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Prominent state stars on 2020 College Football Hall of Fame ballot

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 nomination list for the College Football Hall of Fame came out on Monday and it’s once again littered with prominent names from the state of Florida’s historic past.

The National Football Foundation made public the 76 finalists that will be voted on and inducted next year:

Probably the biggest name still on the ballot and not yet in the hall from our state is former Miami All-American linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis (above) was passed over a year ago after making the final ballot and still awaits college football’s ultimate recognition. The former Lakeland star and longtime NFL hero with the Baltimore Ravens went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame two years ago.

Several other interesting names are either back as finalists or there for the first time. They include the late Jerome Brown All American defensive line star from the 1980s Miami Hurricanes. And, former Oklahoma National Championship winning quarterback Josh Heupel, who is now the head coach of the UCF Knights. Also on the list, is former Florida Gators National Championship defensive lineman Kevin Carter and fellow former Gator defensive lineman Brad Culpepper, who was an All American in 1991.

The NFF’s criteria for the College Hall is provided every year:

  • First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.
  • A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
  • While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man, with love of his country. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether the candidate earned a college degree.
  • Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years.* For example, to be eligible for the 2020 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1970 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
  • A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.

Final ballots must be submitted by June 21st and the National Football Foundation will announce it’s 2020 class of players and coaches in January at the College Football Playoff championship weekend in New Orleans.

A year ago, former Florida State All American star defensive back, Terrell Buckley and former two time Hurricanes National championship-winning coach, Dennis Erickson, were part of the 2019 class.

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Coaches and rosters finalized for East-West Shrine Bowl

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and the newly-renamed East-West Shrine Bowl are finalizing not only their player rosters, but their coaching staffs for next Saturday’s game in St Petersburg, FL.

Late this week, the longest running college all-star game, the East West Shrine Bowl, named its head coaches, both of whom have ties to the Tampa Bay Area.

Bucs inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell will coach one of the teams, while former Buccaneers and current Falcons tight end coach, Ben Steele will be in charge of the other.

Caldwell, who came to the Buccaneers in Bruce Arians’ first season has been in the NFL for a total of 11 years and had previously served as the assistant head coach and linebackers coach for the New York Jets under Todd Bowles for 4 seasons.

Steele, who has coached in the NFL for seven seasons reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter  in Atlanta after previously having been his tight end coach in Tampa Bay last year.

Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl, said in a statement about the coaching selections,

 “We’re very excited to have Mike Caldwell and Ben Steele as head coaches for our East-West Shrine Bowl all-stars,” said Bob Roller, executive director of the East-West Shrine Bowl. “Ben was a coordinator for our 2019 game and both coaches have ties to the Tampa/St. Pete area. They will lead two strong staffs of NFL assistant coaches that will be invaluable to our players as they begin their own journey to the NFL”

Meanwhile, the rosters do have some Florida flair, as several noteworthy names will be on the East team. That’s led by speedy UCF running back Adrian Killins, Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain and USF tight end Mitchell Wilcox. On the East defensive squad, FAU linebacker Rashad Smith, Miami linebacker Shaq quarterman and UCF defensive back Neville Clark are part of the roster.

This will be the 95th playing of the East-West Shrine Bowl and it boasts 71 Pro Football Hall of Famers that have played in their game. And, they also had more than 300 players who were on an NFL roster for Week 1 last year that have played in the East-West Shrine Bowl.

The game also announced that there will be four legendary mentors working with the players in practices later this week in St Pete. Those include: Hall of Fame offensive lineman Will Shields, Super Bowl Champion defensive end Willie McGinest, as well as, long time safety Bobby Taylor and long time wide receiver Amani Toomer.

The game will be played at Tropicana Field, the home of Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays and televised nationally on the NFL Network at 3 p.m., Eastern Time next Saturday.

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New Year’s Day has prominent teams in Florida Bowls

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As the new year begins, traditional college football bowl games will be taking place. And even though there are no Florida teams battling on New Year’s Day, there are two prominent bowl games in the state.

First, two of college football’s “Blue Bloods” play Wednesday afternoon, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Michigan Wolverines will do battle in the VRBO Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Both programs come off of disappointing end to their regular-season, as they both lost to their rivals. Alabama dropping a wild 48 – 45 game in the Iron Bowl to Auburn and Michigan losing badly 56-27 to Ohio State and their finale at home.

The Tide are without All American caliber quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who suffered a fractured hip late in the year. However, Nick Saban has arguably the best wide receiving corps in all of college football to compensate for Tagovailoa’s absence.

Michigan has perennially under-achieved under coach Jim Harbaugh, but would love nothing better than to score a head-to-head win against Bama in this one.

Meanwhile across I-4 in Tampa, the 25th playing of the Outback Bowl will take place and it’s a first-time matchup between the SEC Auburn Tigers and the big Ten’s Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Gophers were Darlings of the Big Ten late in the year that they got to 9 – 0 for only the second time in program history before faltering with losses to Iowa and Wisconsin which knock them out of the Big Ten championship game. Their coach P.J. Fleck is the Big Ten coach of the year and has done an amazing job of making Minnesota nationally relevant.

As for the Tigers, we mentioned the victory over Alabama which was particularly sweet for Coach Gus Malzahn, who has been under fire in recent years for not living up to success earlier in the 2010s. Auburn freshman quarterback Bo Nix, the son of the former Auburn star Patrick Nix, leads a high-powered attack that will look to finish the season on a winning note. The Tigers lost their three biggest games of the year to Florida, LSU, and Georgia, but wins over Alabama and Minnesota will help.

The Gophers have had their most important season since they played in the Rose Bowl in 1962 and would love nothing better than to upset the Tigers in this one.

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