February 09, 2015

Hot-Seat Index: What Miami coach should be feeling most job pressure? New poll. Vote now!; plus early '15 college football rankings, Marlins uniforms, J-Law's snake & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. This will be my 50th national show, so I'm sure they have a nice surprise planned for me. Balloons? Cake? Stripper? Nothing at all? Ears welcome.

1aa1ahannahdavis1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. Model, Derek Jeter squeeze and professional sexy person Hannah Davis is the cover girl for the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue now out. So there. 2) I'd like to brag tell you that I shot an 86 over the weekend at Sunrise, featuring seven pars. This, for me, is very good. Then again, my son Christopher shot 78. What a showoff! 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Ndamukong Suh poll result & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Thank you, Knicks: Click on Good Medicine for my column from the arena off last night's Heat victory.

HOT-SEAT INDEX: WEIGHING THE PRESSURE ON MIAMI'S 'BIG SIX' COACHES: I call South Florida's Big
1aa1ahotseatSix teams the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers on the pro side, plus the Miami Hurricanes in football and men's basketball. We offer a quick "State Of" and gauge the current job pressure on those six head coaches, listed by our estimation of most pressure to least:

1aa1ajoepJoe Philbin, Dolphins: High pressure -- Philbin, 53, approaches his fourth season with a three-year mark of 23-25 and no playoffs. Fans are restless and impatience is now justified. A 10-6 season with no playoffs or perhaps even a one-game improvement to 9-7 with no playoffs might spare Philbin, but chances are he must see Miami into the postseason in 2015 or see himself replaced.

1aa1aalgAl Golden, Hurricanes football: High pressure -- Golden, 45, approaches his fifth season with a four-year record of 28-22, including 16-16 in the ACC and 0-2 in bowl games. The NCAA cloud he inherited has bought Golden leeway with administrators, but much less so with an angry, vociferous fan base. Coming off a six-win season, it could take a bounce to 9-4 to save his job.

1aa1agerardgGerard Gallant, Panthers: Medium-high pressure: Gallant, 51, is in the midst of his first season, with Cats currently 23-28 (including 11 overtime losses) and six points off playoff pace. Gallant hadn't head-coached in NHL since 2006-07 before this season, and Florida thought it had a playoff team. Unless he gets there, it could be a quick hook.

1aa1amikerMike Redmond, Marlins: Medium pressure: Redmond, 43, is about to open spring training on his third season, with a two-year record of 139-185 and no playoffs. The team's 15-win improvement last year earned Redmond credit, but now a  much-improved roster (and a mercurial owner) means a playoff berth or a serious run at one will be expected or the hotseat could find Redmond.

1aa1aeriksErik Spoelstra, Heat: Low to no pressure: Spoelstra, 44, is in the midst of his (hard to believe) seventh season, with a mark of 336-191 including six playoffs and two NBA championships. Even at 22-29, fighting for a playoff spot and facing his first losing season, "Spo" continues to be seen as a long-term gem by loyal Pat Riley.

1aa1ajimlJim Larranaga, Hurricanes basketball: Low to no pressure: Larranaga, 65, is in midst of his fourth season with record of 81-44, including 36-26 in ACC. Has one NCAA appearance (Sweet Sixteen, 2013) and one NIT (second round, 2012). Winning ACC title in 2013 was huge, and Canes are now 15-8 and hoping for another March Madness ticket. It's Larranaga's job for as long as he wishes.

Clearly, to me, Philbin and Golden are under the most pressure. But which is under more? Or, you may feel somebody else should be seen as on a hotter seat. Hence, the poll, with our Big Six coaches listed alphabetically. Vote and say why.

1aa1ajlawANOTHER NAKED CELEBRITY ATTEMPTS TO BREAK INTERNET: I enjoy making fun of celebrity and the silly uses of it, such as the wont of so many female celebs to be naked. This time it is Jennifer Lawrence, 24, "J-Law," the actress from Hunger Games, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook et al. She is au natural but for the unnatural presence of a giant Colombian red-tail boa constrictor posed strategically across her body in the current Vanity Fair. Remember when showing this much skin was risque? Now it's like, yeah, so? I'll throw out a token, "Lucky snake!" and move on.

1aa1afishlogoMARLINS UNIFORMS RANKED 20TH: Bloguin via AOL ranks MLB uniforms 1-30, best to worst. Top three: Cardinals, Yankees, Phillies. Dead last: Padres. Marlins a sort of almost respectable 20th, with the look described as "love it or hate it." (I must say, for me, the Fish's South Beach-y colors took a while to get used to, but I like 'em now).

1aa1aespnsiCOLLEGE FOOTBALL RPI RANKINGS FOR 2015: ESPN Stats & Information does this each year and, before you dismiss it, consider that its top three-ranked teams last year -- FSU, Oregon, Alabama -- all made the initial College Football Playoff. They factor a team's offense, defense and special-teams from previous season, returning starters, head coach and recruiting ranking. The 2015 top three is Ohio State, Alabama and LSU. How state teams fare among 128 schools rated: FSU 21st, Florida 27th, Miami 29th, UCF 73rd, FIU 87th, South Florida 101st and FAU 108th.

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

February 08, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Canes, Heat, NFL, Tiger, Cats, Dean Smith, Marlins, Fins, Brian Williams; plus verdict on Suh & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ndamukong Suh-to-Dolphins poll, Incognito joins Bills, 7 Canes at Combine, Terrell Williams, death of newspapers video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 8: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Mixed reviews for UM recruiting class: ESPN rated Miami’s National Signing Day class No. 23 in the country, with most other outlets ranking it lower. Perpetually disgruntled Canes fans face the usual dilemma: Wishing the best for UM while also wanting coach Al Golden gone. What to do!? Oh, the conundrum!

2. HEAT: Once-proud team sputtering to All-Star break: The darlings of the LeBron James Era seek answers, with Dwyane Wade still out injured, the guard play abysmal and Miami now struggling to maintain playoff pace -- Hassan Whiteside the bright spot. Chris Bosh said the season is “slipping away.” Volunteers to stop the slide are encouraged to raise their hand.

3. CANES HOOPS: Moment of truth for “bubble” Canes: Coach Jim Larrañaga’s UM men have been mostly mediocre since that 8-0 start. Now they’re 14-8 after three losses in a row entering today's/Sunday’s key home date with Clemson. Canes are down to “bubble” status on NCAA Tournament watch lists. Many more losses and that bubble bursts.

4. NFL: Super Bowl, dramatic ending draw record numbers: The Patriots’ 28-24 win over Seattle was the most-watched TV telecast in U.S. history with a record 115.1 million viewers and was the highest-rated Super Bowl in 30 years. Um, what was that you were saying about how Ray Rice et al would damage the NFL’s popularity?

5. GOLF: Woods is unraveling for all to see: In the past two weeks, Tiger Woods — who last won a major in 2008 — lost a front tooth, missed the cut of his PGA Tour season debut after a career-worst 82, and then withdrew from the latest tournament with a back ailment. He’s unraveling! On the bright side: Tiger made $55 million on 2014.

6. PANTHERS: Florida beefs up front office: The hockey club has added longtime Philadelphia Flyers boss Peter Luukko as a a new team executive. I'd be more impressed if the club had added a team that could actually  make the NHL playoffs for a blessed change.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Coaching great Dean Smith dies at 83: Smith led North Carolina to 11 NCAA Final Fours and two national championships. Tobacco Road weeps today. Well, except for those !@#$%^s at Duke.

8. MARLINS: High hopes as spring training nears: Team prepares to open spring training in Jupiter Feb. 20 with new additions and unusually high hopes. With Heat and Panthers struggling it's time for Jeffrey Loria to save us. (Did I really just say that!?)

9. DOLPHINS: Stadium redesign adds upscale seating: There will be 16 four-seat "living rooms" available starting at $6,000 per game. My thought? Watch the game in your own living room and save 6,000 bucks.

10. TELEVISION: NBC's Brian Williams in hot water: NBC News anchor claimed to have been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire in Iraq in 2003 -- a tale now proved false. We now hear Williams admits it was not him who guaranteed and quarterbacked the Jets' 1968 Super Bowl win.

Poll results: Dolfans want Suh, but with some reservations: We asked in the previous blogpost if the Dolphins should pursue free agent-to-be defensive tackle Ndmaukong Suh (you may still vote), and it was 57.0 percent yes. However 28.8% said "avoid him like the plague" and 14.2% were undecided.

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

February 05, 2015

How would you rate Hurricanes' recruiting class? Poll. Vote!; plus Bosh says season "slipping" from Heat, latest draft projection for Dolphins & more

1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today calling out for Sunday's Random Evidence notes column. 2) Mentor LeBron James talks about rehabbing badboy Johnny Manziel; read it here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): National Signing Day and Canes with poll, betting updates for local teams, Super Bowl verdict, 'Dear Greg' & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins stadium re-design to include "living rooms": Ridiculous, but true. Click here to read. Remember when the game was the thing? When winning was plenty? When teams didn't need bells and whistles to attract fans?

"Whiteside. Whiteside! WhitesideWhitesideWhiteside. WHITESIDE!!" --Greg Cote

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY POST-MORTEM ON CANES: The dust has settled (even though whenever people say that there invariably is no dust involved), the national rankings are in and opinions have gelled and are 1aa1acanesnsdhardening. So: How'd the Miami Hurricanes and coach Al Golden do this week on National Signing Day? The big-four ratings are not too kind, with ESPN ranking the Canes' class 23rd, Rivals 26th, 247Sports 26th and Scout 34th. There were no 5-stars recruits and the 3's outnumbered the 4's. A staggering 14 de-commitments and only seven kids signed from the South Florida backyard also colored those rankings. I thought UM's class was better than it was ranked; click on The Ones That Got Away for my column. Canes really beefed up on the offensive line, for one. Some emailers are similarly upbeat but many others are not so, seeing this as the latest damnation of Golden. So let's throw it open to debate. I admit no school's recruiting class can be fairly judged for a couple of years, but that doesn't mean you can't have an immediate opinion. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

DESPITE WHITESIDE, HEAT IN PERIL: Chris Bosh after Wednesday's 102-101 loss at lowly Minnesota, the
1aa1ahassanlatest blown-lead defeat: "Things are slipping away from us." And they are. Slumping Miami now is the No. 8 East seed in hunt for eight playoff spots, a mere half-game ahead of Brooklyn. Dwyane Wade, Bosh and Luol Deng have missed a combined 28 games -- and counting, with Wade still out. What's doubly disappointing is that Miami is losing despite the monstrous arrival of 7-foot phenom Hassan Whiteside (pictured), who had 24 points, 20 rebounds, three steals and two blocks on 12-for-13 shooting last night. Mr. Brightside has 101 points, 92 boards and 23 blocks in his past six games. Still, disconcertingly, the Heat is only 7-16 in games Whiteside has played. (It's 5-7 when he plays 20-plus minutes). Get well soon, Dwyane.

LATEST MOCK-DRAFT GUESS FOR DOLPHINS: ESPN's Todd McShay is out with his Mock 2.0 -- oh 1aa1atwaynesthank God! -- and he has Miami selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (pictured) 14th overall. Drafting a CB first makes some sense if there is no inside-linebacker worth taking that high, although wide receiver still could be the target if Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline or both aren't back. McShay has Jameis Winston going No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay and Marcus Mariota falling to sixth and becoming a Stinkin' Jet.

Poll result: NSD coverage is excessive: My media brethren, take heed. We asked how readers feel about the mountainous coverage of National Signing Day, and 55.9 percent called it "excessive" while another 30.6% paid "little or no attention." Only 13.5% called the coverage "justified."

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

February 04, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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February 01, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday: Who's most likely to win MVP? New poll. Vote now!; plus new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1. Happy new month and happy Super Bowl Sunday! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk V, Bowl-vs.-baby poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Our Sunday offerings: Click on Bouncing Off the Shield for my Super Bowl special-section column on how the NFL's massive popularity withstands all manner of scandal and controversy that come its way. And click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column, leading with (what else?) the Super Bowl.

SUPER BOWL MVP DERBY: Some time around 10 tonight somebody will be raising the Super Bowl MVP trophy. Who's your money on? The four players listed -- alphabetically in this poll -- are the four betting favorites to win it. Take a dip in our poll and say why you voted as you did.

HOT BUTTON FEB. 1: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: It’s Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl as America parties: “Geez, I hope I bought enough booze and snacks for the party. Can’t wait to see the latest Budweiser ad! Hey, I wonder what Katy Perry’s first song will be? What’s that? The game? Oh, yeah. I’ll be watching the Patriots and Seahawks play, but mainly because it leads to the next commercial.”

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: National Signing Day looms for UM, others: National Signing Day, sort of the college equivalent of NFL Draft, is Wednesday, and ESPN’s early rankings have Al Golden’s latest Miami recruiting class rated 20th nationally. Perpetually dissatisfied UM fans are unsure whether that’s pretty good so they plan to err on the side of disappointment and complaint.

3. HEAT: Wade’s latest injury adds to (mostly) sour season: Dwyane Wade’s hamstring likely will sideline him a few weeks, including the Feb. 15 All-Star Game. This will be the fourth season in a row Wade plays fewer than 70 games as Miami fights to stay on playoff pace. The one positive has been Hassan Whiteside. New name: Hassan Brightside.

4. HURRICANES BASKETBALL: Let’s find out how good UM men’s basketball really is: The Canes were back in polls at No. 23 then lost at home to mediocre Georgia Tech. Now they face big test today at rival FSU then home Tuesday against No. 10 Louisville. We still need to know how good UM really is. More important, so does the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

5. TENNIS: Championship weekend at the Australian Open: No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray today in the men’s final of the yhear's first major after Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova for the women’s crown — making Williams 17-2 head-to-head in their lopsided rivalry. Can excellence be boring? In the case of predictable tennis, yes.

6. NFL: Rodgers wins MVP, Seau leads Hall class: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers won league MVP and Junior Seau led an eight-man Hall of Fame Class announced Saturday. Seau played three years for the Dolphins. Hey, the way this franchise has been lately, we'll take success-by-minimal-association.

7. UM FOOTBALL: Canes at FSU Oct. 10: Miami's football schedule came out and the Oct. 10 game at Florida State is the one circled in red. Perpetualy disgruntled UM fans already are looking into a small-plane rental and a Fire-Golden banner in anticipation of a loss. 

8. MARLINS: Team makes it official with Ichiro: A front-office contingent flew to Japan to make official with Ichiro. He's in his 15th year in the U.S. and still speaks though an interpreter, but maybe coming to Miami will finally encourage him to learn our language. Spanish, I mean.

9. PANTHERS: Cats will need luck to catch playoff spot: Florida stands ninth in the jockeying for eight NHL playoff spots in the East, but is a big eight points off pace. That's thin ice. 

10. GOLF: Tiger Woods flames out in year's first event: Tiger Woods drew record crowds to the Phoenix Open but then flamed out with a career-worst 82 to begin his PGA Tour schedule. Bad luck lately for Tiger. Last week: Missing tooth. This week: Missing cut.

HALL OF FAME VOTING BY JERRY JONES: Jimmy Johnson keeps getting barred at the door of the Pro 1aa1ajjx2Football Hall of Fame. Can't get past the bouncer. Keeps saying, "Don't you know who I am" and it does no good. I think, in Johnson's case, the room of voters must be commandeered by his former Cowboys owner-turned-enemy, Jerry Jones. (The two are pictured in happier times). Of the five modern-era player selections on Saturday, I thought Junior Seau, Will Shields and Tim Brown were obvious. Jerome Bettis and Charles Haley were (very) borderline. Voters were in a generous mood.

Poll result: Sherman should choose Bowl over baby: We asked about Seahawk Richard Sherman's dilemma and decision whether to play in today's Super Bowl or attend the birth of his first child if that occurs. Most of you (72.2 percent) said he should play in the game.

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January 17, 2015

Championship Sunday: AFC, NFC title-game picks; plus should Mariota or Winston go No. 1 in NFL Draft? (poll; vote now!); also Dolphins, UM hoops & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 18. Kevin Coyle to remain as Dolphins defensive coordinator? Not a surprise. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Top 10 most exciting athletes 25 and younger, when nudity is boring, Canes hoops & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Championship Sunday, Random Evidence: Onliner and in the inky pulp editions today: Column by me on how America's addiction to the NFL is greater than all of the league's image problems, and a new Random Evidence notes column package. (Blog-only Hot Button Top 10 is off today).  

Hurricanes basketball: Flames may be rising around Al Golden and the University of Miami football program, but Hurricanes basketball -- men and women -- is rock-soilid with top coaches. Click on UM Hoops Flying High for my column.

NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-WEEKEND PICKS: IT'S HOME AND HOME, HOMIE: Lots of NFL fans call this Sunday -- AFC and NFC Championship Game weekend -- the single best day of football of the year. You get the 1aa1aafcnfcfour 1aa1afripix
best teams in a monster doubleheader and, unlike Super Bowl Sunday, the day is not diluted by hype, parties, halftime shows and precious TV commercials in which a team of Budweiser Clydesdales befriend Betty White riding a forlorn donkey. It's Packers at Seahawks for the NFC ring and then Colts at Patriots in the AFC, and I see the tremendous, beyong-ordinary home-field advantages of Seattle and New England carrying the day. Click on Championship Gems for the full predictions capsules. Our regular Friday NFL column, previewing the big day, will appear Sunday this week.

MARIOTA OR WINSTON? WINSTON OR MARIOTA?: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the clock with the No. 1 pick in the spring NFL Draft, will select one of two quarterbacks -- Oregon's Marcus Mariota or Florida
1aa1amariotawinstonState's Jameis Winston -- first overall. That's a near-certainty. (Mariota has officially declared for the draft and Winston is expected to). And whomever doesn't go to Tampa is all but assured of going No. 2 overall to the Tennessee Titans. QBs going 1-2 in the draft is more unsual than you might think. When Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III did it in 2012 that was the ifrts time it had happened since Tim Couch/Donovan McNabb in 1999. The question is ... who goes first? The debate about that is mirrored in the first mock drafts of ESPN gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. McShay pegs Mariota No. 1, while Kiper, in his first mock out today, has Winston going first. (Kiper has the Dolphins selecting Washington outside linebacker Shaq Thompson 14th overall). But to heck with the draftniks. What do you think? If it was your team needing a QB and choosing first, who would you want. Vote and say why.

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January 13, 2015

The curious, shameful skepticism about Rob Konrad's tale of survival; plus elevating Urban Meyer, 'Shameless,' your Super Bowl pick & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: We're in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio -- our 46th national show. Have a new "Back In My Day" ready to roll. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 13. Today is my parents' anniversary date, which led to the creation of me. See, people used to get married first and then have kids. How quaint! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): AFC/NFC title-game polls, Hassan Whiteside, history of Heat 7-footers, Canton verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Buckeyes favored to repeat: Love the instant odds! Confetti is still falling on Ohio State and already OSU is installed as a 6-1 favorite to win next saeson's national title, via Bovada. TCU is next at 15-2, then Alabama at 10-1. Further down we see Florida State 16-1, Florida 33-1 and Miami 75-1.

Wade ninth in jersey sales: Updated NBA jersey sales rankings are out, with Heat's Dwyane Wade No. 9. The top five: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose.

WHY THE DOUBTERS ON ROB KONRAD?: You probably know the Rob Konrad story by now. Ex-Dolphins fullback falls overboard while fgishing along last week, watches his boat onautopilot motor away from 1aa1akonradhim, and spends 16 hours at sea, somehow surviving. I tell the extraordinary tale today in a column off yesterday's first public comments by Konrad. Click on Survivor to read it. (Konrad and wife Tammy are pictured from the news conference). I find Konrad's story to be absolutely true and close to miraculous. There are doubters, though. I address that briefly in the longer-version column that appears online, writing, "It is our human nature to be skeptical, so there may be some who doubt parts of this tale simply because they cannot fathom 16 hours alone at sea. Me, I hope I am never so cynical that I stop believing in man’s capacity for heroism." Sure enough, a few emailers have cast doubt on Konrad -- as if he created and involved his wife, family and friends in an elaborate hoax. Some early media accounts (here is one from Newsweek.com published Friday) also wonder if the story is too good to be true. I do not consider myself naive. My profession demands that a critical eye is my default view of just about everything. But I believe Rob Konrad. Now, more than before, maybe I believe a little in miracles, too. And I feel a little bit sorry for those who can't.

ELEVATING URBAN: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer (pictured) now is a three-time national champion 1aa1ameyeru(two with the Gators) after last night's resounding 42-20 spanking of Oregon in the first playoff-era college championship game. And with a third-string quarterback! I'm no Urban fan, but I must say it may be time to elevate him to the pantheon of great college coaches. Only Bear Bryant (5), Frank Leahy (4) and Nick Saban (4) have won more recognized major-college titles. Meyer and Saban are now racing to see who catches and passes the great Bear first. Age alone suggests Meyer, 50, has a better chance than Saban, 63, to retire as the college game's most decorated coach.

ON 'SHAMELESS': How much I love my wife came clear Monday night when I agreed to watch the Golden 1aa1aemmyrGlobes with her (women and awards shows!), and delay watching the season debut of Shameless until last night on demand. I love the Showtime series. William H. Macy's Frank Gallagher might be the greatest character on TV, and I have a Creepy Old Guy Crush on Emmy Rossum (pictured, as Fiona). The entire cast is an exercise in relentless dysfunction that is both hilarious and sad. Fellow Shamelessites know what I mean. The rest of you, get on board.

Poll result: You like Seahawks and Patriots even more in NFL title games: We asked your predictions for the upcoming AFC and NFC championship games and it was Patriots over Colts by 74.0 percent and Seahawks over Packers by 63.3%.

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

January 12, 2015

Who'll win AFC, NFC title games? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus Hassan Whiteside and history of Heat 7-footers, Canton results & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 12. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pro Football Hall of Fame poll, NFL Divisional Round, Heat/Cavs, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

College Football Playoff got it right: Click on College Football Wins for today's column by me previewing tonight's Oregon-Ohio State national championship game. For years I didn't think the sport needed a playoff. I think I was wrong.

1aa1aafcnfcWHO CAN STOP A SEAHAWKS-PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL?: It seems inevitable at this point, right? Seattle and New England are two of the greatest home-field advantages in the NFL, and opening betting line shows Patriots a 7 to 7.5-point favorite over Colts and Seahawks 6.5-7.5 over Packers. Then again, discounting Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers too quickly feels risky, too. I'm curious who you like in the AFC and NFC championship games. Not asking who you want to win. Asking who you predict will win.

HASSAN WHITESIDE, MAYOR OF MIAMI: OK I guess I'm coming around on this guy. I've been making fun of 1aa1ahassanall the glowing stories about the Heat's 25-year-old, 7-foot reserve center. But last night's 23-point, 16-rebound show off the bench in the win at the L.A. Clippers was pretty convincing. The Heat could finally have their big man -- the guy they hoped Greg Oden would be. Hassan Whiteside was bouncing around Lebanon and China until Miami gave him a shot, and right now it looks like a major find. The Heat are still only 16-21 and positioned as the eighth seed, but Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and last night's Whiteside will not be a team anyone wants to face in the first round of the playoffs. Pictured: The avatar from his Twitter account, @youngwhiteside.

THE LIST: HEAT 7-FOOTERS: Hassan Whiteside is the 18th 7-footer in franchise history to score in a Heat regular-season game. Miami's top five 7-footers based on regular-season points scored for the team:

Shaquille O'Neal             2004-08          4,010

Kevin Willis                     1994-96          1,591

Matt Geiger                    1992-95          1,352

Vladimir Stepania           2001-03             726

Mark Blount                    2007-09             660

Note: Rounding out top 10--Earl Barron 404 points, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 360, Duane Causwell 275, Alan Ogg 162 and Loren Woods 121. Others--Wang Zhi-Zhi 86 points, Justin Hamilton 80 (and counting), Greg Oden 67, Eddy Curry 30, Milos Babic 18, Ernest Brown 3 and Manute Bol 2. In case you wondered, officially listed heights are 6-11 1/2 for Rony Seikaly, 6-11 for Chris Bosh and 6-10 for Alonzo Mourning. 

Poll result: Seau leads your Canton inductees: We gave you thr 15 modern-era finalists for Canton, invited you to vote for five, and your top five were Junior Seau with 16.0 percent, Jimmy Johnson 12.8%, Marvin Harrison 10.2%, Orlando Pace 9.8% and Kurt Warner 9.4%. Smart ballot by you all; I was impressed you included Pace, a lineman. I had four of those in my top five. I left out Johnson but included Tim Brown, who was sixth (7.8%) by your vote.

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January 10, 2015

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

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 04, 2015

What is Dolphins biggest draft need? New poll. Vote now!; plus happy birthday Don Shula, new Hot Button Top 10, Stuart Scott & more

1aa1aal826west
1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 5. At right, seen this morning on an 826 West overpass, via Twitter. Looks like a waste of perfectly good red Solo cups to me! 2) Click on Random Evidence for the return of the Sunday notes-column package after a two-week holiday hiatus. 3) In The 
Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, Oregon-Ohio State finale, college football vs. pro poll, top Miami sports story of 2014 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"I don't give a flying crap that U-Miami is switching from Nike uniforms to Adidas, and neither should you. I do care what players they put in those uniforms." --Greg Cote

1aa1adraftWHAT IS DOLPHINS' BIGGEST DRAFT NEED?: Don't give me any of that "best available athlete" crap. Assume there will be is a quality athlete at just about every position at the 14th pick in the first round. In that case, what do you think is the Dolphins' greatest need to target with that top pick? Vote and say why.

HAPPY 85TH, DON SHULA!: The great Don Shula, Dolphins icon and winningest NFL coach, turned 85 yesterday. Here's to many more, Don! No coach in football and few in any sports 

1aa1adonashulaenjoyed a greater, more innovative career combining excellence and longevity. Shula is best-known for the back-to-back 1972-73 Super Bowl wins including the still-unique  '72 Perfect Season. But, for me, Shula's record 347 combined regular-season and playoff victories with the Dolphins (1970-95) and the Colts in Baltimore (1963-69) comprise the accomplishment that is most unassailable. Put it this way. Bill Belichick leads active coaches and is fourth all-time with 230 wins. He'd have to average 10-plus wins for 12 more seasons, until age 74, to surpass Shula. Nobody will catch or pass The Don of the NFL.x

STUART SCOTT, 1965-2015: R.I.P., Stuart Scott, the longtime ESPN anchor who passed 1aa1astuartsaway this morning after a long fight with cancer. Scott once said, "You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live." With due respect, no you don't. You beat cancer if you are very lucky. I have had friends die of cancer, and nobody "loses" that fight because they have done nothing wrong, nothing to cause that loss.

HOT BUTTON JAN. 4: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, back after a two-week hiatus, is an expanded, updated version of what appears in the Sunday pulp editions. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NFL: Wild-Card Weekend wraps up playoffs' first round: Carolina beat Arizona and Baltimore upset Pittsburgh on Saturday, now it's on to Bengals-Colts and Lions-Cowboys. By the way, if you didn't think Panthers belonged in playoffs, what does that say about Cardinals?

2. College football: Oregon, Ohio State in first playoff title game: Oregon handled Florida State and Ohio State upset Alabama to set up first College Football Playoff title game Jan. 12. Oddsmakers have established Oregon Ducks as heavy favorites to both win the game and wear the most hideous uniforms.

3. Heat: Struggling team loses fourth in a row: Miami is 14-20 after a fourth straight loss Saturday, is barely hanging onto playoff pace and is only 6-12 at home entering today's date with Brooklyn. Then it's off on a nine-game road trip. Probably just as well.

4. Dolphins: Philbin back despite no playoffs: Team missing playoffs for sixth straight year and third in row under Joe Philbin didn't keep owner Stephen Ross from saying Philbin would return in 2015. What does Ross have in common with a sadist running a limbo contest? Both set the bar low.

5. Hurricanes: Men's basketball team falls to No. 3 Virginia: UM men’s basketball is 10-4 after Saturday's double-overtime home loss to No. 3 Virginia in the ACC opener. It’s fair to say Hurricanes fans really like coach Jim Larrañaga. I mean in general, but especially compared with Al Golden.

6. Duke Johnson: Star UM running back turns pro: No surprise as Canes career rushing leader Duke Johnson announces he'll skip his senior senior and enter NFL Draft. Fans' wishes got all mixed up. They were hoping Duke would stay and Golden would go.

7. Panthers: Cats sign Bjugstad long term: Florida is only two points off NHL playoff pace and this week signed scoring star Nick Bjugstad, 22, to a six-year deal. The Panthers are a team on the rise and have fans feeling optimistic. Repeat that last sentence. It's a rare one.

8. Marlins: Big-spending Fish win the offseason: Too bad they don't give a trophy for winning the Winter World Series. Careful on the high hopes, though. Last time fans felt this good, Ozzie Guillen praised Fidel Castro, tream fizzled and a fire sale broke out.

9. Gators: Florida ends Muschamp era with bowl win: Gators sent departed coach Will Muschamp off with a 28-20 win over East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. That's played in Alabama. Which explains the field being soaked with tears.

10. Jim Harbaugh: Coach leaves 49ers for Michigan: That means Michigan vs. Ohio State (Urban Meyer) will now be America's most-disliked-coaches matchup other than Alabama (Nick Saban) vs. anybody else.

Poll result: You'd watch Super Bowl over college championship: We asked, and the Super Bowl beat the College Football Playoff title game as a viewing choice, 59.35 to 40.65 percent. The SB broke down to 44.86 strong support and 14.49 weak. The college finale broke down to 24.76 strong and 15.89 weak.

Revisit us often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...