[1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6. Tonight's NFL pick is Broncos (-10 1/2) over Raiders, 34-16. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
CRISTOBAL WRONGED BY A DISLOYAL A.D.: College athletic directors who are impatient or ineffective or both can be funny to observe. Funny as in sad. Take FIU's Pete Garcia. What is he thinking in firing football coach Mario Cristobal? A year ago Cristobal (pictured) deservedly gets a four-year contract extension because he has led FIU to its first winning seasons, to consecutive bowl games, to a small but growing place on the sport's national map. Cristobal is The Hot Young Coach, pursued by others (Rutgers, Pitt) but loyal to FIU and his home town, Miami. Wednesday, after a losing season fraught with key injuries, the mercurial Garcia showed everyone exactly what his loyalty looks like. Sad. Click on No Loyalty In Return for today's latest column by me.
THE LOVE-TO-HATE GLORY OF ALABAMA VS. NOTRE DAME: Oh what a perfect matchup Miami gets in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship at Dolphins stadium. It is perfect for the right reasons: Two vaunted programs of the highest echelon of college football in terms of tradition and accomplishment. It is also perfect because both are love-'em or hate-'em programs -- adored by their legion of fans, despised by the nation at large. 'Bama is personified by Nick Saban, loved by the houndstooth hat crowd but so unlikable to others, especially in Baton Rouge and in South Florida, it seems. And Notre Dame ... where to start? They are the Yankees, the evil empire. Their fans act as if no other team matters. This is why I have coined this matchup Nick Satan vs. The Evil Leprechaun. Alabama is favored, but I'm asking here who you want to win, not who you think will. There is no category for "neither," sorry. So I challenge you to declare a rooting interest, or at least to choose based on which team you hate slightly less. Vote and say why.
PHILBIN WRONG ON CAM WAKE, PERIOD: Dolphins are trying to stop the Patriots and save their chance of winning Sunday. It is late in the fourth quarter. And Cam Wake -- Miami's best defensive player and premier sacker -- is not out there chasing Tom Brady because Wake is on the sideline. Watching. Wondering. Seething. Coach Joe Philbin was resting Wake (and Jared Odrick, too) related to some lame adherance to a snap count. Are you kidding me!? Rookie mistake, Joe. Please don't do it again.
Long on IR; so long, Jake?: Dolphins left tackle Jake Long's season is finished as he was placed on injured reserve last night with a torn triceps. I have my doubts that Long, a pending free agent, will be back with Miami. He has become injury prone. Is he worth the money he'll still command elsewhere in a desperate market? He is worth the franchise tag?
THE PROBLEM WITH THE HEAT: Last night's loss to a 1-13 Wizards team inspires the question. I seldom overreact about the Heat, mainly because I leave that to everyone else. Miami is 12-4. Nothing including last night says they don't stil have a big chance to repeat. Two problems, though. One is physical: The downturn in attention to defense. What once was "who we are" (Erik Spoelstra always said) has become an afterthought. Problem two is mental. The Heat has developed a tendency to slough by on autopilot for much of a game and then believe they can turn it on when needed. More of a front-to-back effort is needed. Can't just rely on the magic Ray Allen 3 at the end. "This ain't a lesson for us," LeBron James said of losing to the Wizards. Too bad.
HEAT BIG 5 @ 15: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this season we started this new one we'll be running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. We continue with The Big 5 @ 15 Games (12-3):
Rank (@10) Player Total
1 (1) LeBron James 539.9
2 (2) Chris Bosh 405.6
3 (3) Dwyane Wade 314.5
4 (4) Ray Allen 269.1
5 (5) Mario Chalmers 239.8
Bubble: Shane Battier, 158.5
MARLINS' LATEST MARLINSRY: [Note: I have coined a new word: "Marlinsry." Marlinsry is the state or act of extreme frugality or cheapness] Quietly, the Marlins traded shortstop Yunel Escobar -- the only proven major-leaguer acquired in the recent salary-dump trade with Toronto -- to Tampa Bay for minor-league infielder Derek Dietrich. It was expected; Escobar came here as a temp. But it was expected because everybody knew the club would dump Escobar's salary, too. Miami Marlins: The Cheap Get Cheaper.
NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: The good, the bad and the ugly... NFL predix: This is the good. A solid week. Went 11-5 overall and 7-6-3 against the spread. That included an Upset of the Week bull's-eye on Redskins over Giants ("Aawwk!"), another outright upset call on Chiefs over Panthers, and three 'dogs with points (Seahawks, Rams, Eagles). Fantasy: This is the bad and the ugly. Greg's Lobos fell to a miserable 3-10 with a 149-101 loss. Never a good sign when your leading scorer is your defense (Texans, 22).
CANES' MORRIS WINS 2012 SOPY AWARD; FINAL TOP 10: This year our blog debuted the State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) standings, a weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Canes QB Stephen Morris wins. 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 end it after every team has played its 12 regular-season games, so players in a conference-championship game or bowl do not have an unfair advantage. Now, the 2012 final SOPY Top 10:
1. STEPHEN MORRIS, MIAMI-QB 1,900.5
2. E.J. Manuel, FSU-qb 1,868.5
3. Blake Bortles, UCF-qb 1,597.5
4. B.J. Daniels, South Florida-qb 1,585.5
5. Graham Wilbert, FAU-qb 1,585
6. Jake Medlock, FIU-qb 1,395.5
7. Mike Gillislee, Florida-rb 1,316
8. Duke Johnson, Miami-rb 1,244
9. Latavius Murray, UCF-rb 1,233
10. Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb 1,229.5
Others over 1,000: Mike James, Miami-rb, 1,119; and William Dukes, FAU-wr, 1,003.
Final State of the State rankings: 1. Florida (11-1); 2. FSU (10-2); 3. Miami (7-5); 4. UCF (9-3); 5. South Florida (3-9); 6. FIU (3-9); 7. FAU (3-9).
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogppst...