September 25, 2017

How satisfied are you with the Dolphins? Latest poll. Vote now!; plus Miami embarrassed by Jets 20-6, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), reflections on 1-year anniversary of Jose Fernandez tragedy & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush Toledo with CSM poll, our SoFla sports cornucopia, other state Collball Week 4 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseJose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on the complicated legacy of Jose Fernandez. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: VOTE NOW!: Time again for the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this Dsmin the wake of Sunday's 20-6 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: Voting now underway (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G2: N.Y. JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6: Postgame thoughts: Losses do not get much worse than an offensively inept 20-6 Dolphins defeat at the New York Jets. One of these teams was supposed to be among the worst in the NFL. Miami played the role. Quarterback Jay Cutler was out of synch and misfiring much of the day, only averting a shutout on a last-second TD pass to DeVante Parker, followed -- fittingly -- by a missed extra point. I might have earlier inserted Matt Moore for a spark -- any spark. Jay Ajayi rushed for a mere 16 yards on 11 carries. The pass defense was horrible, turning journeyman Josh McCown into Tom Brady. The Dolphins are very fortunate to now be 1-1, not 0-2, as they fly home, pack and head Monday to London for next week's "home" game vs. New Orleans. I did not think an offense with Ajayi, Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills could be as bad as the Fins looked today. But the last word to Adam Gase, said perfectly: "They beat the shit out of us." ..... Halftime thoughts: Awfulness abounds for the Dolphins at 10-nil down. Cutler has 38 yards passing and Ajayi is bottled up with 16 amid 49 yards total offense. Meanwhile Miami's pass defense is making Josh McCown look like Tom Brady. Adam Gase was good a week ago with halftime adjustments. He'll need some here. Lose today and Dolphins will have zero claim to being playoff caliber. Lose today and you are the team Vegas disrespected with that7 1/2 over/under on wins ..... Original post: The 1-0 Dolphins are comfy 6-point road favorites for Sunday's 1 p.m. go at the 0-2 Jets. But is Miami good enough that fans might trust a stress-free afternoon? I still wonder. I've loved the easy narrative by Your Friend the Media Mianyjthe past week that the Dolphins' season-opening win on the road verified a resilient, tough team that overcame the distraction and upheaval of Hurricane Irma and therefore can overcome anything. Um, quick reminder: Miami beat the mediocre Los Angeles Chargers 19-17 only because of the plain luck of a rookie kicker being kind enough to choke on a 44-yard field goal try in the last seconds. Kid makes kick and the whole narrative flips? Keep proving how good you are, Fins, because we don't know yet, and that process continues Sunday with what should be a low-anxiety, comfortable win over the abysmal Jets. NYJ toyed with signing Jay Cutler during the offseason but settled to recycle Josh McCown because Cutler saw a TV booth as a better situation than the woebegone Planes. Now we find out why, although Cutler may be a supporting weapon here. Jay Ajayi fantasy owners who have seen the Jets' sorry run defense are looking at this game the way a fat man looks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The question again, though: Is Miami is good enough to deliver an easy win? Let's find out. My pick: Dolphins, 34-13. [Click Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins clobbered by Stinkin' Jets: Biggest challenge facing Dolphins as Sunday's Jets game neared? Talking up the opponent as a dangerous team with immense talent and doing so with straight faces. Or so we imagined. We thought Jets were one of worst teams in NFL. But it was Miami playing the role in Sunday's dispiriting 20-6 road loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM back in play with rout of Toledo: Soft opener vs. Bethune-Cookman, Hurricane Irma, game at Arkansas State canceled, trip to Florida State postponed, practices moved to Orlando, then play finally resumes vs. Toledo with a slow-starting 52-30 win. No idea how this Canes season will end, but it sure started bat-bleep crazy.

3. MARLINS: Stanton push, Jose anniversary: Fish down to seven games left as Giancarlo Stanton (now with 57) chases Roger Maris' untainted record of 61 home runs. More somberly, today/Monday marks 1-year anniversary of tragic boating accident that killed Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends.

4. HEAT: Miami set to open training camp: Erik Spoelstra's guys open training camp Tuesday at FAU working toward their first preseason game next Sunday vs. Atlanta. Outside expectations? Playoffs, but not much more even after last season's 30-11 second half. Heat are midpack with 14th longest championship odds of 30 NBA teams.

5. BASEBALL: Playoff grid takes shape as season ebbs: AL's Red Sox, Indians, Astros and Yankees and NL's Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have clinched playoff spots entering today and final week of MLB's regular season. If you aren't rooting for Cleveland's first World Series win since 1948, well ... what's wrong with you!?!

6. DEREK JETER: Purge targets 4 Fish notables: Jeter, frontman for the incoming new Marlins ownership group, ordered outgoing president David Samson to fire four notable (if ceremonial) "special assistants" in Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Geez. Is Derek getting tips on public relations from Jeffrey Loria or what!? 

7. DONALD TRUMP: President declares war on sports, apparently: Trump blasted NFL players' anthem protests and uninvited Stephen Curry to the White House, after which LeSean McCoy called Trump an "asshole" and LeBron James called him a "bum." The good news? Feuding with sports stars is somewhat less dangerous than name-calling with maniacal dictators with hydrogen bombs.

8. PANTHERS: Cats' preseason underway: Florida played its third of six preseason games Sunday in Tampa as Oct. 6 regular-season opener looms. Remember all the hype and Stanley Cup bravado a year ago? Not now. Cats' betting over/under of 86 ½ standings points ranks a lowly 25th in 31-team NHL.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis G.O.A.T has kid: The Palm Beach-based tennis superstar had her first child, a daughter she named Alexis Olympia. Cannot confirm that, based solely on bloodlines, Alexis is now the betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2037.

10. WNBA: Sparks up on Lynx in Finals: It's defending champion L.A. Sparks up 1-0 in WNBA Finals over 2015 champ Minnesota Lynx, led by Miami-born league MVP Sylvia Fowles, who played at Gulliver Prep. Probably still won't watch, but at least I might think about it.

Missing the HB10 cut: FIU now 2-1. Butch Davis early frontrunner for Coach of the State ..... Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony, 33, to OKC Thunder. Who's next to swap unis in the Still Got Something Left Division? Dwyane Wade, you say? ..... Heat uniforms now bear advertising patches for Ultimate Software. Ugh. And ugly.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 83.9%; plus UM bops Toledo 52-30 behind Rosier, Walton; also, our Sports Cornucopia, rest of Collball Week 4 (Noles lose) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week picks, hating Heat uniform patch and media reaction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez tragedy, 1-year later: My latest Sunday column. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read. 

IT'S A SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS CORNUCOPIA!: It's the grand intersection of our Big Five teams and sports. The Dolphins and Canes are playing the same weekend for the first time all season, going airborne vs. Jets and and Rockets. Giancarlo Stanton is still chasing 60 home runs. The Panthers' preseason is underway. And the Heat opens training camp Tuesday. Appreciate. Enjoy.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 83.9%Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 83.9 percent Csmoverall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 52-30 Hurricanes victory over visiting Toledo putting UM's season record at 2-0. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. Monday.

2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman

G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo

Next poll: Sept. 29 following game at Duke

G2: TOLEDO (3-0) AT NO. 14 HURRICANES (1-0): FINALLY! A FULL STATE SLATE INCLUDING MIAMI!: Postgame thoughtsWhat seemed like calamity at the half turned out OK. The defense stepped up, Malik Rosier stepped up, Mark Walton came from back injury and all was well in a less-than-dominant-early and yet ultimate convincing 52-30 Miami Hurricanes home win over Toledo Saturday afternoon. Hey, Florida State earlier in the day fell to 0-2, so take the blessings when they present themselves, right? We still don't know how good UM really is after low-watt wins over Bethune-Cookman and now Toledo, but, when last I checked, 2-0 is 2-0. This win was formulaic, really. Smaller-conference team starts out strong, but then yields to the greater size, speed and depth of the bigger foe. The defense and Rosier really came on big and Walton, who missed a chunk of the game with a turned ankle, returned and finished with a career-best 204 yards rushing (on only 11 carries). The big concern: Miami's pass defense. Still, for me, for a team shaking off a three week Irma-related layoff and having its practice schedule in upheaval, this was a pretty impressive result ..... Halftime thoughts: Well this is embarrassing! No panic mode -- yet -- but trailing Toledo at the half at home? C'mon. Manny Diaz's pass defense has been out of synch and is getting dominated by Rockets QB Logan Woodside, who has 213 yards passing. Miami also getting dominated on the clock, with Toledo running 50 offensive plays to The U's 21. Mark Walton the only bright spot with 137 yards rushing, but he left injured. Turned-up defensive effort and more Malik Rosier (8-for-12, 50 yards) will be required from here if Miami is to avoid a shocking upset ..... Original postThanks to Hurricane Irma and its after-effects, this 

Toledomiami Toledomiami2Collball Week 4 marks the first time since Week 1 that all seven state FBS schools will be in action. Toledo's Saturday (3:30 p.m.) visit will be the Hurricanes' first game since Sept. 2, marking the longest gap between regular-season games in UM history, and following a week of displaced Canes practices held in Orlando. "Frustrating, to say the least," said Miami receiver Braxton Berrios. The schedule upheaval and rust factor weigh against the Canes here, but Miami is a 13 1/2-point favorite for a reason. Despite Toledo's unblemished record in the Mid-American Conference, the ACC Hurricanes will have the speed, size and depth advantages to pull away. This is only these schools' second all-time meeting and first in 30 years, since a 24-14 UM win in 1987. Defensively, UM's secondary had better be on its toes against a pass-happy Rockets attack. Offensively, new Canes starting QB Malik Rosier still may not have injured top receiver Ahmmon Richards at his disposal, but the air doesn't figure to be where UM will win this game. The Toledo defense gave up 423 rushing yards to Tulsa last week, so look for Canes running star Mark Walton to put up huge numbers. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-17.

Other state FBS Week 4 games (chronologically):

No. 21 South Florida 43, Temple 7: Quiet game from Quinton Flowers Thursday but Bulls still rolled to 4-0.

North Carolina State 27, No. 12 Florida State 21: FSU never led, falls to 0-2 and likely out of Top 25, hugely diminishing upcoming visit by Miami.

UCF 38, Maryland 10: Terps were 3 1/2-point home pick so this is nice road win for Knights, now 2-0.

Buffalo 34, FAU 31: Tough loss in winnable game drop Owls to 1-3. 

No. 20 Florida 28, Kentucky 27: fla 2-1 Gators, now 2-1, rally from 27-14 down early in fourth to stun Wildcats to keep alive 31-game series winning streak. Yes, 31.

FIU 13, Rice 7: Defense leads Panthers, who were 1 1/2-point road 'dogs, to a huge win and a 2-1 record under Butch Davis.

National Collball Week 4 overview: Only two national Top 25 matchups on Saturday, neither high-wattage: No. 16 TCU upset No. 6 Oklahoma State, 44-31, and 11-Georgia crushed 17-Mississippi State, 31-3.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 22, 2017

Upset Bird Day in America: Picks for Dolphins-Jets, rest of NFL; plus hating Heat uniform patch and media coverage of it & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Shanahtova1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) In these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a hearty 'shanah tova' to all of our Jewish readers and listeners! 3) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL Week 2 QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY Week 3 Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: NFL WEEK 3 PICKS: NEXT-EASIEST WEEK AFTER A BYE? DOLPHINS AT JETS!After lucking to win their delayed opener at the L.A. Chargers last week the Dolphins should roll to 2-0 Sunday at the stinky, Stinkin' Jets. They'd better. A season sweep of lowly NYJ is a prerequisite if Miami is to surprise doubters with a second straight playoff season. Click on Week 3 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week (Falcons-Lions), Upset of the Week (Seahawks-Titans: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game including Breakfast at Wembley -- the season's first of four London games. Our week got off to a mixed start last night in the Rams' unexpectedly exciting 41-39 pointfest over the 49ers. Had Rams winning, but missed out on the ATS win with the push against a 2-point spread. Rams were cover-bound the whole game, until late.

HeatpatchHATING HEAT'S UNIFORM PATCH, AND MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF IT: The NBA sold-out and is allowing teams to wear small advertising patches on the front of game uniforms starting this season, another reminder our teams are businesses, and your Miami Heat will wear the logo of a Broward-based company called Ultimate Software. Except it isn't even really a logo, just the words Ultimate Software in which the 'i' in Ultimate appears to be a person. The company sells a product that is a "cloud-based human capital management solution." Gawd. The patch is ugly and the idea of it uglier. The first domino has tipped toward a time when team names themselves will be will be for sale. "And today in the NBA, your Amazon Heat take on the Samsung Knicks." Pragmatically I get why the Heat and other teams like the uniform patches. The wrd is revenue. The mystery is why Your Friend the Media plays along like a bunch of lemmings, dutifully printing and broadcasting the names of corporate sponsors. Yesterday's business deal between the Heat and Ultimate Software was reported by the Herald and other outlets as if it was actual news. Why? Because the Heat announced it as such and Pat Riley was there and so reporters flocked. Sad.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 21, 2017

Brady leaps, Cutler debuts in Herald Week 2 QB rankings; plus new Back In My Day video (Straws!), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 2 results, SOPY Week 3 standings (new leader), Dolphins column on Parker/offensive potential, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on general reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Florida Panthers opened preseason in Nashville this week with a doubleheader split vs. Predators. Hockey on, Heat soon, Dolphins underway, Marlins still going. Worlds collide! 3) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win opener in L.A. with season-debut DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Tonight's NFL pick: Click on Thursday Gem for our predix capsule on tonight's Rams-49ers game. 

Latest Dolphins column: Lost a bit amid the drama of Hurricane Irma and AWOL Lawrence Timmons, Sunday's opener hinted at how good this Dolphins offense and breakout star DeVante Parker might be. Click on Potential & Promise to read.

BRADY CATAPULTS, CUTLER DEBUTS / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 2: The Patriots' Tom Brady wins Week 2 with a 57.35-point game to catapult 18 spots to Jayc8th overall in the Miami Herald's NFL Week 2 quarterback rankings. The Chiefs' Alex Smith maintains his overall season lead. And the Dolphins' Jay Cutler (pictured) scores a solid 34.50-point game, eighth for this week, to land 24th in the overall chart. This is the 20th season of Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.
 
MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 2
RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK2            Season
1        1     Alex Smith, KC                  34.55            90.95
2        6     Derek Carr, OAK               43.50            79.60
3        3     Matthew Stafford, DET      26.10            71.70
4        8t    Aaron Rodgers, GB          36.15            70.70
5       13    Philip Rivers, LAC             42.55             69.15
6        8t    Drew Brees, NO                32.80             67.35
7       10    Ben Roethlisberger, PIT    34.15             67.30
8       26    Tom Brady, NE                   57.35            66.70
9        7     Matt Ryan, ATL                  30.60             66.65
10     15    Trevor Siemian, DEN         37.55            62.50
11      4      Carson Wentz, PHI           23.65             60.00
12     14     Mike Glennon, CHI           29.05             54.70
13      2      Sam Bradford, MIN            DNP             53.30
14      5      Jared Goff, LAR               16.20              52.50
15     11      Dak Prescott, DAL           21.90             52.30
24     -–      Jay Cutler, MIA                 34.50             34.50
    Bubble: Eli Manning, NYG, 51.95. Week 2/season best: Brady, NE, 57.35 (30-39, 447, 3-0 in win). Week 2 worst: DeShone Kizer, CLE, minus-0.90  (15-31, 182, 0-3 in loss).
    Formula: Accuracy—Completions times two minus attempts. Ex: 17 for 28 = 6 points. Yardage—Five percent of total. Ex: 202 yards = 10.10 points. TD-interception ratio—Difference times three. Ex: Four TDs and one pick = 9 points. Team result—Winning QB of record = 5 points.

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2 RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I'll tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 2: Herald picks: Uneven -- We went 11-5 overall (pretty good) and 7-9 against the point spread (not so good). Nailed an outright upset with Broncos over Cowboys and had three other 'dogs with points: Bills, Dolphins and and Lions. Greg's Lobos: Tough luck = tough loss -- The Lobos lost to Sarah Spain 126.2-117.5. Had three guys in 20s led by Lobo of the Week Todd Gurley's 26.6 and still had a shot into Monday night but the killer was Jordy Nelson's early injury and 0 points. Normal game from Nelson or a few more touches from Theo Riddick and we win. If, if, if.

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 3: NEW LEADER AS SEASON CRAWLS OUT FROM UNDER IRMA: Only three of seven state FBS teams were in action this past weekend
Qflowersafter only two were the week before. But we have a new season leader in our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race -- entering Week 4. That would be South Florida QB Quinton Flowers (pictured) out of Miami Jackson High, the defending champion. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 4:

2017 SOPY WEEK 3 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           214

2    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             208

3    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                168

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                167.5

5    5    Travis Homer-Miami rb               133

6    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 131.25

7    7    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                     120

8    9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb            102

9    --    Dredrick Snelson, UCF-rec           98

10  --    Darius Tice, SoFla-rb                   95

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 91. Other team leader: Tyrie Cleveland-Fla rec, 79.5. Week 3 best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (3-0); 4. Florida (1-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (1-1); 7. FIU (1-1).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

We have discontinued the blog's Hot Button Daily. Hey, the bells 'n whistles come and go, right?

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 81.9%. See season-debut results; plus Fins beat Chargers 19-17, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), the Jay Cutler Experience (Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins season! Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 pix, Collball Week 3, method to Kaaya's madness & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Quick-thoughts column off 19-17 win: Click on Lucky, But Maybe That's Justice to read. 

Sunday column: Cutler's Wild Ride: Are you ready, kids? Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 81.9%: Results are certified for the first week of our blog's 10th season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they 81.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 19-17 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers in Miami's Irma-delayed season opener. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

Next poll: Sept. 24 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

Yearly DSM Results: 2016--76.2% (following 10-6 season/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G1: DOLPHINS 19, @CHARGERS 17Final quick thoughts: The excuses were all lined up. Neat, right in a row. Hurricane Irma. A delayed opener. A quarterback new to the team. Practices moved across the country. Philip Rivers. A late distraction involving one of their own players, Lawrence Timmons, going AWOL on the eve of the game. The Miami Dolphins didn't any of those excuses. They did need some luck -- a narrowly missed 44-yard Los Angeles Chargers field goal in the last seconds -- but that seemed fitting, didn't it? The Dolphins endured a lot in the buildup to this season. Sunday? It felt like a reward. Quick takes? Trust this offense. No, 19 points isn't a lot, but all the J's showed up. New QB Jay Cutler was a sharp 24 for 33 for 23- yards and TD, a 101.8 passer rating. Jay Ajayi rushed 28 times for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry caught 13 balls for 78 yards. (Oh, and DeVante Parker was the deep threat we envisioned, and Kenny Stills caught a TD pass). This offense will percolate once everyone is comfy with it. The issue? Pass defense. Rivers sliced through Miami 31 of 39 for 331 yards and a TD. He led the game-winning late drive, but for the providence of an inexperienced kicker missing wide-right on a very makeable field goal. Bottom line? Yeah, the Dolphins were lucky to win in the end. But, after this week, it felt like this team sort of deserved that luck ..... 4Q: Dolphins win as Bolts missed last-second 44-yard FG! ... MIA 19-17 with 1:05 left on Parkey 54-yard FG ... MIA within 17-16, settling (again) for a short FG, mid-quarter ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-13 on 28-yard FG after after killer sack on 3rd down ... LAC back up 17-10 on Rivers-Gates hookup ... MIA 10-10 on Cutler 29-yard TD pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: If I told you Jay Cutler was 13-for-16, Jay Ajayi was 11-for-56 and Jarvis Landry had 8 catches, would you have imagined Miami trailing 10-3 at the half? Me neither. The big issues: Fins need to open up the offense. Second, Philip Rivers is having his way. Miami pass defense needs to be much better ..... 2Q: LAC 10-3 on Gordon 1-yard run ... LAC 3-3 on 41-yard FG ..... 1Q: Low-watt first quarter. Meaning dull ... MIA 3-0 on Parkey 30-yard FG ..... [Click on Week 2 Gems for all latest NFL picks] Thanks to Hurricane Irma, today's 4 p.m. kickoff is the latest Game 1 on the calendar that Miami will have played since 1977. It also will be the now-it-counts debut for new Dolphins QB Jay SdmiaCutler, in for injured Ryan Tannehill. Oh, and of course this will mark the Chargers’ first real game in L.A. since 1960, after 56 years in San Diego. That’s lots of wild cards tossing unusual unpredictability into the mix here. But the drama doesn't end there. Sunday morning came the news that veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons, upset over something, had G1essentially gone AWOL from the team and will not play today, Chase Allen starting in his place. That's doubly troubling. First, he's supposed to be a team leader as a major offseason addition. Second, the LB line was weak/thin to begin with. Philip Rivers' eyes must be wide as saucers, his smile just as wide. But I'm still hedging my bet with Bolts winning outright but Fins covering the bet-line as 3 1/2-point road underdogs. Miami figures to pound the ball with Jay Ajayi vs. a run-D that gave up 140 yards last week. That gives Miami a big, big upset shot. Bottom line, though, for me? Rivers is really good, and I won’t quite trust MIA's pass-stopping (or defense in general) until shown why I should. Also, think the Irma-caused time off, distraction and practice-schedule havoc will hurt and find the Fins a step slow as they work through the rust and catch up to real-season pace. The Timmons mess doesn't help. Dolphins have a load to overcome today. My pick: Chargers, 27-24.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Finally, the Fins ... and they win!: Thanks to Hurricane Irma and its after-effects the Dolphins' season opener Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers was Miami's latest Game 1 since 1977. Worth the wait? Miami needed luck of a late missed field goal to win, but after what this team had endured, that felt deserved.

 2. HURRICANES: Irma'd Canes set to resume season: We should be talking about that great Miami-Florida State game on Saturday. Except it got Irma'd. With one game at Arkansas State canceled and another at FSU postponed 'til Oct. 7, UM will finally resume its season this coming Saturday at home vs. Toledo after practicing all week in Orlando. Irma, could you be any more annoying!? Seriously.

3. MARLINS: Can Stanton still do it?: Reeling Fish have lost 16 of past 19 entering three-game home series vs. Mets starting tonight, after three hurricane-displaced "home" games in Milwaukee. (Thanks again, Irma!) But big question is if Giancarlo Stanton, stuck at 54 homers, can still rally to get to Roger Maris' steroids-free record of 61.

4. BASEBALL: Indians set mark for consecutive wins: Cleveland Indians fans haven't cheered a World Series champion since Lou Boudreau's 1948, but at least they have this. Their 22nd consecutive victory broke the MLB record of 21 set by the Chicago Cubs in 1935. Hmm. Cavaliers, now this. Is there hope yet for the Browns? Naahh!

5. PANTHERS: Cats open training camp; preseason on deck: The Cats opened their NHL training camp Friday and will play their first preseason games this Tuesday with a doubleheader in Nashville. It snuck up on us but now it's here. Hockey!

6. NASCAR: Road to Homestead has begun with playoffs: Chicagoland on Sunday hosted the first NASCAR playoff race, won by Martin Truex Jr., leading to the season finale at Homestead, with 16 drivers making it. Unfortunately, no Dale Earnhardt Jr., so no shot at a storybook finish to Junior's final season. 

7. HEAT: Miami locks up Richardson, readies for camp: While we were busy tracking hurricanes, the Heat signed guard Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension and open training camp next week. If they can bottle last season's second half, conference finals aren't out of question.

8. GATORS: Florida beats Tennessee on Hail Mary: The Gators beats Vols 26-20 when a last-second Hail Mary touchdown bomb broke a tie in Gainesville. Not sure if this'll be a great season for UF. But it was a great Saturday.

9. FIGHTING: Canelo, Golovkin in an exciting draw: We all hate ties, but last night's Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin draw in Las Vegas was about as exciting as indecision gets. Rematch. Cha-ching!  

10. FAU: Owls win first game for Lane Kiffin: FAU won at home 45-0 over Bethune-Cookman for Lane Kiffin's first win as Owls coach. Muted celebration, I hope. FBS teams that lose to bethune have to wear dunce caps for a week. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Two brothers featured in the Netflix series "Last Chance U" were charged in connection with a fatal stabbing. Pardon me while I try to feign surprise ..... Floyd Mayweather said of Donald Trump: "He speak like a real man." Mayweather? He speak like a real man intent on dropping the second 's' off the word 'speaks' ..... Adrian Peterson said of his Saints debut, "I didn't sign up for nine snaps." A.P. ties for the NFL lead in earliest complaint ..... Marshawn Lynch was fined for showing middle fingers to TV cameras. Or, did that go without saying?

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-18-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: The Marlins play a home game that's actually here!

2. Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.: Stafford vs. Manning on Monday Night Football.

3. Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m.: Jonesing for hockey? It's the NHL preseason!

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 16, 2017

NEW: Great or god-awful, Cutler won't be dull; plus the method to Brad Kaaya's madness, NFL Week 2 pix for Dolphins-Chargers and rest of league, Collball Week 3 (Gators!), Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald Week 1 QB rankings, My Weekend With Irma, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 1 results, latest SOPY rankings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NEW: Sunday column, online now: Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

Dolphins, Canes & Irma: A football season born to Hurricane Irma gives Dolphins and UM an unusual opportunity if they'll take it. Click Storybook Ending Waits, But Can Dolphins Or Canes Write It? to read.

THE METHOD TO BRAD KAAYA'S MADNESS: Kaaya should have come back and played his senior season for the Miami Hurricanes to improve his draft stock, Samdarnoldwhich everybody knew was low -- verified by his being a late (sixth-round) draft pick. He already has been cut once (Lions) and is on his second team (Panthers). But at least now we know why he decided to enter the NFL in 2017 instead of '18. The evidence is on Mel Kiper's first 2018 Draft "Big Board" for ESPN. Kiper has quarterbacks ranked 1-2-3 overall in USC's Sam Darnold (pictured), UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen. He has two other QBs on his list and projected first round in Louisville's Lamar Jackson (13th overall) and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph (25th). Even with that, though, I still believe Kaaya might have been drafted significantly higher than sixth round in '18 had he stayed and performed well. By the way, only one state-college player makes Kiper's first Big Board: Florida State safety Derwin James, ranked fifth overall.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: WEEK 2: FINALLY, THE DOLPHINS: After an unscheduled Week 1 bye (way to go, Irma) the Dolphins finally get at it Sunday in what will be the club's latest season opener since 1977. But will it be worth the wait with a victory at the Los Angeles Chargers? Sorry, Dolfans. It'll take Fins awhile to shake off the delay-rust and catch up to regular-season speed. And I'm not sure I trust Miami's pass defense against Philip Rivers. Click on Week 2 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Chargers, our Game of the Week (Patriots-Saints), Upset of the Week (Packers-Falcons: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a stumbling start last night. Did not see the Texans winning (or covering) at Cincinnati. Ouch.

COLLBALL WEEK 3: THREE STATE FBS TEAMS BACK AT IT, BUT FOUR STILL IRMA'D: We ain't back to normal in state Collball yet, folks. Last week only two of our seven state FBS teams got games in; this week we're up to three, with the rest still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irma.

State FBS Week 3 games (chronologically):

No. 22 South Florida 47, Illinois 23Quinton Flowers' 386 combined pass/run yards power Bulls at home to 3-0 start.

TenflaNo. 24 Florida 26, No. 23 Tennessee 20: Vols were 2-0 but 5 1/2-point road underdogs to the 0-1 Gators in Florida's SEC opener. Wirth reason, apparently. What a game, won on a last-second deep touchdown pass. Jim McElwain is so happy he's ready to lay naked on a shark in a boat!

FAU 45, Bethune-Cookman 0: Lane Kiffin's Owls get first win after 0-2 start. Good thing. Lose to Bethune and poor Lane might-a started wondering why he took this job.

Postponed: No. 17 Miami at No. 11 Florida State: Game is reset for Oct. 7. Because of season-ending injury to Noles star QB Deondre Francois, Canes as of right now would be a betting favorite in the 1 1/2 to 3-point range. 

Cancelled: FIU at Indiana: Butch Davis' Panthers denied shot at a second straight win.

Cancelled: Georgia Tech at UCF: Too bad. Had makings of an entertaining matchup.

National Collball Week 3 overview: Light week for mega-matchups. Beside Tennessee-Florida (which barely qualifies), the only other Top 25 duel was Saturday night's No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville, won easily by Clemson, 47-21.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-16-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m.: Vols-Gators renew rivalry in Top 25 matchup.

2. Marlins at Milwaukee, 8:10 p.m.: Miami "home" again; lost 6 in row, last 3 by 28-3.

3. Clemson at Louisville, 8 p.m.: No. 3 visits No. 14 in national Collball game of week.

4. San Francisco at Miami FC, 7:30 p.m.: Locals host NASL soccer match.

5. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin, 10 p.m.: Big middleweight bout from Vegas.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 14, 2017

Let's laugh at Brady (while we can): Herald debuts QB rankings; plus my weekend with Irma, Texans-Bengals pick, NFL Week 1 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Marino documentary, SOPY rankings, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14. Happy to be back in the blog saddle after a few days knocked off by Hurricane Irma. 2) I refuse to believe the Indians have won 20 games in a row. Know it's true. Don't believe it. 3) Know any devoted Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Sports' place in our lives as a hurricane hits, Upset Bird Day in America, Collball Week 2 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Texans-Bengals pick: Two teams already desperate to bounce back from awful Week 1 performances. Only one will. Here's who: Click Thursday Night Gem.

Marino documentary debuts Friday: What I was first to tell you about a few months ago is ready to pop. NFL Films' "A Football Life" series stars Dolphins great Dan Marino in a documentary debuting this Friday -- Dan's 56th birthday -- at 9 p.m. on NFL Network. Yours truly was among people interviewed for the doc, although (I've seen the finished product) some of my best work was left on the cutting room floor (!).

The no-excuses challenge for Dolphins, Canes: Their seasons were born to a hurricane named Irma. Games were postponed or cancelled, schedules and plans disrupted. Now, the challenge for the Miami Dolphins and UM Hurricanes is to accept no excuses and make something special of what began in turmoil. Click on Storybook Ending Waits, But Can Dolphins Or Canes Write It? to read my latest column.

LET'S ALL MAKE FUN OF TOM BRADY (WHILE WE CAN) / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 1: The Chiefs' Alex Smith soars to the Week 1 crown with 56.40 Sadbradypoints, edging Viking Sam Bradford, as the Miami Herald launches its 20th season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. But here's the fun part. Miami's Jay Cutler had a better week than the Patriots' Tom Brady. Cutler threw zero interceptions by virtue of Hurricane Irma's unexpected gift of a bye week, while Brady stumbles out the gate in 26th place (with 9.35 points) of 31 passers who had at least 10 attempts. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. (The exact formula is detailed below). Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Here we go!
 
MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 1
RK    '16    Player, Team                    Week 1/Season
1       16    Alex Smith, KC                    56.40
2         5    Sam Bradford, MIN              53.30
3         6    Matthew Stafford, DET        45.60
4       20    Carson Wentz, PHI              36.35
5       40    Jared Goff, LAR                  36.30
6        7     Derek Carr, OAK                 36.10
7        2     Matt Ryan, ATL                   36.05
8        1     Drew Brees, NO                  34.55
8        3     Aaron Rodgers, GB              34.55
10     15    Ben Roethlisberger, PIT       33.15
11      9     Dak Prescott, DAL               30.40
12     13     Eli Manning, NYG               28.00
13     19    Philip Rivers, LAC                26.60
14     52     Mike Glennon, CHI              25.65
15     24     Trevor Siemian, DEN           24.95
        Bubble: Tyrod Taylor, BUF, 23.20. Week 1/season best: Smith, KC, 56.40 (28-35, 368, 4-0 in win). Week 1/season worst: Andy Dalton, CIN, minus-2.50 (16-31, 170, 0-4 in loss).
        Herald PASS Championships: 7—Brees (2008-11, '14-016); 6—Peyton Manning (2000, '03-04, '06, '12-13); 2—Kurt Warner (1999, 2001); 1 each—Steve Young (1998), Rich Gannon (2002), Carson Palmer (2005) and Tom Brady (2007).
        Points formula: Accuracy—Completions times two minus attempts. Ex: 17 for 28 = 6 points. Yardage—Five percent of total. Ex: 202 yards = 10.10 points. TD-interception ratio—Difference times three. Ex: Four TDs and one pick = 9 points. Team result—Winning QB of record = 5 points.

 

SwaleMY WEEKEND WITH IRMA: Thanks to all our readers and listeners who expressed concerned as we bunkered in against Hurricane Irma. We sustained a bunch of tree and landscape damage but otherwise made out fine. Pictured is a pile of felled trees and foliage on my swale, collected from my yard. It's about six feet high and at least 20 feet wide, and growing. (Click image for enlarged view). We were without power most of Sunday and Monday and had no Internet until late Tuesday, but I cannot complain. Not one bit. Not after so many of my fellow Floridians got hit so much worse. I feel very lucky, in fact. Very fortunate. Thoughts are with those in Key West and the state's west coast and everyone trying to rebuild their lives. Happy to be rid of awful Irma, and thrilled to again appreciate the small miracles of life, such as the flip of a switch magically producing light. My latest column, linked directly above, includes more on what our Irma experience was like. Thanks again for the concern, and it's great to be back!

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 1 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I'll tell you how I did the previous NFL week with my Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 1: Herald picks: So-so start -- We went 8-7 overall (not good) and also 8-7 against the point spread (not bad). Misfired badly on our Upset of the Week call (49ers over Panthers) but nailed another outright upset (Raiders over Titans) and had three other 'dogs-with-points (Chiefs, Jaguars, Chargers). Greg's Lobos: 1-0, baby! -- The Lobos crushed Lorenzo Rodriguez (TV producer), 115.1-72.4, led by 20.9 points from Lobo of the Week Jordy Nelson. Also got 20.6 from Todd Gurley.

SOPY RANKINGS / AFTER WEEK 2: LITTLE CHANGE, THANKS TO IRMA: Only two of seven state FBS teams (FIU and FAU) snuck in games in Week 2, while the Sopyother five were cancelling or postponing due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore there isn't much change in our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race -- entering Week 3. The weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 3:

2017 SOPY WEEK 2 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             208

2    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           183

3    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                168

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                167.5

5    6    Travis Homer-Miami rb               133

6    7    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 131.25

7    5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                     110.75

8    8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec              105

9    9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb            102

10  --    DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec            101.5

Bubble: Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec, 98. Week 2 best: McGough-FIU, 155. Season best: Milton-UCF, 208 (W1).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (0-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (1-1).

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-14-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Houston at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m.: Texans, Bengals in Thursday Night Football.

2. Marlins at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m.: It's now 14 losses in past 16 games for rotting Fish.

3. UEFA soccer, 12:45 p.m.: Five more matches happening today.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 09, 2017

Be safe, all. On sports' place in our lives as a hurricane hits; plus Upset Bird Day in America. Week 1 NFL pix; also, FIU wins, FAU plays, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY/SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10. Be safe, South Florida. Looks like Hurricane Irma's western veer will help some of us, but not all. All the best to all of us. 2) Know any devoted Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Irma's impact on local sports with UM cancellation poll, SOPY Week 1 rankings, BIMD and Steely Dan videos & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Blog advisory: Because of Hurricane Irma concerns and an anticipated loss of electricity at some point, our Sunday Hot Button Top 10 list is taking the weekend off. We'll be back here checking in as long as we can, and then again once order (and power) are restored. 

ON SPORTS' PLACE IN OUR LIVES AS A HURRICANE HITS: Everything seems crazy, from North Korea and terrorism and the "alt-right" to Houston flooding and now Hurricane Irma. Sports -- playing games -- can seem so insignificant in the context of our overarching worries. Yet om some ways, to me, these difficult times make sports and our teams more important than ever. They are an anchor representing the balance and normalcy in our lives. This is my latest column. Click on A Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits to read in full.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA!: Dolphins have a Week 1 bye thanks to scurrilous Hurricanes Irma but the rest of the NFL plows on, and so does our 27th season of Friday NFL picks. We got off to a mixed start last night. We didn't call Kansas City's outright upset win at New England but we did have Chiefs with the points against the spread. If we're going to split a result, we'll take the point-spread win, thanks. We had a nifty .560 ATS record last season and want to be even better this year. Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for the KC-NE pick. Click Week 1 Friday Gems for the rest of our picks. Highlights: Packers beat Seahawks 27-23 in our Game of the Week, and 49ers stun Panthers 24-21 in our Upset of the Week. "Aaawwwk!" Irma Schmirma. Nothing stops the Upset Bird!

COLLBALL WEEK 2: YOUR MIXED VERDICT ON CANES CANCELLATION CONTROVERSY: We asked if you agreed with No. 16 UM's Cancelleddecision to cancel its Saturday road game at Arkansas State due to Hurricanes Irma. Results were sharply mixed. Most, 62.3 percent, answered, "Yes. Coaches and players should be with family, and return might have been delayed." But another 31.9% answered, "No. Game was more than 1,100 miles away and not threatened by Irma." The other 5.8% answered, "Not sure." The Canes are hardly alone. UM is one of fve (of seven) state FBS teams that are a self-imposed idle, reduced to 11-game regular seasons. Another is FSU, which cancelled its home opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe due to Irma. (Or, perhaps due to not wanting UM to have an edge in preparation for next week's huge showdown in Tallahassee. Also not playing this weekend: UCF vs. Memphis, South Florida at Connecticut and Northern Colorado at Florida. The other two state FBS teams -- the stalwarts -- adjusted schedules and are managing to sneak in games this week:

State FBS Week 2 games:

FIU 17, Alcorn State 10: Butch Davis gets his first Panthers win in Friday night home game played in Birmingham, Ala., due to Irma. Alex McGough passes for 328 yards to lead the victory.

No. 9 Wisconsin 31, FAU 14: Lane Kiffin's Owls were 32-point road underdogs so count this as a credible performance for The Atlantic even as the Hooters fall to 0-2 start (and a likely delayed flight back home).

Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF, South Florida -- CANCELLED!

National Collball Week 2 overview: Four Top 25 matchups on Saturday, led by No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. in an early CFP-shaping duel. Other T25 games are Auburn at Clemson, Georgia at Notre Dame and Stanford at Southern Cal.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-9-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.: Wait. Fish actually won a game last night!?
2. U.S. Open tennis, 4 p.m.: Women's final: Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys.
3. Oklahoma at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m.: No. 5 visits No. 2 in game of week.
4. FAU at Wisconsin, noon: Lane Kiffin's Owls vs. No. 9 Badgers. Uh oh.
5. Liverpool at Manchester City, 7:30 a.m.: Tastiest match of day in EPL.
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2017

NFL 100% right to postpone Dolphins opener. But should UM have canceled road game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Chiefs-Pats pick, return of SOPY rankings find 3 Canes in Top 10, latest 'Back In My Day,' Reelin' in the Years, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Stay away, Hurricane Irma. Weaken and veer, you terrible thing. 2) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whup Bethune with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, other Collball Week 1 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chiefs at Patriots prediction: Kansas City at New England kicks off the NFL season tonight. Will Dolfans girding for Hurricane Irma get the gift of a Pats loss? Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for my predix.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S MIND AIN'T ON FOOTBALL THIS WEEK. STAY SAFE, NEIGHBORS: [Click on NFL Right to Postpone Dolphins Opener for my complete latest column]. They could have rushed it and played the Dolphins-Bucs opener here tonight, but Dolfans have more important things on their minds in readying for Stadium PathHurricane Irma, such as how to survive this thing, and whether to stay or evacuate. This isn’t the week for a football game. They could have played the game Sunday as scheduled but at a neutral site. I’d heard one as far away as Pittsburgh or Philadelphia mentioned. But why rob Miami, team and fans, of a home game, or play at all on the very day when Irma is likely to wreak its worst havoc. There was some talk of still trying to play the game Monday night here, but that may have been the worst option of all. Even if Irma is kind enough to veer away from a direct hit, South Florida still will get the brunt of it. You’re going to ask fans without electricity, picking through rubble, trying to contact their insurance company about the roof, to drive through flooding to attend a football game? And cheer a first down as if their lives hadn’t just been walloped? Absurd. I'm not as certain the Miami Hurricanes needed to or should have canceled their game at Arkansas State -- although I support them doing it -- but moving Dolphins-Bucs to Week 11 when both had a bye was a no-brainer. Be safe, all.

Our most recent other columns: Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast: Off UM season opener  /  A Humbling Welcome Back: Butch Davis' return to coaching U loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side: Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU: Onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual rank.

SOPY RANKINGS / 2017 SEASON DEBUT: THREE CANES IN INITIAL TOP 10: Today we launch the sixth season of the blog's State Offensive Player of the Year Sopy(SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race. The weekly rankings measure the most productive Mmiltonquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even though not all teams have played same number of games. (Even now, South Florida already has played twice). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. UCF's McKenzie Milton (pictured) checks in as our season leader out the gate ahead of defending champion Quinton Flowers of South Florida. Canes Mark Walton and Malik Rosier rank 3-4. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 2:

2017 SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10

RK Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb          208

2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb          183

3    Mark Walton-Miami rb               168

4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb               167.5

5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                    138.5

6    Travis Homer-Miami rb              133

7    Alex McGough-FIU qb               107.5

8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec             105

9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb          102

10t Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec           98

10t Willie Wright-FAU rec                 98

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 94. Other team leader: Florida--Josh Hammond-rec, 71. Week 1/season best: Milton-UCF, 208.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Florida State (0-1); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (0-1); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (0-1).

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016—Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,917. 2015—Flowers, 2,077.5. 2014—Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968. 2013—Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107. 2012—Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:
1. Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m.: NFL season opener from Foxborough.
2. U.S. Open tennis, 7 p.m.: All-U.S. women's semifinals begin in New York.
3. Marlins at Braves, 7:35 p.m.: Fish make a road show of their miserable slump.
4. Sam Houston at Prairie View, 7:30 p.m.: If you're desperate for college football.
 
LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': DISHWASHERS:


R.I.P., FAREWELL AND THANK YOU, WALTER BECKER:

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 04, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 69.5% in season debut; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), UM routs Bethune with my game column, other Collball Week 1, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. Happy Labor Day! In which we celebrate the American workforce by all taking the day off. 2) R.I.P. Walter Becker, Steely Dan co-founder, dead today at 67. 3) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton's NFSW naughty video, Butch Davis returns with humbling FIU loss, Dolphins win Fake Game 4 to end preseason, your verdict on my fantasy team (ouch) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Lions cut Brad Kaaya. Been saying it all along. He never should have left UM early. Misguided decision." --Greg Cote 

My Hurricanes game column: Click on Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast to read. Other recent columns: A Humbling Welcome Back -- Butch Davis returns to coaching in 61-17 FIU loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side -- Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU -- The onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual ranking.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 69.5%: We're back for a ninth season of our blog staple -- Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls -- and the first shows 69.5 percent overall satisfaction (the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the 1aa1csmwake of Saturday's 41-13 season-opening victory over visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.


2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman

Next poll: Sept. 9 following game at Arkansas State

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2016--97.2% (following 9-4 season); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM hammers Bethune in football opener: After a slow start Saturday's season opener at The Rock went about as easily as you imagined it would against an overmatched foe as Year 2 of the Mark Richt era kicked off with new QB Malik Rosier throwing three TDs. But with Florida State waiting in Tallahassee in two weeks, UM getting ready for that with this was like training for a prize fight with a game of patty cake.

2. DOLPHINS: It's NFL Kickoff Week as Fins host Tampa Bay: NFL seasons kicks off Thursday night (Chiefs at Patriots) and Miami pared its roster to 53 with its opener at home in six days -- Hurricane Irma willing -- against Jameis Winston's Buccaneers. A 2-2 preseason didn't tell much, but Dolfans seem really excited by what they've seen of Jay Cutler. I know, I know. I can hardly believe I wrote that last sentence, either.

3. MARLINS: Fish cool but Stanton stays hot (in video): Marlins on a 1-6 skid as homestand continues, but Giancarlo Stanton's 52nd homer keeps him on pace for 62. Stanton was even hotter in a steamy video out this week that depicted him in bed with a barely clothed internet chanteuse named Lexy Panterra. There's a "longball" joke here somewhere.

4. SEMINOLES/GATORS: FSU, Florida both drop openers, Francois out for year: Saturday delivered lopsided opening losses for No. 3 Florida State (to No. 1 Alabama) and No. 17 Florida (to No. 11 Michigan), but Noles lost even bigger with QB Deondre Francois out injured for the season. FSU-Bama presented Miami fans the awful choice of rooting either for the Noles or for Nick Saban.

5. TENNIS: U.S. Open reached midpoint in New York: Maria Sharapova, given a wild-card entry into her first Grand Slam event since a 15-month doping ban, won her first three matches -- all on the main court, drawing complaints from some rivals -- before losing. In other news, as sis Venus reached the quarterfinals,  Serena Williams had a baby girl, launching a million "G.O.A.T. has kid" references on social media.

6. FIU/FAU: Davis, Kiffin eras launch with humbling defeats:  Ouch. Butch Davis with FIU and Lane Kiffin with FAU suffered humbling debuts, losing their openers by combined score of 103-36. Those fancy resumes didn't much good, huh fellas. Turning around bad programs doesn't happen with fast magic even if you are a star coach.

7. BASEBALL: Astros acquire ace Verlander from Tigers: Houston staked its claim to AL pennant by acquiring Justin Verlander, meaning Detroit is in reboot mode. Anybody want a used Miguel Cabrera. Verlander is really good. His wife, model Kate Upton, is even better!

8. HEAT: NBA releases regular-season schedules: Heat will open the season Oct. 18 at Orlando, with the home opener Oct. 21 vs. Indiana. It will be the start of the Kelly Olynyk era in Miami.

9. PANTHERS: Cats set prospects tourney roster: Florida named a 26-man prospect camp roster that will play Sept. 9-12 in a four-team tournamnet in Estero, Fla., along with the Capitals, Lightning and Predators. Almost hockey, time!

10. INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL: Team USA wins FIBA gold: Team USA, coached by Jeff Van Gundy, beat host Argentina Sunday to win gold in the FIBA Americup championship game game. This is mostly no-names for the U.S., not the NBA-laden World Cup team. Still, not bad, apparently.

Missing the HB10 cut: Howard beating UNLV as a 45-point road 'dog made it the biggest point-spread upset in college football history. I don't know how Howard did it, but I congratulate him ..... Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott is suing the NFL over his six-game suspension for battering a former girlfriend. Dallas awaits a decision. So do millions who rolled dice and drafted Elliott onto their fantasy teams ..... Are Mayweather and McGregor done counting their money yet?

G1: NO. 18 HURRICANES 41, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 13: ROSIER LEADS SOFT OPENING TO YEAR 2 OF RICHT ERA: Quick final thoughts: Click on Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast for my column from the game. Beating Bethune-Cookman 41-13 is perfunctory more than it is impressive, but the final margin hardly mattered (except to bettors gambling whether UM would cover a 51 1/2-point line). More important was that new QB Malik Rosier looked solid, pretty sharp (17-28, 217 yards, 3 TDs), and RB Mark Walton (148 yards) seemed in midseason form. Biggest disappointment might have been defensively, Bcatumespecially against the pass. UM's D was planning on a shutout but fell short ..... 4Q: UM Badgley 50Y FG = UM 41-13 ..... 3Q: UM Berrios 22Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 38-13 ... BC Jones 1Y TD run = UM 31-13 ... UM Walton 6Y TD run = UM 31-6 ..... Quick halftime thoughts: Sluggish start but a big second quarter for UM, and a 326-138 overall lead in yards. Walton has 124 yards rushing and Rosier has been solid (11-17, 132 yards, two TDs) as new starting QB. Be interesting to see how much Walton and Rosier continue to play in second half. Don't expect much more of Walton, but Rosier needs the work. ..... 2Q: BC 35Y FG = UM 24-6 ... UM Langham 5Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 24-3 ... UM Cager 5Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 17-3 ... UM Walton 5Y TD run = UM 10-3 ... 1Q: UM 27Y FG = tie 3-3 ... BC 36Y FG = BC 3-0 ..... Original post: This marks the first time since 2010 that Miami begins a season ranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25, and suffice to say the odds of a stumble and major season-opening upset are roughly akin to the odds you'll be struck by lightning while walking to cash your winning Lotto ticket. ESPN's FPI (Football Power index) projections estimates the Canes' likelihood of winning at 99.7 percent. Bethune-Cookman, from Daytona Beach, is a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school, what we used to call Division 1AA, and its Wildcats will simply be overmatched against Mark Richt's guys. The upset would be if B-C kept it close for long. Weather could be an interesting factor. Heat from the diabolical 12:30 p.m. start will test both teams' conditioning, and there also is about a 40 percent chance of rain. Unfortunately I see a sad Week 1 attendance, given the early start, the foreboding weather and the low-watt opponent. A few things to watch even though the matchup is unlikely to be competitive: 1) Debut of Malik Rosier as Miami's starting quarterback. Looking for mistake-free, confidence-building performance from him. 2) Offensive line. There are three new starters on unit that struggled at times last year. If they struggle against this opponent, that'll be a bad sign. 3) Can questionable Canes secondary rise to match what should be excellent defensive front-7? This is an opponent against which even inexperienced DBs should shine. Richt predictably has been talking-up B-C all week and wouldn't say it, but UM has to be looking at this game as a glorified tuneup for what will be a fairly big step-up in challenge next week at Arkansas State as early schedule builds to the Week 3 armageddon in Tallahassee. Not that we're looking ahead! Back to Bethune, if we must. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-3.

Other state FBS Week 1 games, chronologically:

UCF 61, FIU 17: A Thursday night ass-whuppin' in Orlando gets the Butch Davis era off to a humbling start.

Navy 42, FAU 19: U.S. Navy sinks Lane Kiffin in Owls debut Friday in the Boca nest elongated by two weather delays.

No. 11 Michigan 33, No. 17 Florida 17: In Arlington, Tex., the final score flattered Florida. Dear Gators, even with those 10 suspended players, you'd-a still lost.

No. 19 South Florida 31, Stony Brook 17: Bulls now 2-0 after winning at San Jose State last Saturday.

No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 3 Florida State 7: Massive matchup was Collball Week 1's star attraction -- and a rout for Bama. More importantly, Noles lose QB Deondre Francois to an apparent knee injury, adding intrigue to UM's visit Sept. 16.

National Collball Week 1 overview: No. 2 Ohio State survived a scare at Indiana Thursday, and FSU failed miserably to shock Nick Saban in the Game of the Week. Florida-Michigan was opening week's only other Top 25 matchup other than a minor one in Sunday's 22-West Virginia vs. 21-Virginia Tech.

'SOPY' weekly rankings return: Every Tuesday starting next week, we'll have our updated standings in our State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, along with our weekly State of the State team rankings.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-4-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7:10: Fish try to shake off 1-3 home fizzle vs. lowly Phils.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 11 a.m: Round of 16 matches continue in New York.

3. Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.: Wrapping up Week 1 in college football.

4. Slovakia at England, 2:30 p.m.: One of day's 6 World Cup qualifying matches.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton Chasing 1984Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic OffenseStanton the Litmus Test For New OwnersAlso: Double QB Quandary A RarityNew Owner, New HopeA Diamond, ShiningImmortality Calling. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote