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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 basketball is undergoing a minor shakeup as two of head coach Billy Donovan's staffers were officially hired away Friday by the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder. Serving as assistant to the head coach, Mark Daigneault will conclude four years with UF's program by accepting the head coaching job for Oklahoma City's NBA D-League team, the 66ers. Daigneault, 29, was never a court coach at Florida but did spend three seasons serving as one at Holy Cross before joining the program. The Thunder will also be snatching up Gators video coordinator Oliver Winterbone, who will join the organization as a basketball information analyst. Winterbone is partly responsible for Donovan's foray into advanced statistics over the past couple of seasons.
Although football does not kick off until next Saturday, Florida athletics opened its 2014-15 campaign on Friday evening when the No. 8 ranked Gators women's soccer team beat Miami 3-0. They'll play again Sunday at 1 p.m. when they face Central Florida. Florida soccer is entering its 20th season, all under head coach Becky Burleigh, while looking to win its eighth SEC regular-season title in the last nine years.
The $63 million renovation of EverBank Field is going to cost the city of Jacksonville where it hurts the most, its pockets. According to the Jacksonville Daily Record, the city will now be forced to pay an additional $1.4 million as part of its costs for the annual Florida-Georgia game because 12,000 additional seats now must be installed in order to meet its contractual seating obligations with the schools. Previously, EverBank Field had to add approximately 5,000 seats at a cost of $280,000, but stadium changes have reduced capacity well below the 82,917 agreed upon by the Gators, Bulldogs and city. The Florida-Georgia contract ends in 2016, though a renewal (possibly with a lower capacity agreement) is expected in the next year or two.
One week after being launched, the SEC Network has now landed agreements with nine of the top 10 cable distributors across the country. According to SportsBusiness Journal, ESPN and Verizon FiOS have come to terms on a contract, which will put the SEC Network in approximately five million more homes including many in Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa. The only top 10 cable distributor without an SEC Network contract right now is the New York-based Cablevision, which does not provide service to customers in the 11 SEC states.
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers inked a five-year, $30 million extension with his team on Tuesday. Considering the franchise had just signed center Maurkice Pouncey to a similar $44 million extension two months earlier, the Steelers have now promised a combined $74 million to the two former Gators offensive linemen, though not all of that money is completely guaranteed. In total, former Florida players have racked up extensions worth $142 million this offseason. Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden agreed to a five-year, $68 million extension back in May with a whopping $45 million in guaranteed monies. Haden and Pouncey were, respectively, the No. 7 and No. 18 selections in the 2010 NFL Draft, while Gilbert went No. 63 overall in 2011.
Sidelined with a groin injury that seemingly will not go away, Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis appears to be in serious danger of losing his job. Sturgis had a rough rookie season overall, missing a number of kicks in the middle of the campaign that he usually connects on without issue. Nevertheless, the Dolphins were prepared to have him be the only kicker in training camp and enter the season with him as the starter. Instead, the groin injury opened a door for a competitor, who has been doing quite well while Strugis just sits and watches. With just two preseason games remaining and Sturgis already ruled out for Saturday's contest, time is running out for him to prove that he is "the man" for Miami this season.