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October 22, 2011

The Silver Lining: 10/22 Orange & Blue News



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In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.

Lately there has been a lot of criticism - specifically from Miami Hurricanes fans whose team plays its home games at Sun Life Stadium - about the Miami Dolphins honoring the Florida 2008 national championship team at halftime this Sunday. I sat down with former Gators running back and Dolphins wide receiver Nat Moore - who is currently a vice president with the team - recently and asked him about the discontent surrounding the celebration. "When you look at it, from a college standpoint, the University of Florida has more alumnus and more fans in South Florida than anybody else - anybody," he explained. "That's a group that we need to be able to reach. That's a group that every other professional team in this market already does a Gator Day. We're a team that through the years has stayed away from it, but I've been asking for this for three years. This year with our need to continue to sell tickets to try to get people in the seats so we don't have to do blackouts, I finally got them to agree to it. I am the culprit of it. I don't apologize for that. It's not a slap on the University of Miami. I'm probably one of the biggest UM fans you'll ever meet because I grew up here. But I'm also a Gator, and that's my No. 1 love."

In an announcement Wednesday night, former Florida striker Abby Wambach was named the Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation. Wambach, who led the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team with four goals during the 2011 World Cup, was the biggest factor in the Americans' success in Germany. The United States fell to Japan on penalty kicks in the championship match. After returning to America, Wambach was bombarded with attention and media opportunities. She also wound up taking over as player-coach of her women's professional soccer team for the remainder of the season.

Not only is the roster being adjusted a bit this year, Gators basketball will also be wearing brand new uniforms for the 2011-12 season. I learned on Thursday that Florida will have an orange alternate jersey in addition to the away blue and home white jerseys (each with orange letters and numbers). The away jersey will feature "Florida" on the front, while the home jersey will read "Gators." The back of each jersey features a gator skin design with one national championship trophy on either side of the number and "Gators" underneath. Pictures of the jerseys (including a mockup of the orange alternate) can be found here. [Link - http://www.onlygators.com/10/20/2011/florida-basketball-to-introduce-new-uniforms/]

Instead of taking some time off after the college football season ends, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer will continue making speaking engagements. In addition to others already scheduled, the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce just announced Friday that Meyer will be the main speaker for their 92nd Annual Meeting on Feb. 7, 2012 at the Ocean Center. The event, which is open to the public, can be attended for $150 (nonmembers) with reserved tables of 10 available for $950.

Ninety-nine percent of the "Gators in the NFL" attention his week is going to Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, but he is not the only one being asked to carry the torch for his squad on Sunday. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Earnest Graham, who earned his first start of the season last week, ran the ball 17 times for 109 yards in a winning effort by his squad. Graham, who has primarily served as a pass catcher out of the backfield for Tampa Bay over the last two seasons, has not hit triple digits in rushing (in a season, not just a game) since 2008. He was the Bucs starting tailback for two seasons (2007-08) in which he averaged better than four yards per carry. In this, the eighth year of his career, Graham is up to 5.5 yards per touch - a career-high mark.

Gators soccer and volleyball were each engaged in mid-week action, and both teams came out on top in their respective match. No. 13 Florida soccer (14-4, 7-2 SEC) earned a hard-fought win Thursday evening at Arkansas, taking a 2-1 victory in overtime after being tied 1-1 following 90 minutes of regulation. Freshman midfielder Havana Solaun headed in the game winning goal in the 92nd minute to send UF to victory. No. 13 Gators volleyball (16-3, 9-1 SEC) had its way with South Carolina, winning 3-0 on Wednesday in dominating fashion. Florida's seventh-straight sweep (all in SEC action) was highlighted by a career-high seven aces from senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel, who also registered a double-double on the evening. Both teams return to action Sunday afternoon against LSU and Mississippi State, respectively.

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