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8 posts from June 2010

June 20, 2010

Florida State ousts Gators from College World Series

GAINESVILLE -- An incredible season for the Florida Gators baseball team came to end on Monday with an 8-5 loss to Florida State in an elimination game at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

Florida finished the season 47-17. The Gators' top accomplishments this season included winning the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and sweeping rival Miami in the Gainesville Super Regional.

The University of Florida was the only school this year to play in a BCS bowl game, compete in the NCAA Tournament and play in the College World Series.

-jo-

June 13, 2010

Gators receiver Frankie Hammond: A good guy who made a poor decision

GAINESVILLE -- Troubling news amid UF's College World Series celebration on Saturday night. UF receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. of Hallandale was arrested early Sunday morning for driving drunk.

Hammond has been suspended from team activities, according to UF. Let's hope UF coach Urban Meyer remains consistent and allows Hammond back on the team. Meyer gives second chances to deserving people and Hammond is certainly deserving of a second chance.

Janoris Jenkins, beast that he is, resisted arrest last year by fighting through a police Taser and received limited punishment from Meyer. Aaron Hernandez played football and smoked marijuana at UF, God bless him. Carlos Dunlap was arrested for driving drunk before the SEC championship game and remained on the team. I could keep going, but you get the point. Meyer is usually a forgiving coach, and it has served him well in the past.

Hammond is a good student and a good person who made a poor decision on Sunday. UF is sometimes tough on students who drive drunk and for good reason, but Hammond deserves a second chance.

-jo-

June 10, 2010

On Southeastern Conference expansion: Add Texas, Texas A&M, Miami and Florida State

GAINESVILLE -- You know that far off, foggy "paradigm shift" of college football Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive so judiciously spoke of last week? It just registered a 9.5 on the Richter Scale.

Seek shelter, college football fans. The sport as we know it is about to explode. On Wednesday, Nebraska and Colorado decided to part ways with the Big 12. According to reports, Nebraska is headed to the Big Ten and Colorado is moving to the Pac-10. The Big 12? Kablooie!

I'll cut to the chase here a little bit, and will not bore you with what you already know or think you know. The Pac-10 is trying to gobble up Texas and its friends. So, what's the SEC's play? That's the big question. What is the most powerful conference in college football going to do to stay on top? Invite Texas and Texas A&M to join the league, of course.

Leaders at Texas and Texas A&M are scheduled to meet on Thursday to decide the future of their athletic programs. They have two options: Join the Pac-10 or join the SEC. Put that way, it's really no choice at all. If you're Texas and Texas A&M and your conference is about to go under and you have a choice to join the SEC, then that's what you do. End of discussion. And if Mike Slive and his SEC constituents miss the boat on this one they'll have a lot of explaining to do.

So, Texas and Texas A&M brings the SEC to 14 teams. I'm going to go ahead and write that one down because any other home for Texas and Texas A&M would be idiotic. But is that enough, or should the league expand further? Should the SEC move to 16 and remain the undisputed king of college football, or should the SEC pass the torch of college-football innovation off to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott and the Stanfords of the world?

Put a different way, what would Roy Kramer do? You know Roy, right? He's the man who made the SEC what it is today. He expanded the league to 12 teams in 1992, created Division I-A's first conference championship game and then masterminded the Bowl Championship Series. I hope Mike Slive is paying attention. The SEC isn't in the business of reacting to "paradigm shifts." No, the SEC is in the business of creating college football earthquakes. Reacting to paradigm shifts is for leagues like the Big 12, which will be history in 2012.

So, the SEC adds Texas and Texas A&M from the west and then adds Miami and Florida State from the east. It's that simple. And if ESPN is smart, which it is, they'll demand this, broker this and help get it done. In adding all of the football powers from Texas and Florida to your league, you lock down the country's two most influential football states and then let the rest of the college football fight for the scraps.

And I don't want to hear anything about Georgia Tech, Clemson, Virginia Tech or anyone else. The SEC should add Texas, Texas A&M, Miami and Florida State and rule college football forever. And guess what, Canes fans, if the 'U' is lucky enough to join the SEC -- And, believe me, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley and coach Urban Meyer will put up a fight on this one -- it will change the culture of Miami football for the better, and by better we mean more money, more fans in the stands, more respect, more everything.

A bit of a rant, that was. Now back to the point. If the Big 12 is completely dissolved, then the new home for Texas and Texas A&M should be the SEC. If Miami doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant a spot in the SEC, then add Virginia Tech instead.

Parting thought: Would Miami finally win an ACC title if Florida State and Virginia Tech were no longer in the league? In all seriousness, a watered down ACC might better suit the Canes.

-jo-

June 07, 2010

Gators blank FAU; Await winner of Coral Gables Regional

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators baseball team dominated the NCAA Tournament's Gainesville Regional from beginning to end and now await the winner of Monday's game between Miami and Texas A&M to learn their opponent for next weekend's Gainesville Super Regional.

Florida defeated Florida Atlantic 15-0 on Monday night to sweep the Gainesville Regional. UF defeated Bethune-Cookman, Oregon State and FAU in three days. Sunday's finale was the weekend's highlight. UF (45-15) had 19 hits, including six home runs, a school postseason record. Sophomore Tyler Thompson of Tequesta had three homers and six RBI. Freshman left-hander Brian Johnson (6-4) pitched seven scoreless innings.

"It was a great team effort tonight," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We had a chance to get everyone in the ballgame, first and foremost. We swung the bats really well, got off to an early lead and had production all the way down the lineup."

Johnson was named Most Outstanding Player of the Gainesville Regional for his dominance on the mound and at the plate. He allowed six hits in seven innings against FAU (37-24) and batted .625 (5-for-8) over the weekend, including three hits and a home run against FAU.

Miami lost to Texas A&M 11-7 on Sunday afternoon in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes (42-18) and Aggies (43-20-1) play at 7 p.m. on Monday. The NCAA will release schedules for its eight Super Regionals late Monday night. The Gators hosted a Super Regional last season but lost to Southern Miss.

-jo-

June 06, 2010

Gators advance to regional championship game

GAINESVILLE -- A win tonight puts the University of Florida baseball team one series away from a trip to Omaha. Standing in the way could be Miami.

The Gators (44-15) play either Oregon State or Florida Atlantica at 7 p.m. on Sunday in the championship game of the NCAA baseball tournament's Gainesville regional. UF defeated Oregon State 10-2 on Saturday night, receiving a strong pitching performance from lefty Alex Panteliodis (10-2), who had eight strikeouts over five innings. At the plate, seven of UF's 14 hits went for extra bases, including three homers and two triples.

"Once again, we had an awesome start on the mound for us," said UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan. "[Panteliodis] was solid and the offense did a heck of a job in the third inning with seven two-out runs. Our pitching was good and we only walked two batters tonight. I'm awfully proud of our guys."

A win on Sunday by the Gators coupled with a victory by the University of Miami in the Miami regional would set up a classic super regional: Gators vs. Canes in Gainesville.

-jo-

June 05, 2010

Gators baseball to face Oregon State at 7 p.m. in Gainesville regional

GAINESVILLE -- The University of Florida baseball team plays Oregon State at 7 p.m. on Saturday in a winner's bracket game of the NCAA Tournament's Gainesville regional.

The Gators (43-15) defeated Bethune-Cookman University 7-3 on Friday in a regional opener for both teams. UF freshman right-hander Hudson Randall had 10 strikeouts in the win. It was Randall's sixth victory in a row.

"Hudson Randall was outstanding on the mound," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "We knew Bethune-Cookman would be a tough opponent. We jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but like we expected, they battled and gave it everything they had. It was hard to pull away from them. Bethune is always tough and they proved it again tonight."

Randall didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning.

-jo-

Billy Donovan pays respects to John Wooden

GAINESVILLE -- Gator Clause was lucky enough to interview John Wooden for about 30 minutes in 2007 for a piece previewing the NCAA Tournament. Wooden thought the Gators had what it took to repeat and, of course, he was right.

Wooden died on Friday. He was 99. Wooden was always a fan of UF coach Billy Donovan, so it was no surprise when Donovan won the Wooden Award in April. Donovan, so moved by his relationship with Wooden, issued a statement Friday night about his friend:  

"John Wooden was a great coach and a great man. He was a man of humility who embodied the best in character and values, and exemplified what coaching is all about.

I was fortunate enough to be honored with the Wooden Award in April, an award that now takes on added significance to me personally. I found out that I was being honored on his 99th birthday. To have the opportunity to go out to Los Angeles and see firsthand how great an impact he still has is something I will always be honored and humbled to be a part of. His legacy will endure forever.

I also didn't want to go unnoticed the sad passing of Duke Llewellyn today, the co-founder of the Wooden Award and Team. Duke was a kind and compassionate man, and I feel truly honored to have known him, even if only briefly. He was a class individual with a great sense of humor who touched many lives around him."

-jo-

June 01, 2010

Gators Meyer feeling 'fantastic' after 'bizarre' year

DESTIN -- Greetings from wonderful Destin, where I'm happy to report there is no oil on the beach!

Of course, oil is not the reason I'm in Destin. The Southeastern Conferene's spring meetings are Tuesday through Thursday at the Sandestin Resort and on Tuesday Urban Meyer and Billy Donovan spoke with reporters in back-to-back news conferences.

For the record, Urban Meyer is against conference expansion. Just more tough opponents, presumably, in an already difficult league, says he of two national championships.

The big news out of Tuesday was an announcement of sorts by Meyer is that he is feeling "fantastic" now that he's on the proper medication to control ... esophageal spasms. That's what Meyer said was causing some of his health concerns "for the past three years." I have no idea what esophageal spasms has to do with one's heart, but I'll take Meyer's word for it that he's feeling fine.

According to a definition on the Mayo Clinic's website: "Esophageal spasms are an uncoordinated series of muscle contractions that prevent food from traveling properly from your esophagus to your stomach. These spasms can be very painful. Chest pain is a common symptom of esophageal spasm."

So, Meyer has had trouble swallowing for the past three years, but now he's got it all figured out. Okey-dokey ... Yeah, so I texted UF football PR man Steve McClain just to confirm that esophageal spasms is indeed what Meyer meant to say in the news conference and McClain texted back one word, "Correct."

While esophageal spasms sounds like more damage control by the Gators' PR people, the most important thing to note here is that Meyer is feeling "fantastic" and all signs point to him returning to normal ... because things have been crazy in Gainesville for the past year. I mean, from hourly speculation about Tim Tebow's concussion to early morning trips to the ER for esophageal spasms, it's hard to wrap your head around it all.

"I just think that exercise and -- I don't want to stand up here and sound like a doctor now -- but it's the same issues that everyone deals with -- work," Meyer said. "Just take care of yourself. I didn't do that. It seems the last year and a half -- it was a bizarre deal."

-jo-


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