tampabay.com

From the top

By MARC TOPKIN
Published January 2, 2005


TAMPA - A handful of thoughts from an Outback Bowl that took nearly four hours to play but turned out pretty good in the end.

People will say Georgia's David Pollack may not be big enough for a DE at 6 feet 3, 276 pounds, or fast enough for a linebacker (an estimated 4.70 time in the 40) to make it in the NFL, but the way the All-America defensive end closed out his college career made it obvious he'll be playing somewhere on Sundays.

There hadn't been so much ineffective offense, stupid penalties and botched special-teams plays at RJS since, oh, last Sunday's Bucs game.

The idea of folding the existing bowls into a new playoff system is not a popular topic around the Outback Bowl staff. "It will never happen, and we'll never be part of it," Outback Bowl president and chief executive Jim McVay said. "If you went to a playoff system, you've got to play the games on campuses because of your season-ticket base. You can't do it. It would be horrible."

Inviting two teams that wear red takes away from the usual bowl game setting, but it hid some of the empty pink seats.

Celebs were in short supply. Aside from Mary Delgado of The Bachelor, the biggest star in the stadium appeared to be Uga VI, the huggable, but not very quotable, Georgia bulldog.

At least the Badgers and Bulldogs know their bowl rings contain faux diamonds - and Tim Marcum had nothing to do with it.

SEEN AND (OVER)HEARD: Bucs rookie Michael Clayton's most impressive catch might not be on the field: He has been seen with American Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino. "We're just friends, really good friends," Clayton told our Joanne Korth. "She's a very inspiring person, motivated, kind of like myself. She has a daughter who's 3 years old and I do, too. We have some good conversations." ... Derek Jeter, who winters in Tampa, may have changed double play partners. According to the latest Hollywood gossip, he has moved on from eye-catching actor Jessica Alba to eye-catching actor Scarlett Johansson. ... Fred McGriff is working out with hopes of playing another season, and getting the final seven homers he needs for 500, but is also working on his next career, taking classes at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in Tampa. ... Receiver Jerry Porter supposedly has told people in Oakland that he's headed to the Bucs next season.

NEWS BRIEFS: Jeter's second annual charity golf tourney, set for Jan. 24 at Avila, should be an even bigger success than the inaugural. Spots in the 24 foursomes went so fast (at $1,875 each), organizers are selling tickets just for the night-before draw party, offering a $750 chance to eat (Lee Roy Selmon's is doing the cooking), mingle with the celebs and participate in the silent auction. (Call 269-382-0408 for tickets.) Michael Jordan, Ahmad Rashad and Beth Bauer top the list of returnees, with David Cone among the new faces. ... Helping the Red Sox win the World Series has boosted Brooksville's Bronson Arroyo's budding music career. He told our John Schwarb he's headed to Los Angeles next week to record "a cover album of 12 tunes that I wanted to do" and is booked for a guest appearance in Vegas. ... Seminole's Brittany Lincicome will represent the St. Petersburg Country Club during her rookie season on the LPGA Tour. ... Eckerd College history professor Lee Irby has a new novel, 7,000 Clams, set in St. Petersburg during Babe Ruth's heyday in the roaring '20s.

JUST WONDERING

Wasn't it odd that Charlie Slowes and Paul Olden, who don't know if they've still got jobs as Rays radio announcers, got invitations to owner Vince Naimoli's annual Christmas party?

Exactly how does Malcolm Glazer decide whether to sell the $29.5-million oceanfront Palm Beach estate, or the $19.5-million one?

Does it concern anyone that the Rays spent less on payroll in 2004 than the Yankees paid in luxury tax?

If the NHL doesn't resume play until the 2005-06 season, does that make the Lightning two-time defending champ?

Does the Outback Bowl have a higher payroll than the Rays?

DID YOU KNOW?

The Bucs' winning percentage the past two seasons is .387.

The Rays' winning percentage the past two seasons is .412.