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.
Gators football fans suddenly thrilled with the job head coach Will Muschamp is doing have reason to celebrate on Tuesday as the school announced that it extended his contract through 2017 and actually did so months ago before the season began. Though the terms of his deal remained the same ($2.75 million per year), Muschamp did add two years to his contract in a six-month span as the one-year option on his original five-year deal was picked up in February. He is set to receive a $500,000 retention bonus for 2016 and $250,000 retention bonus for 2017 and is still eligible to receive numerous bonuses for postseason achievements and awards.
Although he has not played since Week 6, Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert officially ended his season on Monday when the team placed him on injured reserve for his hurt ankle. Gilbert joins Buffalo wide receiver David Nelson (ACL) and New England running back Jeff Demps (leg) as former Florida players who have suffered season-ending injuries this year. Also set to miss some games is Patriots defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, who was suspended for four contests by the NFL for violating the league's performance-enhancing substances policy. Cunningham is the fourth Gators defender since 2010 to test positive, joining New England linebacker Brandon Spikes, Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden and New York Giants safety Will Hill.
Three members of the Florida football team are now finalists for major national awards. Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis is one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, sophomore punter Kyle Christy is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was announced this week as one of five finalists for the Broyles Award, which is presented to the top assistant college football coach in the nation. Quinn has a great chance to win his honor though he is going up against some big names who have had impressive seasons. The Gators can boast that Quinn has led its defense to be ranked top-15 in the country in 10 different categories including five top-fives and eight top-10s.
On his way to a fantastic rookie campaign, St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins made a huge impact for his team on Sunday when he returned not one but two interceptions for touchdowns in a single game. Jenkins became the first rookie since Bobby Franklin in 1960 to accomplish that feat and finished the day with two solo tackles and two other pass defenses. Despite being listed as inactive for one game for being late to a team meeting, Jenkins appears to have been doing everything that St. Louis has asked of him. He now has three total interceptions of the season along with 47 tackles and 12 pass defenses.
Ready to begin NCAA Tournament action, Gators volleyball got some great news on Monday when it learned that three of its members captured league awards. Junior middle back Chloe Mann became the 17th player in team history to win SEC Player of the Year, outside hitter Ziva Recek is the fourth freshman to be named SEC Freshman of the Year, and Mary Wise won the 13th SEC Coach of the Year award in her career. Just like the soccer team, which picked up offensive POY, defensive POY and coach of the year honors, volleyball dominated the awards and also placed six total players on the All-SEC teams for the sport.
Speaking of volleyball, NCAA Tournament action will begin for the ladies on Friday and could continue throughout the weekend if Florida wins its games. Also on tap for the week is a big game for No. 7 basketball in the SEC/BIG EAST Challenge. The Gators will host Marquette on Thursday at 9 p.m. in a game that will air live on ESPN2. With Florida football waiting until Sunday to hear what bowl it will play in (most likely the Sugar Bowl), the week is pretty free and clear of major Gators sports. Also in action will be the swimming & diving program, which will compete in the Ohio State Buckeye Invitational in Columbus, OH from Friday-Sunday.