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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

North Carolina bathroom bill change already affecting Florida's college sports

Tampa could see more moments like this - Clemson's C.J. Spiller celebrating a touchdown in the 2009 ACC title game - but it will have more competition in light of this week's North Carolina news.


Tampa could see more moments like this - Clemson's C.J. Spiller celebrating a touchdown in the 2009 ACC title game - but it will have more competition in light of this week's North Carolina news.

North Carolina's change to its controversial bathroom bill could have a major impact on college sports in Florida.

The ACC announced Friday afternoon that its council of presidents voted to consider hosting future conference championship events in North Carolina. In September, the ACC moved its football championship game out of Charlotte and eventually to Orlando's Camping World Stadium because of House Bill 2. That law, among other things, required people in public schools to use the bathrooms designated for individuals of their biological sex.

The NCAA is also rethinking its ban on North Carolina events.

Florida was set to be one of the beneficiaries of the fallout. Orlando performed well as a host for the ACC title game. Tampa has been an ACC host, too - Raymond James Stadium held the football championship in 2008-09, and what's now Amalie Arena hosted the basketball tournament in 2007. 

Orlando and Tampa could still host future events, of course, but the competition just became tougher thanks to a political move from the ACC's home state. The league had agreed to host its title game in Charlotte through 2019. 

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Why one former Florida Gator believes offense could finally click in 2017


GAINESVILLE - Quarterback Austin Appleby didn't lead a resurgence of the Florida Gators' offense, but he believes the dark days could be ending soon.

Just look at the returning talent: Of the 13 offensive players who started at least six games last year, only three (Appleby, center Cam Dillard and left tackle David Sharpe) are gone.

"Everybody's becoming upperclassmen for the most part," Appleby said after his pro day on Tuesday. "Now it's time to turn over and play like veterans."

Whether the Gators can do that will go a long way in determining if UF can finally revive its offense and challenge for a third consecutive SEC East title.

Appleby said UF's biggest problem last year was its consistency - a common problem with young teams. The Gators' offense clicked in spurts (300 yards and 21 points in the first half at Tennessee). Other times (or most of the time) it was rough. The Gators failed to amass more than 4 yards per play four times, including in ugly losses to Florida State and Alabama.

Appleby believes UF's deep, talented receiving corps will continue to progress, which will help improve the Gators' up-and-down trend. …

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Hernando County native Matt Breida's eye-popping pro day numbers

Tampa Bay Times archives (2012)

I don't get too caught up in pro day numbers, but former Nature Coast Tech running back Matt Breida had a very strong showing at Georgia Southern.

Breida - listed at 5-11, 190 on last year's roster - ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds, according to 247Sports. Check out his 42-inch vertical leap:

Matt Breida with a whopping 42 inch Veritcal Jump! Have to raise the bar for him

Breida's broad jump was 11 feet, 2 inches. All three events were better (or equal to) what any running back posted at last month's scouting combine. Breida also did 23 reps on the bench press (which would have been third among running backs in Indianapolis). 

Matt Breida's numbers and ranks if he was at the NFL Combine.

40yd: 4.37 (1st)
Vert: 42" (1st)
Broad: 11.2 (1st)
225: 23 (3rd)

We'll find out in a month what all of this means for Breida's pro career. He rushed for 37 touchdowns and more than 3,700 yards in four seasons at Georgia Southern.

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Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher coming to Tampa in May

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher will be in Tampa on May 22 for the Seminole Boosters' annual spring tour, the school announced Wednesday.

An event will be at the Old Memorial Golf Club. More details and registration information will be available here.

FSU will also hold its annual Chop at the Trop event when the Rays host the Rangers on Sunday, July 23.

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Where do Florida, FSU and Miami rank among AP's top 100 college basketball programs?

The Florida Gators are the state's top all-time college basketball program and rank No. 27 nationally, according to this fun idea by the Associated Press. 

The AP analyzed all of its polls (dating back to 1949) to come up with the list. Kentucky is first, followed by North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Kansas and Indiana. 

Florida State is No. 64, with Miami at No. 87. Jacksonville is tied with Ole Miss at No. 100.

Check out the full rankings (and methodology) here


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Florida pro day: Jarrad Davis stars, Jalen Tabor slips


GAINESVILLE - A few quick thoughts from the Florida Gators' pro day:

The player who helped himself the most: Linebacker Jarrad Davis. His 38 ½ inch vertical leap would have been an inch better than any other linebacker at the scouting combine. It was so impressive that the event's organizers had to adjust the apparatus afterward so they could get an accurate measurement. His 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump was better than any linebacker at the combine, and his 4.56 40-yard dash was better than every linebacker not name Jabrill Peppers.

The player who hurt himself the most: Cornerback Jalen Tabor. His 40-yard dash was somewhere in the 4.7 range - slower than he performed at the combine. For a player who had been viewed as a first-round pick, it was, uh, not good. More on Tabor later.  …

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One option for Jimbo Fisher's FSU football stand-alone complex

The so-called Jimbotron (background) is just the latest facilities upgrade at Florida State. More could be coming.


The so-called Jimbotron (background) is just the latest facilities upgrade at Florida State. More could be coming.

Florida State might be the next major program to get a stand-alone football facility, according to a report late last week by ESPN.

As coach Jimbo Fisher told Andrea Adelson, it's simply the cost of trying to be an elite program these days. Florida, of course, hopes to break ground on its $60 million facility in December.

I'm told a stand-alone football complex might not be in the mix at FSU, exactly, but renovations could be coming to satisfy Fisher (who has built up a lot of goodwill with five consecutive 10-win seasons).

A more likely scenario could involve building a new complex for other sports and devoting the entire Moore Athletics Center to the football program. With renovations, of course.

It makes sense. The Moore Center is bunched up with newly renovated Doak Campbell Stadium and not far from the four-year-old indoor practice facility. The Moore Center has already had recent football renovations - the locker room before the 2014 season and the players' lounge in 2016 (complete with what's essentially a giant Dalvin Cook Fathead). The meeting rooms, coaches' suite and historical information is all there, too. …

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FSU freshman Jonathan Isaac entering NBA draft


Florida State freshman Jonathan Isaac has announced that he will leave school early to declare for the NBA draft.

Isaac made the announcement Friday afternoon. The news is not a surprise; he is a potential lottery pick.

The 6-foot-10 forward from Naples averaged 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game to help FSU advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He entered FSU as one of the nation's top 15 overall recruits.
Isaac becomes the third FSU player to announce his intention of leaving school early, after guards Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

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NCAA Tournament: Three keys for Florida Gators against Wisconsin


The fourth-seeded Florida Gators will try to advance to the Elite Eight late tonight with an NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinal matchup against eighth-seeded Wisconsin.

Here are three keys for fourth-seeded UF:

1. Stay poised. Wisconsin has been here before. A lot. This is the Badgers' fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. Florida hasn't been here recently. As we've written a lot in the last week, only one UF player (guard Kasey Hill) entered the season with Tournament experience. Second-year coach Mike White had never coached in the Tournament before, at any level. Last night's games show the value of not panicking - you know, actually thinking through decisions in the closing minutes instead of attempting horrible hero shots. I'm looking at you, Michigan and West Virginia.

exclusive look at West Virginia's final play design

If UF is going to advance to the Elite Eight, it will have to stay calm enough to avoid copying West Virginia's mistake. …

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FSU football, Florida Gators could both start season in top 10

It's insanely early, but noted college football prognisticator Phil Steele expects Florida State and Florida to both start this season in the AP's top 10. 

In his projections, Steele expects FSU to open the season at No. 3, behind its Week 1 opponent (Alabama) and Ohio State. The Gators would be 10th - a little higher than I expected. 

Check out his full projections here. 


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Ex-Jefferson, Gators DB Deiondre Porter given six years for armed robbery


Former Florida Gators cornerback and Jefferson High star Deiondre Porter has been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to an armed robbery charge in Jacksonville.

Porter was arrested in April in connection with the robbery of a T-Mobile store. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, two males with handguns approached the store just after closing and ordered employees to open the safe. A third suspect was involved, and the group stole cell phones before leaving through the back door.

Porter, 20, was sentenced to state prison Wednesday as a youthful offender, according to Duval County court records. 

Porter signed with UF in 2014 as a cornerback and redshirted that season. He played on special teams in 2015 before he was arrested that October after being accused of firing a handgun near his then-pregnant girlfriend in Gainesville. That case remains open. He also faces felony charges of armed robbery and kidnapping to commit or facilitate commission of a felony, according to Alachua County records. The next court date is scheduled for April 13. …

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Dick Vitale talks Florida-Wisconsin, Mike White as coach of the year


ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale said the Florida Gators have had an impressive season and NCAA Tournament, but tomorrow's Sweet 16 matchup against Wisconsin could pose some matchup problems.
Vitale said fourth-seeded UF's defense was shockingly good in its second-round domination of Virginia last weekend in Orlando.

"Virginia's a really good basketball team," Vitale said. "It was a blowout. It was unbelievable."

It happened, of course, with historically good defense; the 39 points Virginia scored were the fewest UF has ever allowed in the Tournament. And it happened without much production from leading scorer KeVaughn Allen.

"They're going to need him big-time in their next matchup against Wisconsin," Vitale said. "Obviously that's going to be a real battle, because Wisconsin executes."

The Badgers come into the East Regional semifinal with experience; this is their fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16. …

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Dick Vitale breaks down FSU basketball's season and future

Florida State Seminoles forward Jonathan Isaac (1) covers his head while on the bench during the second half of FSU's 25-point, second-round loss to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament.


Florida State Seminoles forward Jonathan Isaac (1) covers his head while on the bench during the second half of FSU's 25-point, second-round loss to Xavier in the NCAA Tournament.

Like many Florida State fans, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale was "shocked and surprised" at how the third-seeded Seminoles were blown out last week by 11th-seeded Xavier.

"They just dominated," Vitale said of Xavier's 25-point win last week. "Their zone defense really seemed to baffle Florida State. "That was a nightmare. That was a nightmare game."

Especially given how FSU started the season. The ‘Noles started off 16-1. They went 5-1 in one brutal ACC stretch (Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Louisville).

"They looked like one of the premier teams in the nation," Vitale said.

But after that 5-1 spurt, FSU tailed off.

"It seemed after that, there was like a satisfaction - a feeling of, ‘Wow, what we achieved is great,'" Vitale said. "They weren't, to me, the same team. They were up, down, up, down."

That, eventually, led a team that had Final Four potential losing in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. What does it mean for coach Leonard Hamilton and FSU's future? …

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Sleeping in Jim McElwain's garage 'not as bad as it sounds'

This post is just an excuse to run this old photo of Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain, from his Eastern Washington days.

Courtesy: Eastern Washington

This post is just an excuse to run this old photo of Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain, from his Eastern Washington days.

When Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain mentioned that the coaching staff from his alma mater (Eastern Washington) was visiting for spring practice last week, he dropped this intriguing nugget on reporters:

"We put them in the garage," McElwain said. "You might want to ask them about that."

So I did.

"It's not as bad as it sounds," Eastern Washington head coach Aaron Best said from his office in Cheney, Wash. "Don't try to doll us up like we were some barbaric people and barely survived this 96-hour ordeal."

So here's what it was really like, according to Best.

Best and six of his staffers flew on United from Spokane (a short drive from campus) to Denver to Tampa, then piled in a station wagon to drive the two hours to Gainesville.

After they got to McElwain's house, they saw their lodging situation.

"It's not your prototypical garage," Best said.

There was no flickering light bulb swinging from the ceiling. No parked cars, either. They had running water, soap and a toilet.

"There's no bad oil filters," Best said. "There's no rakes. There's no shovels. It's basically a living quarters they've made out of the garage setting." …

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Checking in on former Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris

It looks like Treon Harris will be a starting quarterback after all ... at Tennessee State.

AP photo

It looks like Treon Harris will be a starting quarterback after all ... at Tennessee State.

It looks like Treon Harris will be a starting quarterback after all ... at Tennessee State.

According to The Tennessean, Harris - the former Florida Gators starter - was in a battle for the starting job with O'Shay Ackerman-Carter. But Ackerman-Carter is transferring, making Harris the expected starter this fall, according to the report.

Harris started 15 games for the Gators in 2014-15 before announcing his intention to transfer before the start of last season.

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