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Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over as writer and editor for Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544

Email: tjones@tampabay.com

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

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  1. The year in Tampa Bay sports

    Sports

    If we lived in San Francisco or San Antonio, we would be talking about Giants and Spurs and dynasties. If we were in Los Angeles, we would be talking about the Kings winning the Stanley Cup. If we were in Seattle, we would be talking Super Bowl. But here in Tampa Bay, our sports stories are more about what happened away from the arena than in it. Firings, departures, hirings and trades. That's the focus for our look back at the local year in sports, including the loss of some of our most beloved sports figures....

    Joe Maddon took the Rays from last place to the World Series; can he do the same with the Chicago Cubs?
  2. Wil Myers trade not as crazy as it sounds

    The Heater

    Surely Matt Silverman has lost his mind. That's your first thought.

    Why in the world would the Rays' boss trade a young slugger, a potential superstar who was the American League rookie of the year just two seasons ago? Especially when that slugger is only 24 years old. Especially when you have a team that always seems to be in search of a big bat. Especially when you gave up big-game pitcher James Shields to get him. And especially when that slugger is still pretty cheap for a franchise that's always counting pennies....

    Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) strikes out swinging in the bottom of the ninth inning, leaving designated hitter Logan Forsythe (10) on, to end the Oakland Athletics against the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The A's beat the Rays 3-2
  3. Rays managing job takes Kevin Cash back home

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Emily Cash was sitting in her car at stoplight in Avon Lake, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. Her daughters, 8-year-old Camden and 6-year-old Ella, were in the backseat, fresh from a trip to the dentist.

    Her husband, Kevin, called to say he was on his way home. Great, she thought, he could pay the babysitter, who was watching their 1-year-old son, J.D.

    "What else is going on?" Emily asked....

    Emily Cash is a Floridian herself who was born in Gainesville and met future husband Kevin at FSU.
  4. Bucs giving their all, though losses more beneficial

    Bucs

    Whew. That was a little too close. But the Bucs woke up in time to go back to sleep.

    The dream of a No. 1 pick is still alive thanks to a much-closer-than-it-really-was 19-17 loss at Carolina on Sunday. With that, the Bucs are all set to limp to a finish with a 2-14 record and end up with a great pick in the 2015 NFL draft, maybe even the first pick overall.

    The Bucs tried to win Sunday. Really, they did. Who could blame them? They're professionals. Some are fighting for jobs. Most, if not all, have pride. You can't blame them for trying, but really, the organization is better off with a loss....

    Keith Tandy reacts after dropping a potential interception. [Getty Images]
  5. New role won't silence Lightning's Bobby 'The Chief' Taylor

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA

    It's the end of an era.

    For nearly every Lightning season, Bobby "The Chief'' Taylor has come into our living rooms, using a Telestrator to teach us hockey and his engaging personality to entertain us on countless winter nights.

    On television, he is part professor and part fan, passing along need-to-know information while occasionally grading the performance of a numbskull referee by yelling, "What a joke!''...

    Longtime Lightning color analyst Bobby “The Chief” Taylor will move out of the booth next season into other Lightning TV duties that will give him more time to teach the game to viewers.
  6. Bobby 'The Chief' Taylor to switch roles on Lightning TV

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The end of an era is coming.

    Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, who has been calling Lightning games on television since the team's second season in 1993-94, is walking away from the booth. Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts.

    But Taylor isn't going away completely. He is expected to still appear on Lightning broadcasts during the pre- and post-game shows, as well as intermissions. The idea of switching roles first came up over the summer and Taylor made the decision this week to move to a spot where he can do more teaching with the Telestrator and analysis....

    Bobby "The Chief" Taylor announced Wednesday that this will be his last season as a color commentator on Lightning broadcasts. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  7. Tom Jones: College football playoff committee seems to have it right

    College

    The first-ever college football playoff is set. On Jan. 1, FSU will play Oregon in the Rose Bowl and Alabama will face Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Meantime, Baylor and TCU are back in Texas and spittin' mad over being left out of the party. Here's a Two Cents look at the committee's decision and what it means.

    Did the committee get it right?

    The answer likely depends on where you are from....

    Jameis Winston celebrates after the Florida State Seminoles' 37-35 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at the ACC Championship game on Dec. 6, 2014 in Charlotte, N.C. [Getty Images]
  8. Bucs' offense embarrasses itself again

    Sports

    Biggest boneheads

    Each week the Bucs offense finds a new way to embarrass itself.

    Last week it was the 12-men-on-the-field penalty that wiped out any chance for a winning field goal in the final seconds against the Bengals.

    Sunday's play in the 34-17 loss to the Lions didn't cost the Bucs the game, but it was just about as embarrassing: They needed to call timeout before the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Seriously, how does that happen? After a halftime to get ready, how can you be so unprepared and confused that you have to burn a timeout before you even run a play?...

    Josh McCown was sacked six times and was hit hard so many times that he must have felt like a bumper car. [Getty Images]
  9. Rays invest future in Kevin Cash

    The Heater

    Say this for Matt Silverman: The guy has guts.

    Not many baseball executives would have had the nerve to do what he did Friday. In his first big hire since taking over baseball operations for the Rays, he is swinging for the fences.

    After losing, arguably, the best manager in baseball, Silverman is handing the keys of the franchise over to a kid who has never filled out a lineup card before....

    Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, left, and bullpen coach Kevin Cash watch during spring training baseball in Goodyear, Ariz.  Cash was hired as the new manager of the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) NY160
  10. Jim McElwain gives Gators ingredients for success

    College

    He is not a member of coaching royalty and unless you follow college football pretty closely, you don't know much about him.

    He doesn't have a familiar and hip coach's name such as Urban or Jimbo or Chip. He hasn't done enough in this business to get a cool nickname such as the Mad Hatter or the Head Ball Coach. He doesn't have the pedigree of his old boss, Nick Saban. The highlight of his head-coaching career was a victory in something called the New Mexico Bowl....

    Jim McElwain  isn’t a household name, but he fits UF’s criteria: head coaching experience, offensive-minded and a solid recruiter who knows the state.
  11. Bucs coach Lovie Smith failing at instilling discipline

    Bucs

    TAMPA — They don't line up right. They don't know the snap count. They don't know the rules.

    For crying out loud, they don't even know how many players you're allowed to have on the field.

    The Bucs are the dumbest, most undisciplined team in the NFL, and there is one man to blame for that: Lovie Smith — you know, the head coach.

    This is his team, his responsibility. He's the one in charge....

    Under new coach Lovie Smith, the Bucs are on a pace to have more penalties than last season.
  12. Lovie Smith's coaching part of Bucs' problem

    Bucs

    Biggest fall guy

    Bucs coach Lovie Smith stood behind the podium after Sunday's loss to the Bengals and took all the responsibility, accepted all the blame. Hey, you don't have to tell us twice. Most already are blaming this 2-10 mess on the coach, and the angriest of Bucs Nation want to see Smith fired. Like, right away.

    Of course, that's silly. Smith's seat isn't even lukewarm, let alone hot. And it shouldn't be. He inherited a bad team and it can't be fixed in one season....

    First-year Bucs coach Lovie Smith falls on the sword for his team’s performance, a mistake- and penalty-filled one that allows the Bengals to prevail in spite of themselves.
  13. FSU wins another game that it should have lost

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — They should have lost. When you break it all down and dissect the pieces, there's no way they should have won this game.

    Their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback threw four interceptions, including three in his own territory. They had a punt blocked, deep in their own territory. They committed dumb penalties on offense and costly penalties on defense.

    They spent nearly half the game falling behind and the other half barely hanging on....

    Linebacker Terrance Smith runs 94 yards on interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter, bringing FSU within 9-7 of Florida.
  14. Why Lightning fans should cheer for Marty St. Louis

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — You could boo him. That's certainly your right.

    You could bring his old jersey to the game and use it to clean the nacho cheese off your fingers. That, too, is your right.

    You could bring a sign telling him to go back to New York and take his no-good, stinkin' Rangers buddies with him. All of that is fair game.

    But here's what you should do tonight when Marty St. Louis takes the ice at Amalie Arena for the first time since being traded in March from the Lightning to the Rangers:...

    A pictured of former Tampa Bay Lightning team captain Marty St. Louis and a Sharpie lean against the equipment table outside of the Rangers' locker room. St. Louis returned to Tampa with his current team New York Rangers for practice leading up to the Ranger vs. Lightning game on Wednesday evening.  [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  15. Tom Jones: Think Florida doesn't have a chance against FSU? Think again

    College

    It was 10 years ago, almost to the day. • The date was Nov. 20, 2004, and the Florida Gators had absolutely no business — and seemingly no chance — of going to Tallahassee and knocking off Florida State. • The Gators were 6-4, their worst season in more than 15 years. They had already decided to fire coach Ron Zook. In fact, taking on rival FSU was going to be Zook's swan song with Florida. • The Seminoles, meantime, were ranked 10th in the country and heavy favorites to send Zook out a loser. • But the Gators went to FSU and, behind a stingy defense and some of that win-one-for-the-Gipper emotion for their lame-duck coach, stunned the 'Noles, 20-13. • No way that should have happened. • Now get ready for it to happen again. • Florida State? You are officially on upset alert. • The Gators head to Tallahassee again this weekend, and the similarities to 2004 are eerie. • Again, the Gators are heavy underdogs. Again, they are 6-4. And again, they have a coach on his way out. This is Will Muschamp's last game as Florida's head coach. • All the signs are there for an FSU romp. That also means all the stars are aligned for another Florida upset. • The Seminoles might be walking into a Gator trap. • Let's start with Florida. If you do some digging, you'll find that the Gators have been disappointing but not outright awful this season. • There was a blowout loss at Alabama and the embarrassing 29-point loss at the Swamp to Missouri — the game that really started the groundswell to get rid of Muschamp....

    Former Florida head coach Ron Zook is carried off the field by Steve Rissler 79) and Mike Degory (68) after the Gators upset Florida State 20-13 in 2004. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]