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Let’s go Bowling with Florida schools and bowl games!

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Matt Stamey-USA TODAY

A wild Championship Saturday in college football has concluded and now, so too has the upcoming post-season bowl schedule involving Florida schools and the games to be played in the state.

Here’s your pertinent rundown of what deals were made with what schools and games, etc.

Saturday December 16th Cure Bowl in Orlando: Troy (Sun Belt) vs. North Texas (C-USA)

This game pits two high powered offenses, including the “Mean Green” who just lost Saturday to FAU in the C-USA title game.

Tuesday December 19th Boca Raton Bowl in Boca: FAU (C-USA) vs. Akron (MAC)

The Owls finished a perfect conference season with a decisive title game win over North Texas and will stay home in their stadium. Will Coach Lane Kiffin be around? Stay tuned?

Thursday December 22nd Gasparilla Bowl in St Pete: FIU (C-USA) vs. Temple (American)

Coach Butch Davis gets the Panthers in a bowl in his first season.

Saturday December 23rd Birmingham Bowl: USF (American) vs. Texas Tech (Big XII)

The 9-2 Bulls go back to Birmingham for the second straight year and will play coach Kilff Kingsbury’s high flying Red Raiders. Will Charlie Strong be around to coach USF?

Wednesday December 27th Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA: FSU (ACC) vs. Southern Miss (C-USA)

The Noles get in, without Jimbo Fisher, at 6-6 and take on the Golden Eagles on a weekday afternoon in chilly NW Louisiana. Have fun!

Thursday December 28th Camping World Bowl Orlando: OK State (Big XII) vs. VA Tech (ACC)

The Cowboys featured one of the best QB’s in the nation against a traditionally great Hokie defense. Will Tech coach Justin Fuente still be in Blacksburg?

Saturday December 30th Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville: Miss. State (SEC) vs. Louisville (ACC)

With coach Dan Mullen having departed for the Gators and QB Nick Fitzgerald out with a broken leg, this game has little meaning for the Bulldogs now.

Saturday December 30th Orange Bowl in Miami: Miami (ACC) vs. Wisconsin (Big Ten)

Canes get a home game in this one and hopefully get some receivers healthy for this one. Badgers are disappointed they didn’t make the CFB Playoff, but still a great game and trip for their fans.

Monday January 1st Outback Bowl Tampa: Michigan (Big Ten) vs. South Carolia (SEC)

Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines faltered late in the year and will take on former Gators coach Will Muschamp in this one.

Monday January 1st Citrus Bowl in Orlando: Notre Dame vs. LSU (SEC)

Brian Kelly’s team equally faltered late, but hey, they’re Notre Dame and will sell 35,000 tickets easy for this one against the Tigers.

and also, on New Year’s Day, Peach Bowl Atlanta: UCF (American) vs. Auburn (SEC)

The Knights magical season at 12-0 off the thrilling American Tiltle win Saturday will conclude with Auburn, who lost to Georgia Saturday in the SEC Title game, but kept coach Gus Malzahn with a new contract Sunday night.

Lots of football upcoming for the next month!

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CFB

No, Paul Finebaum isn’t going to the Big Ten Network

Florida Football Insiders

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Brett Davis- USA Today Sports

We are still a couple of months away from the drama of SEC football. And, that would include whether the Gators under new boss, Dan Mullen, can get their act together in 2018.

But this week there is word that one of the premier “talking heads” of SEC Football, and there are many, is having trouble getting his deal renewed with ESPN/SEC Network. And, there is definitely some fascinating drama around Paul Finebaum’s status.

Some quick background, Finebaum is former long time newspaper writer and columnist covering Alabama, Auburn and the SEC in that state. He hosted a successful state wide afternoon radio show for years in Alabama. And, as the popularity of SEC Football rocketed with both Bama and Auburn enjoying fantastic success in the 2000’s, Finebaum made the evolving transition to television.

So, when the SEC Network debuted three years ago, Finebaum was a natural to anchor the weekday lineup of “TV talk” and his television/radio simulcast is tremendously popular.

And that brings us to the current negotiations between Finebaum, his agent and ESPN.

First, in about two weeks hundreds of SEC media will gather in the new home of SEC Media Days (four of them) in it’s new home, Atlanta.

Coaches, players, former players, and prominent media from all 14 schools are there revving up everyone for September and the SEC.

And for the SEC Network this is known as, “offseason gold.”

And, don’t think for a second that Paul Finebaum and his representation aren’t looking to capitalize on that deadline in his contract talks.

That’s when, the first “warning shot” from Finebaum’s camp was leaked to fellow SEC national radio host and “talking TV head,” Clay Travis and he wrote about it last week:

Now, there’s no doubt that Finebaum was/is exerting leverage on ESPN with that leaked threat.

Well, then things went five levels higher on the absurdity of the negotiations, when again, Finebaum and his agent, let it be known that he might be interested in ……. jumping to the Big Ten Network?!?

Yes, that’s the latest in the “rumor mill”from Sporting News earlier this week:

First, we at F.F.I. would love to know if Finebaum can name the 14 Big Ten Stadiums that the schools play in, much less, if he has even been in half of them to cover/watch a game.

And, we’d be further impressed, if without looking at anything, including Google on his phone, if Finebaum could name half of the Big Ten’s current football coaches, too.

So, the stratosphere level of silliness that he would seriously consider leaving the fan bases, teams, coaches, legacies, etc. of the SEC just doesn’t make any sense.

It again, wreaks of his trying to leverage ESPN anyway possible to get a better deal.

Now, for example, if Finebaum were to seriously talk to CBS and CBS Sports Network, which has been TV home to the SEC Game of the Week for over 20 years now, that would be logical and make some sense. Finebaum would bring serious credibility and audience to their cable channel, and more with his five day a week show.

And maybe, that is actually happening on a quieter level of discussion. We don’t know.

The best guess is that Finebaum re-ups with ESPN/SEC Network,

But if he doesn’t?

He’s not going to a conference/channel to broadcast, where he doesn’t know a Boilermaker from a salt shaker.

Big Ten Network.

Please.

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CFB

ESPN releases days-times for bowl games including College Football Playoff

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never too soon to start thinking college football season, and specifically, the bowl games. Or at least, ESPN thinks that way. The cable television network that basically controls the televising of the sport’s game days and times throughout each season, has released the pertinent bowl info on Wednesday afternoon.

And there are some interesting aspects for the bowl games played in our state this December and January and of course, for the most important games, the College Football Playoff semi-finals and championship early next year.

First, on the bowl games in December:

ESPN will have a quadruple-header of games starting on Saturday December 15th, but none are in the state of Florida.

The first of those from the Sunshine State will be the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl to be played on Tuesday night December 18th on FAU’s campus at 7 p.m. The Owls are the defending champs.

Next up is the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg to be played two nights later on Thursday December 20th at 8 p.m. Temple defeated FIU a year ago in the game.

Continuing, the Camping World Bowl will be played in Orlando on Friday afternoon December 28th at 5:15 p.m. Oklahoma State is the defending champion in that game.

And, then, because of the rotation of the “New Year’s Six” bowl games and where the days and NFL schedule falls, Saturday December 29th will be the day/night for the previously mentioned, College Football Playoff semi-final games.

The Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl in Dallas will await the CFP and ESPN’s decision on which match-up will go into which slot.

The game times are set for 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on that Saturday with the winners advancing to play in the CFP Title Game the following Monday (9 days later) at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.

Last year, Wisconsin defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl game.

On New Year’s Eve (Monday) the Taxslayer Gator Bowl will be played in prime time at TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville. Mississippi State won last year’s game.

Then, on New Year’s Day, the Outback Bowl will kickoff as the first football game of the new year at noon at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. South Carolina is the defending champs.

And, the Citrus Bowl in Orlando will start an hour later at 1 p.m. with Notre Dame as last year’s winner.

The New Year’s Six bowls resume with the Fiesta Bowl at 1 p.m. in Glendale Arizona, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, in it’s traditional 5:30 p.m. slot, and then the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in it’s traditional New Year’s night prime time slot of 8:45 p.m., round it out.

Again, the College Football Playoff will hold it’s championship game on Monday night January 7th at 8 p.m. Alabama beat Georgia in an overtime thriller for the championship in January.

All of those games will be televised on one or multiple of ESPN’s networks.

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CFB

Willie Taggart and Dan Mullen have revived Florida’s top two programs

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Granted it was only a Spring Saturday in both Tallahassee and Gainesville, but for the Seminoles and the Gators fan bases, they needed it.

Willie Taggart came from his one season at Oregon (and previously USF) promising to put some “pep back in the step” of everything associated with FSU, particularly after 2017 petered out with a 7-6 year.

And so far, his biggest accomplishment over his first five months is that he has rallied everyone from alumni, to students, to a mass of former players to get back involved with the program.

Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium was proof.

First, in comparison to last April and around 10,000 Noles fans that came to Jimbo Fisher’s final Spring Game, FSU announced that they not only sold over 40,000 tickets, but with students (who were free) included, Saturday had over 53,000 in the house.

Take a look at what “revival” looks like:

Further, and this is equally impressive, Taggart lobbied and worked hard to get former players to embrace the Seminoles efforts, again. And that, too was a rousing success, as a turnout of over 300 strong of former Noles jammed the sidelines and the end zones to be close to it all Saturday.

Here’s an interesting perspective from FSU radio broadcaster Tom Block:

 

Meanwhile in Gainesville, Dan Mullen’s attempt to bring Gator fans back around the program was also successful on Saturday. Their “Pack the Swamp” movement has been ongoing for the last month, and as we wrote, Mullen even took two going personally to fraternities and sororities over the past couple of weeks recruiting students to come back to the games.

The first indication that his campaigning was having a positive effect came prior to the spring game from one of the Gators long time beat writers:

Then once the crowd began to pour into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium it was obvious that there was a spark back, even, again, in a Spring game situation.

The Gators also announced over 50,000 at their game Saturday and this look at the Swamp verifies that the Orange and Blue faithful are embracing what the former Mississippi State head coach (and Florida offensive coordinator) is trying to instill:

So while the results on the field Saturday aren’t significant themselves, no one can deny the two programs that have won a combined four national championships this century demonstrated that they have rejuvenated most of their fan bases.

And that’s good for the state and the sport of college football.

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