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

October 03, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.9%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); also, UM No. 10 after winning at Ga Tech 35-21, Richt's Bible giveaway, Noles' stunning defeat, FIU wins, our final Jose column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. UM-FSU next Saturday here has been set for an 8 p.m. kickoff. 2) Thank you for veering away from us, Hurricane Matthew. That's a good Matt. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins clobbered in Cincy with DSM poll, our trilogy of Jose Fernandez columns, Loria eulogizes Jose, NFL Week 4 picks, The List (Fins on TNF) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphin-less Sunday: Admit it, Dolfans, you enjoyed a stress-free Sunday without the prospect of another discouraging Dolphins performance. Or more ghastly Creamsicle uniforms. Click on Week 4 Gems for our latest NFL picks.

Jose Fernandez: Reflecting on the good we saw in a brutal week: Sunday we offered our latest and last of four columns this week on the tragic death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, reflecting on a brutal week, but one in which something so awful brought out something so wonderful in our community. The column: With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 97.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.9 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 4-0 and 1-0 in the ACC. 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 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

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

Next poll: Oct. 8 following game vs. Florida State

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 2): 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. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Mourning the tragic death of Marlins' ace: A broken team ends its baseball season 79-82 with a loss Sunday in Washington, but for the Marlins, their fans, Cuban Miami and all of South Florida, it all ended one week earlier with death of their most beloved player in a boating accident. R.I.P., Jose.

2. HURRICANES: UM spanks Georgia Tech, awaits Florida State: Now 10th-ranked Miami hosts the Seminoles (down to No. 23 coming off a stunning Saturday loss) in five days in the year's most anticipated game. It was OK for you and I to look ahead to FSU. Mark Richt's Hurricanes sure didn't Saturday in winning 35-21 at Georgia Tech.

3. DOLPHINS: Reeling Fins fall to 1-3 in Cincinnati: The Dolphins looked as bad as they looked Thursday night in a 22-7 loss. Those hideous orange uniforms clowned Fins players and made them look like animated Creamsicles, and the sartorial abomination was matched by the team's performance.

4. HEAT: Ready or not, the (fake) games are about to begin: Training camp in the Bahamas ended Saturday, now the new-look Heat open their NBA preseason schedule on Tuesday at Washington. No more D-Wade, no more Bosh, no more Big 3. Only big questions are left.

5. BASEBALL: It's O's-Jays, Giants-Mets in wild cards: It'll be Baltimore at Toronto in the AL wild-card game Tuesday and San Francisco at the NY. Mets in the NL WC on Wednesday, as the six division winners wait. Cubs fans, start your anxiety!

6. GOLF: Americans surge to huge Ryder Cup triumph: Americans surged past Team Europe 17-11 in Minnesota to earn the first U.S. Ryder Cup win since 2008 and only the third in past two decades. Meantime, U.S. fans were tough on the Europeans, especially on Rory McIlroy. Make America Boorish Again!

7. ARNOLD PALMER: Golf icon dies at 87: Younger generations know the name for his eponymous iced tea-lemonade drink, but for millions of older folks, Arnie was golf's first big star and the magnet that grew the sport. R.I.P.

8. PANTHERS: NHL season nears as exhibitions continue: Florida plays its fifth of seven exhibition games Tuesday in Dallas as the Oct. 13 opener looms. Panthers think they could be Stanley Cup-good this season. Go, Cats, go. A hurting South Florida could use the lift.

9. CHRIS BOSH: Heat says he's damaged good, but players vows to continue: Bosh defiantly says he will pursue a resumption of his career with another team. Meanwhile he says he learned of his failed Miami physical through the media. You're welcome!

10. SHULA BOWL: FIU wins! FIU wins!: It was Shula Bowl XV Saturday in a series FAU has dominated, but this one went to previously winless underdog host FIU, 33-31. Interim coach Ron Cooper is now 1-0. Quit while you're ahead, dude.

Missing the HB10 cut: A LeBron James signed rookie card sold at auction for $312,000. It's like that famous P.T. Barnum line: "There's a sucker with $312,000 to waste born every minute." ..... NASCAR in Dover today cuts its finalists field from 16 drivers to 12. Homestead getting close. Vroom. ..... Team Canada beat Team Europe to win the World Cup of Hockey. Now if Canada could only end that pesky 23-year Stanley Cup drought ..... UM Sports Hall of Fame announced nine more inductees. Not saying they let too many in, but was the sports-information intern who worked the summer of '98 really that special? ..... Joakim Noah declined to attend a team dinner at West Point because of his anti-war beliefs. That, or he wasn't hungry ..... Vin Scully has retired at age 88 after 67 years as Dodgers broadcaster. Slacker! No, seriously, farewell, sir. Miss your voice already.

G4: NO. 14 HURRICANES 35, @ GEORGIA TECH 21: TWO HUGE DEFENSIVE PLAYS POWER MIAMI IN ACC OPENER: Final thoughts: This was a pretty tight game busted wide open by those two UM defensive TDs by true freshmen Shaquille Quarterman and Joe Jackson. Ga Tech ran a lot more offensive plays (74--46) and offensive yards were about dead even. It was those two back-to-back plays on defense. Hey, whatever works. Whatever you need, right? An impressive win and a conference win by the Canes as Mark Richt's personal mastery over Georgia Tech continues. This could have been a losable game but there was no looking past Tech or ahead to next week's huge visit by Florida State. Miami took care of business in a game in which one team killed itself with turnovers and the other one did not. This was UM's first real test of the Richt era. They passed ..... 4Q: Canes interception on defense with 2:21 to play seals it ... This game is over. Tech does not have the passing game or quick-strike ability to make up two TDs in a short time ... Chris Herndon's 48-yard catch and run has Canes on the move ... Huge fourth-down stop by Canes D with broken-up pass in end zone. ... Tech driving. As expected, this is UM's biggest challenge of the season by a lot. ..... 3Q: Canes now up 35-21. That's more like it. Canes needed to get Kaaya going and did, as his 31-yard scoring pass to Stacy Coley ends a fast 75-yard drive. Tech had stoilen momentum; UM has it back ... Tech within 28-21 on short TD run ending 65-yard drive. ... Mid-third Q and Miami only 177 yards of total offense today. Defense is winning, but UM will need another offensive TD to close this out. ..... Halftime thoughts: Pretty even game but for those two huuuge defensive scores by a pair of Canes true freshman. Turnovers the whole difference as UM has played clean: no giveaways, no penalties. Tech has run 38 offensive plays to Miami's 21. Canes could use a long drive or two and a few quick defensive stops to bring that to better balance. Quick aside: Always interesting hearing TV analyst Butch Davis discuss the Canes, knowing he'd have killed to get the UM job Richt got ..... 2Q: Tech stops the bleeding, counters with scoring pass to pull within 28-14 with less than a minute left in half ... Wow. Seriously. Miami suddenly up 28-7 after second straight Tech fumble and defensive  TD by a true freshman, this time Joe Jackson ... Canes now 21-7 on sack and fumble scooped up by freshman Shaquille Quarterman and returned for TD ... Miami back up 14-7 with impressive 90-yard drive finished by Mark Walton's 14-yard scoring run ... Sack = big defensive stop for Canes. ... UM defense needs some 3-and-outx to counter GT's ball control thus far.  ... Tech ties it 7-7 on 7-yard TD run ..... 1Q: Tech threatening as quarter ends. Big ball possession so far for home team ... UM up 7-0 on Joe Yearby's 27-yard scoring run. A 25-yard pass to Stacy Coley was driver's other big play. ... OT Trevor Darling out injured for UM. ... Love the green UM jerseys we're seeing for only time this season. As opposed to Thursday's look by the Miami Creamsicles. ..... Game preview: Miami is 3-0 by a combined score of 153-23 against smaller, lesser competition -- including that comically overhyped, alleged threat-that-wasn't at Appalachian State. I'm not saying UM isn't really good. I'm saying they've been largely untested so far and haven't yet had to really prove how Umgatechgood they are. But now, at high noon Saturday, it begins. The proving. The season, really. This is Miami's ACC opener, and, although the Hurricanes are 7 1/2-point favorites over 3-1 Georgia Tech, it's still a conference game on the road. It's losable -- especially if the Canes are either overconfident or glancing ahead to next week's huge visit by chief rival and nemesis Florida State. I like Miami coming off a bye. Tech's run-heavy, triple-option offense can be a challenge, but Mark Richt makes this the best-coached UM team in a long time. UM fans should also feel good about this: While at Georgia, Richt's record vs. the Yellow Jackets was a nifty 13-2. Including his days as an FSU assistant, he's 21-2 vs. the Jackets, and is 12-0 in games played at Georgia Tech. Richt knows this opponent well, and how to defeat it. Brad Kaaya (368 yards, three TDs at App State) and Mark Walton (401 yards rushing, 8.1 per carry, in three games) will help put up too many points for the Jackets to outscore. Kaaya also must be careful, though; he has three interceptions in past two games. My pick: Hurricanes, 30-20.

BibleON RICHT'S BIBLE GIVEAWAY: UM coach Mark Richt, who is very religious, gave Bibles to all of his players this week. Not sure how I feel about that. He did say they weren't required reading. Still, I'm a bit uneasy with any coach -- Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or anything else -- being a lockerroom evangelist for his beliefs. Don't misconstrue. I am not anti-religion. Not anti-Bible. I just think there should be a separation there. I ran a Twitter poll asking if you were OK with Richt giving players Bibles. It was 57 percent yes, 35% no, 8% undecided.

CanesjoseCANES HONORS JOSE: Friday on their @CanesFootball Twitter account UM wrote, "This past Sunday, we lost a big piece of our community. Tomorrow, we honor his memory. #JDF16." They did so on Saturday by wearing small circular helmet decals that read 'JF 16' in the memory of fallen Marlins star Jose Fernandez. That was a nice gesture. The helmet decal is pictured.

Other state FBS Week 5 games (all Saturday, in chronology):

No. 23 Florida 13, Vanderbilt 6: Gators are now 4-1 but were 10-point faves and sort of escaped Vanderbilt more than won. They were trying to shake off the sting of blowing an 18-point halftime lead in last week's loss at Tennessee, and not sure they did. Austin Appleby again started at quarterback for UF but Luke Del Rio may be back for next game.

North Carolina 37, No. 12 Florida State 35Oh. My. God. FSU falls to 3-2, beaten by a 54-yard field goal on game's last play. Miami hosts FSU next week and then North Carolina the week after, so Canes surely were watching this one. Noles were 10 1/2-point favorites. This is stunning. FSU will plummet in the polls now. There is little question the Canes will be favored next Saturday. The Florida State defense I saw today will not contain Brad Kaaya's Hurricanes.

RoncooperFIU 33, FAU 31: It was Shula Bowl XV in this natural rivalry that hasn't really ever taken off because A) both teams are usually bad and B) neither team has a great fan Fiufaubase. FAU led the series 10-4 including a 31-17 win last year, and Owls were 6-point road faves here. It was the Conference USA opener for both, and marked the debut of FIU interim head coach Ron Cooper, who replaces the fired Ron Turner. (The highest rise on the coaching food chain for Cooper, 54 (pictured), was three seasons spent as Louisville head coach in 1995-97; he was 13-20). Well, good for FIU, getting off the schneid in a result that left both local teams 1-4.

Also: UCF (now 3-2) won at East Carolina, 47-29; and South Florida (now 4-1) delivered a road-spanking to Cincinnati, 45-20.

National Collball Week 5 overview: There was a reasonable risk of change in current College Football Playoff top four because two teams currently in it both face ranked teams. No. 4 Michigan did its job against visiting 8-Wisconsin, 14-7. But No. 3 Louisville lost at 5-Clemson, 42-36.

JoseripOUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ: We had four columns this past week related to Jose's tragic death. I cannot apologize if that seems excessive. The quartet:

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, latest and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one in which something so awful brought out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Instant Lifelong Rivals (our NFL column on QBs drafted 1-2). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I 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 (which about says it all).

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 01, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.0%. Ugh; plus Fins clobbered in Cincy 22-7, NFL Week 4 predix, our trilogy on tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Loria's eulogy for Jose & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30. Speaking at a rally in Coral Springs today, Hillary Clinton spent more than a minute on a tribute to Jose Fernandez. 2) Scroll to bottom of this blogpost for yesterday's eulogy by Jeffrey Loria for Jose. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins honor Jose in emotional tribute, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseOUR TRILOGY 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 first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The latest, from Wednesday's public events and outpouring. 

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I 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 (which about says it all).

Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 3.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday night's 22-7 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals putting Miami's season record at 1-3. That's a season low and among the lowest ratings in our poll's history. 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 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

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)

Next poll: Oct. 9 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G4: @ CINCINNATI 22, DOLPHINS 7: FINS SQUANDER A BIG OPPORTUNITY TO LIFT A CITY THAT NEEDS LIFTING: Final postgame thoughts: In the fairy tale, Miami would have won tonight becausehad made several  Miami needed the lift -- not the team, the Dolphins, as much as the city back home. Five days grieving over the loss of Jose Fernandez and our community dearly needed a little joy, a diversion. A big upset win by the Dolphins might have done it, however briefly. But that hope was giving the Fins too much credit, alas. This was not only a loss dropping the Dolphins record to 1-3, it was dispiriting. Miami did little other than one long scoring pass. Its defense played badly against the pass but allowed only one Bengals TD. But Ryan Tannehill's unit did not offer nearly enough help. Coach Adam Gase  had made several lineup changes and tweaks. When those things work, you're a genius. When they don't, you seem desperate. So the Dolphins head home seeming as if they're not sure where they're at, or what to do. Not a good place to be one quarter into the season. ..... 4Q: Fins in Cincy territory and Tannehill intercepted, his fifth pick in past three games. Oy vey. ... Nugent's fifth FG has 'Gals in command 22-7. Another dispiriting  effort by the Dolphins-turned-Creamsicles. ..... 3Q: Tannehill continues to take way too many sacks for a mobile QB. ... 'Gals settle for another FG and 19-7 lead. A.J. Green (9-166) is making his fantasy owners pop champagne at Miami's expense. ..... Halftime thoughts: Time of possession a big negative for Miami. Dolphins defense can't get Cincy off the field -- Andy Dalton with 197 yards passing. And MIA offense, other than that 74-yard scoring pass, hasn't done much at all. This is a winnable game, but, right now, not looking like one Miami is prepared to win. ..... 2Q: CIN up 16-7 just before half after Tannehill stripped off ball, loses fumble in own territory. ... Bengals add short FG for 13-7 lead. Pretty even game. Nobody to cover Green, though. Bad sign when, three games in, you bench the guy (Byron Maxwell) who was supposed to be your top corner. ..... 1Q: Cincy 10-7 on Dalton-A.J. Green 7Y scoring hookup. Dolphins in these unis look like animated Creamsicles. ... Crazy Adam Gase with all his lineup changes and tweaks. You know how that goes. Wins, the media calls you a genius. Lose, we call you desperte. ... Dolphins 7-3 on Tannehill 74-yard strike to glaringly open Kenny Stills. ... Bengals 3-0, settle for FG on game's first series. Dolphin stiffened after, for much of series, looking as bad as their orange uniforms. ..... Original post: Miami is hurting. The city, the community, all of South Florida. Marlins fans, Cuban Miami -- everybody who enjoyed and admired the passion and spirit, not to mention the excellence, of Jose Fernandez. Tonight, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to help us heal just a little bit. To make us forget our sorrow for a little while. To allow us to cheer after a week of civic and personal heartache. But will they? Can they? Miacin2 MiacinThe Dolphins are weird and unpredictable and I have little real idea which Fins will take the field in Cincinnati on tonight's prime-time stage to kick off NFL Week 4. Nobody can really know. Even Adam Gase doesn’t. Miami nearly stunned the league in its opener in Seattle. Miami looked awful and great in losing at New England. Then Miami needed a ton of luck and overtime at home just to barely survive lowly Cleveland — leaving Dolfans more upset by the somewhat embarrassing win than by the two losses. Now? You could tell me Miami will get blown out by the Bengals Thursday night or impress in a big upset win (Miami is a 7 1/2-point underdog) and I’d not be surprised either way. The problem here is Miami can’t run behind a disheveled and untrustworthy offensive line, and I can’t like this pass defense against AFC yards leader Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, who caught 11 for 128 yards when last facing Miami. Also, Cincy should have back defensive leader Vontaze Burfict, who is newly off suspension. There also is speculation Bengals might get tight end Tyler Eifert back from injury, but that's doubtful. In Miami’s favor, Fins are 15-5 in this series including three in a row, Cincy is given to big defensive penalties, and Dalton can be pick-prone on occasion. Miami will have a sizable upset shot if the defense can manage a takeaway or two, if Ryan Tannehill (four INTs in past two games) plays clean, or if Cam Wake can reprise the mayhem of his last game against the Bengals: Three sacks, fumble recovery, forced fumble and game-winning safety. Maybe the Dolphins have a storybook night in them; maybe they know how much their hurting city could use the lift. Alas, the safest bet here? It’s ’Gals outright, Fins covering. (Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's full prediction capsule). My pick: Bengals, 27-23.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 4: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 11-5 against the spread Fripixlast week (though only 9-7 straight-up). Click on Week 4 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for the entire week. Got off to a split start on Dolphins-at-Bengals last night. Thought Cincy would win, but gave Miami too much credit and mistakenly thought they'd get inside the 7 1/2-point bet-line (see Thursday Gem for that pick). We also have an accompanying NFL notes column that leads with an analysis of the eight instances in history when quarterbacks have gone 1-2 in the NFL Draft -- the instant rivalries and how they fared vs. each other. (There's a rather stunning reason why the first of them, in 1954, was short-lived). Click on Instant Lifelong Rivals to read the column.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS ON THURSDAY NIGHT: Miami is now 6-5 all-time on Thursday night after tonight's loss in Cincinnati. The chronology:

Date            Result    Opponent 

11-29-79      Won       vs. Patriots 39-24

11-20-80      Lost       vs. Chargers 27-24 (OT)

9-10-81        Won       vs. Steelers 30-10

10-18-90      Won       vs. Patriots 17-10

9-7-06          Lost       at Steelers 28-17

11-19-09      Won        at Panthers 24-17

11-18-10      Lost        vs. Bears 16-10

11-11-12      Lost        at Bills 19-14

10-31-13      Won        vs. Bengals 22-20 (OT)

11-13-14      Won        vs. Bills 22-9

9-29-16        Lost         at Bengals 22-7

TRANSCRIPT OF JEFFREY LORIA'S EULOGY FOR JOSE FERNANDEZ TODAY: The Marlins owner has been controversial and oft-disliked, or worse. But give him credit where it is due. The Marlins have hit all the right notes this week in their tributes to their star pitcher who was tragically killed this past Sunday. In that spirit, here, verbatim, is Loria's eulogy for Jose from earlier this afternoon.

"First of all, there are a few people we need to thank. Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, and ESPECIALLY the Miami-Dade Police Department and City of Miami Police Department. We’d like to thank St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, Father Fernando, Father Alvarez, Christopher Columbus High School, Brother Kevin, Father Rumen and La Ermita.

We weren’t supposed to be here today.

As you all know, we tragically lost a giant who was one of the bright lights of our Marlins organization, the City of Miami, and for Cuban people everywhere. His story was representative of, and inspiring to, millions across the world. He worked so hard to experience the American Dream…and ended up being its very embodiment.

I was fortunate enough to play a significant role in Jose’s life, as he did in mine. I was there when he got called up. I was there when he pitched his first big league strike. I was proud to be there when he was reunited with his grandmother, and there when he won the Rookie of the Year award; no doubt it would have been the first of many such accolades.

I was blessed to have gotten to know not only the player with a golden arm, but also the man.

While some saw him as provocative, I saw him as humble, mature and never wanting to abuse his personal or professional relationships. He respected generosity, and in turn, gave it back in spades with his magnetic smile that could light up a ballpark.

I think we also know about his famously-competitive spirit. For evidence of this, one need look no further than his last at bat of the season two years ago. For weeks, he had been playfully telling anyone who would listen that he dreamt of hitting a home run.

Not having done it as the season drew to a close, this Ace who is normally better known for his fastball, crushed it into the seats, smiling broadly as he rounded the bases. This was the magic of Jose. He set the standard for making baseball FUN.

You know, Jose’s impact on people was global. This summer, my wife Julie and I were in Chicago for the Cubs series. As we strolled down Michigan Ave. in advance of a night game, we saw someone walking towards us wearing a Marlins jersey. As he got closer, we noticed it said Fernandez on the back, so we stopped him to inquire if he’d be attending the ballgame. He explained in a thick Dutch accent that he’d saved up his money and flown in from Holland specifically to see his favorite player, Jose. How far and wide the admiration went for this young man. Jackie Robinson once said a life is not important, except through the impact it has on OTHER lives. By any measure…Jose achieved that goal.

Athletically, he was clearly a superstar who would have continued to reach incredible heights in this game. He passed far too young, like other greats such as Thurmon Munson and Roberto Clemente. But more importantly, he was a superstar human being.

About a year ago, Jose tweeted “if you were given a book with the story of your life, would you want to read the end?” Well I prefer not to think of this tragedy as the end of his life…but rather the beginning of his LEGEND, his memory and his love that will endure forever.

To Jose’s family, friends, teammates and our community, I share in the deep pain we’re all feeling right now. Some words that often comfort me in times like this are that…grief is merely a healing process from the pain of loss. In other words, this pain is overwhelming, but a sign that we are coping and together we will move on.

He will never be replaced…nor forgotten…but will endure shining brightly over us all.

Thank you."

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 28, 2016

On today's public farewell for Marlins' Jose Fernandez; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Our weekly NFL Pix 'n Fantasy update is coming here later this afternoon, post-radio show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tragedy: Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident, Dolphins luck to beat Browns in OT with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: What Jose Meant Lives On (my first column on death of Jose Fernandez). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our NFL picks from past weekend). 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 (which about says it all)She Never Quit (our last column in FIU football coach Ron Turner before they fired him).

Today's public events for Jose Fernandez: The public may watch the funeral motorcade depart Marlins Park at 2:16 p.m. Fans are asked to gather at the stadium's West Plaza by 2. Fans may also pay respects as a public viewing that will occur from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today at St. Brendan Catholic Church, 8725 SW 32nd Street, Miami. There will be a private funeral mass on Thursday open only to family and Marlins players, coaches and staff. In lieu of flowers, the Fernandez family suggest charitable donations to the JDF16 Foundation. To learn more or to donate, click here.

MarlinsjoseHONORING JOSE AT MARLINS PARK: AN EMOTIONAL NIGHT FOR THE AGES: Many of you know I have been a sports journalist since newspapers were dropped on front lawns by pterodactyls. Into my fifth decade doing this, since the '70s, I have seen every event imaginable. But nothing quite like last night, as the Marlins and Miami said goodbye, cruelly too soon, to ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in the first game since his tragic death in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident. It was the most emotional night I have ever covered, top to bottom. It began with every player wearing his No. 16 uniform with "Fernandez" stitched on the back, and fans standing to applaud every time a different Jose Fernandez crossed the chalk line pregame and ran onto the field. It ended, long after the game, after the stadium had emptied of all but workers and media, as players stood around the pitcher's mound and raised bottles of beer to the heavens in a toast. What a terrible, wonderful night. I hope my column from the ballpark last night has done it justice. To read, click There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY WEEK 3: 'ATS' RUN CONTINUES, LOBOS LOSE HEARTBREAKER: NFL picks: Had a rocky week straight-up (9-7) but emerged a sparkly 11-5 against the spread thanks to three outright upset bull's-eyes including our Upset of the Week on Bills over Cardinals ("Aawwk!"), plus five other 'dogs-with-points. Fantasy: Another difficult loss to take. Greg's Lobos fell to 1-2 in the LeBatard Show league, losing to Mike Ryan, 136.5-130.9. We were getting blown away but nearly rallied miraculously with 57.6 combined Monday nihght points from Drew Brees and Devonta Freeman. Also, you know what they say about "close."

SOPY RANKINGS, 'STATE HEISMAN': COOK ON HIGH HEAT: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back Dalvin Cook (pictured) charging up the chart Dcookinto second place off a season-best effort entering Collball Week 5. Are rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (like the SopyMiami Hurricanes this past weekend) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. 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 5, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 4:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                245          804.5

2      7      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          341          699

3      2      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 171.5       620.5

4      9      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       200          502.5

5      3      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     BYE        442 

6      4      Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   DNP        433

7      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         40            425

8    10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   93           386 

9     --      Kalib Woods, FAU-rec                       114          377

10   6       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       BYE        376

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb, 357. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 338. Week 3 best: Cook, 341. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 04, 2016

Durant to Golden State! The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Heat/Durant decision, Fish, soccer, tennis, Summitt, Cats, Olympics, Fins; plus Supercon, your verdict on Wade & more

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

Aliprince Fourthjuly1) It is MONDAY, JULY 4. Happy Fourth of July! To all my fellow USA'ers, a safe and happy holiday and a happy 240th birthday, America! 2) At the midpoint of 2016, a reminder (pictured right) what a tough year's it's been for prominent deaths. The latest: R.I.P. Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, whom President Obama once called "the conscience of the world," gone at 87. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hassan Whiteside sticking with Heat, might-D.Wade-actually-leave poll, Dan Jennings revisited, Dolphins playoff odds, Mark Richt ranked, Greg Cote the thespian & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance, the latest, on Miami's longshot odds entering Sunday's meeting with Kevin Durant. Somebody's Gotta Give In Wade v. Heat, on Wade's tenuous status as Miami nears NBA free agency. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  --Elie Wiesel

"The Rio Olympics begin in one month. And, really, other than the threat of Zika virus and crime, the unfinished facilities, bacteria-riddled water, athlete withdrawals, doping suspensions and body parts washing ashore, everything is looking good!"  --Greg Cote

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

Hotbutton1. HEAT/NBA: Durant chooses Golden State; Heat keeps Whiteside, awaits Wade: What a flurry! In the first few days of free agency the Heat spent more than it wanted ($98 million over four years) to keep Hassan Whiteside, and saw Luol Deng and Joe Johnson (and now looks like Tyler Johnson, too) sign elsewhere. The biggest questions remaining: Dwyane Wade, who wants his money, and of course the whale Kevin Durant, whom the Heat met Sunday in  New York. Durant's decision came late this morning and he chose the Golden State Warriors. Click on Riley Gives Heat a Fighting Chance for my column that previewed yesterday's meeting and Miami's longshot odds. Pat Riley tried to shock the world. He didn't. Now Golden State is positioned as a super-team. But Durant's two-year deal gives him an out option after next season. Meaning, next summer, we'll all be doing this all over again.

2. MARLINS: Fish acquire reliever, face Braves at Fort Bragg: As all-star break nears, Ichiro bears down on 3,000 hits and the Marlins still struggle to beat the damned Braves, the playoff-chasing Fish are buyers, thankfully, trading for quality bullpen help in veteran Fernando Rodney. That should feel good to fans. So should this: As a pre-July Fourth nod to patriotism, Braves-Marlins played Sunday night (Miami winning, 5-2) at Fort Bragg, N.C., the world's largest military base.

3. SOCCER: Host France wraps up Euro quarterfinal round: Host France throttled upstart Iceland on Sunday 5-2 to conclude the Euro '16 quarterfinal round, with semifinals coming on Wednesday (Portugal vs. Wales) and Thursday (France vs. Germany) in the sport's biggest tournament outside of the World Cup. Think of it as a welcome respite from NBA free agency.

4. TENNIS: Djokovic out, Serena still alive at Wimbledon midpoint: No. 1 Novak Djokovic was denied a shot at third straight Wimbledon title in Saturday loss, but top-ranked Serena Williams won again Sunday and still angles for her seventh Wimbledon crown. The king is dead. Who can dethrone the queen of her sport's grandest court?

5. PAT SUMMITT: Women's basketball legend passes away: The retired Tennessee legend and winningest basketball coach in NCAA history passed away at 64 after battling Alzheimer's. A summit is the highest point of a mountain. Pat Summitt reached it.

6. PANTHERS: Cats lock up Ekblad, Trochek long-term: As NHL free agency began the aggressive Panthers locked up rising-star defenseman Aaron Ekblad, 20, with a reported eight-year, $60 million deal, and also signed forward Vincent Trochek to a six-year deal. Wheeling, dealing, spending -- these Cats are serious, folks.

7. OLYMPICS: Phelps in, Bolt injured, Richards-Ross retires: Apparently 18 gold medals are not enough as American swimming legend Michael Phelps, who turned 31 Thursday, qualified for his fifth Olympics, a record for a male swimmer. In track, Jamaica's sprint champion Usain Bolt suffered a hamstring injury that puts his participation in the Rio Olympics in doubt. Closer to home, ex-Miami Hurricane Sanya Richards-Ross retired at 31 as a three-time Olympian who won four golds. Well done.  

8. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule, raised money: Club announced players would report for training camp July 28 and stage their first public practice the next day. Meantime the Dolphin Cycling Challenge raised $5.06 million for cancer research. If only the Dolphins, with 9-4 odds against making the playoffs, played as well as they fund-raised.

9. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale NASL club advances in U.S. Open Cup: Fort Lauderdale Strikers hosted Miami FC to open the NASL fall season Saturday night, and tied 1-1. More important, Strikers beat MLS team Orlando City, up there, to advance to the quarterfinals of the annual all-comers U.S. Open Cup soccer tournament. Go, lads, go!

10. CYCLING: Tour de France is underway: The sport that crowned and then shamed Lance Armstrong began its 103rd edition on Saturday and continues through July 24. Anybody got an over/under on number of cyclists who'll test positive for doping during the competition?

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA summer league play runs this week in Orlando and next week in Las Vegas. Heat won its debut Saturday and will see cameos by Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson but mostly 17 guys you've never heard of. NBA summer league is like the WNBA, only less exciting ..... Johnny Manziel was suspended four games for substance abuse. Or, did that go without saying? ..... NASCAR's Tony Stewart won last week to end an 84-race winless drought. Finally, his final season before retirement takes on a little feel-good ..... Colts sign Andrew Luck to richest deal in NFL history, worth up to $140 million through 2021. Imagine if he weren't coming off his worst season!? ..... Superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic signs with superteam Manchester United. In international soccer, that's about as big as it gets ..... That reminds me. Argentina's Lionel Messi announced he was done with international competition and zero people worldwide believed him ..... Funny to see Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's annual "Where Are They Now?" issue. Funny because I sort of think most of us have a pretty good idea what she's been up to the last few years ..... Shaquille O'Neal spent four days in Cuba this week as a U.S. State Department "sports envoy." There is a phrase for that: "Waste of tax dollars." ..... Coastal Carolina won the College World Series. No, seriously ..... Gulfstream's annual Summit of Speed ran Saturday, surprising analysts who thought that place was just a casino nowadays ..... Hockey Hall of Fame finally inducted Eric Lindros, out of the NHL since 2007, after passing him over six times. Must have had a hell of a retirement year! ..... The Cubs had lost nine of 13 entering Sunday and now barely have the best record in MLB. "It begins," agreed distraught Cubs fans ..... Tiger Woods to miss British Open. At this point, let's just assume he isn't playing until we hear otherwise, OK? ..... R.I.P., Buddy Ryan, 85, a great defensive football coach, although let's not retrofit it and saint-him-up. Like son Rex, he could be a boor and wasn't roundly liked ..... Six days 'til UFC 200. Hopefully you're more excited than I am ..... The Reds retired Pete Rose's jersey number. Well, at least Cincinnati still loves him.

SuperconFLORIDA 'SUPERCON' ROLLICKING IN MIAMI: The four-day holiday weekend event wraps up Monday in Miami Beach. I'm not personally into but am interested in this somewhat bizarre side street of pop subculture that seems to enthrall so many (mostly) young adults. It's an amalgamation of fans of anime, comic books, animation, video games, fantasy and sci-fi. It's an escapism that encourages dress-up. It's a NerdFest! But I mean that in a good way. Seriously. The scarier the real world turns, the more needed outlets like this somehow become.

Poll result: Few believe Wade will actually leave Heat: We asked where you think Dwyane Wade will be to start next season (you may still vote) and it was 42.2 percent saying back with the Heat "no doubt", 39.6% back with the Heat "some doubts," 14.1% with another team and 4.1% undecided. Comment: Surprised "some doubts" didn't win and that "with another team" wasn't a higher number.

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 29, 2016

What's likelihood Heat will land Durant? Poll. Vote now!; plus Spoelstra getting contract extension, latest Back In My Day, Caitlyn Jenner, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, your verdict on Miami's next sports champ & more

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

Caitlynjenner1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29. Pictured is Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated magazine's annual "Where Are They Now?' issue. The funny thing there? Like there's anybody in America who doesn't know what this particular person has been up to lately!? 2) Does anybody really believe Lionel Messi has played his last game for Argentina? Yeah, me neither. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's next champion among Miami's Big 5 teams with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on naked athletes & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, the latest, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Spoelstra getting extension from Heat: Miami and Erik Spoelstra are "progressing on completion of a multiyear contract extension," The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported. Spo's current deal is to expire after the 2016-17 season. His 399-241 record since taking over in 2008 ranks seventh in wins among active NBA coaches, but second only to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich for most victories with one team.

The new Back In My Day: Our latest "Back In My Day" segment from the LeBatard Show is on yesterday's ESPN Radio podcast right here. The BIMD starts right around the 1-hour mark. I wasn't too sure about this one, but the show crew and listeners seemed to love it. 

"Things I think about: Mustn't there be dozens of people in the world -- and likely a lot more -- named Zika?"  --Greg Cote

Durant1 DurantHOW LIKELY THAT THE HEAT LAND THE WHALE KEVIN DURANT?: NBA free agency starts Friday (midnight Thursday) and Miami is one of six teams announced so far as securing an audience with No. 1 prize Kevin Durant. This is what Pat Riley does. Short of celebrating a Heat championship, getting in the room with a free-agent whale is the professional turn-on for the Heat's president and deal-closer. Nobody does this better than Riley. However! The betting odds are that Durant will ultimately choose to stay with Oklahoma City. And if he doesn't, the consensus of experts is that Golden State would be the likely destination. Plainly, Miami seems a real underdog in the Durant Sweepstakes, and yet that little voice keeps whispering the name of Riley and picturing him flashing all of those rings at Durant. I'm curious about the realistic feelings and expectations of Heat fans as free agency nears. The poll isn't asking what you hope happens, obviously, but what you honestly see as the Miami's chances of landing Durant. Vote and check back frequently for evolving results.

Euro16ON THE EURO '16 QUARTERFINALS: First, the BREXIT vote. Now England shockingly falls to Iceland -- Iceland! -- in the Euro '16 round of 16, one of the greatest upsets in international soccer history. Now, onto the quarterfinals in the biggest soccer tournament outside of the World Cup: Poland vs. Portugal, Thursday--Portugal, at 7-1 odds to win it all (via oddschecker.com) and No. 8 in the FIFA World Ranking, a clear favorite over 20-1/No. 27 Poland. Wales vs. Belgium, Friday--Belgium, at 4-1 odds and No. 2 in the world, an even larger fave over 20-1/No. 26 Wales. Germany vs. Italy, Saturday--Germany, co-favorite at 3-1 and ranked No. 4, a narrow favorite over 13-2/No. 12 Italy in a duel of international powers -- probably the one quarterfinal I'd choose to watch if I could watch but one. France-Iceland, Sunday--France, co-fave at 3-1, ranked No. 17 and the host national team, an enormous pick over 40-1/No. 34 Cinderella Iceland.

ON THE DEATHS PAT SUMMITT, BUDDY RYAN: The legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach and former NFL coach have passed away within hours of each other, Summitt at 64 from Patsummittcomplications of Alzeimer's disease, and Ryan at 85 after battling a stroke and cancer. A few thoughts... On Summitt: Won more college basketball games, 1,098, than anybody, man or women, and led the Lady Vols to eight national championships in 38 seasons. Summitt (pictured) was a pioneer in women's sports, and an any-gender, all-sports legend in coaching. I wonder if she was ever aware that her son, Tyler, was forced to resign as Louisiana Tech women's basketball coach earlier this year over an inappropriate relationship with a player. I hope not. Her good name stands unblemished, for all time. On Ryan: The father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan, Buddy reached his coaching pinnacle as defensive coordinator for the 1985 champion Bears, but the head-coaching career that followed was less successful. He was 55-55-1, and 0-3 in the postseason. Like his son, Buddy was controversial and not entirely popular. I can tell you, for example, that Don Shula did not like him. Anyway, R.I.P., twice. A rough year for deaths, 2016, and we're only halfway through.

Poll result: Canes football, Panthers hockey lead in South Florida optimism: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most like to win a championship next, and it was Hurricanes football 29.92 percent, Panthers 28.28%, Heat 19.67%, Dolphins 12.70% and Marlins 9.43%. Observations: Panthers led most of the way and had what for me is the most impressive result overall. Marlins have to be the most disappointing considering they are, as we speak, on playoff pace. We had the same poll in July 2014. Here is the change in two years, in order of plus/minus:

Team                              +/-       2016     2014

Panthers                    +25.28    28.28     3.00

Dolphins                     +4.52     12.70      8.18

Marlins                        -2.16       9.43    11.59

Canes football            -9.83     29.92    39.75

Heat                            -17.80     19.67     37.47

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

Twitter @gregcote