TWO BITS: Hernandez & Meyer allegations, Tebow

1 » A post on RollingStone.com detailing six revelations from an upcoming Rolling Stone magazine investigation into former Florida Gators and New England Patriots tight end Aaron Herndez alleges that then-Florida head coach Urban Meyer “may have helped cover up failed drug tests, along with two violent incidents – an assault and a drive-by shootout outside a local bar.” Though both of these incidents – the assault outside The Swamp Restaurant in April 2007 and shooting in Sept. 2007 – have been public knowledge for quite some time, the magazine appears to be taking the story a step further by noting that Meyer may have been heavily involved in ensuring Hernandez did not get in trouble for his actions (admitted in the case of the assault and alleged in the case of the shooting). Other tidbits from the story include Hernandez being a “heavy user of angel dust” who was on the verge of being cut by the Patriots.

UPDATED Aug. 28 at 10:45 a.m.: In the story, which can be read in full by clicking here, writer Paul Solotaroff simply recounts Hernandez’s time at Florida sourced by a “local reporter who was covering the team.” Regarding Meyer and any potential cover-up to Hernandez’s misdeeds, nothing new is reported but the contention is made that Meyer covered up multiple failed drug tests in order for Hernandez to retain his eligibility to play in games, an allegation that Meyer and Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley have both previously denied.

RELATED from June 25: Foley defends Florida’s handling of Hernandez
RELATED from July 6: Urban Meyer: Florida did not enable Hernandez

2 » Speaking of New England, team owner Robert Kraft said Tuesday that he is “rooting … big-time” for back-up quarterback Tim Tebow to make the team out of training camp. “He’s a very special young man. He’s been a real joy to have around here,” Kraft said, according to the Boston Globe. Though the decision will be up to head coach Bill Belichick and the player has been anything but impressive thus far during practice and preseason action, Tebow should have an opportunity in the team’s final preseason game when he is expected to play the entire second half.

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Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

The 2013 offseason started out relatively calm and normal for the Florida Gators football program with some players deciding to leave school early to play professionally and others choosing to try their luck at another university. Suddenly, starting on Jan. 10, a string of arrests, poor decisions, injuries and negative headlines began taking over the spring and summer for the Gators. Below is a timeline* of one of the most bizarre and controversial offseasons in Florida football history.

* While all of the news below was sour for Florida or its players in one way or another, obviously some of the occurrences (arrests, suspensions) are significantly more egregious than others (players transferring, coaches leaving). The standout, headline-making stories that either painted the program in a negative light or were exceptionally newsworthy during the summer are highlighted in red.

Luckily for Gators fans, with fall practice officially opening on Friday and the 2013 college season exactly one month away, the offseason is now over.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators football’s tumultuous offseason

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Muschamp’s fourth trip through ESPN’s car wash

Updated at 7:30 p.m.

Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, CT, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp went through ESPN’s “car wash” as he appeared on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one day. It is the fourth time Muschamp is being put through the wringer by ESPN after previously participating in April 2011, July 2011 and July 2012.

OnlyGators.com followed Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and updated this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his appearances.

Muschamp started the day by taping an interview for ESPN Radio’s GameDay Radio at 11 a.m. He then walked over to the set of First Take on ESPN2 for a conversation with host Cari Champion and contributors Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless at 11:20 a.m.

Asked about only losing one Southeastern Conference game but being an “also-ran” in the league, Muschamp said the Gators “gained a lot of confidence as a program” in 2012 and that he is “really excited about how things have come together as far as our roster is concerned.” He continued: “As long as we take care of our locker room and take care of our football team and prepare the right way, we’re going to have a great season. [...] We can’t control what other teams do or what you guys [the media] say. We can control how we play and how we prepare.”

Muschamp was then asked to elaborate about his comments from the 2013 SEC Media Days in which he joked about Ohio State and former Florida head coach Urban Meyer turning in the Gators for minor secondary NCAA recruiting violations. “Obviously they’ve had their share of brushes recently,” he said with a smile. “In both situations, we didn’t do anything wrong. we appreciate them checking on us to make sure.”

Smith then asked Muschamp if he said “Ohio” on purpose rather than saying the team’s true name, “Ohio State.” He replied: “I’ve always been a Brady Hoke fan.” [Editor's Note: Hoke is the head coach of Michigan, OSU's biggest rival.]

Continue Reading » Muschamp’s fourth trip through ESPN’s car wash

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2013 SEC Media Day Quotables: Coaches and players speak on Florida and other hot topics

The Florida Gators received their fair share of headlines at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days on Tuesday but plenty of other coaches and players made waves as well for their comments and opinions.

Check out what Florida’s contingent had to say in the multiple links below.

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Main Post – News & Notes: Muschamp’s shot at Meyer, injuries, players, coaches | Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players | Easley steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

COACHES

» South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier on paying players $3,600-$3,900 per season in addition to their scholarships: “I’m going to keep fighting for our guys. I don’t know what will come. If President [Barack] Obama would say, ‘Spurrier, you and those coaches need to quit fighting for your players,’ that they get enough, they get enough full scholarship, then I’ll shut up about it. But I just believe that these athletes, because of the enormous amount [of money they earn for the schools], just a little bit to help out with their parents watching games and so forth. Okay, that was our little talk about expenses. This is not ‘pay for play.’ Please don’t say, ‘Spurrier says pay for play.’ This is just expense money. I saw the other day this year, the NFL rookies, the minimum is $405,000, NFL rookie. And a third year kid, $630,000. That’s pay for play. Don’t disguise or say $300 for expenses for a game, that’s not pay for play. Just some expense money for our guys to live a little bit better, and their parents, guardians, whatever. Us coaches, if it was a financial burden for our universities, our coaches all offered to pay for it, all 14. It came up to $270,000, $280,000 a year for the coaches. We’d pay it all. We want our players to get a little bit more than they get.”

» Spurrier on if he would turn Florida in for a recruiting violation in like Urban Meyer did: “Like that? Probably not that [smiling]. If they were obviously doing something [on purpose], we were obviously doing something [on purpose], I would hope they’d turn us in. Usually go through the league office is the way. Yeah, we don’t turn a lot of people in anyway. You can’t ever condone breaking the rules on purpose, though. We don’t condone that with anybody.”

» Spurrier on staying on longer with the Gamecocks than he did with the Gators: “I didn’t think about that. I did think I could go eight, nine, ten years. I was at a booster club. … I said my plan and goal is to be the winningest coach here. It was only 65 wins. If we could average about eight a year, maybe win nine one year, I could get to 65. It worked out that we got 66. Last two years we’ve added up well. … I have an excellent coaching staff. I got guys that can recruit, coach, do everything. It’s not a stressful job for me as maybe some coaches have. Summertime we get away from it a bit, get refreshed, ready to go during the season. Burnout is not something I’m going to get, not unless we go real bad. It can go real bad if you think it can’t. I know it can go real bad if we don’t watch ourselves. Hopefully it won’t.”

Continue Reading » 2013 SEC Media Day Quotables: Coaches and players speak on Florida and other hot topics

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2013 SEC Media Days – Gators ready to rock

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players | Easley steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio represented the team on Tuesday by participating at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL. Below are highlights from Muschamp’s session along with some player comments.

MUSCHAMP FIRES A SHOT AT URBAN MEYER

Before he stepped up to the main podium, Muschamp spoke with reporters in a side session and was asked about Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer turning in Florida and running backs coach Brian White (Meyer’s former team and former assistant coach) for a minor secondary recruiting violation. Meyer and OSU also reported UF for what they perceived to be another recruiting violation last year.

“We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules,” Muschamp said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples. “They certainly know something about NCAA rules.”

Muschamp continued: “It’s really a dead issue. In both situations we were turned in by Ohio, the University of Florida didn’t do anything wrong.”

PUNISHMENT STILL UP IN THE AIR

Muschamp also told reporters that he has not decided whether sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will be suspended for any games due to his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery one month ago. He has already been disciplined by the Gators but additional punishment has yet to be determined.

Morrison accepted a deferred prosecution agreement from the State of Florida and will pay fines, perform community service and complete other tasks during a six-month probationary period in order to get the charge expunged from his record.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced Tuesday that only two players would be limited heading into fall training camp – redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman and freshman LB Alex Anzalone – both of whom are nursing shoulder injuries after going under the knife during the spring.

He expects both players to eventually return to practice in the fall but noted that each would likely miss 10-12 sessions before being cleared by team trainers. Otherwise, he believes the Gators are “pretty healthy” on the injury front.

Redshirt junior BUCK Ronald Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season with a pair of anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, will be cleared for the start of fall practice.

“Probably the guy I’m most excited to see is Ronald Powell,” Muschamp said. “Here is a guy who has been through a lot of adversity. He’s been cleared to go after it in fall camp. A guy I’m really excited to get back on the field to see is No. 7 running around in orange and blue, a guy that’s been through an awful lot. Two surgeries. Never complained. Never got down about anything. [He] is truly a great individual and excited that he’s a leader of our football team as well.”

POSITION-BY-POSITION ANALYSIS

As part of his 2,400-word filibuster opening statement, Muschamp went in-depth about each position on the Florida football team and often spoke at length about particular players. Below is a breakdown of what he had to say about those positions.

Continue Reading » 2013 SEC Media Days – Gators ready to rock

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FOUR BITS: Young, Speights, Cummings, Beemer

1 » Gainesville Television Network‘s Julie Quittner sat down with Florida Gators center Patric Young for an extensive interview that aired in two parts on Thursday and Friday. In the conversation, Young discusses why he stayed for his senior season (“It really wasn’t a tough decision for me. I felt like I had so much more to learn from Coach [Billy] Donovan.), how he is working to improve his free throw shooting, what the team’s expectations are for the 2013-14 season and his thoughts on the suspension of senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. He also does an impersonation of Donovan.

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Young, Speights, Cummings, Beemer

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Urban Meyer: Florida did not enable Hernandez

Updated on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Five days after refusing to speak about tight end Aaron Hernandez, former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer sent a series of text messages to The Columbus Dispatch (and other media outlets) in an effort to tell his side of the story.

According to Meyer, reports about Hernandez’s time at Florida have been exaggerated. He claims that Hernandez did not fail multiple drug tests – as was initially reported shortly after the New England Patriots selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft – and that his family and everyone involved with the Gators did whatever they could to help put him on the right path.

“I just received an e-mail from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by [the University] of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true. Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.

“He was an athlete at Florida 4-7 years ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct. Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.

”Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. Relating or blaming these serious charges to [the University] of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.”

Now the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, Meyer has taken plenty of heat over the last two weeks for Hernandez after he was charged with first degree murder following a shooting in North Attleboro, MA.

Continue Reading » Urban Meyer: Florida did not enable Hernandez

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Report: Urban Meyer turned in Florida’s Brian White for recruiting violation (Updated)

Updated at 2:45 p.m.

Despite bringing two national titles and dozens of victories to Gainesville, FL, over his six seasons with the Florida Gators, former head coach Urban Meyer has drawn the ire of fans over the last few years for how the team played in 2010 and the way he left the program and subsequently took over the Ohio State Buckeyes.

The remaining Florida fans Meyer still had on his side may finally find a reason to turn against him if a recent report that he turned in a Gators assistant coach for a minor secondary recruiting violation is indeed true.

According to FOXSports.com’s Clay Travis, who only cites “sources in New York” in his column, Meyer and Ohio State recently turned in Florida running backs coach Brian White for a “bump” violation (contacting a recruit, usually “accidentally” in person, during a non-contact period) while recruiting four-star 2014 wide receiver Curtis Samuel.

Chances are that Meyer likely reported White not for bumping into Samuel but rather because he believed White offered Samuel a scholarship while at his school, which is a secondary violation. Samuel told InsidetheGators.com that UF head coach Will Muschamp called to extend a scholarship offer following White’s visit on April 16.

Though the NCAA reportedly investigated the potential violation and found that White had done nothing wrong, Meyer going out of his way to report a former assistant – one he originally hired to coach tight ends for the Gators in 2009 – is an action that should undoubtedly put a sour taste in the mouths of Florida fans.

Continue Reading » Report: Urban Meyer turned in Florida’s Brian White for recruiting violation (Updated)

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