June 30, 2015

#SECNTakeover: Florida's July 2 lineup announced

 

GAINESVILLE -- With the help of former Florida football player and current WWE Tag Team World Champion wrestler Titus O’Neil, the Gators will “takeover” the SEC Network on July 2 for 24 hours of consecutive coverage. 

ESPN announced UF’s “takeover" Tuesday, with the lineup featuring “The Greatest Game Ever Played in The Swamp,” Tim Tebow and Abby Wambach documentaries and replays from nine different sports. In a bit of a surprise, just two football games will be re-aired -- neither from the 21st Century. 

The only title game on the schedule is Florida’s win over Florida State in 1997 Sugar Bowl. According to ESPN's release, “takeover schedules were created from the available television inventory and NCAA Championships were not available for re-air.”  

The 24-hour coverage lineup: 

Midnight: Florida Gators’ Takeover Special 

1 a.m. - 2015 SEC Baseball Tournament Championship: UF vs. Vanderbilt

3 a.m. - 2014 UF vs. Texas (Volleyball) 

5 a.m. - 2009 Tennessee vs. UF (Women’s basketball)

7 a.m. - 2015 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championship

9 a.m - 2014 Florida State vs. UF (Soccer)

11 a.m. - SEC Storied: Abby Head On

12 p.m. - 2015 Kentucky vs. UF (Men’s basketball)

3 p.m. - 2015 Florida State vs. Florida (Softball)

4:30 p.m. - Florida Gators’ Takeover Special (Encore)

5:30 p.m. - “The Greatest Game Ever Played” - 11/22/1997 - FSU vs. UF

7:30 p.m. - 1997 Sugar Bowl - 1/2/1997 - Florida vs. FSU

9:30 p.m. - 2006 Ohio State vs. Florida (Men’s basketball)

11 p.m. - Tim Tebow: Everything in Between 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 13, 2014

Tebow in Gainesville as part of SEC Network launch

GAINESVILLE -- Former Florida legend Tim Tebow will be in Gainesville on Thursday, reporting live from UF’s campus as part of the SEC Network’s premiere launch event. 

Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion quarterback, will join host Joe Tessitore for the 6 p.m. special outside the Heavener Football Complex. 

Florida is encouraging students and fans to come out and participate in the background of live shots. 

Tebow, who continues to train daily for another shot in the NFL, will be an analyst on SEC Nation, a travelling pregame show similar to ESPN's College GameDay.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 09, 2014

SEC Network coming to Cox Communications

GAINESVILLE -- Florida fans can rest easy. 

Cox Communications, the major cable provider in Gainesville and much of North Central Florida, will carry the new SEC Network upon its launch on Aug. 14, ESPN and Cox announced Wednesday. 

“Cox is home to some of the biggest fans with five SEC schools in our markets,” Jill Campbell, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Cox Communications said in a release.  

“This is great news for alumni and fans across our footprint who will enjoy all the action and rivalries that have become synonymous with SEC sports.” 

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive added: “The addition of Cox is another very important step in the development of the SEC Network, bringing millions more viewers nationwide to the network when it launches on August 14.  As one of the largest cable television distributors in the U.S., including five states in the SEC footprint, this agreement with Cox has a significant impact on exposure for the SEC.”

The SEC Network will air 45 football games next season, including two of Florida's first three games (Eastern Michigan, Sept. 6; Kentucky, Sept. 13). 

Former Gators legend Tim Tebow will appear on the network as co-host of SEC Nation, a travelling pre-game show similar to College Gameday. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 30, 2014

Friday Fodder: Game times set, recruiting news, UF-UM update

154481610.0_cinema_1050.0

GAINESVILLE -- Florida fans will receive a brief reprieve from the heat this fall, as the Southeastern Conference announced the Gators’ season opener against Idaho (Aug. 30) will be a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPNU. 

Earlier in the week, CBS announced the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville (Nov. 1) will be televised on the network for the 12th straight year with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. 

The Gators now have four game times set, as UF’s home tilts against Eastern Michigan (Sept. 6) and Kentucky (Sept. 13) are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, with both games airing on the SEC Network. 

FAMILY CONNECTION

Three-star defensive tackle Andrew Ivie, younger brother of Florida sophomore defensive end Joey, committed to the Gators Thursday, per multiple recruiting services. 

The 6-foot-3, 288-pound Pasco product chose Florida over Ole Miss, Mississippi State and UCF. 

Ivie is the eighth prospect verbally pledged to UF’s 2015 class. 

UF-UM UPDATE

The SEC Spring Meetings concluded Friday, and while league commission Mike Slive announced several major tidbits from the week’s worth of discussions, the Florida-Miami series was a minor noteworthy topic early in the week. 

According to Associated Press reporter Mark Long, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said there’s “mutual interest” in renewing the Miami-Florida football series, but only as a “one-game deal at a neutral site.”

Foley’s quote on the matter hardly makes a potential showdown a reality (in the near or distant future), but it does clear up exactly how “receptive” Florida is in “renewing the series.”

The rub moving forward is how much cash can/will a neutral contest generate and what exactly constitutes a neutral site?

FILTHY RICH

The league announced record revenue in 2013, as $309.6 million will be distributed amongst the 14 schools -- an average of $20.9 million per university. With the league introducing its own TV network this summer, that number could double next season. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 08, 2014

UF-KU rematch date set

GAINESVILLE -- Florida will travel to Kansas on December 5 for a non-conference showdown against the Jayhawks as part of the 2014 SEC/BIG 12 Challenge, the leagues announced Wednesday. 

The marquee matchup, a rematch of last season’s inaugural SEC/BIG 12 Challenge when UF trumped KU 67-61 in Gainesviile, is one of 10 games between the two conferences in 10 days. 

ESPN’s family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, WatchESPN) will televise the event.

“The ability to showcase SEC basketball in this kind of inter-conference competition makes this a unique and exciting event for our coaches, student-athletes and fans,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement.   

ACADEMIC SUCCESS 

Florida’s men’s basketball team was publicly honored by the NCAA for its “outstanding academic performance,” scoring in the top 10 percent nationally in the Academic Progress Rate. 

The Gators were the only SEC basketball team to be recognized, as Florida set a conference record with eight players named to the academic honor roll. 

According to the university, the APR “provides a real-time look a the team’s academic success each semester by tracking the progress of each student-athlete on scholarship.”

Last weekend, six players participated in UF’s spring commencement ceremonies, as Billy Donovan, Jacob Kurt, Patric Young, Casey Prather, Scottie Wilbekin and Will Yeguete all graduated. 

YOUNG TO ATTEND COMBINE

Florida's former senior center has accepted an invite to this month's NBA Draft combine in Chicago (May 14-18), according to draftexpress.com.

The 6-foot-9, 245-pound frontcourt freak averaged 11 points and 6.2 rebounds this past season, anchoring one of the stingiest defenses in the country and earning defensive player of the year honors in the process. 

Per multiple mock drafts, Young projects as a late second round selection. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 01, 2014

Gators debut on SEC Network in Week 2

3T2qE.St.56

GAINESVILLE -- Two of Florida’s first three games in 2014 will be broadcast on the new SEC Network, ESPN announced Thursday. 

The Gators’ Sept. 6 game against Eastern Michigan (4 p.m.) and Sept. 13 SEC opener against Kentucky (7:30 p.m.) will air on the network. 

According to the release, all 14 league teams will appear on the SEC Network within the first four weeks of the season.  

INJURY REPORT

During the conference’s spring teleconference Wednesday, Florida coach Will Muschamp updated the status of several sidelined players set to be cleared this week. 

Tailback Matt Jones, who missed spring practice recovering from a serious knee injury, is “on target,” Muschamp said. 

Also “on track” are linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder) and Matt Rolin (knee), as well as sixth-year senior wideout Andre Debose. 

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Muschamp said. 

QUOTABLE 

“It’s fine with me. I was for eight games. It isn’t all fair all the time, that’s part of it. Whatever format they went with eight games I was good with it. … There’s no perfect answer to please everybody. We did what is best for our league. We all have hidden agendas whatever university we represent.”

-- Muschamp on the finalization of the future SEC schedule

2015 CLASS ADDS ANOTHER

West Orange cornerback/tailback/athlete Jalen Julius committed to Florida late Wednesday night, according to multiple recruiting services. 

Later, Julius, a three-star prospect, confirmed his verbal pledge on Twitter. 

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 3.43.00 PMJulius is Florida’s seventh commit in its 2015 class.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

April 22, 2014

April 05, 2014

NCAA Final Four: Live from AT&T Stadium

2013-final-four-dallas

ARLINGTON, Texas — Florida's 'Core Four' starts its Texas revenge tour in roughly one hour.

The top-seeded Gators and seventh-seeded Connecticut Huskies tipoff at 6:09 p.m. (EST) on TBS at Jerry World AT&T Stadium. 

Florida has won all four tournament games by double-digits — the only team to do so — and enter the matchup as prohibabtive favorites (BPI 80 percent, FiveThirtyEight 70 percent, Vegas -6.5), but can Shabazz Napier complete the Kemba Walker metamophsis and engineer an upset?

We'll see. 

ICYMI: A sampling of the Miami Herald's extensive pregame coverage:

* Adam Beasley's tremendous feature on Billy Donovan. 

* The heavyweight match-up between Napier and UF guard Scottie Wilbekin.

* Will Kasey Hill be the X-factor?

* Overcoming the distractions at the Final Four.

* An early preview. 

Here's a six-pack of keys to watch during the Final Four showdown. 

CONTROLLING THE PAINT

The Gators physically dominated the Huskies on Dec. 2, as UF outscored Connecticut 32-14 in the paint, had a plus-eight margin on the glass and forced both Huskies centers (Phillip Nolan, Tyler Olander) to foul out. 

Patric Young was unguardable, tallying 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. 

Also: Florida has been a steady rebounding team (42nd defense, 41st offense) all season, while UConn struggles to control the boards with a guard-heavy lineup. Napier is UConn’s leading rebounder (5.9 rpg), as Nolan — its starting big-man — grabs just 2.9 boards per contest. 

FREE THROWS

[See: UCLA note, lather, rinse, repeat]. The Gators, porous from the charity stripe most of the season (66.3 percent), have shot 73.9 percent in four NCAA Tournament games, but UConn is better… much better. Napier has shot 93 percent from the line in the Big Dance, 87 percent on the season. UConn averages 21 free throws a game. 

BEHIND THE ARC 

The Gators shot a woeful 6-for-25 from downtown in two games last year at the cavernous AT&T Stadium, but players swear depth perception won’t be a factor tonight. In Michigan’s Elite Eight drubbing, Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II never attempted a trey.   

BENCH 

Kasey Hill didn’t play (ankle). Chris Walker wasn’t on campus yet (ineligible). Dorian Finney-Smith had one of his worst games of the season (4 fouls, 3 points). Florida’s depth is one of the team’s major strengths, as UF reserves have outscored their counterparts 62 percent of the time this season. In the first meeting, UConn had a plus-nine advantage (12-3). Look for that to flip tonight. 

TURNOVERS

Florida had its worst assist-to-turnover ratio of the season against UConn (8:16), as Finney-Smith (6), Wilbekin (3) and Casey Prather (5) struggled to take care of the ball. The 16 turnovers were one shy of Florida’s season-high, and the Gators haven’t coughed the rock up as many as 14 times in six weeks. 

OVER/UNDER 25.5

Napier sliced the Gators for 26 points in the first matchup, highlighted by his buzzer-beating fadeaway. Napier has scored 25 (or more) points 10 times this season — with UConn winning eight of those games. If the Gators hold the All-American under 25 points they should roll to the finals, otherwise things could get tricky.

Enjoy the game, everybody. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

December 30, 2013

Tebow joins ESPN

GAINESVILLE -- Tim Tebow has found his next football job -- as an analyst for ESPN. 

The former Florida Gators star quarterback signed a three-year contract to become a commentator for the SEC Network -- which launches in August 2014 -- the network announced Monday.  

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion will make his ESPN debut during ample pregame coverage of the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 6. 

According to ESPN, Tebow's contract will "not preclude him from continuing to pursue playing opportunities in the NFL."

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoprt added...

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 10.39.59 PM
 

“When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC," Tebow said in a statement released by ESPN. 

Tebow, who was cut by the New England Patriots in August and did not play in the league in 2013, will serve a variety of roles for ESPN, but the former "SEC icon" will mainly appear on the new network's SEC Nation -- the conference's version of GameDay (a traveling pregame show) -- alongside host Joe Tessitore and commentator Paul Finebaum. 

“Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal," ESPN senior vice president Justin Connolly said in the news release. "He brings a wealth of knowledge about the game, the conference and the passion among SEC fans.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

September 16, 2013

Notebook: Safety Swap

GAINESVILLE -- No. 19 Florida (1-1) released its updated depth chart for Saturday’s game against Tennessee (1-1), and a noticeable switch at safety highlighted the few changes.

Redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye has been benched in favor of senior cornerback Jaylen Watkins.

Maye had a tough outing in the loss to Miami, blowing a coverage on Phillip Dorsett’s 52-yard touchdown reception and whiffing on a pair of tackles.

“You just can’t give up big plays,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We can’t afford that to happen. You’ve gotta tackle better. Marcus knows that.”

With Watkins sliding to safety, electric freshman defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III is now the backup at all three cornerback spots and should see increased playing time.

Other depth chart notables include Antonio Morrison as the starting middle linebacker, while right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) returns from injury as the starter at right guard.

Also, Loucheiz Purifoy is now the backup kick returner.

INJURY REPORT

Quarterback Jeff Driskel (knee), cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee), left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and Halapio (torn pectoral) are all “good to go” for the Volunteers this weekend. Staring right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) remains questionable, but Muschamp expects the sophomore to play.

Moore won’t practice Monday, as Muschamp said, “We feel like everybody should be good. Tyler’s the only one that’s a little bit questionable right now but I hope to get him back for some reps Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.”

UNDER THE LIGHTS

Florida will play its first night game of the season when it kicks off against Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 (ESPN2 or ESPNU). The Gators -- winners of 26 straight games in the series -- haven’t lost to the Wildcats since 1986.

QUOTABLE

“You have to ask him that. No idea. I don’t think he’d do it, personally. Does anybody want to ask him? He doesn’t allow some media people in his things. Go ask him. I don’t think he’ll do it is my answer. … I’d be all for it though. Absolutely. I’d liked to see it actually. Some of y’all would as well.”

-- Muschamp -- smiling and laughing the whole time -- on the chances South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier returns to Florida this season as an honorary Mr. Two Bits.

THIS & THAT

After Jordan Reed led the Gators in receptions in 2012, Florida’s tight ends have been non-existent in the offense this season with just a single reception. Muschamp was critical of their progress, saying, “We’re going to throw it to the guys who can make plays. … We’re going to circle guys who are going to make plays and yards after the catch. That’s not been the strong point of that position at this point.”

... Florida has won eight straight games against Tennessee -- a UF series best. The Gators trounced the Vols 37-20 last season with a big second-half comeback.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 30, 2013

Florida: A Game-by-Game Breakdown

*** Note *** This article ran in the Herald's 2013 College Football Preview

Gators
(media.miamiherald.com)

Aug. 31: Toledo, Noon (SEC Network)

Florida will cruise to its 24th straight season-opening victory. UF 30-9.

Sep. 7: @ Miami, Noon (ESPN)

In 2012, Florida ranked No. 78 nationally in scoring offense, while UM ranked No. 83 in scoring defense. Something’s got to give. UF 24-17.

Sep. 21: Tennessee, TBA (TBA)

The Gators have won six in a row over the Volunteers. The streak continues. UF 24-10.

Sep. 28: @ Kentucky, TBA (TBA)

New Wildcats coach Mark Stoops might have his team pointed in the right direction, but his promising recruiting class won’t be on campus yet. UF 35-0.

Oct. 5: Arkansas, TBA (TBA)

Even the Gators can score against a feeble Hogs defense. UF 33-13.

Oct. 12: @ LSU, TBA (TBA)

Florida isn’t holding LSU under 200 yards of total offense in Death Valley. LSU 23-16.

Oct. 19: @ Missouri, TBA (TBA)

Tigers quarterback James Franklin tossed four interceptions in a close loss (14-7) last season. Repeat performance? UF 20-7.

Nov. 2: Georgia (Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m. (CBS)

Will Muschamp has never won a game in the series -- sporting red and black or orange and blue. UGA 21-20.

Nov. 9: Vanderbilt, TBA (TBA)

This isn’t your daddy’s ‘Dores, but alas, the Gators still have better players. UF 26-17.

Nov. 16: @ South Carolina, TBA (TBA)

All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is still not impressed with Florida’s offense. USC 22-16.

Nov. 23: Georgia Southern, TBA (TBA)

A brief reprieve before another tough rivalry game. UF 38-0.

Nov. 30: Florida State, TBA (TBA)

The Seminoles won’t win in Gainesville twice in a row. UF 28-20. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 23, 2013

Embrace it

And on the third day, Will Muschamp delivered some zingers...

Boom1
(media.miamiherald.com)

Much has been made of Florida's 2014 schedule, released by the SEC on Wednesday. See here, here, here, oh wait, yup, here

On Friday, an animated Muschamp admitted what many refuse to acknowledge: It's about TV. It's about money. The new SEC Network (ESPN): They don't want Kentucky vs. Mississippi State. They want prime-time prize fights. 

"At the University of Florida we embrace whoever we play and whatever happens. ...At the end of the day, no one wants to say it but it comes down to matchups. People want to see the Gators play. They want to see Florida and Alabama play. I know that's not the company line, but that's the bottom line."

Muschamp ribbed the league a bit, but all in good fun. 

"A season ago we were asked to go to College Station and we embraced it and welcomed the [Texas A&M] Aggies to the SEC," he said, smiling. "We've been asked to kickoff at noon Aug. 31, Sept. 1 every year, we embrace it. We've been asked to play a cross-division opponent with LSU. We don't gripe and complain about it, we embrace it. We embrace things at Florida."

He finished his bit by saying, "There's a rumor going around they're going to ask us to play nine conference games next season and rest of the league play eight. And if they do, we'll embrace it. What a wonderful opportunity.”

It certainly is, but the 2013 season can't start soon enough. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 21, 2013

Boom goes the dynamite

Last Thursday, the Internet (mainly Twitter) went B-A-N-A-N-A-S over this…

Bostic

Jon Bostic’s smashing highlight was ESPN SportsCenter’s top play, but on Wednesday the NFL fined the former Florida star and current Chicago Bears linebacker $21,000 for the hit on San Diego Chargers wideout Mike Willie.

SEE: Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 10.57.11 PM

Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin -- Bostic’s position coach last season -- said the crushing shot went viral in Florida’s locker room too.

“The clip of that hit? It was pretty popular. Coaches, players alike -- everyone looked at it,” Durkin said. “Obviously we’re all really proud of him. You can’t find a better guy than Jon Bostic to represent our program. All the guys feel strongly about that, so everyone was talking about it.”

Bostic was a three-year starter at UF and a second round pick (50th overall) in April's NFL Draft. As a senior, Bostic was named a second-team All-SEC preformer. 

Durkin wasn’t so sure a fine was justified but didn’t go so far as calling out the league. Instead, he teased his former player via text.  

“I think that was such a bang-bang play. Obviously I don’t think he was intending to do anything with it,” Durkin said. “I just texted him a little bit ago. He got fined 21-grand or something like that -- and I said, ‘The good news is, you have the money now so you can go pay that. The bad news is you just got fined for that.’”

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs vehemently disagreed with fine, tweeting out…

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 10.46.34 PM

So what say you: Was the hit league or illegal?

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 14, 2013

HOOPS: UF's non-conference schedule set

Florida's treacherous 2013-14 non-conference basketball schedule is officially complete.

As first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, UF will face Fresno State in the Orange Bowl Classic at the B&T Center on Dec. 21. 

The Gators' 13 non-conference opponents includes five teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season (Wisconsin, Kansas, Memphis, Southern and Middle Tennessee State) and Connecticut, the 2011 NCAA Champions. 

DATE

TIME

OPPONENT

TV

Nov. 8

TBA

vs. North Florida

TBA

Nov. 12

9:00 p.m.

vs. Wisconsin

ESPN2

Nov. 16

TBA

vs. Ark Little-Rock

TBA

Nov. 18

TBA

vs. Southern

TBA

Nov. 21

TBA

vs. Middle Tennessee State

TBA

Nov. 25

TBA

at. Jacksonville

TBA

Nov. 29

TBA

vs. Florida State

TBA

Dec. 2

TBA

at. UConn

TBA

Dec. 10

7:00 p.m.

vs. Kansas (B12/SEC)

ESPN

Dec. 17

9:00 p.m.

vs. Memphis (@ MSG)

ESPN

Dec. 21

TBA

vs. Fresno State (Sunrise)

TBA

Dec. 29

TBA

vs. Savannah State

TBA

Jan. 4

TBA

vs. Richmond

TB

GAMEDAY (@ RUPP)

ESPN announced its (hoops) College GameDay locations for the upcoming season and the pregame show will air live from Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY on Feb. 15 for the Florida-Kentucky game (9:00 p.m., ESPN). 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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