February 27, 2015

In-out door spinning: On Hartline, Jagr, Beasley; plus what Miami team inspiring most optimism? (poll; vote!); also Stanton in body paint, LeBron, Tiger & more

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 1. Happy new month! 2) Our Sunday Random Evidence notes column and our blog-exclusive Hot Button Top 10 are taking today off. 3) Click here to watch a Boston-area man roll the last three strikes in a perfect 900 series in bowling. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN analytics ranking of local teams, get-well-Bosh campaign, Dan Marino, Daytona 500, Oscars review & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine. 4) Here is the latest 'Back In My Day' segment from the Dan LeBatard Show: Back_in_my_Day-_Baseball's_Rule_Changes-_2-24-15 (2)

"Will the last ESPN on-air personality to not be suspended please turn out the lights?" --Greg Cote

HARTLINE OUT, BEASLEY, JAGR IN. HUH? WHA!?: OK I leave for a long weekend's holiday in Austin, Tex. and all hell breaks loose back in South Florida. Man I can't leave you people alone for a minute! Just since I left early Thursday, the Heat bring back Michael Beasley with a 10-day contract, the Panthers acquire aging star Jaromir Jar, and the Dolphins release receiver Brian Hartline (and also Brandon Gibson). Quick thoughts on each: Heat/Beasley -- Makes sense. With Chris Bosh out the rest of the season and Josh McRoberts out all year, Miami needed power-forward help, and Beasley is still young enough and with enough upside to risk a trial run. Panthers/Jagr -- Well, Jaromir is 43 now. Can he still provide the scoring punch Florida needs to lock down a playoff spot? As when the Marlins signed Ichiro, this signing is exciting for the remaining big-name value but may not have huge impact. Dolphins/Hartline -- It's a clear salary purge to erase a one-time prominent WR of diminishing results. The question now is if eliminating Hartline and Gibson means it'll be more likely that Mike Wallace stays. (I doubt it). Interesting times for all of these teams. And getting more interesting all the time.

WHAT MIAMI TEAM HAS MOST EARNED YOUR OPTIMISM?: Blind hope is one thing, but I'm talking here
about optimism rooted in reason. What is the local Big 5 team most headed the right way? Current or 1aa1aoptimismmost recent won-lost record should be factored, but maybe not as much as the overall direction -- the sense of how well the team is positioned to win big and soon. This is not asking your favorite team or sport. It's asking who among Dolphins, Heat, UM football, Marlins and Panthers fans should feel the most optimistic right now? Purposely I did not include a "none of them!" option in the poll, because like the guy to the right staring up at you says, if you can't find optimism somewhere, you're dead. This, I know, is a tough poll question that may scare away discourage many potential voters because the answer can't be quantified and because it's hard to compare different sports. Plus, you may think it's a close call between a couple of teams. Nevertheless! You are challenged: Take a dip in our poll and drop a Comment saying why you feel as you do.

1aa1agiancarlosiSTANTON'S BURGEONING STAR-POWER AFFIRMED ... IN BODY PAINT: Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton adorns the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated, and SI say it's the first time any athlete has been on its cover in body paint. (Um, don't some things go without saying?) This is the latest indication of Stanton's burgeoning journey from local star en route to national superstar. A $325 million contract will start that process, along with the expectation of 40-plus home runs. Being built like somebody sculpted in marble doesn't hurt. And the human interest angle -- coming back from an awful, face-smashing beaning -- just adds another layer.

On Marlins' two top prospects: One you may see soon, the other will take awhile. The Marlins 1aa1ajtrealplace righty pitcher Tyler Kolek (ranked No. 34) and catcher J.T. Realmuto (No. 72) among ESPN's Top 100 MLB prospects for 2015. Kolek, who just turned 19, will need a few years to marinate and refine, although he's a 6-6, 270-pound behemoth with a mid-90s fastball and the club thinks he could develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter. Realmuto (pictured) turns 24 in March and has a chance this spring that he's ready to stick with the big club.

1aa1albjmcdHE'S LOVIN' IT! (OR SO HE CLAIMS): In a Tuesday interview about diet and fitness LeBron James seemed to briefly forget that McDonald's pays him millions to pimp its products. He said, "I ate McDonald's my first couple of years in the NBA. I didn't stretch, I didn't ice. It didn't matter. I was 18, I could do whatever I wanted to." Nice recovery, though. When later asked how often he eats McDonald's nowadays he said, "Every day! Every day, every day, every day, every day, every day. I just had it this morning!"

BETTING PUBLIC HAS LITTLE FAITH IN TIGER TURNAROUND: It was the opposite once. The wagering 1aa1atwoodspublic loved Tiger Woods. Back in his reign, as a major neared, people actually debated if Tiger vs. the field was a decent bet. I remember the conversations. Now? New odds from our friends at Bovada have Tiger winning zero majors this year as a prohibitive 1-7 likelihood, and he's now a 14-1 longshot to surpass Jack Nicklaus' career majors record. The bright side? If you see Tiger with a big comeback left in him, it's a buyer's market.

NEWS STORY / MY COMMENT: News story: Three British teens arrive in Syria to join terrorists. My comment: Oh, how unfathomably idiotic!

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

February 04, 2015

The ones that got away define UM's recruiting class, keep heat on Golden; plus is National Signing Day big or overblown? New poll. Vote!; also, updated bet-odds for Heat, Canes and Cats & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl review and poll, betting outlook for Dolphins and Canes & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CANES CLASS NOT BAD, BUT LOW RANKINGS KEEP THE HEAT ON GOLDEN: I think UM's 2015 recruiting class is being underestimated on this National Signing Day, but the perception-is-reality thing -- its low rankings -- keeps the heat on coach Al Golden. Miami's class is ranked 24th by ESPN, 26th by Rivals and by 247Sports, and 34th by Scout, thanks to 14 de-commitments that left Golden scrambling. Click on The Ones That Got Away for my National Signing Day column, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

THIS IS NOT YOUR 'NATIONAL SIGNING DAY' HEADQUARTERS: I rebel against the NSD mania that engulfs college football fans, ESPN and other media today. Don't get me wrong. The sport's equivalent of the NFL's 1aa1aNSDdraft and free agency is important -- an essential annual influx and replenishing. What I reject as absurd is the over-analysis and over-coverage of it. Hurricanes fans and others around the country will instantly choose elation or disappointment today based on the signing of a couple of dozen players they've mostly never heard of or seen play. Based on what? On the analysis and assigning of a star rating by self-anointed website experts such as Rivals.com, Scout.com and others whose opinions are regurgitated as gospel. It's mostly guesswork that usually takes a couple or three of years to fairly judge, yet by the end of the day today every college's recruiting class will be ranked, poll-style. One year ago ESPN ranked UM's class No. 10 in the nation. Which means ... who knows? The Canes had  the nation's No. 1-ranked incoming class in 2008. And it meant nothing, really. In the 2010-11 seasons, when that glorious class should have been blossoming to greatness, UM was a combined 13-12. Anyway, enough of my rant. Tell us what you think of National Signing Day and why.

BETTING UPDATES ON HEAT, CANES, PANTHERS: Courtesy Bovada, Golden State (7-2) and up-trending Cleveland (15-2) are now nearly tied as faves to win the NBA title, with Heat now 100-1 (was 75-1). In the NHL, Anaheim and Chicago are co-faves at 6-1, with the Panthers now 100-1 (was 75-1). In men's NCAA hoops, Kentucky is even-odds to win it all, with Hurricanes at 200-1 (was 100-1). Best bet for a local player to win an individual honor: Cats' Aaron Ekblad stands third in NHL rookie of year odds at 3-1.

Poll result: Huge majority loved Super Bowl: We asked how this Super Bowl compared to most and 82.8 percent called it "better than average." Another 10.3% called it about the same, and 6.9% -- presumably Seahawks fans and losing bettors -- called it below average.

1aa1acreepy photo"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a creepy family portrait in which the Dad looks almost like a ventriloquist's dummy. Thank you!" Dear Reader: Hmm. Tough request, but let me see what I can do. 

Check back often because we often update and add to our latest blogposts...

February 03, 2015

On Super Bowl: Criticism of The Call, halftime and commercials; plus you rate this Super Bowl (poll; vote now!); also, Warren Sapp, betting odds for next season on Dolphins, Canes & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday gig with the Dan Le Batard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Have a new "Back In My Day" in hand. Ears welcome.


1aa1agronk1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3. Pictured right, it's just Gronk Being Gronk in a club around 4 a.m. after winning the Super Bowl. Lesson: It is good to be Gronk. 2) In case you missed it: Click on Bouncing Off the Shield for my Sunday Super Bowl special-section column on how the NFL's massive popularity withstands all manner of scandal and controversy that come its way, and on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 3) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl MVP poll, Hot Button Top 10, Canton selections & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On the Patriots' complicated legacy: Today's latest column by me extols one of the greatest Super Bowls ever but explores the complicated issue of how history will judge the Patriots' four Super Bowl wins of the Belichick-Brady era. The success should be mentioned first, but the rules-breaking controversies must be noted, too. Click on Excellence and Ethics to read.

Sapp arrested: Former Hurricanes star Warren Sapp reportedly was arrested in Phoenix yesterday for solicitation and assault (story here) and quickly fired by the NFL Network. Because of previous episodes Sapp was in danger of dumbing himself out of his TV career, and I think this has done it. Sad.

A QUICK SUPER BOWL RECAP: The game, halftime, party, commercials. What else is there? (Rhetorical question. There's also a poll below here inviting you to rate this Super Bowl):

The game: I picked the Patriots to win 27-23. They won 28-24. But enough about me! Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is getting too much flak for his "terrible" call that gave New England the win. People are playing the result. Yes, handing off to Marshawn Lynch would have been the safe call. But Carroll would be getting lauded today as the unpredictable, daring genius had Russell Wilson completed that quick- slant pass rather than thrown an interception. Tom Brady and the Pats got lucky with that, but deserved to win. 

1aa1akatypThe halftime show: It feels strange saying it but I thought Katy Perry was great, from the opening entrance on the giant mechanical tiger and straight on through. She is very talented and has the palatable, NFL-friendly sex appeal that others (Miley Cyrus) are lacking, and her opening number, the anthemic "Roar," was perfect for a Super Bowl.

The party: I hosted my annual SB party for 12 or 15 family and friends, with pulled pork sliders (Boston butt, foretelling the Patriots' victory) and gumbo atop the menu. I also happened to win big in our two betting pools (squares, props) which made me an unpopular but smiling host.

1aa1alostpuppyThe commercials: Click on Ad-Meter to watch and see USA Today's Ad-Meter ranking of all 61 Super Bowl commercials. No. 1: Budweiser / "Lost Dog," because heroes Clydesdales saving an adorable lost puppy's life is irresistible and makes me want to drink beer to celebrate. Dead last: UCool / "Heroes Charge," because I don't remember the ad and have no idea what UCool is.

HOW DO YOU RATE THIS SUPER BOWL COMPARED TO MOST: Rate the game on overall interest, watchability and excitement -- not on whether your team won, not on whether you hit on your bet:

VEGAS OUTLOOK FOR DOLPHINS, CANES: Odds for next season's Super Bowl already are out (sportsbooks waste no time) and the Dolphins are at 40-1, tied for 14th. Seahawks are favored at 5-1, then Patriots 7-1 and Packers 8-1. On the college side,Ohio State is a favorite to repeat at 5-1. The Miami Hurricanes are 75-1, tied for 29th.

Poll result: Brady was your MVP favorite: We asked who you thought would be Super Bowl MVP and, of six choices, Patriots QB Tom Brady (who ended up winning) was the top choice with 52.0 percent.

Check back often because we're always updating and adding to our latest blogposts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2015

Canton calling: Your football Hall of Fame ballot. 15 finalists, you pick 5. Poll. Vote now!; plus Rex Ryan to Bills, new Hot Button Top 10 & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 11. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Two Super Bowl polls, NFL Divisional Round picks, Shula and Beli-cheat, Canes' big win, Rob Konrad, Bosh the actor, mouthy relatives & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

My NFL Divisional Round pix: Saturday: Patriots, 27-23, and Seahawks, 21-13. Sunday: Broncos, 34-24, and Packers, 31-24. (I was 3-1 overall, 1-3 vs. the spread). Click Divisional Gems for the full predix capsules.

"Rex Ryan to Buffalo as head coach? Not sure if the Bills just got better, but I am sure they just got noisier." --Greg Cote

YOU SELECT WHO GETS INTO PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Baseball voters who decide entry into 1aa1acantgonCooperstown (I'm one of them) come under annual criticism largely because the Steroids Era-factor makes the vote so polarizing and complicated. Football voters who decide entry into Canton have no such issues, and rarely if ever seem to have their choices scrutinized or slammed. (I'd mention the basketball and hockey halls, but nobody really cares). Anyway,the Pro Football Hall of Fame has winnowed its 2015 nominees to 15 modern-era finalists, who I present alphabetically in this poll. A maximum of five will be elected, so I invite you to vote for as many as five (5) here. Three or four seem obvious to me, but that's just me. I'll tell you my five later.

READING LEBRON'S MIND: The Cavaliers are 19-18, have lost four straight and are presently the sixth seed. The Heat are 15-21, have lost five of six and are slotted eighth. Somewhere, there is telepathy between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and it sounds something like this: "We should-a left it alone."

HOT BUTTON JAN. 11: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: Patriots, Seahawks advance; two more today: Patriots (narrowly) and Seahawks (comfortably) won Divisional Round games Saturday, now Colts-Broncos and Cowboys-Packers on Sunday will complete the AFC and NFC title-game matchups. Conpsiracy theorists are ready in case Dallas wins on another lucky call.

2. College football: Oregon, Ohio State in first playoff title game Monday: Fair to say Oregon will have rooting interest of much of country outside of Ohio, because every game needs a villain. America doesn't have Jameis Winston to taunt or Nick Saban to hate, but Urban Meyer is an acceptable substitute.

3. Dolphins: Team adds ex-Jets GM Tannebaum to front office: Mike Tannenbaum becoming VP of football operations was met with knee-jerking derision from many Dolfans and media, who clamored for change but evidently not this change.

4. Heat: Slumping team carries tailspin to west coast: Heat star Chris Bosh stars in Funny or Die's new short comedy viedo, Tall Justice 2. Is it just me, or do Heat players' various side projects tend to be much more amusing when the team is headed to another NBA Finals than when it has lost five of six and is 15-21?

5. Baseball: Hall of Fame adds four to Cooperstown: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected, the largest class since 1955. Could that be because those were only players left untarnished by steroid use or rumors? (Benefit of doubt to Biggio on that...)

6. Panthers: Luongo named to NHL all-star team: Florida had only one player named to the all-star team so it's fitting it is goalie Roberto Luongo, who has team in the playoff chase despite the Cats being one of the lowest-scoring teams in NHL.

7. Hurricanes: Women's basketball stuns No. 4 Notre Dame: UM ended Notre Dame's 30-game road winning streak as the Canes were led by Adrienne Motley's 32 points. Is there even a slight chance the Canes should not now be nicknamed Motley Crew?

8. Rob Konrad: Ex-Dolphin heroically saves own life: Fishing alone, boat on autopilot, Konrad falls overboard, swims nine miles to safety through rough Atlantic waters in dead of night. Man, some guys'll do anything for attention!

9. Stuart Scott: ESPN anchors succumbs to cancer: Polarizing in life but lauded in death, Stuart Scott left us at 49 after a battle with cancer. "Boo-ya's!" at half-mast, please.

10. Don Shula: Icon calls Belichick "Beli-cheat": Turning 85, Shula in an interview called Bill Belichick "Beli-cheat," a reference to the 2007 "Spygate" incident that brought Belichick a $500,000 fine and cost Pats a first-round pick. Shula got criticized, bt what's that they say abiout truth being the best defense?

Poll result: Thinking Seahawks win Super Bowl, hoping Packers: We asked in separate polls who think think will win the Super Bowl and who you want to win from among the final eight. The top three in each category: Predict will win--Seahawks 34.1 percent, Patriots 23.9%, Packers 21.2%. Want to win--Packers 24.9 percent, Broncos 22.8%, Panthers 12.4%.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

October 31, 2014

NFL Week 9 pix: 2 streaks end in Miami; plus LeBron's delightful homecoming fizzle, Noles demand respect & more

1aa1ahalloween1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31. Happy Halloween, kids of all ages! 2) I'm on the grounds of Random Evidence Laboratories today creating Sunday's notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FSU and LeBron debut make for big TV night, LeBron cheer-boo result, World Series & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Already? 2015 World Series odds: Bovada has L.A. Dodgers and Washington Nationals co-favorites to win it all next fall at 15-2 odds, followed by Tigers and Angels both 10-1. Marlins are 50-1, tied for 23rd of 30 clubs.

NFL WEEK 9 PIX: SORRY DOLPHINS, BUT STREAK STOPS HERE: Miami has won two games in a row, the 1aa1afripixbaby of streaks but a streak nonetheless. And San Diego has lost seven games in a row in Miami since famously last winning that 41-38 overtime playoff game on Jan. 2, 1982. (I was there at the Orange Bowl, cub reporting). I wish I believed that both streaks would continue here Sunday. I don't. Click on Week 9 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions. (Good start on our week last night; correctly had Saints covering at Panthers). Also, Click on Air Show for our Friday Page NFL column. It leads with Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning and includes our King Sport Halftime Awards.

1aa1ahomecomingMIAMI HOWLS WITH DELIGHT AS LEBRON FIZZLES IN HOMECOMING DEBUT: Evidently God belongs to Heat Nation. South Florida watched (though not admitting it) as estranged hero LeBron James scored only 17 points and was awful doing it, shooting 5-for-15 with eight turnovers, in a Cleveland loss to the Knicks in LBJ's homecoming debut. The way LeBron left Miami rankles many Heat fans. The torrent of these sappy homecoming ads annoys many of the rest of us. I am especially already sick of the one with the heartfelt voiceover by mother of the year Gloria and the churchy "Amen" vocal background. Gawd.

PROPS TO THE NOLES: I'm no Florida State fan but I am a Floridian who tends to wish our state teams 1aa1agraywell, so (sorry, Canes fans) I was watching and rooting a little last night as Jameis Winston and the Seminoles shut up that Louisville crowd little by little. Those people with a 21-0 early lead were acting like they'd never seen Winston before and didn't know who they were playing. (By the way, those gray Louisville uniforms are beyond awful). No, FSU isn't as good as last season's champions, but this unbeaten No. 2-ranked team deserves more respect than it gets. Having said that I am already looking forward to UM hosting FSU on Nov. 15. I think the Canes have a big chance at an upset.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

October 16, 2014

Should Jameis Winston be suspended? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL odds, Rick Scott & The Fan, Heat still reign locally & more

1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16. I'm ensconsed in Friday Page Headquarters creating this week's NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Big 5 who-do-you-trust poll, Heat betting odds, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"My reaction to Brandon Marshall criticizing Chad Henne's time as Dolphins quarterback? Get in line, pal." --Greg Cote

WHAT TO DO WITH JAMEIS WINSTON: Florida State and coach Jimbo Fisher move forward as if there's no doubt QB Jameis Winston will play Saturday when No. 2 FSU hosts No. 5 Notre Dame. But Las Vegas 1aa1ajameishad enough doubts that the game was yanked off betting boards yesterday over the uncertainty. Plenty think Winston should be suspended over a cumulative effect of several off-field controversies. Click on Jimbo's Dilemma for today's latest column by me. The 2012 sexual-assault allegation against Winston has not gone away amid recent reports of collusion between the Tallahassee Police Department and the FSU athletic department. Now the school plans a disciplinary board hearing with Winston, which could lead to a decision he violated the student code of conduct. Beyond the overriding rape cloud there is this week news that he signed some 950 items of memorabilia, which would violate NCAA rules if he was paid. Jameis says he wasn't; Jimbo believes him. We won't even get into the stolen crab legs or the shouted mysoginist vulgarity that got him suspended from the Clemson game. The question is whether Jameis Winston -- all things considered -- should still be out there as the face of FSU on Saturday and beyond? It isn't an easy question with a clear answer. Your opinion is nonetheless invited.

UPDATED NFL ODDS: Broncos are reinstalled as Super Bowl favorites (via Bovada) at 4-1, but Seahawks are still second at 6-1. Then it's Chargers/49ers both 9-1, Packers/Patriots both 11-1 and Cowboys 12-1. Dallas RB DeMarco Murray is slight MVP pick at 7-2, over Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers both 4-1.

RICK SCOTT AND THE FAN: The start of last night's Charlie Crist-Rick Scott guberatorial debate at Broward College played out like a Saturday NIght Live skit. The audience murmered and tittered awkwardly like 1aa1adebatethey weren't sure if this was a joke or not. If only it were. Click HERE to see what I mean. Gov. Rick Scott refused to take the stage, delaying the debate for seven minutes, because opponent Crist had a small fan at the bottom of his podium to cool him. Evidently "no electronics" was part of the rules. The presumption is that meant impportant things like teleprompters. But a fan!? Scott came off like a persnickety kid holding his breath to get his way. He turned himself into a national laughingstock in a way that even four years in office could not. Scott has been the worst Florida governor of my lifetime IMHO, and has taken negative campaigning to new depths in this race. I'm not a Crist fan, either. This state deserves a better choice. But the feeling of Crist as the lesser of two evils bobbed once again to the surface as Scott let something so small and silly be what people are talking about today.

Poll result: In Heat's leadership we trust. In everything else, not so much: Lebron James left but Heat remain our model franchise in terms of which Big 5 team's leadership you most trust. We asked in the previous blogpost and Heat led with 70.7 percent -- roughly six times more than runnerup UM football's 11.9%. Then it was Marlins 7.9%, Dolphins 6.1% and Panthers 3.4%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

Which Miami team's leadership do you most trust (or not)? Poll. Vote!; plus latest NBA odds, two Canes top new SOPY ranking, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15. See results of the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Green Bay, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

The State of The Big 5: Dolphins. Heat. Canes football. Marlins. Panthers hockey. Those are Greater Miami's Big 5 teams. I provide a state-of report and prognosis for each in today's latest column, which is a companion to the poll directly below. Click on The Big 5 to read.

WHO DO YOU TRUST: WHICH OF OUR BIG 5 TEAMS IS IN THE BEST HANDS MOVING FORWARD?: I think this poll is well-timed for two reasons. First, October is the only time of year when football, baseball, basketball and hockey are all going on. Second, these are strange times for South Florida teams, with 1aa1atrustthe Heat sans LeBron, Dolphins and Canes fans less than happy, the Marlins (though improved) continuing their playoff drought and the Panthers off to a bad start in hockey. I am asking whose current leadership you have faith in, and you may vote for as many or as few as you like. I purposely didn't include "None" as an option because I'm after a realistic view, not morose pessimism. If you honestly don't have faith in anybody, vote for the team and leadership that come closest for you. When I say "leadership" I'm generally thinking owner/GM/coach, as in: Dolphins--Stephen Ross, Dennis Hickey, Joe Philbin. Heat--Micky Arison, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra. Marlins--Jeffrey Loria, Michael Hill, Mike Redmond. Panthers--Vincent Viola, Dale Tallon, Gerard Gallant. With Hurricanes football I guess I pretty much mean Al Golden. Vote for one team, all five or any number in between. Your call.

LEBRON-GONE EFFECT SHOWS IN HEAT BETTING ODDS: New NBA individual betting odds from Bovada: MVP--Cavs' LeBron James the favorite at 5-6; Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade tied for 18th at 100-1. Rookie--Bucks' Jabari Parker fave at 5-2; Heat's Shabazz Napier tie-11th at 30-1. Coach--Spurs' Gregg Popovich fave at 3-1; Erik Spoelstra tie-15th at 35-1. Scoring leader--Thunder's Kevin Durant pick at 3-2; Bosh/Wade tie-16th at 100-1. Rebounds--Pistons' Andre Drummond pick at 9-5; no Heat player listed; Assists--Clippers' Chris Paul pick at 2-3; no Heater listed.

SOPY: TWO CANES, JAMEIS 1-2-3 IN STATE COLLBALL RANKINGS: Canes Duke Johnson and Brad Kaaya and FSU's Jameis Winston are a clear 1-2-3 in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the 1aa1asopyYear (SOPY) rankings --"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 8:

SOPY WEEK 7 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk7    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         184     1,010

2 (2)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            154      923

3 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        173.5    919.5

4 (4)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      BYE    741 

5 (5)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       107      699

6 (8)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb          174.5    671

7 (--)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           207     665.5 

8 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb             67      653

9 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            87.5     626

10 (--)     Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec       155       580

Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 535. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF and Florida have played 5 games; FAU, FSU and USF have played 6; Miami and FIU have played 7.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 8: 1. FSU (6-0); 2. Miami (4-3);  3. Florida (3-2); 4. UCF (3-2); 5. SoFla (2-4); 6. FIU (3-4); 7. FAU (2-4).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: DOWN AND FROWN FOR WEEK 6: We update you briefly every Tuesday 1aa1alobos 1aa1afripixon how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: That I had Dolphins in my Upset of the Week pretty  much summarizes my fortunes. Went 7-7-1 overall but at least 1aa1agorelsalvaged 8-7 against the spread thanks to four 'dogs-with-points (including Miami). Fantasy: Greg's Lobos fell to 2-4 with a 112-95 loss, getting 26 from Philip Rivers, 21 from DeSean Jackson and not enough else. Had a shot Monday night but needed a big game from Frank Gore, who didn't come through. Lesley Gore (pictured left) would have helped me as much.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

September 09, 2014

Do you support Canes coach Al Golden? Poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins, Ray Rice/Bruce Levenson, NFL pix 'n fantasy, SOPY standings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Dolfan satisfaction running at a buoyant 96.4%. See previous blogpost for full results of first DSM poll. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whip Patriots, DSM poll, QB wives, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On Ray Rice, Bruce Levenson: Amid the outcry over Rice's violent video and Levenson's racially charged email, we step back and suggest that Rice deserves a second chance in the NFL, and that there may have been some truth in what Levenson wrote. Today's latest column: Beyond the Condemnation. 

Bump for Dolphins Super Bowl odds: The win over New England sent Miami's updated Super Bowl odds (via Bovada) rising from 66-1 (tied for 19th) to a current 40-1 (tied for 12th). Seattle has bumped ahead of Denver, 7-2 to 9-2, as overall SB favorite. 

'FIRE AL GOLDEN' MOVEMENT TAKES SEED. DO YOU SUPPORT UM'S COACH?: OK, "Fire Al Golden movement takes seed" may be a tad dramatic, if technically accurate. It's a very small seed at this 1aa1aalgoldenpoint. Miami New Times has a piece about "disgruntled UM fans" raising money to fly a 'Fire Al Golden' banner over the stadium during the Florida State game in November, but the cause of one disgruntled fan, Danny Vazquez, seems to have modest support (though a pretty good publicist, evidently). His GoFundMe campaign has raised only $520 from 21 donors in six days, about half of what he needs for the banner. His FireAlGolden Twitter account has a modest 230 followers. Wasn't it just a minute ago we loved Golden and students were wearing white shirts and orange ties in his honor? Wasn't it just a minute ago we were lauding how he'd navigated UM through the three-year Nevin Shapiro/NCAA mire he inherited? Now he loses the opener at Louisville and we want his scalp? Seems silly to me, or at least way premature. What if UM is 2-1 and then wins at Nebraska? What if the Canes are 7-2 and ranked going into that FSU game? How silly would that banner flyover look then? The purpose of this poll is to gauge support (or lack of) for Al Golden. I wonder if the critics calling him Al "Folden" and supporting his firing are the majority, a lunatic few or somewhere in between. Tell me. Tell Al. Tell each other. Vote now and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SOLID START: We'll update you briefly every week (on Tuesday or Wednesday) on 1aa1afripixhow we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-leahgue team. Pix: We went 11-5 overall and 8-8 against the spread, nailing three outright upsets including Dolphins over Pats. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos, after a miserable 2-12 season last year in our eight-team league, won its opener 167-126, led by Calvin Johnson's 36 points.

SOPY: DEFENDING CHAMP WINSTON VAULTS TO SECOND: A Week 2-best 142 points lifts FSU quarterback Jameis Winston into second place in our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year
1aa1asopy(SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Standings are for regular seasons and do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.

SOPY WEEK 2 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.            Wk2    Season

1 (1)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb        80       384

2 (3)        Jameis Winston, FSU-qb     142     348

3 (2)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec    80       289

4 (--)       Alex Gardner, FIU-rb           138     199

5 (7)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb     103      198

6 (6)        Karlos Williams, FSU-rb       87       189

7 (10t)     Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb         99.5    176.5 

8 (--)       Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec          133      153

9 (--)       Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb       137      137

10 (--)     Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec   60       136

10 (10t)   Jay Warren, FAU-rb             59      136

Bubble: DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 129. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 115. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 points (Wk1). Note: All seven state FBS teams have played two games except Florida and UCF (1 each).

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

Check back a lot because we update and add to our latest blogposts very often...

September 03, 2014

4 non-hysterical truisms about Canes football; plus Pats sign Thigpen, debut of SOPY Top 10, Kate/Justin nudie, U-Bird Countdown & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3. Patriots signed Marcus Thigpen today, second ex-Dolph this week. Oh, Bill, you sneak! 2) See the previous blogpost for results of our first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (Ouch!) 3) Congrats to FIU for relenting and credentialing the Herald's football beat reporter. Always nice when an institution of higher learning comes around on the First Amendment. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes lose at Louisville, CSM poll, Heat changes, fantasy verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Cowboys having press conference for Michael Sam. Leave it to Jerry Jones to make a publicity stunt of a practice-squad signing." --Greg Cote

Updated Dolphins, AFC East odds: Over/under on win totals, via Bovada, current and on May 28: Patriots 11 (was 10.5), Dolphins 7.5 (was 8), Jets 7 (same) and Bills 6.5 (same). 

1aa1acaptflint
UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 2 DAYS:
 The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1abird2NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 2 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Woody Woodpecker), we welcome Captain Flint the parrot, profane muse of pirate Long John Silver from the 1883 classic novel Treasure Island.

FOUR NON-HYSTERICAL TRUISMS ABOUT CANES FOOTBALL MOVING FORWARD: 1. UM fans overreact. C'mon, you they do. The team loses its opener 31-13 at Louisville and the sky is falling, the Torches 'n Pitchforks Mob is roiling. Bench everybody and fire everybody else! Former Canes also 1aa1aalgoldenoverreact, and Your Friend the Media keeps giving them a forum beyond their Twitter rants to vent. The only thing more predictably sad than Good-Old-Days Canes lamenting the current program is when the '72 Dolphins are invited to blast what became of their masterpiece. Fans: Take a deep breath. It's one [bleeping] game. Ex-Canes: Get a life. It's supposed to be all about The U, not all about you. 2. It wasn't Brad Kaaya's fault. The true-freshman quarterback actually did pretty well in his first start. His mechanics weren't great but that's correctable stuff. His problem was too much pressure/poor blocking, and conservative play-calling that didn't let him take advantage of his weapons. Even Al Golden admitted that yesterday with a subtle shot at offensive chief James Coley, saying, "We probably should have opened it up more for [Kaaya]." 3. Al Golden's job should not be in jeopardy. There is obviously a shelf-life on that statement. I mean right now. The guy stepped into an NCAA s---storm he inherited, this is his first season free of that onerous cloud, and now you wanna fire him based on a season-opening loss? A loss with a rookie QB, on the road, against a quality opponent? Get real, people. Judge him on this season, not one game. If this season disappoints or regresses, then put him on your Hot Seat. 4. None of the above means 'all is well.' I'm not playing Pollyanna here. I'm not blind. I don't care much about margin of defeat; a loss is a loss. But I care about bottom-line, and Miami is 3-6 under Golden against ranked-at-the-time opponents, and 1-12 in games against teams that finished the season with at least eight wins. That I care about, because the Canes can't be good again unless they start to regularly beat good teams. The next one of those is Sept. 20 at No. 19 Nebraska. You want to turn down the negative volume, Al Golden? Start by winning the marquee games like that. The elusive Turnaround that leads to "The U Is Back!" cannot start without such signature triumphs.

SOPY SEASON DEBUT: USF BULLS' MACK TRUCKS INTO EARLY LEAD: A 275-yard rushing performance by South Florida's Marlon Mack (pictured) drives the Week 1 lead to open our third season of blog-exclusive 1aa1amackState Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the
1aa1asopyState Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Standings are for 12-game regular seasons and do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.

SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10

Rk    Player, team-pos.                Week 1/Season

1      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          304

2      Rashad Greene, FSU-rec      209

3      Jameis Winston, FSU-qb       206

4      Justin Holman, UCF-qb         115

5      Mike White, SoFla-qb           107.5

6      Karlos Williams, FSU-rb        102

7      Duke Johnson, Miami-rb        95

8      J.J. Worton, UCF-rec             83

9      Breshad Perriman, UCF-rec   81

10t   Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           77

10t   Jay Warren, FAU-rb              77

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 76. Other team leader: FIU--Alex Gardner-rb, 61. Note: Florida did not play; postponed by lightning.

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

1aa1akatejustinKATE UPTON AND JUSTIN VERLANDER'S SELFIE: The supermodel and Tigers pitcher were among the celebrities whose nude photos were leaked online. Of course we think this is a terrible invasion of privacy admittedly made somewhat less terrible by the fact Upton makes a lucrative living pretty much wearing as little as possible all the time. Besides we are a family blog (some families are racier than others), so instead of showing the private parts here we have very carefully cropped the photo. Don't want to be too titillating!

STANTON STILL IN NL MVP RACE: It's clearly a two-man race now for NL MVP. Bovada calls Dodgers 1aa1agstantonpitcher Clayton Kershaw the favorite at 2-3 odds and Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton close at 6-5. ESPN baseball experts flip that in a new survey, giving Stanton a 24-22 edge over Kershaw in votes among 60 cast. If it's a close call, voters, y'all better give it to the guy who plays every day. Key for Stanton could be Marlins continuing to hang (however peripherally) in the wild-card chase; it's now 5 1/2 games with 25 to play.

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts many times daily...

August 27, 2014

M&Ms: Miller vs. Moreno: Who should be Dolphins' No. 1 running back? New poll. Vote now!; plus U-Bird Countdown (9 days), SNL verdict, J-Lo & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27. Somebody told me yesterday was National Dog Day. My reaction: Isn't every day? 2) You've watched the movie, 40-Year-old Virgin, now meet the 40-Year-Old Cheerleader. Click here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): SNL greatest cast members poll, Phibin slammed, Stanton's chilling words, Marino, Kaaya, Incognito, Upset Bird Countdown launch & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1aowlsleyowlUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1aowl9NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 9 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following magpies Heckle & Jeckle), we welcome Owlsley, the give-a-hoot mascot of Florida Atlantic University, its nickname deriving from burrowing-owl nests once found on campus.

MILLER VS. MORENO AS DOLPHINS' STARTING RUNNING BACK: Starting running back is the Dolphins' most glaring still-undecided job as the preseason ebbs to Thursday's finale and the Sept. 7 season 1aa1amillerl 1aa1amorenokopener looms. Will it be incumbent Lamar Miller (left), the former Cane? Or will it be free-agent addition Knowshon Moreno (right), the former Bronco? All signs point to Miller getting the start and most carries, largely because he is more familiar to coach Joe Philbin and has been healthy throughout camp, while Moreno made his preseason debut (impressively) just last week. Moreno as the third-down back also makes some sense if only because he is a superior blocker. But who do you hope starts? Who should? Miller last year rushed for 709 yards and a 4.0 average, and caught 26 passes for a 6.5 average. Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and a 4.3 average, and caught 60 passes for a 9.1 average. Both have solid ball-control; Miller lost one fumble last season and Moreno none. But Moreno is a more accomplished two-way player whose pass-protection skills would come in hand on more than just third down. They are two solid, complementary choices who should make a quality tandem, but only one will start and get the most carries. Who do you hope that is? Vote and say why.

Poll result: John Belushi leads 'SNL' Mount Rushmore-plus: It's 40th anniversary of 1aa1ajohnbSaturday Night Live, and we invited you to vote for your five all-time favorite cast members from 16 finalists. The response was unexpectedly huge (thanks!), and your top five are: John Belushi with 14.1 percent, Eddie Murphy 12.9%, Dan Aykroyd 11.7%, Bill Murray 11.2% and Will Ferrell 10.1%. Next was Chris Farley with 7.8%. Others topping 5 percent: Dana Carvey, Tina Fey, Phil Hartman and Mike Myers.

DOLPHINS INDIVIDUAL OVER/UNDERS: From Bovada, key statistical betting over/unders for Dolphins this year: Ryan Tannehill--3,900 yards, 23.5 TDs, 14.5 INTs. Mike Wallace--950.5 yards, 6 TDs. Brian Hartline--875.5, 3.5. Charles Clay--625.5, 5. Cameron Wake--10.5 sacks. Oliver Vernon--9.5 sacks. Brent Grimes--3 INTs.

DUELING PURVEYORS OF WISDOM: Former college football champion-coaches Bobby Bowden, 84, and


Howard Schnellenberger, 80, have new books out tapping into their long experience on and off the field. 1aa1abowdenbook 1aa1asnells bookBowden's The Wisdom of Faith and Schnellenberger's Passing the Torch are now available to enrich your soul, enlighten your mind and instruct you when to go for it on 4th-and-1. Publisher description of Bowden's book: "The success, the influence, the accolades, the wins ... none of it matters if our lives are not rooted in faith. God trumps our best hand. He always wins." Publisher description of Snells' tome: "The coach talks about the wise decisions and the poor decisions he has made, and he shares the lessons he learned along the way."

1aa1ajlopezJ-LO ENLISTS IGGY: Friend of the Dolphins and former Orange Carpet Queen Jennifer Lopez -- who may or may not outrank special adviser Dan Marino in the adjusted hierarchy -- has enlisted hot young Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea in a re-do of J-Lo's latest single, "Booty," after her new album tanked in the charts. I write this not because I care or because J-Lo has peripheral Dolphin ties, but as a blatant excuse to publish the gratuitous promo photo of the two singers presenting their substantial derrieres for casual inspection.

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts a lot...