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15 posts from February 2010

February 26, 2010

Should Jeff Demps quit football and focus on track? The answer is no, says one pro track coach

GAINESVILLE -- Jeff Demps is burning up the indoor track for the University of Florida this season. He has the nation's fastest time in the 60-meter dash entering this weekend's Southeastern Conference indoor track championships at the University of Arkansas. The question: Should Demps quit football and focus on track? One pro track coach says no.

Loren Seagrave is a prominent voice in the United States track community. He's a sprints expert, operates Velocity Sports Performance and has coached his fair share of Olympians and Olympic medalists. He's also familiar with football, having served as the Atlanta Falcons speed and conditioning coach in the 1990s. Gator Clause caught up with Seagrave on Thursday to gauge the buzz around Demps among U.S. track's elite coaches and find out an expert's opinion on whether or not Demps would be wise in quitting football and focusing on track.

Jeffdemps Demps will likely participate in spring football in a limited role this March to focus on outdoor track. The 2010 U.S. Track and Field Outdoor Championships is June 23-27. Demps indicated before the Sugar Bowl that it is his goal to qualify for the meet. The current automatic qualifying time in 100-meter dash for U.S. championships is 10.15 seconds. Demps currently holds the U.S. Junior Outdoor Track and Field record in the 100 meters (10.01 seconds) but that record was set in 2008.

Seagrave is aware of Demps' talents and says the track community is impressed with Demps' raw speed at such a young age. If Demps wanted to turn pro in track today, he could do it. Seagrave says that would be a bad idea.

"If you love playing football and you love running track, then keep on doing both as long as you can and see how the football plays out for you, because if football doesn't work and you've been staying active and running track, then you can step right in as long as you don't have a real bad injury," Seagrave said.

Seagrave says his opinion is certainly not the consensus. Many track coaches believe year-round training is the best way to fully develop a sprinter, but Seagrave counters that philosophy with an understanding that the quick-burst training that running backs and wideouts receive is conducive to sprinting. The extra muscle mass running backs and receivers need for football can be easily shed once a former football player decides he wants to focus on track, according to Seagrave.

"With the exception of an injury, football preparation is actually really good for a sprinter," Seagrave said. "The only thing about playing football is there is always that chance that you're going to get whacked and then if you're even a little bit damaged you don't always come back as strong as you were before. In football you can have a pretty significant injury and they can put you back together again and you can still play at a high level, whereas track and field that isn't always true."

In the end, it's all about the money. Seagrave said that Demps could make substantially more money than even an Olympic champion by playing professional football for four or five years. If Demps has that opportunity, then he should pursue it. If Demps' football career plateaus because of his size (he's listed at 5-8, 183 pounds), then he can always fall back on track.

Depending on how Demps' career on the track unfolds, he could be faced with a tough decision in 2011. Should he forgo his senior season of football (or possibly redshirt) to prepare for Olympic qualifying? Demps didn't want to look that far into the future in January, but did say it will depend on his track times and if he thinks he has a legitimate opportunity to make the U.S. Olympic team. The 2012 Summer Games are in London.

-jo-

February 24, 2010

Gators one or two wins away from locking down at-large bid after upsetting No.20 Vols

GAINESVILLE -- Tuesday night was a first for me. It was the first time I've covered a Florida men's basketball victory against the Tennessee Volunteers. Exciting times for Gators. Athletics director Jeremy Foley was literally jumping out of seat on press row. He was happy.

The Gators defeated No.19 Tennessee 75-62 at O'Connell Center on Tuesday in a game that improved Florida's hopes of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. There's still work to do. That's my opinion. One more win and Florida slides in the backdoor of the Tournament. Two more regular-season wins would likely guarantee an invitation.

Florida (20-8, 9-4 SEC) is now third in the Southeastern Conference standings with three conference games remaining until the SEC Tournament. With games remaining against Vanderbilt (20-6, 9-3), Georgia (12-13, 4-8) and Kentucky (26-1, 11-1), the Gators can still win the SEC East. Florida is 5-2 in its last seven games and its RPI is 47 and rising.

On Tuesday night, Florida coach Billy Donovan did a nice job of explaining one reason why his program slipped after winning the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Tournaments. He said that no other program in the country has lost so many players to the NBA since 2007. Another reason is that Florida has missed on some recruits. Yet another reason is that Donovan has signed players who didn't develop like he had hoped. Recruiting for college basketball coaches is a gamble. In 2004, Donovan had a royal flush. Since then, Donovan has given a little back to the house.

Despite the dip in personnel, Donovan's teams have remained competitive. On Tuesday, Florida extended its streak of at least 20 wins per season to 12. That's the most in the SEC.

-jo-

February 19, 2010

Brown kicked off team

By Mike McCall

Defensive tackle Gary Brown was dismissed from the UF football team on Friday after his arrest last weekend on misdemeanor battery charges. UF spokesman Steve McClain released this statement: "Gary Brown has had a history during his time here of not meeting a set of expectations we have for the student athletes in our football program, and therefore he is no longer part of our program."

This isn't really a huge loss for the Gators. Brown was a five-star recruit last year, but he didn't show a ton of promise early on. Moreover, UF just signed a recruiting class being hailed as one of the best ever, especially on the defensive line, so filling his spot shouldn't be too tough. Florida still has one more scholarship to cut to make the limit of 85, so players should be especially careful not to give the coaches an easy decision like Brown did.

February 17, 2010

Meet your new UF assistants

By Mike McCall

GAINESVILLE--Florida's three new assistant coaches had their first meeting with the media Wednesday, and they gave some insight into how the program is being run during Urban Meyer's indefinite leave of absence and some clues as to what we'll see on the field next year. Here are some of the highlights:

Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was a Steve Addazio hire. The two worked together at Syracuse, and Austin said Addazio called him a few days before National Signing Day to gauge his interest in the job in case it came open. This means Meyer and Addazio knew George Edwards might be planning to skip town before signing day. Austin said the chance to work with Addazio again was a selling point: "He's still ugly. He still has a loud voice. But he's still one of the best men you'll ever meet. He was a big reason. When you have an opportunity to work with good people, and I know Steve's a great person, it was a no-brainer."

Linebackers coach DJ Durkin worked under Meyer at Bowling Green, and his exact role is still being determined. He will have some input on special teams though, a good sign because it means Meyer is going to lighten the load on his shoulders.

Running backs coach Stan Drayton had a rocky departure from UF two years ago, when he left Gainesville for Tennessee and complained of the way running backs are used in Meyer's system, but he said everything has been smoothed over and it's not a concern anymore. He did admit that the call from Meyer asking him to rejoin the staff came as a surprise, and he's walking into a great situation. The Gators have a stable of running backs, and Drayton had a hand in recruiting every single one of them.

Emmanuel Moody has to be the happiest man on Earth. When he chose Florida as his transfer school of choice, Stan Drayton was a big reason why. Drayton went out of his way to compliment Moody on Wednesday, something I haven't heard a UF coach do in quite a while, so this hire means good things for Moody.

Drayton also said Chris Rainey is going to split time between running back and receiver, so he's going to be filling the all-important "Percy Position."

Also, Drayton is the new recruiting coordinator, and Dade County and Orlando will be his main areas of focus.

When asked about how the uncertainty surrounding Meyer's future affected their decisions of whether or not to take jobs at UF, all three cited either the strong "structure" or "foundation" of the program. Sounds coached up to me. I wouldn't expect to get a ton of information about Meyer's situation during the next few weeks.

February 16, 2010

Here's how the Florida Gators make the Tourney

GAINESVILLE -- Florida entered last week needing a win against either South Carolina or Xavier to help the Gators' chances of making the NCAA Tournament. UF lost both games. So, what does that mean? It means UF must finish strong to make the Field of 65.

Here's what recent history tells us: The Gators haven't finished a season strong since 2007, the last time UF played in the NCAA Tournament (and won it). In 2008, Florida went 3-7 during its final 10 games of the regular season and missed the NCAA Tournament. In 2009, UF went 4-6 to finish the regular season and, once again, missed the NCAA Tournament.

Florida is currently 2-2 down the home stretch. With six games remaining, Florida likely needs to finish the regular season 4-2 (or at least 3-3) to ensure itself a spot in the NCAA Tournament before traveling to Nashville, Tenn., for the SEC tournament (March 11-14). OK, here's a quick breakdown of the Gators' remaining six games:

Florida gets Auburn (at home on Thursday) and Ole Miss (in Oxford, Miss., on Saturday) this week. These are likely must-win games for the Gators. Sure, UF could theoretically lose to Auburn and Ole Miss and still make the NCAA Tournament, but it will be difficult.

Assuming UF defeats Auburn and Ole Miss (and that's assuming a lot), the next four games will determine UF's postseason future (NCAA or NIT). Florida hosts Tennessee on Tuesday, Feb. 23, before playing at rival Georgia (Saturday, Feb. 27), at home against Vanderbilt (Tuesday, March 2) and at Kentucky (Sunday, March 7).

Just my opinion, but if Florida can win its home games (Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt), then the Gators will be in the NCAA Tournament. Here's how I see this thing playing out:

-Auburn at Florida, Thursday: The Gators begin their six-game blitz to make the NCAA Tournament with a victory.

-Florida at Ole Miss, Saturday: Loss. Recent history doesn't favor the Gators against teams from Mississippi late in the season.

-Tennessee at Florida, Tues., Feb. 23: Win! Gators get a much-needed boost with a victory against the Volunteers.

-Florida at Georgia, Sat., Feb.27: Win, again! There is still hope!

-Vanderbilt at Florida, Tues., March 2: Win, again! By luck of the SEC schedule, UF hosts a Vanderbilt team that is road weary. Vandy plays at Arky on Sat., Feb. 27.

-Florida at Kentucky: Loss.

OK, that puts the Gators at 6-4 over their final 10 games of the regular season with quality wins throughout the season against Michigan State, Florida State, at N.C. State, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. That should be enough to warrant an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

-jo-

February 15, 2010

Surprising and shocking news: Another Florida Gators football player arrested!

Gary-brown-240x300 GAINESVILLE -- So, I get back from covering the Daytona 500 and, guess what, another Florida Gators football player has been arrested. Defensive tackle Gary Brown this time. The 19-year-old redshirt freshman was busted in Alachua County on Sunday morning for allegedly slapping one woman and scratching another.

[PICTURED, Gators defensive tackle Gary Brown modeling the Florida football team's alternate home jersey.]

The violence happened at a party. Apparently two women asked people to leave and Brown's inner idiot expressed itself. Brown was booked in Alachua County jail on two counts of misdemeanor battery. The charges will likely be reduced, spring practice begins March 17 and yada, yada, yada. Alabama steamrolled Florida's rush defense in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Brown was released from jail on Monday. Acting UF football coach Steve Addazio suspended Brown from team activities. UF coach Urban Meyer is currently taking a medical leave of absence.

By official count, this is the 12,374th arrest of a Florida football player in the last year. An official count of the Gators' arrest total during the Urban Meyer era is not available simply because the only people who can count that high are currently working to fix the space station and the global economy.

Florida coach Urban Meyer is pretty smart but he made a mistake a few years ago by setting moral standards for his football players and then making those standards public. One of Meyer's tenets of coaching, one of the University of Florida football team's reason for being, according to Meyer, is to treat women with respect. Should be interesting to see how Meyer disciplines Brown. Meanwhile, Meyer has one more reason to throw up his hands and quit coaching all together.

-jo-

February 12, 2010

Urban Meyer's experiment with NFL coaches continues; Gators hire Arizona Cardinals assistant

GAINESVILLE -- Urban Meyer's pro-football experiment continued on Friday when Florida's coach hired another NFL assistant to be the Gators' new defensive coordinator.

Teryle Austin of the Arizona Cardinals is the Gators' new defensive coordinator. He replaces George Edwards, the former Miami Dolphins assistant, who was on the Gators' payroll for less than 30 days before leaving for the Buffalo Bills. Austin has a nice resume. He coached in college for 12 seasons before coaching in the pros for seven. That diversity of experiences is important to Meyer, apparently. Meyer is smart. He knows Nick Saban (pro and college experience) has turned Alabama's defense into a force and Florida's coach wants the same thing for the Gators.

Meyer has hired five assistants since the Southeastern Conference championship game. The instability hasn't affected the team yet but too much turnover is bad for any organization. At what point does the revolving door of assistant coaches at UF affect the Gators negatively? Florida's offense experienced growing pains last season after Dan Mullen left for Mississippi State. Spring football will be vastly more important defensively for the Gators this March compared to one year ago. Austin doesn't have much of a grace period.

-jo-

February 11, 2010

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has some advice for Tim Tebow

DAYTONA BEACH -- Many Jacksonville Jaguars fans are hoping Tim Tebow is drafted by his hometown team. On Thursday, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said that scenario might not be the best thing for Tebow.

Jones-Drew and Tebow were grand marshals for the Gatorade Duels at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday. Jones-Drew spoke with reporters and Tebow ran from them before the race. Tebow's attitude toward the press (only local reporters actually carried that he was there) is interesting and, in a slight way, adds validity to Jones-Drew's opinion that Tebow would benefit from getting the heck out Florida. Leaving Florida would mean less responsibility for Tebow.

"Getting drafted by Jacksonville would be a lot of pressure," Jones-Drew said. "I grew up in the Bay area and went to college in L.A. and I know if I would have gotten drafted to Oakland or San Francisco people would have thought he's going to change the team right now.

"It's a little bit different in college than the NFL, so I think it was best for me to go across the country. I got away from all the pressure, all the family and got to turn into the guy I wanted to be and not have people try and change me into something I'm not."

Jones-Drew made sure to add a disclaimer to his comments on Thursday. He added, "If we pick him, he's still going to do a great job, I just don't know if the pressure and the expectations of the city of Jacksonville and all the fans everywhere are going to have for him, but wherever he goes he's going to do a great job though."

Jones-Drew's cautious comments about Tebow came a few days after Jags' offensive lineman Uche Nwaneri criticized Tebow's skills. Nwaneri wrote on a Jacksonville Jaguars message board last week that Tebow "can't throw, period." Jones-Drew attempted to slightly clarify Nwaneri's comments: "That's the difference between college and pro, people don't speak their mind. Regardless if it hurts your feelings or not, they're going to tell how they feel about you."

-jo-

Breaking down which games Florida must win to make the NCAA Tournament

GAINESVILLE -- The University of Florida men's basketball team had 20 turnovers and made just 10 of 23 free throws on Wednesday night in its 77-71 road loss against South Carolina.

Florida shot 56 percent and out-rebounded South Carolina 41-35 but fell behind in the second half during a scoreless spell that lasted six minutes. Florida is 6-2 since junior forward Chandler Parsons unseated Dan Werner in the starting line-up. Parsons had 13 points, 11 rebounds and six assists on Wednesday in 34 minutes.

A victory on Wednesday would have helped the Gators' chances of reaching its first NCAA Tournament in three seasons, but it wasn't a requirement. Florida (17-7, 6-4) returns home on Saturday for an important non-conference game against Xavier. The Gators have eight games remaining on their schedule. Florida can finish the season 4-4 and likely still make the NCAA Tournament with the right combination of victories.

Going out on a limb here, but I'll predict that Florida can finish its conference schedule with nine wins and still make the NCAA Tournament if it defeats Xavier on Saturday. Anything less than that (an upset at Kentucky notwithstanding) would leave Florida relying on a strong run in the SEC Tournament to bolster its NCAA Tournament resume. Here's UF's remaining schedule along with quick analysis of each game's impact on Florida reaching the NCAA Tournament...

Florida (48 RPI) vs. Xavier (16-7, 8-2, 26 RPI), 6 p.m., Sat.: A win would strengthen Florida's RPI considerably and give the Gators non-conference wins against Florida State, Michigan State, N.C. State and Xavier. That's the makings of a solid NCAA Tournament resume. 

Florida vs. Auburn (154 RPI) , 7 p.m., Feb. 18: This is a must win for the Gators. Auburn's best victory this season came against Virginia on Dec. 12. The Tigers are 0-8 against teams currently in the RPI top 80. 

Florida at Ole Miss (39 RPI), noon, Feb. 20: Here's an interesting game. Ole Miss' has a solid non-conference victory (Ole Miss 86, Kansas State 74) but that game was played way back in November. The Rebels have an easier schedule that Florida to finish the season. Both teams need a victory here against solid conference opponent. This isn't exactly a "must-win game" for Florida but a loss against Ole Miss would definitely make the Gators' home games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt important tests.

Florida vs. Tennessee, 9 p.m., Feb. 23: Florida must go 1-1 against Tennessee and Vanderbilt in its final two home games. 

Florida at Georgia, 4 p.m., Feb. 27: If Florida loses to Ole Miss, then this game becomes much more important.

Florida vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m., March 2: Florida must go 1-1 against Tennessee and Vanderbilt in its final two home games. 

Florida at Kentucky, noon, March 7: A win here to finish the season would likely earn Florida a trip to the NCAA Tournament.

March 11-14 SEC Tournament ... Nail-biting scenario: If Florida loses to Xavier and finishes its SEC schedule with eight wins then the Gators will likely have to win two games in Nashville to make the NCAA Tournament ... Comfort-zone scenario: If Florida defeats Xavier and finishes 9-7 in the SEC then the Gators will make the NCAA Tournament. It'll be close, but UF's non-conference wins would be the deciding factors.

-jo-

February 10, 2010

Key road game for Gators tonight against South Carolina

GAINESVILLE -- A win tonight against South Carolina would go a long way in returning the Gators' men's basketball team to the NCAA Tournament. Game time is set for 8 p.m.

Florida is currently tied with Tennessee for third in the Southeastern Conference behind Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Gators defeated South Carolina 58-56 on Jan. 23 at the O'Connell Center. Florida's RPI is currently around 50. The Gators (17-6, 6-3) have won six of their last seven games since losing back-to-back games to Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

South Carolina guard Devan Downey sprained his ankle on Monday, according to a report in The State. LINK! Downey scored 36 points against Florida earlier this season. He was held out of practice on Tuesday and wore a protective boot. Downey is expected to play on Wednesday.

--Speaking of South Carolina, check out this bit of unfortunate news about a former UF commitment. LINK!

-jo-

Tim Tebow continues marketing circuit with trip to Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH -- Tim Tebow appears to be Gatorade's new marketing prince.

The sports drink franchise paraded Tebow around in his underwear last week in Fort Lauderdale for the Super Bowl. This week, Tebow is in Daytona Beach for the Gatorade Duel. Florida's former quarterback will be grand marshal for the first race of Thursday's Gatorade Dual. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew is the grand marshal for the second race.

When exactly is Tebow going to begin focusing on the Draft? Maybe he knows something we don't.

-jo-

February 07, 2010

Steve Addazio will be "point man" in hiring of new Gators defensive coordinator, according to athletics director

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley said on Saturday that assistant football coach Steve Addazio is the "point man" in hiring the team's new defensive coordinator.

Florida hired former Dolphins assistant George Edwards on Jan. 7 to replace longtime defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, but Edwards bolted for the Buffalo Bills this week. The hiring was announced on the Bills' website the day after National Signing Day.

Florida coach Urban Meyer is currently taking a required medical leave of absence but will apparently help with the hiring of a new defensive coordinator from afar, according to Foley. Foley told The Miami Herald on Saturday that Meyer will speak to Adazzio over the phone about the defensive coordinator position but Addazio will coordinate the hiring. Foley said he expects Addazio to hire a replacement for Edwards soon. An announcement could be made within a week.

Meyer put off his sabbatical until after National Signing Day, but he is currently out of pocket. (Probably relaxing on a beach somewhere in the South Pacific where no one knows his name or face. Just a guess.)

-jo-

February 05, 2010

Much too early to write off Tim Tebow

GAINESVILLE -- How harsh is the criticism about Tim Tebow these days? Even a Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman is calling out Florida's former quarterback. Here's what the Jags' Uche Nwaneri wrote recently on Jaguars.com after apparently becoming annoyed by so many friends and fans asking him if he's excited about the chance of Tebow being drafted by Jacksonville:

"1. He can't throw, PERIOD.
2. He can't read any coverage other than probably cover 2 or man.
3. The QB Wildcat WILL NOT WORK IN THIS LEAGUE. PERIOD.
4. He doesn't know how to take a snap from center.
5. HE CAN'T THROW, and that's really something you either have or not."

Nwaneri apparently wants out of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium faster than Georgia coach Mark Richt. Let's look beyond that, however, and focus on something interesting that Tebow might have to deal with when he first reports to rookie mini-camp this offseason. Not everyone is going to like him and, apparently, not everyone is going to even think that he deserves to be there. Initially, some pro football players might even resent Tebow. These opinions will not last. Let me explain.

Tebow is not a phony. He still seems pretty innocent. His perception of reality is slightly skewed about some things (that's to be expected) but it's not like his public image is much different than his actual personality. Sure, he likes MMA and stuff like that but whatever. (Mental note: Begin preparing Tebow-should-become-MMA-fighter blog if this whole football thing doesn't work out.) The point is this: NFL players are professionals and they're going to respect Tebow once he shows up and starts working.

As for Nwaneri's comments, let's run down the line:

1. Tebow can't throw, QUESTION MARK? Yes, Tebow can throw. It's not like his arm is weak. Anyone who says Tebow has a weak arm is wrong. It's simply not true. Anyone who says Tebow is not an accurate passer has no video evidence to prove that statement. I've watched Tebow play quarterback for the last four years. He's accurate. And what the heck does this offensive lineman know? He's an offensive lineman. He blocks defensive lineman and linebackers.

2. Everyone says Tebow can't read defenses. I've even had reporters who know nothing about football or quarterbacking or defenses try and tell me this. This is absurd. Tebow started in the Southeastern Conference for three years. His interceptions totals were always the lowest in the league. His efficiency rating was always the highest. Tebow can read defenses. People act like reading defenses is a hard thing. My 10-year-old kid reads defenses on EA Sports and has the mental capacity to audible at the line of scrimmage. I realize this is a ridiculous comparision, but that's the point. You're telling me Tim Tebow, who watches countless hours of tape and lives for football like no one else, can't read a defense? Wrong.

3. The Wildcat does work in the NFL. Teams have already proven this. If anything, the Wildcat will be a good way for Tebow to acclimate himself to the speed of the game his first one or two seasons in the league as a back-up.

4. Come on, seriously? Taking a snap from center? Next.

5. We've already established the fact that Tebow CAN THROW. If anything, he CAN THROW despite his atypical throwing motion. Just think what he'll be like once he gets that cleaned up a little bit. And don't try to tell me that Tebow can't correct whatever is wrong with his arm motion. I'm not buying it. I'm not even convinced it's really that big of a problem.

And what's this about Joe Theismann saying Tebow should quit football? What a goob.

It's much too early to write off Tebow based on one or two bad practices at the Senior Bowl, a couple fumbles in the game and the constant vomit flowing from the front of Todd McShay's face. Here's what I love about the good folks of ESPN. They've made a ton of cash flashing Tim Tebow's face on television screens over the years. It started in high school, when the network dubbed Tebow "The Chosen One." It continued through college, when ESPN seemingly camped out in Gainesville. ESPN helped Tebow win a Heisman in 2007. The network had exclusive one-on-one access to Tebow in 2008 and 2009.

In 2010, ESPN has changed up it's coverage ever so slightly. Still plenty of Tim Tebow, but now the network is making money by telling people how Tebow will fail in the NFL. Gator Clause was in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. It was like everyone who has ever covered Tebow was waiting for him to mess up so they could finally write something critical about the guy. There's nothing wrong with being critical, but let's be realistic. It was the Senior Bowl and Tebow was sick for most of the week. You think every single GM, coach and scout in the league is going to hold that against him? No.

And now some advice for Tim Tebow
Tebow needs to change some things in the next few months in order to transition smoothly into the NFL. These changes don't have anything to do with his throwing motion or five-step drop. They have to do with his family and the people surrounding him. Bob Tebow, Pam Tebow, Brothers Tebow and all the other people hovering around Tim Tebow need to take a step back. Take two steps back. You know what, just go away. Leave this kid alone. Don't show up in public with him. (OK, Brothers Tebow seem to be OK. But lose the camera crew, for crying out loud! More on that in a second). For now, no more orphanages or hospital visits. No more speaking engagements at churches or universities or Charlie Crist fundraisers (that last one is just me getting carried away). No more Super Bowl commercials! Seriously, a Super Bowl commercial? About pretty much the most controversial thing in our society? Right during the Super Bowl? Right before the Combine? Right before the Draft? Stupid. Not stupid that Tebow is taking a stand. I congratulate him on that -- Hooray! A high-profile athlete who isn't afraid to share his opinions! -- and hope he's a role model for other athletes. It's just poor timing, in my opinion. Too much pressure. Too much of a distraction. Make that commercial next year.

You know what else is a bit odd? That "documentary" crew that was following around Tebow at the Senior Bowl. The crew has been following Tebow since the end of the Sugar Bowl. You know who is directing this "documentary?" Chase Heavener, the son of Bill Heavener, whose name is on the side of the UF football complex. This is not helping Tebow, guys. It's counterproductive.

But you know what's worse? Bob Tebow allowing ... no, allowing would be the wrong word. You know what's worse? Bob Tebow wanting this "documentary" to be made right now, at this very important time in Tim Tebow's professional career. Bill Heavener is a family friend of the Tebows and yada, yada, yada. He donates plenty of cash to the Bob Tebow Evangelistic (apparently, soon to be Tele-Evangelistic) Association. I understand the obligation to the Heaveners and the opportunity to spread the Tebows' message and help people. That's great. But not right now. Again, let me be perfectly clear about my description of what is happening. A "documentary" crew is following around Tebow like he's some kind of reality-show celebrity. The film team hovered around Tebow the entire time at the Senior Bowl. How can Tebow earn respect from NFL coaches, GMs and players with that nonsense taking place? Tebow is no phony. You remember me writing that at the beginning of this post, right? Tim, here's some advice. No more "documentary" crew, no more favors to friends, no more anything except football until you actually do something in the NFL. Tebow is going to have dozens of media obligations in the coming months. He doesn't need an in-house film crew documenting his every move as he prepares for the NFL.

The Tebows' non-profit organization is a family affair. I get that. It's great that the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association is benefiting from Tim Tebow's success. It really is and I'm not being sarcastic. Anything to help orphans is great. Make 100 "documentaries" if it's going to help orphans, but for now, the Tebows need to step back and give their son some space to develop professionally. Bob Tebow needs to stop being his son's shadow. He did it for four years at Florida and that's fine, but Tim Tebow is a professional now and needs to be treated like one. Bob Tebow doesn't need to be a part of the story any longer. After all, he's got Tim. But give Tebow some time to himself to improve his game. Let me be clear. The Tebows do great work and the Tebows are great people. The intentions are good and for all the right reasons, but the people close to Tim Tebow need to remove themselves from the process and limit the clutter and distractions at this very important stage in Tim Tebow's professional career.

Of course, these are just my opinions. I could be way off. Being surrounded by a loving family like the Tebows is never a bad thing, of course. I just think Tebow needs to focus all his time and energy into preparing for the Draft. Love to see McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. eat crow the first day of the Draft.

-jo-

February 04, 2010

Kid Clutch does it again for Florida Gators

Call him Kid Clutch.

Erving Walker dropped in a floater with 11 seconds left and Alex Tyus preserved the lead with a block moments later to give the Florida Gators a 66-65 victory on Thursday night against the University of Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. Florida (16-6, 5-3) has two road victories in the Southeastern Conference and hosts Mississippi State at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at O'Connell Center.

Tyus finished with a team-high 19 points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. His best effort came with three seconds left when he rejected a lay-up by Alabama guard Mikhail Torrance, who led Bama with 22 points and five assists.

Walker had 16 points and was 2 of 4 from three-point range. UF guard Kenny Boynton Jr. had 15 points and was 3 of 8 from distance. Walker's tear-drop shot in the lane came after Torrance gave Alabama a one-point lead with 49 seconds to play. Thursday's last-minute drama is beginning to be common for the Gators. Three of their last four games have been determined in the final seconds. Florida defeated South Carolina at the buzzer and lost to Tennessee on a last-second shot.

-jo-

UF recruit Lyden Trail reacts to news of Florida Gators defensive coordinator George Edwards leaving for Buffalo Bills

GAINESVILLE -- George Edwards we hardly knew you!

The Gators' new defensive coordinator is now the Gators' old defensive coordinator. Edwards was hired by the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, one day after Florida hauled in the nation's top recruiting class. Gator Clause returns from covering the Super Bowl and, well, wouldn't you know, more crazy news for the Gators! Say this for covering Urban Meyer's team: it's never dull!

UF's new recruiting class is chalked full of defensive studs. Wonder what those guys are thinking today? At least one Gator recruit isn't worried about it. Miami Booker T. Washington defensive end said on Thursday that he wasn't surprised by the news. Edwards, a former position coach with Miami Dolphins, was hired on Jan. 7, the day of the BCS national championship.

"He didn't seem like he fit the Florida Gators mold anyway, to tell you the truth," Trail said. "He wasn't as intense as the other coaches, I guess because he was still getting used to everything. He's probably doing what's best for his family, so you can't fault him for that."

Trail said "as long as his position coach doesn't leave" he's content with whomever Meyer hires as the new defensive coordinator. Trail's position coach, Dan McCarney, is an obvious candidate to replace Edwards but McCarney said in the week leading up to the Sugar Bowl that he wasn't interested in being the Gators' defensive coordinator. Now that recruiting is over, expect the Gators to have plenty of options.

"Florida is the best team in the country and they just got the No.1 recruiting class," Trail said. "We're not going to have any problems finding a good defensive coordinator."

-jo-


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