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New Spring pro football league announces Steve Spurrier as first head coach

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Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

The newest spring professional football league, the Alliance of American Football (AAF), announced it’s intentions last month to begin play in February of 2019. However, they wanted to wait on naming franchise cities and coaches.

Well, on Saturday morning, they made a splash and it involves not only the city of Orlando being named with a team, but arguably the most famous, successful and outrageous Gators personality of them all, as the head coach.

The “Head Ball Coach” is back:

Steve Spurrier will return to his professional football coaching roots, as he was once the highly successful coach of the United States Football League’s Tampa Bay Bandits in the mid-1980’s.

Spurrier later went on to coach at Duke, leading them to the 1989 ACC title before returning to his alma matter, where he had won the Heisman Trophy, and became the most flamboyant (and annoying to opponents) personality in southern coaching. Spurrier won SEC championship six times and eventually the 1996 National Championship while in Gainesville.

Back to the AAF, their CEO and co-founder Charlie Ebersol (the son of legendary Emmy award winning TV producer Dick Ebersol) made the announcement live on CBS TV Saturday morning. He was joined by one of the league’s former professional “player consultants,” in former Steelers great WR Hines Ward, and then a short time later, Spurrier joined them on set in New York.

The AAF also released this statement from Spurrier:

“What first captured my attention was Charlie and Bill’s commitment to putting top-flight, professional football on the field and creating a true alliance between fans, players and the game. The Alliance offers a unique opportunity to get back into coaching, this time for a spring season, and work closely with hungry, talented athletes looking to begin, revive or extend their professional careers.

The fact I can do this in Orlando makes it that much sweeter. I’m fired up and ready to go.” — Steve Spurrier, Orlando Alliance head coach”

The “Bill” is Bill Polian, the former Colts GM, who when the AAF held it’s initial press conference in New York, was essentially designated as the lead football personality, without being named as commissioner.

Here’s a clip from the “CBS This Morning” Saturday show with Spurrier talking about why he wants to return to the sidelines:

Spurrier does have recent pro football experience too, albeit a bad one. He was the failed head coach of the Washington Redskins in 2002-03. Spurrier was just 12-20 in two years in Washington before resigning.

The AAF will continue to name franchises this spring and summer, as they plan to play with eight teams in 2019.

They have an exclusive television deal with CBS to show their inaugural game next February, weekly “games of the week” on CBS Sports Network, and then it’s championship game back on CBS in April of 2019.

Orlando is no stranger to spring football having had the Renegades of the USFL that were actually coached by ESPN College Football analyst Lee Corso. And then, the one year failed experiment that was the XFL in 2001, which had former Gators coach Galen Hall coaching the “Orlando Rage” team.

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Gators coach Dan Mullen talked tradition and positive outlook at SEC media days

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday in Atlanta, it was time for Gators boss Dan Mullen to take his turn at the podium (and several other outlets) and be subjected to the SEC’s annual media circus/media days.

The first year Florida coach is no stranger to the media days, as he had done it for the last nine seasons as Mississippi State’s head man.

However, the anticipation and expectation to restore Florida to an SEC power is building and Mullen embraced it, once again:

In particular, when he was asked about the winning culture at Florida, where he was part of on Urban Meyer’s two national championship staffs last decade, Mullen beamed again Tuesday about the job:

“Having been at the University of Florida before…and won multiple championships there, I know what a special place it can be. I think that was big help for me walking into a situation where I had familiarity with a lot of things,” Mullen told the media mass in his main press conference. “I think all the things: the tradition, the University, that Gator standard, all made it a very easy decision for me.”

Mullen was asked about incumbent Feleipe Franks and the quarterback competition, the rivalry with Georgia and so on, in that session, but we were particularly interested when the question turned to transfer receiver Van Jefferson from Ole Miss and his possible eligibility and impact.

First, Mullen answered about the status of the waiver to get Jefferson eligible immediately this season,

“I don’t want to say ‘frustrating,’ cause having done this (wait on NCAA decisions on player eligibility) within the NCAA and as this goes, you just understand that it is a process. As the process plays out, you get a ‘feel.’… Hopefully, we’ll be able to announce something in the near future one way or the other about what’s going on with the transfers.”

We wrote previously that the Jefferson has a chance to be immediately eligible this season, where he would not have in years past, because the SEC changed their rule in May on players leaving one program in the conference for another due to NCAA sanctions, etc., possibly being able to be cleared to play.

Jefferson wasn’t spectacular last year in Oxford, with just 42 catches for 456 yards and one score. However, he’s expected to immediately help infuse the Gators receiving corp with some life, if he can get on the field.

As for what Jefferson would bring, Mullen got somewhat specific Tuesday:

“I think he would have the opportunity to fill a need as a playmaker with experience in this league. And, I think that’s a huge benefit….when you get in big games, that’s been in and played in big games, that’s made big catches in big games, he has experience. And that’s a huge plus.”

So, it was a chance for Mullen to “sell” the Florida program, and oh, flash his new “Jordan Brand” Nike Shoe game, too:

Mullen, was selling the Gators, indeed.

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Gators to put former Heisman winner Tim Tebow in their “Ring of Honor”

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Brett Davis- USA Today Sports

The legend of Tim Tebow in Gainesville, and around the SEC, is well known. And the University of Florida added to it on Wednesday, when they announced Tebow will join their “Ring of Honor” this fall.

The former 2008 Heisman winner, who quarterbacked the Gators to the National Title that year as well, will be honored at halftime of the October 6th home game with LSU.

From the school’s official release:

His name will be unveiled and displayed in the North Endzone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
 
The display, which will be approximately 18-feet wide and five feet high, will now feature Tebow, along with Wilber Marshall, Emmitt Smith, Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Jack Youngblood. Marshall was the most recent inductee (Sept. 29, 2007), while the other four members were part of the original unveiling back on Sept. 30, 2006 as part of the 100-year Celebration of Gator Football.

The school also got reaction from Tebow to the announcement:

“I am so humbled and thankful to be able to receive this blessing, being inducted into the Ring of Honor,” Tebow said. “I know in my heart that I truly couldn’t have done it without amazing coaches and teammates who loved and sacrificed for each other so that we could accomplish our goals.

“Loving Florida wasn’t just something I did for four years, but it has been a lifelong passion. I want to thank the University of Florida and all the fans for making Gator Nation so special. I was born a Gator, I played as a Gator, and I’ll always be a Gator!

“God Bless and Go Gators!”

Tebow, who along with Spurrier and Werffel are the only three Gators to win the Heisman Trophy, left Gainesville holding 14 SEC and 28 Florida all time records. This included becoming the NCAA’s first ever quarterback to run and throw for 20 or more TDs in the same season.

We have written recently that Tebow’s latest passion is baseball, where he is currently playing and having some hitting success for the New York Mets Double-A franchise in Binghamton, NY. The now 30 year old Tebow was recently named to the Eastern League All-Star game, and there is belief that the Mets will call him up to the majors in September, when rosters expand.

The University will also honor Tebow and the 2008 National Championship team on it’s tenth anniversary this upcoming season, as well.

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Homicide investigation at home of former Gators now Giants DB Janoris Jenkins

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Trouble has always seemed to find former Gators-now New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins, and now the trouble has gone to the highest level.

This with news on Tuesday afternoon that authorities in New Jersey are at Jenkins home, where a dead body has been found. Authorities in Bergen County have confirmed that the body is not Jenkins, but that there is a homicide investigation underway.

TMZ was first to report the details including that Jenkins is apparently in Florida right now.

The former Florida Gator star defensive back, who was part of the National Championship team in his freshman year of 2008, signed a massive contract with the Giants two years ago. He received $62 million over five years that included nearly $29 million guaranteed with a signing bonus of $10 million.

Jenkins lived up to that contract in year one with three interceptions, 18 passes defended and a Pro Bowl selection as the Giants made the playoffs. However, during their dismal 2017 season, Jenkins played in only nine games. And, he was actually suspended for failing to show back up in October after the Giants bye week. He eventually went on injured reserve with what New York said was an ankle injury.

Back to the homicide investigation, Bergen County authorities say that a worker discovered the dead body in the basement of the home Tuesday morning. The victim was identified Tuesday night as 25 year old Roosevelt Rene, who is a music producer and friend of Jenkins. Rene had apparently been staying in the $500,000 home for some time with members of Jenkins’ family.

NFL Network and NFL.com insider Mike Garafolo updated the cause of death of Rene from his sources late Tuesday afternoon:

Jenkins representatives when reached by TMZ, had no comment. Neighbors told CBS2 TV in New York Tuesday afternoon that Jenkins has been in Florida for the last couple of weeks, since Giants mini-camp ended.

Jenkins also had trouble that ended his career at the University of Florida, when former coach Urban Meyer booted him from the program for marijuana possession charges in 2011.

Jenkins, who was a former all state defensive back at Pahokee High School, transferred to the University of North Alabama and finished out his college career. He was drafted in 2012 in the second round by the St Louis Rams and played there for four seasons.

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