Pandemic alters Outback Bowl game, celebrations in Tampa

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Outback Bowl will go on in Tampa this year, although the 35th-anniversary game will be like no other.

The game features teams from the SEC against teams from the Big Ten. This year, Ole Miss will face Indiana.

For Tampa, the game normally means more than just football. But this year because of COVID-19, many of the events that surround the game have been canceled.

Beach day for both teams, cheerleaders, marching bands, and fans had to be canceled. The Outback Bowl Parade in Ybor City also had to be canceled.

But for the head coaches of both teams, this year’s Outback Bowl is a homecoming.

Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin learned a great deal about football from his father in Tampa when he was the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers from 1996 to 2008.

Indiana Head Coach Tom Allen is also very familiar with Tampa. Allen spent years coaching for Temple Heights High School, Armwood High School, and the University of South Florida.

“Tampa is a special town for me, lived there twice, a lot of close friends and a lot of great memories, son graduated from high school here, daughter attended high school there as well,” Allen said.

In this COVID-dominated year, Allen is just happy his team is participating in any bowl game.

“We are real proud of our team, they’ve been through so much and sacrificed so much and have given so much of themselves on a daily basis,” Allen said.

Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.


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