TWO BITS: Will advances, Dowling resigns

1 » Action continued in the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Saturday with Florida Gators women’s tennis fielding a singles competitor and doubles pairing.

No. 1 Allie Will (junior) def. No. 6 Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar (Texas A&M) – 6-3, 6-3

No. 10 Natalie Pluskota/Kata Szekely (Tennessee) def. No. 22 Lauren Embree/Joanna Mather (junior/senior) – 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(3)

Will’s victory advances her to the Final Four round of the 2012 NCAA Individual Championships on Sunday at noon where she will face No. 3 Nicole Gibbs (Stanford) whom she defeated 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 earlier this season in team competition. The winner will take on either No. 5 Mallory Burdette (Stanford) or No. 13 Zsofi Susanyi (California) in the national title game on Monday.

2 » Florida athletics lost a head coach for the second-straight day after women’s golf’s Jan Dowling resigned from her position on Saturday. “It truly has been an honor to coach at the University of Florida for the past three seasons, and I want to thank Mr. [Jeremy] Foley and the entire administration for this opportunity,” Dowling said in a school release. “I am very proud of what these young women have accomplished, and feel very fortunate to be involved with such a great athletic association. My decision was extremely difficult, however, I have to make the right choices for my personal life too. I will cherish my time at Florida, and wish nothing but the very best for the future of the program and the entire athletic association.”

The women’s golf program made steady progress in Dowling’s three seasons at Florida improving from 10th in the Southeastern Conference in 2010 to fourth in 2012. The Gators did not participate in the NCAA Championships in her first year at the helm but finished tied for 10th in 2011 and alone in 12th in 2012. Downling also recruited and coached the 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year in Camilla Hedberg. A statement from Foley indicates that Dowling’s decision was her own and that she was not relieved by the university. “I was surprised with Jan’s decision, but I respect her decision to do what is best for her. We wish her the best in whatever her future holds,” he said. Foley and Florida announced the resignation of head men’s tennis coach Andy Jackson on Friday in a move that, while titled a resignation, appeared to be at the behest of Foley.

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Florida basketball adds transfer Damontre Harris

Florida Gators basketball received a significant boost to its frontcourt in 2013-14 after learning Saturday that South Carolina Gamecocks power forward Damontre Harris has chosen to transfer to the University of Florida.

A four-star prospect and the No. 64 player in the country as ranked by in 2010, Harris decided to leave South Carolina after the administration fired head coach Darrin Horn and replaced him with Frank Martin. Florida and Kansas battled for his transfer, and the player also gave consideration to staying in Columbia, SC.

Instead Harris will be forced to sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA transfer rules but will fill a major position of need for the Gators when his redshirt season is up. He will still be able to practice with the team next year, providing sophomores center Patric Young and forward Will Yeguete with a big, talented opponent to go up against each day.

At 6’9” and 226 lbs., Harris has been an important and effective player for the Gamecocks over his two years with the team. He averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game his sophomore season while shooting .550 from the field and .804 from the free throw line.

Florida has not had a shot blocker average more than two swats per game since Joakim Noah registered 2.4 per contest during his sophomore season (2005-06).

With Young potentially moving on to the NBA after his junior year and the Gators not having received any commitments taller than 6’6” as part of their 2012 or 2013 (so far) recruiting classes, Harris should eventually have a legitimate opportunity to start for Florida though he most certainly will not be handed that role.

Martin has a good relationship with Gators head coach Billy Donovan and did not place any restrictions on Harris as it pertained to contacting or transferring to a SEC East rival.

Despite Harris’s decision, Florida is still pursuing transfer forward Dorian Finney-Smith of Virginia Tech, a source close to the program confirmed to OGGOA on Saturday

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Florida sweeps SEC All-Sports Awards yet again

Any doubt that the University of Florida had the dominant athletics program in the Southeastern Conference during the 2011-12 school year was put to rest Sunday as the university was named the SEC All-Sports champion by the Halifax Media Group for the fourth-straight season. Sweeping all three titles – overall, men’s and women’s – the Florida Gators won by staggering numbers in each category, literally dominating the competition.

Team (OVERALL)Total PointsSportsAverage
No. 1 Florida156.5169.78
No. 2 Georgia141.0168.81
No. 3 LSU129.0158.06

Team (MEN's)Total PointsSportsAverage
No. 1 Florida 66.579.50
No. 2 Georgia59.078.43
No. 3 LSU55.077.86

Team (WOMEN's)Total PointsSportsAverage
No. 1 Florida90.0910.00
No. 2 Georgia82.099.11
No. 3 Tennessee70.088.75

Florida is the only school to sweep all three titles in a single season, accomplishing the feat for the 12th time, fifth in the last six years and fourth-in-a-row (2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11). UF has now won 22 overall titles (including six-straight), 19 women’s titles and 16 men’s titles.

All 16 of the Gators’ sports (nine women’s, seven men’s) were counted with cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field combined into one unit per gender. Lacrosse was not included as that program competes in the American Lacrosse Conference.

Florida won three SEC titles over this period – gymnastics, women’s tennis and women’s indoor track and field – compared to eight in 2010-11. UF women’s tennis captured both the regular season and tournament championships.

The Gators lead the SEC with 205 all-time team titles.

The SEC All-Sports titles were previously awarded by The New York Times Regional Newspaper Group from 1994-95 to 2010-11.

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Florida softball eliminated from NCAA Tourney; Walton speaks on suspension decision

A tumultuous weekend and up-and-down season came to a conclusion for No. 5 Florida Gators softball as the team fell 1-0 to the South Florida Bulls and failed in their bid to advance out of the Gainesville Regional in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Florida (48-13) lost the first game of the regional but won consecutive contests in the loser’s bracket on Saturday to move on to the finals against USF (48-11). The Gators were hoping to win and force a second game on Sunday but instead lost the contest and failed to reach the Women’s College World Series for the fifth-straight season.

Sophomore right-hander Hannah Rogers (28-8) got the nod to start and pitched a complete game, allowing one earned run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in 7.0 innings. Her lone blemish came in the top of the fourth when an infield single allowed the Bulls to score what would end up being the game-deciding run.

Rogers’s complete game performance was matched by South Florida starter Sara Nevens, who allowed five hits and three walks but struck out 12 including two important batters in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Florida rallied to load the bases with no one out but failed to cross the plate as Nevins struck out consecutive batters and forced an infield groundout to get out of the frame unscathed.

Senior center fielder Michelle Moultrie, playing her last game in orange and blue, was the only Florida batter to register more than one hit as she went 2-for-4 on the afternoon. She concluded her UF career as the team’s all-time leader in batting average (.385), stolen bases (83) and stolen base attempts (99). Moultrie also picked up a number of awards during her tenure with the Gators including 2010 SEC Player of the Year, 2011 WCWS Co-Most Outstanding Player, 2011 WCWS All-Tournament Team and a number of All-American honors.

It is the first time since 2006 that Florida did not move on to the Super Regional.

Though he did not get into specifics regarding the incident that led to him eventually suspending three of his starters, head coach Tim Walton spoke more about the general situation following Sunday’s loss at Pressly Softball Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Continue Reading » Florida softball eliminated from NCAA Tourney; Walton speaks on suspension decision

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FOUR BITS: Bonner, Tebow, Zunino, Howard

1 » Young San Antonio Spurs fan Patrick Gonzalez wanted to support his team during its run in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Out of respect for one of his favorite players (who just happens to have the same color hair he does), Gonzalez chose to get a very detailed picture of former Florida Gators forward Matt Bonner shaved into the back of his head. The problem? His first period teacher called it a “distraction” and the principals at Woodlake Hills Middle School do not approve of the hairdo even after his mother made mention of it previously and neither received permission nor was informed that it would be a problem. Gonzalez has chosen to “fix” his haircut before school on Thursday rather than serve the suspension he was threatened with receiving. In addition to being a talented basketball player, Bonner is a two-time Verizon Academic All-America of the Year for men’s basketball who finished his University of Florida career with a 3.96 grade point average. KAAB FOX 29 out of San Antonio, TX has the video report.

2 » Quarterback Tim Tebow received another shot of support from a New York Jets teammate on Wednesday as cornerback Darrelle Revis praised Tebow’s character and the way he carries himself day-in and day-out. “He’s a born leader, he really is,” Revis said per’s Rich Cimini. “Very few athletes have the gift he has. He tries to lead by example all the time. He tries to be positive, which is awesome, and that [has resulted] in his success on the field. [...] Some people have it, some guys don’t. It’s the passion within, wanting to be a leader, wanting to win. You see it all the time, eating lunch, walking down the hallway. You see it. He’s like that cartoon character Zeus. He’s one of those guys. He’s very positive. He has passion for whatever he does. You can see it on him.” Revis also praised him as a player. “He’s a playmaker, he makes plays, he wins games,” he said. “Having him as a teammate is kind of different because you actually get to see him every day. You get to talk to him every day. You get to eat lunch with him. You get to know him as a person. It’s totally different.”

Cimini also notes that Tebow has been exchanging “playful barbs” back-and-forth with others on the team including outspoken linebacker Bart Scott who called him “Baby Jesus” (Tebow laughed) and asked if he could be baptized when Tebow suggested he get in the cold tub because his old muscles needed the treatment.

3 » Florida junior catcher Mike Zunino was one of 12 players named on Wednesday as a semifinalist for the 2012 Johnny Bench Award, which is presented each season to the top catcher in college baseball. Zunino currently leads the Southeastern Conference in home runs (14), slugging percentage (.645), total bases (127) and doubles (22), is tops for the Gators in RBIs (49), and carries a .320 batting average while fielding at a .993 clip (three errors). A SEC player has not won the award since 2002 and no Florida player has ever received the honor.

4 » New Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jaye Howard is already receiving some rave reviews for his play during rookie minicamp. According to The Olympian, Howard “has played mostly pass-rushing defensive tackle…and has been a disruptive force.” He told the paper that he credits Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive line coach Bryant Young for helping him make major strides in his senior season. “Coach Quinn is one of the best coaches I’ve had,” he said, “and Bryant Young, he’s a player that I watched growing up. And you’re going to take heed to someone like that. You’re going to listen to what they have to say.”

Photo Credit: Grace White, KAAB FOX 29

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FOUR BITS: transfer, Noah, baseball, Brantley

1 » The Florida Gators announced Wednesday that 6’6” center Vicky McIntyre has decided to transfer to the University of Florida and will be eligible to play in 2013-14 after sitting out a year per NCAA transfer rules. McIntyre, who has played at Oklahoma State the last two season and will have two years of eligibility remaining after a year off, decided to transfer after two coaches she was extremely close to perished in a plane crash in Nov. Once she steps on the court for practice, McIntyre will be the tallest player to play for Florida women’s basketball in the program’s 40-year history. “We get a kid with her size and length but now combine that with the experience she gained in [a] Big 12 program, plus the work ethic, attitude and excitement about being a Gator,” head coach Amanda Butler said. “That’s a winning combination.” McIntyre averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 rebounds during her freshman season and hopes to regain that form.

2 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was forced to miss the final two games of his team’s first-round playoff series after severely spraining his left ankle during Game 3 and is becoming increasingly frustrated with how often he has been injured over the last two seasons. Noah said on Monday that he plans to strengthen his ankles in the offseason and do whatever he can to ensure he is in tip-top shape heading into next season. “I’m just frustrated because I really feel like I really worked hard on trying to keep my body right,” he told “I feel like the ankle injury was unfortunate. I think just going full speed onto somebody’s ankle and landing on somebody’s foot – that could have happened to anybody. It’s frustrating but nobody died. You learn from it and move on.” Despite his most recent setback, Noah still plans to participate in the 2012 London Olympics as part of the French National Team. “I’m gunning for it. I’m hoping that I’ll be healthy and be able to play,” he said.

3 » ESPN’s Keith Law released his first mockup for the 2012 MLB Draft on Tuesday and slotted Gators junior catcher Mike Zunino as the No. 5 overall selection in the first round by Kansas City. Zunino is widely believed to be a top-five prospect and the highest-ranked college baseball player. Law has also listed juniors left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (No. 28), shortstop Nolan Fontana (No. 44) and lefty reliever Steven Rodriguez (No. 71) on his general list of top-100 players. Senior right fielder Preston Tucker, and junior righties Hudson Randall and Austin Maddox are also “potential top 200 picks,” according to ESPN’s Jason A. Churchill.

4 » The United States Social Security Administration this week released the country’s most popular baby names for the past year (2011) and noted that the name with the biggest jump in popularity for males is Brantley. From the press release: “For the boys, there could be some controversy over Brantley – depending on whether you are a fan of college football or country music. Arguments could be made that the popularity of the name comes from John Brantley, the quarterback for perennial powerhouse The University of Florida, or from Brantley Gilbert, the singer with the number one country hit ‘Country Must Be Country Wide.’ If you like both football and country music, you’re a winner either way!” Yes, that is from a real government press release.

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FAMILY will set the tone for the Gators in 2012

No, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp does not have a soft spot for the 1979 chart-topper by Sister Sledge. He just wants to see his team put the group over the individual. That is probably why he was wearing a certain orange wristband with white lettering on Thursday at the Gator Gathering in West Palm Beach, FL and made it a point to explain to the crowd that his team has a new motto for the 2012 season.

This version of the Gators will be all about FAMILY: “Forget About Me. I Love You.”

“At the end of the day, let’s take the personal agendas off the table and let’s get into this team,” Muschamp said to smiling faces at the South Florida Fair’s Expo Center. “I think we’re headed in that direction, I really do. We got some guys right now that understand and comprehend that when the collective unit does well, we all do well.”

But Muschamp wants to do more than “well” in 2012. He believes that Florida has many of the pieces necessary to be a championship football team but must find a way to bring them all together in order to win football games. That is where FAMILY comes into play.

“When you win, everybody benefits from that,” he said. “That’s the constant message you got to deliver in this day and age with young people, [for them] to understand it’s more than about you.

“You’re not a player anymore – it’s ‘University of Florida football player so-and-so.’ And that’s what I’m trying to build our football team to understand – it’s bigger than they are.”

Muschamp has already seen that focus and attention in the classroom, where he said the Gators sport a cumulative team GPA of around a 2.8, “which is close to a 3.0,” he said with a smirk. “I’m going to tell you guys…a 2.7-2.8 cumulative for a football team is really, really good,” he added. “Our academic people do an outstanding job.

“I didn’t come close to a 2.7 when I was in college…and y’all know where I was so that’s not an excuse.”

All joking aside, Muschamp is noticing his players buying into his systems and philosophies in a big way. Juniors safety Matt Elam, defensive lineman Dominique Easley and Buck linebacker Ronald Powell are just a few of the players he singled out for showing increased maturity, putting the team over the individual and doing the right thing when it comes to preparing for the upcoming season.

“We got guys that understand what it takes to be successful,” he said. “And really for the most part last year was their first year playing consistently in this league throughout the season. It’s a long season in the SEC. This was really the first year for them playing, and I see a big step forward for all of those guys coming into next season.

He also told a story about how Easley’s mentality has shifted this offseason and related it to how the overall team has understood what it takes to be successful in both college football and life in general.

“He’s way ahead of schedule and probably doing too much, knowing him,” Muschamp said of Easley’s recovery from a torn ACL last season. “He’s a guy that you talk about [when you mention] maturity level.

“Last year Dominique was fighting to get home. ‘I want to go see my family and do this. I saw them two months ago.’ [This year] I said, ‘Are you going home to see your family?’ He said, ‘Nah Coach, I’m staying here and training.’

“That’s maturity. They’re starting to understand what it takes to be successful. Same thing with Ronald Powell, Matt Elam. They’re all in Gainesville training right now. They didn’t go home. That’s part of becoming a good football player is that maturity level.”

That increased maturity is exactly what Muschamp has been searching for the last 12 months from the Florida football team. Maybe now his Gators are finally realizing that while their real families are always priority No. 1, the band of brothers they step on the field with in Gainesville is a real family, too.

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Florida student dies after jumping from stadium

University of Florida student Michael Richard Edmonds, Jr. is believed by police to have jumped to his death Sunday evening after climbing a stairwell on the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and leaping off.

A member of Florida’s cycling club while studying journalism at UF, Edmonds was able to gain access to the stadium due to the school’s policy of leaving it open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Four separate gates are open during weekdays but only Gate 2 is made available for entry on weekends.

“At this point, we don’t have anything to suggest foul play,” University Police Department Major Brad Barber told The Gainesville Sun. “If in fact it is determined that this is a suicide, the tragedy speaks for itself.”

According to the paper, Edmonds was arrested for driving under the influence on Saturday but was released after posting bond. He was also recently in the news in late February for getting hit by an automobile while riding his bike on Williston Road. Edmonds had “serious injuries” at the time but was in “fair condition” while in the hospital.

OGGOA sends our deepest condolences to the Edmonds family.

Looking out for friends and loved ones is an important part of preventing unnecessary suicide. Should you know anyone in need of assistance or feel that you yourself need someone to speak with, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any time of the day at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit

Suicide is believed to be the second leading cause of death among college aged students. The University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center (352-392-1575) and Alachua County Crisis Center (352-264-6789) are both available to help you should you live in and around Gainesville, FL.

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