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Florida, USF schedule three-game series, including one in Tampa

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When it comes to scheduling arrangements involving a Power Five and Group of Five program, this is certainly an interesting one.

Both Florida and USF announced Tuesday a future series between the two schools.  As part of the three-game series, the Bulls will travel to Gainesville’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for two of the matchups — Sept. 17, 2022, and Sept. 6, 2025.  In between is the interesting aspect as the Gators will make the trek south to play at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 9, 2023.

That latter game will mark the first time ever the two teams will square off in Tampa.

“We are very excited for our program and our fans to add three games against the University of Florida to our schedule,” a statement from USF athletic director Mark Harlan began. “I would like to thank Coach Strong for his desire to play a challenging non-conference schedule and the leadership at Florida for their partnership in making this happen. We are committed to scheduling opponents that our fans are excited to see the Bulls compete against and Florida certainly ranks very high on that list.”

“This is a unique scheduling opportunity that allows us to get three games against a quality FBS opponent, with two at home and one in a great venue in Tampa,” Harlan’s UF counterpart, Scott Stricklin, said in his statement. “A lot of Gator fans will have the opportunity to attend that game and we are looking forward to being able to play a regular-season game in central Florida.”

The two teams have met just once previously. In Week 2 of the 2010 season, the Gators dropped the Bulls 38-14 in The Swamp in what turned out to be Urban Meyer‘s final season with the program.

Charlie Strong, the current USF head coach, was in his first season in the same job at Louisville that year after spending the previous seven seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Gators.  UF’s current head coach, Dan Mullen, spent four years as Meyer’s offensive coordinator before taking over at Mississippi State in 2009.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to host South Florida twice in The Swamp and also play them in Raymond James Stadium,” Mullen said. “The Tampa/St. Petersburg area is an important recruiting footprint for us and our players will love playing another game in an NFL stadium.”

Alabama blocking GRAD TRANSFER Brandon Kennedy from SEC schools

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Ridiculous, asinine, petty, you name it.  Again.

After leaving Alabama as a graduate transfer in June of 2016, Maurice Smith‘s intended transfer to Georgia was initially blocked by UA before both the school and the SEC relented. Fast-forward nearly two years, and Brandon Kennedy, who earlier this month decided to take the grad transfer route out of ‘Bama, is being barred by his former university from transferring to any school in the conference, al.com is reporting

Specifically, the website reported that the offensive lineman is interested in a transfer to rivals Auburn and Tennessee. Kennedy, who received his bachelor’s degree from the university last December, is appealing the inane restrictions.

In addition to the intra-conference restrictions placed on the graduate transfer, Kennedy, who has two years of eligibility remaining, is also barred from transferring to seven of the eight schools on UA’s non-conference schedule the next two years — Arkansas State, Duke, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisville, New Mexico State, Southern Miss and The Citadel. Kennedy will be allowed, for whatever reason, to play for FCS Western Carolina, which is nice.

In granting Smith’s 2016 request for a waiver, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey noted that, “among other contributing factors, that a student-athlete who graduates in three years and exhibits a strong commitment to his or her academic future provides compelling motivation to help them achieve their goals on and off the field.”

Kennedy enrolled in classes at UA in the summer of 2016 and graduated a little over three years later.

Since last summer, two players have transferred within the SEC. In June of 2017, running back David Williams moved from South Carolina to Arkansas. Earlier this month, defensive back Nick Harvey left Texas A&M and chose South Carolina over, among others, Auburn and Tennessee.

Both Williams and Harvey left their former schools as graduate transfers.

And then there’s this: Chris Black, who announced his decision to transfer from Alabama in December of 2016, landed at Missouri as a graduate transfer in February of 2017 — without Nick Saban or the university blocking his move to the SEC East school.

Four-star 2018 Florida signee arrested following incident with female

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The latest individual to reset the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker is one who hasn’t officially stepped on campus yet.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Justin Watkins was arrested Tuesday afternoon following an incident at a Marion County (Fla.) high school that took place last week.  The 2018 Florida signee is facing one count of misdemeanor trespassing on school grounds in connection to the incident.

From the Times‘ report:

Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and an unnamed female had a verbal argument last week. Watkins then took her cell phone, left and later threw it on the ground, shattering its screen, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained Thursday by the Tampa Bay Times.

Watkins followed the female to the student parking lot at a Marion County high school. He then kicked her car and tried to let air out of the tires — an action confirmed by the school’s video surveillance.

Watkins is not a student at the school in question, which led to the trespassing charge.  It’s unclear whether Watkins will face further charges stemming from damage incurred during the incident.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2018 recruiting class, Watkins was rated as the No. 16 wide receiver in the country; the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 89 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only three players in UF’s class signed this past February were rated higher than Watkins.

“We are aware of the incident with Justin and are still collecting information,” a statement from UF head coach Dan Mullen to the Times read.

Florida makes Todd Grantham its highest-paid assistant ever

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Florida revealed the salary structure for the 10 assistants on Dan Mullen‘s first coaching staff, and Todd Grantham won the designation as the highest-paid assistant coach in Florida history.

Given the times we live in, it’s likely that the highest-paid assistant on a staff is also the highest-paid assistant in school history, as is now the case at Florida.

Grantham will make $1.39 million in 2018, according to Only Gators, far outpacing the $890,000 earned by the Gators’ previous defensive coordinator, Randy Shannon. Tuesday’s news is the latest in a meteoric rise for Grantham of late. He left Georgia after four seasons at the conclusion of the 2013 season, then changed addresses again in 2016 following three seasons in the same post at Louisville. He joined Mullen’s Mississippi State staff — while former Bulldogs defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon replaced Grantham at Louisville — which led him to Florida. Grantham made $660,000 for doing the same job at Mississippi State in 2017.

Co-offensive coordinators Billy Gonzales (wide receivers) and John Hevesey (offensive line) and defensive line coach Sal Sunseri are the next-highest paid assistants at $565,000 a year. Two more Mullen aides top the $400,000 mark; linebackers coach Christian Robinson is the lowest-paid on-the-field assistant at $80,000 a year.

All told, Florida will pay Mullen’s first staff $4.725 million, which is slightly ahead of the $4.375 million paid out to Jim McElwain‘s final staff (a group that included one fewer assistant). Mullen will earn $6.1 million, well ahead of the $4.5 million paid out to McElwain.

QB Joe Burrow announces transfer from Ohio State

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Of all of the offseason roster moves, this one ranks right up there as arguably the least surprising.

In seeking a replacement for J.T. Barrett, Ohio State’s quarterback competition consisted of three players this spring — Joe Burrow, Tate Martell and Dwayne Haskins.  Throughout the process, Haskins has been considered the favorite to replace Barrett, leading to significant speculation that Burrow could be the odd man out and opt to leave the Buckeyes.

Over the weekend, the quarterback’s father, Jimmy Burrow, an assistant on Frank Solich‘s Ohio University coaching staff, posted an interesting and illuminating tweet after watching his son graduate from OSU.

On his own Twitter account Tuesday morning, Joe Burrow confirmed that his next challenge will be finding a new football home as he has decided to leave OSU and transfer elsewhere.  Burrow stated he made the move “[a]fter weeks of struggling with this decision.”

Not only will Burrow be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school (LSU?  Florida?) as a graduate transfer, but his new school will be getting the quarterback for both 2018 and 2019 as the redshirt junior has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Burrow was a four-star 2015 signee who was rated as the No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  As Barrett’s primary backup in 2016, Burrow completed 22 of his 28 pass attempts for 226 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He was the favorite to hold on to that job in 2017 as well before he was sidelined with a broken bone in his right (throwing) hand.

With Burrow sidelined for the first month of the season, Haskins took over as the No. 2 quarterback behind Barrett.  Haskins completed 40 of his 57 pass attempts for 565 yards and four touchdowns in eight games last season, including a memorable relief appearance in yet another win over rival Michigan.  The performance in The Game helped solidify Haskins as the favorite to replace Barrett heading into the offseason.