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Bowl color switch a hit; Greco proves social savvy

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By ERNEST HOOPER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 9, 2002

The first thing you noticed when you arrived at Tuesday's Outback Bowl luncheon at the A La Carte Pavilion were the tan jackets worn by the bowl's board of directors.

Gone were the teal green jackets of years past. I don't know about you, but I don't have any green jackets in my closet, or any ties to go with green jackets. The tan blazers, easier to mix and match with wardrobes, are a big hit.

Carter McCain, this year's board chairman who authored the change, may go down as the best board chairman ever just because of his fashion sense. McCain, an attorney with MacFarlane, Ferguson and McMullen, said there was thought given to having a green jacket bonfire during the bowl's annual Feast On The Fifty event later this year, but polyester doesn't ignite.

The second thing you noticed at the luncheon was an elaborate replica of ESPN's College GameDay set. The college football preview show features Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, Tuesday's keynote speaker.

The set allowed Herbstreit and WFTS-TV sports director Jay Crawford to sit next to cardboard cutouts of Corso and Fowler while fielding questions from the audience. It was a collaborative effort between the advertising firm of Moore, Epstein, Moore and Sign-It Quick, and it appeared to be authentic.

For those of you who don't know, Herbstreit is one of sports television's most popular analysts. He wins over hardcore fans with his knowledge and insight and, with clean-cut good looks, he has proven to be a favorite with female viewers.

One fan in the audience Tuesday said he was going to burst his wife's bubble by telling her Herbstreit is married with 28-month-old twins and another baby on the way.

* * *

Mayor Dick Greco appeared to have something of a social calendar dilemma coming up on Friday. The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce's 37th annual gala at Centro Asturiano honors hizzoner Friday with the Cesar Gonzmart Award. Across town, Greco's good friend Eddie DeBartolo stages an all-star charity event for the DeBartolo Family Foundation.

I figured surely Greco would be at the gala. But I wondered if he would somehow try to go to both.

Turns out he's as socially savvy as I thought. The mayor, who tells me he frequently has these types of conflicts, will drop in on the DeBartolo event first and then spend the bulk of the evening at the gala.

I think I'll do the same.

* * *

Add another entry to the burgeoning field of local magazines. Tampa Bay Illustrated's inaugural edition is scheduled to hit the shelves in mid December and promises a product aimed at upscale readers -- people owning homes worth more than $250,000, professional, business and community leaders.

Of course the area already has its fair share of upscale glossies, including Tampa Bay Magazine, Tampa Bay Metro and Cultural Affairs. Tampa Bay Illustrated has the backing of the Palm Beach Media Group, which has published Palm Beach Illustrated for more than 50 years.

* * *

Greco and City Council member Rose Ferlita will pay kudos to the champion Tampa Bay Juniors softball team Thursday. Ferlita will present the 14- and 15-year-old girls with a commendation, and then the team will meet with Greco and present him with a signed softball and picture.

The 14-player travel team, part of the Tampa Bay Little League All-Stars in South Tampa, is receiving the accolades for its stellar summer performance, which culminated with a second-place finish in the Little League Juniors World Series. The team was the best in the United States and won 20 consecutive games before losing to the Netherlands in the championship.

* * *

Crawford, the WFTS sports anchor, can take a share of the credit for the success ESPN's Herbstreit enjoys. When Crawford worked at WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, back in 1993, he helped the former Ohio State quarterback break into television as a co-host of a Sunday night sports show.

It took Herbstreit only a year to get a job with ESPN, but he displayed his gratitude to Crawford and WBNS by continuing to work at the station for four years -- even though he already had made the big time.

I guess he's good-looking and a good guy.

That's all I'm saying.

-- Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or

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