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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Jim McElwain: Antonio Callaway not in summer school

Antonio Callaway's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Callaway has been suspended during a university investigation into whether he violated an unspecified part of UF's code of conduct policy.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Antonio Callaway's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Callaway has been suspended during a university investigation into whether he violated an unspecified part of UF's code of conduct policy.

DESTIN - Florida receiver Antonio Callaway is not enrolled in summer classes as he continues to serve an indefinite suspension, Gators coach Jim McElwain said Tuesday during the SEC spring meetings.

McElwain did not provide any other update on Callaway or Treon Harris. Neither have been with the team since January. Callaway's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said Callaway has been suspended during a university investigation into whether he violated an unspecified part of UF's code of conduct policy.

It remains unclear when the Gators' star receiver could return.

"That's being handled," McElwain said.

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Will Muschamp on what he wants to do differently: 'Score points'

Will Muschamp, left, talks with his wife, Carol Muschamp, and Assistant Athletics Director Steve Fink, right, at South Carolina's Williams Brice Stadium in December.

AP photo

Will Muschamp, left, talks with his wife, Carol Muschamp, and Assistant Athletics Director Steve Fink, right, at South Carolina's Williams Brice Stadium in December.

DESTIN - Will Muschamp is back at the SEC spring meetings in a different polo shirt.

The former Gators coach now leads South Carolina and was asked to reflect on a few things during his Florida tenure. The No. 1 thing he hopes to do differently with the Gamecocks?

"Score points."

Seriously.

Muschamp said he wished he had more success at Florida, and he said that all falls on his shoulders. But he also said that his staff changed the Gators' culture.

"We cleaned the place up," Muschamp said. "I do know that."

Muschamp spoke highly of Steve Spurrier, whom he'll replace at South Carolina.

"There's only one Steve Spurrier, that's for sure," Muschamp said. "He's very unique in everything he does. He's been very, very good to me over the years."

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Arkansas' Bret Bielema wants SEC-Big Ten football challenge

Arkansas' Bret Bielema signals in a play during a game against Rutgers.

Getty Images

Arkansas' Bret Bielema signals in a play during a game against Rutgers.

DESTIN - Bret Bielema joined Arkansas from the Big Ten (Wisconsin). Maybe that's why he came up with an interesting proposal today during the SEC spring meetings: An SEC-Big Ten crossover.

His plan would be like the current SEC/Big 12 basketball challenge, but with the Big Ten. He suggested having the commissioners of each league come together with a list of teams, 1-4. Then use Weeks 2-3 of the season to come up with enticing matchups that would likely appeal to TV networks and fans.

During his news conference today, Bielema also advocated for the ability to let football players test the NFL draft waters, as they do in basketball. He joked that the idea is the only thing so far he and Auburn coach Gus Malzahn have agreed upon.

"It just makes too much sense," Bielema said.

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Live from SEC spring meetings!

The SEC spring meetings start today in Destin.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

The SEC spring meetings start today in Destin.

DESTIN - Good morning from the SEC spring meetings, where the league's coaches, athletic directors and power brokers will be chatting over the next few days.

Among the issues expected to arise: handling transfers with a history of misconduct, revised replay rules, the current imbalance between the East and the West, satellite camps and the decline in men's basketball.

Gators coach Jim McElwain is expected to address reporters around noon today; Alabama's Nick Saban, Tennessee's Butch Jones and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze are also on the media agenda. I'll have updates throughout the day.

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Michigan football spent almost $350,000 on IMG Academy spring break trip

Michigan football practices at IMG Academy during its spring break trip

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

Michigan football practices at IMG Academy during its spring break trip

Michigan's controversial spring-break trip to Bradenton's IMG Academy cost the university $348,553, according to a financial breakdown obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through an open-records request.

The Wolverines spent $146,912 on IMG Academy, the prep football factory that houses some of the nation's top recruits. That figure includes the cost of renting the facility for four practices plus housing and meals.

The school's other costs:

Airfare: $107,148

Ground transportation: $51,395

Meals/per diem: $39,519

Other: $3,580

Rival coaches disapproved of the Wolverines' trip 1,200 miles from its campus; the SEC asked the NCAA to look into it. More than 5,000 fans attended Michigan's open practice at IMG Academy Field.
The Wolverines will be back in Florida next Saturday for a satellite camp with USF.

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Pinellas Park's Jordon Scott commits to Florida Gators

Pinellas Park defensive lineman Jordon Scott has orally committed to the Florida Gators, he told our Rodney Page on Wednesday night.

"When I went to their camp in the summer and got to work out in the Swamp, I knew that's where I wanted to go," Scott said. "I wanted to look at other schools and talk to other coaches, but in the back of my mind I always knew it would be Florida. I'm excited. When all this first started I never thought I'd be an SEC player."

But now he is, after amassing 84 tackles and nine sacks as a junior last fall. The three-star prospect chose UF over Florida State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others. 

Scott is a 6-foot-3, 348-pound recruit and the state's No. 139 player, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. 

Page chatted with Scott a few weeks ago about his recruitment.

Oral commitments are non-binding until recruits sign letters of intent during their senior years. 

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Florida Gators to face former coach Lon Kruger in SEC/Big 12 challenge

The Florida Gators will face their former coach, Lon Kruger, in this season's SEC/Big 12 basketball challenge, the league announced Tuesday.

UF will play at Oklahoma on Jan. 28, 2017. The start time and television information have not yet been decided.

Kruger coached the Gators from 1990-96. He was 104-80 at UF and took the Gators to the 1994 Final Four. Kruger's Sooners finished 29-8 this season and lost to Villanova in the Final Four.

 

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ACC announces kickoff times for FSU football, Miami games

The ACC announced kickoff times and TV information for some of this fall's early-season games.

Florida State's 8 p.m. game against Ole Miss on Labor Day was already known. After that the Seminoles will host Charleston Southern on Sept. 10 at 12:30 p.m. and travel to Louisville for a noon kickoff the next week. ABC will broadcast that game, which could feature two ranked opponents.

FSU's Friday game (Nov. 11 against Boston College) will be at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Miami opens its season on Sept. 3 with a 6 p.m. game against FAMU on ESPN3 and hosts Florida Atlantic for another 6 p.m., ESPN3 contest the next week.

The Hurricanes travel to Virginia Tech for a 7 p.m. game to be shown on ESPN on Thursday Oct. 20. Nine days later, UM plays at Notre Dame at 3:30 p.m. on NBC.

Other kickoff information will be announced during the season. Check out the ACC's full schedule here.

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Florida still important to Ohio State football's Urban Meyer

Even though Urban Meyer has left Florida, he keeps coming back to the Sunshine State for recruits.

Meyer, Ohio State's head coach, said his top state is, of course, Ohio, but Florida remains one of the most important ones for him and the Buckeyes.

"It's right there," Meyer said last week before he was honored at the 11th annual Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota.

Meyer's Buckeyes are scheduled to attend a satellite camp in Tampa next month at Jefferson High and are also planning one in Fort Lauderdale.

Ohio State's reliance on Florida is evident in its recruiting classes. The Buckeyes have three oral commitments from the state for the class of 2017, and their four in-state recruits from the 2016 class include former Tampa Catholic DL Malik Barrow.

"You can tell by the great players we're getting out of the state of Florida the respect we have for it," Meyer said.

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Athlon preseason rankings: FSU No. 2, Florida Gators in top 25

Too-early Top 25 polls have begun morphing into actual rankings from preseason magazines.

One of the first is Athlon Sports, which released its Top 25 on Monday.

Florida State is No. 2 and "poised to challenge for the title," Athlon writes. The only team ahead of the Seminoles is defending national champion Alabama.

Ohio State is third, followed by Clemson, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Notre Dame and LSU. FSU's first opponent, Ole Miss is No. 9, and Washington completes the top 10.

The Gators are No. 21 with a defense "still among the best in the SEC," Athlon writes.

Other notables include Georgia (No. 17) and FSU opponents Louisville (No. 19) and North Carolina (22).

Check out the full rankings here.

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Alonso High alum Alex Faedo named to USA Baseball college team

Florida right-hander and Alonso High product Alex Faedo has accepted an invitation to join USA Baseball's collegiate national team.

Faedo is 9-1 as a sophomore and ranks among the top 15 in the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.58) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.29).

Three other Gators are part of the team's 24-player squad: shortstop Dalton Guthrie, catcher Mike Rivera and designated hitter/catcher JJ Schwarz.

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UCF 'very much' on Big 12's radar, whatever that means

While USF's conference-realignment strategies seem to be covert, UCF has done at least one bit of public lobbying, according to an ESPN report.

UCF president John Hitt sent a promotional brochure to his counterpart at West Virginia, Gordon Gee, according to Jake Trotter's story. Gee is one of the presidents leading the conference's expansion exploration.

"I appreciate very much our [phone] conversation, and I appreciate the information you sent me," Gee wrote to Hitt in October, according to documents obtained by ESPN. "Be assured that the University of Central Florida is very much on our radar screen. The future of expansion is very much uncertain, but I also know that we are looking at these issues very carefully given the tumultuous nature of college athletics."

I'm not reading anything into exchanged pleasantries or lobbying efforts. Administrators at USF, UCF, BYU, Memphis, Colorado State and a whole lot of other schools should be talking with the Big 12. And the league should be talking to those programs, too.

So what does this all mean? Not much yet. But when the Big 12 has its meetings beginning May 31, we might finally get some answers.

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Florida Gators' Ryan Sousa intends to transfer

Receiver Ryan Sousa plans to transfer from the Florida Gators, Sousa announced Monday evening.

Sousa wrote on Twitter that his time at UF "was fun but now it's time to move on with my career."

Sousa, a 6-foot, 190-pound Orlando native, played in two games last season as a redshirt freshman.

 

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Mario Pender dismissed from FSU football team after strangulation arrest

Mugshot of Florida State running back Mario Pender

Leon County Jail

Mugshot of Florida State running back Mario Pender

Florida State running back Mario Pender was jailed Saturday on complaints of domestic battery by strangulation and resisting an officer without violence.

The Seminoles dismissed Pender from the football team hours after the arrest. 

The Leon County Jail confirmed the arrest but provided no other details on the arrest by the Tallahassee Police Department. A TPD spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Pender, a 5-foot-10, 204-pound Cape Coral native was expected to be one of the Seminoles' top backups last year but missed most of the season with a collapsed lung. In 12 career games over the past two seasons, he rushed 71 times for 349 yards and five touchdowns.

Pender, 23, did not participate in the spring game, and his role was already uncertain heading into the 2016 season. Starter Dalvin Cook is a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate. St. Petersburg Catholic product Ryan Green switched back to running back and performed well in the spring game, and Jacques Patrick rushed for 314 yards and five touchdowns last fall as a true freshman.

FSU announced his dismissal Saturday night but otherwise declined comment. 

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What NCAA satellite camps are scheduled in Tampa Bay?

Like it or not, satellite camps are happening, and they're coming to Tampa Bay.

Consider this a rough, unofficial, tentative list of college camps headed to the area. If you know of one that I'm missing, email me at mbaker@tampabay.com, or let me know on Twitter. I will update this post as I get more information.

June 4

Who: Michigan and USF

Where: USF

More information is here

June 12

Who: Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy (Miami, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State, USC, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Tennessee, Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Kentucky, Toledo, Central Michigan, Fresno State, Alabama State, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Iowa State, Nebraska, Bowling Green, Cincinnati all expected to attend)

Where: Jefferson High

More information is here

June 17

Who: Florida A&M, Illinois, Indiana, Rutgers, Marshall

Where: Plant High
More information is here

TBA (likely somewhere between June 8-10)

Who: Auburn

Where: Tampa Catholic

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