In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Leading the way for Gators in the NFL this past weekend was Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Ahmad Black, whose interception of Oakland's Carson Palmer late in the fourth quarter led to a touchdown and helped seal a victory for his team. Black, a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft who was actually cut for a short period of time last season due to a preseason ankle injury, has overcome detractors to be a big-time player for Tampa Bay. In addition to his interception, Black forced two fumbles on Sunday and continues to stand out as a big-time player of the future for the Buccaneers.
Instead of having yet another fantastic Sunday, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had a quite dreadful one. Not only was Harvin unable to contribute offensively most of the game, he went down with a major ankle sprain and went back to the field to play on it. That decision may very well have cost him the ability to play in his team's Week 10 game. "It wasn't to prove anything," he said, according to NFL.com. "I think you guys know, if I'm able to get out there and go, I'm going to try to go. Maybe I did [push too hard]. Maybe I didn't." Harvin also blew up at head coach Leslie Frazier during Sunday's game as he was frustrated with what plays were being called. He claims that has since been settled.
No. 10 Florida soccer won its second SEC Championship of the season on Sunday as the Gators defeated Auburn 3-0 to capture the 2012 SEC Tournament title. The tournament victory marks the 10th in program history and the 22nd league title won by head coach Becky Burleigh since she started the Florida soccer team in 1995. The Gators have also won 12 SEC regular season titles. Senior forward/midfielder Erika Tymrak was named the tournament's most valuable player after scoring three goals and dishing out three assists over the course of three games. UF has been awarded a No. 2 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and will take on Florida Gulf Coast in opening-round action.
In his midseason draft preview, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. projected junior safety Matt Elam as heading to the Cincinnati Bengals due to the team's secondary needs. If that was to happen, Elam would be teamed up with former Gators S Reggie Nelson (who is seeing a resurgence in Cincinnati) and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Obviously the draft is a ways away, but Elam could potentially be one of nearly a dozen Gators who could theoretically be selected. Not only is Florida losing 12 scholarship true seniors and redshirt seniors, UF may also see some juniors like Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd leave early.
Now having taken Louisville to 9-0, former Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong has been a hot name for a pair of SEC head coaching jobs - Tennessee and Arkansas. Though both could theoretically sway Strong with the opportunity to coach in a league he has had immense success (one which could take him to a national title game), Arkansas may be the most likely option considering he is a native of the state. That being said, Strong has also indicated to close confidants that he is not looking for another job right now and is very happy coaching at Louisville, which gave him a chance when so many other schools passed on him (many of which did not even interview him for openings). The school's administration has also mentioned that it would be willing to spend big in order to ensure that money is not the reason that Strong leaves. With offensive coordinator Brent Pease now apparently on Kentucky's radar, three former Florida coordinators could theoretically be head coaches in the SEC a few months from now (Dan Mullen - Mississippi State).
Gators fans are understandably excited for the basketball team's game on Friday against Georgetown in Jacksonville, FL at the Navy Mayport Station on the USS Bataan. Florida and Georgetown will both don camouflage uniforms for the game with the Gators wearing orange and the Hoyas sporting grey. Though the jerseys are not expected to be on sale, special edition Nike Hyperfuse sneakers will be in limited quantities. Fans can also purchase a special "United We Stand" Nike shirt featuring the camouflage pattern.
The game is just one of a number of big events taking place Friday. Also scheduled is Gator Growl, hosted by Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres, a women's basketball game against Fairfield and a big match for No. 11 volleyball, which takes on Missouri.