Florida Gators Video Of The Day: Percy Harvin Tribute

The Gators Video of the Day (GVOD) features, you guessed it, videos relating to the Florida Gators. They could be Gators athletes or homemade videos made by fans like ourselves. If you have any suggestions for GVOD, email me at evandagator@gmail.com or TBG at onegameback@gmail.com. We will try our best to live up to the “of the day” part of the title.

After two-straight merely mediocre seasons, it’s safe to say the Gators could use a few key players from the Urban Meyer era. One of those players, Percy Harvin, was likely a once-in-a-generation athlete. Because we will likely never see another player in orange and blue resembling Harvin’s blazing speed, pure athleticism, constant motor and incredible versatility, let’s enjoy some memories of Percy’s great career.

Harvin, who was ranked as the top player in the 2006 recruiting cycle, lived up to his No. 1 status well. He left the team for the NFL Draft after a stellar junior season in which Harvin and the other Gators completed the second of their two national championships during the span (2006-2008).

What’s your best Percy Harvin memory? What should he be remembered for? If any, which recent Gators players resemble him the most?

The Great Trey Burton Debate

An interesting thing happened when One Eyed Willy and I were drafting the Florida Gators last week to form two starting lineups to battle each other head-to-head in the imaginary stadium that exists only in our heads: neither of us seriously considered adding Trey Burton to our rosters.

The entire situation was interesting because of the figure Burton has become over his two years at Florida. He came in as an athlete we thought would be a quarterback and quickly became a utility man of sorts. During his freshman season in 2010, he ran the ball only six times and caught half as many passes in the Gators first three games. And then that magical night happened.

On September 25, 2010, Burton went from a freshman with the potential to become a weapon at a variety of positions to a legend. You surely remember it vividly: Burton carried the ball five times and ended each run in the end zone. He would also add five receptions with another touchdown. When the dust settled, Burton had finished with a fairly average 10 touches on offense for 77 total yards. A good yards per touch average sure, but nothing spectacular. But then there were the touchdowns – six in all. Burton solidified his place in Florida football history in just one night and suddenly expectations were sky-high.

The rest of Burton’s freshman season showed he could be used in a variety of ways. He wasn’t exceptional, but he was solid. There was a flash – a 51-yard run against Georgia – but most of all there was effort. Fans fell in love with the way he played and the way he interacted. Burton took heavily to Twitter, communicating with fans on a regular basis. He was a star in the making…then Urban Meyer resigned for good (well, we now know what “for good” means).

With Will Muschamp coming on as head coach and hiring Charlie Weis as his offensive coordinator, no one knew what to expect of Burton. He had enough talent to find a place on offense, but what place would that be? There were even whispers that he could be given a look on defense – anything to give him a chance to get on the field. When the 2011 season came to an end, Burton’s carries were cut in half (75 in 2010, 37 in 2011), his receptions dropped (31 in 2010, 19 in 2011), and his touchdowns trailed off (12 in 2010, 4 in 2011). He was banged up in the season opener against FAU, but overall his position was far from defined and his chances were limited.

(more…)

Will Muschamp, The 2012 Football Season, And A Broken Program

I recently had a chance to sit down with Sam Scott of The Ineligible Receiver and do one of my favorite things – talk about the Florida Gators football program. (By sit down, I of course mean send a series of emails back and forth.) Sam and I discussed a number of things, but mostly looked ahead to the 2012 season.

He asked me about the recent revelation that Urban Meyer broke the program – which I happened to disagree with. We all know Meyer didn’t leave the roster in the best shape, but Florida also doesn’t have the NCAA knocking on the door discussing the death penalty. Meyer had some high, extremely-hard-to-get-over speed bumps installed, but he didn’t break anything.

We also discussed the 2012 season and what the Gators have to look forward to, who the playmakers will be, and what newcomers can make an impact. Finally, Sam asked me to grade Will Muschamp’s first year, but – as I usually do with grades and ratings – I beat around the bush and offer up a long-winded answer with only a partial grade included.

Thanks to Sam for interviewing me and if you’re in need of more of a college football fix, be sure to check out The Ineligible Receiver.

For more Florida Gators coverage, like the TBG Facebook page and follow TBG on Twitter.

As If You Need More Reasons To Dislike Former Florida Gators Head Coach Urban Meyer

Yesterday brought us this – an article by Matt Hayes of the Sporting News exposing the real Florida Gators under former head coach Urban Meyer. For some, it was shocking. For most, it was on par with many of the rumors we’ve heard over the last few years. For all, it put another item (or two, or three) under “Cons” on the list of our thoughts about Meyer.

I’m not a Meyer supporter – although some would paint me as such – I just choose to remember certain things. That selective memory is because of a desire to be happy for certain things that occurred while not wasting the time to be upset about other things that can’t be changed. If the article by Hayes is true and former Florida defensive back Bryan Thomas is telling us what really happened under Meyer, so be it. It doesn’t make me proud as a fan by any means, but I’m also much more interested in discussing Will Muschamp and season two under the man we currently refer to as the head coach.

What I do choose to remember and bask in when it comes to Meyer are the two national championships and the athletes we had a chance to witness – Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes to name a few. I don’t know if there was preferential treatment for those three and the other Gators stars during Meyer’s tenure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there was. That’s not an admission that I believe it’s right, it’s just a statement that, again, those rumors have been present well before Monday when the article was posted.

What the article does provide is justification – justification to those Florida fans that no longer consider Meyer a friend. Gators fans are a passionate bunch and among that passion will be certain feelings for not only Meyer, but also Steve Spurrier and any other coach or player that ever spent a day in The Swamp. What they choose to celebrate or condemn is their choice and they should be proud of whatever stance they take. My stance just happens to be one of the now and not the past.

That doesn’t mean I believe the arrests are justified in any way and it doesn’t mean I will go home today and dust off my Urban Meyer shrine. It simply means I don’t treat Monday as a groundbreaking day in the history of the Florida Gators football program. It keeps my feelings right about where they were when Meyer was named the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, which is somewhere between “meh” and “sigh.”

Meyer’s tenure will be discussed at length for years to come. It will probably even be summed up by many just as Thomas did when asked to comment for the article:

“As far as coaching, there’s no one else like (Meyer); he’s a great coach. He gets players to do things you never thought you could do. But he’s a bad person.” – Bryan Thomas, Former Florida Gators Defensive Back

That may be accurate and, if you believe the article and the rumors you’ve surely heard, you probably don’t doubt it. I don’t either, but I am continuing to look forward more than I’m looking back. For your own sanity, I recommend you try to do the same.

For more Florida Gators coverage, like the TBG Facebook page and follow TBG on Twitter.

Saturday Blitz Podcast: Florida Gators, Recruiting, Tim Tebow, And More

Kyle Kensing of Saturday Blitz was kind enough to have me on his podcast last night and we talked Florida Gators in detail.

Check out the entire 30 minutes. We discussed National Signing Day and the impact made by D.J. Durkin the Gators’ linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. We looked at recruiting on the national level and discussed the importance of schools looking beyond their state’s boarder.

Kyle asked me if there was ever Florida athlete as polarizing as Tim Tebow. My answer may surprise some, but hopefully not too many. We also talked about Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer and debated who was the better Gators’ head coach.

We covered Florida basketball and looked ahead to the 2012 football season. I took a guess at which quarterback will take control of the starting job, but didn’t really because no one knows.

All-in-all, it was fun to be a part of and I hope you all enjoy the listen.

For more college football coverage, check out Saturday Blitz and follow Kyle on Twitter.

Billy Donovan Doesn’t Try To Flip Commitments He Says

While Urban Meyer is up north teaching the Big Ten how to recruit, Billy Donovan is in Gainesville saying college basketball coaches don’t try to flip committed recruits. The Florida Gators’ head coach believes a gentlemen’s agreement exists in college basketball and it’s something he respects.

“I have the right to recruit, but I think it’s kind of an unwritten or unspoken law in basketball that once a guy is committed, that’s it.” – Billy Donovan, Florida Gators Men’s Basketball Head Coach

Donovan has been accused of pushing the limits when it came to recruiting in the past, and by some big names. Roy Williams believed something wasn’t right in the way Donovan pursued former Gators’ star Mike Miller. In the end, the NCAA found secondary violations, but other accusations uncovered nothing.

With basketball recruiting being such a different animal than football recruiting, it definitely doesn’t seem as cutthroat, but who really knows what’s going on when a coach sits down with or talks to a recruit? Donovan has had his share of high-profile recruits come to play for him at Florida, but has also missed out on many more. Whatever he’s doing is keeping the Gators competitive. I’m not saying he’s breaking the gentlemen’s agreement he himself mentions, but will say that whatever Donovan is doing, he can keep it up.

Florida Gators Vs. Ohio State Buckeyes: Gator Bowl Preview

We’ve arrived at the end of the Florida Gators’ season. Before it all started, we had an idea it would be rough. What we didn’t know is exactly how many bumps we’d hit in the road along the way. This may seems excessive and (cue violins) it was all difficult to stomach as a fan coming off of the 2006-2009 era. Cry me a river, right? Well, we will. Facing the prospect of a losing season can do that to you. It coming down to a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes can ruin you even further.

The Facts

Opponent: Ohio State Buckeyes
When: Monday, January 2, 2012 – 1:00 PM
Where: Gator Bowl – Jacksonville, FL
Television/Radio: ESPN2, Gator Sports Network, Sirius 91, XM 91
Records: Florida: 6-6 (3-1 Non-Conference), Ohio State: 6-6 (3-1 Non-Conference)
Rankings: Florida: NR, Ohio State: NR
Point Spread: Florida -2
Over/Under: 44
Calculated Score: Florida 23-21
Points Scored: Florida: 25.6, Ohio State: 25.1
Points Allowed: Florida: 20.6, Ohio State: 20.8

The Preview

Someone in Las Vegas really isn’t trying, but then again how can you really blame them? The over/under of 44 is only slightly lower than the averages each team scores and allows. A statistical over/under for Florida would be 46.2 and that number for Ohio State would come in at 45.9. Oddsmakers took about two points off those averages to come up with an over/under both teams may be thrilled to reach.

To say this season was a disappointment for both squads would be like saying any of you reading this enjoy the game of football. It’s an obvious statement that is repeated ad nauseam. To begin, let’s go with coaching situations for $200 Alex…

Urban Meyer out. Will Muschamp in. Jim Tressel out. Luke Fickell in. Luke Fickell out. Urban Meyer in. Will Muschamp out? Not to worry, I’m not on the fire Muschamp bandwagon that seemed so popular even before the season started. The man was going to get a head coaching gig somewhere soon anyway. I will say that doesn’t comfort me completely, but if the Gators were going the assistant route, he had to be at the top of the list. What happens in 2012 (or 2013) remains to be seen, but I’ll still be behind him for the time being. It’s always been my opinion that a coach needs three years. With what Muschamp was left with, year one could have been predicted even if it’s incredibly hard to swallow.

We’re sure to hear about it today, but this game actually isn’t about Meyer. I know that’s a surprise to some, but read a bit further. Meyer doesn’t coach Florida and hasn’t since the conclusion of the 2010 season. He also doesn’t coach Ohio State and won’t until the conclusion of the 2011 season. This game resides comfortably in the confines of the 2011 season. See how that works? I’m, of course, not just talking to fans of either team or college football in general, but the announcers as well.

Instead of the coaches, can we make this game about someone else? How about John Brantley? The much criticized Gators’ senior quarterback? As fans, we are typically only given one side of Brantley. With Tim Tebow, we saw on-the-field Tebow and plenty of off-the-field Tebow as well. We fell in love (or hated depending on your cheering preferences or general outlook on life) with both. With Brantley, it’s an entirely different story. We see what we see for 60 minutes each Saturday. Plenty of us may not like what we see. Some of those plenty have been extremely vocal about it. What is lost in all of this is that this is a kid (and I use that term loosely; I understand his age indicates he is not one, but all of us definitely were still “kids” in college) just trying to do his best.

You may not be satisfied with his best. You may even be upset that he never lived up to his potential or the hype given to him by, well, all of us. But through the criticisms, injuries, coaching changes and down seasons, Brantley keeps coming back. He wasn’t what was expected, but he stuck with it. Five years as a Gator with one final game remaining. If you don’t wish him well for 60 more minutes, that’s your choice. It’s not one I’ll take. For his sake, I want him to go out on a positive note. Yes, I believe he deserves it. He’s had to put up with everything we’ve given him for the last two seasons. Outwardly, he seems to do that well. Inwardly, who knows? Maybe I’m naïve in that I generally wish the best for people (especially those donning the orange and blue). Maybe I just need Brantley to perform so Florida can avoid 6-7. Maybe I just hope he gets his one shining moment.

This preview quickly went from coaches to the end of John Brantley’s college career. For the liking of many, there’s probably too little about the game. That could be true, but you can get previews anywhere. There are plenty out there already. You know the teams by this point and you have your predicted outcome in your head. You don’t need me to tell you how Florida got here or where the Ohio State season went wrong. You already know that. What I hope is to just be able to enjoy the final game of the season. One last chance for the Gators to show us something.

The Gator Bowl: Confidence Is…

I awoke this morning from my holiday coma and realized I really don’t know what to think about the Gator Bowl. I know John Brantley’s final game as the Florida Gators’ quarterback won’t reach the must-see levels of Tim Tebow’s. I know the Jeff Demps/Chris Rainey Acceleration Hour is about to air its final episode. I know Urban Meyer isn’t yet the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Basically, I know the facts. But I don’t know what to think about Florida’s chances to finish the 2011 season with a winning record. Just as equally, I have no idea whether Ohio State will be able to do the same.

The holiday season has treated me well so far. I hope it has done the same for the Gators. There was no offensive coordinator under the Christmas tree, which leads us down the continued path of patience. We already know to wait until after the Gator Bowl before the identity of the new play caller will be revealed. Names thrown out there have been less than impressive with many fans hoping to see Brian White remain in the position he is temporarily holding. Others hope Kerwin Bell can find his way back to Gainesville. Both seem like viable candidates and worthy choices, but are we hyping those because we’ve heard the others? Mike Shula? Greg Davis?
One present that was delivered and placed nicely on the doorstep was Jeff Dillman. Dillman comes by way of IMG’s Performance Institute and before that Appalachian State and LSU. He’ll replace Mickey Marotti as the new strength and conditioning coach. For those concerned or merely wondering whether Dillman can cut it, I’ve heard good things about his intensity and focus. He’s liked and respected among the lifting-heavy-things community and should be a good addition. We’ll see his impact in the fourth quarter of games when players would typically start to gasp for breaths of air. Rainey, for instance, did many great things in a Gators’ uniform, but “winded” could have been an accurate description at many times.
As for the Gator Bowl, my confidence is non-existent. Not in the way that I can’t foresee any possible chance of a Florida victory, but in the way that I need to spend the next few days and really, truly think about the game ahead. Florida is favored by two, which means about as much as me declaring the odds of a Gators’ receiver catching a touchdown pass at five-to-one. Without Charlie Weis, we don’t know what we’ll see from the offense. With him, we didn’t either. Will Muschamp surely doesn’t want to be the first coach since Charley Pell went 0-10-1 the year yours truly came into the world to have a losing record, but no one can guarantee 7-6.
We’ll watch the game and at times we’ll cheer and at times we’ll yell. Regardless of the outcome, we’ll still be Florida fans when we wake up on January 3. For now, I’ll be comforted in the fact that there’s plenty of college football to still be played even though the offseason is fast approaching. One more chance to see the seniors and an opportunity to beat a rapidly growing rival.

Florida Gators To Face Ohio State Buckeyes In The Gator Bowl

Although factual, that title screams boring as much as boring could scream if it felt it was worth it’s time, which it wouldn’t, because it’s boring, so no screaming. (I’m entirely aware that I have issues.)

There were handfuls upon handfuls of other titles I could have come up with for a post about the Florida Gators upcoming trip the Gator Bowl to face the Ohio State Buckeyes. The topics alone are plentiful enough that there will be no shortage of discussion about the game between now and January 2.

To begin, since 2006, there has been a rivalry brewing between Florida and Ohio State. Not one of those that compares to the likes of Florida and the Florida State Seminoles, but enough of one that Gators hate Buckeyes and vice versa. For the record, the teams have not faced each other (in football at least) since they met to decide the national championship that season. It doesn’t matter though, because this mini-rivalry has fueled itself and something roughly the weight of a grown adult male was recently thrown on the fire.

As if a rematch of the title game wasn’t enough, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer went ahead and got himself hired by Ohio State mere days before the matchup was announced. Suddenly a bowl game between teams with matching 6-6 records looks like a battle to decide the fate of Middle Earth.

On the record yet again, Meyer won’t be coaching the Buckeyes when his new employer faces his old one, but he will be mentioned. The Bull Gator recommends watching the game on mute unless you’ve always had a strange desire to rip your own ears off. Love Meyer or hate him, he’s sure to be mentioned no less than 200-300 times. If this were a championship game or a BCS bowl, the announcers might focus on the happenings on the field. It’s not though. It’s a game to determine who won’t end the season with a losing record. Basically, nobody wins.

How you watch or listen to the game is entirely up to you, but don’t say you haven’t been warned. It’s a bowl game with a front-page storyline that occurred before the teams were even announced. I don’t know about you, but a teaspoon of cough syrup might be needed to help me through.

Mark Pantoni’s Departure And Its Impact On The Gators

Earlier this week, a piece of the Florida Gators’ puzzle was removed. Director of Football Administration Mark Pantoni left the Gators to join former head coach Urban Meyer in Columbus, OH with the Ohio State Buckeyes. It can be hard to valuate the loss of someone without the word “coach” somewhere in their title, but there is a definite impact in this case.

Pantoni was Meyer’s right-hand man through much of Meyer’s tenure with Florida. During that time, Pantoni became the driving force behind the Gators’ recruiting efforts. He scheduled visits, coordinated calls and was a valuable part of Friday Night Lights. At the top of the list of what he brought to the program was his vast knowledge of recruits throughout the state of Florida and the entire nation. He even described himself as having a prospect database in his head.

For more on Pantoni and the impact of his loss, head over to Alligator Army.