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.
Gators basketball (16-2, 6-0 SEC) found itself back in the top five of the top 25 polls on Monday when it checked in at No. 4 in both new rankings. Florida received one first-place vote in each poll and registered its highest regular season rankings since Feb. 2007. UF, which is set to face No. 16 Ole Miss on Saturday, also received a No. 5 ranking in the latest NCAA RPI. If the Gators can keep rolling at this rate, even with a loss or two thrown in, a No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament and potentially the NCAA Tournament will be more than likely.
According to the Catholic News Service, the Vatican has asked Tim Tebow (and Jeremy Lin) to appear at a sports conference with the hope of encouraging athletes to compete in a moral manner. The Pontifical Council for Culture will host "We Believe in Sports" and wants Tebow to appear in order to "help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic." Neither Tebow nor Lin - both Christians, not Catholics - has accepted as of yet.
Todd Wash, defensive line coach at Seattle last season, has decided to take the same job with Jacksonville for 2013. What does this have to do with Florida? Well, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will now be looking for a defensive line coach for the Seahawks and may very well call on Gators assistant defensive line coach Bryant Young if, of course, he feels like he is ready for the full-time job on the professional level. Florida recently hired veteran defensive line coach Brad Lawing to hold down the position, so losing Young would not be huge from a coaching standpoint, but he is a major draw for young interior defenders who want to learn from a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion.
On Saturday, former Gators golfer Camilo Villegas won $10,000 for the University of Florida by winning the University Challenge at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open. The challenge contested of four former collegiate golfers hitting balls at glass panes 40 yards away with school logos on them. Florida's logo was the last one standing and Villegas brought home the money while wearing orange and blue for the day. Through the first two rounds of the event, fellow former Gators golfer Billy Horschel was just a few strokes behind Tiger Woods, who was in first place. However, Horschel (while paired with Woods) hit a 76 in the third round on Sunday and knocked himself all the way down to 16th place at the time.
Released Monday were the latest rankings for many of the smaller sports in which Florida competes. Gators gymnastics (3-1, 2-1 SEC) joined women's tennis (which has yet to begin its season) with a No. 1 ranking, and lacrosse (which has also not played a match yet) checked in at No. 3. Florida has five other top five-ranked programs (not including basketball): men's indoor track (No. 2), women's golf (No. 2), men's swimming (No. 2), men's golf (No. 4) and women's track (No. 5).
Speaking of women's tennis, the Gators are looking to three-peat with a third national title in as many seasons. Now-senior Lauren Embree, a key cog in each of the last two championship runs, enters her final year with the program coming off the first individual collegiate grand slam title of her career. Head coach Roland Thornqvist on Monday praised Embree and what she brings to the table not just as a women's tennis player at Florida but as perhaps one of the top student-athletes in school history. "She may be one of the greatest athletes here, really, for what she's done," he said. "Her work ethic sets the standard…it has since she arrived here. … She's just a remarkable young lady and we're very blessed to have her. She's done a lot for the program."