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


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


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, 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


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


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


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


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 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.


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...

August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more


1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:


5.1%: Team 1 ( 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.

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

August 19, 2015

Grading South Florida sports fans: We examine attendance for our 15 most prominent pro and college teams. Who has best fans? Poll. Vote!; plus Herald's 'Fins at 50' project, Heat projection, Jarvis Landry saving dogs' lives & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in a preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My Don Shula video, Hot Button Top 10, fashionista Serena, Heat/Christmas verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Delmas out for season: Dolphins safety Louis Delmas will miss the entire 2015 season with a knee injury (torn ACL) sustained in practice, it was announced today. That's a fairly big blow to the defense, but hardly an insurmountable one. 

NFL yardage-leader odds: Via Bovada, Andrew Luck is betting favorite to lead NFL in passing yards at 7-2, with Dolphin Ryan Tannehill 33-1 (13th). Adrian Peterson is 7-2 fave to lead in rushing yards, with Miami's Lamar Miller 50-1 (tie 17th). And Antonio Brown is receiving yards pick at 11-2 odds, with Dolphin Jarvis Landry 66-1 (tie 21st). 

Con-men and South Florida sports: There's an in-depth piece this week at (click here to read) on how South Florida's hustler culture and engulfed Heat players in financial scams. All of this has been well-covered, but this is a comprehensive overview worth your time.

1aa1afinsat50 1aa1afinsat50HERALD'S 'FINS AT 50' SPECIAL PROJECT: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click on FINS AT 50 to access the entire project and all of its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on the great Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for, well, for the Dolphins' all-time team! And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with not only Shula but also with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy! 

1aa1acardreportGRADING THE FANS: EXAMINING ATTENDANCE FOR SOUTH FLORIDA'S 14 MOST PROMINENT PRO AND COLLEGE TEAMS: We examined the attendance of South Florida's 15 most visible sports teams (five pro, 10 college), compared how it ranks among others in its leagues, and doled out grades out how each team is doing drawing fans. Only two of the 14 earned a better than average grade. Our results:


1aa1aheatMiami Heat: Heat averaged 19,712 last season, officially 100.6 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked sixth of 30 NBA teams, even with no LeBron James and a non-playoff team. What Pat Riley has built continues to be a South Florida juggernaut of interest.


1aa1adolfansMiami Dolphins: The Fins averaged 70,035 per game last season, 92.7 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked 14th of 32 NFL teams. For a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2008 and hasn't won in the postseason since 2000, that isn't bad. An improved team and stadium-makeover both will help.

Miami Hurricanes baseball: Canes averaged 2,738 per game last season, which ranked 27th among NCAA Division I schools. UM was one of only 18 schools to surpass 100,000 (101,296) in total home attendance.


1aa1acanesfbMiami Hurricanes football: The Canes averaged 52,518 per game last season. That ranked 40th of 125 NCAA teams at the premier FBS level. "C" means average, and that is what UM attendance, like the team itself, has become.

Miami Hurricanes men's basketball: UM averaged 5,777 per game last season, 93rd of 344 NCAA Division I teams. Canes under Jim Larranaga have ranged from competitive to quite good and must find way to more consistently fill their modestly-sized (just under 8,000) campus arena.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers: The Strikers averaged 3,626 per game in 2014 (combined spring and fall seasons), which ranked ninth of 10 NASL soccer. But attendnace through seven home games in 2015 has risen to 5,551, ranking seventh of 11 teams.


1aa1aballparkMiami Marlins: The Marlins are averaging 22,263 this season through 58 of 81 home games, or 59.5 percent of capacity. That attendance ranks 27th of 30 MLB teams. Clearly, the new ballpark has not been a panacea. But this season has been a major disappointment and will mark a sixth straight losing season, which would be debilitating for most any city's attendance.

Miami Hurricanes women's basketball: UM's women averaged 1,254 per game last season, which ranked 113th of 344 NCAA Division I teams. The good news? That's better than 231 others schools did. The  bad news? Coach Katie Meier consistently fields a quality product that deserves better.

FAU football: The Owls averaged 14,122 last season, roughly half of the stadium's capacity. That attendance ranked 117th of 125 FBS teams. The nifty little campus stadium that Howard Schnellenberger saw built has not been the fan kick-starter hoped.   


1aa1afiufbFIU football: The Panthers averaged 11,966 last season, about half of capacity. That attendnace ranked 123rd of 125 FBS schools, ahead of only Akron and Ball State. FIU must grow to meet the NCAA's 15,000 standard or risk demotion from the top-tier FBS level.

Florida Panthers: The Cats averaged 11,265 per game last season, 66.1 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked dead last in the NHL, 30th of 30 teams. You can't get lower than that, so shouldn't the grade be rock-bottom, too? I can't see how this franchise can survive long-term in South Florida unless it starts consistently winning and the fan interest jumps commensurately.

FIU men's basketball: Panthers averaged 1,474 per game last season, 268th of 344 Division I men's teams.  

FAU men's basketball: Owls averaged 1,346 per game last season, 281st of 344 teams.

FAU women's basketball: Owls women averaged 601 per game last season, 294th of 344 teams.

FIU women's basketball: And playing the caboose, Panthers women averaged 355 per game last season, 310th of 344 teams. That's officially "friends 'n family" territory.

NFL: IF THE BACKUP QB'S WERE STARTERS...:, evidently with time on its hands, used its computers to figure how each team's playoff likelihood would change if the No. 2 quarterback were to start all 16 games. The biggest dropoff was New England's minus 54.4 percent from Tom Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo. The least was Jacksonville's plus 2.3% from Blake Bortles to Chad Henne. Miami had a modest 11.4% dropoff from Ryan Tannehill to Matt Moore, which ranked midpack (17th) in the league. It was 52.7% with Tannehill and 41.3% with Moore, who had the third-highest percentage of any backup.

WHY PLAY THE SEASON? HERE'S HOW HEAT WILL FINISH:'s eighth annual NBA "Summer Forecast" is out, and its experts panel says Miami will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference at 47-35, after Cleveland (59-23), Chicago (50-32) and Atlanta (50-32). I think that's overestimating the Hawks and think the Heat have a great shot at third. Miami would host fifth place Washington in the first round of the playoffs if the forecast holds true. So there. Why even play the season?

JARVIS LANDRY WANTS TO SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE: The Dolphins' second-year receiver has recorded a public-service video for PETA urging you to avoid baking your dog in a closed car. Sounds like good advice! Here it is:


SEMI-HOT MARLINS: In a respite from The Lost Season, a small island in the roiling sea, your Marlins have won five of their past seven games, despite Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich all being on the DL. This rivals the second-best stretch Miami has had all season, deferring only to a 9-1 run April 22 to May 2. I continue to think this team can be very good next season, with a real manager and much better health the starting requisites.

THE LIST: NFL COACHING VICTORIES: The 10 winningest coaches for combined regular season and playoff career victories, and their percentage of losing seasons:

Coach                     Wins       Losing seasons

Don Shula               347          6.1% (2 of 33)

George Halas          324        15.0% (6 of 40)

Tom Landry            270        31.0% (9 of 29)

Bill Belichick          233        25.0% (5 of 20)

Curley Lambeau     229        18.2% (6 of 33)

Paul Brown            222         16.0% (4 of 25)

Chuck Noll             209         30.4% (7 of 23)

M. Schottenheimer 205           9.5% (2 of 21)

Dan Reeves            201         39.1% (9 of 23)

Chuck Knox           193         36.4% (8 of 22)

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

August 14, 2015

PS1: @Chicago 27, Dolphins 10 (Final): Forget the score. Dolfans should be more encouraged than discouraged. My postgame thoughts; plus why is NBA ruining Christmas? New poll. Vote!; also Fins playoff likelihood, tennis sex scandal & more


1aa1acolinbeer1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 14. Defrocked ESPN voice Colin Cowherd now has his own beer. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding. Click on image at left to see enlarged version. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Mayweather-Rousey poll, complete Heat schedule, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins' next manager, latest 'Back In My Day,' Drone Racing League, Joe Goodman, MNF broadcasters list & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1abuffettHey, waaaiiit a minute, Jimmy!: I thought Jimmy Buffett was our guy!? Mr. Key West, Mr. Landshark, a Heat fan, Fins Up, all that. Wasn't Buffett assumed to be a Dolphins fan too? Well, hmm. Here's Jimmy pictured today attending a Saints practice, standing beside former Dolphins and now Saints PR guy Fitz Ollison. Say it ain't so, Jim!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year -- but not tonight or during the preseason. They begin with the regular season. 

Fins playoff shot guesstimated at 44%:, an analytics site, has its AFC East preview out today (read here) and predicts Miami for second in the division behind the Patriots. It puts Dolphins' playoff shot at 44.2 percent, with a 24.4% shot to be division champ and a wins over/under of 8.4. 

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS: FOOTBALL'S BACK!: Final thoughts--This may strike some as strange after a 27-10 loss pockmarked by four turnovers, but I'd think Dolphins fans ought not be real disappointed right now. When it was Ryan Tannehill out there, and Ndamukong Suh on the other side -- when it was the Miami starters vs. Chicago's starters -- Miami looked very good. It was the backups and scrubs who squandered the early lead and the win. That suggests Miami's depth may be suspect. But if you judge this game, as you should, by how Miami looked at its best, the night was more encouraging than discouraging. ..... 4Q--Freeman INT is Miami's fourth turnover. Ugh. ... Dolphins scrubs give up 54Y scoring run for 27-10 score. MIA has done nothing since the starters went out. ... Josh Freeman in at QB for Miami. ... Oy! Bethel-Thompson (soon to be a former Dolphin) is intercepted again, leads to  Bears FG and 20-10 score. ..... 3Q--Bethel-Thompson intercepted to put Dolphins lead in peril. Sure enough, CHI coverts for TD run and two-point conversion for 17-10 lead in quarter's last seconds. MIA safety Cedric Thompson had chance to be a hero on 4th-down scoring run but was not. ... Pandas within 10-9 as Fins D stiffens in the red zone. ... A man named "Aultman" just caught a pass for Miami. Preseason opener! ... Penalties, now a lost fumble. Certainly not a flawless game by Fins. ..... 2Q--MIA 10-3 on Sturgis 31Y FG after squandered drive into red zone. ... You know it's a preseason opener when you look up and notice your QB is a person named "McLeod Bethel-Thompson." He replaced Matt Moore, who replaced Tanny. ... True to expectations, most defensive starters now out, too. ..... 1Q--Defense looking stout, too, but what a dropoff in run-D when Ndamukong Suh isn't in. ... Tannehill, many other offense starters out after only one series. He was 6-for-7. Like a razor, he was. ... MIA 7-0: Bottle that drive. Save it for September. Tannehill sharp enough to overcome two holding penalties. ..... Original post: The Day of the Dolphin was a not-very-good 1973 sci-fi thriller starring George C. Scott. This is the Day of the Dolphins -- the preseason opener tonight at 1aa1adayof 1aa1adayof2Chicago that tangibly kicks off the franchise's 50th anniversary season. Will the Dolphins be very good as the buzz suggests? Let the hints begin, although whether Miami wins or loses tonight won't be much of a barometer. Exhibition openers rarely are, as I detail in today's latest column. Click on Results Don't Matter (Yet) For Dolphins, But Football's Back to read in full. Look for Dolphins starters to play only the first quarter, if that. I'd expect Ryan Tannehill goes one series, maybe two. Trained eyes will be on the guard play as a handful of contenders try to determine if Miami has two suitable starters to flank center Mike Pouncey. It also will be interesting to see Ndamukong Suh, in a new uniform, facing his longtime former division rivals, albeit briefly. Coach Joe Philbin will devote the first two exhibitions to settling his depth chart and roster, with an eye on making the third exhibition the first real we-wanna-win dress rehearsal.

JESUS! NBA'S CHRISTMAS DAY OBSESSION AGAIN RUINS MIAMI'S HOLIDAY: In the previous blogpost we 1aa1achristmasnbalisted the entire 2015-16 Heat regular-season schedule released yesterday. It includes a Heat home game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day -- a noon tipoff that will be the first of a record five NBA games played on the holiday. I can tell you from past conversations that neither NBA players nor TV announcers like working on Christmas. I know I don't. For many of us, whether it's for religious or family reasons, Christmas is a day to be home, and certainly not a day to work. Yet the NBA embraces Christmas as its own stage to a degree beyond other leagues. I wonder whether the NBA's leadership being Jewish -- David Stern to Adam Silver -- weighs anything in this league treating Christmas not as an occasion to be off but as just another play day? Hey, I'm just asking!

TENNIS SEX SCANDAL!: So Stan Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion and world's No. 5- 1aa1adonnavranked man, is playing Nick Kyrgios in the Montreal Masters last night in a heated match and, during a walk past each between sets, an open on-court mic picks up Kyrgios saying to Wawrinka, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate." The reference was to a fellow ATP player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and to Wawrinka's girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic, 19. Kyrgios did not deny what was heard, explaining Wawrinka had been getting "lippy." Wawrinka has responded angrily on Twitter, calling for the tour to discipline Kyrgios. Vekic is pictured. She may or may not be gesturing that she has two lovers, one for each hand. Ouch. Too soon?

Updated World Series odds: Out today via Bovada, Toronto Blue Jays are the new World Series favorites at 4-1. Others sub 10-1 are Royals at 5-1, Dodgers and Cardinals both 8-1 and Mets -- the Mets! -- at 9-1. Your Marlins are a tidy bargain at 2,000-to-1.

Poll result: Rousey beats Mayweather in no-holds-barred fight: Very few of our poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. We asked who'd win in a no-holds-barred, MMA-style fight, and it was Ronda Rousey over Floyd Mayweather Jr., 56.1 percent to 43.9. 

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July 19, 2015

What's our enthusiasm level for MLS soccer in Miami? Poll Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Beckham, Marlins, British Open, Canes unis, Heat, Gold Cup, Dolphins, urine; also Dwyane Wade wine, Big 5-optimism verdict & more


1) It is MONDAY, JULY 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS in Miami moves closer, Big 5 optimism poll, R.I.P. Bill Arnsparger, Dolphin's brush with homelessness, Marlins resume, ESPY review, UM's jersey policy, Heat-expectations verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope. (Our followers on Twitter get automatic Periscope alerts).

Royals new WS faves: Kansas City Royals are new World Series frontunners at 6-1 odds, via Bovada's latest line. Cardinals and Nationals are next at 8-1, then Dodgers at 17-2. Marlins' 150-1 odds are tied for fourth-longest.

1aa1awadewineDwyane Wade, vinter: Heat star Dwyane Wade now has his own wine label, as seen in the photo here of the reds he posted on Instagram. I do not yet have a proper review of the Wade wine. I'm guessing it has subtle notes and aroma of oak, blackberry and a late-career athlete trying to capitalize on his name while he still can. D.Wade also has his own signature fashion line of designer bowties and men's socks, of course. Diversifying one's business interests is key. Hopefully for Heat fans, the Wade portfolio also includes another season (or more) of elite play.

HOW ENTHUSIASTIC ARE WE ABOUT MLS SOCCER IN MIAMI?: Soccer tends to be a polarizing sport in
America, still. Millions embrace and love it; it has grown far beyond a curiosity or niche sport. Yet many 1aa1amiamlsothers steadfastly want little or nothing to do with it and see it as an acquired taste not for them. I think diverse Miami and South Florida are far more likely than most regions to embrace Major League Soccer, but I've been wrong before so I want to take the pulse. David Beckham's investment group and the city of Miami settling on a stadium site (the old Orange Bowl grounds near Marlins Park) makes it more likely than ever that Miami's MLS franchise is real and will begin play in 2018. So, how enthusiastic are we? Does the "Miami Is Ready" declarative in the illustration here need a question mark? Take a dip in our poll, express your feelings and drop us a comment to say why you feel as you do.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS 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: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. SOCCER: Miami, Beckham agree on MLS stadium site: David Beckham's investment group once referred to the former Orange Bowl site near Marlins Park as "spiritually tainted." Now, apparently it's "realistically feasible" after attempts at a waterfront stadium proved fruitless. The two applicable to the new stadium that are most important to taxpayers: "Privately funded." 

2. MARLINS: Injury-wracked Fish resume (badly) on long road trip: The semi-Marlins -- still missing injured stars Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Henderson Alvarez -- are back from All-Star Game break and in midst of 10-game road trip, starting 0-3 at hapless Philly. Team is on season-long 16-day gap between home games, but, given the way this season has gone, that's probably not a bad thing. 

3. GOLF: Johnson wins British Open; Spieth just short: The year's third major will ended on a Monday for first time since 1988, with Zach Johnson winning and Jordan Spieth one stroke off making the three-man playoff. The British was missing its defending champion Rory McIlroy to injury, and its shot at history as the Grand Slam-seeking Masters and U.S. Open champ Spieth was denied. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods missed the cut. Or, did that go without saying? 

4. HURRICANES: (So what!) UM unveils new football uniforms: Adidas threw an invitation-only VIP party on South Beach Saturday night to unveil its new University of Miami football uniforms, and nobody cared except Adidas executives, UM accountants and that segment of Canes fans way too worried about sartorial splendor. "Looking good" means playing well, Canes, not what you wear.

5. HEAT: Team wraps up summer league, mulls trades: Heat's youth squad finished a combined 6-4 in Orlando and Las Vegas summer-league play as club mulled trading Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen in salary cap moves. Meantime Chris Bosh called retooled Miami "on the verge of being an elite team. (Um, a lot of that depends on an elite you, Mr. Bosh). 

6. SOCCER: U.S. pounds Cuba, reaches Gold Cup semis: U.S. men ripped Cuba 6-0 Saturday to reach semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament and next face Jamaica on Wednesday. No surprise. I don't wanna say Cuba's expectations in the tournament were modest, but the big aim was having more goals than political defectors.

7. DOLPHINS: Countdown 10 days 'til start of training camp: It is almost time, Dolfans. It is almost time for experience the encroaching gloom of past disappointments and begin anxiously second-guessing your fragile optimism.   

8. CYCLING: Tour de France down to final week: Leader Chris Froome said a spectator yelled "Doper!" before throwing a cup of urine on him. I apologize. I don't know what got into me.   

9. BILL ARNSPARGER: Dolphins coaching icon passes away: Arnsparger, architect of the Super Bowl-winning "No-Name " defense and later the "Killer B's," died at 88. Among all coaches only Don Shula himself had a greater impact on Dolphins history.

10. THE ESPYS: ESPN stages annual salute to itself: Highlight: Caitlyn Jenner's speech. Lowlight: LeBron James winning the "Best Championship Moment" ESPY even though he didn't win a championship. "Yeah that makes sense," said snubbed American Pharoah.

Missing the HB10 cut: ACC Football Kickoff, annual three-day media event, starts Sunday. All-Star Game draws record-low TV rating. Exodus of ESPN stars. Conor McGregor lights up UFC. Cooperstown prepares for Hall of Fame weekend. And UM to limit football jersey sales each year to only Nos. 1 and the year (15 this season), the worst idea since New Coke.

Poll result: Heat, Dolphins make biggest leap in fan optimism: We asked which of our Big 5 sports teams are earning the most fan optimism right now, and the Heat and Dolphins are the big winners. The results now compared to the same poll back in February:

Team               Now        Feb.        +/-

Heat               49.1%      24.5%      +24.6

Dolphins        32.3%      14.1%      +18.2

UM football     9.0%      13.1%      - 4.1

Panthers           7.0%        5.4%      + 1.6

Marlins            2.6%       42.9%      -40.3

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

July 08, 2015

Carnival cruises to Cuba and impact on Heat owner Micky Arison: New poll. Vote now!; plus ESPN 'Body' issue poll, Fins seat sale, Pat Riley's motivation, new Dolphins 'n Canes betting odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women reign, ESPN's 'Body,' Marlins All-Stars, LeBatard on 'Ballers,' Hot Button Top 10, Dwyane vs. Jose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too (with a new 'Scope vid from yesterday's radio show).

Fins seat auction is today: Dolphins today are offering limited number of assembled seats and seatbacks for purchase. Seats were removed during stadium reconstruction. Proceeds from auction will benefit Miami Dolphins Foundation. Single and double seats are available; visit to bid or for more info. Seats will be sold to season-ticket holders first (limit two per account) beginning at 11 a.m., then to others starting at 2 p.m., subject to availability.

An ode to Serena Williams: U.S. women's soccer flares across the sky as newly minted champions and deserves the applause, but look to the very pinnacle of American women's sports and who you see is Serena Williams. Click on Miss America for my latest column.

HOW DO HEAT FANS FEEL ABOUT CARNIVAL CRUISING TO CUBA?: Three facts, and how they might collide: Fact 1--Carnival Cruise Lines has won U.S. government approval to begin excursions to Cuba, as 1aa1aarisondetailed in this Miami Herald story. Fact 2--Doral-based Carnival Corporation is chaired by and a huge part of Micky Arison's $7.1 billion net worth. Fact 3--Arison (pictured aboard one of his ships) also owns the Miami Heat, many of whose fans are Cubans who do not approve of the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations because of their anti-Castro feelings. So, the question: Should the Heat owner's primary enterprise doing business with Cuba have a negative impact on how fans view him as a basketball team owner? I say no. I happen to support better relations with Cuba, and cruise traffic there was an inevitability, so Arison is doing smart business. Nor do I believe that all Cubans in South Florida might object; though some surely do. Let's get a rough idea how that breaks down with this pulse-read. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

NARCISSISM ON STEROIDS: ESPN'S ANNUAL 'BODY' ISSUE: Athletes love their bodies because their bodies are what make them rich and famous. Unless they are blowing up their hand misusing fireworks on the Fourth of July, athletes are famous for proudly taking care of their bods. Get all that. What I 1aa1awawrinka 1aa1acoughlindon't get is the comically outsized narcissism reflected in ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue, the seventh annual of which is out this week. Like, famous athletes don't get enough figurative exposure so they need the literal kind, too? Like, Bryce Harper doesn't have time to enter the Home Run Derby but he has time to get nekkid for ESPN? It's funny how the line has blurred. A top female athlete posing in Playboy would be lambasted for exploiting her sexuality and setting a bad example for young girls. But that same athlete going au naturale for ESPN is celebrated for being proud of her body. (Pictured left: Tennis player Stan Wawrinka. At right: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin). It's funny to me how ESPN fires a preemptive strike against any criticism that they are promoting only the perfect image of perfect bodies. They do this with the annual token inclusion of imperfect bodies. This year that includes three Colts linemen and a heavy female Olympian. Dear Athletes: Being proud of your bodies fully clothed would be just fine. A little modesty would be something to consider. But I may be wrong. Take a dip in our poll and share your overall view of ESPN's annual 'Body' issue.

RILEY'S REVENGE? HEAT PREZ IS COMING AFTER LEBRON: Last time it was to sign him. This time it's to 1aa1abig2beat him. That's a theory ESPN's Stephen A. Smith espoused on WQAM's Freeman & Fox Show, and it makes some sense. (Riley and LeBron are pictured in happier days). What follows is condensed, because Stephen A. is monumentally verbose: "Pat Riley I believe is coming for LeBron James. I believe Riley would have retired at the end of this [past] season had it not been for LeBron deciding to leave Miami. I think that has lit a fire under Riley we haven’t seen in some time. I think he is hell-bent on returning Miami to its glory and showing LeBron that [leaving was] not the way to go. I think Riley is going to do everything [he can to show] that LeBron made a mistake leaving the Heat. I think that’s a huge motivation." It is. That's why I wrote recently that getting to the Eastern Conference finals and beating Cleveland would be tantamount to an NBA Finals for Miami and almost parade-worthy for Riley and the Heat.

WEIGHING THE FISH (80 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's WTF after 80 games (actually 83 at 35-48; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @70

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                309.1    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   251.0   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

5  Martin Prado              201.5   5

6  Christian Yelich        194.3   7

7  Jacob Realmuto         178.5    6

8  Justin Bour                 165.9   9

9  Ichiro Suzuki              129.9   8

10  Michael Morse           91.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 5, Gordon 2.

UPDATED DOLPHINS, HURRICANES BETTING ODDS; KAAYA HONORED: From Bovada, the Packers 1aa1abkaayaare your new Super Bowl favorite at 6-1 odds, with Seahawks displaced to 13-2, followed by Colts 8-1 and Patriots 9-1. Dolphins sit at 33-1, tied for 12th. In college football, latest win over/unders have the Hurricanes at only 6, which I'd call surprisingly low and a bargain play at 'over'. (One reason I think that: QB Brad Kaaya, pictured, who yesterday was named to  the preseason Maxwell Award watch-list). Other state win over/unders: FSU 9.5, Florida 7.5, UCF 7, FIU 5.5, FAU 5 and South Florida 4.

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June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more


1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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