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44 posts from December 2009

December 30, 2009

Find out what Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer is telling recruits ...

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida coach Urban Meyer has told at least one recruit that he will return in August.

Meyer told running back recruit Mack Brown of Lithonia, Ga., on Monday that he will return from his indefinite leave of in August. Brown relayed the news while being interviewed on ESPNU. Other recruits have not been contacted by Meyer. Demar Dorsey, a safety from Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson, said he has not been contacted by Meyer.

Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Cody Riggs has not been in contact with Meyer but said on Wednesday that he hopes Meyer returns before the 2010 season.

Florida linebacker Ryan Stamper, a fifth-year senior, said on Wednesday that he expects Meyer to return to coaching by August.


Chief cardiologist at Miami Jackson North speaks with The Herald about heart disease and how it might relate to Gators coach Urban Meyer

Dr. Ariel Soffer of Miami Jackson North Medical Center joined Gator Clause on Tuesday to answer questions about heart disease and how it might relate to Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer. Jackson North's chief cardiologist, Soffer is also an assistant clinical professor of FIU's School of Medicine. He's also a sports fan. Soffer was the Florida Panthers' official cardiologist for four years but no longer travels with the team because he "couldn't handle the losing anymore."


Sounds vaguely familiar. Florida coach Urban Meyer does not react very well to losing. After Florida's first loss in 23 games, Meyer resigned as head coach of the Gators only to return one day later. Is he simply burned out or is it something more severe? Meyer has declined to go into detail about his apparent medical condition. On Tuesday, Gator Clause gave the good folks at Miami Jackson North Medical Center a buzz to see if we could get some answers about what exactly might be wrong with Meyer. The most likely culprit? Heart disease.

How does stress affect heart disease?
It has been clearly shown in the literature in multiple different peer-reviewed publications that stress in and of itself can be an independent risk factor along with the more commonly known ones such as smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and family history. But stress in and of itself is being really evaluated and considered by most of us in the cardiologic community to be a risk factor along with them.


The problem with that is cholesterol is very nice because and you have a number and your number is either high or low. It’s a very simple matter to diagnose and to quantify. Stress is really something that is how a person perceives a particular situation. Unfortunately, one person can take one situation and it can be stressful to them and another person can take that same situation and it can be non-stressful. Unlike cholesterol or weight or sugar levels, it is not as quantifiable yet to be able to predict who’s having a certain amount of stress and how they might be affected by it. The long story short, stress is considered an independent risk factor. Quantifying the type of stress and how it affects a person has been pretty illusive to most of us. That being said, I have in my practice a clinical psychologist that often sees patients that I think have stress worsening their heart conditions and that’s shown to be very helpful across the country to a variety of cardiologists.


GATOR CLAUSE: Is 45 young to have heart problems that are related to stress or does age not matter?
It’s pretty much not young anymore. We’re seeing in our society because of other risk factors—mostly cholesterol and weight-related issues—we’re seeing heart disease younger and younger. So, 45 used to be considered young for heart disease but I can tell you in my clinical practice we’re seeing it in folks in their 20s that come in when we really didn’t see it as much in the previous decade. I don’t know enough about his medical history to comment on his other risk factors—his family history, whether or not he smokes or has high cholesterol or diabetes—but certainly Urban has self proclaimed that he’s under a lot of stress.


We saw what happened to President Clinton, a person that had multiple risk factors, including probably a high fat diet and certainly under a lot of stress and ultimately ended up with a bypass at also a fairly young age. People under stress that particularly have other risk factors tend to compound it. That’s the big question with Urban. Does he have other risk factors? If it’s stress alone, I would say 45 is pretty young to have developed a form of heart disease. If it’s stress with other risk factors we find that it’s generally compounding, where one plus one doesn’t equal two but one plus one, say if you’re smoking and possibly high cholesterol and you have a high-stress situation, you are many more times more likely to have developed heart disease than you would be with any of those risk factors removed. It wouldn’t just be one-third less. It would be much, much less.


GATOR CLAUSE: How does stress manifest itself physically in the human body as it relates to the heart?
DR. SOFFER: Stress releases hormones and the hormones have a very interesting affect on blood vessels. They tend to tighten the blood vessels when they maybe don’t need to be tightened. In particular, we find that that tightening of blood vessels and the hormonal changes that it does within the entire circulation can bring out heart disease more quickly than if those stress hormones that are elicited, the fight or flight response if you will, that we’re normally suppose to have. If that happens too frequently, those stress hormones can cause circulation problems. Generally, for lack of a better term or for the lay public, a premature both hardening of the arteries as well as during a period where we have these plaques in hardened arteries and they’re more likely to rupture in stressful situations.


GATOR CLAUSE: Urban has also lost a considerable amount of weight. Can this be related to heart disease or perhaps something else?
DR. SOFFER: The times that you worry about it is when it’s not planned weight loss. That can be a manifestation of other underlying disease — oftentimes chronic diseases or cancer. If it’s weight loss because of diet and exercise, it’s generally good for the heart. If you’re losing weight because you have an underlying pathology or possibly a mental issue, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder or anorexia — the list goes on — it’s not good.


GATOR CLAUSE: The ultimate question is can this be fatal? He's not walking away from a job that pays $4 million a year for nothing.

DR. SOFFER: If it’s heart disease in general, almost every type of heart disease can be fatal. The old saying serious as a heart attack prevails here. If it’s anything to do with the heart and he’s not responding to stress appropriately it can be fatal. It only takes one arrhythmia to kill a person. So, if he’s got any form of heat disease, stress can be very problematic.


GATOR CLAUSE: How do you treat heart disease?
DR. SOFFER: We understand the heart pretty well and we can fix most of what’s there. If you look at Phil Jackson, for instances, Phil Jackson had a closing of one of his arteries during a playoff game, had it opened with a balloon and a stent in the 90s and went back, I believe, to the next game two days later. We can fix a lot of these plumbing and mechanical related issues. What takes a long time to do is to teach a person to deal with stress in a better more healthful way.


GATOR CLAUSE: Please explain.
DR. SOFFER: It’s sort of like, you know, there are two ways of reacting to a pterodactyl flying at you. One is to become extremely concerned about it and frozen, if you will, and the other to sort of say, ‘OK, it’s a pterodactyl and I’m used to it flying towards me and I’m simply going to, you know, and dip into my little hole right here until it flies away and not allow the hormones that are released to really wreck havoc on my circulatory system.


December 29, 2009

Florida Gators Major Wright expresses strong concerns and valuable insights about Urban Meyer's failing health

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida coach Urban Meyer says he's taking a leave of absence to improve his health but he won't say exactly what is wrong. On Tuesday, UF safety Major Wright said the problem has to do with Meyer's heart. Meyer has been experiencing severe chest pains over the past month and attributed it to stress, saying he has not had a heart attack.

"Don't look at things like, 'Oh, he just wants to leave us.' That's crazy," Wright said. "This man could literally die over football games and stuff like that, so that's why everyone is like, 'Oh my God." We can't really look at it like, 'Oh, Urb is leaving. Why is he doing this? Why is he doing that?' He has a family to take care of outside this football team. No one would be closer to him than his daughters and son. You can't get any closer than that."

Wright said sitting down with younger players at UF and explaining the gravity of the situation is important.

"We have to talk to them and tell them, 'Look, this man's life is at risk,'" Wright said. "We have to let them know that, hey, this is football and it's not as important as his life."

Just to clarify Wright's strong comments a bit, he said he didn't know the severity of Meyer's health but said he was told it was a heart issue "so I'm going to take it serious. I'm looking at it like this football thing is not more important than your life because he's a great guy, a great coach and a great parent. You don't want to lose a guy like that over football."

On a different topic, Wright told me on Tuesday that he doesn't know just yet if he's going to declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft. Wright said he believes he's ready to take his game to pro football but said his mother, father, uncle and sister will have a lot of input on whether or not Wright returns. Wright has not received his paperwork from the NFL Draft advisory committee, which projects draft statuses for players.


December 28, 2009

And now for the Gators' official message to recruits...

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida assistant head coach Dan McCarney addressed recruiting with Gator Clause on Monday.

GATOR CLAUSE: Dan, how do you sell stability to this recruiting class when you're going to have all of your rivals bombarding the players?

DAN MCCARNEY: "That's a real good question and we've already had to do that. All we can say is we have great faith in the direction of the program. All of us believe Coach Meyer will be back. We can't tell you how long it will be, but all the things that our in this program -- why you chose Florida or you're considering us -- to a great degree, those things are still here and they're all still in place. We're going to have great fans. We're going to have tremendous facilities, tremendous success, great leadership. Coaches have proven ... When you go 22 wins in a row in this lifetime or the next, we know what we're doing. We've got a good plan. We've got good coaches that execute it. We've got real good players and come be a part of that.

"We address it. We're honest. We're upfront about it and yet we can't put a certain timetable on when we think Coach Meyer will be back."


Gators assistant Chuck Heater wants a 'leadership position' while Dan McCarney isn't interested in DC position

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida Gators assistant coach Chuck Heater said on Monday afternoon that he would like a "leadership position" next season, a strong indication that he is hoping to be promoted to defensive coordinator.

"I'm interested in having a leadership role, whatever it might be," Heater said. "I don't have to be a title or anything. I just want to be in a good room with a good exchange of ideas and good guys and that's what we've had since I've been here."

The Gators' safeties coach, Heater said after Florida's practice on Monday at the Louisiana Superdome that "chemistry ... is probably the most important part" of building a successful defensive staff. He also said "new ideas and perspective can be a good thing."

Heater said the possibility of co-defensive coordinators is an option. Florida assistant head coach Dan McCarney, the Gators' defensive line coach, said on Monday that he does not want to be UF's new defensive coordinator.

"We've been trying to find the right pieces to the defensive situation since Charlie has left and I've been involved with that in terms of that and the decision making, but we're just trying to get the best people because we can," Heater said. "We've done some really good things here but we're real anxious to bring in some other thoughts as well and we're not quite sure how it's going to all come together."

Florida safety Will Hill said on Monday that he hopes a current assistant coach, most likely Heater, is promoted to defensive coordinator.

"I would like to see someone from the team take over because he already knows the concepts and everything, so I wouldn't want to change up everything and shake things around," Hill said. "Coach Heater calls the plays up in the box, so you could say he's been running it for awhile. It would just be an easy transition."


And now for a realistic perspective from Florida Gators receiver Riley Cooper...

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida's administrators have gone through a lot of trouble in attempting to project an image of stability amid a tornado of bad news/worse news/simply unbelievable news. A bleary-eyed Riley Cooper spoke with Gator Clause on Monday morning and gave a more realistic perspective of the atmosphere currently surrounding the team.

"Luckily I'm a senior," Cooper said. "I'm out of here, but hopefully [Urban Meyer] gets better."

Cooper is playing in the upcoming Senior Bowl. He told me that he's going to give pro football a shot and attempt to get drafted. If it doesn't work out, Cooper will fall back on baseball.


Like it or not, Addazio is the best fit

Addazio By Mike McCall

Say what you want about Steve Addazio, but Florida made the right move by making him the Gators' interim head coach during Urban Meyer's leave of absence. Addazio took a lot of heat this year (probably too much) from fans and reporters for the Gators' perceived offensive struggles and some of his dubious quotes in press conferences, but when it comes to holding the UF program together, he was the best choice.

Regardless of what anyone things of Addazio, we can all agree that at a time like this, the most important opinions are those of the players. They're the ones who have to play for whomever the coach is, and they're the ones who have to win the games. And for some of them, keeping Addazio around may be the tipping point for decisions on their future.

Take offensive lineman Mike Pouncey, who'll be choosing between the NFL and another year at UF in the coming months: “It was really uncertain. I felt like if we didn’t keep someone on this staff who was already here as a coach, it was going to be really tough on my decision of whether or not to come back for next year. I think keeping Addazio will play a big part in that, and I’m just glad he’s going to be here.”

Senior receiver Riley Cooper won't face the same decision as Pouncey, but he echoed his teammate's sentiments: “The good thing is they’re keeping the coaching within the family. Addazio had a big part in our offense this year, it wasn’t just coach Meyer, so luckily he’s going to step into that role and it won’t change a whole lot.”

Running back Jeffery Demps said Meyer told the team he would "bring in the best coaching staff or the best coach" when he resigned, so he wasn't too worried about the future, but Addazio will have a calming influence on a hectic situation.

That's why Addazio is the right man for the job, something he highlighted today during his press conference.

"Continuity is the issue here," Addazio said. "That's my role. My role is to come in here and keep a great program on a great course. It's about the program, that's what it is at Florida: the University of Florida football program. That's the beautiful thing about what's happening here, it's a statement to that effect. This has become the premier program in college football and in the history of UF, and it is built on a great program foundation. We have great players, great coaches, great administrative support and the greatest AD in America. All of that is right there, so now we have to keep that at the same level and run this great program. That's what we're going to do."

Addazio may not even still be the head coach come next season, but right now, his players needed a return to normalcy. Short of dragging Dan Mullen or Charlie Strong back to Gainesville for what would eventually amount to a demotion, Addazio was the best option.

December 27, 2009

Ten highlights and thoughts from today's fascinating press conference with Urban Meyer

NEW ORLEANS -- OK, big story coming in tomorrow's paper but I'll touch on some highlights of today's press conference now and give some general thoughts about the most fascinating stories I've ever covered.

1. I've been getting plenty of emails from Gators' fans and fans of UF's rivals about today's press conference. It was a surreal experience, to say the least. Meyer didn't exactly explain what is wrong with his heart/chest/head/brain/whatever, but he did say that he has not had a heart attack. That's good news. Hopefully for Meyer, he can get some much needed rest, learn how to deal with stress and return to UF's sidelines a healthy man.

2. I'm no doctor, but I have had family members hospitalized by stress and anxiety. It's not an easy thing to overcome. Meyer needs to sit down with a health care professional and work through his problems and figure out a way to manage his stress, if indeed that is the problem. Maybe take yoga and go fishing. Steve Spurrier told Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun on Sunday that Meyer needs to find a hobby. Meyer laughed at the suggestion but did say that he's going to give Spurrier a call and speak with him about how to stress management. More laughter; less anxiety. 

3. UF athletics director Jeremy Foley is a true professional. He's the best in the business, folks.

4. Meyer called himself a Southerner on Sunday. That was pretty interesting.

5. The Meyer family was in attendance during the press conference. It added an extra level of intrigue to the story today.

6. Steve Addazio is the interim head coach but it seems like Meyer will still be calling all the shots. Meyer indicated that he will be hiring/promoting the new defensive coordinator. Meyer isn't allowed into his office, according to Foley, but that doesn't mean Meyer will stop recruiting. The recruiting dead period ends on Jan.3. Pretty sure Meyer will be recruiting in some form.

7. Meyer was plenty nervous on Sunday. He read from a prepared statement, which he never does. His uncomfortable body language was painful for me to watch at times. I felt bad for him.

8. Foley indicated that Meyer will still be paid his salary of about $4 million per year. UF's athletics director indicated that Addazio will receive a raise. Foley said that a buyout was never an option when Meyer informed him of his plan to resign.

9. Meyer told Ryan Stamper and Tim Tebow that he loved them during the practice before Meyer told the team he was resigning. Stamper said it meant a great deal to him. At that point, Meyer turned towards Stamper and appeared to fight back some tears.

10. UF sports information director Steve McClain deserves credit for performing his job brilliantly during one of the toughest months I'm sure he's ever had to deal with on the job.


Urban Meyer now taking a leave of absence; Steve Addazio to be interim coach

NEW ORLEANS -- Change of plans. Florida coach Urban Meyer isn't going anywhere.

Meyer informed the UF football team on Sunday that he now plans on taking an indefinite leave of absence and that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio will be the Gators' interim head coach. Meyer informed the team before the Gators left Gainesville for New Orleans. The team is scheduled to arrive in New Orleans at 3:45 p.m. ET. A press conference is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET.

More coming later.


December 26, 2009

Sugar Bowl now an interesting game

NEW ORLEANS -- Just when you thought a week in New Orleans was going to be nice and quiet ... Urban Meyer is gone!

Do you remember where you were when Urban Meyer announced his resignation? I was sitting in my New Orleans hotel room in front of my laptop and nearly swallowed my tongue. Some of you guys might recall that I asked Meyer on Dec. 6 during a Sugar Bowl teleconference about his health entering the Sugar Bowl. The teleconference moderator (a Sugar Bowl guy) would not let Meyer answer the question because, according to the moderator, only questions could be asked about the Sugar Bowl. Looking back, that was a pretty important question.

Meyer's health since the Gators' loss to Alabama has been a major concern to the Meyer family. He has had chest pains, reportedly, and the cyst on his brain needs to addressed. If Meyer has brain surgery at Shands, he would be in recovery for several months. Here's hoping everything turns out OK with Meyer. I can't imagine what he's going through right now.

I've spoken with about a dozen people in the last three hours about the state of UF football. I'll have two stories in tomorrow's paper. One will be about Meyer sudden resignation and another story will be about recruits and the coaching search. Here's what I know right now...

1. UF's South Florida recruits told me on Saturday that they are still committed to Florida but will wait and see who athletics director Jeremy Foley hires before signing with Florida on Feb. 4. Miami Booker T. Washington receiver Quinton Dunbar said that he will probably de-commit if UF hires a run-oriented coach. Dunbar said if UF hires Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech then he's gone. That made me laugh.

2. UF quarterback recruit Trey Burton of Venice High is already text messaging UF commitments in the hopes of reassuring recruits. One UF commitment received a text from Burton that read, "Everything is going to be OK."

3. One source close to Foley told me that Charlie Strong might have been a candidate had he not left for Louisville. Another coach who would have been at the top of Foley's wish list had he not already been hired: Brian Kelly.

4. Dan Mullen's name has already surfaced as a possible replacement for Meyer but Mullen only has one year of head coaching experience.

5. Is Meyer basically taking extended sick leave? Does this mean UF is still on the hook for $4 million a year? This is an important question that needs answering on Sunday. UF officials would not return phone messages on Saturday.

6. Steve Spurrier? Not a chance.


Florida coach Urban Meyer stepping down as head coach

GAINESVILLE -- University of Florida coach Urban Meyer announced on Saturday that he is resigning as head coach of the Florida Gators football team.

Through a statement released by the University of Florida, Meyer indicated that his health is the reason for the decision.

"I have given my heart and soul to coaching college football and mentoring young men for the last 24-plus years and I have dedicated most of my waking moments the last five years to the Gator football program," Meyer said. "I have ignored my health for years, but recent developments have forced me to re-evaluate my priorities of faith and family."

Meyer checked himself into Shands Hospital at the University of Florida a few hours after the Gators lost to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game. According to the university, Meyer was treated for dehydration but Meyer has lived with an arachnoid cyst in his brain for many years. The cyst was first discovered when Meyer was head coach at Utah, but Meyer has suffered from symptoms such as head aches and fatigue since his days as an assistant coach at Notre Dame.

According to UF, Meyer will be available at a Sugar Bowl press conference at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday when the Gators arrive in New Orleans.


December 24, 2009

2009 Miami Herald All-Florida College Football Team released

GAINESVILLE -- Merry Christmas college football fans. The Miami Herald released its 3rd Annual College Football All-Florida Teams just in time for the holidays. See if your favorite players made first- or second-team All-Florida. Talk amongst yourselves.

2009 All-Florida Team Offense

2009 All-Florida Team Defense


December 23, 2009

What happened to the Florida Gators basketball team?

My vacation is almost over, but I had to come out of my self-imposed cave to write a quick blog about the UF men's basketball team. South Alabama 67, Florida 66?

After a loss to Richmond in the Orange Bowl Classic, the Gators responded with a loss to South Alabama at O'Connell Center. Has anyone over the last three seasons been more unlucky than UF coach Billy Donovan? First he couldn't win with Marreese Speights, then he couldn't win with Nick Calathes, now Donovan just can't win in the final weeks of December 2009.

Dan Werner had two points and five fouls against the South Alabama Jaguars. Chandler Parsons, playing despite an injury that requires rest to heal, was 1 of 8 from the field. Point guard Erving Walker was 0-6 from three-point range. Meanwhile, former UF point guard Jai Lucas is on the cover of ESPN.com's college basketball page this morning. Lucas is a bit player for No.2 Texas but his team hasn't lost a game this season.

The Gators don't play another meaningful basketball game until Jan.3, when UF travels to Raleigh, N.C., for a key non-conference away game against N.C. State. In between now and then is a six-day break for Christmas and then a two-game stretch against American (Dec. 28) and Presbyterian (Dec.30). Finding a few scorers between now and Jan.3 should be Donovan's top priority. Consider this: South Alabama shot 28.1 percent from the field in the second half and still defeated Florida at O'Connell Center.


December 18, 2009

Carlos Dunlap is back, but should he be?

GAINESVILLE -- Junior defensive Carlos Dunlap was recently reinstated to the football team and UF coach Urban Meyer said on Friday that Dunlap will likley be allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl.

The decision came down from UF president Bernie Machen and UF athletics director Jeremy Foley. Considering UF's strick policy regarding students who are arrested for DUI, it seems a little odd that Dunlap is being allowed to play. After all, some UF students have been expelled after being convicted of DUI. Of course, Dunlap will be long gone after the Sugar Bowl and his status as a UF student will matter to no one.

Meyer said that Machen and Foley decided Dunlap could play in the BCS bowl because Dunlap's alleged DUI was his first mistake. Dunlap was found by Gainesville police at traffic light asleep behind the steering wheel of his car around 3:30 a.m. a few days before UF's biggest game of the season.

Should Dunlap be allowed to represent UF in the Sugar Bowl? If Dunlap had taken his foot of the brake while sleeping at the traffic light (the car was in drive), drifted into the intersection and killed a few people, would he still be allowed to play? Wonder what M.A.D.D. thinks? Maybe I'm just being an overly critical, self-righteous sports writer.


December 15, 2009

Aaron Hernandez and Joe Haden named first-team AP All-Americans

GAINESVILLE -- Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez and cornerback Joe Haden were selected first-team All-Americans by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Four others Florida football players also received recognitions. Quarterback Tim Tebow earned second-team honors along with center Maurkice Pouncey, offensive guard Mike Pouncey and linebacker Brandon Spikes. Alabama was the only team other than Florida to land six players among the three teams.

Last week, Hernandez won the John Mackey Award, which is given to the national best tight end. Hernandez led UF in receiving with 59 receptions for 739 yards and four touchdowns. Haden was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, awarded to the nation's top defensive back. Haden finished the season with 62 tackles, including 48 solo stops. He also had four interceptions, three sacks and broke up nine passes.


December 12, 2009

Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow finishes fifth in Heisman voting

NEW YORK -- Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting on Saturday at Nokia Theatre Times Square. Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the award. Tebow prayed with Ingram backstage before the ceremony.

Here's the Heisman breakdown of the closest vote in the 75-year history of the award:

1. Mark Ingram, Alabama RB; 1,304 points
2. Toby Gerhart, Stanford RB; 1,276 points
3. Colt McCoy, Texas QB; 1,145 points
4. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska DT; 815 points
5. Tim Tebow, Florida QB; 390 points
6. C.J. Spiller, Clemson RB; 223
7. Kellen Moore, Boise State QB; 100 points
8. Case Keenum, Houston QB; 37 points
9. Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati WR; 23 points
10. Golden Tate, Notre Dame WR; 21 points

Heisman Trophy voting is done by region. There are six regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Southwest, Midwest and Far West. Ingram carried the South, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast. Gerhart won the Far West. Surprisingly, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh carried the Southwest vote. He finished 38 points ahead of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.


December 11, 2009

Tim Tebow's Heisman ballot

NEW YORK -- Tim Tebow would not reveal his Heisman Trophy ballot on Friday but I've got a pretty good idea who was first on Tebow's list.

After hearing Tebow gush about Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, I'm pretty sure Tebow put the Cornhuskers' nose guard at the top of his ballot. Like everyone else in college football, Tebow seemed to be in awe of Suh's raw power and natural ability. Suh finished the season with 82 tackles, including 23 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Those are ridiculous numbers for a nose guard. Let's let Tebow explain it...

"I think [Suh] had a huge impact and, off the field, getting to know him, I think he's a really nice guy," Tebow said. "But on the field, he's a dominant player and he had a big impact on Nebraska's team. And the games they were in, even though they didn't win some of them, I think he had a huge impact. I think he's a great player."

In a nutshell, here's Tebow's thought process behind his Heisman ballot:

"I look at the season and impact they had on their teams, what they put up, who they played against and make a good educated vote on who the best players this year were," Tebow said. "The impact they had on the team and the impact they had on the game. Even if they didn't have the best stats. What was the impact those players had on the game?

"I think it should just be one year that you're judged on. I think some people could get biased and put that in there, [a player's] whole career, but, honestly, it should just be that one year. How did they do this year? What did they mean to their team? Did they play well in the big games? Did they help their team win? Obviously, a big question is if they weren't playing for their team, how would their team have done? That's something you've got to take into account, too."

Tebow explained to reporters on Friday at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square that Suh's impact on the game from the nose guard position can't be overstated. Tebow knows exactly the type of defense Nebraska coach Bo Pelini runs. Tebow faced Pelini's defenses when Pelini was the defensive coordinator at LSU and said that Pelini's defensive schemes are some of the best in the game. When Tebow played against Pelini's defenses at LSU, the Tigers had a pair of first-round picks on the defensive line, Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Neither Dorsey nor Jackson can be compared to Suh, according to Tebow.

"Dorsey and Jackson, those guys didn't do [what Suh did] and that's really impressive, because when you're playing a two-gap defense, it's like what the [New England] Patriots do, the guys are not supposed to really make those plays because you're taking up two guys and letting (other) guys run side to side, and that's not a normal thing to do."


Urban Meyer wastes little time in replacing Gators' receivers coach

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer hired Central Michigan receivers coach Zach Azzanni on Friday to replace former UF receivers coach Billy Gonzales.

Azzanni was an assistant head coach Central Michigan from 2007-2009. He was a graduate assistant on Meyer's first staff at Bowling Green.

Azzanni "[Azzanni] is a tireless worker, relentless recruiter and a great teacher of fundamentals," Meyer said. "He is also familiar with our philosophy and will be a great fit with our players and staff."

Meyer hired Azzanni less than 24 hours after Gonzales left Florida for Louisiana State. One of Meyer's most loyal lieutenants, Gonzales was the Gators' recruiting coordinator and was assigned to talent-rich Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Azzanni inherits a talented but inexperienced receiving corps. Florida could lose its top three receivers after the Sugar Bowl. Riley Cooper and David Nelson are seniors and junior tight end Aaron Hernandez, who recently won the John Mackey Award, could leave early for the NFL Draft.

Zach Azzanni File
1999-2000 Wide Receivers Coach, Valparaiso
2001-02 Graduate Assistant (Offense), Bowling Green
2003-06 Wide Receivers Coach, Bowling Green
2007-09 Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers, Central Michigan


December 10, 2009

Florida Gators lose another assistant coach

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators assistant coach Billy Gonzales has been hired as an assistant offensive coordinator at Louisiana State.

Gonzales accepted the position on Thursday. He was the receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for the Florida coach Urban Meyer. Meyer informed recruits on Thursday that Gonzales would no longer be recruiting for Florida.

This is a major blow for Florida. Gonzales, who recruited Broward and Palm Beach counties, has been with Meyer since his college days. Meyer was Gonzales' receiver's coach at Colorado State and Meyer later hired Gonzales on his first staff at Bowling Green. He followed Meyer to Utah and then to Florida.

On Wednesday, former Florida defensive coordinator was named head coach at Louisville.


Florida Gators Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez win national awards

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Here at wonderful Disney World for the ESPN college football awards show. Quarterback Tim Tebow left empty handed but Gators offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Aaron Hernandez won awards.

Pouncey won the Rimington Trophy for the nation's best center and Hernandez won the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end. Afterwards, Pouncey said that UF's players are still having trouble getting over the loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship but added that they have already started breaking down film on Cincinnati. No.5 Florida (12-1) plays No.4 Cincinnati on Jan.1 in the Sugar Bowl.


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