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Friday July 11, 2014 SEC Football Media Days has come long way since Skywriter's Tour ended

Updated: 2:13pm, July 11

SEC Media Days

More than 1,000 media members will descend on SEC Media Days starting Monday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The first one was held at the Holiday Inn Medical Center in Birmingham. The year was 1985.

There was no Radio Row, and ESPN sure didn't broadcast the event live. What about a catchy hashtag? Ha, people would have thought you talked Russian if you asked about a Twitter hashtag.

The SEC Football Media Days that will be the epicenter of the college football world starting Monday in Hoover, Ala. -- a suburb of Birmingham -- resembles the inaugural version 29 years ago in very few ways.

Let's see. There were football coaches and players. There were reporters and notepads. Yep, that's about it.

"I remember it was run like a first one,'' longtime Gators SID/historian Norm Carlson said Thursday. "You had to do everything on your own to get guys with different media. It's gotten better and better."

Carlson returned to his alma mater in 1962 to work in UF's sports-information office after starting his career as a sports writer in Atlanta and then a stint in Auburn's athletic department.

He's been here ever since in some capacity and has seen the transformation up close and personal.

Before there was an SEC Football Media Days, there was the SEC Skywriter's Tour. Another longtime Florida storyteller, Buddy Martin of, recalled the Skywriter's Tour in this column on Thursday.

The conference loaded up some of the South's most notable sports writers and flew them around to each campus so they could talk to players and coaches before the season.

Sounds like a bunch of fun if you ask me. After reading Martin's column, sounds like they had a bunch of fun. Check out this Bear Bryant story I came across researching the Skywriter’s Tour.

The SEC fly-around ended in the mid-1980s and gave way to a centrally located event where everyone could catch up to kick off the season.

Still, the scene at that Holiday Inn in 1985 was nothing like what the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover will look like next week.

"I bet it wasn't 25 percent of what it is today,'' Carlson said. “Most of the media there was from Alabama. They could just drive over."

To help the Gators get some coverage back home, a few Sunshine State writers tagged along with the Florida contingent to the first event. They flew up on a twin-engine prop plane called the Blue Goose. The pilot was named Captain Jack.

Thankfully, they landed safely, everyone got their stories – those that could be told in a family newspaper – and the event took off from there.

At the '85 event, Galen Hall was entering his first full season as Florida's head coach. Punter Ray Criswell and running back Neal Anderson were Florida’s player representatives.

Carlson recalls coaching up Hall on dealing with media. While a well-respected coach, Hall was not especially media savvy at that stage of his career.

All went well. Once it was over, Captain Jack piloted the Blue Goose safely back to Gainesville.

On Monday Florida head coach Will Muschamp and players Jeff Driskel, Dante Fowler Jr. and Vernon Hargreaves III will fly to Hoover for the latest version of SEC Football Media Days.

Interest in the event is at an all-time high. The Birmingham News ran an online poll recently asking readers which Alabama players Nick Saban should bring along.

The league issued a record 1,239 media credentials to last year’s event. That’s more than double the total (500) from 2004.

Muschamp and Co. can expect another crowded hotel lobby on Monday afternoon when they arrive for their turn.

Times have changed. Captain Jack and the Blue Goose have long retired. Meanwhile, SEC Football Media Days continues to evolve, for better or worse.


Thanks to the SEC office, here is a look at UF representatives at SEC Media Days:

Year       Coach                    Players

1985       Galen Hall              Ray Criswell, Neal Anderson

1986       Hall                         Kerwin Bell, Ricky Nattiel

1987       Hall                         K. Bell, Louis Oliver

1988       Hall                         Emmitt Smith, Jeff Roth

1989       Hall                         E. Smith, Richard Fain

1990       Steve Spurrier       Chris Bromley, Huey Richardson

1991       Spurrier                 Brad Culpepper, Shane Matthews

1992       Spurrier                 S. Matthews, Carlton Miles

1993       Spurrier                 Kevin Carter, Willie Jackson

1994       Spurrier                 Jack Jackson, Ellis Johnson

1995       Spurrier                 Mark Campbell, Jason Odom

1996       Spurrier                 Lawrence Wright, Danny Wuerffel

1997       Spurrier                 Ed Chester, Terry Jackson

1998       Spurrier                 T. Jackson, Jevon Kearse

1999       Spurrier                 Derrick Chambers, Travis Taylor

2000       Spurrier                 Alex Brown, Mike Pearson

2001       Spurrier                 Todd Johnson, Zac Zedalis

2002       Ron Zook               Rex Grossman, Ian Scott

2003       Zook                       Keiwan Ratliff, Max Starks

2004       Zook                       Mike Degory, Travis Harris

2005       Urban Meyer          M. Degory, Jarvis Herring

2006       Meyer                     Chris Leak, Marcus Thomas

2007       Meyer                     Andre Caldwell, Tony Joiner

2008       Meyer                     Tim Tebow, Phil Trautwein

2009       Meyer                     T. Tebow, Brandon Spikes

2010       Meyer                     Ahmad Black, Mike Pouncey, Justin Trattou

2011       Will Muschamp      John Brantley, Deonte Thompson, William Green

2012       Muschamp             Jon Bostic, Mike Gillislee, Lerentee McCray

2013       Muschamp             Jeff Driskel, Dominique Easley, Jon Halapio

2014       Muschamp             J. Driskel, Dante Fowler Jr., Vernon Hargreaves III

David Sharpe

Freshman offensive lineman David Sharpe unpacks in his new dorm room. (Photo: Tim Casey)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Hope everyone is enjoying the July 4th weekend.

Not a lot happening in the Gators sports world right now, but we know that will change soon.

SEC Football Media Days is scheduled next week in Hoover, Ala. Florida coach Will Muschamp and players will make their appearance on Monday. The latest newcomers to the Florida football program attended orientation last week and moved into their dorms (photo above).

For now, here are some links of interest to Florida fans:

--The Gators open fall camp Aug. 3, but Gators equipment manager Jeff McGrew is already in camp mode writes David Jones of Florida Today.

--Gators QB Jeff Driskel is ready to prove he can lead Gators to success writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.

--Former Gators starter Karsten Whitson made his first professional start on Friday night for the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners.

--Seattle Times baseball columnist Larry Stone writes how the Mariners -- former Gators catcher Mike Zunino (.216, 12 HR, 33 RBI) has helped the cause -- are in a rare position at midseason: playoff contention.

--Former Gators sharpshooter Teddy Dupay is on comeback trail as a coach writes Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun.

--The Gators and Hurricanes announced a home-and-home men's basketball series last week; a little more info on Miami's team via The Miami Herald.

--Former Gators C Patric Young will start his pro career with the New Orleans Pelicans summer-league team with other well-known names writes Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune.

--Former Gators QB Jacoby Brissett is positioned at N.C. State's starter and ready to return to field via The Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun.

Monday June 30, 2014 Rest of Gators' 2014 signing class on campus and enrolled in classes

Updated: 11:27am, June 30

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators report to fall camp on Aug. 3 and the good news is that every member of the latest recruiting class is already on campus.

The final 14 signees from the 2014 recruiting class are enrolled in Summer B classes and participating in offseason workouts and conditioning drills.

Gators helmet

Defensive lineman Gerald Willis enrolled in Summer A and has been on campus for the last six weeks.

In addition, the Gators have added five preferred walk-ons in the latest batch of players to join the program.

The latest wave of players follows the early arrival in January of nine members of the 2014 signing class who enrolled in the spring semester.

Here is a look at the Gators' newest players and their jersey numbers and latest measurements:

Summer B enrollees

(54)--Khairi Clark, DT, 6-2, 308, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna

(52)--Travaris Dorsey, OL, 6-2, 333, Jacksonville Raines

(3)--Treon Harris, QB, 5-11, 178, Miami Booker T. Washington

(56)--Thomas Holley, DT, 6-3, 312, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln

(23)--J.C. Jackson, CB, 5-10, 196, Immokalee

(80)--C'yontai Lewis, TE, 6-4, 224, Alabaster (Ala.) Kingwood Christian

(77)--Andrew Mike, OL, 6-6, 276, Tucson (Ariz.) Sabino

(27)--Deiondre Porter, CB, 6-0, 165, Tampa Jefferson

(96)--Justus Reed, DE, 6-3, 213, Clearwater Central Catholic

(78)--David Sharpe, OL, 6-6, 336, Jacksonville Fletcher

(2)--Ryan Sousa, WR, 6-0, 189, Orlando Lake Nona

(82)--Moral Stephens, TE, 6-3, 247, Perry Taylor County

(12)--Quincy Wilson, DB, 6-1, 196, Fort Lauderdale University School

(14)--C.J. Worton, WR, 6-0, 183, Homestead South Dade


Summer B (preferred walk-ons)

(n/a)--Brooks Abbott, K, 6-1, 180, Jacksonville Bolles/Virginia Tech

(n/a)--Vincent Dimenna, OL, 6-1, 279, Madison County

(n/a)--Jorge Powell, K, 5-10, 150, Coral Gables Belen Jesuit Prep

(n/a)--R.J. Raymond, LB, 6-2, 215, Atlantic Beach Episcopal

(n/a)--Zachary Shinn, OL, 6-2, 283, Lakeland Kathleen


Summer A enrollee

(92)--Gerald Willis, DL, 6-3, 270, New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr


Spring enrollees

(93)--Taven Bryan, DL, 6-5, 260, Casper (Wyo.) Natrona County

(7)--Duke Dawson, CB, 5-10, 190, Cross City Dixie County

(30)--DeAndre Goolsby, TE, 6-4, 230, Derby (Kan.)

(7)--Will Grier, QB, 6-2, 190, Davidson (N.C.) Day

(53)--Kavaris Harkless, OL, 6-5, 275, Jacksonville Trinity Christian

(71)--Nolan Kelleher, OL, 6-6, 305, Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Wando

(20)--Brandon Powell, RB, 5-9, 175, Deerfield Beach

(72)--Drew Sarvary, OL, 6-6, 318, Tyler (Texas) JC

(5)--Jalen Tabor, CB, 6-1, 188, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy

VIDEO: Highlights from Gators coach Billy Donovan's USA U18 squad's win Wednesday.

Former Gators center Patric Young plans to be at home in Jacksonville on Thursday night to watch the NBA Draft. Young is expected to become the 12th UF player selected in the draft since 2007.

I'm scheduled to talk to Young later today for a story on what the past month has been like and his expectations for the draft. Check back with later for the story.

For now, here are some fresh links from around the Internet of interest to Florida fans:

--Gators coach Billy Donovan had a good Wednesday night, leading the USA U18 national team to a 113-79 victory over Canada for the FIBA Americas Tournament title. Click here for a story and video from The Colorado Springs Gazette.

--For more on what Donovan and players had to say afterward, check out this link from USA Basketball.

--Speaking of Young, he has been doing a draft diary for Click here to find out who he bumped into at the Boston airport earlier this week.

--Young's former teammate, point guard Scottie Wilbekin, worked out for the Orlando Magic this week writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.

--Former Gators center Mike Pouncey, entering his fourth season with Miami, is out indefinitely following hip surgery writes Josh Katzowitz of

--Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley offers up some thoughts on five players who need to come through for the Gators in the fall.

--You have seen some UF fan initiatives announced of late. Other schools across the country are also trying to connect more with fans in today's fast-paced world writes's Florida beat writer Jeff Barlis examines the Gators' two-deep depth chart on special teams.

Billy Donovan

UF head coach Billy Donovan's U18 U.S. Team faces Canada tonight.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Been away for a few days and then spent Monday at jury duty. Glad to be back at the keyboard this morning. To get back in the flow, here are some fresh links covering topics of interest to Florida fans:

--Gators coach Billy Donovan has the USA U18 National Team rolling in the FIBA Americas U18 Tournament in Colorado Springs. It's USA vs. Canada for the title tonight.

--For more on Donovan's mission and drive with the USA U18 team, here is a story from the Colorado Springs Gazette.

--Dominique Easley agrees to a four-year, $7.3 million contract with New England, making all those rehab sessions worth it for the former UF standout.

--Former UF swimmer Conor Dwyer made a splash over the weekend at the Arena Grand Prix in Santa Clara, California, defeating Michael Phelps in the 200-meter IM, winning $20,000 and a one-year lease for a BMW. Watch Dwyer's win by clicking this link.

--In more swimming news, did you see that former UF star Elizabeth Beisel outdueled Olympic standout Missy Franklin over the weekend at same event Dwyer defeated Phelps.

--Former Gators DB Jaylen Watkins earning respect in Philadelphia for his football IQ writes Andy Jasner of

--Gators tight end Colin Thompson is transferring and could be headed closer to his Pennsylvania home. Best of luck to Thompson, a personal favorite and fellow hockey fan.

Andre Debose

--A look at Florida's prospects in the NBA Draft from Jordan McPherson of the Independent Florida Alligator.

--Andre Debose (photo, left) is a player that could help the Gators this season if he is up to his old form at returning kickoffs. takes a look at the SEC's most dangerous kick returners.

--Tough night for former Gators pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and a rough homestand for the Marlins writes Andre Fernandez of The Miami Herald.

Thursday June 12, 2014 Florida, Georgia have no interest in taking a dip in their annual rivalry

Updated: 8:33pm, June 12

EverBank Field upgrades

An artist's rendering of the renovated north end zone at EverBank Field.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Fans attending the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville on Nov. 1 will be treated to several upgrades at EverBank Field.

The home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars is currently undergoing a $63 million renovation, including the installation of the world’s two largest video boards above each end zone that are expected to be functional for the game.

However, there’s no need to bring your swimming trunks.

As part of the renovation, the Jaguars removed 9,500 chair-back seats and are installing two wading pools, 20 cabanas and other game-day features to gets fans into the stadium.

If the schools used the pools and cabanas, they would lose 7,180 seats already sold. The schools have no plans to reduce seating for the SEC rivalry.

“Our number one priority is to have the same number of tickets available to our fans and we don't have an interest in any scenario that reduces the number of tickets,” Gators Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. “We do appreciate the commitment that both the city and the Jaguars are making to enhance the game-day experience for fans that don't limit seating capacity.”

Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity is on the same page.

“There’s no wiggle room for lowering the attendance or seating capacity,” McGarity told The Associated Press. “The most important thing for us is the number of seats.”

The seating capacity for the Florida-Georgia game is almost 85,000.

Friday June 6, 2014 Nine Gators named to Phil Steele's All-SEC Preseason Team

Updated: 8:52pm, June 6

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators enter the 2014 season seeking to rebound from a disappointing 2013 campaign. To do so, two players expected to lead the way are defensive end Dante Fowler and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

College football pundit Phil Steele, known for his in-depth analysis and thick preseason guides, considers Fowler and Hargreaves worthy of the challenge.

Steele named both players to his first-team All-SEC Defensive Team, released Friday.

Fowler and Hargreaves lead a contingent of nine UF players on Steele's All-SEC teams.

Kelvin Taylor

Quarterback Jeff Driskel and left tackle D.J. Humphries are on the third-team offense, and running back Kelvin Taylor (photo) and receiver Demarcus Robinson made the fourth team.

Meanwhile, linebacker Antonio Morrison is a fourth-team defensive selection.

Steele envisions strong comeback seasons for punter Kyle Christy and kick returner Andre Debose. He has both players on the All-SEC Special Teams second team.

A look at each team:

Phil Steele's 2014 Preseason All-SEC Team



1st TEAM

2nd TEAM

3rd TEAM

4th TEAM


Nick Marshall, Auburn

Bo Wallace, Ole Miss

Jeff Driskel, Florida

Dak Prescott, Mississippi St


Todd Gurley, Georgia

Mike Davis, South Carolina

Derrick Henry, Alabama

Alex Collins, Arkansas


TJ Yeldon, Alabama

Jonathan Williams, Arkansas

Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn

Kelvin Taylor, Florida


Amari Cooper, Alabama

Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia

D’haquille Williams, Auburn

(RB) Leonard Fournette, LSU


Sammie Coates, Auburn

Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

Chris Conley, Georgia

Shaq Roland, South Carolina


Jameon Lewis, Mississippi St

DeAndrew White, Alabama

Marquez North, Tennessee

Demarcus Robinson, Florida


OJ Howard, Alabama

Hunter Henry, Arkansas

Malcolm Johnson, Miss St

Evan Engram, Ole Miss


Reese Dismukes, Auburn

Ryan Kelly, Alabama

David Andrews, Georgia

Evan Boehm, Missouri


AJ Cann, South Carolina

Alex Kozan, Auburn

(OT) DJ Humphries, Florida

Chad Slade, Auburn


Arie Kouandjio, Alabama

Vadal Alexander, LSU

(OT) Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M

Jarvis Harrison, Texas A&M


La’el Collins, LSU

Brandon Shell, South Carolina

Austin Shepherd, Alabama

Brey Cook, Arkansas


Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss

Corey Robinson, S Carolina

Darrian Miller, Kentucky



1st TEAM

2nd TEAM

3rd TEAM

4th TEAM


Dante Fowler, Florida

Alvin Dupree, Kentucky

Ray Drew, Georgia

CJ Johnson, Ole Miss


Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss

Gabe Wright, Auburn

Chris Jones, Mississippi St

Shane Ray, Missouri


A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Carl Lawson, Auburn

JT Surratt, South Carolina

Darius Philon, Arkansas


Trey Flowers, Arkansas

Markus Golden, Missouri

Jermauria Rasco, LSU

Za’Darius Smith, Kentucky


AJ Johnson, Tennessee

Jordan Jenkins, Georgia

Kyle Woestmann, Vanderbilt

Skai Moore, South Carolina


Trey DePriest, Alabama

Serderius Bryant, Ole Miss

Amarlo Herrera, Georgia

Antonio Morrison, Florida


Ramik Wilson, Georgia

Sharrod Golightly, South Carolina

Kwon Alexander, LSU

Denzel Devall, Alabama


Leonard Floyd, Georgia

Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi St

Kentrell Brothers, Missouri

Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn


Vernon Hargreaves, Florida

Damian Swann, Georgia

Tre’Davious White, LSU

Cameron Sutton, Tennessee


Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M

Jonathon Mincy, Auburn

Jamerson Love, Miss St

(S) Braylon Webb, Missouri


Landon Collins, Alabama

Tony Conner, Ole Miss

Brian Randolph, Tennessee

Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn


Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss

Robenson Therezie, Auburn

Jalen Mills, LSU

Brison Williams, S Carolina



1st TEAM

2nd TEAM

3rd TEAM

4th TEAM


Marshall Morgan, Georgia

Colby Delahoussaye, LSU

Elliott Fry, South Carolina

Andrew Baggett, Missouri


Drew Kaser, Texas A&M

Kyle Christy, Florida

Collin Barber, Georgia

Sam Irwin-Hill, Arkansas


Christion Jones, Alabama

Andre Debose, Florida

Trey Williams, Texas A&M

Devrin Young, Tennessee


Christion Jones, Alabama

Marcus Murphy, Missouri

Demarco Robinson, Kentucky

De’Vante Harris, Texas A&M


Wednesday June 4, 2014 National Champions: What they're writing about the Gators

Updated: 6:38pm, June 4

Jennifer Rocha

Gators assistant coach Jennifer Rocha soaks in moment following Florida's win Tuesday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators softball team arrived home late this afternoon and just wrapped up a  welcome-home reception at Kate Seashole Pressly Stadium.

A nice crowd turned out and the event was live streamed on the Internet. Check back for a story on later.

For now, let’s take a look at what others are writing about Florida’s first national championship in softball:

--Finally, Florida Finishes First writes Graham Hays of

--‘Making their coach look good’ is the headline on this story by Roger Moore of

--Rogers That: Florida softball wins national title writes Jordan McPherson of the Independent Florida Alligator.

--‘Former Shocker coach Tim Walton wins national softball title with Florida’ is headline in The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle.

--Gators sweep Crimson Tide for first softball title writes Tommy Deas in The Gainesville Sun.

--Analysts, average fans and just about anyone with an eye on the Women’s College World Series thought Florida coach Tim Walton had lost his mind writes Scott Wright of The Oklahoman.

--For an Alabama perspective, here is a story from the Birmingham News.

Tuesday June 3, 2014 Wins and Losses: The Florida-Florida State Rivalry Reviewed

Updated: 3:43pm, June 3


The Florida-Florida State rivalry -- regardless of sport -- always stirs emotion.

I’ve never asked him why. I assume to settle a bet. That’s the logical reason that first popped into my head, so I’m sticking with it.

Gators fan Chad Gullett recently asked on Facebook what Florida’s overall record against Florida State is. Not just football. Not just basketball. He wanted to know the Gators’ head-to-head record against the Seminoles in every sport.

Not all sports qualify. The Gators have a women’s lacrosse team, FSU doesn’t. And while they compete in the same tournaments and meets, the schools don’t go head-to-head in golf, track and cross country.

However, the UF-FSU rivalry plays out in other sports annually, and thanks to Florida’s sports information staff, Chad got his answer.

You can have it too. Might come in handy the next time you are trying to settle a squabble between a Gator and Seminole: 





Men’s basketball


Women’s basketball






Men’s tennis


Women’s tennis








Men’s swimming


Women’s swimming


Combined record

492-287-4 (.631)

*FSU had a gymnastics team in the early 1970s

Kevin O'Sullivan

Gators head coach Kevin O'Sullivan has led UF to a school-record seven straight NCAA Tournaments.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Following three consecutive trips to the College World Series, 2013 was a bummer for the Gators.

They advanced to the NCAA Tournament but had barely unpacked their bags at the Bloomington (Ind.) Regional before it was time to come home.

Florida was knocked from the tournament with back-to-back losses to Austin Peay and Valparaiso, two quality programs but not exactly considered royalty in college baseball.

That’s why this year’s turnaround has been even more pronounced.

Most expected the Gators to be improved after their 29-30 finish a year ago, but who had them as a No. 2 national seed? Go ahead, raise your hand.

Didn’t think so.

You can easily make a strong case for 2014 being the best coaching job of Kevin O’Sullivan’s seven seasons at Florida.

O’Sullivan has always been at his best when managing pitching staffs, and this season he mastered that part of the game. O’Sullivan used 12 different starting pitchers, constantly searched for – and found – the right combinations in the bullpen, and in the end led Florida to a 40-21 record entering tonight’s NCAA Tournament opener against College of Charleston (7 p.m., McKethan Stadium).

Florida’s turnaround didn’t go unnoticed. O’Sullivan was named SEC Coach of the Year earlier this week.

“I feel really good about this team,’’ O’Sullivan said Thursday. “This has been an extremely gratifying season for me personally. To bounce back from last year and have so many guys contribute, so many guys lend a hand in accomplishing the goal of winning the SEC. I feel as good about this team as any others we’ve had here.”

While last season was disappointing, advancing to the tournament was important to this year’s success in O’Sullivan’s view.

The Gators kept their streak of NCAA Tournament berths alive and gained valuable experience.

“We’re trying to build a program here,” O’Sullivan said. “We want to be one of those elite teams, and we want to be in the postseason every year. This is our seventh straight year in the postseason, which is a new standard at Florida. I want this program to be recognized as one of the better programs in the country. In order to do that, you have to have consistency.”

Wednesday May 28, 2014 Gainesville Regional Preview: A closer look at the visitors

Updated: 6:04pm, May 28

Gators baseball

The Gators face College of Charleston in the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Southeastern Conference regular-champion Gators open NCAA Tournament play on Friday night at 7 against College of Charleston.

Florida is the No. 1 seed in the Gainesville Regional and No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and multiple players are scheduled to speak to the media on Thursday morning to preview this weekend’s tournament.

The Gators qualified for the tournament for the seventh consecutive season under O’Sullivan, a school record. This marks the fifth time the Gators have hosted a regional in the last seven years.

Check back with on Friday for more coverage of Florida.

For now, here is a look at this weekend’s schedule and the rest of the field:


McKethan Stadium

Friday, May 30
Game 1, 1 p.m. on ESPN3: No. 2 Long Beach State (32-24) vs. No. 3 North Carolina (34-25)
Game 2, 7 p.m. on ESPN3: No. 1 Florida (40-21) vs. No. 4 College Of Charleston (41-17)

Saturday, May 31
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Sunday, June 1
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser
Game 6: Game 5 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Monday, June 2
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary)



Long Beach State logo

Record: 32-24
Conference: Big West
NCAA Tournaments: 20
Last appearance: 2008
All-time postseason: 47-39
Nickname: Dirtbags
Notable: 14 players in major leagues in 2013, most of any school
Coach: Troy Buckley (fourth season)

Notes: Finished season with five-game win streak and nine wins in last 10 games … Opened season at home against Vanderbilt and got swept by Commodores … Dirtbags have a 2.91 team ERA and set a school record by pitching 10 shutouts … Senior RHP Josh Frye (8-0, 1.51 ERA) anchors staff … Freshman SS Garrett Hampson leads team with a .316 average, senior OF Michael Hill’s eight triples are tied for NCAA lead and senior OF Richard Prigatano has team-high 45 RBIs … Long Beach State has only six home runs in 61 games, fewest of any team in Gainesville Regional … In 2005 the Dirtbags’ lineup featured future big leaguers Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop and Evan Longoria at third base … Dirtbags assistant coach Jesse Zepeda is a former teammate of Gators softball coach Tim Walton at Oklahoma.

Quote of note: “I think we’re in great position. This team has been fighting for its life for the last six weeks so they’re in a good spot to just enjoy what’s in front of them.” – Long Beach State coach Troy Buckley on landing as a No. 2 seed in Gainesville Regional

A closer look: Preview story from JJ Fiddler of The Long Beach Press-Telegram



North Carolina Tar Heels logo

Record: 34-25
Conference: Atlantic Coast
NCAA Tournaments: 29
Last appearance: 2013
All-time postseason:
Tar Heels
Notable: Six trips to the College World Series in the past eight seasons
Coach: Mike Fox (16th season)

Notes: This is UNC’s 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament … First time since 2010 Tar Heels open regional play on road … North Carolina’s 49 NCAA Tournament wins since 2006 lead nation; UNC has won 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament openers … Tar Heels struggled offensively with a .273 team average, UNC’s worst since 1989 … 1B Alex Raburn gives Fox a versatile player who has started all four infield positions this season … DH Tom Zengel leads team with 33 RBIs … Sophomore RHP Reilly Hovis took over for injured closer Chris McCue and was outstanding, going 8-1 with six saves and a 2.10 ERA … SS Michael Russell (.345, 4 HRs, 32 RBIs) is the toughest out in the lineup and was named to the All-ACC second team.

Quote of note: “You know, we’ve been knocked down some, but I’ve never sensed that we did not have confidence.” – Tar Heels coach Mike Fox on team’s up-and-down season

A closer look: Preview story from Andrew Carter of The Raleigh News & Observer



College of Charleston logo

Record: 41-17
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
NCAA Tournaments: 6
Last appearance: 2012
All-time postseason:
Nickname: Cougars
Notable: An RPI of 53, nearly 100 points better than average RPI (152) of rest of No. 4 seeds
Coach: Monte Lee (sixth season)

Notes: Won CAA Tournament in its first season in league; moved to CAA from Southern Conference … Cougars have hit 34 home runs, most of any team in Gainesville Regional … RHP Taylor Clarke (10-3, 2.65 ERA, 86 Ks) scheduled to face Gators on Friday; Clarke returned to form after missing all of 2013 season following Tommy John surgery … Freshman 6-foot-8 RHP Bailey Ober (9-2, 1.37 ERA) was named CAA Freshman of Year … 3B Carl Wise finished second in the CAA with 52 RBIs … LF Brandon Murray (.270, 6 HRs, 22 RBIs) is back after missing six weeks with a broken arm … Cougars a much better home team (28-7) than road team (11-10) … Only five active players remain from Cougars team that played in Gainesville Regional in 2012 (did not face the Gators)

Quote of note: “I feel like he can compete with anybody in the country. To be honest, it wasn’t something we had to think too hard about.’’ – Cougars coach Monte Lee on decision to start Clarke in Friday’s opener

A closer look: Preview story from Andrew Miller of The Charleston Post and Courier

Wednesday May 28, 2014 SEC Meetings, Billy D, 5 Questions on WCWS, Baseball RPIs, More Tidbits

Updated: 1:52pm, May 28

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Southeastern Conference spring meetings are taking place this week in Destin.

While much of the chatter has focused on the five major conferences developing more autonomy, there’s always football news (or recycled news) once the 14 coaches from the conference arrive.

Here are some fresh links from Destin and other items of interest to Gator fans:

--The SEC considers ending ban on graduate student transfers writes Jon Solomon of

--Gators coach Will Muschamp prefers a schedule without FCS teams but that could be difficult as Florida AD Jeremy Foley tells the AP (via

SEC logo

--Alabama coach Nick Saban expects Muschamp to rebound at Florida writes Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.

--Strong Will carries Gators into next season (and more notes) from David Jones of Florida Today.

--Gators coach Billy Donovan wants to avoid label of “a liar” if circumstances change toward his future writes Edgar Thompson of Orlando Sentinel.

--The college football season is three months away, so blogger Martin Rickman offers an unofficial guide to the remainder of the offseason.

--The SEC men’s basketball tournament is set for Nashville for most of the next decade, but in 2022, Tampa will be the host writes Antonya English of

UF baseballs

--Gainesville Regional historically hard for Gators according to RPI writes Richard Johnson of the Independent Florida Alligator.

--Five burning questions for the WCWS from Graham Hays of Gators open play Thursday in OKC.

--The SEC women’s basketball tournament is coming to Jacksonville in 2016. For more check out this story on

--Former Gators center Mike Pouncey, now an All-Pro in Miami, needs to grow up and lead writes’s James Walker.

--Meanwhile, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike’s brother, is trying to come back from a serious knee injury writes Scott Brown of

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Bob Hewko had not been on the sideline for a Florida-Florida State game for 31 years until November when Gators coach Will Muschamp invited the former UF quarterback to attend the annual rivalry.

The 54-year-old Hewko was happy to stay on the sideline that day, his playing days well in the rearview mirror. However, Hewko is always searching for ways to stay involved in the game.

Bob Hewko

He scored earlier this month when he joined longtime friend and business partner Vince Neil, lead singer for Motley Crue, at a press conference in Jacksonville to introduce Neil as a minority owner of the Arena Football League franchise.

Hewko (fourth from left, next to Neil in photo) is executive VP of RockStar Investment Group, a private equity and venture capital firm that is headed by Neil.

“I love the game. I love all kinds of football,” said Hewko, who played at Florida from 1978-82. “This kind of got our foot back in the door with the Arena Football League.”

Hewko is best remembered at Florida for leading the Gators to a come-from-behind 13-10 victory at FSU in 1982.

On a rain-soaked field at Doak Campbell Stadium, Hewko wasn’t expected to play. Wayne Peace was the starting quarterback but after the Gators fell behind 10-0 and sputtering on offense, Gators coach Charley Pell replaced Peace with Hewko in the second half.

Hewko scored on a 10-yard run to tie the game completed 6 of 10 passes for 66 yards. With the game tied and 3:47 left, Hewko was the holder on Jim Gainey’s game-winning 22-yard field goal.

“There will be a night that Bob Hewko will sit around and tell his grandkids about this game, and I just hope I live long enough to hear him tell that story,’’ said Pell, who died in 2001, afterward.

Bob Hewko

Hewko’s UF college career was filled with highs and lows. He was the first out-of-state quarterback ever recruited to Florida by Steve Spurrier, who was an assistant under Doug Dickey in 1978 when Hewko signed with the Gators.

When Dickey was replaced by Pell -- Spurrier also left -- Hewko’s love for football truly blossomed under offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan.

“Ever since I played for Shanahan, I love to study the sport,’’ said Hewko, who grew up in Pennsylvania and committed to Pittsburgh prior to Spurrier's recruiting visit.

He also underwent three knee surgeries that hampered his Gators career.

This isn’t Hewko’s first association with the AFL. He was a part owner of the Miami Hooters franchise in the 1990s.

He is also involved with the Lingerie Football League, replacing former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury as the league’s TV color analyst in 2012.

Hewko and Neil have been friends for years and Hewko served as Neil’s personal manager on the Motley Crue/Aerosmith tour in 2006.

“And I’m still alive,’’ he chuckled.

It was then he realized how much Neil enjoys the game.

“When I did that tour with him, we had every satellite you could have on the tour bus,’’ Hewko said. “He loves football. When KISS got the team in LA last year, he wanted to get involved with the AFL.”

The Sharks are currently 3-7 following Saturday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Storm. The Sharks joined the AFL in 2010 and won the Arena Bowl in their second season.

Hewko said Neil plans to be a visible owner to help the Sharks build their fan base. For now, Neil is preparing for the July launch of Motley Crue’s farewell tour, dubbed “The Final Tour.”

They are scheduled to play in Jacksonville in October. Hewko has already extended an invitation to Muschamp, whom he first met at a Fort Lauderdale Gator Club gathering a couple of years ago.

Hewko said Florida’s current situation reminds him of his UF career. Pell was a defensive-minded coach whose offense didn’t blossom until Shanahan arrived.

He is optimistic that with the defense in good hands with Muschamp and coordinator D.J. Durkin, new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper can help push the offense in the right direction.

“Coach Muschamp was a kid when I played,” Hewko said. “He remembers that whole era. It’s pretty cool that he remembers us and brings us back and let’s us on the sideline. I’m really rooting for him to have a good year."

Sunday May 25, 2014 Gators' surprising season could include a No. 1 overall seed

Updated: 9:52am, May 25

Florida Gators

The Gators have a chance to open NCAA Tournament as No. 1 overall seed.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- They won't find out for sure until Monday afternoon during the NCAA baseball selection show.

But win or lose today against LSU in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game, the Gators will be in the running for the No. 1 overall national seed.

Who saw that coming?

Here is how characterized Florida's profile as the tournament's overall top seed: The Gators have stormed back with a vengeance since losing the opening game of the SEC tournament. UF has the nation’s top RPI, is 40-20 overall and has a 15-9 record vs. RPI Top 25 teams, 25-14 vs. RPI Top 50 and 32-18 vs. RPI Top 100. Those are outstanding metrics, and the Gators are the leader to be the top national seed.

The Gators advanced to face LSU today with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Kentucky on Saturday.

The game was a microcosm of UF's surprising season. Freshman starter Brett Morales wasn't his sharpest, so Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan went to the bullpen early.

Lefty Kirby Snead stabilized the game and then Eric Hanhold pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Third baseman Josh Tobias, who opened the season as the starter, lost the job and is back in the lineup, delivered a go-ahead single in the top of the eighth.

Hanhold did the rest as the Gators won their 40th game, 11 more than a year ago (29-30).

"Did it the same way we've been doing it all year long,'' O'Sullivan said. "We kind of grinded this one out. Everybody contributed. We're excited to play one more day."

Regardless of how today plays out, the Gators will open the NCAA Tournament at McKethan Stadium, which was far from a given when the season's first pitch was thrown.

Gators softball

The Gators softball team will look to rise up once again this weekend in a Super Regional vs. Washington.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The UF baseball team is playing in the SEC Tournament. The softball team is preparing to host a Super Regional.

Florida football coach Will Muschamp wrapped up his spring speaking tour Thursday, and basketball coach Billy Donovan addressed several topics Thursday in his first press conference since the Final Four.

Here are some fresh links from around the Internet for your perusal:

--Gators head coach Will Muschamp looks to team leaders for an incident-free offseason writes Zach Abolverdi of The Gainesville Sun.

--Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan has received interest from NBA teams this offseason writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.

--The UF baseball team stayed alive at the SEC Tournament on Thursday in a strong outing from lefty Bobby Poyner.

--Whatever happens in Hoover at SEC Tournament, Gators a lock for a national seed writes Kendall Rogers of

--The SEC updated its membership in the College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday (former Gators WR Wes Chandler was on list but didn't make it -- that should change in near future).

--Damontre Harris practiced a lot with the Gators the last two years but never played a game -- and now he won't writes Jonathan Czupryn of The Independent Florida Alligator.

--Former Gators/current Jacksonville safety Josh Evans has come a long way writes Phillip Heilman of The St. Augustine Record.

--Blogger Richard Hill of weighs in on the addition of former Gators offensive lineman Jon Halapio.

--The Gators softball team has a special player in Kelsey Stewart writes Jim Harvin of The Gainesville Sun.

--A look at the Gators' opponent -- the Washington Huskies -- in this weekend's NCAA Super Regional via Terry Wood of The Seattle Times.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In his “Sunday Buzz Column” for The Miami Herald, sports writer Barry Jackson created some buzz with an item he used when emptying his notebook.

Jackson wrote: ### Athletic director Blake James said UM intends to play FIU in football sometime after 2015 and that UF athletic director Jeremy Foley was receptive when James recently asked him about renewing the UF series. The Gators will agree only to a neutral site. “I would have to think about Orlando,” James said. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.”


The Gators and Hurricanes played last season – a 21-16 Miami win at Sun Life Stadium – to conclude a home-and-home series that dated to 2008 when the Gators defeated the Hurricanes 26-3 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

While the schools have faced each other 55 times since 1938 – and every year from 1944-87 – they went 15 years between regular-season meetings until a home-and-home series in 2002-03.

Gators coach Will Muschamp was asked Tuesday evening about potentially facing the Hurricanes again in the future.

"I think that would be really good for us and really good for the state of Florida,'' Muschamp said. "That's something Jeremy and I have talked about. We have been in such a holding pattern scheduling-wise for several years because of the unknowns of what our league was going to do.

"I'm open to it because I think it's a good game. It's a good lead-off game and that's what it was for a long time. That's what I grew up with in the '70s and early '80s."

While there appears renewed interest in continuing the rivalry, nothing is imminently brewing between the Gators and Hurricanes.

“We just received some clarity regarding future schedules from the league office and there have been no discussions with Miami at this time,’’ Florida spokesman Steve McClain said. "An in-state, neutral site matchup is certainly something we could consider in the future.”

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – You already knew the Gators visit Alabama on the third Saturday in September – Sept. 20 for those keeping score.

Alabama is Florida’s non-division rotating opponent on the 2014 schedule.

On Monday the SEC announced its non-division rotation schedule through the 2025 season.

Remember, the Gators will continue to face SEC West foe LSU each season as part of the league’s 6-1-1 schedule format: six SEC East opponents, one permanent cross-division rival (LSU) and one rotating cross-division opponent.

With that said, here is how the Gators’ future schedules look:






Tuscaloosa, Ala.


Ole Miss

Gainesville, Fla.



Fayetteville, Ark.


Texas A&M

Gainesville, Fla.


Mississippi State

Starkville, Miss.



Gainesville, Fla.


Ole Miss

Oxford, Miss.



Gainesville, Fla.


Texas A&M

College Station, Texas



Gainesville, Fla.



Auburn, Ala.


Mississippi State

Gainesville, Fla.

Here are some other fresh links from around the Internet with news of interest to Florida fans:

--A look at the SEC’s complete rotating cross-divisional games from

--Orlando as next neutral-site destination? Could Gators-Canes renew their rivalry there?’s Andrea Adelson with more on topic.

--Gators head coach Will Muschamp reflects on his relationship with his late father in a column by Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel.

--Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt previews what the NCAA Tournament might look like next week.

--UF baseball in midst of special season writes Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun.

--Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald writes about the UF-UCLA match and more on Monday at the NCAA women’s tennis semifinals.

--Former Gators defensive tackle Dominique Easley is profiled by Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald as New England’s first-round draft pick. asks five burning questions for the upcoming softball super regionals, including one about the Gators.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The weather has started to heat up, so you know what that means: time for those college football preseason magazines to start showing up on newsstands at the local grocery.

Athlon Sports is one of the most established in the business and has the Gators ranked No. 23 in its preseason poll.

Athlon football magazine

Here is more from Athlon Sports and other media outlets on the Gators:

--Athlon has Florida in its preseason Top 25 despite the Gators’ 4-8 record in 2013.

--Surprise, surprise. OK, not really. The SEC tops conferences with 49 NFL draft picks.

--Former Gators cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy lands with the Colts after going undrafted writes Stephen Holder of

--Another former Gators CB undrafted, Marcus Roberson, landed with the Rams writes

--Gators center Patric Young is one of 60 players officially invited to NBA combine in Chicago this week.

--Former Gators catcher Brian Jeroloman, who I wrote about shortly after a scary collision at the plate last season, is back on the field writes James Wagner of The Washington Post.

--Former Gators lefty Brian Johnson was featured over the weekend in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald. He pitches in Boston’s organization for the Portland Sea Dogs.

--ICYMI, looks like former Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy had a good spring at Boston College writes Zac Ellis of

--Former Gators OL Matt Patchan signed a free-agent deal with the Bucs. Here is a draft preview on Patchan from

Sunday May 11, 2014 Good and bad surprises for Gators during NFL Draft

Updated: 9:05am, May 11

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The NFL Draft was full of surprises for the Gators.

Good ones and bad ones.

Dominique Easley

Good: Dominique Easley (photo), despite playing only three games last season, going to the Patriots in the first round. Few expected Easley to go that high.

Bad: Junior cornerbacks Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy went undrafted. While their stock dropped with sub-par performances at the NFL Combine, most projections had Roberson and Purifoy going no later than the middle rounds.

As of Sunday morning, Roberson and Purifoy remained unsigned. While neither was drafted, both will likely get an opportunity to make a team, perhaps as a priority free agent invited to rookie minicamp next week. Stay tuned.

In all, four UF players were selected: Easley (first round, No. 29 overall, Patriots), Jaylen Watkins (fourth round, No. 101 overall, Eagles), Ronald Powell (fifth round, No. 169 overall, Saints) and offensive lineman Jon Halapio (sixth round, No. 179 overall, Patriots).

Here is reaction from New Orleans coach Sean Payton on Powell, and Eagles coach Chip Kelly weighs in on selection of Watkins, and New England coach Bill Belichick likes Halapio's potential.

The Gators had 12 players available in the draft and soon after the draft concluded, reports surfaced on Twitter that several of Florida's undrafted free agents and signed with teams for tryouts at upcoming rookie minicamps.

Here is a list based on media reports and/or player tweets: Solomon Patton (Bucs), Trey Burton (Eagles), Darrin Kitchens (Bills), Damien Jacobs (Bills), Kyle Koehne (Falcons) and Jonotthan Harrison (Colts).

Gators baseball

First baseman Pete Alonso and his UF teammates had little success against Carson Fulmer on Friday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators arrived at McKethan Stadium on Friday night with an opportunity to clinch outright the SEC East title and win their 13th consecutive conference game.

And then one by one they stepped into the batter's box against Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer.

The way Fulmer was pitching the '27 Yankees might have had trouble hitting the sophomore right-hander from Lakeland.

"We knew coming in it was going to be a low-scoring game,'' Gators third baseman John Sternagel said.

Armed with a fastball in the mid-90s and an assortment of off-speed pitches, Fulmer allowed only one Florida player to reach second base -- Harrison Bader on an infield single and throwing error by Fulmer in the ninth.

That was the only bad delivery Fulmer made all night.

Fulmer allowed four hits, walked two and struck out eight in his fourth start since Commodores coach Tim Corbin moved Fulmer from closer into the weekend rotation.

Nice move, coach.

Fulmer has won all four starts and allowed zero runs in 28 innings.

And for one night at least, he delayed the Gators' celebration of an outright division crown. Florida leads the Commodores by four games with four games left.

Vanderbilt scored the only runs of the game in the third inning with the help of a throwing error by shortstop Richie Martin and two walks.

"That fifth inning was frustrating, but I don't know if it would have made much of a difference the way he was throwing against us,'' Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "He didn't let up. Hats off to him. What are you going to do? We just ran into a really good pitcher. It happens."

The same scenario happened to Vanderbilt on Thursday night when Gators starter Logan Shore pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings and closer Bobby Poyner polished off a 1-0 win that clinched a share of the SEC East title.

As the Commodores walked off Perry Field late Friday, Fulmer greeted several Vanderbilt fans in the stands behind home plate.

He gave a few leaping high-fives -- the stands are above field level -- as he departed.

It was his night.

The Gators hope Saturday is their day. The rubber game of the three-game series starts at noon.

Florida starter Karsten Whitson will try to turn the table back in Florida's favor.

And give the Gators something to celebrate.

"Tomorrow is going to be the match,'' Sternagel said. "Knowing that it's squared up and we haven't been square in a while, we definitely, definitely want to take that one to our house."

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