Partly Cloudy82° FULL FORECASTPartly Cloudy82° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page

Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087


Twitter: @MBakerTBTimes

  1. Reports: Steve Spurrier retiring from coaching


    Florida legend Steve Spurrier is retiring from coaching, according to Sports Illustrated and multiple other outlets

    The State newspaper's Josh Kendall reported that Spurrier told his South Carolina Gamecocks of the decision Monday night and that an interim coach will be announced Tuesday.

    Spurrier, 70, is one of the biggest names in the state's college football history. He won UF's first Heisman Trophy in 1966 when he threw for 2,012 yards and 16 touchdowns. Spurrier spent 10 seasons in the NFL and spent his final year (1976) with the Bucs....

  2. With Grier suspended, Gators turn to Harris


    GAINESVILLE — Even when QB Will Grier began to emerge as one of the SEC's top passers, Florida coach Jim McElwain insisted that he believes strongly in sophomore Treon Harris.

    With Grier landing a year-long suspension Monday for violating the NCAA's policy against performance-enhancing drugs, the Gators will get to see an extended look at whether McElwain's faith in Harris is justified....

    Treon Harris becomes Florida’s starting quarterback, bringing dual-threat ability.
  3. UF quarterback Will Grier suspended for season, will appeal


    GAINESVILLE — The last time University of Florida quarterback Will Grier stood at a podium at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, he was the Gators' hero.

    Grier, 20, overcame the flu to key UF's 38-10 blowout win over then-No. 3 Ole Miss, returning the Gators to national prominence in a year of mediocre expectations.

    Nine days later and three floors up, he clutched a lectern and bit his lip as he tried to explain how he landed a mandatory, yearlong suspension for failing an NCAA drug test — and how he potentially dashed his undefeated team's chances of competing for the Southeastern Conference championship....

    Florida quarterback Will Grier runs in the second half of Saturday’s SEC game against Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Grier has been suspended for taking a performance-enhancing drug.
  4. FSU's Jimbo Fisher savors sixth straight win over Miami (w/video)


    TALLAHASSEE — As Florida State officials tried to hurry coach Jimbo Fisher out of his postgame news conference Saturday night, Fisher leaned back in his chair.

    "It's Miami-Florida State," Fisher said. "You don't win six in a row very often."

    In fact, the Seminoles hadn't done it in more than four decades, during a stretch of seven in a row that ended in 1972.

    So after remaining unbeaten against Miami with a 29-24 win, Fisher was in no hurry to leave. He had plenty more to say about another victory by his young Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 ACC)....

    Florida State's Dalvin Cook (4) scores on a 36-yard touchdown pass and a 72-yard run in the first quarter against Miami at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/TNS) 1175029
  5. Florida Gators move into Top 10, FSU football rises one spot


    Florida and Florida State both moved up in the latest AP Top 25.

    The Gators jumped three spots to No. 8 after Saturday's win over Missouri. With LSU moving up one spot to sixth, that sets up a top-10 showdown this week at Tiger Stadium.

    The Seminoles gained one spot to No. 11 after earning a 29-24 win over rival Miami....

  6. FSU vs. Miami: 5 things you might have missed


    TALLAHASSEE — You know it's a big game when Florida State retired the No. 55 jersey of one of its former greats, linebacker Marvin Jones, and Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is present to cheer on Miami.

    Here are five other things you might have missed from Saturday night's rivalry game at Doak Campbell Stadium:

    1. Although FSU RB Dalvin Cook (hamstring) played — and had an immediate impact with two touchdowns before tweaking his leg in the second quarter — other injuries were less obvious but still significant. Seminoles LG Kareem Are (knee) did not dress and was replaced in the starting lineup by junior Chad Mavety. The 'Noles were also without LB Terrance Smith (ankle). S Nate Andrews (bone bruise) didn't start but played sparingly in the first half. UM got a boost with the return of WR Stacy Coley, who missed the past two games with a lingering hamstring injury. He caught two passes for 60 yards on UM's first two drives....

    WR Stacy Coley, being tripped up by Lamarcus Brutus, returns to UM after missing two games.
  7. Dalvin Cook stars as No. 12 FSU beats Miami


    TALLAHASSEE — The answer to the state's most pressing college football question was answered quickly and repeatedly Saturday night.

    Dalvin Cook's hamstring was fine.

    Florida State's dynamic running back put together one of the best efforts in one of college football's greatest rivalries, scoring on two of his first three touches and dashing for the game-winning score with 6:44 left in a 29-24 win over rival Miami. ...

    Miami’s Mark Walton scrambles to pick up a bobbled kickoff return as FSU’s Javien Eliott dives in during the first quarter.
  8. Dalvin Cook warming up for FSU football


    TALLAHASSEE -- Sophomore running back Dalvin Cook is warming up for Florida State, less than an hour before kickoff against rival Miami.

    The Seminoles' standout has been day to day with a hamstring injury. Cook is officially listed as the top running back on the pregame depth chart, and he has not seemed limited during drills.

    Cook sustained the injury in the first quarter of last week's win at Wake Forest. He leads the ACC with 142.5 yards per game, despite missing three quarters of last week's game. ...

  9. Anti-Al Golden sentiment follows Miami to FSU


    The anti-Al Golden sentiment followed Miami to Tallahassee.

    Here's the message on an aerial banner trailing behind one plane circling Doak Campbell Stadium, less than three hours before kickoff: "UM admin lowered the bar - we haven't #FireAlGolden."

    Similar messages have circled the Hurricanes' home games and last week's game at Cincinnati.

    I spotted one "Keep Al Golden" T-shirt - in garnet and gold - on my drive to the stadium. They were reportedly selling in Tallahassee this week, as FSU fans want to keep a UM coach who is winless against the Seminoles....

  10. Baker's Dozen: Previewing college football weekend (w/video)


    Tables turned

    What has historically been one of the sport's great rivalries has turned one-sided, with Florida State winning five in a row against Miami. Here's a statistical breakdown of the Seminoles' streak:

    For kicks

    FSU's Roberto Aguayo (right) knows when the Miami game is approaching — he starts hearing about famous misses wide right and wide left. "It changed the history of Florida State," said Aguayo, the 2013 Lou Groza Award winner as the nation's top kicker. If tonight's game is close, both teams have solid kickers. Aguayo tied a career high with a 53-yard field goal against UM last year. The Hurricanes' Michael Badgley tied a school record with five field goals (including the winner in overtime) last month against Nebraska....

    Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, left, and Florida head coach Jim McElwain chat at midfield before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) GVP104
  11. FSU's Johnathan Vickers knows how to fill void



    As coach Robert Craft watched North Florida Christian's starting and backup quarterbacks go down with injuries during the 2013 state high school playoffs, he was running out of options.

    Craft had already doubled his standout senior's action, playing the four-star recruit nearly every snap at either middle linebacker or running back.

    Now, with his top two passers injured and the Class 2A state semifinal a few days away, Craft had no choice but to put Johnathan Vickers at quarterback, too....

    Florida State running back Johnathan Vickers dives into the end zone to score a touchdown against Wake Forest as Wake Forest defensive back Deonte Davis, right, defends in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond) NCNR101
  12. FSU's Cook practices, still uncertain for Miami game (w/ video)


    Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) was back at practice Thursday, but his status remains uncertain for Saturday's rivalry game against Miami.

    Coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters after practice that Cook remains day to day as the Seminoles wait to see how he feels after Thursday's workout. The sophomore has rushed for six touchdowns and 570 yards and accounted for 42 percent of FSU's offense this season before leaving last week's game at Wake Forest....

    Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) finds a hole in the South Florida Bulls defense at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee on Saturday, September 12, 2015. Florida State defeated South Florida 34-14. (OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times)
  13. Dalvin Cook returns to FSU football practice, still day to day


    Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring) was back at practice Thursday, but his status remains uncertain for Saturday's rivalry game against Miami.

    Coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters after practice that Cook remains day to day as the Seminoles wait to see how he feels after Thursday's workout. The sophomore has rushed for six touchdowns and 570 yards this season. Before leaving last week's game at Wake Forest in the first quarter, he accounted for 42 percent of FSU's total offense this season....

  14. Where do Jimbo Fisher, Jim McElwain and Al Golden rank among top coaching salaries?


    Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher is the fifth-highest paid coach in the country, according to USA Today's annual survey of coaching salaries.

    Fisher is in line to make $5.15 million (plus bonuses) this year. That figure trails only Alabama's Nick Saban ($7.09 million), Michigan's Jim Harbaugh ($7 million), Ohio State's Urban Meyer ($5.86 million) and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops ($5.4 million)....