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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.
Gators football concluded the 2012 season ranked No. 9 by the Associated Press and No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, spots that certainly make sense after Florida was embarrassed by Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl. What is more difficult to understand is how, specifically in the Coaches' Poll, the Gators were slotted not one but two spots below a Florida State team that they dominated in the final week of the regular season. FSU concluded the year with an ACC Championship and a relatively close win over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl while Florida fell to Louisville, but voters obviously put way too much stock into UF's loss and gave the Seminoles way too much credit for a pair of nothing victories. If anything, Alabama's dominance in the national title game and Florida's 5-2 record vs. top 25 teams (4-2 against SEC teams ranked in the top 25) is proof enough that the SEC is on a different level and the Gators were a better team than the Seminoles in 2012.
A decision to put wide receiver Percy Harvin on injured reserve after he had already missed plenty of time with an ankle injury raised eyes around the Minnesota Vikings organization. Harvin, who had a hissy fit in the off-season about his playing time and contract situation, was thought to potentially be on the outs with Minnesota despite the fact that his injury was legitimate. In a contract year next season, Harvin was thought to be a player that the Vikings may very well trade this off-season. However, on Monday, head coach Leslie Frazier said he does not see any reason why Harvin would not return to the team. "He should be," Frazier said.
The awards keep coming for Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey despite the fact that he had a sub-par season and his brother, Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey, had arguably the best year out of any center in the AFC. The former Pouncey was named to the 2012 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team on Monday and will receive a $1,500 equipment grant to donate to the youth or high school football program of his choice. He also has the opportunity to be voted a captain of the team and, if so, would see his total allotment increase to $3,000. You can vote for Pouncey through Jan. 21 by clicking HERE.
One of seven finalists for the Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award is Gators redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball, who fought back from an arteriovenous malformation that was diagnosed nearly 18 months ago to play the entire 2012 season with Florida. In two starts and 11 total appearances, Ball racked up 10 tackles, half a sack, a pass breakup, two quarterback hits and three total turnovers including two fumble recoveries and an interception. Fans can vote for Ball to receive this well-deserved honor by clicking HERE.
Ryan Lochte - the reality show? According to Deadline, the Olympic swimmer and world record holder has been given a six-episode order by E! for a reality program that will "feature the swimmer partying and training as he prepares for the 2016 Rio Olympics while building his fashion line, making media appearances, dealing with his close-knit and outspoken family and friends and looking for the right girl." Responses to this new show have ranged anywhere from "this is going to be better than the Jersey Shore" to "word show in the history of television." One thing is for sure, after Lochte botched his segment on College GameDay earlier this year, maybe watching him unscripted will actually work out better for all involved.
Surrounded by the best soccer players in the world, U.S. Women's National Team striker Abby Wambach was named the winner of the 2012 FIFA Ballon d'Or and named Women's World Player of the Year. Wambach led the United States to a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and concluded the year with a total of 27 goals and eight assists. She scored in every game of the Olympics except for the Gold Medal Match. Wambach also moved within six goals of the international goals record, currently held by Mia Hamm (152). She is also the first American woman since Hamm (2002) to win the Baloon d'Or, which is the highest honor a player can receive for a single year. This year's ceremony was likely Wambach's last opportunity to win the award. Though she plans to continue playing for the USWNT, her goal totals and impact will decline over the next few years as young up-and-comers like forward Alex Morgan step up.