Notebook: Meyer still high on Gators


Former University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer thinks the Gators are one of the most underrated teams in the nation.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.

Urban Meyer is still quite high on his former players.

On a national teleconference Thursday, the former Florida head coach and current ESPN analyst went out of his way to praise the Gators.

“I think Florida is going to be one of the most underrated teams to come out because I think they're loaded,” he said. “(If they answer questions on) the offensive line and John Brantley gets some help at receiver and their running backs stay healthy, I think they'll be very good.




“Their defense is going to be outstanding with those young defensive linemen.”

Young defensive linemen that he recruited.

Meyer, 47, who is not coaching for the first time since his playing career ended at Cincinnati in 1986, said not being on the sidelines was “weighing on me real heavy.”

He was also asked about his future in coaching, specifically if he would ever be interested in the Ohio State job.

“I'm in a little bit of an evaluation phase in my life,” he said. “I'm trying not to look too far in advance.

“But I do miss coaching very badly. So I don't know. I'm not going to evaluate until it's time to evaluate.”

He said he'll watch daughter Gigi play two volleyball matches for Florida Gulf Coast University today in Durham, N.C., and expects to take in seven of his son Nate's eight football games this season.

“That part overweighs the sincere missing of coaching,” he said. “I miss it horribly but it's the right time to do what I'm doing, and that's working at ESPN and watching my kids play.”

Meyer was on the teleconference with fellow ESPN analyst and broadcast partner Chris Spielman, who was a star linebacker at Ohio State in the mid-80s when Meyer was an assistant coach for the Buckeyes.

Along with Dave Pasch doing play-by-play, the broadcast crew will handle the noon games on ESPN. Their first assignment is Akron at No. 18 Ohio State on Sept. 3.

Scrimmage fallout

Hours after Florida head coach Will Muschamp fumed to the media about his players' mental toughness in a Wednesday night scrimmage, a few players followed up with the media on Thursday.

They all thought the scrimmage went “OK.”

“I'll just say we were in a lot of situations at the end of practice and some guys are locked in more than other guys,” senior running back Jeff Demps said. “Say for instance, the two-minute drill you have guys jogging around, not playing with a sense of urgency.

“We definitely can get better, mentally and physically. But we'll come out today and have a better practice and improve on a lot of stuff.”

Season opener awaits

The Gators began game prep for Florida Atlantic on Thursday, a couple of days early. ... The season-opening game is Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. The cable TV broadcast team will be Clay Matvick (play-by-play), Brian Griese (color commentary) and Allison Williams (sideline). The Gator radio network will broadcast locally on 103.7 FM and AM-850 with Mick Hubert (play-by-play), Lee McGriff (color commentary) and Brady Ackerman (sideline). ... The Gators' eyes in the sky this season are running backs coach Brian White, defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, defensive graduate assistant Kirk Callahan and offensive graduate assistant Adam Sitter. ... As part of a new initiative this season, the Gators will have honorary captains for each home game. The honorary captain for the FAU game will be former All-American defensive end Kevin Carter (1991-94).

Meyer: Don't mess with Texas A&M

Meyer also touched on the subject of Texas A&M possibly leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC.

“I'm a traditionalist,” he said. “I'm not in all the meetings about the television contracts and everything else, but it's hard for me after the last 40 years watching Texas play Texas A&M and from the Big 8 to the Big 12 and those rivalries, to see those things disintegrate.”

The survival of the Big 12 is at stake, he said.

“I'm just not sure if that's great for college football,” Meyer said. “Take away all the money issues. ... To me I'm just sad to see that happen.”

Tickets available

The Gator Ticket Office has another batch of single-game tickets available because of returns by visiting teams. Tickets are available for next week's home opener against FAU, vs. UAB on Sept. 10, vs. Vanderbilt (Homecoming) on Nov. 5 and vs. Furman on Nov. 19. Fans can purchase tickets online at Gatorzone.com/Tickets or stop by the ticket office at Gate 1 of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or call the ticket office at (352) 375-4683, ext. 6800, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Share the sunshine

Muschamp is asking Gator fans to help give a lift to the state's tourism efforts.

Visit Florida is kicking off “The Florida Fan Game” on Sept. 2. It's a contest between the fans of six state schools — Florida, Florida State, Miami, South Florida, Central Florida and Florida A&M.

“This is a great opportunity for Gator fans to show their school spirit, help our economy here in Florida, and remind their friends of what a great place our state is to visit,” Muschamp said.

Fans can send invitations to visit the state along with deals on flights, hotels, restaurants and attractions on Facebook.com/ShareALittleSunshine. Each invitation earns a point for that fan's school with the winning school taking state bragging rights on Dec. 5.

Fans who play have a chance to win a six-person, 11-day getaway that hits each city of the six participating colleges. Fans can also win other prizes, including game tickets and travel deals.

Contact Jeff Barlis at (352) 374-5066 or barlisj@gvillesun.com and follow at Twitter.com/JeffBarlis.

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