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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

VIdeo: Previewing USF-UCF football

As USF prepares to travel to UCF for the Knights' black-out season finale, I couldn't help but wonder: Where can you buy a black paper bag to put over your head?

Times staff writer Joey Knight and I discuss that in our weekly college football preview video. This one focuses only on the USF-UCF showdown and why it's hard to see the Bulls falling to their I-4 rival. 

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Jimbo Fisher questioned in Jameis Winston's accuser's lawsuit against Florida State

Four days after beating Boston College in the third game of the season, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher gave a deposition in a lawsuit involving his former star quarterback.

Fisher spoke with lawyers on Sept. 22, according to a deposition transcript obtained Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Times through an open-records request.

The 186 pages reveal little new information about the case involving Jameis Winston. The sections involving Zephyrhills' Erica Kinsman - Winston's accuser who is suing Winston and FSU - were redacted.

Fisher's actions are at the core of Kinsman's lawsuit against the school. Title IX requires employees to report rape accusations for schools to investigate. According to Fisher's testimony, he said he didn't know who accused Winston of rape or whether she was an FSU student.

In another deposition, the director of FSU's victim advocate program said she has dealt with about 20 accusations of sexual violence by football players over nine years.

The director, Melissa Ashton, testified that she also has dealt with about 20 other accusations of interpersonal violence committed by football players. …

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Geoff Collins, Charles Kelly and Danny Hope among country's top assistants

Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins is one of 34 national nominees for the Frank Broyles Award, given annually to the country's top assistant coach.

Collins could be a hot commodity in the offseason; UCF is reportedly strongly considering him as the Knights search for a new head coach.

Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and USF co-offensive coordinator Danny Hope are among the other nominees.

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College football playoff rankings: Florida Gators fall four spots, FSU up one

Florida's overtime win over Florida Atlantic cost the Gators in the college football playoff committee's eyes.

UF dropped four spots to No. 12 in the latest committee rankings, which were released Tuesday night.

Florida State rose one spot to No. 13, setting up a top-15 meeting Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Alabama - UF's likely opponent in next week's SEC title game - stayed at No. 2.

Clemson continued to hold the top spot, followed by the Crimson Tide, Oklahoma and Iowa.


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Florida Gators' Vernon Hargreaves named Jim Thorpe Award finalist

Florida CB and Wharton High alum Vernon Hargreaves is one of three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the country's top defensive back.

Hargreaves is one of the top players on a Gators defense that ranks among the best in the country. The junior has four interceptions and is expected to be a first-round pick if he leaves early for the NFL draft.

The two other finalists are Duke S Jeremy Cash and Iowa CB Desmond King.

In other award news, Florida State star RB Dalvin Cook was not among the three finalists for the Doak Walker Award (top running back). LSU's Leonard Fournette, Alabama's Derrick Henry and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey were the three finalists for that honor.


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Miami Hurricanes to play at App State in 2016

Miami will play a home-and-home series against Appalachian State, the Mountaineers announced Tuesday afternoon.

The Hurricanes will travel to Boone, N.C. next season for a Sept. 17, 2016 game against the Sun Belt Conference team, perhaps best known for its 34-32 upset win over Michigan in 2007.

UM will host Appalachian State in 2021.

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Jimbo Fisher on USF football: I knew they were fixin' to get really good

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had some very positive things to say about USF in his weekly news conference Monday.

Fisher wasn't asked about USF directly, but he brought up the Bulls after being asked about his offense's progression.

"South Florida, as we're finding out, wasn't a bad football team," Fisher said. "I knew that coming in.

"I knew South Florida was fixin' to get really good. They may win and go to their conference championship game now. They've beat really good teams..."

The Seminoles averaged only 6.13 yards per play against USF; that's FSU's third-lowest total of the season.

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Jimbo Fisher on LSU speculation: 'I have no comment on that'

Jimbo Fisher spent seven years as an assistant with the Tigers and helped LSU win the 2003 national championship.

Getty Images

Jimbo Fisher spent seven years as an assistant with the Tigers and helped LSU win the 2003 national championship.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher declined to comment Monday about speculation that he could be LSU's top target if the Tigers dismiss Les Miles.

"I have no comment on that," Fisher said at his weekly news conference in Tallahassee. "I have a policy, I don't speak about (other) jobs. It's unfair to the players there, the players that are here, the coaches here and there. And there's no job opening, so I have no comment on that." 

Fisher spent seven years as an assistant with the Tigers and helped LSU win the 2003 national championship. According to, Fisher would be at or near the top of LSU's wish list.

Fisher said coaching under Nick Saban helped him learn how to deal with the speculation about other jobs. He called it "unprofessional" and "disrespectful" to make public comments about another job but said such conversations - whether they're in news conferences or in chats with recruits - are a part of the business. 

"It's a norm," Fisher said of such speculation. "Tell me when you don't hear it...

"That's just the world today." 



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Injuries mounting for Florida Gators

Florida defensive end Jordan Sherit (17) is also unlikely to play against Florida State.

AP photo

Florida defensive end Jordan Sherit (17) is also unlikely to play against Florida State.

No. 10 Florida will likely be shorthanded when it faces rival No. 14 Florida State this week.

The Gators will be without DE Alex McCalister for the second game in a row and will also probably be without star DL Jon Bullard, coach Jim McElwain said Monday. DE Jordan Sherit (Hillsborough High) is also unlikely to play, while DL Joey Ivie (Pasco High) is questionable.

UF's depleted defensive line forced OL Antonio Riles to play his old position on the defensive line last week. Riles will likely have to do the same again against the Seminoles, McElwain said.

DB Vernon Hargreaves III is expected to be fine after battling illness last week.

Here's UF's full unofficial injury report: 

-- WR Brandon Powell (questionable, foot)
-- OT Martez Ivey (questionable, shoulder)
-- OT David Sharpe (questionable, foot)
-- OL Cameron Dillard (questionable, leg)
-- DE Alex McCalister (out, foot)
-- DT Taven Bryan (doubtful, ankle)
-- DT Jonathan Bullard (doubtful, knee)
-- DT Caleb Brantley (probable, abdomen/groin)
-- DT Joey Ivie (questionable to doubtful, leg)
-- DL Jordan Sherit (out, hamstring)
-- LB Antonio Morrison (probable, stomach/hamstring)

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FSU football up, Florida Gators down in latest college football rankings

Florida's overtime win over Florida Atlantic didn't help the Gators in the rankings.

UF fell two spots in the latest AP rankings to No. 10 and one spot, to ninth, in the latest coaches' poll. Both sets of weekly rankings were released Sunday.

Florida State rose two spots in both polls, jumping to No. 14.

UF hosts FSU on Saturday in Gainesville.

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Attorney for Jameis Winston's accuser responds to Hunting Ground controversy

An attorney for Jameis Winston's accuser has responded to the latest development in the ongoing legal feud.

On Friday, one of Winston's attorneys threatened legal action against CNN if it airs The Hunting Ground, a film on campus rape that includes the Winston case. 

A day later, John Clune - an attorney for Winston's accuser, Zephyrhills' Erica Kinsman, issued the following statement: 

"Mr. Winston is apparently in the midst of another PR battle this week due to the release of The Hunting Ground on Sunday. When your lawyers' letters written on Friday are somehow getting printed in the media on Saturday, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's going on. His latest attack is an attempt to revive his lawyers' media themes and, as expected, shows no understanding of rape trauma and misrepresents the actual evidence. More importantly, Mr. Winston should get used to the rape allegations against him because film or no film, they aren't going away."

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NCAA denies Will Grier's appeal

Florida quarterback Will Grier will serve a year-long suspension after the NCAA denied his appeal, the Gators confirmed late Friday evening.

Grier was issued the punishment last month after failing the NCAA's performance-enhancing drug policy. The redshirt freshman blamed the failed drug test on a failure to check with the school's staff about taking over-the-counter substance.

UF helped Grier appeal the decision, asking for a reduction, but the NCAA chose not to reverse its ruling and the automatic year-long suspension. He will be eligible to return in the Gators' seventh game next season, when UF hosts Missouri.
Grier threw for 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in six games before his suspension.

Sophomore Treon Harris has started in Grier's place, helping UF win the SEC East and contend for a spot in the college football playoff. The Gators host Florida Atlantic on Saturday and close the regular season next weekend against rival Florida State.

The Orlando Sentinel first reported the NCAA's decision.

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Should FSU's Dalvin Cook be a Heisman Trophy finalist?

Dalvin Cook leads major-conference players with 8.1 yards per carry and six runs of at least 50 yards. He is also averaging almost 197 rushing yards against teams with winning records.

AP photo

Dalvin Cook leads major-conference players with 8.1 yards per carry and six runs of at least 50 yards. He is also averaging almost 197 rushing yards against teams with winning records.

As I wrote in today's paper, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook's Heisman Trophy campaign is one of the most compelling things about this weekend's ugly slate of local games.

Cook made it clear Saturday that he believes he should win the award. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher agrees.

"Do I think he deserves it?" Fisher said. "Yes. I think he's not only one of the best backs, I think he's one of the best players in the country. But that's for everyone else."

And everyone else doesn't seem quite sold. Cook is sixth this week in ESPN's poll of 10 experts. Sports Illustrated ranked him fourth, behind Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, Alabama running back Derrick Henry and Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. 

Cook's statistics compare favorably to just about anyone. He leads major-conference players with 8.1 yards per carry and six runs of at least 50 yards. He is also averaging almost 197 rushing yards against teams with winning records. According to FSU, his rushing average per carry is the most of any Heisman finalist since 1980 (excluding USC's Reggie Bush, whose performance was later vacated). …

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College football playoff rankings: Florida Gators, FSU football both move up

Florida and Florida State both moved up in the latest college football playoff rankings, which were released Tuesday evening.

The Gators (9-1) moved up three spots to No. 8 after last week's win over South Carolina. FSU (8-2) moved up two spots to No. 14 after topping North Carolina State on Saturday.

Neither team should be tested this week -- UF hosts Florida Atlantic while the Seminoles host Chattanooga - before their Nov. 28 rivalry game in Gainesville.

Clemson remains No. 1 in the playoff committee's rankings, followed by Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame.


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Orlando Sentinel: UCF to name new AD

UCF will be hiring Buffalo's Danny White as its new athletic director, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

White has been Buffalo's AD since May 2012. He is the son of Kevin White - Duke's athletic director - and his brother is Mike White, the Gators' basketball coach.

White will inherit an athletic department seeking a new football coach after the sudden retirement of George O'Leary earlier this season.

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