Coming Soon: Billy Donovan Court

Billy Donovan, 19-year head coach of the Gator Men’s Basketball team, will be honored Saturday night when the University of Florida basketball court gets a new name. The floor of Exatech Arena will be known as “Billy Donovan Court” as of tomorrow night. The dedication will take place when the Gators take on SEC opponent Vanderbilt at 8 p.m.

Donovan’s Deeds at UF

Donovan began his tenure in Gainesville in 1996. He led the Gators to six SEC regular-season Championships, four league tournament titles, 14 NCAA Tournaments appearances and four Final Fours.

AP18151665313263-300x200Not to mention, Florida won back-to-back National Championships under Donovan in 2006 and 2007. This remains the only time in the past 25 years where a men’s basketball team won back-to-back titles. Also, The Gators ranked No. 1 nationally in five different seasons under Donovan.

To say the man was successful at Florida is an understatement.

Over 19 seasons, Donovan racked up a 467-185 record.

In 2015, he took a job in the NBA and became the Oklahoma City Thunder’s heads coach.

How it All Went Down

In early October, UF athletic director Scott Stricklin and his predecessor, Jeremy Foley, took a trip to Oklahoma to tour Oklahoma and Oklahoma State campus facilities, or that’s what they said at least.

They met Donovan and his wife for dinner one evening to “catch up”.

However, that wasn’t exactly the purpose of their trip. Donovan “sensed” something was up.
Stricklin and Foley delivered the exciting news that night in Oklahoma.

After tomorrow, the O’Dome court will forever be attached to Donovan’s name.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.

Football season is back thanks to the XFL

Football is no longer just a fall sport. The XFL will have its debut game this Saturday at 2 p.m. with Seattle facing DC.

The XFL Basics

The league is backed by WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon and has a total of eight teams based around the country.

  • St. Louis BattleHawks
  • Seattle Dragons
  • Dallas Renegades
  • Tampa Bay Vipers
  • DC Defenders
  • Houston Roughnecks
  • New York Guardians
  • Los Angeles Wildcats

Minicamps began in December for XFL teams. Games will be played in NFL, NCAA, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball facilities. The regular season will consist of 10 games for each team and a four-team playoff scenario on April 19-20. Then, an XFL Championship will take place on April 26.

Key Differences from the NFL

  • Faster pace
  • Reduction of time between plays
  • An eighth official on the field to spot the ball
  • At least one female on officiating crews

  • Two timeouts per half
  • 10-minute halftime
  • No coin tosses
  • Home team will choose whether to receive or defend at the start of the game
  • Overtime: Each team gets five one-play possessions to score from 5-yard line
    • Will continue playing until someone is eliminated
  • No extra point kicks
  • Options after a touchdown
    • Go for one point from 2-yard line
    • Attempt two points from 5-yard line
    • Go for three points from 10-yard line
  • Replay review modeled after college system

Players in the XFL will bring home a salary on average of $55,000. However, some will make as much as $500,000. The league says 207 of the 416 players on XFL rosters, nearly half the league, had been with an NFL team in the past six months.

Gators in the XFL

Tampa

  • Mack Brown, RB
  • Antonio Callaway, WR
  • DeAndre Goolsby, TE
  • Martez Ivey, OL
  • CeCe Jefferson, DE

St. Louis

  • Matt Jones, RB
  • Will Hill, S

DC

  • Matt Elam, S

You can catch the XFL’s first matchup of the season on ABC.

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville. 

SEC Hoops Preview

SEC Hoops Preview

It will be a night of SEC hoops as eight teams meet on the court in just a few hours.

Florida at LSU 7 p.m.

SEC Network

The Florida Gators are coming off an upset win against SEC opponent Auburn. At the time, Auburn was ranked No. 4 in the country. Florida knocked off the Tigers 69-47 in Gainesville Saturday.

The Gators will face the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge tonight. LSU currently leads the SEC hoops world. They are undefeated in conference play and are led by senior guard Skylar Mays. He’s averaging 15.9 points a game.

Georgia at Kentucky 7 p.m.

ESPN

No. 15 ranked Kentucky is seeking its fifth SEC win of the season as they host Georgia tonight. Calipari’s Wildcats are back at home after a road win against the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday. Kentucky survived the Razorback’s efforts at a second-half comeback.
Georgia is 1-3 in the SEC. They fell to Mississippi State 59-91 Saturday. Anthony Edwards leads the Dawgs averaging 23 points per game.
The Wildcats are an 11.5 point favorite over Georgia.

Texas A&M at Missouri 9 p.m.

ESPNU

Missouri is coming off a close loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide. They fell to the Tide 88-74 in the final minutes. Missouri is currently 9-8 overall and 1-4 in the SEC.
The Aggies are also looking to bounce back after a loss. South Carolina beat Texas A&M 81-67 Saturday. A win against Missouri would certainly help the Aggies, especially if they have any hopes of making a postseason appearance.

Ole Miss at Tennessee 9 p.m.

SEC Network

Ole Miss is seeking its first win in conference play and hoping to break their five-game losing streak. The Rebels will meet the Tennessee Volunteers in Thompson-Boling Arena. The Vols are coming off a win against in-state rival Vanderbilt.

Jordan Bowden, Tennessee guard, broke out of his shooting slump against the Commodores and accounted for 21 points in the Vols 66-45 win Saturday. Bowden is a key player to watch tonight against the Rebels.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville. 

 

 

 

Busy offseason ahead for the Vikings

The Vikings rushed for a total of 21 yards and quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked six times in a game that marked the ending of Minnesota’s season. For Vikings fans, this game was a complete disappointment.

Minnesota’s Misery Against the 49ers

The Vikings were dominated by the San Francisco 49ers’ defense in the NFC divisional playoff round.

The 49ers pulled away in the third quarter. About four minutes into the second half, kicker Robbie Gould kicked a 35 yard field goal. Later, running back Tevin Coleman accounted for another San Francisco touchdown. Coleman rushed 22 times for 105 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s game.

The 49ers tacked on another field goal early in the fourth quarter to finish the game with a score of 27-10. With the Vikings loss, the 49ers advance to the NFC Championship game for the first time since 2013.

In his post-game presser, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer explained that it is difficult to comment on an entire season, but he did say he is proud of the team.

What’s Next?

Offensive Coordinator Opening

Minnesota is on the hunt for a new offensive play caller. It was announced Monday that Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski was hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Stefanski was the Vikings longest tenured coach and just 37-years-old. Whoever Minnesota hires will become the team’s fifth offensive coordinator in the past five years.

Quarterback Questions

cousins.jpgKirk Cousins is approaching the final season of his three year contract with the Vikings. In 2019, Cousins accounted for 26 touchdowns and six interceptions, completing about 69 percent of his passes.

Cousins’ said a contract extension has not been his focus.

Although he did state, “I certainly love it here. I love being a Viking.”

If Minnesota doesn’t decide to extend Cousins’ contract, then they’ll need to find a replacement quite soon. The NFL draft is a little over three months away. Will the Vikings be looking for a quarterback?
One thing’s for sure – the Vikings have a busy offseason ahead of them.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.

Rhule ready to represent the Panthers

Former Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule is ready to represent the Carolina Panthers’ football organization. On Tuesday, the Panthers reached a seven-year agreement with Rhule that is worth $60 million.

Rhule’s Past

Rhule took over Baylor University’s football team in 2016. In 2017, Baylor went 1-11. It was disappointing, to say the least for Baylor fans. In 2017, the Baylor Bears improved to 7-6.

This past season Rhule and the Bears finished the regular season 11-1. Then,they fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship and Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Prior to Baylor, Rhule was head coach at Temple University. He led the team to two 10 win seasons in his four years with the Owls.  He also led Temple to its first conference championship since 1967.

Rhule has one season of NFL coaching experience. He served as an assistant with the New York Giants under Tom Coughlin.

Inheriting an NFL team

Matt Rhule makes history becoming the first head coach Carolina has hired straight from the world of college football.

Rhule addressed the Panther Nation with gratitude. He’s ready to take over the program.

“I thank you so much for entrusting me with your prized football franchise. And I can promise you this, I’ll work each day with everything I have.”

Jan 3, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts after scoring in the third quarter. The Panthers defeated the Buccaneers 31-10 at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Rhule is inheriting a Carolina team that finished the 2019 season on an eight game losing streak. He’s also getting a team with potential questions surrounding quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton, 30, is entering the final year of his contract with the Panthers. Newton missed all but two games this past season due to a foot injury. There’s certainly lots of debate on whether the Panthers will keep the 2015 NFL MVP or make a trade.

Rhule became the first head coach hired under owner David Tepper and the franchise’s fifth head coach.

 

Story can also be found at wruf.com for ESPN Gainesville.