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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Will Muschamp 'fine' with imperfect SEC scheduling

LSU coach Les Miles is still unhappy about it. Florida coach Will Muschamp has moved on.

The SEC's decision to retain the current eight-game format in conference scheduling and keeping permanent cross-division rivals remains controversial among the league's coaches, but Muschamp said he believes it was the best compromise to a tough situation.

"I’m not sitting here trying to tell you it’s fair, but it’s what the league has decided," Muschamp said during today's SEC coaches spring teleconference. "I’ve been in this league a long time as a player, assistant coach, a head coach and you could kind of see that there’s going to not be some change and there’s a lot of resistance toward the change. I’ve said my piece and you move on. I've embraced the LSU rivalry here at the University of Florida and whatever other Western division opponent they want us to have every year.

Under the current system, Florida and LSU will remain permanent cross-division opponents, which means they'll meet annually. Miles and LSU athletic director Joe Alleva have reiterated this week their belief that the permanent opponents system is unfair. …

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Four Gators vying for spots on WNBA rosters

Florida currently has four former players vying for permanent roster spots at WNBA training camps this week, and a former player and coach among the league's coaching ranks.

WNBA veterans Aneika Henry and DeLisha Milton-Jones are on training camp rosters for the Atlanta Dream and the New York Liberty, respectively.

Jaterra Bonds and Jennifer George are making their WNBA training camp debuts, both looking to secure spots with the Indiana Fever.

Milton-Jones was a four-year letterwinner from 1993 to 1997, and if she secures a spot on a team it would make her the oldest player in the WNBA at age 39. She has played for the Los Angeles Sparks from 1999-04 and 2008-12; Washington Mystics 2005-07; San Antonio Stars 2013 (15 games) and the New York Liberty (11 games) 2013. Milton-Jones has played in 461 games with 432 starts, scoring 5,415 points.

Henry has been in the WNBA two seasons with 15 starts in 68 games. A Florida letterwiiner from 2007-09, she's scored 296 points. …

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Gators Aaron Rhodes among Louisville Slugger's National Players of the Week

Florida sophomore right-hander Aaron Rhodes, of Venice, has been selected as one of Louisville Slugger’s National Players of the Week by Collegiate Baseball.

It is the first such honor for Rhodes, who threw a one-hit shutout against Missouri this past Saturday.

He became the first Gator pitcher recognized since Brian Johnson received the honor on Feb. 28, 2011.

Rhodes' one-hit shutout came in his third career start as Florida clinched its weekend series against Missouri on Saturday with a 5-0 win.

It was the first complete game of the season for the Gators, as well as the first complete game and shutout for UF since March 30, 2013 (Jonathon Crawford vs. Ole Miss)

It also marked the fewest hits allowed in a complete game by a Florida pitcher since Crawford’s no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman in the NCAA Gainesville Regional on June 1, 2012.

Rhodes is 5-2 this year with a 2.08 ERA overall and is 3-1 with 1.84 ERA in SEC play.

Florida (30-15) moved up one spot to No. 8 in the Collegiate Baseball poll this week. The Gators are No. 5 in the Baseball America poll (up one spot)., and are No. 12 in the USA Today Coaches poll. …

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Gators, LSU to remain permanent rivals in SEC scheduling format

After all the talk about potential major change with the SEC going to a 9-game format, the league has decided to remain mostly the same - retaining its current eight-game conference scheduling format.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced Sunday evening the league schools has votedto retain the current eight-game format, but will add a strength-of-schedule component thatwill requre member schools to play an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12 opponent on an annual basis.

Because Florida annually plays Florida State, which is in the ACC, essentially nothing changes for the Gators.

The Gators will also remain permanent cross-division rivals with LSU, which is in the SEC West. And that did not set well with LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who has been critical of the permanent cross-division opponents saying it's an unfair advantage for some schools which are permanent rivals with schools that traditionally are not powerhouses in the league.

“I am very disappointed that the leaders of the SEC disregard the competitive advantage that permanent partners award to certain schools," Alleva told the Baton Rouge Advocate. "It is definitely an advantage that should not exist in such a great league. …

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Al Horford's brother Jon to join the Gators next season

Florida may be losing three veteran frontcourt players from its 2014 Final Four team, but the Gators are reloading nicely, including another addition today.

On Saturday, former Gator Al Horford confirmed to the AP that his younger brother Jon will transfer to Florida from Michigan for his final year of eligibility. Horford is graduating next month and will be eligible to play this upcoming season.

Al Horford, who spent three seasons at Florida and won back-to-back national titles, Al, confirmed the decision before Saturday's NBA playoff game between the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers.

"It's exciting," Al Horford said. "More than anything, I just want him to be successful. I think at Florida he's going to have that chance."

Jon Horford is a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 3.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes a game last season. He said in a interview last week he was looking to transfer to a place where he feels he can develop more at his position. …

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Gators land 59 on SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll including SEC-record eight from men's basketball

An SEC-record eight Florida men's basketball players, including Tampa's Michael Frazier II, are among  59 Florida student-athletes on the Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll, the league announced today.

Also among the Gators is Bridgette Caquatto, whose final performance on the floor exercise helped the Gators earn their second consecutive NCAA gymnastics championship.

Two seniors on the list - basketball player Patric Young and swimmer Brad deBorde are both the 2014 SEC are Scholar-Athlete of the Year selections for their respective sports.

A total of 614 student-athletes from the 14 member schools  were named to the 2013-14 Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll. 

The 2013-14 Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll is based on grades from the 2013 Spring, Summer and Fall terms.  …

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Gators diving coach Donnie Craine dies in tragic boating accident

Donnie Craine

Special to the Times

Donnie Craine

Longtime Florida men's and women's diving coach Donnie Craine died this morning in a boating accident, the school announced.

Craine, 61, was boating off the coast of Bokeelia in Lake County when the accident occurred.

“You’ll never meet a nicer guy than Donnie Craine,” Gators swimming coach Gregg Troy said. “He was caring for not just the athletes he worked with, but for everyone he came in touch with. He was a tremendous family man. This is a great loss to everyone.”

Craine spent 30 of his 37 years as a coach with the Gators, beginning in 1976 after he graduated from Michigan. After five years with the Gators, Craine left and coached at Schroeder YMCA in Wisconsin, Arkansas and LSU before returning to Florida in 1989.

A four-time SEC Diving Coach of the Year at Florida, Craine coached five NCAA champions, including Florida’s first – Chris Snode in 1978 (3-meter springboard).

“Our thoughts are with Mindy, their family and all who had a chance to know and be coached by him,” UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “This is such sad news about Donnie Craine. Donnie loved being a Gator and spent his career here coaching our men’s and women’s diving athletes. He will be missed.” …

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Steve Spurrier might hang around South Carolina a lot longer than expected

Florida fans might have to deal with going head-to-head with former Gators coach Steve Spurrier for at least a few more years.

Spurrier, who spent 12 seasons as the Gators head coach, has now been at South Carolina since 2005.

When he arrived Spurrier said he wanted to stay long enough to become the winningest coach in South Carolina's history. Now that he's accomplished that, he now thinks 10-15 years might be a nice tenure.

More on Spurrier's talk during a Gamecock fan club event on his tenure.

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Midweek non-conference games stymie Gator baseball team

It's been a tough start to the week for the Gators baseball team.

When the week began, the Gators were on a 6-game winning streak, had risen to No. 12 in the latest rankings, and were coming off a series sweep over rival Georgia.

With midweek, non-conference games against two teams that were a combined 30-46 entering the week, the Gators seemed poised to pick up a couple more wins before heading into this weekend's home series vs. SEC East foe Missouri.

Instead, the Gators will enter that series having lost back-to-back games to Jacksonville (14-25) and Florrd A&M (18-21). The Gators lost 3-1 to the Dolphins and 4-3 to FAMU.

In the two games, at the 1-5 positions the Gators were 4-for-37 at the plate, had 10 hits and left 13 runners on base.

Wednesday night's victory was the first ever for FAMU over the Gators.

“Congratulate Coach Shouppe, his staff and his players," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "They played well. They threw strikes, changed speed and had some different looks, different angles that frustrated us a little bit I think. They made one error and didn’t give us much. They deserved to win.” …

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Former Gators won't be high on 2014 NFL draft boards

Coming off a 4-8 season, the Gators have several players expected to be taken in next month's NFL Draft, but none of them are expected to be high draft picks, according to's NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper, Jr.

Florida DB Marcus Roberson and CB Louchez Purifoy did not run well during their NFL workouts, and that will hurt both Kiper said. He said neither will be first round selections and that Purifoy may fall as late as the fourth round. Roberson will also be a third or fourth round pick, Kiper said.

Gators DT Dominique Easley, who missed most of the season after suffering an ACL injury, is also expected to be a third round selection.




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Former Gator Will Hill facing third substance abuse suspension

The Associated Press is reporting that former Gator safety Will Hill is facing a possible third suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Hill was suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for using a performance-enhancing drug, which he said was Adderall. He was suspended for the first four games last season for using marijuana, which he said was to relieve stress.

More on the full story.

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Former Gator Jon Harrison says 2013 team was in total chaos

It should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the Florida Gators' 2013 season closely, but former Gators center Jon Harrison has opened up about that tumultuous season in which he says the teams "crumbled" and was in chaos.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tyler Dunne, Harrison describes locker room fights and altercations, players sneaking girls into the team hotels before games - or sneaking out themselves - and other events that led to the Gators "falling apart."

"We had a lot of individuals on the team," Harrison told Dunne. "Having individuals on your team kind of kills your team. We had people who thought they were entitled because of the school that they went to....There was always someone to blame. No one wanted to take it on themselves."

Harrison became infamous as one of the Gators caught on tape blocking another player during a game this season, said the season humbled him and ultimately made him stronger.

Considering the Gators won just four games last season, nothing he said should come as a shock.

If you want more, here's is Dunne's full story from his interview with Harrison.

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Vegas puts odds on Gators Billy Donovan in the NBA

Bovada lists Billy Donovan's chances at 4/1 to be the Minnesota Timberwolves' new head coach.


Bovada lists Billy Donovan's chances at 4/1 to be the Minnesota Timberwolves' new head coach.

In the midst of reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves are interested in Florida Gators coach Billy Donovan, Vegas is weighing in on the odds Donovan - and several other college coaches - will become the Timberwolves' new coach.

Bovada lists Donovan's chances at 4/1 to be the new head coach.'s Marc Stein reported that Donovan was one of several coaches the Wolves are interested in to replace the retiring Rick Adelman.

Donovan's name has also been connected to the L.A. Lakers in the event its coach is fired.

From what I can gather so far, there seems to be no interest on Donovan's part in the Timberwolves' job.

But for what it's worth, here's how Bovada sees it when it comes to the Timberwolves' job:

Flip Saunders                3/2       

Fred Hoiberg                 4/1       

Billy Donovan               4/1       

Tom Izzo                       4/1       

Lionel Hollins                5/1       

Stan Van Gundy            5/1       

Jeff Van Gundy             14/1



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Former Gators coach Frank Verducci joins Northern Iowa staff

Former Florida O-line coach Frank Verducci has been hired at the new tight ends/offensive line coach at Northern Iowa, coach Mark Farley announced.

It is yet another stop for the veteran coach who has been a nomad in the profession, coaching in the Big Ten, SEC and NFL.

Verducci spent one season with the Gators under coach Will Muschamp, but was fired after one season after reportedly seeking NFL jobs at the end of the season. He spent the past season with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. He has been in coaching since 1984.






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Gators golf coach Buddy Alexander to retire after nearly three decades

Longtime Florida men's golf coach Buddy Alexander announced on Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the season.

Alexander, a native of St. Petersburg, will conclude his career with the Gators after 27 seasons.

He is scheduled to coach the Gators at this week’s SEC Tournament and will finish out the remainder of the season.He will officially walk away on June 30.

"Coaching is a young man's game and it is simply time for me to turn the reins over to someone else and allow this great university, athletic department and golf program to be everything it should be," Alexander said. "I just thought it was a good time to do it."

Alexander is Florida’s longest-tenured coach and is second all-time behind former UF baseball coach Dave Fuller, who led the Gators for 28 seasons from 1948-75.

Alexander, 61, is an eight-time SEC Coach of the Year and led the Gators to two national titles (1993, 2001) and 11 top-10 finishes and seven Top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships.

“He’s one of the all-time greats,’’ Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said. “He’s had a heck of a run. There’s no better Gator than Buddy Alexander.” …

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