January 26, 2015

The Legend of Hassan Whiteside: How good will he be? New poll. Vote now!; plus Giancarlo's world, how close Dolphins are to contending & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 26. Disappointed to hear tonight's Merle Haggard concert at Parker Playhouse is canceled. Was thinking of going. Instead, I think I'll just stay here and drink. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: All-Star Games poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Block Party: Click HERE for video of Hassan Whiteside's highlights -- including all 12 blocked shots -- from Sunday's Heat win at Chicago.

THE LEGEND OF HASSAN WHITESIDE: Sunday was the national introduction and coming-out party for 7-foot Heat center and dunking machine Hassan Whiteside, the team's out-of-nowhere star since his Dec. 1aa1ahassanw15 callup from the D-League. It was his first nationally televised game, and he tgreated it like the stage it was -- with a club-record 12 blocked shots along with 14 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. What a story he is. Played in Chna and Lebanon, where he competed with armed soldiers guarding the games. Rejected across the board in the NBA -- as he is quick to point out in drawing motivation. Now, at 25, he is flourishing, with his best game coming in yesterday's Block Party win at Chicago. Before the game he told reporters about being hit by a car at age 10. After the game he said, "Three months ago, ask anybody in Charlotte at the downtown Y, I was just there just chilling. I couldn't even get a team to pick up the phone. 'Who is this guy?' It's been like that my whole life." Again, what a story! Says coach Erik Spoelstra: "Clearly he gives this team a different dimension. That's exactly what we need. He just needed time to develop. You root for guys like this." Says Dwyane Wade: "A guy like Hassan, he's special. You can't teach what he has." The question now: Is Whiteside the real deal built to be a long-term star for this franchise or will he prove to be a flash in the pan? That's unknowable; it will play itself out. But that doesn't mean we can't have an opinion now. What is your best estimation of what Hassan Whiteside will become? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Baseball best all-star game in a runaway: We asked in previous blogpost which of the Big 4 sports presents the best (or least bad) all-star game, and it's one area where the NFL gets clobbered by baseball. Results were MLB 65.3 percent, NBA 23.8%, NHL 6.8% and the NFL's Pro Bowl 4.1%.

1aa1agiancarlomissTHE BURGEONING WORLD OF GIANCARLO STANTON: Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton was one of the judges at last night's Miss Universe pageant, a Donald Trump production held at FIU and won by Miss Colombia. (Boxer Manny Pacquiao was a judge, too). It's amazing the opportunities that arise when you are a young, handsome local sports star who recently signed a $325 million contract. I think we need to start a rumor about Giancarlo and Miss Colombia. Just sayin'. Don't get me started on beauty pageants, by the way. So archaic. Surprised they still even exist. What decade is this?

HOW CLOSE ARE DOLPHINS TO SUPER BOWL-CONTENDING? EIGHT PLAYERS AWAY: Pro Football Focus analyzed roster of every team playing in AFC or NFC Championship Game since 2007 to determine how 1aa1aeightmany elite or good players each had based on players on field for at least 250 snaps in a season. (That methodology is inherently flawed. But anyway...) For what it's worth PFF determined the Dolphins are eight good players away from contending for a Super Bowl. That ties for 13th in the NFL. The Dolphins ... mid-pack ... imagine that! PFF says Dolphins have two elite players (Cam Wake, Reshad Jones), three good ones (Branden Albert, Jarvis Landy, Koa Misi), 20 average ones (including Ryan Tannehill and Brent Grimes) and six bad ones (including Mike Pouncey and Brian Hartline). There's a lot of dumbness there. Misi rated way better than Grimes? Seriously? To be further incredulous, click here for PFF's full story.

 

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January 25, 2015

Which is the best (or least bad) of sports' Big 4 All-Star Games? New poll. Vote now!; plus new Hot Button Top 10, verdict on D-Wade & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 25. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Is-Dwyane Wade-still-elite poll, Marlins sign Ichiro, Riley descends from mount, Marino dipped in wax, Bob Dylan & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

OUR LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL-STAR GAMES: The NFL and NHL play their annual all-star games today and the NBA's is soon so this is the right time to ask which of our Big Four sports' all-star games 1aa1anflpb 1aa1amlbasg 1aa1anhlasg 1aa1anbaasgyou think is the best -- or, perhaps, the least awful. They all are flawed, which is why the formats are always tinkered with. We spend a lot of time complaining about the selection process. The games don't draw great TV ratings. Each is decorated with surrounding events (home run derbies, slam-dunk contests) because the All-Star Game itself is not a great sell on its own. Nevertheless, chances are you think one if better than the rest. So which is it and why? Remember, this is not a favorite-sport poll. It is asking specifically which one has the best All-Star Game. Vote now.

Poll result: Mixed views (but doubts) on whether Wade still "elite": We asked in the previous blogpost if Heat star Dwyane Wade, at 33, remains an "elite" player by however you define that (you may still vote), and it was 51.6 percent "no," 40.1% "yes" and 8.3% "undecided."

HOT BUTTON JAN. 25: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: "Deflategate” dominates buildup to Super Bowl: It’ll be New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in the 49th Super Bowl, but the buildup has become an NFL nightmare with the Pats’ underinflated-footballs controversy. At least attention is diverted away from whether Marshawn Lynch will be fined again for grabbing his crotch. So from either angle, it's all about balls!

2. HEAT: Wade’s streak of All-Star Game starts ends: Forbes surprised many when its rank of best NBA fans had Miami No. 1. That was just before Heat fans allowed Dwyane Wade’s streak of nine All-Star Game starts in a row to end as a late flurry of votes by Toronto fans pushed Kyle Lowry ahead. No word on whether Forbes will now reconfigure its fan rankings.

3. MARLINS: Active offseason continues as Fish add Ichiro: With the Feb. 20 start of spring training looming, the Marlins continued an active and successful offseason by signing 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year contract as a fourth outfielder. Granted, Ichiro is 41 now and this signing would be more exciting if it were 2005, not ’15. But still!

4. ALL-STAR GAMES: NFL, NHL stars showcased Sunday: Hockey’s All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, and football's Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, have more in common than the fact both are being played Sunday and each has undergone format changes. For example, they are also alike in that the leagues act like they are big deals but fans don’t care all that much.

5. RUNNING: Annual Miami Marathon stampedes from downtown: OK, you got me. Nobody is talking about this except the runners themselves. But there were some 25,000 of those setting off early Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon starting at 6:15 a.m. Too bad it’s not in South Beach so the runners could stampede over all the drunks leaving SoBe clubs at about that time.

6. DOLPHINS: Ross touts stadium renovations: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross pimped a $350 million stadium renovation designed to attract Super Bowls and other biig events. Dear Steve: The only change in the stadium Dolfans care about is a winning team in it.

7. HURRICANES: Former player donates $1.6 million: UM men's basketball won a big game at Syracuse but a bigger story off-the-field was ex-Canes football star Calais Campbell donating $1.6 million to school's athletic department, biggest gift ever by a former UM athlete. Perpetually complaining, dissatified Hurricanes fans said it wasn't enough.

8. BASEBALL: Manfred takes over as MLB commissioner: Rob Manfred is on the job as of Sunday as Bud Selig retires. Selig had a great run other than the Steroids Era happening under his nose. Much as Nixon was a pretty great president other than Watergate. 

9. GOLF: Allenby, Woods in strange controversies: Robert Allenby claimed he was beaten, robbed and dumped in a park six miles from a bar, but his story unraveled. Tiger Woods claimed he lost a front tooth to a swinging TV camera but nobody seemed to believe that, either.

10. FIU: Veteran coach Russo retires: Cindy Russo retired after 36 years as FIU's women's basketball coach. Perspective? That's 10 years longer than that slacker Don Shula coached the Dolphins.

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January 23, 2015

Is Dwyane Wade still "elite"? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino in wax, Riley says Heat underachieving, Marlins sign Ichiro, Bob Dylan & more

1aa1abanksernie1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 24. R.I.P. Ernie Banks, the seemingly always-smiling Chicago icon, "Mr. Cub," gone at 83. In his honor ... let's play two! 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Patriots' "Deflategate" with parody video, Drew Rosenhaus drama, LeBron's game show, Heat value, Marlins & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1apatsneedle
"Bill Belichick and Tom Brady say they know nothing? Guess that means the underinflated ball is now in the NFL's court." --Greg Cote

 

1aa1ajshieldsMarlins sign Ichiro; do they have more offseason surprise in them?: Given the team's past no one expeted the long-term deal with Giancarlo Stanton, and few expected the trades for Mat Latos, Dee Gordon and others. Now the Marlins have agreed to terms with Ichiro Suzuki, 41, on a 1-year, $2 million deal to be the fourth outfielder. The Marlins have gotten baseball's attention with an active winter. Now do they have one more big move in them? That would be signing free-agent starting pitcher James Shields (pictured). And that is the latest column by me. Click on Going All In to read.

IS DWYANE WADE STILL AN "ELITE" NBA PLAYER?: We pose the question as the Heat host Indiana last night (and barely escape) in a how-the-mighty-have-fallen matchup. It has not been a good week for Wade. He 1aa1adwadewas surpassed by Toronto's Kyle Lowry in the fan vote for a starting-guard spot in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, another indication that Wade -- who just turned 33 -- may be past the pinnacle of his career arc. Also he was fined $15,000 by the league for aiming an obscene gesture at heckling fans in Charlotte Wednesday night, which is an uncharacteristic show of frustration by a typically very-composed player. Meantime the team is 18-24 at midseason and fighting for a playoff spot, and Wade has missed 10 of 42 games with injuries or rest. There is no doubt Wade (averaging 21.8 points) remains a very good player. But is he still "elite" by however you define that? I do not think the question is unfair. Take an honest dip in our poll and say why.

RILEY DESCENDS FROM MOUNT, AGREES TO SPEAK: Heat president and godfather Pat Riley parcels himself out to the media in rare and calculated dollops. He goes months with his public persona hidden, mum by design; then, when he chooses, he avails himself and, in the colloquialism, "can talk a fly off a 1aa1apatrileys--- wagon." It's as if the months of silence erupt. So it was Thursday when Riley decided to appear for an otherwise minor news conference about the Heat arena hosting a college basketball doubleheader next November, knowing it would turn into his invitation to sermonize a State of the Heat midseason address. He did, and we distill it to what's most interesting, including his use of the word "underachieved." On this struggling season: "It’s been very, very frustrating that we haven’t been able to overcome the adversities. In the face of all the adversity that we’ve had, there have been times we have underachieved. But we’re in the fight. We’re not in the fight like we were before for the top of the conference. We are in the fight with five or six other teams for probably the playoffs, spots six, seven and eight. So get real about it. Don’t feel sorry about it. Get after it!" On bright spot Hassan Whiteside: "I’m not really surprised. There’s a big difference in his body, his behavior, his maturity from what he was. Now he’s grown. The testosterone has kicked in. He’s more mature. He’s hungry. I’m not going to overplay it, but he does have Zo-like capabilities in shot blocking and being able to finish at the rim."  " On making trades to improve the roster: "There’s a lot of conversation but we’re not active. I’m not going to move chairs. I’ve been in the chair-moving business before and that’s all you do is move chairs around. We’re not about to give up assets that we don’t have, that we need, to make a lateral move out of desperation. If it’s a player to take us into the future, we’ll think about it." On what he looks for in season's second half: "The overall health is a game-changer. It just is. We’re at a point where when we lose one, it really sort of drops us to another level. The overall health and just getting mentally tough to the challenge that we’re playing for a playoff spot. Humble yourself to that and let’s roll and let’s go get it."

1aa1amarinowax 1aa1adanwax
DAN MARINO DIPPED IN WAX:
 Dolphins great Dan Marino is the latest celebrity added to the Madame Tussauds pantheon. The wax Dan will be unveiled today/Saturday and debut at the company's Orlando museum. Dan-O is shown being measured for his likeness (left) and inspecting his own wax likeness (right). Wax museums ... creepy!

1aa1aaarpdylanFURTHER INDICATIONS OF TIME FLYING: Bob Dylan is on the cover of the new (February/March) issue of AARP magazine, the mouthpiece of what used to call itself the American Association of Retired Persons. This I find sad ... but not quite as sad was when the aforementioned Dan Marino became an AARP spokesman. "Time is a cruel thief to rob us of our former selves. We lose as much to life as we do to death." -- Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, American playwright. (Geez, that was depressing...)

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January 22, 2015

"Deflategate" latest hit for beleaguered NFL (with parody video); plus Drew Rosenhaus party-yacht drama is SO Miami!; also, LeBron's game-show, Heat value, Marlins' nemesis & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 22. Click here for a gratuitously sexy, totally unnecessary video of Kate Upton doing fun stuff. Just because. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl prediction poll, Mariota vs. Winston & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.


1aa1adeflateNFL's Deflategate mess:
Even if you don't believe the Patriots deflating footballs is a big deal, it is because it's another image-hit for the beleaguered NFL and has hijacked the narrative leading to the Super Bowl. Click on Deflating for today's latest column by me. Postscript: Bill Belichick in a news conference this morning denies any knowledge of the issue, says he did not learn of it until Monday. I'd still expect a penalty (fine and/or forfeited draft pick) but nothing related to the Feb. 1 game vs. Seattle.
  

 

LeBron starting game show: Increasingly the former Heat star is becoming an entertainment mogul who plays basketball when time permits. I wish this game-show thing weren't true. But it is. Read about it here.

Sad news. Hassan Whiteside's media annointment as Heat savior, mayor of Miami and NBA It-Guy has been temporarily postponed by this week's ankle injury.

DREW AND LISA ROSENHAUS ARE SO MIAMI!: I love this story not because it involves marital discord -- I wish the couple well -- but because it involves the so-Miami trappings of celebrity, partying, police, a yacht and a 1aa1alisadanbfreeloading playboy millionaire named Dan Bilzerian. (I say freeloading because when your income source is "trust-fund beneficiary," you are mowing through money inherited, not earned). Short story: Bilzerian throws a party here last month during Art Basel, and the dozens of bikini'd young women 1aa1alisa2aboard include Lisa Thomson-Rosenhaus, 28, who had just marked her 1-year annivesary with Miami NFL mega-agent Drew Rosenhaus, 48. Drew and Lisa are pictured left in bliss-ier times. At right, Lisa is the one in the pink bikini at the elbow of the gesturing Bilzerian, who reposted the photo on his Instagram account. Speculation is that's why police were called to casa de Rosenhaus on Sunday in a domestic dispute. Rumors of a pending divorce now swirl. Three quick thoughts: 1) Amazing how money makes Bilzerian and his comical beard look sexy to women who would otherwise not give him the time of day. (Superficial much?) 2) Aside to Lisa: So, so sad, but it may be almost time to retire the Spring Break Party Girl persona. 3) Drew Rosenhaus has never shied from publicity, even the notorious kind, and this latest wave may actually be good for business. After all, this is precisely the kind of drama to which so many potential athlete clients can relate.

1aa1aarisonmHEAT FRANCHISE VALUE SKYROCKETS: Micky Arison is smiling and why not. New annual figures from Forbes estimate the Miami Heat franchise value is now $1.175 billion, ninth in the NBA and up a whopping 53 percent over last year. The caveat? Heat are barely above the league average of $1.1 billion, and below the average one-year increase of 74 percent fueled by new national and local TV deals.

NATIONALS TO MARLINS = PATS TO FINS: As baseball spring training looms, we lament the Marlins' new reality. No matter what they do or how much they improve, somebody in their division always seems to be better. A step ahead. The Dolphins and Dolfans can relate, after 10-plus years in the shadow of the New England Patriots. The Marlins' big-brother nemesis has become the Washington Nationals. Coming off a 96-win season the Nats are the new World Series favorites are 6-1 odds after landing premier free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer. 

Poll result: Patriots to win Super Bowl: We asked, you answered, and 54.6 percent said the Patriots would win the Super Bowl versus 45.4% who predicted a Seahawks repeat.

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January 19, 2015

Patriots vs. Seahawks: And the Super Bowl winner will be... New poll. Vote now!

It's Radio Tuesday!: Am back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 20. In The Previous Blogpost: AFC and NFC Championship Game picks, Mariota vs. Winston & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1abowlsuperLOOKS LIKE A SUPER SUPER BOWL: Watched the miracle Seahawks rally over the Packers, 28-22, among a bunch of fully decked out (and drunk) Seattle fans at the Venetian sports book in Las Vegas. When I say the Seahawks miracle, I think I mean the Green Bay collapse. Choke? Pretty damn close. Patriots' 45-7 demolition of Indy in the AFC game left no doubt. I think I like the Pats in the Super Bowl coming out of yesterday's semis, but that could change. What is your SB pick as of right now? Not who you want to win, but who you think will?

Poll result: It's Mariota over Winston: We asked whast quarterback you'd draft No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft, and Oregon's Marcus Mariota beat FSU's Jameis Winston by 56.9 percebnt to 43.1%.

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January 17, 2015

Championship Sunday: AFC, NFC title-game picks; plus should Mariota or Winston go No. 1 in NFL Draft? (poll; vote now!); also Dolphins, UM hoops & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 18. Kevin Coyle to remain as Dolphins defensive coordinator? Not a surprise. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Top 10 most exciting athletes 25 and younger, when nudity is boring, Canes hoops & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Championship Sunday, Random Evidence: Onliner and in the inky pulp editions today: Column by me on how America's addiction to the NFL is greater than all of the league's image problems, and a new Random Evidence notes column package. (Blog-only Hot Button Top 10 is off today).  

Hurricanes basketball: Flames may be rising around Al Golden and the University of Miami football program, but Hurricanes basketball -- men and women -- is rock-soilid with top coaches. Click on UM Hoops Flying High for my column.

NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-WEEKEND PICKS: IT'S HOME AND HOME, HOMIE: Lots of NFL fans call this Sunday -- AFC and NFC Championship Game weekend -- the single best day of football of the year. You get the 1aa1aafcnfcfour 1aa1afripix
best teams in a monster doubleheader and, unlike Super Bowl Sunday, the day is not diluted by hype, parties, halftime shows and precious TV commercials in which a team of Budweiser Clydesdales befriend Betty White riding a forlorn donkey. It's Packers at Seahawks for the NFC ring and then Colts at Patriots in the AFC, and I see the tremendous, beyong-ordinary home-field advantages of Seattle and New England carrying the day. Click on Championship Gems for the full predictions capsules. Our regular Friday NFL column, previewing the big day, will appear Sunday this week.

MARIOTA OR WINSTON? WINSTON OR MARIOTA?: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the clock with the No. 1 pick in the spring NFL Draft, will select one of two quarterbacks -- Oregon's Marcus Mariota or Florida
1aa1amariotawinstonState's Jameis Winston -- first overall. That's a near-certainty. (Mariota has officially declared for the draft and Winston is expected to). And whomever doesn't go to Tampa is all but assured of going No. 2 overall to the Tennessee Titans. QBs going 1-2 in the draft is more unsual than you might think. When Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III did it in 2012 that was the ifrts time it had happened since Tim Couch/Donovan McNabb in 1999. The question is ... who goes first? The debate about that is mirrored in the first mock drafts of ESPN gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. McShay pegs Mariota No. 1, while Kiper, in his first mock out today, has Winston going first. (Kiper has the Dolphins selecting Washington outside linebacker Shaq Thompson 14th overall). But to heck with the draftniks. What do you think? If it was your team needing a QB and choosing first, who would you want. Vote and say why.

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January 14, 2015

South Florida's Top 10 most exciting 25-and-younger pro athletes; plus Canes hoops, Miley naked (again, yawn) & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 15. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today bringing forth my next NFL playoff predictions. Oy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Shame on the Rob Konrad doubters, elevating Urban Meyer, TV's Shameless, AFC/NFC verdicts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hurricanes basketball soaring: The Hurricanes men ended Duke's 41-game home winning streak just a few days after the Canes women ended Notre Dame's 30-game road winnning streak. Click on UM Hoops Flying High for my latest column, online and in today's Herald inky pulp editions.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S TOP 10 MOST EXCITING 25-AND-UNDER PRO ATHLETES: Talking about our Big Four professional teams here: Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers. Criteria: Players must be no older than 25 as of today. We tried to combine current proof with emerging potential, and here's what we got. Agree with the order?:

1aa1agstanton1. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins (25 years, 6 months, 2 days): If he's dropping bombs commensurate with his new contract, Stanton (pictured) has a chance to join Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade on the top tier of Miami's greatest team-drafted stars.

2. Jose Fernandez, P, Marlins (22-5-14): Electrifying stuff and a Cy Young contender presuming he comes back all the way from Tommy John surgery.

1aa1ajlandry3. Jarvis Landry, WR/KR, Dolphins (22-1-17): His 84 catches and 1,158 combined kickoff and punt-return yards as a rookie out of LSU just began to scratch the surface for Landry (pictured).

1aa1aaekblad4. Aaron Ekblad, D, Panthers (18-11-7): Just a teen, but Ekblad (pictured) already leads Cats with 19 assists as a rookie and is No. 6-rated among all prospects by NHL.com.

5. Nick Bjugstad, C, Panthers (22-5-28): His new six-year contract refelcted hopes he'll be team's goal-scoring star for a long time.

6. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins (23-1-9): Overshadowed a bit by Stanton's bat and Fernandez's arm, but Yelich could be a solid-hitting fixture in left field for a long time.

1aa1ahassanw
7. Hassan Whiteside, C, Heat
(25-7-1): Flavor of the month, for sure, averaging 7.2 points and 6 rebounds off bench in 14 games. We've seen glimpses of greatness and acknowledge the tremendous upside of the 7-footer (pictured), but let's pump the brakes just a tad for now, OK?

8. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins (23-8-20): Ex-Cane rushed for 1,099 yards and a 5.1 average last season to push his way among NFL's top young backs.

9. Aleksander Barkov, C, Panthers (19-4-12): Huge upside for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

10. Shabazz Napier, PG, Heat (23-6-0): A bit of an up and down rookie season, but much potential.

Considered for Top 10 but fell short: Dolphins' Charles Clay, Ju'Wuan James, Jelani Jenkins, Dion Jordan, Mike Pouncey, Dion Sims and Olivier Vernon; Heat's James Ennis and Justin Hamilton; Marlins' Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria and Marcell Ozuna; and Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov. Note: Ryan Tannehill is 26 now. Sorry, old man.

1aa1amileycTHEY'VE GONE AND DONE IT. CELEBRITIES HAVE FINALLY SUCCEEDED IN MAKING NUDITY BORING: Now it's singer/provocateur Miley Cyrus appearing nude (in various Polaroids, no less; one is at right) in the V magazine on newsstands Thursday. Miley appearing nude is about as shocking as Elton John shopping at a Versace store. I mean, did you see her video for Wrecking Ball. And now this is supposed to be outrageous? The contrived, packaged free-spiritedness of the Mileys and Gagas and Kim Kardashians has become tiring. Is anything shocking any more?

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January 13, 2015

The curious, shameful skepticism about Rob Konrad's tale of survival; plus elevating Urban Meyer, 'Shameless,' your Super Bowl pick & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: We're in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio -- our 46th national show. Have a new "Back In My Day" ready to roll. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 13. Today is my parents' anniversary date, which led to the creation of me. See, people used to get married first and then have kids. How quaint! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): AFC/NFC title-game polls, Hassan Whiteside, history of Heat 7-footers, Canton verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Buckeyes favored to repeat: Love the instant odds! Confetti is still falling on Ohio State and already OSU is installed as a 6-1 favorite to win next saeson's national title, via Bovada. TCU is next at 15-2, then Alabama at 10-1. Further down we see Florida State 16-1, Florida 33-1 and Miami 75-1.

Wade ninth in jersey sales: Updated NBA jersey sales rankings are out, with Heat's Dwyane Wade No. 9. The top five: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose.

WHY THE DOUBTERS ON ROB KONRAD?: You probably know the Rob Konrad story by now. Ex-Dolphins fullback falls overboard while fgishing along last week, watches his boat onautopilot motor away from 1aa1akonradhim, and spends 16 hours at sea, somehow surviving. I tell the extraordinary tale today in a column off yesterday's first public comments by Konrad. Click on Survivor to read it. (Konrad and wife Tammy are pictured from the news conference). I find Konrad's story to be absolutely true and close to miraculous. There are doubters, though. I address that briefly in the longer-version column that appears online, writing, "It is our human nature to be skeptical, so there may be some who doubt parts of this tale simply because they cannot fathom 16 hours alone at sea. Me, I hope I am never so cynical that I stop believing in man’s capacity for heroism." Sure enough, a few emailers have cast doubt on Konrad -- as if he created and involved his wife, family and friends in an elaborate hoax. Some early media accounts (here is one from Newsweek.com published Friday) also wonder if the story is too good to be true. I do not consider myself naive. My profession demands that a critical eye is my default view of just about everything. But I believe Rob Konrad. Now, more than before, maybe I believe a little in miracles, too. And I feel a little bit sorry for those who can't.

ELEVATING URBAN: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer (pictured) now is a three-time national champion 1aa1ameyeru(two with the Gators) after last night's resounding 42-20 spanking of Oregon in the first playoff-era college championship game. And with a third-string quarterback! I'm no Urban fan, but I must say it may be time to elevate him to the pantheon of great college coaches. Only Bear Bryant (5), Frank Leahy (4) and Nick Saban (4) have won more recognized major-college titles. Meyer and Saban are now racing to see who catches and passes the great Bear first. Age alone suggests Meyer, 50, has a better chance than Saban, 63, to retire as the college game's most decorated coach.

ON 'SHAMELESS': How much I love my wife came clear Monday night when I agreed to watch the Golden 1aa1aemmyrGlobes with her (women and awards shows!), and delay watching the season debut of Shameless until last night on demand. I love the Showtime series. William H. Macy's Frank Gallagher might be the greatest character on TV, and I have a Creepy Old Guy Crush on Emmy Rossum (pictured, as Fiona). The entire cast is an exercise in relentless dysfunction that is both hilarious and sad. Fellow Shamelessites know what I mean. The rest of you, get on board.

Poll result: You like Seahawks and Patriots even more in NFL title games: We asked your predictions for the upcoming AFC and NFC championship games and it was Patriots over Colts by 74.0 percent and Seahawks over Packers by 63.3%.

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January 12, 2015

Who'll win AFC, NFC title games? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus Hassan Whiteside and history of Heat 7-footers, Canton results & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 12. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, NFL Divisional Round, Heat/Cavs, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

College Football Playoff got it right: Click on College Football Wins for today's column by me previewing tonight's Oregon-Ohio State national championship game. For years I didn't think the sport needed a playoff. I think I was wrong.

1aa1aafcnfcWHO CAN STOP A SEAHAWKS-PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL?: It seems inevitable at this point, right? Seattle and New England are two of the greatest home-field advantages in the NFL, and opening betting line shows Patriots a 7 to 7.5-point favorite over Colts and Seahawks 6.5-7.5 over Packers. Then again, discounting Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers too quickly feels risky, too. I'm curious who you like in the AFC and NFC championship games. Not asking who you want to win. Asking who you predict will win.

HASSAN WHITESIDE, MAYOR OF MIAMI: OK I guess I'm coming around on this guy. I've been making fun of 1aa1ahassanall the glowing stories about the Heat's 25-year-old, 7-foot reserve center. But last night's 23-point, 16-rebound show off the bench in the win at the L.A. Clippers was pretty convincing. The Heat could finally have their big man -- the guy they hoped Greg Oden would be. Hassan Whiteside was bouncing around Lebanon and China until Miami gave him a shot, and right now it looks like a major find. The Heat are still only 16-21 and positioned as the eighth seed, but Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and last night's Whiteside will not be a team anyone wants to face in the first round of the playoffs. Pictured: The avatar from his Twitter account, @youngwhiteside.

THE LIST: HEAT 7-FOOTERS: Hassan Whiteside is the 18th 7-footer in franchise history to score in a Heat regular-season game. Miami's top five 7-footers based on regular-season points scored for the team:

Shaquille O'Neal             2004-08          4,010

Kevin Willis                     1994-96          1,591

Matt Geiger                    1992-95          1,352

Vladimir Stepania           2001-03             726

Mark Blount                    2007-09             660

Note: Rounding out top 10--Earl Barron 404 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 360, Duane Causwell 275, Alan Ogg 162 and Loren Woods 121. Others--Wang Zhi-Zhi 86 points, Justin Hamilton 80 (and counting), Greg Oden 67, Eddy Curry 30, Milos Babic 18, Ernest Brown 3 and Manute Bol 2. In case you wondered, officially listed heights are 6-11 1/2 for Rony Seikaly, 6-11 for Chris Bosh and 6-10 for Alonzo Mourning. 

Poll result: Seau leads your Canton inductees: We gave you thr 15 modern-era finalists for Canton, invited you to vote for five, and your top five were Junior Seau with 16.0 percent, Jimmy Johnson 12.8%, Marvin Harrison 10.2%, Orlando Pace 9.8% and Kurt Warner 9.4%. Smart ballot by you all; I was impressed you included Pace, a lineman. I had four of those in my top five. I left out Johnson but included Tim Brown, who was sixth (7.8%) by your vote.

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January 10, 2015

Canton calling: Your football Hall of Fame ballot. 15 finalists, you pick 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Rex Ryan to Bills, new Hot Button Top 10 & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 11. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Two Super Bowl polls, NFL Divisional Round picks, Shula and Beli-cheat, Canes' big win, Rob Konrad, Bosh the actor, mouthy relatives & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

My NFL Divisional Round pix: Saturday: Patriots, 27-23, and Seahawks, 21-13. Sunday: Broncos, 34-24, and Packers, 31-24. (I was 3-1 overall, 1-3 vs. the spread). Click Divisional Gems for the full predix capsules.

"Rex Ryan to Buffalo as head coach? Not sure if the Bills just got better, but I am sure they just got noisier." --Greg Cote

YOU SELECT WHO GETS INTO PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Baseball voters who decide entry into 1aa1acantgonCooperstown (I'm one of them) come under annual criticism largely because the Steroids Era-factor makes the vote so polarizing and complicated. Football voters who decide entry into Canton have no such issues, and rarely if ever seem to have their choices scrutinized or slammed. (I'd mention the basketball and hockey halls, but nobody really cares). Anyway,the Pro Football Hall of Fame has winnowed its 2015 nominees to 15 modern-era finalists, who I present alphabetically in this poll. A maximum of five will be elected, so I invite you to vote for as many as five (5) here. Three or four seem obvious to me, but that's just me. I'll tell you my five later.

READING LEBRON'S MIND: The Cavaliers are 19-18, have lost four straight and are presently the sixth seed. The Heat are 15-21, have lost five of six and are slotted eighth. Somewhere, there is telepathy between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and it sounds something like this: "We should-a left it alone."

HOT BUTTON JAN. 11: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: Patriots, Seahawks advance; two more today: Patriots (narrowly) and Seahawks (comfortably) won Divisional Round games Saturday, now Colts-Broncos and Cowboys-Packers on Sunday will complete the AFC and NFC title-game matchups. Conpsiracy theorists are ready in case Dallas wins on another lucky call.

2. College football: Oregon, Ohio State in first playoff title game Monday: Fair to say Oregon will have rooting interest of much of country outside of Ohio, because every game needs a villain. America doesn't have Jameis Winston to taunt or Nick Saban to hate, but Urban Meyer is an acceptable substitute.

3. Dolphins: Team adds ex-Jets GM Tannebaum to front office: Mike Tannenbaum becoming VP of football operations was met with knee-jerking derision from many Dolfans and media, who clamored for change but evidently not this change.

4. Heat: Slumping team carries tailspin to west coast: Heat star Chris Bosh stars in Funny or Die's new short comedy viedo, Tall Justice 2. Is it just me, or do Heat players' various side projects tend to be much more amusing when the team is headed to another NBA Finals than when it has lost five of six and is 15-21?

5. Baseball: Hall of Fame adds four to Cooperstown: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected, the largest class since 1955. Could that be because those were only players left untarnished by steroid use or rumors? (Benefit of doubt to Biggio on that...)

6. Panthers: Luongo named to NHL all-star team: Florida had only one player named to the all-star team so it's fitting it is goalie Roberto Luongo, who has team in the playoff chase despite the Cats being one of the lowest-scoring teams in NHL.

7. Hurricanes: Women's basketball stuns No. 4 Notre Dame: UM ended Notre Dame's 30-game road winning streak as the Canes were led by Adrienne Motley's 32 points. Is there even a slight chance the Canes should not now be nicknamed Motley Crew?

8. Rob Konrad: Ex-Dolphin heroically saves own life: Fishing alone, boat on autopilot, Konrad falls overboard, swims nine miles to safety through rough Atlantic waters in dead of night. Man, some guys'll do anything for attention!

9. Stuart Scott: ESPN anchors succumbs to cancer: Polarizing in life but lauded in death, Stuart Scott left us at 49 after a battle with cancer. "Boo-ya's!" at half-mast, please.

10. Don Shula: Icon calls Belichick "Beli-cheat": Turning 85, Shula in an interview called Bill Belichick "Beli-cheat," a reference to the 2007 "Spygate" incident that brought Belichick a $500,000 fine and cost Pats a first-round pick. Shula got criticized, bt what's that they say abiout truth being the best defense?

Poll result: Thinking Seahawks win Super Bowl, hoping Packers: We asked in separate polls who think think will win the Super Bowl and who you want to win from among the final eight. The top three in each category: Predict will win--Seahawks 34.1 percent, Patriots 23.9%, Packers 21.2%. Want to win--Packers 24.9 percent, Broncos 22.8%, Panthers 12.4%.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...