FOUR BITS: Bell, Sturgis, Harvin, Fedora

1 » Minutes after the Kansas Jayhawks announced that they had hired Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as their next head coach, fans and media members began pointing to Jacksonville Dolphins head coach Kerwin Bell as a frontrunner to replace Weis at Florida. Bell spoke with The Gainesville Sun Thursday evening about the possibility. “Naturally, the University of Florida is my alma mater,” he told the paper. “It’s something I’ve always said I’d like to do. I love being a head coach. It would have to be the right place [for me to leave Jacksonville], and Florida is the right place. Will Muschamp has a personality that seems like a guy who would be great to work with. I definitely would be interested in listening. It would be great to come back.”

2 » Gators redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was a finalist but did not win the Lou Groza Award on Thursday. However, he was named a 2011 Walter Camp All-American and was placed on the second team, following in the footsteps of former Florida punter Chas Henry who was selected for the first team one year ago.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had one of the best games of his NFL career last Sunday, posting a career-high 156 yards with two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos. Harvin almost didn’t play in the game, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, after suffering “migraine-like symptoms” just one day earlier. “The symptoms were similar to Harvin’s past struggles with migraines, according to the unnamed person, including bloodshot eyes and vomiting,” the paper reported. Harvin had been without migraines all year after believing doctors found a way of preventing them in the offseason. If he did indeed suffer a migraine, Harvin may go through even more tests this offseason to try and find another solution.

4 » Former Florida offensive coordinator Larry Fedora (2002-04) was introduced as the new head football coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday. After leaving the Gators alongside then-head coach Ron Zook, Fedora worked as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005-07 before taking the top job at Southern Mississippi in 2008. During his introductory press conference with UNC, Fedora singled out Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and thanked him for all of his help getting to this point in his career. Foley told UF senior writer Scott Carter shortly after how much he appreciated Fedora’s ability and work ethic. “I’ve always felt very highly about Larry Fedora and have followed his career closely. He did an outstanding job for us as an assistant at Florida and has had success at every stop since,” Foley said. “He is a good football coach, but even a better person and family man and I fully expect his success to continue.”

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Kansas plucks Charlie Weis from Florida

The Kansas Jayhawks have hired Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to be the team’s next head coach, the university announced Thursday.

Weis, who has spent the last year working under Florida head coach Will Muschamp, will be officially introduced in his new role on Friday at a yet to be determined time.

Deciding to leave his job as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs one year ago, Weis said he chose to join Muschamp’s staff for a number of personal reasons and called the opportunity “almost a dream.” He signed a three-year, $2.6 million contract with Florida, making him the highest paid assistant in school history.

At the time, Weis explained that it was a fantastic opportunity for his family. His son would be a student assistant with the Gators, his wife would be pleased with a 10.5-acre estate in Reddick, FL with plenty of horses, and his special needs daughter could get the assistance she needed with her condition.

“This opportunity is one of those unique situations where I can go to a great institution where my son goes to matriculate and be able to spend the next bunch of years watching my son grow,” he said on Jan. 2. “He wants to coach. It took us very long to try to find a place where he could be involved with the football program in a student assistant capacity. When I finally did talk to Will, we chatted about that and then we talked about me. I had to really reflect on that, spend time with my wife and [my son].

“We talked about a whole bunch of things and at the end of the day, I don’t think anybody could understand how wonderful an opportunity it would be to be able to work at a place and see your kid on a daily basis. It’s a tough business. To go to a program like Florida and be able to be around my kid at the same time … is almost a dream.”

Weis was the main reason redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley returned to the team instead of transferring. He was also the catalyst that convinced freshman QB Jacoby Brissett to commit to Florida over Miami even though the Gators already had Jeff Driskel in their 2011 recruiting class.

He recently said that he had no designs of leaving UF and would remain at the school as long as Muschamp and the university would have him.

“I’m going to coach for a long time. My wife says I can’t quit,” he said on Nov. 22. “That’s not even – remember I have a kid who is a freshman in college here and remember the reasons why I came here. I’ll be here for a while unless you’re trying to get rid of me.”

Weis went 35-27 as head coach of Notre Dame and led a Florida offense that finished 102nd in total offense (334.17 yards per game) and 72nd in scoring offense (25.58 points per game) in 2011.

Muschamp gave Weis his blessing publicly while discussing his departure at a press conference on Thursday for the 2012 Gator Bowl.

“When you’re a coordinator and you have an opportunity to be a head coach, I support you 100 percent,” he said.

It remains to be seen who Muschamp will tab to replace Weis, but it is expected that he will continue running a pro-style offense. He could look for an accomplished coordinator in the college ranks or go back to the NFL once again.

Muschamp may also have to find a quarterbacks coach (a position Weis held) and replace offensive line coach Frank Verducci, who joined his staff with Weis. The two are friends and worked together previously at Notre Dame.

Florida running backs coach Brian White will be the offensive coordinator and call the plays in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012 against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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FOUR BITS: Directors’ Cup, USA, Young, Brewer

1 » The University of Florida athletic program finished no. 4 in the nation in the 2010-11 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. Thirteen Florida Gators programs finished in the top 10 of their respective sport nationally including women’s tennis (No. 1), men’s indoor track & field (No. 1), baseball (No. 2), softball (No. 2), men’s outdoor track & field (No. 3), men’s basketball (No. 5), men’s swimming & diving (No. 5), lacrosse (No. 5), gymnastics (No. 7), women’s swimming & diving (No. 7), men’s tennis (No. 9), volleyball (No. 9), women’s golf (No. 10). It is the third-straight year that the Gators have finished in the top four in the Cup’s final rankings.

2 » Competing with the 2011 USA Basketball Men’s U19 World Championship Team, Florida center Patric Young had some difficulties in the preliminary round of the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championships against Egypt. Though Team USA won 115-60, Young only went 2-of-4 from the field for five points with eight rebounds in 14 minutes. Young played much better on Friday, posting 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with seven boards in 18:30 as Team USA came back to top Serbia 80-78.

3 » Speaking of Young, he and head coach Billy Donovan mentioned a few times last season that he had to overcome some attitude issues during the first half off the year; once doing so, he felt much better about himself and his spot on the team. Young opened up even more about this to ESPN’s Diamond Leung, who spoke with him recently. “When you hear it over and over … if 500 people came in and told you you’re the best writer in the world, you’re going to start believing it, right?” he said. “You’re going to be the next best thing. You’re going to be one-and-done. You should be starting over Vernon Macklin. You should play 30-35 minutes a game. People say stuff like that. I was so mentally blocked that I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong and how it was hurting my team, and coaches had to sit me down and break that down for me, and I understood from that point on forward.”

4 » Dallas Mavericks guard Corey Brewer will be making his triumphant return to Gainesville, FL…for at least three days this summer. Brewer, a member of the Gators’ back-to-back men’s basketball NCAA National Championship teams, will host The Back 2 Back Youth Basketball Camp powered by Five Star Basketball in Gainesville, FL, from July 26-28. Brewer will donate all proceeds to Shands Children’s Hospital at UF and the “Corey Brewer Fight Diabetes Fund,” both benefiting the school’s medical center. “I had a great time with the kids last year. I am so fortunate to have played basketball at the University of Florida. I always like going back to give back to the community that has given me so much,” he told The Gainesville Sun.

Times: August 1-3 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants: Boys and girls ages 9-18
Activities: Basketball drills, five-on-five games, contests, educational sessions, player evaluations, lectures and much more
Extras: Lunch, T-shirt, photo with Brewer, awards, certificate, etc.
Cost: $150 per camper
More information: http://www.CoreyBrewer.com

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Tebow, Brissett, Drayton

1 » Head basketball coach Billy Donovan, who has won two NCAA National Championships (in three title game appearances), captured multiple Southeastern Conference Championships and led the Florida Gators to unprecedented heights since he took over the program in 1996, may be on the verge of earning his first SEC Coach of the Year award if the Gators continue their winning ways over the final handful of regular season games. FOX Sports Florida’s Bill Koss examines how Donovan has missed out on the honor previously, even though he’s on the verge of leading Florida to its 13th consecutive 20-win season. Donovan has been overlooked for the award on at least three occasions; this year his former assistant Anthony Grant, now head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, may stand in his way. Though Alabama is 15-7 on the season, they are 7-1 in the SEC and have won 10 of their last 11 games.

2 » Publishing house HarperCollins announced in November that it will be releasing Through My Eyes, described as “an inspirational memoir by one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time: the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national champion at the University of Florida and current Denver Broncos first round draft pick, Tim Tebow” in April 2011. Companies like Amazon.com have begun taking pre-orders as the book’s release date has been pushed back to May 24. HarperCollins will initially print 200,000 copies of the book, which Tebow will promote via appearances/signings in Denver, CO, New York, NY, and various cities in the state of Florida. An audio book will also be available, and Through My Eyes will be released for the Amazon Kindle as well. You can pre-order it by Clicking Here.

3 » Four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett indicated that the possibility of playing basketball as well as football was something he was considering when deciding which school he would commit to last week. Brissett chose the Gators which begs the question: How do the head coaches feel about his desire to play two sports? “As far as I’m concerned, in talking to Will [Muschamp], if he wants to be a part of our team, he’s more than welcome to do that,” Donovan said Thursday. “You talk about a guy missing workouts in September. October we start practice. November, December, January – he comes into (basketball) practice completely not knowing one thing. Now, as practice starts, he tries to go from football shape to basketball shape. Now, as we start to go toward the SEC Tournament, they start spring practice. I think what’s going to end up happening is he’s going to have to make a decision.” That being said, Donovan does think he is talented and capable enough to see the court. “There’s no doubt in my mind, watching him play, if he dedicated all his time to basketball he could definitely play here at Florida,” he said. “I think he’s a very, very good player.”

4 » Some Gators fans were confused when former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton left Florida to take the wide receivers coach job with the Ohio State Buckeyes. However, listening to Drayton explain his decision, it makes perfect sense. “In 17 years of coaching, I’ve never had the opportunity to be around my family,” Drayton told BuckeyeSports.com. “My kids are born and raised in Florida, so they’ve never had an opportunity to be around their grandparents. […] I’m a Buckeye by heart. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I used to go to coach [Jim] Tressel’s camps as a high school football player at Youngstown State. I had always admired his career, always tried to model myself on some of the principles that he holds his program to. I followed his career and always had a dream of coming back to Ohio State, I just didn’t know when.”

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Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

According to the University of Florida, 33 student-athletes will be earning their degrees in commencement ceremonies on campus over the weekend. Twelve Florida Gators football players and eight swimmers lead the pack, which also includes some of the most accomplished athletes in school history like football’s Chas Henry and swimming’s Gemma Spofforth. OGGOA readers can view the entire list below as compiled by the University Athletic Association.

Continue Reading » Florida student-athletes graduating in Fall 2010

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Tim Tebow sends best wishes to Urban Meyer

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow, selected No. 25 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft after playing four seasons with the Florida Gators under head coach Urban Meyer with whom he won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and two BCS National Championships, released the following statement Wednesday after learning Meyer decided to call it quits on his Florida coaching career.

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime to play for a man who will be remembered as one of the greatest football coaches of all time. But Coach Meyer was more than just a coach to me: He was a father figure who cared about me as a person and taught me valuable lessons that I will never forget.

“I respect that Coach Meyer had the courage to make the decision that was right for himself and his family. He will be blessed and better off for it. I am truly glad that he’s happy and no matter what, we both will be Gators for the rest of our lives.

“While change is never easy, the University of Florida will find the right head coach to continue its proud football tradition and will have the full support of Gator Nation. I wish Coach Meyer and his family all the best going forward, and they will always be a big part of my life.”

UPDATE: Tebow spoke further about Meyer on Friday.

“I’ve talked to him pretty much every day, multiple times. I’m proud of him. It takes a lot to leave something that you love like that, like coaching, like the University of Florida, but he knew what the right thing was to do for him and no one else knew that except for him,” he said. “He just wanted to spend more time with his family, and that was the most important thing to him, and I thought that was great. I respect him even more for making a decision like that.”

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Going camping: Top recruits visit Florida in June

Over the last two weeks, plenty has been going on with the Florida Gators as far as recruiting for the 2011 season is concerned. Since June 10, the Gators have received in four commitments, including four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL) [article], three-star fullback Hunter Joyer (Tampa, FL) [article], three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) [article], four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantaiton, FL) [article].

Additionally, the team got a commitment without an official offer from three-star LB Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) [article], and 2012 WR Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) [article] is all but ready to pick Florida before his junior year of high school even begins.

However, the Gators still have plenty of work to do in order to enhance the current eight-person 2011 class, and the team made a lot of headway as recruits participated in football camps and took visits to the University of Florida in recent weeks.

Update yourself on some of the top 2011 recruits and targets…after the break!
Continue Reading » Going camping: Top recruits visit Florida in June

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UPDATE #2: Gators Nike Pro Combat uniform

OGGOA first reported on Nov. 9 that the Florida Gators will be wearing special uniforms against the Florida State Seminoles in their regular season finale on Nov. 28. Just one day later, we followed up on that story with exclusive information about *almost* every detail we could uncover including a picture of the uniform and other specifications.

Now a week later, OGGOA has once again been provided with exclusive information about the design of the uniform. The Gators’ Nike Pro Combat helmets will be white (see left) with a blue “F” instead of the standard cursive “Gators” design on the sides. The “F” is in the same font featured on Florida’s baseball hats as well as in the end zones at The Swamp. (See elementary mock-up created by yours truly. Probably a darker shade of blue.) We have also learned that the Gators’ Nike Zoom Air cleats will be covered in alligator skin (similar to OGGOA‘s background) with traces of orange and blue.

As the tag line implies, Florida will be wearing these unis as they attempt to “Finish the Mission” of a 12-0 regular season – the first in team history. The University of Florida‘s Sports Information Department is expected to release all of these details and more at some point within the next week. OGGOA will be sure to post anything else we hear definitively about the uniform in the meantime.

Nike’s Pro Combat uniforms are said to be 37% lighter than current designs and utilize a four-way stretch twill that does not hold sweat or water. Additional features include Nike’s Dri-FIT technology, evaporation and cooling zones, more padding zones and improved ventilation and breathability. Players will also wear Nike Vapor Trail 2.0 gloves (above) and Nike Zoom Air cleats that are light weight and feature better cushioning in the heel.

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