September 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 81.9%. See season-debut results; plus Fins beat Chargers 19-17, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), the Jay Cutler Experience (Sunday column), HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins season! Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 pix, Collball Week 3, method to Kaaya's madness & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Quick-thoughts column off 19-17 win: Click on Lucky, But Maybe That's Justice to read. 

Sunday column: Cutler's Wild Ride: Are you ready, kids? Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 81.9%: Results are certified for the first week of our blog's 10th season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they 81.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 19-17 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers in Miami's Irma-delayed season opener. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

Next poll: Sept. 24 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

Yearly DSM Results: 2016--76.2% (following 10-6 season/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G1: DOLPHINS 19, @CHARGERS 17Final quick thoughts: The excuses were all lined up. Neat, right in a row. Hurricane Irma. A delayed opener. A quarterback new to the team. Practices moved across the country. Philip Rivers. A late distraction involving one of their own players, Lawrence Timmons, going AWOL on the eve of the game. The Miami Dolphins didn't any of those excuses. They did need some luck -- a narrowly missed 44-yard Los Angeles Chargers field goal in the last seconds -- but that seemed fitting, didn't it? The Dolphins endured a lot in the buildup to this season. Sunday? It felt like a reward. Quick takes? Trust this offense. No, 19 points isn't a lot, but all the J's showed up. New QB Jay Cutler was a sharp 24 for 33 for 23- yards and TD, a 101.8 passer rating. Jay Ajayi rushed 28 times for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry caught 13 balls for 78 yards. (Oh, and DeVante Parker was the deep threat we envisioned, and Kenny Stills caught a TD pass). This offense will percolate once everyone is comfy with it. The issue? Pass defense. Rivers sliced through Miami 31 of 39 for 331 yards and a TD. He led the game-winning late drive, but for the providence of an inexperienced kicker missing wide-right on a very makeable field goal. Bottom line? Yeah, the Dolphins were lucky to win in the end. But, after this week, it felt like this team sort of deserved that luck ..... 4Q: Dolphins win as Bolts missed last-second 44-yard FG! ... MIA 19-17 with 1:05 left on Parkey 54-yard FG ... MIA within 17-16, settling (again) for a short FG, mid-quarter ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-13 on 28-yard FG after after killer sack on 3rd down ... LAC back up 17-10 on Rivers-Gates hookup ... MIA 10-10 on Cutler 29-yard TD pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: If I told you Jay Cutler was 13-for-16, Jay Ajayi was 11-for-56 and Jarvis Landry had 8 catches, would you have imagined Miami trailing 10-3 at the half? Me neither. The big issues: Fins need to open up the offense. Second, Philip Rivers is having his way. Miami pass defense needs to be much better ..... 2Q: LAC 10-3 on Gordon 1-yard run ... LAC 3-3 on 41-yard FG ..... 1Q: Low-watt first quarter. Meaning dull ... MIA 3-0 on Parkey 30-yard FG ..... [Click on Week 2 Gems for all latest NFL picks] Thanks to Hurricane Irma, today's 4 p.m. kickoff is the latest Game 1 on the calendar that Miami will have played since 1977. It also will be the now-it-counts debut for new Dolphins QB Jay SdmiaCutler, in for injured Ryan Tannehill. Oh, and of course this will mark the Chargers’ first real game in L.A. since 1960, after 56 years in San Diego. That’s lots of wild cards tossing unusual unpredictability into the mix here. But the drama doesn't end there. Sunday morning came the news that veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons, upset over something, had G1essentially gone AWOL from the team and will not play today, Chase Allen starting in his place. That's doubly troubling. First, he's supposed to be a team leader as a major offseason addition. Second, the LB line was weak/thin to begin with. Philip Rivers' eyes must be wide as saucers, his smile just as wide. But I'm still hedging my bet with Bolts winning outright but Fins covering the bet-line as 3 1/2-point road underdogs. Miami figures to pound the ball with Jay Ajayi vs. a run-D that gave up 140 yards last week. That gives Miami a big, big upset shot. Bottom line, though, for me? Rivers is really good, and I won’t quite trust MIA's pass-stopping (or defense in general) until shown why I should. Also, think the Irma-caused time off, distraction and practice-schedule havoc will hurt and find the Fins a step slow as they work through the rust and catch up to real-season pace. The Timmons mess doesn't help. Dolphins have a load to overcome today. My pick: Chargers, 27-24.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Finally, the Fins ... and they win!: Thanks to Hurricane Irma and its after-effects the Dolphins' season opener Sunday at the Los Angeles Chargers was Miami's latest Game 1 since 1977. Worth the wait? Miami needed luck of a late missed field goal to win, but after what this team had endured, that felt deserved.

 2. HURRICANES: Irma'd Canes set to resume season: We should be talking about that great Miami-Florida State game on Saturday. Except it got Irma'd. With one game at Arkansas State canceled and another at FSU postponed 'til Oct. 7, UM will finally resume its season this coming Saturday at home vs. Toledo after practicing all week in Orlando. Irma, could you be any more annoying!? Seriously.

3. MARLINS: Can Stanton still do it?: Reeling Fish have lost 16 of past 19 entering three-game home series vs. Mets starting tonight, after three hurricane-displaced "home" games in Milwaukee. (Thanks again, Irma!) But big question is if Giancarlo Stanton, stuck at 54 homers, can still rally to get to Roger Maris' steroids-free record of 61.

4. BASEBALL: Indians set mark for consecutive wins: Cleveland Indians fans haven't cheered a World Series champion since Lou Boudreau's 1948, but at least they have this. Their 22nd consecutive victory broke the MLB record of 21 set by the Chicago Cubs in 1935. Hmm. Cavaliers, now this. Is there hope yet for the Browns? Naahh!

5. PANTHERS: Cats open training camp; preseason on deck: The Cats opened their NHL training camp Friday and will play their first preseason games this Tuesday with a doubleheader in Nashville. It snuck up on us but now it's here. Hockey!

6. NASCAR: Road to Homestead has begun with playoffs: Chicagoland on Sunday hosted the first NASCAR playoff race, won by Martin Truex Jr., leading to the season finale at Homestead, with 16 drivers making it. Unfortunately, no Dale Earnhardt Jr., so no shot at a storybook finish to Junior's final season. 

7. HEAT: Miami locks up Richardson, readies for camp: While we were busy tracking hurricanes, the Heat signed guard Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension and open training camp next week. If they can bottle last season's second half, conference finals aren't out of question.

8. GATORS: Florida beats Tennessee on Hail Mary: The Gators beats Vols 26-20 when a last-second Hail Mary touchdown bomb broke a tie in Gainesville. Not sure if this'll be a great season for UF. But it was a great Saturday.

9. FIGHTING: Canelo, Golovkin in an exciting draw: We all hate ties, but last night's Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin draw in Las Vegas was about as exciting as indecision gets. Rematch. Cha-ching!  

10. FAU: Owls win first game for Lane Kiffin: FAU won at home 45-0 over Bethune-Cookman for Lane Kiffin's first win as Owls coach. Muted celebration, I hope. FBS teams that lose to bethune have to wear dunce caps for a week. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Two brothers featured in the Netflix series "Last Chance U" were charged in connection with a fatal stabbing. Pardon me while I try to feign surprise ..... Floyd Mayweather said of Donald Trump: "He speak like a real man." Mayweather? He speak like a real man intent on dropping the second 's' off the word 'speaks' ..... Adrian Peterson said of his Saints debut, "I didn't sign up for nine snaps." A.P. ties for the NFL lead in earliest complaint ..... Marshawn Lynch was fined for showing middle fingers to TV cameras. Or, did that go without saying?

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-18-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. N.Y. Mets at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: The Marlins play a home game that's actually here!

2. Detroit at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m.: Stafford vs. Manning on Monday Night Football.

3. Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m.: Jonesing for hockey? It's the NHL preseason!

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 09, 2017

Be safe, all. On sports' place in our lives as a hurricane hits; plus Upset Bird Day in America. Week 1 NFL pix; also, FIU wins, FAU plays, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY/SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10. Be safe, South Florida. Looks like Hurricane Irma's western veer will help some of us, but not all. All the best to all of us. 2) Know any devoted Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Irma's impact on local sports with UM cancellation poll, SOPY Week 1 rankings, BIMD and Steely Dan videos & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Blog advisory: Because of Hurricane Irma concerns and an anticipated loss of electricity at some point, our Sunday Hot Button Top 10 list is taking the weekend off. We'll be back here checking in as long as we can, and then again once order (and power) are restored. 

ON SPORTS' PLACE IN OUR LIVES AS A HURRICANE HITS: Everything seems crazy, from North Korea and terrorism and the "alt-right" to Houston flooding and now Hurricane Irma. Sports -- playing games -- can seem so insignificant in the context of our overarching worries. Yet om some ways, to me, these difficult times make sports and our teams more important than ever. They are an anchor representing the balance and normalcy in our lives. This is my latest column. Click on A Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits to read in full.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA!: Dolphins have a Week 1 bye thanks to scurrilous Hurricanes Irma but the rest of the NFL plows on, and so does our 27th season of Friday NFL picks. We got off to a mixed start last night. We didn't call Kansas City's outright upset win at New England but we did have Chiefs with the points against the spread. If we're going to split a result, we'll take the point-spread win, thanks. We had a nifty .560 ATS record last season and want to be even better this year. Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for the KC-NE pick. Click Week 1 Friday Gems for the rest of our picks. Highlights: Packers beat Seahawks 27-23 in our Game of the Week, and 49ers stun Panthers 24-21 in our Upset of the Week. "Aaawwwk!" Irma Schmirma. Nothing stops the Upset Bird!

COLLBALL WEEK 2: YOUR MIXED VERDICT ON CANES CANCELLATION CONTROVERSY: We asked if you agreed with No. 16 UM's Cancelleddecision to cancel its Saturday road game at Arkansas State due to Hurricanes Irma. Results were sharply mixed. Most, 62.3 percent, answered, "Yes. Coaches and players should be with family, and return might have been delayed." But another 31.9% answered, "No. Game was more than 1,100 miles away and not threatened by Irma." The other 5.8% answered, "Not sure." The Canes are hardly alone. UM is one of fve (of seven) state FBS teams that are a self-imposed idle, reduced to 11-game regular seasons. Another is FSU, which cancelled its home opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe due to Irma. (Or, perhaps due to not wanting UM to have an edge in preparation for next week's huge showdown in Tallahassee. Also not playing this weekend: UCF vs. Memphis, South Florida at Connecticut and Northern Colorado at Florida. The other two state FBS teams -- the stalwarts -- adjusted schedules and are managing to sneak in games this week:

State FBS Week 2 games:

FIU 17, Alcorn State 10: Butch Davis gets his first Panthers win in Friday night home game played in Birmingham, Ala., due to Irma. Alex McGough passes for 328 yards to lead the victory.

No. 9 Wisconsin 31, FAU 14: Lane Kiffin's Owls were 32-point road underdogs so count this as a credible performance for The Atlantic even as the Hooters fall to 0-2 start (and a likely delayed flight back home).

Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF, South Florida -- CANCELLED!

National Collball Week 2 overview: Four Top 25 matchups on Saturday, led by No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. in an early CFP-shaping duel. Other T25 games are Auburn at Clemson, Georgia at Notre Dame and Stanford at Southern Cal.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-9-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.: Wait. Fish actually won a game last night!?
2. U.S. Open tennis, 4 p.m.: Women's final: Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys.
3. Oklahoma at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m.: No. 5 visits No. 2 in game of week.
4. FAU at Wisconsin, noon: Lane Kiffin's Owls vs. No. 9 Badgers. Uh oh.
5. Liverpool at Manchester City, 7:30 a.m.: Tastiest match of day in EPL.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2017

NFL 100% right to postpone Dolphins opener. But should UM have canceled road game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Chiefs-Pats pick, return of SOPY rankings find 3 Canes in Top 10, latest 'Back In My Day,' Reelin' in the Years, Hot Button Daily (Thu) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Stay away, Hurricane Irma. Weaken and veer, you terrible thing. 2) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whup Bethune with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, other Collball Week 1 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Chiefs at Patriots prediction: Kansas City at New England kicks off the NFL season tonight. Will Dolfans girding for Hurricane Irma get the gift of a Pats loss? Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for my predix.

SOUTH FLORIDA'S MIND AIN'T ON FOOTBALL THIS WEEK. STAY SAFE, NEIGHBORS: [Click on NFL Right to Postpone Dolphins Opener for my complete latest column]. They could have rushed it and played the Dolphins-Bucs opener here tonight, but Dolfans have more important things on their minds in readying for Stadium PathHurricane Irma, such as how to survive this thing, and whether to stay or evacuate. This isn’t the week for a football game. They could have played the game Sunday as scheduled but at a neutral site. I’d heard one as far away as Pittsburgh or Philadelphia mentioned. But why rob Miami, team and fans, of a home game, or play at all on the very day when Irma is likely to wreak its worst havoc. There was some talk of still trying to play the game Monday night here, but that may have been the worst option of all. Even if Irma is kind enough to veer away from a direct hit, South Florida still will get the brunt of it. You’re going to ask fans without electricity, picking through rubble, trying to contact their insurance company about the roof, to drive through flooding to attend a football game? And cheer a first down as if their lives hadn’t just been walloped? Absurd. I'm not as certain the Miami Hurricanes needed to or should have canceled their game at Arkansas State -- although I support them doing it -- but moving Dolphins-Bucs to Week 11 when both had a bye was a no-brainer. Be safe, all.

Our most recent other columns: Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast: Off UM season opener  /  A Humbling Welcome Back: Butch Davis' return to coaching U loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side: Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU: Onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual rank.

SOPY RANKINGS / 2017 SEASON DEBUT: THREE CANES IN INITIAL TOP 10: Today we launch the sixth season of the blog's State Offensive Player of the Year Sopy(SOPY) rankings -- what we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race. The weekly rankings measure the most productive Mmiltonquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based on average yards per game: Total divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even though not all teams have played same number of games. (Even now, South Florida already has played twice). 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. UCF's McKenzie Milton (pictured) checks in as our season leader out the gate ahead of defending champion Quinton Flowers of South Florida. Canes Mark Walton and Malik Rosier rank 3-4. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 2:

2017 SOPY WEEK 1 TOP 10

RK Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.

1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb          208

2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb          183

3    Mark Walton-Miami rb               168

4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb               167.5

5    Daniel Parr-FAU qb                    138.5

6    Travis Homer-Miami rb              133

7    Alex McGough-FIU qb               107.5

8    Thomas Owens- FIU rec             105

9    Deondre Francois-FSU qb          102

10t Dredrick Snelson-UCF rec           98

10t Willie Wright-FAU rec                 98

Bubble: DeAndre McNeal-FAU rec, 94. Other team leader: Florida--Josh Hammond-rec, 71. Week 1/season best: Milton-UCF, 208.

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

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016—Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,917. 2015—Flowers, 2,077.5. 2014—Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968. 2013—Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107. 2012—Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: THU 9-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:
1. Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m.: NFL season opener from Foxborough.
2. U.S. Open tennis, 7 p.m.: All-U.S. women's semifinals begin in New York.
3. Marlins at Braves, 7:35 p.m.: Fish make a road show of their miserable slump.
4. Sam Houston at Prairie View, 7:30 p.m.: If you're desperate for college football.
 
LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': DISHWASHERS:


R.I.P., FAREWELL AND THANK YOU, WALTER BECKER:

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 04, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 69.5% in season debut; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), UM routs Bethune with my game column, other Collball Week 1, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. Happy Labor Day! In which we celebrate the American workforce by all taking the day off. 2) R.I.P. Walter Becker, Steely Dan co-founder, dead today at 67. 3) Football time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton's NFSW naughty video, Butch Davis returns with humbling FIU loss, Dolphins win Fake Game 4 to end preseason, your verdict on my fantasy team (ouch) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Lions cut Brad Kaaya. Been saying it all along. He never should have left UM early. Misguided decision." --Greg Cote 

My Hurricanes game column: Click on Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast to read. Other recent columns: A Humbling Welcome Back -- Butch Davis returns to coaching in 61-17 FIU loss  /  MVP: Stanton Has History On His Side -- Case for Marlins slugger  /  Litmus Test: Beat FSU -- The onus on Canes as season opens  /  2017 NFL Team Ranking: See where Dolphins fall in annual ranking.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 69.5%: We're back for a ninth season of our blog staple -- Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls -- and the first shows 69.5 percent overall satisfaction (the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the 1aa1csmwake of Saturday's 41-13 season-opening victory over visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, 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 9 a.m. today/Monday.


2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman

Next poll: Sept. 9 following game at Arkansas State

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2016--97.2% (following 9-4 season); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM hammers Bethune in football opener: After a slow start Saturday's season opener at The Rock went about as easily as you imagined it would against an overmatched foe as Year 2 of the Mark Richt era kicked off with new QB Malik Rosier throwing three TDs. But with Florida State waiting in Tallahassee in two weeks, UM getting ready for that with this was like training for a prize fight with a game of patty cake.

2. DOLPHINS: It's NFL Kickoff Week as Fins host Tampa Bay: NFL seasons kicks off Thursday night (Chiefs at Patriots) and Miami pared its roster to 53 with its opener at home in six days -- Hurricane Irma willing -- against Jameis Winston's Buccaneers. A 2-2 preseason didn't tell much, but Dolfans seem really excited by what they've seen of Jay Cutler. I know, I know. I can hardly believe I wrote that last sentence, either.

3. MARLINS: Fish cool but Stanton stays hot (in video): Marlins on a 1-6 skid as homestand continues, but Giancarlo Stanton's 52nd homer keeps him on pace for 62. Stanton was even hotter in a steamy video out this week that depicted him in bed with a barely clothed internet chanteuse named Lexy Panterra. There's a "longball" joke here somewhere.

4. SEMINOLES/GATORS: FSU, Florida both drop openers, Francois out for year: Saturday delivered lopsided opening losses for No. 3 Florida State (to No. 1 Alabama) and No. 17 Florida (to No. 11 Michigan), but Noles lost even bigger with QB Deondre Francois out injured for the season. FSU-Bama presented Miami fans the awful choice of rooting either for the Noles or for Nick Saban.

5. TENNIS: U.S. Open reached midpoint in New York: Maria Sharapova, given a wild-card entry into her first Grand Slam event since a 15-month doping ban, won her first three matches -- all on the main court, drawing complaints from some rivals -- before losing. In other news, as sis Venus reached the quarterfinals,  Serena Williams had a baby girl, launching a million "G.O.A.T. has kid" references on social media.

6. FIU/FAU: Davis, Kiffin eras launch with humbling defeats:  Ouch. Butch Davis with FIU and Lane Kiffin with FAU suffered humbling debuts, losing their openers by combined score of 103-36. Those fancy resumes didn't much good, huh fellas. Turning around bad programs doesn't happen with fast magic even if you are a star coach.

7. BASEBALL: Astros acquire ace Verlander from Tigers: Houston staked its claim to AL pennant by acquiring Justin Verlander, meaning Detroit is in reboot mode. Anybody want a used Miguel Cabrera. Verlander is really good. His wife, model Kate Upton, is even better!

8. HEAT: NBA releases regular-season schedules: Heat will open the season Oct. 18 at Orlando, with the home opener Oct. 21 vs. Indiana. It will be the start of the Kelly Olynyk era in Miami.

9. PANTHERS: Cats set prospects tourney roster: Florida named a 26-man prospect camp roster that will play Sept. 9-12 in a four-team tournamnet in Estero, Fla., along with the Capitals, Lightning and Predators. Almost hockey, time!

10. INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL: Team USA wins FIBA gold: Team USA, coached by Jeff Van Gundy, beat host Argentina Sunday to win gold in the FIBA Americup championship game game. This is mostly no-names for the U.S., not the NBA-laden World Cup team. Still, not bad, apparently.

Missing the HB10 cut: Howard beating UNLV as a 45-point road 'dog made it the biggest point-spread upset in college football history. I don't know how Howard did it, but I congratulate him ..... Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott is suing the NFL over his six-game suspension for battering a former girlfriend. Dallas awaits a decision. So do millions who rolled dice and drafted Elliott onto their fantasy teams ..... Are Mayweather and McGregor done counting their money yet?

G1: NO. 18 HURRICANES 41, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 13: ROSIER LEADS SOFT OPENING TO YEAR 2 OF RICHT ERA: Quick final thoughts: Click on Good Start, But Canes Must Be Better -- Fast for my column from the game. Beating Bethune-Cookman 41-13 is perfunctory more than it is impressive, but the final margin hardly mattered (except to bettors gambling whether UM would cover a 51 1/2-point line). More important was that new QB Malik Rosier looked solid, pretty sharp (17-28, 217 yards, 3 TDs), and RB Mark Walton (148 yards) seemed in midseason form. Biggest disappointment might have been defensively, Bcatumespecially against the pass. UM's D was planning on a shutout but fell short ..... 4Q: UM Badgley 50Y FG = UM 41-13 ..... 3Q: UM Berrios 22Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 38-13 ... BC Jones 1Y TD run = UM 31-13 ... UM Walton 6Y TD run = UM 31-6 ..... Quick halftime thoughts: Sluggish start but a big second quarter for UM, and a 326-138 overall lead in yards. Walton has 124 yards rushing and Rosier has been solid (11-17, 132 yards, two TDs) as new starting QB. Be interesting to see how much Walton and Rosier continue to play in second half. Don't expect much more of Walton, but Rosier needs the work. ..... 2Q: BC 35Y FG = UM 24-6 ... UM Langham 5Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 24-3 ... UM Cager 5Y TD pass from Rosier = UM 17-3 ... UM Walton 5Y TD run = UM 10-3 ... 1Q: UM 27Y FG = tie 3-3 ... BC 36Y FG = BC 3-0 ..... Original post: This marks the first time since 2010 that Miami begins a season ranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25, and suffice to say the odds of a stumble and major season-opening upset are roughly akin to the odds you'll be struck by lightning while walking to cash your winning Lotto ticket. ESPN's FPI (Football Power index) projections estimates the Canes' likelihood of winning at 99.7 percent. Bethune-Cookman, from Daytona Beach, is a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school, what we used to call Division 1AA, and its Wildcats will simply be overmatched against Mark Richt's guys. The upset would be if B-C kept it close for long. Weather could be an interesting factor. Heat from the diabolical 12:30 p.m. start will test both teams' conditioning, and there also is about a 40 percent chance of rain. Unfortunately I see a sad Week 1 attendance, given the early start, the foreboding weather and the low-watt opponent. A few things to watch even though the matchup is unlikely to be competitive: 1) Debut of Malik Rosier as Miami's starting quarterback. Looking for mistake-free, confidence-building performance from him. 2) Offensive line. There are three new starters on unit that struggled at times last year. If they struggle against this opponent, that'll be a bad sign. 3) Can questionable Canes secondary rise to match what should be excellent defensive front-7? This is an opponent against which even inexperienced DBs should shine. Richt predictably has been talking-up B-C all week and wouldn't say it, but UM has to be looking at this game as a glorified tuneup for what will be a fairly big step-up in challenge next week at Arkansas State as early schedule builds to the Week 3 armageddon in Tallahassee. Not that we're looking ahead! Back to Bethune, if we must. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-3.

Other state FBS Week 1 games, chronologically:

UCF 61, FIU 17: A Thursday night ass-whuppin' in Orlando gets the Butch Davis era off to a humbling start.

Navy 42, FAU 19: U.S. Navy sinks Lane Kiffin in Owls debut Friday in the Boca nest elongated by two weather delays.

No. 11 Michigan 33, No. 17 Florida 17: In Arlington, Tex., the final score flattered Florida. Dear Gators, even with those 10 suspended players, you'd-a still lost.

No. 19 South Florida 31, Stony Brook 17: Bulls now 2-0 after winning at San Jose State last Saturday.

No. 1 Alabama 24, No. 3 Florida State 7: Massive matchup was Collball Week 1's star attraction -- and a rout for Bama. More importantly, Noles lose QB Deondre Francois to an apparent knee injury, adding intrigue to UM's visit Sept. 16.

National Collball Week 1 overview: No. 2 Ohio State survived a scare at Indiana Thursday, and FSU failed miserably to shock Nick Saban in the Game of the Week. Florida-Michigan was opening week's only other Top 25 matchup other than a minor one in Sunday's 22-West Virginia vs. 21-Virginia Tech.

'SOPY' weekly rankings return: Every Tuesday starting next week, we'll have our updated standings in our State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, along with our weekly State of the State team rankings.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 9-4-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Washington at Marlins, 7:10: Fish try to shake off 1-3 home fizzle vs. lowly Phils.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 11 a.m: Round of 16 matches continue in New York.

3. Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech, 8 p.m.: Wrapping up Week 1 in college football.

4. Slovakia at England, 2:30 p.m.: One of day's 6 World Cup qualifying matches.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton Chasing 1984Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic OffenseStanton the Litmus Test For New OwnersAlso: Double QB Quandary A RarityNew Owner, New HopeA Diamond, ShiningImmortality Calling. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 28, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Mayweather-McGregory won, but see what else lands where in our newest list; plus new Sunday column on Stanton's rising place in history, reason for optimism on Dolphins, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 28. Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mayweather-McGregor polls and results, Dolphins drop Fake Game 3, Stanton pace at 63, latest 'Back In My Day' video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Sunday column: Stanton's ascending place in history: Giancarlo Stanton's 2017 Marlins season is high and getting higher among our Top 10 greatest individual seasons in Miami sports history. See our list in my latest Sunday column. Click on Stanton Chasing 1984 to read.

Latest Dolphins column: Offense will make up for shortcomings on D: What's winning, Dolfans? Is it the optimist inside you? Or the pessimist within who always seems closer at hand? Side with optimism, I say. Here's why: This Dolphins offense will be better than the defense is bad. Click on Dolphins' Double-Jay Attack Portends Dynamic Offense to read.

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

Hotbutton1. FIGHTING: Mayweather-McGregor lives up to hype in Money win: The anticipation, the hype, the crowd in Vegas, the record setting pay-per-view audience. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor needed a heck of a show to meet expectations Saturday night. Did they deliver? Yes. Mayweather was uncommonly aggressive in scoring a 10th-round TKO, McGregor was a legit, worthy foe and I doubt many PPV buyers felt cheated.

2. MARLINS: Stanton surge lifts Fish into wild-card hunt: As Sunday wrapped three-game mini-homestand vs. Padres, Miami has climbed into playoff hunt, Giancarlo Stanton is chasing 60 homers -- with 50 now, his pace is 63 -- oh, and Jeffrey Loria is on way out. Somebody pinch me!

3. HURRICANES: Countdown 5 days to opener for Rosier, UM: Canes and newly named starting QB Malik Rosier host Bethune-Cookman this Saturday at The Rock in Week 1 of Mark Richt's second season. It's a soft opening that should be an easy win for The U. That's with all due respect to Bethune ... which isn't due much.

4. DOLPHINS: 'Dress rehearsal' loss leaves mixed signals: What to discern from Thursday's 38-31 Dolphins loss in Philly in Fake Game 3? Don't worry about Miami's Jay-Jay offense led by Cutler and Ajayi. But do worry (a lot) about that defense, especially against the pass. 

5. NFL: It's Draft Day in America!: Sunday, yesterday, was when most fantasy drafts were held nationwide, according to ESPN.com, which hosts more leagues than any other outlet. I re-thought my draft strategy after loading up last year on a kicker, defense and tight end with my first three picks.   

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FSU, Florida in marquee games as season kicks off: The two biggest Week 1 games in the country this coming Saturday will have a state flavor as No. 3 Florida State plays No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta and No. 17 Florida hosts No. 11 Michigan. Alas, bettors think the Noles and Gators both will be starting off 0-1.

7. FIU/FAU: New coaches Davis, Kiffin prepare for debuts:  FIU visits UCF on Thursday and FAU hosts Navy on Friday in the coaching debuts for the Panthers' Butch Davis and Owls' Lane Kiffin. Both are "name" coaches. Now we see if they'll also be "winning" coaches, too.

8. FELO RAMIREZ: R.I.P. to Marlins broadcasting legend: A sentimental nod to a radio icon who broadcast Marlins games from the franchise's start in 1993. He passed away at 94, and to call Ramirez the Spanish-language Vin Scully would compliment both men.

9. TENNIS: U.S. Open gets underway in New York: Roger Federer and Garbine Muguruza are betting favorites as the season's fourth and final major gets underway in new York. That's the definition of Serena Williams being out on maternity leave, by the way: "Garbine Muguruza" the favorite. 

10. YOUTH BASEBALL: Little League World Series crowns a champion: The International champion (Japan) beat the U.S. champion (Lufkin, Texas) for the grand title Sunday in Williamsport, Pa. May the best team (or the one with the best fake IDs) win.

Missing the HB10 cut: First the Heat sought Gordon Heyward in free agency only to see him sign with Boston. Then Miami inquired about trading for Kyrie Irving, but Cleveland's asking price was too high, and Celtics landed Irving, too. Or did they? Trade has hit snag over Thomas' health and, like a teenage marriage, may yet be annulled ..... Hey anybody know when that solar eclipse is happening? Say what!? Oh. How was it? ..... The 49ers' Katie Sowers has become the NFL's first openly gay coach. Given the job security of that profession, she'll also be the NFL's first openly gay coach to be fired .....  More than 1,000 turned out for a rally in support of Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters. Should have called it an anti alt-right rally. Would-a gotten a lot more people ..... ESPN removes announcer named Robert Lee from calling Virginia football game. Mamas, quit naming your babies after Confederate heroes.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-28-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Stanton (50 HRs), hot Fish play 1st of 3 at Nats.

2. U.S. Open tennis, 1 p.m.: Underway with 1st-round matches in New York.

Select other recent columns -- Stanton the Litmus Test For New Owners (Don't you dare trade him!) Double QB Quandary A Rarity (On Dolphins, Canes' shared upheaval). New Owner, New Hope (Let's party at news Loria agrees to sell to Jeter group). A Diamond, Shining (Giancarlo Stanton's great season). Immortality Calling (Jason Taylor in Hall, now who's next?). Also: Right Time, Right QuarterbackThe Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 01, 2017

Grade the Dolphins' 2017 draft: Last chance to vote in poll!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), list of state players drafted, your verdict on Harris pick, HB Daily (Mon), Happy birthday Willie (with new song) & more

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

May1) It is MONDAY, May 1. Happy new month, all! 2) Miami's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring from Congress. Ihave not always agreed with her politics, but it's my impression she had has a trail-blazing career that was big and important. Congratulations. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Harris No. 1 with poll, Day 2 picks, my Mock Draft with results, The List (Fins draft), Neil Diamond concert review & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ZachtMy Sunday column on Dolphins draft: Two decades later, Zach Thomas reminds us why the late rounds of a draft are so important. ICYMI, click on The Kid From Pampa to read. Also, click on Right Pick For Right Reasons for my earlier column on Dolphins first-round choice Charles Harris.

DolphinsGRADE THE DOLPHINS' 2017 DRAFT: LAST CHANCE TO VOTE!: I know, I know. Instant grading is a strange thing. It probably takes three years to fully, fairly and accurately say how a team's draft fared. But who's got the patience for that!? I invite your grade simply from an initial-impression perspective, based on where the Dolphins were picking, what you think their needs were and who they drafted. A complete list of the newest Dolphins is below. Now tell Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier and Adam Gase how you think they did the past three days. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results:


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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Mizzou's Harris leads Fins' defense-first draft: Missouri sack-man Charles Harris, whose spin move makes offensive tackles dizzy, went No. 1 in Miami's defense-heavy draft as the annual meat market wrapped up Saturday. As for the pass rusher's Fins future? Is closer to Cam Wake than to Dion Jordan too much to ask? 

2. MARLINS: Fish end slump as sale talk accelerates: Fish had lost four straight before Sunday's Justin Bour-fueled win over Pittsburgh and now host Tampa Bay for a pair starting tonight as pending sale of team continues to override season. The Jeb Bush/Derek Jeter group is reported frontrunner, but that's if Jeb proves much better at raising capital than at running for president.

3. NBA: Playoffs' conference semifinals underway: First round ended Sunday with Jazz advancing on road in a Game 7, now conference-semifinal round unfurls in full with Cleveland and San Antonio hosting Game 1s tonight. Can Raptors make it tough on LeBron James? Well, you know mosr of Miami hopes so, anyway.

4. HURRICANES: Nine Canes including Kaaya go in draft: UM's nine NFL Draft picks were the most of any state school, with tight end David Njoku the only first-rounder. Quarterback Brad Kaaya eventually was taken in the sixth (of seven) rounds. YSSB: Ya Shoulda Stayed, Brad!  

5. NASCAR: Junior announces this is final season: Joey Logano won Sunday. But the bigger news: Dale Earnhardt Jr. said 2017 will be his final year of racing after battling a concussion most of last season. That means Homestead will be his last race. Dear NASCAR: Finagle the rules to make sure he's in the four-man finals contending for his only season title. Thank you.

6. HORSE RACING: We're five days from Kentucky Derby: Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown season starts next Saturday at Churchill Downs, with Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming among the favorites. Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola owns the horse. Hope it runs better than his hockey team did this season.

7. HEAT: No playoffs, but Miami still in the headlines: ESPN The Magazine had a big profile of Heat prez Pat Riley, a reminder that Riley out of the playoffs is still more interesting than any front-office executive in them. Meanwhile Heat's Dion Waiters said every playoff team should be thankful it isn't facing Miami. And believe it or not, he was serious!

8. NHL: Conference semifinals underway: It's down to the final eight in the skate for Lord Stanley's Cup and, with the Panthers not in it, I cannot bring myself to feign the interest to say much more.

9. PANTHERS: Cats not thrilled with lottery outcome: Florida Panthers finished 10th in the NHL Draft lottery for June's draft, two spots lower than their percentage had indicated as a likelihood. GM Dale Tallon said they're looking for a big-time scorer. Get in line, pal.  

10. TENNIS: Sharapova returns from doping ban: WTA star Maria Sharapova reached the semifinals before losing in a tournament in Germany that marked her return to tennis after a 15-month ba. Timing is good. With her career nemesis Serena Williams on maternity leave, Maria might actually have a shot.

Missing the HB10 cut: Barcelona and Real Madrid official have assured their full rosters will be in Miami for their July 29 El Clasico. Which, said three months in advance, means precious little ..... Chelsea at Everton in a huge EPL match Sunday. Alas, Toffees fell hard at Goodison, 3-nil ..... That Cubs-Red Sox series was a likely World Series preview, according to Cubs and Red Sox fans ..... Canes baseball took two of three at Boston College. The phrase "too little, too late" comes to mind ..... Aaron Hernandez is still dead. Whoa! Too soon?

AsiataDOLPHINS DAY 3 DRAFT IS BEEFY WITH TWO DT'S, OG BEFORE CLOSING WITH WR: Miami began its Day 3 draft by taking Utah guard Isaac Asiata 164th overall after a minor trade-up. Asiata is pictured looking mean, which is good. He's 6-3 and 323 pounds and has had weight issues but is draft's sixth-rated guard and at a need position for Miami. Fins followed that by selecting 310-pound LSU defensive tackle David Godchaux, targeting another position in need of depth. Then they added yet another DT in Oklahoma State's Vincent Taylor, who grades as a better prospect that Godchaux. Miami's fourth and final Day 3 pick was wide receiver Isaiah Ford of Virginia Tech, not a position need, but in the last round, what the heck. Below is an ongoing chart of Fins' final 2017 draft haul: 

Dolphins' final 2017 draft:

Player, School, Pos.                          Round (Overall)  PosRank     OverallRank     Grade 

Charles Harris, Missouri, DE/OLB          1 (22nd)         1 (as OLB)  18                       90
Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State, ILB      2 (54th)          7                 78                       76
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson, CB          3 (97th)         21               138                       63
Isaac Asiata, Utah, OG                               5 (164th)       6                 129                       67  
Davon Godchaux, DT, LSU                        5 (178th)       25               ---                        30
Vincent Taylor, DT, Oklahoma State       6 (194th)       15              151                       60
Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech               7 (237th)       35               218                      47

Poll result: Solid approval for Harris pick at No.1: We asked your initial reaction to the Dolphins drafting Missouri pass-rusher Charles Harris 22nd overall, and it was 47.9 percent "like it" and 21.9% "love it" -- a combined thumbs-up of 69.8%. That isn't overwhelming approval, but it's solid. The remaining votes were 13.3% "don't like it" and 5.0% "hate it," with the other 11.9% undecided.

COMPLETE FINAL LIST: MIAMI HAS MOST STATE-COLLEGE PLAYERS DRAFTED, WITH KAAYA TO LIONS IN 6TH: It's 27 and counting now, with UM's Brad Kaaya the sixth Hurricane to go, WR Stacy Coley the seventh, and safety Adrian Colbert the eighth:

Miami Hurricanes (9): TE David Njoku 1st round (29th overall) to Browns  /  S Rayshawn Jenkins 4-113 to Chargers  /  CB Corn Elder 5-152 to Panthers  /  OG Danny Isidora 5-180 to Vikings  /  DE Al-Quadin Muhammad 6-196 to Saints  /  QB Brad Kaaya 6-215 to Lions  /  WR Stacy Coley 7-219 to Vikings  /  S Adrian Colbert 7-229 to 49ers  /  FB Marquez Williams 7-240 to Jaguars.

FIU Panthers (1): TE Jonnu Smith 3-100 to Titans.

FAU Owls (1): DE  Trey Hendrickson 3-103 to Saints.

Florida Gators (8): LB Jarrad Davis 1-21 to Lions  /  S Marcus Maye 2-39 to Jets  /  CB Quincy Wilson 2-46 to Colts  /  CB Teez Tabor 2-53 to Lions  /  LB Alex Anzalone 3-76 to Saints  /  OG David Sharpe 4-129 to Raiders  /  DT Caleb Brantley 6-185 to Browns  /  DT Joey Ivey 7-228 to Cowboys.

Florida State Seminoles (4): RB Dalvin Cook 2-41 to Vikings  /  DE DeMarcus Walker 2-51 to Broncos  /  OT Roderick Johnson 5-160 to Browns  /  CB Marquez White 6-216 to Cowboys.

UCF Knights (1): CB Shaquill Griffin 3-90 to Seahawks.

South Florida Bulls (3): RB Marlon Mack 4-143 to Colts  /  WR Rodney Adams 5-170 to Vikings  /  OT Kofi Amichia 6-212 to Packers. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-1-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Tampa Bay at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: State rivals open 4-game "Citrus Series," 2 here then 2 in Tampa.

2. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Raptors-Cavaliers, Rockets-Spurs in two 2nd-round Game 1s.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Capitals at Penguins in 2nd-round with Pittsburgh up 2-0.

Select other recent columns: Home Run For Miami, the latest, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WILLIE NELSON!: The country music icon turned 84 Saturday and still going strong, touring, making new music. Here's a new song from him. Enjoy!

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       809

2. Goran Dragic (2)             586

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            497

4. James Johnson (5)          350

5. Dion Waiters (4)              346

6. Rodney McGruder (7)      266

7. Josh Richardson (6)        239

8. Justise Winslow (8)         181

9. Josh McRoberts (10)      177

10. Wayne Ellington (13)    160

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

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

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

Next poll: Following bowl game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       492

2. Dion Waiters (5)              307

3. Tyler Johnson (2)             304

4. Goran Dragic (3)             272

5. James Johnson (6)          241

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 23, 2016

Heat retiring Shaq's No. 32: Borderline. Arguable. Should they? Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/Hurricanes resurgence, Jurgen Klinsmann firing, NFL Week Pix ' Fantasy results, latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23. Happy Thanksgiving Eve? I'm holed up at Friday Page World Headquarters today making all of my Bird Day plus Sunday/Monday NFL picks so I can, you know, actually, have Thanksgiving Day off. 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): Dolphins extend win streak in L.A. with DSM poll, Jimmie Johnson reigns over NASCAR at Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Dolphins, Hurricanes' resurgence: Miami's two big football teams haven't been this hot together entering Thanksgiving since 1989. Click on Football Town Strikes Back to read my latest column. A few other select recent columns: Surreal At 200 MPH, from Homestead racetrack on Jimmie Johnson's historic Sunday NASCAR win. Also: 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.

ShaqheatHMM. SHOULD THE HEAT REALLY BE RETIRING SHAQ'S NUMBER?: Heat announced Monday they'll retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony Dec. 22 during a home game vs. the Lakers. This isn't worthy of vehement objection, I suppose. Shaq did arrive, late in his fleeting prime, to help Miami win its first NBA title in 2005. He helped the franchise achieve a higher stature. Besides, all of this retired jersey/rafters stuff is just ceremonial, anyway. Then again, shouldn't the honor be reserved for the best of the best in franchise history such as the Dwyane Wades? Did Shaq really play enough here -- 3 1/2 seasons -- to merit a retired number? Clearly, the Lakers are the only club that should be retiring Shaq's number. I mean, he played for Orlando longer than he played in Miami. Consider the slice of his career pie Miami had of Shaq: 16.98% of his games played, 14.02% of his points scored, and 14.17% of his rebounds. So his NBA career was about 1/6th or 1/7th Miami. But I could be wrong. Have your say in this poll:

MIXED EMOTIONS ON U.S. SOCCER FIRING KLINSMANN: International soccer has a long, dubious history of abrupt coach firings. I'm not sure if you can call this one of those. Jurgen Klinsmann
Klinsmannhas since 2011 been steering the U.S. men's national soccer team, though ups and downs. His guys survived a very difficult Group of Death to reach the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Not bad. But what has happened so far in qualifying for the 2018 WC in Russia cost the German national his job on Monday. The U.S. is 0-2 in qualifiers, losing 2-1 at home (Columbus, Ohio) to Mexico, and then, unforgivably, humiliatingly, 4-0 at Costa Rica. Early reports are that MLS/L.A. Galaxy coach Bruce Arena will replace Klinsmann. Arena, of course, coached the U.S. from 1998 to '06. The new man will have some time, as the next qualifying matches are not until late March. Not so sure about recycling Arena. I thought Klinsmann should have been given this World Cup cycle. If he failed to qualify, then make a move. But two losses early in qualifying is not failing to qualify. Anyway, the search for the right man to make U.S. men's soccer a world power continues. Now we see if Arena II is the answer. The American women have done it, which does nothing but heap that much more pressure on the U.S. men and, now, Arena again.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 11 RESULTS: BIG PREDIX RALLY, LOBOS STAY SCORCHIN'!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Oh yeah! NIce bounceback week. Went a sterling 12-2 overall and a nifty 9-4-1 against the spread, including a bull's-eye on our Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") with Bills winning at Bengals. We're now a very solid 20 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos slipped past Roy's team 95-85 in a duel of league powers in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 8-3 after (like the Dolphins) a fifth straight win. Theo Riddick led us with only 16 points but we had five in double figures and got a dozen from smart late-week pickup Thomas Rawls. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / SEASON-FINALE SATURDAY! CANES' KAAYA TRIES TO NAIL DOWN 4TH PLACE IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Not much drama, frankly, as we wind down the fifth season of our blog's SopyState Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, as all seven state FBS teams conclude their regular seasons this coming Saturday. Quinton Flowers has passed and run away with the season crown. Let's see if Miami's Brad Kaaya can secure fourth place. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week took 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. All teams have played 11 games except the Florida Gators, with 10. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 13, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings. The SOPY rankings do not include bowl games, so we'll have our Final Top 25 next week:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 12:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)               Wk12       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                257.5      2,680

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                         249         1,975

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 191.5      1,741

4      4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                      129         1,412

5      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       110.5      1,364.5

6      8      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     157         1,285 

7      7      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                      135         1,267

8      6      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      DNP      1,159.5

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         137         1,098

10    --     McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb                153.5      1,020.5

Bubble: Devin Singletary, FAU-rb, 938. Other team leader: Jordan Scarlett, Florida-rb, 784. Week 12 best:Flowers, 257.5; Season best: Flowers, 371.5, Week 11.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (8-3); 2. Florida (8-2); 3. Miami (7-4); 4. South Florida (9-2); 5. UCF (6-5); 6. FIU (4-7); 7. FAU (3-8).

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

Twitter @gregcote