Kicker Hetland enjoys success after shaky season

SportsFootballOhio State BuckeyesEducationUrban MeyerColleges and UniversitiesFlorida Gators

After each of Chris Hetland's field-goal tries in Monday's BCS Championship Game, his Florida teammates sprinted to congratulate him. From hugging Eric Wilbur to banging helmets in celebration with Brandon Siler, the UF kicker seemed in his highest spirits of the season.

Hetland's successful second-quarter kicks from 42 and 40 yards marked his longest two field goals of the season.

The makes came after a rough season -- Hetland made just 4 of 13 kicks before Monday night and endured insults from students and fans displeased with his performance.

"I took it in stride," Hetland said Friday at the game's media day. "I was mad at myself, too."

Up 21-14 in the second quarter, Florida faced a fourth-and-15 from the OSU 26-yard line. Coach Urban Meyer, who earlier in the year said he was hesitant to kick with the ball outside the 20-yard line, paused a beat, then dipped his headset microphone and yelled for the field-goal team.

The 42-yarder split the uprights, making Meyer's decision easier when he faced fourth-and-4 at the 23 on the next possession. Hetland drilled that one, too, and smiled wide as he trotted off the field.

Ex-UF hopeful plays for Buckeyes

Larry Grant, denied a chance to become a Gator because of a poor math grade at a California junior college, played special teams for the Buckeyes in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game against Florida. And his name popped up early on.

After OSU's first punt, Grant hit the Gators' Jemalle Cornelius late, drawing a 15-yard personal-foul penalty. The flag moved the ball to the Buckeyes 34, and Florida scored six plays later.

Last January, Grant couldn't earn a JUCO credit that would make him eligible to play in the Southeastern Conference. With UF, his first choice, no longer an option, he chose to play for the Buckeyes and enrolled last winter.

In an interview Friday, Grant said he held no ill will over the situation.

"I was highly disappointed because I tried so hard to get that grade," said Grant, a linebacker who made 18 tackles and intercepted a pass this season. "But things have turned out well for me."

UF hoops team watches on TV

Florida's basketball team, which won the national championship last April in Indianapolis, planned to watch Monday night's game together in a Gainesville hotel.

On the SEC coaches teleconference Monday, Coach Billy Donovan said the football Gators simply attempting to match his team's accomplishment places UF in college sports' top echelon.

"Those type of things don't happen often in a short period of time," he said on the call.

The two teams' players and coaches are good friends. Neighbors Joakim Noah (hoops) and Dallas Baker (football) wish each other well before every game, and Meyer credits Donovan's August speech to the football team as a key ingredient in the championship run.

Wide receiver Harvin honored

Wide receiver Percy Harvin was chosen to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America team released Monday.

Harvin, the SEC Championship Game's Most Valuable Player, averaged better than 12 yards on his 61 touches this year -- 36 as a runner, 25 as a receiver. He headlined a class of 25 true freshmen that enjoyed as much first-year success as any group in the country.

"They've got a great athlete, and they're doing a great job of getting the ball in his hands in different ways," OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said of Harvin.

School presidents have wardrobe wager

The presidents of the two schools in Monday's game, UF's Bernie Machen and OSU's Karen Holbrook, placed a wardrobe wager on Monday night's game.

A Gators win would force Holbrook to don a UF shirt for a day on her campus. If the Buckeyes win, Machen will spend a day at Florida dressed in an Ohio State T-shirt and wearing a chain of buckeyes around his neck.

Holbrook produced the nut necklace at a news conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday morning. Holbrook, a former UF administrator and a friend of Machen's, laughed as she showed her peer his potential prize.

"Anything for you," Machen said as he sized up the jewelry. "I guess I'll have to do it."

UF alumni congregate on the sideline

Florida football alumni on the sideline Monday included Lomas Brown, Reynaldo Hill, Darrell Jackson, Jason Odom, Mike Peterson, Max Starks, Ben Troupe, Lawrence Wright, Jarvis Herring, Terry Jackson, Shane Matthews and Errict Rhett.

Urban Meyer's father, Bud, also watched the game from the sideline.

Stadium end zone a popular place

Ted Ginn Jr.'s 93-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff marked the third consecutive play at University of Phoenix Stadium that ended in the end zone.

Eight nights ago, Boise State finished its Fiesta Bowl overtime upset of Oklahoma with a touchdown and a two-point conversion on the final two plays. Then Ginn opened the national-title game with his score.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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