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March 25, 2013
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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 running back Jeff Demps has been making some confusing statements over the last few days. Signed with by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2012 after initially saying he was going to bypass football for a track career, Demps missed the entire season while on injured reserve, stashed away on the team's roster as a player who may be able to make an impact in 2013. Then suddenly, just one month ago, Demps announced his decision to track and continue playing football - participating in both sports simultaneously. Though the Patriots have yet to officially or even publicly react to Demps's decision - he remains on the roster and has not been cut as of press time - comments he made on a radio show over the weekend may fuel his trip out of New England. "I want to do both but in order for me to get to where I want to be on the track and field side, it will take a full year of preparation," he began, "and after the [track] season - if you guys are willing to let me come back probably midseason and work out and train and get ready for the season - I'll be able to do that. If not, then I guess I'll just focus on running." What?!
As the national media prepares to make Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida in the Sweet 16 a match-up of David vs. Goliath, an underlying story actually exists between the two schools. Many Gators fans know who Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. is, a businessman, politician and philanthropist who has contributed millions to the University of Florida and has both the stadium and an academic building on campus named after him. Florida fans may not realize, however, that his son Ben Hill Griffin III is actually FGCU's largest donor, donating 760 acres of land for the campus to be built upon and $5 million for the school to build its arena. Click the LINK for the details.
[Get your Florida Gators Sweet 16 Gear]
The 2013 NFL Draft is just over a month away and Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd now appears to be a sure-fire top-five pick. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, members of the front office of the Kansas City Chiefs (which possess the No. 1 overall pick) including the head coach and general manager are on campus at Florida on Monday meeting with Floyd and putting him through a workout. NFL.com reported over the weekend that 14 different NFL teams were on campus on Saturday, March 22 for Floyd's private Pro Day workout and that the Oakland Raiders (which possess the No. 3 overall pick) are keen on Floyd. It does legitimately appear as if Floyd will become the highest-drafted player in school history either tying Gerard Warren by being selected No. 3 overall or going in one of the first two spots in April's draft.
On the precipice of announcing the SEC Network, which will be a national channel and bring in millions of additional dollars to members of the conference, Florida president Bernie Machen told CBS Sports last week that the SEC is not looking to add two new members and move to 16 teams. Machen, who is the chairman of the SEC's board of directors, told the network's Jeremy Fowler that the only way the SEC would expand and become a 16-team "superconference" would be if an "ace jewel called us and said, 'Can you help us?'" In other words, a top-tier program like Oklahoma or Texas, for example, would need to be in dire straits and looking to move out of their current deal. "We haven't had any calls like that. We haven't made any calls," he added. "It's not that simple to assimilate two more teams into the league."
Rounding out the positive weekend of Gators news was the program's seventh SEC Championship of the 2012-13 athletic season. No. 1 Florida gymnastics lived up to its ranking by edging the competition for its second-straight SEC title (third in the last four years, ninth in program history). The Gators, which have never won an NCAA title but came excruciatingly close in 2012, will begin regional action in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, April 6. Florida has also won SEC titles this season in men's basketball (regular season), volleyball, soccer (regular season, tournament), women's cross country and men's swimming. The Gators picked up six SEC team titles in 2011-12 and are on pace to far surpass that total in 2012-13.