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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

ACC football championship game officially coming to Orlando

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, is congratulated by head coach Dabo Swinney after the Tigers defeated North Carolina in last season's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

AP photo

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, left, is congratulated by head coach Dabo Swinney after the Tigers defeated North Carolina in last season's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

The worst kept secret in college football is officially official.

The ACC title game is moving from Charlotte to Orlando, the league announced Wednesday morning.

The game will be on Saturday, Dec. 3 at either 7:45 or 8 p.m., on ESPN or ABC at Camping World Stadium - the same stadium where Florida State opened its season. FSU remains in the mix to challenge for another trip to Orlando, while Miami looks like the frontrunner in the Coastal Division.

The game had been scheduled to be played in Charlotte before the ACC removed all of its athletic championships from North Carolina over a state law limiting protections for LGBT people. The ACC Council of Presidents voted earlier this month to relocate the league's championships until North Carolina repeals the law.

Tickets for Florida Citrus Sports members will go on sale on Oct. 5, and tickets for the  general public will go on sale on Oct. 10. Tickets will also be available through the two qualifying schools.  …

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Video: Previewing FSU-UNC, USF-Cincinnati, Florida-Vanderbilt and more

Matt Baker, left, and Joey Knight, right, debate this weekend's college football games.

Times staff

Matt Baker, left, and Joey Knight, right, debate this weekend's college football games.

We have the greatest college football video previews. Everyone agrees that our videos are the greatest -- just the greatest. Even with the input of Joey Knight, who continues to struggle with his predictions. Sad!

You can see where this is going...so check out our weekly Spanning the State video. Joey and I preview two key ACC showdowns (Florida State-UNC, Miami-Georgia Tech), talk about USF's conference opener and whether Florida can bounce back against Vanderbilt, despite an early kickoff. 

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Florida Gators' Luke Del Rio could practice today, Brandon Powell not suspended

Two quick Florida Gators updates from coach Jim McElwain's portion of the SEC teleconference:

1. UF held quarterback Luke Del Rio out of practice again yesterday as he recovers from a left knee injury. McElwain said Monday that Del Rio would likely return to practice Tuesday, but obviously that didn't happen. Del Rio should be a limited participant today, McElwain said, throwing some routes on air and participating in one or two periods of team drills. Austin Appleby is still expected to start Saturday against Vanderbilt.

2. Receiver Brandon Powell will not be suspended for the first half Saturday. The SEC office reviewed his ejection from the Tennessee game after referees said he threw a punch.

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Jimbo Fisher: I plan on being at FSU for a long time

"I plan on being here for a long time,'' Jimbo Fisher said. "I love Florida State. That's all I'm saying."

MONICA HERNDON | Times

"I plan on being here for a long time,'' Jimbo Fisher said. "I love Florida State. That's all I'm saying."

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher didn't say much about LSU rumors during Monday's news conference. He came out much stronger Wednesday when he was asked about speculation that he could replace the recently fired Les Miles.

"I love this university," Fisher said on the ACC coaches' teleconference. "I plan on being here for a long time. I love Florida State. That's all I'm saying." 

Fisher's self-imposed policy is to decline to talk about other jobs. A few other coaches have been asked about the LSU opening this week and made similar strong denials, including Louisville's Bobby Petrino and Stanford's David Shaw. 

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Jimbo Fisher, Willie Taggart among betting favorites for LSU job

Bovada set the odds of Willie Taggart getting the LSU job at 6-to-1.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Bovada set the odds of Willie Taggart getting the LSU job at 6-to-1.

I'm not expecting any news on the LSU coaching search anytime soon...which only means there will be more speculation about who will replace Les Miles.

Like this bit of information from Bovada.

The online sports betting site posted odds for the next LSU coach, and you'll see some familiar names. I'm posting this for entertainment purposes only - if you want to actually bet on college football coaching searches, you might have a problem.

Anyway, the odds:

Houston's Tom Herman: 5/4

Florida State's Jimbo Fisher: 3/1

North Carolina's Larry Fedora: 4/1

USF's Willie Taggart: 6/1

LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron: 9/1

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin: 12/1

TCU's Garry Patterson: 15/1

San Francisco 49ers' Chip Kelly: 15/1

Louisville's Bobby Petrino: 18/1

Former Baylor coach Art Briles: 28/1

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Florida Gators officially name Scott Stricklin new AD

Scott Stricklin replaces Jeremy Foley, who is retiring.

AP photo

Scott Stricklin replaces Jeremy Foley, who is retiring.

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators have officially named Scott Stricklin their new athletic director, the school announced Tuesday morning.

Stricklin, who had been the AD at Mississippi State, will be formally introduced at 1 p.m. news conference. He has a six-year contract worth an average of $1.076 million annually, according to UF. 

It's official - we have a new Athletic Director. Give a big Gator welcome to Scott Stricklin! #GoGators pic.twitter.com/z9joUcuvY5

"I'm so excited, and I'm really challenged by the opportunity to be a part of figuring out what's next at Florida - to figure out how we take this great platform that's been developed, and we keep building on it and supporting these people in a way to be really successful," Stricklin said during his introductory news conference Tuesday. 

Stricklin, 46, took over the Bulldogs' program in May 2010 and has overseen facilities upgrades of more than $130 million. UF is undergoing its own infrastructure upgrades; the school announced plans for $100 million in renovations/construction, including a stand-alone football complex, earlier this month. …

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Jimbo Fisher: 'Name me a team that doesn't have trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks'

Florida State has had trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks.

The last five quarterback to beat FSU have been excellent runners, as I mentioned last week.

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said those issues aren't unique to FSU.

"Name me a team that doesn't have trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks," Fisher said. "That's what I want to know. Name me a team that doesn't have trouble with dual-threat quarterbacks. That's part of it. That's the way of the world, and the way people do things. And the best team in the country, Alabama, has trouble with them. Ohio State, everybody has trouble with them. That's it."

There isn't an easy fix to the problem, otherwise Fisher (or Alabama's Nick Saban, or someone else) would have implemented it. But Fisher did note one way to attack it, as his ‘Noles did last week against USF.

"We dual-threated them back," Fisher said.

FSU moved redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois around more; he rushed 10 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.

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Florida-LSU gets early kickoff, we'll wait and see with FSU-Miami

Florida's home game against LSU on Oct. 8 will have a noon kickoff on ESPN, the SEC announced Monday. It's the second noon game in a row for the Gators, who haven't fared particularly well early under coach Jim McElwain.

The other big in-state game that day - Florida State at Miami - hasn't yet announced its kickoff time. The ACC is using its six-day window for that game.

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Florida Gators' Luke Del Rio 'highly doubtful' to return Saturday at Vanderbilt

Luke Del Rio is "highly doubtful" to return this week against Vanderbilt.

MONICA HERNDON | Times

Luke Del Rio is "highly doubtful" to return this week against Vanderbilt.

GAINESVILLE - Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio is "highly doubtful" to return this week against Vanderbilt, coach Jim McElwain said Monday.

Del Rio injured his left knee against North Texas. He dressed out with a knee brace Saturday at Tennessee but did not play.

McElwain said Del Rio won't practice today but will be eased back into work, beginning tomorrow. McElwain praised Del Rio's leadership, even with the injury.

"He was really good for our team," McElwain said. "He even said a few things afterward in the locker room, as well, that really resonated with some guys. He's a valuable piece of this." 

Austin Appleby started in his place and will likely start again this week in Nashville.

In other injury news, defensive lineman Joey Ivie (Pasco High) will likely be out with a thumb injury. Defensive end Jordan Sherit (Hillsborough High) should play despite a leg injury, McElwain said. 

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Les Miles out at LSU, let the Jimbo Fisher rumors begin!

Jimbo Fisher spent seven years as an assistant at LSU, where he groomed JaMarcus Russell into a No. 1 overall draft pick and was the offensive coordinator for the 2003 national title team.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Jimbo Fisher spent seven years as an assistant at LSU, where he groomed JaMarcus Russell into a No. 1 overall draft pick and was the offensive coordinator for the 2003 national title team.

UPDATE, 1:45: Sure enough, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was asked Monday about the LSU opening. He said he has had no contact with the Tigers and said, "I'm not talking about LSU." He said the only other school he would talk about is North Carolina, whom his Seminoles face this week.

My original post is below: 

After months of speculation, LSU has finally fired coach Les Miles, four games into the season.

So get ready for months of speculation around a different name.

Jimbo Fisher.

It's easy to see why the rumors have already begun involving Florida State's head coach and the Tigers.

Fisher spent seven years as an assistant at LSU, where he groomed JaMarcus Russell into a No. 1 overall draft pick and was the offensive coordinator for the 2003 national title team. LSU fans (and boosters) have not forgotten that. There are, I believe, four active head coaches who have won national titles. Fisher is one of them.  …

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Tennessee Vols: 'It just looked like we took their soul'

Considering all the back-and-forth barbs between Florida and Tennessee all offseason, the Volunteers weren't shy about basking in Saturday's 38-28 comeback win over the Gators.

"It just looked like we took their soul, really," safety Todd Kelly Jr. said.

Well then.

I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the defeat was certainly big for UF. A confident - and a little cocky - Gators team had to be humbled.

"It's hard, especially losing to a rival like Tennessee," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "It's been 11 years since we've lost to them, and to be the team that lost this game really hurts."

UF coach Jim McElwain said the real test will be how the Gators respond. A common talking point for players after the game was that no UF team has won a national title without losing a game. I'm not going that far unless some big improvements are made, but the overall point stands: One game, even a collapse like this one, does not define a season.

"I think what it does is really test who you are as a person, really test who you are as a man," McElwain said. "In loss, in failure, some of the greatest lessons you can ever learn about who you are and what you're all about are taught." …

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It's game day for Florida-Tennessee

Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby hugs his dad, Michael, on his way into Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby hugs his dad, Michael, on his way into Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Good afternoon from Neyland Stadium, where the Florida Gators will try to extend their winning streak against Tennessee to 12 games.

College GameDay was in the house, and Vols fans were not happy when Lee Corso pretended to pick Tennessee before putting on a Gators head (and doing the Tomahawk chop?).

Crowd reaction after Corso switches from Smokey to #Gators pic.twitter.com/1acpCNQMnP

Injured UF quarterback Luke Del Rio is here, as expected. Austin Appleby is still expected to start, but I get the feeling that something is up. The Gators closed practice this week, and coach Jim McElwain has kinda sorta said UF might play multiple quarterbacks. We'll see.

Receiver Antonio Callaway (quad) made the trip and walked into the stadium without a limp. We'll see if he plays.

Enjoy the game.

 

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Video: Can a duck pull a truck? Also, let's talk Gators-Vols, FSU-USF

Can a duck truly pull a truck?

Can a duck truly pull a truck?

The biggest question in college football this week, of course, is this: Can a duck pull a truck? 

Joey Knight and I tried to find out...and we also talk Gators-Vols, Florida State-USF, look at our College Football Playoff final four and more in our weekly Spanning the State video. Check it out. 

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Jon Gruden, Phil Esposito, Jeremy Foley among Florida Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Jon Gruden led the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Jon Gruden led the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden, Lightning founder Phil Esposito and Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley are among the five inductees to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, the hall announced Thursday.

Former Rays outfielder Johnny Damon (an Orlando native) and sailing Olympian Allison Jolly are the other inductees to be honored during the Nov. 15 enshrinement dinner at Tampa's TPepins Hospitality Center.

Foley spent a quarter century as the Gators' AD, overseeing three national titles in football and two in men's basketball. He is retiring effective Oct. 1.

Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII for the Bucs, and Esposito helped bring the NHL to the area. Jolly is in her 13th season as USF's sailing coach, and Damon, a two-time World Series winner, spent the 2011 season with the Rays.

For more information, go here. 

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Jimbo Fisher on USF's Willie Taggart: 'He's done a heck of a job'

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has had plenty of good things to say about USF this week as his No. 13 Seminoles prepare for Saturday's game at Raymond James Stadium.

"You could see they're a well-coached team that's buying into everything Coach (Willie) Taggart is doing," Fisher said. "He's done a heck of a job."

Fisher said it's obvious on film how disciplined the Bulls are with their few breakdowns and effort. He also said USF's offense continues to improve as Quinton Flowers and the rest of the Bulls grasp Taggart's Gulf Coast Offense.

"I think they understand the scheme more," Fisher said. "Guys have been in it, playing more, more consistency. They're being really consistent in how they're executing. They're creating plays down the field throwing the football.

"They do a great job running it - multiple formations, whether they are unbalanced, all the different things they do."

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