March 05, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A new No. 1 not used to being there, and see what else falls where; plus our APSE-winning columns, Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 5. Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures for 2018, thank you APSE & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Ranking Miami's 2018 Top 25 Sports Figures: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from those answers and more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

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:

Hot1. PANTHERS: Six straight! Cats surging toward playoff pace: The HB10 doesn't often smile this much on the Panthers, but they've been as good as any team in NHL the past five weeks, winning 13 of the past 16 games including six straight after Sunday's 4-1 win over Philly in a home matinee. Florida is today one only one point off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Cats failed to make a trade-deadline deal, but apparently no help is needed, thanks.

2. HURRICANES: UM men open ACC tourney; women out: Jim Larranaga's Cardiac Canes ended regular season with four straight wins by three points or less to finish 22-8 entering the men's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. UM opens Thursday night vs. winner of North Carolina  vs. Syracuse or Wake Forest. Meanwhile Katie Meier's Canes women followed a 20-9 season with a 1-1 ACC run, beating Wake Forest then being eliminated by Florida State. Both UM teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, the men more assuredly.

3. DOLPHINS: Combine, Landry, Quinn fill busy week: With top receiver Jarvis Landry hot on the trading block, Miami dealt a 4th-round draft pick to the Rams for starting-caliber defensive end Robert Quinn. Meantime the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy wrapped up this weekend with coach Adam Gase giving incumbent QB Ryan Tannehill a strong vote of confidence ... and Dolfans left to wonder if that's a good thing.

4. HEAT: Miami gets lift from homestand: Miami hardly seemed a playoff team in that defenseless 131-113 home loss to the Lakers but is 3-1 on this homestand. As Heat hosted its annual Family Fest for fans on Sunday, team had lost nine of its past 12 before beating Detroit here Saturday -- the team chasing Miami for that eighth and last East playoff spot. Heat is erratic but it appears depth will earn a postseason ticket.

5. MARLINS: Hot spring so far for Fish: Little is expected this season of the Fire-Sale Fish, but they're 6-3-1 this spring entering Monday. I know. It's meaningless. A mirage. A dream. Still, um, can we start the playoffs right now!? 

6. HORSE RACING: Big upset in Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream:  Quite a spring for the Hallandale Beach track. The Pegasus World Cup just ran and the Florida Derby is coming; now, Sunday brought the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race highlighted by 7-5 betting pick Good Magic. Alas, 18-1 longshot Promises Fulfilled led wire to wire to cast the Derby picture into unfocused confusion.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Six days 'til Selection Sunday: Brackets ready? March Madness will be upon us in six days, after this week's conference tournament results dole out automatic bids and let the bubble teams make their case.

8. ALY RAISMAN: Olympic gymnast sues over Nassar scandal: Gold-medalist Aly Raisman is suing the U.S. Olympics Committee and USA Gymnastics over the Dr. Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Right on! This will settle, because there's no way those two shamed groups will want to endure further shame in open court. 

9. SOCCER: MLS in Miami, yes, but where still in doubt: Major League Soccer's 23rd season began this week. Miami will have an expansion team in the 25th. But where will team's permanent home be? Overtown as assumed? A larger site in Doral? Somewhere else? If David Beckham doesn't even know, we sure can't.

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes face rival FIU, begin ACC play this week: Slow-starting UM is 5-6 after two straight wins, but the season gets interesting starting this week. Wednesday the Canes visit rival FIU, then host Notre Dame in a series launching the ACC schedule. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Well, [bleep], I made the national Top 10 in column writing from the Associated Press Sports Editors this week, a pretty big deal in the sports journalism biz, and if Greg Cote can't brag in his own damned blog, where can he  brag!? ..... When do the Winter Olympics start? In South Korea, right? ..... Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell. Any way they can both lose? ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to Nationals spring training to help players get over franchise playoff hump" ..... And another: "J.R. Smith threw soup at a Cavaliers assistant coach." What a terrible waste of soup! ..... Keep doing what you're doing, Stoneman Douglas survivors and other students. Show us the way. The world is watching.

ICYMI: OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: These were the five submitted 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional recent columns: For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing. Also: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Others: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. 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

March 03, 2018

Ranking Miami/SoFla's Top 25 Sports Figures in 2018. New column!; plus thank you, APSE: 3 ways I'm grateful, and 1 reason it doesn't matter; also, Magic City for one night & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 3. Happy to be done with sad February. Welcome, new month! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): This is week Dolphins must find their future, latest Back In My Day video (Uber!) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeRANKING MIAMI/SOFLA'S 2018 TOP 25 SPORTS FIGURES: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from all of those answers and many more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

Our most recent other columns:  For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

THANK YOU, APSE: THREE WAYS I'M GRATEFUL, AND ONE REASON IT DOESN'T MATTER: Yesterday the Associated Press Sports Editors completed its annual contest judging, and look who turned up as Top 10 in column writing. Yep, me. The five columns the Miami Herald entered for me are listed below. I'd like to tell you three reasons why I'm honored by this, and one reason why it doesn't matter:

Apse(*) I'm honored because the APSE awards are to written sports journalism what the Oscars are to actors. It's national. It's the big prize. And in my case, the Miami Herald is in the major-outlet category (over-175,000 circulation), and so our competition is the likes of the New York Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, L.A. Times and ESPN.com. It was me against the giants, so it pleases me to be placed in their company. (By the way, I laughed out loud the first time I saw on Twitter that, in my case, some joked that they thought "over 175,000" was an age category. Funny!).

(*) I'm honored because variety is the thing I like most about my job. I have been a beat writer who covers the same team every day, and, for me, it got boring. Column writing presents me a blank palette, more freedom to roam. I go for variety in my subject matter, and so it was very pleasing to me that of the five 2017 columns chosen by my boss to enter in the contest, none were standard Dolphins/Heat/UM football fare. All were off the beaten path to a degree.

(*) And I'm honored because the columns of mine that got me in the top 10 offer a little bit of a lesson, I think, for the evolving newspaper business, which, in its increasing and understandable emphasis on the digital product over the print product, is increasingly obsessed with writing only stuff that generates a lot of online "clicks," and eliminating subject matter that does not. I think most of my five winning columns were probably not click monsters, but resonated very much with those who did read them. Sometimes, that still needs to be enough.

(*) Now, why it doesn't matter is because of the capriciousness of contests and judging, the randomness of it. I have always believed that about writing awards; now I can say it without it sounding like sour grapes. There is no validation here. I have had better years and better columns, but got lucky that these five happened to resonate with enough judges who liked them. Hundreds of sports writers who've never been handed a plaque are doing good work every year, every day. Keep it up, brothers and sisters, because it's always about readers, not judges.

Thanks to all of our readers, listeners, followers, clickers and thinkers -- especially those loyal long-timers. Now here are the five 2017 columns that happened to win for me:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. 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

December 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.7%; plus our annual Christmas video starring me, Jeter, Smokin' Jay and 2 others; also, Miami out of playoff hunt with 29-13 loss at KC, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Merryc1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope you all had a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Need a late gift for the Dolfans in your life? Not too late. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and buy my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU loses bowl game, your Saddest Fans verdict & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Xmas17OUR ANNUAL MERRY CHRISTMAS VIDEO: This year I got together with four of my closest friends -- Derek Jeter, Mark Richt, Hassan Whiteside and Smokin' Jay Cutler -- to make my annual holiday video. Click HOHOHERE to watch. Enjoy!

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' PLAYOFF-ELIMINATING LOSS AT KANSAS CITY: 1) Miami mathematically, scientifically, sociologically and philosophically was eliminated from NFL playoff contention, and it felt like a humane bullet ending the suffering of a writhing racehorse. The funny thing is, the Dolphins still would have been in contention entering the final week of the Gaseaseason had they won, because the Bills and Titans both lost Sunday. But you'd have to be a pie-eyed Dolfan wearing aqua and orange face paint to not see this was not a playoff-caliber Fins team or a season that deserved a postseason reward. 2) The Dolphins were their own worst enemy Sunday -- a persisting symptom of mediocre and bad teams. Miami had two turnovers to KC's none -- balls stripped from Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills after catches -- and had 11 penalties for 75 yards in addition to shoddy tackling. 3) Jay Cutler began very strong but petered out badly, starting out 11-for-15 on accuracy but going 8-for-23 after that. And Miami was a miserable 0-for-8 on third-down conversions, which is on either Cutler or the play-calling. There were sparks on offense, such as Jakeem Grant's four catches for 107 yards and a TD, but 13 points is 13 points. Not good enough. 4) The defense, despite having Ndamukong Suh, Came Wake and Reshad Jones, continues to be not consistent enough or good enough. Sunday Alex Smith threw for 304 yards, and Miami was overmatched by KC's weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. All over the field, the Dolphins do good things sporadically, but not with any reliability or regularity. 5) Always next year, right? OK, the Dolphins have given you a lump of coal for Christmas, now we are giving you a chance to vent, in the latest Dolphins postgame poll. Ready? Go!

1aa1adsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 5.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 5.7 percent overall  approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 29-13 Dolphins loss at the Kansas City Chiefs putting Miami's season record at 6-9 and eliminating the team from playoff contention. 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 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
Click on DSM to read our postgame thoughts and vote in the DSM poll online. 
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)
Next/season-final poll: Dec. 31 (following game vs. Buffalo)

G15: DOLPHINS AT KANSAS CITY: PLAYOFF HOPES HANGING ON BY A (FRAYING) THREAD ... AND SNAP: Final: Kansas City 29, Miami 13. See our postgame thoughts above ..... 4Q: KC 29-13: Butker 49-yard FG ..... KC 26-13: Butker 29-yard FG ..... 3Q: KC 23-13: Butker 21-yard FG ..... Halftime thoughts: Credible performance thus far for Miami, down 20-13 at half, especially offensively. Jay Cutler has been pretty sharp (169 yards) and getting ball into Jakeem Grant's hands (3 catches, 101 yards) has provided a spark. Defensively, though, Miami having trouble containing KC's big weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. Bills and Titans each are tied at the half. Both must lose today, and Miami must win, or Fins will be eliminated from playoff hunt ..... 2Q: KC 20-17: Butker 32-yard FG ..... MIA 13-17: Grant 65-yard pass from Cutler ..... KC 17-6: Hunt 1-yard run ..... MIA 6-10: Parkey 28-yard FG ..... KC 10-3: Kelce 9-yard pass from Smith ..... 1Q: MIA 3-3: Parkey 44-yard FG ..... KC 3-0: Butker 31-yard FG ..... Landry loses fumble after catch on opening drive. That's why losing teams are losing teams ..... Original post: ’Tis the season for the head to explode with NFL playoff scenarios, but it ain’t that difficult, folks. MiakcThree things must happen Sunday for Miami to remain alive in wild-card contention: The Dolphins (6-8) must win Sunday's 1 p.m. game, and the Titans and Bills both must lose. That’s it. (Yes, it would also benefit Miami if the Raiders and Chargers both lost, but that isn’t absolutely essential in Week 16). A problem for Fins’ chances and hope is that Kansas City (8-6) also needs this game. The Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with a win here (or an unlikely loss by Chargers), but a KC loss could create a very precarious spot, so the home team has much to play for here. A computer model I saw gave Miami a 3.1 percent likelihood of reaching the postseason so keep those hopes reigned in, Dolfans! Unfamiliarity is at play in this game. This is only these teams’ seventh meeting in the past 20 years, lending a shade of unpredictability to what might happen. But Miami has not been great traveling this season (2-5 away) and Chiefs have been stout at Arrowhead (5-2), and there are other reasons why K-City is a big 10 1/2-point favorite. One is that there is very little about the Dolphins to trust and rely on starting with erratic Jay Cutler. Another is that Alex Smith has a ton of dangerous weapons led by RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, and it would not surprise me to see the Dolphins defense overwhelmed. I hate to play Grinch. I really do. Wish I could leave an upset win under the tree with a bow on it. But I’m afraid a victory by Miami here feels decidedly less likely than a blowout loss. My pick: Chiefs, 34-16. [Click Week 16 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 25): 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: Richt, UM hit jackpot in early signing period: Canes' Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin isn't for another week (Dec. 30), but UM was making news again welcoming a bounty of talent during NCAA's first-ever early recruiting period. Five-star commitments in RB Lorenzo Lingard and WR Mark Pope lead an offense-rich class that won the state and was ranked No. 7 nationally by  ESPN.com. In the continuing search for signs and proof that The U is "back," this was the latest.
 
2. MARLINS: The circus and folly of Jeter's "town hall" meeting: It was perfect and necessary and it meant little. New Fish boss Derek Jeter came out of hiding to hear season-ticket holders vent about his trading away everybody they care about. It gave the appearance of openness and transparency without actually being either. Ridiculous highlight: "Marlins Man" (attention-seeking missile Laurence Leavy) asking Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Then Jeter saying "nah" to an invite to ride in Leavy's "Marlinsmobile."  
 
3. DOLPHINS: Playoff hopes expire in loss at Kansas City: The Dolphins were a dreary 6-8 but still faintly alive, needing several results to fall just right to sneak into the playoffs -- the first prerequisite a road win over the heavily favored favored Chiefs on Sunday. Did they have a chance? I'll answer that rhetorical with this one: Might you cash the winning Lotto ticket? Safety Reshad Jones was Miami's only Pro Bowl selection, and I suspected his defense would be overmatched against KC's varied offensive arsenal. I was right: 29-13.       
 
4. HEAT: Unlikely victory at Boston triggers renewed hope: Heat has nudged up over .500 (at 17-16) and climbed to the edge of playoff pace, including an unlikely, hope-renewing 90-89 win against the mighty Celtics in Boston. Unlikely? Miami got a career-high 32 points from ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk with the injury-decimated Heat barely having enough players to compete. I mean, how impressive was it to see 72-year-old Pat Riley ditch the Armani suit and slip on those '70s short-shorts for some quality minutes!
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: No. 6 Canes lose first, prepare for ACC schedule: Jim Larranaga's No. 6-ranked basketball Canes are 10-1 after upset loss to New Mexico State 63-54 Saturday night in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The real games -- the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule -- begins Dec. 30 at Pitt. Even with the first loss, considering the season began with the cloud of UM's reported implication in that national FBI recruiting probe, the Canes have found the perfect diversion and distraction: Winning.
 
6. FAU / FIU: Opposite bowl results end winning seasons: Lane Kiffin's FAU Owls clobbered Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish 11-3, while Butch Davis' FIU Panthers got clobbered by Temple 28-3 in the Gasparilla Bowl to end 8-5. Congrats to both for only the third bowl season in each's 14 years at the FBS level.
 
7. PANTHERS: Fire on ice! Cats win third in a row!: Florida has won three straight games for the first time all season but still is only 15-21 and seven point s off NHL playoff pace, and ranked 29th (of 31) in ESPN's NHL power rankings. Lots of young, rising talent paints the picture of an underachieving team, and three in a row needs to be a start, not an aberration.

8. SOCCER: And it's another in the 'El Clasico' series: Historic rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off again Saturday in the latest El Clasico matchup, with Barca winners in a 3-0 rout. Yes, the rivalry's intensity preceded them and will go on without them, but, admit it: El Clasico will pale when its centerpiece is no longer Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.

9. VINCE MCMAHON: WWE leader explores new football league: McMahon reportedly has invested $100 million into the startup of a "new XFL" football league to rival the NFL. (Wonder how long he'd been wrestling with the idea?) No date has yet been scheduled for the announcement the venture has been scrapped and will never happen.

10. BASKETBALL: Two ex-Heat among Hall of Fame candidates: Favorites for 2018 induction are thought to be Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Ray Allen. In addition to Allen, another former Heat player among contenders is Tim Hardaway. What, they're only letting guards in from now on?

Missing the HB10 cut: Darryl Strawberry revealed he used to have sex during games, between innings. Thank goodness for those last two words. I was picturing him doing it in right field ..... An Alabama radio station plays only songs Nick Saban likes. [Your punchline goes here] ..... LaVar Ball is forming a Big Baller league for high school grads. Um, I think there's already one of those. It's called "college basketball" ..... And in today's title match: An NBA player who had a tractor trailer drive into his swimming pool vs. a former NBA player who found burglars had stolen his toilet ..... Former Heat No. 1 pick Michael Beasley has resurrected his career as a valuable role player for the Knicks. Over/under on the love affair lasting? Five more weeks ..... David Beckham is now in line to have his Miami expansion team make its Major League Soccer debut in 2020, or seven years after the bid began. World Wars I and II didn't take as long ..... Jaguars fans are shipping garbage cans to Texans' Jadeveon Clowney after he called QB Blake Bortles "trash." I'm not sure what's more surprising: That Bortles is having a good season. Or that there are Jaguars fans ..... UFC 219 featured Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm. Now what were the odds a fighter would luck to have the surname Cyborg!? ..... NFL fined Seahawks $100,000 for ignoring concussion protocol to keep Russell Wilson in game. That's cheating! Who they think they are, the Patriots? ..... R.I.P., Dick Enberg, 82. If he doesn't make your sports-broadcasting Mount Rushmore, get a bigger mountain.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 23, 2017

NFL Week 16 picks: Dolphins-Chiefs (uh oh) and all the rest; plus FIU bowl loss to Temple can't ruin positive first season under Butch Davis, your Saddest Fans verdict (well, no duh) & more

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

Finsat501) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23. Merry Christmas Eve-Eve! Procrastinating shopper? Need the perfect inexpensive gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and buy my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jeter's Marlins town hall meeting, Sadness poll, Shameless Book Plug, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, FAU wins bowl game & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

R.I.P., Dick Enberg, the classy, much-loved, much-respected sports broadcaster, gone at 82.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: ON DOLPHINS-CHIEFS AND THE REST: The NFL's 12-team playoff picture will come into sharp focus this weekend -- it's possible 11 of the 12 spots, all but one AFC ticket, could end up spoken for -- but the chances of that picture including Miami are, well ... let's just say Dolphins in the postseason won't be one of the gifts under your tree. Fins must win out and get much help to sneak in and that first order of business -- win out -- won't happen because Sunday at Kansas City looks like a bad matchup to me. Figures as a rough day for Miami's defense. Click Week 16 Gems for my full Fins-Chiefs predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Falcons-Saints), Upset of the Week (Rams-Titans: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Thursday games have ended (and the angels sang!), so the week kicks off Saturday.

GasparillaFIU BOWL LOSS CAN'T DAMPEN POSITIVE SEASON: Update: FIU got hammered by Temple, 28-3, last night in the Gasparilla Bowl. Panthers lost starting QB Alex McGough to a collarbone injury early in the game and could muster little offense. Still, a school-record-tying 8-win season ..... Original post: Florida International University always will perform in the shadow of a winning Miami Hurricanes football team in terms of local attention. This year FIU also got bumped by Lane Kiffin and FAU, which capped an 11-3 season with a Boca Raton Bowl win and (I doubt it, but maybe) could sneak into the final, post-bowls Top 25. But none of this should detract from the job Butch Davis has done in his first season with The Int'l, guiding the Panthers to an 8-4 mark heading into tonight's Gasparilla Bowl (8 p.m., St. Petersburg) vs. the 6-6 Temple Owls. It is the only bowl game on the calendar, so FIU is about as close to having the national stage as is possible. Temple, I'm not sure justifiably, is favored by seven points. I like FIU to cover, and give the Cats a medium shot at an outright upset. I'd like the underdog more if the Cats' solid QB, Alex McGough, wasn't missing top receiver Thomas Owens to a knee injury. Win or lose though it's been an encouraging season for what had been a downtrodden program. This is only FIU's third bowl game in 14 seasons at the FBS level, and first since 2011. A ninth win tonight would set a school record for most in a season. Mark Richt and Kiffin have made a lot more national noise, but Davis turned around his program, too, and aimed it right.

SadmarlinsPOLL RESULT: NO SURPRISE. MARLINS FANS SHOULD BE SADDEST: We asked: "As 2017 ebbs, fans of which of these teams have the right to be the saddest?" We offered South Florida's four major pro teams. But timing is everything in any poll, and we asked this question just after the Marlins traded Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. So the results are predictable, although a second team made the Sadness Meter wiggle, too. The results on whose fans should be saddest: Marlins 64.9 percent, Dolphins 26.9%, Panthers 5.3% and Heat 2.9%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.9%; plus Fins' 24-16 loss to Bills kills all playoff hope; also, the latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your grade on Derek Jeter (ouch!) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 18. ICYMI, click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It for my column on the Marlins trading their best player to the Yankees. 2) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 3) Holiday shopping? Giving all the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Judging Derek Jeter poll, NFL Week 15 picks & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-16 Dolphins loss at the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 6-8. That's a drop off more than 70% from the previous week. 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 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results
 
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
 
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
 
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
 
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
 
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
 
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
 
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
 
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
 
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
 
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
 
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
 
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
 
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
 
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
 
Next poll: Dec. 24 (following game at Kansas City)
 
G14: DOLPHINS AT BUFFALO: TO KEEP (FAINT) PLAYOFF HOPE ALIVE, OR WATCH IT DIEPostgame thoughts: Remember how good the Miami Dolphins were on Monday night? They were mostly that bad six days later. Remember how great quarterback Jay Cutler was against the Patriots. It was Bad Jay who made the trip to Buffalo. The Dolphins lost to the Bills, 24-16, on Sunday. It felt worse. Seemed worse as Miami never led, fell to 6-8 and watched its already faint playoff hopes fade to black. I didn't trust the Dolphins to replicate last week's fire displayed in the upset of New England, and with reason. And inconsistency has been the stamp on Cutler's career. Did you think that was going to change for the better when Miami hauled him out of retirement? The game ended fittingly, with Miami recovering an onside kick in the final minute ... followed immediately by Cutler's third interceptions. A year ago the Dolphins had seemed to lay claim to the consolation prize of at least being second-best in the AFC East to the eternally superior Patriots. For now Miami has slipped to third behind the Bills, too. By the way, good to hear a female voice, that of Beth Mowins, doing play-by-play on the CBS broadcast of the game. Women have made great strides on-air broadcasting sports as studio hosts and sideline reporters, but less so in the booth calling the actual game. Another barrier dissolving by degrees. P.S., Mowins had a better game than the Dolphins did ..... Halftime thoughts: With Bills leading Dolphins 21-6 at the half, Buffalo is turning red-zone opportunities into touchdown while Miami settles for field goals. Sound familiar? Been the story most of this season, although less so lately for Fins. Bills lead in total yards 245-156 and Tyrod Taylor is on pace for 330 yards passing and is outplaying Jay Cutler. Dolphins are playing to stay alive in playoff hunt but not showing the intensity or fire to indicate that. I expected a dropoff from what we saw vs. Pats Monday bight, and am seeing that so far .....  Original post: The Dolphins Bandwagon, formerly bereft of passengers, has begun to populate a bit since Monday night. It is hardly a jam-packed, rollicking party bus, don’t get me me wrong. Playoff hope remains slim, but at least the Maybe Meter wiggles a little. I wish I could tell you I’m Miabufhopping on that Bandwagon (there’s still plenty of good seats available), but I just cannot bring myself to count on the inconsistent and therefore unreliable Fins to replicate the extraordinary performance they mustered in beating the Patriots Monday night in Miami. Not sure that will travel well on a short week, especially to a place where the temperature will be in the low 30s and falling, and under an expected cloudy sky threatening snow. Game stayed off betting boards until Thursday, when it became obvious Buffs QB Tyrod Taylor would be good to go. RB LeSean McCoy (ankle) also should play. But Bills WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee) is iffy to play, and his absence would be a big break for Fins. These AFC East rivals will play twice in next three weeks, but it’s this game both sides must consider as must-win for any real playoff hope — and moreso 6-7 Miami than the 7-6 Buffs. I like Dolphins with the (3 1/2) points in a low-scoring game and give MIA a medium outright upset shot. But Fins have not been great on the road this year (2-4), and Buffs have been solid at home (5-2). Jay Cutler on Sunday will confront a much better pass defense than he saw from the Pats, so the key for Miami may be more good stuff from RB Kenyan Drake vs. a very average Bills run defense. Good teams keep stacking good performances on top of one another, but I don’t think Miami is there yet. As impressed (and surprised) as I was in the Dolphins Monday night, I think this will be a long flight home by a team out of playoff hope. My pick: Buffalo, 20-17. [Click Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/greg-cote/article189792549.html#storylink=cpy

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:

Hotbutton 1. MARLINS: Remember 10 weeks ago when we all loved Jeter?: Ah, the good old days! It was the month before last. Derek Jeter arrived as a knight on a white steed to save the Marlins and be everything for South Florida that Jeffrey Loria was not. Then the traded Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in a flurry -- a murder-us row. Loria 2.0.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss in Buffalo crushes faint playoff hope: Patriots at Steelers and the return of Aaron Rodgers topped the NFL Week 15 marquee, but Dolphins at Bills Sunday loomed big in that the winner would see playoff hopes buoyed. But these weare the inconsistent, let-you-down Fins. Could they really replicate that Monday magic in chilly Buffalo? Nope.

3. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Unbeaten Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: No. 6-ranked Miami men stayed unbeaten Saturday with a 59-50 win at George Washington in UM's first of four straight road games, while in Sunrise the 19th-ranked Seminoles and No. 22 Gators headlined but both lost in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Canes have been ranked higher only once, in 2012-13.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FAU, FIU prepare for rare bowl games: Saturday began the glut of 41 bowl games. Hurricanes in the Orange is two weeks off, but the appetizers are being served. Lane Kiffin's FAU (Tuesday vs. Akron) and Butch Davis' FIU (Thursday vs. Temple) prepare for only the third bowl games in each school's 14-year history as FBS-level programs.

5. SOCCER: Beckham enlists help in Miami MLS bid: David Beckham fortified his ongoing and laborious bid to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami by adding as ownerships partners Miami business titans Jorge and Jose Mas and a Japanese billionaire. So, yes, a Miami team that doesn't exist yet has better owners than the Marlins.

6. HEAT: Spoelstra surpasses Riley's wins mark: Erik Spoelstra tied and then passed Pat Riley for most coaching wins in franchise history with Friday's and Saturday's wins over Charlotte and the Clippers. Game also got Miami back up over .500. But is that what we're cheering now? Being around average? Wednesday's game at Boston will tell us about this Heat team's potential to make playoffs and do something in them.

7. PANTHERS: We keep waiting for a run, Cats. And waiting...: Florida is 12-21 now, having lost three straight and seven of past  nine after Sunday's defeat at expansion Las Vegas. People keep telling me the Panthers are playing better lately. I look at the NHL standings and the standings keep telling me, "Eh, not so much..."

8. POLITICS: NHL wife details Trump encounter: Stacia Robitaille, married to former NHL player Luc Robitaille, claims an uncomfortable situation with Donald Trump when once alone on a elevator with his at Madison Square Garden. "He was aggressive and told me I was coming home with him," she Tweeted. Lucky for Trump, he isn't in a job where that kind of sexual harassment might get him in trouble!

9. NBA: Knicks fans cheer Melo's return: Knicks fans (mostly) cheered Carmelo Anthony's first return in an Oklahoma City uniform after six-plus seasons in New York. There were boos, too, of course, because, well, they're Knicks fans.

10. YANKEES: Judge says 'can't wait' to play alongside Stanton: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are instant BFFs, I guess. Or at least until the games start and one gets jealous of the other and the bickering starts over who's playing DH too much and the media pressure builds.

Missing the HB10 cut: Pro Bowl voting has concluded. The Pro Bowl: The game no player really wants to play in and no fan wants to watch, but we all act like it's a big deal anyway ..... The Phillies signed Carlos Santana for $60 million. Does a baseball team really need a guitar player that badly?

POLL RESULT: WE ASKED YOU TO GRADE JETER AS NEW MARLINS OWNER, AND YOU SAID "F-YOU!": In wake of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, we asked, "What grade would you give Derek Jeter 10 weeks into his running the Marlins based on his performance so far and your expectations?" Ouch. A consensus of 64.3 percent gave him an "F," and another 17.1% graded him "D." After that It was 7.1% "C," 6.7% "B" and only 4.8% "A."

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 04, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 57.8%; plus UM spanked 38-3 in ACC final; also, FAU, FIU, UCF win, other State Collball and conference title games (updated), your Cooperstown election verdict & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Baseball Hall of Fame poll, NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read.

'Tis the season to celebrate Canes, FIU, FAU: The Three Kings, Mark Richt, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin, have led their three teams to the best combined record ever, with all three bowl-bound for the first time. UM and FAU played for conference titles Saturday and Richt and Kiffin have had the loudest seasons, but Davis quietly has done his share at FIU. Click on 'Tis The Season to read the column.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 57.8%: Results are certified in the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, this in the wake of Saturday night's 38-3 loss by the No. 7 Hurricanes to the No. 1 Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte putting UM's season record at 10-2. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Monday. [You may also find the poll online HERE].
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo 
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina
G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech
G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame
G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia
G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt
G12: 57.8% following 38-3 ACC Championship Game loss vs. Clemson
Next: Season/final poll: Dec. 30 following Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin
 

MiaclemACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: HURRICANES VS. CLEMSON: HEAVY-UNDERDOG MIAMI MUST SHOCK WORLD TO REACH CFP FINAL FOUR: My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read ..... It is UM's biggest football game since the 2002 season ended, bar none. Saturday night at 8, ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, No. 1-ranked and 11-1 Clemson vs. No. 7-ranked and 10-1 Miami in what is all but a play-in game for the College Football Playoff semifinals. It also is UM's first conference title-game appearance since joining the ACC in 2003. A win here would mean the Canes are two wins away from winning the school's sixth national championship and first since '01. No hyperbole is needed to frame this game. All you need are the facts. Alas, Clemson is favored by 9 points -- biggest spread of any Power 5 conference final -- and with valid reason. The Tigers are not only top-ranked but also defending national champs. The bet-line opened at 6 1/2 and climbed. This, clearly, is the gauge-game for whether UM truly is "back" or merely headed in that direction, on the right path. "We'll find out Saturday for sure," as second-year coach Mark Richt put it. "It'll be a great measuring stick to see where we're at." In the words of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, both teams are playing for "a seat at the table" -- the final four. The Hurricanes lead the nation with a plus-17 turnover margin and also lead the country in sacks with an average of 3.55 per game. The Turnover Chain-fueled defense is Miami's strength. But Clemson's D may be even  better. It will be difficult for QB Malik Rosier and RB Travis Homer to bounce back from off-games in the loss at Pitt. Especially because the Canes will be missing two of their top receivers to injuries in Ahmmon Richards and Christopher Herndon. All four Clemson defensive-line starters made 1st- or 2nd-team All-ACC (UM was shut out) and all four will be NFL-bound. UM's inconsistent offensive line will really be under the gun. These teams' most recent meeting, in 2014, was the 58-0 Clemson rout that got Al Golden fired -- the first domino in UM's turnaround. I am concerned for another lopsided game. I've been high on UM all season (called the wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame), but unfortunately I do not have a very good feeling about this game. My ACC Championship Game pick: Clemson, 27-16.

Other state FBS Week 14 games (chronologically, all Saturday):

FIU 63, Massachusetts 45: Butch Davis' Panthers close out regular season at 8-4 to bolster bowl outlook. It was a pick-'em game, betting-wise, so the home rout is all the more impressive.

No. 14 UCF 62, No. 20 Memphis 55 (OT): Knights stay unbeaten at 12-0 after surviving a wild overtime shootout at home to win the American Athletic Association conference championship game.

Florida State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 10: Seminoles were 27-point faves to wrap up uncommonly disappointing regular season with the consolation of .500 at 6-6 as coach Jimbo Fisher bolts for Texas A&M.

FAU 41, North Texas 17: Lane Kiffin's Owls dominated throughout to go to 10-3 and win Conference USA championship. #LaneTrain.

No. 1 Clemson 38, No., 7 Miami 3: My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read.

FBS conference championship games (chronologically, all Saturday except as noted):

ConfchampsPac-12: No. 10 Southern Cal 31, No. 12 Stanford 28: USC, now 11-2, was slightly favored in Santa Clara, Calif. on Friday night and delivered, but has no real shot at leaping into final four-team CFP.

American: No. 14 UCF 62, No. 20 Memphis 55 (OT): See above.

Mid-American: Toledo 45, Akron 28: Toledo now 11-2 after comfy win in Detroit.

C-USA: FAU 41, North Texas 17: See above.

Big 12: No. 3 Oklahoma 24, No. 11 Texas Christian 17: Unbeaten Sooners lock up one of final four spots in College Football Playoff.

SEC: No. 6 Georgia 28, Auburn 7: Auburn was slightly favored in Atlanta but it's the Dawgs likely joining the CFP semifinals.

Mountain West: Boise State 17, No. 25 Fresno State 14: Boise was the favorite at home. 

ACC: No. 1 Clemson 38, No. 7 Miami 3: See above.

Big Ten: No. 8 Ohio State 27, No. 4 Wisconsin 21: Wisconsin was unbeaten but Buckeyes were 7-point favorites. But will the win be enough to elevate OSU  into CFP final four?

POLL RESULT: YOU ELECT FIVE TO BASEBALL HALL OF FAME: It was among our most popular blog polls ever, with more than 2,700 electors casting more Chipperthan 22,000 votes. You could vote for as many as 10 players on a 16-man ballot, with a share of 7.5 percent or more in our poll equating to the 75 percent needed for induction into Cooperstown by the actual BBWAA vote. On that basis, the five men you elected were: Chipper Jones 12.24% (pictured), Jim Thome 9.93%, Vladimir Guerrero 8.96% Barry Bonds 8.88% and Roger Clemens 8.46%. The close-but-sorry guys were: Trevor Hoffman 7.41%, Manny Ramirez 6.99%, Edgar Martinez 6.46% and Curt Schilling 6.22%. And the also-rans: Mike Mussina 5.21%, Omar Vizquel 4.66%, Fred McGriff 4.18%, Larry Walker 3.81%, Andruw Jones 3.08%, Scott Rolen 1.99% and Jamie Moyer 1.52%. Thanks for the tremendous response!

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 01, 2017

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: You decide who gets in. Poll. Vote now!; plus our new column celebrating UM/FAU/FIU's record season, Dolphins-Broncos and rest of NFL Week 13 picks and the rest & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1. Happy new month, all! 2) Holiday season means only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, latest SOPY standings & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Tis the season to celebrate Canes, FIU, FAU: The Three Kings, Mark Richt, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin, have led their three teams to the best combined record ever, with all three bowl-bound for the first time. UM and FAU are playing for conference titles Saturday and Richt and Kiffin have had the loudest seasons, but Davis quietly has done his share at FIU. Click on 'Tis The Season to read my latest column.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 13 PICKS: DIVINING DOLPHINS-BRONCOS AND THE REST: Denver at Miami Sunday, featuring two teams on a combined 12-game losing streak, may be so unwatchable it should be banned from TV. Nevertheless, I have a prediction, and it's a (small) upset. Click on Week 13 Gems for my full Dolphins-Broncos predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Panthers-Saints), Upset of the Week (Eagles-Seahawks: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Our week got off to a fabulous start last night! We not only called the Cowboys' upset of Washington, we foresaw that a heavy dose of Alfred Morris would be the key. He rushed 27 times for 127 yards and a touchdown.

CoopYOUR BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT. VOTE NOW: [Click HERE to see this, and the poll, online] I'm a BBWAA member who just received his Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which is due back by Dec. 31. There are 33 men on the 2018 ballot and voters may select as many as 10. But about two dozen of those 33 guys have no real shot at being elected with the needed 75 percent vote. On this ballot, I have eliminated the chaff and pared to a Sweet 16-- partly because a 33-choice poll would be longer than the Dolphins' playoff odds. So I have winnowed to the best/most viable 16 former players. These include the 10 non-elected players who got at least 20 percent vote last year, and the six first-year ballot guys (noted by asterisk) whom I think have the best chance to be elected as "rookies." The 16 are listed alphabetically. You may vote for as many as ten (10), but vote for only men you believe are Cooperstown-worthy. Important note: Results of this poll will not influence my own official ballot, which I will reveal as I send it in. Ready? Vote! 

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

 

November 29, 2017

Canes No. 7 in new CFP poll, with my column; plus Tom still Terrific in Herald's latest NFL QB rankings, Week 12 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Bull in charge as SOPY race enters college postseason & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29. See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter result. It still stinks. 2) Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at New England with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes No. 7 (as expected) in new CFP poll: Hurricanes -- installed at No. 7 last night in new College Football Playoff ranking -- are the biggest Power 5 conference championship-game underdog as they prepare to face Clemson as 9 1/2-point 'dogs. But that's the bad news and the good news for UM. Click on The Fuel Of Doubt for my newest column.

BRADY EXPANDS SEASON LEAD, RIVERS WINS WEEK / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 12: [Click HERE for the online version of this] The Chargers' Philip Rivers (pictured) wins Week 12 with a 56.70- Priverspoint game on Thanksgiving -- second-best of the season -- while Patriot Tom Brady expands his overall season lead in the Miami Herald’s NFL quarterback rankings. Can anyone catch Tom Terrific? The Saints' Drew Brees is closest, but trails by almost 50 points with five weeks to play. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler holds steady in 24th place despite not playing (concussion), while Matt Moore inches up one spot to 37th. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.
 
HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / Top 20 plus Dolphins
RK LW Player, Team                Wk12   Season
1   1    Tom Brady, NE               33.35   432.65
2   2    Drew Brees, NO             27.30   384.45
3   3    Alex Smith, KC              19.95   357.65
4   4    Kirk Cousins, WAS          27.10   337.90
5   5    Russell Wilson, SEA        25.40   332.45
6   7    Matt Ryan, ATL              40.85   330.20
7   6    Matthew Stafford, DET   20.50   324.50
8   8    Carson Wentz, PHI         35.35   323.85
9 10  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT  49.55   320.40
10  9   Jared Goff, LAR             38.70   313.45
11 14 Philip Rivers, LAC           56.70   305.40
12 11   Josh McCown, NYJ        26.35   296.45
13 12 Case Keenum, MIN          37.10   295.80
14 16 Derek Carr, OAK             35.65   272.20
15 15 Dak Prescott, DAL           15.55   256.50
16 18 Andy Dalton, CIN           29.70   251.60
17 13 Eli Manning, NYG             1.65   250.55
18 19 Tyrod Taylor, BUF          26.15   244.25
19 17 Cam Newton, CAR          7.40    241.00
20  21 Joe Flacco, BAL            20.05   222.75
24 24 Jay Cutler, MIA               DNP   188.10
37 38 Matt Moore, MIA            19.75     72.05
BubbleMarcus Mariota, TEN, 219.65. Week 12 BestRivers, LAC, 56.70 (27-33, 434, 3-0 in win). Week 12 WorstManning, NYG, 1.65 (13-27, 113, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 12 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and Fripix Loboswith my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league.  WEEK 12: Herald picks: Went an OK 10-6 overall in what I think was a fairly easy week, but got clobbered again against the spread, going an embarrassing 5-11 vs. the evil betting line. Had Bills-with-points over Kansas City but not much else to speak of. Here's how tough it can be: I picked Pats to beat Fins 31-17 and Pats won 35-17. Pretty close, right? But not close enough ATS on a 16 1/2-point line. Greg's Lobos: Ouch. Got spanked by Stugotz, 124.9 to 110.8. Put six in double figures but seldom a good thing when your tight end (Kyle Rudolph) is your leading scorer. But the Lobos still are 7-4 and sitting pretty for one of eight playoff spots (tie-4th) with one week left in regular season. Can clinch with a win, or on tiebreaker with a loss. #GoLobosGo

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 13EPIC FLOWERS-MILTON DUEL (ALL BUT) DECIDES SEASON TITLE: Though unbeaten UCF beat South Florida 49-42, Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers outdueled Knights counterpart McKenzie Milton to grow what now seems an insurmountable lead in the Herald's 2017 State Sopy FlowersOffensive Player of the Year race. Flowers (pictured), Miami-born and from Jackson High, had a season-best 383.5-point game to Milton's 272.5. Both are comfortably ahead of third-place Malik Rosier of the Hurricanes. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams have played the same number of games at the same time. 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 race continues beyond the regular season -- through this week's conference-championship games, bowl games and also the CFP playoffs.
 
SOPY Top 10 entering Week 14
RK LW  Player, School-Pos.               Average    Total points (Games)
1    1   Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb       223.45      2,458 (11)
2    2   McKenzie Milton-UCF qb         208.68      2,295.5 (11)
3    3   Malik Rosier-Miami qb            182.18       2,004 (11)
4    4   Devin Singletary-FAU rb          165.00      1,980 (12)
5    5   Alex McGough-FIU qb             132.36       1,456 (11)
6    8   Jason Driskel-FAU qb              106.33       1,276 (12)
7    6   Travis Homer-Miami rb            103.00       1,133 (11)
8    7   Cam Akers-FSU rb                    96.41       1,060.5 (11)
 10   Tre'Quan Smith-UCF rec           92.36        1,016 (11)
10 --    Darius Tice-SoFla rb                 87.00          957 (11)
BubbleAdrian Killins-UCF rb, 86.09. Other team leader: Feleipe Franks-Florida qb, 71.27Week 12 best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 383.5 points. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 383.5 (W13).
Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (10-1); 2. UCF (11-0); 3. South Florida (9-2); 4. Florida State (5-6); 5. FAU (9-3); 6. Florida (4-7); 7. FIU (7-4).
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 54.9% Huge falloff, but positivity remains; plus unbeaten No. 2 UM falls at Pitt 24-14 in regular- season finale, my column on game; also, epic UCF win and other state Collball (updated), NFL Week 12 picks & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a fantastic and happy Thanksgiving! 2) Holiday season! Give the Dolfan on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Happy Thanksgiving wishes with holiday video, NFL Bird Day picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Our Canes-Pitt column: Perspective, please!: Miami losing at Pitt 24-14 Friday was a bad loss, terribly timed. No whitewashing that. But 10-1 is 10-1, and a win over Clemson in the ACC title game next will give UM a fighting chance to get back up into the College Football Playoff. Click on One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my column.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 54.9%: Results are certified in the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 54.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 24-14 loss by No. 2-ranked Miami at the Pitt Panthers putting UM's final regular-season record at 10-1 overall and 7-1 in the ACC. That is a drop to a season low. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Sunday. 

 2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo 
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina
G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech
G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame
G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia
G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt
Next poll: Dec. 2 following ACC Championship Game vs. Clemson
 
G11: PITT 24, HURRICANES 14: UM'S PERFECT SEASON ENDS IN REGULAR-SEASON FINALE: Click One Bad Loss Doesn't Spoil All The Good for my column on the game ..... MIA 14-24 (4Q/Final): Rosier-Berrios 39-yard pass .....  PIT 24-7 (4Q): Pickett 24-yard run ..... PIT 17-7 (3Q): Pickett-Ollison 5-yard pass ..... Halftime thoughts: Canes have run only 27 offensive plays to Pitt's 38, and have produced zero points off of two Turnover Chain gets. Miami also has been unable to mount a running game thus far. Too soon to worry, though, let alone panic. The Canes are unbeaten because of resilience, and will show it again today in the second half ..... PIT 10-7 (2Q): Pickett 6-yard run ..... MIA 7-3 (2Q): Rosier-Richards 23-yard pass ..... PIT 3-0 (1Q): Kessman 46-yard FG ..... We'll have live, as-they-happen score updates here throughout the game today, as well as halftime and postgame thoughts. Original post: Yes, No. 3 Clemson is on deck for No. 2 Miami in the ACC 

Miapit Miapittitle game in Charlotte -- what looks as of now like a play-in game for the College Football Playoff. We all know it. But the Canes had better not know it -- at least not show it today at Pitt for a noon start in the regular-season finale. The 10-0 Canes look to complete their first unbeaten regular season since 2002 but they need to get undistracted past a 4-7 Pitt team on its Senior Day, with a make-our-season chance to ruin UM's dreams. This is no gimmie. Miami is a modest 12-point favorite, down from an opening 14. The Canes have a nation-leading 15-game win streak dating to last season, but everything crumbles with a loss today. The U theoretically could lose here, beat Clemson for the ACC crown and climb back into the CFP top four, but that's very iffy. Temps in the 40s today should not make a weather a big factor. A solid game from Malik Rosier and more dominance on defense will carry the day. The Turnover Chain has changed hands 19 times in the past five games. If UM keeps it moving today, they win. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-20.

All state FBS Week 13 games (chronologically):

Pitt 24, No. 2 Miami 14: Column, game blog, preview and postgame poll directly above.

No. 15 UCF 49, South Florida 42: UCF stays unbeaten at 11-0 with 49-42 home win over a SoFla team that was 9-1 coming in. The "War on I-4" lived up to and exceeded its billing. Knights advance to the AAC title game and a chance at a major bowl game. If these were two bigger, more established programs people would be calling this one of the greatest games in college football history. Im serious, too.

FIU 41, Western Kentucky 17: WKU was 2.5-point road pick but (as I predicted) Butch Davis' guys bounced back with a nice home win to make it a 7-4 record. 

Florida State 38, Florida 22: Seminoles now 5-6 and Gators 4-7 after a rivalry-renewal that usually has two good teams and big stakes but this year offered hardly anything but the ebbing of two disappointing seasons.

FAU 31, Charlotte 12: Hootin' Owls breezed at home to rise to 9-3 entering next week's C-USA title game. A hugely successful regular season for first-year coach Lane Kiffin.

National Collball Week 13 overview: Four national Top 25 matchups led by the one that has shaken up the College Football Playoff outlook: No. 6 Auburn beating No. 1 Alabama 26-14. The others: No. 3 Clemson beat No. 24 South Carolina 34-10; 21-Stanford upset 8-Notre Dame 38-20; and 18-Washington defeated 13-Washington State 41-14.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: GIVING DOLPHINS A SHOT (OK, HALF A SHOT) AT NEW ENGLAND: I see the Dolphins beating the spread, if not quite the Patriots, on Sunday in New England. Click on Week 12 Gems for my full Dolphins-Patriots predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Saints-Rams), Upset of the Week (Titans-Colts: "Aawwk!") and all the rest. Our week got off to a humbling start yesterday with our Thanksgiving Day picks. We went 1-2 both straight-up and against the spread. Really liked the Lions at home, and the Cowboys let me down big-time. Better luck Sunday, I hope (and Monday).

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 20, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.4%. Still buoyant at 10-0 despite scare; plus No. 3 UM rallies, mints first 10-win season since 2003!; also, my new Canes column from stadium, FAU spanks FIU, other state Collball (updated) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Holiday season! Give the Dolfan on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ferdie Pacheco R.I.P., Stanton wins NL MVP, NFL Week 11 picks & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NEW! Game column from Canes' 44-28 Saturday win: Click on Heart and Fight Keep Canes' Perfect Dream Alive for my column from the stadium on today's UM comeback win.

Canes QB Malik Rosier: A family crisis and a father's love: In my previous column I write about all that quarterback Malik Rosier is dealing with off the field as he leads the unbeaten Hurricanes on it. Click on A QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 95.4%: Results are certified in the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 95.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday Csmafternoon's 44-28 home victory by unbeaten No. 3-ranked Miami over the visiting Virginia Cavaliers putting UM's season record at 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the ACC. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.

 

You may also vote in poll online by clicking HERE.

2017 CSM results

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

G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo 

G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke

G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State

G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech

G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse

G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina

G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech

G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame

G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia

Next poll: Nov. 24 following game at Pitt. 

VaumG10: VIRGINIA @ NO. 3 HURRICANES: UNBEATEN MIAMI RALLIES, TAKES CARE OF BUSINESS ON SENIOR DAY IN HOME FINALE: MIAMI WINS 44-28, STAYS UNBEATEN FOR FIRST 10-WIN SEASON SINCE 2003. Click on Heart and Fight Keep Canes' Perfect Dream Alive for my column from the stadium ..... MIAMI 44-28 (4Q): Homer 19-yard run .....  MIAMI 37-28 (4Q): Rosier 8-yard run ..... MIAMI 31-28 (3Q): Badgley 44-yard field goal ..... MIAMI 28-28 (3Q): Johnson 30-yard interception return ..... MIAMI 21-28 (3Q): Rosier-Cager 9-yard pass ..... UVA 28-14 (3Q): Benkert-Hamm 26-yard pass ..... UVA 21-14 (2Q): Benkert-Levrone 33-yard pass ..... MIAMI 14-14 (2Q): Rosier-Harris 36-yard pass ..... MIAMI 7-14 (1Q): Rosier-Richards 10-yard pass .....  UVA 14-0 (1Q): Benkert-Reed 75-yard pass ..... UVA 7-0 (1Q): Benkert-Zaccheaus 33-yard pass ..... Original post: The intensity and  atmosphere will be dialed back a bit for Saturday's noon matinee vs. mediocre-but-decent 6-4 Virginia, after consecutive wins over ranked Virginia Tech and Notre Dame had TochainThe Rock filled and rocking. Or will it? The home-finale emotion of Senior Day, another expected huge crowd and UM 9-0 and gunning for its first 10-win season since 2003 should keep that intensity ratcheted up. Canes also know an upset loss would send them tumbling from their coveted No. 3 spot in the College Football Playoff ranking. The intensity surely will be there for QB Malik Rosier as well, with his father here and watching one game after missing the Notre Dame after suffering a stroke. (See my column on that, linked above). Miami cannot let down against a bowl-eligible ACC opponent with a decent offense led by QB Kurt Benkert. Miami is favored by 19 points. Of course there's always that magical Turnover Chain if things get a little quiet. UM has 24 takeaways, tied for fourth-most in the country, including eight in the past two huge wins. My sense of Saturday? The Cavaliers defense won't be up to the challenge of stopping Rosier, Travis Homer and Braxton Berrios et al, and a huge crowd thanking the Canes for this season will keep the team revved up. My pick: Hurricanes, 31-16.

Other state FBS Week 12 games (chronologically, all Saturday unless noted):

South Florida 27, Tulsa 20: Bulls now 9-1 after less-than-impressive Thursday home win, with rival UCF on deck and amid rumors Charlie Strong may be candidate for Florida Gators opening.

No. 3 Miami 44, Virginia 28: See preview above.

No. 15 UCF 45, Temple 19: Never-a-doubt road win puts Knights at 10-0 with rival South Florida on deck in play-in game for spot in American conference title game.

Florida State 77, Delaware State 6: Seminoles now 4-6. This is called "taking out your frustrations."

Florida 33, Alabama-Birmingham 7: Gators now 4-6 after beating lesser team. Whooooo!

FaufiuFAU 52, FIU 24: C-USA regional rivals met in 16th annual Shula Bowl, and who'd have believed they'd do so as a combined 13-6? That's a testament to two veteran, smart-hire first-year coaches in Panthers' Butch Davis and Owls' Lane Kiffin. FAU was a huge 14 1/2-point home fave due to an explosive offense, and verified that. Owls, 8-3, now on a seven-game winning streak in which they've averaged 49 points, and clinched spot in conference championship game with the win. FAU now leads Shula Bowl series 11-5. 

National Collball Week 12 overview: After a plethora of CFP Top 25 matchups the past two weeks there is only one Saturday: No. 5 Wisconsin handled 24-Michigan 24-10. Looks like no Top 10 will lose this week.

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

Twitter @gregcote