February 14, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10; plus ominous Marlins news, ominous Dolphins odds, Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders (the video) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Valentines1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful wife and to all our abundantly appreciated female readers. I wish you love. 2) ICYMI, click on The Forte Factor for my most recent column on how the Dolphins should explore signing Matt Forte if Lamar Miller leaves and the price is right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Dolphins/Matt Forte with poll, quantifying Heat's bad 3-point shooting, Panthers' record pace, Dwight Howard, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's weird video game & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEB. 14): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Wade, not Bosh rep Heat in All-Star Game in Toronto: Miami entered the break fifth in the East after a week that included the club saying it would retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32. Only Dwyane Wade will represent the Heat in Sunday's ASG with a calf strain rendering Chris Bosh a spectator. Do you think between the two of them they could kidnap a 3-point shooter and bring him back to Miami?

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats hit a lull as Cats chase record: Division-leading Florida continues a six-game homestand vs. Pittsburgh on Monday on pace for the most regular-season points in franchise history. But Florida now has lost four of past five, the last two by a combined 10-3. Uh-oh time?

3. HIGH SCHOOLS: Miami Jackson makes history with female football coach: Jackson High made Bernice Brunson the first female head coach in Florida prep football history, the same day it also named former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell as defensive boss. Give 'em this: Jackson sure knows how to get your attention.

4. HURRICANES: UM men, women both face big road tests on Sunday: The 12th-ranked Canes men visit rival Florida State on Sunday while the 19th-ranked women play at No. 3 Notre Dame. Can’t recall another year (can you?) when both UM teams were thinking Sweet 16 and it wasn't just wishful thinking.

5. MARLINS: Spring is springing as Marlins prepare to report: Baseball unfurls this coming Friday as Marlins pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Jupiter. Fans hope for a playoff contender under new manager Don Mattingly. Alas, the Marlins betting over/under on wins, 81, is not a playoff number.

6. UM BASEBALL: High hopes as Hurricanes open season: Jim Morris' Hurricanes open their season at home vs. Rutgers with a weekend series starting this coming Friday. UM is No. 6 in the preseason polls. No pressure or anything. Omaha Or Bust, that's all.

7. SOCCER: Beckham seeks outside investors for Miami MLS team: Miami's Major League Soccer pointman David Beckham is seeking investors, and the places he's looking include Russia, China and Qatar. Becuase I guess nobody has money in any countries that would not be a controversial partner.

8. NFL: Denver still celebrating, Manning still deciding: One week later, Denver is still celebrating its Super Bowl win, Peyton Manning is still deciding whether or not to retire, and Cam Newton is still trying to convince people (and maybe himself) that it's OK to be immature and rude in a postgame news conference.

9. DOLPHINS: Slow time but a busy week for Fins: Miami cut two marginal players (Brice McCain, Quinton Coples) in salary-cap moves, tweaked its coaching staff and parted ways with an assistant GM. Perhaps most interesting: Fins could need a RB if Lamar Miller leaves, and Matt Forte just came available. Hmm...

10. VALENTINE'S DAY: Hope you didn't forget it's Sunday, guys: Valentine's Day either originated as a Western Christian liturgical day of feasting in honor of Saint Valentinus, or was invented by Hallmark, I can't remember which.

Missing the cut: His agent confirmed Marshawn Lynch will retire. "No comment," said the media ... USA Curling National Championships ended Saturday in Jacksonville, surprising analysts who didn't know we curled in America ... Hassan Whiteside lost his cool, threw an elbow and got ejected from a Heat game. Or, did that go without saying? ... Two more Cuban baseball stars defected for a shot at MLB riches. Or, did that too go without saying? ... It was announced the intrasquad UM spring game in football would be April 16 at Lockhart Stadium. It'll be Mark Richt's first Canes win. And loss ... Mexico beat Senegal 2-0 in a soccer friendly that drew 15,588 to Marlins Park. Which sounds about right for a Marlins Park crowd ... Congrats to Canes guard Sheldon McClellan, one of 35 candidates for Naismith player of the year award ... Brett Favre headed an eight-man Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which, looking at it, was about three or four men too many ... PGA Tour caddies lost a lawsuit in which they sought compensation for having to wear bibs with advertising. Dear fellas: Your job consists of carrying a golf bag, telling your guy, "178 yards" and collecting up to 10 percent of his earnings for doing very little. Quiet, please! ... Daytona 500 opens the NASCAR schedule next Sunday. "Gentlemen, start your season!" ... Delray Beach Open runs all this week, a second-tier men's pro tennis tournament featuring guys you've barely heard of and hardly care about ... Barcelona entered weekend with a club-record 29-march unbeaten streak. All Barca, plus bite-a. (Sorry) ... MLS announced its best would play English power Arsenal in the league's summer all-star game. Good luck, MLS ... Rockets trying to trade Dwight Howard but he'll be a free agent. Rental, anyone? ... The fast-approaching PGA Tour stop at Doral March 3-6 is just a week or so ahead of the Florida presidential primary. Gee, I wonder if Donald Trump will be here? ... Miami Gun Show ends Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Talk about the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

Poll result: Dolphins should look into Forte, although many disagree: We asked if the Dolphins should explore signing free agent-to-be running back Matt Forte, and it was 55.6 percent yes, 33.4% no and 11.0% undecided.

ZeroOMINOUS INDICATOR FOR MARLINS: Baseball America just came out with its 2016 Top 100 prospects list (click here for complete list), and here are the number of Marlins on it: Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch. No promising crops growing on the farm. Ouch. That's baseball-unhealthy. Miami needs to remedy that dearth for its long-term success.

Bet66-1NO LOVE FOR DOLPHINS IN BETTING ODDS: Bovada rolls out new post-Super Bowl betting odds on who'll win next year's SB 51, and Patriots are on top at 15-2, followed by Steelers and champion Broncos both 9-1 and Panthers, Packers and Seahawks all 10-1. After the Pats in the AFC East are the Bills and Jets both at 50-1. The Dolphins? Tied for third from the bottom overall at 66-1, ahead of only the Titans and Browns.

"HOLD ME CLOSER, BERNIE SANDERS": That's the title of a new Bernie Sanders tribute parody song, to the tune of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Includes lyrics. Clever. Pretty funny. Will be interesting to see if Feel The Bern OKs this to play during his campaign:

   

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

SMIRK II: THE UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION FOR SUCCESSFUL SUPER BOWL ADS, MISS UNIVERSE, A REF NAMED CLETE, GREYHOUND FORETELLS RESULT: Welcome to Smirk II, the second of
five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 07, 2016

Who should be Dolphins' next coach? Twelve choices, you pick one. Last chance to vote; poll ends noon today!; plus my Piazza/Hall column, Panthers' streak in historical perspective, Heat vs. Cats title odds & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 7. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! Barely. You get one full week. 2) See previous blogpost for final season results in Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Top Miami sports story of 2015 verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Piazza, other Hall voting show steroids stigma is softening: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza got into the baseball Hall of Fame tonight. Griffey was fully expected. But Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- strongly suggest the stigma against steroids-era guys is softening. Rumors alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my new column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

Vote now! We declare a winner at noon today!

TannenbaumYOU PICK THE DOLPHINS' NEXT HEAD COACH: Update: Voting booth closes at noon today! Man, this poll has gotten a huuuge response and it's still too close to call. Very interesting results so far. Be a part of it. And quickly, please. Original post: I've had my say, online and in today's Miami Herald. Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the Dolphins try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Seven hires in a row (including interims) have not. Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt were the last two hires who had been NFL head coaches before; they also are the last two to be on the sideline when Miami won a playoff game. In this poll I list a dozen coaches alphabetically. Eleven have been reportedly linked to the job as candidates. I added Tom Coughlin, just for fun. Conspicuously absent from the list are Sean Payton and Chip Kelly, with no indications of Dolphins interest. Me? I'd give up a second-round draft pick for Payton in a millisecond. But it's Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) fronting the Dolphins search, not me. Ready to give Tannenbaum your input? Vote for the man you think would be the best next coach for Miami or the hire that would excite you the most. You can only vote for one. (Nobody said life was fair...) Vote now and say why you chose as you did.

FripixNFL PIX WEEK 17 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Well, fantasy is done. But our prognosticating isn't. Pix: Ending the regular season badly: We stumbled in at 8-8 overall. Wed also were disappointed to wrap it up 8-7-1 against the spread. Should have been better, considering we nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Jets ("Aawwk!") and had a big five 'dogs-with-points in the Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders and Seahawks. On to the playoffs!

PANTHERS' WINNING STREAK IN CONTEXT OF BEST WE'VE SEEN: The longest winning streak by South Florida's four major pro sports franchises:

Heat: 27 games. Feb. 3 through March 27, 2013. Third-longest in NBA history.

Dolphins: 18 games. Sept. 17, 1972 through Sept. 16, 1973. Tied third-longest in NFL history.

Panthers: 10 games. Dec. 15, 2015 through now; current. Cats' previous long streak was seven games, done three times, most recently 2008. Florida has won eight of its 10 games outright and two by shootout, and outscored opponents 35-12 during streak. NHL record is 17-game winning streak by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Panthers' next game: Thursday at Ottawa.

Marlins: 9 games. Done four times, most recently Sept 9-19, 2008. Marlins' long win streak is shortest of any MLB franchise.

Odds say Cats likelier to win championship than Heat: New championship betting odds out from Bovada show the Florida Panthers (14-1, tie 6th) have better NHL title odds than do the Heat (40-1, tie 8th) in the NBA. Golden State is a clear basketball favorite to repeat, at 5-4. Washington Capitals top a crowded hockey field, at 6-1. 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

December 17, 2015

Pete Rose should be on the Hall of Fame ballot! Agree? New poll. Vote now!; also Heat fans' big thumbs-down to 'Melo & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17. I'm up at Friday Page HQ today summoning my NFL Week 15 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Bucs-Rams game. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat/'Melo trade poll, Dolphins draft, Fins fans' grammar and randiness, Star Wars & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

New World Series odds: Cubs and Giants are now World Series co-favorites at 6-1, via Bovada, then it's Red Sox at 9-1. In NL East it's Mets 14-1, Nationals 18-1, Marlins 66-1 and Braves/Phillies both 100-1.

PETE ROSE HAS DONE HIS TIME. PUT HIM ON HALL OF FAME BALLOT, ALREADY!: That headline summarizes my latest column; click on Rose's Purgatory Should End to read in full. You can see what’s coming in the case of MLB vs. Rose. You can guess how one of the most protracted sagas in American sports history will finally end. Rose’s lifetime ban from the sport will end when his life does. He will find forgiveness in death. The sport will welcome back its wayward son by inducting him posthumously into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. That Rosenowday, he’ll get the eulogy makeover. It will no longer be about his gambling problem way back in the late 1980s. Then it will be about the record 4,256 base hits. It will be about the man nicknamed "Charlie Hustle" sliding headfirst into history. What a shame to wait. How harshly and unnecessarily punitive baseball is being in its unwillingness to forgive. New commissioner Rob Manfred had the chance this week, in considering Rose’s appeal of his banishment, to say, "Enough." Instead, in affirming the ban would go on, Manfred all but assured that Rose, now 74, would die still ostracized. People convicted of murder in the U.S. serve an average prison sentence of 20 years 8 months, according to Department of Justice. Rose is still doing time more than 26 years later for betting on baseball games, including his own team, while managing the Cincinnati Reds. It is essential to note the Dowd Report found Rose only bet on his team to win. So there was never the suggestion of a scandal involving game fixing. What he did violated the sport’s rules against gambling, but hasn’t he served enough time? Lifetime sentences are not always literally that. Murderers can be paroled but Pete Rose can’t? It is hypocritical of Manfred and MLB to maintain this hardest possible line against the evils of gambling while being in a corporate bed with DraftKings, the daily fantasy site being systemically found to be a portal of illegal gambling, most recently by the New York Supreme Court. I get why Rose was punished, I just don’t get why he isn’t now reinstated when, at this point in his life, it would be a purely ceremonial gesture. I mean, Barry Bonds, who set home run records literally cheating opponents by using performance-enhancing drugs, can be hired as the Marlins hitting coach but Rose remains on the wrong side of baseball's locked gate? Certainly the deterrent effect — Rose an An Example — has served its purpose. He is why modern players know not to have a bookie or place wagers. From this point forward the only practical reason to continue Rose’s banishment is to continue to bar him from the Hall of Fame — a place where he belongs because, unlike the Steroids Era guys, Rose (A) did not cheat opponents and (B) has served his time. Rose is the only living person on baseball’s "permanently excluded" list, meaning he is not eligible to be on the Hall ballot. There may be wiggle room, though. Manfred noted his ruling was separate from the Hall of Fame, which is not owned by or run by MLB. The Hall in 1991 adopted a rule stating no banished players could appear on its ballot — but sometimes rules change, right? Sometimes exceptions are made. Plainly, Cooperstown has the right to put Rose on its Hall ballot if it chose to — and should. Let Hall voters (myself included) decide if the game’s all-time hits leader has been in purgatory long enough. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing enough of us think Rose has done more than sufficient time for his crime, and that the day at Cooperstown he deserves should not come to him posthumously. OK, the preceding is a condensed version of my column. Now it's your turn. Agree with me that Rose should be on the Hall ballot? Or disagree? Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: It's a big "no!" to Heat trading for 'Melo: We asked how you felt about a trade floated by ESPN's Chad Ford that would send Miami's Justise Winslow and Luol Deng to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. The response was huge, and it was 11.9 percent "Yes!," 5.6% "Leaning yes," 12.8% "Leaning no" and 69.7% "No!" Not surprised the no's won, but am surprised by the margin.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 26, 2015

HURRICANES FIRE AL GOLDEN! Approve or not? Poll. Vote now!; plus today's new Golden-and-who's-next column by me, betting odds on new UM coach; also, Dolfan satisfaction at 96.1% & more

 GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 26: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pound Houston and DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Latest DSM poll results: Dolphins earn a season-high 96.1 percent approval rating in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll results. See the previous blogpost for details.

My two columns on Miami football's wild weekend: Click on Firing Is Easy, Finding Who's Next Is Not for today's latest column by me, on UM's firing of Al Golden. Click on Misery, Then Magic for my previous column on the Dolphins' big win one day after the Canes loss that got Golden fired.

AlgMIAMI FIRES FOOTBALL COACH AL GOLDEN: The University of Miami early this evening fired football coach Al Golden four and a half seasons into his term, in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's 58-0 home loss to Clemson -- the most lopsided defeat in UM history. I had Tweeted on Saturday that I didn't think an already embattled coach could survive a loss as embarrassing as that, and was right. I am a bit surprised by the immediacy, though. I'd have bet Golden  might last the season and then be replaced. Assistant coach Larry Scott is the new interim coach for the balance of this season. Interesting (and telling) that neither coordinator was promoted. Athletic director Blake James praised Golden for leading the program "through some very difficult times" and for doing so "with class and integrity." James seemed to allude to a torrent of negative reaction from ex-Canes toward Golden  in saying, "Now is the time to bring the Hurricane Family together." Golden was 32-25 but with a  bad track record vs. top-tier teams. Golden thanks UM for his "tremendous opportunity," adding, "Though this moment is difficult, we wish the Canes the best of luck going forward."

BUTCH DAVIS BETTING FAVORITE TO REPLACE GOLDEN: Via Bovada, just now: Butch Davis is the betting fave to be UM's next coach at 7-4 odds, followed by Mario Cristobal 7-2, Rob Chudzinski 5-1, Justin Fuente 11-2, Doc Holliday 8-1, Greg Schiano 8-1, Tom Herman 9-1, Frank Wilson 9-1 and Tommy Tuberville 10-1. My reaction? Davis is the betting pick because initially because he's the fan favorite. I'm much less sure that he'll be UM's first choice. 

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

October 09, 2015

History says Dan Campbell won't lead Dolphins to playoffs, but here's why he might; also World Series poll, my divisional picks and Rootability Scale; also, Heat/Panthers betting odds, landslide verdict on Philbin firing, a personal note & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1ajlennon1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9: John Lennon would have turned 75 today. Imagine. 2) Click on Joe Had His Chance, Time to Move On for my earlier column on the Dolphins' firing of Philbin. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire Philbin with poll, SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Dee Gordon wins Marlins' 'Weighing The Fish' title & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

IMG_0001A PERSONAL NOTE: Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may be aware my mother passed away this week, at age 97. She is pictured just a couple of weeks earlier. I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of condolences. As I wrote on Twitter, "You have a lifetime to get ready to say goodbye, and then find it still isn't easy." But the support from our community of readers has helped. Thanks again!

THE HISTORICAL ODDS AGAINST DAN CAMPBELL MAKING DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM ... BUT WHY HE COULD: I explore the history and limited success of in-season coaching changes to lead today's Friday NFL notes column appearing with my game-by-game predictions. Click Dan Campbell's Challenge for the full column, but here are the highlights:

Why Campbell probably won't lead Miami  to playoffs: Nobody in his spot ever has. Well, not since the 1970 merger. There have been 72 previous in-season coaching changes since then, a sizable sample, and the new or interim guys are 0-for-72 in seeing their team to the playoffs. In-season changes do tend to cause a favorable bump. The 72 coaches let go had a combined record of 145-454-3 (.242), while the coaches who replaced them finished the season 145-297-1 (.328). That is not an insignificant bump, but neither is it a collective dramatic turnaround. And the absence of playoff precedent is pretty startling.

Ah, but why he might!: The average of those 72 in-season changes has been 8.4 games in, or just past midseason. Campbell has far more games than most to enact a turnaround. In fact only four of those 72 changes have been made sooner than four games in, and not since the 2000 Bengals did it after three games. Also notable, 24 teams that started 1-3 have made the playoffs since 1990 realignment, about one a year on average. Twelve games, and talent enough to get Joe Philbin fired, give Campbell a real shot to make the Dolphins that one team and be the NFL's first interim coach in the playoffs.

1aa1afripixUPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 5: Stayed strong last week in going 12-3 overall and 8-7 against the spread, and started Week 5 right by hitting Indy's win at Houston last night. Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest picks and full prediction capsules, because the NFL has the temerity to go on even though the Dolphins have a bye. Highlights: Bengals over Seahawks in our Game of the Week, and Saints winning at Philly in our Upset Special ("Aawwk!").

AND YOUR ROOTING INTEREST TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES IS...: Immediately below our new poll you'll find my division-series predictions and also our Rootability Scale. But now it's your turn. The wild-card games are out of the way and we're down to the final eight teams with the two AL division series starting today/Thursday and the two NL series beginning Friday. Which team do you most hope wins the World Series? Pick your favorite from this alphabetical list and say why they have your support.

COTE'S DIVISION-SERIES PICKS: I've got a pair of upsets, one in each league... AL: Blue Jays over Rangers: No upset. Toronto has better hitting and David Price will steer them right in Game 1. Astros over Royals: Upset. Houston drops bombs, and Johnny Cueto has been a disappointment. NL: Cubs over Cardinals: Upset. Jake Arrieta is best pitcher in MLB right now, and Yadier Molina (thumb) is iffy for Cardbirds. Dodgers over Mets: No upset. Metros have great starters, too, but tough to align against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

A NEUTRAL FAN'S GUIDE TO THE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: We rank the 10 playoff teams including wild-cards on a Rootability Scale based on how long it has been since each team's fans last cheered a World Series championship.

1. Chicago Cubs: 1908 -- Theodore Roosevelt was president. Infants being cradled at Wrigley that fall are now aged 107, cranky and impatient. If you have no dog in this postseason hunt but are not rooting for the Cubs, you may be un-American.

2. Houston Astros: 1962 -- The Colt .45s have never won a World Series but fans have been waiting since '62, or two years before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.

3. Texas Rangers: 1972 -- They have never won a WS since relocating to Texas in '72. You know how long ago the Dolphins' Perfect Season seems? Exactly!

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 1979 -- Willie Stargell and "We Are Family." Peanut farmer in the White House. Current Buccos the second wild-card out.

5. Kansas City Royals: 1985 -- George Brett and Bret Saberhagen were taking fans' brett away. (Sorry).

6. New York Mets: 1986 -- Strawberry. Carter. Gooden. But the major downside to rooting for the Mets is that it unavoidably means hoping for the happiness of Mets fans.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1988 -- Doesn't it seem like they've won more recently? Plus they spent $300 million on players. Rooting for this team is like hoping Donald Trump wins the Lotto.

8. Toronto Blue Jays: 1993 -- Sorry, Canada. I know we've taken permanent custody of your Stanley Cup. But that doesn't mean we want you to purloin our National Pastime.

9. New York Yankees, 2009 -- Thank goodness the wild-card Yankees were the first team eliminated last night because, well ... they're the Yankees.

10. St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 -- Great fans. Great baseball city. But enough with the success, already!

HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING FORECASTS UNDERWHELMING: Bovada's new NBA victory over/unders out today find Miami Heat at a modest 45.5, with 41 of course a .500 record. That places Miami tied for 12th in league (Golden State leads at 59.5) and tied for fifth in the East (Cleveland is tops at 57.5). Over in the NHL, Panthers' 45-1 odds against winning the Stanley Cup rank 22nd of 30 teams. Chicago leads at 7-1.

Poll result: Enormous support for firing of Philbin: This is about as close to unanimity as you get in an online poll. We asked if you support the Dolphins' firing of Joe Philbin and 95.6 percent said yes. Only 2.8% answered no, with the other 1.6% undecided. I could ask, "Are you generally in favor of health and happiness?" and I doubt it'd be 95.6% yes.

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

September 30, 2015

Set the bar on Heat expectations. Poll. Vote now!; plus Philbin firing/Heat title odds, 'Marlins Man' takes on anti-Golden air force, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Fantasy results, updated SOPY rankings; also, hear Pope Francis' new song (seriously) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) IT IS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30: Welcome back to the Herald our new Heat and NBA insider, Ethan Skolnick. 2) Season over for Giancarlo Stanton. No surprise, and a smart call. 3) The latest five members of the Dolphins' all-time team announced by the club: Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich and Dan Marino. How the hell did Marino get in there!?! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins collapse vs. Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Anti-Golden flyovers verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin now most likely to be fired: New Bovada odds today have Dolphins coach Joe Philbin the likeliest NFL coach to be fired during the season at 9-4 odds. (Next hottest seats belong to Lions' Jim Caldwell 4-1, Colts' Chuck Pagano 7-1 and Browns' Mike Pettine 15-2). I doubt Philbin keeps his job after this year but doubt he'll be fired in-season.

Wade leads Heat in 13th year: Click The Great Unknown for my latest column off Heat media day as team opens preseason camp at FAU. The unknown: Miami relying on starting five that hasn't been on court together at all. What you can count on? Dwyane Wade. Again. 

SETTING THE BAR ON HEAT EXPECTATIONS: The Heat has accrued such trust as a franchise that we accept last season's non-playoff year as an aberration that won't be repeated. We assume the playoffs. We assume
1aa1aheat 1aa1adragicwadewinning -- it's just a matter of how much. We assume the postseason -- it's just a matter of how far. So: How far? What are your thoughts for the Heat as Miami opens training camp today at FAU? For me, an NBA title is too much to expect but a place in the Eastern finals (presumably vs . LeBron's Cavaliers) might not be. For me that's the high side, the optimum that's in the realm of realistic. A top-four seed? Realistic. Then again I've also read and heard the Heat forecast as a likelier lower East seed, maybe sixth or seventh. I'm curious what your realistic expectations are at this point -- not what you hope, but what you'd bet is most probably -- with a starting lineup of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic (pictured), Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and center Hassan Whiteside, plus added depth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Heat, NBA championship odds: Via Bovada today, Cleveland is updated NBA title favorite at 11-4 odds, followed by San Antonio at 3-1 and Golden State at 5-1. Miami and Chicago are tied for second in the East and seventh overall at 20-1.

'MARLINS MAN' (YEAH, THAT GUY) COMING TO AL GOLDEN'S DEFENSE: 'Marlins Man' Laurence Leavy 1aa1amarlinsman(pictured), the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who seems to spend a lot more time being a sports fan than being a lawyer, is renting a plane to fly a pro-Al Golden banner over the Miami Hurricanes' next home game Oct. 17 vs. Virginia Tech. The banner is to read, "Keep Golden -- He's Class, Not Trash." Leavy is fed up with the anti-Golden flyovers haunting the skies above UM games and wanted to counter that air force with one of his own. Interesting. AIR WARS!

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 3: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosfantasy teams. Pix: I am man, hear me roar!: Great bounce-back week for us at 13-3 overall and 10-6 against the spread. Nailed outright upset wins by Bills and Eagles and had Raiders-plus-points. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big loss: The original Lobos got buried 176-133 to fall to 1-2. Had Adrian Peterson, Seahawks defense and Odell Beckham all score in the 20s, but my opponent got 90 combined from A.J. Green and Steve Smith. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Yes! Off the schneid!: The new Lobos crushed Papi, 164-59.3, making us 1-2. Got a big 42.3 points from game MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) Devonta Freeman. I decided to start him 10 minutes before kickoff. I choose to call that great coaching.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH MAINTAINS NO. 1 AS BYES KICK IN: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY 1aa1asopyrankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- find FIU quarterback Alex McGough maintaining his lead after Week 4. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week (starting this past week) take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 4

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W4        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         150.5     687

2 (6)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            153.5     523.5 

3 (2)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             BYE      522

4 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb    BYE     445

5 (4)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          BYE     434.5

6 (7)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             82        420

7 (8t)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             99        417

8 (5)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb  BYE     391

9 (--)         Thomas Owens, FIU-wr         50       354

10 (--)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       110      336

Bubble: Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb, 327. Other team leader: Tre'Quan Smith, UCF-wr, 245. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: Miami, FSU and South Florida 3 games each; all others 4.

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

1aa1afrancismusicHEAR POPE FRANCIS' NEW SINGLE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Fresh off his successful tour of the U.S., Pope Francis plans to release a musical album called Wake Up! (pictured) on Nov. 27. (This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true?) The album features the pontiff's speeches set to orchestral rock and pop music as well as to Gregorian chants, and proceeds will benefit a support fund for refugees. The first released single is called "Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!" (The pope loves exclamation points!). Click HERE for a Rolling Stone piece on the album, and to hear the single, a 5 minute 12 second opus in which the Pope is not heard until the 2:00 mark. And, yes ... yes it is about as strange as you might imagine. Francis will support the album with a winter tour featuring opening act Miley Cyrus. OK I made up that last part.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 18, 2015

Do you like the Miami Herald's new redesigned look? New poll. Vote now!; plus Hurricanes-Nebraska hype video, list of UM's 21 current NFL starters, NFL Week 2 picks, Canton betting odds, FSU tonight & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins DE Cam Wake and S Reshad Jones both questionable for Sunday with hamstring injuries, although, in the NFL, "questionable" usually means they'll play. 2) Sorry we've been a bit stagnant with the blog this week; been under the weather. 3) Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Butch Davis invades Al Golden's backyard, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Headline: 'Russian Pranksters Fool Elton John With Fake Phone Call from Vladimir Putin.' My reaction: "Who knew Russia had pranksters?" --Greg Cote

Top party schools: Noles No. 3: Playboy's dubious annual list of Top Party Schools is out, with a Top 5 of Ohio U., Iowa, Florida State, Tulane and Illinois. Click here for the full list. FSU ranked that high is a surprise, considering Jameis Winston left.

I LIKE THE HERALD'S NEW REDESIGNED LOOK. DO YOU?: I've been known to complain, even to occasionally say and write things about the Miami Herald that annoy my bosses. For example, when we 1aa1aheraldchanged the website last fall in a way that fundamentally discouraged comments in blogs, I hated that and said so. This week we changed the look of both the print (newspaper) and digital (online) Herald, and I think it looks terrific. Congrats to all involved. I like the emphasis on visual presentation and the compatibility across all formats. Also like the emphasis and on our personalities and other things unique to the Herald. Honestly, you can get basic news anywhere. But you can't get Leonard Pitts and Carl Hiaasen and our investigative journalism anywhere else, for example. Still getting used to the near-lifesize, full-length photo of me that now runs with my columns, but that's another story. Hey, we need to change, improve. We're fighters. We don' quit. We are an industry adapting to evolving, turbulent times for the business. I think this week is a positive step. Do you? I know change is often hard. Our knee-jerk reaction is often to not like it, to resist. We like things we're used to. With that understanding, I'm curious how you feel about the new look. Vote and say why.

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 2: Our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions got off to a boffo start last week with an 11-5 mark overall and 10-5-1 vs. the spread. [Boffo: Slang adjective, now 1aa1afripixrarely used, meaning extremely successful; great]. Week 2 took off swell as well as I bull's-eyed last night's outright Broncos upset at Kansas City. Did I get lucky? Lucky schmucky. Those breaks go both ways. I'll take it. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins handle Jax easily, Pats turn back Rex Ryan in Game of the Week, and Lions win at Minny in Upset of Week. Also click on Canes' NFL Influence Is Graying for my accompanying Friday Page column. I examine the state-college players currently on rosters, and list the dozen players (10 UM, 1 FIU, 1 FAU) from SoFla schools who are both current starters and have made at least one Pro Bowl. Our observation: the top Canes are a graying lot (think Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork) that could use replenishing. Only LSU with 40 has more than UM's 38 active NFL'ers, a list infused with this year's seven drafted rookies. But the Canes are looking for their next big star. The youngest Pro Bowl Cane is Jimmy Graham (who wasn't even a football recruit). Who's next? See The List below for the Canes' 21 current NFL starters.

Canton betting odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, favorites for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class are Brett Favre at a should-be-off-the-board 1-25, Orlando Pace at 1-3, Kevin Greene at 1-3, Kurt Warner at 5-6, Marvin Harrison at 2-3 and Tony Dungy at 2-3. (I'm not nearly that certain on Greene). Reasonable longshots are Terrell Davis 2-1, Don Coryell 5-2, Roger Craig 3-1, Terrell Owens 10-3 and ex-Cane Edgerrin James 4-1.

CANES-HUSKERS HYPE VIDEO: If you're not already pumped for UM-Nebraska tomorrow a 1-minute video might not help, but here's one anyway, via The U today:

 THE LIST: HURRICANES STARTERS IN THE NFL: There are 38 former Hurricanes on current NFL rosters. Here, by team, are the 21 (on 15 teams) who are listed as starters on their team's current depth chart:

ARI: DE Calais Campbell

ATL: P Matt Bosher, RET Devin Hester

BUF: OT Seantrel Henderson

CAR: TE Greg Olsen

CHI: P Pat O'Donnell, S Antrel Rolle

GB: CB Sam Shields

HOU: DT Vince Wilfork

IND: RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson

JAC: WR Allen Hurns, OG Brandon Linder

KC: DE Allen Bailey

MIA: RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon

NYG: LB Jon Beason, OT Ereck Flowers

OAK: LB Ray-Ray Armstrong

SD: OG Orlando Franklin

SEA: TE Jimmy Graham

SEMINOLES FACING UPSET?: No. 9-ranked Florida State is a modest 7 1/2-point favorite at 2-0 Boston College tonight at 8, and an upset would not shock me. (Surprise, yes. Shock, no). Fans of the Miami Hurricanes, who visit FSU Oct. 10, will be scout-watching keenly on ESPN.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 05, 2015

Lightning strikes! UM clubs Bethune-Cookman 45-0 in opener; plus CSM poll, Dolphins change kickers, Izzy tells the truth, Marino makes wine, Upset Bird Countdown & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Are the Dolphins the sixth-best team in the NFL? Well, this nut says so. Click on The Order for my annual NFL team rankings, 1 through 32. 2) Note, Sunday's Random Evidence notes column will be the next-to-last in print, meaning in the newspaper. Details to come. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Dolphins preseason finale, FIU wins, Brady-wins poll, Fins U-25s, Jimmy Johnson reigns, UM hoops & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins rookie kicker Franks unseats Sturgis: The two players who put the foot in football -- the placekicker and punter -- both will be new for the Dolphins this year. Rookie kicker Andrew Franks beat out incumbent Caleb Sturgis today as the Fins met the 53-man roster max. Last week rookie punter Matt Darr Matt unseated veteran Brandon Fields. You know it has been an uneventful Cut Day when the big new is the kicker. Still, this will be first season since 2007 that Miami has had two new foot-men. That was when Jay Feely replaced PK Olindo Mare and Fields replaced P Donnie Jones.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 6 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix


1aa1a6

1aa1abaltosthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 6: Baltimore Orioles, born 1954. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66].

On Al Golden: As the Miami Hurricanes open the new season tonight at 6 vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman, I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his own future here. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Welcome back to another season of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter 1aa1acsmpostgame polls -- this first one in the wake of tonight's season-opening 45-0 victory vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM, in its seventh season, is 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, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Monday.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

G1: HURRICANES 45, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 0: SOFT-OPENER, BUT UM DOMINATES: Final--UM 1-0 after an impressive, maybe easier-than-expected 45-0 home rout in a game delayed 75 minutes by lightning. Corn Elder stood out with two long punt-return TDs, though one was nullified. Tough to judge the Canes off this considering the lesser opponent, but it nevertheless was an opening performance tough to criticize. ..... 4Q--UM 45-0 after Gray 2y TD run. ..... 3Q--UM 38-0 on Walton 5y TD run. ... Third and fourth quarters will be 10 minutes, not 15, because of earlier delay. ..... 2Q--UM 31-0 on Elder 72y punt-return TD. ... UM 24-0 on Yearby 25y TD run. ... UM 17-0 on Kaaya-Scott 17y TD pass after 75-minute lightning delay. ... UM denied 17-0 lead on apparent Corn Elder 70y punt-return TD because Herb Waters made an arm gesture that suggested to officials the punt would not be returned. ... UM 10-0 on 25y FG. ..... 1Q--UM 7-0 on Kaaya-Dobard 5y TD pass after Canes gambled to take three points off board following roughing-kicker penalty. ..... Original post: Dolphins stadium is all made-over, aqua seats replacing orange, and tonight starting at 6 p.m. we see if under-pressure
1aa1acanesopenercoach Al Golden's Miami Hurricanes look as good as their refurbished home. They'd better considering the opponent is Division 1AA Bethune-Cookman of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Bethune isn't bad for its size (it was 9-3 last season), but still is a second-tier program that The U had better handle without much trouble. Miami won these teams' most recent meeting in 2012 by 38-10, for example. It will be hard to gauge how good Miami really is tonight, but I'll be especially looking to see how the offensive line is protecting QB Brad Kaaya. My pick: Canes, 41-7.

Other college Week 1 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

Tulsa 47, FAU 44 (OT): I'd called a road upset by Owls. If only close counted.

South Florida 51, Florida A&M 3: Bulls rout fang-less Rattlers.

Florida 61, New Mexico State 13: Swamp serves up big debut for coach Jim McElwain.

No. Florida State 59, Texas State 16: Ex-Irish Everett Golson sharp in Noles debut.

Thursday: FIU 15, UCF 14: Nice upset as FIU opens 1-0 with road win for first time since '04.

Preseason conference-title odds for state's 7 FBS schools: Percentage likelihoods are based on ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI). ACC--Florida State is favorite at 27.0 percent and Miami is sixth at 5.1%. (Clemson is near co-favorite at 26.8%). SEC--Florida is at 1.2%. (Georgia is favorite at 35.5%). Conference USA--FIU at at 1.0% and FAU at 0.4%. (Louisiana Tech is favorite at 45.3%). American--UCF is at 5.9% and South Florida at 0.3%. (Cincinnati is favorite at 40.9%).

1aa1aizzyFREEDOM: ISRAEL GUTIERREZ COMES OUT: Our friend and former Miami Herald colleague Izzy Gutierrez, now an ESPN star and heard regularly on local radio, revealed yesterday that he is gay. Family and close friends have known for years; the "coming out" is that all now know, a bigger deal -- in scope, not importance -- when one is a public figure. Click HERE to read his simple, riveting truth written in his personal blog, something that I think he'd agree took him a whole lifetime to write. The piece is very honest (of course), and I think it is important to read. I think it was especially interesting how he'd been inspired by others who had come out. Gutierrez in turn will continue that cycle of honesty, by example helping others who are working up the courage to fully be themselves. I'm happy for the freedom and unburdening Gutierrez must now feel. I also congratulate him on his upcoming marriage to his partner; they are pictured here, with Izzy in the shades. He'll be applauded by many for being "brave" or "courageous." I doubt he wants to be seen as that. I think he'd rather just be a guy living his truest life.

1aa1adanwineDAN MARINO WINE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Dolphins icon Dan Marino and former backup quarterback Damon Huard have partnered in a Washington State winery called (pun intended), Passing Time. Huard was the Dolphins backup late in Marino's career, in 1997-99. Their winemaking venture was launched in the spring of 2014 and their first cabernet sauvignon, retailing at around $75, rolled out this year. Marino has been a longtime wine collector and has a cellar in his home. He brings the marquee name to the partnership, while Huard mans the daily operation. The partners are pictured working their vineyard. Below is a short video as they describe their passion.

 

Poll result: Mixed verdict on court overturning Brady suspension: Most, 56.2 percent in our blogpoll, think Tom Brady got away with cheating and that the federal court was wrong to overturn his four-game suspension. But another 40.1% said it was the right call because the NFL failed to make its case. The other 3.7% were undecided.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 04, 2015

5 takeaways from Dolphins loss in preseason finale; plus FIU's big win, Brady beats NFL (poll, vote now!), Upset Bird Countdown (7 days), Jimmy Johnson reigns, LeBatard, UM hoops, Lawrence Phillips & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes greatest-coach poll, Upset Bird Countdown, weird Canes photos, Suh Top 5, Kim Davis, Gus Edwards, Fins' luck, 'Concussion' trailer & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

LeBatard move official: ESPN will officially announce today at 10 a.m. that the Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio is moving to the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8. Readers of this blog knew about it first last month.


UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix



1aa1a7




1aa1aatlfalcopnsthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 7: Atlanta Falcons, born 1966. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67].

FINS 'N FIU: A FOOTBALL DOUBLEHEADER: Granted, a Dolphins' preseason finale and FIU's season opener did not constitute a great football doubleheader ... nevertheless!

DOLPHINS LOSE PRESEASON FINALE: OUR FIVE TAKEAWAYS: The 22-17 home loss to Tampa Bay last night, leaving Miami's final preseason record at a meaningless 1-3, wasn't quite as uneventful as we'd 1aa1adparkerimagined. Miami dominated statistically but sabotaged itself with five turnovers, four of them picks, all by guys unlikely to make the final roster. Almost all of the starters sat out, but there were these five points of significance: 1) No. 1 draft pick DeVante Parker (pictured) saw his first action, albeit limited, catching one pass for 11 yards of three balls thrown his way. Good they got his feet wet before the opener. 2) RBs Jay Ajayi (103 combined yards on 11 touches) and Mike Gillislee (17-for-69 rushing) both stated their cases. Ajayi certainly makes the final roster. 3) CB Will Davis, on the trading block and thus an apparent longshot to make the team, had a pair of interceptions. 4) The kicker competition still seems a deadlock between Andrew Franks (30-yard field goal tonight) and incumbent Caleb Sturgis, though I'd give the slightest edge to Franks. And 5) Josh Freeman's late end-zone interception all but settled it. I'd be shocked at this point if Miami spent a roster spot to keep a third QB. ... Original post: Miami hosts Tampa Bay at 7 in fake-game No. 4, the final exhibition. It is significant because its conclusion will commence the countdown to the Sept. 13 NFL season opener at Washington. It also is significant for the roster's bottom third, the "bubble" players fighting to make the cut from 75 men to 53, a final paring by coach Joe Philbin that is due by Saturday. The game is otherwise insignificant. Starters will play very little if at all. The result won't matter; however, staying healthy will. [Note: A reminder our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls are back this year, starting with the regular season].

FIU PANTHERS UPSET WINNERS: FIU last night won at UCF, 15-14, a huge upset over a 13-point home favorite in season opener. Panthers hero Darrian Dyson blocked a 47-yard field goal try in the final half minute to seal the win. 1aa1afiu"Team Alex" led the way offensively. QB Alex McGough passed for 260 yards and a TD, and RB Alex Gardner combined for 149 run/catch yards and a score. Very encouraging opening win for third-year coach Ron Turner, who told me last week he thought he'd win with defense, and did tonight. ... Original post: FIU opens its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner -- and kicks off Week 1 of the entire college season -- at UCF in Orlando. Big test for Panthers, who improved to 4-8 last year and have dreams of a bowl season, versus a Central Florida Knights squad that went 9-4 last year and is a 13-point favorite here. [Note: Our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year rankings -- the SOPYs! -- will be back this season. Look for them Mondays in the blog].

BRADY WINS, NFL LOSES AS COURT OVERTURNS 4-GAME SUSPENSION: My latest column is on this "Deflategate" development. Click on Brady Wins Big, Goodell Loses Bigger to read. Meantime, have your say:

DOLPHINS SHUT OUT IN UNDER-25 RANKINGS: List-crazy ESPN.com comes out with a Top 25 NFL Players Under 25 list excluding rookies (click here), and what's most disappointing is when you consider some of Miami's legitimate candidates who failed to make it. They include 1,000-yard back Lamar Miller, young sack-man Olivier Vernon, productive 2014 rookie starters Jarvis Landry and Ja-Wuan James, as well as Kenny Stills, Dion Sims, Jelani Jenkins and Chris McCain. Fins need to have a couple of those names on that U-25 ranking next year.

Betting odds on Dolphins individual stats: Over/unders courtesy our friends at Bovada today. Ryan Tannehill is pegged at 4,000 passing yards, 25.5 TD throws and 14.5 picks. Lamar Miller is 1,000 rushing yards and seven TDs. Jarvis Landry is 900 receiving yards and five TDs. And sack o/u's are 10 for Cam Wake and eight for Ndamukong Suh.

And updated World Series odds, too: Also from Bovada, it's Blue Jays favorites at 7-2, then Royals and Cardinals both 11-2, Dodgers 15-2 and Mets 9-1. Marlins now one of seven teams off-the-board.

1aa1ajjPoll result: Jimmy, Howard dominate UM greatest-coach vote: We listed the 10 Hurricanes football coaches who have worked at least 50 career games here, and nearly 80 percent of the vote went to either Jimmy Johnson (our clear champ with 47.0 percent) or Howard Schnellenberger (31.3%). Butch Davis was a distant third at 11.0%, then came Dennis Erickson at 4.8% and Larry Coker at 3.0%. At a negligible 1.0% or less: Andy Gustafson, Jack Harding, Charlie Tate, Al Golden and Randy Shannon.

HIGHLIGHTS, THOUGHTS ON HURRICANES MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE: Jim Larranaga's guys should be pretty good this season, maybe really good, in a schedule that opens at home Nov. 13 vs. Texas-Rio 1aa1ajimlGrand Valley. UM will play at least seven games vs. teams that finished in last year's final Top 25. Our circled dates, in order, with the seven must-see home games in bold: Nov. 19-22--Canes could face Utah (#19 last season) or Butler (#24) in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in San Juan. Dec. 8--Host Florida Gators. Jan. 2 & 9--Host Syracuse and then Florida State in first ACC games. Jan. 12--at Virginia (#6). Jan. 25--Duke (#4) here. Feb. 3--Notre Dame (#8) here. Feb. 20--at North Carolina (#15) on CBS, only network TV game. Feb. 22--Virginia (#6) here. Feb. 27--Louisville (#17) here. March 8-12--ACC Tournament.

THE TRAGIC TALE OF LAWRENCE PHILLIPS: When I think of athletes of wasted promise -- make that 1aa1adolphillipshorribly wasted -- I might now think first of Phillips, the troubled former running back who played for three NFL teams in 1996-99, including two games for the Dolphins (pictured; 18 carries for 44 yards) in '97. He failed as a pro despite being a first-round draft pick, due largely to off-field issues. Now 40, he is serving a 31-year sentence in a California prison for choking his girlfriend and ramming his car into three teens. This week, he was charged with first-degree murder in the choking of his cellmate. What a waste.

BONUS FOOTBALL COVERAGE:

Dolphins, Hurricanes special sections: Our NFL/Dolphins and College/Canes football special sections are out (high schools, too), and here are my two contributions: NFL rank: I rate the teams, 1 through 32, and slot the Dolphins at a really high No. 6. Click on The Order to read in full. Al Golden: I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his future with the program. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our "Fins at 50" package commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online; click FINS AT 50. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND (Shula column); 50 GREATEST (list of franchise's 50 top figures, not just players); ALL-TIME TEAM (my picks) and VIDEO INTERVIEWS (Shula, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas). Also have Shula-by-the-numbers column; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...