February 21, 2017

Details on open-to-the-public Miami celebration of the late, great Edwin Pope; plus the magic of Liberty City youth football (with video), Greg Cote at age 7, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, February 21. Hope you all enjoyed your Presidents Day, to the degree that's still possible in 2017. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Whiteside column, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

EpopeDETAILS: CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF EDWIN POPE IN A PUBLIC EVENT IN MIAMI: A public celebration in honor of the late, great Miami Herald sports columnist Edwin Pope has been set for next Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Clevelander bar inside Marlins Park. A private ceremony was held this past weekend in Okeechobee for Pope, who passed away Jan. 19 at age 88, but this will be the first event in his honor held in Miami and open to the public. The celebration is free and will include an open bar and light food. However, only a limited number of invitees may be chosen from those who RSVP and describe what Pope meant to them in a Herald career that began in 1967 through his retirement as full-time sports columnist in 2003. RSVPs should be emailed as soon as possible to: edwinpopememorial@gmail.com. The event is being hosted by two of Edwin's biggest fans, ESPN Radio's Dan Le Batard and the Herald's Greg Cote. Hey. That's me!

NEW DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHTS THE MAGIC OF LIBERTY CITY YOUTH FOOTBALL: I was pleased to interview Miami icon Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke, pictured) yesterday for my new column to help promote a forthcoming Libcity Lukedocumentary film about the Liberty City Optimist youth football program he helped found more than 20 years ago. It has produced current NFL stars such as Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper, Devonta Freeman, Teddy Bridgewater and Duke Johnson and continues to be a thriving community focal point on Saturdays during football season. I wrote about this now because the film, Rivals: The Boom Squad, is premiering Wednesday night at 10:30 on the Viceland cable channel. Click Viceland.com and click channel finder to track down where you can see it. There also will be a live local showing of the 45-minute film on Sunday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 N.W. 22nd Ave., Miami. A 30-second trailer is presented directly below. The Liberty City Warriors, Gwen Cherry Bulls and other teams thrive because they are needed in a city that can be a tough place for kids to grow up, too often under the threat of gun violence. It is about more than football. As Campbell told us, "Our purpose is to save lives." Click on The Miracle of Liberty City to ready my full column.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 2-21-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins spring training, 9:30 a.m.: Another workday in Jupiter, with spring games starting next weekend.

2. South Carolina at Gators, 7 p.m.: No. 13 UF hosts 'Cocks in SEC men's game.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

Other select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

GREG COTE, AGE 7: In the autobiographical song I'll soon post on social media, called "The Ballad of 1440," there is a lyric that refers to "Tonka tanks on a pebble drive." Well, lo and behold, looking through scrapbooks, I unearthed an old photo (very) of me around age 7 playing with said tank. Wish I still had it. I leave you with that ghostly photo today...

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Hotbutton1. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 21, 2017

Remembering an epic life and personal hero: Edwin Pope, 1928-2017, R.I.P.; plus NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside collect further disrespect, Women's March, Race Of Champions & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Edwin Pope dies, Kiper's mock draft for Dolphins, two ex-Marlins make Hall, cowardly Goodell, your Super Bowl preference, BIMD video (The Circus) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Women's March on Washington: Much respect to the hundreds of thousands participating today in the Women's March in D.C., a grass-roots stand-up for freedoms and rights. Proud to say my wife, and many others I know, are among them.

Race Of Champions: The ROC series is in the U.S. for first time today in Miami, with stars from NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One all racing together inside Marlins Park. I like big events and am a curiosity seeker, so I'll be there columnizing.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, my latest column, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald legend. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

TO A MONUMENTAL CAREER, AN EPIC LIFE AND A CHERISHED MENTOR: THANK YOU, EDWIN POPE: [Blog note: I rarely do this. I link to columns of mine, but rarely reprint them in their entirety here in the blog. But the death of my great friend and mentor, last night at age 88, is too important to me to not share as broadly as I can. So here is my tribute column]:

Epope
The Edwin I first knew, circa mid-'70s

"I grew up reading Edwin Pope." How many generations in South Florida will be saying that, thinking it, feeling it today? I was coming of age as a sports fan who hadn’t yet discovered he was interested in writing when Pope was at the peak of his powers, and reading him kindled and sparked something in me.

What it did was give me a future, a passion, a career.

Thank you, Edwin. For your inspiration, your talent, your grace, your mentorship and your friendship.Thank you so much.

South Florida and the Miami Herald have lost a giant with the passing of Edwin Pope at age 88. Newspapering and sports journalism and the craft of putting words in just the right order have all lost a giant.

Edwin came to the Herald in 1956 in his late 20s. He was sports editor and main sports columnist from 1967 until he retired in 2003, though still writing occasionally the next several years until age and Alzheimer’s dictated otherwise. I loathe the frivolous overuse of words like "legend," but the superlative has not yet been invented that can properly describe the epic arc of Pope’s career chronicling Miami sports.

From the black and white days of Cassius Clay in the 5th Street Gym to the Heat drafting some kid named Dwyane Wade — and everything in between — Edwin was the eyes and ears for South Florida sports fans, the rhyme and the reason.

He reigned before ESPN "SportsCenter" and before the Internet changed everything, putting news and opinion everywhere, and right now, diminishing the influence of the local newspaper. He reigned when "the paper" thudded onto front lawns every morning, up and down your block, and you turned to the sports section first to see what Pope had to say.

Dan LeBatard and I tried to replace him when he left. We never had a chance. Voices are everywhere, but there is no replacing Sinatra. Pope ends an era.

I felt smarter, as a teenager, when I read Edwin. There might be a word (or three) in every column that sent me to the dictionary. I liked that. He never talked down to readers. It’s a concept that has informed my own writing.

Edwin wrote with poetic elan. He told stories. He could make the scene on a racetrack’s backstretch as interesting as the horse race itself. You smelled the hay. You closed your eyes and saw the groom mucking-out the stable.

Epope2
Edwin in his career's latter stage

Edwin also could be direct. When he wanted a column to throw a punch, it landed.

When Lou Saban abruptly left the University of Miami football team after only two years following the 1978 season to coach at West Point, the lead to Pope’s column was: "You wanted a deserter, Army? You got one."

Edwin didn’t tap-dance into a column or, in the parlance of a former editor of ours, "clear his throat." He got to it. He was concise. He didn’t overwrite, either in style or length. He valued his readers too much to waste their time.

He was like that off the page, too.

He was a gentle man, but one whose humor could be sharp, and bite.

He’d had a stormy relationship with Dolphins owner Joe Robbie, and once kidded the only thing wrong with the name of the stadium was that it wasn’t Joe Robbie Memorial Stadium. (At least I think he was kidding.)

Edwin commanded utmost respect in press boxes. He was the dean, the monarch, the legend. If the clatter got too noisy too close to deadline, Edwin eventually would raise a hand and loudly snap, "Quiet!" and the room would shut up. He didn’t have to say it twice.

You didn’t want to be a waiter who ignored Edwin once too often when he was fishing for another drink.

"What’s a man got to do to get another Heinekin around here!?!" he once stood and loudly squawked from our table in some far-flung city after some game, Southern drawl lifting into a high pitch.

Epopejoelouis
A favorite photo of his: A young Edwin Pope with boxer Joe Louis

Edwin was a drinker. May I say that? We had a good time on the many road trips we took together.

I was in the company of Edwin and more than one unnamed UM football coach as the two of them killed a 12-pack of beer hours before a game. You’d visit his hotel room and not be surprised to see a jug of red wine on ice in the bathroom sink. Once we closed down a bar in (I think) Indianapolis, stumbled out into the cold and were discussing how to go about getting a cab when it dawned on us our hotel was right in front of us.

I delighted to cover the 1992 Summer Olympics with Edwin in Barcelona, in a cramped, barracks-style dorm room we shared. After two weeks, the day before we flew out, we treated each other by taking a cab to the city’s famous nude beach to take in the sights. Why not!

Edwin was a wonderful colleague and road-trip companion of mine for 30 some years. Mostly he was a writing hero, somebody who was what I wanted to be. I have never stopped striving or falling short, or being grateful for his influence in my life and career.

His was a long, wonderful life well-led.

Thank you, Edwin. Always. Thank you.

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FripixPLAYOFFS: CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S SUNDAY AFC, NFC TITLE GAMES: Lots of football fans call this Sunday the single best day of the season, better even than the Super Bowl, and I expect Packers at Falcons and then Steelers at Patriots to live up to expectations. A great final four! Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and we're 6-0 in the postseason after rolling a perfect 4-0 last week. Click on Championship Game Gems for my latest picks on the AFC and NFC title games. I see one game going as expected and the other not. We also offer our accompanying NFL column that today quantifies how good this final four is, historically, and how it gets the attention back where it belongs, on the field, after a weird week of drama for the NFL. Click on A Dramatic Final Four to read.

THE LIST: THIS FINAL FOUR IN THE POSTSEASON: Historically, this NFL final four includes three league giants and one interloper, as this list verifies. The franchise, head coach and quarterback records of these four teams in the postseason, listed in order of most all-time postseason wins, with total NFL championships listed in parentheses:

Team                                Franchise            Head coach                   Quarterback

Pittsburgh Steelers (6)       36-23, .610         Mike Tomlin, 8-5           Ben Roethlisberger, 13-6

Green Bay Packers (13)      34-21, .618        Mike McCarthy, 10-7       Aaron Rodgers, 9-6

New England Patriots (4)   30-19, .612         Bill Belichick, 24-10       Tom Brady, 23-9

Atlanta Falcons (0)             8-12, .400         Dan Quinn, 1-0              Matt Ryan, 2-4

HwhitesideHEAT BATTERED IN ALL-STAR VOTING, WHITESIDE SNUBBED: Hassan Whiteside collects perceived slights the way others of us collects stamps or coins, and he has added a big new one to his collection. He barely made the East frontcourt top 10 in NBA all-star voting, slotting in 10th overall after finishing eighth in the media vote, 11th by fans, and only 14th by players. Your colleagues don't respect you, bro! Get angry! Get even! No Goran Dragic in the East backcourt top 10. Starters were named Thursday. Reserves get added next week. I'd think Whiteside (pictured) will be included, but it sure isn't a given after his comeuppance in the triangular vote.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 07, 2017

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoffs: Predictions for Dolphins-Steelers and other games, ranking the 12 teams and King Sport season awards; plus death of Jose Fernandez voted biggest Miami sports story of 2016 with complete Top 15 results & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 7. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect celebrate-they're-back-in-the-playoffs gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's biggest sports story of 2016 poll, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, local guys who made cut for Canton & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixPLAYOFFS: WILD-CARD WEEKEND: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-STEELERS, OTHER 3 GAMES: Twelve teams alive, four luxuriating with byes, and eight in action
WildcardSaturday or Sunday -- including, for the first time since 2008, the Dolphins, of course. Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season. Click on Wild-Card Gems for our latest opening-round playoff picks for Dolphins-at-Steelers and others. I see an outright upset in one of the four games. I wish I could tell you it was the game at the field named after a ketchup bottle. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with our ranking of the 12 playoff teams, based on the likelihood of winning the Super Bowl. We also dole out our King Sport season awards for the league and Dolphins. Click on Playoffs And Hardware to read.

Dolphins playoffs, other select recent columns: It Isn't About Tannehill, how Fins have a chance in Pittsburgh with Moore if everything else goes right. There's A Longer Drought to End Now, off Sunday's loss as Dolphins prepare for first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

POLL RESULT: DEATH OF FERNANDEZ VOTED BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2016: This was a major annual poll so we're giving the results the full treatment. I believe our blog has the smartest readers at MiamiHerald.com, and that y'all proved it again with these results. We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016, offered our 15 choices and gave you five votes. That's because I thought the top three choices were obvious (I was right) and wanted to dig deeper. Your results:

Jose161. DEATH OF JOSE FERNANDEZ -- 20.76%

2. Dolphins make playoffs to end 8-year drought -- 17.32%

3. Dwyane Wade leaves Heat -- 16.96%

4. Hurricanes football wins first bowl game in 10 years -- 8.83%

5. Chris Bosh blood clots end season, likely Heat career -- 7.34%

6. Adam Gase hired as Dolphins coach 6.77%; 7. Laremy Tunsil falls to Dolphins after draft-night bong video 4.70%; 8. Hurricanes men's basketball reaches Sweet 16 4.47%; 9. Ichiro gets 3,000th MLB hit 4.13%; 10. Renamed, refurbished Hard Rock Stadium gets 2020 Super Bowl 2.64%; 11. FAU hires Lane Kiffin 1.83%; 12. FIU hires Butch davis 1.49%; 13. Death of Kimbo Slice 1.15%; 14. Panthers fire coach one year after best regular season ever 0.92%; 15. Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs 0.69%.

Putting in perspective the percentage results from a five-choice poll: Quintuple (x5) each percentage for an indication of the frequency that choice was included in everyone's consensus top five. The maximum percentage would be 20.00 if everyone used all five vote available. The fact Fernandez's winning percentage was greater than 20 indicates many voted only for that story as biggest. In other words, that story maxed out this poll and was a clear winner. Dolphins-in-playoffs and Wade-leaving both exceeded 80 percent in overall top-five mentions, after which there was a sizable dropoff. It was a big year for Miami sports, and to the hundreds of you who voted in this poll, I thank you! In case you missed it, click A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile for my column in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2017

What was Miami's No. 1 sports story of 2016? Poll lists 15 finalists. Voting extended to this one last day!; plus no way Tannehill should play Sunday, our Canton finalists, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 5. A happy 87th birthday to Dolphins and South Florida legend Don Shula. Here's to many more! 2) Condolences to former Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga on the passing of his wife, Marti Huizenga, at age 74. She was very charitable and much loved. 3) Happy to say sales of our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century spiked around 500 percent with the mention this week on the ESPN Radio show. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Patriots with DSM poll, Hot BUtton Top 10,  your biggest-national-sports-story-of-2016 verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com has affirmed Patriots as the Super Bowl favorite. Uh oh, Pats fans. After Nate spent four months steadfastly predicting Hillary would beat Trump, not sure how I'd feel rght now." --Greg Cote 

Whether Tannehill plays Sunday (he won't) should be of secondary importance to Dolphins: Matt Moore is fine. Miami will need so much more than Ryan Tannehill's unlikely return to win its playoff opener at Pittsburgh. That's the theme of today's latest column by me. Click on It Isn't About Tannehill to read. 

Year-end, other select recent columns: There's A Longer Drought to End Now, from Sunday's Dolphins loss as team awaits first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. An Orange Bowl Classic, from the 33-32 Florida State victory over Michigan. Also: Marino Led NFL Arms Race. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. The Gift Of Winning. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

South Florida bats .500 on Canton finalists: We had four men with South Florida ties among the 26 finalists for 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. With this week's cut to 15, we have two left. The great Dolphins sack man Jason Taylor made it, as we fully expected. We weren't nearly as sure about receiver Isaac Bruce (Fort Lauderdale born, Dillard High), but he made it, too. Eliminated were former Dolphins and UM coach Jimmy Johnson and ex-Canes runner Edgerrin James.

Miami16WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2016?: We do this every year. Previously we asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did. Now we invite you to select the 2016 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from an alphabetically presented top 15 of my choosing. You may vote for your top five (5). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Inviting your top five because, to me, the top three are pretty clear, s we want to dig deeper. Remember, you can choose your top five. Ready? Vote!

Vote for as many as five (5)!

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (35 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 10-25 after Sunday's loss to Detroit, here's The Luddite's seventh installment, with 30-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (35 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       1,099

2. Goran Dragic (2)             795

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            705

4. James Johnson (4)          583

5. Josh Richardson (6)         437

6. Justise Winslow (8)         355

7. Dion Waiters (5)              346

8. Rodney McGruder (7)       334

9. Wayne Ellington (10)       244

10. Josh McRoberts (9)         232

Others: Willie Reed 220, Derrick Williams 197, Luke Babbitt 172, Udonis Haslem 29.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.3% (season-high for playoff-bound Dolphins); plus Fins win at Buffalo, end 8-year postseason drought; also, our annual Christmas video from me to you, the new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), George Michael & more

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

Mc1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 26. R.I.P., singer George Michael. Never a huge fan, honestly, but respect his artistry and imprint on pop music. Loved his live duet on Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" (video at bottom of this post). 2) Hope my fellow Christians had a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late gift for any Dolfan on your list! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (30 games), Heat honor Shaq with Whiteside poll, your players-skipping-bowls verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Xmas16OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS VIDEO, FROM ME TO YOU: This year's Christmas video was taken on a sledding trip that included myself, Dan LeBatard, Cam Wake, Pat Riley and Santa Claus. What a great time we five guys had! A picture from our trip is shown at left. To watch the brief video, click HERE.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. Week 16 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Quit Rewarding Teams That Win Bad Divisions, our latest NFL notes column. The Gift Of Winning, on the Dolphins rewarding their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back.

DOLPHINS IN PLAYOFFS, EARLY PROJECTION ON BETTING ODDS!: No, seriously. Miami is in the postseason. Fins likely will open the postseason Jan. 7 or 8 as the No. 6 seed at Pittsburgh. Miami would have a more favorable matchup as No. 5 seed at Houston only if Dolphins beat New England this coming week and the Chiefs lose at San Diego. A friend of mine in the business of setting betting lines early-estimates that Miami would be around a 6-8 point underdog at Pittsburgh but that a game at Houston would be close to even with perhaps the Dolphins opening as very slight favorites.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: 98.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 98.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 34-31 overtime win at Buffalo putting DsmMiami's season record at 10-5 and helping qualify for the playoffs. The DSM 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 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins win in Buffalo, clinch playoffs Sunday: Well, Dolfans sure got what they wanted for Christmas. Miami in the playoffs. Feels weird, right? The Dolphins' 34-31 overtime victory at Buffalo Saturday and then Denver's loss Sunday night puts Fins in postseason for first time since 2008. There is a Santa Claus! There is a Santa Claus!

2. HURRICANES: Canes try to end long bowl drought this week: The Dolphins' playoff drought (now ending) gets all the attention, but UM is on an 0-6 bowl run dating to 2006. That's four coaches ago. And that is why Wednesday's game vs. West Virginia in Orlando matters so much to this UM program.

3. ORANGE BOWL: Michigan, Florida State tee it up Friday: Miami isn't hosting a College Football Playoff game this year (the semifinals are in six days), but the OB gets the next-best thing in No. 6 Michigan and No. 11 Florida State, two top-tier teams that began the season with national-championship hopes.

4. PANTHERS: Ageless Jagr vaults to second in NHL career points: Cats are a disappointing 15-20 and skating off playoff pace so far, but holiday cheer visited as Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,888th career point to move into second all-time behind only some guy named Wayne Gretzky. Even more impressive: Jagr turns 45 in February.

5. HEAT: Miami retires Shaquille O'Neal's jersey: Heat fans celebrated the Miami career of Shaq and recalled the 2006 NBA title he helped win as the franchise retired his No. 32. With the current Heat team mired with a record of 10-21 and hosting Oklahoma City Tuesday, celebrating anything felt good.

6. NFL: Chase for final playoff spots dominates league storyline: The Cleveland Browns won! The Cleveland Browns won! But the playoff picture is the big news, of course. Entering tonight's game 10 of the 12 playoff spots have been locked down, including the Dolphins, with the Lions and Packers frontrunners for the final two.

7. CHRISTMAS: Jesus! Sports have taken over holiday: To Christians, yesterday was first and foremost a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. To others, it was a day to open gifts and watch five NBA games and two NFL games in a nonstop, noon-to-midnight banquet of sports.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women prepare for No. 7 FSU: UM's men (9-2 but unranked) are having a nice seasons. But the Canes' women are better so far, 11-1, ranked NO. 11 and hosting No. 7 Florida State this coming Thursday.

9. GOLF: Tiger, Trump play a round: President-elect Donald Trump and Tiger Woods (wearing a white billygoat goatee) played golf Friday at Trump's course in West Palm Beach. No word on who won. But if Woods won, I wonder if trump thought the result was rigged?

10. UFC: Rousey prepares for comeback: Ronda Rousey make her comeback this coming Friday by headlining UFC 207 in Las Vegas. Question, though: If you've barely been gone long enough to be missed ... is it really a comeback?

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes left seven behind on the bowl trip to Orlando for not meeting program standards. Notable are Gerald Willis, a D-line contributor, and Micheal Irvin Jr. The capacity of college athletes to do something dumb never ceases to amaze ..... Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due this week. Mine's already in. I voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but I doubt again there were enough like me ..... Thank you, Mike Krzyzewski, for indefinitely suspending spoiled brat Grayson Allen for intentionally and repeatedly tripping opponents. Dear Grayson: America hates you ..... Defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake were the Dolphins' only Pro Bowl choices. Some thought Jarvis Landry got snubbed. Um, he has three TD catches, not a Pro Bowl number ..... A developmental spring league unaffiliated with the NFL is to launch in April 2017 and, other than unemployed NFL free agents, nobody cares ..... Floyd Mayweather said he'd "slap the s---" out of Conor McGregor. America responded it would like to "slap the s---" out of Floyd Mayweather.

G15: DOLPHINS 34, BUFFALO 31 (FINAL/OT): HUGE ROAD WIN HAS MIAMI THISCLOSE TO PLAYOFFS!: Final thoughts: Miami's defense allowed 589 yards and twice blew 14-point leads but all that matters is a 34-31 win at Buffalo, a 10-5 record, and the driver's seat to end an eight-year playoff drought. Miami needs a loss by Denver Sunday night or a win vs. New England next week in Miami for its first postseason since 2008. Jay Ajayi's 206 yards on 32 carries lifted and carried Miami all day -- his third 200-yard game of the season .....  OT: Franks 27-yard FG wins it for MIA 34-31! ... BUF timeout as Miami set to try game-winning 27-yard FG with 51 seconds ... Ajayi has third 200-yard game of year, leaves game with banged up shoulder ... Ajayi 57-yard run (giving him almost 200 for day) has Dolphins in position for game-winning FG! ... Miami  forces Bills punt. With 4 minutes left, a no-decision tie game is a looming possibility ... Dolphins punting. Punting in OT is seldom a good thing, although Miami downs it at BUF 4 ... Still tied as BUF's Carpenter misses 45-yard FG try. What luck for Miami! ... Bison win coin toss and on the move. Uh oh ..... 4Q: Oh man. Franks career-long 55-yasrd FG ties it 31-31 with six seconds left, forces overtime ..... Wow. Buffalo take first lead at 31-28 with 1:20 left on Taylor 7-yard TD pass to ex-Fin Clay ... Bills trick-play completion to Woods off lateral back to QB ... Defense stiffens, holds BUF to 28-yard FG and it's now 28-24 ... Oh my. Twelve men on defense gives BUF first down on 4th and 1 play ... Franks 46-yard FG try bounces off goalpost no good ... 3Q: Turning into a shootout. BUF within 28-21 on Taylor 18-yard TD pass to ex-Fin Charles Clay ... Damien Williams 44-yard catch and run for Fins sets up 6-yard Moore to Stills TD pass; MIA up 28-14 ... BUF within 21-14 on McCoy 19-yard TD run ... Miami 21-7 on Moore 56-yard TD pass to Parker. I said they'd need more from Moore in second half. Done! ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami with nervous 14-7 lead. Will need more from Matt Moore in second half. He's 5-for-14 for 57 yards with one pick, a 19.0 passer rating. Bills outgaining Miami in total yards 212-183 ..... 2Q: Momentum swinging to Bills late in half as Moore intercepted in end zone ... BUF within 14-7 on gorgeous 38-yard scoring pass into end zone and Watkins' hands ... Big 4th and 1 defensive stop for Miami. All Fins so far ... Bills fans in a booing mood. Can you blame 'em? ... Drake busts 45-yard scoring for for 14-0 MIA lead. Play was bottled up to left; Drake reversed field and was untouched along sideline ..... 1Q: Dolfans thanking ex-Fin Carpenter as he pushes 46-yard FG try wide ... So dumb! Bills delay of game on 3rd and 5 at edge of FG range ... Good sign: Ajayi 43 yards, 6.1 per in first quarter ... MIA 7-0 on Ajayi 2-yard run ... Dolphins 3-and-out on their first series, too ... Miami opens with defensive 3-and-out ..... Original post: Maybe it's that the Dolphins are missing their starting quarterback and last week's big game by backup Matt Moore didn't convince everybody. Maybe it's that people can't imagine that a team from Miami (d.b.a "South Beach") won't wither and shrink in today's Buffalo weather -- temps in the 30s with a Miabufchance of sleety rain for the 1 p.m. kickoff. Or maybe it's simply that, despite the Fins superior record (9-5 to 7-7), folks just think the Bills are better. Whatever the reason, Buffalo opened as a 3 1/2-point betting favorite and that jacked up to today's 4 1/2 as money poured in on the Bills. The point is, the proving continues for Miami as it endeavors to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It could happen this Christmas Weekend. It isn't complicated: Miami ends its eight-season playoff drought if it beats the Bills today and if Denver loses Christmas night in Kansas City. But if Miami loses today, or if the Broncos win Sunday, it will come down to the final week of the season for the Fins' postseason fate to be known. The first part of the equation -- beating the Bills --  won’t be easy. The Dolphins haven’t won in Buffalo since 2011, freezing rain is forecast, and the Bills — with only infinitesimal, barely breathing playoff hopes — are in a classic spoiler’s role vs. their AFC East rivals. Fins beat Buffs 28-25 in Miami on Oct. 23 as Bison blew an 11-point lead entering fourth quarter. Jay Ajayi galloped for 214 yards that day but has only 205 yards in his past four games combined. LeSean McCoy is the hottest runner entering this game. Tyrod Taylor could be a handful, too. He has a 122.8 rating his past three games vs. MIA and leads all QBs with 520 yards rushing this season. I respect the 8-1 run Miami is on that has made playoff hopes real, but I consider Buffalo to be just as good and think the home-field edge in this weather will be large. Also, Moore will be facing a much better pass defense than the Jets’ version he scalpeled last week. Sorry, Dolfans, but Grinch Cote says no playoff-clinch this week. My pick: Buffalo, 23-20.

Poll result: Most see Whiteside as a Heat keeper, but many do not: Pat Riley says he'll "rebuild quick." We asked if you think Hassan Whiteside will be a centerpiece of the rebuild or be traded away, and it was 59.3 percent centerpiece and 40.7% traded away.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 16, 2016

Dolphins-Jets, other NFL Week 15 prognostications; plus Jeffrey Loria, disrespecting Miami Hurricanes' football talent, farewell Ron Brewer, R.I.P. Craig Sager, your verdict on FIU/Davis vs. FAU/Kiffin & more

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

Finsat501) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16. Farewell, Ron Brewer, the droll sidekick on the Paul & Young Ron Show, retiring today after 26 years. Was pleased to briefly swing by the final show broadcast this morning from the Hard Rock Improv. 2) R.I.P., Craig Sager, 65. What a terrible year for loss. Good riddance, 2016! 3) Our new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 (pictured) for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIU/Butch Davis vs. FAU/Lane Kiffin with poll, Dolphins playoff and draft prospects, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 14 results, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (25 games) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jeffrey Loria's Marlins asking price: Forbes reports (here) that Jeffrey Loria is willing to sell the Miami Marlins, but that his asking price is $1.7 billion. That would be almost triple the estimated franchise value of $675 million. Sure. And I'm willing to sell my 1988 Toyota Tercel (needs work), but the asking price is $300,000.

Select recent columns: We haven't had as many lately due to vacation. A few: The Handoff Nobody Wanted, my latest column, on Matt Moore taking over as Dolphins QB for injured Ryan Tannehill. Also: Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 15: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-JETS, REST OF NFLThe full launch of our Week 15 comes after a mixed start last night as we correctly had the Seahawks winning but mistakenly thought the Rams would cover the huge 15-point line. (Observation: Interim Rams coach John Fassel is in way over his head and looks older than his Dad). We enter the week a robust 33 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 15 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the sad Buffalo Bills topping the list of sports' longest playoff droughts. Click on Death, Taxes and No Playoffs For Buffalo.

DISRESPECTING THE MIAMI HURRICANES' FOOTBALL TALENT: The Miami Hurricanes return to the practice field today for the Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl vs. West Virginia in Orlando, and the Canes are 3-point favorites despite being 8-4 to WVU's 10-2. Yet, despite that, disrespect has become a running theme with UM. It is not entirely unfounded. Recognition of Miami's talent has
Respectbeen slow coming. The evidence is building. The All-ACC football teams were a snub. Only second-team cornerback Corn Elder and punter Justin Vogel made it on the first or second teams. No first team at all. That's one defensive player honored despite Miami being among national leaders in several defensive categories. "Maybe everybody tripped on the way to the end zone when they played us," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz famously said. Coach Mark Richt Tweeted: "It is hard for me to believe that we have one of the best defenses in America and only can get one guy as a second team All-ACC performer." Next: This week came Todd McShay's astoundingly premature Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN today. Zero Canes in it. Four (!) Florida Gators in his first round and one Florida State Seminole, but nobody from UM. Next: ESPN lists its Top 50 players competing in bowl games. Zero Canes. Two Noles, one Gators, no UM. By the way Pitt has three players on that list. Miami beat Pitt this season 51-28. Richt and Diaz have a point in making a little noise publicly about the lack of respect for some of their players. There are worse motivations to carry with you to a bowl game.

Poll result: FIU's Davis beats FAU's Kiffin for new-coach hire: We asked what school made the bigger recent football coaching hire that should be more exciting to their fans, and FIU/Butch Davis defeated FAU/Lane Kiffin, 65.5 percent to 34.5%. No surprise as we imagine Panthers fans outnumber Owls fans among our readers/voters.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 14, 2016

Dolphins: Playoff hopes made really simple, first 2017 draft projection; plus FIU/Butch Davis vs. FAU/Lane Kiffin. Poll. Last day to vote; also, R.I.P. Alan Thicke, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 14 (extreme results) & more

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

Alanthicke1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14. R.I.P. Alan Thicke, friend of the LeBatard Show who died unexpectedly of a heart attack last night at 69. 2) NFL announced that Miami would play one of the four games in London next season. Dolphins will face the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 or 4, either Sept. 24 or Oct. 1. 3) The Miami Herald's new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Arizona but Tannehill injured, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Heat-struggles verdict, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Tannehill's injury, other select recent columns: The Handoff Nobody Wanted, my latest column, on Matt Moore taking over as Dolphins QB for injured Ryan Tannehill. Also: Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

10winsDOLPHINS PLAYOFF HOPES, 2017 DRAFT OUTLOOK: A double-dose of late-season Dolphins stuff... Playoff hopes made very simple: It's 10 wins or bust: Why do we try to complicate this with all of the tiebreaker permutations and various scenarios and if-this and if-thats. The Dolphins making the playoffs for the first time since 2008 could not be simpler, really. They have three games left: at Jets, at Bills, home vs. Pats. If they win at least two of the three, they'll make it. if they don't, they won't. Period. That's it. Let's let makenflplayofs.com tell us with their computers and their percentile Orbustlikelihoods. Miami is 8-5. If the Fins finish 3-0 = 11-5, they are not quite guaranteed but 97.29 percent certain to get in. If they finish 2-1 = 10-6, they're still quite likely at 58.51%. But iff they finish 1-2 = 9-7, the probability Ojhowardplummets all the way down to a very unlikely 6.91%. At 0-3 = 8-8, it's a negligible trace of 0.01%. So, you want this, Dolphins? Don't worry about tiebreakers or what are teams are doing. Win at least two more. Get to 10. Not complicated. Early mock draft has Fins taking Alabama tight end: Crimson Tide TE O.J. Howard (pictured left) goes to Miami with the No. 16 pick of first round, according to Todd McShay's astoundingly premature Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN today. He has another 'Bama guy, DE Jonathan Allen, going No. 1 overall to Cleveland. McShay has four (!) Florida Gators in the first round: CB Teez Tabor 18th, DT Caleb Brantley 23rd, LB Jarrad Davis 24th and CB Quincy Wilson 27th. He has FSU RB Dalvin Cook going 20th.

A RIVALRY HEATS UP BECAUSE FIU VS. FAU IS NOW BUTCH DAVIS VS. LANE KIFFIN: Interesting times for college football in South Florida. This has been a market owned in the sport by the FaufiuMiami Hurricanes for so long -- a stature only underlined before this season when UM made the very popular hire of longtime Georgia coach and Canes alum Mark Richt, who started and finished strong in guiding The U to an 8-4 season and upcoming bowl. Miami's FIU and Boca Raton's FAU have been afterthoughts, even Butchdavis Lanekiffinthough both are FBS (nee Division 1) level. But that could be changing with the dynamic coaching hires each has made. Don't get me wrong. UM still is local king in collball, a status pretty much unthreatened. But FIU's Panthers, in Butch Davis, and FAU's Owls, now with Lane Kiffin, have jumped on the radar, nationally as well as locally, with attention-getting hires of "name" coaches. I don't know how long each will be here. FIU and FAU are, for now, steppingstone jobs. Davis, at 65, may content to make this job his career's winter. No doubt Kiffin, 41 and a coaching nomad, is looking to parlay something good in Miami to his next top-tier shot. But however long each man is here, the FIU-FAU rovalry is enlivened, big-time, as FIU gets a Canes head coach who is a proven recruiter, and FAU gets an experienced head coach who most recently has been Alabama's (very successful) offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. That's how to get noticed, folks. I'm curious who you consider to be the bigger hire -- who's fans should be more excited right now. Say you followed Conference USA football, FIU and FAU. Stepping back to see the question neutrally, whose fans should be more excited by their school's recent hire? Take a dip in our poll.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 14 RESULTS: EXCELLENCE ON PREDIX, BUT LOBOS BOW OUT UGLY: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team, and this week's results could not be more extreme. NFL pix: Excellence! We went 12-4 straight-up and a crazy-good 12-3-1 against the spread, with the tie the Patriots pushing at seven points. We're now a really, really strong 33 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Ugh. As in Ugh-ly. Greg's Lobos ended the regular season at 10-3 and the No. 1 playoff seed in the radio-show, but promptly got our ass kick and quickly were eliminated in a 117-37 loss -- our worst performance of the season by a ton. That it was Dan "Auto-Draft" LeBatard who beat me made it worse. The Lobos may be forced to consider managerial changes. #WeAreTheLobos

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (25 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 8-17 fter last night's win over Washington, here's The Luddite's fifth installment, with 20-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (25 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       809

2. Goran Dragic (2)             586

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            497

4. James Johnson (5)          350

5. Dion Waiters (4)              346

6. Rodney McGruder (7)      266

7. Josh Richardson (6)        239

8. Justise Winslow (8)         181

9. Josh McRoberts (10)      177

10. Wayne Ellington (13)    160

Others: Derrick Williams 153, Willie Reed 152, Luke Babbitt 123, Udonis Haslem 17. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.9%; plus UM routs Duke 40-21 behind Kaaya's record day; also, OSU survives, FSU wins, other Collball (updated); The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP standings (15 games); Castro dies & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 picks, annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, Shaq/retired number verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few select recent columns: Click Week 12 Gems for latest NFL picks and on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins for analysis of Miami's playoff chances. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name.

Live-in game blog, postgame thoughts: See our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 95.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 95.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 40-21 victory vs. Duke putting UM's final regular-Csmseason record at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC awaiting its bowl destiny. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the 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 8:30 a.m. today/Monday. This is not the season-ending poll; there will be a final one following UM's bowl game.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

G12: 95.9% following 40-21 victory vs. Duke

Next poll: Following bowl game

G12: HURRICANES 40, DUKE 21: UM DIDN'T REQUIRE ANY MIRACLES THIS TIME: Postgame thoughts: Big second half makes it a comfortable Miami win as expected to finish the regular season 8-4 with a fourth straight win. Not since 2002 had UM ended a season (pro-bowl) with four straight wins. But the big story is Brad Kaaya, with 396 yards passing and four TDs  to shatter Ken Dorsey's UM career passing-yards record of 9,565 ..... 4Q: within 40-21 late o 12-yard scoring pass ... Miami 40-14 on Kaaya 58-yard TD pass to Njoku ..... 3Q: UM tacks on FG for 33-14 lead as quarter ends. The bigger news: Kaaya with 313 yards has now catapulted past Dorsey's UM career passing yards record 9,565 ... UM 30-14 on Kaaya 3-yard scoring pass to Coley, but a 38-yard setup to Berrios the big play. Kaaya now only 9 yards from surpassing Dorsey's career passing yards record ... Canes catch break with Duke wide right on FG try ... UM up 23-14, its first breathing-room lead of game, on 76-yard scoring pass from Kaaya to Njoku. One wide-open receiver and one-missed tackle equals play of game so far ..... Halftime: Did not expect a tight game, with Miami a 15-point favorite in regular season finale. Still not feeling much jeopardy on UM's behalf, though. Expect this thing to bust open in second half in Canes' favor ..... 2Q: See saw game. Canes now up 16-14 just before half on 33Y FG ... UM within 14-13, settling for 25-yard field goal ... Where is Miami's pass rush and pass defense? Duke regains lead 14-10 on 13-yard scoring pass. Devils QB now 9-for-9 ..... 1Q: UM back up 10-7 on Kaaya 30-yard scoring pass to Walton ... Duke drives 75 yards for 7-3 lead on 6-yard pass ... UM 3-0 on 47-yard FG ... I think I'd like this game better if  it was Mike Krzyzewski's team facing UM ..... Original post: A year ago in Raleigh the Hurricanes needed that eight-lateral kickoff return miracle on the final play to escape Duke with a controversial, purloined win. This afternoon beginning at 3:30 in Miami Gardens should not feature such drama or require a Houdini act in a game that finds Duke a 15-point underdog. Miami sails in on a Dukemiathree-game win streak and is 7-4, with a victory here perhaps steering the Canes to a New Year's Eve bowl date in Jacksonville vs. the Florida Gators. Duke is 4-7 after four losses in the past five games and needs an upset win today to get on the bowl standby list in case there are (it's unlikely) an insufficient number of six-win teams. UM will honor its 18 seniors today in its regular-season finale, and so wants a nice crowd they were offering $18 lower-bowl tickets and calling it a "Black Friday Sale." Miami leads the all-time series 11-2 and should be in clear command today. The U's defensive front and pass rush will disrupt Duke's offense and (it says here) force it into two or three turnovers. Meanwhile Miami's balanced, Brad Kaaya- and Mark Walton-led offense should have little problem today. Kaaya need 276 yards to break Ken Dorsey's UM career record of 9,565, and I see him doing it. Mark Richt did have a bit of ammo to guard against his team's overconfidence. His preach theme for the week was that Duke beat two teams (Notre Dame, North Carolina) that beat Miami. So there. But it would take an unexpected flat performance by the Canes today to keep the Blue Devils in this game. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-13.

Other state FBS Week 13 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

South Florida 48, UCF 31: Upstate rivalry founds Bulls big 10-point faves and winning a shootout to improve to 10-2. Top 25, anyone?

Old Dominion 42, FIU 28: The O.D.'s were 14-point picks and dominated in second half to end The Intl's season on a downer at 4-8.

Middle Tennessee 77, FAU 56: This is not a basketball score by mistake. This is a football score. Perfect way for Owls to end their season 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 31, No. 15 Florida 13: Seminoles were 7 1/2 -point home faves in one of great rivalries in college football, with big Gators defense trying to limit big Noles attack in an ABC telecast. Um, it didn't work. FSU seniors completed an 8-0 career sweep of state rivals UF and Miami, which is a first. Florida State, 9-3, began the season thinking national championship, fell short but gets this solace. Florida, 8-3, is headed to the SEC championship game vs. Alabama, but with heads hung low.

National Collball Week 13 overview: Seven days now before the College Football Playoff has its Selection Sunday and mints the two semifinal games, we saw four teams desperately trying to protect their standing Saturday. In the Big One, 2-Ohio State protected its home turf vs. 3-Michigan 30-27 in double OT -- a game that lived up to expectations. 1-Alabama eased past 15-Auburn 30-12 and 4-Clemson routed South Carolina 56-7. Might Michigan despite the stay at No. 3 or drop only to 4? No. 5 Washington, which won big Friday, certainly hopes not. Stay tuned.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (15 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings still show a runaway for a certain big center, but a fight for second place. With Miami now 5-10 after last night's win over Memphis, here's the Luddite's third installment, with 10-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (15 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       492

2. Dion Waiters (5)              307

3. Tyler Johnson (2)             304

4. Goran Dragic (3)             272

5. James Johnson (6)          241

Bubble: Justise Winslow 181 (4). Others: Josh Richardson 166, Rodney McGruder 128, Luke Babbitt 100, Willie Reed 73, Derrick Williams 71, Josh McRoberts 47, Udonis Haslem 15.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2016

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-49ers, others; plus annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, your Shaq/retired number verdict; also, Fidel Castro finally dies & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Retiring Shaq's number with poll, Jurgen Klinsmann fired, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 11 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name. 

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 12: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-49ERS, REST OF NFL: We rebounded like Hassan Whiteside last week, shedding our slump with a 12-2 week straight-up and 9-4-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began our Week 12 solidly, 2-1 both ways on Thanksgiving Day games; click Thursday Gems for those picks. For all of our latest selections click on Week 12 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-49ers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an analysis of the Dolphins' playoff chances. We have the math on why Miami must won four of its last six games and finish 10-6 to expect to get in for the first time since 2008. Click on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins to read. 

Other select recent columns: Football Town Strikes Back, on Dolphins' and Canes' concurrent resurgence. Also: Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Pilgrim16A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Everybody's busy this time of year, but I managed to get Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Heat center Hassan Whiteside, defrocked baseball Hall of Fame voter Dan LeBatard and president-elect Donald Trump to join me for this special holiday video. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you, on a serious note, to all of our longtime readers and listeners, near and far, for allowing me to  be a small part of your lives. I appreciate the support and will keep working to earn it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Click HERE to watch the special video starring the five of us...

Poll result: Mixed feelings, but ultimate thumbs-down on Heat retiring Shaq's number: Heat announced they're retiring Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32. We asked what you thought, and it was 33.5 percent "no way!", 27.1% "close call but nope," 24.7% "close call but yeah," and 14.8% "yes definitely!" Combined, the nays beat the yays, 60.6% to 39.4%. Sorry, Big Fella.

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

Twitter @gregcote