December 24, 2014

Cooperstown calling: Here's your Hall of Fame ballot. New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Pix ' Fantasy, Heat/Josh Smith, Miami Beach Bowl & more

Radio hiatus: The Dan LeBatard Show was off for the holidays yesterday and is again next week, so my Tuesday in-studio appearances will resume Jan. 6. 

1aa1aceve1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve! I really must start my Christmas shopping. Seriously. 2) I have zero problem with Joe Philbin declining to address whether his coordinators would be back next season. That should not be construed as non-support. Expect Bill Lazor and Kevin Coyle both to return. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): DSM poll and keeping-Philbin poll results, Dolphins beat Chargers & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Getting ready for LeBron by losing to the 76ers is like preparing for a marathon by failing to finish a 5K." --Greg Cote

1aa1abbhallCOOPERSTOWN CALLING: HERE IS YOUR HALL OF FAME BALLOT: I have completed my baseball Hall of Fame ballot and will reveal my choices later. First I want to offer my readers a chance to vote. The official ballot had 34 names. I weeded out 12 guys who have zero shot or frankly don't even deserve to be listed. (Sorry, Cliff Floyd. You're in the Hall of Very Good). I present here, alphabetically, the other 22 on the official ballot. Vote for as many as 10, but only those you think deserve to be in Cooperstown. Asterisks indicate players on the ballot for the first time. Remember, you may vote for as many as 10. Go!

How to interpret the ongoing voting results: Because the maximum vote is 10 each, a player's highest possible percentage of the overall would be 10 percent if everyone voted the max. In other words, any player at 7.5% or above is meeting the BBWAA equivalent of a 75 percent vote for induction. (Only five of 22 were when last I checked). By the way, for those wondering, this poll does not violate BBWAA rules and won't get me in trouble a la Le Batard. As I said, my ballot is already completed.

HEAT INTEREST IN JOSH SMITH FEELS MOOT: Can't see much reason why released 1aa1ajsmithPiston Josh Smith won't opt to sign with Houston for its far greater championship chance. Miami's interest shows the desperation of a 13-15 team with a need at power forward, with Josh McRobert lost for the season. The 6-9 Smith would fill that need. But he also was shooting 39 percent when Detroit waived him. And he carries the "chemsitry" baggage, of course. I think he's worth the risk, and Heat can offer him big minutes. Can't see him not landing in the West, though.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: AN UPLIFTING WEEK 16, BOTH WAYS: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixTuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Went 11-5 outright and a nifty 10-6 against the line, including another Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!") with Raiders over Bills. Also had Giants' upset of Rams and four other 'dogs with points. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos, relegated to the consolation round, at least salvaged a closing 107-83 win led by Marshawn Lynch's 24 points to finish 8-8. Congrats to our league champion, Mom's Maniacs!

BIG DEBUT FOR MIAMI BEACH BOWL: Memphis beating BYU 55-48 in double overtime constituted a great debut for the Miami Beach Bowl yesterday. The draw at Marlins Park, 20,761, wasn't great but not terrible, either. Even the postgame brawl, while damnable, gave the game added attention. Great start. Now let's seed if the Boca Raton Bowl debuts as successfully this evening.

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December 11, 2014

"Back In My Day": Complete audio library of every one we've done on LeBatard show; plus Marlins hit big in trade, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Philbin verdict & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11. I'm holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today summoning this week's NFL picks. It's Rams over Cardinals 19-17 tonight. Click on Thursday Gem for the full predix capsule. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins coaching poll, Panthers besting Heat, Canes in Homophobe Bowl, Elton falling off chair & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

'I Can't Breathe': Click on Athletes As Human Beings for today's latest column. I applaud stars like LeBron James for their social conscience on current issues.  

1aa1aBIMD"BACK IN MY DAY": THE COMPLETE CATALOGUE: My every-Tuesday appearances on the Dan LeBatard Show (3-7 p.m. locally on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 nationally on ESPN Radio) have spawned a segment called "Back In My Day," in which I ruminate on how things are different now. Yesterday was my 10th one. Unexpectedly the segment has become hugely popular with listeners, and many have emailed or Tweeted me asking how they can access ones that have aired. One way is through the show's podcast. Another I present to you here: The complete catalogue of all 10 "Back In My Days" I have done so far, in chronological order. Enjoy!

GERMOPHOBES: Folks' obesssion with cleanliness and germs -- BIMD #1. Aired Oct. 7, 2014. Sample: "Go out and eat a 40-year-old French fry and forget about it!":

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AMERICAN EDUCATION: U.S. kids lagging behind -- BIMD #2. Oct. 14, 2014. Sample: "How about you give Angry Birds a rest, put down your iPhone, get off Facebook, tell Iggy Azalea to stop screeching in your earbuds and crack open a bleepin' book!":

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MEMORABILIA: The dark side of collectibles -- BIMD #3. Oct. 21, 2014. Sample: "Your 'authentic' signature probably was an expert fake by the team trainer who was grinning like a donkey eating briars as he duped the rubes who would soon buy his forgery.":

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SENSORY OVERLOAD: Whatever happened to the simple art of pondering? -- BIMD #4. Oct. 28, 2014. Sample: "Forty percent of people on cell phones are believed to be faking the call in a desperate effort to appear important.":

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TIME FLIES: Time flies on its own, and yet we hurry it along -- BIMD #5. Nov. 4, 2014. Sample: "It's 2014 but I can buy a 2015-model car. Huh! Was I napping when we perfected time travel?":

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EXCESSIVE VARIETY: Life's unneccesary options -- BIMD #6. Nov. 11, 2014. Sample: "Ever try to buy toothpaste? First you have to navigate a roiling sea of options with myriad blends geared to extra whitening, tartar buildup, mouthwash built in, anti-plaque, halitosis, sensitive gums, buck teeth...":

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BLACK FRIDAY: The absurdity of America's kickoff to holiday shopping -- BIMD #7. Nov. 18, 2014. Sample: "We're a bunch of easily duped lemmings voluntarily herding ourselves to the nearest cliff.":

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BRAGGARTS (13.1): We have become a nation of braggarts -- BIMD #8. Nov. 25, 2014. Sample: "I don't assume that person actually completed a half-marathon. I assume they simply bought the window decal in a galling attempt at unearned braggadoccio.":

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STATS ON STEROIDS: Sports epitomizes the phrase too-much-information -- BIMD #9. Dec. 2, 2014. Sample: "Now we instantly know the homer's distance down to the millimeter, its exact trajectory, the speed at which it left the park, the number of rotations of the ball and the sphere's Dent Index.":

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DIRECTIONS: From asking for directions to Google Earth -- BIMD #10. Dec. 9, 2014. Sample: "Go into a 7-Eleven today, ask for a map and get a blank stare from the clerk. You're made to feel as ancient as Ferdinand Magellan looking for the East Indies.":

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MARLINS HIT BIG WITH TRADE, THANKS TO GORDON: Winter meetings trade with L.A. Dodgers brings 1aa1adeeg2B Dee "Flash" Gordon (pictured), righty starter Dan Haren (if he doesn't retire), infielder Miguel Rojas and cash considerations to Marlins, and sends pitcher Andrew Heaney and three prospects to Dodgers. I like this deal a lot, largely because it says "today," not maybe someday. It's a deal made by a team that wants to compete now. Gordon, 26, is a leadoff hitter who led MLB in stolen bases (64) and triples (12). Not a great defensive player, but oh that speed. Haren, 35, is an innings eater who'd be a very solid 3-to-5 starter if he agrees to the deal, but even if he retires Marlins get $10 million from L.A. to spend on another starter or a 1B. Hate to see Heaney and his potential go, but the's the "maybe someday," while Gordon (and hopefully Haren) are proven and about winning now.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 14 SEES GOOD/BAD ON PICKS, LOBOS ELIMINATED: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy- 1aa1afripix 1aa1aarkstateleague team. Pix: We again went a fairly solid 11-5 overall but only 6-9-1 (Vikings pushed) against the spread. Nailed our Upset of the Week (Steelers over Bengals; "Aawwk!") and also called Seattle's upset win at Philly and had Bills with points at Denver, but it wasn't enough. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won, 113-87, led by Calvin Johnson's 30 points, to end strong and finish 7-7. Alas, we tied for the final playoff spot only to be ousted on a tiebreaker. Consolation round, here we come. It's the fantasy equivalent of the 6-6 Canes pretending to be happy about the Duck Commander Independence Bowl.

Poll result: Dolfans support pursuing Harbaugh, not keeping Philbin: We asked, and a plurality of 46.3 percent voted to pursue Jim Harbaugh "no matter what." Another 39.5% said to make a coaching change only if Miami does not make the playoffs, with 19.2% of those wanting Harbaugh and 20.3% preferring someone else. Staying the course with Philbin drew only 10.3%, and 3.9% were undecided.

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November 04, 2014

What can hot Dolphins, Canes and Heat accomplish? New poll. Vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings, governor election & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Fins crush San Diego, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On Heat's first loss: Click on Reality Hasn't Changed for my column from the arena off last night's Heat loss. Losing to very good Houston wasn't a reality chcek for Miami because the reality is the same now as it was at 3-0. Heat is competitive, not a contender, and the moving on from LeBron James will be a season-long challenge.

HAPPINESS IS A MIAMI SPORTS FAN (FOR NOW, AT LEAST): My earlier column is unabashedly rah-rah, me as Homer Guy, banging the civic drum in celebration of our local teams' collective Big Weekend. 1aa1abig3Why not? I live here. I wish our teams well. Doesn't mean I can't be objective or won't be critical, but when the Dolphins, Heat, football Hurricanes and hockey Panthers are all winning on the same weekend for only the fourth time ever, well, that's good with me. Click on Happy Days for the column. It's pretty remarkable each team's turnaround the past few weeks. Dolphins, three straight wins for 5-3 at midyear. Heat, last unbeaten team left in Eastern Conference (before Tuesday night''s first loss). Canes, 6-3 after three wins in a row. Our blog's Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls both set season highs this week, and Heat fans were celebrating the smooth start to Life After LeBron. The hot streaks raise hope that all three possibilities mentioned in this poll could happen, although the argument could also be made that all three remain doubtful. Vote for only as many of the three as you honestly think will happen, and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SO-SO AND GOOD IN WEEK 9: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: So- 1aa1afripix 1aa1aarkstateso. Having a great season so far, but not helped much by going 8-5 overall and 7-6 against the spread last week. Stayed scorching hot on Upset of the Week calls by bull's-eyeing Patriots over Broncos ("Aawwk!"). But let's not mention that I picked San Diego, OK? Please? Fantasy: Good. Woebegone Greg's Lobos finally won, rising to 3-6 with a 134-107 triumph led by Marshawn Lynch's 30 points. I'm now within two games of playoff pace with five weeks left. Go 'Bos!

SOPY: CANES' DUKE OF GABLES IS RUNNING AWAY WITH IT!: Another big game from Miami's Duke Johnson last week has increased his overall lead in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the 1aa1asopyYear (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 11:

SOPY WEEK 10 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk10    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         244     1,552

2 (2)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     150.5   1,336 

3 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        215.5    1,291.5

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            97.5    1,072.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           158      1,061 

6 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            58        957

7 (7)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        62        875

8 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             61       781

9 (10)      Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb        95       741

10 (--)      Matt Jones, Florida-rb            216      713

Bubble: Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb, 667. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Miami, FIU, FAU and USF have played 9 games; FSU and UCF have played 8; and Florida has played 7.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (8-0); 2. Miami (5-3); 3. Florida (4-3); 4. UCF (5-3); 5. SoFla (3-6); 6. FIU (3-6); 7. FAU (3-6).

COTE'S TAKE ON FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL RACE: For what it's worth (not much), but because I love politics and because my blog veers occasionally from sports, I size up the three candidates: Rick Scott 1aa1aflaflag(Rep.)--Incumbent has been the worst Florida governor of my lifetime and also ran a campaign of negative ads, but nevertheless won. That's because... Charlie Crist (Dem.)--That he also was largely unlikeable to voters, with cause, was the sole reason this race was even close. A better candidate would have sailed to victory over the unpopular Scott. Adrian Wyllie (Lib.)--In theory, a vote for Wyllie was a noble statement against the two mainstream contenders. In reality, support for Wyllie may well be to blame for Scott's return to office. Decision '14: I voted Crist as the less-damnable of unsatisfying choices, but respect the verdict. Whomever was your choice, I hope you voted!

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October 29, 2014

Bosh powers Heat to Opening Night win; plus cheer/boo LeBron poll, why Duke should stay at UM in 2 words, CFP rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY Top 10 & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whip Jacksonville, DSM poll, Heat, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

HEAT WIN OPENER BEHIND BOSH: Miami tonight beat visiting Washington 107-95, led by 26 points and 15 rebounds from Chris Bosh, 23 from Norris Cole and 21 from Dwyane Wade.

NEW HEAT FILM: WE ARE BIGGER THAN LEBRON: That's me saying that, not the Heat. But that is the only defiant message that can logically be derived from a new Miami Heat six-minute film that debuted tonight at 8 on the team's website. Click on Heat Nation to watch it. The club describes the 1aa1aheatnationfilm as one that "acknowledges and embraces the Miami Heat fan base, players and organization and recognizes them collectively as a nation ... a people united under one flag." What stands out to me: No reference whatsoever to LeBron James. You get a brief glimpse of Shaq. LeBron? Nada. The film will be featured prominently pregame Wednesday night as the Heat open the NBA season at home vs. Washington. The club calls the film the "cornerstone" of an ongoing Heat Nation "campaign." This whole Heat Nation thing bloomed in reaction to LeBron bolting after four seasons and returning to Cleveland. The franchise wishes to convey that it is bigger than any one player, even this one. It also is an invitation to fans nationwide who hopped the Miami bandwagon because of LeBron to stay loyal to the Heat. The film is a good idea by the Heat, and another facet of the very interesting relationship now between Miami and LeBron, one that weighs all he did in four years here vs. the way he left awkwardly, privately angering Pat Riley and others. How Miami feels about LeBron won't be known concretely until his first return here on Christmas Day. But you can provide a hint with this poll. We asked the same question on Aug. 13 and will be interested to compare the results 10 weeks later as emotions have settled, and hardened. Vote now and say why you feel as you do.

CFP RANKINGS DEBUT: LET THE WHINING BEGIN!: Update: Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn and Ole Miss are the inital Top Four. Big loser? Alabama. Original post: The first College Football Playoff ranking is out this 1aa1acfpevening, a Top 25 in which only numbers 1-2-3-4 really matter. In today's latest column -- click on Argument Is Good -- I write how the sport now has the best of both worlds: A playoff, but still the debate and discussion that is a lifeblood. The initial arguing should focus on who's No. 4? Most would agree that unbeatens Mississippi State and Florida and pedigreed Alabama are a consensus top three. But then? Here the first ranking gets interesting. Auburn, Notre Dame, Oregon, TCU and perhaps a few others have a claim. A penny for your thoughts, Condoleezza Rice!

2 WORDS FOR DUKE JOHNSON: HEISMAN TROPHY: That is an enticement Miami's Duke of Gables should be weighing as he considers whether to return for his senior season with the Canes. Big if, but if 1aa1adukejUM was 6-1 right now instead of 5-3, Johnson -- with the same numbers -- would be a considered a Heisman candidate. Here's why I say that: Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon right now is the top-ranked running back in the Heisman race, ranked third overall by ESPN, and he has 1,168 yards rushing (7.6 average) and 39 yards receiving for 1,207 total offensive yards. Johnson has 1,036 yards rushing (7.5 average) and 224 receiving for a total of 1,260. The supposition: This same Duke, on a better Canes team next year, is a legit Heisman contender. Though injury is alaways a risk, I think Duke should come back simply to improve his NFL draft stock, which right now is stamped second round. But it is the Heisman factor that isn't talked about enough.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS CONTINUE IN WEEK 8: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy- 1aa1afripix
1aa1aarkstateleague team. Pix: Still trending upward. Having a great (for us) season so far. We went 11-4 overall and 9-6 against the spread again, and stayed scorching hot on Upset of the Week calls by bull's-eyeing Steelers over Colts ("Aawwk!"). Fantasy: Still trending down. Greg's Lobos fell to 2-6 with a 203-137 loss. Larry Fitzgerald finally woke up for me (30 points), but can't do much when your opponent tops 200 -- a lot even for our lil' 8-team friends 'n family league.

SOPY: CANES' DUKE OF GABLES DASHES TO NO. 1 IN NEW STATE COLLBALL RANKINGS: Miami's Duke Johnson's huge 249-yard rushing game at Virginia Tech catapults him to No. 1 this week in our latest 1aa1asopyblog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 10:

SOPY WEEK 9 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk9    Season

1 (3)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         298     1,308

2 (2)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      156.5   1,185 

3 (1)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        BYE     1,076

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            52        975

5 (7)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           187      913 

6 (5)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            80        899

7 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       BYE       813

8 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             BYE       720

9 (9)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           BYE       667

10 (--)      Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       106       646

Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 636. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Miami, FIU, FAU and USF have played 8 games; FSU and UCF have played 7; and Florida has played 6.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (7-0); 2. Miami (5-3);  3. UCF (5-2); 4. Florida (3-3); 5. SoFla (3-5); 6. FIU (3-5); 7. FAU (3-5).

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October 16, 2014

Which Miami team's leadership do you most trust (or not)? Poll. Vote!; plus latest NBA odds, two Canes top new SOPY ranking, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15. See results of the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Green Bay, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

The State of The Big 5: Dolphins. Heat. Canes football. Marlins. Panthers hockey. Those are Greater Miami's Big 5 teams. I provide a state-of report and prognosis for each in today's latest column, which is a companion to the poll directly below. Click on The Big 5 to read.

WHO DO YOU TRUST: WHICH OF OUR BIG 5 TEAMS IS IN THE BEST HANDS MOVING FORWARD?: I think this poll is well-timed for two reasons. First, October is the only time of year when football, baseball, basketball and hockey are all going on. Second, these are strange times for South Florida teams, with 1aa1atrustthe Heat sans LeBron, Dolphins and Canes fans less than happy, the Marlins (though improved) continuing their playoff drought and the Panthers off to a bad start in hockey. I am asking whose current leadership you have faith in, and you may vote for as many or as few as you like. I purposely didn't include "None" as an option because I'm after a realistic view, not morose pessimism. If you honestly don't have faith in anybody, vote for the team and leadership that come closest for you. When I say "leadership" I'm generally thinking owner/GM/coach, as in: Dolphins--Stephen Ross, Dennis Hickey, Joe Philbin. Heat--Micky Arison, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra. Marlins--Jeffrey Loria, Michael Hill, Mike Redmond. Panthers--Vincent Viola, Dale Tallon, Gerard Gallant. With Hurricanes football I guess I pretty much mean Al Golden. Vote for one team, all five or any number in between. Your call.

LEBRON-GONE EFFECT SHOWS IN HEAT BETTING ODDS: New NBA individual betting odds from Bovada: MVP--Cavs' LeBron James the favorite at 5-6; Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade tied for 18th at 100-1. Rookie--Bucks' Jabari Parker fave at 5-2; Heat's Shabazz Napier tie-11th at 30-1. Coach--Spurs' Gregg Popovich fave at 3-1; Erik Spoelstra tie-15th at 35-1. Scoring leader--Thunder's Kevin Durant pick at 3-2; Bosh/Wade tie-16th at 100-1. Rebounds--Pistons' Andre Drummond pick at 9-5; no Heat player listed; Assists--Clippers' Chris Paul pick at 2-3; no Heater listed.

SOPY: TWO CANES, JAMEIS 1-2-3 IN STATE COLLBALL RANKINGS: Canes Duke Johnson and Brad Kaaya and FSU's Jameis Winston are a clear 1-2-3 in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the 1aa1asopyYear (SOPY) rankings --"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 8:

SOPY WEEK 7 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk7    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         184     1,010

2 (2)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            154      923

3 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        173.5    919.5

4 (4)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      BYE    741 

5 (5)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       107      699

6 (8)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb          174.5    671

7 (--)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           207     665.5 

8 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb             67      653

9 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            87.5     626

10 (--)     Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec       155       580

Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 535. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF and Florida have played 5 games; FAU, FSU and USF have played 6; Miami and FIU have played 7.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 8: 1. FSU (6-0); 2. Miami (4-3);  3. Florida (3-2); 4. UCF (3-2); 5. SoFla (2-4); 6. FIU (3-4); 7. FAU (2-4).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: DOWN AND FROWN FOR WEEK 6: We update you briefly every Tuesday 1aa1alobos 1aa1afripixon how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: That I had Dolphins in my Upset of the Week pretty  much summarizes my fortunes. Went 7-7-1 overall but at least 1aa1agorelsalvaged 8-7 against the spread thanks to four 'dogs-with-points (including Miami). Fantasy: Greg's Lobos fell to 2-4 with a 112-95 loss, getting 26 from Philip Rivers, 21 from DeSean Jackson and not enough else. Had a shot Monday night but needed a big game from Frank Gore, who didn't come through. Lesley Gore (pictured left) would have helped me as much.

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October 02, 2014

Poll: Who do you hope wins '14 World Series? Vote now!; plus new NBA odds/Heat's slot, Tannehill's task, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1. Happy new month, all. 2 In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins club Oakland, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aheat14Heat pegged fifth in Eastern Conference: New NBA win/loss over-unders from Vegas' WestgateSuperbook peg the East playoff order like this: 1. Bulls 55.5 wins, 2. Raptors and Wizards 49.5 each, 4. Hornets 45.5, 5. Heat 43.5, 6. Nets 41.5, 7. Hawks and Knicks 40.5 each. Chicago is fourth overall after West Big 3 of Cavaliers 58.5, Thunder 57.5 and Spurs 56.5. Over at Bovada, title odds find Miami 40-1, tied for 10th in league, tied for fourth in East.

Tannehill's task: Great is a bonus. Be good. Consistently: I write in my latest column that the Dolphins will be playoff regulars when what Ryan Tannehill did Sunday in London becomes routine, not an aberration. Miami is 13-1 when Tannehill's passer rating is 90 or above, and 4-18 when it is below 90. They don't him to be great, just consistently good. Click on Tanny's Task to read the column in full.

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS BEGIN! (A MINUTE FOR THE NATIONAL PASTTIME, PLEASE?): MLB playoffs commence with AL wild-card game last night -- Royals over A's in 12 innings -- and NL wildie tonight. Lots of familiarity, with eight of 1aa1abbposthe 10 postseason teams having been in it in 2013 or '12. The Marlins of course are playoff bystanders for the 20th time in 22 franchise seasons. On the bright side, it was good of the Dolphins to have their bye week now so we might afford some attention to baseball nevertheless. With no Marlins or Red Sox I don't have an emotional dog in the hunt so my rooting interest in based solely on sympathy -- on who's waitest longest to be champion and whose fans are most starving. Thus, teams are rated by my rooting interest:

NATIONAL: Cards vs. Dodgers; Nats vs. Giants

1aa1alglogo1. Nationals (57-year wait): Here's my math. The Washington Senators' last championship was 1924, They didn't win the next 47 years as that franchise, and haven't brought a title to D.C. as the Nats since 2005. Current odds: 11-2.

2. Pirates (35 years): ELIMINATED "We Are Family." It was Willie Stargell's 1979. Odds were: 14-1.

3. Dodgers (26 years): Hard to believe but last WS title in 1988, though in playoffs seven times since. Current odds: 5-1.

4. Cardinals (3 years): Won it all in 2011. Current odds: 8-1.

5. Giants (2 years): Won in 2012. Rooting for St. Louis or San Fran is like hoping Donald Trump wins the Powerball. Current odds 12-1.

AMERICAN: Tigers vs. Orioles; Angels vs. Royals

1aa1alglogo1. Orioles (31-year wait): When Dolfans were swooning over rookie Dan Marino in 1983, O's were winning their  most recent WS. Current odds: 13-2.

2. Tigers (30 years): It was George Orwell's 1984. Current odds: 6-1.

3. Royals (29 years): K.C. last won in 1985 but Royals in some ways are the biggest Cinderellaof all because they haven't even made the playoffs since then, while everybody else has postseasoned as recently as 2009. Current odds: 16-1.

4. A's (25 years): ELIMINATED Charlie Finley's Athletics last reigned in '89. Odds were: 11-1.

5. Angels: (12 years): Last won it all in 2002. Current odds: 5-1.

OK so that's my rooting interest, quantified. It's Nats over O's for the good people of the District. Now it's your turn. Who would you most like to see win the World Series? Not who you think will win but who you want to win. Vote and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: THE PRETTY GOOD AND REALLY BAD OF WEEK 4: We update you briefly every 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosTuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: Pretty good. We went 9-4 overall in Week 4 and 8-5 against the spread, nailing another Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!") with Cowboys over Saints to make us 4-0 on Bird calls. Fantasy: Really bad. Greg's Lobos (team logo at left) fell to 1-3 with a third straight loss, 110-96. Got 27 points from Philip Rivers, 24 from Frank Gore and not enough help. Three key players with byes didn't help.

SOPY: CANES' JOHNSON, KAAYA NOW 1-2!: Canes Duke Johnson and Brad Kaaya are now 1-2 in our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings --"the State Heisman." Season-long
1aa1asopyleader Marlon Mack falls to third place. This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 6:

SOPY WEEK 5 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk5    Season

1 (3)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         171      668

2 (2)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            123.5    649.5

3 (1)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            34       586

4 (8)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      208.5   564.5

5 (5)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       131      559

6 (10)      Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        203.5    551.5

7 (--)       Karlos Williams, FSU-rb          173      440

8 (4)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           DNP     437

9 (--)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            127     424.5

10 (--)     Jay Warren, FAU-rb                  76       398

Bubble: DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 371. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 364. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF and Florida have played 3 games and FSU 4. The other four state FBS teams have played 5 each.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 4: 1. FSU (4-0); 2. Florida (2-1); 3. Miami (3-2); 4. UCF (1-2); 5. SoFla (2-3); 6. FAU (2-3); 7. FIU (2-3).

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

September 24, 2014

Tannehill remains Dolphins starter. Smart. Benching would have been panicked, dumb; plus Sean Taylor, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rank & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24. Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown. I wonder if, anywhere on Earth, there is a man named Ross Hashanha? 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Chiefs plow Dolphins, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Fins, Canes lost in sea of frustration as fans grow impatient: I write in my latest column -- click on Lost at Sea to read -- how Miami fans are increasing angry and impatient as the Dolphins and Hurricanes struggle to find their way back to glory. It is this Petri dish of unrest that foments what we see and hear this week in the venom against UM defensive coordinator Mark D'ONofrio and in the speculation that Ryan Tannehill's job may be in peril.

Sean Taylor on 'A Football Life': NFL Network's terrific A Football Life series features the late great Miami Hurricane and NFL star Sean Taylor, premiering this Friday at 9 p.m. Click here to watch the trailer.

DOLPHINS BENCHING TANNEHILL RIGHT NOW WOULD HAVE BEEN PANICKY, PREMATURE, IDIOTIC: [Wednesday update: NFL.com reports Dolphins players have been told Tannehill will start Sunday's Raiders game in London. No shock. This was a faux Quarterback Controversy all along, with Philbin's public non-commitment -- a curious and really unwise tactic by him -- and media overreaction the co-conspirators]. Original post: Apparently many of y'all disagree the benching would have been dumb. A poll elsewhere on our website has almost two-thirds (it was 65.82% when last I checked) favoring Ryan Tannehill's immediate benching. Wow. Time to bring that number way down, comrades. I wrote in this column off Sunday's loss 1aa1ajoeryanabout the mounting pressure on Tannehill -- that he must perform better, and soon. But the idea Miami would make a quarterback change right now, three games in? Wow again. You don't do that to a young quarterback's confidence and risk losing him unless you are prepared to move on without him, and Miami shouldn't be, yet. They have invested too much, and Tannehill's potential still is too good. Remember that just last season, despite being sacked a record amount, he passed for 3,913 yards and 24 TDs. Benching Tannehill in favor of Matt Moore right now would be radical, panicked and premature, and therefore pretty idiotic. The idea the Dolphins might make a QB change bloomed as a media firestorm on Monday when coach Joe Philbin declined to specifically state Tannehill would start this week vs. Oakland in London. Philbin is pictured either exhorting Tannehill and preparing to punch him, it's hard to say which. The coach didn't say he wouldn't start Sunday; he simply was non-committal. But that was enough for Your Friend the Media to exercise its (very) broad right to interpretation and manufacture a Quarterback Controversy. This is what we do. Shark-like, we sniff blood in the water and attack. So might-bench-Tannehill becomes a story even though offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, asked if he had had any doubts Tannehill would start Sunday, said, simply, "No." Lazor with some validity chided the media for "questions based on panic," saying, "There’s no panic." Likewise Philbin did not sound like a man about to make a QB change when he said he doesn’t view the offensive problems as "a one-man issue," adding on Monday, "I think it’s a little bit early to draw conclusions as to where [Tannehill] is in his third year." Philbin should quash the story he helped ignite by recommitting publicly to Tannehill, at least for the short term. This quarterback must do better and now, yes. He is not above benching if he doesn't, no. But you don't do it three games in.  

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: THE GOOD AND BAD OF WEEK 3: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how 1aa1afripix 1aa1aloboswe did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: The good. We went 11-5 overall in Week 3 and 10-6 against the spread, nailing our Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!") with Bears winning at Jets to make it 3-0 on Bird calls. Fantasy: The bad. Greg's Lobos (our team logo is at left) fell 97-76, getting 27 points from Marshawn Lynch but single-digit scoring from five other starters. Dolphins-like, we're now 1-2 after a big win in our opener.

SOPY: UM'S KAAYA, JOHNSON NOW 2-3: Canes Duke Johnson (183) and Brad Kaaya (172.5) had Week 4's top totals and now both rank in the season top three in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive 1aa1asopyPlayer of the Year (SOPY) rankings --"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 5:

SOPY WEEK 4 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk4    Season

1 (1)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            119      552

2 (3)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            172.5    526

3 (6)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         183      497

4 (5)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           117.5   437

5 (8)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       139      428

6 (2)        DeM. Robinson, Florida-rec     14      371

7 (--)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb          113.5   364

8 (10)     Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb       99.5    356

9 (7)       Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec          48      350

10 (4)      Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        DNP    348

Bubble: Jay Warren, FAU-rb, 322. Other team leader: FIU--Alex McGough, qb, 297.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF, Florida and FSU have played one fewer game (3) than the other four state FBS teams.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 4: 1. FSU (3-0); 2. Florida (2-1); 3. Miami (2-2); 4. UCF (1-2); 5. SoFla (2-2); 6. FAU (1-3); 7. FIU (1-3).

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

September 17, 2014

What's your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote!; plus LeBron's new hair, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY Top 10, Kevin Olsen, 3D-printed car & more

MESSAGE TO OUR BLOG FAMILY: (Note, this decision is corporate, not my own): "Starting Tuesday (yesterday), to comment on this blog you’ll need to log in with a Facebook account. We encourage lively discussion, but also believe respect and civility must be part of good debate. Your blog posts will carry the name on your Facebook account; you will have the choice whether your post also appears on your own Facebook page." Find a broader explanation here. Change affects all blogs, not just this one. I apologize for any inconvenience and thank our blog community -- the strongest on all of MiamiHerald.com -- for standing together through the change.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17. A belated happy birthday to Dan Marino, who turned 53 this week. Time flies like his passes once did. Fast. 2) The latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, showing a sizable dip, may be found in blogpost directly below. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fizzle in Buffalo, DSM poll, Heat signing, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CONUNDRUM: TANNEHILL HASN'T FULLY EARNED TRUST, BUT DOLPHINS MUST TRUST HIM: I explore the curious state of Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in my latest column; click on Pass Or Fail to 1aa1adolqbread. Two mediocre games into this third season, some fans and media already are concluding he isn't the team's long-term answer at quarterback. I say it looks like the Dolphins are afraid to find out. They are not letting him throw deep as often as they should. Sunday in the loss at Buffalo they ran out the clock with 2:21 left in the half and three timeouts (plus the two-minute warning) left. That was negative coaching betraying a lack of confidence in the man running the offense. Unshackle Tannehill, I say. It is the only way to know for sure what you have, and what the future holds. But enough of my opinion. Time for yours. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

LEBRON UNVEILS NEW SHOE, NEW HAIR: LeBron James has unveiled 1aa1alebronnewshoe
1aa1alebronhair2 1aa1alebronoldhairhis latest sneaker, the $200 LeBron 12 pictured left, a shoe whose color scheme seems to pay subconscious homage to the NFL in the city he left behind. Of more interest, it seems LeBron also has quietly also unveiled a new hairline that has reduced his growing expanse of forehead. Check out the before and current pics at right.

ON CANES QB KEVIN OLSEN: [Update: UM released the following statement in its entirety: "Kevin Olsen is no longer a student at the University of Miami. We wish him the very best in the future."] My original post: I have a personal policy to not criticize 1aa1akolsencollege athletes as I would pro athletes. Kevin Olsen (pictured in this week's police mug shot) makes that a challege. UM's oft-suspended quarterback is suspended again after his latest off-field issue, a DUI arrest with a fake ID -- dropping an unneeded distraction onto Al Golden's lap as the team prepares to play Nebraska. I temper this with a degree of sympathy, because it has become obvious the kid has an alcohol problem. He needs help and the school should try to give it as a last step before cutting ties altogether.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2 DIPS: We update you briefly every week on how we 1aa1afripixdid the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went 9-7 overall in Week 2 and 8-8 against the spread, nailing our Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!") with Cowboys winning at Tennessee. Fantasy: Thud! Greg's Lobos fell to Earth like the Dolphins, losing 136-90 with nobody topping 15 lousy points.

SOPY: CANES' KAAYA VAULTS TO THIRD PLACE: A 177-point Week 3 vaults Canes QB Brad Kaaya to third place in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- 1aa1asopy"the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 4:

SOPY WEEK 3 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk2    Season

1 (1)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            49       433

2 (--)       DeMarcus Robinson, Fla-rec   228      357

3 (7)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            177      353.5

4 (2)        Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        DNP     348

5 (9)        Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb           182.5    319.5

6 (5)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb        116       314

7 (--)       Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec       206       302

8 (3)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       80       289

9 (--)        Matt Jones, Florida-rb           176      262

10 (--)     Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     201     256.5

Bubble: Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 252. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 250.5. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: UCF, Florida and FSU have played one fewer game (2) than the other four state FBS teams.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 4: 1. FSU (2-0); 2. Florida (2-0); 3. Miami (2-1); 4. UCF (0-2); 5. SoFla (1-2); 6. FAU (1-2); 7. FIU (1-2). 

1aa1astratiWORLD'S FIRST 3-D PRINTED CAR: This technology is beyond my comprehension -- I still listen to CDs -- but I find this fascinating. The Strati (pictured), a two-seat electric car with a range of 120 miles and a max speed of 40 mph, has been unveiled at a Chicago auto show. It was manufactured with a 3-D printer by Local Motors of Phoenix. The Strati will cost between $18,000 and $30,000 when it goes on sale later this year. Click here for the backstory.

Check back a lot daily because we update and add to our latest blogposts a lot...

September 01, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.7%; QB Kaaya shaky in 31-13 opening UM loss, our thoughts; also radio, U-Bird Countdown & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: We're back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today 3-7 on 104.3/790 The Ticket, 4-7 ESPN Radio. Dan's still off so it will be Stugotz and I co-hosting. Also my first time in the new South Beach studios, so I'll Vine out how they look.



1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Watch for our season-debut of the college SOPY (State Offensive Player of the Year) rankings in the blog on Wednesday. 2) Patriots sign former Dolphin Don Jones. Typical Bill Belichick chicanery. 3) Happy new month, and hope all my fellow American workers had a nice Labor Day. 4) In T
he Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rate My Fantasy Draft poll, Hot Button Top 10, Upset Bird Countdown, FIU vs. Herald verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1awoodywoodpeckerUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 3 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL 1aa1abird3Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 3 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following UM's Sebastian the Ibis), we welcome Woody Woodpecker, born in 1940 into the cartoon genre of screwball characters whose template included Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

See our live game blog and analysis and commentary on tonight's Canes loss right below the poll...

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the season's first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 6.7 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Monday's 31-13 loss 1aa1acsmat Louisville. (A roiling majority of 75.8% called themselves "very dissatisfied'). The CSM polls, in their sixth season, are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/WednesdayWelcome back. Vote now!

2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville)

Next poll: Sept. 6 following game vs. Florida A&M

CSM previous final season results: 2013--16.1% overall satisfaction (following 9-4 season); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

G1: LOUISVILLE 31, HURRICANES 13 (4Q): Final: "FIRE GOLDEN! BENCH KAAYA!" (I'm just getting ready for fan hysterics on Miami sports-talk radio...) This was a winnable game for a long time but Miami let it slip with three turnovers, too many missed chances, and 17 unanswered Louisville points to end it. I thought the Canes defense was fairly solid much of the night in the 31-13 loss, allowing 336 total yards, and bearing in mind that one of Louisville's TDs came on a 97-yard kickoff return. Overall I'd say offensive coordinator James Coley has more to fix than defensive chief Mark D'Onofrio. True-freshman QB Brad Kaaya and the offense had a rough start, partly because the coaches were hesitant to let Kaaya let it fly. The play-calling was conservative. Duke Johnson fought for every yard (he was 20-for-90), but Kaaya completed only 17 of 29 for 174 yards and had two INTs offsetting one TD. UM's offense was a miserable 1-for-12 on third downs. Kaaya struggled enough that coach Al Golden will need to address early in the week if Kaaya is still his guy or if he might immediately switch to senior Jake Heaps. ..... 4Q: Kaaya interception ends game. ... Cards make it 31-13 with late TD pass. ... Kaaya-to-Duke Johnson 36-yard completion negated by ticky-tack illegal man downfield penalty. Huge call. Was a 1st and goal. Ended in a punt. ... Redbirds add short FG for 24-13 lead. ... A winnable game Miami is letting slide. So far. ..... 3Q: UM finally a 1st down on 3rd down after being 0-for-9. But Kaaya underthrow-INT on very next play. ... Cards up 21-13 after 15-yard scoring run. ... UM within 14-13 but settled for short FG after recovering fumble at L'ville 8. That could hurt. ..... Half: I don't mind the spot UM is in at 14-10 down. Miami's defense is looking pretty solid and Canes would be up but for two key plays: the lateral/turnover in the Louisville red zone, and giving up the long kick-return TD. ..... 2Q: L'ville up 14-10 as Canes gouged for 97-yard kickoff return. ... UM up 10-7 on 24-yard FG. ... Cards go for it, make it on 4th and 1 from own 22. Usually when Bobby Petrino makes a decision that dangerous and questionable he's on a motorcycle. ... Huge blown opportunity by UM. Sack/fumble recovery gives Canes a 1st and goal, but immediately give it back. ... Canes 7-7 on Kaaya 2-yard TD pass to Clive Walford, set up by their hookup for 31. ..... 1Q: Canes driving as quarter ends. ..... What UM did NOT want tonight: Brad Kaaya, in his first start, on the road, playing from an early deficit. ... Louisville 7-0 after 93-yard drive. D'Onofrio haters, start your engines! UM getting zero pressure from its 3-man rush. ... Mmm, I don't know about those metallic-green UM helmets. You like? ..... Original post: The Miami Hurricanes' 89th season of football launches tonight at Louisville before ESPN cameras at 8 p.m., marking the fourth season for coach Al Golden. The Canes and their fans hope tonight is a lot different than the way last 1aa1amialvilleseason ended: a 36-9 loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. Same teams, but much different -- notably at the most important position. True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya takes over for Miami, while Louisville must replace departed star Teddy Bridgewater. We'll be looking for three things, mainly: 1) How does Kid Kaaya handle the pressure of a loud, hostile crowd and a national stage in his collegiate debut. He seems well-suited for the challenge; doesn't act like a kid just turning 19 on Wednesday. But you know the Cardinals' defense will be geared to pressure and disrupt him. 2) Running back star Duke Johnson in his return from last year's season-ending injury. Domination by the Duke of Gables will make Kaaya's job so much easier. And 3) UM's defense. It was awful at times last year and must be much better all-round. Looking for a star or two to step up other than senior linebacker Denzel Perryman. With no Bridgewater and Louisville also missing star receiver DeVante Parker, the Canes have no excuse for a poor showing. This is an ACC game right out the gate, and also huge because it's one of those swing games that define a season. Most college schedules have a few games that are gimmie wins and a few you can't count on winning, with most teetering in between. This is one of those for The U. Louisville is favored by 3 1/2 points, meaning it's about a tossup aside from the location. My pick: Upset. Miami, 27-23.

Poll result: It's official. You hated my fantasy draft: We had a blind poll inviting you to rank my family fantasy league's draft based on each team's top three picks, and I came in next-to-last. Ouch. Results: Team #2 (my brother/led by Jamaal Charles) 34.3 percent; Team #7 (older nephew/Peyton Manning) 27.9%; Team #3 (oldest son/LeSean McCoy) 11.9%; Team #6 (son's girlfriend/Eddie Lacy) 8.5%; Team #1 (youngest son/Adrian Peterson) 7.5%; Team #4 (wife/Matt Forte) 6.0%; Team #5 (me/Calvin Johnson) 4.0%; and Team #8 (younger nephew/Demaryius Thomas) 0.0%.

HEAT MAKE MINOR COACHING STAFF CHANGES: Movin' on up: David Fitzdale now will be the Heat's clear No. 2 behind head coach Erik Spoelstra. And Juwan Howard will be elevated to a full assistant coach. Demoted: Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo, who'll be invited to remain with the club but in lesser roles. Spoelstra is expected to add another assistant or perhaps elevate Dan Craig. (Is this the kind of story fans care about? I have a feeling a team's staff changes -- unless they involve a head coach or, in football, a coordinator -- are of media interest only).

1aa1asebastiantheibisUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 4 DAYS (from Monday): The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 4 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following the Aflac Duck), in honor of the Hurricanes' season opener we welcome UM football's venerable Sebastian the Ibis.

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

August 31, 2014

Rate my fantasy draft. Annual poll. Vote now!; plus UM, Fins, Wade wedding star in new Hot Button Top 10; also U-Bird, FIU-Herald verdict & more

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 31. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIU opens vs. Miami Herald with poll, Dolphins cuts, Dwyane Wade's wedding, Upset Bird Countdown, SOPY, Ikea & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aaflacduckUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 5 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1abird5NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 5 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following NBA New Orleans' Pierre the Pelican), we welcome the Aflac Duck, who since 2000 has successfully peddled insurance. Main attribute: Far less annoying than Flo from Progressive.

RATE MY FANTASY DRAFT:  My eight-team friends 'n family fantasy football league held its draft earlier 1aa1afantasytoday and I invite you (as I do every year) to rate what you think is the best team, or the one you'd most like to have, based on each team's first three picks. I know that's tough but who said life was fair? Which trio would you most like to start a team with? It's a PPR (point-per-reception) league hosted  by ESPN. Teams in the poll are listed in the draft order. This is a blind list so you don' know which team is mine, but of course I'll tell you later. My draft. Now your verdict. Vote and say why.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click here for today's latest edition), but due to broad disinterest popular demand an expanded Hot Button continues as a Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. UM football: Kaaya leads Canes at Louisville Monday: True freshman Brad Kaaya, son of a 1980s B-film actress, starts for UM in national-stage game that concludes college Week 1. Canes fans hoping the genes extend and that Brad, cast as a great quarterback, is convinging in the role.

2. Dolphins: Ready or not, here comes Patriots, NFL season: After 3-1 preseason, Miami opens schedule next Sunday vs. rival New England. Recent ESPN poll of league insiders ranked Bill Belichick the NO. 1 coach and Joe Philbin 29th. On the plus side, Joe is a snappier dresser.

3. NFL: Fins, others reduce rosters to 53: Rams released openly gay Michael Sam, while in Miami the only real notable cuts were RB Donald Thomas and kick returner Marcus Thigpen. Exit of Thomas, former 2nd-round pick, another reminder how good former GM Jeff Ireland wasn't.

4. Dwyane Wade: Heat star's not-so-secret wedding: Wade and actress Gabrielle Union wed Saturday night at Chateau Artison, an island castle in Redland in southwest Miami-Dade. Was supposed to be top secret, but never a good sign when the confidentiality agreement guests had to sign is leaked to TMZ.

5. College football: Noles escape, Gators don't play: No. 1 Florida State and Jameis "Crab Legs" Winston escaped Oklahoma State, 37-31, while in Gainesville, lightning forced a postponement of Florida's opener vs. Idaho. "I never liked the Gators," explained God.

6. Marlins: Playoff hopes slim, getting slimmer: Fish slipped to 5 1/2 games out of wild-card chase entering today's game. Are we still pretending they're sort of alive? I mean, I guess you can still Miami's playoff hopes, but it now requires a Hubble telescope.

7. Team USA: American hoops on stage in FIBA World Cup: Top NBA star like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are sitting out the FIBA World Cup, but U.S. swamped Finland anyway Saturday, 114-55, and plays Turkey today. Soon the U.S. may face a country where they actually play basketball.

8. NFL: League gets tough on domestic violence: It's now a minimum six-game suspension for first offense and lifetime ban for a second. Ironically, the tougher penalties for physical violence happened because commissioner Roger Goodell got beat up in the media.

9. FIU: School picks a fight with Miami Herald: Athletic director Pete Garcia refused a credential for the Herald's FIU beat writer, so the Herald declined to cover the team. That means FIU lost twice Saturday, once to Bethune-Cookman, and once to common sense. 

10 (tie). NASCAR: Stewart back on track after tragedy: Tony Stewart races today for first time since Aug. 9 tragedy in which he struck and killed a sprint-car driver. Wonder if Stewart's legion of haters will break down and actually sort of almost be rooting for him?

10 (tie). Tennis: U.S. Open at midway point: Been a few upsets as usual, but major tennis remains our most predctable sport. As long as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are still alive in the U.S. Open, we have our eventual winners.

Poll result: Herald has broad support in feud with FIU: The Miami Herald is declining to cover FIU football because the school denied a credential to its beat reporter. We asked who you side with and the Herald won with 81.6 percent.

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