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History of the Gasparilla Bowl


Florida football snuck into a bowl bid with a home win over the Florida State Seminoles on the final game of the 2021 regular season. In a year that many had hoped to see the Orange and Blue in the College Football Playoff, or at least in a fourth-straight New Year’s Six game, instead, the Gators find themselves in a lower-tier consolation game — the Gasparilla Bowl against the Central Florida Knights.

This will be the first time UF has played in the Tampa Bay area game while UCF has made four prior appearances — tied with the Marshall Thundering Herd for most in the bowl series’ history. While Florida has little direct history in the bowl game formerly known as the magicJack Bowl, the St. Petersburgh Bowl (and a brief stint as the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl in 2014), as well as the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl before taking on its current title, there are still many ties to Gainesville and the state over the years.https://widgets.thescore.com/embeds/42997d73-72dc-44f6-9638-52d4fc60df4f/B817FF24B72B95F4BE3E70D614A7A418

Take a look below at the full history of the game, which has been played both at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburgh as well as Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Note that the 2020 iteration, which was scheduled to be called the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, was canceled due to the COVID pandemic.

2008: USF 41, Memphis 14 (magicJack Bowl)

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Winning Coach: Jim Leavitt

Winner’s MVP: Matt Grothe

Losing Coach: Tommy West

Loser’s MVP: Duke Calhoun

Notes: The Bulls defended its hometown grounds in the inaugural game of this bowl series, a year after their magical run in the college football regular season.

2009: Rutgers 45, UCF 24 (St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef O’Brady’s)

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Winning Coach: Greg Schiano

Winner’s MVP: Mohamed Sanu

Losing Coach: George O’Leary

Loser’s MVP: Kamar Aiken

Notes: Another in-state team competed in this bowl game in 2009, except the (formerly Golden) Knights could not fend off the Scarlet Knights, losing the first of their four appearances.

2010: Louisville 31, Southern Miss 28 (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl)

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Winning Coach: Charlie Strong

Winner’s MVP: Jeremy Wright

Losing Coach: Larry Fedora

Loser’s MVP: Austin Davis

Notes: Former Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong makes his first of two appearances in this bowl game, taking home a win as the Cardinals’ head coach. Also note that Larry Fedora is a pretty cool name, one of a couple on this list.

2011: Marshall 20, FIU 10 (Beef O’Brady’s Bowl)

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Winning Coach: Doc Holliday

Winner’s MVP: Aaron Dobson

Losing Coach: Mario Cristobal

Loser’s MVP: T.Y. Hilton

Notes: The losing coach in this game has been a big name in the news lately after leading Oregon‘s program to prominence and now appearing to head to Coral Gables to coach the Hurricanes. Also, Doc Holliday — who we will see again — is the other sweet name on the list.

2012: UCF 38, Ball State 17 (Beef O’Brady’s Bowl)

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Winning Coach: George O’Leary

Winner’s MVP: Blake Bortles

Losing Coach: Pete Lembo

Loser’s MVP: Jahwan Edwards

Notes: UCF evens its record in the bowl series with a win behind who else but Blake Bortles to close the Knights’ final season in Conference USA.https://a67f77e77e673f432a423c2df4d39d07.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

2013: ECU 37, Ohio 20 (Beef O’Brady’s Bowl)

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Winning Coach: Ruffin McNeill

Winner’s MVP: Vintavious Cooper

Losing Coach:  Frank Solich

Loser’s MVP: Donte Foster

Notes: This edition represents just the second time the bowl game did not include any Florida teams while also lacking any direct connection to the Gators. It is also the final year of Beef O’Brady’s sponsorship.

2014: NC State 34, UCF 27 (Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl)

Rob Kinnan-USA Today.

Winning Coach: Dave Doeren

Winner’s MVP: Jacoby Brissett

Losing Coach: George O’Leary

Loser’s MVP: Josh Reese

Notes: Former Gators quarterback Jacoby Brissett earned an MVP award for his performance for NC State in this one. Meanwhile, the Knights dropped to 1-2 in the bowl series, with one remaining until the present day.

2015: Marshall 16, UConn 10 (St. Petersburg Bowl)

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Winning Coach: Doc Holliday

Winner’s MVP: Deandre Reaves

Losing Coach: Bob Diaco

Loser’s MVP: Bobby Puyol

Notes: There is good ol’ Doc Holliday again, winning his second of four total appearances with the Thundering Herd. We will see his name twice more before the end of this list.https://a67f77e77e673f432a423c2df4d39d07.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

2016: Miss State 17, Miami (OH) 16 (St. Petersburg Bowl)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Winning CoachDan Mullen

Winner’s MVP: Nick Fitzgerald

Losing Coach: Chuck Martin

Loser’s MVP: Gus Ragland

Notes: Sound the old friend alert alarm again, because this year saw soon-to-be-and-now-former Florida head coach Dan Mullen eke a win over Miami of Ohio by a single point. One might squint at this and call it foreshadowing.

2017: Temple 28, FIU 3 (Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl)

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Winning Coach: Geoff Collins

Winner’s MVP: Frank Nutile

Losing Coach: Butch Davis

Notes: The Panthers drop the second of their two appearances in this bowl, this time with another familiar name on the sideline — Butch Davis. This is also the year that the game takes on its most recent title.

2018: Marshall 38, USF 20 (Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl)

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Winning Coach: Doc Holliday

Winner’s MVP: Keion Davis

Losing Coach: Charlie Strong

Notes: Marshall won the bovine battle against the Bulls this year behind ol’ Doc Holliday again, dropping USF to an even 1-1 record in the bowl series. Former Gator Charlie Strong takes the loss as South Florida’s head coach, also giving him the same record.

2019: UCF 48, Marshall 25 (Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl)

Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Winning Coach: Josh Heupel

Winner’s MVP: Dillon Gabriel

Losing Coach: Doc Holliday

Notes: The Knights stood their ground against the Thundering Herd, defending their state turf and sending Doc Holliday home with his only loss in the bowl series for Marshall. UCF coach Josh Heupel would go on to take the head coaching job at Tennessee a couple of years later.

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