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 fans by now are well aware of the allegations that have been levied against Florida head coach Will Muschamp by former Auburn player Mike McNeil via a report by Selena Roberts on Roopstigo.com. Yet in a sports landscape where most are happy to rush to judgment and assume guilt before innocence, plenty seem to be questioning the Muschamp allegation. Why exactly? For one, the report is focused on the Tigers under the regime of head coach Gene Chizik (2009-12) yet there is a random claim in the middle of the piece that Muschamp made a $400 secret payment to a player in 2007, when he was coaching under Tommy Tuberville. Then there is the payment that McNeil alleges supposedly came without request for no reason whatsoever after he, a freshman special teams contributor, simply had a tough practice. Since Roberts's report was released late Wednesday, at least three of the players quoted within the piece have denied multiple facts contained within; two also claimed they were misquoted or taken out of context with one player saying Roberts did not discuss the particular topics with him that she quoted him on. Muschamp and Chizik, of course, have denied all allegations (because what NCAA coach would ever admit to wrongdoing even if the allegations were true), but the fact that Roberts does not have evidence or corroboration for much of her report certainly casts a legitimate shadow of doubt.
An injury-plagued year has vastly limited what rookie guard Brad Beal has been able to accomplish in his first season with the Washington Wizards. The team announced Wednesday that Beal will miss the remainder of the season with a "stress injury in his right fibula." Beal, who has also dealt with ankle, wrist and back problems this year, will be missing 26 of his team's 82 games (.317) this season. When he did play, he averaged 13.9 points, 3.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds while shooting .410 from the field, .386 from beyond the arc and .786 from the free throw line. One of Beal's best games of the season came just one month ago when he posted a career-high 29 points against New York on March 1. He was also named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for both December and January and was at one time a legitimate contender with Damian Lillard for Rookie of the Year. Washington expects Beal to begin playing basketball again in six weeks after he completes a rehabilitation stint.
The coaching career of former Florida assistant Richard Pitino is taking off and he certainly has Gators head coach Billy Donovan in part, to thank for his early success. Pitino, who Donovan has known since he was a baby, credits the Florida coach for much of his coaching acumen and even left Louisville (where he was an assistant under his father Rick Pitino from 2007-09) to coach with Donovan (2009-11) before returning to the Cardinals as an associate head coach. The younger Pitino took over Florida International this season and turned the team around, taking them just one game away from a berth in the NCAA Tournament. On Thursday, Pitino was officially named the new head coach at Minnesota; the program fired head coach Tubby Smith after UF beat his squad in the round of 32 two weeks ago. In a meeting with the media before his Final Four press conference, Rick Pitino credited a recommendation and endorsement from Donovan as one of the reasons why his son was considered and ultimately hired for the position with the Golden Gophers.
One former Gators player who does not need to look for a new residence this off-season is quarterback Rex Grossman, who re-signed with the Washington Redskins this week. Grossman has spent the last three seasons in Washington and will be fighting for a third-string job on the roster. He has not stepped foot on an NFL field during the regular season since 2011. Grossman is the second former Florida player to sign a free agent contract this offseason as wide receiver Louis Murphy agreed to a one-year, $715,000 contract with the New York Giants. There are plenty of other Gators free agents in the NFL but most are unlikely to be signed before the conclusion of the NFL Draft (if at all). Once the draft is over, teams will be looking to fill holes they were unable to fill with rookies. Wide receiver David Nelson, who missed the entire 2012 season with an ACL injury and is beginning to take visits, has high hopes that he will sign somewhere this offseason.
Recuperating this week from a knee injury, five-star Florida point guard commit Kasey Hill missed multiple days of action while preparing for the 2013 McDonald's All-American Game. Hill wound up playing limited minutes on Wednesday and did not produce much for his team, but he also had an ulterior motive for his lack of participation. This weekend, Hill is leading Montverde Academy in the National High School Invitational and already has his team in the semifinals of the tournament, which take place on Friday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Should Montverde win on Friday, the team will play in the final on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN. On a side note, five-star Gators power forward commit Chris Walker, while participating in McDonald's All-American festivities earlier in the week, actually took down some of the other top players in the country in the Powerade Jam Fest. Walker was the first Florida signee to win the contest since David Lee in 2001.
So many Gators sporting events are going on this weekend that it will certainly be difficult for fans to keep up, so here is a quick breakdown of what will be going on over the next three days.
No. 3/7 Florida track & field will be participating in the Pepsi Florida Relays in Gainesville, FL, one of the most well-attended events on campus.
The No. 2 women's and No. 20 men's tennis teams will each be in action with matches on both Friday and Sunday. The women will face Ole Miss on Friday at 6 p.m. and Mississippi State on Sunday at 10 a.m. as they celebrate Senior Day. The men will be on the road at this time, visiting ole Miss on Friday at 5 p.m. and Mississippi State on Sunday at 1 p.m.
No. 2 Gators softball is looking to extend its 10-game winning streak while on a three-game weekend series at home against Mississippi State. The series is part of a five-game homestand bookended by games against Central Florida.
While the women play at home, Florida baseball will be on the road for a three-game series at Mississippi State. The Gators are riding a three-game winning streak of their own which includes back-to-back victories over a No. 11-ranked Ole Miss team last weekend.
No. 2 lacrosse was hoping to finish the season undefeated but was dealt its first loss of the season last Saturday at Penn State. Florida will be looking to get back to its winning ways on Saturday when it hosts John Hopkins at noon.
No. 1 Gators gymnastics has been on a mission all season and is now set to begin its final stretch. Florida triumphed throughout the year and eeked out a victory two weeks ago to win the SEC Championship. Now the Gators are looking for the first NCAA title in team history as they host the 2013 NCAA Regionals beginning Saturday in Gainesville. Florida has advanced to the NCAA Super Six (finals) in six of the last seven seasons, coming closest to a title last year when it finished second by just 0.075 to champion Alabama.