Tebow hands out food to Hurricane Irma victims in Florida Keys

Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow is lending a helping hand to Hurricane Irma relief efforts in the Florida Keys.

The former University of Florida and NFL quarterback was distributing free hot meals, cold water and ice to Irma victims Thursday in Big Pine Key.

Joined by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Tebow shook hands and took pictures with people who lined up to greet him.

“We can’t repair everything in a day. You probably can’t do it for a little while,” Tebow said. “But you can let people know that they’re cared for, that they’re prayed for and they’re not in this journey alone.”

And yes, a small dose of fanfare followed Tebow. 

“I went to school at UF when he was a quarterback, so it’s cool to see him down here,” Devan Mercury, a Keys resident, said. 

The former Florida star has a special place in his heart for his home state and the vulnerable Keys. 

Rubio said he and Tebow wanted to interact with Keys residents and “hear from them.”

“We have staff here on the ground 24 hours a day now,” Rubio said, adding that volunteers deserve a special thank you. 

A few of those first responders and volunteers, who are from across the country, snapped photos with Tebow, along with residents who have been impacted by the storm. 

“It just means a lot that he took the time out to come down here and show his support for us,” Brandi Sokolosky said. 

Tebow currently plays minor league baseball with the St. Lucie Mets, the single-A affiliate of the New York Mets. He was a member of two national championship teams with the Gators (2006 and 2008) and won the Heisman in 2007.

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Seminoles cancel home opener because of Hurricane Irma

Florida State canceled its home football game Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe because of impending Hurricane Irma.The cancellation Thursday night came after Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered all state colleges and universities closed through Monday to …

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Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops abruptly retires after 18 seasons

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops abruptly announced his retirement Wednesday, a stunning offseason move by the 56-year-old future Hall of Famer who led the Sooners to 11 conference championships and a national title in 18 seasons.

Stoops was the longest-tenured active coach in major college football, taking the job at Oklahoma a day before Kirk Ferentz started at Iowa. Stoops was 190-48 with the Sooners, his only college head-coaching job.

“I understand there has been some speculation about my health,” Stoops said in a statement issued two hours before a campus news conference. “My health was not the deciding factor in this decision and I’ve had no incidents that would prevent me from coaching. I feel the timing is perfect to hand over the reins.”

Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, 33, is being promoted to head coach, making him the youngest head coach in FBS. Just last month, Oklahoma gave Riley a three-year contract extension worth $1.3 million per year, making him one of the highest-paid coordinators in the country.

Stoops was 39 when he left Florida, where he was defensive coordinator under Steve Spurrier, to take over at Oklahoma in 1999. The storied program had struggled for more than a decade to replace Barry Switzer. Stoops quickly returned Oklahoma to national prominence, winning a national championship in his second season with a win over Florida State.

His early success that included three straight victories in major bowls and a five-game winning streak against Texas earned him the nickname “Big Game Bob.”

While Stoops was not able to bring another national championship to Norman, he did lead Oklahoma to three more BCS championship games and a spot in the College Football Playoff two years ago.

The shortcomings in championship games and lack of another national title frustrated some fans. Oklahoma lost consecutive BCS championship games in 2003 and ’04 and dropped another title game in 2008.

Big Game Bob wasn’t delivering the biggest wins, but the program was as consistent a national power as any in the country during his tenure. Only four times in Stoops’ career did the Sooners win less than 10 games, and he never had a losing record.

The son of a football coach from Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops is one of four brothers who became college football coaches. His father, Ron, died at 54 of a heart attack suffered while coaching a high school game.

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Man faces manslaughter charge in fatal shooting of former FSU football star’s father

A man faces a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of the father of former Florida State University football star Travis Rudolph at a South Florida adult nightclub, authorities said.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Paul Senat, 36, of Lantana, was arrested Tuesday in what was initially deemed to be an accidental shooting.

Barbera said Darryl Rudolph, 55, was found with a gunshot wound early Saturday in a back storage room at Sugar Daddy’s Cabaret in West Palm Beach.

He was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he died.

Barbera said detectives determined that Rudolph was at the club repairing items when Senat, who works at the club, moved a firearm off a shelf in an adjacent room.

The gun discharged, striking Rudolph in the back of the neck, Barbera said.

Travis Rudolph, who played football at Cardinal Newman High School, left FSU after his junior season to declare for the upcoming NFL draft. The wide receiver made headlines last summer after he ate with an autistic boy who was sitting alone while the Seminoles were visiting a Tallahassee middle school.

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Kiffin’s first spring at FAU comes to close

Lane Kiffin had his trademark windbreaker on for Florida Atlantic’s spring game, replete with the omnipresent visor underneath the headset.

The look for FAU’s coach hasn’t changed.

Just about everything else has, of course.

He’s 750 miles from Alabama now, head coach at a school coming off three consecutive 3-9 seasons instead of being with a Crimson Tide program that will almost certainly find its way into the national-title conversation again this year. And while Alabama was having its spring game before 74,326 people Saturday afternoon, Kiffin’s Owls played simultaneously before barely anyone.

None of that mattered to Kiffin. His first spring with the Owls is over, and he called it a success — plus had plenty of light-hearted perspective on the crowd, or lack thereof.

“There’s the good with the bad,” Kiffin said. “Yeah, the stadium’s not going to be filled 30 minutes before kickoff no matter what, whether you’re the Dolphins or whether you’re the L.A. Lakers. The good part of that is you’re in a city where there’s a lot to do, so there’s a lot of things going on … a great place to live. Now we’ve got to start winning some games, so that we get more people to come to the games.”

The final score, for the record, was defense 62, offense 33. That seemed irrelevant.

This spring was about Kiffin getting a real feel for what’s realistic for FAU in 2017, and installing a system that he expects will give the Owls a chance to get better right away.

“I feel really good about it,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin is a national brand at a place that struggles to even get local attention. That would in part explain the dichotomy between having empty stands — there were no more than 2,000 people inside the stadium — and school officials being thrilled that it was the largest spring game crowd anyone at FAU could remember.

Progress comes slowly sometimes.

“Like anything, we’re just looking to get better every day as an organization, as a football program, as an athletic department,” FAU athletic director Pat Chun said. “So anything that shows improvement, we’ll take. It’s another healthy sign. I’d rather have this than the opposite, where only a couple hundred people were here. There’s definitely more eyeballs on FAU football than there’s ever been.”

People in Boca Raton might not be watching yet.

But people around the SEC, and probably plenty of other places in the country, clamor for all things Kiffin.

FAU’s opener was moved up a day to Sept. 1 at ESPN’s request, so Kiffin’s debut with the Owls will be shown nationally in prime time on a Friday night. Showtime expressed interest in chronicling FAU this coming season, as it did with Florida State last fall.

“Bringing in a guy like Coach Kiffin, who has the name in the sport, creates excitement around here that we really haven’t had,” quarterback Jason Driskel said. “I think it’s exciting for everybody.”

Not everything has gone smoothly to start Kiffin’s tenure.

Eyebrows raised when he hired Kendal Briles — the former offensive coordinator at Baylor, a program rocked by sexual assault allegations — to run his offense at FAU. He was trolled by everyone from random tweeters to a Tennessee state agency after making a notoriously awful promotional video for FAU, which Kiffin insists was intentional to get people talking. And anytime he and Alabama coach Nick Saban speak about one another, schism talk begins again.

He has seemed undeterred by it all.

“Correct. He is undeterred by it. That is a great way to categorize it,” Chun said. “He doesn’t pay attention, really doesn’t pay attention to what social media says about him or things that are going on. He has a belief system that he’s firm with. There is a Kiffin Effect, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. It’s been nice to see.”

Kiffin spent the game on the field, standing behind the quarterbacks and switching his headset between what the defensive and offensive coaches were saying.

He was asked what it was like to not call plays anymore.

“Boring,” Kiffin said. “I would have left too, to go to the beach.”

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