out with somebody he was very influenced.

Nelson corroborated what has been reported elsewhere, that members of the Florida Gators were worried about Hernandez going home to Connecticut and hanging out with his old crowd. He also noted that head coach Urban Meyer purposely put Hernandez around himself and Tim Tebow to help improve his character. “You saw some issues with him in college, but they were minor – some drug stuff and that was about it – but nothing to this extreme,” Nelson added. “So he started to hang out with the wrong crowd, get a lot of fame, a lot of money, start to get that ‘I can do whatever I want’ invincible kind of mentality a lot of NFL guys get. And I think you saw him make a really bad mistake.”

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Nelson, Andrews, Jordan, Summer League

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4 BITS: USA Basketball, PGA, Tebow, Shanahan

1 » Minor surgery to address a “core muscle injury” has kept Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee off the USA Basketball men’s national team as it reports to training camp from July 28 to Aug. 1 ahead of the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain. However, two former Florida Gators have made the 19-player training camp roster with Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons both being given the opportunity to make the 12-man team. As it turns out, Parsons was not one of the 28 players who made the original pool as announced on Jan. 22. His tremendous play last season, coupled with Lee’s inability to compete, opened up a spot for the man who just signed a three-year, $46 million contract. It is the third-straight season that Lee has undergone surgery in the offseason; he averaged 18.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in 2013-14.

2 » Two former Florida golfers – instead of three as previously scheduled – are competing at The Open Championship but only one is currently above the assumed cut line after the first round. Billy Horschel shot a +1 (73) on Thursday and is currently tied for 66th at seven shots behind the leader, Rory McIlroy. Coming in nearly 20 places behind Horschel is Matt Every, who stroked a +3 (75) and is in a 19-way tie for 105th. Unfortunately, former British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia, who looks forward to the event each year, had to withdraw from the event due to travel issues. “Right now I thought I’d be on [the] 3rd hole of mini practice [round] at the Open!! Best we could do is a flight to West Palm Beach,” wrote the 54-year-old 1989 winner on Twitter. “Totally depressed I can’t be at my fave tourney in the world!! American Airlines killed us for no reason weather was fine #dontgetit” As a prior British Open champion, Calcavecchia qualifies for an automatic spot each year until he turns 60 years of age, meaning he only had the opportunity to play in seven (now six) more British Open events. He currently plays on the Champions Tour, which is restricted to golfers over 50.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: USA Basketball, PGA, Tebow, Shanahan

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