Baseball Recap: Florida 15 – Georgia Tech 3; Gators Advance To NCAA Super Regional

The top-seeded Florida Gators beat the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 5-3 on Sunday to win the NCAA Gainesville Regional and advance to the NCAA Super Regional for the sixth time in school history. 2012 marks the fourth-straight season the Gators have advanced to the Super Regional.

Florida (45-18) used a little bit of everything to beat Georgia Tech (38-26). Senior center fielder Daniel Pigott and junior catcher Mike Zunino both drove in four runs and three different Gators crossed the plate three times each. Six pitchers combined to shut down the Yellow Jackets in the win, led by junior Brian Johnson who allowed just one run in five innings of work. Johnson improved to 8-4 on the season with the victory.

Florida doesn’t know its Super Regional opponent just yet, but the Gators do know they will host either Vanderbilt (35-27) or North Carolina State (42-18) in a three-game series next weekend. Florida swept Vandy in the regular season only to lose twice to the Commodores in the SEC Tournament. The Gators haven’t faced NC State this season.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Baseball Recap: Florida 6 – Georgia Tech 2; Gators Can Advance With 1 More Win

Although not quite as dramatic as Friday night’s victory, the Florida Gators did win again. On Saturday, the top-seeded Gators defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 6-2 on the second day of the NCAA Gainesville Regional. With just one more win, Florida advances to the NCAA Super Regionals.

The Gators victory was fueled by another impressive pitching performance. Juniors Hudson Randall and Steven Rodriguez combined to allow 12 hits, but only two runs. The two managed to get out of trouble numerous times throughout the game as Georgia Tech left 10 runners on base.

Florida only needed nine hits to seal the win as those nine resulted in six runs. Power came from the usual sources as both junior catcher Mike Zunino and senior right fielder Preston Tucker went deep in the game.

The Gators don’t know their Sunday opponent just yet, but they do know that one more win pushes them forward. Florida will face either Georgia Tech or the College of Charleston at 6:00pm.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Florida Gators Earn No. 1 Seed In NCAA Tournament And No. 1 Ranking In USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches’ Baseball Poll

The Florida Gators didn’t win the SEC Tournament, but it didn’t end up mattering in the eyes of those that seeded teams for the 2012 NCAA Baseball Tournament. The Gators earned the No. 1 overall seed in this year’s tournament and are the new No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches’ Baseball Poll. Florida didn’t have the nation’s best overall record – in fact, 17 teams in the top 25 had less losses than the Gators – but their strength of schedule may have pushed them to the top in both the poll and seeding.

As is expected with being named the No. 1 seed, Florida was also named the host of an NCAA Regional. The Gainesville Regional will be made up of the Gators, Georgia Tech, the College of Charleston and Bethune-Cookman. Georgia Tech and the College of Charleston will start things off in the first game on Friday, June 1 at 1:00pm. Florida will take on Bethune-Cookman later that day at 7:00pm. The regional has games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A final game may be played on Monday if necessary.

2012 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Add Alex McCalister; Defensive End Verbally Commits

The train started on Saturday with the commitments of 2012 defensive end Brian Cox Jr. and 2013 running back Adam Lane and continued into Monday with the announcement of 2012 defensive end Alex McCalister. McCalister becomes the seventh defensive line commitment the Gators have picked up and the second in three days to be considered a fit for the buck position.

McCalister – listed at 6’7″, 212 pounds – chose Florida over Georgia Tech and North Carolina. He will have to add considerable bulk before he’ll see significant playing time in a Gators’ uniform, but his quickness off the line makes him an intriguing prospect. Out of Clemmons, North Carolina (West Forsyth), McCalister becomes the latest in a line of recent recruits from the state of North Carolina to commit to Florida. There are three others in the 2012 class alone – Jonathan Bullard, D.J. Humphries, Rhaheim Ledbetter – Xavier Nixon will be back in a Gators’ uniform this upcoming season and we can’t forget about Brandon Spikes.

McCalister makes it 20 commitments for Florida with more to come as National Signing Day approaches.

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The Bull Gator Week 6 BlogPoll Top 25

BlogPoll time and this week there are plenty of changes. Florida-beater Alabama took the top spot away from LSU – the Gators next opponent. From no. 8 to no. 15, there are risers with the exception of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have started the season well, but I’m still not sure what to think of their defense. And at no. 16, there’s our team. You can determine whether a drop of four spots is too little or not. My reasoning: the Gators have some serious areas to work on, but damn the Tide are good. Debate if you must.

6-6 Teams, You Need to Go Home

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe #10 of the UTEP Miners at Louisana Superdome on November 7, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The BCS and bowl system anger many.  Odds are any type of playoff will as well.  We’re years away from change of any kind, but we have an issue that should be fixed now.  Well, we have lots of issues that should be fixed now, but we have one that needs to be.  It should be a step in the direction of making a college football postseason truly mean something.  Like everything else, it won’t be because of money, money, and, of course, money, but it’s a plague on the bowl season as we know it.  It’s the 6-6 team.
There’s a certain amount of pride in going to a bowl game.  There are only a handful of programs that have a legitimate shot at winning a National Championship year in and year out.  For many others there is the dream.  And for even more there is just the hope of finding success.  For those that success if being selected to play in a bowl game.  It’s something you earn and should be a reward for the team and its players (and sometimes the fans depending on where you end up).
While a number of things diminish what the bowl season once meant, the sheer number of games is probably the most discussed.  This season there are 35 bowl games, meaning 70 teams are selected.  You don’t need to be a mathematician to know that’s more than half of the country.  Quite a bit more.  Which means it’s way too many.  The bowl season started on December 18 and lasts until January 10.  Remember when the bowls revolved around New Year’s?  Not so much anymore.  The first bowls were 14 days before January 1.
My desired scenario consists of a team having to win at least two-thirds of their games to become eligible.  In other words, you should go at least 8-4.  That means you’re good.  Not great, but also far from bad and definitely not just average.  That change won’t happen, again because of that money thing, but even if we can’t eliminate the 7-5 teams, the 6-6 teams have to go.  If for no other reason than they could come out of bowl season with a losing record.  If a loss could push you to 6-7, you do not belong.
Take Saturday for instance.  The bowl season kicked off with a matchup of 6-6 teams.  Hours later, UTEP had lost to finish their year 6-7.  That’s not good.  There should be no “at least we went bowling.”  Going bowling doesn’t negate the fact that your final record is a losing one.  You were the worse team on the field more times than you were the better one.  Sure you won as many as you lost during the regular season, but why should you be rewarded for that?  You should have to win more.  Bowls are a reward.  Or at least they should be.
Tomorrow night, we’ll see another 6-6 team in action.  Louisville will battle 8-4 Southern Miss in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s We Need More Apostrophes Bowl.  I’m happy for Charlie Strong for having a season deemed more successful than predicted.  I believe good things are ahead for Strong and the Cardinals.  I do not, however, believe they should be bowling.  They played better than expected and lost some close games, but again they didn’t win more than they lost.  It may not be that simple, but it really should be.
FIU, Georgia Tech, East Carolina, Illinois, Army, Tennessee, Washington, Clemson, Georgia, Middle Tennessee, and Kentucky also went 6-6 (way to represent SEC East!).  Add those to Louisville and the two that already played – BYU and UTEP – and there are 14 teams in the postseason that finished .500.  Not above. 500.  Exactly .500.  That’s seven bowl games worth.  Or 20% of total bowl participation.  Way too much.  Only two of those teams face off against each other, meaning there is a chance (however remote it might be) that 13 teams could come out of bowl games at 6-7.  The BCS isn’t the only problem we have.
The reward of going 6-6 should be just that – going 6-6.  You didn’t have a winning record, but you didn’t have a losing one either.  It’s something to build upon and work toward the goal of making a bowl game next season.  But they’ll continue to be rewarded because bowls aren’t being cut.  Ones that fold are replaced and 6-6 teams fill the slots.  Three bowl games wouldn’t be discontinued, let alone seven, so we’re stuck with the middle of the pack.  The teams most of us wouldn’t pay to see and the ones fans don’t even go out to watch.  We watch the games on television and wonder why the stands are so empty.  The reason is simple: no one wants mediocrity.  We want the bowls to mean more than a chance to not finish 6-7.

Coming Soon: The Supersized SEC

The Big Ten either extended invitations to Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Rutgers recently or it didn’t.  If they did, they’re denying it.  If they didn’t, expect them to soon.  When it does happen, the SEC most likely won’t be far behind.
I have a hard time believing the immediate jump will be to conferences with 16 teams.  I’m thinking 14 is the first step, with 16 to come a few years down the road.  But 16 seems to be the flavor of the moment and two scenarios are being bounced around for the SEC.
One is a full-on raid of the Big 12 and the other would virtually kill the ACC.  If the SEC looked west, predictions say it could be Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas A&M that join their ranks.  If they stay closer to home, they could go after Clemson, FSU, Georgia Tech, and Miami.
It’s hard to tell which they favor.  Either way, the supersized SEC would be the nation’s premier conference.  Although that’s not much of a change from what the 12-team version of the conference is today.  Just bigger and better.
Consider this: if the SEC were to pull off a purge of the Big 12, seven of the last 10 national title game participants will be in the new conference.  That’s quite a lineup.  And it creates schedules that mean any 1-loss SEC team might actually be considered for the championship game over an undefeated team from another conference.  Florida could realistically play a schedule in which they face Georgia and Tennessee in the East, LSU, Oklahoma, and Texas in the West, FSU out-of-conference, and Alabama in the SEC title game.  I’m both excited and scared at the same time.  Any SEC team that goes undefeated has to be immediately included in the discussion of best of all-time.
For some reason, going after the ACC seems the more likely scenario to me.  Maybe it’s because if the Big Ten actually pulls off an expansion where they get even one team from the Big 12, I have to think that conference digs its feet into the ground and makes efforts to strengthen its base to prevent it from happening again.  That’s not to say the Sooners and Longhorns won’t listen to SEC overtures, but if they have more of a reason to stay where they are, they will.  The Big 12 is aware of all of the discussion too.  They have to be planning for their future as well.
So assuming the SEC leans that way, who do they target first?  Clemson and Georgia Tech?  Or former powers FSU and Miami (who always have the potential to return to being consistent top-ranked teams)?  Or is option C the best bet?  Invite them all and see where the chips fall?
If we’re talking 14 teams, I think the Tigers and Yellow Jackets are the best bet.  There is virtually no reason for either of those schools to turn down an invitation to join the SEC.  They both benefit greatly from the move and join their in-state rivals.  An acceptance of the invitation is a sure thing.  But there’s still the aura the Seminoles and Hurricanes possess.  Neither team has had the type of success that was expected when the ACC expanded, but they are still FSU and Miami.  Losing them would cripple the ACC and that might be a goal of the SEC.  The ACC competes with the SEC for viewers in the same geographical area.  The best way to get rid of the competition is to take its most important pieces.
It’s hard to predict who the SEC ends up with, but put money on an expansion of some kind.  Talk of this magnitude doesn’t just fizzle out.  Whatever happens, you’re going to have some new conference rivals within only a few short years.

The Long Snapper (4/28/10)

To many (me included), Aaron Hernandez seemed to drop and drop and drop during the NFL Draft.  Being selected in the fourth round is hardly a bad thing – especially when you go to the New England Patriots – but many expected Hernandez to be gone by the time the second round was over.  And then reports came out of him failing multiple drug tests during his time at Florida.  His fall in the draft was being attributed to Hernandez’s problem with marijuana.  Now Hernandez is refuting the reports.  Sort of.  The tight end has admitted he did fail a test during his time with the Gators, but he says it was only one.  Hernandez also says he was very clear with every team he spoke with prior to the draft and was open and honest with them.  He still fell, but again, where he fell to may be better for him in the long run.  Make sure to head to page two of the article where former defensive back Wondy Pierre-Louis has some interesting things to say about Urban Meyer cleaning up the program.
I’ve said it before and now the SEC is: if expansion runs rampant, the conference will be ready.  Commissioner Mike Slive has said the SEC has not actively pursued the idea of expanded, but they will put together a plan just in case they have to.  Slive mentioned that if other conferences add teams, it doesn’t necessarily mean the SEC has to, but he also has said the conference will do whatever it takes to maintain its prominent status.  I pointed out earlier this week that some believe the SEC would be best suited picking up the big boys of the Big 12, but let’s be more realistic.  I would still lean toward Clemson and Georgia Tech joining the SEC East with the possibility of an East team moving to the West.  If the conference goes to 14 teams, there’s also a chance each team could pick up an additional SEC game during the regular season.  I doubt many would argue with a schedule featuring three out-of-conference opponents and nine SEC opponents.  The format would be similar to what it is today, play every team in your division, have one opponent from the other division that you play every year, and have two additional opponents from the other division that rotate every two years.  Seems logical to me.
Depending on how you look at it, the quarterback situation at Georgia could either be getting muddier or clearer.  Muddier in that one got kicked off the team and another is considering heading elsewhere.  Clearer in that the 2010 starter has pretty much been determined at this point.  Just recently, Zach Mettenberger was dismissed from the program and now Logan Gray is “weighing his options.”  Tampa, FL native Aaron Murray has been placed on top of the depth chart and even though head coach Mark Richt hasn’t officially named Murray the starter, Gray may have had enough.  The junior hasn’t transferred yet, but could soon.  Either that or he could look to change positions.  Gray has been a frequent special teamer during his time as a Bulldog and it’s possible he could return to that role on more of a full-time basis.  Wherever Gray ends up, the path to 2010 starter may be open for Murray.  He’s the only one that hasn’t been shown the door or debated leaving.  Sounds like starter material to me.  And sounds like a good rallying cry for the upcoming season.  “Don’t break rules.  Don’t transfer.  Do play.  Georgia Football 2010!”
So we all know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made news when they asked former FSU safety Myron Rolle about deserting his team to go study at Oxford (way to go Bucs), but I didn’t hear about this other incident until recently.  Former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant was asked by the Miami Dolphins if his mother was ever a prostitute.  Bryant has a checkered past that includes him being declared ineligible for his final season with the Cowboys.  His mother did have a history with drugs, but Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland may have crossed the line here.  I understand teams are trying their best to find out everything about players these days.  They invest a lot of money in these athletes and want to ensure they are getting someone who is focused on their job.  But I’m surprised Bryant didn’t come across the table when asked that question.
The List: A few things to occupy your time now that we’ve hit the dead time of year.
1. Baseball.  You all know my thoughts, but hey, sports are sports.  Nothing like keeping your competitive nature going.
2. Both the NBA and NHL are only in the first round of their playoffs.  They’ll be more action for weeks to come.
3. Recruiting.  I never fully understood people who consider themselves huge college football fans yet don’t follow recruiting.  There’s nothing quite like the rush of getting your hopes dashed by the decisions made by teenagers.
4. There are things other than sports on TV.  Now’s the time to catch up on them.
5. Apparently there are activities one can partake in outdoors.
The Sixth Man: Florida isn’t listed among the top 10, but Alex Tyus is mentioned.  Many think Tyus won’t return.  After all, he nearly transferred before last season.  After declaring for the NBA Draft, the writing may be on the wall.  The forward may have played his last game as a Gator.  But Florida would be best served if he returned.  The Gators have a young, talented team that appears to be improving.  Tyus is definitely a part of that.  Florida will move on without him, but is better off moving forward with him.  The Gators can build on last season’s NCAA Tournament appearance with all they have returning, but inside presence has been an issue for the past few years.  Tyus coming back is as close to a “need” as you can get.

The Long Snapper (2/13/10)

Texas to the Pac-10?  Sometimes I think I have some crazy ideas that would likely get me committed were I to voice them to the world.  But then other times, I think I’m the sanest person around.  This is one of those times.  The Big 10 is rumored to be courting the Longhorns to become their twelfth team.  Go ahead and write it down: NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.  So in response, some are saying the Pac-10 should go hard after Texas for its own expansion.  Now say it out loud: NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.  Never is a strong world, but why would the Longhorns leave?  What’s the benefit?  Texas is more than financially stable and is having more than moderate success in numerous sports.  Court all you want other conferences, don’t expect to see any conference not named the Big 12 associated with the Longhorns anytime soon.
Charlie Strong – the head coach of TBG’s latest adopted team – has completed his staff at Louisville with the hiring of a French pastry chef linebackers coach Brian Jean-MaryJean-Mary comes to the Cardinals from Georgia Tech where he coaches LBs for the last five years.  USF association aside, it’ll be very hard to not cheer for Strong at Louisville.  At least there are 11 games each year I can be a Cardinal supporter for.
Florida gets a head start on the 2011 recruiting cycle by hosting the first junior day today.  Juniors get a chance to see what life would be like at Florida.  They’ll get to see the football facilities and meet a number of the coaches and players.  Great way to get some of the better prospects in the state (and a few out-of-staters too) to keep the Gators in mind.  Looking back at the way Florida picked up commitments during the last cycle, it’s easy to imagine the Gators will increase the size of their 2011 recruiting class before even the Orange and Blue Game rolls around.
Ever wonder what happened to Ray Ray McElrathbey – the Clemson player who got custody of his younger brother due to their mother’s drug problems?  Here’s a great read detailing the struggles he has faced since leaving the Tigers.  Unfortunately the athletic side of grad school hasn’t worked out one bit for McElrathbey and in a football sense, the story doesn’t have a happy ending.  Hopefully life has a better outcome ahead for McElrathbey and his family.  Educationally, he seems to have a good head on his shoulders.
And finally, a little more on what new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will be working with at Florida from Dr. Saturday because it’s, uh, Saturday and you should be reading him regularly anyway.

Rest in Peace Gaines Adams

I remember being reasonably happy when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams with the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.  There had been talk of the Bucs attempting to trade up to selected Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson for quite some time leading up to the draft, but when that didn’t happen, picking Adams seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Adams was a good selection at the time.  He was a tall, athletic defensive end who used his 4.6-speed to get to the quarterback a total of 28 times during his career at Clemson (which tied the school record for sacks).  He was one of those college players that could disrupt a game all by himself.  One that seemed to get better when the game went on.  One destined for future stardom.
Adams’ rookie year was a rough one, but he showed improvement over the second half of the season and ended up leading all rookies with six sacks.  Big things were expected of Adams when his second season began and early on he didn’t disappoint.  Adams recorded two sacks in a win over Atlanta and interceptions in victories over Chicago and Green Bay.  But the rest of the season wouldn’t go as smoothly.  Over his next 17 games as a Buccaneer, Adams would only total 5.5 sacks.  Not getting to the quarterback eventually led to Tampa Bay trading him to the Chicago Bears.  Playing time was limited for Adams in 2009 with the Bears, but he was expected to be ready to contribute more in 2010.
Sadly, that won’t happen.  Adams died today at the age of 26 of an apparent cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.  Many considered Adams a bust as an NFL player, but he still had plenty of time to make a name for himself.  Unfortunately we’ll never know the player Adams could’ve become, but we can get some insight into the person he was.  Those who were closest to him knew him as someone who always had a smile on his face and one who didn’t let the fame get to him.  It always seems those are the individuals that get taken from us too early.  Rest in peace Gaines Adams.