Wednesday May 15, 2013The Florida-Georgia rivalry, May speaking tour version
Updated: 7:27pm, May 15
Welcome to Carter's Corner!
Updated: 7:27pm, May 15
The Gators and Bulldogs butt heads again Nov. 2 in Jacksonville.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – College football news is slow right now -- well, real news at least -- so look for more stories like the one that came out of Jacksonville on Wednesday night over the next three months from coast-to-coast.
If you missed an earlier blog I posted, Florida coach Will Muschamp spoke to the Jacksonville Gator Club. As you might expect, he was asked about the Florida-Georgia rivalry.
More specifically, what is he doing to make sure the rivalry turns back in favor of the Gators following back-to-back losses to the Bulldogs?
As coaches do at these types of events full of boosters, alumni and hardcore fans, Muschamp served up a crowd pleaser.
“Well, it’s not going to be a long winning streak, I can assure you of that,’’ Muschamp quipped. “We’re very comfortable [in that] … Very disappointed for our football team and the Gator Nation that we didn’t get the job done. Looking forward to the game this year.”
Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham happened to be in Atlanta on Thursday to speak at a similar event for Bulldogs fans called UGA Days.
Naturally, reporters asked Grantham about Muschamp’s comments.
Grantham, you might remember, drew the ire of Florida fans in 2010 when he gave the “choke” sign and yelled in the direction of Gators kicker Chas Henry as Henry lined up for a 37-yard field goal in overtime. Henry made the kick and Florida won, 34-31, its 18th win in 21 meetings between the two longtime SEC rivals.
Here is what Grantham had to say Thursday about Muschamp’s comments: “I mean, what do you expect him to say. Will’s a guy that I know personally and I think he’s done a good job at Florida. I think he’s very competitive, as we all are as coaches. He’s a guy that wants to win. I think he’s just trying to fire up the people in Jacksonville.
“The bottom line is, in this league, you win with individual performance and mental and physical toughness and you do it on the field. The fact is, the last two years we’ve won in Florida and we’ve won the SEC East. From that standpoint, that stuff has no effect on me.”
To read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s story you can click this link.
So, there you have the latest squabble in the Gators-Bulldogs rivalry. Somewhere former Gators coach Steve Spurrier is probably smiling.
The Florida-Georgia game has always been my favorite one on the schedule. Like Muschamp, looking forward to Nov. 2 at Everbank Field.
You know it’s almost summertime when those preseason college football magazines show up on the shelves at the local supermarket.
I got an email Wednesday previewing the Athlon Sports SEC magazine that features Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel on the cover.
Athlon ranks the Gators 13th in the preseason Top 25.
This year’s magazine features several items on the Gators and the rest of Athlon’s 25, including ranking the top 10 players in UF history in the Athlon era, which dates to 1967.
If you’re interested in more of Athlon’s thoughts on the Gators, you can click here.
If you’re like me and still like to grab a couple of the magazines for summer reading, stop by your local supermarket. They come in handy for the next few months.
Gators coach Will Muschamp was in Jacksonville on Tuesday night to speak to the Jacksonville Gator Club.
As host city of the annual Florida-Georgia rivalry, any time Muschamp steps foot within city limits there are always questions about the Bulldogs.
The former Georgia safety was asked about the Gators’ two-game losing streak to Georgia, and quipped, “It’s not going to be a long winning streak, I can assure you.”
For more on Muschamp’s appearance in Jacksonville, click this link to read a story by Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union.
Meanwhile, for more links related to the Gators, here is a list of items for your perusal:
--Incoming point guard Kasey Hill is a player Florida fans are excited to see next season. Click here to read more on Hill from Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--ESPN.com’s Jason King has the Gators ranked No. 7 in his Top 25 to open the 2013-14 college basketball season.
--Former Gators star Joakim Noah joined some pretty elite company Tuesday when he was named NBA All-Defensive first-team, the Bulls’ first members on the team since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen 15 years ago.
--Former Gators Jelani Jenkins (four years, $2.575 million) and Caleb Sturgis (four years, $2.24 million) signed their rookie contracts with the Dolphins on Tuesday writes Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald.
--Speaking of another former Gator with the Dolphins, center Mike Pouncey wants to see Miami QB Ryan Tannehill become more of a vocal leader.
--Gators goalkeeper Mikey Meagher is a major reason Florida is back in the Elite Eight and a candidate for the Tewaaraton Award, given to lacrosse’s top player. A look at the race for the women’s Tewaaraton from LaxMagazine.com.
--The Tampa Bay Times’ Antonya English profiles a popular subject these days, Gators tennis senior Lauren Embree, who hopes to lead Florida to a third consecutive national title.
--Baseball America offers up its latest NCAA Tournament projections with the Gators on the bubble but in heading into their three-game series at Georgia.
--Another former Gator basketball player was named to the NBA All-Rookie first-team on Tuesday writes the Washington Post. Hint: his initials are BB.
Updated: 11:26am, May 14
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The last time UF historian Norm Carlson recalls seeing James Roland McCachren – anyone who knew him called him “Coach Mac” – was at a gathering to celebrate McCachren’s 100th birthday.
McCachren hit the century mark in September 2011, only 15 years after he finally retired for good from UF’s College of Heath and Human Performance as a physical education instructor.
“He immediately started cracking old-time stories,’’ Carlson said Tuesday. “He was as chipper as always.”
McCachren, a familiar face around UF for nearly 70 years, passed away Friday at 101.
McCachren arrived at UF in 1946 when he took a position on the faculty of what was then called the College of Physical Education, Health and Athletics.
During his career at UF McCachren served as head coach of the freshman basketball team and later was an assistant under four UF head coaches from 1950-72. Until his death McCachren lived for more than 60 years in a house across University Avenue from The Swamp and was a regular presence at the racquetball courts named in his honor that used to be in the field north of the stadium.
“He and his brothers are legendary in Chapel Hill," said Carlson, referring to McCachren’s time as a three-sport athlete at the University of North Carolina in the early 1930s. McCachren was captain of the Tar Heels basketball team and played a football game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium long before he worked at UF – a 9-0 Florida win over North Carolina in October 1933.
McCachren was inducted into the UF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
“At first I was stunned,’’ he said at the time. “But now I am extremely happy and thankful.”
For more on McCachren and details of his funeral service Friday, you can click this link which also includes a guest book for family and friends to sign.
Carlson first got to know McCachren in the early 1950s when he tried out for the UF freshman basketball team. McCachren didn’t think too much of Carlson’s skills and told him so in front of the team.
After Carlson graduated in 1956, he returned to UF as sports-information director in 1963 and developed a 50-year friendship with McCachren as the two would often hang together on road trips for men’s basketball games.
Carlson said if you met McCachren, you liked him.
“He always stayed involved and was just a wonderful guy,’’ Carlson said. “You loved being around him because of his sense of humor.”
Updated: 7:30am, May 14
Former Gators LB Jon Bostic (No. 1) played MLB for the Bears in the team's rookie mini-camp last week.
Good Tuesday morning folks. To help you catch up on some items of interest to Gator fans, here are some links for your perusal.
The big news Monday was that former UF quarterback Chris Leak is coming back to Gainesville to join Will Muschamp's staff as a quality control control assistant.
--A look at USF, the UF softball team's top threat in this weekend's Gainesville Regional, by Joey Johnston of The Tampa Tribune.
--And here is a look at Hampton, the UF softball team's first opponent in the Gainesville Regional, by Dave Fairbank of the Daily (Va.) Press.
--Former Gators linebacker Jon Bostic spent rookie camp at middle linebacker for the Bears writes Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com.
--Former Gators assistant basketball coach Jim McCachren has died at age 101 and Gainesville sports commentator Hubert Mizell pays his respects.
--Former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, now an ESPN commentator and part owner of the Philadelphia Soul, has offered Tim Tebow a job.
--Gators football coach Will Muschamp rides a popularity surge around the state during his annual spring speaking tour writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.
--Gators sophomore G/F DeVon Walker has decided to stay at UF and continue his career rather than transferring writes Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun.
--AlligatorArmy.com blogger Andy Hutchins with some thoughts on Walker's change of heart, pointing out that Billy D once did that too.
--Meanwhile, Former Gators guard Braxton Ogbueze to transfer to UNC-Charlotte according to this report from NBCSports.com.
--UF lacrosse team set to face Syracuse in Elite Eight writes Jim Harvin of The Gainesville Sun.
Updated: 5:11pm, May 13
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that former Florida quarterback Chris Leak is returning to UF.
Leak is joining the program as a quality control assistant who will work with the defensive staff in breaking down film and other office tasks. Muschamp said Leak is interested in pursuing a coaching career.
The MVP of the 2007 BCS National Championship Game in Florida’s 41-14 win over Ohio State, Leak finished his career as the Gators’ all-time leader in passing yards (11,213), completions (895) and attempts (1,458) from 2003-06.
Since leaving UF Leak has played in the Canadian Football League, Arena Football League and served as co-host of College Sports Nation on SiriusXM satellite radio.
Muschamp also announced that freshman safety Marcell Harris from Orlando-Dr. Phillips High and junior-college transfer offensive lineman Trenton Brown of Milledgeville (Ga.) Prep Academy have enrolled in school and started classes Monday.
Updated: 9:39am, May 11
Starter Jonathon Crawford didn't have his best start Friday but remains crucial to UF's postseason bid.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It was Senior Night on Friday at McKethan Stadium.
The weather was perfect, the hot dogs fresh and the mood upbeat for the start of Florida's final regular-season home series of the season.
Before the game, Gators seniors Cody Dent and Vickash Ramjit were presented framed jerseys during an on-field ceremony with their families. Ramjit may have set a school record for largest Senior Day portrait as nearly two dozen family members joined the veteran first baseman during the ceremony.
They were all smiles, adding to the festive atmosphere.
The Gators also had right-hander Jonathon Crawford on the mound, which always offers the potential of seeing something special.
As Crawford warmed up Friday, I couldn't help but think back to last spring when he tossed a no-hitter in the NCAA Tournament to beat Bethune-Cookman. I wondered if Crawford's right arm might have some similar magic in it as he prepared to make his final home start of the season and potentially the last one of his UF career.
Crawford was on early, striking out two of the first four batters he faced.
In what has been a roller-coaster season for the junior from Okeechobee, Crawford remains the biggest game-changer on the young Gators' roster. If Crawford is locating his pitches and firing strikes, Florida's postseason chances improve dramatically.
If he's not, well, there's a big chance you'll see what transpired in Friday's 7-4 loss to Auburn.
Crawford and Auburn lefty Connor Kendrick were locked in a pitcher's duel in a scoreless game in the fourth. Auburn's Garrett Cooper led off the inning with a single, but Crawford then got cleanup hitter Patrick Savage to ground into a double play.
He looked ready to finish the Tigers off in the inning as Dan Glevenyak stepped to the plate.
"He started out strong,'' Florida catcher Taylor Gushue said. "He was aggressive and then just kind of got unaggressive and started feeling for it instead of raring back and firing it."
Glevenyak reached on an infield single, which didn't set off any alarms. All Crawford needed to do was retire Jordan Ebert and he would be back in the dugout. He then walked Ebert on four pitches, which raised some eyebrows.
Still, Crawford got ahead of Auburn center fielder Ryan Tella and appeared primed to make a big pitch to escape any damage.
Tella didn't cooperate, drilling Crawford's 2-2 pitch high over the net beyond the right-field wall and onto Stadium Road.
One pitch, three runs.
Dameck Tomscha followed with a single before Crawford finally got Blake Austin to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
The damage was done, though, and when Crawford walked Hunter Kelley to lead off the fifth, Gators skipper Kevin O'Sullivan had seen enough.
Crawford's final line: 4 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (all earned), three walks, three strikeouts and 76 pitches. Crawford dropped to 3-6 with a 4.52 ERA.
"The bottom line is you've got to command pitches and throw the ball as close as you can to the mitt and good things will happen,'' O'Sullivan said. "The walk before the three-run homer probably hurt him more than anything."
Free passes have been a sore spot all season for Crawford, who has walked 33 in 73 2/3 innings (4 per 9 innings). A year ago when Crawford went 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA, he walked just 24 in 77 2/3 innings (2.78 per 9 innings).
The Gators (27-24, 12-13) dropped a game below .500 in the SEC with Friday's loss, their fifth consecutive defeat in conference play. With five regular-season games remaining -- two more at home against Auburn this weekend and three at Georgia next week -- Florida needs all the wins it can get to enhance its postseason possibilities.
Crawford will have another chance against the Bulldogs before the Gators head to Hoover, Ala., for the SEC Tournament.
At the start of the season, there's probably not many who would have bet Florida would be three games over .500 this late in the season with Crawford three games below.
But that's where they are down the home stretch.
And everyone knows that if the Gators are to going to keep playing deep into the spring, Crawford likely will have a starring role.
"I mean, he beat Cuba, so he can beat anybody,'' said Gushue, referring to Crawford's dominant summer (3-0, 2.10 ERA) for the USA College National Team.
Cuba isn't anywhere on the Gators' schedule, but the Gators will take a win from Crawford at Georgia next weekend and hope there's more to come.
Updated: 12:31pm, May 10
Tim Tebow's Broncos and Jets jerseys a hot seller during his time in the NFL (The Denver Post).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – There is so much inanity on the Internet when it comes to former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow that it can be difficult to decide which links are worth clicking, and which ones are best left untouched.
With that in mind, I did check out a link from NFL.com that promoted a Q&A with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and mentioned Tebow.
Goodell was in Southern California on Thursday to attend an event at the NFL Media offices in Culver City.
Goodell discussed the NFL’s continued focus on diversity in hiring, the crown-of-the-helmet rule, the situation with the Miami Dolphins’ stadium, and homosexuality in the league.
For the complete Q&A with Goodell, click this link.
OK, now let’s get to the topic most Gators fans are interested in.
With all the attention Tebow gets, is it good to have him in the NFL?
“Well, he's a great young man. And I try to stay out of the decisions about who should be playing in the NFL and on what team,’’ Goodell said. “But as a young man, he's just a super young guy, and I sure hope he's part of the NFL going forward.
“He's just a terrific young man and represents all of the values that I think all of our players do. I'm very proud of our players. I think, as a group, they're extraordinary young men, and I love to see the things they're doing in the community. They're obviously great athletes on the field, but these are great young men, and Tim's a good example of that.”
So, there is what Goodell had to say. Whether it impacts a team’s willingness to sign Tebow remains to be seen.
Updated: 12:11pm, May 9
Gators director of nutrition Sarah Snyder on the benefits of drinking chocolate milk.
Hey folks, been a busy morning so far.
I attended a presentation earlier by Sarah Snyder, director of sports nutrition for the Gators, for an upcoming story.
Next was a quick trip across Gale Lemerand Drive to interview Gators shortstop Cody Dent.
Finally, doing some research on Gators lacrosse sophomore Shannon Gilroy, who will play a key role for Florida as it tries to win the program’s first national title.
Look for the story on Dent on GatorZone.com sometime later today. For now, here is a six-pack of links for your perusal over lunch:
--Could Tim Tebow one day play in the majors? Seems a little far-fetched, but The Sporting News’ Ken Bradley caught up with some of Tebow’s former baseball coaches to discuss his talent in that game.
--All I can say about this Miami Heat fan and her goodbye gesture to Bulls forward Joakim Noah is that I really hope she is not a UF grad or Gators fan. That would just be weird.
--ESPN.com blogger Michael DiRocco explores the difficulty of freshman wide receivers making an impact in their first season on campus.
--Gators coach Will Muschamp is a little confused about that whole hash tag/number sign deal on Twitter via USA Today.
--Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi asks do Gators fans fully appreciate Will Muschamp in this column off Muschamp’s visit to Orlando on Wednesday night.
--For more on Muschamp’s trip to Orlando and his SEC opinions, you can read this story by Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun.
Updated: 2:38pm, May 8
Gators junior Alexandra Cercone is a perfect 9-0 in NCAA Tournament dual-match singles play.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The psychology major in Alexandra Cercone gave it a try, but as she attempted to pinpoint a reason for her postseason success the past two seasons, Cercone had no real clear answer.
"I don’t really consciously think that I’m doing anything differently,'' she said. "Maybe it’s all the preparation we go through. Maybe it’s the fact that I know there is a championship on the line and I’m just being that much more focused."
Cercone offered a final shrug, and then, "I’m not really sure what it is but hopefully I can keep it up.”
The two-time defending NCAA champion Gators women's tennis team hopes she does, too.
Florida (22-2) opens its quest to three-peat on Saturday when it hosts Marist at 1 p.m. The winner faces the Georgia Tech-Yale winner on Sunday for a berth in the Sweet 16.
A junior from Seminole, Fla., Cercone is perfect the past two years in NCAA Tournament dual-match singles, going 9-0 with four match-clinching wins. Overall, Cercone is 14-1 (includes 5-1 doubles record) in NCAA dual-match play, the second-best winning percentage (.933) in school history -- 10 or more decisions -- behind Stephanie Nickitas.
Nickitas finished her career with a 14-1 singles record and 2-0 doubles mark for a combined .941 NCAA win percentage.
Cercone is 16-1 in dual-match singles this season, 15 of those victories coming at No. 3 singles, her normal spot in the lineup behind No. 1 Lauren Embree and No. 2 Sofie Oyen. Cercone played primarily No. 5 as a freshman and moved up to No. 4 as a sophomore.
While she played an important role for the Gators the past two seasons, Gators coach Roland Thornqvist has more confidence than ever in Cercone based on how she played as a junior.
"This year she has been really on the entire spring,'' Thornqvist said. "Freshman year and sophomore year, she was a little bit more up and down. This year she has been just rock solid. I mean she has had some monster wins for us."
Perhaps Cercone's biggest win came Feb. 24 when she beat Stanford's Krista Hardebeck in three sets to help the Gators overcome an early deficit to knock off the Cardinal at home. Hardebeck was ranked 10th nationally at the time and had beaten Cercone earlier in the season.
Thornqvist understands the quality of competition will improve the deeper the Gators go in the postseason, but if Cercone can keep doing what she has done, the wins could continue to pile up for her.
"She is steady, she works hard, she has a great attitude and she is an incredible fighter,'' Thornqvist said. "We’re going to need all that in the coming weeks.”
Updated: 8:45am, May 8
This electronic billboard overlooking the Edens Expressway in Chicago entertains Bulls fans.
The NBA Playoffs are in full bloom and one of the more entertaining series of the second round is defending champion Miami facing an undermanned Bulls team featuring former Gators star Joakim Noah.
No one is giving the Bulls much of a chance but they pulled off a surprise with a Game 1 victory, inspired by the play of Noah.
Meanwhile, as you can see above, Commander Signs in Chicago is having a little fun with the matchup. The sign company's building overlooks the Edens Expressway and often features sports-related themes to entertain Chicago drivers as they commute to work.
Meanwhile, here are some other Gator-related links from around the Internet this morning, topped by some reaction to former Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel's election to College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday:
--Danny Wuerffel reflects on some lessons he learned from former coach Steve Spurriers writes David Jones of USA Today.
--CBSSports.com college football columnist Tony Barnhart with his thoughts on Wuerffel's HOF induction.
--ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco takes a look at how UF quarterbacks have fared in their second season in his latest blog.
--Gators assistant Joker Phillips was in Palm Beach on Tuesday night along with a real gator during a speaking engagement writes Jeff Greer of the Palm Beach Post.
--Meanwhile, Gators head coach Will Muschamp was in Polk County on the latest stop in his speaking tour writes Ray Beasock of The Lakeland Ledger.
--The Gators check in at No. 9 in his Post-Spring Top 25 writes Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated.
--Sometimes, all it takes is one look is the lead to this story on Gators tennis standout Lauren Embree in The Orlando Sentinel by Edgar Thompson.
--Former Gators standout Joakim Noah helped the Bulls surprise Miami in Game 1 and then passionately defended teammate Derrick Rose writes ESPNChicago.com.
--The Gators baseball team won its second in a row Tuesday night, defeating FAU 7-1 writes Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun.
--ICYMI, Gators softball coach Tim Walton was named SEC Coach of the Year and Hannah Rogers was a first-team All-SEC pitcher.
Updated: 12:22pm, May 7
Former Gators QB Danny Wuerffel, left, joins Emmitt Smith and eight other Gators in College Football HOF.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Former Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel was in New York on Tuesday for a special occasion: he is the newest Gator to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Wuerffel, the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner, joins former UF players Dale Van Sickel, Steve Spurrier, Jack Youngblood, Emmitt Smith, Wilber Marshall and Carlos Alvarez in the Hall of Fame. Former Florida coaches Charles Bachman, Ray Graves and Doug Dickey are also enshrined.
Wuerffel attended Tuesday’s announcement ceremony along with fellow inductee Tedy Bruschi.
“What an incredible honor,’’ Wuerffel said. “To be included in this is a tremendous honor for me. It’s also fun. We all love celebrations. There’s a part of this that is just fun. I called my wife and she is just ecstatic on the phone.
“When I think about it, I get connected to the emotions of playing college football, of playing for Coach Spurrier. For this to happen, there are so many countless other people that played a part. I’m really moved and thankful what college football has meant in my life.”
Wuerffel led the Gators to their first national championship in 1996 and is one of three Heisman winners in Florida history along with Spurrier and former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow.
“I couldn’t be happier to hear that Danny has been selected as an inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame. To say it is a deserving honor would be an understatement,’’ Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. “He is one of the best ever to put on a Gator uniform and will be always remembered as such.
“He will be remembered just as much, if not more, for the type of individual he is – he is truly a great person. We are proud of him and look forward to celebrating this honor with him and the entire Gator Nation.”
Gators coach Will Muschamp played against Spurrier as a safety at Georgia. In Muschamp’s first spring game at UF in 2011, UF unveiled bronze statues of Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“Danny is certainly one of the all-time Gator Greats and I’m very excited to hear that he has been announced as a inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame,’’ Muschamp said. “As a defensive coach I’ve always had a high regard of him as a player, but after I’ve had a chance to spend some time with him, I have even a higher regard for him as a person. He is one of the most humble, honest and genuinely giving people I have ever met.”
Former Gator Joakim Noah in Saturday's win over Brooklyn (USA Today Sports via SportsonEarth.com).
Hey folks, spent part of the morning over at Mark Bostic Golf Course talking to first-year Gators women’s golf coach Emily Bastel.
Coming off a disappointing finish in the SEC Tournament, the Gators hope to improve enough to make the top eight at this week’s NCAA Central Regional at the University of Oklahoma. If they do, Florida will advance to the NCAA Championships later this spring in Athens, Ga.
I will file a column later this afternoon for GatorZone.com on Bastel’s first year as a head coach.
Meanwhile, here is a six pack of links on Gator-related items for your perusal this afternoon, including a couple of links about Tebow that are making the rounds on Twitter:
--Former Gators QB Tim Tebow still does not have a team, but Forbes magazine ranks him America’s Most Influential Athlete of 2013 and fans in Jacksonville plea for President Obama’s help to pressure Tebow’s hometown Jacksonville Jaguars to sign Tebow.
--ESPN.com writer Michael DiRocco offers up his spring wrap on Gators football team.
--After predicting and then leading the Bulls to a Game 7 win over Brooklyn, former Gators standout Joakim Noah is getting a lot of respect writes Shaun Powell of SportsonEarth.com.
--He made an emotional appearance in a Game 6 win over Denver but former Gator David Lee says there’s zero chance he could play a significant role in Golden State-San Antonio series writes NBCSports.com.
--Gators coach Billy Donovan announced todaythat G/F DeVon Walker has been granted his release to transfer writes Nick Birdsong of Al.com.
--The UF lacrosse team lost to Northwestern on Sunday in the ALC Tournament final. Here is a look from LaxMagazine.com at this year’s bracket and some links from around the country.
Updated: 12:42pm, May 6
Video preview of the new SEC Network the league posted on YouTube on Monday.
Here is the trailer to promote the SEC Network, which is set to launch in August 2014.
You won't have to wait long to see a shot from The Swamp in the video.
The SEC and ESPN held a news conference Thursday in Atlanta to officially announce the launch of the network, which will be a 24/7 cable channel devoted to sports coverage of the league.
Updated: 2:06pm, May 3
Former Gators standout David Lee made a memorable return for Golden State on Thursday.
Gators football coach Will Muschamp is busy on his spring speaking tour, making a stop Thursday night in Tampa. The SEC Network was officially unveiled Thursday. Meanwhile, several former Gators are busy playing in the NBA Playoffs, including David Lee.
Lee was expected to miss the rest of the season but made a surprise return Thursday night as Golden State ousted Denver.
To help you catch up, here are 15 links covering items of interest to Gator fans:
--For more on Lee's return, click here to read a notebook from The Oakland Tribune.
--Former #Gators star Joakim Noah, playing with a foot injury, helps the Bulls defeat Brooklyn and predicts a Game 7 win on Saturday via ESPNChicago.com.
--Wizards rookie Bradley Beal finishes third in NBA Rookie of Year voting a year after starring for Gators writes The Washington Post.
--Since we're on a roll here, let's catch up on another former Gators hoops players, this a Q&A with Adrian Moss from the website BricksandPalmTrees.com.
--Florida football coach Will Muschamp hopes Tim Tebow eventually finds a home in the NFL writes The Orlando Sentinel.
--Muschamp spent Thursday night in Tampa speaking to boosters and fans. Click here to read a report from Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
--Gators look to ramp-up their pass rush in Year 3 under Muschamp writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com's GatorNation.
--Florida's lacrosse team faces Ohio State today in the American Lacrosse Conference tournament semifinals writes Jim Harvin of The Gainesville Sun.
--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asks what impact will the SEC Network have on recruiting?
--Former Gators assistant Larry Shyatt is making the rounds -- and progress - as coach at Wyoming writes the Sheridan (Wyo.) Press.
--Gators softball player Briana Little chipping in big for UF writes Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union.
--The Kansas City Star breaks down Kansas' nonconference hoops schedule next season, highlighted by a Dec. 10 trip to the O'Dome to face the Gators.
--Former Gators shortstop Nolan Fontana has a big fan in the blog ClimbingTalsHill.com, which writes the Legend of Nolan Fontana.
--Tim Tebow gets The Onion treatment while back at UF (satire). And yes, I'm a Tebow fan who still believes he can find a home in the NFL one day.
Florida freshman Jay Carmichael is expected to be available for this week's three-game series at LSU.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators baseball team is safely back in the postseason conversation.
A few weeks ago, Florida was 11-16 and on the outside looking in. And then a 14-4 surge changed the outlook tremendously.
In its latest College Stock Report, Baseball America projects Florida as one of eight SEC teams safely in the NCAA Tournament as of now. Alabama is on the bubble.
With 11 regular-season games left, the Gators (25-20, 12-9 in SEC) open a three-game series at LSU on Thursday night (ESPNU, 7:30). The Tigers, ranked third in the latest Baseball America poll, improved to 40-6 Tuesday with a 7-3 win over McNeese State.
No trip to Baton Rouge’s Alex Box Stadium is ever easy – with or without a set starting rotation.
While the SEC-West leading Tigers’ staff ERA (2.43) is ranked fifth in the country, Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan left town Wednesday still trying to figure out his rotation for the series.
“There’s just a lot of uncertainty with who we start,” O’Sullivan said. “I do know this -- a lot of these young guys will get experience down there on Thursday and Friday. We’re not going to ask anyone to go nine innings.”
The rotation’s uncertainty has been a season-long dilemma for the Gators, who lost projected No. 2 starter Karsten Whitson to injury prior to the season, and then right-hander Keenan Kish after only two starts.
Overall, O’Sullivan has handed the ball to 10 starting pitchers, three more than the Gators used all of last season.
The good news for the Gators is that it appears freshman right-hander Jay Carmichael (3-1, 2.60 ERA) could return to the mound at LSU. Carmichael pitched in 13 games – including four starts – before arm fatigue forced him to take some time off.
O’Sullivan said Carmichael pitched an inning in Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
“I think his arm feels fine,” O’Sullivan said. “I think he’s ready to go.”
In 34 2/3 innings, Carmichael has allowed 22 hits, walked 15 and struck out 23. He has limited opponents to a staff-best .190 batting average.
Meanwhile, left-hander Danny Young, who has made six starts, is unlikely to get a start at LSU.
“I don’t feel good starting him,’’ O’Sullivan said. “He probably needs to get his feet wet again.”
Young was hit in the face by a line drive in his start Friday against Tennessee and needed more than 30 stitches to repair a cut around his mouth.
Crawford is expected to start one of the games in Baton Rouge and don’t be surprised if lefty Bobby Poyner takes another turn in the rotation. Poyner pitched well in Sunday’s 4-2 home loss to Tennessee in his first SEC start and fourth overall.
While the rotation remained unsettled as the Gators departed for LSU, expect to see plenty of Gators throwing pitches during the three-game series. The Tigers not only pitch well, but their .305 team batting average ranks second in the league only behind Vanderbilt’s .314 clip.
“If it’s a two-inning stint, a three-inning stint -- they’ve just got to go out there and throw strikes and let us play defense,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s the bottom line. We’re going to have a lot of guys contributing.”
Updated: 12:49pm, April 30
The Cowboys are taking heat from fans for not selecting Gators DT Sharrif Floyd.
A few links from around the Internet covering Gator-related sports news for your perusal this afternoon:
--Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow’s release from the Jets on Monday ignited rumors of his next destination, including perhaps New England writes the Boston Herald.
--Former NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde says Tebow has improved his mechanics since last season and hopes Tebow gets another shot writes Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com.
--Former Gators golfer Billy Horschel still basking in glow of first PGA Tour win writes Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun.
--Gators coach Will Muschamp tells Miami beat reporters the Dolphins got three good players and people in Jelani Jenkins, Caleb Sturgis and Mike Gillislee in the NFL Draft writes Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com.
--ESPN.com’s Chris Low tosses out some names with SEC ties to serve on the selection committee for the College Football Playoff starting in 2014.
--Gators freshman gymnast Bridget Sloan, winner of the Honda Sports Award, is featured in USA Today.
--Dallas Morning News writer Rick Gosselin says Cowboys should have accepted “gift from the heavens” and picked Sharrif Floyd.
--Meanwhile, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal writes the Cowboys considered picking Floyd but didn’t.
--Dodgers play waiting game with former Gators infielder Mark Ellis, who has a strained quad writes Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA.com.
Updated: 8:43am, April 29
The Jets officially released Gators icon Tim Tebow on Monday, opening the door for Tebow to move on.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The rumors persisted for months that the Jets would eventually release former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow if they were unable to trade him.
Those rumors finally came true early Monday morning when the New York Post confirmed Jets officials informed Tebow of his release at the Jets practice facility.
Tebow's release comes three days after the Jets drafted West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the second round. The Jets acquired Tebow from Denver 13 months ago for a fourth-round draft pick (the two teams also swapped later draft picks).
But Tebow's time in New York was mostly fodder for the tabloids as the Jets never seemed to have a plan for him. In his only season with the Jets, Tebow played sparingly on offense (around 70 snaps) and served as a protector on the punt team.
His statistics: Tebow completed 6-of-8 passes for 39 yards and ran the ball 32 times for 102 yards.
"We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow,'' Jets coach Rex Ryan said in a prepared statement. "Things did not work out the way we all had hoped. Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward."
The good news for Tebow is that he is now free to negotiate his next landing spot. He reiterated at his annual charity golf tournament earlier this month that he still wants to play quarterback.
Where do you think Tebow's next stop will be?
The NFL Draft concluded Saturday night in what turned into prosperous weekend for the Gators.
Eight Florida players were selected during the three-day draft held at Radio City Music Hall in New York, including four players in Saturday's final day.
Sharrif Floyd (Vikings) and Matt Elam (Ravens) were selected in Thursday's first round, followed by Jon Bostic (Bears) and Jordan Reed (Redskins) in rounds two and three on Friday. Finally, Jelani Jenkins (Dolphins), Caleb Sturgis (Dolphins), Mike Gillislee (Dolphins) and Josh Evans (Jaguars) were selected Saturday in rounds four through seven.
After having only two players selected in 2012 and four in 2011, NFL talent evaluators focused their attention once again heavily on a UF program that finished 11-2 in Coach Will Muschamp's second season.
"I think everybody was a little surprised that our numbers were not what they should be at Florida [the last two years],'' Muschamp said. "If we do our job as a staff, we'll continue to have these types of years. It shows about the development of our players.
"There are four things to coaching: it's evaluation, it's recruiting, it's development and it's coaching. We've done a good job of developing and coaching the players. I'm just really proud of all of them and appreciate what they did for our program.''
Here are some fresh links from around the Internet with more on the Gators selected in the draft:
--The Miami Dolphins obviously scouted the Gators heavily, taking three UF players Saturday writes The Miami Herald's Adam Beasley.
--Safety Josh Evans won't have to move far for his NFL destination after being taken by Jacksonville in the sixth round. A look at what Evans had to say to JacksonvilleJaguars.com.
--Redskins coach Mike Shanahan likes what Gators tight end Jordan Reed brings to the roster in this blog from the Washington Post.
--Gators linebacker Jon Bostic brings a lot to table for Bears writes Don Pompei of The Chicago Tribune.
--ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert asks could Bostic be replacement for Bears great Brian Urlacher?
--Gators safety Matt Elam will learn to play strong and free safety with Ravens as he reunites with former UF defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who coached Elam his first season at UF.
--USA Today's Jim Corbett revisits some of the struggles Elam went through to become a first-round NFL Draft pick.
--Sturgis is first player out of St. Augustine High to get drafted and first kicker taken by Dolphins in draft in 24 years writes the St. Augustine Record.
--Sharrif Floyd "wants to prove people wrong" after his slide in first round writes The Philadelphia Daily News.
--Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman writes Vikings general manager Rick Spielman was thrilled to get Sharrif Floyd at 23rd overall.
--More on Gillislee going to Dolphins from Andy Kent of MiamiDolphins.com.
--MiamiDolphins.com goes 1-on-1 with Jelani Jenkins in this podcast after Jenkins was selected Saturday.
Matt Elam works out for NFL scouts at UF's Pro Day last month.
NEW YORK -- Gators safety Matt Elam won't be here tonight at Radio City Music Hall with teammate Sharrif Floyd for the NFL Draft.
Floyd is one of 24 prospects on hand for the draft's first round and is expected to hear his name called very early. Many mock drafts have Floyd going with the No. 3 overall pick to Oakland.
While Elam isn't participating in the red-carpet ceremonies, that doesn't mean he won't be a first-round selection. In most draft projections, Elam is listed as a late first-round pick or early second-round selection.
The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have reportedly shown an interest in Elam in the wake of Ed Reed's departure. Elam blossomed in his final two seasons at Florida and was a first-team All-American as a junior.
He plays with the kind of toughness valued by Florida coach Will Muschamp, who said Thursday that Elam should not have to wait long to hear his name called.
"Matt is a first-round guy. He's got that ability,'' Muschamp said on the way to New York to attend the NFL Draft for the first time. "He is a violent player and plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He is a tremendous competitor.
"Again, another guy who God has blessed with tremendous ability but he has worked hard and put himself in this position to be successful. He will be successful. He's a leader that people gravitate to. He's got natural leadership ability."
According to a report from Forbes.com this week, Elam is a rarity among top prospects -- he has yet to hire an NFL agent. His brother Abe Elam, a current free agent who has played 104 career games in the NFL and spent last season with the Chiefs, has been Matt's adviser through the draft process.
Abe Elam attended Florida's Pro Day in March and spoke to several scouts and reporters about his younger brother's prospects.
"Not to discredit any agent, but Matt has done the things to put himself in a position to have a high draft grade without an agent," Abe Elam told Forbes. "There is no contract right now to be evaluated because he hasn’t been drafted yet. At some point we will have to address whether Matt should hire an agent or an attorney."