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

November 15, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.8%; plus Butch Davis to FIU, Fins win 4th straight 31-24, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Leonrussell1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14. Sad to note the passing of the great Leon Russell (pictured) at age 74. He'd been scheduled to play a show in Boca Raton next week and I'd hoped to see him. R.I.P. 2) The 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): Canes win big at Virginia with CSM poll, other Collball Week 11, Brad Kaaya stay-or-go poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: The latest: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Week 10 Gems (latest NFL predictions). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders) Select others: Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

ButchdBUTCH DAVIS TO COACH FIU!: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis is returning to work in the city he wanted to return to, if not exactly the team he wanted to coach. He has signed a five-year contract to coach FIU in Conference USA. FIU will formally introduce him Tuesday afternoon as its fourth head coach. Davis intensely desired to come back to UM and the ACC (where he had coached more recently with North Carolina), but he was among the many coaches the Canes passed over in favor of hiring Mark Richt. For FIU it feels like a great hire, a big hire, getting a proven coach with major-college experience, and one with a track record grounded in strong recruiting. (I'd be worried if I were direct-rival FAU). For Davis, who turns 65 on Thursday, it seems a step down, like a man hitting the career refresh button at a decidedly lower level. But, hey, Butch wanted to still coach, and this was his shot. Good for him. Also, the rivalry that really isn't but should be and hopefully will be someday -- UM vs. FIU -- just got turned up a notch.

CSM vote in: Results are in for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll; find them in the blogpost directly below this new one.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts below: Look for our in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 96.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 96.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory at San Diego putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 5-4. 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 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

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)

Next poll: Nov. 20 (following game at Los Angeles)

G9: DOLPHINS @ SAN DIEGO: CAN MIAMI FINALLY BREAK THE "3W JINX"?: Postgame thoughts: Miami with fourth straight win, 31-24 at San Diego with four defensive interceptions imn second half a sharp Tannehill throughout. Very impressive. Dolphins nauil donw their first 4-game winning streak since 2008. And playoff hope, at 5-4, is genuinely alive! ..... 4Q: Lippett INT -- 4th of half for Miami -- seals it ... OMG! Kiko Alonso 60-yard INT return puts MIA up 31-24 with 1 minute left! ... ... What a game! Franks 27-yard FG ties it 24-24. OT ahead? ... SD up 24-1 with 4 minutes left on Rivers' 51-yard scoring toss to Williams ... Another huge defensive takeaway as Maxwell intercepts Rivers! ... Lippett INT in enxd zone saves Miami! Grant had muffed punt return, gave SD ball at Miami 5. Huuuge turnover! Then defensive hold against Maxwell gave SD new set of downs. Lippett a game-changer ..... 3Q: MIA back up 21-17 on Williams' 2nd TD, asn 18-yard strike from Tannehill. Tanny really good today so far. Had a big 18-yard scramble on the drive ... Rivers-Henry 7-yard TYD pass is Rivers' 300th in his career and puts Bolts back up 17-14. Pass interference by Miami in end zone made it easier ... MIA up 14-10, first lead, on Damien Williams' 2Y run. Ajayi, afterr only 16 yards in first half, busted a 40-yarder to lead the 75-yard drive ..... Halftime thoughts: Did not expect a defensive battle. Or a lack of offense battle, as the case may be. Chargers with a modedst 157 yards in offense; Fins D has done pretty well. But Miami doing little with the ball beyond that one perfect 39-yard TD pass by Tanny. Ajayi with only 16 rushbing yards on 11 carries. But Miami has ballto start second half ..... 2Q: Wake sack bumps Bolts from FG range ... Fins LT Branden Albert wrist injury, iffy to return. Not good ... Tight ends always seem to bedevil Miami's D, and Gates is doing it today ... MIA within 10-7 on 39Y scoring pass to Stills. A perfect strike. Put that in your memory bank, Tannehill haters 'n doubters! ... SD suddenly up 10-0 on Rivers' 11-yard scoring pass to ancient TE Gates. Somebody wake the Dolphins offense? ... Bolts 3-0 on 45-yard FG to begin second quarter ..... 1Q: Unexpected scoreless first. SD's 38 total yards a good sign for Miami ... Promising first drive by Miami ends with sack that negates FG range ... Feeling lucky, Dolfans? ..... Original post: Since last achieving a four-game winning streak in 2008 (the most recent Dolphins playoff year), Miami reached three wins in a row five previous times only to then lose. Maybe the sixth time will be the charm? We find out today starting at 4:05 p.m. in San Diego. The Chargers franchise was denied by Miasdvoters this past week on a new-stadium referendum, putting the team's future there in doubt. The team is faring somewhat better. Philip Rivers' Bolts have won three of their past four games, and SD's five losses this season have been by a combined 22 points. This is not a bad Chargers team, in other words, and one that seems to be finding its rhythm. Miami's first road game in an NFL post-merger record of 44 days will be a tall task for the Dolphins in a coaching matchup between former Broncos staff-mates in Adam Gase and Mike McCoy. Did I mention Miami is 0-3 on the road? It isn’t that San Diego is a particularly a daunting venue; it’s that the Chargers present big challenges and matchup problems. Miami catches a break because top Bolts wideout Travis Benjamin likely won't play. Jarvis Landry is questionable for Miami but likelier to be ready. Miami will be tested by the prolific Rivers (two TD throws from being the ninth to reach 300), who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, and by hot Melvin Gordon fronts a high-powered running attack that will be a ton to handle for the Fins defense. And San Diego, though not a great defense overall, produced two defensive TDs last week and have an impact rookie sacker in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Joey Bosa. Bolts also play the run very solidly and will make it tough for Jay Ajayi to continue his surreal run of 529 yards in past three games. I could end up as wrong here as the polls were about Donald Trump. But, sorry, I doubt it. My pick: San Diego, 31-23.

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

Hotbutton1. POLITICS: First Cubs, now Trump on the seismic jolt-to-history list: I guess it's true. Anything can happen. The difference is, most of America (well, outside of Cleveland) was rooting for the Chicago Cubs. It seems most of America (based on the final popular vote total and subsequent protests) did not want Donald Trump.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Chargers for fourth win in row: The Dolphins were in San Diego trying to expand their winning streak to four games, and did, 31-24. Five previous times Miami had won three straight then lost, before finally getting to four in a row for the first time since 2008.

3. HEAT: D-Wade twice a winner in highly anticipated return to Miami: Dwyane Wade's Chicago Bulls beat the Heat Thursday night in his ballyhooed first return here since leaving, and Wade also won big with appreciative, loving reaction from Miami fans.

4. HURRICANES: UM punches bowl ticket at Virginia: The favored Canes whipped Virginia 34-14 in Charlottesville Saturday for a sixth win of the season and bowl eligibility. Alas, four earlier losses assured we're talking about "medium bowl" eligibility.

5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Road to March Madness now open: College hoops season began Friday for Miami Hurricanes and most teams, with UM's rebuilding men easily winning a soft opener, and No. 14 Canes women losing at No. 19 Kentucky. OK, now let's please fast-forward 119 days to Selection Sunday and get to the good stuff!

6. NASCAR: Homestead final four set for championship weekend: Sunday in Phoenix decide who'd join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the final four for next weekend's Sprint Cup season-championship race down south of Miami, and it was Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. November madness!

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Earthquake Saturday as No.s 2-3-4 all lose: No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all stunningly lost Saturday, opening door for Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin to join the coveted top four in the College Football Playoff ranking. But can anybody beat No. 1 Alabama? "No" is the answer right now.

8. PANTHERS: Cats face four-game roadtrip needing momentum: The on-and-off Florida Panthers make the 15-game NHL turn at 7-8 and just off playoff pace entering a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at red-hot Montreal. Cats have not yet shown they'll be Stanley Cup contenders, but don't write 'em off yet.

9. SOCCER: U.S. drops WC qualifier to Mexico: The American men lost 2-1 to rival Mexico this week in Columbus, O., in the first game of World Cup qualifying, a huge disappointment that puts early pressure on the U.S. Mostly, though, the pressure is one U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann. 

10. UFC: McGregor makes history, awaits baby: Mixed-martial arts star Conor McGregor won big in UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, becoming first to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Afterward McGregor announced he'll be a first time Daddy in early 2017 and take some time off. Yeah, right.

Missing the HB10 cut: David Beckham now says his Miami MLS group is targeting a team to start the 2019 season. This will be have been about a five-year gestation when this baby is finally delivered, if ever it is ..... Greg Oden called himself the biggest draft bust in NBA history. "Sounds about right," America agreed ..... University of Louisville suspended cheerleader Brynn Baker over election-night posts on social media that mocked those outraged by the presidential outcome. Wait. Brynn. Aren't you supposed to be cheerful!?

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 12, 2016

Opposite season outlooks (and results) for Hurricanes men, women as college basketball tips off; plus Dolphins-Chargers and other NFL Week 10 predictions, R.I.P. Bill Stanfill & more

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

Vetsday1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Happy Veterans Day, America! Yesterday we celebrated, honored and thanked all of those who have served in the U.S. military, past to present -- which we should do every day. Who sits in the White House changes, but our reliance on the world's greatest Armed Forces never does. 2) The 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): Miami return of Dwyane Wade, postscript on election, your Clinton-Trump verdict, The List (Wade) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bill Stanfill, R.I.P.: Former Miami Dolphins defensive great Bill Stanfill has died in hospice care, at age 69, in Georgia. Click here for more. The Perfect Season defensive end still is No. 3 on the franchise's all-time career sacks list with 67 1/2, after only Jason Taylor and Cam Wake.

Wade3Welcome home, old friend: Click on Return Of Wade for my column from the arena on Thursday night's surreal but emotional Miami return of Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform. A few of our other recent columns: Miami QBs: No Worries (on why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

OPENING NIGHT! OPPOSITE CHALLENGES FOR HURRICANES' MEN, WOMEN AS 2016-17 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SEASON BEGINS: Miami's tandem of men's coach Jim Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier is as solid as any in the country (see The List Below), but they face far different challenges and outlooks as college basketball got bouncing Friday. Our overview outlook for each team as the season begins:

LarranagaUM men open with 92-43 home win over over Western Carolina: Canes had five players score between 11 and 14 points and seven play 23 to 25 minutes in expected easy win over lesser foe. Outlook: Miami's men were really good last season, finishing 27-8, 13-5 in the tough ACC and reaching the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, led by a terrific year from Sheldon McClellan. Well, McClellan, Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri are among that team's leaders who have departed, leaving behind a program Larranaga (pictured) is rebuilding. Expectations are modest; UM was pegged ninth of 15 conference teams in the preseason media poll. Canes will be infusing arriving talent and hoping for big seasons from returning guys such as as Davon Reed and Ja'Quan Newton. The outlook? Somewhere around .500 or just above and contention for an NIT bid seems reasonable. But never underestimate the first-rate motivator Larranaga as he sets out on his sixth UM season.

MotleyNo. 14 UM women open with 82-66 road loss at No. 19 Kentucky: No soft opener for the Canes women, who lost despite Adrienne Motley's 16 points as Wildcats ended on a 15-2 run. Outlook: Meier's 12th UM season opened big as her 14th-ranked Canes unveiled themselves at No. 19 Kentucky with a huge test out the gate -- the only Top 25 matchup in women's basketball as the season launched. Canes were 24-9 last season and 10-6 in the ACC before disappointingly losing their opener in the NCAA Tournament. They should be very good again, led by a genuine star in the senior guard Motley (pictured). No. 14 in the national polls as a starting point suggests big things are expected, as does being pegged fifth in the preseason ACC guesstimation. Unlike Larranaga, then, and despite the program's first season-opening loss since 1996, Meier faces the burden of tall expectations.

THE LIST: HURRICANES' WINNINGEST BASKETBALL COACHES: Where current coaches Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier ranked among all-time Hurricanes winningest basketball coaches entering their 2016-17 seasons:

UM men's basketball coaching victories

Coach                       Record      Pct.    Years

Bruce Hale                220-112    .663    1954-67

Leonard Hamilton     144-147    .495     1990-2000

Frank Haith              129-101    .561     2004-11

Hart Morris               119-82      .592    1938-42, '46-52

Jim Larranaga            91-49      .650    2011-present

UM women's basketball coaching victories

Ferne Labati             303-195    .608    1988-2005

Katie Meier               207-143    .591    2005-present

Lin Dunn                   149-119    .556    1978-87 

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 10: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CHARGERS, REST OF NFL: We modestly regained a bit of misplaced mojo last week in Week 10 of our 26th season of Friday Page FripixNFL predictions in the Miami Herald, after a pratfall the week before. I'm not doing handsprings over an 8-5 record overall and 7-5-1 against the spread, but it was progress. We were a big 23 games over .500 ATS entering this week, but had a mixed start last night. Had Ravens winning, but misfired on thinking Browns would lose by less than 10. (Note to self: Henceforth, don't even bet on the Browns to run onto the field for pregame intros without stumbling). We move on. For all of our latest selections click on Week 10 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Chargers (sorry, Dolfans), our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an appreciation of former Miami Hurricanes who represent on the NFL's all-time career leaders lists in so many categories. Click on Canes In the History Book to read.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 04, 2016

Yes, Jose was Marlins' 2016 MVP. But who was second? New poll. Vote now!; Radio Tuesday, plus World Series odds, latest SOPY rankings, 'Fins At 50' book now available & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. See our previous blogpost for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They don't make numbers much higher as FSU Week begins for Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at Georgia tech with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, state Collball Week 5, quartet of Jose columns & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Radio Tuesday!: We're on the LeBatard Show now on 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio.

World Series odds: Via Bovada today, Cubs a clear favorite at 12-5 odds, followed by Red Sox at 5-1, Rangers 6-1, Nationals 13-2 and Dodgers 15-2. Longer shots are the Indians at 9-1, Blue Jays 10-1, Mets 18-1 and Orioles and Giants both 22-1.

FINS AT 50: New book on sale now!: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half century, Fins At 50, is now available, just in time for the holiday season. Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon.

MarlinsMARLINS' 2016 MVP: JOSE AND THEN...WHO?: The Marlins' 79-82 season was disappointing even before the tragic death of Jose Fernandez overshadowed everything. It was because, after being in the wild-card playoff hunt for so much of the season, Miami faded late. It was because it marked yet another injury-marred season for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. MVPIt was because, bottom line, the Fish still haven't had a winning season since 2009 in a playoff drought extending to '03. But there were positives, too, under first-year manager Don Mattingly, until Jose's death made them all seem meaningless. There were solid performances. In that spirit in this Marlins season MVP poll I present five finalists, alphabetically, with pertinent statistics listed. I ask that you vote for your top two (2) choices due to the extraordinary circumstances of Fernandez's death. In anticipation of an emotion-driven vote for Fernandez, who might very well have won anyway, I'm curious who comes out on top among the other finalists. So vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': NOLES' COOK EN FEUGO AS FSU WEEK ARRIVES: The fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back SopyDalvin Cook continuing red-hot as the Seminoles prepare to visit Miami in Collball Week 6. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. UM's Mark Walton and Brad Kaaya rank 6-7 this week despite the Canes playing one fewer game than all the others. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, 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. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 6, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 5:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk5        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                184          988.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          264          963

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 224          844.5

4      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       101          603.5

5      7      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         123          548

6      5      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      79           521 

7     10     Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       126.5       502.5

8     --      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    112         467

9     --      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      178.5      463.5

10    8      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                    68          454

Bubble: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 5 best: Cook, 264. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Miami (4-0); 2. Florida State (3-2); 3. Florida (4-1); 4. South Florida (4-1); 5. UCF (3-2); 6. FIU (1-4); 7. FAU (1-4).

OUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one that saw something so awful bring out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (and again the headline says it all).

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

Twitter @gregcote