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Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist

Tom Jones

Tom Jones writes columns and television/radio commentary for the Tampa Bay Times' Sports section. He has covered everything from high schools to colleges to professional sports since starting with the St. Petersburg Evening Independent in 1986. After the Independent, Tom worked at the Times (1987-91), the Tampa Tribune (1991-96), the Times again (1996-2000), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2000-03) and returned for his third stint at the Times in 2003. Though he has covered all sports, Tom is a hockey writer at heart. He covered the Tampa Bay Lightning from its first game in 1992 until moving to Minnesota to cover the Wild for three years. He returned to the Times again to cover the Lightning until taking over as writer and editor for Page Two in 2006. He lists Herb Brooks, Lou Piniella and Wayne Gretzky as the most interesting personalities he has covered and the 2002 Winter Olympics as the best event he has covered. Tom co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM. He previously hosted a weekly sports roundtable show on Bright House Sports Network.

Phone: (727) 893-8544


Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

  1. NCAA Tournament: Just call Koenig, Hayes thinkin' Badgers


    NEW YORK — Even if you're a Gator fan, there are two players on Wisconsin who deserve your respect in tonight's East Region semifinal: seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes.

    Aside from being one of the best nation's guards, Koenig is everything that's right about student-athletes. The team's top scorer (14.5 ppg) is smart, socially active and an inspiration to all who know him, particularly kids....

  2. Jones: Maybe Florida's Mike White can fill Billy Donovan's shoes after all


    NEW YORK — At first, it sounds awesome. Some might call it a dream come true.

    You're not yet 40. You're coaching at a small school and one of the nation's elite programs calls to ask if you want to be their head coach.

    You say yes. Of course you say yes. This is what you've always wanted. Dream job. Then when the goose bumps settle and you crash-land back on Planet Earth, it hits you....

    Florida Gators head coach Mike White, right, takes selfie photos with Gators fan Zev Goodman, 13, during open practice that was available to the public at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on Thursday. Tonight the Nov. 4 Gators take on the No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  3. Verne Lundquist not ready to step away from broadcasting altogether


    NEW YORK — Verne Lundquist went on a month-long cruise from Cape Town to Singapore and gave speeches the entire time. He has been calling college basketball games since January. He was in New York on Thursday getting ready to work this weekend's East region of the NCAA Tournament. After that, he's off to his annual gig at the Masters.

    These days, he goes home to Colorado just long to kiss his wife, Nancy, and grab some clean clothes. Then it's another plane, another hotel room, another sporting event....

    Verne Lundquist, right, talks with Barack Obama, center, and Clark Kellogg, left, during a college basketball game between Georgetown and Duke in 2010.
  4. CBS analyst: Adjustments have been huge for Gators


    NEW YORK - Lost in the Gators' run in the NCAA Tournament is that they are doing it without big man John Egbunu. When the 6-11 transfer from USF went down with a torn ACL in February, most thought he took Florida's postseason hopes with him.

    After all, he was averaging nearly eight points and seven rebounds a game. Plus, he was playing intimidating defense, which has been the cornerstone to Florida's success this season....

    The guy CBS analyst Jim Spanarkel really likes? Chris Chiozza, whom Spanarkel calls "wild card.''
  5. East Region field less attractive but wide open


    NEW YORK — The World's Most Famous Arena doesn't have the world's greatest regional. Not on paper anyway.

    The East region of the NCAA Tournament has come to Madison Square Garden, but a couple of college basketball heavyweights did not make the trip.

    No Villanova. No Duke.

    Oh no.

    The top two seeds and two of the most glamorous programs in the country are home after falling victim to upsets in the second round of the tournament last weekend....

    The Florida Gators take on Wisconsin in Friday's nightcap.
  6. Are Florida and the East Regional worthy of Broadway's bright lights?


    NEW YORK —The World's Most Famous Arena doesn't have the world's greatest regional. Not on paper anyway.

    The East region of the NCAA Tournament has come to Madison Square Garden, but a couple of college basketball heavyweights did not make the trip.

    No Villanova. No Duke.

    Oh no.

    The top two seeds and two of the most glamorous programs in the country are home after falling victim to upsets in the second round of the tournament last weekend....

    Florida Gators forward Devin Robinson (1) dunks the ball during the second half in the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Amway Center in Orlando on Thursday, March 16, 2017. The Florida Gators defeated the East Tennessee State Buccaneers 80 to 65.
  7. NCAA Tournament: Sixteen thoughts about the Sweet 16


    The Sweet 16 isn't so sweet. March Madness hasn't been so mad.

    Not this year.

    We've had a little of everything. We've had upsets. We've had top seeds advance. But it has been odd NCAA Tournament so far. And odd doesn't always translate to good.

    So as we wait for the next round to begin on Thursday, here are 16 thoughts about the Sweet 16:

    1. Where's the one shining moment? Two high seeds and two big favorites — defending champ Villanova and preseason No. 1 Duke — are out. But, thus far, this tournament has not provided that one special play or game or moment. No buzzer-beaters. No thrills. No madness....

    ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 18:  Head coach Mike White of the Florida Gators reacts in the first half against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Amway Center on March 18, 2017 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) 686515275
  8. Tom Jones weighs in on the weekend of televised sports

    TV and Radio

    Best coach

    If voting took place right now, Florida's Mike White would deserve plenty of consideration for college basketball coach of the year. His work in the NCAA Tournament has been superb. He has pulled all the right strings, made all the right substitutions and dialed up all the right plays in victories over East Tennessee State and Virginia.

    True, Virginia is offensively challenged, but to hold any team under 40 points in a tournament game is remarkable....

    Florida Gators head coach Mike White reacts to a Florida foul in the first half during the game between the Florida Gators and the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla., on Tuesday, February 21, 2017.
  9. Jones: This just in, Leonard Hamilton and FSU exit early again in NCAA Tournament


    ORLANDO — As the seconds dwindled down, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton made the slow and all-too-familiar walk to center court to congratulate the opposing coach. That's how FSU's basketball season ended Saturday night.

    That's how every FSU basketball season ends under Hamilton.

    In disappointment. In frustration. In failure.

    Another promising season down the tubes. Another season full of hope wiped out by a baffling loss. Another chapter in the book of a program that gets you all giddy in January but simply doesn't have what it takes to navigate its way through March....

    The scoreboard is not a pleasant sight for Leonard Hamilton at the Amway Center. The FSU coach is now 4-5 in the NCAA Tournament in his 15-year career at Florida State, reaching the Sweet 16 only once, in 2011.
  10. NCAA Tournament: Chris Chiozza inspires Gators with big second half


    ORLANDO — Trouble was brewing.

    It was halftime and the Gators were clinging to a one-point lead. Their best scorer, KeVaughn Allen, didn't have a field goal. Canyon Barry was shooting airballs. And, scariest of all, pesky little East Tennessee State looked like believers, like they were going to use halftime shopping online for glass slippers.

    If the Gators were going to avoid being the NCAA Tournament's first big-name casualty, they needed a shooting star....

    Chris Chiozza’s second-half performance: 14 points, two big 3-pointers, lots of guts and heart.
  11. Jones: Splashy hoops hire? Nope, USF goes with Coach Next


    Whenever a sports team hires a new coach, we all immediately ask the same question:

    Good or bad hire?

    That's the question we asked Tuesday when we learned USF was going to hire Brian Gregory to be its men's basketball coach. Good or bad hire?

    The answer is not so cut-and-dried. Or exciting.

    Instead, the answer is, "Who knows?" accompanied by a shrug and, maybe, a yawn.

    That's what USF basketball has come to. Frankly, this is what we've come to expect. Another wait-and-see hire that doesn't make much of a splash....

    NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27:  head coach Brian Gregory of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets  reacst against the Villanova Wildcats during the NIT Season Tip-Off Championship game at Barclays Center on November 27, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
  12. NCAA Tournament: 68 names to watch in the 68-team field


    Let the madness begin. Over the next three weeks, 68 teams will be whittled down to one shining moment. So, to get you ready for the NCAA Tournament, here are 68 names to watch, remember and pay attention to over the next three weeks.

    Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images...

    How far the Seminoles go in this tournament could go a long way in determining how much longer Leonard Hamilton stays at FSU. [AP photo]
  13. Tom Jones' Two Cents: How the Valspar Championship delivered again


    Best event

    Pound for pound, the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook is as good of a golf tournament as you're going to find.

    Beautiful course. Challenging course. Tight leaderboard. Every year the Valspar has everything you could want. Did you watch the final round Sunday?

    The golf was exciting, and the story lines were intriguing. The leaderboard featured the last player to commit to the tournament, the tournament's last qualifier, a sponsor's exemption and a duel between two guys who had never won on the PGA Tour....

    LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 19:  Former NBA player Jalen Rose attends The Players' Awards presented by BET at the Rio Hotel & Casino on July 19, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for BET)
  14. Tom Jones: Why Bucs' signing of DeSean Jackson is a risk worth taking


    Risky business. The Bucs signing DeSean Jackson is risky business.

    Lots of money for a 30-year-old. Lots of money for a little guy in a big-man's game. A big commitment to someone with just enough issues to raise a red flag or two.

    But here's the biggest reason why this feels risky: It's the Bucs.

    Sorry. That's the baggage Tampa Bay carries.

    If the Patriots had signed Jackson in free agency Thursday, we would be talking about what a great move it was. How cagey. Another Randy Moss. Another Bill Belichick reclamation project on the way to another Super Bowl....

    Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) walks out of the locker room before before an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Landover, Md., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.
  15. Jones: Tampa's Jimmy Stanger lives his dream as only amateur in Valspar Championship


    PALM HARBOR — The only amateur in this year's Valspar Championship will step up to the first hole this afternoon at Innisbrook and reach into his University of Virginia golf bag. Tampa's Jimmy Stanger will pull out a Titleist ball, and just before placing it on the tee, just before one of the biggest moments of his life, Stanger will take an orange Sharpie and write the letters H and A on it....

    Jimmy Stanger, a senior on Virginia’s golf team, has spent years playing and working at Innisbrook.