June 11, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins tightly contested fight for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else falls where; plus my Sunday column on Marlins' 25th Anniversary and Jeter's obligation to heal, The List (worst Marlins seasons) & more

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

Calilove1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 11. Not yet heard it? Click Cote Does California Love to hear me rapping my favorite hip-hop song, from last week's LeBatard Show. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami athletes on Forbes' 100 Wealthiest list, new columns on Dolphins and Trump/NFL, R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

25logoLatest Sunday column: Marlins' Anniversary Weekend underlines Jeter's obligation: A weekend to celebrate the Marlins' past also was a time for fans to wonder when the future -- another team worth celebrating -- will finally arrive. That is Derek Jeter's job. And that is my latest Sunday column. To read, click Jeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can Win.

Other most recent columns: In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's SubterfugeHandicapping the LeBron Summer Sweepstakes. And: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games / The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

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

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Draft, anniversary make it big week for Fish: The annual three-day MLB draft welcomed 41 new Marlins (25 of them pitchers), led by top pick Connor Scott, 18, an outfielder from Tampa. Fish followed with club's 25th Anniversary Weekend events in series vs. Padres -- the celebration of the past leading one to wonder when a future worth cheering might finally arrive.

2. NBA: Warriors repeat champs, LeBron will talk to Heat: Golden State steamrolled Cleveland 4-0 in first NBA Finals sweep since 2007, likely marking LeBron James' final game with Cavaliers. LeBron will be ring-chase in his free-agent decision this summer, and Stephen A. Smith says the seven teams on his maybe-list  are Cavs, Warriors, 76ers, Celtics, Rockets, Lakers ... and Heat. Yes, Miami, but don't make too much of that. (Or get your hopes up).

3. SOCCER: Countdown 3 days 'til World Cup: Host Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the only match on Thursday as the 2018 men's World Cup gets underway. No U.S. and no Italy among the 32 qualifiers; still, most of the world will be riveted. It'll be refreshing to see people paying attention to Russia for something other than election-meddling.

4. DOLPHINS: This week wraps pre-training camp work: A final wave of offseason OTA practices this Monday through Thursday will be the Dolphins' last on-field work prior to the start of full preseason training camp in late July. That's when it starts to get real for Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill. When games are coming at you like a freight train.

5. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep win French Open: Championship Weekend in Paris saw No. 1-ranked Simona Halep of Romania drop the first set Saturday but still beat Broward County native and resident Sloane Stephens for Halep's first career major win. Today, Rafael Nadal won his 11th French crown in straight sets, denying Dominic Thiem what would have been a seismic upset. 

6. HORSES: Justify win Belmont, Triple Crown: Justify made an impressive, easy glide to the Belmont Stakes on Saturday after earlier winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness -- the 13th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing history. There'd been a 37-year drought until American Paraoah in 2015. Now it's practically a trend.

7. NHL: Washington wins first Stanley Cup: Defeating the Cinderella expansion Vegas Golden Knights 4-1, the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in the club's 43-year history. It also marked the first career crown for superstar Alex Ovechkin. Wild guess: Trump comes through with the invite, and Caps say "Oh yeah, eh!"

8. GOLF: Tiger in this week's U.S. Open: This week's 118th U.S. Open starts Thursday at Shinnecock. Tiger Woods is in it, his yacht docked the near course just to remind you he's still Tiger. This marks the 10th anniversary since Woods' last major win, the 2008 Open. Happy anniversary, anyone?

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hall of Fame nominees tab 3 Canes: College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2019 nominees include three old Hurricanes in Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan and coach Dennis Erickson. There should be a fourth, Howard Schnellenberger, but as always Snells is a victim of Hall's dumb, intractable rule requiring a minimum .600 career win percentage.

10. TERRELL OWENS: T.O. nixes Canton ceremony: Figured, right? That the first time an NFL player ever said he'd not participate in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, it might a controversial career-long maverick like diva-receiver Terrell Owens. Best guess: He'll change his mind. Unless Canton goes all Trump and uninvites him first.

Missing the HB10 cut: Welcome back, Tommy Hutton! ..... Disgraced 76ers executive Bryan Colangelo resigns in shame. And Twitter claims another victim! ..... NFL suspends Julian Edelman four games for PEDs, further enhancing Patriots' reputation as Cheatriots. (Julian shoulda stuck to Tom Brady's diet) ..... Donald Trump uninvites the Eagles to White House and now says he won't invite the Warriors. Somebody please remind Donald it isn't his house. It's ours ..... Former Canes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. arrested for a home burglary in California. Understandable, after a meager $40 million in NFL earnings ..... R.I.P., Anthony Bourdain. There is nothing more insidious than when demons are invisible.

THE LIST: WORST MARLINS SEASONS: The five worst seasons in club history based on winning percentage:

Year    Record                Manager

1998    .333 (54-108)      Jim Leyland

2018    .354 (23-42)        Don Matttingly

2013    .383 (62-100)      Mike Redmond

1993    .395 (64-98)        Rene Lachemann

1999    .395 (64-98)        John Boles

Note: Marlins' current record projects to final mark of 57-105.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 24, 2018

G5: @Philadelphia 104, Heat 91: Miami eliminated from playoffs. Was that Wade's final game? Poll. Vote now; plus top 10 state-college NFL Draft prospects and every Cane; also, Radio Tuesday, 4-Man Outfield updated & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, APRIL 24. Astonish the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a book!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot  Button Top 10, Heat-on-the-brink column, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Heat eliminated. Was that Dwyane Wade's final game?: New poll on our Twitter feed. Go HERE to vote now.

G5: @PHILADELPHIA 104, HEAT 91: IT'S OVER: Original post: It has been done once before. Only once. It was 21 seasons ago, in 1997. That was the only time the Miami Heat Mustwin Dwadehave been down 3-1 in a playoff series and won three straight games to advance. It was vs. the Knicks in the second round. It was Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning vs. Patrick Ewing and G5Allan Houston. But two of those three straight wins were at Miami. This time the climb is steeper. The Heat trails Philadelphia 3-1 entering Game 5 tonight up there, and this time the three straight Miami must win to stay alive would include two in Philly -- tonight and a Game 7, sandwiched around one more in Miami if the Heat prevail tonight. This is the Heat's 20th postseason appearance in 30 franchise years, and (barring a history-making comeback) would be Miami's 10th first-round exit -- but first since 2010, the season before LeBron James' arrival. This would be the third first-round exit under Erik Spoelstra (2010, '09). There were five on Pat Riley's watch (2007, '01, '99, '98 and '96) and two under Kevin Loughery (1994, 92). Can the Heat avoid joining that dubious list of first-round exits? A better question: Do you believe in miracles? I do not believe the Heat will live to play another home game this spring. I think it ends tonight.  

Our six-pack of Heat playoff-run columns thus far: A Hope-Crushing Defeat (off Game 4). Embiid Shows Up, Whiteside Not So Much (off Game 3). Also: Not Good If Heat Need Wade to Carry Them / Whiteside Must Rise Up Now / In Dolphins vs. Heat, Only One Has Earned Our Trust / And The Rise Of The Underdog Heat.

DerwinjamesNFL DRAFT: TOP 10 STATE-COLLEGE PROSPECTS AND ALL CANES: The NFL Draft this Thursday through Saturday finds most South Florida interest riveted on the whom the Dolphins will select -- especially with their first-round pick slotted 11th overall. (I'll have my annual mock draft out later in the week). But there is also interest in state-college players who'll be drafted, and here is the list of the top 10 prospects based on ESPN's player rankings. Only the first three players listed are judged likely to be first-round picks, with top-ranked Derwin James pictured right. No Miami Hurricanes are close to first-round status. Only one Cane (barely) makes the state top 10, but we've listed all of the other draft-eligible Canes beneath the top 10:

Player, Pos., School                           Overall   Grade

1. Derwin James, S, FSU                       7th       93

2. Mike Hughes, CB, UCF                     17th       90

3. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida                 18th       90

4. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida        74th       78

5. Josh Sweat, DE, FSU                       81st       76

6. Duke Dawson, CB, Florida               88th       73

7. Derrick Nnadi, DT, FSU                    93rd      72

8. Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida    104th      70

9. Jordan Akins, TE, UCF                   123rd      66

10. Chris Herndon, TE, Miami            127th      65

Other Hurricanes: DT RJ McIntosh 129th/65; RB Mark Walton 136th/62; DE Chad Thomas 148th/59; WR Braxton Berrios 192nd/51; DT Kendrick Norton 230th/44 and OG KC McDermott 260th/39.

4manofUPDATED: 'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON AT .145: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We'll base our continually updated rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The latest, entering Tuesday play:

Player, Team                             OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers      1.000   11  42   10  14    8    2-1-2      .333

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .778   21  85   14  19   14   3-1-5      .224

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .616   19  81    8  20   11   2-0-2      .247

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .470   21  76    6  11    7    0-0-3      .145

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Schedule Not Daunting, So No More ExcusesBuy Me Some Tetley's And Crumpets, Jack / Tiger & Phil & the Emotional Power Of Sports / Dave Shula Goes Home Again / Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing / Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason / Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Welcome Home, D.Wade / Dear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 29, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise No. 1, and see what else falls where; plus my Pegasus World Cup column, our Wondrous Weekend, Marlins reboot has a face now & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 29. The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Yelich but get Brinson, Hoffman 5th (sort of) Marlin in Hall, appreciation of Brady/Patriots run, your will/want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GerouxLatest column: On the $16 Million Pegasus at Gulfstream: Variety is a favorite part of my job, and leaving the comfort zone for different columns. My latest is one. Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus. Pictured is the winning jockey I write about, and the father he recently lost. Other most recent columns: The Upside Of a Fire Sale (on Lewis Brinson becoming the face of the Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (on the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

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

Hot1. SOCCER: Finally! Miami MLS team becomes official: It took four years, wrangling over a stadium site, changing financial backers and machete’ing through political red tape, but David Beckham at last is set to announce today/Monday that a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami is officially a reality. All along, of course, that’s been the goooooaaaaalllll!!!

2. MARLINS: Fish continue fire sale, deal Yelich: Now all but a minor-league team, the Marlins continued their fire sale reboot by trading Christian Yelich to Brewers. The good news? They got an elite prospect in return in CF Lewis Brinson, who played at Coral Springs High. He said he was thrilled to be a Marlin, which alone distinguishes him from the vast majority.

3. HORSE RACING: Gun Runner wins Pegasus at Gulfstream: Eleven horses including favorite and winner Gun Runner ran Saturday in Hallandale for a $16 million purse in second annual Pegasus World Cup, the globe’s richest horse race — a purse more than triple the combined payout of Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Mamas, do let your babies grow up to be jockeys. (Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus for my column from the race).

4. NFL: Pro Bowl begins countdown to Super Bowl: Pro Bowl was Sunday in Orlando, the all-star game every player wants to be chosen for but nobody really wants to play in, and few fans care about watching. Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry played as AFC won 24-23. It began the seven-day countdown to next Sunday's Big Event: TV commercials vying to see which is best in a competition unfortunately interrupted by a football game.

5. HEAT: All-Star snub slights Miami: Heat had lost four of past six before Saturday's win over Charlotte but hang onto fourth place in the conference as they embark on a four-game roadie. Miami is the first top-four Eastern Conference team in 25 years to not have a player in NBA All-Star Game. It’s one more reason we know who the team’s real star is. It’s Erik Spoelstra.

6. TENNIS: Federer, Wozniacki win Aussie titles: It was Roger Federer over Marin Cilic for the men's crown and his 20th major Sunday at the Australian Open after Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday made the year's first major her first Grand Slam title by beating Simona Halep. Those were either the tournament's four best players, or the only four to survive the searing heat.

7. NHL: Barkov reps Cats in All-Star game: With Sasha Barkov as Florida's lone player in it, the 63rd NHL All-Star Game skated Sunday evening in Tampa. It was again the 3-on-3 tournament format introduced in 2016, with teams repping the four divisions playing in semifinals to reach the main game. No, it could not be any more confusing.

8. RUNNING: Miami Marathon happened while you slept: More than 20,000 runners competed Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon, which began at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. You've never heard of the winners, so what's the point of saying them? Once again I meant to compete, but an utter lack of interest and ambition got in the way.

9. SENIOR BOWL: Dolphins there scouting for draft: It was North vs. South on Saturday in Mobile, AL, with Canes Braxton Berrios and Michael Badgley among participants. Dolphins were among NFL teams scouting the annual all-star game with April's NFL Draft in mind. Um, Baker Mayfield, anyone? 

10. LARRY NASSAR: USA Gymnastics doctor will die in jail: USA Gymnastics predator/doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually molesting dozens of girls and women under the guise of treatment. People who feel sorry for him will be meeting in that phone booth over there. Plenty of room left.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Marlins president David Samson is running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days beginning Tuesday in a continuing effort to get as far from Jeffrey Loria as he possibly can ..... Canes men's basketball, 5-5 since a 10-0 start, fell at Florida State Saturday. So that return to the Top 25 continues on indefinite hold ..... The XFL, one and done in 2001, is being brought back for a 2020 startup by WWE boss Vince McMahon. But it won't be gimmicky this time. Said the man who runs pro wrestling (!) ..... If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on the profits. Or what? Refuse to play? ..... The Marlins' expanded protective netting is expected to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, it will not prevent losses ..... He won't come close to winning, but at Torrey Pines in California Tiger Woods made a PGA Tour cut for the first time since 2015 to begin his 743rd attempted comeback from back issues ..... Answer: The Packers rehired Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator. Question: Why do people get the idea Green Bay is in decline? ..... It was Celtics-Warriors Saturday in a possible NBA Finals preview, Golden State winning 109-105. Needed a Boston win to at least pretend Warriors might be fallible ..... Countdown: 12 days 'til the Winter Olympics. Curling! Skeleton!
 

WE DECLARE IT A WONDROUS WEEKEND TO BE A SPORTS FAN IN SOUTH FLORIDA!: Periodically we declare a special day or weekend to be a sports fan in South Florida, and this is 

Senior bowl Pegasus Marathon Probowl Nhl asgone. The chronology of why: Saturday we had the Senior Bowl from Mobile, AL, featuring Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios and PK Michael Badgley. UM men's basketball played at Florida State. The $16 million Pegasus World Cup ran at Gulfstream, with Gun Runner winning. The Heat hosted and beat Charlotte. (And it was Boston-Golden State in a possible NBA Finals preview). On Sunday, the Miami Marathon got running before you awakened, at 5:45 a.m. The NFL Pro Bowl is at 3 in Orlando, including Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry. And the NHL All-Star Game is at 6 in Tampa, with Sasha Barkov repping the Florida Panthers. And that's not to mention Australian Open tennis' championship weekend.  Yes, I am fully aware that the five big events whose logos are pictured here (and maybe tennis, too) are likely of very little interest to many of you. Hey, quit being so picky! Enjoy!

Select other columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 13, 2018

One upset ahead, but is it the one you want? Our NFL Divisional-Round picks; plus ranking every Dolphins 1st-round draft pick, our Sasha Barkov and Tonya Harding columns, your verdict on Fins thinking beyond Tannehill & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 13. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Looking beyond Ryan Tannehill poll, give the devil (Nick Saban) his due & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Panthers column: And Barkov shall lead them: Call him Sasha. Call him Barky. Call Aleksander Barkov the future, the best hope for leading the Panthers back to relevance in the NHL and in South Florida. Click on And Barkov Shall Lead Them for my latest column.

Other columns from this week: On bizarre reemergence of Tonya Harding, and on Dolphins and Tannehill: Click No Way to Escape Her Shame for my latest column, on efforts, 24 years later, to rebrand Tonya Harding as a sympathetic victim. And click Are the Fins Feeling Bold? for my earlier column on Dolphins moving beyond Ryan Tannehill.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! OUR NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: We're down to eight teams now, with two weekend doubleheaders bringing us to the AFC and NFC Championship Game matchups -- the Final Four, King Sport style. I though the two AFC games were pretty simple, clear-cut picks. The two NFC games I wrestled with. and from the rasslin' emerged one major upset. Click Divisional-Round Gems for all our second-round pick as the Super Bowl Tournament continues.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS ALL-TIME FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS, RANKED TOP TO BOTTOM BASED ON MOST CAREER GAMES PLAYED FOR MIAMI: Games played for Miami including regular season and playoffs by the 48 first-round draft picks in franchise history. The Top 20, then the rest:

Year    Player, School                                    Pick     Games

Marino1983    QB Dan Marino, Pittsburgh                 27        260

1990    OT Richmond Webb, Texas A&M         9          177

1967    QB Bob Griese, Purdue                      4          173

1994    DT Tim Bowens, Mississippi                20        167

1982    OG Roy Foster, Southern Cal              24        144

1976    DE Kim Bokamper, San Jose State      19        140 

1979    OT Jon Giesler, Michigan                   24        138

1993    WR O.J. McDuffie, Penn State           25         126

2004    OT Vernon Carey, Miami                    19         122

Webb1969    DE Bill Stanfill, Georgia                     11        120

1980    CB Don McNeal, Alabama                   21        120

1977    LB A.J. Duhe, LSU                              13        119

1968    RB Larry Csonka, Syracuse                 8          118

1989    S Louis Oliver, Florida                        25        110

1976    LB Larry Gordon, Arizona State          17        107

2011    C Mike Pouncey, Florida                     15         93 [ACTIVE]

1968    OT Doug Crusan, Indiana                   27          90

1996    DT Daryl Gardener, Baylor                 20          89 

2005    RB Ronnie Brown, Auburn                  5           77

2012    QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M           8           77 [ACTIVE]

The rest:

21st through 30th -- 1984 LB Jackie Shipp, Oklahoma 76; 2008 OT Jake Long, Michigan 75; 1985 RB Lorenzo Hampton, Florida 72; 2006 CB Jason Allen, Tennessee 72; 1992 DE Marco Coleman, Georgia 68; 2010 DT Jared Odrick, Penn State 65; 1992 CB Troy Vincent, Wisconsin 62; 2007 WR Ted Ginn, Ohio State 49; 2014 OT Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee 48 [ACTIVE]; 1988 DE Eric Kumerow, Ohio State 44.

31st through 40th -- 2009 CB Vontae Davis, Illinois 44; 2015 WR DeVante Parker, Louisville 44 [ACTIVE]; 1989 RB Sammie Smith, Florida State 43; 1974 DT Don Reese, Jackson State 42; 2001 CB Jamar Fletcher, Wisconsin 41; 1966 QB Rick Norton, Kentucky 31; 1987 DE John Bosa, Boston College 31; 2016 OT Laremy Tunsil, Mississippi 30 [ACTIVE]; 1975 OT Darryl Carlton, Tampa 28; 1991 WR Randal Hill, Miami 28.

41st through 48th -- 2013 DE Dion Jordan, Oregon 26; 1995 OT Billy Milner, Houston 21; 1998 RB John Avery, Mississippi 19; 2017 DE Charles Harris, Missouri 16 [ACTIVE]; 1981 RB David Overstreet, Oklahoma 15; 1997 WR Yatil Green, Miami 8; 1966 RB Jim Grabowski, Illinois 0; 1972 DT Mike Kadish, Notre Dame 0.

POLL RESULT: CLEAR MAJORITY THINK DOLPHINS SHOULD THINK BEYOND TANNEHILL: We asked, "Is this the right offseason and draft for the Dolphins to think beyond Ryan Tannehill?" Your verdict: Yes. If Miami's future at QB is in this draft, go get him, 77.42 percent; No. Tannehill is good enough. Address other needs, 16.67%; Undecided. Like the Dolphins, I'm really not sure, 5.91%.

ALABAMA'S RECENT RUN IN PERSPECTIVE: Nick Saban just own Alabama's fifth national championship since he took over Crimson Tide football 11 seasons ago, in 2007. In that same time span the most championships by one of the Big Four pro teams is three, by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins and MLB's San Francisco Giants. Althought two of the 11 teams with two titles since '07 -- the NFL's New England Patriots and NBA's Golden State Warriors -- have a big shot at a third title in seasons ongoing.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2018

Time for Dolphins to think beyond Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus giving the devil (Nick Saban) his due, Heat still out front in Miami pro sports & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy wedding anniversary to my wonderful wife! I'd do it all again. 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Alabama-Georgia twin polls, Hot Button Top 10, NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, your verdict on 2017's biggest national story & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest Sunday column.

TannyIS THIS THE YEAR FOR DOLPHINS TO LOOK BEYOND TANNEHILL?: I explore the question in my latest column and propose the answer may be yes, with an upcoming quarterback-rich April draft offering five QBs who could go in the first round -- three of whom may be available to Miami. Click on Are the Fins Feeling Bold? to read the column in full. Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen will go way too high for Miami picking 11th. But, from the column: "The Dolphins could have a choice among Wyoming’s Josh Allen, of the ideal physique, or either of the past two Heisman Trophy winners in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. I have seen all three mock-drafted in the overall top 10 but also lower. If Miami has a chance at one of them and a conviction he could be a long-term difference-maker now or in a year, grab him. The upside would be worth the risk. Then you would have the choice of sticking with Tannehill another season as a bridge while the new guy develops, or exploring Tannehill’s trade value, which I think could be worth a second-round pick to the right buyer." The key is a conviction on an available guy. You don't draft a QB just to do it. But with Tannehill turning 30 in training camp and coming off major knee surgery, this may be the offseason and the draft to start thinking beyond him. Agree or no? Take a dip in our poll:

NickkingGIVE THE DEVIL (NICK SABAN) HIS DUE: We all hate Nick Saban. Well, OK, to be fair, most of college football fans outside of Tuscaloosa and environs hate Nick Saban. Alabama fans are celebrating that, after last night's 26-23 College Football Playoff championship win over Georgia brought Saban his sixth national crown and fifth in the past nine years to the Crimson Tide, tying Paul "Bear" Bryant, Saban is now a deity in league with The Houndstooth Hat himself. So why do we hate Saban? South Florida has a special reason for the way he left the Dolphins after saying he would not. But I think most of us hate Saban for the same reason we hate Bill Belichick. Some form of jealousy. We wish our team had him. Not only did Saban with his sixth national title last night, he did it with a masterful coaching decision that might have backfired ... but didn't. He replaced his starting quarterback with little-known Tua Tagovailoa and it worked masterfully, right down to that gorgeous game-winning TD pass in overtime -- one play afgter the raw QB had taken about a 30-yard sack. Saban's decision won the game, won the season. All hail the king we hate to crown! Oh and by the way, 13-0 UCF can call itself the real national champion all it wants. The argument is good for college football. The CFP has not ended the annual debate, and that's fine. Last night made it clear, though. Alabama is deserving of No. 1. And, love him or otherwise, Nick Saban is a sideline god.

Poll result: You thought 'Bama would win, but wanted Georgia: We asked, in this blog and on Twitter, who you thought would win last night and who you wanted to win. You predicted Alabama would win (69.01% blog, 60% Twitter), but wanted Georgia (77,78% blog, 78% Twitter).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2018

Alabama-Georgia in CFP final: Who WILL win and who do you WANT to win? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of '17, my NFL playoff pick-results, new Sunday column (Heat) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 8. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-Miami-sports-story-of-year poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, NFL playoff picks & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest column on the state of South Florida Big Four pro teams as 2018 unfurls.

FripixNFL Wild-Card Weekend pick results: We nailed the Falcons' upset win: We hit a bulls-eye on the Falcons' big upset of the Rams. Overall we went 3-1 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the first round, including Panthers-with-points vs. Saints. Click Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all our first-round picks as the Super Bowl Tournament began.

AlagacfpCFP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: WHO WILL WIN, AND WHO YOU WANT TO WIN: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs tonight in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff championship game. Two polls here. First asks which team you think WILL win -- who you'd place a bet on straight-up. The second poll asks you you WANT to win -- where your rotting interest lies. Take a dip in both polls now!

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

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.
 
2. NFL: Four pretenders out, eight teams left as Super Bowl Tournament begins: Sayonara, Chiefs, Bills, Panthers and Rams. Nice barely knowin' ya. NFL playoffs are down to eight. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, off a playoff bye, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

3. HEAT: Miami climbing in East standings: Heat has won four straight with Sunday's home win over Utah and risen to fifth in East, now only 1/2 game from fourth place. A now-reasonable goal: Host a first-round playoff series.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes win to open three-game Litmus test: Canes' men's team started 10-0 and highly ranked then slumped. What are they trying to mimic the UM football team? (Ouch. Too soon?) But Jim Larranaga's guys are back on track at 13-2 after Sunday's big win over No. 24 Florida State. Two more ranked foes await in No. 25 Clemson and then home vs. No. 2 Duke.
 
5. DOLPHINS: Problem solved! Fins hire new offensive coordinator: The disappointing 6-10 Dolphins and coach Adam Gase demoted offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen after averaging only 17.6 points per game to rank 28th in the NFL. They replaced him with Dowell Loggains, whom the Bears just dismissed after Chicago averaged 16.5 points, ranking 29th. Well alrighty then!
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' now underway: Derek Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' is his plan to reboot the now-decimated Marlins. It sees a spike in player payroll starting in 2021. Meantime, the carnivorous wolverine has disemboweled Marlins fans and turned their optimism to bloody entrails.

7. PANTHERS: Cats can't capitalize on streak: Sunday's loss made it three L's in a row after a five-game winning streak for Florida, which still lags seven points off playoff pace right at midseason. Check Lost & Found. The map to the postseason seems to have been  misplaced.

8. JON GRUDEN: He's back on the sideline with Raiders: Gruden is transmogrifying from the ESPN football booth back to Chucky, the sideline maniac, taking over the Oakland (soon Las Vegas) Raiders on a 10-year deal. So Redskins coach Jay is now not even the NFL's best Gruden.

9. WINTER OLYMPICS: U.S. names women's figure skating team: USA named its three-woman figure skating team for the upcoming South Korea Games. Somewhere, Dick Button is beside himself with excitement. 

10. RICKY WILLIAMS: Ex-Fin plans smoke-filled Super Bowl party: Former Dolphins running back and confirmed pothead Ricky Williams is hosting a "cannabis-friendly" Super Bowl party in Miami. The star of the event? Snacks! Mmm, lots of snacks to feed those munchies!

Missing the HB10 cut: Australian Open starts next week, and both Andry Murray (injury) and Serena Williams (baby) are out. Although Serena could play with the infant on her back in a papoose and still win the women's side ..... Paul Pierce says the Celtics' tribute to Isaiah Thomas should not be same night as his jersey retirement. Petty much? ..... ESPN fired NFL analysts Eric Davis and Donovan McNabb over a sexual abuse claim. Rough year for the Worldwide Leader ..... The Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) leads the Akron Anomaly (LeBron James) in early NBA all-star voting ..... The Bills sent 1,440 chicken wings to the Bengals as a thank-your for beating the Ravens to assure Buffalo made the playoffs? Shouldn't Miami at least get some celery and blue cheese? ..... NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent this season. In an unrelated story, it is estimated 9.7% of players took part in protests during the anthem ..... UM baseball began preseason practice an the final season of Jim Morris. Omaha or bust? Heck, NCAA Regional or bust! ..... USA Today speculated the Dolphins as a possible landing spot for Tom Brady should the Patriots dynasty come apart. Hmm. Is wishing and hoping for a QB who'll be 41 next season not its own form of sadness?

ToumPOLL RESULT: TURNOVER CHAIN-FUELED CANES FOOTBALL RESURGENCE THE NO. 1 BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2017: We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017, gave you 18 choices and allowed you six votes. More than 2,500 votes poured in. A six-vote ballot means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent and you'd multiply the percent total times six for any idea how often that story was included on ballots. That's IF everyone used all six votes. The fact the No. 1-voted story was off-the-grid-high suggests an organized effort by Canes fans who voted only for that story. In effect, UM fans hijacked the poll. But that's OK. All good. I should note that prior to the sharp spike we detected, UM's resurgence still was running No. 1, although by a much narrower margin over the Stanton/Jeter story. Your results on the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017:

  1. Turnover Chain-fueled Hurricanes achieve 1st 10-win season, 1st Orange Bowl in 14 years--31.32%
  2. Giancarlo Stanton traded after 59-HR year as new owner Derek Jeter begins Marlins reboot--12.71%
  3. Jason Taylor, Dolphins icon, inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame--8.60%
  4. Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc with start of football season--7.09%
  5. Dolphins O-line coach Chris Foerster resigns after video shows him snorting white powder--6.67%
  6. Edwin Pope, Miami Herald Sports legend, dies--5.39%
  7. Jay Cutler signed by Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill's season-erasing injury--5.23%
  8. Hurricanes baseball sees end of 44-year streak of consecutive NCAA playoff appearances--4.96%
  9. Miami hosts MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby for first time--4.42%
  10. Nick Buoniconti, Jim Kiick reveal football related brain-trauma woes to Sports Illustrated--2.60%
The rest: 11. UM men's basketball implicated in FBI probe of recruiting corruption--2.44%; 12. Heat misses playoffs despite 30-11 second half, fails to land free-agent target Gordon Hayward--2.40%; 13. Soccer's El Clasico, Barcelona-Real Madrid, plays Miami--1.78%; 14. Miami Open tennis sets move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium--1.67%; 15. Homestead hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s last race in NASCAR finale--1.05%; 16. Ferdie Pacheco, The Fight Doctor, dies--0.70%; 17. Felo Ramirez, baseball broadcasting icon, dies--0.54%; 18. Gulfstream hosts first Pegasus World Cup, richest-ever horse race--0.43%.
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 04, 2018

What was biggest national sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Ten finalists, you pick top 3. Last day to vote!; plus final Herald NFL QB rankings, final college SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video (Apple Watches) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 4. How long should one keep saying "Happy new year." I say one week. Speaking of the new year, what a perfect time to treat the Dolfans in your life to my book on the club's first half century! Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out Fins At 50. 2) So honored to have received the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award over the weekend. Thanks again, OB. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) final rankings later today. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose finale to Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MaeribackRest in peace, Mae Riback: I'm sorry to say that the dear reader and "my oldest fan" whom I wrote about in March passed away peacefully a few days ago at age 104. Click here for the tale of how me came to meet. R.I.P., Tiny.

 

YOU PICK THE 2017 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this Nattystorypoll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically here, not in Nationalstorythe 1 through 10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back often to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. Soon, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2017's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. A year ago, you voted the Cubs' World Series win the No. 1 national sports story, followed by LeBron James leading Cleveland to the NBA title and the death of Muhammad Ali. What will reign for '17? You decide. Vote now. We'll keep the poll open three days and announce results on Friday as we present the local poll. 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2017 in the poll below. You may also vote online by clicking HERE:

Deciphering a 3-vote ballot: A three-vote ballot means that, theoretically, if everyone cast the maximum three votes, no one story could receive more than 33.3 percent of the vote. It also means the vote totals can be tripled to give an indication of how many ballots that story is included on. In other words, a story drawing 20 percent would have been included on about 60% of ballots.

BradyBRADY EDGES BREES IN CLOSEST FINISH EVER FOR HERALD NFL QB CROWN: The Patriots' Tom Brady edges the Saints' Drew Brees by less than one full point, 554.80 to 553.90 — the closest finish in our rankings' 20-year history — to win the Miami Herald's 2017 NFL quarterback championship. The season title is Brady's second and first since 2007. Brees is the all-time leader with seven crowns. Dolphin Jay Cutler finishes in 24th place, just making our final Top 25 chart. The Chargers' Philip Rivers wins Week 17 to end in sixth place overall. Our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings began in 1998 and the formula has been unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL’s and ESPN’s are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.

The final Top 25 for 2017:

Rk Lw Player, Team                  Wk17      Season

1   1   Tom Brady, NE                19.50      554.80

2   2   Drew Brees, NO              29.25      553.90

3   5   Matthew Stafford, DET    41.15     501.30

4   3   Alex Smith, KC                 DNP      487.10

5   4   Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     DNP      473.55

6   9   Philip Rivers, LAC            52.35     469.75

7   8   Case Keenum, MIN           30.45     450.35

8 10   Russell Wilson, SEA          24.05     438.15

9   6   Kirk Cousins, WAS             1.90      435.65

10 11 Matt Ryan, ATL                34.85     433.75

11 7  Jared Goff, LAR                DNP       424.45

12 12 Carson Wentz, PHI            DNP      386.80

13 14 Joe Flacco, BAL              16.15      370.05

14 13 Blake Bortles, JAC           -2.10      365.35

15 15 Dak Prescott, DAL           20.95      363.85

16 16 Derek Carr, OAK              22.15     362.80

17 18 Eli Manning, NYG             3.60      339.40

18 21 Andy Dalton, CIN            27.10     338.00

19 17 Josh McCown, NYJ           DNP      336.30

20 20 Jameis Winston, TB        22.15     336.20

21 19 Cam Newton, CAR          -3.00      328.10

22 23 Tyrod Taylor, BUF           29.20     315.95

23 22 Marcus Mariota, TEN      17.70     309.60

24 24 Jay Cutler, MIA                0.30     278.30

25 25 Jacoby Brissett, IND       18.70    275.90

Week 17 Best: Rivers, LAC, 52.35 (28-37, 387, 3-0 in win). Season Best: Roethlisberger, PIT, 58.30 (Wk14). Record BestRoethlisberger, PIT, 80.10 (2014).

Week 17 WorstNick Foles, PHI, minus-4.05 (4-11, 39, 0-1 in loss). Season Worst: Nathan Peterman, BUF, minus-13.70 (Wk 11). Record WorstTim Hasselbeck, WAS, minus-23.20 (2003).

Most championshipsBrees, NO, 7; Peyton Manning IND/DEN, 6.

Season recordManning, DEN, 714.85 (2013). Dolphins season record: Ryan Tannehill, 481.25 (2014).

FLOWERS TOPS MILTON FOR HERALD STATE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR!: [Click HERE to see this online] South Florida Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers (pictured, from Miami Jackson High) edges UCF counterpart QfMcKenzie Milton as the Miami Herald’s 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year — the “state Heisman” for our seven top-level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college teams. Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier finishes third in the final rankings, followed closely by FAU running back Devin Singletary. The top-finishing receiver, eighth overall, is UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith. The do-it-all, dual-threat Flowers passed for 2,911 yards and 25 touchdowns, while running for 1,078 yards and 11 TDs. The final Top 25 shows balance among the seven schools, with five players from UCF and South Florida making it, and three each from Miami, Florida State, Florida, FAU and FIU. Our weekly SOPY rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state’s seven FBS teams. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game, or total points divided by the number of games a player’s team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams play the same number of games. 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 2017 FINAL TOP 25 (including bowls):

RK Player, School-Pos.                            Avg.       Total (Games)

1. Quinton Flowers, SoFla qb                  229.13    2,749.5 (12)

2. McKenzie Milton, UCF qb                    223.19    2,901.5 (13)

3. Malik Rosier, Miami qb                       171.27     2,226.5 (13)

4. Devin Singletary, FAU rb                     165.79     2,321 (14)

5. Alex McGough, FIU qb                        135.08     1,756 (13)

6. Jason Driskel, FAU qb                         118.25    1,655.5 (14)

7. Cam Akers, FSU rb                             100.27    1,303.5 (13)

8. Tre’Quan Smith, UCF rec                     98.31    1,278 (13)

9. Travis Homer, Miami rb                        95.69    1,244 (13)

10. James Blackman, FSU qb                   91.54    1,190 (13)

11. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, SoFla rec  85.75    1,029 (12)

12. Darius Tice, SoFla rb                         85.17    1,022 (12)

13. D’Ernest Johnson, SoFla rb                83.58    1,003 (12)

14. Adrian Killins, UCF rb                        79.62    1,035 (13)

15. Jacques Patrick, FSU rb                    73.92       961 (13)

16. Thomas Owens, FIU rec                    72.73       945.5 (13)

17. Feleipe Franks, Florida qb                71.27       784 (11)

18. Alex Gardner, FIU rb                         69.00      897 (13)

19. Otis Anderson, UCF rec                    68.23       887 (13)

20. Lamical Perrine, Florida rb               63.36      697 (11)

21. Tyre McCants, SoFla rec                   63.17      758 (12)

22. Willie Wright, FAU rec                      59.86      838 (14)

23. Dredrick Snelson, UCF rec                58.46      760 (13)

24. Braxton Berrios, Miami rec               57.00      741 (13)

25. Malik Davis, Florida rb                     54.18      596 (11)

Cote’s State of the State final rankings: 1. UCF (13-0); 2. Miami (10-3); 3. South Florida (10-2); 4. FAU (11-3); 5. Florida State (7-6); 6. FIU (8-5); 7. Florida (4-7).

LATEST BACK IN MY DAY: APPLE WATCHES!: Here  it is, from yesterday's LeBatard Show:


Select recent columns: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Also: Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Adam Gase Must Find A WayTruex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaCanes-Irish: Game For The Ages. Appreciate Perfection -- PeriodThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonBack On Track & Ready To Roar. Jeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 02, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7% final season approval; plus Happy New Year!, Fins fall in finale 22-16 to end season 6-10, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Hny1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 1. HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be a great one for you and everyone you love. Need one more gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) I was honored during Saturday's Orange Bowl game with the 2017 OB Edwin Pope Media Award. Click HERE for the story. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose Orange Bowl to Wisconsin with CSM poll, thank you OB Committee & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My UM-Wisconsin Orange Bowl column, CSM vote in: Click HERE for my game column from stadium on Saturday night's 34-24 Canes loss to Wisconsin in 84th Orange Bowl. See previous blogpost for results in latest and season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

Season-ending DSM poll online, too: Click HERE to read our postgame thoughts and to vote online.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest and season-ending installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 22-16 Dolphins home loss vs. the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism — all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested you give added weight to the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)

G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)

G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)

G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)

G9: .5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)

G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)

G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)

G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)

G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)

G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)

G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)

G16/season final: 7.7% (following 22-16 loss vs. Buffalo)

Yearly DSM Results: 2017--7.7% (following 6-10 season); 2016--76.2% (following 10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G16: BUFFALO AT DOLPHINS: MIAMI TRYING TO END A ROTTEN YEAR WITH A FORCED SMILE: Click HERE for our postgame thoughts ..... Original postNine of the 12 NFL playoff tickets have been punched entering this final all-Sunday weekend of the regular season, and six teams remain alive for the remaining three spots. Alas, the Dolphins are not among the halves, relegated instead to the dubious incentive of trying to avoid what Bufmiawould be only the franchise’s seventh 10-loss season since 1970. Another sad, better-than-nothing incentive: The 6-9 Fins playing spoiler in the 4:25 CBS game to 8-7 Buffalo’s (faint) hopes. To reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999 the Bills must beat Miami and either have the Ravens lose or have the Chargers and Titans both lose. Got that? How fitting the Dolphins would find themselves positioned as spoilers. The entire season has looked, felt and smelled spoiled. Rotten. It was back to mediocrity, as if the aberration of last year’s playoff season never even really happened. Give coach Adam Gase credit for not sugar-coating, as when he said Thursday, simply (and accurately): “Nobody has done anything great. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” Sunday almost certainly will mark the farewell appearance for quarterback Jay Cutler, the pricey one-year rental who, like the entire team, had too few solid performances interspersed amid the prevailing erratic underperforming. Buffs beat Fins 24-16 only two weeks ago. With little cause but a hunch, I see Miami, a 2 1/2-point underdog, finishing strong with a home upset over a Bills squad that is only 2-5 away. So Miami continues the long Bison playoff drought, at least. Hey, it’s better than nothing … albeit barely. My pick: Dolphins, 23-17. [Click Week 17 Gems for all our season-ending NFL picks].

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM ends year of progress with loss in hometown Orange Bowl game: Tenth-ranked Canes were home underdogs to No. 6 Wisconsin Saturday in the 84th Orange Bowl game and fell 34-24. Three straight losses ended UM's year, but a first 10-win season and first OB invite since 2003 made it a season of progress toward the destination: Back. (Click HERE for our column from the game).
 
2. COLLEGE PLAYOFF: Last four in CFP semifinals on Monday: It's No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl today and then No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar in College Football Playoff play-ins to reach the championship game. Oddly, both lower-seeded teams are slight betting favorites. College fans at least can agree on this: Everybody outside of Tuscaloosa hates Nick Saban.  
 
3. DOLPHINS: For Fins, a season of regression mercifully expires: Miami hosted the Buffalo Bills Sunday to wrap up a disappointing, injury-wracked, no-playoffs season with a 22-16 defeat. The good news, Dolfans? It very likely was the last time in a Fins uniform for the $10 million rental with the bargain-bin results, Jay Cutler. 
 
4. HEAT: Miami warms up, gets on playoff pace: It's still early, yeah, but Heat as of today are on playoff pace as the eighth East seed -- and only 1 1/2 games from being the fourth seed, which would mean home-court advantage in the first round. Hey, in the post-Big 3 era, you seize optimism when you can.
 
5. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of life: The Florida Panthers, who'd struggled most of the season, have won a season-best five straight games entering a five-game road trip starting Tuesday. Previous long win streak had been two. Aberration? Or start of a happy new year?
 
6. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish shopping Yelich, Realmuto: Miami reportedly is "listening" to offers for left fielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto in new owner Derek Jeter's apparent continuing effort to do the impossible and make us all miss Jeffrey Loria.
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men win ACC opener: No. 15 Miami men improved to 12-1 with a 67-53 win at Pitt in their ACC opener. Meanwhile the 10-3 Canes women had won five straight entering Sunday's home day with Duke. 
 
8. NFL: Black Sunday for coaches: As NFL regular season ends today, segueing to playoffs, a handful of head coaches likely are working their final games. Meanwhile reports are the Oakland Raiders are trying to lure Jon Gruden from the comfort of the broadcast booth with partial ownership. He's gone.

9. BASEBALL: Astros' Altuve named Athlete of Year: Associated Press named champion Astros star Jose Altuve its male athlete of year. The best news in that? Runnerup Tom Brady and third place LeBron James lost at something.   

10. TENNIS: Serena makes her comeback, sort of: Serena Williams played her first match since her pregnancy and having a baby girl, losing in an exhibition. I mean, that had to be tough, holding a racket in one hand and a nursing baby in the other!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cris Cyborg beat Holly Holm to retain her title in UFC 219, challenging us to again take seriously an athlete who answer to "Cyborg" ..... Herald sports columnist Greg Cote (hey, wait, that's me!) won the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award. The previous sentence was completely gratuitous. But it is my damned blog, after all.

 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 01, 2018

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 68.4% final season approval; plus UM's 34-24 Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin caps 10-3 season, with my game column & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31. Need one more gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Been burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 17 picks, year-in-review polls advisory & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Note: Our Dolphins-Bills preview, latest Hot Button Top 10 will appear in blog about 2 p.m. today.

CLICK HERE FOR MY GAME COLUMN STADIUM ON UM'S ORANGE BOWL LOSS TO WISCONSIN

CLICK HERE TO VOTE IN CSM POLL ONLINE

My Hurricanes bowl-review column and thank you Orange Bowl Committee: Click Where The Swagger Was Born for my latest column on Miami's first Orange Bowl game in 14 years tonight. And thank you, OBC. At Friday's Coaches Luncheon at the Hilton Downtown Miami I was honored to receive the 2017 Edwin Pope Orange Bowl Media Award. Honored because I respect the Orange Bowl Committee's good works and especially because the award is named for my friend, longtime colleague and mentor who passed away last January. Click HERE for the Herald story.

CSMCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13/SEASON FINAL: 68.4%: Results are certified in the latest and season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 68.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 34-24 Orange Bowl Game loss by the No. 10 ranked Hurricanes vs. the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers putting UM's final season record at 10-3. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this is the final poll, we suggested you give special emphasis to the season as a whole. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman

G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo

G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke

G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State

G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech

G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse

G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina

G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech

G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame

G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia

G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt

G12: 57.8% following 38-3 ACC Championship Game loss vs. Clemson

G13/Final: 68.4% following 34-24 Orange Bowl Game loss vs. Wisconsin

ObowlORANGE BOWL GAME: HURRICANES VS. WISCONSIN: CAN MIAMI RIDE HOME MAGIC TO UPSET WIN?: 4Q: Wisconsin 34-24 ..... Miami 24-27: Badgley 41-yard field goal ..... 3Q: Wisconsin 27-21 ..... Miami 21-24: Cager 38-yard pass from Rosier ..... 2Q: Wisconsin 24-14 ..... Wisconsin 17-14 ..... Wisconsin 10-14 ..... 1Q: Miami 14-3: Dallas 39-yard run ..... Miami 7-3: Homer 5-yard run ..... Wisconsin 3-0 ..... Original post: It's the Big Ten and ACC runnersup tonight in the 84th Orange Bowl game as the No. 6-ranked and 12-1 Wisconsin Badgers face the No. 10 and 10-2 Miami Hurricanes on what is supposed to be a neutral field but of course won't be. Plenty of Wisconsinites in red made the trip, but, still, Hard Rock Stadium is sure to be dominated by Canes fans. Miami is playing in its first hometown bowl game since 2003, while Wisconsin (hard t believe) has never before played in the OB. Wisconsin is a solid 6-point favorite despite the venue disadvantage. Cannot say this is a bigger game for Miami than the recent ACC championship-game loss to Clemson, because that was a play-in for the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin had CFP dreams as well before losing its conference title game, so this OB is a glorified consolation prize for both teams -- but still with much at stake. A Badgers win would set a school record for most season victories. A Canes would would assure Miami its first top-10 finish since 03 on the road to 'Back.' Why is Wisconsin a clear favorite? UM's Turnover Chain-fueled defense is its strength ... but Wisconsin's D may be better than Miami's. The U had 30 defensive takeaways, but the Badgers had 26, led the nation in fewest yards allowed and ranked No. 3 in fewest points allowed. Three Badgers defenders were first-team All-Big Ten and three others were second-team. Miami's offensive line will be under the gun, and so will QB Malik Rosier, who is coming off consecutive bad games (in the Pitt and Clemson losses) and is missing his two top receivers in injured Ahmmon Richards and Chris Herndon. Miami's best upset hope by my view? Wisconsin can be sloppy with the ball, meaning that Turnover Chain could be changing hands tonight. Badgers sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook had 15 interceptions this season -- a lot. And Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, though really good, lost five fumbles. Two really good defenses are in play tonight, but only one offense that is prone to turnovers. That is the Canes' best hope tonight. Well, that and the crowd. If UM fans can lift the Canes tonight as palpably as they did in the crucial late-season home wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Miami will win. My Orange Bowl Game pick: Upset. Hurricanes, 23-20.

 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.9%; plus Fins' 24-16 loss to Bills kills all playoff hope; also, the latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your grade on Derek Jeter (ouch!) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 18. ICYMI, click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It for my column on the Marlins trading their best player to the Yankees. 2) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 3) Holiday shopping? Giving all the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Judging Derek Jeter poll, NFL Week 15 picks & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-16 Dolphins loss at the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 6-8. That's a drop off more than 70% from the previous week. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results
 
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
 
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
 
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
 
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
 
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
 
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
 
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
 
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
 
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
 
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
 
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
 
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
 
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
 
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
 
Next poll: Dec. 24 (following game at Kansas City)
 
G14: DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO: TO KEEP (FAINT) PLAYOFF HOPE ALIVE, OR WATCH IT DIEPostgame thoughts: Remember how good the Miami Dolphins were on Monday night? They were mostly that bad six days later. Remember how great quarterback Jay Cutler was against the Patriots. It was Bad Jay who made the trip to Buffalo. The Dolphins lost to the Bills, 24-16, on Sunday. It felt worse. Seemed worse as Miami never led, fell to 6-8 and watched its already faint playoff hopes fade to black. I didn't trust the Dolphins to replicate last week's fire displayed in the upset of New England, and with reason. And inconsistency has been the stamp on Cutler's career. Did you think that was going to change for the better when Miami hauled him out of retirement? The game ended fittingly, with Miami recovering an onside kick in the final minute ... followed immediately by Cutler's third interceptions. A year ago the Dolphins had seemed to lay claim to the consolation prize of at least being second-best in the AFC East to the eternally superior Patriots. For now Miami has slipped to third behind the Bills, too. By the way, good to hear a female voice, that of Beth Mowins, doing play-by-play on the CBS broadcast of the game. Women have made great strides on-air broadcasting sports as studio hosts and sideline reporters, but less so in the booth calling the actual game. Another barrier dissolving by degrees. P.S., Mowins had a better game than the Dolphins did ..... Halftime thoughts: With Bills leading Dolphins 21-6 at the half, Buffalo is turning red-zone opportunities into touchdown while Miami settles for field goals. Sound familiar? Been the story most of this season, although less so lately for Fins. Bills lead in total yards 245-156 and Tyrod Taylor is on pace for 330 yards passing and is outplaying Jay Cutler. Dolphins are playing to stay alive in playoff hunt but not showing the intensity or fire to indicate that. I expected a dropoff from what we saw vs. Pats Monday bight, and am seeing that so far .....  Original post: The Dolphins Bandwagon, formerly bereft of passengers, has begun to populate a bit since Monday night. It is hardly a jam-packed, rollicking party bus, don’t get me me wrong. Playoff hope remains slim, but at least the Maybe Meter wiggles a little. I wish I could tell you I’m Miabufhopping on that Bandwagon (there’s still plenty of good seats available), but I just cannot bring myself to count on the inconsistent and therefore unreliable Fins to replicate the extraordinary performance they mustered in beating the Patriots Monday night in Miami. Not sure that will travel well on a short week, especially to a place where the temperature will be in the low 30s and falling, and under an expected cloudy sky threatening snow. Game stayed off betting boards until Thursday, when it became obvious Buffs QB Tyrod Taylor would be good to go. RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) also should play. But Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) is iffy to play, and his absence would be a big break for Fins. These AFC East rivals will play twice in next three weeks, but it’s this game both sides must consider as must-win for any real playoff hope — and moreso 6-7 Miami than the 7-6 Buffs. I like Dolphins with the (3 1/2) points in a low-scoring game and give MIA a medium outright upset shot. But Fins have not been great on the road this year (2-4), and Buffs have been solid at home (5-2). Jay Cutler on Sunday will confront a much better pass defense than he saw from the Pats, so the key for Miami may be more good stuff from RB Kenyan Drake vs. a very average Bills run defense. Good teams keep stacking good performances on top of one another, but I don’t think Miami is there yet. As impressed (and surprised) as I was in the Dolphins Monday night, I think this will be a long flight home by a team out of playoff hope. My pick: Buffalo, 20-17. [Click Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article189792549.html#storylink=cpy

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

Hotbutton 1. MARLINS: Remember 10 weeks ago when we all loved Jeter?: Ah, the good old days! It was the month before last. Derek Jeter arrived as a knight on a white steed to save the Marlins and be everything for South Florida that Jeffrey Loria was not. Then the traded Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in a flurry -- a murder-us row. Loria 2.0.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss in Buffalo crushes faint playoff hope: Patriots at Steelers and the return of Aaron Rodgers topped the NFL Week 15 marquee, but Dolphins at Bills Sunday loomed big in that the winner would see playoff hopes buoyed. But these weare the inconsistent, let-you-down Fins. Could they really replicate that Monday magic in chilly Buffalo? Nope.

3. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Unbeaten Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: No. 6-ranked Miami men stayed unbeaten Saturday with a 59-50 win at George Washington in UM's first of four straight road games, while in Sunrise the 19th-ranked Seminoles and No. 22 Gators headlined but both lost in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Canes have been ranked higher only once, in 2012-13.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FAU, FIU prepare for rare bowl games: Saturday began the glut of 41 bowl games. Hurricanes in the Orange is two weeks off, but the appetizers are being served. Lane Kiffin's FAU (Tuesday vs. Akron) and Butch Davis' FIU (Thursday vs. Temple) prepare for only the third bowl games in each school's 14-year history as FBS-level programs.

5. SOCCER: Beckham enlists help in Miami MLS bid: David Beckham fortified his ongoing and laborious bid to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami by adding as ownerships partners Miami business titans Jorge and Jose Mas and a Japanese billionaire. So, yes, a Miami team that doesn't exist yet has better owners than the Marlins.

6. HEAT: Spoelstra surpasses Riley's wins mark: Erik Spoelstra tied and then passed Pat Riley for most coaching wins in franchise history with Friday's and Saturday's wins over Charlotte and the Clippers. Game also got Miami back up over .500. But is that what we're cheering now? Being around average? Wednesday's game at Boston will tell us about this Heat team's potential to make playoffs and do something in them.

7. PANTHERS: We keep waiting for a run, Cats. And waiting...: Florida is 12-21 now, having lost three straight and seven of past  nine after Sunday's defeat at expansion Las Vegas. People keep telling me the Panthers are playing better lately. I look at the NHL standings and the standings keep telling me, "Eh, not so much..."

8. POLITICS: NHL wife details Trump encounter: Stacia Robitaille, married to former NHL player Luc Robitaille, claims an uncomfortable situation with Donald Trump when once alone on a elevator with his at Madison Square Garden. "He was aggressive and told me I was coming home with him," she Tweeted. Lucky for Trump, he isn't in a job where that kind of sexual harassment might get him in trouble!

9. NBA: Knicks fans cheer Melo's return: Knicks fans (mostly) cheered Carmelo Anthony's first return in an Oklahoma City uniform after six-plus seasons in New York. There were boos, too, of course, because, well, they're Knicks fans.

10. YANKEES: Judge says 'can't wait' to play alongside Stanton: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are instant BFFs, I guess. Or at least until the games start and one gets jealous of the other and the bickering starts over who's playing DH too much and the media pressure builds.

Missing the HB10 cut: Pro Bowl voting has concluded. The Pro Bowl: The game no player really wants to play in and no fan wants to watch, but we all act like it's a big deal anyway ..... The Phillies signed Carlos Santana for $60 million. Does a baseball team really need a guitar player that badly?

POLL RESULT: WE ASKED YOU TO GRADE JETER AS NEW MARLINS OWNER, AND YOU SAID "F-YOU!": In wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, we asked, "What grade would you give Derek Jeter 10 weeks into his running the Marlins based on his performance so far and your expectations?" Ouch. A consensus of 64.3 percent gave him an "F," and another 17.1% graded him "D." After that It was 7.1% "C," 6.7% "B" and only 4.8% "A."

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote