October 25, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 80.4% (season high); plus Duke-led UM routs Va-Tech 30-6; also NFL Week 8 pix, Heat & more

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Analyzing Dolphins playoff chances, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, World Series & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Find our UM-Virginia Tech gameblog and postgame comments directly below the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 80.4 percent overall satisfaction -- a season high -- in the wake of Thursday night's 30-6 victory at Virginia Tech putting UM's season record at 1aa1acsm5-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. The CSM, in its sixth season, 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, season as a whole, 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/Saturday.

2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville) 

G2: 35.9% (following 41-7 victory vs. Florida A&M)

G3: 71.8% (following 41-20 victory vs. Arkansas State)

G4: 11.6% (following 41-31 loss at Nebraska)

G5: 73.3% (following 22-10 victory vs. Duke)

G6: 3.3% (following 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech)

G7: 29.6% (following 55-34 victory vs. Cincinnati)

G8: 80.4% (following 30-6 victory at Virginia Tech)

Next poll: Nov. 1 (following game vs. North Carolina)

G8: HURRICANES @ VIRGINIA TECH: DUKE-LED UM IMPRESSIVELY WINS FIRST ROAD GAME: Final: Miami's never-in-doubt 30-6 rout at Virginia Tech was all about the double-D: Duke and defense. Duke Johnson had 249 of the Canes' 366 rushing yards, while The U's defense held Va-tech to 242 total yards and pitched a shutout until the Hokies finally scored with less than two minutes left. Miami now 5-3 and still alive for the ACC Coastal title. Big, big road win. ..... Halftime: UM's 24-0 domination in a word? Duke! Duke Johnson has 148 yards rushing including a 29-yard scoring run, and 37 more yards receiving including a 22-yard scoring catch. And Miami's oft-criticized defense has held Va-Tech to 36 net yards of offense. A complete a-- whuppin' in Blacksburg thus far.  ..... Original post: Both old rivals are 4-3 overall and 1-2 in ACC play, and only the winner of this 8 p.m. game will stay alive for the conference's Coastal 1aa1acanesvtDivision title. More realistically, both teams should probably be thinking more about getting bowl-eligible than about getting into the ACC championship game. The betting line -- UM favored by 3 points -- seems odd at first, because Miami is 0-3 on the road this year and has lost the past three meetings in Blacksburg. Va-Tech has been a bit of a nemesis for the Canes, so a home-'dog upset would hardly surprise. I get why UM is favored, though. The Hokies are missing their top tackler on defense, and offensively don't have much of a ground game to take advantage of The U's defensive vulnerability. Brad Kaaya, Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett bring too much on the attack for the homies to outscore. By the way, remember how embarrassing Miami's home crowd was in the Cincinnati game and all that talk about how those things hurt recruiting? Small home crowds don't hurt recruiting nearly as much as winning on Thursday night on ESPN can help recruiting. This is a big-stage game. That's another reason why tonight is so important for Al Golden and UM. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-23.

Other Collball Week 9 state FBS games:

FAU (3-4) @ No. 23 Marshall (7-0), 3:30 p.m. Saturday: Uh oh, Owls. Keep the margin under 30 points and call it a moral victory.

Also: Cincinnati def. South Florida 34-17 on Friday; and Temple at UCF, 5 p.m. Saturday. Off this week: FIU, Florida, No. 2 Florida State.

NFL WEEK 8 PICKS: SURVIVING THE JAX "TRAP": Mixed start Thursday night as I had Broncos winning 1aa1afripixbut was wrong thinking Chargers would cover. Click on Week 8 Gems for all the rest of our latest prediction capsules. Dolphins face "trap" game at lowly Jacksonville but I think they'll be alright. Colts lose at Pittsburgh in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Click on State of Despair for my Friday Page NFL column. It's on how Miami is closer than Jacksonville or Tampa Bay to trending upward, but how that's faint praise as all three state teams try to end playoff droughts.

1aa1acboshOMINOUS TREND FOR HEAT: Interesting results for Heat in ESPN's annual rank of NBA players. Ominously, only three of Miami's top-10-rated guys show a higher ranking than a year earlier. The top 10: 1. Chris Bosh (20th overall, +4), pictured signaling, "I'm No. 20!"; 2. Dwyane Wade (36th, -18); 3. Luol Deng (58th, -12); 4. Josh McRoberts (117th, +217); 5. Mario Chalmers (153rd, -31); 6. Chris Andersen (166th, -11); 7. Danny Granger (225th, -156); 8. Norris Cole (226th, +9); 9. Udonis Haslem (307th, -92); 10. Shabazz Napier (309th, rookie).

1aa1amarlinsman

MARLINS FAN HAUNTS WORLD SERIES:
 Fun story today by our Clark Spencer on "Marlins Man," the Miami fan in the bright orange Marlins jersey who is front and center and all over TV during this World Series (amid a sea of blue Royals jerseys). Click here to read. 

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October 23, 2014

Analyzing Dolphins playoff chances from here, game by game; plus 3 ex-Canes on Hall ballot, SOPY rank (new No. 1), KC-SF, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win in Chicago, DSM poll, World Series rooting result, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

3 ex-Canes on Hall ballot: The 2015 College Football Hall of Fame ballot is out. Ex-Hurricanes on it are defensive greats Jerome Brown, Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp.

FORTUNE .500: DECIPHERING DOLPHINS' PLAYOFF CHANCES FROM HERE: In my latest column I write that Miami is only 1-7 on making the playoffs seasons when it is 3-3 after six games. Hasn't 1aa1adolmorganhappened since 1983, Y.O.M. (Year of Marino). And so trusting and believing in the Dolphins is very tough; fans are wary. Click on Make Us Believe for the full column. We analyze Miami's 2014 playoff shot with a look at the remaining schedule:

At Jaguars Oct. 26 -- Miami isn't good enough to have a "trap" game or to look past anybody. Jax is 1-6 but plays pretty stout D and is capable of an upset. Miami win = 4-3.

Vs. Chargers Nov. 2 -- Home-field upset possible, but Philip Rivers a tough hurdle anywhere. Loss = 4-4.

At Lions Nov. 9 -- Very good Detroit defense, although Matthew Stafford's inconsistency and Calvin Johnson's health give Dolphs a big shot. Loss = 4-5.

Vs. Bills Nov. 13 -- Buffs defense is so-so and Kyle Orton is no answer. Win = 5-5.

At Broncos Nov. 23 -- Peyton Manning at Mile High. The one remaining game that feels like Miami has no real shot. Loss = 5-6.

At Jets Dec. 1 -- For NYJ, bad defense plus Geno Smith equals a current 1-6. Win = 6-6.

Vs. Ravens Dec. 7 -- Baltimore looking very good but home field counts here. Win = 7-6.

At Patriots Dec. 14 -- Tom Brady, in Foxborough, in winter, still sounds like a bad result. Loss = 7-7.

Vs. Vikings Dec. 21 -- No gimmies, but this could be surest win left on schedule. Win = 8-7.

Vs. Jets Dec. 28 -- Farewell, Rex Ryan! Win = 9-7.

Will 9-7 be good enough for a wild card playoff spot? Doubtful. As of right now, eight AFC teams have better records than Miami and two others also are 3-3. That's a 10-team scrum for six spots. But getting to 10-6 is doable. In the scenario above, a split of the Chargers/Lions games would do it.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: THE GOOD AND BAD OF WEEK 7: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosdid the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: The good. Went strong at 11-4 overall and 9-6 against the spread, and stayed hot on Upset of the Week calls by bull's-eyeing Jaguars over Browns ("Aawwk!"). Fantasy: The bad. Greg's Lobos fell to 2-5 with a 138-72 blowout loss. Not a good sign when your leading scorer (DeAndre Hopkins) has only 15 points.

SOPY: FSU'S WINSTON LEAPS TO TOP IN STATE COLLBALL RANKINGS: Florida State's Jameis Winston leaps to No. 1 this week in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- 1aa1asopy"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week (like the Canes) take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 9:

SOPY WEEK 8 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk8    Season

1 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        156.5    1,076

2 (4)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      287.5   1,028.5 

3 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         BYE     1,010

4 (2)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            BYE       923

5 (8)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            166       819

6 (5)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       114       813

7 (7)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           60.5      726 

8 (9)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             94        720

9 (6)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           (-) 4       667

10 (--)      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             101       636

Bubble: Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec, 580. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF and Florida have played 6 games; FAU, FSU, Miami and USF have played 7; FIU has played 8.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 8: 1. FSU (7-0); 2. Miami (4-3);  3. UCF (4-2); 4. Florida (3-3); 5. SoFla (3-4); 6. FIU (3-5); 7. FAU (3-4).

WORLD SERIES: ROOTING FOR ROYALS: Main reason for fans of neither team to root for Kansas City over San Francisco in the 110th World Series starting tonight: Giants won it all as recently as 2012 and 2010, while Royals are in the postseason for the first time since 1985. Secondary reason: Silly San Fran radio deejays refusing to play the popular Lorde song, Royals. Seriously. Kansas City DJ's should fire back by refusing to play anything by the alt-rock group They Might Be Giants, although I don't know that TMBG has ever had a radio hit. Anyway, to protest San Fran's protest, here is Royals by Lorde:

 

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October 21, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 80.7%; plus Fins, hot Tannehill win in Chicago 27-14; also new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Noles edge Irish and other collball, Royals-Giants WS poll, NFL Week 7 picks, Jameis Winston verdict, Chelsea showers & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins-Bears gameblog and postgame report directly below latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 80.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the highest level since the season opener -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 27-14 victory at Chicago putting Miami's season record at 3-3. 1aa1adsmThe DSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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 8:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

Next poll: Oct. 26 (following game at Jacksonville)

G6: DOLPHINS 27, CHICAGO 14: TANNEHILL, DEFENSE IN CHARGE: Final: Huge road win bringing MIA to 3-3, led by Ryan Tannehill, who completed his first 14 passes and finished 25-32 for 277 yards, two TDs and 123.6 rating. Excellent. Eight receivers with two-plus catches. And Tanny adds 48 yards rusing from read-option runs to lead a 137-yard ground attack. Defensively Miami wins turnover war 3-0 and dominates in time of possession 37  minutes to 23. All around Miami's best end-to-end performance of the season. ..... Fourth quarter: Defensive stop clinches it for Miami! ... MIA 27-14 on 19-yard FG just outside 2-minute warning, after Charles Clay holding penalty wipes away Miller TD run. ... Jamar Taylor bad pass interference penalty cost MIA 39 yards, leads directly to 1-yard Forte TD run as Bears within 24-14 with 7:38 to play. ... Fins muff FG try set up by Starks, waste chance. Kick was partially blocked. ... Cortland Finnegan knocks ball from Brandon Marshall, Randy Starks recovers. Third takeaway for MIA defense. ... Fins 24-7 on 32-yard FG after Cam Wake sack/fumble recovery sets up team at CHI 16. ..... Third quarter: MIA 21-7 on 2-yard Lamar Miller TD run after Tannehill 30-yard run on 4th down made it 1st and goal. Huge for Fins to answer CHI's TD and keep momentum. ... Matt Forte 10-yard scoring pass from Cutler puts Da Bears right back in game. ..... Halftime: Miami thoroughly dominated half and probably should be ahead more than 14-0. Tannehill superb at 14-for-15, 176 yards, 2 TDs. Been sacked four times, though, about the only negative for Fins in half. ..... Second quarter: Wallace 10-yard TD catch makes good use of Jones' INT. Tannehil now 10-for-10 for 136 yards, two TDs. Man! ... He's baa-aaack. Reshad Jones intercepts Cutler, returns ball 49 yards. ... Sturgis pushes a 50Y FG try wide right. This is an average NFL kicker, not a good one. That 3rd-down sack cost Miami three points. ..... First quarter: Fins 7-0 with first 1Q TD since Game 1, a 13-yard Tannehill strike to TE Charles Clay. Of course it was Clay. I benched him on my fantasy team today! ..... Original post: One of the mysteries and intrigues of today's 1 p.m. game is that "Dolphins at Chicago" is one of the most rare phrases in the Dolfan lexicon. This marks only the club’s fifth visit to Soldier Field, following earlier trips in 1975, 1988, 1991 and 1aa1achimia2006. (With apologies to the superstitious, Fins did not make the playoffs any of the four previous seasons they played in Chicago). Joey Harrington pitched for Miami when last the Dolphins ventured into Soldier Field. I’d fancy Jay Cutler over Ryan Tannehill in the duel of present-day arms. That’s mostly because Cutler’s targets, ex-Fin Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, have a combined 11-inch height advantage over Dolphin mini-corners Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Also, Tannehill is 0-4 with six picks in career road games vs. NFC teams, and he could face a bunch of third-and-longs if Chitown’s run-D is as stout today as it has been the past few weeks. I also wonder how Miami will respond after last week’s last-second, sort-of-blew-it heartbreak loss. (Here comes the “but.”) But the Soldier has hardly been magic lately for the Bears. Chicago, a mere 3 1/2-point favorite, is 0-2 at home this season, and is 1-10-1 against the spread in the past 12 home games. This is a huge swing game for Miami, with lousy Jacksonville on deck. Win today to go 3-3 and playoff hopes will be rekindled. Lose to go 2-4 and a here-we-go-again pall will revisit. Alas, I see the latter as likelier. My pick: Chicago, 23-20.

Poll result: Royals dominate World Series rooting interest: We asked un the previous blogpost who you hope wins the World Series, and it was 78.6 percent for the Royals and 21.4% for the Giants. 

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click HERE for today's latest edition), but due to semi-popular demand an updated, expanded Hot Button continues as an exclusive Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami makes rare visit to Soldier Field: Today marks only team's fifth visit to Chicago and only second since 1991. Will we see Good Fins or Bad Fins? Any Dolfan confident in the answer is probably lying to himself.

2. College football: FSU, Winston survive Notre Dame: As we await the firing of Gators coach Will Muschamp, Florida State and embattled QB Jameis Winston survived last night in Tallahassee, 31-27, when a last-second Notre Dame TD was nullified by a penalty. Luck o' the Irish ... not. 

3. Hurricanes: UM readies for Va-Tech after short bye: Miami prepares to face Virginia Tech this Thursday night in Blacksburg. UM was off this week but the bye rushed for 318 yards against the beleaguered Canes' run defense.

4. World Series: It's Royals vs. Giants starting Tuesday: Best thing about matchup? Contrast in SF having won two recent WS titles and KC in its first postseason since 1985. Worst thing? Maudlin media rehashing on 25th anniversary of '89 World Series earthquake in San Fran.

5. Heat: Countdown 10 days 'til season opener: Miami is 2-4 in preseason with two exhibitions left after winning in San Antonio yesterday despite Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng all sitting. Which pretty much tells you how significant preseason results are.

6. Panthers: Cats on road seeking second win: Florida has won only once and scored a league-low five goals in the first five games of the NHL schedule. Bad sign when you're two weeks in and it already seems like a long season. 

7. NASCAR: Elimination day in Chase: Today at Talladega the Chase for the Cup field will be reduced from 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the drivers in jeopardy of being eliminated, despite the wishes of televising network ESPN.

8. Tennis: Official suspended over Williams slur: The WTA has suspended a Russian Tennis Federation official who referred to Serena and Venus Williams as "brothers" and called them "scary to look at." If only he'd have said "scary to play," nobody would have argued.

9. Biogenesis: Bosch pleads guilty: Anthony Bosch, founder of the Coral Gables "anti-aging clinic" that funneled PEDs to Alex Rodriguez and others, pleaded guilty and faces sentencing. Bosch was only doing his part to keep Cooperstown quaint by keeping the population down.

10. Politics: Gubernatorial Fangate: The Florida gubernatororial debate between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist was delayed when Scott briefly boycotted over Crist's use of a small cooling fan. The irony? Based on the low approval and trust ratings for both men, I'm not either have many fans.

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October 18, 2014

FSU 31, Notre Dame 27: Winston's revenge; plus Royals-Giants World Series poll, NFL Week 7 picks, Chelsea in shower & more

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jameis Winston poll, NFL odds, Rick Scott and the fan, local-leadership results & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Heat, Cats off the schneid: Miami Heat finally won last night (how strange does that sound to say), and so did Florida Panthers. Heat had been 0-4 in preseason. Cats had been 0-3 after an 0-6 preseason.

NO. 2 FLORIDA STATE 31, NO. 5 NOTRE DAME 27: Original post: The Miami Hurricanes may be off this weekend, but UM fans looking for a collball fix have their game right here, and a chance to eyeball an 1aa1andfsuFSU squad that will be visiting Miami Nov. 15. Much sentiment among college football literati that Notre Dame (a 10-point underdog) is primed for an upset in this 8 p.m. game, but I don't see it. The Fighting Irish tend to be Failing Irish against the best. They are 1-16 against top-five opponents since 1999 including eight straight losses, the last seven by 13 or more points. Also this will be the first true road test for ND after four games in 1aa1andtshirtSouth Bend and two at nuetral sites. And FSU has 22 straight victories including 10 in a row in Tally. The wild card that leads to much of the upset supposition is of course all the controversy swirling around Noles QB Jameis Winston. (At left is a "Catholics vs. Criminoles" T-shirt they sell in South Bend mocking Winston's legals issues). But Winston has shown a blinders-on ability to mute the distraction and perform, and his team has something to gain from the turmoil, too. It is called motivation. FSU dropped from the top spot in the AP poll despite not losing, and this game presents a chance to get back to No. 1 and make much more likely a spot in the first College Football Playoff. My pick: Seminoles, 38-31.

Other Collball Week 8 state FBS games:

FAU 45, Western Kentucky 38: Visitors averaged 433 passing yards a game but allowed 38.4 points. Over/under must have looked like a bowling score. Gave Owls a big upset chance and was right. Huge game by dual-threat QB Jacquez Johnson as The Atlantic improves to 3-4. Hooooot! 

No. 25 Marshall 45, FIU 13: Unbeaten Marshall had not scored fewer than 42 points in any game and still hasn't. T-Herd QB Rakeem Cato was tyoo mcuh for FIU as it fell to 3-5, swamped after halftime. Didn't give The Int'l much of a shot, and with good reason.

Missouri 42, Florida 13: Florida and its two-headed quarterback were favored. I wasn't sure why. Mizzou brought pretty good defense, and it seemed the magic has been drained from The Swamp. I see less and less chance for coach Will Muschamp to keep his job. This was a crushing home loss.

Also: South Florida def. Tulsa, 38-30; and UCF def. Tulane, 20-13. Off this week: Miami.

ROYALS-GIANTS LOOKS LIKE EASY CHOICE FOR IMPARTIAL FANS: If you are not a fan of either team --which would be about 98 percent of America -- your World Series rooting interest should be pretty clear 1aa1akcsfwhen the 110th Fall Classic begins Tuesday. It's Giants vs. Lilliputians, David vs. Goliath. The betting odds may say otherwise (slightly), but the Kansas City Royals play the Lovable Underdog to the San Francisco Giants' Darth Vader. KC is in its first World Series -- first postseason at all -- since last winning it all in George Brett's 1985. San Fran has been in the playoffs nine times since then, including World Series wins in 2010 and '12, so recent the clubhouse probably still stinks of champagne. I'll be rooting for the Royals simply because their fans have starved longer. But that's my perspective. Your turn. Which team do you hope wins and why? Notice the poll does not have the answer option, 'I Don't Give a Crap.' Play along, people. If you were watching and you did care, who would you most want to win?

1aa1afripixNFL WEEK 7 PICKS: NO WIN IN WINDY CITY: Mixed start Thursday night as Patriots won but didn't cover. Click on Week 7 Gems for all the rest of our latest prediction capsules. I do not see Dolphins winning at Chicago, although Soldier Field has not exactly been an impenetrable fortress for Da Bears lately. Have winless Jacksonville getting off the schneid in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Click on Murray's Law for my Friday Page NFL column. It's on Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray running counter to the league's escalating pass-first mentality.

Poll result: Mixed verdict, but most say to sit or suspend Jameis Winston: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) if FSU's star QB should still be playing in wake of several off-field controversies, and it was 61.9 percent no, 35.0% yes and 3.1% undecided. We are duty-bound to point out the obvious: That voters in a MiamiHerald.com blog may include many Hurricanes fans whose team happens to play FSU next month. I'm not sayin' I'm just sayin', you know what I'm sayin'?

1aa1achelseaCHELSEA HANDLER SHOWER SCENE: The Chelsea Lately late-night talk show on E! had a hilarious season-ending episode in which a fully clothred Ellen DeGeneres joins a fully naked Chelsea Handler in the shower. Spoiler alert: Late appearance by a dwarf! (Is it OK to say dwarf. Or is it Little Person?) Warning: Though Chelsea's private-est parts are pixilated, it is very obvious she is actually nude, so if that might offend you, whatever you do, do NOT watch the video by clicking HERE.   

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October 16, 2014

Should Jameis Winston be suspended? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL odds, Rick Scott & The Fan, Heat still reign locally & more

1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16. I'm ensconsed in Friday Page Headquarters creating this week's NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Big 5 who-do-you-trust poll, Heat betting odds, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"My reaction to Brandon Marshall criticizing Chad Henne's time as Dolphins quarterback? Get in line, pal." --Greg Cote

WHAT TO DO WITH JAMEIS WINSTON: Florida State and coach Jimbo Fisher move forward as if there's no doubt QB Jameis Winston will play Saturday when No. 2 FSU hosts No. 5 Notre Dame. But Las Vegas 1aa1ajameishad enough doubts that the game was yanked off betting boards yesterday over the uncertainty. Plenty think Winston should be suspended over a cumulative effect of several off-field controversies. Click on Jimbo's Dilemma for today's latest column by me. The 2012 sexual-assault allegation against Winston has not gone away amid recent reports of collusion between the Tallahassee Police Department and the FSU athletic department. Now the school plans a disciplinary board hearing with Winston, which could lead to a decision he violated the student code of conduct. Beyond the overriding rape cloud there is this week news that he signed some 950 items of memorabilia, which would violate NCAA rules if he was paid. Jameis says he wasn't; Jimbo believes him. We won't even get into the stolen crab legs or the shouted mysoginist vulgarity that got him suspended from the Clemson game. The question is whether Jameis Winston -- all things considered -- should still be out there as the face of FSU on Saturday and beyond? It isn't an easy question with a clear answer. Your opinion is nonetheless invited.

UPDATED NFL ODDS: Broncos are reinstalled as Super Bowl favorites (via Bovada) at 4-1, but Seahawks are still second at 6-1. Then it's Chargers/49ers both 9-1, Packers/Patriots both 11-1 and Cowboys 12-1. Dallas RB DeMarco Murray is slight MVP pick at 7-2, over Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers both 4-1.

RICK SCOTT AND THE FAN: The start of last night's Charlie Crist-Rick Scott guberatorial debate at Broward College played out like a Saturday NIght Live skit. The audience murmered and tittered awkwardly like 1aa1adebatethey weren't sure if this was a joke or not. If only it were. Click HERE to see what I mean. Gov. Rick Scott refused to take the stage, delaying the debate for seven minutes, because opponent Crist had a small fan at the bottom of his podium to cool him. Evidently "no electronics" was part of the rules. The presumption is that meant impportant things like teleprompters. But a fan!? Scott came off like a persnickety kid holding his breath to get his way. He turned himself into a national laughingstock in a way that even four years in office could not. Scott has been the worst Florida governor of my lifetime IMHO, and has taken negative campaigning to new depths in this race. I'm not a Crist fan, either. This state deserves a better choice. But the feeling of Crist as the lesser of two evils bobbed once again to the surface as Scott let something so small and silly be what people are talking about today.

Poll result: In Heat's leadership we trust. In everything else, not so much: Lebron James left but Heat remain our model franchise in terms of which Big 5 team's leadership you most trust. We asked in the previous blogpost and Heat led with 70.7 percent -- roughly six times more than runnerup UM football's 11.9%. Then it was Marlins 7.9%, Dolphins 6.1% and Panthers 3.4%.

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Which Miami team's leadership do you most trust (or not)? Poll. Vote!; plus latest NBA odds, two Canes top new SOPY ranking, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15. See results of the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Green Bay, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

The State of The Big 5: Dolphins. Heat. Canes football. Marlins. Panthers hockey. Those are Greater Miami's Big 5 teams. I provide a state-of report and prognosis for each in today's latest column, which is a companion to the poll directly below. Click on The Big 5 to read.

WHO DO YOU TRUST: WHICH OF OUR BIG 5 TEAMS IS IN THE BEST HANDS MOVING FORWARD?: I think this poll is well-timed for two reasons. First, October is the only time of year when football, baseball, basketball and hockey are all going on. Second, these are strange times for South Florida teams, with 1aa1atrustthe Heat sans LeBron, Dolphins and Canes fans less than happy, the Marlins (though improved) continuing their playoff drought and the Panthers off to a bad start in hockey. I am asking whose current leadership you have faith in, and you may vote for as many or as few as you like. I purposely didn't include "None" as an option because I'm after a realistic view, not morose pessimism. If you honestly don't have faith in anybody, vote for the team and leadership that come closest for you. When I say "leadership" I'm generally thinking owner/GM/coach, as in: Dolphins--Stephen Ross, Dennis Hickey, Joe Philbin. Heat--Micky Arison, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra. Marlins--Jeffrey Loria, Michael Hill, Mike Redmond. Panthers--Vincent Viola, Dale Tallon, Gerard Gallant. With Hurricanes football I guess I pretty much mean Al Golden. Vote for one team, all five or any number in between. Your call.

LEBRON-GONE EFFECT SHOWS IN HEAT BETTING ODDS: New NBA individual betting odds from Bovada: MVP--Cavs' LeBron James the favorite at 5-6; Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade tied for 18th at 100-1. Rookie--Bucks' Jabari Parker fave at 5-2; Heat's Shabazz Napier tie-11th at 30-1. Coach--Spurs' Gregg Popovich fave at 3-1; Erik Spoelstra tie-15th at 35-1. Scoring leader--Thunder's Kevin Durant pick at 3-2; Bosh/Wade tie-16th at 100-1. Rebounds--Pistons' Andre Drummond pick at 9-5; no Heat player listed; Assists--Clippers' Chris Paul pick at 2-3; no Heater listed.

SOPY: TWO CANES, JAMEIS 1-2-3 IN STATE COLLBALL RANKINGS: Canes Duke Johnson and Brad Kaaya and FSU's Jameis Winston are a clear 1-2-3 in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the 1aa1asopyYear (SOPY) rankings --"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 8:

SOPY WEEK 7 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk7    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         184     1,010

2 (2)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            154      923

3 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        173.5    919.5

4 (4)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      BYE    741 

5 (5)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       107      699

6 (8)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb          174.5    671

7 (--)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           207     665.5 

8 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb             67      653

9 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            87.5     626

10 (--)     Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec       155       580

Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 535. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF and Florida have played 5 games; FAU, FSU and USF have played 6; Miami and FIU have played 7.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 8: 1. FSU (6-0); 2. Miami (4-3);  3. Florida (3-2); 4. UCF (3-2); 5. SoFla (2-4); 6. FIU (3-4); 7. FAU (2-4).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: DOWN AND FROWN FOR WEEK 6: We update you briefly every Tuesday 1aa1alobos 1aa1afripixon how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: That I had Dolphins in my Upset of the Week pretty  much summarizes my fortunes. Went 7-7-1 overall but at least 1aa1agorelsalvaged 8-7 against the spread thanks to four 'dogs-with-points (including Miami). Fantasy: Greg's Lobos fell to 2-4 with a 112-95 loss, getting 26 from Philip Rivers, 21 from DeSean Jackson and not enough else. Had a shot Monday night but needed a big game from Frank Gore, who didn't come through. Lesley Gore (pictured left) would have helped me as much.

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October 14, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter:14.2%; plus Green Bay beats Miami 27-24 in last-second heartbreak; also new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1aa1acolumbus1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 13. It's Columbus Day. Anybody know where I can buy a Columbus hat? Better question: Why isn't Pharrell wearing one yet? 2) Find results of the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whomp Cincinnati, CSM poll, Heat vs. LeBron, Panthers home opener & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Panthers home opener: Click on Sad Start for my column off Saturday's 21st Panthers NHL home opener, which invited the question which was sadder: A zombie-like 5-1 loss, or the smallest season-opening crowd in club history.

Click on 6 Seconds, 4 Yards for my column off yesterday's Dolphins loss. Find our Dolphins-Packers game blog immediately after the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 14.2 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 27-24 loss to visiting Green Bay putting Miami's season record at 2-3. The 1aadsmDSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

Next poll: Oct. 19 (following game at Chicago)

G5: GREEN BAY 27, DOLPHINS 24: Final: Heartbreak. The magic of Aaron Rodgers, I guess. Tannehill and Miami staged a nice second-half rally that Rodgers made fall short thanks to his late heroics. Miami's defense played well much of the day but not, alas, when it mattered most. ..... Fourth quarter: Rodgers to Pack TE Andrew Quarless for 4-yard TD pass with 3 seconds left spells heartbreak for Miami and a 27-24 loss. ... Gee Bees within 24-20 on 30-yard FG with 4:09 left. ... Miami up 24-17 with 9:13 left -- first lead of game -- on Tanny to Mike Wallace 5-yard TD pass. ... Dolphins tie it 17-17 on Lamar Miller 5-yard TD run to finish impressive drive. A pretty great game, it turns out. ..... Third quarter: After finally tying it, MIA gives up 80-yard Pack scoring drive finished by Rodgers' 5-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb to make it 17-10, Cheesers. ... Cortland Finnegan big missed tackle. Lot of those today for Miami's D. ... Incredible. Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Tannehill 11-yard scoring pass to Jarvis Landry, who outjumped GB's Tramon Williams in the zone. Tannehill's 40-yard sparked the drive. ... LT Branden Albert back in game. ..... Halftime: It's a small miracle Miami only trails 10-3. Green Bay leads in time of possession 21 minutes to 9 and the Fins have a meager 87 yards in total offense. Tannehill has been awful (84 yards, two picks, 26.0 rating) and the run game has 10 carries for 10 net yards vs. NFL's worst-ranked run-D. Still, only 10-3. Amazing. Defense playing winning ball. Tanny and the O must step up and seize a still-winnable game ..... Second quarter: LT Branden Albert leaves in last minute of half with apparent left-shoulder injury; severity unknown. ... Tannehill throws deep to a well-covered Brian Hartline, suffers second interception of game. ... Tannehill's game passer rating is presently 12.0. ..... Cheesers up 10-3 on 43-yard FG set up by Ryan Tannehill's interception to Casey Hayward returned to Fins 36. Big 3rd-down sack by Olivier Vernon made Gee Bees settle. ..... First quarter: Jonathan Freeny blocked punt sets up MIA at Pack 16. A sure score, right? Nope. Miami goes for it on 4th-and-goal from 1 but Knowshon Moreno is stuffed up the middle. Agree with the gamble, but not the call. ... MIA within 7-3 but that's settling. When you get a 54-yard kickoff return (Jarvis Landry), you must take advantage. ... Aaron Rodgers 9-yard pas to Jordy Nelson completes 80-yard opening drive for fast 7-0 Pack lead. My upset prediction off to a rocky start. ..... Original post: This game feels a little bit special, like an "event" game. Part of it is that the Green Bay Packers are rare visitors (last 


1aa1adolgbtime here, 2006) and still have a cache to the franchise name. Part of it is that it's Joe Philbin's ex-team, although that angle would be better mined if Joe was prone to 1aa1ajoepshowing emotion. (Mr. Personality, then and now, is pictured left). Mostly it is that the great Aaron Rodgers will be making his first career start in Miami. Almost forgot, the Fins are 2-2 and travel to Chicago next, so a loss today would make a 2-4 record loom possible. So a win here would be huge, and reaffirm playoff hopes. I like Miami, at home, coming off a bye, in an upset. Team gets reinforcements in the return of S Reshad Jones, OL Mike Pouncey and probably RB Knowshon Moreno, three key players. I think Miami's pass defense will challenge Rodgers. Mostly, I think the Dolphins will be able to run the ball and control clock a little bit against a Gee Bees run-D that is last in the NFL in yards allowed. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 27-24.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click HERE for today's latest edition), but due to semi-popular demand an updated, expanded Hot Button continues as an exclusive Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami welcomes Mr. Rodgers to the 'hood: Tom Brady has started 13 games in Miami, Peyton Manning seven and Drew Brees two, now today the last of the NFL's Big Four QBs finally starts a game here as Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay visit. Remember, Dolphins defenders: Hospitality is overrated. 

2. Hurricanes: Offense swamps Cincinnati in 55-34 rout: UM improved to 4-3 yesterday at home in rolling up 621 yards of offense led by (as usual) Brad Kaaya and Duke Johnson. Of course, around here, a 21-point win over a medicore opponent does not calm the roiling masses, it merely holds them at bay.

3. Heat: Cavs edge Miami in OT in LeBron Wars Act I: Cleveland beat the Heat 122-119 in OT in Rio de Janeiro, but Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both played better than turncoat LeBron James, who scored seven points on 2-for-8 shooting. So let's just call it ... a preseason game that doesn't matter.

4. Panthers: Cats NHL home opener is two times sad: Sad: A zombie-like 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils making Florida 0-2 in the young season after a winless preseason. Sadder: The smallest home-opening crowd in franchise history.

5. MLB playoffs: Royals, Giants get the early jump: Kansas City leads Baltimore 2-0 and San Francisco won Game 1 over St. Louis last night to start the AL and NL championship series. I dare you to name five Royals. Go!  

6. College football: A calmer Saturday: After last week shook up the College Football Playoff top four, this week was calmer. If the season ended right now, Mississippi State and Ole Miss both would be in the final four, and Gators fans would be chasing Jeff Driskel clean out of Gainesville.

7. College basketball: Practice underway at UM, elsewhere: As hoops season nears, Jim Larranaga's Canes men have no seniors and seven of the nine scholarship players are new to the program. Those aren't commemorative patches o the UM uniforms. Those are 'Hello My name Is' stickers.

8. NASCAR: Logano storms to forefront: One month from the season finale at Homestead, many race experts now say Joey Logano is the favorite to win the Sprint Cup season title. That gives me a month to figure out who Joey Logano is. 

9. Sailing: Columbus Day Regatta ends in Miami: Today wraps up the annual event on Biscayne Bay that involves drinking, topless women, partying, debauchery and, when time allows, sailing.

10. Horse racing: Goodbye, Calder: Because of ownership changes, Calder Race Course (near Dolphins stadium) is now known as Gulfstream Park West. "Like I care?" said the horses.

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October 13, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 29.6%; plus UM routs Cincy 55-34; also Heat-LeBron Act I to Cavs, Panthers drop home opener & more

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11. Happy birthday to my big brother! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Three Things I Find Annoying poll, NFL Week 6 pix, Bosh/LeBron relationship, Chalmers/Cole verdict, Rock Hall nominees & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asatWelcome to Sexy Sports Saturday, triple the fun: Canes home vs. Cincy; Heat vs. LeBron in Rio; Panthers home opener... 

Find today's UM-Cincinnati game post and postgame thoughts directly below the poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 29.6 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 55-34 victory over visiting Cincinnati putting UM's season record at 4- 1aa1acsm3. The CSM, in its sixth season, 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, season as a whole, 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.

2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville) 

G2: 35.9% (following 41-7 victory vs. Florida A&M)

G3: 71.8% (following 41-20 victory vs. Arkansas State)

G4: 11.6% (following 41-31 loss at Nebraska)

G5: 73.3% (following 22-10 victory vs. Duke)

G6: 3.3% (following 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech)

G7: 29.6% (following 55-34 victory vs. Cincinnati)

Next poll: Oct. 23 (following game at Virginia Tech, after bye)

G7: HURRICANES 55, CINCINNATI 34: Final: Big day for the UM offense with 621 total yards including 335 on the ground. Brad Kaaya tossed for 286 and three TDs, Duke Johnson rushed for 162 on only 10 carries, and Phillip Dorsett needed only three catches to amass 143 yards. Impressive stuff. Defense was not perfect but good enough -- especially vs. the run. Also notable, senior QB Ryan Williams made his season debut in relief. Good day. ..... Halftime: At 24-10 game going about as expected. Defense settling in after allowing that early 80-yard drive. Brad Kaaya very good at 13-for-17, 186 yards, two TDs. Duke Johnson already with 132 rush-yards including the 80-yard TD. ..... Original post: Miami's defense being run aground in losses to Nebraska and Georgia Tech sandwiched around a win over Duke has left UM 3-3 and left Canes fans 1aa1acincy 1aa1acaneshowling. The howling against D-coordinator Mark D'Onofrio is by rote, but increasingly the criticism is lapping up to the desk of coach Al Golden. The team's spotty play, an unattractive opponent and a brutal noon start could make for an awful crowd today, but UM's performance had better not be awful. This is not a game The U can lose. Cincy has lost two straight and given up 91 points in doing so. The Bearcats are without their top two runners and big-threat QB Gunner Kiel is playing. Miami is generally favored by 14-17 points and needs to win with comfort, dare say impressively. That won't turn around the critics. It will merely hold them at bay. My pick: Hurricanes, 41-16.

Other Collball Week 7 state FBS games:

No. 1 Florida State 38, Syracuse 20: Give Noles credit. They haven't been consistently dominant but, unlike Oregon, Alabama and Oklahoma, et al,  they haven't stumbled, either. And didn't think they would here as a 23-point fave against an opponent test-driving a new QB.

Texas-San Antonio 16, FIU 13: Couldn't figure why Larry Coker's UTSA was favored here by a big nine points; that disrespected FIU, who I thought would win. Golden Panthers led by 10-0 early but frittered away the game to fall to 3-4 and end a two-game win streak.

LSU 30, Florida 27: A rivalry that usually has poll ramifications was off the marquee this time, but it still was a good game. Gators were a slim favorite at home but I rightly sensed a minor upset as Bayou out-ecosystems Swamp. That, and Jeff Driskel isn't very good, and threw the costly last-minute interception that led to the losing field goal.

Also: No. 19 East Carolina def. South Florida 28-17. UCF def. Brigham Young 31-24 on Thursday night. Off this week: FAU.

HEAT VS. LEBRON IN RIO: DELICIOUSLY MEANINGLESS!: [Update: Cavs win 122-119 in OT. LeBron 7 points on 2-8 shooting in 21 minutes. Bosh 19 and Wade 12 for Heat]. At 5 p.m. Eastern time begins the NBA 1aa1aheatlebronpreseason game that both sides will insist is as meaningless as any other exhibition, even though both sides will know they're lying. The real first battle in The LeBron Wars will be Christmas Day in Miami, but it's quite a little appetizer happening in Brazil. Be interesting to gauge the pregame interaction among the estranged teammates. There is tension, awkwardness. There are the seeds of a bitter rivalry. It's in the way LeBron left Miami. It's in some of Chris Bosh's comments, and in James' response to them. There is an underlying darkness brewing in Heat vs. LeBron as the curtain lifts on Act I.

1aa1acatsCATS ON ICE: PANTHERS' HOME OPENER: [Update: Panthers fall 5-1 last night; click on Sad Start for my column from the game]. Florida followed an 0-6 preseason with a season-opening loss at Tampa Bay -- not exactly the desired prelude to tonight's NHL home opener vs. New Jersey. It's closer to a nightmare start for new coach Gerard Gallant and a Panthers team that thinks it's ready to end its playoff drought. We'll see. Years fallen off the hockey and local radar beg skepticism when it comes to the Cats. I'll be in the Sunrise arena columnizing tonight, looking for a playoff team.

Poll result: Canes, Dolphins snipes aren't as annoying to you as to me: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) what annoyed you, and 22.7 percent said UM trustees anonymously criticizing coach Al Golden, 14.2% said the '72 Dolphins criticizing the current team, and 13.7% said ex-Canes ripping the current program. But the other 49.4% said they were bothered by none of that.

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October 10, 2014

Are you as annoyed as me by these 3 things concerning the Dolphins and Canes? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 6 pix, Heat, Rock Hall & more

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10. I'm sequestered at Random Evidence Laboratories today summoning the Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chalmers vs. Cole Heat poll, defending MLB's postseason, Cats on ice, Dolphins/Harbaugh, Alan Cherry (R.I.P.) & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Panthers show how not to whet the appetite for hockey: Florida drops its NHL opener in Tampa last night, 3-2, after an 0-6 preseason. Now comes the home opener Saturday night vs. New Jersey and there are concerns within the club it may not be a sellout, or even close.

I AM ANNOYED  BY THESE THREE THINGS. MAYBE YOU ARE NOT: There is a phenomenon in South Florida sports and media. 1) Former Dolphins, especially the 1972 Perfectos, love to complain about the
1aa1airritatingstate of the current team whenever invited by reporters to do so (which is much too often). 2) Former Hurricane football stars love to take to Twitter to snipe at the state of the current team (in apparent discord with the whole idea of 'The U' as family). And, 3. UM trustees and high-ranking donors have no problem taking shots at coach Al Golden following losses -- anonymously, of course, which seems rather cowardly. These three things I find annoying for various reasons, but I may be alone on this. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll. Vote for one, two or all three -- as many as you find annoying. Or vote that none of them bother you.

1aa1afripixNFL WEEK 6 PICKS: DOLPHINS BEAT PACK. NO, SERIOUSLY: Bad start last night. Misfired on riskily picking Texans to beat Colts. Click on Week 6 Gems for all the rest of our latest prediction capsules. It's Dolphins over Packers in my Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). You know it's a dicey pick when you're thinking "What was I thinking" and the game is still two days away. Click on Mr. Rodgers In the Neighborhood for my Friday Page NFL column. I rank all 32 starting quarterbacks on the occasion of Aaron Rodgers' first career start in Miami.

BOSH MIGHT BE FROSTY WITH LEBRON. WHO CARES!: Saturday in Rio de Janeiro is the most important utterly meaningless game in the history of the Heat and perhaps of all mankind. It's Miami vs. Cleveland in 1aa1aheatrioa preseason game. Wait. That's not quite right. It's the Heat vs. turncoat LeBron James. Call it an appetizer for the first regular-season meeting Christmas Day in Miami. There is the implication of a strained relationship between Chris Bosh and James as Bosh says he has no interest in being chummy with LeBron during the season. Will I watch the Saturday exhibition? Sure, I guess. But mainly to carefully discern the pregame nuance and mating ritual of the species Estranged Teammates as we watch to see if Bosh and James exchange bro-hugs, fist bumps, pleasantries or the mere token civility of a nearly imperceptible nod. If that. Oh the drama!

Poll result: Heat switch to Cole at point guard has support: We asked in the previous blogpost who you'd like to see as the Heat's starting point guard, and it was Norris Cole over incumbent Mario Chalmers, 56.6 percent to 43.4%. The vote was close much of the way before Cole gradually pulled away.

ROCK HALL'S 2015 NOMINEES: Fifteen artists are on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot for '15 and it is 1aa1alreednot a particularly illustrious group. My ballot as a longtime amateur musicologist: Green Day, N.W.A., Nine Inch Nails and Lou Reed (pictured) get in. I might vote for Sting if it includes The Police, not just his latter career. I'd consider Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Spinners and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I'd investigate The Smiths, who I respect as having a cult devotion but don't know enough about. Falling short for me: Chic, Kraftwerk, The Marvelettes, War and Bill Withers.

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October 09, 2014

Poll: Chalmers or Cole? Pick a Heat point guard. Vote now!; plus Panthers hockey, Fins/Harbaugh verdict, defending MLB, Alan Cherry (R.I.P.) & more

1aa1ajlennon1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9. Thinking of the late, great John Lennon today, on what would be his 74th birthday. 2) I'm holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today pulling forth my NFL Week 6 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's pick. 3) BBC Music brings together dozens of great artists for a rendition of the Beach Boys classic, "God Only Knows." Trippy result worth a listen and watch here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/Harbaugh poll, college football upheaval, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY standings, toast to '72, Derrick Shelby, Cinder-AL-a & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aflacatsCats on the ice: NHL starting. Hockey's back. Florida Panthers open tonight/Thursday in Tampa then at home Saturday vs. New Jersey. Click on Telling Season for my preview column. Club hasn't won a playoff series since 1996 and a sharp decline in attendance is expected. This has become a franchise that needs saving. Winning is the only start.

CHALMERS VS. COLE IN HEAT POINT-GUARD BATTLE: IT'S ON: The post-LeBron Heat are 0-2 in the preseason entering Saturday's game vs. Cleveland and James in Rio -- uh oh -- and even though the games don't matter you know that panic is setting in with some fans as 1aa1amarionorris"We really might be that bad" sweeps over them. Relax. It's a playoff team. But to distract you from your growing angst here's a poll. It's incumbent Mario Chalmers vs. challenger Norris Cole (pictured left to right) in what by all accounts is an open battle for starting point guard. And that role is magnified because LeBron James, who brought the ball up and handled it so much he was a de facto point guard, is no longer here. (He went somewhere. I forget where). Chalmers probably brings more offensive pop and swagger; Cole brings better defense and energy. Both have flaws. Is Cole better-suited to being the spark off the bench? What Heat point guard would you prefer to see start and get the most minutes? I exclude rookie Shabazz Napier from the question because he obviously isn't ready yet to be in the conversation. So take a dip in the poll and say why.

Poll result: Dolfan interest in Harbaugh, but with some reservations: We asked in the previous blogpost if the Dolphins should pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh should he become avaailable after the season, and 47.9 percent said yes without equivocation. However, 25.2% said only if Miami does not make the playoffs and another 18.7% voted "avoid him like the plague." The other 8.2% were undecided.

DEFENDING BASEBALL'S POSTSEASON, FINAL FOUR: The complainers are out. Not enough starpower! Not enough runs! Bad World Series ahead! I don't buy it. Yes, 10 of the 14 playoff games thus far (not 1aa1adavidandgcounting wild-cards) have been won with four runs or fewer. So what? Pitching is good. Steroids are outlawed. Deal with it. I think the Orioles-Royals ALCS (starting Friday) and the Cardinals-Giants NLCS (Game 1 Saturday) guarantees a World Series of interesting contrast. St. Louis and San Fran are recent champions from 2011 and '12, respectively, while Baltimore and Kansas City last won it all in 1983 and '85. Royals haven't even been in the postseason since then. There will be an AL-David vs. NL-Goliath element that I think America will find appealing. Besides, the fact all four division series ended either 3-0 or 3-1 indicates the vanquished teams were undeserving in some way. And there is no clear betting favorite among the four survivors; it's anybody's ring.

ALAN CHERRY, 1955-2014, R.I.P.: This is self-indulgent. Screw it. It's my blog. My oldest friend, Alan Cherry, died this week, at 59, and I miss him already. We met when we were 19, I think. Fate had us 1aa1aalancboth stumbling blind into journalism careers under the tutelage of Max Hall at BCC. I gravitated to sports. Alan ended up doing important stuff, for three decades a news reporter and editor for the Sun-Sentinel. Alan was a nonconformist both intellectually and visually. In a newsroom where men wore shirts and ties, clean-shaved faces and neat hair, you'd find Alan with long hair tucked under a ballcap and a full, straggly beard. (He was way ahead of the trend on that look. I think his wife Pat and son James deserve royalty checks from Duck Dynasty). Alan was also an accomplished songwriter. He wrote "Letting Go," which I was honored to record (click here to listen). A few years ago Alan was surprised and delighted to hear another of his songs, "House of Ghosts," played on an NPR program devoted to unsigned artists who merited attention. The song is below. Alan was a man of great talent, and greater integrity. Rest in peace, my unforgettable old friend.

 

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