« September 2013 | Main | November 2013 »

16 posts from October 2013

October 31, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 50.3%; plus Miami beats Bengals 22-20 in OT, ends 4-game skid; also NFL Week 9 pix & more


1aa1joehall 1aa1haphallIt is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1. Happy new month, all. Hope everyone had a nice Halloween. The Dolphins did, even Joe Philbin (pictured), who'd gone trick-or-treating dressed up as a thoroughly beleaguered NFL head coach. 2) Red Sox Nation! 3) Sorry that wager on the Heat going 82-0 didn't work out for you. 4) In 
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat open season, Heat three-peat poll, Red Sox win Series, Dolphins' Pouncey mess, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Click on Bigger Than Just A Win for my column off last night's Dolphins game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 50.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 50.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Thursday night's 22-20 overtime victory vs. Cincinnati putting the Dolphins' season record at 4-4. The DSM, in its sixth 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. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 7 a.m. Saturday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3v, 66.2s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9v, 26.9s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2v, 20.8s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% satisfaction (18.8v, 39.4s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% satisfaction (4.3v, 29.2s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% satisfaction (3.8v, 2.7s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% satisfaction (3.0v, 1.7s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

G8: 50.3% satisfaction (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

Next poll: Nov. 11 following game at Tampa Bay.

G8: DOLPHINS 22, CINCINNATI 20 (OT): Final/OT: Finally, a victory! Miami ends four-game skid (sorry, I'd earlier written five) with 22-20 triumph on Cam Wake's third sack of game, dropping Cincy's Andy Dalton in end zone in overtime. Defense rose up when needed, Ryan Tannehill had zero turnovers and Lamar Miller rushed for 105 yards. A quality win over a strong Bengals team. Moire than that, a desperately needed win by Miami. ..... Halftime: Strong Halloween night performance so far by Miami. Team has 142 yards rushing and a 6.5 average and Ryan Tannehill has a 91.7 passer rating. That sounds like it should be worth more than 10 points. But when the defense is limiting the Bengals to 141 total yards, that's enough for a 10-3 lead. ..... Original post: Have the Dolphins ever had a tougher week than this short one preparing to play a very good Bengals team tonight? Have the Dolphins ever seemed less ready for a prime-time national stage? The four-game 


1aa1ball8
1aa1dolthurs
losing streak after a 3-0 start is the hub of the despair, of course. With that has come severely shaken confidence in coach Joe Philbin and more ominously in young quarterback Ryan Turnoverhill Tannehill, who has 14 turnovers himself (nine INTs, five lost fumbles) in seven games. Wait, there's more! One offensive lineman, Mike Pouncey, is served with a subpoena in the Aaron Hernandez murder case, an issue made bigger by the club's refusal to comment on it. Another lineman, Jonathan Martin, has left the team under emotional duress, reportedly after ribbing from teammates, fellow linemen, that was not received well in the team's lunchroom Monday. There are additonal reports of growing tension within the lockerroom and on the coaching staff -- the picture of a team fraying and in jeopardy of ripping apart. Otherwise, it's all good! No team in the NFL needs a win more desperately right now, and that includes winless Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. (Yes, the state's three NFL teams are a collective cesspool at the moment). Now here's the strange thing: I like the Dolphins tonight. Despite the losing streak, the turmoil and all of the off-field stuff. Miami needs this so much more than Cincy does. The Dolphins are not as bad as they appeared in the second half in New England last week. And I think Miami will be able to run the ball on a Bengals defense mssing middle linebacker Ray Maualuga. Now let's see if I'm nuts or a genius. My pick was: Upset. Dolphins, 24-20.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 9 NFL PREDIX: The Dolphins have already played and yet the NFL has the 1aacote2temerity to continue with its schedule. Miami's win last night, by the way, ended a combined 25-game losing streak by the state of Florida's three teams: A current 13 straight L's for Jacksonville, eight for Tampa Bay and what had been four straight for the Dolphins. Click on Week 9 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks, and on King Sport Halftime Awards for our midseason trophy outlook. (My week got off to a great start last night. I picked Dolphins in an upset, 24-20. It was 22-20).

DRUGGIE COACHES RESIGN AT FAU: Put on Earth to make Dolfans feel better about their team, FAU football is rocked by the sudden, scandalous resignations of coach Carl Pelini (pictured) and offensive
1aa1cpelini

coordinator Pete Rekstis for using unspecified illegal drugs. A university source told me it was marijuana, but that is not officially confirmed. As bad as the drug use here is the hypocrisy: Coaches preaching to their kids to do the right thing and represent while they do the opposite. I don't know that Pelini will survive this to have any coaching future beyond perhaps a pity-hire by his more prominent coaching brother Bo. Maybe the shamed Pelini can develop an acumen for used-car sales? (BTW, anybody else think Dopin' Carl looks like an older Kenny Chesney?)

Poll result: Heat will repeat. Repeat. Heat will repeat: I asked for a yes or no and 83.4 percent said yes. Not surprising, maybe, coming in a Miami Herald blog. But the vote was virtually the same (83.6) in Florida, where a higher concentration of Heat fans might be presumed.

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

October 29, 2013

Boston Strong! Red Sox win Series; plus will Heat three-peat poll, Dolphins' Pouncey mess, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings & more


It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30. In 
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall in New England, DSM poll & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Heat lose at Philly after strong Opening Night: Dwyane Wade sat out tonight resting his knees (not a good sign) as Miami fell at awful Philly, 114-110. Are we panicking yet? Click on Curtain Lifts Well for my column off Tuesday's season-opening win over Bulls. Click on Enjoy The Ride for my Heat season-preview column.

YES OR NO: WILL HEAT THREE-PEAT AS CHAMPS?: Was Opening Night big enough for you? You had double-champion Heat opening the season at the bayside arena

to begin the journey to a three-peat. You had

1aa1big3peat
Will it be a Big 3-peat?
the banner-raising and ring ceremony. You had the Chicago Bulls in the house and the bad blood this series brings. You had the long-awaited return of Derrick Rose, sharing the court with the best player on earth in LeBron James. Let's go! Now here's our poll premise. I give you a $100 bill to bet all or nothing. You can put it on the Heat three-peating as champ. Or you can put it on the field, every other team. Where is your money going? This is not asking if you want Miami to repeat; this is asking the cold gambler in you to enter the ballot box. Can you do it? Vote your gut, and say why.

 

1aa1bosmeBEARD POWER! RED SOX WIN SERIES!: Boston wins World Series 4 games to 2 over St. Louis tonight at Fenway Park, 6-1, Boston's first championship-clinching win at home since 1918. I was there in spirit as a proud infantryman in Red Sox Nation since 1967. As you can see by the photo taken yesterday at the 790 radio studios I have grown a full beard in homage to my bearded Bosox so that I too can look like a 19th Century U.S. President just like Mike Napoli. Let's go Sox!  

ADVICE TO DOLPHINS ON HOW TO PLAY POUNCEY MESS: Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was served a 1aa1mpounceygrand jury subpoena in the Aaron Hernandez murder case, and neither he nor the club are saying anything. Bad strategy. You must get out front and out in the open on this. The case is toxic. A team on a four-game losing streak cannot afford this distraction, or any murky association with it -- and murky is what you allow it to be if you don't say anything. Is Pouncey (pictured) wanted simply as a witness because he knew Hernandez from their Florida Gators days? Or is he somehow implicated as suspect? The latter notion seems outlandish, but is allowed to fester in the lack of comment from the Dolphins. (Pouncey saying only yesterday, "I'm going to play a good football game" when asked about the controversy continued the club's PR misplay).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 8: UPSWING AND TAILSPIN: First, the upswing. Then, the tailspin. NFL 1aa1fripixpredix: Had Rams-with-points last night to cap a pretty solid week. We went 9-4 overrall, 7-6 vs. the spread. That's actually a good week both ways based on the year I'm having, which tells you a little something about the year I'm having. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos have become the Jacksonville Jaguars of my fantasy league, I say with shame. I fell to 1-7 with a 154-97 loss, Dez Bryant (22) my only player over 20 points. My playoffs hope are all but shot. The downward spiral of Tom Brady captains my personal Titanic.

SOPY RANKINGS: WEEK 9: CANES' DUKE CLIMBS TO 4TH: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the
1aa1sopymost 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. Because our rankings are cumulative players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. FSU QB Jameis Winston is comfortably the current leader. 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. Our 2013 standings entering Week 10: 

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk9=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb            153 = 1,370.5

2 (3)     Blakes Bortles, UCF-qb              199 = 1,114

3 (2)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb           130 = 1,062.5

4 (5)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb            180 = 936

5 (4)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb              56 = 860

6 (6)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb          101.5 = 791.5

7 (8)     Rashad Greene, FSU-wr            143 = 738

8 (10)   Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb         134 = 684

9 (9)     Jonathan Wallace, FAU-rb          37 = 616

10 (7)   Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                 DNP = 611

Bubble: Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr, 592. Other team leaders: Florida--Solomon Patton-wr, 506; FIU--Jake Medlock-qb, 467.5. Note: FAU has played eight games, all others seven each.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (7-0); 2. Miami (7-0); 3. UCF (6-1); 4. Florida (4-3); 5. FAU (2-6); 6. USF (2-5); 7. FIU (1-6).

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

October 27, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 4.7%; plus Collapse! Miami loses 4th straight, 27-17, allows 24 unanswered Patriots points

1aa1loureedIt is MONDAY, OCTOBER 28. R.I.P., Lou Reed (pictured), gone at 71. Click on Perfect Day for one of his favorite songs of mine. 2) How 'bout those Red Sox! 3) Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes-column package, and on Enjoy The Ride for my Heat preview column. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes beat Wake Forest to set up FSU showdown, CSM poll, Collball Week 9 roundup, NFL Week 8 picks & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

CSM results in: See previous blogpost for results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. Number still solid, but shows another drop after second straight narrow-escape win.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 4.7 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 27-17 loss at New England putting the 1aa1dsmDolphins' season record at 3-4. The DSM, in its sixth 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. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3v, 66.2s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9v, 26.9s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2v, 20.8s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% satisfaction (18.8v, 39.4s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% satisfaction (4.3v, 29.2s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% satisfaction (3.8v, 2.7s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% satisfaction (3.0v, 1.7s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

Next poll: Oct. 31 following game vs. Cincinnati.

G7: DOLPHINS @ NEW ENGLAND: BRADY'S OFF, BUT IT'S STILL THE PATS IN FOXBOROUGH: Final: A monumental collapse by Miami. A dominating first half and 17-3 lead, then a miserbale second half and a 27-17 loss. Everything went wrong after halftime. The O-line allowed 6 more sacks. Tannehill -- call him Ryan Turnoverhill -- had two more INTs and another lost fumble, the defense caved. Such a strong start to disintegrate so entirely baffling. Four straight losses. Awful. ..... 4Q: Over. Tannehill picked off on deep shot in final minute. ... Sturgis blocked FG and it's all over but the crying. MIA headed to 4th straight defeat. ... Stevan Ridley 1-yard TD run for 27-17 after bizarre illegal-batting call against Miami. Dolphins sack Brady, he fumbles, Pats recover, but illegal bat give NE 34 yards to make eventual score easier. Thought it was an awful call at first, but replay indicated ruling was proper. ... Tannehill turnovers are killing Miami. INT was his second turnover of game, 13th of season (eight picks, five fumbles). ..... 3Q: Pats FG for 20-17 lead in closing seconds of 3rd, making it 17 unanswered points in quarter. Rarely have I seen momentum shift so dramatically. ... Just like that. Tied 17-17 on Brandon Bolden 2-yard run after Tannehill fumble off sack gives NE ball at Miami 13. That's Tanny's 12th turnover -- fifth fumble loss to go with seven picks. ... Brady to Aaron Dobson for 14-yard scoring pass that victimizes Nolan Carroll and NE within 17-10. ... Sturgis 46-yard FG try bonks off right upright. Mike Wallace with (another) dropped pass, though it would have been a tough catch. ..... Halftime: Miami defense dominating, holding Pats to 59 total yards. Lamar Miller a big half, 13-for-63. Said on pregame show that Tannehill had to outperform Brady and that's a big hell-yeah thus far. Tanny with a 106.7 rating and two TDs, Brady at 38.0 with a pick. ..... 2Q: Caleb Sturgis 52-yard FG through swirly wind and 17-3 just before half. ... Lame interference call against Miami on Rob Gronkowski, but Pats settle for FG and a 14-3. ... Tanny with another short TD pass, this to Daniel Thomas, and a 14-0 lead. Bench Brady! Fire Belichick! First last night's Red Sox loss, now this. ... 1Q: Dolphins looked like the better team in that quarter. ... Finally! Ryan Tannehill rolls out to buy extra time, hits Brandon Gibson in the end zone for short TD pass and 7-0 lead after Dimitri Patterson intercepts Tom Brady. I say finally because I've been saying for weeks Tanny should get out of pocket more. ..... Original post: Miami should bring some healthy desperation into this game, having seen three straight losses turn its season 1aa1dol7 1aa1dolpatsupside down. Doubting Dolfans need to be convinced now that this is a playoff team; so do I. New England, though, should bring its own urgent imperative into this one. The Pats' record is good but Tom Brady has been astonishingly mediocre, and Team Hoodie must prove to doubters that it is a championship contender. Should make for a compelling game. And the impact of newly acquired Dolphins tackle Bryant McKinnie (or lack thereof) will be an interesting subplot. Dolphins need to defend Rob Gronkowski well today to have a chance, which could be problematic. I like Miami with the points but not outright. For all its faults Nuevo England remains a strong home team (3-0 at The Fox this year) and hasn't lost consecutive AFC East games since 2006. My pick: Patriots, 24-20.

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

October 25, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 68.4%; plus it's on! 7-0 UM at 7-0 FSU. Collball Week 9 roundup (updated); plus NFL W8 picks & more

It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26. Click on Enjoy The Ride for my Heat preview column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Most-beloved-Dolphin poll, let's go Red Sox!, Oden/LeBron, London calling & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

It's on! Canes at Noles in the Unbeaten Bowl: FSU won today (comfortably) and UM won (barely) so it's a battle of 7-0s next Saturday in Tally. Predict Seminoles will be favored big, likely double-digits big. And so the theme for the week develops: "Canes get no respect. Canes with something to prove."

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 68.4%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 68.4 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 24-21 victory over visiting Wake 1aa1csmForest putting 7th-ranked Miami's record at 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. That's a still-solid number but shows another sharp drop, likely the residue of a second narrow-escape win in a row over a lesser opponent. This is the fifth year for CSM polls in our blog. These 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. 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/Monday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9% (19.9-very, 63.0-somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. FAU.

G2: 96.7% (71.2-v, 25.5-s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7% (77.2-v, 18.5-s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6% (67.9-v, 29.7-s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8% (60.4-v, 35.4-s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3% (41.8-v, 40.5-s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G7: 68.4% (31.2-v, 37.2-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Wake Forest.

Next Poll: Nov. 2 following game at Florida State.

G7: NO. 7 HURRICANES 24, WAKE FOREST 21 (Final): DUKE TD WITH 53 SECONDS LEFT!: Final: Fret if you must that for the second straight week UM barely survived a lesser opponent. But overwhelmingly bigger than that is the resourcefulness of this team and the bottom line: 7-0. Duke Johnson had a huge second half to carry the Canes, finishing with 30 runs for 168 yards and two late TDs including the game winner with 53 seconds left. Halftime: Man what a difference that late UM score meant for the way this game feels. Hurricanes fans can exhale a bit. Herb Waters cashed the points with that 35-yard pass from Stephen Morris but it was Clive Walford's one-handed 20-yard catch that was huge. Duke Johnson struggling a bit (10-for37) but you get the sense Canes will take over in second half. I'lll be back with postgame thoughts. ..... Original post: Elvis liked to say "T.C.B." for "taking care of business" and that's why Miami must do today vs. a Wake Forest team that has won two 1aa1canes7 1aa1caneswakestraight, is 4-3 and mustn't be overlooked. That would be (too) easy for the 6-0 Canes today, after the relief of the favorable NCAA verdict and with the highly anticipated trip to Tallahassee on deck. UM and Florida State (see below) must both T.C.B. today to make next week's showdown the Battle of Unbeatens everyone. Hopefully last week's narrow escape at North Carolina proved a lesson for The U. Miami should have Duke Johnson back from injury today and should roll, although I'd guess it a bit closer than the 24-point betting line. My pick was: Miami, 34-17.

Other Week 9 state FBS games, in order of interest:

No. 2 Florida State 49, North Carolina State 17: Here was the other half of "T.C.B." The Seminoles couldn't slip up today or next week's visit by UM would lose so much of its steam. Dangerous sandwich game for FSU, coming between Clemson and Miami, but you could bet NC State has the Noles' attention after beating them 17-16 last season to knock FSU from the national-title hunt. Bobby Bowden's first visit since retiring added emotion to the afternoon. My pick was: FSU, 48-16. (Almost an exact score!)

No. 23 UCF 62, Connecticut 17: The now 6-1 Knights and ranked have a remaining schedule that makes an eventual BCS bowl bid very possible if they don't stumble. It wouldn't be today against a winless UConn. My pick was: UCF 34-10.

No. 20 Louisville 34, South Florida 3: Teddy Bridgewater's Cardinals were stunned by UCF last week but got well as expected a much weaker Bulls squad. My pick was: Louisville, 30-20.

No. 11 Auburn 45, FAU 10: Auburn may be overranked at 11 and after a huge road win at Texas A&M how could homies not take this one lightly? Still, no problem. My pick was: Auburn, 28-17.

Louisiana Tech 23, FIU 7: This is a bad home loss for FIU against a team its own size. My pick was: Upset. FIU, 24-23.

Off this week:

Florida: Limping Gators are 4-3, out of the polls and next facing Georgia in the Cocktail Party.

Week 9 national Top 25 matchups:

No. 15 Oklahoma 38, No. 10 Texas Tech 30:  I thought Sooners' excellent pass defense would make it rough on Davis Webb. My pick was: Oklahoma, 27-17.

No. 3 Oregon 42, No. 12 UCLA 14: Ducks were smarting from turning up No. 3 (not 2) in the first BCS poll, and I thought they'd take out the frustration on the Bruins. My pick was: Oregon, 52-34.

No. 21 South Carolina 27, No. 5 Missouri 24 (2OT): I wrote: "I keep not quite believing in 7-0 Mizzou. Maybe it's time I started. (Even though I give Steve Spurrier's Cocks a big upset shot)." Sensed this, just didn't pull the trigger. My pick was: Missouri, 23-21.

No. 6 Stanford 20, No. 25 Oregon State 12: Saw Stanford as a better all-round team but liked the surging Beavers at home. Wrong! My pick was: Upset. Oregon State, 31-27.

My record: This week, 7-3; season, 51-14.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 8 NFL PREDIX: WOES CONTINUE FOR FLORIDA TEAMS: Thankfully the Hurricanes and Seminoles are hurtling toward a battle of unbeatens on the college end, because Florida's 1aa1fripixthree NFL teams are collectively on a current 22-game losing streak -- astonishingly true! -- and the betting odds say the skid will grow to 24 on Sunday. Jacksonville, 0-7, has lost 12 straight games dating to last season and plays the hugely favored 49ers in London. Tampa Bay is now 0-7 after losing last night to Carolina. And Miami, of course, chips in its three-game losing streak as it plays underdog Sunday at New England. Click on Sad State of the State for today's Friday Page column by me, and on Week 8 Gems for all my latest NFL prediction capsules. (My week got off to a good start last night. Had Panthers winning and covering six points at Bucs, and they did).

Poll result: Marino most beloved Dolphin in landslide: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote), and 62.7 percent called Dan Marino the Dolphins' most beloved player ever. We only asked because the Sporting News recently called Larry Csonka that. Zonk was a distant second in our poll with 17.2%, followed by Zach Thomas 7.2%, Bob Griese 5.1% and Jason Taylor 4.5%. "Somebody else" got 3.3%.

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

October 23, 2013

Who is most "beloved" Dolphins player ever? Poll. Vote now; plus London calling, Greg Oden, Red Sox, NCAA/UM poll result & more

It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25. We'll have a new blogpost later today, but since our most-beloved-Dolphin poll below has proved so popular we're leaving this post up top for a while longer. 2) Click here for my latest column, on the NCAA/UM verdict. Now let's move and forget all about renegade booster, um, what was his name again!? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NCAA/UM verdict and poll, Bryant McKinnie, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, World Series odds, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

London calling for Dolphins: NFL announced that Dolphins vs. Raiders would be one of three games played in London next season. It'll be Oakland's home game. Miami played in the first-ever regular-season game at Wembley Stadium, losing 13-10 to the Giants on Oct. 28, 2007.

WHO IS THE DOLPHINS MOST "BELOVED" PLAYER EVER?: Two points I'd make about the Sporting 1aa1belovedNews. First, it used to be The Sporting News, even called itself 'TSN.' Then it quietly they dropped the The, just like The Miami Herald did, and is now simply Sporting News. Whatever. The larger point is that Sporting News just named the most "beloved" player for all 32 NFL franchises, and for Miami they chose Larry Csonka. (Click here for the gallery). "Hmm," I thought. My assumption would be that Dan Marino was the no-brainer pick, but maybe I'm wrong and they got it right. Debate or doubt, of course, form the petri dish in which our blog polls grow! Remember, this is not a greatest-player poll. Instead we invite your vote by however you define "most beloved." Make your choice and say why.

1aa1carlcard"LET'S GO RED SOX!" (NOT THAT I'M BIASED OR ANYTHING): Series now tied 1-1 heading to St. Louis. I'm nervous. ... Original post: I foresaw a Tigers-Dodgers World Series, so I'm delighted to be wrong as the Red Sox-Cardinals WS launches with Game 1 tonight at Fenway Park. Many loyal readers may know I was weaned on the 1967 Red Sox and the Year of Yaz. It's what turned a little kid into an avid sports fan, which in turn astonishingly somehow led to a career. It will be emotional for me tonight as Carl Yastrzemski throws out the first pitch. I predict a Red Sox championship, 4 games to 3, while fully admitting that's roughly 97 percent wishful thinking and 3 percent logic.

ODEN PROMISING IN HEAT DEBUT: Greg Oden played four minutes in Wednesday's Heat exhibition. But when it was your first game action since Dec. 5, 2009, that's a big deal, especially when your first touch resulted in a dunk. Miami will continue to baby Oden's progress, but this was encouraging. Michael Beasley's early effort has been encouraging, too. The Heat bench will be hugely better if these two perform as the club hopes. Early days, but the gamble on each seems smart right now.   

1aa1kinglbjSurprise! LeBron pick again for MVP: Bovada has it LeBron James at 3-2, then Kevin Durant 4-1 and Derrick Rose 11-2. For the scoring title it's Durant 7-5; for rebounds it's Dwight Howard even; for assists it's Chris Paul 3-2; and for rookie of the year it's Orlando's Victor Oladipo at 12-5, with notable others including Tim Hardaway Jr. at 12-1 and Shane Larkin at 20-1.

Poll result: NCAA's final verdict on UM was fair: A majority of 70.2 percent said the NCAA got it right Tuesday in docking the Canes with scholarship reductions but no additional postseason ban. Another 18.6% called the punishment too severe, while 11.2% said Miami got off easy.

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

October 22, 2013

Poll: Your verdict on NCAA's UM verdict. Vote now!; plus link to full 102-page NCAA report; Canes socked with scholarship cuts but no bowl ban

It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22. It's No-Radio Tuesday. I'm off the air today. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose again, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

UM/NCAA verdict on ESPN's Outside The Lines: Thanks to ESPN, the legendary Bob Ley and OTL for having me on today.

Verdict proves UM, NCAA both got it right: Miami was right to self-impose penalties, and NCAA was fair in properly weighing that. Click Finally, The End for today's column by me off the final verdict. An on UM Deserves Lenience for earlier column in advance of decision.    

NCAA Report on UM: Click HERE to access the full 102-page NCAA report on UM.

POLL: DID NCAA GET IT RIGHT TODAY WITH UM VERDICT? The University of Miami's long nightmare finally is over with today's long, lonnngggg-awaited NCAA verdict in the three-year 1aa1ncaa 1aa1uinvestigation stemming from renegade-booster Nevin Shapiro. The Canes had already done their time and paid their price with self-imposed penalties, especially in football. Today's NCAA verdict revealed UM will incur nine additional lost football scholarships (three each over the next three years), and three (one each year) in men's basketball. Significantly, there is no added postseason ban in football. That's reasonable. That meets our definition of proper lenience. There were also penalties imposed upon former men's basketball coach Frank Haith, now at Missouri (five-game suspension) and a two-year ban from college coaching for two since-departed football assistants. The key for UM, though, is no more postseason ban and a fairly minor hit on reduced scholarships. Another postseason ban would have been a shame -- and the shame would have been the NCAA's. Here's a new poll on today's NCAA verdict. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

MCKINNIE A DESPERATE STOPGAP: The Dolphins trading a low future draft pick for Ravens tackle (and 1aa1bmacex-Cane) Bryant McKinnie illustrates just how desperate Miami is upon three straight losses and continuing poor offensive-line play. McKinnie is 34, just had his knee drained, and is not renowned for being in great shape. Miami explored signing him in the offseason when he was a free agent and said nah. McKinnie was on the Party Bus when teammate Jacoby Jones got clocked with a champagne bottle swung by a stripper named Sweet Pea. Hmm. I like that Miami is being aggressive in helping itself any way possible, but if McKinnie is an upgrade, the Dolphins may be in worse shape than we thought.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 7: THE OK AND THE BAD: OK on the predictions, bad on the fantasy 1aa1fripixteam. NFL predix: Our 8-7 record overall sucks, but that same 8-7 against the spread we'll take, especially after the way we've been going lately. Nailed Texans-with-points over Chiefs on our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"), and also hit a rare exact score in Packers' 31-13 win. Fantasy: Must I? Greg's Lobos lost yet again, falling to 1-6, this time drubbed 125-76. Tom Brady and Arian Foster are killing me. I vow major changes. The jobs of my coach and general manager are on the line. Wait, that's me. S---!

1aa1bb13wsRED SOX A VERY SLIGHT WORLD SERIES FAVORITE: This Boston-St. Louis World Series (starting Wednesday night) is about as close to betting-even as Vegas gets. Red Sox are a 5-7 favorite to Cards' 6-5, but Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley tells us 60 percent of the early money has been on the Redbirds. MVP favorites are Boston 's David Ortiz (15-2) and Dustin Pedroia (8-1), then STL's Carlos Beltran (9-1) and Matt Holliday (10-1). I'll have my WS preview and pick in the blog on Wednesday.

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 8: WINSTON STRETCHES HIS LEAD: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the 1aa1sopymost 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. Because our rankings are cumulative players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. FSU QB Jameis Winston is the current leader by an ever-bigger margin. 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. Our 2013 standings entering Week 9:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk8=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb           248 = 1,217.5

2 (2)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb           BYE = 932

3 (3)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               153 = 915 

4 (6)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             200 = 804

5 (4)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb            83 = 756

6 (8)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb          161 = 690

7 (5)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                BYE = 611

8 (--)    Rashad Greene, FSU-wr             158 = 595

9 (7)     Jonathan Wallace, FAU-rb         BYE = 579

10 (--)  Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb          101 = 550

Bubble: Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr, 548. Other team leaders: Florida--Solomon Patton-wr, 506; FIU--Jake Medlock-qb, 408.5. Note: Florida and FAU have played seven games, all others six each.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (6-0); 2. Miami (6-0); 3. UCF (5-1); 4. Florida (4-3); 5. FAU (2-5); 6. USF (2-4); 7. FIU (1-5).

1aa1bieberHEADLINES YOU COULDN'T MAKE UP: Click HERE for one. My comment: Mental illness takes many forms, and I'm guessing plenty of folks have been locked away for exhibiting behavior far less bizarre than this.

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

October 20, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.5%; plus Miami falls to Buffalo 23-21 for third straight loss

It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22. Click on Random Evidence for my latest Sunday notes-column package, this one leading with the Beardtown Red Sox. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes, FSU-Clemson, Collball Week 8 roundup, NFL Week 7 predix & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Click on Choke Collar for my latest column, off Sunday's Dolphins loss. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 6.5%: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a nosedive to 6.5 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 23-21 home loss to visiting Buffalo putting the Dolphins' season record 1aa1dsmat 3-3. The DSM, in its sixth 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. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% satisfaction (20.3v, 66.2s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% satisfaction (71.9v, 26.9s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% satisfaction (78.2v, 20.8s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% satisfaction (18.8v, 39.4s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% satisfaction (4.3v, 29.2s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% satisfaction (3.8v, 2.7s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

Next poll: Oct. 27 following game at New England.

G6: BUFFALO @ DOLPHINS: AFC EAST OPENER FINDS MIAMI AT CROSSROADS: Final: This was a bad, bad home loss, to a division opponent, coming off a bye, and blown late. Not much good to say. Writing my game column now; should be online sometime after 7 this evening. ..... 4Q: Dolphins fail on last-play Hail Mary, lose AFC East opener and third straight game overall, falling to 3-3. ... Revenge of the Kicker! Carpenter, cut by Dolphins in preseason, kicks 31-yard FG for Buffs to put MIA down 23-21 with 33 seconds left. ... Tannehill stripped of ball by Mario Williams and Bills recover at MIA 34 with 2:48 left. ... Monster sack by Dimitri Patterson. NOt as monster as Mario Williams' on Tannehill, but close. ..... 3Q: Buffs within 21-20 on Carpenter 20-yard kick after Dolphins goalline defensive stand forces visitors to settle. ... Sharp drive for MIA's first lead, 21-17, ended on Tanny-Gibson second TD hookup of game. Dolphs have scored 21 of game's last 24 points and sezied momentum. ..... Half: Dolphins are 0-for-7 on third-down conversions but are back in it on two TD passes by Tannehill. Miami is playing win-caliber defense and plainly has the momentum entering the half. ..... 2Q: MIA within 17-14 on Tannehill 13-yard TD pass to Brandon Gibson just before half. Gibson with an acrobatic leap into the zone. A 46-yard strike to Mike Wallace keyed the drive. ... Ex-Dolph Dan Carpenter aces a 39-yard kick for 17-7 Buffs lead. ... Chris Clemons INT sets up MIA at Bison 31, but takeaway is wasted as drive sputters, ends in missed 51-yard FG try by Caleb Sturgis. ... That's more like it. Miami within 14-7 on 7-yard Charles Clay pass from Tannehill. Lamar Miller 30-yard sparked the drive -- and the crowd. ..... 1Q: Miami's worst quarter of the season has mercifully ended. Tanny 2-for-9 with two picks, and a passer rating of 2.3. ... Nightmare continues! Tannehill intercepted at goalline, his second pick. Scattered boos heard. Surprised not more. ... Fred Jackson's 3-yard scoring run digs a 14-0 hole for Miami, which cost itself 40 yards of field position with a penalty on a punt. ... Oy! Nightmare start. Ryan Tannehill picked off on first pass, returned 19 yards for Buffs TD by Nickell Roeby. ..... Original post: Bye weeks give coaches luxurious time to tinker with and smooth out their own team's flaws while also better preparing for the 1aa1dol6 1aa1dolbuff2next opponent, so a loss or poor showing by 3-2 Miami today would be doubly disappointing. I look for two key elements. 1) Offensively, the line is challenged to block Mario Williams and a good-sacking Buffalo defense and keep Ryan Tannehill's uniform clean -- which it hasn't been though a league-worst 24 sacks. Joe Philbin 1aa1dolbuff1also must commit to the ground game and a beatable Bison run-D. Would be disappointed if this wasn't a 15-to-18-type carries game for Lamar Miller. 2) Defensively, stop RB C.J. Spiller. He's been the Dolphins-killer lately, with 320 yards and a 5.7 average the past three meetings. Block Williams, limit Spiller and all shall be well. It better be, because this is an "intersection game" for Miami. Fan confidence in this being a playoff team is weak or wavering, and a loss would send it plummeting. Miami must shake two straight losses, move to 4-2 and get on a little roll to assert itself as a real AFC player. My pick: Dolphins, 24-17.

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

October 17, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.3%; plus Collball Week 8 (updated) with FSU, Gators, UCF shocker; also NFL Week 7 picks & more

It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19. The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Are-Dolphins-a-playoff-team poll, Heat over/under on wins, Doctor Sleep, multi-tasking at the movies, stick-figure families & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"Canes game, Red Sox-Tigers, NFL football, Heat-Nets, Panthers hockey ... man, TV heaven Thursday night! Miley Cyrus could have twerked right past me in my living room and I wouldn't have noticed her." --Greg Cote

Click on Finding Their Way Home for my latest column on the Canes as they entered their first game as a top-10 team since 2009. I reminisce about how the top 10 used to be home for Miami, and how this team won't have accomplished much -- by this program's high standard -- until it takes up residence there, not just occasionally visits.

COLLBALLWEEK 8

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 82.3%: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 82.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Thursday night's 27-23 victory at North Carolina putting 1aa1csm10th-ranked Miami's record at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the ACC. That's a clear drop due to the narrow escape, but still a buoyant number. This is the fifth year for CSM polls in our blog. These 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. 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 8:45 a.m. today/Saturday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9 percent (19.9v, 63.0s) following 34-6 victory vs. Florida Atlantic.

G2: 96.7 percent (71.2v, 25.5s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7 percent (77.2v, 18.5s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6 percent (67.9v, 29.7s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8 percent (60.4v, 35.4s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3 percent (41.8v, 40.5s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G6: NO. 10 HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA: Final: This 27-23 escape in Chapel Hill by Miami won't impress the polls, or maybe most Canes fans. But man UM fought and earned this win. Didn't play particularly well -- Stephen Morris threw four INTs -- but won nevertheless. That's impressive, even if the overall performance was not. Morris' picks and the pass-D giving up 395 yards were negatives, but two overriding postitives stood out. One, Tracy Howard's two interceptions, especially that late, last one. And two, mostly, Dallas Crawford stepping in for injured Duke Johnson and carrying 33 times for 137 yards and two TDs. A yeoman's effort. Some fans may disagree, but I see this as a big win for UM because it was pulled from the hard road on a night when nothing came easily. ..... Halftime: Tough half for Canes, who trail by 17-13 and already have lost a big chunk of their offense to injury in Duke Johnson (presumed concussion) and Phillip Dorsett (left knee). Offense has really struggled, with the only UM touchdown coming on a return of a blocked field goal. Stephen Morris has struggled (10-for-22, 2 INTs), and Miami's pass-D has been strafed by for 234 yards. This is not winning football. UM's newly minted top-10 ranking in peril. Still think Canes will pull it out, but not impressive thus far. ..... Original post: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Jimmy Johnson once 1aa1canesuncdescribed to me a college football schedule as three-tiered. You didn't worry about the "low teams" (think FAU, Savannah State) because they had no chance to beat you. And you didn't worry about the "high teams" 1aa1canes6(think Florida, Florida State) because you knew those weeks would have your team's complete attention and energy. It was the "medium teams" -- think North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, tonight -- that in some ways required the most coaching, because they could beat you, and your team's full attention was not always a given. This is the potential trap into which the 5-0, 10th-ranked Canes walk tonight in their first game as a top-10 team in four years. UNC's Tar Heel's are only 1-4 but are capable of a home upset in this big ACC division game. The Tar Heels have won four of the past six in this series. Maybe that is why UM is favored by only a modest 9 points. I like the Canes big, though. N-Car's go-go offense could be a challenge for Miami, but the Heels' bad defense should be no match for Stephen Morris, Duke Johnson and company. My pick was: Miami, 41-20.

Other Week 8 state FBS games, in order of interest:

No. 5 Florida State 51, No. 3 Clemson 14: It was the ACC's first top-five matchup in eight years, for one blessed week knocking the almighty SEC off the top of the collball marquee. Both teams unbeaten, Miami's Hurricanes chasing each. Winner here is allowed to think it might meet Alabama for the national championship, and it's FSU overwhelmingly. Seminoles had not won in Death Valley since 2001 but absolutely dominated. My pick was: FSU, 34-30.

No. 14 Missouri 36, No. 22 Florida 17: Mizzou is now 7-0 after upsetting Georgia last week and then handling the stumbling Gators, who'll drop liike a rock from the polls. I thought freshman Missouri QB Maty Mauk would have a tough time vs. UF defense. Wrong! My pick was: Florida, 20-16.

UCF 38, No. 8 Louisville 35: UCF's Knights were solid, but I gave them little shot on the road against Teddy Bridgewater's soaring Cardinals last night. Plainly, I underestimated Blake Bortles. My was pick: None. (Did not publish a prediction in time, so saved myself a loss).

Off this week:

FIU: G-Panthers a sullen 1-5 but winnably home vs. Louisiana Tech next Saturday.

FAU: Owls 2-5 and facing a near-certain L at No. 24 Auburn next week.

USF: Bulls 2-4 and (uh oh) hosting a smarting Louisville on deck.

Week 8 national Top 25 matchups:

5-FSU @ 3-Clemson and 22-Florida @ 14-Missouri (see above).

24-Auburn 45, 7-Texas A&M 41: Johnny Manziel strafed Auburn 63-21 a year ago. Knew this would be closer, but got it wrong. Well, I had A&M's 41 points right, anyway. My pick was: Texas A&M, 41-27.

No. 13 Stanford 24, No. 9-UCLA 10: Saw visiting Bruins as a weak unbeaten, and was proved right. Stanford lost at Utah last week but rode a 12-game home winning streak into this one . My pick was: Stanford: 28-21.

My record: This week, 3-2; season, 44-11.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 7 DOLPHINS/NFL PREDIX: Peyton Manning makes his first return to 1aa1fripixIndianapolis this weekend but believe it or not there are other games going on and we pay attention to them, too. One is Bufffalo's visit to Miami in the Dolphins' first AFC East match. The score will be 24-17, Miami winning but not covering a silly-big betting line. too. As for my Upset of the Week? It's a big one, and it involves an unbeaten team. Click on Week 7 Gems for all of my latest NFL predix capsules, and on Faith Is a Fragile Thing for my Friday Page column on why Sunday's game is so important for the Dolphins and their fans. (My week got off to a good start last night. Had Seahawks winning and covering at Arizona, and they did both).

DWYANE DISSED BY ESPN: Ouch. Heat star Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant got into a social-media tiff because Durant suggested Wade was no longer a top-10 player. Well, ESPN's NBA Rank of all players just slotted Wade 18th -- a plunge from his No. 8 ranking a year ago. Oy! 

Poll result: Confidence that Dolphins will make playoffs is weak: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote), and 45.3 percent called themselves "not that confident," 41.9% said they were "nervously" confident and only 12.8% were "solidly" confident.

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

October 16, 2013

Are the Dolphins a playoff team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat/NBA over-unders, Doctor Sleep, texting at the movies, Stick-Figure Family backlash & more

1aa1bossIt is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17. I'm back in the Friday Page Dungeon today trying to survive this week's NFL picks. If you hear screaming call 9-1-1. 2) Yesterday was "National Boss Day," a contrivance to which underlings everywhere might mutter, "Isn't every day?" My Boss is pictured. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, LeBron revealed, happy anniversary Steve Bartman, exhilaration and disgust, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canes-North Carolina: Watch for a new, separate blogpost on tonight's Miami Hurricanes-North Carolina game around late afternoon today.

Heat seen as NBA victories leader: Predicatbly, new betting over/unders from Bovada for NBA regular-season victories have Heat on top at 61.5. Followers are Clippers 57, Bulls 56.5, Spurs 55.5 and Rockets/Pacers both 54.5. Caboose is 76ers at 17.

ARE THESE DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM?: I know. It's a bit early for this. But Miami has so seldom been 1aa1dolposin the NFL playoff picture the past dozen or so years that just being in the conversation is worth chewing on, even pre-Halloween. Besides, the bye week is a pause that invites reflection. The Dolphins at 3-2 entering Sunday's game here vs. Buffalo would hold the sixth and final AFC playoff spot (the second wild-card) if the postseason started now. But five teams are 3-3 and three others have two wins, so the competition down the stretch will be fierce. Betting odds right now (Bovada) are that Miami will not make the playoffs. What do you think? I remind Dolfans who are voting (probably the majority) that this isn't asking what you hope happens but rather what your gut honestly feels will happen. Pull the lever with mind not heart, if you are able. Vote and say why, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

1aa1drsleepDOCTOR SLEEP: Just finished reading Stephen King's latest, Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining. (Not a prequel, as I'd caresslessly called it originally). I'll offer no plot hint except this: I'll never again pass a Winnebago on the Interstate without a glance at the driver. This book is far from my favorite of his, but I flew through the 500-plus pages fast and would recommend it. Then again I'm one of King's Constant Readers. He suffers critically from his popularity, but I'm proud to call him my favorite novelist (not counting Pete Dexter, who, opposite of King's prolificness, doesn't write nearly enough to suit me).

MULTI-TASKING IN MOVIE THEATERS: Movie theaters -- dying like newspapers and hand-written letters -- 1aa1cellmovieneed life breathed into them, but the idea that has caught my eye seems counterintuitive to say the least. A San Francisco venture capitalist named Hunter Walk suggests designated rooms or seating sections that allow (and thus tacitly encourage) texting, Tweeting and web-surfing during the film. At least two chains, Regal and IMAX, think it might be a good idea. Hmm. Remember when you went to the movies to escape the sort of reality embodied by cell phones? Dear Fellow Human: If you cannot leave your smartphone alone for 103 minutes, you may have Attention Deficit Disorder. Seriously.

1aa1figstickSTICK-FIGURE FAMILIES: We've all seen the stick-figure-family decals on the rear windows of cars and (most often, it seems) SUVs. They in turn have spawned response decals such as the one pictured -- and some more crude than this. It's in the same vein as the bumper sticker that reads, "My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honor Student." Response decals are not new. Remember when 'Baby On Board' begat 'Mother-in-Law In Trunk'? But the new wave reflected in the one pictured seem a bit coarse; no, mean-spirited. What's next? A bumper sticker that reads, "You Love Your Schnauzer? I'd Love to Eat Your Schnauzer with Fava Beans."  Or how about a reponse to those R.I.P. in-memorium stickers that reads, "I Don't Give a Crap That Your Loved One Died." C'mon, people! We turn a dark corner as a society when being mean is such a point of pride that we have it on a rolling billboard. Be nice!

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

October 14, 2013

NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results; plus LeBron revealed, happy anniversary Bartman, exhilaration and disgust, updated SOPY rankings, Philbin verdict & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: Somewhat to my surprise I'm back in-studio today at 3 p.m. with the Dan Le Batard Show on 790 and 104.3 the Ticket and (from 4-7) on ESPN national radio. Ears welcome.  

1aa1eid 1aa1columbusIt is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15. One day after Americans marked Columbus Day by making fun of Christopher's funny hat, our Muslim readers today celebrate Eid-Al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. All praise Ishmael; now let's go slaughter an animal! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Joe Philbin poll, Canes crack Top 10, NFL Week 6 predix, baseball's Final Four, Panthers' Equality Night, Collball Week 7 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 6: SMALL SIGNS OF LIFE: When we are alone, lost at sea and nearly out 1aa1fripixof hope, the smallest chunk of driftwood on which to grasp feels like a gift from heaven. NFL predix: After the worst three-week slump of our prognosticating career even a modest 9-6 record straight-up and 6-8-1 against the spread (Packers pushed) feels sort of OK. Which tells you how bad it's been. Fantasy: Yes, Greg's Lobos lost yet again, falling to 1-5. But this was 130-122 against a league power, and I'd have won had Dez Bryant done anything at all Sunday night. Ours was the highest losing score. Again, small signs of life. Sometimes, brave optimism is what's left to you, so you grab it.

LEBRON JAMES, REVEALED AND REVEALING: Heat megastar LeBron James has a revealing interview 1aa1espnlebronwith ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard in the new issue. Click HERE to read it. A few things I found interesting: "I know I still have room for improvement," he said. He said he'd be playing more in the low post; "I'm comfortable with it now." He said, "Without MJ [Michael Jordan], there's no me. He gave me hope." And he said of his improved image, "I've seen people's percetion change." The article conspicuously does not address what James might do in the summer of 2014, and void so obvious and glaring that not asking about it must have been a condition of the interview.

HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY, STEVE BARTMAN, WHEREVER YOU ARE: Ten years ago yesterday, Oct. 14, 2003, Cubs fan Steve Bartman stitched himself into the sad quilt of that franchise's history in "the 1aa1bartmanBartman Game" vs. the Marlins. It was Game 6 of the NLCS, Chicago leading Miami (then Florida) by 3 games to 2 and by 3-0 in the eighth inning of that game. Chicago was five outs from its first trip to the World 1aa1bartman2Series since 1945. Then, Bartman happened. A Luis Castillo foul-ball fly down the line, left fielder Moises Alou angling in for the catch -- but Bartman interferes with the ball! Cubs pitching goes on to collapse, Marlins win the series, and everybody blames Bartman, who goes into deep hiding and still has never commented publicly at any length on his role in Cubs (and Marlins) history. His instant infamy and long seclusion make him one of the quirky-fascinating figures in sports history. He issued a brief statement following the episode but has otherwise laid low, althought I'd reccomend this story from ESPN.com on the somewhat successful search for Bartman. Meanwhile, 10 years in hiding is long enough, Steve. Come out, come out, wherever you are. Ditch Chicago. We happen to love you in South Florida, and our weather kicks Chicago's a--. You'd have safe haven here. We'd call you the Mayor of Marlins Park. You could even keep the Cubs hat.

EXHILARATION AND DISGUST ON A SPORTS SUNDAY: The exhilaration first, because that is what sports at its best should be about first. Has Boston ever had a better day for double-cheering than Sunday? First the 1aa1bstrong 1aa1injschaubPatriots beat the previously undefeated Saints 30-27 on a last-second TD pass by Tom Brady, then -- better, bigger -- the Red Sox erased a 5-0 deficit and beat Detroit 6-5 in Game 2 of the ALCS, led by a David Ortiz grand slam. (The lifelong Red Sox fan in me believes in miracles again. That's the magic and power of sports). The disgust occured in Houston, where Texans fans -- not most, but too many -- cheered as QB Matt Schaub injured his ankle and was helped off the field in a loss to St. Louis. Teammates were angry. That is the kind of display that could forever queer Schaub's relationship with that city and its fans. You bought the ticket, fans. Boo the interception if you wish. But cheering an injury crosses a line. It is classless. It embarrasses the city.

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 7: WINSTON STILL SMOKING THE COMPETITION: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the 1aa1sopymost 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. Because our rankings are cumulative players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. FSU QB Jameis Winston is the current leader even ater a bye week. 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. Our 2013 standings entering Week 8:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk6=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb           BYE = 969.5

2 (3)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb           183.5 = 932

3 (2)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               BYE = 762

4 (4)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb            BYE = 673

5 (5)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                DNP = 611

6 (6)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             BYE = 604

7 (8)     Jonathan Wallace, FAU-rb         81 = 579

8 (7)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb          BYE = 529

9 (--)    Tyler Murphy, Florida-qb            44.5 = 486.5

10 (9)   Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr                 BYE = 484

Bubble: Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb, 449. Other team leader: FIU--Jake Medlock-qb, 408.5. Note: FAU has played seven games; Florida, FIU and USF six each; and FSU, Miami and UCF five each.

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (5-0); 2. Miami (5-0); 3. Florida (4-2); 4. UCF (4-1); 5. FAU (2-5); 6. USF (2-4); 7. FIU (1-5).

Poll result: Philbin earns (modest) support: We asked about your take on Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in the previous blogpost, and a plurality of 47.7 percant answered "modest thumbs-up but not entirely sold." Slightly more answered "very impressed" (24.1%) than "not impressed" (21.8%). The other 6.4% were undecided or said it's too soon to say.

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