Matt Baker, Colleges Reporter

Matt Baker

Colleges 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.

Five things that make racing in the Indy 500 so special

The Indy 500 remains one of the biggest sporting events in the world. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith, File)
St. Petersburg resident Sebastien Bourdais and teammate James Davison explain their favorite parts of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

From the archives: What was the 1940 Florida-Texas game like?

Texas mascot Bevo runs through smoke before of an NCAA college football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
A high school boy smoked a pipe on the train ride from St. Petersburg to Gainesville to see the last meeting between the Gators and Longhorns.

Outback Bowl title sponsorship extended through January 2026

Iowa Hawkeyes linebacker Amani Jones (52) leads his teammates in a chant after defeating Mississippi State 27-22 during the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Tuesday, January 1, 2019. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)
The game is also in negotiations with ESPN, the Big Ten and SEC.

Ask Aric Almirola: How do you prepare for the Coca-Cola 600?

Aric Almirola No. 10 before the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice, Saturday, May 4, 2019, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. (AP Photo/Jason Minto)
Hydration is key for NASCAR’s longest race.

Why did Florida and FSU need to announce a four-year series extension?

The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles will continue playing each other through at least 2022. Because of course they will. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)
“I don’t think we get enough credit for the Florida State game,” Gators AD Scott Stricklin said a year ago, in what seems like a pretty big clue.