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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Florida Gators volleyball team begins NCAA Tournament play tonight

The Florida volleyball team will begin NCAA Tournanment play tonight at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

The Gators will host Tulsa at 7:30 p.m. In the first game, College of Charleston and Miami will play at 5 p.m. This will be the first-ever meeting between Tulsa and Florida, and the Gators have only faced one of the teams in the Gainesville Sub-Regional in program history, having defeated the College of Charleston in the NCAA Tournament in both 2007 and 2009.

Florida is among the NCAA Tournament field of 64 for the 22nd consecutive season, and the 23rd time in program history.

“Well we have been very fortunate that we have played in the tournament every year that we have been here and it becomes part of the expectations, the culture of the program from what you do in the preconference schedule through the conference schedule,'' Wise said. "Everything is building towards playing your best volleyball at the end of the year. That opportunity will present itself if the team, the collective talent, has accumulated enough wins this year.” …

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Florida's Will Muschamp not overly concerned about losing staff

With thh coaching carousel spining wildly, there are plenty of opportunities for coaches to make moves over the next few weeks. 

There are four head coaching job vacancies in the SEC alone.

With Florida's success this season, it's possible some Gator assistants might be on some schools' radar, but UF coach Will Muschamp said he's not overly concerned abou that.

"This is a great place to work and we've got a good, young football team and we're going to be good for a long time, OK?,'' Muschamp said when asked if he's worried about losing staff. "I always tell our staff this: if you have an opportunity for a promotion, if you're a position coach and you can go be a coordinator, if you're a coordinator and you can go be a head coach, I'll support you a thousand percent. That says what kind of job we're doing here at Florida."

But what about taking essentially the same job at another school? That, Muschamp isn't so supportive of.

"Guys that want to make parallel moves and they're always looking for the next job, they don't need to be here anyway,'' he said. "We'll go find a good coach. There's a bunch of people that want to coach here. There's a long list at my desk."


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Florida Gators pick up 22nd commitment from safety Marcell Harris; moves up to No. 1 class

Marcell Harris, a four-star recruit from Orlando Dr. Phillips who is ranked the No. 7 safety in the nation, has orally committed to Florida.

He chose the Gators over FSU, Texas and Oklahoma in an announcement at his school this morning.

Harris, who is 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, is the 10th UF recruit from the ESPN150 recruiting list. According to, Florida now has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the nation.

Harris, whose father Mike played for Florida from 1994-97, is currently dealing with a knee injury suffered late in the season, and is note expected to play in Friday night's state semifinal game. He has also been selected to play in the Under Armour All-American game on Jan. 4, but most likely will not play.

He is scheduled to enroll at UF in January.

With 22 commitments, the Gators can pick up just three more before hitting the SEC-mandated cap of 25.

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Gators begin tough stretch of non-conference games with Marquette tonight

Through the first five games this season, the Florida Gators have faced opponents that have offered varying styles and challenges, along with the added burden of dealing with injuries and suspensions.

So far, they’ve come out unscathed with a 5-0 record and a No. 7 ranking in both national polls.

But when the Gators host Marquette tonight at 9 in a nationally televised game as part of the SEC/Big East Challenge, it will be the start of a three-game stretch that includes games at Florida State (Dec. 5) and at No. 9 Arizona (Dec. 15), which the Gators expect will reveal a lot about just how good they are right now.

“It’s time for us to find out what we’re really made out of going against some really talented teams, tough competition,’’ junior center Patric Young said. “It gives us an opportunity to see how we’re really doing this season.”

Tonight’s game is a rematch of last season’s NCAA West region semifinal, which Florida won 68-58.

Florida guard Kenny Boynton talks about tonight's game and the upcomng stretch for the Gators:

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Gators' game against Georgetown will not be rescheduled

The cancelled Nov. 9 basketball game between Florida and Georgetown will not be replayed afterall.

Florida athletic officials learned today that Georgetown officials had decided they could not find an appropriate date to replay the game. The original game was played on the USS Bataan amphibious Naval ship, but was cancelled at halftime due to too much condensation on the makeshift basketball court.

UF Executive Associate Athletics Director Mike Hill said Florida was "surprised and disappointed" to learn the game would not be played. 

"The City of Jacksonville was gracious to host us on the USS Bataan, and we appreciate them inviting us back to complete the game,'' Hill said. "We are focusing now on our upcoming game against Marquette.”

Florida coach Billy Donovan said last week that UF officials had hoped to play the game in Jacksonville, and that Florida would be willing to assist Georgetown financially. Donovan said by NCAA rules the game would resume where it ended. Florida led 27-23 at halftime.

UF guard Kenny Boynton said earlier this week that he didn't mind if the game wasn't completed. "It doesn't matter to me,'' he said. "I think it's out of our mind. We're moving forward.'' …

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Florida-Florida State second most-watched college football game this past weekend

The broadcast of last Saturday's  game between then-No. 4 Florida and then-No. 10 Florida State game was the second most-viewed and highest-rated college football game of the weekend, second only to the game between No. 1 Notre Dame and Southern Cal.

The UF-FSU game averaged 8,466,000 viewers; 5,802,000 households; and a 5.1 rating for its Saturday afternoon broadcast.

Jacksonville was the highest-rated metered market with a 25.2 rating followed by Columbus (Ohio) (18.8), Orlando (17.1), West Palm Beach (16.5) and Fort Myers (15.9).

Notre Dame's 22-13 win over USC averaged 16,059,000 viewers; 10,707,000 households; and a 9.4 rating, making it the most-viewed regular-season college football game on ABC since November 18, 2006 when No. 2 Michigan at No. 1 Ohio State averaged 21,037,000 viewers; 14,479,000 households; and a 13.0 rating.

Birmingham was the highest-rated metered market for the telecast with a 24.8 rating followed by Columbus (20.4), Indianapolis (19.4), Dayton (16.3) and Atlanta (15.3).

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Florida Gators taking extra precautions with forward Casey Prather following concussions

In the wake of two concussions suffered within a 9-day period, Florida athletic officials are requiring forward Casey Prather to wear protective headear during practices, coach Billy Donovan today.

"I don't think Casey will be eperiencing any more concussions in practice,'' Donovan said. "He's got a helmet on right now. It's not a helmet. You ever see those Everlast sparring (helmets)? That's what he's wearing right now."

Donovan said the helmet was at the suggestion of the team's trainer, and that he's unsure whether it will be required practice gear the remainder of the season. If Prather has his way, it will be for a limited time. …

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Kentucky hires FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops

Florida coach Will Muschamp will have to face Mark Stoops again next season, but it won't be on the Florida State sidelines.

Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart has announced that Stoops, the defensive coordinator at FSU, has been hired as the new head coach at Kentucky.

He replaces Joker Phillips who was fired earlier this month.

"I’m excited for Mark Stoops and his family as they provide a new beginning for our football program, fans and players,'' Barnhart said on his Twitter account.

Stoops, 45, is in his third season as FSU's defensive coordinator, and is a 23-year coaching veteran.

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Florida coach Will Muschamp will hire new coach to replace Aubrey Hill

Florida coach Will Muschamp said he will hire a new coach to replace former wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, but he has no definite deadline for that hire.

Hill abruptly resigned prior to the start of fall camp in August, and GA Bush Hamdan took over the role on an interim basis. But he will not be hired as Hill's replacement.

“I’m going to talk to some receiver coaches at this point,'' Muschamp said. "Bush and I met (Sunday) and he’s done a fantastic job this year. How we move forward and the timetable, I have none right now.”


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Florida coach Will Muschamp gets contract extension for second time this year

Florida coach Will Muschamp received a one-year extension on his contract, the second this year.

Muschamp received the extension prior to the season - in August, Florida athletic offiicals said today. The Gators concluded the regular season 11-1.

"Dr. Machen and I believed in the leadership and direction of the football program this summer and we made a decision to extend Coach Muschamp's contract an additional year this past August, prior to the start of the season,'' Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. "The financial terms are unchanged, but he is now under contract for the University of Florida through the 2017 season."

Muschamp, who was hired in December 2010, originally signed a five-year contract worth approximatley $13.75 million.

This is Muschamp's second extension. Despite his 7-5 first season with the Gators,  the UAA exercised its right to a one-year contract extension for him this past January.





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Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn one of five finalists for nation's top assistant

Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is one of five finalists for the prestigious Broyles Award, presented to the nation's top assistant football coach.

In his second season with the Gators, Quinn has led the Gators to becoming one of the premier defenses in the nation. UF ranks third nationally in points allowed (12.9) the lowest in school history since 1964. The defense also ranks third in rushing yards allowed (96.58) and fifth in total yards allowed (282.6).The Gators are first in the nation in pass efficiency defense (91.50) and have forced 29 turnovers, tying for fifth nationally in turnover margin (+17). UF has allowed just five passing touchdowns this season, the second-fewest in the nation.

Joining Quinn as finalists are: Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury and Stanford defensive doordinator Derek Mason.

The winner will be announced on Dec. 4.



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Florida LB Jelani Jenkins to miss Gators' bowl game

Florida junior LB Jelani Jenkins underwent surgery this morning to repair a broken bone in his foot, and will most likely be out four to six weeks, coach Will Muschamp said.

Jenkins injured his foot in Saturday's win over Florida State. He missed 2 1/2 games earlier this season after undergoing surgery for a broken thumb.

LB Neiron Ball (ankle) is expected to play in the bowl game. QB Jeff Driskel (ankle) is in a boot for precautionary reasons, and OL Jon Harrison also injured his ankle, but both are expected to be able to play. Harrison is also in a boot. Muschamp also said De'Ante "Pop" Saunders is

"Other than that really don’t have any injuries or anything,'' Muschamp said.

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Will Muschamp answers Nick Saban's BCS bowl criticism

If Florida coach Will Muschamp isn't careful, he won't be getting invited to visit with his old friends Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban anytime soon.

First, Muschamp took a shot at FSU and the ACC when he said following Saturday's 37-26 win over the Seminoles that the reason the Gators were so successful in the run game was because FSU hadn't seen the type of running game the Gators and SEC operate.

Then today he fired back at Saban when he was asked to respond to the Alabama coach's comments on Sunday about whether the Gators should be the team that plays in the Sugar Bowl.

Saban on Sunday was asked his feelings about the fact that the loser of the SEC Championship game between Alabama and Georgia most likely will not go to a BCS Bowl, but Florida, which did not make it to the title game, is expected to get a Sugar Bowl invitation. Florida is currently No. 4 in the BCS standings behind Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia. The loser of the SEC title game is expected to fall behind Florida in the BCS rankings. The top four get an automatic invitation, and no more than two teams from one conference are allowed BCS bowl bids. …

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Florida RB Mike Gillislee, kicker Caleb Sturgis earn SEC weekly honors

Florida senior RB Mike Gillislee and kicker Caleb Sturgis have been named SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week and Co-Special Teams Player of the Week respectively for their performances in Florida's 37-26 win over Florida State.

Gillislee rushed for 140 yards in Saturday's game, and became the first Gator to rush for over 1,000 yards since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. He is only the eighth Florida player to rush for 1,000 yards or more in Florida history. Gillislee scored twice in the win, with a 9-yard run in the second quarter and on a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter. FSU never led after Gillislee scored.

Gillislee leads Florida with 11 touchdowns this season, 10 rushing, one receiving, and is second in scoring with 66 points. He is fourth in the SEC in rushing yards (87.6 ypg.), 13th in scoring touchdowns (4.9 ppg.) and ninth in all-purpose yards (99.9 ypg.).  Gillislee was also named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after the Gators’ win over LSU. …

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Florida moves up to No. 5 in AP and Coaches polls following 37-26 win over Florida State

One day after capping an 11-win season with a 37-26 victory over Florida State, Florida moved up one spot to No. 5 in the AP poll, and is also No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Five of the top 10 teams in this week's poll are from the SEC.

Undefeated Notre Dame is No. 1, followed by Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, UF, Oregon, Kansas State, Stanford, LSU and Texas A&M.

With Notre Dame's win over USC Saturday night, the Gators' slim chances of playing in the national championship game ended.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said the Gators were disappointed, but reminded everyone this has been a highly successful season.

"Regardless, I'm very proud of our team, the resolve and the improvements we've been able to make,'' Muschamp said.

Listen to some of Muschamp's postgame comments following the FSU game here:


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