Gators Welcome Back Mike Peterson; Former Florida, NFL Linebacker Joins Staff

Former Florida linebacker Mike Peterson has joined the Gators’ staff in a full-time role. Peterson will be joining the weight room staff as of February 24.

Mike Peterson, Florida Gators

Peterson was with the Gators during the 2013 football season as he had returned to the University of Florida to finish his degree. Upon the completion of his degree, head coach Will Muschamp looked to bring him on full time. Peterson will start in the weight room with hopes of making a career out of coaching in some capacity.

With the Gators from 1995 to 1998, Peterson appeared in 42 games, starting 24. He was a member of the 1996 national championship team and was named an All-American as a senior in 1998.

Peterson was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played in the NFL for 13 seasons with the Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Atlanta Falcons. Peterson’s best season came in 2005 with the Jaguars when he was named a second-team All-Pro.

Tim Tebow Traded To New York Jets

He was, and then he wasn’t, and then he was. It’s now official, former Florida Gators’ star quarterback Tim Tebow has been traded to the New York Jets. The Denver Broncos have sent Tebow and a seventh-round draft pick to the Jets for a fourth- and sixth-round selection. All of the draft picks included in the trade are for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Due to stipulations in his contract regarding advancement of salary, the Tebow-to-New-York deal appeared to have hit a snag on Wednesday. It even looked like he may be headed somewhere else when the Broncos and the Jets had trouble coming to an agreement. In the end, New York agreed to pay half of the $5 million back to the Broncos that had already been advanced to Tebow before the 2011 season. It’s a little confusing, but what we do know is that Tebow is now a New York Jet, set to be Mark Sanchez’s backup.

There are critics and will be more – such is the nature of this being Tim Tebow we’re talking about – but it presents an interesting situation. The Jets seemed to be unimpressed with Sanchez despite playoff success during his first two seasons in the league. New York failed to make the playoffs in Sanchez’s third season, but the quarterback did improve his efficiency rating and completion percentage to set career highs. The numbers are far from impressive, but were enough to change the tide on the team’s perception of their passer and earn Sanchez a three-year, $40.5 million contract extension.

Tebow isn’t being brought in to unseat Sanchez, but instead will likely fit into a role as a change-of-pace quarterback mostly running out of the wildcat. There are still those that have their doubts about Tebow’s chances to be a starting quarterback long-term, so going somewhere where he doesn’t have to immediately “save” a team may be good for him. With the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tebow would have been expected to not only produce wins, but also rescue a franchise in trouble in more ways than one. In New York, Tebow can become part of a team that has a lot of good parts, but needs some help.

Then there’s the other side; the side that believes Tebow should be the man wherever he goes. It can’t be denied that he produced wins in 2011 and was one of the biggest sports’ stories in recent memory. His teammates loved him, fans continued to adore him, and he took a team falling apart to the playoffs. But there was suddenly no room for Tebow when the Broncos signed Peyton Manning earlier this week. Playing behind Manning could have been the perfect situation for Tebow, but as soon as John Elway found another quarterback, the writing was on the wall. Elway never seemed to believe Tebow was the long-term answer and because of that we were all presented with the trade on Wednesday.

A new chapter begins for the former Gator great. It’s a chapter many are eager to read, one critics would rather skip over, but definitely a situation we’ll all pay great attention to. Tim Tebow, we’re all watching as we always have been.

Illinois Fires Ron Zook: Big Ten Keeps Former Florida Head Coaches In The News

Lost in the recent news that Urban Meyer has been named the next head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, is the tale of another former Florida Gators’ head coach.

Ron Zook was fired by the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday for conduct deemed detrimental to the program (i.e. he loses more games than he wins). In seven seasons at Illinois – or about two too many – Zook compiled a 34-50 record while going an unacceptable 18-37 in the Big Ten. It initially looked like Zook wouldn’t make it past season three, but after going 4-19 in his first two seasons, he used his wish-granting genie to produce a 9-4 record and a Rose Bowl appearance in 2007. Keep in mind, Zook only gets three wishes. Being named the head coach of Florida was wish number one. 2007 was number two. He only has one left. We assume he’ll be named the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars with a fully guaranteed multi-year contract any day now.

Zook will always hold a place in the minds (notice how I didn’t say hearts) of Gators’ fans as the man that followed Steve Spurrier and gave way to Meyer. He was a great recruiter, but so are so many others these days. In the end, he wasn’t a head coach. Or at least not a highly effective one.

What keeps Zook’s Florida story alive is the fate of current head coach Will Muschamp. Zook finished his first year with Florida at 8-5. Muschamp is staring down the barrel of a possible losing season. While circumstances are different, parts are somewhat the same. It took Florida approximately two and a half seasons to realize Ron Zook was, well, Ron Zook. It took Illinois seven seasons to figure out the same. How long will it take the Gators to learn who Muschamp will be?

Morning Reading: Football is Back

Enjoy the day knowing that football season has finally returned.  All is right with the world and there are actual games being played.  Sure, games that don’t count, but games all the same.  A game of any kind is better than nothing.  So stop pretending you’re actually following baseball.  Stop believing you actually care what happens during the NBA offseason.  Football is back.  You have something to do for the next few months.

• Football returned with a thrilling matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.  For three breath-taking quarters we saw one field goal scored in each before scoring blew up in the final frame with each team scoring an entire touchdown.  The Cowboys would hold on to win it in a game that kept you on the edge of your seat.
Okay, that’s enough of that.  It’s the preseason and the preseason is tough to watch even for the most diehard of fans.  The players you know are typically out by halftime and you’re left with former college players hanging on to the dream.  Occasionally someone steps up and shows you something, but for the most part, it’s a glorified scrimmage at that point.
The story of the night was the debut of former Cowboy wide receiver Terrell Owens in a Bengals uniform.  Owens finished the night with two catches for 18 yards or two more catches and 18 more yards than either Chad Ochocinco or Andre Caldwell.  Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones led Cincinnati with three catches for 42 yards.  Yes, it’s appropriate to refer to the Bengals as the team of second, third, fourth, and final chances.
It wasn’t pretty and was far from thrilling, but it was football and it’s back.
Denver Broncos sackmaster Elvis Dumervil will learn his fate on Tuesday.  The outside linebacker will undergo surgery which should determine if he will be able to return at all during the 2010 season.  Possible replacement Jarvis Moss also hurt himself, but he could be back after only a few weeks.
Florida fans were up in arms after Emmitt Smith didn’t mention the Gators during his Hall of Fame induction speech.  I have to ask, why?  It may have been nice to hear Smith go off for a few minutes about his school and let us all know how much the orange and blue meant to him.  It would have been great to have him recount a story or two from his days as a Gator.  But again, why be upset that he didn’t?
It was Smith’s moment.  Not the University of Florida’s.  Some mentioned that if Tim Tebow were to one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame that he would be sure to mention the Gators.  Maybe, but he’s not Smith.  And Smith had no obligation to mention anything.
What we saw this weekend was one of the greatest players in Florida history and NFL history inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He could have spent 20 minutes talking and not mentioned the Dallas Cowboys and it may have been odd, but the world still would have turned.  Just like Steve Spurrier didn’t owe it to Smith to ensure him he would be part of the offense when Spurrier came aboard at Florida, Smith didn’t owe it to anyone to have to mention them.  It was his moment and he could say what he wanted to.
During the game last night, Smith apologized and recognized Florida, the Gators, and Urban Meyer.  Most will say that he only did so because of the backlash.  Others won’t care.  You should be among that second group.
As a Florida fan, enjoy the moment.  Be proud that one of your own is now a member of the Hall of Fame.  Far too often we worry about what people say or don’t say.  Smith’s actions on the field as a Gator and beyond are all the words we need.

The Long Snapper (4/22/10)

Think the SEC is in a good position to remain THE power conference in college football for the foreseeable future?  Think again.  With rumors continuing to circulate regarding a possible Big Ten expansion, the SEC is on guard.  Why?  Because the Big Ten may not be taking one team to give them the magical number of 12.  They may be looking at three.  Or, yes, even five.  The Big Ten is thinking super conference and the SEC isn’t going to wait for that to happen.  Now that doesn’t mean the SEC is definitely in line for an expansion, but if the others get serious, the SEC will be ready.  Ready for Clemson maybe?  Or what about Georgia Tech?  You can’t tell me either would turn down an invite.  If the Big Ten gains power (and raids the Big East in doing so) and the Pac-10 increases their membership, the ACC could take a step back just by standing still.  And that would be the first place the SEC would look.  The good thing is the SEC isn’t going anywhere any time soon.  While an expansion of the Big Ten could possibly crush the Big East, it doesn’t have the same effect on the SEC.  It may shift power, but the SEC would survive.  But SEC commissioner Mike Slive doesn’t just want to survive, he wants to remain at the top.
The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to have no interest in drafting Tim TebowAt least according to Bob Tebow.  The Jags have not worked out the former Florida star and aren’t showing that they may want to take him in this year’s draft.  But is it all just a smoke screen?  We can’t deny that Tebow in the NFL is a giant question mark.  So are half the players that will be selected in the first round.  Maybe not as much as it may seem with Tebow, but take a look over the last few drafts.  How many first rounders ended up being worthy of where they went in the draft?  Exactly.  With the first round of the draft you have can’t miss guys, guys labeled as can’t miss guys who end up missing for a variety of reasons (stupidity, injury, and bad evaluations of talent being the top three), guys who have the potential to solidly contribute, and those that have talent, but no one is really sure if they will succeed or fall flat.  Tebow falls into that last category, but is he worth the chance?  For the Jags, he probably is.  And that’s why I think Jacksonville showing no interest is merely them not revealing their hand.  Why let everyone know just how much they want Tebow?  Why not just sit where you are with the tenth pick and wait and see how the first nine unfold.  The Buffalo Bills have shown interest, but many don’t think they’ll reach for Tebow at nine.  If that’s the case, the Jags are in the perfect position.  At ten, they may get a solid player who can contribute to a franchise that seems to have more problems than we can count at the moment.  Or at ten, they could take a chance on a guy that may become the best thing they ever did.  He may not, but there’s that chance.  The Jags need to think long and hard about taking it.
Tebow won’t be at the draft, but he will be one of the players ESPN will have on a live feed during the night.  One of the 26 actually.  Tebow will be joined among the live feeders by Maurkice Pouncey (and I’m assuming twin brother Mike) and USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.  So even though you won’t see Tebow in New York in a nice, new three-piece suit, he will be among those we’ll get to spend an always somewhat awkward moment with when the time finally arrives and he is selected.  We should take bets on Tebow being the live feed ESPN shows the most.  Then again, that has to be a no brainer.
Rest in peace Dylan Meier.  Meier – who played quarterback at Kansas State from 2002 to 2006 – died after being injured during a hiking trip.  Meier comes from a football family.  Older brother Shad was a tight end with the Wildcats from 1997 to 2000 and younger brother Kerry was a quarterback and wide receiver at Kansas the past few years.  Thoughts go out to the entire Meier family.
The List: Might as well run down those guys who really are can’t miss NFL prospects this year.
1. Eric Berry.  Yup.  That’s it.  I’m going out on a limb and picking one horse and riding that horse until his career is over.  You could immediately point to a handful of other guys and say “there’s no way he doesn’t become a star,” but for me Berry is all I’m willing to get behind for that top category.  It’s not very ballsy of me.  In fact, it’s actually pretty weak.  I’ll admit that.  But that’s part of my point when it comes to Tebow.  How can any team guarantee any other guy will be better for them?  They can’t.  That’s not saying my draft order would go 1) Berry, 2) Tebow because it wouldn’t.  It’s just saying if I’m the Jags and I have the tenth pick and Berry is gone (which he will be) than I’m looking directly at Tebow’s name on my draft board.
The Sixth Man: The debate continues via channels not including this site (which is unfortunate because I would like to think there are a few others out there that have some strong opinions either way).  I’ll just say this, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense to you not involved in the discussion.  I love the Gators.  I want nothing more than to see them continue to realistically compete for a basketball championship year after year after year.  Now that that’s out of the way…Florida is not Duke.  Florida is not UNC.  Florida is not KentuckyBilly Donovan has put the Gators in a great position to compete with the big boys.  Florida will have its up years and its down years, but in the end, they are not among the pinnacle programs when it comes to college basketball.  Deny it all you want.  Argue it until you lose your voice.  It’s the harsh reality.