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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. 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:...

    Former Tampa Bay Lightning team captain Marty St. Louis talks to the media after practice on the ice with his team the New York Rangers on Tuesday as he returns to Tampa for practice leading up to the Rangers vs. Lightning game on Wednesday evening.  [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  2. 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....

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]
  3. Give Bucs' QB job back to Mike Glennon

    Bucs

    Biggest change

    Time for the Bucs to go back to Mike Glennon at quarterback.

    QB Josh McCown is a dedicated veteran. He's a hard worker and a good man. And everyone is allowed to have a bad game now and then, especially when your offensive line puts up less fight than a wet roll of toilet paper. Still, and despite tossing for 341 yards, McCown was awful Sunday — fumbling once and throwing two interceptions. He was dangerously close to throwing about five or six picks. But, ultimately, this isn't about one game. McCown is now 1-5 as the Bucs' starter, and there's nothing to suggest he gives you a better chance to win than Glennon....

    Bucs quarterback Josh McCown, getting sacked by Bears cornerback Demontre Hurst in the first half, is demonstrating this season that he’s best served playing in a backup role.
  4. Time for NFL's Roger Goodell to go

    Bucs

    Hello everybody, and welcome to … Wheel … Of … Punishment.

    Our first contestant today smoked a joint. What's the punishment? Spin that wheel.

    And it's … a four-game suspension.

    All righty, next up: a player who hit his wife. Spin that wheel. Two games!

    Uh-oh, our studio audience doesn't like that. Spin that wheel again. Indefinite suspension! Okay, that's more like it....

    FILE - In this May 20, 2014, file photo, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference at the NFL's spring meeting in Atlanta. Goodell is thinking big. Saying he wants to grow the NFL into a $25 billion business by 2027. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File) NY164
  5. Playoff system is a success, but FSU should be No. 1

    College

    You just knew this was going to happen.

    College football finally ditches the controversial BCS system and puts together a four-team playoff and now, every week, we have more bedlam than ever before.

    The fourth weekly college football playoff rankings come out tonight, and we have no idea what we'll see. It has been so wacky and unpredictable that you wonder if the committee is carefully poring over charts and statistics or merely pulling names out of a hat....

    FSU coach Jimbo Fisher
  6. Bucs' win a sneak preview of team Lovie Smith wants to be

    Bucs

    Best win

    This is how it was supposed to look all along.

    When Lovie Smith took over as head coach of the Bucs, and when he brought in veteran quarterback Josh McCown as quarterback, and when he told everyone that being a good football team in 2014 was possible, surely he had games like Sunday's in mind.

    An aggressive and dynamic offense. A swarming ball-hawking defense. Heck, even some nice special teams. Add it all up and you have, easily, the best Bucs performance of the season....

    The Bucs’ Josh McCown celebrates one of his two TD passes to Mike Evans in the second half.
  7. Florida's Muschamp was bad hire from start by Jeremy Foley

    College

    The easy thing to do, of course, is blame Will Muschamp. • The Florida football program has gone from national power to SEC roadkill and, naturally, you point the finger at the coach in charge. • So Sunday's announcement that Muschamp was out as Gators head coach surprised no one. • Muschamp had to go. • I think so. You think so. Obviously, the university thinks so. Everybody thinks so. • But don't lay all the blame on Muschamp. It's not his fault he couldn't hack it as Florida's coach. • Blame the guy who hired him. Blame athletic director Jeremy Foley. • Muschamp was a bad hire from the start. • Back when Muschamp was hired in December 2010, he was the hot-shot assistant out there and in line to be the coach of the University of Texas someday. • But, when you think about it, it's amazing Muschamp got the Florida job in the first place. He had never been a head coach at any level. Not college. Not high school. Not Pop Warner....

    Florida AD Jeremy Foley, left, hugs coach Will Muschamp after beating Florida State, but that was two years and 13 losses ago.
  8. For Mike Alstott, football and family bring new rewards

    Footballpreps

    ST. PETERSBURG

    In many households, the important conversations are saved for dinner time.

    And so, on this particular night, 11-year-old Griffin sat at the table and was about to have the big talk with Mom and Dad. Truth be told, this wasn't even his idea. His little buddy down the street was the instigator, and you know how it is with kids and peer pressure.

    "I want to play football," Griffin blurted out....

    Sophomore quarterback Griffin Alstott smiles while chatting with his team while running drills with the offense during Northside Christian's practice Tuesday afternoon.  [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. Jones: Three Tampa Bay pro teams, three different directions

    Lightning Strikes

    One team's coach is doing great. Another team's coach: not so much. And the third team is looking for a leader. Spanning the globe — well, both sides of Tampa Bay — to bring you the constant variety of sports, here's a Two Cents look at the men in charge of local teams.

    The Lightning

    Riding a six-game win streak, Jon Cooper's Lightning is tied for the best record in the NHL with 23 points. It is on pace for a franchise-record 125 points. Can it keep up that pace? Probably not. But the Lightning is racking up victories despite not having top defenseman Victor Hedman. Several other key players — Ryan Callahan, Brett Connolly, Alex Killorn — have missed time due to injury. And despite leading the team with 10 goals, Steven Stamkos hasn't been consistently dominant. Those goals have come in five games....

    Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, left, and Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, right. [DIRK SHADD | Times; BRENDAN FITTERER | Times]
  10. Forget about Bucs' passion; need to see wins

    Bucs

    Change to nothing

    Coach Lovie Smith walked into the postgame news conference frustrated and depressed. QB Josh McCown was in tears. WR Mike Evans kept repeating, "This stinks."

    Hey, love the passion. Great to see some fire in the belly and some genuine hurt over another loss. Know what else would have been nice to see? How about a victory?

    Smith can talk all he wants about having fourth-quarter leads and McCown can talk about overcoming adversity and everyone associated with the Bucs can talk about signs of improvement. But this was another bad loss. Not 56-14 bad like the last time these teams met. But it was still ugly....

    Head coach Lovie Smith leaves the field after the Bucs' 27-17 loss to the Falcons. [BRENDAN FITTERER | Times]
  11. Rays' managerial list lacks stars, but that's not necessarily bad

    The Heater

    No one jumps out at you. You don't see one name and say, "Right there. That's the guy.''

    The Rays put out a list Thursday of eight candidates to be their next manager. It's just the first list. More names could be added later.

    But for now, you see the initial list, you notice a couple of familiar names, you see a couple of outside-the-box surprises. But there is not a name that stands out as being the next can't-miss skipper of the Rays....

    Raul Ibanez just finished his 19th season as a player. Now he’s on the Rays’ managerial list even though he’s never managed.
  12. Bucs put Mike Glennon in bad place

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    I'm not sure which is worse: the news that the Bucs are changing quarterbacks or how the news got out.

    One was bungled, and the other is a mistake.

    So here's the change: Mike Glennon is out as starter. Josh McCown is in.

    Who announced the change? Glennon. On the radio.

    That simply cannot happen.

    Coach Lovie Smith told the quarterbacks Tuesday that he was making a change. Glennon's brother sent out an angry tweet that suggested a change was coming. When Glennon was asked about it on 620-AM on Tuesday night, he broke the news like he was an ESPN Insider. He said McCown was starting....

    Mike Glennon, right, with receiver Vincent Jackson, hasn’t played especially well but at least he has a chance to improve.
  13. Maddon's departure from Rays to Cubs feels shady

    The Heater

    This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

    It smells rotten and it looks shady and it feels dirty.

    No matter how you slice it, it all just feels wrong.

    Joe Maddon is gone. It's official now. The Cubs introduced him as their manager Monday.

    He put on their hat. He put on their jersey. And that's when it truly sunk in.

    He isn't coming back to Tampa Bay next season. It's over. He belongs to someone else now....

    Joe Maddon, center, makes a statement as Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein, right, and general manager Jed Hoyer look on after a press conference at Wrigley Field. [Getty Images]
  14. Bucs QB Mike Glennon continues to regress

    Bucs

    Worst position

    The Bucs lose again and, as always, it wasn't just one thing. You could point at players, coaches and, if you want to be whiny, an official or two. But let's face facts: This is a quarterback league and, right now, the Bucs just aren't good enough at quarterback.

    In a league where you have to score three TDs to give yourself a chance, the Bucs haven't scored more than 17 points in six of their eight games. And though they aren't loaded with playmakers, QB Mike Glennon is regressing....

    Mike Glennon is not giving much indication of being a QB that you build around. [AP photo]
  15. Florida's Muschamp gets a respite, for a day

    College

    JACKSONVILLE — Wasn't it just a minute ago when Gator Nation was about to feed head football coach Will Muschamp to real live gators?

    Wasn't it just the other day when Gator fans wanted to throw the entire offense into a real live swamp with anvils tied to their legs?

    Wasn't it just moments ago when this depressing era of Gators football seemed to be going to the Dogs … and Tigers … and Crimson Tide … and pretty much every other team in the SEC?...

    Freshman quarterback Treon Harris embraces Florida coach Will Muschamp, who beats Georgia for the first time.