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Fischer: Not everyone is happy with Gators Stricklin hire

Christopher Fischer

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I’m scratching my head at the University of Florida hire of Scott Stricklin as their fourteenth Athletic Director. Maybe I’m a cynic for not liking a Mississippi State alum taking over as the Secretary of State of the “Gator Nation.” Or possibly it’s the fact that Stricklin used to huff and puff the scent of Kentucky blue grass.

I know, I know his predecessor Jeremy Foley didn’t graduate from Florida. But Foley did work his way up from the bottom selling tickets to being the man holding the golden ticket.

Call me loyal, or call me a crazy but I don’t believe walking in to Florida Field or the O’Connell Center through the visitor’s tunnel prepares you for being a Gator.

Here was his video greeting this afternoon to Gators fans:

Hey, Stricklin maybe a great guy, a “Rising Star,” but this isn’t a Florida athletic program on the rise. This is a program that’s a fine running machine, a Ferrari of college of athletics. Just because a kid tears up the sprint car series, doesn’t mean he warrants a seat in NASCAR.

Stricklin in my eyes will be a glorified baby-sitter. His predecessor Jeremy Foley will be right down the hall in his emeritus role. While a couple of doors down will be the biggest Gator of them all in Steve Spurrier. And just a couple of steps away will reside Jim McElwain’s nameplate. Do you really think a program with 24 national titles during Foley’s reign will sit back and let the tourist steer the car? Heck no, this is shaping up to be the mother of all back seat driver road trips.

“I can’t imagine how special it is to walk in to an opportunity like this, and to have a guy like Jeremy (Foley) to seek as a resource, Stricklin said today. Something tells me he won’t have to seek advice, he’ll be given orders.

The hire was a safe, if not controlling a move by the university. Sure Stricklin oversaw more than $100 million dollars spent on new facilities as the AD at MSU. Sure he helped “Big Blue” nation get back on track in hoops as Associate AD. But realistically, those are one trick or sport ponies. UF is an army of student athletes, boosters and fanatics smothered in orange and blue.

I get it, Stricklin knows the Southeastern Conference. He’s harmonized the cow bells in Starkville, and tamed the Wildcats basketball zealots. But this is the University of Florida. The marque university in a state that has more athletic talent than the rest of the SEC combined (well damn close to it).

Stricklin said it himself “Florida has set a standard not only in the SEC, but around the country.”

That’s right Stricklin don’t screw it up.

A native Floridian who graduated from Clearwater High School and the University of Florida, Chris Fischer has spent nearly 15 years in Sports Televison, including the last five as Sports Reporter and Anchor with the CBS affiliate in Tampa Bay-WTSP. He is a multi time AP Sports and Local Emmy award winner and will be seen this season as a sideline reporter on CBS-TV’s network coverage of the NFL.Chris brings enthusiasm and passion (particularly when it comes to his Gators) to College and NFL coverage to F.F.I.

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Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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