December 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.4%; plus Radio Tuesday, Fins sink to 5-9, Hot Button Top 10, ranking Miami's 25 biggest current sports figures, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our NFL Week 15 picks. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot and vote, Dolphins/NFL Week 15 picks, Pete Rose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami (790) and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, simulcasting on ESPNU and Fusion TV. I'll have a new blogpost here post-show, by mid- to late-afternoon.

"Would I trade Ryan Tannehill for Drew Brees, who is about to turn 37 and is five years past his prime? If drunk, perhaps." --Greg Cote

Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures: I rank the biggest-name Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers and Hurricanes, an impossible task, but somebody had to do it. Click on The Miami 25 to read the column and see the list.

Our Dolphins-Chargers postgame thoughts: Find them below, just after the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-14 loss at San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-9. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Game 14: 5.4% (following 30-14 loss at San Diego)

Next poll: Dec. 27 (following game vs. Indianapolis)

G14: SAN DIEGO 30, DOLPHINS 14: PLAYING OUT THE STRING: Postgame thoughts: Man, the Dolphins just suck. I hate to say it. San Diego had lost five straight home games.  Before today. Hadn't scored a rushing TD since Week 1. Until today. Had gone 11 straight games without rushing for 100 yards. Until today. Miami has turned into the remedy for other teams -- the opponent you want to play. Very little offense today and not nearly enough defense. Same old story. And this was a bad opponent, remember. Wasted season. ..... Halftime: Embarrassment! Low keeps getting lower for Miami's season. ryan Tannehill only 74 yards passing at the half. Run game with 13 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile the pass-D has been scorched for 203 yards by Philip Rivers. Unless you believe in miracles, and I doubt you do by now, Miami is headed for 5-9. ..... Pregame: I'll be updating the score live and be back with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the DSM. ..... Original post: God, this is what the Dolphins have become. A 5-8 Fins team playing at a 3-10 Chargers team in the only NFL Week 15 game in Finsboltswhich both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. The only scintilla of drama we’ll find Sunday at 4:25 p.m. in San Diego is that the final road game of the year for Miami could be the last home game ever for Chargers fans, with the franchise plotting a move to new digs in Carson, Calif., south of L.A. That should add an element of emotion that could bolster the Bolts, while, oppositely, flying cross-country on a short week (after playing Monday night) figures as a detriment for the Fins. Yes, certain trends favor the visitors here. Miami has won nine of past 11 in occasional series, including 37-0 last season, and Diego has dropped five home games in a row. Also, Chargers have been held to three points in each of their past three losses. I have a hunch, though, that Philip Rivers’ offense will find its remedy in a Dolphins defense that has allowed 36, 33 and 38 points in three of its past four road games. If this is farewell, San Diego, Chargers will go out a winner, at least. My pick: San Diego, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Welcome to Miami: Basketball Town USA: Remember when this was a football town? Might be again someday. Isn't at the moment. Saturday alone, the No. 15-ranked Hurricanes men improved to 9-1, the No. 23 UM women narrowly were beaten by No. 4 Baylor 88-81 for their first loss, and Florida and FSU were winners here in the four-team Orange Bowl Classic. Hoop City!

2. HEAT: Riley denies team is shopping Whiteside: As the Heat hosts Portland on Sunday, speculation the team might trade young center Hassan Whiteside is "B.S.," said club president Pat Riley. Which may or may not be execu-speak for, "We haven’t heard a good enough offer yet."

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Six days to UM bowl game as postseason parade begins: Saturday saw the first six of 42 bowl games, with the Miami Beach Bowl coming up Tuesday and the Hurricanes set to face Washington State this coming Saturday (though without new coach Mark Richt) in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex. That’s so close to the border you can see Mexico. Well, unless Donald Trump’s wall is already up.

4. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats open homestand: Florida has skated to three wins in a row and nine in past 12 games and now begins a six-game homestand Sunday vs. Vancouver. Yet despite all the recent winning the Panthers are on the far edge of playoff contention, eighth in the East. Man, you tough with those postseason tickets, Lord Stanley!  

5. DOLPHINS: Fins in San Diego as another disappointing season ebbs: Miami visits the Chargers on Sunday, playing out the string after Monday’s loss to the Giants eliminated Fins from playoffs for a seventh season in a row. "Grandpa, tell me again what it was like when the Dolphins were good!"

6. PETE ROSE: Purgatory continues as bid for reinstatement is denied: Banned from baseball since 1989 for gambling, all-time hits leader Pete Rose remains ostracized with this week’s ruling. Of course, the Hall of Fame independently could still put Rose on its ballot, but that’d make too much sense.

7. NBA: Cavs, Warriors on Christmas Day: It's the gift NBA fans will all unwrap together. There are five NBA games on Christmas but one of interest: Cleveland at Golden State, LeBron James at Steph Curry in a likely Finals preview. Hopefully LeBron isn't too "tired" to play. 

8. MARLINS: Miami conspicuously absent from MLB's Cuba goodwill trip: MLB made its first trip to the island since 1999 with a goodwill tour including clinics, and participants included former Cuban defectors such as Yasiel Puig. Notably, the team closest to Cuba did not participate. See, it isn't true. The Marlins do occasionally do something smart!

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star named SI's Sportsperson of the Year: Easy to defend Sports Illustrated's choice of Serena, who dominated women's tennis, although golfer Jordan Spieth had an argument. Also, I wonder if SI forgot that American Pharoah ended horse racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought?

10. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens sets box-office records: The new Star Wars film raked in some $250 million in its opening few days. More people have already seen the film than will  attend every NFL game on Sunday. It's good for sports to be humbled every once in a while, right?

Missing the cut: Carolina Panthers go for 14-0 today. Champagne ready, '72 Fins? ... Suspended Florida QB Will Grier is transferring. Later, Gator ... Wonder how the NHL likes that its leading scorer, Patrick Kane, was investigated for sexual assault? ... NBA referee Bill Kennedy comes out as gay after a gay slur from Rajon Rondo ... Four major amateur golf tournaments are underway in South Florida ... Duran Duran will perform at the tennis Miami Open on Key Biscayne. Which would be exciting if this were, like, the 1985 Miami Open ... President Obama congratulated retiring soccer star Abby Wambach on a great career. Republicans demanded equal time, argued it wasn't so great ... Ray Rice still wants to play. Sure, because there's a lot of demand for aging running backs who both punched their girlfriend and averaged 3.1 per carry ... LeBron James collided courtside with the wife of golfer Jason Day and was assessed a two-stroke penalty.

Poll result: Griffey Jr. leads your 2016 Hall of Fame inductees: We asked who you'd vote into Cooperstown from among 12 top contenders on the latest ballot, and your top five were Ken Griffey Jr. with 18.6 percent, Mike Piazza 11.9%, Roger Clemens 10.8%, Barry Bonds 10.2% and Curt Schilling 9.2%. Based on the mentions per ballots cast, only Griffey's support translated to the 75 percent mininum required by the Hall of Fame.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2015

College football's scintillating Saturday: CFP top four determined, Hurricanes bowl projections; plus LeBron's back (shhh!), Bonds' rehabilitation & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5. ICYMI, cick on Right Man, Right Time, Right Hire for my column on the Hurricanes hiring coach Mark Richt. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Richt wins introductory UM press conference, Dolphins/NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S CLARITY WEEKEND: Conference championship game results today will pretty much make known the College Football Playoff top four, although that won't be offically announced (ceremeonially, on TV, of course) until Sunday. In turn, today's results will tip the last dominoes that lead to all of the bowl-game pairings that will be revealed this weekend. A quick primer on the CFP's big day and the bowl outlook for the Miami Huirricanes and other state schools:

CfpCFP OUTLOOK:

Miami and Arlington, Tex. will host New Year's Eve semifinals, with the championship gamed Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz.

No. 1 Clemson (12-0) vs. No. 10 North Carolina (11-1), ACC title game, 8 p.m., Charlotte. Tigers a somewhat modest 4.5-point favorite. (Clemson wins, 45-37).

No. 2 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 18 Florida (10-2), SEC title game, 4 p.m., Atlanta. Crimson Tide a big 17.5-point favorite. (Alabama wins, 29-15).

No. 3 Oklahoma (11-1) is done; Big 12 has no conference title game, which in this case is advantageous for Sooners.

No. 4 Iowa (12-0) vs. No. 5 Michigan State (11-1), Big Ten title game, 8 p.m., Indianapolis. Spartans, despite lower rank, a 3.5-point favorite in what effectively is a play-in game for CFP. (Michigan State wins, 16-13).

No. 7 Stanford, playing USC in Pac-12 title game, thinks it might have a chance to rise into the top four with a convincing win if Clemson or Alabama lose, but that's dubious. I could see Clemson losing and only dropping to fourth. I cannot see Alabama losing.

BOWL OUTLOOK FOR STATE TEAMS: 

PinstripeMiami Hurricanes (8-4): Hiring marquee coach Mark Richt this week only enhances UM as a desirable invite. Canes are hoping for the Dec. 26 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, where Indiana could be the foe. Other projections have UM in the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso, vs. Utah, or the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl in Nashville, vs. Richt's former Georgia team.

Florida State (10-2): Likely destinations include the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta or the Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

Florida (10-2): Gators could end up in the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

South Florida (8-4): Bulls could land in the Dec. 21 Miami Beach Bowl or Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl.

LebronTHE QUIET RETURN OF LEBRON WHO?: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are in town to face the Heat tonight. Is it just me, or is it less and less an event when LeBron comes to town? This is Return of LeBron III; he's 0-2. Part of it is that Steph Curry and unbeaten Golden State along with the retirement-announcement by Kobe Bryant have stolen much of the national spotlight that normally belongs to LeBron. Also, animus has faded. It doesn't seem as personal anymore. It just seems like a big test for Miami as a team. A Heat win tonight, on the heel of that exciting win over Oklahoma City, will verify the Heat's potential to play with anyone not named Warriors.

BarrybondsTHE REHABILITATION OF BARRY BONDS: Bonds, back in a baseball uniform this season as the Marlins' new fulltime hitting instructor, is a major step in the rehabiltation of his steroids-sullied image. He can't rewrite his past. He can't erase the metaphorical asterisk that sits next to his season and career home run records. But this will help, if only because it will humanize Bonds, put him back in the mainstream and convey his love for the game. I'm not sure how much it will thaw the voting freeze that is keeping him out of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown ... but it sure can't hurt.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

December 02, 2015

Marlins hiring Barry Bonds: New poll. Vote now!; plus Kobe Bryant poll, NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos results, Dolphins latest All-50'ers, Miami Jackson's Flowers wins 'State Heisman' with 6 Canes in Top 25 & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2. Happy new month, all! Done your shopping yet? 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, but be warned: Ugly. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire OC Bill Lazor after loss at Jets, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Hurricanes' next football: Who it is should be. Watch for my latest column online later today. 

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Club marks its 50th anniversary by naming top 50 all-time players in groups of five. The latest: Kim Bokamper, Earl Morrall, Louis Oliver, Keith Sims, Cam Wake. Wake was expected; Morrall too for his unique niche. Other three are more borderline, which is not to say unworthy.

BondsHIRING BARRY BONDS IS SO MARLINS: Reports indicate Barry Bonds has agreed to join the Marlins as a hitting coach, a classic splash move by the attention-needy ballclub and its owner Jeffrey Loria. This is so Marlins. The hiring (if it happens) would be dubious, and not mostly because of the steroids-tainted past that has kept Bonds -- MLB's all-time home run hitter with an asterisk -- out of the Hall of Fame. Bonds didn't kill anybody. Shame and the Hall ban arepunishment enough. No, this move sees its biggest potential pitfall in him "working alongside hitting coach Frank Menechino." Hmm. Two hitting coaches espousing different ideas as egos rub? The possibilities are why teams rarely have multiple hitting coaches. Let's hear more on this. For instance, might Bonds just be a spring instructor and then disappear? Or a roving "special" hitting instructor as he was for the San Francisco Giants two years ago? (That's his only experience in coaching). For now, what do you think of the Marlins trying to hire Bonds?

KobeHOW DO WE FEEL ABOUT KOBE BRYANT AS WE SAY GOODBYE?: This may not be an easy question to answer. The Los Angels Lakers' all-time great Kobe Bryant announced this week he would retire after this season, and I wonder how we feel. Has there been a more polarizing superstar? Many love Kobe; many others are far from that. I suspect that most NBA fans certainly respect his greatness yet do not particularly like him. But I may be wrong. Hence, this poll. The question posed is intentionally broad. It asks not what you think of him as a player, but your overall general impression of him. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 11: SO-SO, BAD, BAD: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: Good and not: Our 10-6 mark overall Fripixis OK, but 6-10 against the spread isn't, despite the fact we nailed our Upset of the Week with Broncos beating Patriots ("Aawwk!") and hit another outright upset with Chargers over Jaguars. Greg's Lobos / family league: Eliminated: The original Lobos lost 140-131 to fall to 4-8, now eliminated from championship-round playoff contention with two weeks left. We got 89 combined points from Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham and T.Y. Hilton but it still wasn't enough. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Playin' out the string: The LeBatard Show Lobos are losing big to Stugotz in the two-round consolation playoffs, after being eliminated from title contention by Billy a week earlier. Got 28.9 points from Phil (Mint) Rivers, but too little help.

SOPY: MIAMI JACKSON'S FLOWERS WINS 'STATE HEISMAN,' 6 CANES IN FINAL TOP 25: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds South Florida dual- Flowersthreat quarterback Quinton Flowers out of Miami Jackson (pictured) edging Florida State running back Dalvin Cook out of Miami Central for the title. Flowers is the first player outside of the traditional Big 3 state schools to win our 'State Heisman.' Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. And we close it off after the regular season, excluding bowl games, to give every school's players an equal shot. The final SOPY Top 25 for 2015:

FINAL 2015 SOPY TOP 25

Rk    Player, team-pos.                    Season

1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb         2,077.5

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                  1,990

3      Alex McGough, FIU-qb               1,594

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                1,531

5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb               1,438

6      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                 1,262

7      Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb            1,260

8      Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb            1,206

9      Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb           1,145 

10    Treon Harris, Florida-qb              924.5

11. Everett Golson FSU-qb 921; 12. Justin Holman UCF-qb 869; 13. Jenson Stoshak FAU-wr 828; 14. Kermit Whitfield FSU-wr 807; 15. Will Grier Florida-qb 789; 16. Rodney Adams SoFla-wr 776; 17. Travis Rudolph FSU-wr 751; 18. Tre'Quan Smith UCF-wr 748; 19. Mark Walton Miami-rb 729; 20. Thomas Owens FIU-wr 687; 21. D'Ernest Johnson SoFla-rb 685.5; 22. Stacy Coley Miami-wr 678; 23. Greg Howell FAU-rb 670; 24. Rashawn Scott Miami-wr 650; 25. Herb Waters Miami-wr 637.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions:

2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 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

Cote's final pre-bowl State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (10-2); 2. Florida (10-2); 3. Miami (8-4); 4. South Florida (8-4); 5. FIU (5-7); 6. FAU (3-9); 7. UCF (0-12).

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

December 01, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.7%; plus Fins fire OC Lazor after losing at Jets 38-20, new Hot Button Top 10 with Canes, Noles/Gators, Heat, Hutton, Warriors, Cats & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30. Hope y'all had a terrific long Thanksgiving weekend. ICYMI, click on Being Thankful In These Times for my Thanksgiving Day column. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are trending upward. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM bops Pitt with CSM poll, Noles-Gators and other state Collball, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

DOLPHINS FIRE OC LAZOR: The Dolphins this morning fired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in the midst of a 4-7 season that has seen Miami surpass 20 points only two times in 11 games. The team's 20.5-point average ranks 27th of 32 teams. Miami has now fired its head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators the same season -- the obvious sign of a complete reboot and start-over for this reeling franchise. Find our Dolphins-Jets live in-game blog and final postgame thoughts immediately below the new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 3.7%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 38-20 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 4- Dsm7. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Dec. 6 (following game vs. Baltimore)

G11: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. JETS: WILL MIAMI EVER WIN ANOTHER BLEEPIN' DIVISION GAME!?: Final postgame thoughts: The game wasn't as close as the score suggests. Dolphins got dominated and now are 0-5 in division this year by combined 175-72 score. Tannehill ended with strong numbers (351 yards, 3 TDs) but got outplayed  by Ryan Fitzpatrick. And Jets had excellent pass-run balance while Miami had nine carries for 12 yards all day. At 4-7 the Fins are not mathematically out of the playoff hunt -- but they realistically are. ..... Fourth Q: MIA makes it 38-20 on DeVante Parker's 33-yard pass from Tanny with five seconds left, a final score that makes game seem closer than it really was. ... Planes 38-14 on 41-yard late FG.... MIA within 35-14 on Tanny's 5-yard TD strike to Greg Jennings but by now it's way too little, way too late. ... This has become an embarrassment for Miami. It's 35-7 now on a Chris Ivory 31-yard TD run that included four missed tackles by Fins' D. ... NYJ back up 28-7 as Marshall owns Grimes again on 3-yard TD. Marshall is six inches taller and playing like it's 16. ..... Third Q: Fins within 21-7 on Landry 5-yard TD from Tanny. Landry's 40-yard catch set up the score. ... Miami now in a huge 21-0 hole after Eric Decker 2-yard TD pass from Fitzpatrick. ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami's defense: Not good enough. Miami's offense: Absymal. The Fins with the ball have stunk. Tannehill has 83 yards passing and a 39.8 rating. The ground game has a negligible 8 yards all day. Trailing 14-0 at the half is something hardly insurmountable? But the way Miami's offense is playing make it seems so. ..... Second Q: Dolphins yield 92-yard drive ending in 16-yard TD pass to Devin Smith and 14-0 hole just before half. Smith beat Jamar Taylor in the end zone. ... Fins now 4 carries for 7 yards rushing all day. Been true all season: When Miami trails early it tends to give up on the run. ... Ugh. Miami outagined 122 yards to 35 in first quarter. ..... First Q: NYJ 7-0 late in quarter on Marshall 17-yard scoring catch from Ryan Fitzpatrick over smaller Brent Grimes. ... Not a good sign. Dolphins first two series start at Jets 45 and at 50 -- and zero points to show for it. Ryan Tannehill interception stops the second drive. ... MIA with big 4th-down defensive stop at NYJ 45, but then offense fizzles and punts. Fins were 0-12 on 3rd-down conversions in first Jets meeting, now a big 0-1 today. ..... Original post: Ryan Tannehill’s career struggles against AFC East rivals is well-known to all Dolfans and amply documented, so I’ll skip the mass regurgitation and cut to the gist: He is 6-15 against the Patriots, Bills and Jets, and his Finsjetsplay has been worst of all — a 67.2 passer rating with eight interceptions in seven games — vs. the Jets he’ll face again today at 1 up there. That includes an 0-4  mark vs. the A-East this season. That is the No. 1 reason Tannehill is hurtling toward another 0-4: His personal record on Dolphins seasons and playoffs made. None of this inspires me to venture an upset pick here. NYJ handled Miami 27-14 in London on Oct. 5 in a game that didn’t seem as close as that score suggested, and has won three of past four over the Fins. Having said that, the Planes really disappointed in losing to Houston last week, and Tannehill is 3-0 vs. the Planes at the Meadowlands. Plus Darrelle Revis out. So I’ll take Miami against the spread with that dangling half-point on the 3.5 betting line in what I figure as a low-scoring affair. Planes are 5-5 to Fins' 4-6, so both teams are hanging on in the wild-card chase and need to play with desperation here. By the way, DT Ndamukong Suh getting more outspoken and challenging his teammates is fine. But his leading by example, with sacks and dominance, would be even better. Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. As a quick aside, this once-bitter Fins-Jets rivalry really misses the cartoon bluster of Rex Ryan. But at least ridiculous Fireman Ed, World's Angriest Man, made a comeback, so that’s something. My pick: N.Y. Jets, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 29): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SP0ORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami's playoff hopes all but disappear in loss at Jets: The home loss to Dallas last week meant today’s game at the rival Jets was all but must-win in terms of the playoff chase. But in 38-20 loss the Dolphins became first NFL team with 0-5 division record, meaning Miami, now 4-7, has been at its worst against the teams it knows best. Oy.

2. HURRICANES: UM closes with win at Pitt, awaits bowl destination: Canes could earn a bid to the desired Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium after winning Saturday at Pitt 29-24 to finish 8-4, including 4-1 under interim coach Larry Scott. Things are looking up. The downside to that? Complaint-driven UM fans must adjust to the bizarre notion of feeling somewhat positive.

3. NOLES/GATORS: FSU humbles Florida in the Swamp: The suspicion was Florida was a shaky 10-1, underlined by last week's narrow OT escape over lowly FAU, and further verified last night in a 27-2 home loss to rival Florida State. Gators might have made it up into College Football Playoff final four by beating FSU and then Alabama in SEC title game. Now, no shot. llege Football Playoff top four.

4. HEAT: Solid defense is helping keep the Heat hot: While NBA fans have been focused on Golden State’s record unbeaten start, Miami’s defense, No. 1 in the Eastern Conference and No. 2 in the league, has helped Miami win seven of its past nine games entering four-game homestand starting Monday vs. Boston. Remember, you can't spell "Heat" with D. Wait...

5. TOMMY HUTTON: Marlins shoot themselves in foot. Again: The public relations-challenged Marlins inexplicably and without just cause fired Tommy Hutton, their popular, talented, passionate TV analyst of 19 years. You have a choice, and both options are depressing: Either Marlins management is generally incompetent , or just doesn't give a s--- what you think.

6. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: That moment we were the epicenter of the sport: UM rocketed to No. 15 but then lost at home to underdog Northeastern. Meanwhile, the Heat’s bayside arena hosted No. 1 Kentucky in the Miami Hoophall Invitational. If you blinked you missed it but there was a magical moment this week when we were a college basketball town.

7. GOLDEN STATE: OK, this is getting ridiculous, Warriors. Lose, already!: Golden State is now 18-0, a record NBA start, entering their next game Monday at Utah. They are approaching one-quarter of the way to perfection in an 82-game season. Even the '72 Dolphins are getting nervous. 

8. PANTHERS: Cats off NHL playoff pace and on the road. Oy: Florida has won only nine of its first 22 games and is five points off NHL playoff pace as it begins a five-game road trip starting today in Detroit. Is it too early for beleaguered Cats fans to starting saying, "Wait'll next year!"?

9. NASCAR: Homestead still celebrating Busch, Gordon's big show: Ears are still ringing from Kyle Busch winning the race and season championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway last week, and Jeff Gordon sailing into retirement to cheers. Gordon going out a champ would've been only thing to top it.

10. INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL: Marlins host Serie de las Americas: Marlins Park hosted four top teams from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela in the Serie de las Americas last weekend. It was the place to be for fans of international baseball . Also, for fans of hearing no English spoken.

Missing the cut: Dolphins to raise ticket prices on almost half of all seats. Think of it as a "thank you" for supporting all these years of disappointment ... South Florida not among 10 U.S. hoss cities for next year's 100th Copa America soccer ... College Football Playoff Top 4 all won Saturday. Take the week off, Condi ... Browns bench Johnny Manziel for latest eff-up ... High-school football playoffs ... St. Louis Ram Steadman Bailey spends bye week here, gets shot in drive-by in Miami Gardens. Things tourism officials don't tout in those brochures ... Miami native Cristie Kerr wins 18th LPGA tournament. Which, if anybody cared about women's golf, would be a big deal ... New line of NBA apparel for Heat bugle the alternate 786 area code, not the main 305. Please make fun of anyone caught wearing a shirt proclaiming "the 7-8-6" ... Tyson Fury beats Wladimir Klitschko for heavyweight title. A boxer named Tyson Fury. Seriously

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 29, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.7%; plus UM wins at Pitt 29-24 to end regular season 8-4; also 'Noles crush Gators, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more

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

1) It is SATURAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend! 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our Thanksgiving Day column, Bird Day NFL predictions & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Thanksgiving column: ICYMI, our Thanksgiving Day column seemed to strike a chord based on overwhelming positive email response. Click on Being Thankful In These Times to read.

Our UM-Pitt postgame thoughts: Find our in-game blog and UM-Pitt postgame thoughts below, directly beneath the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (There will be an additional, final CSM poll following the bowl game).

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 76.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 76.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 29-24 victory at Pitt putting UM's final regular-season Csmrecord at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, 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, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Sunday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Game 12: 76.7% (following 29-24 victory at Pitt)

Next/final poll: Following bowl game, date to be determined. 

G12: HURRICANES 29, PITT 24: UM COULD NOW BE STRONG BET FOR PINSTRIPE BOWL INVITE: Postgame thoughts: Miami squandered a 23-3 lead in the third quarter and made it a tad too close for comfort toward the end; still, a 29-24 road win over favored Pitt is a nice way to end the regular season. UM will go bowl-ing at 8-4, including a 4-1 marks since interim coach Larry Scott replaced the fired Al Golden. A typically solid day from QB Brad Kaaya today with 261 yards passing, augmented by 99 rushing from Joe Yearby and five field goals from Michael Badgley, who set a UM record for most FGs in a season. Defense was dominant early but beaten against the run late. All in all, a strong afternoon for The U. ..... Halftime thoughts: Not displeased to point out I'm dead wrong on my pregame prediction thus far. UM defense is dominating, limiting Pitt to 102 total yards off offense in a 23-3 game at the half. Canes have rolled up 248 yards with the ball, led by Brad Kaaya's 166 yards passing. ..... Note: We'll be live-updating the score and key plays throughout today's game, and be back here with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the arrival of the latest postgame CSM poll. ..... Original post: Miami's 7-4 Hurricanes visit Pitt's 8-3 Panthers in a noon matinee today, with Pittsburgh a 7-point home favorite. A small example why: Pitt

Miapittrouted Duke, 31-13, the team UM needed a last-second miracle to beat. I expect a shootout, and give the Canes a fair upset shot. Miami, 3-1 under interim coach Larry Scott, has much to play for. The nine-win season still in play would equal Miami's best since joining the ACC in 2004. And a win over Pitt could very well vault UM into the preferred Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a stage the Canes program would love. I have little doubt Brad Kaaya willl put up plenty of points today. But enough? I have greater concerns about Miami's defense, which has tended to struggle on the road and now faces a Pitt offense that has put up 106 points over the past three games. My pick: Pitt, 31-27.

Other college Week 13 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

South Florida 44, UCF 3: Bulls finish 8-4 after a Thursday rout ending Knights' futility at 0-12. South Florida will be in American conference championship game if UConn beat Temple on Saturday.

FAU 33, Old Dominion 31: If you're going to have a bad season, might as well end it with a nice lil' road win. Owls finish 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 27, No. 8 Florida 2: Dalvin Cook and huge defense carried FSU tonight to an unexpected rout of Florida in the Swamp, leaving both teams 10-2. Florida State has now won past three over Gators and was a 2 1/2-point road favorite here. This was 16th time but only the third time since 2001 that the rivals had met with both in the Top 15. Seminoles all but assured themselves a New Year's bowl. UF going in still had hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff top four if they'd beaten FSU and then somehow beaten Alabama in the Dec. 5 SEC title game. Those dreams are done.

Note: FIU completed its season at 5-7.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: We got off to a wobbly start to our week on Thanksgiving, going 1-2 straight-up and against the spread. Knew we took a big risk picking against FripixCarolina, but Green Bay losing at Lambeau? I'd pick Pack again in a heartbeat. Anyway, onward! Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Notably: Ryan Tannehill's AFC East struggles continue in a Dolphins loss at Jets, and Broncos end Patriots perfection in our Game and Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click Oh, Johnny for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the gradual self-destruction of Johnny Manziel.

BACON-SCENTED UNDERWEAR: Ready to start your holiday shopping? Seattle-based J&D's Foods has announced the launch of bacon-scented underwear, which it calls "the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon." Safe bet, that one. Another bold claim: That this is the first line of apparel "marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat" to attain "the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants." Want some? They're $19.99 a pair at www.baconunderwear.com. All of this is for real, by the way. This is a blog! Could I say it if it weren't true?

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 21, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 63.4%; plus UM bops Ga-Tech 38-21, Gators escape FAU in OT, FIU routed, your odd love of Butch Davis & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21. Pray for Paris, and for peace on Earth. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes next-coach poll, Hassan Whiteside's shot-blocking in historical perspective, NFL Week 11 predix & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our UM-Georgia Tech postgame thoughts: Find them below in our live in-game blog, directly beneath the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 63.4%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 63.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 38-21 home victory over Georgia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, 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, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Next poll: Nov. 27 (following regular-season finale at Pitt)

G11: HURRICANES38, GEORGIA TECH 21: KAAYA, DEFENSE LEAD BIG SHOWING IN HOME FINALE: Final thoughts: I was right in saying that Georgia Tech would get its rushing yards but that Miami could withstand and overcome that. And the Canes did. They did with Brad Kaaya passing for 300 yards. And they did with four defensive turnovers including one for six points. As it searches for a new head coach for next season UM, now 7-4, is jockeying for bowl position to make the most of this one heading into this coming Friday's regular season finale at Pitt. Today had to impress bowl scouts. What surely did not was the small crowd -- small even factoring in the rain and lightning delay. Bowls worry about how a team's fans "travel." I worry about why UM's fans don't even travel to home games. ..... Halftime thoughts: Impressive half by Miami, which gave up the first score and then reeled off 24 unanswered points. Brad Kaaya's 193 yards passing and two defensive takeaways -- one for a TD -- led the way. I though it was strange UM was an underdog today (see original post below) and Canes are proving me right so far. ..... Note: I'll have live score updates throughout the game and be back with halftime and postgame comments. ..... Original post: Georgia Tech is 3-7 (after a 2-0 start) and the Canes are 6-4 entering today's 12:30 p.m. home matinee -- and yet the Yellow Jackets are 2 1/2-point favorites. Hmm. The wiseguys who set the CanestechVegas odds are usually on the mark or close enough to be profitable, but this line seems weird to me. The visiting will miss a bowl game for the first time since 1996, while the home team will go bowling ... somewhere. (Pinstripe Bowl?) UM being a slight underdog may be easily explained, though. Ga-Tech isn't that bad; five of their losses have been by one score. They beat Florida State, 22-16. More than that, the one thing the Jackets still do right, even in the midst of a lost year, is run the ball. That triple-option of theirs is averaging a big 257 yards rushing per game. And Miami's run defense? It is on track to be the first in UM history to allow a 5-yard opponent average per run since (are you ready?) 1944! So that's it. Miami is a slight 'dog because nobody thinks they'll adequately stop that triple-option today. This is a factor, too. The wildly undisciplined Canes had 96 penalties entering this week to lead the nation, having not yet figured out they're not good enough to be their own worse enemy at times. Despite all this I like Miami today. Senior Day for the season's final home game will add a positive emotional element, and UM's offense will strafe GT's D enough to give up a ton of rushing yards and still prevail. My pick: Hurricanes, 27-23.

Other college Week 12 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

East Carolina 44, UCF 7: Thursday rout in Orlando left Knights 0-11 and one loss from winless season.

South Florida 65, Cincinnati 27: Bulls were 2-point home 'dogs but swamped Cincy Friday night to go to 7-4 and stay alive to reach American conference title game.

No. 8 Florida 20, FAU 14: (2-8) at No. 8 Florida (9-1), Saturday noon: The now 10-1 Gators were favored by 31 but need overtime to escape now 2-9 FAU in The Swamp, 20-14. Florida was likely on auto-pilot with FSU and then SEC title game on deck. Florida could still make College Football Playoff by running table, but barely getting by the Owls won't help. FAU now is 0-16 in its history vs. Top 25 teams, but this was its best showing. Today arguably was a bigger day for FAU football than any win the program has had.

Western Kentucky 63, FIU 7: Ugly. Ug-ly! Sorry, but continuing this game, at 63-7, after a lightning delay was cruel and unusual punishment for both FIU fans who stuck around. Panthers finish season 5-7, one win shy of a bowl.

No. 14 Florida State 52, Chattanooga 13: FSU cruises with a 9-2 record into next week's test with rival Florida Gators.

Poll result: The odd fascination with Butch Davis continues: We asked in previous blogpost who you like as next UM football coach from among eight candidates (including a "someone else" option), and Butch Davis romped with 49.7 percent. Only others with sizable, double-digit support were Mario Cristobal at 15.6% and Charlie Strong at 12.8%. (Totals are from earlier this morning; you may still vote).

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 17, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 44.6%; plus Fins rally, win at Philly 20-19 with our postgame thoughts; also, new Hot Button Top 10 with Homestead field set, Canes, Heat, Rousey's loss, Cats, UM hoops, Gators, FIU & more

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

Paris1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes clobbered in Chapel Hill with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

CSM poll results: The latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter approval rating has fallen to 49.5 percent, its lowest total since Week 4. See the previous blogpost for details.

My Ryan Tannehill column: My Sunday column is on the failure thus far of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to transcend and be the difference-maker Miami needs him to be. Three and a half seasons in, we still aren't sure what we have in this guy. Click on When Good Isn't Good Enough to read the column. Update: Leading a winning rally from 16-3 down in Philadelphia yesterday was a step forward for Tannehill.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 44.6%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 44.6 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-19 victory at Philadelphia putting Miami's season record at 4-5. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Next poll: Nov. 22 (following game vs. Dallas)

G9: DOLPHINS 20, PHILADELPHIA 19: MIAMI RESCUES ITS PLAYOFF HOPES!: Final: Terrific road win today for underdog Miami, overcoming an early 16-3 deficit. Admit it. At that point, did you think they would? Ryan Tannehill had a solid game with 217 yard passing, two TDs and no picks. The running game toughed out 26 carries for balance. The run defense was strong. And Mark Sanchez replacing injured Sam Bradford and throwing a costly late pick (by Reshad Jones) sure helped. All in all a big win making Miami 4-5 now and keeping Dolphins close enough to playoff contention to foment hope with seven games yet to play. MIA now 3-2 under interim coach Dan Campbell. ..... Fourth Q: Reshad Jones end-zone interception of Sanchez prevents PHI a likely go-ahead score. But why'd he run it out!? ... PHI within 20-19 on 37-yard kick by ex-Dolph Caleb Sturgis. Ends 17 unanswered points by Fins. ... Wow! Miami up 20-16 (first lead since 3-0) when Jarvis Landry comes down with short pass in end zone that had been deflected and was up for grabs on first play of last quarter. A 43-yard completion to Rishard Matthews had given MIA 1st-and-goal. Birds Third Q: Birds QB Sam Bradford injured, Mark Sanchez in. ... Miami still under 200 yards total offense. Tannehill needs to go win this game. ..... Halftime: Miami allows 16 unanswered points by Eagles but rallies to within 16-13 at half. The bad: Pass D has let Sam Bradford got 16-for-20 for 196 yards, and Miami offense has a meager 153 total yards. Considering the hole once was 16-3, though, a somewhat encouraging half. ..... oughing-Second Q: Roughing-passer penalty against MIA negates a last-minute interception. Then Brice McCain injured as half ends. ... Dan "Man" Campbell wins challenge to force Philly punt but MIA gives it right back. ... Miami within 16-13 now on 13-yard Tanny pass to Miller, after blocked punt by Zach Vigil set up Fins at Philly 12. Vigil-ant! ... Fins within 16-6 but it's settling, with a 1st-and-goal turning into a 22-yard FG. Jay Ajayi runs of 24, 20 yards key the drive. ... MIA been outscored 66-6 in first quarter of its five losses and today. ... Birds miss 32-yard FG try. Something goes right for Miami! ..... First Q: Rough start. PHI up 16-3 after Ryan Mathews' 1-yard TD run following safety. ... Tannehill sacked in end zone for safety, third straight game Miami has given up one. First time in NFL since 1980 a team has given up a safety three straight games. ... Kick returner Damien Williams dumbly returns from deep in end zone, slips at own 1. Why is he evn playing with a bad hand? That's a losing-team play right there. ... Birds up 7-3 on 2-yard TD pass to finish drive that included a 61-yard catch and run by TE Brent Celek. ... MIA up early 3-0 on 42-yard FG but it was a fizzle in the red zone on a drive featuring a 35-yard completion to Lamar Miller. ..... Pregame: CB Brent Grimes is a surprise inactive today because of illness. Sam Bradford is smiling. ..... Original post: Miami begins the second half of its season a touchdown underdog in Philadelphia today, and for the Dolphins this is about nothing less than saving a season's playoff hopes or watching them all but realistically disappear. A 5-4 record is Dolphilplayoff pace in the wide-open AFC entering NFL Week 10, so Miami at 4-5 with a win today would stay in the hunt, while at 3-6 with a loss today you could all but fuhgedaboudit. Unfortunately, Miami has lost five consecutive road games as underdogs, and I’m having a tough time imagining a happy flight back from the team’s first trip to Philly since 2007. The Dolphins defense I have watched the past two games — the one clobbered by the Patriots and then absolutely gouged by the Bills — won’t find this opponent much easier. The Birds ground game has found its stride with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, while QB Sam Bradford seems to have found his comfort zone running Chip Kelly’s offense. Offensively, the Fins are averaging a paltry 14.8 points this year in the six games apart from those magical two against the Titans and Texans. I just can’t trust Ryan Tannehill to score sufficiently, on the road, against a Phils defense that is fourth in the NFL in interceptions and sixth in opponent passer rating. It might take a Jarvis Landry touchdown return or a defensive TD to keep Miami in this one. But this is a Dolphins defense that last Sunday became the first team — ever — to allow an opponent two 100-yard rushers and a 150-yard receiver in the same game. That’s the defense I don’t trust to win in the City of Brotherly Shove. My pick: Philadelphia, 27-17.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 15): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins win in Philly, stay in playoff hunt: Miami came in 3-5 and had lost two in a row, which is why today's 20-19 rally-win in Philly was huge. Now the Dolphins host Dallas and the return from injury of Tony Romo. You like a challenge, Dan Campbell? You got one. You want to keep turning around the doubters, Dolphins? Go do it.

2. HURRICANES: UM trounced in Chapel Hill, sees ACC title hopes perish: Al Golden never could seem to get that elusive “signature win.” Saturday would have been that for interim replacement Larry Scott, but the Hurricanes did not have another miracle in them. Or even any fight in them losing 59-21.

3. HEAT: Bosh, hot Heat earn a few days off; Chalmers traded: Heat is 6-3 amidst a rare four days off before returning to action here Tuesday. Meantime, Mario Chalmers was traded in a tax-relief move. Give Chalmers this: He lost his starting job, he lost his minutes, but he never lost his swagger.

4. UFC: Stunner! Ronda Rousey loses!: Holly Holm stunned the MMA world in UFC 193 in Australia Sunday, beating formerly unbeaten champion Ronda Rousey with a kick to the head and a second-round stoppage. This may be good for UFC, not bad. Rousey needed competition, a rival who could beat her.

5. NASCAR: Up next, Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts season finale: NASCAR’s race Sunday in Phoenix determined that Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex will join retiring star Jeff Gordon in the final four competing for the season championship next Sunday in Homestead. Gordon winning would be a storybook ending. Am picturing Cinderella in a flame-retardant racing suit and earplugs.

6. PANTHERS: Cats see an upturn as homestand begins: Saturday's 5-4 shootout win at Tampa Bay made it two wins in past three games for Panthers, who now begin a five-game homestand Monday night vs. the same Lightning. 

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes face first real challenge in Puerto Rico: Jim Larrañaga’s team gets its first real test of the young season in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament starting this Thursday vs. Mississippi State. If they win the tournament, Canes could get where many think they belong: in the Top 25.

8. GATORS: Florida keeps hope for miracle finish alive: Saturday's 24-14 win over South Carolina put 10th-ranked Gators at 9-1 and still dreaming that, if they win out, they might somehow still rise into the College Football Playoff's top four. A one-loss SEC champ would be hard to keep out.

9. FIU: Panthers bowl hopes now faint after clobbering: A 52-0 loss to Marshall on Saturday left FIU 5-6 and needing a win its its last game to become bowl-eligible. That game is vs.8-2 Western Kentucky. Good luck with that.

10. MISSOURI: Mizzou at the intersection of sports and social issues: A threatened boycott of football games by Missouri players forced the resignation of the university president over charges he turned a blind eye to a culture of racism on campus. Power to the people!

Missing the cut: David Beckham spends the day with Hurricanes women's soccer team. Hey, as long as he didn't spend the night, too, then it's OK ... Marlins president David Samson and agent Scott Boras feuding! ... MLS playoffs down to final four ... Steph Curry and 11-0 Golden State on a planet all their own right now ... Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team beats local NFL Alumni team 63-28 at Flanagan High ... Draft Kings, FanDuel continue to lose in court. If you want to make those apparently easy millions, better do it quick. ... U.S. men's soccer trains at Barry U for World Cup qualifying. The pressure is on, Jurgen Klinsmann! ... Dez Bryant screams at a reporter. Everybody hates us!

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 49.5%; plus UM routed at UNC 59-21; also Gators, Noles, FIU's tall task & more

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

Paris1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Paris attacks, NFL/Dolphins Week 10 picks, Canes and Butch Davis, kiss Jose Fernandez goodbye, UM hoops, college basketball rankings 1 through 351, Heat yays/nays, Lobos T-shirts update & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our UM-North Carolina postgame thoughts: Find them here below, immediately after the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 49.5%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Csmpostgame poll, and they show 49.5 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 59-21 loss at North Carolina putting UM's season record at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, 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, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

Deciphering the latest result: An understandable sharp drop to the lowest approval rating since Week 4. Probably still higher than it should be, perhaps owing to UM fan still on a cloud over Al Golden's dismissal.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Next poll: Nov. 21 (following game vs. Georgia Tech)

G10: NORTH CAROLINA 59, HURRICANES 21 (Final): Postgame thoughts: OK, divest of your stock in interim coach Larry Scott keeping the job. I believe today took that off the table (if that possibility ever was there, which I doubt). Like the Dolphins' Dan Campbell, Scott had begun 2-0 only to see the interim honeymoon end with a crash. Weird game, this 59-21 loss at North Carolina. Miami led in time of possession, nearly was equal in total yards, had a 300-yard day from Brad Kaaya and yet still lost big, dare say embarrassingly. Three turnovers to none by the Tar Heels will do that. So will giving up a punt-return touchdown. So will an abysmal run-defense allowing some 300 ground yards. A sobering defeat. One that sadly answers the question, "How close is The U to being 'back'?" ..... Halftime: Let us count the ugliness. Zero points. Thirty-one points allowed. Nineteen net yards rushing. Nine penalties for 80. Nine penalties -- in one half. Three turnovers. Awful. This is beginning to feel like the 58-0 loss to Clemson that got Al Golden fired. Somehow, Miami has more time of possession and total yards. But the scoreboard says it all. ..... Note: I'll be updating the score throughout the game and be back with halftime and postgame analysis prior to the posting of the postgame poll. ..... Original post: I'm not sure if beating the Tar Heels at their place would qualify as the "signature win" that always seemed to 

Canesuncelude Al Golden, but it'd be close enough for interim replacement Larry Scott and maybe for Miami fans, too. North Carolina is good, 8-1 and ranked No. 23 to UM's 6-3 and unranked. The 3:30 p.m. game finds the Canes uncommonly big 13-point underdogs. Why? One reason: The Duke team that Miami needed a disputed last-second miracle to beat was just walloped 66-31 by UNC. The Heels have a big-time passing game. Brad Kaaya's Canes may need a ton of points to pull off an upset. Heck the betting over/under is around Fedora66 points, high even for college. UNC with a win would stay on track for the ACC Coastal Division crown
and eliminate Miami's faint hopes. Miami with a win would still be alive to reach the conference title game. The Hurricanes have owned this series lately, winning two in a row and four of past five over UNC including 47-20 in Miami last year. But keeping that trend going looks like a mighty task. Quick aside: UNC's coach is the wonderfully named Larry Fedora (pictured left). My pick: North Carolina, 38-24.

Other college Week 11 state FBS games (all today, in chronology):

No. 10 Florida 24, South Carolina 14: Gators now 9-1 and trying to run the table and somehow still rise into the College Football Playoff's top four. 

Middle Tennessee 24, FAU 17: One of of those seasons for the now 2-8 Owls.

No. 16 Florida 34, North Carolina State 17: Lots of Dalvin Cook as Noles go to 8-2.

Marshall 52, FIU 0: FIU, now 5-6 after this humbling loss, must win next week to gain bowl-eligibility. Tall task, with 8-2 Western Kentucky up after tough Marshall.

South Florida 44, No. 22 Temple 23: Marlon Mack (Truck) leads upset that has Bulls 6-4 and bowl-eligible for first time since 2010.

Off this week: UCF. Knights are 0-10. Will they find a way to lose to the bye week?

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Twitter @gregcote

November 07, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 91.8% (season high); plus UM beats Virginia 27-21, is bowl-eligible; also, FSU falls, Gators survive, FIU wins & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 9 picks, sad turn of Heat's Gerald Green, Dolphins stadium's latest big loss, Bernie Sanders rap video & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our postgame thoughts on UM's win today: Find them here, immediately below the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 91.8%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 91.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-21 home victory over Virginia putting UM's season record at 6-3 Csmoverall and 3-2 in the ACC. That is a season-high approval rating. The CSM, in its seventh season, 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, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Next poll: Nov. 14 (following game at North Carolina) 

G9: HURRICANES 27, VIRGINIA 21: KAAYA, DEFENSE ENOUGH AS MIAMI GETS BOWL-ELIGIBLE: Final: Solid showing by UM, not overwhelmingly so, but enough to make the Canes 2-0 under interim coach Larry Scott and now bowl-eligible at 6-3. Miami trailed only once, briefly, and basically was in charge of this game. I can say the defense played well, giving up only one Virginia touchdown. Brad Kaaya also shone in his return from a concussion, passing for two TDs and 286 yards, almost half of them to Stacy Coley. All in all in a positive day in UM's Homecoming game. ..... Halftime: Canes defense playing well at 14-8, limiting Virginia to a pair of FGs, with other points on a safety. Lead is more nerve-wracking than it should be. Brad Kaaya (151 yards, 2 TDs, 1 pick) must take even more advantage of a soft Cavs pass defense in second half. ..... Note: I'll have live score updates during today's game as well as halftime and postgame analysis. Original post: Hurricanes players in today's 3 p.m. home game will be wearing military-themed uniforms (pictured left) in advance of
CanesvaVeterans Day, with game-worn jerseys and helmets then being auctioned off to benefit VA-related causes. (And by VA I mean Veterans Affairs, not Virginia!) The 5-3 Canes are modest 6-point faves over
Canesmilthe 3-5 Cavs and this most certainly is a should-win game, for two reasons that bob first to mind. One,
Virginia's pass defense is really bad, a boon for either questionable Brad Kaaya or Malik Rosier. Two, the road-kill Cavaliers have lost 13 away games in a row. But don't get too cocky, either, UM fans. Virginia has won four of its past five meetings with the Canes, and the Cavs just beat Georgia Tech, which beat FSU. This is the home debut for interim coach Larry Scott, who is 1-0 after the contentious Miracle at Duke and must make sure his troops are back to Earth with a concentrated effort after last week's emotion. (I wonder: Will there be "Fire Larry Scott" flyovers planned if UM is an upset loser today?) Miami gets bowl-eligible with a win. A decent bowl game is about Miami's best realistic ending this season. The ACC title game via a Coastal division crown is not yet out of play, but the Canes likely would have to win out to finish 9-3, and even that might not be enough unless Coastal-leading North Carolina stumbles at least twice. Anyway, let's not get ahead of ourselves. My pick: Hurricanes, 27-17.

Other college Week 10 state FBS games (all today, in chronology):

Western Kentucky 35, FAU 19: Credible road show by now 3-6 Owls against gods of Conference USA. 

Tulsa 45, UCF 30: (0-9): Sad Knights, now 0-10, see dwindling chances to avoid winless ignominy.

FIU 48, Charlotte 31: Nice home win has Ron Turner's Panthers 5-5 and on edge of bowl-bound after another productive day by QB Alex McGough.

No. 11 Florida 9, Vanderbilt 7: The win was hardly impressive but it gets the now 8-1 Gators into the SEC title game. UF's Grand Plan: Climbing up into College Football Playoff top four still is not out of the question if Gators can win out, because a one-loss SEC champion would be tough to exclude. But this narrow escape won't impress Condi Rice and the rest of the CFP committee.

No. 3 Clemson 23, No. 17 Florida State 13Clemson, sitting atop the first CFP ranking, climbs into SEC champ-game with this win, a hard-fought one that found underdog FSU in it and in it and in it, until it wasn't. Dalvin Cook was amazing. Wasn't enough. I tried to picture an upset win by FSU. Couldn't.

South Florida 22, East Carolina 17: Nice mini-road upset has Bulls 5-4, one win from bowl-eligibility.

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 02, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.7%; plus UM's (controversial) last-play miracle beats Duke; also, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), message from Society Against Fraudulent Pumpkins & more

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


1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 2. Happy new month! Hope y'all had a safe and fun Halloween. 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Pats with DSM poll, NFL Week 8 predix, Marlins and Mattingly, Heat begin, FAU's letter for Howard & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

On Loria hiring Mattingly: Click on Trusting The Hire for my latest Sunday column, on Marlins hiring Don Mattingly as their new manager -- which is being formally announced this morning. It seems like a good move. But, with Marlins, everything must be seen through the Loria Lens, which is sort of the opposite of rose-colored.

Hot Button Top 10: Scroll down to find our latest HB10 toward the bottom of this blogpost.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 82.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 82.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and Csm"somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 30-27 victory at Duke putting UM's season record at 5-3 overall and 2-2  in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, 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, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

Interpreting the latest results: An 82.7 percent approval, second-highest of the year, seems steep but reflects the euphoria of a wild, last-second, miracle kick-return TD to beat Clemson -- a play appreciated no less by Canes fans because it is controversial, with the ACC suspending the officiating crew. I think the high number also reflects most UM fans feeling good about the coaching change.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Next poll: Nov. 7 (following game vs. Virginia)

G8: HURRICANES 30, @ NO. 22 DUKE 27: MIRACLE WIN ENDS EMOTIONAL WEEK, BEGINS POST-GOLDEN ERA: Final thoughts: At least nine Canes touched the ball on a desperate, lateral-filled, miracle kickoff-return touchdown for a last-second 30-27 Miami victory -- a final-play that withstood an Miracleexcruciatingly long review by the officials. When anybody, anytime, compiles a list of most memorable plays in this program's history, this one will qualify. Wow. Shout-out to Artie Burns for the emotional fuel, playing so soon after the death of his mom. And to QB Malik Rosier, for a stout performance subbing for injured Brad Kaaya. And to interim-coach Larry Scott, miracle-winning his first game since the firing of Al Golden. This will get lost in the crazy win -- a win that keeps UM alive, however remotely, for the ACC Coastal Division crown -- but Miami somehow prevailed despite 23 penalties for 194 yards. Those are ridonkulous totals. That's lawlessness, an egregious lack of discipline. Nevertheless: Miracle win! Maybe it was for Al Golden. Maybe it was for Artie Burns. Maybe it was plain luck and maybe it wasn't. Whatever. Enjoy. ..... Halftime thoughts: QB Malik Rosier has been very good. The defense has been very good. And never underestimate the power of emotion, apparently. ..... Note: I'll be providing live score updates but not a live running commentary. However I'll be back with halftime and postgame observations. ..... Original post: After the week the Canes have had, this game had to be on Halloween night, right? Saturday's 7 p.m. roadie brings us full circle on one of the most tumultuous weeks in UM football history. Started with the stunning 58-0 home loss to Clemson that got Al Golden fired (and replaced Canesdukeby interim guy Larry Scott). QB Brad Kaaya's  concussion in that game will sideline him vs. CanespumpkinDuke. Canes also mourned for cornerback Artie Burns, whose mom died. A different UM player was arrested for domestic violence and suspended. Just a miserable week. A benevolent football god might give 4-3 UM the salve of an upset win here, but it doesn't seem likely against a 6-1, No. 22-ranked Duke squad that has won four in a row and is fighting for the ACC Coastal division crown that once was Miami's goal. Burns has said he plans to play despite his mother's passing, but I'm not sure that emotional lift will be enough. Kaaya's absence is huge. His backup, redshirt-freshman Malik Rosier, has struggled in limited action this season and looked lost vs. Clemson last week after replacing Kaaya. The betting line catapulted from 7 points favoring the Blue Devils to 13 as it became evident Kaaya would not play. Duke might also find itself emotionally drained, coming off last week's 45-43, four-overtime win at Virginia Tech. Miami has dominated this series, leading 10-2 including a 22-10 win last year, but this is a different, better Duke. With Kaaya augmenting the week's emotion, I'd have toyed with an outright upset. With Rosier, I just can't see it. My pick: Duke, 27-16.

Other college Week 9 state FBS games (in chronology; all Saturday):

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 21: No Dalvin Cook? No Everett Golson? No worries. 'Noles now 7-1 and still fighting to reach ACC title game. Cook should be healthy and back for the big Clemson game next week. Golson should be ready, too -- although the starting QB job may be Sean Maguire's now.

Cincinnati 52, UCF 7: No wonder coach George O'Leary resigned. The now 0-9 Knights might be the worst team in the country.

Navy 29, South Florida 17: Bulls drop to 4-4, see bowl hopes take broadside hit from a Navy ship.

No. 11 Florida 27, Georgia 3: World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party found Gators a scant 2-point fave but running away with it. Impressive. UF maintains hopes of reaching SEC title game. With rumors Georgia and coach Mark Richt might party ways after season, any Canes fans interested in Richt as Golden's possible eventual UM replacement was rooting for exactly what happened.

FAU 31, FIU 17: Told you a home FAU upset would not surprise in the Shula Bowl, and I was right. Owls now 2-6 in a lost season but this is a big blow to FIU's bowl hopes, at 4-5 now.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 1): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Al Golden firing to The Miracle at Duke in a wild, emotional week for UM: Embattled, unpopular coach Al Golden is fired after an unfathomable 58-0 home loss to Clemson. A concussion sidelines quarterback Brad Kaaya. A player’s mother dies. Another player is arrested and suspended. The poor Hurricanes, making so much news for so many sad reasons. Then, that last-play, eight-lateral miracle Saturday night and a 30-27 win at Duke. There is a football god. And, oh, by the way: Canes fans don't care if you or the ACC think it shouldn't have counted.

2. DOLPHINS: Loss at Patriots, Wake injury bring Fins back to Earth: Thud! That was the Dolphins falling back down to reality Thursday night, in New England, after back-to-back rousing wins had made an instant hero of their interim coach. And now sack-man Cameron Wake is lost for the season. On the bright side? Good seats at reduced rates are newly available on the Dan Campbell Bandwagon.

3. HEAT: Miami wins opener, but LeBron delivers reality check: Thud II! An impressive season-opening Heat home win and a big rally to beat Houston sandwiched a Friday night reminder from LeBron James and Cleveland of who’s still boss, at least for now, in the Eastern Conference. Miami’s one-man Swat Team, Hassan Whiteside, had six blocked shots in that game. (“One-man Swat Team.” That’s mine. Patent pending.) 

4. MARLINS: Fish introduce Don Don Mattingly as new manager: Former Yankees great Don Mattingly, who managed the Dodgers the past five years, is being introduced this morning as Miami’s new skipper. Which, given owner Jeffrey Loria’s track record, makes “Donnie Baseball” the Marlins’ latest future ex-manager. Not sure of the odds on how long he’ll last, but Loria’s impatience usually makes the “under” a safe bet.

5. BASEBALL: Royals win World Series 4-1 over Mets: Kansas City beat New York again last night to silence the ballpark in Flushing, N.Y. and clinch the Royals' championship since 1985. KC catcher Salvador Perez was named World Series MVP. That means he has earned baseball's most coveted title: Mr. Early-November!

6. PANTHERS: New and improved or same ol'? Still deciding...: After a strong start Florida has lost five of its past seven games entering a three-game road trip starting Wednesday. Cats are supposed to be better. Playoff-good. Let them prove it, OK?
 
7. UM HOOPS: "Soft opening" this week for Canes men: Jim Larranaga's guys host an exhibition game vs. Dowling this Wednesday night as they prepare to open the season Nov. 13. Free tickets to anybody who knows who or what "Dowling" is.

8. NASCAR: Gordon headed to storybook finish at Homestead?: As the Nov. 22 NASCAR season finale at Homestead looms, Jeff Gordon -- who is retiring after this season -- on Sunday earned one of four spots to win the season title. Can you say storybook ending? 

9. SHULA BOWL: FAU upsets visiting FIU in annual rivalry: FIU's hopes for a bowl invitation took a big hit in an upset loss at visiting FAU. I know you don't care, but I give a hoot.

10. HORSE RACING: Triple Crown champ Pharoah wins, retires: American Pharoah capped a magical season Saturday by winning the Breeders' Cup by 6 1/2 lengths, and then retiring. Pharoah reportedly will retire to Century Village and beat all the other retired horses in bingo.

Missing the cut: First College Football Playoff ranking due out Tuesday ... Gregg Popovich to replace Mike Krzyzewski as U.S. basketball coach. ... Major League Soccer playoffs ... Abby Wambach retires from U.S. women's soccer team ... Miami FC to play at FIU ... R.I.P., Flip Saunders. Second-greatest Flip after Wilson?

AN URGENT PLEA: STOP THE SCOURGE OF FAKE HALLOWEEN PUMPKINS!: We've all seen them. Your neighbor may have one. It's a beautifully carved pumpkin ... except it isn't. He didn't carve it. It isn't even a pumpkin! It's a machine "carved" fake, a fraudulent non-pumpkin probably made of plastic or, Fakesmore likely, some sort of a Styrofoam-ish conglomeration. The fake pumpkin is un-American, a national scourge, 
and must be stopped. The fakes, as seen at left, may be good enough for the shelves of Walmart or Target, but they are not good enough for the U.S.A., dammit. Reject the very idea. Respect Mother Earth. Buy a real pumpkin, grab a knife or two, get creative, carve it yourself and feel great. And when you run across a fraudulent non-pumpkin, do not be afraid to tell the lazy, corner-cutting homeowner -- but politely! -- that you wouldn't put a fake pumpkin out front any more than you'd serve a beautifully painted papier-mache turkey on Thanksgiving. Thanks for listening. I'm Greg Cote, founder, Society Against Fraudulent Pumpkins (SAFP).

Revisit the blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote