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Meet Miss October

Playboy's Miss October wants the ladies of the Big Ten to know she didn't mean any harm.

Kelly Carrington, a public relations junior at the University of Florida, made the cover of October's Playboy magazine despite the fact that this issue was branded -- in huge, red font -- "Girls of the Big 10."

"There weren't any girls from the Big Ten who were hot enough to be on the cover, so they had to pull someone from the (Southeastern Conference)," Carrington told The Gainesville Sun.

But Carrington wants to set things straight.

"That conversation was not recorded and that comment was definitely taken out of context," Carrington said. "I would never insult girls that are posing nude in a magazine next to me."

She laughed at the idea that she became the cover girl because she looks better than the Big Ten's women.

"I got the cover because Playboy thought I would be a good cover girl," she said.

Carrington never expected her joking comment to be taken as a straight insult of Big Ten women.

"That was pretty brutal," Carrington said. "That blew up in the media, kind of. I think all the girls look beautiful."

So Big Ten ladies, relax. Carrington has no problems with you.

Big Ten athletics, on the other hand...

"Well, in sports, that's a different story," Carrington said. "I'm a huge SEC fan, and that's what I think is the best."

The Ohio State Buckeyes' recent string of big-game losses have evoked a small amount of pity from her, however.

"I feel bad for the Big Ten," Carrington said. "I just want to give the Big Ten a hug."

And what's worse? The 2007 basketball and football national-championship losses for the Buckeyes, or a Gator supplanting the Big Ten on the Playboy cover?

"I guess me being on the cover of the Big 10 (issue)," she said with a laugh. "That's a big smack in the face."

Carrington, 22, is on hiatus from her education at Florida this semester to live the life of a Playmate. She wants to travel and promote her issue of the magazine and the prospect of living in the famous Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles made her decision much easier.

The best thing about the mansion, she said, is the 24-hour food service.

"It's like a five-star kitchen," Carrington said. "You can order food at all hours of the night."

She usually goes for the healthy stuff -- unlimited fruits and vegetables -- but admits the cookies and cakes are scrumptious as well.

Carrington is having such a great time in L.A. that she might not go back to Gainesville. She plans to continue her education eventually, but if opportunities arise in California, she said transferring to the UCLA or Southern Cal wouldn't be out of the question.

As for mansion life, it's not nearly as crazy as TV shows would lead one to believe.

"I feel like people think it's just wild orgies all the time, and people just wasted," Carrington said. "The big parties, the Halloween party and the midsummer's party, yeah, people get a little crazy. But besides those times, it's pretty low-key, pretty quiet."

Still, the wild L.A. party scene is certainly a change from the small-town atmosphere of Gainesville, where Carrington enjoyed being an avid fan of everything Gators.

When Florida won the 2006 BCS National Championship, she spent the night on the town.

"It was mad chaos. People everywhere," she said. "I watched the game at a friend's house, and then proceeded to go party on University (Avenue) with everyone. We celebrated. People in trees, cops everywhere. It was crazy."

The Gators' two basketball national championships in 2006 and 2007 brought about similar celebrations, though she never watched a Florida basketball game from the seats in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.

But she lived and died with the 2006 football season, wearing black to mourn the Gators' loss to Auburn on Oct. 14 and sharing in the elation when Jarvis Mossblocked a last-second field goal to prevent a South Carolina upset of Florida on Nov. 11, a play she said was the best sports moment she's witnessed personally.

"I was like right in the end zone and it was just a really exciting win," Carrington said. "When Jarvis Moss jumped up and blocked the field goal, that was amazing to me."

Carrington even had excellent seats to the 2006 Southeastern Conference Championship Game in Atlanta. A friend of hers got tickets in the lower level because her father used to play for the Gators.

Saturdays with Florida football were synonymous with day-long parties. Carrington would wake up early and start tailgating before the games, scream at The Swamp and then revel in post-victory festivities.

The Stuart, Fla., native said she rarely missed a home football game while in Gainesville, and the main reason she went to Florida was its reputation for an excellent athletic program.

"I was more of a Gator fan than a Seminole fan," she said.

Carrington is a little embarrassed to admit her favorite athlete at the school is Gators quarterback Tim Tebow because she thinks everyone feels that way, but that doesn't stop the sentiment from being true in her case.

"Everyone says that, but yeah," Carrington said. "He's just really exciting to watch and I think it's just amazing how young he is and how talented."

She expects to see Tebow in the NFL some day.

Carrington also sees greatness in Florida football's near future. Check out her season predictions below.

On the rest of UF's season:"I think Georgia's our biggest competition. And if we're able to defeat them, I think the Gators will basically be destined to take the SEC title and have a terrific shot at making it to the national championship game. I'm excited to see Tebow play, I think he's a lot more confident with the offense and has a lot more players to hand off to this year. I'm expecting he'll be focusing more on throwing the ball than running it. It seems like he has a few more options, like (junior transfer running back from USC) Emmanuel Moody. I'm really looking forward to watching him play."

On Moody's doubters:"Our first SEC game is next weekend. I still think he's somebody who will be a star player this year."

On Tebow's chances to repeate as Heisman Trophy winner:"Definitely. I think he'll be throwing the ball a lot more this year. ... I just think we have a lot more options, so he's going to be showing us those throwing skills."

On the Gators' chances against Tennessee this weekend:"I think they're going to beat 'em. It's their first SEC game, and it will be a good test to see how good we'll be this year. So I'll definitely be watching. But I think we have a very good chance of winning."

On Florida's chances of beating Georgia:"I'd like to see some of their SEC games before making that prediction, but I'd say 70 percent chance. I mean, the games we've played so far, you can't really judge off Hawaii and Miami."

On national title hopes after a win over the Bulldogs:"Definitely. And I think we'll either be against Oklahoma or USC."

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