Yankees finalizing baseball event in Tampa
Big news for college baseball fans in Tampa, as the New York Yankees are finalizing a marquee event that would bring four of the state's top programs together for a doubleheader at George Steinbrenner Field (formerly Legends Field) in February 2010.
Florida and Florida State would meet in one game, with USF and Miami squaring off in the second at the Yankees' spring training home. The four schools would meet again in 2011, perhaps as part of a larger event.
"It's not finalized, but we're going to bring in the top universities in the state," said Yankees senior vice president Felix Lopez. "It will be four schools to begin with, and we'll make it grow from there. It's been Mr. Steinbrenner's idea from the start."
Tampa was host to a "Florida Four" men's basketball tournament in 1981, with USF beating Florida and Florida State on back-to-back days.
BOWL UPDATE: It's very likely that USF will be headed to the inaugural St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 20, but Meineke Car Care Bowl officials reiterated Monday that USF would be in play for their game if the Bulls can beat West Virginia on Saturday.
Both sides of the Meineke bowl -- from the Big East and ACC -- are up in the air, with four Big East and six ACC teams still being considered. If USF beats West Virginia, the bowl might consider the Bulls, as winners of two straight, a better choice than West Virginia, which would have lost three of four to finish 7-5. If Rutgers beats Louisville on Thursday, they would have won six straight, so the Knights might also be preferred, but there's a catch there.
The Meineke does not want its game to be a rematch of a regular-season game, and the bowl would love to get North Carolina, which would bring a considerable following to Charlotte. It seems unlikely that UNC would be available -- they seem a match for the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando -- but ESPN.com's current projections have UNC going to Charlotte. If that happens, Rutgers wouldn't be an option, because the Scarlet Knights and Tar Heels played this season, leaving the door open for USF on the Big East side.
Again, the scenario that makes the most sense has USF going to St. Petersburg, but Meineke does get to pick first, and they maintain the Bulls remain on their radar if they can win in Morgantown. The likely opponent in St. Pete would be Memphis (6-6), because sending Southern Miss (6-6) to St. Pete would have Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl for the second year in a row.
CANALES A FINALIST?: Utah State has completed its initial round of interviews for its head coaching vacancy -- USF receivers coach Mike Canales interviewed Saturday -- and the school could make an offer to its top choice within a day or two, according to the Deseret News.
The Standard-Examiner identifies Canales as one of three finalists, calling Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen "a favorite." Canales, a Utah State alum, has called the opening "a dream job" that would allow him to take another step in advancing his coaching career.
AKOL CLEARED: Former Bulls basketball signee Teeng Akol, who was part of Stan Heath's recruiting class and briefly attended summer classes at USF, has finally been cleared by the NCAA to play this season at Oklahoma State. Akol, a 6-foot-11 center from Sudan, was released from his scholarship in July because of academic issues that arose after he started classes. Here's the story from NewsOK.com.