1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Note, a change in MiamiHerald.com policy that began on Tuesday means commenters here must now log in with a Facebook account. Thanks to our blog family for navigating the change! 2) I'm back up in Palacio de Friday Page today conjuring this week's NFL predictions. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill poll, LeBron's new hairline, Kevin Olsen, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY Top 10, 3D-printed car & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Double-click Thursday: Click on Guesswork Discipline for today's column by me on Adrian Peterson and the NFL's crisis of credibility. Click on Falcons Flying for my predix capsule on tonight's game.
YOU SHAPE CANTON'S NEXT HALL OF FAME CLASS: This week the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O. revealed the 113 people on its 2015 ballot. It'll be pared to 25 names in November and to 15 finalists in January before four to eight new members are elected during Super Bowl Week. This poll includes the 10 people most likely, in my view, to produce the next class of inductees. Our list includes the five most prominent 2014 finalists back for another shot, and the five most prominent first-time eligibles, who are designated in the poll by an asterisk. Say this is your Hall of Fame ballot and you may vote for as many as five. Who are your picks?
ON JAMEIS WINSTON'S LATEST IMAGE-HIT: So FSU's Heisman-winning quarterback stands up on a table in the middle of campus and shouts an unfortunately popular string of words that are juvenile, vulgar and sexist: "F--- her right in the p----!" Naturally it gets out. He is suspended for a half-game -- the first half of Saturday's biggie vs. Clemson. Oh, Jameis. So stupid fortwo reasons: 1) Did you think, in the age of smart-phones turning everybody into photographers and videographers, that this wouldn't go viral and get you in trouble? Can you be that dense? 2) You of all, people. You, who have been the subject of rape allegations, shouting mysogenist garbage. The good news: What you shouted just gave somebody at Urban Outfitters an idea for a new sweatshirt slogan!
Poll result: Quantifying the erosion of confidence in Ryan Tannehill: We asked your degree of faith in the quarterback's Dolphins future (you may still vote), and more than one in three voters -- 34.5 percent -- answered, "I've seen enough. He isn't the answer. Then it was 31.4% for "not given up but serious doubts," 28.5% for "still back him but must see improvement" and only 4.7% for "very optimistic." Opinions are hardening, with a negligible 0.8% still undecided. This is a clear erosion of faith from previous Tannehill polls. In August 2012 we asked what you realistically expect of his Miami career and most, 49.2%, said "very good, at least a few Pro Bowls." In July 2013 we asked waht you see as his future and most, 42.7%, said "very good." Now, he must earn back the former supporters who have lost faith.
BOYCOTT URBAN OUTFITTERS: Urban Outfitters is a Philadelphia-headquartered clothing company whose idea of being hip and cutting-edge is to consistently insult and offend. It's time we put them out of business. The latest UO outrage was a "vintage" Kent State University sweatshirt with a blood-splatter pattern. It was quickly removed from shelves after complaints from grownups who still associate Kent State with the 1970 tragedy (see photo). UO said, "We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively." Bulls---! Don't put it on our misperception. Put it on your own business plan. UO's previous controversies included "fashion symbols" that resembled Nazi stars, a handgun-shaped Christmas ornament, Che Guevara clothing and a "Ghettopoly" game board. Enough. Boycott.
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MESSAGE TO OUR BLOG FAMILY: (Note, this decision is corporate, not my own): "Starting Tuesday (yesterday), to comment on this blog you’ll need to log in with a Facebook account. We encourage lively discussion, but also believe respect and civility must be part of good debate. Your blog posts will carry the name on your Facebook account; you will have the choice whether your post also appears on your own Facebook page." Find a broader explanation here. Change affects all blogs, not just this one. I apologize for any inconvenience and thank our blog community -- the strongest on all of MiamiHerald.com -- for standing together through the change.
1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17. A belated happy birthday to Dan Marino, who turned 53 this week. Time flies like his passes once did. Fast. 2) The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, showing a sizable dip, may be found in blogpost directly below. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fizzle in Buffalo, DSM poll, Heat signing, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
CONUNDRUM: TANNEHILL HASN'T FULLY EARNED TRUST, BUT DOLPHINS MUST TRUST HIM: I explore the curious state of Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in my latest column; click on Pass Or Fail to read. Two mediocre games into this third season, some fans and media already are concluding he isn't the team's long-term answer at quarterback. I say it looks like the Dolphins are afraid to find out. They are not letting him throw deep as often as they should. Sunday in the loss at Buffalo they ran out the clock with 2:21 left in the half and three timeouts (plus the two-minute warning) left. That was negative coaching betraying a lack of confidence in the man running the offense. Unshackle Tannehill, I say. It is the only way to know for sure what you have, and what the future holds. But enough of my opinion. Time for yours. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.
LEBRON UNVEILS NEW SHOE, NEW HAIR: LeBron James has unveiled his latest sneaker, the $200 LeBron 12 pictured left, a shoe whose color scheme seems to pay subconscious homage to the NFL in the city he left behind. Of more interest, it seems LeBron also has quietly also unveiled a new hairline that has reduced his growing expanse of forehead. Check out the before and current pics at right.
ON CANES QB KEVIN OLSEN: [Update: UM released the following statement in its entirety: "Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami. We wish him the very best in the future."] My original post: I have a personal policy to not criticize college athletes as I would pro athletes. Kevin Olsen (pictured in this week's police mug shot) makes that a challege. UM's oft-suspended quarterback is suspended again after his latest off-field issue, a DUI arrest with a fake ID -- dropping an unneeded distraction onto Al Golden's lap as the team prepares to play Nebraska. I temper this with a degree of sympathy, because it has become obvious the kid has an alcohol problem. He needs help and the school should try to give it as a last step before cutting ties altogether.
NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2 DIPS: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went 9-7 overall in Week 2 and 8-8 against the spread, nailing our Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!") with Cowboys winning at Tennessee. Fantasy:Thud! Greg's Lobos fell to Earth like the Dolphins, losing 136-90 with nobody topping 15 lousy points.
SOPY: CANES' KAAYA VAULTS TO THIRD PLACE: A 177-point Week 3 vaults Canes QB Brad Kaaya to third place in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (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 Jameis 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 4:
SOPY WEEK 3 TOP 10
Rk (LW) Player, team-pos. Wk2 Season
1 (1) Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb 49 433
2 (--) DeMarcus Robinson, Fla-rec 228 357
3 (7) Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb 177 353.5
4 (2) Jameis Winston, FSU-qb DNP 348
5 (9) Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb 182.5 319.5
6 (5) Duke Johnson, Miami-rb 116 314
7 (--) Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec 206 302
8 (3) Rashad Greene, FSU-rec 80 289
9 (--) Matt Jones, Florida-rb 176 262
10 (--) Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb 201 256.5
Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 252. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 250.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF, Florida and FSU have played one fewer game (2) than the other four state FBS teams.
Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 4: 1. FSU (2-0); 2. Florida (2-0); 3. Miami (2-1); 4. UCF (0-2); 5. SoFla (1-2); 6. FAU (1-2); 7. FIU (1-2).
WORLD'S FIRST 3-D PRINTED CAR: This technology is beyond my comprehension -- I still listen to CDs -- but I find this fascinating. The Strati (pictured), a two-seat electric car with a range of 120 miles and a max speed of 40 mph, has been unveiled at a Chicago auto show. It was manufactured with a 3-D printer by Local Motors of Phoenix. The Strati will cost between $18,000 and $30,000 when it goes on sale later this year. Click here for the backstory.
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IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO OUR BLOG FAMILY: (Note, this decision is corporate and well above my pay grade): "Starting Tuesday, to comment on this blog you’ll need to log in with a Facebook account. We encourage lively discussion on the blog, but also believe that respect and civility must be part of good debate. This change brings commenting on MiamiHerald.com blogs in line with our policy on the rest of our website. We made that change in February 2013. Your blog posts will carry the name on your Facebook account; you will have the choice of whether your post also appears on your own Facebook page." A broader explanation of new policy may be found here. The change affects all blogs, not just this one. I apologize for any inconvenience and hope our blog community -- the best on all of MiamiHerald.com -- will stand together through the change.
1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results are in and show a sizable bump. See previous blogpost for details. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) Click Week 2 Gems for our latest NFL predictions and Eventually, Forgiveness for our Friday Page column on Ray Rice. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Arkansas State, CSM poll, FIU and other state collball, Phyllis Smith & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Our live blog and postgame commentary on yesterday's Dolphins game is immediately beneath the new DSM poll. No surprise: With Knowshon Moreno out at least a few games, Miami re-signed RB Daniel Thomas today.
DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 12.2 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 29-10 loss at Buffalo putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The 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 will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.
2014 DSM results
G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)
G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)
Next poll: Sept. 21 (following game vs. Kansas City)
G2: BUFFALO 29, DOLPHINS 10: BACK TO EARTH WITH A THUD AT THE RALPH:Final: A litany of awfulness and not enough on Sunday. Miami allows four sacks and gets zero. Tannehill was not terrible but only reached the end zone once as team went 5-for-16 on 3rd downs. Moreno injured his elbow -- and figures to be out at least a few games. The defense gave up a big day to Watkins (8-117) and a 47-yard run to Spiller. The special-teams gave up a 102-yard Spiller kickoff TD and muffed a punt return. That 102-yard play was the real killer, coming right after Miami had gained a modicum of momentum. All in all a sad, back-to-earth performance after last week's exhilirating second half vs. New England. Perspective? Being 1-1 right now shouldn't shock Dolfans. But how Miami got to 1-1 leaves you still wondering about this team. ..... 4Q: Tannehill INT ends it. ... And Hartline drops a deep TD pass. Perfect. Fitting. ... Parade of Carpenter chip-shot FGs continues, score now 29-10 inside of two minutes. It's all over but the complaining. ... Tanny suffers 4th sack but first since early. ... Hey something went right for Miami! Carpenter blew a short FG so Landry's muff didn't cost any points. ... Another special-teams boner! Landry muffs punt-catch, gives BUF possession deep in Fins territory. ... MIA fails on 4th down as bleak gets bleaker. ... Bison tack on yet another FG for 26-10 margin. ..... 3Q: Watkins 12-yard TD catch just before hald. Watkins killing Miami today. So is Dolphin-killer Spiller, whose 47-yard run made quick work of series. MIA had momentum for a minute. Not now. ... Dolphins within 16-10 on terrific 1-handed 7-yard endzone TD catch by Mike Wallace. Been lot of times to doubt if Wallace is worth all that money. On that play, he was worth the money. ... MIA 4th and-3 at Bison 41 -- go for it! They did, and got it on pass to Landry. ... Killer. Just as MIA inches back into the game, it's 16-3 on a 102-yard Spiller kick-return TD. The special-teams coach is crawling into the nearest hole. ... Bad third-down throw by Tanny and MIA settles for 34-yard Sturgis FG to draw within 9-3. ... Stop the presses! Fins in Buffalo territory for first time all day! ..... Half: Miami still in it down 9-0 but that'll require some offense -- currently nonexistent. Dolphins defense has been OK (less so against the pass), but Miami's 62 yards of total offense qualify as pathetic. The Ralph has been a fright for Tannehill. His last six quarters in Buffalo he has 120 air yards on 38 passes, barely three yards per attempt. The halftime question: Does OC Bill Lazor have any adjustments/tricks to bring a flatlining offense to life? ..... 2Q: Why are Dolphins running out clock instead of trying a shot to get into FG range? ... Dolphins are one big offensive play from getting back in this game. All-points bulletin for that play. ... Buffs 9-0 with 31-yard FG. Only Miami's red-zone D is working for Fins right now. ... MIA pass D just gave up its fourth 20-plus play. And it's early. ... Tanny takes a second sack, and a third. Momentum strongly in Bills' favor right now. ..... 1Q: Only 46 total yards in first for Dolphins... Buffs 6-0 with another 27-yard FG. Miami red-zone defense tough, keeping MIA in game. ... Reversed call gives Buffs ball at MIA 7. Everything turning wrong for Fins. ... Buffs block Dolphins punt. ... Tannehill underthrows Wallace yet again. ... Knowshon Moreno apparent left wrist or elbow injury on first carry, leaves game. Not a good sight. ... Ex-Dolph Carpenter nails 27-yard FG for 3-nil Buffs lead. ... Punt-punt to start game is OK, but Tannehill taking a first-series sack not a good sign. ... Fins need to match Bills' obvious emotion at The Ralph. ..... Original post: It's a near pick-'em game because nobody can quite figure out which of these teams is most for real after both had very impressive opening upset wins -- Buffs triumphing in Chicago and Fins clobbering New England. The winner of today's 1 p.m. game will claim that For Real tag, while the loser's fans may feel like, "Back to Earth. Same old same old." Bills swept Miami last year but Dolphins have improved more, and that awful 19-0 MIA loss last December is a lingering embarrassment that will provide fuel. Both teams must limit the other's ground game and that could be tough for Miami, because of linebacker injuries and because BUF has a really strong defensive front. Dolphs' run-D is good, too, though. Both teams will be forced to pass and, when that happens, I like Miami's air game vs. Bison secondary. A week ago I had a strong gut feeling Miami would beat the Pats and I was right. This week's pick is tougher, and is made with low confidence. I self-diagnose there may be a shad eof homer in this call, but I just feel the visiors are a bit better overall. My pick: Dolphins, 27-20.
HEAT SIGN KHEM BIRCH: Bringing roster to 17, Heat today sign ex-UNLV star Khem Birch, a forward all about the rebounds and blocked shots. He was Mountain West defensive player of the year last season.
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:
1. Marlins: Stanton MVP season ends with fastball to face: Forget about ever-fading wild-card hopes. Big question is whether Giancarlo Stanton's injury will ruin his MVP chances. In fairness, it shouldn't. If it did, that would quite literally redefine the phrase "adding insult to injury."
2. Dolphins: Miami at Bills in search of 2-0 start: This is where I mention the profound historical signifinace of starting 2-0. Then that's where you mention that it was 3-0 last season before Richie Incognito swallowed the team and left the season in a dumpster fire.
3. UM football: Kaaya's record day propels Canes; Nebraska next: Brad Kaaya set UM freshman record with 342 passing yards in 41-20 cruise past Arkansas State, but thoughts already swivel to Lincoln, Neb. and the Cornhuskers. That's the game that gets Al Golden's critics off his back, or piles more on.
4. NFL: Scandals have commissioner under fire: Roger Goodell scrambles to save his job as the Ray Rice scandal festers and league seeks consistency in how to punish wrong-doers. Latest: Adrian Peterson indicted for child endangerment. Guys, can you all stay out of trouble for one freakin' week, please!?
5. Team USA: Americans go for gold in FIBA World Cup: It's U.S. vs. Serbia for gold today in Madrid, ending a tournament in which Team USA is 8-0 with an average winning margin of 33 points. What was that I was saying about how much the team would miss absent stars like LeBron james and Kevin Durant?
6. Donna Shalala: UM president stepping down: Shalala will leave UM after 14 years. Many Canes football fans complained that her high academic standards hurt the program, oblivious to how comically upside-down that made their priorities seem.
7. Panthers: NHL team opens training camp Friday: Five days from the ceremonial return of skates and pucks in South Florida. New coach Gerard Gallant doesn't know the market. Let's not break it to him yet that this isn't a hockey town.
8. Serena Williams: Woman defies aging, keeps winning: Her third straight U.S. Open title last week was her sixth overall and 18th major. She'll be 33 next week. Serena did not get the memo informing tennis players they're supposed to be over the hill by then.
9. FXFL: New minor-league football team coming to Miami: The Fall Experimental Football League opens in October with four teams and one, the Florida Blacktips, is Miami-based and will play at FIU. "See you soon!" said the caretaker of the Miami Minor-League Sports Graveyard.
10. Atlanta Hawks: Racial turmoil engulfs team: Owner Bruce Levenson resigns over a racially charged email and GM Danny Ferry takes leave of absence after saying Luol Deng (now with Heat) "has some African in him." Not sure if that's even offensive, but let's be offended anyway, just to play it safe.
Bubble: NASCAR Chase for the Cup begins ... UM, FIU to resume playing each other ... MLB forms committee to speed up games. I still like my idea: First run wins.
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1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 13. Click on Week 2 Gems for our latest NFL prediction capsules and on Eventually, Forgiveness for our Friday Page column on Ray Rice. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton's injury, Ray Rice poll, Ferry-Deng audio, NFL Week 2 pix, Al Golden verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Thoughts of Tony C, and thanks it wasn't worse: Today's column by me on Giancarlo Stanton's injury. Click on Lucky to read.
Our UM-Arkansas State game blog is directly below the poll...
CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 71.8%: Results are ceertified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 71.8 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 41-20 home victory vs. Arkansas State putting UM's season record at 2-1. The CSM polls, in their sixth season, are 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)
Next poll: Sept. 20 (following game at Nebraska)
G3: HURRICANES 41, ARKANSAS STATE 20:Final: Canes fans not satisfied by this may be trying a bit too hard to be critical. Just a thought. Offense in charged all day, led by Kaay's 341 yards and 4 TDs and Dorsett's 201 yards receiving. Too bad for him they didn't try harder to get him Eddie Brown's durable 1984 record of 220 catch-yards. Anyway, it was what it was supposed to be: An easy win over an opponent that should have been an easy win. ..... Halftime: UM having its way offensively at 27-14. Brad Kaaya 10--for-13 for 226 yards and two TDs, Duke Johnson 64 yards rushing on 8 carries, and Phillip Dorsett three catches for 138 yards. Defense has shown a couple of letdowns, though, enough to feed the Mark D'Onofrio haters if not quite sumptuously. ..... Original post: From the Sun Belt Conference come the Arkansas State Red Wolves for today's 3:30 Canes home game -- one Miami should win comfortably but yet must not approach too comfortably. This isn't FAMU, a totally overmatched foe with no real shot at winning. Ark-State, generally around a 15-point underdog, is capable of an upset if UM is off its game or on auto-pilot dreaming of next week's big test at Nebraska. Don't see that happening. Canes are missing WR Stacy Coley to an injury but have plenty of other firepower to make this a no-sweat afternoon. They'd better, because the growing impatience with the program and especially with coach Al Golden mandates an easy W today. My pick: Miami, 34-13.
Other Collball Week 3 state FBS games:
Pitt 42, FIU 25: FIU stunningly led 16-0 after one quarter but was thereafter dominated and overrun. The home team was coming off a win over tiny Wagner but facing an opponent much higher on the college food chain, with Pittsburgh favored by around 25 points. Both teams nicknamed Panthers with similar uniform colors, but not similiar in talent or depth.
FAU 50, Tulsa 21: Tulsa was a slight favorite by most sports books, but I had a strong feeling the home team would prevail. But not by this much! Night Owls!
Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (OT): Gators survive in triple-overtime, oh my! Kentucky was 2-0 but Gators owned this opponent, this series, especially in the Swamp. I said I'd surprised if Florida wasn't on top of the 19.5-point bet-line, but I was wrong. Gator Nation none too pleased.
Also: No. 20 Missouri def. UCF, 38-10; and North Carolina State def. South Florida, 49-17. No. 1 Florida State is off.
Poll result: Rice should serve full-year suspension, but no consensus: We asked about the punishment and future of Ray Rice over his domestic abuse scandal, and 42.8 percent said he should serve a full-season suspension, 29.6% said six games, 15.5% said a lifetime ban, 8.9% said two games and 3.2% were undecided.
HOW NOT TO GET RE-ELECTED IN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: North Miami Beach Councilwoman Phyllis Smith (pictured) has devised a way to avoid paying local taxes, anger people and lose her next election all at the same time. Congratulations, Phyllis! How embarrassingly, gallingly brilliant! The lesson, kids, is that what is legal isn't always what's right. What you can do isn't necessarily what you should do. Click here to read.
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1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today conjuring Sunday's notes-column package. 2) Thirteen years later, never forget doesn't just mean on Sept. 11. Means always. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, updated SOPY standings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
NFL Week 2 picks: Good start last night with Ravens winning. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our predictions capsules (have the Dolphins winning, but it's a low-confidence pick), and on Eventually, Forgiveness for our Friday Page NFL column, on the engulfing Ray Rice controversy. Had an earlier column on how Miami suddenly is an "it" team in the NFL. Click on The State of Show-Me to read.
Faint memories of Tony C., and thanks this wasn't worse: My new column on Giancarlo Stanton's injury and how close he came to a career-changing tragedy. Click on Lucky to read.
MARLINS' STANTON HIT IN FACE BY FASTBALL; SEASON LIKELY DONE: The unimaginable struck the Marlins in Milwaukee last night, with Giancarlo Stanton hit on the left cheek by an 88-mph Mike Fiers fastball, wheeled off in an ambulance cart and almost certainly done for the remainder of the season. Stanton, co-favorite for the NL MVP award with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, by rights should not lose his shot at the award over this, but sadly might. Stanton lay in pain for several minutes near home plate, being attended to after the fifth-inning beaning -- the scene pictured -- before being carted off. Incredibly, home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled he swung while raising his arms to defend himself. Reed Johnson came in to finish Stanton's at-bat, also was hit (on the hand), but also was said to have swung. The two dugouts emptied, with Marlins manager Mike Redmond and Casey McGehee both ejected for arguing. What an awful break for Stanton, who had not missed a single game injured all season and was in the home stretch of a career year. Redmond afterward described Stanton as "bleeding heavily from his mouth" near home plate, adding, "It was scary." Might he possibly return in the final weeks of the season? "It's not looking good," said the manager. "It's devastating for us. Devastating." Medical update from Marlins Friday morning indicates Stanton suffered "facial lacerations requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures & dental damage," but the club said it is not expected he will require surgery. A doctor friend who deals with facial injuries said it was good news no mention was made of an orbital-bone fracture, which would involve the eye and vision, so early indications based on what we know suggest Stanton should be fully recovered by spring training. What bookend misfortune, though: the Marlins lose their two true stars -- Joe Fernandez early in the season to Tommy John surgery, and now Stanton late in the year to this. Best wishes to Giancarlo, a classy, good guy. I hope MVP voters rally around him and don't add insult to his injury by penalizing him for being hit in the face.
AUDIO OF HAWKS GM'S 'AFRICAN' COMMENT ON DENG: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a 2-minute 22-second audio of the conference call in which Hawks GM Danny Ferry says of Luol Deng (now with the Heat), "He's got some African in him." Comes about midway through. Ferry claimed he was reading from a scouting report, but it sure doesn;t seem like that on the tape. Click here to listen.
CONDEMNATION, FORGIVENESS AND RAY RICE: The revealing this week of the awful video that shows Ray Rice slugging his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator has NFL commissioner Roger Goodell scrambling to keep his job and Rice's future in the league in limbo and jeopardy. The Ravens cut him and league suspended him indefinitely amid speculation he'll never play again. I think that's harsh. Plenty don't agree. Rice and Janay Palmer both say he had never struck her before so we must assume this was a first-time offense, appalling as it was. Based solely on that he should be suspended two games (his original sentence) or six games (if the new, tougher rules are applied), and then be reinstated and be eligible to be signed. But some say the graphic video merits a full-year suspension or even a lifetime ban. And even if he were to be reinstated, would any team risk the public-relations backlash to sign him? Rice is 27 and before last season was rated among the NFL's top handful of running backs. I think this poll distills to the shades of gray in one not-simple question: Does Ray Rice deserve a second chance? Vote and say why.
MOST NFL PLAYERS BY COLLEGE: Ex-Canes, Gators and Noles in the NFL are prevalent once more. Top 10 pro-producing schools in 2014 based on opening-week NFL rosters: LSU 38 players, Southern Cal 37, Alabama 36, Georgia 34, Florida and FSU 33 each, Miami 31, Cal and Ohio State 29 each, and Notre Dame and Tennessee 28 each.
Poll result: Most still back UM's Golden, but support wavering: We invited you to describe your support (or lack of) for UM football coach Al Golden in any of four categories (you may still vote), and it was 27.0 percent "strong," 34.5% "medium," 24.2% "weak," and 14.3% "none." That's mostly favorable -- 61.5% strong/medium to 38.5% weak/none -- but it's a soft thumbs-up, with increasing dissatisfaction apparent.
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Dolfan satisfaction running at a buoyant 96.4%. See previous blogpost for full results of first DSM poll. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whip Patriots, DSM poll, QB wives, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
On Ray Rice, Bruce Levenson: Amid the outcry over Rice's violent video and Levenson's racially charged email, we step back and suggest that Rice deserves a second chance in the NFL, and that there may have been some truth in what Levenson wrote. Today's latest column: Beyond the Condemnation.
Bump for Dolphins Super Bowl odds: The win over New England sent Miami's updated Super Bowl odds (via Bovada) rising from 66-1 (tied for 19th) to a current 40-1 (tied for 12th). Seattle has bumped ahead of Denver, 7-2 to 9-2, as overall SB favorite.
'FIRE AL GOLDEN' MOVEMENT TAKES SEED. DO YOU SUPPORT UM'S COACH?: OK, "Fire Al Golden movement takes seed" may be a tad dramatic, if technically accurate. It's a very small seed at this point. Miami New Times has a piece about "disgruntled UM fans" raising money to fly a 'Fire Al Golden' banner over the stadium during the Florida State game in November, but the cause of one disgruntled fan, Danny Vazquez, seems to have modest support (though a pretty good publicist, evidently). His GoFundMe campaign has raised only $520 from 21 donors in six days, about half of what he needs for the banner. His FireAlGolden Twitter account has a modest 230 followers. Wasn't it just a minute ago we loved Golden and students were wearing white shirts and orange ties in his honor? Wasn't it just a minute ago we were lauding how he'd navigated UM through the three-year Nevin Shapiro/NCAA mire he inherited? Now he loses the opener at Louisville and we want his scalp? Seems silly to me, or at least way premature. What if UM is 2-1 and then wins at Nebraska? What if the Canes are 7-2 and ranked going into that FSU game? How silly would that banner flyover look then? The purpose of this poll is to gauge support (or lack of) for Al Golden. I wonder if the critics calling him Al "Folden" and supporting his firing are the majority, a lunatic few or somewhere in between. Tell me. Tell Al. Tell each other. Vote now and say why.
NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SOLID START: We'll update you briefly every week (on Tuesday or Wednesday) on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-leahgue team. Pix: We went 11-5 overall and 8-8 against the spread, nailing three outright upsets including Dolphins over Pats. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos, after a miserable 2-12 season last year in our eight-team league, won its opener 167-126, led by Calvin Johnson's 36 points.
SOPY: DEFENDING CHAMP WINSTON VAULTS TO SECOND: A Week 2-best 142 points lifts FSU quarterback Jameis Winston into second place in our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated 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 Jameis 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. Standings are for regular seasons and do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.
SOPY WEEK 2 TOP 10
Rk (LW) Player, team-pos. Wk2 Season
1 (1) Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb 80 384
2 (3) Jameis Winston, FSU-qb 142 348
3 (2) Rashad Greene, FSU-rec 80 289
4 (--) Alex Gardner, FIU-rb 138 199
5 (7) Duke Johnson, Miami-rb 103 198
6 (6) Karlos Williams, FSU-rb 87 189
7 (10t) Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb 99.5 176.5
8 (--) Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec 133 153
9 (--) Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb 137 137
10 (--) Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec 60 136
10 (10t) Jay Warren, FAU-rb 59 136
Bubble: DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 129. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 115. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 points (Wk1). Note: All seven state FBS teams have played two games except Florida and UCF (1 each).
Cote's State of the State Week 1 rank: 1. FSU (2-0); 2. Florida (1-0); 3. Miami (1-1); 4. UCF (0-1); 5. SoFla (1-1); 6. FAU (0-2); 7. FIU (1-1).
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1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes thump FAMU, FIU rolls, Super Bowl verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Canesfan Satisfaction Meter:35.9%: Check out the previous blogpost for details.
Our Dolphins-Patriots game blog is directly below the new DSM poll. Click on Restoring Faith for my column off the opening victory.
DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 96.4%: As we begin a seventh season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls results are certified in the first one and they 96.4 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 33-20 home victory over New England. The DSM 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)
G1: DOLPHINS 33, NEW ENGLAND 20: IS LITTLE BROTHER READY TO STAND UP? YES!:Final: Huge, huge season-opening home victory by Dolphins today, with a second-half rally as impressive any any we've seen lately. Ryan Tannehill was efficient but for one pick, Knowshon Moreno was terrific, the maligned O-line was fine, and the Came Wake-led defense tormented Tom Brady. What a performance! ..... 4Q: MIA up 33-20 on Sturgis 27-yard FG with 2:44 to play. ... Fourth-down sack by Wake all but clinches it for Dolphins! ... Moreno 4-yard TD run for a 30-20 MIA lead with 3:29 to play. Fins on the doorstep of a huge season-opening win. ... Dion Sims let a should-a been TD pass slip off his fingertips. ... Olivier Vernon sack of Brady forces punt. ..... 3Q: MIA up 23-20 on 22-yard Sturgis FG after 5-yard TD run by Miller is erased by a Ja'Wuan James holding penalty. Moreno now up to 111 yards rushing. ... Takeaway leads directly to 20-20 tie on Wallace 14-yard TD from Tannehill, Wallace beating coverage by Darrelle Revis. ... Sack by Cam Wake causes Brady fumble recovered by Louis Delmas at NE 34. ... Miami within 20-13 after settling for 24-yard Sturgis FG to cap 65-yard drive. Miller stopped his route on 3rd down incompletion, got yelled at by Tannehill on sideline. ..... Half: Miami fortunate to only be trailing by 20-10 at the half considering the wrong side of a 3-0 turnover margin and a mere 138 yards of total offense. ..... 2Q: Pats add 45-yard FG for 20-10 lead just before half. ... Fins within 17-10 on 38-yard Caleb Sturgis FG with 1:59 left in half. ... Lamar Miller loses fumble for third MIA turnover of half. Embarrassing. ... Pats drive 94 yards after INT, take 17-7 lead on Rob Gronkowski 6-yard TD pass. Drive highlighted by 44-yard Julius Edelman catch. ... Tannehill terrible interception on underthrow to a wide-open Wallace. Picked by Alfonzo Dennard. Should-a been a TD pass. Really bad. ..... 1Q: Tannehill-Wallace 22-yard pass ends quarter. ... Pats up 10-7 as Wallace fumble leads to 47-yard Stephen Gostkowski FG. ... Mike Wallace fumble after catch sets up Pats at MIA 35. ... Pats knot it 7-7 on Shane Vereen 2-yard scoring run punctuating impressive 80-yard, 13-play drive. ... Ryan Tannehill 4-yard TD pass to Lamar Miller and 7-0 MIA lead hand-delivered by punt block. ... Dolphin Chris McCain blocks NE punt, Jason Trusnik recovers at Pats 15. ..... Original post: The Patriots are the smirking, swaggering Big Brother always able to parry the punches of the Lil' Bro Dolphins. Not in every game but in the big picture. Top to bottom. Robert Kraft out-owns Stephen Ross, Bill Belichick out-hoodies Joe Philbin and Tom Brady out-arms Ryan Tannehill. The Patriots' stranglehold on the AFC East won't stop until somebody stops it. Is Miami ready? Able? We'll continue to see in today's season opener at a sold-out Dolphins stadium. You've heard of soft openings. This is a hard opening, in every sense -- an immediate gauge. I think Miami is a playoff team; most mediaites do not. I think Miami is one of the NFL's most underrated teams entering this season; most don't agree. Today, I think the Dolphins defense will pressure Brady and fairly contain New England's offense, even Rob Gronkowski. The bigger question and intrigue, for me, is how Bill Lazor's fully unleashed new offense will perform against a very solid Pats D. Good enough, I think. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 24-20.
A GRATUITOUS, TOTALLY SEXIST COMPARISON OF HOTTIE QB WIVES: We'll see today how Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill compare. I think it's only fair to also see how the wives, Giselle Bundchen and Lauren Tannehill, compare. I mean, c'mon. If there's an NFL Quarterback Wives Draft, these might be the top two picks. (Talk about fantasy football. Oy!) Giselle, 34 (left), is a Brazil-born fashion model and famous; well, famous enough to have just appeared on Jimmy Fallon's show, for example. Lauren, 26 (right), is more of the blond All-American type and less famous, for now. I'd call her's girl-next-door looks, except I've never been nearly that lucky in the neighbor lottery. Apologies for the Giselle bum-shot, by the way, but remember, she's a fashion model! This concludes our leering, pandering, exceptionally creepy item about Giselle and Lauren.
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 a Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:
1. Dolphins: Opposite of soft opening as Fins host Patriots: Today Miami welcomes its AFC East rival and main roadblock to the playoffs in the nemesis New England Patriots. I'd mention this marks the 41st season since Fins last won a Super Bowl, but why make you sad like that?
2. UM football: Canes rebound, dominate undermanned FAMU: UM needed Saturday's 41-7 waltz past Florida A&M in its home opener after last week's embarrassing loss at Louisville. The Rattlers could not have been a better-timed remedy if they'd come with a doctor's Rx.
3. Soccer: Brazil, Colombia fill Dolphins stadium: More than 73,000 watched Brazil in its first action since humiliating elimination in the World Cup it hosted. Brazilian fans have since been introduced to a concept never before experienced or even considered. It's called "humility."
4. Tennis: U.S. Open to decide its championships: Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki make it a who's-who women's championship Sunday in New York, but Monday's men's final is who's-that with Kei Nishikori vs. Marin Cilic. Even the City That Never Sleeps is yawning.
5. Marlins: Stanton MVP hopes tied to strong finish?: Fish are five back in wild-card hunt and setting out on 10-game road trip. Might Giancarlo Stanton's MVP hopes rest on late charge? Hope voters don't think his value to team was that it finished third in division not fourth.
6. NFL: Champ Seahawks look repeat-ready out the gate: King Sport hasn't had repeat champ in 10 years but Seattle looked the part in Thursday's rout of Green Bay. League could save lots of time and money by simply fast-forwarding to Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl.
7. Team USA: Americans roll on in FIBA World Cup: No LeBron James and no Kevin Durant among other missing stars, but the Americans still are 6-0 by a combined 189-point margin in the FIBA World Cup in Spain. "B-Team USA" is good enough so far.
8. NASCAR: Chase field is set: It's down to 16 drivers in a 10-race Chase for the Cup culminating Nov. 16 at Homestead. They've tinkered with the Chase format a bunch but I think it needs one more tweak for TV ratings: An automatic berth for any driver named Danica Patrick.
9. FIU: Golden Panthers win to end big week: FIU beat Wagner (whoever he is) to end an eight-game losing streak and end a week in which it mended fences, agreeing to resume its relationship with UM and ending its feud with the Miami Herald. Possible to keep playing Wagner?
10. Heat: Team makes coaching staff changes: Erik Spoelstra has "reassigned" veteran assistants Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo. That's a nice way to put it, right? Similarly, the Dolphins might "reassign" Joe Philbin if the team fails to make the playoffs this year.
Bubble: WNBA Finals begin, Panthers prepare for training camp, Justin Verlander/Kate Upton nudies.
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1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. Team USA is tearing up the FIBA World Cup in Spain but does anybody care? Sorry, but no LeBron James and no Kevin Durant means next to no interest for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Upset Bird Day in America, Super Bowl poll, Heat staff, love video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 35.9 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday night's home-opening 41-7 UM victory over Florida A&M evening Miami's record at 1-1. The CSM polls, in their sixth season, are 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 9:30 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)
Next poll: Sept. 13 (following game vs. Arkansas State)
G2: HURRICANES 41, FLORIDA A&M 7: WELL-TIMED MEDICINE FOR UM: NFL coaches must envy college coaches in at least one area, right? Games like this. I mean, Joe Philbin gets zero breaks on his schedule. No automatic wins, nothing easy. Then he looks across town and sees Al Golden and UM preparing for a 7 p.m. home debut against a smaller-school FAMU that lost its opener, went 3-9 last year and last had a winning season in 2011. Rattlers have a great marching band. The team, not so great. A&M arrives well-timed for a Canes squad reeling from Monday's 31-13 loss at Louisville, a we're-not-there-yet slap in the face that had UM fans voicing increasing impatience with Golden. Beating an opponent like tonight's doesn't win back disgruntled fans as much as hold them at bay. It's as must a must-win as any, though, because a loss here is, well, unfathomable. UM needs to not only win big but win impressively, and show remedy for some of the pitfalls from the opener. For sure, I'd expect a wide-open, stats-padding attack that finds freshman QB Brad Kaaya unshackled and going deep early and often. My pick was: Miami, 48-6.
FIU 34, Wagner 3: Who is Wagner? Anybody met him?: I kid. Wagner College is a small school (its stadium seats 3,300) from Staten Island, NY. More important, it arrives -- like FAMU does for Miami -- as what should be and better be a well-timed, certain 'W' for the home team. Game starts at 6. If by just past 9 the Golden Panthers are not celebrating, the program will have found a new nadir. This has been a notable week of smart decisions by FIU, a week of fence-mending. The school announced it will resume playing UM in football in 2018 to end an 11-year frost, and FIU also ended its silly little feud with the Miami Herald. Only thing left undone on the football to-do list: Win. I write about all this in today's latest column; click on Image Repair to read. Beating Wagner would end a big week with a small step in the right direction.
Other Collball Week 2 state FBS games: No. 2 Alabama def. FAU, 41-0; Maryland def. South Florida, 24-17; Florida def. Eastern Michigan, 65-0; and No. 1 Florida State def. Citadel, 37-12. Off--UCF.
Poll result: Seahawks will repeat, will repeat: We offered you this year's consensus five likeliest Super Bowl winners, and you made it Seahawks with 42.0 percent, Broncos 23.9%, Patriots 15.0%, Saints 11.5% and 49ers 7.6%. I'd note that Seattle's lead over Denver was narrow early but exploded with the impressive Thursday performance.
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1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Joan Rivers, R.I.P., gone at 81. Never liked her latter-day, Botoxed, red carpet fashion police persona, but respected her as an earlier trailblazer for women comics. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 4 truisms about Canes football, SOPY season debut, Kate Upton's nudie, Stanton MVP update, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA!: We launch our 24th season of Friday Page NFL predictions today online and in the old-school inky pulp editions. I regret to note we got off to a stumbling start last night with an ill-conceived risk on Green Bay winning at Seattle. (On the bright side, I got 26 points from Marshawn Lynch and 16 from Percy Harvin, so my fantasy team is off and flying. It was bittersweet watching my own guys help pummel my prediction). Click on Math By Division for the season's first Friday Page column; I forecast the records and standings of every team, by division, and issue my Super Bowl prediction. Click on Week 1 Gems for my all my predix capsules. My Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") is Miami over New England. Yes, you read that right. Luckily, my only fantasy-team Patriot starter is the kicker, so I doubt he can do that much damage to the pick. [Addendum: The Upset Bird has just noticed the cartoon likeness of him above left includes a curvature of the beak, whereas, in real life, his proud raven's beak is of course as straight as a pair of needle-nose plyers. He isn't happy. "What the faaawwwk!"].
AND THE SUPER BOWL FAVORITE IS...?: I didn't want to make this poll unwieldy by including every team that thinks it has a playoff shot. (Sorry, Dolfans). Instead I narrowed it to the five teams with the best chance, by consensus, to win the Super Bowl. ESPN surveyed its 16 NFL experts and these were the only five teams, in fact, to be forecast as champion at least once. Also note the poll does not include "other" as a category, because the question is which team among the consensus favorites you most think will win it all. Vote and say why, or say which team not on the list you think will shock the world.
HEAT STAFF NEWS: Heat announced today that assistant coach Ron Rothstein has retired from coaching and will join the Heat broadcast team while remaining with the club as a corporate liaison, and that assistant Bob McAdoo will become a pro scout for the club and also serve as a community laision.
WHAT THE WORLD (STILL) NEEDS NOW...: Can you imagine writing about sports for a living -- trying to put forth the importance of the Dolphins stopping Rob Gronkowski, for example -- while across the globe Islamic State terrorist-megalomaniacs rampage and behead innocents? It's weird. So yesterday I'm fathoming this when across my car radio comes the song presented below. The message and lyrics are both so romantically naive and yet so urgently, increasingly needed in the world today. As long as the people who believe in the message outnumber those who don't, I guess we have a chance.
UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY (from Thursday): The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 1 day, tomorrow, Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Captain Flint the parrot), we end our countdown with the only aviary star we could: Nevermore, talking raven from Edgar Allan Poe's 1845 poem, The Raven. The Upset Bird considers Nevermore a forebear and constant inspirational muse.
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1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3. Patriots signed Marcus Thigpen today, second ex-Dolph this week. Oh, Bill, you sneak! 2) See the previous blogpost for results of our first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (Ouch!) 3) Congrats to FIU for relenting and credentialing the Herald's football beat reporter. Always nice when an institution of higher learning comes around on the First Amendment. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes lose at Louisville, CSM poll, Heat changes, fantasy verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
"Cowboys having press conference for Michael Sam. Leave it to Jerry Jones to make a publicity stunt of a practice-squad signing." --Greg Cote
Updated Dolphins, AFC East odds: Over/under on win totals, via Bovada, current and on May 28: Patriots 11 (was 10.5), Dolphins 7.5 (was 8), Jets 7 (same) and Bills 6.5 (same).
UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 2 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 2 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Woody Woodpecker), we welcome Captain Flint the parrot, profane muse of pirate Long John Silver from the 1883 classic novel Treasure Island.
FOUR NON-HYSTERICAL TRUISMS ABOUT CANES FOOTBALL MOVING FORWARD:1. UM fans overreact. C'mon, you they do. The team loses its opener 31-13 at Louisville and the sky is falling, the Torches 'n Pitchforks Mob is roiling. Bench everybody and fire everybody else! Former Canes also overreact, and Your Friend the Media keeps giving them a forum beyond their Twitter rants to vent. The only thing more predictably sad than Good-Old-Days Canes lamenting the current program is when the '72 Dolphins are invited to blast what became of their masterpiece. Fans: Take a deep breath. It's one [bleeping] game. Ex-Canes: Get a life. It's supposed to be all about The U, not all about you. 2. It wasn't Brad Kaaya's fault. The true-freshman quarterback actually did pretty well in his first start. His mechanics weren't great but that's correctable stuff. His problem was too much pressure/poor blocking, and conservative play-calling that didn't let him take advantage of his weapons. Even Al Golden admitted that yesterday with a subtle shot at offensive chief James Coley, saying, "We probably should have opened it up more for [Kaaya]." 3. Al Golden's job should not be in jeopardy. There is obviously a shelf-life on that statement. I mean right now. The guy stepped into an NCAA s---storm he inherited, this is his first season free of that onerous cloud, and now you wanna fire him based on a season-opening loss? A loss with a rookie QB, on the road, against a quality opponent? Get real, people. Judge him on this season, not one game. If this season disappoints or regresses, then put him on your Hot Seat. 4. None of the above means 'all is well.' I'm not playing Pollyanna here. I'm not blind. I don't care much about margin of defeat; a loss is a loss. But I care about bottom-line, and Miami is 3-6 under Golden against ranked-at-the-time opponents, and 1-12 in games against teams that finished the season with at least eight wins. That I care about, because the Canes can't be good again unless they start to regularly beat good teams. The next one of those is Sept. 20 at No. 19 Nebraska. You want to turn down the negative volume, Al Golden? Start by winning the marquee games like that. The elusive Turnaround that leads to "The U Is Back!" cannot start without such signature triumphs.
SOPY SEASON DEBUT: USF BULLS' MACK TRUCKS INTO EARLY LEAD: A 275-yard rushing performance by South Florida's Marlon Mack (pictured) drives the Week 1 lead to open our third season of blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state'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 Jameis 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. Standings are for 12-game regular seasons and do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.
SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10
Rk Player, team-pos. Week 1/Season
1 Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb 304
2 Rashad Greene, FSU-rec 209
3 Jameis Winston, FSU-qb 206
4 Justin Holman, UCF-qb 115
5 Mike White, SoFla-qb 107.5
6 Karlos Williams, FSU-rb 102
7 Duke Johnson, Miami-rb 95
8 J.J. Worton, UCF-rec 83
9 Breshad Perriman, UCF-rec 81
10t Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb 77
10t Jay Warren, FAU-rb 77
Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 76. Other team leader: FIU--Alex Gardner-rb, 61. Note: Florida did not play; postponed by lightning.
Cote's State of the State Week 1 rank: 1. FSU (1-0); 2. Florida (0-0); 3. UCF (0-1); 4. Miami (0-1); 5. SoFla (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (0-1).
KATE UPTON AND JUSTIN VERLANDER'S SELFIE: The supermodel and Tigers pitcher were among the celebrities whose nude photos were leaked online. Of course we think this is a terrible invasion of privacy admittedly made somewhat less terrible by the fact Upton makes a lucrative living pretty much wearing as little as possible all the time. Besides we are a family blog (some families are racier than others), so instead of showing the private parts here we have very carefully cropped the photo. Don't want to be too titillating!
STANTON STILL IN NL MVP RACE: It's clearly a two-man race now for NL MVP. Bovada calls Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw the favorite at 2-3 odds and Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton close at 6-5. ESPN baseball experts flip that in a new survey, giving Stanton a 24-22 edge over Kershaw in votes among 60 cast. If it's a close call, voters, y'all better give it to the guy who plays every day. Key for Stanton could be Marlins continuing to hang (however peripherally) in the wild-card chase; it's now 5 1/2 games with 25 to play.
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