February 04, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 14, 2016

And with eighth overall draft pick, the Dolphins select ... Mel Kiper's pick for Miami here; plus what winning Powerball would buy you in sports, CFP 2017 title odds for Canes, Fins' and Marlins' big moves, Marlins caskets & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 14. Back up at Friday Page HQ today working up my NFL Divisional Round playoff picks. Where my coin at !? 2) Goran Dragic has serious hamstring strain, will miss at least three Heat games. 3) Lawrence Phillips died in prison yesterday of an apparent suicide while serving time for the murder of a cellmate after originally being jailed for domestic abuse. He was the sixth overall pick of the 1996 NFL draft and flamed out of the league by '99. His was wasted talent, a wasted life. What a shame. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Insomniac's Dream with 'Bama-Heat-Panthers, R.I.P. David Bowie, CFP championship polls, our NFL wild-card results, your Adam Gase verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

KIPER'S FIRST '16 MOCK DRAFT: ANOTHER SHAQ IN MIAMI'S FUTURE: ESPN guru Mel Kiper is ahead of the curve today with his first NFL Mock Draft, and he has Miami selecting Clemson DE ShaqlawsonShaq Lawson (pictured) in the first round, eighth overall. The Kipe's nugget on the pick: "Lawson led college football in tackles for loss with 25.5, and Miami should add another edge rusher because Olivier Vernon is about to become extremely expensive if he can even be kept around as an unrestricted free agent. Lawson is just extremely consistent in his ability to beat tackles and makes plays." Also notable: Kiper predictably has Ohio State DE Joey Bosa (from St. Thomas Aquinas) going No. 1 overall. He has  no Canes in the first round but one Seminole (DB Jalen Ramsey, fifth overall) and one Gator (CB Vernon Hargreaves, ninth). He pegs three QBs as 1R: Cal's Jared Goff, second; Memphis' Paxton Lynch, 15th; and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, 22nd). I can see Miami interest in Lawson. The Dolphins' specific targeted position priority may be linebacker, but that could be problematic in the '16 draft picking eighth. Two of the top three LBs (UCLA's Myles Jack, Notre Dame's Jalen Smith) are coming off major knee injuries; Kiper has Jack going 10th and Smith 20th. Another name to keep an eye on for Miami: Alabama LB Reggie Ragland.

Zamboni PowerballWHAT WINNING THE POWERBALL COULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU IN SPORTS: In today's latest column I calculate what a single winner of last night's Powerball lottery would actually have taken home in cash, and what that might have bought in the world of sports. How many major-league baseballs, how many Zamboni machines, how many Super Bowl trophies. Also, what franchises in the BIg Four sports you could have afforded to buy. Hint: There are 15. Click on Powerball and Sports to read the column.   

Um66-1BECAUSE IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLACE YOUR BETS, THAT'S WHY: Fans in Tuscaloosa haven't even sobered up yet but the betting odds are out for the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship, via Bovada. Alabam is the favroite to repeat at 7-1, a half-tick ahead of the team it just best, Clemson, at 15-2. Then it's a trio at 12-1: Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State. Looking to our peninsula, Florida State Seminoles are 10th at 16-1, Florida Gators are tied for 14th at 33-1, and Miami Hurricanes are tied for 30th at 66-1. A big-time coach hire in Mark Richt and a returning star quarterback in Brad Kaaya obviously have not raised the estimation of UM all that much, although I'd be surprised if that 66-1 didn't fall as the seasons nears.

ON DOLPHINS' AND MARLINS' BIG MOVES: Fins: Gase fills in staff: New coach Adam Gase this week completed most of his staff, notably including the hiring of defensive coordinator Vance Vancejoseph ChenJoseph, who' d been the Bengals defensive backs coach. Joseph (pictured left) has not been a coordinator before, just as Gase has not been a head coach before, so both must earn our faith. It isn't given. As I first wrote after the Gase hiring (before it apparently became trendy and was seen echoed elsewhere): "Prove you can fix all of this, and you’ll be a conquering hero. But prove it first, please, because we have been here before, seen this, done this. Another news conference proclaiming another culture. Another declaration how they got the right coach this time. Don’t tell me [again] how it’s different this time. How this is the right coach and the winning is at hand. Do it first. Win. Then talk to me." Fish: Team extends Gordon, signs Chen and two others: Wei-Yin Chen (pictured right) is a legit starter, the likely No. 2 after Jose Fernandez, leaving only 3-through-5 in the rotation to worry about (!). Edwin Jackson may get a shot to resurrect his career as a starter or appear in middle relief. Chris Johnson will be a utility guy as a corner infielder. None of these additions is a difference maker, although the Chen signing is significant. Also, extending second baseman Dee Gordon's contract by five years and $50 million is big. Gordon, NL batting champion, is one of the few things that went right for the Fish last season, and he's a cornerstone moving forward.

MarlinscasketSLIP INTO A MIAMI MARLINS CASKET: Have a loved one dying to prove for all eternity that he or she is the ultimate Marlins fan? Then here is the perfect parting gift. Yes, there are MLB-licensed caskets, and the Marlins version is pictured. For a mere $2,559 (available at Walmart, of all places), your loved one can rest in peace with a Marlins logo embossed in satin staring him or her in the face as the casket is lowered into the earth. Talk about a fitting tribute. Also buried in a Marlins casket: the team's playoff hopes, most seasons.

Poll results: You predicted Alabama, but wanted Clemson: In separate polls we asked who you predicted to win the CFP national-championship game and it was 56.2 percent Alabama. We asked who you wanted to win and it was 84.2% Clemson. Clearly, the Saban Effect at work.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter (season final): 18.1%; plus Tannehill leads Miami past Patriots 20-10; also, Radio Tuesday!, Fins' 2016 schedule, '15's biggest-Miami-sports-story verdict, latest Hot Button & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 5. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! You get one full week. 2) Click on Week 17 Gems for all of yesterday's Dolphins/NFL picks. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami/South Florida sports story-of-the-year poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, sports predictions for 2016 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also televising on ESPNU and Fusion TV.

My Dolphins coach-search column, Fins' 2016 schedule: Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the club try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Also. Miami's 2016 non-division games were made known yesterday. At home it'll be the Browns, Steelers, Titans, Cardinals and 49ers. Non-division roadies will be Ravens, Bengals, Chargers, Rams and Seahawks.

Live in-game blog and postgame thoughts: Find both beneath the new and final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll of the season. Click Tannehill the Solution -- With the Right Coach, for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 18.1%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-ending -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.1 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-10 home victory over New DsmEngland putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. The DSM, completing its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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, we suggested giving "season as a whole" added weight. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case we left the poll open a bit longer than usual and closed it at around 2:15 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Game 14: 5.4% (following 30-14 loss at San Diego)

Game 15: 6.0% (following 18-12 loss vs. Indianapolis)

Game 16/Season Final: 18.1% (following 20-10 victory vs. New England)

Yearly DSM Results

2015--18.1% (following 6-10 season); 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).

G17: NEW ENGLAND @ DOLPHINS: HOUSE-CLEANING FINS BEAT NEMESIS IN FINALE: Final: Tannehill 350 yards and two TDs and big defense carried Miami. The unexpected win cost Dolphins a few spots in the draft order, but cheering fans didn't seem to mind. Click on Tannehill the Solution -- With the Right Coach, for my column from the game. ..... Fourth Q: Miami 19-yard late FG makes the final score, 20-1 win. ..... Tannehill-Jordan Cameron 2-yard TD pass for a 17-10 Miami lead. A 46-yard strike to Parker fueled the series. ..... Third Q: Tannehill surpasses 4,000 passing yards for second straight season, first Dolphin to do that since Dan Marino went 4K X 3 in 1984-86. ... NE ties it 10-10. Brady comes out passing as we'd predicted, completes 68-yarder to James White to set up 3-yard TD run by the exhumed Steven Jackson. ..... Halftime: Are we seeing early signs of dementia in Bill Belichick? Last week he gave the other team the ball to begin overtime. Now he has Tom Brady throws five passes for 20 yards through the air in the first half at Miami. What? Huh? Expect a lot more Brady from here, presuming the Pats have an interest in winning. ..... Second Q: MIA 10-3 on Tannehill 15-yard TD strike to Devante Parker, after an earlier 31-yard completion to Greg Jennings. ... NE fails to take lead, misses 46-yard FG try. ... NE 3-3 on 34-yard FG. ... Andrew Franks' failed 46-yard FG try had the knuckling trajectory of a poorly struck 3-iron. ... First Q: Pats' first two possessions: 9 plays, 27 yards, 2 punts. ... Miami 3-0 on 38-yard FG in series fueled by Lamar Miller's 29-yard run. ... Swap of punts begins game. For Miami, a stalemate almost feels like a positive. ... As a seventh consecutive Dolphins season prepares to end too soon. ..... Pregame: Stadium filling up in a way that suggests a big crowd today, but that's largely because so many Patriots fans are here. Seeing as many 'Brady' jerseys as those of any other player on either team. ..... Original post: When you dump the head coach and both coordinators within one season you are running out of people to fire. But not quite! Yesterday the Dolphins "parted ways" with general manager Dennis Hickey, unsurprisingly, since he'd been rendered a glorified assistant by the arrival and takeover of personnel boss Mike Tannenbaum. Anyway, the 5-10 Fins host the 12-3 Patriots this afternoon, with Miami skidding to a halt at 4-7 under interim coach Dan Campbell. Ryan Tannehill enters Miami’s season finale banged up after being sacked six times last Patsfinsweek and then again during the week on that vicious blindside hit by Miko Grimes. The Patriots figure to offer little respite Sunday, their 48 sacks ranking second in the NFL. Too bad for the Fins this game means something for New England and, therefore, guys like Tom Brady won’t have the day off. Pats have sewn up a first-round bye but need to beat Miami (or hope for an unlikely Denver loss) to clinch the home field throughout. Pats are 2-3 since a 10-0 start, have lost their past two visits to Miami and might be quite vulnerable for an upset here. I won’t go that far. Brady is still Brady, and he still has Rob Gronkowski. Even if it’s just those two and nine bandaged mummies, that’s still a better offense than Miami usually shows. But I do see a much better game than Miami’s 36-7 collapse up there on Oct. 29. See this one close, in fact. That reminds me. Aside to Bill Belichick: If this one happens to go into overtime and you win the coin toss like last week, take the ball this time, dummy. My pick: New England, 27-20.

Poll result: UM firing Golden, hiring Richt named top Miami/South Florida sports story of 2015: We listed our Top 10 local stories of the past year, invited your vote on which was biggest, and the winner was UM firing Al Golden and hiring Mark Richt with 33.0 percent. Rounding out top five: Dolphins firing Joe Philbin amid seventh straight non-playoff season, 21.0%; Ndamukong Suh signing with Fins, 13.7%; Heat acquiring Goran Dragic, losing Chris Bosh to blood clots and missing playoffs, 8.1%; and Marlins' Dee Gordon becoming first since Jackie Robinson to lead NL in hitting and stolen bases, 6.0%.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JAN. 3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1. PANTHERS: Jagr leads the hottest team on ice: Jaromir Jagr, 43, made the all-star team by leading the Atlantic division in fan voting as the go-Cats-go entered the new year the talk of the NHL. Florida last night won a franchise-record eighth straight game and 14th in the past 17 to roar onto playoff pace. And general manager Dale Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant found the reward of contract extensions in their Christmas stockings.

Hotbutton2. CFP: Clemson wins Orange, to meet Alabama for national championship: Clemson dominated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and Alabama beat Michigan State even worse in the Cotton to reach the Jan. 11 College Football Playoff title game in Glendale, Ariz. title. Crimson Tide are an opening 6 1/2-point favorite despite the collective will of Miami football fans to see Nick Saban sad.

3. HEAT: Whiteside opens the new year right: Hassan Whiteside had season-highs of 25 points and 19 rebounds as the Heat won its first game of 2016 by a season-best 24-point margin over Dallas. Good: Miami stays in thick of a tightly bunched East playoff race. Better: Seeing Mark Cuban sad.

4. DOLPHINS: Fins host Patriots Sunday in season finale: Club "parted ways" with GM Dennis Hickey on Saturday; now Fins host New England in season finale. Pats' big sackers may pose a problem for Ryan Tannheill. The banged-up QB was sacked six times last week -- seven if you include the blindside Twitter hit by Miko Grimes. 

5. NFL: Sunday wraps the regular season, sets playoff field: The regular season wraps up with all 16 games being played Sunday, after which the first round of the playoffs will be set. The "playoffs." I wonder. Do younger Dolphins fans even know what that word means?

6. HURRICANES: UM hires defensive coordinator as Richt staff takes shape: So long, Mark D'onofrio. Miami's new defensive chief is Miami native Manny Diaz Jr., son of the former mayor, who held same job at Mississippi State. I don't wanna say Canes fans are tough but some already are calling for Diaz's firing. 

7. BOWLS: State's Big 3 bowled over, a rarity: This college football season marked only the second time ever (first was 2002) that the Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators all ended their season with bowl losses.

8. UM HOOPS: Both Canes teams ranked as ACC play begins: UM's men beat Syracuse here in their ACC basketball opener Saturday. The Canes' men and women's teams are a combined 25-2 today, both ranked and thinking NCAA Tournament. And what were the odds that South Florida's sports excitement entering the new year would be centered on college basketball and hockey?

9. TENNIS: Miami Open, Miami-Dade at odds: Officials of the Miami Open major pro tennis tournament, the annual fixture on Key Biscayne, are threatening to move the event because the county, which owns the facility, won't OK expansion. Hey here's a wild thought: Compromise!

10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream host big stakes races: Gulfstream held two stakes races Saturday that were an early prelude to the May 7 Kentucky Derby. But do we still care about horse racing with the end of the Triple Crown drought no longer the carrot before our nose?

Missing the cut: Happy new year! Happy, mostly, because we're done with the media's annoying year-end lists ... Jarvis Landry, Reshad Jones share Dolphins MVP award. That Ryan Tannehill or Ndamukong Suh didn't win says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach ... R.I.P., famous Harlem Gloebtrotter Meadowlark Lemon, 83. "Too bad," said Cleo Lemon. "There aren't many of us around." "Do I count?" said deceased actor Jack Lemmon ... UM cornerback Artie Burns is skipping his senior season for the draft. Call it Mark Richt's first loss as Canes coach ... Peyton Manning continues to deny a now-discredited report by Al Jazeera that he used human growth hormone. I'm not sure who Al is, but I think he owes Peyton an apology ... Junior Orange Bowl golf ended. I think I saw the winner use a toe wedge ... CFP semifinal TV ratings nosedived thanks to airing the games on New Year's Eve. "Bad Ideas In Programming" has a new clubhouse leader ... Want a good idea? NHL's annual outdoor Winter Classic ... Dear Marlins: Spring training is getting close. Either figure out a way to clone Jose Fernandez, or sign more starting pitchers, please.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2015

It's Clemson-'Bama! Tigers win big, Tide rolls. My postgame thoughts, Orange Bowl game column; plus here are 2015's Top 10 national sports stories. What was biggest? Poll. Vote now!; also, Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all. Make it a safe one. Lots of amateur drinkers out tonight. 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) Brent Grimes' "apology" for his wife slamming Ryan Tannehill was pretty tepid. And still no apology from Miko. 4) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Open letter to Miko Grimes, hot Panthers relevant again, NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 16 results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP award: Receiver/returner Jarvis Landry and strong safety Reshad Jones split Dolphins' MVP award announced today. Hate ties, but both are legit choices. That neither Ryan Tannehill nor Ndamukong Suh won says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach.

Orangebowl ClemsonoklahomaORANGE BOWL/CFP SEMIFINAL: CLEMSON 37, OKLAHOMA 17 (Final): Clemson proved it had no business being the betting underdog in this College Football Playoff semifinal, winning all over the field in a 37-17 domination of favored Oklahoma. The Tigers won where it gets physical, rushing for 312 yards and limiting OU to 67. The Sooners averaged 52 points its previous seven games but was shut out in the second half Thursday. Clemson impressed more than Oklahoma disappointed on this New year's Eve. Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium on tonight's game. ..... Original post: To the sport, it's a College Football Playoff semifinal in the new era's second year. To Miami, it's the 82nd Orange Bowl, the continuation of a tradition conceived in the 1930s to draw attention and boost tourism. To the No. 1 Clemson Tigers and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, it's the win they need to reach the Jan. 11 championship game in Glandale, Ariz., vs. tonight's Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl winner. Click on Miami Sets the Stage for my column previewing the game. Expect fireworks from two quarterbacks who combined for 65 touchdown passes this season. Clemson, though unbeaten and top-ranked, is a betting underdog; the buzz is that Oklahoma is right-now better. I don't buy it. My pick: Clemson 34-31.

2015YOU PICK THE 2015 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in our poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically, not in order, 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, figuring that if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, chances are the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. We'll ask your vote on the top 10 Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015 in the coming days. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Go!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.4%; plus Radio Tuesday, Fins sink to 5-9, Hot Button Top 10, ranking Miami's 25 biggest current sports figures, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our NFL Week 15 picks. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot and vote, Dolphins/NFL Week 15 picks, Pete Rose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami (790) and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. I'll have a new blogpost here post-show, by mid- to late-afternoon.

"Would I trade Ryan Tannehill for Drew Brees, who is about to turn 37 and is five years past his prime? If drunk, perhaps." --Greg Cote

Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures: I rank the biggest-name Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers and Hurricanes, an impossible task, but somebody had to do it. Click on The Miami 25 to read the column and see the list.

Our Dolphins-Chargers postgame thoughts: Find them below, just after the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-14 loss at San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-9. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their 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 day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Game 14: 5.4% (following 30-14 loss at San Diego)

Next poll: Dec. 27 (following game vs. Indianapolis)

G14: SAN DIEGO 30, DOLPHINS 14: PLAYING OUT THE STRING: Postgame thoughts: Man, the Dolphins just suck. I hate to say it. San Diego had lost five straight home games.  Before today. Hadn't scored a rushing TD since Week 1. Until today. Had gone 11 straight games without rushing for 100 yards. Until today. Miami has turned into the remedy for other teams -- the opponent you want to play. Very little offense today and not nearly enough defense. Same old story. And this was a bad opponent, remember. Wasted season. ..... Halftime: Embarrassment! Low keeps getting lower for Miami's season. ryan Tannehill only 74 yards passing at the half. Run game with 13 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile the pass-D has been scorched for 203 yards by Philip Rivers. Unless you believe in miracles, and I doubt you do by now, Miami is headed for 5-9. ..... Pregame: I'll be updating the score live and be back with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM. ..... Original post: God, this is what the Dolphins have become. A 5-8 Fins team playing at a 3-10 Chargers team in the only NFL Week 15 game in Finsboltswhich both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. The only scintilla of drama we’ll find Sunday at 4:25 p.m. in San Diego is that the final road game of the year for Miami could be the last home game ever for Chargers fans, with the franchise plotting a move to new digs in Carson, Calif., south of L.A. That should add an element of emotion that could bolster the Bolts, while, oppositely, flying cross-country on a short week (after playing Monday night) figures as a detriment for the Fins. Yes, certain trends favor the visitors here. Miami has won nine of past 11 in occasional series, including 37-0 last season, and Diego has dropped five home games in a row. Also, Chargers have been held to three points in each of their past three losses. I have a hunch, though, that Philip Rivers’ offense will find its remedy in a Dolphins defense that has allowed 36, 33 and 38 points in three of its past four road games. If this is farewell, San Diego, Chargers will go out a winner, at least. My pick: San Diego, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Welcome to Miami: Basketball Town USA: Remember when this was a football town? Might be again someday. Isn't at the moment. Saturday alone, the No. 15-ranked Hurricanes men improved to 9-1, the No. 23 UM women narrowly were beaten by No. 4 Baylor 88-81 for their first loss, and Florida and FSU were winners here in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Hoop City!

2. HEAT: Riley denies team is shopping Whiteside: As the Heat hosts Portland on Sunday, speculation the team might trade young center Hassan Whiteside is "B.S.," said club president Pat Riley. Which may or may not be execu-speak for, "We haven’t heard a good enough offer yet."

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Six days to UM bowl game as postseason parade begins: Saturday saw the first six of 42 bowl games, with the Miami Beach Bowl coming up Tuesday and the Hurricanes set to face Washington State this coming Saturday (though without new coach Mark Richt) in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex. That’s so close to the border you can see Mexico. Well, unless Donald Trump’s wall is already up.

4. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats open homestand: Florida has skated to three wins in a row and nine in past 12 games and now begins a six-game homestand Sunday vs. Vancouver. Yet despite all the recent winning the Panthers are on the far edge of playoff contention, eighth in the East. Man, you tough with those postseason tickets, Lord Stanley!  

5. DOLPHINS: Fins in San Diego as another disappointing season ebbs: Miami visits the Chargers on Sunday, playing out the string after Monday’s loss to the Giants eliminated Fins from playoffs for a seventh season in a row. "Grandpa, tell me again what it was like when the Dolphins were good!"

6. PETE ROSE: Purgatory continues as bid for reinstatement is denied: Banned from baseball since 1989 for gambling, all-time hits leader Pete Rose remains ostracized with this week’s ruling. Of course, the Hall of Fame independently could still put Rose on its ballot, but that’d make too much sense.

7. NBA: Cavs, Warriors on Christmas Day: It's the gift NBA fans will all unwrap together. There are five NBA games on Christmas but one of interest: Cleveland at Golden State, LeBron James at Steph Curry in a likely Finals preview. Hopefully LeBron isn't too "tired" to play. 

8. MARLINS: Miami conspicuously absent from MLB's Cuba goodwill trip: MLB made its first trip to the island since 1999 with a goodwill tour including clinics, and participants included former Cuban defectors such as Yasiel Puig. Notably, the team closest to Cuba did not participate. See, it isn't true. The Marlins do occasionally do something smart!

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star named SI's Sportsperson of the Year: Easy to defend Sports Illustrated's choice of Serena, who dominated women's tennis, although golfer Jordan Spieth had an argument. Also, I wonder if SI forgot that American Pharoah ended horse racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought?

10. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens sets box-office records: The new Star Wars film raked in some $250 million in its opening few days. More people have already seen the film than will  attend every NFL game on Sunday. It's good for sports to be humbled every once in a while, right?

Missing the cut: Carolina Panthers go for 14-0 today. Champagne ready, '72 Fins? ... Suspended Florida QB Will Grier is transferring. Later, Gator ... Wonder how the NHL likes that its leading scorer, Patrick Kane, was investigated for sexual assault? ... NBA referee Bill Kennedy comes out as gay after a gay slur from Rajon Rondo ... Four major amateur golf tournaments are underway in South Florida ... Duran Duran will perform at the tennis Miami Open on Key Biscayne. Which would be exciting if this were, like, the 1985 Miami Open ... President Obama congratulated retiring soccer star Abby Wambach on a great career. Republicans demanded equal time, argued it wasn't so great ... Ray Rice still wants to play. Sure, because there's a lot of demand for aging running backs who both punched their girlfriend and averaged 3.1 per carry ... LeBron James collided courtside with the wife of golfer Jason Day and was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Poll result: Griffey Jr. leads your 2016 Hall of Fame inductees: We asked who you'd vote into Cooperstown from among 12 top contenders on the latest ballot, and your top five were Ken Griffey Jr. with 18.6 percent, Mike Piazza 11.9%, Roger Clemens 10.8%, Barry Bonds 10.2% and Curt Schilling 9.2%. Based on the mentions per ballots cast, only Griffey's support translated to the 75 percent mininum required by the Hall of Fame.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 20, 2015

G15: Indianapolis 15, Dolphins 6 (Half): Gore leads a parade of ex's hurting the Dolphins thus far. Our halftime thoughts; plus the new Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Christmas weekend filled with even more love than presents! 2) Click on Week 16 Gems for today's Dolphins and other NFL picks. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall in Sun Bowl with CSM poll, team-inspiring-most-optimism verdict & more. 4) ICYMI, click on The Miami 25 for my ranking of the 25 biggest current names in South Florida sports. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Voting continues in season-ending Canesfan poll: Find the latest and season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in the blogpost directly below this new one. Vote and be heard!

Watch for latest Dolfan poll later today: The new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll will appear right here soon after today's game ends. Estimated posttime: 5 p.m.

G15: INDIANAPOLIS @ DOLPHINS: AS ANOTHER NFL CALENDAR YEAR FIZZLES TO AN END IN MIAMI: Halftime: Miami has only 151 net yards of offense in trailing 15-6 at the half. And the ex's are killing Miami. Ex-Canes Frank Gore, Philip Dorsett and Andre Johnson and ex-FIU'er T.Y. Hilton have 157 combined yards, and ex-Fins Vontae Davis (interception) and Kendall Langford (sack) also are hurting the Dolphins thus far. ..... Second Q: Matt Hasselback knocked from game with shoulder boo-boo; 3rd-stringer Charlie Whitehurst in for Indy. No matter. Gore 11-yard scoring run, his second TD. Ex-Cane is really hurting Miami and Colts now up 15-6 ... MIA within 8-6 on Lamar Miller 1-yard TD run followed by missed 2-point conversion pass. Standard call would have been extra-point kick there. Surprised they went for two so early in game. ... On the bright side. Fins far from out of it. Eight points (should be) a small hole against a bad Colts squad. ..... First Q: Good God, man! Tannehill picked off in end zone. Miami wastes 49-yard completion to DeVante Parker. I said before the 3rd-and-goal pass, "Watch them settle for a field goal." Gave 'em too much credit. ... Colts 8-0 now on Frank Gore 37-yard TD run through at least three missed tackles. Missed extra point. Bad, bad defense. ... Brent Grimes INT negated by his own penalty. ... World-safeties leader Miami is hit with another one. Colts, 2-0. You must be bleepin' kidding me. ... What the Dolphins have to play for? Avoiding a 10-loss season. Yes, It has come down to this. ..... Pregame: Center Mike Pouncey the notable Dolphin inactive today. ..... Note: be live-blogging here during today's Dolphins-Colts game, with a running commentary including halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the appearance of the new DSM poll. ..... Original post: For the seventh season in a row a calendar year ebbs with another Dolphins season petering out playoff-less. Sad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Dolphins gave their fans the Christmas gift of a playoff team once in a damned while? Instead it’s coal in the Dolfan stocking as a 5-9 Miami team Indmiahosts the Andrew Luck-less 6-8 Colts in the season's next-to-last game. Unlike Miami, Indy still is alive for a playoff spot, though ever so faintly. Despite that Miami is a narrow 2 1/2-point favorite today. I continue to believe that the Dolphins are closer to mediocre than to awful. Sad to say, I guess that makes me an optimist. (Maybe even a homer?) It is the Colts who have been closer to awful lately, with Matt Hasselbeck looking his age (40) in three straight losses. Now creaky Hasselbeck is forced to pitch again Sunday here because Luck, though close, isn’t fully healthy yet. Sidelight: FIU’s T.Y. Hilton returns to Miami for the first time as a pro. He’s been griping about Indy’s play-calling, but it is the Nags’ defense that’s been putrid lately. Ryan Tannehill could roll a 300 against this pass defense and Lamar Miller should find friendly running lanes, too. Indy's playoff prayer is that it must win out and hope Houston loses twice to sneak in. Won’t happen. Fins will see to that today. My pick: Dolphins, 27-17.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four days until CFP semifinal in Miami: No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma arrived in town for their New Year’s Eve faceoff in a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl game at Dolphins stadium. Only thing keeping it from being the perfect matchup is that Miami fans don’t get a chance to boo Nick Saban.

2. HURRICANES: UM fails to end postseason drought in Sun Bowl: The Canes lost 20-14 against Washington State on Saturday in El Paso, losing a sixth consecutive bowl. UM’s last postseason win had been after the 2006 season. Counting interim guys, that was six coaches ago.

3. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats try to extend win streak on Sunday: The Panthers have won five games in a row and 11 of their past 14 to surge within two points of second place in the NHL’s East playoff race entering Sunday’s game against Columbus. If the Cats were any hotter, the ice would be melting under their skates.

4. HEAT: Team stands precariously at season’s one-third mark: Entering Sunday's games, Miami is only a half-game from second place in the NBA East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. Remember phone booths? Picture 10 people crammed into one. That’s the Eastern Conference standings.

5. DOLPHINS: Miami hosts Colts on Sunday in next-to-last game: You are a true Dolfan if you show up Sunday to watch a 5-9 team host the Andrew Luck-less Colts. For a seventh consecutive season, the Dolphins, in lieu of the gift of a playoff season, have rewarded their fans with a metaphorical lump of coal.

6. NBA: Steph tops LeBron in marquee Christmas matchup: Golden State topped Cleveland 89-83 in a Christmas rematch of the NBA Finals. What we learned: It's still Steph Curry's league, LeBron James.

7. NFL: Pro Bowl awards bring usual outcry: Center Mike Pouncey was the lone Dolphin chosen. Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Fins safety Reshad Jones were among notable surprise snubs as the NFL named its annual all-stars. The Pro Bowl. The honor every player wants, even though it's the game nobody wants to play in, or watch.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men and women, both ranked, back in action: No. 13 men (10-1) host Princeton Tuesday, the No. 23 women (12-1) host North Carolina State Wednesday. Great season so far for Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier.
 
9. SOCCER: Blatter, Platini suspended eight years: Disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European chief Michel Platini received eight-year bans each for their roles in the sport's bribery scandal. Presumably the attempted bribes of the people suspending them did not work.
 
10. YEAR-END AWARDS: The AP anoints Curry, Williams: The Associated Press named NBA star Steph Curry and tennis star Serena Williams its make and female athletes of the year. "What's a horse gotta do to get a trophy," said Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
 
Missing the cut: A drone carrying a TV camera nearly crashed into a World Cup skiier. Some sentences are so ridiculous they require no punchline ... Peyton Manning denies report he used human growth hormone. It'd be a bigger story, but the report is by Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based network ... Farewell, Frank Beamer ... Carolina Panthers go for 15-0 today in Atlanta ... Junior Orange Bowl tennis ended. By habit, disgruntled parents continued screaming over line calls ... Western Kentucky beat  South Florida in Miami Beach Bowl. Marlins Park was half empty. As usual.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Heat, college football, Fish, Cats, Warriors, prep champs, soccer, money, Canes hoops; plus my Dolphins at 50 column, faith in Tannehill eroding & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Faith in Ryan Tannehill poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 14 picks, Trump/Doral and PGA Tour, strength of Serena, Heat at quarter-mark verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins at 50: My latest column: I attended Friday night's lavish Dolphins 50th Anniversary gala in Hollywood and it informs my latest Sunday column on how this franchise is so much better at celebrating its past than it is creating new glory days for its fans. Click on Yesterday Is Great, But What About Tomorrowto read it in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: 50th anniversary celebrated as Fins host Giants on Monday night: As team skids to a seventh straight year out of the playoffs, Dolphins’ 50 greatest all-time players will be introduced at halftime Monday as franchise celebrates 50 years of football. That breaks down to about 40 seasons worthy of actual celebration, and then the last 10 or so.

2. HEAT: Still wondering at NBA’s quarter turn: How good is Miami?: With the season one-fourth done, Miami fans are still trying to decide how good the Heat is. Eastern finals? Barely make playoffs? Stay tuned, although three straight losses entering Sunday's game vs. Memphis have made the latter seem likelier at the moment.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Canes practice for bowl as city prepares to host CFP semifinal: UM readies for the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso as Miami prepares for Clemson-Oklahoma in the Dec. 31 Orange Bowl game. Oh, and if your biggest gripe is why the College Football Playoff semifinals are on New Year’s Eve, you lead a charmed life, friend.

4. MARLINS: Lots of Jose talk, but little action for Fish at winter meetings: The Marlins made headlines entertaining offers but not trading ace Jose Fernandez during the MLB winter meetings in Nashville, but the front office struck out on making any deals to bolster their starting rotation or bullpen.

5. PANTHERS: Government tax help approval assure Cats’ local future: Broward County committed $86 million in tourist tax dollars to keep Panthers in Sunrise at least for 13 more years. Now how about a little payback, Cats? Like an occasional playoff appearance, perhaps?

6. GOLDEN STATE: Warriors finally lose after 24-0 start: It was a 108-95 loss at mediocre Milwaukee that ended the Warriors' record-setting perfect start to the NBA season. Cannot confirm that, out of habit, the '72 Dolphins raised a champagne toast. 

7. HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Four local schools win state titles: Congrats to Miami Central, Booker T. Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas and Flanagan for winning state prep football championships. Can we invent some way for that success to trickle up to the Canes and Dolphins, please? 

8. SOCCER: Champions League, Euro '16 draw have fans buzzing: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich lead the field that is down to the round of 16. Meanwhile the 24 teams have been set for next summer's Euro 2016. America contributes Portland beating Columbus for the MLS Cup title. Hey, it's better than nothing!

9. BASEBALL SPENDING: Greinke the latest to get windfall: Arizona acquired ace Zack Greinke by agreeing to pay him $206.5 million over six years. Based on my math he'll average about $1 million per start, or per starts missed injured. Put a baseball in Junior's crib, Dad.

10. CANES BASKETBALL: College hoops in Miami back with a vengeance in six days: Saturday, Dec. 19 Mark it. That's when the 10-0 UM women host No. 4 Baylor, the 17th-ranked Canes men host Charleston, and the OB Classic pits in Sunrise pits FSU vs. FAU and Florida vs Oklahoma State.

Missing the cut: They announced Alabama running back Derrick Henry as the Heisman Trophy winner Saturday. I thought I saw Nick Saban almost smile but it may have just been indigestion ... Carolina Panthers put their 12-0 record on line today. Sorry, Cats, we'll pay attention when you're going for 16-0, or 19-0 ... LeBron James signs lifetime deal with Nike. Am picturing LeBron, at 75, pushing Nike's new line of orthopedic bedroom slippers ... Florida Panthers reportedly will unveil a new logo and jersey design next season. Better they should unveil a team good enough to make the playoffs ... Dolphins safety Reshad Jones has undertakena Twitter campaign  to get Pro Bowl votes. Another idea he might consider: An interception or two on Monday Night Football ... R.I.P., NBA pioneer Dolph Schayes, gone at 87. "Sad. There aren't many of us left," noted Dolph Lundgren ... The week-long Orange Bowl International Junior tennis tournament ends Sunday in Plantation. It'll seem so quiet without all those boorish parents yelling ... New York Supreme Court ruled against DraftKings and FanDuel as those daily fantasy sites continue an apparent slide toward extinction. Sure will miss all those TV commercials (!).

Poll result: Faith in Tannehill is dwindling: We asked your degree of faith that QB Ryan Tannehill is as good as the Dolphins need him to be -- two months after asking the same thing. The downturn in faith is notable:

Faith level        Now        October

Strong              9.1%        12.9%

Medium            18.3%      29.1%

Wavering          36.8%      31.9%

Weak               35.8%      26.1%

Tannehill's strong or medium support has shrunk from 42.0% to 27.4%, while his wavering or weak support has increased from 58.0% to 72.6%. This is far from scientific. But it is a snapshot that indicates Tannehill has work to do in restoring the faith in him. Because, without question, it is eroding.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2015

College football's scintillating Saturday: CFP top four determined, Hurricanes bowl projections; plus LeBron's back (shhh!), Bonds' rehabilitation & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5. ICYMI, cick on Right Man, Right Time, Right Hire for my column on the Hurricanes hiring coach Mark Richt. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Richt wins introductory UM press conference, Dolphins/NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S CLARITY WEEKEND: Conference championship game results today will pretty much make known the College Football Playoff top four, although that won't be offically announced (ceremeonially, on TV, of course) until Sunday. In turn, today's results will tip the last dominoes that lead to all of the bowl-game pairings that will be revealed this weekend. A quick primer on the CFP's big day and the bowl outlook for the Miami Huirricanes and other state schools:

CfpCFP OUTLOOK:

Miami and Arlington, Tex. will host New Year's Eve semifinals, with the championship gamed Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz.

No. 1 Clemson (12-0) vs. No. 10 North Carolina (11-1), ACC title game, 8 p.m., Charlotte. Tigers a somewhat modest 4.5-point favorite. (Clemson wins, 45-37).

No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 18 Florida (10-2), SEC title game, 4 p.m., Atlanta. Crimson Tide a big 17.5-point favorite. (Alabama wins, 29-15).

No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1) is done; Big 12 has no conference title game, which in this case is advantageous for Sooners.

No. 4 Iowa (12-0) vs. No. 5 Michigan State (11-1), Big Ten title game, 8 p.m., Indianapolis. Spartans, despite lower rank, a 3.5-point favorite in what effectively is a play-in game for CFP. (Michigan State wins, 16-13).

No. 7 Stanford, playing USC in Pac-12 title game, thinks it might have a chance to rise into the top four with a convincing win if Clemson or Alabama lose, but that's dubious. I could see Clemson losing and only dropping to fourth. I cannot see Alabama losing.

BOWL OUTLOOK FOR STATE TEAMS: 

PinstripeMiami Hurricanes (8-4): Hiring marquee coach Mark Richt this week only enhances UM as a desirable invite. Canes are hoping for the Dec. 26 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, where Indiana could be the foe. Other projections have UM in the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso, vs. Utah, or the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl in Nashville, vs. Richt's former Georgia team.

Florida State (10-2): Likely destinations include the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta or the Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

Florida (10-2): Gators could end up in the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

South Florida (8-4): Bulls could land in the Dec. 21 Miami Beach Bowl or Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl.

LebronTHE QUIET RETURN OF LEBRON WHO?: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in town to face the Heat tonight. Is it just me, or is it less and less an event when LeBron comes to town? This is Return of LeBron III; he's 0-2. Part of it is that Steph Curry and unbeaten Golden State along with the retirement-announcement by Kobe Bryant have stolen much of the national spotlight that normally belongs to LeBron. Also, animus has faded. It doesn't seem as personal anymore. It just seems like a big test for Miami as a team. A Heat win tonight, on the heel of that exciting win over Oklahoma City, will verify the Heat's potential to play with anyone not named Warriors.

BarrybondsTHE REHABILITATION OF BARRY BONDS: Bonds, back in a baseball uniform this season as the Marlins' new fulltime hitting instructor, is a major step in the rehabiltation of his steroids-sullied image. He can't rewrite his past. He can't erase the metaphorical asterisk that sits next to his season and career home run records. But this will help, if only because it will humanize Bonds, put him back in the mainstream and convey his love for the game. I'm not sure how much it will thaw the voting freeze that is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown ... but it sure can't hurt.

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

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December 02, 2015

Marlins hiring Barry Bonds: New poll. Vote now!; plus Kobe Bryant poll, NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos results, Dolphins latest All-50'ers, Miami Jackson's Flowers wins 'State Heisman' with 6 Canes in Top 25 & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2. Happy new month, all! Done your shopping yet? 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, but be warned: Ugly. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire OC Bill Lazor after loss at Jets, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Hurricanes' next football: Who it is should be. Watch for my latest column online later today. 

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Club marks its 50th anniversary by naming top 50 all-time players in groups of five. The latest: Kim Bokamper, Earl Morrall, Louis Oliver, Keith Sims, Cam Wake. Wake was expected; Morrall too for his unique niche. Other three are more borderline, which is not to say unworthy.

BondsHIRING BARRY BONDS IS SO MARLINS: Reports indicate Barry Bonds has agreed to join the Marlins as a hitting coach, a classic splash move by the attention-needy ballclub and its owner Jeffrey Loria. This is so Marlins. The hiring (if it happens) would be dubious, and not mostly because of the steroids-tainted past that has kept Bonds -- MLB's all-time home run hitter with an asterisk -- out of the Hall of Fame. Bonds didn't kill anybody. Shame and the Hall ban arepunishment enough. No, this move sees its biggest potential pitfall in him "working alongside hitting coach Frank Menechino." Hmm. Two hitting coaches espousing different ideas as egos rub? The possibilities are why teams rarely have multiple hitting coaches. Let's hear more on this. For instance, might Bonds just be a spring instructor and then disappear? Or a roving "special" hitting instructor as he was for the San Francisco Giants two years ago? (That's his only experience in coaching). For now, what do you think of the Marlins trying to hire Bonds?

KobeHOW DO WE FEEL ABOUT KOBE BRYANT AS WE SAY GOODBYE?: This may not be an easy question to answer. The Los Angels Lakers' all-time great Kobe Bryant announced this week he would retire after this season, and I wonder how we feel. Has there been a more polarizing superstar? Many love Kobe; many others are far from that. I suspect that most NBA fans certainly respect his greatness yet do not particularly like him. But I may be wrong. Hence, this poll. The question posed is intentionally broad. It asks not what you think of him as a player, but your overall general impression of him. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 11: SO-SO, BAD, BAD: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: Good and not: Our 10-6 mark overall Fripixis OK, but 6-10 against the spread isn't, despite the fact we nailed our Upset of the Week with Broncos beating Patriots ("Aawwk!") and hit another outright upset with Chargers over Jaguars. Greg's Lobos / family league: Eliminated: The original Lobos lost 140-131 to fall to 4-8, now eliminated from championship-round playoff contention with two weeks left. We got 89 combined points from Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham and T.Y. Hilton but it still wasn't enough. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Playin' out the string: The LeBatard Show Lobos are losing big to Stugotz in the two-round consolation playoffs, after being eliminated from title contention by Billy a week earlier. Got 28.9 points from Phil (Mint) Rivers, but too little help.

SOPY: MIAMI JACKSON'S FLOWERS WINS 'STATE HEISMAN,' 6 CANES IN FINAL TOP 25: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds South Florida dual- Flowersthreat quarterback Quinton Flowers out of Miami Jackson (pictured) edging Florida State running back Dalvin Cook out of Miami Central for the title. Flowers is the first player outside of the traditional Big 3 state schools to win our 'State Heisman.' Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. And we close it off after the regular season, excluding bowl games, to give every school's players an equal shot. The final SOPY Top 25 for 2015:

FINAL 2015 SOPY TOP 25

Rk    Player, team-pos.                    Season

1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb         2,077.5

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                  1,990

3      Alex McGough, FIU-qb               1,594

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                1,531

5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb               1,438

6      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                 1,262

7      Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb            1,260

8      Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb            1,206

9      Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb           1,145 

10    Treon Harris, Florida-qb              924.5

11. Everett Golson FSU-qb 921; 12. Justin Holman UCF-qb 869; 13. Jenson Stoshak FAU-wr 828; 14. Kermit Whitfield FSU-wr 807; 15. Will Grier Florida-qb 789; 16. Rodney Adams SoFla-wr 776; 17. Travis Rudolph FSU-wr 751; 18. Tre'Quan Smith UCF-wr 748; 19. Mark Walton Miami-rb 729; 20. Thomas Owens FIU-wr 687; 21. D'Ernest Johnson SoFla-rb 685.5; 22. Stacy Coley Miami-wr 678; 23. Greg Howell FAU-rb 670; 24. Rashawn Scott Miami-wr 650; 25. Herb Waters Miami-wr 637.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions:

2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,077.5

2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968

2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107

2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5

Cote's final pre-bowl State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (10-2); 2. Florida (10-2); 3. Miami (8-4); 4. South Florida (8-4); 5. FIU (5-7); 6. FAU (3-9); 7. UCF (0-12).

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 29, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.7%; plus UM wins at Pitt 29-24 to end regular season 8-4; also 'Noles crush Gators, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more

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

1) It is SATURAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend! 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our Thanksgiving Day column, Bird Day NFL predictions & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Thanksgiving column: ICYMI, our Thanksgiving Day column seemed to strike a chord based on overwhelming positive email response. Click on Being Thankful In These Times to read.

Our UM-Pitt postgame thoughts: Find our in-game blog and UM-Pitt postgame thoughts below, directly beneath the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (There will be an additional, final CSM poll following the bowl game).

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 76.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 76.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 29-24 victory at Pitt putting UM's final regular-season Csmrecord at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Sunday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Game 12: 76.7% (following 29-24 victory at Pitt)

Next/final poll: Following bowl game, date to be determined. 

G12: HURRICANES 29, PITT 24: UM COULD NOW BE STRONG BET FOR PINSTRIPE BOWL INVITE: Postgame thoughts: Miami squandered a 23-3 lead in the third quarter and made it a tad too close for comfort toward the end; still, a 29-24 road win over favored Pitt is a nice way to end the regular season. UM will go bowl-ing at 8-4, including a 4-1 marks since interim coach Larry Scott replaced the fired Al Golden. A typically solid day from QB Brad Kaaya today with 261 yards passing, augmented by 99 rushing from Joe Yearby and five field goals from Michael Badgley, who set a UM record for most FGs in a season. Defense was dominant early but beaten against the run late. All in all, a strong afternoon for The U. ..... Halftime thoughts: Not displeased to point out I'm dead wrong on my pregame prediction thus far. UM defense is dominating, limiting Pitt to 102 total yards off offense in a 23-3 game at the half. Canes have rolled up 248 yards with the ball, led by Brad Kaaya's 166 yards passing. ..... Note: We'll be live-updating the score and key plays throughout today's game, and be back here with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the arrival of the latest postgame CSM poll. ..... Original post: Miami's 7-4 Hurricanes visit Pitt's 8-3 Panthers in a noon matinee today, with Pittsburgh a 7-point home favorite. A small example why: Pitt

Miapittrouted Duke, 31-13, the team UM needed a last-second miracle to beat. I expect a shootout, and give the Canes a fair upset shot. Miami, 3-1 under interim coach Larry Scott, has much to play for. The nine-win season still in play would equal Miami's best since joining the ACC in 2004. And a win over Pitt could very well vault UM into the preferred Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a stage the Canes program would love. I have little doubt Brad Kaaya willl put up plenty of points today. But enough? I have greater concerns about Miami's defense, which has tended to struggle on the road and now faces a Pitt offense that has put up 106 points over the past three games. My pick: Pitt, 31-27.

Other college Week 13 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

South Florida 44, UCF 3: Bulls finish 8-4 after a Thursday rout ending Knights' futility at 0-12. South Florida will be in American conference championship game if UConn beat Temple on Saturday.

FAU 33, Old Dominion 31: If you're going to have a bad season, might as well end it with a nice lil' road win. Owls finish 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 27, No. 8 Florida 2: Dalvin Cook and huge defense carried FSU tonight to an unexpected rout of Florida in the Swamp, leaving both teams 10-2. Florida State has now won past three over Gators and was a 2 1/2-point road favorite here. This was 16th time but only the third time since 2001 that the rivals had met with both in the Top 15. Seminoles all but assured themselves a New Year's bowl. UF going in still had hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff top four if they'd beaten FSU and then somehow beaten Alabama in the Dec. 5 SEC title game. Those dreams are done.

Note: FIU completed its season at 5-7.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: We got off to a wobbly start to our week on Thanksgiving, going 1-2 straight-up and against the spread. Knew we took a big risk picking against FripixCarolina, but Green Bay losing at Lambeau? I'd pick Pack again in a heartbeat. Anyway, onward! Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Notably: Ryan Tannehill's AFC East struggles continue in a Dolphins loss at Jets, and Broncos end Patriots perfection in our Game and Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click Oh, Johnny for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the gradual self-destruction of Johnny Manziel.

BACON-SCENTED UNDERWEAR: Ready to start your holiday shopping? Seattle-based J&D's Foods has announced the launch of bacon-scented underwear, which it calls "the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon." Safe bet, that one. Another bold claim: That this is the first line of apparel "marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat" to attain "the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants." Want some? They're $19.99 a pair at www.baconunderwear.com. All of this is for real, by the way. This is a blog! Could I say it if it weren't true?

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

Twitter @gregcote