March 16, 2016

Florida-Georgia rivalry to remain in Jacksonville through 2021

GAINESVILLE -- The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party isn’t going anywhere. 

The Florida-Georgia game will stay in Jacksonville through 2021, as first reported by Wednesday. 

The two schools agreed on a five-year extension with the city, as the current contract was set to expire after the Oct. 29 game this fall. 

“We could not be more excited about our continued partnership with two of the nation’s finest universities,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said in a statement. 

“Our new agreement further strengthens the Georgia-Florida tradition we have enjoyed here in Jacksonville for 83 years. The legendary rivalry continues and the best is yet to come.”

The delay in contract negotiations was mainly over questions about the ongoing EverBank Field renovations and the potential impact on crowd capacity. Those concerns were alleviated, apparently, but the schools still hold plenty of leverage in future negotiations. 

“We are excited to continue the tradition of playing the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville,” UF athletics director Jeremy Foley said in a release.”

“As I’ve said a number of times over the years, the game belongs in Jacksonville. Thanks to the hard work and the cooperation of the city of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Jaguars and our counterparts at Georgia, it will continue to be in Jacksonville.”

Both teams will reportedly receive a $125,000 signing bonus and $250,000 annually to defray expenses. The annual showdown is a cash-cow for the City of Jacksonville, as the game was once again a sellout in 2015. More than 5 million people watched the broadcast on CBS and the city made an estimated $35 million in revenue

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

October 27, 2015

Abby Wambach announces her retirement


GAINESVILLE -- Former Florida star and international soccer legend Abby Wambach is hanging up her boots. 

The U.S. Women’s National Team captain and all-time leading scorer -- male or female -- in international soccer announced her retirement Tuesday after the national team celebrated its 2015 World Cup victory with President Obama at the White House. 

“After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I’ve decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end. While we still have more work to do for women’s soccer, after bringing the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about the future of the sport. It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings.”

Wambach will officially call it quits after the women’s team concludes its victory tour for winning the World Cup this December. Wambach’s final game will be Dec. 16 against China in New Orleans. 

Wambach, 35, was renowned for her goals via headers, physical play, leadership and the advancement of soccer in America. 

She was a three-time All-American at UF, spearheading the Gators’ 1998 national championship team as a freshman. She still holds the SEC record for goals with 96 and led UF to four straight SEC titles. 

After leaving Gainesville, Wambach quickly developed into an international superstar, playing in four World Cups, two Olympics and scoring a record 184 international goals.

She won a pair of Olympic gold medals (2004, 2012) and capped her decorated career with an elusive win in a World Cup final this summer. 

Wambach is actually scheduled to speak at Florida’s Phillips Center next week (Nov. 3) during a Homecoming event hosted by ACCENT. The event is free and open to the public and Wambach’s speech begins at 8 p.m. 

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August 31, 2015

UF releases Week 1 depth chart with few surprises

GAINESVILLE -- Just five days away from Florida’s opener against New Mexico State, the unranked Gators released their first official depth chart of 2015. 

My prediction earlier in the day…

Some people didn’t get the joke, but alas. 

*************** FLORIDA GATORS WEEK 1 DEPTH CHART ***************

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.46.12 PM


Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.46.26 PM

Florida’s depth chart didn’t yield a ton of surprises other than the news senior linebacker Antonio Morrison is slated to start at MLB. Gators coach Jim McElwain later acknowledged Morrison’s miracle recovery (knee injury) and said the senior would play against the Aggies on Saturday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network). 

With five-star freshman tackle Martez Ivey sidelined, UF’s starting offensive line is what we’ve seen in camp the last few days: (L-R) Mason Halter, Trip Thurman, Cam Dilliard, Antonio Riles and David Sharpe.

Other takeaways include just three OR's (naturally the quarterbacks, backup tailbacks and cornerback spot opposite VH3); little-used safety Nick Washington earning the start with Marcus Maye suspended for the opener; freshman wideout Antonio Callaway earning the nod over junior Chris Thompson; a total of 16 redshirt or true freshmen listed on the two-deep. 

Really, the initial depth chart release is a perfunctory exercise, but it does (at least) confirm much of what I've seen and reported from practice. Still, plenty stands to change as the season progresses. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 03, 2014

A skinny six-pack: Florida’s 2014 fall camp primer


GAINESVILLE -- The Gators open training camp Monday, ready to rebound from their worst season in over three decades. 

With so much static in the system, coach Will Muschamp’s long-term future with the Gators remains in flux and although Florida is a confident bunch entering 2014, its preseason optimism hardly guarantees a successful year.

UF has a talent-laden squad heading into fall camp, but there’s plenty of uncertainties the team hopes to solve before its opener against Idaho (Aug. 30).

Later this afternoon, Florida will host its Media Day to officially start the season. 

Here’s a quick preview of UF’s training camp.  

********** FIVE STORYLINES TO FOLLOW **********

1. Can Florida develop depth along the offensive line?

The starting five isn’t spectacular but it’s a solid group. The players behind the first five? Yikes. UF’s o-line depth is thinner than a Victoria Secret model.  

2. Will transfer tight end Jake McGee fit seamlessly in Kurt Roper’s offense?

Expectations have skyrocketed for the former Virginia Cavalier, as fans and media members are already anointing him Jordan Reed 2.0. We’ll see. 

3. Will spring stars have staying power?

It’s a yearly tradition in college football -- especially at Florida: spring standouts become fall frauds. Explosive receiver Demarcus Robinson has dominated the last two April camps, but will he become the much-needed X-factor this fall? Tailback Adam Lane, rookie corners Jalen Tayor and Duke Dawson, pass-rusher Alex McCalister and linebacker Daniel McMillian all made noise this spring as well. Can they continue their good play as the real season approaches? 

4. What will the linebacker rotation look like?

Florida has plenty of ability at the position, but raw talent didn’t materialize into a dominant group last season. The Gators hope the scrip flips this fall. Sophomore Jarrad Davis is a probable starter, while junior Antonio Morrison (a disaster in 2013) and senior Mike Taylor will compete for significant playing time. How the youngsters (McMillian, Matt Rolin and Alex Anzalone) fit into the rotation will be interesting to watch.   

5. What sort of strides has Jeff Driskel made under Kurt Roper’s tutelage? 

There’s an assumption Driskel has never showcased his true talents at Florida, but then there’s also that saying about assumptions. The redshirt junior has the physical tools to succeed at the highest level, but he's yet to demonstate any sort of consistency. Can Roper straighten out his deep-ball mechanics and fix the issue between Driskel's ears?

********** FIVE POSITION BATTLES TO WATCH **********

1. Backup quarterback -- Skyler Mornhinweg is the veteran of the group, and despite an absence of upside, is the front-runner for the back-up job behind Driskel. But it’s really a figurative No. 2. Should Driskel go down (again) for any significant period of time, Florida will turn to the future: a battle between Will Grier (shifty with super arm strength, but likely needs a redshirt season) and Treon Harris (an uber competitor with road-runner speed, but undersized for the position). 

2. Safety -- For the second straight fall, the Gators must replace both safety spots, as Jaylen Watkins (NFL) and Cody Riggs (transferred to Notre Dame) are gone. It’s an open competition, with as many five guys (Jabari Gorman, Keanu Neal, Marcell Harris, Marcus Maye, Nick Washington) competing for lots of playing time. Neal -- a sophomore who carries the most potential -- and Gorman -- a senior who offers a veteran, stable presence -- are the likely frontrunners, but Maye might sneak his way into the lineup after being in the coaches’ doghouse much of last year. 

3. Kicker -- Austin Hardin was miserable in 2013 (4-of-15), and although the redshirt sophomore seemed to solve some of his mechanical issues this spring, the Gators elected to bring in two kickers -- former Virginia Tech kickoff specialist Brooks Abbott and Belen Jesuit Prep freshman Jorge Powell -- to compete for the job. Senior walk-on Francisco Velez (6-of-8 in 2014) remains in the mix as well.     

4. Cornerback -- Florida has five freshmen battling for the spot opposite sensational sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III. Brian Poole, the lone upperclassmen in the the entire group, is best suited to play inside (nickel back), so Jalen Tabor, Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson and two others will vie for the boundary corner job. Tabor and Dawson were early enrollees and have a leg-up on the other three freshmen. 

5. Back-up tailback -- Sophomore Kelvin Taylor is penciled in as the likely starter, but the competition for the remaining carries should be fierce. Matt Jones could be an X-factor at the ‘B’ position, but Florida’s former starter (now healthy) is expected to continue to compete for playing time at tailback alongside Taylor and senior Mack Brown. Lane, a battering ram, busted heads this spring and could find his way into the mix. 

********** FIVE FRESHMEN TO MONITOR **********

1. QB Treon Harris -- The Booker T. Washington standout is a dynamic playmaker and should see immediate playing time in special packages as a change-of-pace runner.  

2. WR CJ Worton -- An underrated athlete with solid hands. A potential cog in the slot. 

3. CB Duke Dawson -- An early enrollee who had an outstanding spring, should be a rotational player right away. 

4. CB Jalen Tabor  -- Florida’s most heralded recruit. The five-star corner has size (6-1), athleticism and intelligence and is expected to be an instant impact performer.  

5. DL Thomas Holley -- Raw but physically dominant. The Brooklyn native could battle for a back-up job with so many inconstant options inside. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 30, 2014

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


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. 


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. 


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?


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

April 22, 2014

April 11, 2014

Fantasy Draft: Recapping Florida's selection show


GAINESVILLE -- Fun and fancy are two words rarely (if ever) associated with Will Muschamp, but Florida’s coach -- or PR department -- is dabbling with some different ideas to up the team’s entertainment value during a critical 2014.

On Thursday, Florida held a live stream “Orange & Blue Debut Selection Show,” as “Gator Great” captains -- Josh Evans and Shane Matthews for the Orange Team, and Jelani Jenkins and Chris Doering for the Blue team -- selected a dozen players each to build preliminary rosters for Saturday’s spring game (1:30 p.m., PPV).

The “fantasy draft” was essentially an innovative way for Florida to unveil its depth chart (thereby avoiding a repeat of Muschamp’s LSU disaster) -- with the Orange team serving as the No. 1 defense and the Blue team as the No. 1 offense.

The selection results are below, but first a couple interesting notes...

The first team offense was predictable -- although Brown at guard seems more like an experiment than a guarantee at this point -- but defensively Maye, Neal and Cox Jr. were all notable selections. 

Despite missing much of the spring with a bum hamstring, Neal, an explosive and cerebral sophomore, appears to be a starter at safety. Meanwhile, Maye looks to be in position to start as Florida’s (all-important) nickel cornerback and Cox Jr. has (seemingly) earned an initial nod at defensive end (opposite of Fowler Jr. at BUCK).

All three are worth keeping an eye on Saturday. 





Vernon Hargreaves III, CB

Jeff Driskel, QB


Dante Fowler Jr., BUCK

Quinton Dunbar, WR


Antonio Morrison, LB

Michael Taylor, LB


Valdez Showers, WR

Kelvin Taylor, RB


Jonathan Bullard, DL

Chaz Green, RT


Mack Brown, RB

Jalen Tabor, CB


Keanu Neal, S

D.J. Humphries, LT


Latroy Pittman, WR

Demarcus Robinson, WR


Marcus Maye, S

Duke Dawson, CB


Jarrad Davis, LB

Trenton Brown, OL


Hunter Joyer, FB

Max Garcia, C


Bryan Cox Jr., DE

Alex McCalister, DE


Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

March 18, 2009

President Obama avoids the major upset in his NCAA Tournament bracket

President Barack Obama, huge hoops fan, recently spared a few moments from the pressing matters of the day to do what all good Americans do this time of year: Waste time filling out a college basketball NCAA Tournament bracket.

Obama Here's a link to the President's bracket. CLICK ME! President Obama picked North Carolina to win it all. Not a bad pick, considering the Tar Heels are led by senior forward Tyler Hansbrough, a three-time All-American.

[PICTURED, A baller.] 

Of course, we all know that the President can play a little ball. As the saying goes, "He got game." He also might have a little inside information. After all, he is the President. And, of course, his brother-in-law is the head men's basketball coach at Oregon State. So, if you're having trouble filling out your bracket at home (or the office), it might be a good idea to take a little advice from our nation's First Fan.

Continue reading "President Obama avoids the major upset in his NCAA Tournament bracket" »



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