MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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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 Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators men's golf's Buddy Alexander, the second-longest-tenured head coach in school history, will retire at the conclusion of his 27th season at the helm of the program. His decision was announced on Tuesday after a team meeting. "He's one of the all-time greats," athletic director Jeremy Foley told the school's website. "He's had a heck of a run. There's no better Gator than Buddy Alexander." Indeed, Alexander has been one of the most successful coaches that Florida has ever had running a program. He's led UF to two national titles (1993, 2001), 11 top-10 finishes in the NCAA Championships and eight SEC Championships (1989, 1991-94, 1999, 2003, 2011). He is highly-respected among his peers and former golfers as well. "Very sad to see the greatest college golf coach ever, Buddy Alexander, retire today! He has done so much for me on/off the course," Billy Horschel wrote on Twitter. "I can honestly say that I would not be in the position I'm in w/o his guidance. Sad to see him retire but I will always seek out his advice." Alexander plans to remain with the men's golf team through the season and will also help Foley hire a replacement.
A third drug suspension in as many seasons is expected to lead to the severing of ties between safety Will Hill and the New York Giants. Hill, an undrafted free agent who missed a full year, is expected to have a third drug-related suspension announced in the coming days. It is unknown whether the failed test is for a performance-enhancing substance (a violation he committed in 2012) or for a recreational drug like marijuana (a violation he committed in 2013). Hill faces a potential suspension of six games to a full season, and the Giants are fed up with his off-the-field issues, which included an December arrest for failure to pay child support. New York gave him a chance when no other team would, buying into the fact that he was not only clean but a changed person off the field. Hill, though he has played well and started a number of games for the Giants, has not proved that his character has changed whatsoever.
The inevitability of a five-conference super division seems closer to reality than ever (though, granted, still a while off) with SEC commissioner Mike Slive laying out a seven-point plan for the SEC and four other conferences - ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 - to break off into a subdivision that will benefit both the schools and their student-athletes. Slive is calling for a plan that includes (1) full cost of attendance to grant-in-aid recipients, (2) increased health coverage, (3) complimentary degree programs for student-athletes that have exhausted eligibility but not graduated, (4) enhanced communication with agents and advisors, (5) creating more field-life balance for student-athletes, (6) improved academic assistance, (7) student-athlete participation in NCAA governance.
O n Monday, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, marking the first time a former Gators player has won the award and just the third time one has been crowned with a year-end honor (Mike Miller - Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year). Noah's tremendous season, which includes career-highs in nearly all statistical categories and comparisons to some of the greatest players of all time, has also led him to get some talk for Most Valuable Player, though he will have an impossible time besting LeBron James or Kevin Durant for that honor. Noah has registered four triple-doubles and 47 double-doubles over 80 regular season games, becoming the fourth center in NBA history with four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season (Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, Bill Russell).
Rumor mill's are once again churning when it comes to Florida head coach Billy Donovan, whose name has once again been thrown into the hat for an NBA job opening. On Monday ESPN's Mark Stein mentioned that Donovan is a top candidate for the open position with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Donovan, who was also seen as a possibility for the New York Knicks this off-season, does not have much reason to take either position. In Minnesota, Donovan would not have personnel control and would be taking over a team that was 71-93 over the last two seasons, is looking for its sixth coach in a span of 10 years and may very well be losing a star player to free agency. In New York, where Donovan was a more likely candidate before Phil Jackson was hired as the team's president, he would be taking over a team that may potentially lose Carmelo Anthony and enter 2014-15 with terrible cap and talent issues. Though Donovan grew up a Knicks fan and played for the franchise, Rick Pitino said during the NCAA Tournament that Donovan has no designs of coaching the team.