In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators will be playing in the Super Bowl for the 11th-straight year with either San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald or Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson becoming the second player in program history to win an SEC Championship, national title and Super Bowl. The victor will also be the third player in the last four years to bring home a Super Bowl ring for Florida joining then-New Orleans Saints DE Bobby McCray (Super Bowl XLIV) and New York Giants DE Justin Trattou (Super Bowl XLVI).
According to Florida Today, running back Chris Rainey's charge of first-degree misdemeanor simple battery from early this year was reduced to a disorderly conduct charge by Alachua County Judge Walter Green after the State Attorney's Office was unable to pursue the case further. The alleged victim in the case told the court that Rainey did not hit her the day of his arrest and that admission, coupled with contradicting statements from witnesses, made the state's case inconclusive. Rainey paid approximately $500 in fines and court costs after the judge withheld adjudication and effectively threw the case out. The Pittsburgh Steelers immediately waived Rainey upon learning of his arrest, but the transaction was not completed as the league's season was not over. It will end with the Super Bowl on Sunday, meaning Rainey could be waived first thing on Monday or Pittsburgh could have a change of heart now that new information has come to light.
The month of January was a mixed bag for Washington Wizards guard Brad Beal, who picked up his second-straight Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award, was named to the NBA Rising Stars Challenge (rookie-sophomore game) roster and had easily the best four weeks of his young career but also injured his wrist in the middle of the month. Beal finished January with averages of 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and an impressive 50.8 percent from beyond the arc. On Jan. 16 at Sacramento, he scored a career-high 26 points to go along with a career-high six assists. He also registered career-highs of four blocks and three steals in the month and put together a number of impressive scoring performances. A wrist injury suffered three weeks into January has been a cause for concern lately. After meeting with a specialist in New York, Beal is expected to miss at least two games and possibly more time as he tries to get it healed and himself back to 100 percent.
On cut day Friday, three former Gators golfers made it to the final two rounds of the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, AZ that is currently being led by Phil Mickelson at -17. Though Mickelson has an impressive early lead, Brian Gay is just six strokes behind him tied for fifth with a -11 and Matt Every is one more shot back tied for eighth at -10. Bringing up the tail end of the pack is Billy Horschel, who is tied for 53rd with a -5. Though it is early in the season, Gay is ranked third on the PGA Money List having already earned $1,041,208 this year.
Razorback Invitational, a track and field event hosted by Arkansas last week, yielded a set of 2013 world-leading times for the Florida men's and women's 4x400-meter relay teams. The men's team posted a 3:05.93 in the event, which is the fastest time this year for the race and the seventh-fastest mark in school history. It earned the collective unit an SEC Men's Runner of the Week nod by the league early in the week. The women's team registered a 3:31.68 in the same event, a mark that is also the world-leading time for 2013 but is also the second-best time ever run in Gators track & field history for the women's team.
Speaking of women athletics, two No. 1-ranked programs are in action this weekend. Already picking up a big victory and improving to 4-1 on the young season is gymnastics, which took down No. 22 Arkansas 197.575-196.175 on the road in Fayetteville, AR on Friday. No. 1 women's tennis, which is 2-0 after a pair of sweeps against South Florida (Jan. 29) and UCF (Jan. 30), is looking to remain undefeated when it hosts Baylor on Saturday at 1 p.m. Women's lacrosse learned of their preseason No. 1 ranking this week, but the team will not begin their season until Feb. 9 when they travel to Chapel Hill, NC to take on rival North Carolina.