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Matt Baker - Colleges and Recruiting Reporter

Colleges and Recruiting Reporter

I love college football more than everything but my son, my wife and my dog, so I have the perfect job covering the sport for the Tampa Bay Times. Even though I grew up in a basketball state (Indiana) and graduated from a non-football power (Northwestern University), I’m fascinated by the game, the traditions and the pageantry. I joined the Times in July 2011 after stops at the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader and Tulsa (Okla.) World. Since then, I’ve covered almost everything — high schools, the Bucs, the Rays, the Lightning and auto racing — before becoming a full-time college sports reporter before the 2015. When I’m not working, I’m usually on a run, chasing a toddler around and waiting for kickoff.

  1. Oklahoma and Florida have a history of playing each other, including the 2008 national title game. Could they become SEC rivals?
  2. Jimbo Fisher knew Bobby Bowden long before they worked together at Florida State.
  3. Bobby Bowden is one of the iconic figures in Florida sports history.
  4. Alabama's early schedule has a strong Florida flavor, which means big-time opportunities for the Gators and Hurricanes.
  5. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he's looking forward to opening this season against Miami.
  6. Georgia football coach Kirby Smart will finally beat Alabama to win the SEC, according to at least one preseason prognosticator.
  7. Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin is proud of his dad's success and glad to have him on his staff.
  8. Vols coach Josh Heupel speaks to reporters during SEC media days Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.
  9. Florida and LSU have played some recent classics, but that doesn't mean the crossover system should continue.
  10. Presumptive Gators starter Emory Jones will be a factor in some of the state's biggest games of the season.
  11. Florida's Zachary Carter, a Hillsborough High alumnus, will try to lead the Gators' defensive rebound in 2021.
  12. Gators coach Dan Mullen spoke with reporters Monday at SEC media days in Hoover, Ala.
  13. Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes are the state's top team in ESPN's Football Power Index.
  14. Drafting Victor Hedman ended up being one of the major moments that led to the Lightning's Stanley Cup runs.
  15. Tampa Bay teams have celebrated several championships this past year and earned the Lombardi Trophy and Stanley Cup, among many, many others.
  16. NCAA athletes, including freshmen, can profit off their name, image and likeness. That doesn't mean they all are ready to do so yet.
  17. Every Miami Hurricanes player on scholarship will reportedly be able to make an endorsement deal with a mixed martial arts academy.
  18. USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox is one of the hundreds of players who participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl at Tropicana Field. It's moving to Las Vegas for 2022.
  19. Defenseman Guilherme Silva, a junior, participates at a Leto High hockey practice at XTRA Ice in Tampa in November. The Leto hockey team is the beneficiary of the Lightning Made Program, a community-based initiative sponsored by the Lightning to grow the sport in the Tampa Bay area.
  20. Nicholas Petit-Frere, a Berkeley Prep alumnus at Ohio State, and a Tampa tech company signed one of the first deals of the name, image and likeness era.
  21. Former FSU star receiver Tamorrion Terry has been indicted in an incident that left a 21-year-old woman dead in Georgia.
  22. The Lightning will have a larger home crowd at Amalie Arena than the Canadiens will in Montreal due to coronavirus restrictions.
  23. NCAA athletes will soon be able to make money off their name, image and likeness.