Florida Gators

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Jim McElwain says Antonio Callaway is running out of chances


Some would argue that Antonio Callaway, save for his immense talent as a wide receiver, would’ve already run out of chances were it not for what he brings to the team on gamedays, but that’s not the issue at hand.

What is at hand is Callaway’s latest brush with off-field issues, with Florida announcing over the weekend that the receiver is one of seven Gator football players who will be suspended for the opener against Michigan. It’s alleged that the misuse of scholarship funds triggered the myriad suspensions.

That’s in addition to a marijuana citation in May for Callaway and an alleged violation of the university’s Code of Conduct that involved an alleged sexual assault.

While Callaway was ultimately found not responsible in a Title IX hearing for the latter, there have been many on the outside who’ve questioned why he remains a part of Jim McElwain‘s team given the off-field distractions. Monday, the head coach, when asked if Callaway may actually be running out of chances, responded in the affirmative.

“Absolutely,” McElwain said according to the Associated Press. “The one thing I will do is I’ll continue to help. I’ll continue to be there. I’ll continue to support. But obviously the consequences, you make your own bed, man.”

That said, McElwain’s “absolutely” when talking about how little rope Callaway may have left rings hollow when viewed through the prism of his player already chewing on Chance No. 4 in what will likely be his last season in Gainesville.

And, on what I’m sure is a completely unrelated note when it comes to a non-dismissal, Callaway led the Gators last season with 54 receptions and 721 receiving yards, while his three receiving touchdowns tied for the team lead. The past two seasons, the junior’s stat line reads 89-1,339-70.

Antonio Callaway, six other Gators suspended for Michigan opener

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Antonio Callaway and six other players have been suspended for Florida’s season-opening game with Michigan, as first reported by Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated. The players were suspended for a violation of team rules, and a Florida spokesman declined to elaborate on which rule was broken. However, GatorBait has reported the suspensions stem from misuse of school scholarship funds. From the site:

Some of the players involved used the funds from part of their scholarship agreement to buy electronics equipment, then later reported the cards stolen. Some players sold the electronics equipment purchased with the school-issued funds.

Sources informed GatorBait.net that the purchases have been either returned or the school funds used will be paid back by the athletes.

The other players not making the trip to Arlington, Texas, are junior defensive end Keivonnis Davis, sophomore defensive lineman Richerd Desir-Jones,freshman linebacker James Houston, freshman linebacker Ventrell Miller, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jordan Smith and freshman offensive lineman Kadeem Telfort.

“We have a small group of players that have made some choices that are extremely disappointing,” head coach Jim McElwain said in a press release. “Action has been taken – they have missed some practice and will miss the Michigan game. We will use this as a learning opportunity and we will have some players step up as we move forward.”

The only other player beside Callaway the Gators figure to miss against Michigan is Davis, who appeared in all 14 games in 2016 with five starts. He recorded 27 tackles, three TFLs and 1.5 sacks over the year.

Callaway, however, figures to be a big loss.

The junior has been Florida’s leading receiver both years on campus, collecting 54 grabs for 721 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. He also added five rushes for 32 yards and a touchdown, returned 26 punts and took a kickoff back for a touchdown.

Callaway was cited for marijuana possession in pleaded no contest last month. The school also faces two Title IX investigations in relation to Callaway, one for an alleged sexual assault that left suspended from the team in the spring of 2016.

Michigan was ranked ninth in the initial Coaches’ Poll, released earlier this month, while Florida came in at No. 16. The Gators and Wolverines will meet at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC).

Florida reportedly locked in offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to extension

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Florida’s offense may not be a well-oiled machine, but offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is certainly well-regarded within the Florida football program. Despite coaching one of the least effective offenses that managed to win a division championship last season, Florida is ponying up to pay Nussmeier well in an attempt to keep him around to fix the offense.

According to contract information obtained by GatorBait.net, Florida gave Nussmeier a contract extension and raise during the offseason. Nussmeier went from being paid $525,000 to a base salary of $842,725 for the upcoming season. Not a bad bump in pay at all!

But keep in mind Nussmeier was also being paid $300,000 from Michigan last season, to his actual pay was more a reflection on Florida adjusting their budget accordingly to keep Nussmeier’s contract on even footing. The $300,000 from Michigan was part of Michigan’s buyout of former head coach Brady Hoke‘s contract. As fate would have it, Nussmeir and Florida open the 2017 season in Arlington, Texas against the Wolverines.

Nussmeier’s contract was also extended two years, which is Florida’s way of providing some stability on the staff. That comes in handy for recruiting purposes and may encourage Nussmeier to stick around rather than explore other potential opportunities.

Schools giving raises and extensions to assistant coaches during the offseason is common. Florida was busy improving the contract situations for a number of assistants this past offseason. Defensive line coach Chris Rumph had the best upgrade on his contract with a three-year extension through 2019 and a $100,000 salary increase to $600,000.

Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.

Florida reportedly faces two Title IX investigations in Antonio Callaway case

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An eventful offseason in Gainesville for Florida wideout Antonio Callaway appears to be spilling over into the 2017 season.

The Gators’ star receiver pleaded no contest no contest to a drug charge last month and now it seems his legal counsel has initiated a federal Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault incident from December of 2015. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights was already investigating the matter after the woman involved questioned how it was handled by the school and now Callaway’s side is formally doing the same.

Per the Times on Thursday:

The complaint argues that UF’s then-associate dean had improper communication and an “improper work relationship” with the woman’s attorney. Johnson has argued that the UF official, Chris Loschiavo, served as “the investigator, the prosecutor and the judge” in the case and that he did consulting work for an outside firm with ties to the complainant’s attorney.

UF fired Loschiavo last August and determined he had “both a conflict of interest and a lack of independence.”

Callaway was originally suspended by the school for spring practice last year as a result of the matter but was reinstated to the team for the 2016 season after being cleared by the university and turning into the team’s top offensive and special teams threat as a sophomore. The ongoing Title IX case and the citation for marijuana possession this summer has caused many wonder if Gators head coach Jim McElwain will suspend the receiver for the team’s opener against Michigan but so far he has declined to definitively rule one way or the other when speaking to the media.

Steve Spurrier proves he’s still got it with LSU zinger

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Steve Spurrier may be retired from coaching, but he isn’t retired from talking.

The Independence Bowl invited the HBC to its kickoff luncheon on Wednesday, where he issued this little nugget of hard-learned wisdom.

Keep in mind, Spurrier was speaking in Shreveport.

Spurrier can and has gotten away with those barbs over the years for three reasons:

1) He’s a Heisman winner and College Football Hall of Famer as a player and a Hall of Famer as a coach.

2) That sly East Tennessee delivery of his.

4) Every jab he says leaves the recipient of the punch thinking, “Well, he’s kinda right.”

For the record, Spurrier carried a lifetime 14-6 record against the Bayou Bengals. He was 3-1 against LSU as a Florida player, 11-1 as Florida’s head coach and 0-4 as South Carolina’s head coach.