February 05, 2016

Super Bowl 50 pick: Why Broncos will win in upset; plus Super Bowl With a Smirk IV (Help! Buildup won't end!), your verdict on Canes recruiting & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5. In The Previous Blogpost: National Signing Day with how-Canes-did poll, Super Bowl With a Smirks II and III, updated NBA/NHL title odds & more. 1Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"So great seeing retired Herald legend (and one of my mentors) Edwin Pope back in the paper today with a Miami Super Bowl memories column. Had to be an unexpected treat for lots of surprised readers, like happening upon a family heirloom you thought you'd lost." --Greg Cote

SUPER BOWL 50 PREDICTION: UPSET! DEFENSE RULES, BRONCOS WIN: Carolina is 17-1 and favored by 5 1/2 points, which is a lot. Denver has a fading, hobbly quarterback about to turn 40. Get all of that. But still like Broncos in an upset because I don't think Peyton Manning will need to play hero Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. I think his defense will do that for him. Fripix"AAAWWWK!" crows the Upset Bird, even though he's only supposed to appear during the regular season. "Peyton Maaawwwk! Omahaawwk!" A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, "The masses are asses." He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in the Golden SB — Denver not only covering the point spread but beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. The irony of Manning in what could be his final career game is that most of the winning will be done with him on the sideline if his defense takes charge as I believe it will. My pick: Broncos, 23-20

SMIRK IV: THE 2-WEEK PREGAME SHOW, NFL'S APOLOGY TO WOMEN, NO-DRONE-ZONE, STOCK MARKET PREDICTOR: Here is the fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns: We must fine-tune what we mean when we say "Super Bowl excess." It does not mean our avid interest in the game itself, or the fact some 43 million Americans will host Super Bowl parties, or the magnified attention given the halftime show or the hyped-up TV ads. No, it is Your Friend the Media that is the engine of the excess. We are to Pregameshowblame. We are the ones giving you what amounts to a nonstop two-week pregame show, like it or not, want it or not. Smirk says television is the main culprit, especially host network CBS, the ubiquitous ESPN and, of course, NFL Network. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gave voice to the ludicrousness of it on Wednesday morning as he met with hundreds of media after doing the same thing Tuesday night. "How can I reword answers to questions I’ve been asked so many times?" he said. "Nothing much has changed since I’ve seen you guys 24 hours ago [except that] I had an unbelievable sleep. I sound like a broken record.' NFL Network is airing 88 live hours of on-location coverage this week featuring 36 on-air personalities. Sunday it will air 10 hours of pre- and post-game coverage. CBS and ESPN similarly are inundating you. CBS Sports has more than 550 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, will have a four-hour pregame show and will use 70 cameras during the game. Highlight of CBS’s pregame show is expected to be a 2 p.m. interview with Barack Obama. The president is expected to say he is looking forward to a good game, after which Republicans demanding equal time are expected to argue they are not looking forward to a good game and why America should not be, either. You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off? It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting. It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.
 
Bombast▪ Coldplay and Beyoncé will have a lot to live up to Sunday. Super Bowl halftime shows are even more highly anticipated than the game itself, according to the latest annual survey by the National Association of Super Bowl Halftime Producers.

▪ The NFL held its first Super Bowl Women’s Summit on Thursday. Feels to Smirk like either pandering or an apology. Cannot confirm the event was subtitled, "Just to Remind You We Don’t Condone So Many of Our Players Being Arrested for Domestic Violence."

▪ The NFL Foundation’s Super Bowl alumni bowling tournament takes place Friday. It’s the best place to watch former players hobble and grimace as they gripe loudly about lack of medical benefits.

Drones▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “The FAA has banned drones from flying within 32 miles of the stadium Sunday.”

▪ The so-called Stock Market Predictor — Super Bowl win by NFC means market up for the year, AFC win means market down — has been accurate with 40 of the 49 SBs, including seven in a row. Throes of a dilemma: Broncos fan who invests heavily in stock market.

▪ Super Fact: The Broncos are 5-0 in games in which Sunday’s referee, Clete Blakeman, has worked. "I don’t care about that. I'm just glad to see another guy named ‘Clete’ out there," said deceased baseball player Clete Boyer.

Wherewatch▪ Finally, I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, "Where to watch the Super Bowl." The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.

Previously: Click on Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's earlier Smirks. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Poll result: Richt, Canes get strong rating for 2016 recruiting class: We asked you how you thought Miami did on National Signing Day, and it was 58.5 percent "good," 26.2% "very good," 11.4% "average" and only 3.9% "below average." That's an overall stamp of approval for new coach Mark Richt, with 84.7% saying good or better vs. 15.3% saying average or worse.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

SMIRK II: THE UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION FOR SUCCESSFUL SUPER BOWL ADS, MISS UNIVERSE, A REF NAMED CLETE, GREYHOUND FORETELLS RESULT: Welcome to Smirk II, the second of
five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk I: Rechristened Media Day, toppled statues, singing sheep and a woman in Hungary; plus it's Radio/TV Tuesday & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2. Happy new month, all! 2) ICYMI, click on Super Bowl Primer for our recent column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Your Super Bowl 50 Primer, Hot Button Top 10, your best All-Star game verdict & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and seen on ESPNU and Fusion TV. 

Tedcruz"Does anybody else think Ted Cruz looks like a vampire?" --Greg Cote

 

SmirkTHE RETURN OF 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK'!: A RECHRISTENED MEDIA DAY, TOPPLED STATUES, SINGING SHEEP AND A WOMAN IN HUNGARY: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year beginning today with a daily jab and needle at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald in years we remember to do it:

OpeningnightYou probably know "Media Day" is the axis of SB excess, when thousands of reporters swarm upon both teams asking the same ol’ questions eliciting the same ol’ perfunctory answers. I mean, how many times can Peyton Manning insist he hasn’t decided if Sunday will be his last game even though he probably has? Many "reporters" are clowns dressed as superheroes, turning it into an increasingly inane spectacle that probably should quietly be done away with. So what does the NFL do instead? It rechristens Media Day as "Super Bowl Opening Night" and puts it on primetime TV! It was held Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose (the arena where the Sharks play hockey), and broadcast live on NFL Network. We immediately were reminded how lackluster this matchup is relative to last year, when we had the New England Deflatriots, the polarizing Belichick and Brady, the cartoonish Gronk and the comically recalcitrant Marshawn Lynch. Some 7,000 fans paid up to $30 to sit in the stands Monday and watch the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos say as little as possible in their first interviews since arriving Sunday, reminding Smirk of that famous quote attributed to P.T. Barnum about there being 7,000 suckers born every minute.

▪ Sunday the Broncos arrived at San Jose International Airport just head of the Panthers. It is expected to be the last time all week Denver beats Carolina at anything.

▪ Wait. Denver did lead briefly in field logos. Workers at Levi’s Stadium painted the Broncos logo in both end zones before correcting their mistake.

Statues▪ The NFL erected 1,600-pound statues at 10 Bay Area landmarks, but pranksters keep knocking them over or rearranging the letters in SUPER BOWL 50 to spell things like ‘SUP BRO 50’ and ‘UP R BOWEL.’ Smirk has not yet been caught.

Sheep▪ Super Bowl TV commercials will cost a record $5 million per 30 seconds this year, and every one of them will star Alec Baldwin or a donkey in a straw hat. Actually my favorite is a Honda truck ad (see video below) in which sheep sing Queen’s Somebody To Love. Sheep: the perfect metaphor for the herd of gullible consumers swayed by cute TV commercials.

▪ The five-star Fairmont hotel in San Francisco is offering a $1 million party package that includes 22 tickets to the game and a four-night stay for six in a 6,000-square-foot penthouse. Smirk will be checking in Thursday.

▪ Pats-Seahawks last year was seen by 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television. They say Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 could break that record despite the halftime performer being Coldplay.

▪ EA Sports’ Madden video game is 9-3 on predicting SB winners, including an exact score one year. Now Madden ’16 has it Panthers, 24-20. With the outcome settled, the NFL on Monday quietly canceled Sunday’s game.

▪ The 1972 Dolphins had a rough week. Predictionmachine.com ranked the Perfect Season Fins only the ninth-best Super Bowl winner; the team lost in the round of 16 in a CBS Sports/Strat-O-Matic simulation; and only one Perfecto (Jake Scott) made the all-time Super Bowl Golden Team. Don Shula’s looking for somebody to punch.

▪ NFL security is tight throughout the Bay Area all week as league officials attempt to crack down on counterfeit merchandise and screenings of Concussion.

Oldcrone▪ Sirius XM satellite radio will offer 10 broadcasts of Sunday’s game in eight languages including Hungarian. Somewhere in Budapest right now, an old crone standing before a simmering pot of goulash ponders whether the Broncos will deploy a "spy" defender to shadow Cam Newton.

 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

February 01, 2016

Your Super Bowl Week primer: the national and Miami-related stories you'll be sick of; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1. Happy new month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost: All-Star Games poll, Marino's Super Bowl ad, running as unhealthy obsession, bad week for '72 Dolphins & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Super Bowl With a Smirk on the way: Super Bowl With a Smirk is our annual SB Week daily notes column looking at the lighter side of the big event. In other words we make fun of as much as we can. Smirk debuts online later today and in Tuesday's paper.

Sb50SUPER BOWL WEEK PRIMER: THE STORIES YOU'LL BE SICK OF IF YOU AREN'T ALREADY: The Super Bowl is in six days. Are you sick of it yet? My theory: The main reason America loves the arrival of Super Bowl Sunday is that it marks the blessed end of the ponderous buildup, the two weeks of brain-numbing preamble during which Your Friend The Media masticates every possible angle and theme. So I am here to bemoan that excess by contributing to it! Here is your Super Bowl primer, the storylines that will be beaten to pulp as the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and national sports media descend locust-like upon Santa Clara, California. There are a bunch of local, Miami-related story lines to Panthers-Broncos along with the broad national themes so let's get started:

NATIONAL THEMES

▪ Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning: The starting quarterbacks almost own the Super Bowl stage — it has been so since Joe Namath’s guarantee — and we love a stark Manningnewtoncontrast. So there could hardly be a greater quarterback matchup than Carolina’s young, brash, hip, black Newton against Denver’s ancient and exceedingly white Manning. Only one of them calls himself Superman and is dabbin’ after touchdowns. The other one is so old and hobbly, you half expect Broncos executive John Elway, 55, to name himself the starter Sunday. This is a New School/Old School, Future/Past contrast with the added heft of it possibly or even likely being the final game of Manning’s storied career. But it is the black/white thing that will prove irresistible and be seized on as an overarching theme. Erudite analysts and columnists will extrapolate and see this quarterback contrast as a metaphor for race relations in America, if only to appear intellectual and not bound by the narrow constraints of mere games.

▪ The two coaches: This is not a great clash of masterminds from a media standpoint because it lacks a lightning-rod star such as Bill Belichick. Nevertheless, Carolina’s Ron Rivera facing Denver’s Gary Kubiak marks the first time in 30 years (Mike Ditka-Raymond Berry) that two former NFL players have dueled as Super Bowl coaches.

▪ Team pedigrees, or lack of: Denver has appeared in seven previous Super Bowls but won only two, and not since 1998. The Broncos were in it just two years ago but got embarrassed in a 43-8 loss. Carolina has been in the SB only once before, losing to New England 32-29 in 2003. Theme: Broncos are the established franchise and Panthers the upstarts. It will be ludicrous fun to hear Panthers players — 17-1 and heavily favored next Sunday — try to play the “we don’t get no respect” card all week.

▪ Golden anniversary: This is Super Bowl 50, which will launch a million retrospectives and greatest-this-or-that lists. The NFL isn’t using Roman numerals this time, perhaps because “Super Bowl L” looks and sounds funny, and in sports parlance, L means a loss. Technically this is actually the 47th edition of the game because the phrase “Super Bowl” didn’t kick in until after the first three NFL-AFL championships had been played, and was retroactively applied. But let’s not spoil the NFL’s golden party.

▪ The offbeat emotional story: On the periphery of every Super Bowl there always are the sort of off-field human-interest stories that appear on TV with soft violins or a tinkling piano in the background. This Super Bowl’s nominee: Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has Alzheimer’s.

▪ The host community: Every year, enterprising reporters with a social conscience like to paint a stark contrast between Super Bowl glamour and celebrity parties, and the “have-nots” across town living in poverty. However, that will not be possible this year because Santa Clara is affluent and has shipped both of its homeless people to San Jose for the week.

OK, those are our national storylines. Now, here are Super Bowl 50’s top five Miami-related connections:

SOUTH FLORIDA THEMES

Mikeshula▪ 1. Mike Shula, Panthers offensive coordinator: There’s a Shula back in the Super Bowl! And that hasn’t happened in 31 years. This is what it’s down to, Dolfans. The Fins never get to the Big Game anymore, so we’re relegated to mentioning folks with Miami ties. Mike Shula was a Dolphins coaching assistant in 1991-92 and QBs coach in 2000-02, and is, of course, the son of Dolphins legend Don Shula, who will be attending the game. Kid Shula, now 50, the same age as the Super Bowl, has been coaching 24 years and, beyond the notable bloodlines, has earned credit for substantially developing Newton. "I was trying to not let so much time pass since the last time a Shula was in the Super Bowl," Mike said recently. "But time was trotting along."

▪ 2. Greg Olsen, Panthers tight end: A Miami Hurricane in 2004-06, Olsen is Newton’ s favorite target and just had a second consecutive 1,000-yard season. Olsen’s 14.3-yard average (it’s 15.8 in the postseason) was second among all tight ends, trailing only Rob Gronkowski.

▪ 3. Ted Ginn Jr., Panthers receiver: The Dolphins’ 2007 No. 1 draft pick is enjoying his best pro season at age 30. He is the Cats’ second-leading receiver after Olsen and led Carolina with 10 TD catches. He also returns punts. Oh, and he still has a great family.

▪ 4. Ken Dorsey, Panthers quarterbacks coach: The Hurricanes’ 2001 national-champion quarterback, now 34, is completing his third season as Carolina’s QBs coach.

▪ 5. Evan Mathis, Broncos guard: Mathis played seven games for the Dolphins in 2008, and Miami considered signing him as a free agent before this season. Denver did instead, and he’s the starting left guard.

Others SoFla ties in this Super Bowl: Broncos: Reserve cornerback/special-teamer Kayvon Webster is from Miami Pace High; center Sam Brenner was a Dolphin from 2013 to ’15 but hardly plays; assistant receivers coach Marc Lubick is the son of former Hurricanes defensive coordinator Sonny Lubick; and director of pro personnel Tom Heckert was a Dolphins scout in the 1990s and personnel boss in 2000 (but will miss the game attending to a blood disorder). Panthers: Backup cornerback Cortland Finnegan was a Dolphin in 2014; receiver Kelvin Benjamin from Belle Glade Glades Central High was a star in ’14 but spent this season injured and will be inactive Sunday; and assistant receivers coach Cameron Turner was an FIU assistant in 2013-14.

Well, that’s it. Now that you’re ready for Super Bowl 50, you can spend the entire deciding what kind of dip to buy for your party.

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

Hotbutton1. NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Canes hoping for top 10 football bounty Wednesday: National Signing Day is in two days, the annual day when everyone speaks in sign language. Naw I'm kidding. It's the annual day when college football teams announce their latest class of high-school recruits. ESPN ranks Miami’s incoming class 14th in the nation as coach Mark Richt seeks late adds. National Signing Day: When the media instantly grades how schools did by flat-out guessing how good a bunch of 17-year-olds might turn out to be.

2. HEAT: Bosh joins Wade as All-Star, Miami wins fourth in a row: Chris Bosh was named an Eastern reserve, joining All-Star starter Dwyane Wade. Meantime Miami has won four straight games to climb to fourth in the conference standings with three straight road games on deck. Amare Stoudemire has enjoyed an increased role lately, surprising analysts who had forgotten he was on the team.

3. HURRICANES: Fresh off win over Duke, UM men host Notre Dame: No. 15 Miami, off a big home basketball win over Duke, hosts No. 25 Notre Dame on Wednesday with another sellout crowd expected. Expectations have risen like attendance has. Is it Sweet 16 or bust now?

4. TENNIS: Djokovic and not-Serena win Aussie titles: It was championship weekend for the Australian Open, the year’s first major. Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray in today’s men’s final, one day after German Angelique Kerber stunned Serena Williams for the women's crown. Last year Serena made a run at the Grand Slam. This year's hope was slammed shut early. 

5. NFL: Super Bowl Week kicks off with the awful Pro Bowl: We're six days from Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos. First, on Sunday, it was the Pro Bowl! Four Dolphins were in it, but they were all replacements because not even players care about the Pro Bowl. I'd rather have watched a slow-motion replay of a chess match than Team Irvin's 49-27 win. 

6. NHL: Big Panthers presence in hockey all-star game: Forward/captain Jaromir Jagr, defenseman Aaron Ekblad, goalie Roberto Luongo and coach Gerard Gallant represented Florida in Sunday's NHL All-Star Game in Nashville. League changed formats yet again. But it's still better than the Pro Bowl.

7. MARLINS: Fences moved in as spring training nears: As the Feb. 19 start of spring training nears, they moved in the fences at Marlins Park to make it more hitter-friendly. Too bad there was a way to move in the fences for the bottom of innings only. Meanwhile Jose Fernandez's camp thinks he can command $30 million a year in free agency after the 2018 season, leading one to surmise Jose's camp may be drunk.

8. HORSE RACING: Mohaymen win Holy Bull at Gulfstream: Mohaymen comfortably won the annual Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday, a Triple Crown season prep race. "Never in doubt," said the cocky horse.

9. SAILING: Miami hosts World Cup event: There were 711 sailors from 64 countries competing in the Sailing World Cup Miami on Biscayne Bay, many of whom will be in the upcoming Rio Olympics. The city of Miami ordered extra wind for the event, which was nice.

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes begin preseason practice: Coach Jim Morris' guys are back on the field preparing for the 2016 season and expectations are large, with UM ranked as high as NO. 4 kin the national polls. Peyton Manning yells, "Omaha!" Canes fans are yelling, "Omaha or bust!"

Missing the cut: Heat limited partner Raanan Katz was reported to have said but then denied saying LeBron James tried to get Erik Spolestra fired in Miami. The most interesting thing about that story? The limited partner's name is pronounced "rainin' cats" ... New Dolphins coach Adam Gase ended up retaining nine assistants from Joe Philbin's staff. Uh oh ... NFL scouts swarmed to Mobile, Ala. for the annual Senior Bowl, the only possible reason to voluntarily go to Mobile, Ala. ... Canes football schedule was released and features Florida State here on Oct. 8, a trip to Notre Dame Oct. 29 and 10 other games not nearly as interesting ... Heat prez Pat Riley was named an "American Icon" by Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital Foundation. Pat's trophy room is bigger than my house ... Florida Panthers sign Sasha Barkov to long-term contract. Cats GM Dale Tallon might be having the best year of any SoFla team executive ... American Lindsey Vonn broke the record for most titles in World Cup downhill skiing. Wonder if Tiger Woods sent flowers? ... FSU settled with Jameis Winston's accuser. Winston: The gift that keeps on taking ... Dwyane Wade's son, Zaire, 13, texted him words of encouragement. My son texted me asking for money ... Funniest headline I read all week: 'John Rocker endorses Trump' ... Predictionmachine.com ranked the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins only the ninth-best Super Bowl champion ever. "!@#$%!" said Don Shula ... Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a new TV commercial for Amazon Echo that will air during the Super Bowl. The best way to describe Amazon Echo is that it's pretty much a complete ripoff of Apple's Siri ... Michael Phelps wore only Speedos and his gold medals to participate in Arizona State's Curtain of Distraction at a   basketball game this week. It worked. The opposing player missed both free throws.

Poll result: Baseball big winner for best all-star game: We asked which big-four sport put on the best all-star game and MLB dominated with 69.4 percent. The NBA had support from 18.8%, while the NHL had 6.5% and the NFL 5.3%.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 30, 2016

What sport has best (or least awful) All-Star Game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino's new Super Bowl ad (with video), runners who make marathons an unhealthy obsession, '72 Dolphins lose again, control-freak LeBron & more

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

Phelps1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 30. How great is this? Champion swimmer Michael Phelps, wearing Speedos and his Olympic medals, joined Arizona's State's "Curtain of Distraction" at a basketball game last night. 2) Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitarist and founding member, dead at 74. Man, all the old rockers are peeling away. 3) ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for the Fusion TV/LeBatard Show spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost: Canes '16 football schedule analysis, '72 Dolphins finally lose, UM basketball and baseball, #WomenNotObjects, activities book for Satanic children & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Anybody but me noticed that Heat limited partner Raanan Katz's name is pronounced 'rainin' cats'?" --Greg Cote

Word of the day: anorak: British slang for someone obsessively interested in something that doesn't seem to merit such attention. Example: "He's a bloody anorak for running those marathons, isn't he?"

Lust for power, control is who LeBron is: That's the theme of my recent column; click Chosen And In Charge to read. Email reaction has seen Heat fans generally loving the column and others (read: Clevelanders) not so much. I don't consider the column pro-Heat or anti-LeBron. I'm simply exploring how everything about LeBron's career makes believable the prevailing idea he had a hand in David Blatt's firing, and plausible the report that he also maneuvered to see Erik Spoelstra removed while in Miami.

IT'S ALL-STAR GAME SEASON, UNFORTUNATELY: Today's latest column by me centers on All-Star Game Season, with the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game both Sunday and the NBA's ASG Nflpb
Nhlasg Nbaasg  Mlbasgtwo weeks later. The NBA has the best of those three, though that's faint praise. Baseball's July Midsummer Classic gets it closest to right, because of tradition and the fact the game matters. The Pro Bowl to me is the worst of them all -- mainly because the players themselves don't give a s---. In the other three sports players are honored to participate. Football players actively dream up reason to avoid the game, as I detail in the column. Click on The All-Star Shame to read in full. The poll asks you which of the big-four all-star games you think is the best one, although I could as easily have worded the question, "Which is the least bad." In this poll I challenge you to separate which sport you may prefer from which league presents its all-stars best.

Dolphins in 2016 NFL Pro Bowl: C Mike Pouncey was team's only actual, originally chosen all-star but will not play because of an alleged injury. Replacement players (quasi-Pro Bowlers) are OT Branden Albert and S Reshad Jones (Team Irvin) and WR/KR Jarvis Landry and CB Brent Grimes (Team Rice).

Panthers in 2016 NHL All-Star Game: F Jaromir Jagr won a fan vote to be Atlantic Division captain, and D Aaron Ekblad and G Roberto Luongo join him on team. Gerad Gallant will coach Atlantic team via Cats' first-place division standing.

Heat in 2016 NBA All-Star Game: G Dwyane Wade was voted in as an Eastern Conference starter. F Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.

Marlins in 2015 MLB All-Star Game: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon made the team.

DAN MARINO'S NEW SUPER BOWL AD: The Dolphins great and actor Alec Baldwin star in an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Amazon Echo. If you don't know it, Amazon Echo goes by the nickname, "Blatant Ripoff of Apple's Siri." Cute ad, though. Here it is:

  

RunningTHE UNHEALTHINESS OF IT WHEN RUNNING BECOMES AN OBSESSION: I've seen a couple of recent instances in my own newspaper. We in the media cover and write laudingly of people who have made a lifestyle of running marathons, of running in general, without noting how strange it is, and how unhealthy it seems Running4from a mental standpoint when that practice evolves into an overriding obsession. One was the story of a 71-year Texas man who made the Miami Marathon the 1,606th he had competed in. Another was the story of a 35-year-old Massachusetts woman in the process of running in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Both of those instances are wonderful to some, but weird to others of us. I wonder if the running-obsessed are able to step back and see what others see. The story on the woman noted she was a single mother. Hmm. I wonder why. Him: "Honey, can you take a few days off from that? I never see you anymore!" Her: "Love to chat, Bill, but I'm in training and need to get in 100 miles today." There is an inherent selfishness to running or any other obsession that takes command of one's lifestyle and life. Obsessed runners, evidently self-conscious of this and defensive about it, come up with fortune-cookie slogans like the ones pictured at left. Yes, because of course we unhealthy heathens who are not constantly training to run in 26.2-mile footraces -- we just don't understand! The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy fatties eating Cheetos on the Running2couch, right? We're jealous!! Yeah that's it. Look, I'm not anti-running. I'm not even anti-obsession. Whatever floats your boat, as we used to say. I don't think the obsessed runner is any better or worse (or much different, for that matter) than the woman who lives with 45 cats or the guy who has been collecting stamps for 70 years. What I don't like is fawning media coverage that glowingly depicts these sneakered cultists as somehow better, as special. These Quixotic folks who literally cannot stop running -- they aren't bad people, no. But neither are they heroic as so often portrayed. They are just (and hopefully we can agree on this) people who have given their lives to running in a fitness pursuit now running their lives.

BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR THE '72 DOLPHINS: Yesterday we told  you how, in a bracketed competition of all 49 Super Bowl winners by CBS Sports and Strat-O- Dolphins72Matic, the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins were beaten in the round-of-16 by the 1992 Cowboys. Well, today, predictionmachine.com computers played all 49 champions against each other 50,000 times each, ranked the teams by overall winning percentage, and the '72 Dolphins were ranked only No. 9 overall (the '73 Fins were 22nd). Said Prediction Machine of the No. 9 ranking: "A perfect season is a special thing. Miami was the best team that year but being undefeated isn't enough to claim the top spot on this list. Don Shula's squad was good but not dominant. During its regular season run of excellence the Dolphins beat just two teams with a winning record. When we re-simulate Miami's 1972 schedule, the team would have just a 1.2 percent chance to win every game. The Dolphins would have to get lucky again for Mercury Morris to pop bottles of champagne." Ouch. By the way, the all-time top five SB champs are: 1--1999 Rams, 2--1985 Bears, 3--1989 49ers, 4--1996 Packers and 5--1979 Steelers. Update: Yet another humbling for the Class of '72: Safety Jake Scott is the lone Dolphin to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 26-man Golden Anniversary Super Bowl team out today.  

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 27, 2016

Bulletin: '72 Dolphins just lost!; plus Canes' 2016 football schedule, predicted season record; also, UM baseball, 'WomenNotObjects', fun activities for Satanic kids, your verdicts on Super Bowl 50, Whiteside Dilemma & more

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

Showkiller1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27. ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for Fusion TV's spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Panthers-Broncos Super Bowl 50 polls, Canes' and Heat's big night, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) For those who care (both of you), I went 1-1 straight-up and against the spread on my NFL Championship Sunday picks. Did not see Broncos beating Patriots. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Some headlines could not be more ridiculous if you made them up. Are you ready? 'John Rocker Endorses Trump.' Seriously." --Greg Cote

UM baseball picked to win its ACC division: The upcoming college baseball season is expected to be a big one for the Hurricanes, who are No. 5 in the preseason polls and now selected to win the ACC Coastal Division in a preseason poll of coaches. Louisville is forecast to win the Atlantic Division and overall conference title. Other strong ACC baseball schools include Virginia and Florida State.

Larranaga's vision, crystallized in one night: The ranked Hurricanes beating Duke in front of a packed house -- this is what Jim Larranaga imagined when he took this job in 2011. Click on Coach L's Vision for my column off Monday night's game.

'72 PERFECT SEASON DOLPHINS LOSE!: Oh my but Don Shula, Mercury Morris and those fellas won't like this one bit. CBS Sports and Strat-O-Matic are playing the 49 Super Bowl winners head to head in simulated games to name the ultimate all-time champion, and the '72 Dolphins, a No. 1 seed, just lost in the round of 16 to the 17th-seeded 1992 Cowboys. The recap from CBS: "Garo Yepremian's missed 44-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in regulation ended the '72 Dolphins' dreams and enabled the '92 Cowboys to advance to the Elite 8."

HURRICANES FOOTBALL SCHEDULE LOOKING LIKE 9-3 SEASON, BUT...: The ACC released its 2016 schedules today and Miami's soft non-conference opening portends a 3-0 start and gives the Canes' a leg up on a strong season under new coach Mark Richt. Initially I'm thinking 9-3 (see below) two of those projected losses could be wins: Florida State, here, and North Carolina, also here. Only the game at Notre Dame feels like a good-bet loss. Our quick thoughts:

MarkrichtG1: vs. Florida A&M Sept. 3 -- Division 1AA Rattlers finished 1-10 in the MEAC. Season opener and Mark Richt debut should be a breeze for Canes. W, 1-0 

G2: vs. Florida Atlantic Sept. 10 -- Owls were a disappointing 3-9 in Conference USA including a 44-20 loss to UM, but recall that FAU pushed then-No. 8 Florida to overtime in a 20-14 loss in the Swamp. Should be a sure Canes win, but Owls could put up some fight. W, 2-0

G3: at Appalachian State Sept. 17 -- The Mountaineers were 11-2 in the Sun Belt and gave Clemson a better game (a 41-10 loss) than Miami did last year. Miami should win without much trouble, but it's no pushover, plus it is UM's first road game. W, 3-0

G4: at Georgia Tech Oct. 1 -- UM's ACC opener is vs. a Yellow Jackets squad that will be trying to rebound from a 3-9 season that included a 38-21 loss to Miami. Liking Miami to win this and make it 4-0, especially coming off bye week, but conference games on the road seldom are easy. W, 4-0

G5: vs. Florida State Oct. 8 -- FSU finished 10-3 and only beat Miami 29-24 last year, but figures to be favored, even on the road. The Seminoles have become a nemesis and conference roadblock. Al Golden couldn't beat them. Richt must prove he can. L, 4-1

G6: vs. North Carolina Oct. 15 -- The Tar Heels whipped Miami last year 59-21 en route to an 11-3 season and only lost 45-37 to Clemson. UNC could be favored here. It's one of those swing games that will determine whether Richt's first season is seen as a success. L, 4-2

G7: at Virginia Tech Oct. 20 -- Hokies finished 7-6 including a 30-20 loss to Miami, but this is a tough place to play. Another swing game. W, 5-2 

G8: at Notre Dame Oct. 29 -- Fighting Irish were 10-1 before losing their last two, and South Bend can be a madhouse. A likely loss ... or a signature win. L, 5-3

G9: vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 5 -- Panthers were 8-5 and lost to Miami 29-24. Another competitive game is likely, but UM should prevail at home. W, 6-3

G10: at Virginia Nov.12 -- Cavaliers were 5-8 but gave Miami a fight, losing 27-21. Could be tough as a road game but count it a Canes win. W, 7-3

G11: at North Carolina State Nov. 19 -- Wolfpack were 4-0 before fading to 7-6 and did not face UM last year. The road makes it dicey, but it feels winnable for UM. W, 8-3

G12: vs. Duke Nov. 26 -- Blue Devils finished 8-5 including a 30-27 loss to UM. Home and regular finale should find Canes favored. W, 9-3 

#WOMENNOTOBJECTS: Ad executve Madonna Badger, tired of how her own industry objectifies women as sexual playthings, produced a short video skewering the advertising game. Background story here. The video is below, and it's pretty powerful stuff. Quick aside to fashion designer Tom Ford: I'm sure you are a nice guy, maybe, but your ad agency appears to be run by misogynistic idiots.

 

SatanicFUN ACTIVITIES FOR SATANIC CHILDREN. NO, SERIOUSLY: There are fervent believers in God. There are those who want to believe. There are agnostics. There are atheists. And, yes, there are Satanists. This past summer hundreds gathered at a Satanic temple in Detroit for the unveiling of a large bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed creature who has come to represent a totem of modern Satanism. Whatever, right? Free country and so forth. But what I find both a little frightening and oddly hilarious is the book pictured. I don't wanna know what those fun activities involve. Animal sacrifice? Crafting papier mache goat horns? Nor do I want my kid having a play-date with the tall, sullen Satanic Frankenstein kid on the far right.

Poll results: Thinking Panthers, but wanting Broncos: We asked your early Super Bowl 50 picks, and 81.6 percent predicted the Carolina Panthers would win, but 59.1% want the Denver Broncos to win.

Poll results: You're torn on the Whiteside Dilemma, too: We asked you what the Heat should do this summer, and it was 42.0% for making a free-agent play for Kevin Durant, 31.7% for signing Hassan Whiteside long-term instead, and 26.3% undecided.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 26, 2016

Hoop Town: Canes' and Heat's big night; plus Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl polls. Two polls. Vote now!; also, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Showkiller1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 26. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me (click Making a Showkiller to watch), NFL Championship-Round playoff picks and poll, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. Have a new 'Back In My Day' in hand.

CANES' AND HEAT'S BIG NIGHT: Best night of the season for Miami hoops. Then  again, Miami's two big basketball teams rarely play on the same night, let alone against big opponents, with big victories. But still! Heat win 89-84 at Chicago with a large fourth-quarter comeback, led by Dwyane Wade's 28 points. D-Wade loves performing in his hometown, doesn't he? Back in Miami, the Hurricanes men bop rival Duke, 80-69, in a phyiacl game that saw UM with the upper hand throughout. This is was the night Jim Larranaga envisioned when he took the job in 2011: the Canes, ranked and beating Duke before a sold-out crowd. What a night. I was there in the campus arena. Click on Larranaga's Dream for my column.

Sb50SUPER BOWL 50 SET: IT'S PANTHERS-BRONCOS! NOW WHO YOU GOT? AND WHO DO YOU WANT?: It'll be No. 1 vs. No. 1 on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif. as the AFC-winning Denver Broncos meet the NFC-champion Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Panthers advanced Sunday night by dominating Arizona 49-15 after Broncos upset New England 20-18. So it'll be Canton-bound veteran Peyton Manning -- he ain't done yet -- vs. rising supertstar Cam Newton. It'll be the Broncos aiming for the franchise's third Super Bowl title but first since 1998 vs. a Panthers club that is a relative postseason neophyte, its only previous SB appearance (a loss) coming 12 years ago. Carolina is installed as an opening favorite of 3.5 points or more. So, who do you predict will win? And who do you want to win? Those two answers may or may not be the same for you. Let's find out...

THE HEAT'S WHITESIDE DILEMMA: WHICH WAY SHOULD PAT RILEY GO?: The question facing the Heat is the topic of my latest Sunday column. Click on The Whiteside Dilemma to read in Hassanfull. Should Miami spend big to extend Hassan Whiteside's contract? Or should the team instead opt for the financial wherewithal to pursue Kevin Durant in free agency? You almost certainly cannot do both, and there are no guarantees with either. No guarantee Whiteside (pictured) will continue his ascent and become a reliable star. And no guarantee of landing Durant. Miami would get nothing for Whiteside if it lets him go in free agency, but the option of trading him before next month's NBA deadline isn't viable. The trade market and Miami's return would be minimal since he'd be able to leave his new team in free agency this coming summer as well. It's a quandary for the Heat. Miami would hate to lose the unearthed, developing power of Whiteside. But would Miami hate that more than abstaining from the Durant Sweepstakes? Mixed into this quandary Dwyane Wade, of course. Like Whiteside he too is a free agent after this season. Will Miami want Wade, 34, back on another one-year deal? Might he accept less money to facilitate the club keeping Whiteside or pursuing Durant? Good luck figuring all this out, Pat Riley. That's why they pay you the big bucks. For now, give Riley some free advice in this poll.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: Championship Sunday sets up a Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl: Sunday results left a clear contrast and theme for upcoming Super Bowl 50, a quarterback duel between near-40-year-old future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and rising superstar Cam Newton. Cam's Cats were supposed to be here. But Manning? After the worst season of his career? Epic. Oh, and that ongoing cable dispute prevented U-Verse subscribers from watching the main broadcast of the NFC game. (Thanks, AT&T!)

2. HEAT: Miami beset by losing, injuries and no scoring: The good news? Dwyane Wade makes his 12th all-star game with 10 start. The bad news? Everything else. Miami has lost four straight games and seven of past eight, is injury wracked, is 28th of 30 teams in scoring average and has fallen to the eighth and final playoff spot entering tonight's game in Chicago. Otherwise, all's well!

3. PANTHERS: Cats crush defending Cup finalists to end slump: Wild ride, these Cats. They win a club-record 12 games in a row. Then they lose four straight. Now they've won two in a row by a combined 9-2 over defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago and Tampa Bay, the team it beat in the final. The Good Cats are back, at least for now.

4. HURRICANES: Monday visit by Duke tops huge two days for UM hoops: For a Sunday appetizer you had the 16th-ranked Canes women hosting No. 14 Florida State, albeit in a 69-58 UM loss. Now, the main course: The No. 15 Miami men host rival Duke tonight. Mike Krzyzewki's guys recently lost three straight to fall to No. 20, but no matter. They're still the Devils. 

5. RUNNING: Miami Marathon draws thousands: More than 24,000 runners were registered for Sunday's Miami Marathon and Half Marathon won by Moroccan Benazzouz Slimani and New York's Allison Kieffer. One entrant Larry Macon, 71, of San Antonio, competed in his 1,606th marathon. That's 42,077 miles in a lifetime of running. Big deal. My car already has more than 7,000 miles and I've only had it six months.

6. TENNIS: Top seeds Djokovic, Serena still alive in Australian Open: Year's first major moves to its quarterfinals stage with top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams still in it as expected. Serena next faces a Tuesday match with Maria Sharapova, whom she has beaten 17 straight times, including 12 of the past 13 in straight sets. Maria's improved serve supposedly gives her a better chance. Yeah good luck with that.

7. DOLPHINS: Grimes, Jones join Landry and Albert in Pro Bowl: First it was receiver/kick returner Jarvis Landry and tackle Branden Albert making the Pro Bowl as alternates because other players dropped out. Now it's Dolphins DBs Brent Grimes and Reshad Jones who are added. Brag quietly, please. That's like finally getting invited to the prom only because other girls said no. Oh, and Mike Tannenbaum says consensus agreement on who to draft in the first round is important. Well no duh, right?

8. NBA: Conference-leading Cavaliers fire their coach: It finally happened in Cleveland. LeBron James fired coach David Blatt. Of course he then denied he had any influence whatsoever on the decision. America replied, "Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" 

9. NFL: Bills hire full-time female assistant coach: Kathryn Smith becomes the first woman to be a fulltime assistant coach on an NFL staff. She'll be Buffalo's "special-teams quality control coach." Hmm. Is that even a real position?  

10. MARLINS: Spring training only three weeks away: Players begin reporting Feb. 19. I wrote an upbeat, positive column this week saying the Marlins had begun to earn back your trust. The majority email reaction was, shall we say, vehement disagreement. Bulletin to me: Fans still hate Jeffrey Loria.

Missing the cut: The Dolphins are holding cheerleader tryouts in several Latin America countries. Sure, because, clearly, there is a shortage of good-looking young Latin American women in South Florida (!) ... Upcoming tournament at Doral may be last as PGA Tour distances itself from Donald Trump. Nervous Democrats wish more Americans were doing the same ... National Signing Day is soon. That's when we instantly grade how college football programs did based on the utter guesswork of how a bunch of 17-year-olds will turn out ... World Cup champion U.S. women's soccer team announced it would play an exhibition March 9 in FAU's football stadium. It'll be weird to see a winning team on that field ... Congrats, Katie Meier, on your 200th career win at UM ... The U.S. Figure Skating Championship are going on, and nobody cares ... Answer: The U.S. team trained in Miami won the World Cup of FootGolf, a sports played on golf courses in which players kick soccer balls into giant holes. Question: Whaddya mean there are too many ridiculous, made-up sports?

Poll result: You say Panthers most likely Super Bowl champ from final four: We invited you to say which NFL final-four team you think will win the Super Bowl (not who you want to win, but who you predict will), and it was Carolina 48.0 percent, New England 32.0%, Arizona 14.7% and Denver 5.3%.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2016

'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me from LeBatard Show/Fusion TV; plus NFL Championship-Round playoff picks with who'll win Super Bowl poll. Vote now!; also, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins earning back trust, greatest-NBA-centers poll, Kiper downgrades Fins draft, Heat/Panthers simultaneous slumps, return of Sarah Palin & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Congrats to Heat star Dwyane Wade for earning yet another NBA All-Star Game start. At 34, D.Wade is aging as gracefully and effectively as most any athlete I have covered or seen." --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Nope, the Upset Bird is quiet today as the NFL playoffs pare to a final four with Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games. I Fripix Champgameslike both favorites, the visiting Patriots (at Broncos) and the homie Panthers (over Cardinals). By the way, Cinderella couldn't get past the velvet rope this year. No classic 'dog left in the hunt. In fact this is the first time in 11 years both conference title games have been No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in terms of seeding. Click on Championship-Round Gems for our two full prediction capsules. Also, click on Brady-Manning: The Latest And Last for our weekly Friday Page NFL column. It centers on the 17th and likely final duel in the epic Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry. Great rivalries always end with a winner, and the winner always is Time. In the poll below, it's who you think will win the Super Bowl, NOT who you want to win. Vote here with mind, not heart. You have $100 to bet on one team, straight up, to win it all. Who you got?

Showkiller'MAKING A SHOWKILLER': Fusion TV today rolled out a pretty clever spoof of Making A Murderer, the popular Netflix docu-series. It is Making A Showkiller, a promo for my Tuesday co-host role on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Showkiller (sometimes Showkilla) is a nickname of mine on the show for reasons I'll leave to the listener and viewer. Anyway, fun spoof and thanks to Charlie Hulme and the folks at Fusion. Click on Making a Showkiller to watch.

Poll result: Kareem, Wilt and Bill the Big 3 centers: We asked your vote for greatest NBA center of all-time in an alphabetical poll using ESPN's Top 10, and three guys accounted for almost 80 percent of the votes. It was Kareem-Abdul Jabbar winning with 29.6 percent followed by Wilt Chamberlain 26.9% and Bill Russell 21.6%. Then it was a huge dropoff but notable support for Shaquille O'Neal (8.4%) and Hakeem Olajuwon (8.0%). None of the other five had even 2%.

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January 21, 2016

Marlins, rising: As spring nears, the team you love to hate is earning back your trust; plus who is NBA's greatest center of all-time? Poll. Vote!; also, Kiper downgrades Dolphins, Heat and Panthers' simultaneous slump, Sarah Palin & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 21. I'm back at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Championship-Round picks. Oy vey. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-at-midseason grades, the onus on Ryan Tannehill, NFL Divisional pix results, 'MLK Ride-Out' idiocy, Glenn Frey & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Nice that Dolphins Jarvis Landry and Branden Albert are now in Pro Bowl, but brag quietly. Being added as late alternate is like getting asked to the prom only because other girls said no." --Greg Cote

DeegordonBULLETIN: THE MARLINS ARE EARNING BACK YOUR TRUST: Spring training is now less than a month away (players begin to report Feb. 19) and it's an interesting time for your usually disappointing and oft-vilified Miami Marlins. The team that has let you down with an unpopular owner, low spending, fire sales, instability and a lengthy playoff Donmattingly
Chendrought has had a smart, strategic offseason and seems finally to have settled on a clear direction. The Marlins, in short, may be earning back your trust again. That is the theme of my latest column as baseball begins to loom again into view. Click on Marlins, Rising to read in full. The Marlins spent big this winter to hire a credible, proven manager in Don Mattingly, to sign a legit free-agent starting pitcher in Wei-Yin Chen, and to extend the contract of all-star second baseman Dee Gordon. (Gordon, Chen and Mattingly are pictured). That piggybacks onto the long-term extension for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to give a sense that the club is committing to a core group and finally building stability. I know, we have been hopeful before only to be let down. Believe me, early Twitter response to my column has been largely negative because of this climate. Trusting the Marlins has become sort of a drinking-the-Kool-Aid kind of thing. Marlins fans are scarred. And having Jeffrey Loria and David Samson out front as the faces of the franchise is the opposite of ideal. But the Marlins are fostering hope again by action, not claim. Marlins fans can feel pretty again again as the '16 seasons draws near.

NbarankCENTERS OF THE UNIVERSE: WHO IS NBA'S GREATEST CENTER OF ALL-TIME?: ESPN's #NBArank series today names its top 10 NBA centers of all time. (Sorry, Miami. No Hassan Whiteside). Their list is in order, 1 through 10. But I don't want to prejudice the jury with ESPN's opinion, so in my poll I am listing their choices alphabetically. Vote for your top three (3) by whatever critera you choose and from that we'll arrive at a consensus. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3)

KiperKIPER (SLIGHTLY) DOWNGRADES DOLPHINS' '15 DRAFT: ESPN's Mel Kiper (pictured), with time on his hands between mock drafts, today re-grades the 2015 draft of every NFL team, and he adjusts Miami's grade from a B down to a C-plus. His explanation: "In my post-draft grades I noted that DeVante Parker was one of my favorite picks of Round 1, and they didn't have to move to get their guy. I could have seen him going with any of the four picks ahead of Miami. It was only at the end of the season, however, that we saw Parker start to show off what he's capable of. If he's healthy, he can be special. Jordan Phillips worked his way into the rotation and we also got a glimpse of Jay Ajayi, but it's fair to call the early returns underwhelming, especially when the team took a step back overall. A healthy Parker changes that going forward." Mel's re-grades for the other AFC East teams all were up slightly, Patriots from B-minus to A, Jets A-minus to A and Bills C-minus to B.

ONE'S IN SNEAKERS AND ONE ON SKATES, BUT HEAT, PANTHERS BOTH FIZZLING IN LOCKSTEP: That good feeling our NBA and NHL teams carried into the new year didn't last long. Suddenly
Gallant Dwadeboth teams are slumping just past midseason and looking for fast answers. (Dwyane Wade and Panthers coach Gerard Gallant are pictured). Miami Heat: That hoped-for Eastern finals vs. Cleveland could still happen, but a current 2-7 slump since Jan. 6 after last night's loss has made it seem remote. Wracked by injuries and inconsistency (The I's have it!), Miami has fallen to seventh place and now faces four more road games in a row. A fan's thoughts have veered from comeuppance vs. LeBron to, "Can you just make the playoffs, please?" Florida Panthers: The Cats have chased their club-record 12-game winning streak with a four straight losses during which they are 0-for-12 on power plays. The division lead has frittered to three points, and the next game, Friday here, is vs. a Chicago team that itself has won 12 games in a row. Who'd they better call? Slump Busters! And fast.

Poll results: Heat performance at midseason seen as average to below average: We invited your midseason letter grade (A,B, C or D) for the Heat relative to your preseason expectations, and most, 55.6 percent, gave it a C for average. However the below average D's (26.8%) outpolled the above average B's (16.4%) and the excellent A's (1.2%).

PALIN ENDORSES TRUMP. THIS IS SERIOUS, RIGHT? YOU BETCHA!: [Note: This is a mostly sports blog but one that also delves into pop culture and politics. Even having said that, let me fire a Dailynewspreemptive strike to get ahead of the curve: "STICK TO SPORTS!!!!!"] OK when I heard the news yesterday that Sarah Palin had endorsed Donald Trump for president, the initial thought was, "With friends like these..." I mean, does Trump or any candidate benefit from or even want the public backing of the person who single-handedly cost John McCain a legitimate shot at the presidency because, as his VP-candidate running mate, she was a such a national punchline and laughingstock? Conservatives will argue the New York Daily News front page today is just more of the liberal media doing its thing. Fair enough. But the illustration also represents a lot of people who are incredulous that Trump thinks Palin helps him beyond appealing to the voters he already appeals to. If I were the RNC I would be concerned about the short-sightedness of this. Yes, Palin's endorsements may help Trump in Iowa in a contested primary vs. Ted Cruz. But beyond? At some point the Republican frontrunner Trump needs to think nationally and about how to win a general election vs. Hillary Clinton (still likely) or Bernie Sanders. That is where an endorsement by Palin -- let alone a place in his administration -- may hurt Trump as he attempts to woo wavering Democrats and undecideds. Of course that's just my opinion. I may be wrong. 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2016

Your midseason grade for the Miami Heat: New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Final Four makes clear the onus on Tannehill, Dolphins; also, our latest playoff-pix results, MLK Ride-Out, Glenn Frey & more

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

It's Radio Tuesday!: Hope y'all enjoyed today's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz with me as guest-host. I just Tweeted out a link to today's latest "Back In My Day" so be sure to give us a follow.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 19. R.I.P. to Sun-Sentinel Marlins reporter Juan C. Rodriguez and founding Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, both of whom passed away yesterday. I knew Juan as a respected colleague and Frey only as someone whose music was is a part of my life's soundtrack. Sad to lose both. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Exploring South Florida's sports attic, Hot Button Top 10, MLK Day, your verdict on playoff QBs & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Abcd MiamiheatYOUR MIDSEASON GRADE FOR THE HEAT: The Miami Heat at midseason are what we thought they'd be. Or at least what I thought. They are pretty good, but no more. They are 23-18 and currently the fifth seed. They are only three games from second place in the East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. It would not shock me if they wound up in the conference finals against (presumably) Cleveland. But neither would it shock me if they missed the playoffs for a second straight season. So I'd give the Heat a "C" grade based in my expectations; for me, they have neither impressed nor disappointed beyond what I anticipated. But this is your poll, not mine. What is your midseason grade for the Heat based on your preseason thoughts? I purposely have not include an "F" in the poll, because, well, c'mon.

NFL FINAL FOUR IS A REMINDER WHERE DOLPHINS MOST FALL SHORT, AND HELPS EXPLAIN MIAMI'S HIRING STRATEGY: Four quarterbacks are left standing to fight for a Super Bowl win. Two Tannehillgaseare Canton-bound all-time greats in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. One is a better-than-ever veteran coming off his best season in Carson Palmer. And one is an exciting, rising young superstar in Cam Newton. The essential importance of the QB position in the modern NFL is underlined, and so is the gulf between the top tier at this position and the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill. I explore this in my latest column; click on The Onus on Tannehill and Miami to read in full. I write why the hiring of head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Clyde Chistensen, both seen as a QBs guru, were made specifically to elevate Tannehill's game to a point he can lead this franchise back to the playoffs, which he has yet to do in four years. (Tannehill and Gase are pictured). It is unspoken but abundantly clear: It's 2016-or-bust for this Tannehill/Dolphins marriage.

FripixNFL PIX DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS: We were 3-1 straight-up again this week, although Seattle didn't give our upset pick much of a chance with that 31-0 hole before rallying. We went only 1-2-1 against the spread, with the Broncos pushing at seven points. Also, alas, my preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- perished with Green Bay's overtime loss.

RideoutTHE IDIOCY OF THE 'MLK RIDE-OUT': For the second straight year yesterday, hundreds of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes clogged South Florida roadways en masse for what has sadly become an annual event: the Martin Luther King Day Ride-Out. What a lunatic idea. Seriously. It's an exercise in lawlessness and pissant anarchy that sees dangerous driving and can only foment road rage as angry motorists respond. I'm surprised law enforcement has not made a concerted effort to stop this insane practice. Deaths will happen. Just a matter of time. I try to avoid the broad, sweeping statement, but let's just say anyone participating in this thing is very likely not an active member of MENSA.

R.I.P., GLENN FREY: GONE ALREADY: David Bowie, now this. So sad.

 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote