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31 posts from November 2012

November 29, 2012

NFL predix: Brady Bunch means points; plus steroids in Cooperstown? (w/ poll), Heat beat semi-Spurs, Chris Bosh's space travel (w/ vid), Powerball, Angus T. Jones & more

1aa1homeland[1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Big week for UM basketball. Congrats to Jim Larranaga's Canes men and Katie Meier's women for home wins over ranked opponents Michigan State and Penn State, respectively. 2) I have belatedly discovered and am loving the Showtime drama, Homeland. It could be the great storyline, or my long-standing, unseemly infatuation with Claire Danes. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Me on ESPN's 'OTL' today: Your faithful columnist and blogger has been invited to appear today on ESPN's Outside The Lines (3 p.m.), and has agreed. It'll be for a segment on the uproar over coach Gregg Popovich sitting his core player last night in the semi-Spurs' loss to the Heat here.

Reunited: FAU following FIU to Conference USA: The Owls of Boca Raton announced the football team will join Conference USA in 2014. FIU is making the switch now, for '13. The Sun Belt is sinking. As Elton John sang, "Don't Let the Sun (Belt) Go Down On Me."

NFL PREDIX: BRADY, PATS OFFENSE LOOK UNSTOPPABLE: Dolphins look good at home to keep it 1aacote2inside a 7 1/2-point betting line Sunday, but wishful thinking is required (sorry) to imagine Miami's offense will outscore Tom Brady's. Click On Week 13 Gems for all of today's latest NFL picks by me, and on Postseason Primer for our Friday Page leagues notes column leading with a look at the playoff races. Looking pretty dram,a0free at this point, with eight or nine of the 12 playoff spots in firm control.

BONDS. CLEMENS. SOSA. VERDICT TIME!: The 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot is out this week, and 1aa1bb3notables on it for the first time include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, the Mount Rushmore of the sport's 1aa1bb3hallSteroids Era. This vote will be the ultimate referendum on whether Cooperstown will admit those linked with PEDs, because these three -- especially Bonds and Clemens -- otherwise would be first-ballot inductees of the highest order. Long-time baseball writers get to vote. But now you get to vote first. I have included on my ballot the three guys mentioned plus Pete Rose, just for old time's sake. Vote for as many of the four as you think belong in Cooperstown in 2013. You may vote for any, all or "none." Decide and say why.

Poll result: Strong support for Marlins/Loria boycott: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) what Marlins fans should do, and 76.7 percent said stop supporting the team as long as Jeffrey Loria is owner. Another 16.3% said contuinue to support team and 7.0% were undecided. Interestingly, the animus was slightly less strong in Florida, where the numbers were 73.7/18.1/8.2.

1aa1boshTURNS OUT CHRIS BOSH IS AN INTERGALACTIC TRAVELER. WHO KNEW?: A new animated short film, Adventures of Christopher Bosh In the Multiverse, will debut mid-December in the Borscht Film Festival at the Arsht Center in downtown Miami. A screen-grab is pictured. (It animates when you click on it. Cheap thrill). The film is by Ronnie Rivera of the art consortium Bleeding Palm. Click HERE to watch a short trailer. The film is trippy-delic. It's like nothing I've ever seen that did not involve mushrooms.

Heat beat Semi-Spurs; get off Popovich's back!: The NBA literati and commissioner David Stern are up in arms that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested his primary stars in the Heat's 105-100 win here last night. Oh the outrage! Embarrassment! Travesty! No it wasn't. It was a coach's decision, that's all. Popvich wanted to save some old legs to then face conference fe Memphis. His call. What next? Stern monitoring stars' minutes? Only time this should come into play and be anybody's business but the team's is late in the sesaon when playoff positioning is being determined. If a team is resting stars to lose for a more favorable playoff opponent, then that's Stern's business. Not now. (Postscript: During the telecast, Charles Barkley informed us Dwyane Wade isn't the player he used to be. Do tell! Scoop to Chuck!) 

LeBron back on top in jersey sales: LeBron James jerseys are No. 1 in latest NBA merchandise sales for first time since April 2011 -- yet another sign of his transformation from national villain to champion-hero. Rounding out top five: Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose. Dwyane Wade is seventh. In team sales the Knicks are No. 1 for first time since 2004, with the Heat second.

SUPER BOWL ODDS NOW A DEAD-HEAT: Updated, from Bovada, Texans and Patriots now SB co-favorites at 9-2, followed by 49ers at 5-1 and Broncos 11-2. (Dolphins improved to 200-1, 20th place). MVP picks are Peyton Manning at 5-4 and Tom Brady 5-2.

ON POWERBALL AND LOTTERY OBSESSION: You are a loser if you plunged money into this week's $579.9 million multi-state Powerball. Alas, I mean that literally and figuratively. Playing the lottery is a 1aa1ballsucker's bet, with only 47 cents on the dollar returned. "Yeah well somebody has to win!" Yeah except it won't be you. One winning ticket was sold in Arizona, another in Missouri. Everybody else ripped up their money. Your odds of winning this week's Powerball were 175-million-to-1. You are more likely to see a Dromedary camel in sweatpants on a treadmill at Dick's Sporting Goods. Studies also indicate that lower-income folks -- not LeBron James, who plays, too -- are disproportionately more likely to play the lottery. The folks who can least afford to waste money, in other words. Shoot, who am I kidding with this anti-lottery rant. I'm just mad I didn't win, either!

DEAR ANGUS T. JONES...: The now-young-adult star of the sitcom Two And A Half Men is telling 1aa1angusChristian media that people should not watch the show because it is full of filth. 1) No it isn't. It is full of sophomoric, double-entendre sexual humor, that's all. 2) You are an actor. You pretend for a living. Just as we know the actor who plays Dexter is not really a serial killer, we understand that you are simply playing a character on TV. 3) You grew out of that role years ago. Kindly quit the show you disdain soon, before its producers have the good sense to fire your ungrateful a--.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

November 27, 2012

What should a Marlins fan do? (with poll); plus Al Golden admits frustration, Fireman Ed, Heat's test, UM's Morris wins SOPY, NFL pix 'n fantasy & more

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28. See results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this newest one. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

R.I.P., Sean Taylor: Remembering the former Hurricanes and Redskins safety on this week's fifth anniversary of his murder, Nov. 27, 2007.

WHAT SHOULD A MARLINS FAN DO?: It has been two weeks now since the Marlins' latest big salary-dump/sell-off, the one that felt like a betrayal and seemed to be the last straw for so many angry fans. 1aa1fans2 1aa1fansSports-talk phone lines and Internet comments bulged with outrage. Threats of boycotts were floated. A hilarious local poll found club owner Jeffrey Loria only slightly more popular in Miami than long-standing diablo Fidel Castro. We can all agree that Loria has earned his unpopularity with a history of ownership that suggests his own pocket has clear priority over his team or its fans. Two weeks later, though, as we reflect, how should disappointed Marlins fans move forward? What is the right course of action for someone who might both despise Loria and yet wish to support the hometown team? Is it right or even possible to separate the two -- to continue to cheer for the Marlins without feeling hyprocritical for, in effect, supporting Loria? I personally feel the Marlins are bigger than the current owner and that fans can support a team while simultaneously abhorring the way it is being run. But I may be wrong. Difficult questions. So let's take a shot at some answers. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

"Q-U-I-T, QUIT!": FIREMAN ED QUITS THE J-E-T-S, JETS!: Jets superfan Edwin Anzalone, best known 1aa1edfireas "Fireman Ed," has hung up his helmet, and I'm not sure what makes this story more ludicrous: That it would somehow be national news. Or that it's so predictable that this dude's "retirement" will be temporary. "I will attend games as usual, just not as Fireman Ed," he said. OK, whatever. Meantime we shall miss your angry face and abject sadness as an iconic, Dolfan-delighting symbol of Jet futility. Hey, maybe Tim Tebow can put on the helmet and become Fireman Tim! He isn't doing much else.

HOW GOOD ARE THE HEAT?: Seems like a dumb question, right? They're the NBA champs. They're 10-3. Of course they're good. Very. But are they repeat-champion good? There is not early unanimity on that. Miami is 23rd in defense, allowing 100.3 points per game. They are only fourth (for what it's worth) in the latest ESPN power rankings, after Memphis, the Knicks and Oklahoma City. So the next two games could be telling for the Heat -- an opportunity to reiterate their champ's standing, or feed the quiet doubts. San Antonio is here Thursday and then Brooklyn Saturday, two teams a combined 21-7.

UM'S GOLDEN ADMITS FRUSTRATION OVER POSTSEASON BAN: Canes coach Al Golden admitted to WQAM's Joe Rose that frustration over the university's self-imposed postseason ban related to the NCAA investigation was at its worst in the lockerroom after the victory over Duke, describing the team's attitude thusly: "We should be getting ready to play Florida State in Charlotte [in Saturday's ACC championship game]. We've got one of the hottest quarterbacks in America and we can't got to the championship game. It's disappointing." Golden also again brushed aside speculation he might leave, and voiced support for embattled defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. (For more on what Golden meant by "one of the hottest quarterbacks in America," see below...)

CANES' MORRIS WINS 2012 SOPY AWARD, THE "STATE HEISMAN": This year our blog debuted the State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) standings, a weekly updated list of the most productive 1aa1morrissopyquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. We declare Canes QB Stephen Morris (pictured) the 2012 winner because the two teams with one regular-season game left (South Florida, FAU) have no one within range. Our 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. We'll present our final top 20 next week. For now, the SOPY Top 10 entering Week 14:

Rank (LW)     Player, Team-pos.     SOPY Pts. Week=Year

1 (2)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb     194.5 = 1,900.5

2 (1)     E.J. Manuel, FSU-qb     163 = 1,868.5

3 (4)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb     145.5 = 1,597.5     

4 (3)     B.J. Daniels, South Florida-qb     DNP = 1,585.5

5 (5)     Jake Medlock, FIU-qb     DNP = 1,395.5

6 (6)     Graham Wilbert, FAU-qb     BYE = 1,392.5

7 (8)     Mike Gillislee, Florida-rb     174 = 1,316

8 (10)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb     206 = 1,244

9 (9)     Latavius Murray, UCF-rb     111 = 1,233

10 (7)     Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb     59.5 = 1,229.5

Bubble: Mike James, Miami-rb, 1,119.

State of the State rankings: 1. Florida (11-1); 2. FSU (10-2); 3. Miami (7-5); 4. UCF (9-3); 5. South Florida (3-8); 6. FIU (3-9); 7. FAU (3-8).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: A double dose of bad. NFL predix: Went 8-8 straight-up last week (awful) despite nailing two outright upset picks on Redskins over Cowboys and Jaguars over Titans. Was 4-6-6 against the spread; two winners pushed (Texans, Falcons) and four games were off-the-board when I picked them. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos lost 124-104 despite 27 from Andre Johnson, fell to a dismal 3-9 and were eliminated from playoff contention. Otherwise a good week!

MOST-SEARCHED ATHLETES OF 2012: The top 10, in order, according to Bing: Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Tim Tebow, Maria Sharapova, Kobe Bryant, Serena Williams, Lamar Odom (assist to Khloe Kardashian), LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo and Terrell Owens.

1aa1caviarVENDING-MACHINE CAVIAR: Three Beverly Hills-area malls now have vending machines (pictured) that dispense ultra-gourmet items including caviar -- some $500 an ounce -- escargot and truffles. Hmm. Would you think less of me if I just stuck with a Cinnabon? 

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

November 26, 2012

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 81.3%

[1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Find our main Dolphins-Seahawks game post directly below in the blog. 2) See results of our season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll two posts below this in the blog. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Dolphins' Amaya arrested: TMZ first reported Dolphins backup safety Jonathon Amaya was arrested around 4:30 a.m. today on Miami Beach for allegedly trying to choke a cab driver. Based on his amount of playing time, he's barely a Dolphin. And might not be for much longer, after this.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show 81.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 24-21 victory over the visiting Seattle Seahawks putting Miami's season record at 5-6. That is the highest total since Game 7. The DSM, in its fifth year, is 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, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2012 Dolfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 17.2% (4.4-v, 12.8-s) following 30-10 loss at Houston.

G2: 90.6% (47.1-v, 43.5-s) following 35-13 victory vs. Oakland.

G3: 43.8% (7.2-v, 36.6-s) following 23-20 loss (OT) vs. N.Y. Jets.

G4: 67.4% (18.3-v, 49.1-s) following 24-21 loss (OT) at Arizona.

G5: 93.1% (43.9-v, 49.2-s) following 17-13 victory at Cincinnati.

G6: 96.7% (52.2-v, 44.5-s) following 17-14 victory vs. St. Louis.

G7: 98.3% (80.9-v, 17.4-s) following 30-9 victory at N.Y. Jets.  

G8: 66.9% (21.3-v, 45.6-s) following 23-20 loss at Indianapolis.

G9: 17.3% (3.4-v, 13.9-s) following 37-3 loss vs. Tennessee.

G10: 12.0% (4.2-v, 7.8-s) following 19-14 loss at Buffalo.

G12: 81.3% (25.5-v, 55.8-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Seattle.

Next poll: Dec. 2 following game vs. New England.

Previous final season results for overall satisfaction:

2011: 34.9%

2010: 3.8%

2009: 31.2%

2008: 96.9%

G11: Dolphins 24, Seattle 21 (Final): Miami wins as Dan Carpenter celebrates birthday with 42-yard FG as time expires!

[1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Voting continues in season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this. Vote now! 2) Notre Dame coming to BCS national-championship game in Miami. This is not a bad thing. Love or hate the Irish, they'll be huge for interest (local and national) and TV ratings. 3) Join us on Twitter@gregcote]

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: New poll starting today at 4:30: Watch for the latest DSM in a separate blogpost beginning today at 4:30 p.m. sharp!

G11: SEATTLE @ DOLPHINS: Final: Big second half by Tannehill, who finishes with 253 yards passing and leads winning drive. Team rushes for 189 yards. Big day by Davone Bess. Just enough defense. Nice win, perhaps rekindling playoff hopes, however faint. ..... 4Q: Dolphins win 24-21 on Dan Carpenter 24-yard FG as time expires. Happy birthday, Dan. This isn't one you'll forget. ... Game tied 21-21 on 80-yard Miami scoring drive capped by 29-yard Ryan Tannehill TD strike to Charles Clay. ... Bang! Dolfans not even done celebrating tying TD when SEA's Leon Washington returns kickoff 98 yards for TD and Dolphins down 21-14 with 7:54 to play. ... Huge luck for Miami! Tied 14-14 on Daniel Thomas 3-yard TD run with 8 minutes left after a Tannehill INT in end-zone is negated by a roughing-passer penalty. Tannehill has never been happier to be roughed. ... The big question isn't who'll win. It's how many sports writers will be able to avoid writing sprinklers-come-on jokes. ..... 3Q: Oy! Sprinklers come on during game, interupting play and soaking field for about 30 seconds. Not sure whose, but I hear somebody's head rolling. ... Seattle with its first lead, 14-7, on Russell Wilson 4-yard scoring toss to a wide-open Michael Robinson. ..... Half: Miami 89 yards rushing in first half but a mere 68 passing. ..... 2Q: SEA ties it 7-7 in final minute on 3-yard scoring pass from Russell Wilson to Anthony McCoy, after Jared Odrick misses a shoulda-been sack. ... Reggie Bush awakens crowd with artful 21-yard scoring run and a 7-0 Dolphins lead, capping 94-yard drive. ... Am about to take up a collection in the press box to pay one onf these teams to score. ... 1Q: First quarter a puntfest, snoozy even by scoreless-game standards. ... Ryan Tannehill intercepted on MIA's second series, his sixth pick in past nine quarters. ..... Pregame: As promised on the radio, the parade of popcorn has begun! ... Club just announced that $2.2 million was raised for cancer research through the Dolphins Cycling Challenge. Michael Mandich, your father Jim would be proud of you, and if this community. ..... Original post: The playoffs are running away from Miami. Fast. At 4-6 after three straight losses, the Dolphins now are a home underdog vs. visiting Seattle today, then host New England and play at 1aa1dolseaSan Francisco. In other words the record could tumble to 4-9 real quick if today slips away. So it is time to think of this season not in terms of any unlikely playoff run but in terms of what we learn this year moving forward. And that starts with rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. He seems to have regressed a bit lately and today he faces a fellow rookie arm in the Seahawks' Russell Wilson. For those reason, as I wrote Friday in this column, Sunday would be a very good day for Tannehill to be very good. Won-lost record aside, Dolfans are hungry for reasons to be believe, and that starts with the quarterback. Win or lose today, we are looking for signs -- affirmation -- that Tannehill is the right guy long term. My pick: Seattle, 23-17.

Live blog Q&A-chat No. 10 has ended; next chat Dec. 3

Live blog chat No. 10 has ended: Thanks to all who made today another jam-packed hour. Click into 'Comments' section below for a transcript. See ya'll right back here next Monday at 1.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter (Final 2012): 80.9%

Monday live blog chat: We do it again today 1-2 p.m. Please do NOT post chat questions here. wait for separate live-chat post beginning around 12:45. Thanks.

[1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Find our main Collball Week 13 post, featuring UM-Duke and Florida's win over FSU, two spots below in the blog. Directly below: Our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12 / SEASON FINAL: Results are certified in the latest and final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show 80.9 percent overall satisfaction for the season in the wake of Saturday's 52-45 victory at Duke. That put UM's final 2012 1aa1csm12record at 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC with a share of the conference's Coastal Division title. The overall plus rating is the highest -- by a lot --in our four years of CSM polls in the blog, indicating, to me, a strong affirmation of coach Al Golden and what he is doing. Our CSM polls 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. Special emphasis in this final poll should be given to the season as a whole, with no penalty to the team (we'd suggest) for the university electing to self-impose a postseason ban. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 11 a.m. today/Monday. Thanks to the thousands of fans who participated in our 2012 CSM polls, and we'll see you again next season.

2012 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 93.9% (40.9-v, 53.0-s) following 41-32 victory at Boston College.

G2: 14.7% (7.0-v, 7.7-s) following 52-13 loss at Kansas State.

G3: 50.2% (7.5-v, 42.7-s) following 38-10 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman.

G4: 95.9% (61.0-v, 33.9-s) following 42-36 OT victory at Georgia Tech.

G5: 95.2% (49.6-v, 45.6-s) following 44-37 victory vs. North Carolina St.

G6: 29.4% (9.1-v, 20.3-s) following 41-3 loss vs. Notre Dame in Chicago.

G7: 17.0% (5.3-v, 11.7-s) following 18-14 loss vs. North Carolina.

G8: 39.4% (8.3-v, 31.1-s) following 33-20 loss vs. Florida State.

G9: 85.1% (30.3-v, 54.8-s) following 30-12 victory vs. Virginia Tech.

G10: 15.5% (5.2-v, 10.3-s) following 41-40 loss at Virginia.

G11: 73.5% (24.6-, 48.9-s) following 40-9 victory vs. South Florida.

G12/Season Final: 80.9% (24.4-v, 56.5-s) following 52-45 victory at Duke. 

Final season results:

2012: 80.9% overall satisfaction (following 7-5 season)

2011: 22.1% overall satisfaction (following 6-6 season)

2010: 4.2% overall satisfaction (following 7-6 season)

2009: 41.7% overall satisfaction (following 9-4 season)

November 24, 2012

G12: Hurricanes 52, @ Duke 45 (Final): Morris, Duke of Gables lead wild season-ending win!; plus Gators upset Noles, FIU & more

[1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24. Welcome to the Collball Week 13 post as most teams -- including five of the seven state FBS teams -- wrap up their regular seasons. 2) R.I.P., boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho and actor Larry Hagman, TV's J.R. Ewing. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: Voting underway!: Voting now underway in the season-ending CSM poll in a separate blogpost directly above this one.

G12: HURRICANES @ DUKE: MEANINGLESS? NOT TO UM: Final: The story of the season to a large degree: Enough Miami offense to overcome a faltering defense as Canes win season finale, 52-45, at Duke to finish 7-5, and 5-3 in the ACC. Stephen Morris' 369 yards passing and three TDs and Duke Johnson's 169 yards rushing and three scores lead the victory. How many 'Duke Beats Duke' headlines and references might we now expect? ..... Second half: UM lead down to 52-45 with 2:30 left. ... Canes lead whittled to 45-38, mid-4Q, after allowing a fourth TD pass of the game. ... UM lead down to 45-31 on 99-yard Duke scoring pass-n-run. ... Duke of Gables with a short, Tebow-esque scoring pass to Wilford, but ruled incomplete upon review. Looked like a TD catch to me. ... Miami lead comfy again at 45-24 after Morris to Mike James for 72-yard TD catch and run. ... Sensational Duke Johnson with his third TD run, a 65-yarder, and Canes gor wlead to 38-24. ... A 23-yard Duke TD pass narrows UM's lead to 31-24, suddenly too close for comfort. ... Duke within 31-17 on 10-yard scoring toss. ... Canes add 23-yard FG for 31-10 lead. ..... First half: Mike James 1-yard scoring run makes for a safe 28-10 halftime lead for UM. ... Breathing room again for Miami at 21-10 on Duke Johnson 6-yard TD run. ... Blue Devils within 14-10 after Brandon Connette 4-yard TD run caps 81-yard drive. ... Duke on board with 43-yard field goal to cut UM lead to 14-3. ... Miami now up 14-0 after Duke Johnson 18-yard TD run. ... UM up 7-0 on Stephen Morris 11-yard TD pass to Clive Walford. ..... Original post: I heard this game described on local radio as being "utterly meaningless." It is not. It is quite the opposite for Miami. The university self-imposing a 1aa1canesdukepostseason ban for a second straight season due to the NCAA investigation makes this tantamount to a bowl game for the Canes. A win to finish 7-5 also would mark symbolic (as well as literal) improvement for UM over last season. Perhaps most important, Miami by winning would claim at least a share of the ACC Coastal Division title -- postseason ban or not. For these reasons I think coach Al Golden's troops will be fired up. And they'd better be, because Duke (also 6-5) isn't the doormat it typically is. Give me the Canes. Stephen Morris has too many weapons for this opponent, and the biggest one is diminutive freshman Duke Johnson. In the Battle of the Dukes, give me The Duke of Gables. My pick was: Miami, 30-20.

The end for some, not for others: UM (self-imposed ban) and FIU (not bowl-eligible) are the only two of seven state FBS teams that will end their 2012 football seasons today. FAU and South Florida are not bowl eligible but end their regular seasons next Saturday. Florida, FSU and UCF are bowl-eligible.

Other featured state FBS games:

No. 6 Florida 37, No. 10 FSU 26 -- This for me was the national game of the week -- although that 1aa1flafsuwould be Notre Dame-USC in retrospect if the Trojans can upset the No.1 Irish tonight. The Gators were 4th in the all-important BCS rankings and still could play themselves up into the national championship game with this win and some luck with other results. I figured that to be moot. I'm surprised Florida won. Gators offense had struggled lately, and for them to put up 37 on FSU's awesome defense was impressive. They're partying tonight in Tallahassee. (Then again, when aren't they partying in Tally?) My pick was: FSU, 24-13.

Louisiana-Monroe 23, FIU 17 -- Seems like ages ago that FIU was the preseason Sun Belt favorite, but now the Panthers (3-9) say goodbye to The Belt after wrapping up a disappointing, injury-marred, bowl-less season at home. La-Mo was a stronger team and ended things fittingly for The Int'l. My pick was: La-Monroe, 31-17.

My record: This week, 2-1. Season, 41-15.

Other state FBS games: UCF d. UAB, 49-24; and Cincinnati d. South Florida, 27-10, Friday night. FAU had a bye.

National Game of the Week: Florida-FSU (see above).

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

November 23, 2012

NFL predix: Tough challenge awaits Dolphins, Tannehill; plus un-American NCAA, the shame of 138 points, Black Friday, Twinkie-stuffed bird & more

[1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23. Hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving and that none of you are feeling as fat as I am today. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

NFL PREDIX: TOUGH CHALLENGE FOR DOLPHINS, TANNEHILL: We're off the a good start, going 3-0 on our Thanksgiving Day picks (2-0-1 against the spread), including a bull's-eye on Redskins' upset in Dallas. Moving forward, 1aa1fripixthe 49ers, Bears, Steelers and (until recently) Texans get most of the credit for brutish defense, but the Seahawks have one of the toughest D's around, which I think Miami and rookie QB Ryan Tannehill will experience Sunday to their detriment, especially with Seattle coming off a bye. Make it Seabirds, 23-17, although I give Dolphins a big upset shot because the opponent has proven much better at home than away. Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And on Patience, Please for our Friday Page column centered on the increasingly nervous riders on Ryan Tannehill's bandwagon.

NCAA'S UN-AMERICAN TACTIC IN CANES CASE: The NCAA telling players it will believe Nevin Shapiro's allegations against them unless those players agree to be interviewed is un-American. In this country -- 1aa1guiltlegally and, I think, morally -- we start from and hold to a presumption of innocence, not a presumption of guilt. Players not required to give tesimony have the right not to without that implying guilt in any way. It would be a travesty if the eventual punishment handed down to the University of Miami is worse than it otherwise might have because of this. The NCAA should renounce its own un-American stance.

1aa1blackfriON THE PHENOMENON OF 'BLACK FRIDAY': You could not pay me to enter a shopping mall today. I mean that quite literally. When anybody mentions the gullibility of the American people it conjures for me the marketing-created phenomenon called Black Friday (that's today), with shoppers lined up for what they are told (and believe, apparently) to be the official start of the Christmas buying season. Hordes of shoppers elbowing for position, sometimes coming to blows, to make a mad dash for a temporarily marked down TV. Store rage. Sad, sad.

THE OTHER SIDE OF JACK TAYLOR'S 138: LeBron James was amazed. Kobe Bryant was impressed. Doesn't 1aa1jacktanybody else but me have a problem with a small-college player scoring 138 points in a basketball game? That was Jack Taylor (pictured) of Division III Grinnell College of Iowa. He took 108 shots, 71 of them 3's. He averaged a shot every 20 seconds. When a player is allowed to redefine "ballhog" to that degree in his team's 75-point victory, I'm sorry, but what comes to my mind first is not that player's heroics, but rather the galling lack of sportsmanship.

A TWINKIE-STUFFED THANKSGIVING TURKEY: Click here. With video. God bless America!

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

November 22, 2012

Thank you, readers. It's been fun; plus Bird Day NFL picks & Thanksgiving video starring me, Jeffrey Loria and 3 more

[It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22. I don't mean to sow negativity on this positive, thankful holiday, but check out the Marlins' Facebook page for a good laugh. The team wishes its fans a happy Thanksgiving ... to a torrent of animus and vitriol. Would be especially gratifying if I thought Jeffrey Loria or David Samson ever perused the club's Facebook site].

1aa1haptgHAPPY THANKSGIVING, ALL!: Everybody is busy today (maybe too busy to read a blog!), but I want to take a moment to thank you all. Just that. Thanks. I especially want to thank my long-time readers in the newspaper and then online, and of course those who helped make the blog a success when we started this venture back in September 2005. I am honored that you have invited me to play a small role in your lives. Trust that you all, collectively, play a big role in mine. Thanks again, and have a wonderful holiday!

Our Bird Day NFL picks: I'll admit this feels like a recipe for indigestion -- picking road teams in all three games today. But I did. Like Houston (-3) at Detroit, 31-24, and I like New England (-6 1/2) at the N.Y. Stinkin' Jets, 27-17 -- bookending a middle-game upset: Washington (+3 1/2) winning at Dallas, 24-23. Click on Bird Day Gems for our full picks.

1aa1tg12A holiday video from me to you: I got together recently with -- left to right: Jeffrey Loria, LeBron James, me, Donna Shalala and Don Shula -- to record this special Thanksgiving video. I never realized before how "Donna Shalala" and "Don Shula" are almost the same name. Click HERE to watch. Enjoy.

November 19, 2012

UM makes right call on postseason ban; plus NFL pix 'n fantasy, Marlins trade, Kardashian shame, MDQ, NASCAR, SOPY rank & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21. See results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter in blogpost directly below this new one. 2) Check out our video channel at YouTube/TheGregCote (under construction; new vids soon) and join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Marlins' salary-dump trade: Team confirmed that the controversial, locally unpopular 12-player trade with Toronto is now official. The commissioner's office investigated the trade but, as expected, did not veto it. 

SHARP DIVISION OF OPINION PRECEDED CANES' POSTSEASON BAN: University of Miami announced a second straight football postseason ban Monday morning, meaning the Canes will go consecutive seasons 1aa1ban1without a bowl game for the first time since 1981-82. The move is not unexpected and is smart. Tough medicine, but smart. The university's statement noted this will "allow the football program and the university to move forward in the most expedited manner possible." In other words, get past this mess sooner. Put it in the rear-view and have a fresh slate. "We will get it fixed," said coach Al Golden (pictured) after Saturday's 40-9 win over South Florida made UM bowl-eligible. All of this is self-imposing results to the continuing NCAA 1aa1baninvestigation in the matter of Nevin Shapiro, the rogue booster turned jailed Ponzi scheme thief. UM is counting on two straight self-imposed bowl bans lessening eventual penalties handed down by the NCAA. I am told by a source privy to the internal discussions there was sharp debate over whether to self-impose a ban. Not last year, but this time. "One school of thought was that giving up a possible berth in a BCS bowl would give us 'extra credit' with the NCAA," said the source. "But then the argument was that the BCS bowl is the reason to play. We win an ACC title that's our biggest moment since the last national championship." UM did what was right. Miami would have had to win at Duke next week to get into the ACC title game, where the Canes would have been a clear underdog to Florida State. And with five (or possibly six) losses, the bowl game preceding that for Miami would have been a minor one. What do you think UM should have done? I have already had a recent poll on this -- 54.9 percent supported a ban, 36.7% wanted to play and 8.4% were undecided -- but your reaction to the latest news is invited.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: DOUBLE-GOOD!: The fates must have picked Thanskgiving week to look benevolently upon me. NFL predix: A very solid week by me on my Friday Page last week, going 12-2 overall and 9-4-1 vs. the spread. Leading my parade: Outright upset bull's-eye on Jets winning in St. Lou. Fantasy: Hallelujah! Greg's Lobos finally snapped the losing streak and improved to 3-8 with a 107-100 win. Got a silly-good 47 from Andre Johnson but still needed 12 off David Akers' foot Monday night to clinch it.

NORTH MIAMI EMBARRASSES ITSELF, AWARDS KEY TO CITY TO KARDASHIANS: The vapid sisters famous for no discernable reason -- Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian -- were awarded the key to the 1aa1karscity of North Miami yesterday, also for no discernable reason. I have no doubt the Kardashians were thrilled, if only because the word "key" begins with a K. Key-giving North Miami mayor Andre Pierre presided over the ceremony, enabling residents with one more reason to enthusiastically bounce him from office. The Kardashians were honored ostensibly because they are filming part of their E! reality show in North Miami. Either that, or Snookie wasn't available. My immediate reaction when I heard the Kardashians were getting a key to the city? Change your locks, everybody!

1aa1mdqMILLION DOLLAR QUARTET (A REVIEW): We and two other couples took in Million Dollar Quartet at the Broward performing arts center the other day, the musical set in one mid-'50s night at Sun Records studio in Memphis, the only time Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis all were together. It does not rise to the level of Jersey Boys as theater, or as a story, but I'd nevertheless recommend it highly. Elvis and Cash are performed particularly well, stunningly so, and Lewis is a scen-stealer. One quibble: I'd cut a few songs and add a bit more story and a bit less music.

KESELOWSKI A FRESH, NEEDED CHANGE FOR NASCAR: Spent the day down at Homestead-Miami 1aa1bradbeerSpeedway Sunday and produced this column off the race on Brad Keselowski (pictured), who was crowned Sprint Cup season champ. Writing NASCAR is out of my comfort zone but I enjoy it. Most of the drivers are great to deal with, and you can't but help have a different perspective on sports watching these guys perform. Football players risk a knee injury? These guys risk more. Keselowski, 28, is a gust of fresh air. Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and that older guard are still around, but the new champ -- youthful, funny, cocky, a Twittering fool -- is a nice change. Now we see if he's a shooting star or has the staying power to be a multiple champ.

SOPY RANKINGS (WEEK 12): UM'S MORRIS IN DEAD-HEAT FOR LEAD, TITLE: This college football season has marked the blog debut of our weekly State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, which I like to call the "Sunshine State Heisman." Our chart encompasses the most productive 1aa1canessmseasons of any quarterback, running back or receiver from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida and FSU, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. (Note: Rankings consider only passing, rushing and receiving, not returns). Our formula awards one point per offensive yard gained running or receiving and a half-point per yard passing, plus six bonus points for touchdowns thrown or scored. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. After Week 12 it's Florida State's E.J. Manuel and the Canes' Stephen Morris (pictured) in a virtual tie at the top. The SOPY Top 10 entering Week 13:

Rank (LW)     Player, Team-pos.     SOPY Pts. Week=Year

1 (1)     E.J. Manuel, FSU-qb     81 = 1,705.5

2 (3)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb     201.5 = 1,705

3 (2)     B.J. Daniels, South Florida-qb     DNP = 1,585.5

4 (4)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb     82.5 = 1,452

5 (5)     Jake Medlock, FIU-qb     180 = 1,395.5

6 (6)     Graham Wilbert, FAU-qb     188.5 = 1,392.5

7 (7)     Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb     DNP = 1,170

8 (9)     Mike Gillislee, Florida-rb     136 = 1,142

9 (8)     Latavius Murray, UCF-rb     73 = 1,122

10 (--)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb     77 = 1,038

Bubble: Chris Thompson, FSU-rb, 965.

State of the State rankings: 1. Florida (10-1); 2. FSU (10-1); 3. Miami (6-5); 4. UCF (8-3); 5. South Florida (3-7); 6. FIU (3-8); 7. FAU (3-8).

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