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July 20, 2014

Welcome back, football!: Dolphins expectations. Poll. Vote!; plus Canes, FSU, UF odds; also Michael Sam, Hot Button Top 10, Heat's poll hit & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 25. Click on A Fandom Left Divided for my column on how so many Heat fans are conflicted on how to feel about LeBron James in the wake of his departure. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who-owns-this-town poll, ESPYs, World Cup in 245 seconds, Kate Upton & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram. All three include new stuff from yesterday's Le Batard Show appearance.

Word of the day: cockalorum: A boastful, self-important person. "You'd have to be a real cockalorum to include a word-of-the-day in your blog."

Michael Sam: I write in today's latest column that Tony Dungy has it wrong, that Michael Sam, the NFL's frst openly gay player, is a distraction to be embraced, not avoided. Most sports distractions are self-inflicted and dumb. This one is important, and necessary. Click A Distraction to Embrace to read.

Football Town: I posit in Thursday's column that LeBron James' departure opens a door for this to become a Football Town again, but that it will take the right football team, a team better than the Dolphins or Hurricanes have been for a decade-plus. Click on Opportunity and Responsibility to read.

WELCOME BACK, FOOTBALL: This is the first week of summer when we may look around, nod, and think, "Yes, football is back." Coach Al Golden's Miami Hurricanes have been up in Greensboro, N.C. at

1aa1acaneshel 1aa1adolhelthe annual ACC Media Days, a sign the college preseason is officially underway. And the Miami Dolphins under coach Joe Philbin open their full training camp today, Friday. The seasons will be here before you can blink twice, with the Canes opening Sept. 1 at Louisville and the Dolphins beginning Sept. 7 vs. New England. UM is the media choice to win the ACC's Coastal Division, though it's a tight vote with Duke, Virginia Tech and North Carolina all right there. Uncertainty at quarterback lends the doubt. On the NFL side the Dolphins are not generally seen as a likely playoff team, although a leap by Ryan Tannehill could change all that. We're lifting the lid on football with a Dolphins poll here. Asking for your honest expectation -- what you'd place a bet on -- not what you hope will happen. Vote and say why.

College football betting odds for Canes, Noles, Gators and more: From our friends at Bovada, Florida State is now even with Alabama to 11-2 odds to win the national championship, followed by Oregon 7-1, Oklahoma 9-1 and Auburn 10-1. Florida is tied for 13th at 33-1 and Miami tied for 25th at 100-1. Victory over/unders for the state's Big 3 are 11.5 for FSU, 7.5 each for Gators and Canes.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button is 1aa1ahotbuttona newish feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition (newspaper) is on hiatus until August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Dolphins: Training camp opens: Full preseason camp kicks off this coming Friday. An exciting time. Although I'd have thought team could have come up with better marketing campaign than, "The Mediocrity Continues!"

2. Heat: Wade sacrifices again: In wake of LeBron James' departure, Dwyane Wade accepted a two-year deal for $31 million to remain in Miami, far less than he turned down by opting out. #Loyaltyover royalty.

3. UM football: ACC Media Days: Event in Greensboro, N.C., signals start of preseason for Canes and rest of league. Cannot confirm luncheon menu consists of crab legs provided by FSU'S Jameis Winston.

4. Marlins: Fast fade for Fish: The All-Star break did not reverse Miami's sagging fortunes. Team is 0-2 in second half and has lost six straight overall. Giancarlo Stanton said, "It's time to make a push." His teammates weren't listening.

5. British Open: Rory roaring: Rory McIlroy carried a comfy six-shot lead into today's final round of golf's latest major, while Tiger Woods barely made the cut and was 22 shots off the lead. Time to admit Tiger's majors-winning is a thing of the past?

6. Panthers: Kulikov stays: Florida Panthers re-signed free agent defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year, $13 million deal. He'll use the windfall to buy the missing vowel in his first name.

7. Soccer: U.S. dips in rankings: U.S. fell two spots to No. 15 in FIFA World Ranking despite the recent round-of-16 finish in World Cup. Guess the world wasn't as impressed as America seemed to be.

8. College basketball: Miami hosts DH: The Heat's downtown arena will host a Kentucky-South Florida and Memphis-Ohio State doubleheader on Nov. 27, 2015. I'm eas excited as I can be about an event happening in a year and a half that doesn't include any teams I care about.

9. Tour de France: Final week: The grueling test will end next Sunday in Paris, if there are any cyclists left who haven't tested positive for PEDs. 

10. WNBA: All-Star Game: The East beat the West 125-124 in the WNBA All-Star Game, surprising analysts who were unaware the WNBA season had started.

Poll result: Football strikes back! Canes, Dolphins both top Heat: We asked in the previous blogpost, "Which of South Florida's five biggest sports teams do you follow or care about the most?", the response was big, and somewhat surprisingly Hurricanes football (40.5 percent) and the Dolphins (32.3%) both beat the Heat (24.5%). The Marlins (1.4%) and Panthers hockey (1.3%) both lagged with scant representation. Scientific? Not even close. But still interesting, at least to me. The genesis for the poll was my supposition that the downsized, post-LeBron Heat opened a door for this to become a Football Town again, and poll results seemed to reflect that.

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