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News at noon: Dirk Koetter Bucs' head coach; Python hunting challenge; Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb; Real estate news; 'Benghazi' review

The Bucs set a franchise record for total offense in Dirk Koetter's first season in Tampa, with quarterback Jameis Winston becoming just the third rookie quarterback ever to throw for 4,000 yards. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

The Bucs set a franchise record for total offense in Dirk Koetter's first season in Tampa, with quarterback Jameis Winston becoming just the third rookie quarterback ever to throw for 4,000 yards. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reached an agreement with Dirk Koetter to be the new head coach, replacing Lovie Smith who was fired last week. And he's pretty quotable, by the way.

Thousands of Burmese pythons slither around the Everglades as a non-native species and aren't worried about the upcoming Python Challenge, a hunting event to try and diminish the python population. Despite the efforts of more than 1,000 hunters in the last hunt, only 68 pythons were found and killed — such a small number that a single female python could replace that many with a single clutch of eggs.

Republican president candidate Jeb Bush has scored the endorsement of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Why this endorsement has been coveted by candidates of the past, and what it means for the campaign.

Created in 2010 after the housing crash, the $7.6 billion Hardest Hit Fund was mainly intended to help homeowners in Florida and 17 other states avoid foreclosure. But $50 million in Hardest Hit money is now being used to help people in just five counties — Hillsborough, Brevard, Orange, Duval and Volusia — buy houses.

The frontiers of condominium development in downtown St. Petersburg continue to push farther south and westward. Vela, an eight-story, 20-unit condo project, is being planned for downtown St. Petersburg at 8th Street S and Delmar Terrace. Prices will start in the low $300s.

Movie Review: "Benghazi" is a city's name that now holds heavy political meaning. The movie? Not so much.

After being killed aboard a U.S. military helicopter that crashed during a firefight with insurgents in southern Afghanistan, Patrick Feeks' family became part of the Gold Star Families, a support group that honors relatives of fallen military personnel. They will watch this year's local Frogman Swim, a charity 5k swimming race that has grown steadily in the past several years.

This season has been a struggle for the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning. Injuries combined with a slow start have had it trying to play catchup in the conference race. As it nears the All-Star break, Tampa Bay used a four-game road trip that ended Tuesday to ignite its play.

News at noon: Dirk Koetter Bucs' head coach; Python hunting challenge; Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb; Real estate news; 'Benghazi' review 01/15/16 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2016 1:00pm]
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  1. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) reacts after scoring during the third period of the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
  4. Bucs-Bills report card: Grading the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Hard to believe, but this was only the second time in their history that the Bucs played a regular-season game in Buffalo. After Sunday loss, they wouldn't mind going another 40 years without playing here again.

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, seen during the first half, had a heck of a day calling plays, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Passing motorists pull three from burning home in Tampa

    News

    TAMPA — Two men in a passing car rescued two children and a woman from a burning home late Sunday morning.