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February 20, 2013

War! UM vs. NCAA. Shalala vs. Emmert. Poll. Vote!; plus Heat make trade, FAU and prisons, Dolphins, Marlins, Lena Dunham, Ron Fraser & more

1aa1dunhamlena[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21. My latest guilty pleasure is the HBO series 'Girls' and its star, Lena Dunham (pictured). The show is what we used to call a chick-flick and Lena is few guys' idea of classic-sexy, but I find both very appealing. 2) Giancarlo Stanton got beaned on the helmet by a fastball yesterday at spring training and walked away as if a marshmallow had hit him. That kid might be our biggest, strongest, most imposing pro athlete after LeBron James. 3) Thanks to ESPN for having us on Outside The Lines this week to discuss the UM/NCAA developments. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Hurricane Donna" Shalala blasts NCAA, Canes win again, Lil Wayne's war on Heat, Fixing NBA All-Star Weekend, Dolphins, yelling goats. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

My new column: NCAA buffoonery casts UM as sympathetic victim: Click on headline to access. Column is online and in Thursday's inky pulp editions.  

"HURRICANE DONNA" TAKES GLOVES OFF VS. NCAA, BUT WHO'S RIGHT?: U-Miami president Donna Shalala said, "We have suffered enough," after a 2-year NCAA investigation in the Nevin Shapiro case that led to significant self-imposed penalties such as a two-year football postseason ban. She calls for no 1aa1donna 1aa1donna2additional penalties and I agree, factoring in not only the self-imposed sanctions but the shady reputation of the accuser and the NCAA's own well-documented and major internal wrongdoing that tainted the investigation. These are extraordinary circumstances for which there is no template. But NCAA president Mark Emmert disagreed with Shalala and pushed forward with a Notice of Allegations that likely will result in yet-unknown additional sanctions. Who's right? I hestitated with this poll because I try not to post questions for which I think I know the answer. Then again, around 50 percent of our poll votes typically come from outside Florida; it isn't as if only Canes fans will be voting. There also is a fair argument on either side and some gray area. For example, though I agree with Shalala, I could see UM getting very minor added sanctions, perhaps. Anyway, cast your vote and say why you did.

HOT HEAT MAKE MINOR DEADLINE-DAY TRADE: Heat today traded reserve/D-League center Dexter Pittman and a 2013 second-round draft pick to Memphis for rights to center Ricky Sanchez, currently playing in Argentina. It's unlike Sanchez ever will play for Miami. Deal was done to open a roster spot for Heat to add a veteran big man, possibly Kenyon Martin. Meantime, the Heat played a home game in Atlanta last night based on what it sounded like, and Miami made it a season-best eight wins in a row, staying hot as play resumed after the break. LeBron James was held to only 24 points. The bum!

OWLCATRAZ: FAU ALIGNS WITH CONTROVERSIAL PRISON COMPANY: This might have been a feel- 1aa1geogood story: FAU selling naming rights to its Owls football stadium to GEO Group, a locally based company that privately runs prisons. It begged humor. Call the stadium Owlcatraz. Call coach-emeritus Howard Schnellenberger "The Warden." Put the cheerleaders in vertical stripes and the mascot in a county-issue orange jumpsuit. Stuff like that. The problem is GEO Group is controversial for abuses and treatment at its prisons, spawning outrage such as is reflected in the cartoon pictured. I have doubts whether this deal will stand because of the objection to it. I have doubts whether a public university should align itself with a notorious company that has the attention of human-rights and immigration-rights groups.

DOLPHINS ON FREE AGENCY, DRAFT: On free-agency: GM Jeff Ireland from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis today said re-signing DT Randy Starks was a priority, leaving the impression the franchise tag might be considered for him. He said team wants RB Reggie Bush back but at the right price. Said they want OT Jake Long back too but implied that injury concerns limit the price they'll pay. On the draft: Our fly-on-the-wall Dolphins front-office source (who will not appreciate being referred to as a fly) tells us Miami likely will not draft a receiver at No. 12 because the plan is to re-sign Brian Hartline and hard-pursue Mike Wallace in free agency. Mel Kiper and others keep pushing Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson but Dolphins consider him a project and want right-now impact. Offensive line is likelier with the top pick because the draft is very deep there and because chances of retaining Long are very iffy. Pass-rush help or a trade-down also are options being mulled.

ODDSMAKERS HAVE MARLINS SKIRTING 100-LOSS SEASON: Latest World Series odds via Bovada have Blue Jays the pick at 7-1, then Tigers 8-1, Dodgers and Nationals both 17-2 and Angels 9-1. Miami is 100-1, tied for next-to-last ahead of only the 200-1 Astros. Victory over/unders have Marlins at 63.5, a nice way of saying 98.5 losses. (Odds for upcoming World Baseball Classic have USA a 5-2 favorite, followed by Dominican Republic at 13-4 and Japan 7-2).

1aa1frasertribRON FRASER CELEBRATION OF LIFE: It'll be Saturday at the Knight Sports Complex on campus marking the great life of the former UM baseball coach who died last month at 79. The event is from 4-6 p.m. and free; doors open at 3. That night's 7 p.m. home baseball game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee also will be in Ron's honor.

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