August 07, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what lands where in Miami sports as new week begins; plus Fins sign Cutler, my Sunday column on who's next for Hall of Fame, your verdicts on Dolphins/Hurricanes QB upheaval, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 7. Talked Jay Cutler and Jason Taylor on Paul Castronovo Show this morning. Always happy to be on with Paul. 2) Dolphins time! Know any die-hard Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our new book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill injury with what-next poll, who'll-be-Canes-starting-QB poll, anniversary of me singing 'Letting Go' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest Sunday column: What Miami stars are next for Hall of Fame?:  With Jason Taylor the latest member of the club, who's on deck among former or current South Florida pro-team sports stars? We explore the possibilities and odds. Click on Immortality Calling to read.

Latest Dolphins column: The case for Kaepernick: In wake of Thursday's Ryan Tannehill injury, Dolphins should consider Colin Kaepernick the best of available option. Click on Right Time, Right Quarterback for my column. 

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill knee injury casts pall, Fins sign Cutler: With Saturday's scrimmage in the books and the first exhibition game only three days away, this season will start just like the last one ended: With QB Ryan Tannehill out injured indefinitely, victim of that same left knee. The question was what to do next. The answer came Sunday with the 1-year, $10 million signing of ex-Bears QB Jay Cutler. Isn't it weird: How Tannehill looks better and better to fans vs. alternatives when he isn't there?

2. JASON TAYLOR: Miami's great No. 99 enters Canton: The Dolphins' great defensive end and career sacks leader Taylor stepped into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and into immortality as one of seven Class of '17 inductees Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. Reference to his having played at AKron, I loved his "20 years to go 20 miles" theme. Well done. Just wish his longtime running mate Zach Thomas could have gone in with him.

3. MARLINS: Fish back on road, chasing consolation of .500: Marlins are in midst of a seven-game road trip following a 5-2 homestand that drew the Fish within four games of a .500 record. Hey, with a playoff spot looking pretty hopeless, you reach for the nearest consolation prize available, right?

4. HURRICANES: UM crashes Top 20 in early preseason polls: The Canes entered at No. 18 in the preseason coaches' poll, and were 16th in the initial ESPN Power Rankings. Imagine how high they might rank if they had a proven starting quarterback or knew who that person would be!?

5. DAVID BECKHAM: Miami group wins league approval: Major League Soccer owners this week authorized moving forward on David Beckham's bid, with the league expected by September to officially announce a Miami expansion team for 2020. Golden shovels, please. Better get to breakin' ground on that stadium, Becks.

6. HEAT: Projected standings have Miami seventh in East: Spoiler alert! ESPN has projected the Heat will finish seventh in the Eastern Conference this season with 42.3 wins. That's mediocre. But it will be interesting to see how Miami manages to get that one-third of a win.

7. SOCCER: Neymar switches clubs in record deal: Rising soccer superstar Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain on a record transfer fee worth $263 million U.S. For that kind of money, he better have scored a hat track on the flight to France.

8. BASEBALL: Amazing Dodgers on historic run: Los Angeles is on a .709 clip this season and on a 43-7 run, the best 50-game stretch by any MLB team since 1912. And the Dodgers just acquired an ace-level starter in Yu Darvish. Which is like Bill Gates finding money. 

9. MIAMI FC: NASL club eliminated from U.S. Open Cup: Miami FC was eliminated at home 1-0 by Cincinnati of the USL in a disappointing finish to a sterling run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. Might we suggest an NASL championship as a decent consolation prize?

10. GOLF: Season's final men's major on deck: The PGA Championship, season's final major, begins this Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson the betting favorites. FORE! No, it's just those three, really.

Missing the HB10 cut: Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt in the 100 meters at the IAAF track & field world championships in London. In between doping bans, Gatlin is really good ..... Steph Curry shot 74 and missed the cut at a Web.com golf event. Maybe it was habit, but the king of the 3's was sinking too many 3-putt greens ..... Watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions last night. I think Kenny Easley is still talking. ..... Team World beat Team Africa in the annual NBA Africa Game. Geez, let the host continent win, already! ..... LaVar Ball has gone a few days without doing anything idiotic. Is he OK? ..... Heat dancer auditions on Sunday will send 40 young women on to a four-day boot camp. That seems really uncomfortable, dancing in boots ..... A softball team of 12-14 year-old girls from Mechanicsville, Va. was disqualified from a championship game for a Snapchat photo in which six girls were giving middle fingers to the team they'd just beaten. Ah, sportsmanship!

POLL RESULTS: KAEPERNICK, PERRY WIN YOUR SUPPORT FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: We called it "Quarterback Quandary X2," invited your opinion, and got it in a massive response. Dolphins: We asked, "If Ryan Tannehill is out injured, who would you prefer to be the Dolphins' starting quarterback to begin the 2017 season?" And you voted Colin Kaepernick 46.5 percent, Matt Moore 32.2%, Jay Cutler 17.8% and Robert Griffin III 3.5%. Kaepernick was up to about 58% before the race narrowed, but he still won comfortably. Hurricanes: We asked, "Which quarterback do you predict will emerge as the Miami Hurricanes' starter this season?" And you voted N'Kosi Perry 54.8 percent, Malik Rosier 31.6%, Evan Shirreffs 7.1% and "s

HOT BUTTON DAILY: MON 8-7-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Washington, 7:05 p.m.: Fish 7-game road trip visits NL East-leading Nats.

2. Dolphins practice, 8:45 a.m.: Turning page at QB as preseason opener nears.

3. Track world championships, 2 p.m.: IAAF track & field worlds continue in London.

4. Big3 basketball, 8 p.m.: Old-guy hoops tour moves to Lexington, Ky.

Select other recent columns -- The Uncommon Pressure On the Miami DolphinsHe Missed a Heck Of a GameBlockbuster Would Be Slumpbuster for RileyParoled But Not FreeDon't Hold Your BreathAn Ageless Wonder, Even In DefeatAll-Star Week Proves Miami's Baseball Potential as Loria Era EbbsThe Gentleman-Athlete Earned Our ThanksHeat Lose Twice On HaywardBam Is Due Benefit Of DoubtMake Fun of the Farce, But You'll WatchNo Parade In SightFall From Greatness And From GraceNFL's Moral ObligationThe Dolphins' Eight IfsHome Run For MiamiThe Jose Statue's Positive PurposeAn American TragedyHistory Breathes at UM Sports HallIs There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?Thank You, Mae RibackA Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports PastThe Miracle of Liberty CityThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 19, 2017

On Marlins statue for Jose Fernandez, and on proposed Dolphins trade for Richard Sherman. Two polls. Last day to vote!; plus Aaron Hernandez suicide, our tour of UM Sports Hall of Fame, Hot Button Daily (Wed) & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, April 19. Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NBA playoff preview/predictions, Jose Fernandez documentary, your verdict on if Heat season was success & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On UM Sports Hall of Fame, Erik Spoelstra: My latest columns: Not even most Hurricanes fans have visited the UM Sports Hall of Fame (which held its 49th annual induction banquet last night), but it's a treasure trove worth a visit. Click on History Breathes at UM Sports Hall for my latest column. Also, seldom has a .500 record and no playoffs felt better than this Heat season did. ICYMI,click on Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph for my latest Sunday column.

POLL I: A MARLINS STATUE FOR JOSE: APPROPRIATE? OR INAPPROPRIATE?: There are '16' uniform patches being worn by players this season. But those are small, and temporary, and sort of for-the-team personal. Now, it Josefernhas been confirmed in recent reports, the Marlins plan later this season to erect a permanent 10-foot bronze statue of the late star Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last September that killed two others. That's big, and public. This issue grew to complicated controversy by subsequent test results that indicated Fernandez was both behind the wheel that night and impaired by alcohol and cocaine -- that, in effect, he was responsible for his own death and those of two others. That, to many, casts a much different light on his legacy, and raises questions whether a statue is appropriate or not. Results were mixed recently when I asked about the uniform patches. Approval ran at 39.0 percent, disapproval at 32.4% and uncertainty at 28.6%. But a statue kicks the Marlins' honoring of Jose to a different, ultimate level. What do you think? Vote now:

POLL II: SHOULD DOLPHINS GIVE UP FIRST-ROUND PICK FOR RICHARD SHERMAN?: So says writer Bill Barnwell on ESPN.com. In an all-trades mock draft, he proposes that Miami gets RshermanSherman, the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback, 29, from Seattle and gives up this year's No. 22 overall pick, next year's fourth-rounder, and CB Byron Maxwell. Says Barnwell: "The Dolphins aren't exactly shy about going after players they value, and they would be getting a massive upgrade at arguably the weakest position on their roster by trading for a future Hall of Fame cornerback in Sherman. Miami doesn't have a ton of cap room, but by packaging Maxwell and saving $3.5 million as part of the trade, the Dolphins should be able to squeeze the Stanford product onto their roster. Maxwell improved dramatically as the season went on in 2016, and he would give the Seahawks some semblance of familiarity as they rebuild at cornerback." Me: First let's tap brakes on Sherman unequivocally being Canton-bound. He's clearly better than Maxwell, but the difference of a first-round pick? And Dolphins have so many other needs. It isn't an implausible deal, but I'd hesitate. Now, your turn:

AhernandezAARON HERNANDEZ HANGS HIMSELF IN JAIL: Hernandez, the former Florida Gator and New England Patriots tight end, left no suicide note  but authored the final chapter of his own American tragedy in hanging himself in his jail cell overnight. [Full story here]. He used a bedsheet. He was 27. Apart from loved ones, few will shed tears or mourn his loss, except to shake heads at the waste. Hernandez was serving a life sentence without the chance of parole for a 2013 murder when he was acquitted of an unrelated double-murder just days ago. Hernandez had a bright future in the NFL before throwing it all away. In three seasons with the Pats he caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 TDs. He was good. Few will lament his loss. For many, it won't be "R.I.P." but more likely Rest In Hell. But I feel badly for everybody here. For the victims of his temper and derangement. For his loved ones. and for Hernandez himself -- for the mental demons that led to what he let himself become. Ultimately, he has only himself to blame. It's still a shame from every angle.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / WED 4-19-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Three more first-round Game 2s, including Golden State in nightcap.

2. Marlins at Seattle, 3:40 p.m.: Fish close first series of nine-game road trip after near no-hitter.

3. UEFA quarterfinals, 2:45 p.m.: Second leg for AS Monaco-Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona-Juventus.

4. NHL playoffs, 7 p.m.: Four first-round Game 4s as St. Louis, Anaheim seek advance via sweeps.

5. FAU at Hurricanes, 6 p.m.: UM baseball (17-19) still scrambling to get on right side of .500.

Select other recent columns: Heat Fell Short, But Didn't Fail, off season-ending game. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Dolphins Draft Wish List, on candidates for Miami's No. 1 pick. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 06, 2017

Pats' monstrous Super Bowl rally tops updated Hot Button Top 10, also starring surging Heat, Jason Taylor, Canes; plus, debate "greatest," but not "winningest." Belichick will never surpass Shula for most career victories & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 6. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Taylor gets into Canton, predicting football Hall of Fame class, week's final Super Bowl With a Smirk & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

A Super Bowl to save a season: This has been a bad season for the NFL in general, but Falcons vs. Patriots in Super Bowl 51 is matchup capable of being spectacular and saving the season. Click on Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue to read my Sunday column previewing the game.

Patriots 31, Falcons 23: Click on Super Bowl Gem for my full prediction capsule on today's Super Bowl. (I got the score pretty close, If I do say so).

'GREATEST COACH' DEBATE MAY BE LOSING CAUSE, BUT SHULA HAS TWO DISTINCTIONS THAT REMAIN HIS ALONE: "Bill Belichick closing in on Don Shula!" somehow became a Donbillmanufactured subplot to this Super Bowl from a Miami perspective. I get it. It's easy. But it's also a false narrative, for two reasons. 1) "Greatest coach ever," alas, is a train that may have already left the station for Shula. The Dolphins' icon was 2-4 in Super Bowls. Belichick just won his fifth. I don't know that there are a lot of NFL scholars and historians who would not already give the greatest-ever nod to New England's guy. But! 2) The two great distinctions that will always keep Shula's name in the greatest-ever argument -- most career victories and only Perfect Season -- seem safely his. I laugh at the suggestion Belichick is a real threat to Shula's career mark of 347 overall victories. He would have to win at his current pace and still be coaching at age 72 to have a shot, and maintaining that current pace will be tougher indeed when Tom Brady (finally) retires presumably after one or two more years. The likelihood of Belichick winning and coaching long enough to surpass 347 wins seems roughly as likely as the odds another team will equal Miami's 1972 Perfect Season. Could happen, but wouldn't bet on it. History might already see Belichick as "greater," but the distinctions of "winningest" and perfection are safely with Shula.

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

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: Monstrous rally grows Patriots dynasty: Awful game much of the way, but Patriots made a thriller of Super Bowl 51, rallying from 21-0 and 28-3 holes to win in overtime, 34-28. Massive choke by the Falcons? Maybe. But Tom Brady had a little to do with that, no?

2. HEAT: Surging Miami seeks 11th straight tonight: Heat crushed visiting Philadelphia 125-102 Saturday night behind Hassan Whiteside's 30 points and 20 rebounds to win a 10th straight and now begins a four-game road trip tonight at Minnesota. Might disappoint lottery-minded fans, but eighth seed and playoffs are no longer out of reach for the way-hot Heat.

3. HURRICANES: UM football claims signing-day bounty: Miami loaded up on National Signing Day with a 24-man bounty that ESPN ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation. "We nailed it!" said Mark Richt … then again, so did every other college coach in America on signing day.

4. HALL OF FAME: Dolphins' Taylor among new inductees: LaDainian Tomlinson was a lock. Nobody else was. But ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor was among the seven who got in, along with Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley and Morten Andersen. Congrats, J.T. Now what about Zach Thomas.

5. PANTHERS: Barkov, Huberdeau back on the ice: Florida has reinforcements as it chases a playoff spot as young stars Sasha Barkov (out previous 15 games) and Jonathan Huberdeau (out all out season) returned from injuries Friday to spark Cat's third straight win. That's two fewer excuses for Cats to miss the playoffs.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women outshining men: UM men were only 3-5 since Jan. 1 before winning Friday, but Canes women are 17-5 and ranked 16th entering Monday game at No. 6 Florida State. Coach Katie Meier got her 300th career win. Adding a few more in March would be nice.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men beat Jamaica in friendly: After a scoreless draw vs. Serbia in Bruce Arena's debut as coach, the U.S. men beat Jamaica 1-0 Saturday night in Chattanooga. Now, it's what's next on the team's calendar that matters and will judge Arena: World Cup qualifying.

8. GOLF: Comeback short-lived, Tiger out again: He's out a year and a half with various back ailments, he comes back, and he can't finish the tournament, withdrawing with back spasms. Hate to say, but it may be time for Tiger Woods to call it quits.

9. BARKLEY-LEBRON: Basketball beef gets personal: Broadcaster Charles Barkley called LeBron James "whiny." LeBron shot back with a litany of bad stuff Chuck has done in the past. C'mon, kids. Play nice!

10. BASEBALL: It's just about here, folks: Miami Marlins hold their annual stadium FanFest next Saturday and Sunday, the precursor to when players negin to report for spring training. Ready or not, almost time to play ball!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 2017 FIVB world beach volleyball tours opens with the Fort Lauderdale Major beginning Tuesday, a five-star men's and women's event featuring Kerry Walsh Jennings and a bunch of people I've never heard of ..... Falcons QB Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP Saturday night. Correctly had a feeling Tom Brady would be lifting the more coveted hardware Sunday ..... Five days until Kevin Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City. Thunder fans already are practicing their booing in preparation ..... The Winter X Games have been going on. The question is, WHY!?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-6-17: What events on the Monday, Feb. 6 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Heat at Minnesota, 8 p.m.: Good shot at 11th straight win tonight at Timberwolves.

2. Hurricanes at Florida State, 7 p.m.: No. 16 UM women visit No. 6 Seminoles.

3. Um, pretty much nothing. Light post-Super Bowl Monday.

Select recent columns: Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue, the latest, previewing today's Super Bowl. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2017

Dolphins' Taylor elected to Hall of Fame! How I did on my Canton predictions; plus latest and Super Bowl With a Smirk, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, February 4. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me and Dwyane Wade and Twitter and wine, the fourth Super Bowl With a Smirk, our Falcons-Patriots SB prediction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

BREAKING: Jason Taylor voted into Canton: Ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Also elected" LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Morten Andersen, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. That's seven in all. How's I do on my predictions? (See below). Six of the guys I had with a 50 percent chance or better got in. I thought John Lynch and Terrell Owens would, but they didn't. I thought Andersen wouldn't make it, but he did. Overall, not too bad on my guesswork. My original post is below:

CantonCANTON CALLING: HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAME LIKELIHOOD FOR JASON TAYLOR, OTHER 17 FINALISTS: Pro Football Hall Fame does the Big Reveal tonight at 8 on Fox, and what's intriguing is that only RB LaDainian Tomlinson is an absolute, you'd-bet-your-life lock to get in. There is big, wide debate on whether the Dolphins' contender, DE Jason Taylor, is likely to make it or has no real shot. I rank the 15 finalists and three senior/contributor nominees by likelihood of induction, with my betting odds on each:

DEAD-CERTAIN LOCK:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (99% percent likely / 1-100 odds): Bet the house, the car and your entire family.

LIKELY:

QB Kurt Warner (75% / 1-2): God's will?

S Kenny Easley (70% / 1-2): Just watch. At least one Senior nominee has gotten in every year since 1997.

MAYBE:

S John Lynch (65% / 2-3): State of the art

Owner Jerry Jones (60% / 1-1): And Jimmy Johnson didn't make it to finalist round. Ouch. 

RB Terrell Davis (60% / 1-1): Fairly short career could hurt.

OT Joe Jacoby (60% / 1-1): Boss Hog.

WR Terrell Owens (60% / 1-1): Controversial. Media didn't like him. So what!

JtDE Jason Taylor (50% / 5-4): Most experts call him a longshot in first year of eligibility, but he's sixth all-time in sacks, returned more fumbles for TDs than anybody, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and is only pass rusher on the ballot, which helps. Don't be surprised if he gets in this time, or if he doesn't, but I absolutely think Taylor is a certain future Hall of Famer (eventually) and has a big chance right now time.

SLIM SHOT:

PK Morten Andersen (35% / 8-1): Punter Ray Guy remains only specialist/foot-man in Hall.

G Alan Faneca (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday.

OT Tony Boselli (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday II.

Coach Don Coryell (25% / 15-1): No Super Bowls, .572 win percentage. Meh.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (25% / 15-1): If he didn't get in immediately, probably never happen.

NEGLIGIBLE CHANCE:

WR Isaac Bruce (20% / 20-1): Big numbers, but Fort Lauderdale native and Dillard High alum spent much of pro career overshadowed on own team by Torry Holt.

C Kevin Mawae (15% / 25-1): Hall of Very Good. 

S Brian Dawkins (15% / 25-1): Hurts him that Lynch and Easley are both on ballot.

CB Ty Law (10% / 30-1): No ugly mustard-yellow jacket for you!

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: BIDDING ADIEU FOR WEEK WITH AGRODOLCE, TAYLOR SWIFT, 22 COWS, 1.7 MILLION POUNDS OF CHICKEN WINGS AND ONE ORANGUTAN: Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

SmirkYou know Super Bowl Week is winding down and the game is finally near when the official parties kick in.

The 26th annual Taste of the NFL, a "Party With a Purpose" fundraiser, happens Saturday night at the University of Houston with dishes by chefs representing every league city.

Featured on the tony menu this year: Atlanta’s Roasted Quail, Parsnips, Onion Soubise and Cranberry Agrodolce vs. New England’s Cavatelli, Housemade Sausage, Butternut Squash and Shaved Truffle Butter.

AgrodolceObvious edge there to Atlanta. I mean, who doesn’t love soubise and agrodolce!?

In case you wondered, Miami, last in a Super Bowl 32 years ago, will be represented on the menu by Stone Crab Bisque and Rum-Glazed Bacon with a Glaze of Dolfan Tears.

Let’s hope there is no controversy at Saturday’s Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was kicked out for intentionally deflating other chefs’ souffles.

(*) Maxim, Rolling Stone and Playboy will be among other major party hosts as a bevy of rented women and once-famous hip-hop stars make the rounds. Taylor Swift is hosting a "Super Saturday Night" party and can be expected to act all surprised to be there.

(*) Smirk culled through a stack of his exclusive A-list invites to celebrity soirees and chose to attend a Super Bowl party being hosted by the estranged second cousin of Gloria Estefan’s former gardener.

(*) Hall of Fame voters met Friday in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only absolute for Canton, but ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor has a good shot. Should we expect a Tweet from President Trump that the election was rigged?

Kmkey(*) Keegan-Michael Key (of Comedy Central’s "Key & Peele") hosts the NFL Honors awards show Saturday, with winners announced in 16 categories including league MVP — likely Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Could be a shutout for Dolphins, although Cam Wake has a shot at Comeback Player of the Year. Miami also is a finalist for the Kaepernick Cup for anthem kneeling.

(*) Fox, ESPN and NFL Network are girding for pregame shows that will last longer than the game itself. ESPN’s pregame will include a 13-minute segment on how Wilson footballs are made. No, seriously. What they might not tell you: all of the footballs to be used on Sunday required the hides of 22 cows, one of them a cherished doe-eyed Guernsey named Lulu.

(*) ESPN’s pregame also will feature a tribute to Chris Berman on his final major workday before the network shoves him unceremoniously into awkward semi-retirement.

Chicken(*) The National Chicken Council says the estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten on Sunday will weigh 1.7 million pounds or 300 times the combined weight of the 32 NFL teams, surprising analysts who were unaware there was a National Chicken Council.

(*) The annual NFL Foundation Super Bowl golf tournament was held Friday as dozens of former players drove the course loudly griping about their various ailments and lack of benefits.

(*) Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, has predicted a Falcons victory.

(*) There was a brawl on Sad, Sad Radio Row at the SB Media Center on Friday when producers for rival Bangor, Maine, radio stations got into a kickfight over first dibs on Patriots backup long-snapper Tug McGillicutty.

Madea(*) Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party in America is doing? As the Falcons and Patriots are lining up for the opening kickoff and the din of your guests reaches an excited pitch, abruptly switch the channel from the game to "A Madea Christmas" airing on BET.

Click Smirk I, Smirk II, Smirk III and Smirk IV for this week's previous Smirks.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-4-17: What events on the Saturday, Feb. 4 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami favored to bag its 10th straight win.

2. Hall of Fame announcement, 8 p.m.: Canton's big reveal could include Jason Taylor.

3. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 3 p.m.: UM men, 3-5 since start of year, seek spark.

4. Kentucky at Florida, 8:15 p.m.: No. 8 Wildcat men a big test for No. 24 Gators.

5. Cleveland at New York, 8:30: Because LeBron James at Carmelo Anthony is still a show.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2017

HERALD LEGEND EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: MY TRIBUTE COLUMN; plus Kiper's first '17 mock draft: Gator to Dolphins, no Kaaya; also, 2 Marlins (sort of) elected to Hall, Goodell is a coward, newest Back In My Day video, your verdict on Super Bowl matchup & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 19. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters today figuring out my NFL Championship Game picks. Gonna nail 'em. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- best-selling of all the Herald books -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Final Four poll, related Tannehill column, Radio Tuesday & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: Longtime former Miami Herald sports editor and columnist Edwin Pope died early this evening at age 88. My column on my mentor and friend: Thank You, Edwin.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism, other select recent columns: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, our latest column, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

JdavisGATORS LB JARRAD DAVIS TO DOLPHINS, SAYS KIPER: Mel Kiper's first 2017 Mock Draft for ESPN is out and he has Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis (pictured) going to Miami 22nd overall in first round. Sayeth Mel: "As a steady and reliable linebacker with a nose for the football, Davis' versatility stands out. He could play inside or outside linebacker at the next level, though he's not a guy who will get 10 sacks on the outside in a 3-4. He can be an every-down guy." I think Kiper is right on the position; LB a big need. He has two other Gators, cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, going 13th and 14 overall. He has one Seminole, running back Dalvin Cook, going 12th. Conspicuously, Kiper has zero Hurricanes going in first round. I tried to tell you to stay, Brad Kaaya, but did you listen? No! Another early Canes departure, tight end David Njoku, is much more likely than Kaaya to sneak into the first round. Click here for Mel's Mock 1.0.

TWO FORMER MARLINS PLAYERS MAKE HALL OF FAME: Nailed it! Raines, Bagwell and Pudge make the Hall of Fame. Raines and Pudge had (very brief, one-year) Marlins careers. Original post: There is little suspense to tonight's (or future) Baseball Hall of Fame announcements, thanks to Bagwellrainesbbhoftracker.com, which collects and publishes ballots that have been publicly revealed. As of today they had collected 233, or 55.2 percent -- including mine, Pudgewhich I revealed in this blog on Dec. 16. From the composite numbers we can state with certainty that, barring a shocking, aberrant swing in remaining votes, Tim Raines (running at 89.2 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (88.3%) will sail in easily above the needed 75% minimum. Some may recall Raines ended his career a Marlin in 2002. A third inductee very likely will be Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- a 2003 Marlin instrumental in the World Series championship -- now at 78.7%. Raines and Bagwell are pictured right and Rodriguez left. Those three likely will be the only inductees, although two others, Trevor Hoffman (72.5%) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%), are close enough that a late surge in voting, though unlikely, could yet sweep them into Cooperstown. My ballot included all five of the players mentioned so far. The vote totals so far of the other five on my ballot: Edgar Martinez 65.4, Barry Bonds 63.8, Roger Clemens 62.9%, Manny Ramirez 24.2 and Gary Sheffield 11.7. The faces of the Steroid Era, Bonds and Clemens, are seeing their totals rise gradually and I predict they'll get in someday. Not as sure about Martinez. Very surprised by Ramirez's low total. And I'm almost alone on Sheffield, I guess. Sorry, Sheff. Not gonna happen for you.

THE LIST: EX-MARLINS PLAYERS IN THE HALL OF FAME: Four future Hall of Famers have worn a Marlins uniform. The short list doubled yesterday, although all four men played only a brief portion of their careers in Miami. The sort-of Marlins in Cooperstown, ranked in order of the percentage of career games played with Marlins:

Player                        Games with Marlins        With Miami    Inducted

C Pudge Rodriguez      6.23% (161 of 2,583)      2003             2017

OF Andre Dawson       4.58% (121 of 2,642)      1995-96        2010

OF Tim Raines            3.86% (98 of 2,536)        2002              2017

C Mike Piazza             0.26% (5 of 1,944)          1998              2016 

GoodellROGER GOODELL, WHAT A COWARD!: The NFL commissioner needs to rethink his weekend plans, change his flight, and get his ass over to Foxborough on Sunday. He is hiding from New England Patriots fans, who loathe him over the whole Deflategate thing. He doesn't need to sit among them. He be encased high in a suite as always. But he needs to be there and take the reaction like a man. Instead he'll be in Atlanta for the second week in a row. I have defended Goodell at times, more than most in the media. But he's wrong on this. Weak, weak!

Poll result: Bring on a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, please: With NFL down to its final four, we asked which of four possible Super Bowl matchups you'd most want to watch, and it was Packers vs. Patriots on top with 41.8 percent. After that it was Packers-Steelers 25.7%, Falcons-Steelers 19.9%, and Falcons-Patriots 12.6%. combined team totals were: Packers 67.5%, Patriots 54.4%, Steelers 45.6% and Falcons 32.4%.

THE LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE DEATH OF THE CIRCUS: There's a few seconds of unrelated jibberish here before the BIMD kicks in. Warning: Animal-rights folks might want to muster whatever sense of humor they have before watching this:

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 21, 2016

The 4 Dolphins who may yet join Wake, Suh in Pro Bowl; plus my 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot revaled, college football players skipping bowl games (with poll), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 15 results & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- perfect for any Dolfan on your list and just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins rout Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Panthers president joins Army & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. The Gift Of Winning, the latest, on the Dolphins gifting their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

WakesuhON PRO BOWL DOLPHINS, SO-CALLED SNUBS AND WHO MIGHT STILL MAKE IT: Defensive end Cam Wake and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were elected to the Pro Bowl from Miami -- the only Fins so honored, both deserving, and neither a surprise. This is the real 44-man AFC and NFC PB roster. It will change. Several selected players will drop out and be replaced, but replacement guys always have that asterisk attached. They are the sort-of Pro Bowl'ers. The annual media chewing-over of so-called Pro Bowl "snubs" keeps mentioning Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (who made it last year) and running back Jay Ajayi, but the case for both is modest. Landry's 82 catches for 1,031 yards are top-five in the AFC but he has only three TD catches. Tough to claim Pro Bowl impact with three TDs. Ajayi's 1,007 yards rank sixth in the AFC, and he was the catalyst for the win streak that saved the season. Landry and Ajayi both should be among eventual replacement Pro Bowl guys. Two other possibilities as add-ons for Miami: Linebacker Kiko Alonso, of the 103 tackles and four fumble  recoveries, and cornerback Byron Maxwell, of the four forced fumbles, two picks and team-leading 15 passes defensed. Both have had productive seasons.

HERE'S MY 2016 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: Transparency is all the rage. Eventually the Hall of Fame, the Baseball Writers Association of America and other outlets will publish Mebbwaaeveryone's ballots, but here, for the first time, you can see mine. It's due by Dec. 31; mine will be in the mail (the BBWAA still does it old-school) today. This is my third year as a proud and diligent voter who takes the honor seriously. I could vote for up to 10 former players and I took full advantage. My 10, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Guerrero, Ramirez and Rodriguez were ballot "rookies," first-year eligibles, who got my vote. Raines was a bit of a sentimental nod; he's on his final try and I hope he makes it. Martinez was a close call. Sheffield probably has no shot but what the hell. Close misses for me included Curt Schilling and Mike Mussina. As for my including some "steroid guys," I no longer think that taint should be a lifetime sentence when it comes to exceptional cases (such as Bonds and Clemens) whose enormous careers were hardly reliant on PEDs. But I will continue to push for Cooperstown to include on its bronze plaques the warts and all -- including the cloud of PEDs and other extenuating circumstances that affected a former player's eventual election. Which reminds me: If Pete Rose were on the ballot, I'd have voted for him. And if there was a write-in space, I'd have written his name.

COLLEGE PLAYERS (AND COACHES) SHOULD FEEL OBLIGATION TO PARTICIPATE IN BOWL GAMES: Star running backs Christian McCaffrey of Stanford and Leonard Fournette of LSU (pictured) have decided Skippersto not play in their teams' bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft -- and are being widely applauded in the media. Ths is almost certain to become an annual trend that seriously weakens the bowls and college football's postseason. There is no preparation for the draft, of course. Don't have your picture taken wearing a gas-mask bong. There. That's your preparation. By prepare, these players mean avoid the risk of injury that might cost them draft stock and money. Even though the risk of injury is very small. Even though players live with that risk all the time and don't cower from it -- except when convenient to them. Do I blame these players for skipping their bowl games? Yes. It is selfish. They are putting themselves above their team. Their college season includes their bowl game. If you are healthy, you should play. [Update: Canes coach Mark Richt agrees with me. Yesterday he said, of players skipping bowls: "I think it's sad, personally. Until the season is over, you should be with your team." Fournette and McCaffrey are skipping the Citrus and Sun bowls, respectively. But what if it was Alabama's star players following suit and jeopardizing their team's national-championship chances. Would that be different? I don't just blame players. Coaches (and assistants) who take different jobs should fulfill their bowl obligations before leaving, such as Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who already has bolted for FAU. Am I wrong? Tell me in this poll.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 15 RESULTS: ROCKY WEEK FOR PREDIX, LOBOS IN THIRD-PLACE GAME: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Tough go. Went 10-6 straight-up (not terrible) but a rough 6-9-1 against the spread, with the tie a 3-pooinjt push by Oakland. We're still a very strong 30 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos went to 11-4 by beating Roy and will now face Sarah Spain for third-pace, while the radio show's championship game will be a heavyweight bout: Dan vs. Stugotz. Meanwhile the Lobos will name our MVL -- Most Valuable Lobo -- next week. Might have a poll and let you all decide who should wear the crown. #WeAreTheLobos
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes football: Who is team's 2016 MVP? 5 players, 2 coaches make poll. You pick top 3. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Champ Saturday in college football, Dolphins-Ravens and other NFL Week 13 picks, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

Dancingsign1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3. Caution, motorists: You have entered an area in which you are likely to encounter Fred Astaire-style dancers in the street. 2) Reminder: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your Cooperstown ballot with poll, six Canes in final SOPY Top 30, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, LeBatard video from 1989 game show & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

D-Wade beats LeBron. Twice: In a game that had to hurt the heart of Heat fans, Dwyane Wade's Bulls beat LeBron James' Cavaliers, 111-105, last night, though LeBron outscored Wade 27-24. Wade also won his World Series bet with James, who had to dress in a Cubs uniform before the game.

Tannehill's defining December, select other recent columns: Tannehill's Defining December, the new one, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. And Week 13 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. There's Hope For Us All.

UmmvpWHO WAS MIAMI HURRICANES' 2016 TEAM MVP IN FOOTBALL? (THAT'S MOST VALUABLE PERSON, NOT JUST PLAYER): Our seven-man ballot includes five players but also two coaches, and we invite you to vote for your top three (3). Nobody said life was easy. From the consensus of votes we'll name a team MVP -- Most Valuable Person -- with the regular-season done at 8-4 as the Canes and their fans await a bowl invitation. The poll is alphabetical. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

CHAMP SATURDAY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS CFP WAITS: Championship Saturday in college football: the crescendo that decides conference championships, sets the bowl schedule and determines which select four teams will make the College Football Playoff, which meets Sunday to set its two semifinal matchups. The Miami Hurricanes are likely to end up bowling in Jacksonville or Orlando vs. an SEC opponent, possibly Florida or Georgia. More important today, nationally: the top of the CFP ranking and how the final four will shake out. What's happening with the teams that have a chance for the final four:

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) beat No. 15 Florida, 54-16, SEC Championship: Nick Saban's Tide was a silly 24-point favorite and showed why.

No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) did not play: Buckeyes fine staying right where they're at to avoid Alabama in the semis.

No. 3 Clemson (12-1) beat No. 23 Virginia Tech, 42-35, ACC Championship: Might Clemson fall to No. 4?

No. 4 Washington (12-1) beat No. 8 Colorado, 41-10, Pac-12 Championship: Huskies stated emphatically that they belong.

No. 5 Michigan (10-2) did not play: After Washington's big win, Wolverines' only realistic prayer was a loss by Clemson.

No. 7 Penn State (11-2) beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 38-31, Big Ten Championship: Winner needed Clemson loss and luck to somehow climb into top four.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 13: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAVENS, REST OF NFL: We launch our Week 13 on the heel of an OK/solid 10-6 mark straight-up last week and 9- Fripix6-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began the new week with mixed results last night on our Vikings-over-Cowboys upset call. Dallas won, but we did have Minny with the points to put us a big 24 games above .500 ATS for the year. Click on Week 13 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Ravens, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the imperative that Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill be a December closer this time and deliver Miami to the playoff promised land. Click on Tannehill's Defining December to read.

Poll result: And your 2017 baseball Hall of Famers are...: We invited you to vote for the top five of the 13 finalists I presented, and your five "inductees" were: Barry Bonds 14.5 percent, Roger Clemens 13.0%, Pudge Rodriguez 10.9%, Manny Ramirez 9.1% and Jeff Bagwell 8.5%. Close were Curt Schilling 8.4%, Tim Raines 7.9%, Vladimir Guerrero 7.5% and Trevor Hoffman 7.2%. Far back were Mike Mussina 4.6%, Edgar Martinez 3.9%, Jorge Posada 3.8% and Magglio Ordonez 0.9%. Vote totals should be quintupled for an idea of the total percentage of ballots that included that player. By that standard, Bonds is the only player who would have come close by your votes to meeting the 75% standard for actual induction into Cooperstown by the BBWAA. I'm a voter, and will publish my picks in the blog closer to when they are due later this month.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 30, 2016

Here's your 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: 13 finalists, you pick the 5 who get in. Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus LeBatard on 1989 game show, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, final SOPY 'State Heisman' shows 6 Hurricanes in Top 30 & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30. See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results. They're buoyant! 2) The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat 49ers for sixth straight win with DSM poll, Florida Panthers stupidly fire coach, Canes bowl outlook, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Tannehill, other select recent columns: Click on They Dared Him to Throw, And Oh Did He for my Ryan Tannehill column off Sunday's Dolphins win. Also: Week 12 GemsFootball Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All.

COOPSYOUR 2017 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: There are 34 names on this year's official 2017 Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballot -- 19 first-timers and 15 back for another try. This is my third year as a voter and I take the task seriously as I weight voting for as many as 10 candidates prior to the Dec. 31 deadline. At least half of the guys on any given ballot have zero shot at Cooperstown and quickly fade away by not even getting the 5 percent of the vote required to be on the following year's ballot. I have winnowed the Hall of Fame ballot I offer you today by eliminating the no-shot guys and presenting only the ones who have a chance, ranging from likely to at least possible. This includes five newcomers (indicated by an asterisk (*) on the ballot), and the eight returners who garnered at least 40 percent of the vote a year ago. The magic 75% must be attained for induction. The finalists on our ballot are alphabetical. You may vote for the FIVE (5) you feel are most worthy of Cooperstown. I should emphasize my official ballot will not be based on or influenced by your vote, although certainly I'll be interested to compare our views. In a later blogpost I'll present to your my complete ballot and reasoning. For now, it's your turn. Vote for your top five and check back often to monitor evolving results.

VOTE FOR THE FIVE (5) MOST DESERVING OF COOPERSTOWN:

Sopy QfSOPY RANKINGS / SEASON FINAL: FLOWERS WINS 'STATE HEISMAN,' KAAYA 4TH, SIX CANES IN TOP 30: It was a rout. A runaway. The fifth season of our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings saw dual-threat South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (from Miami Jackson High) win the season crown going away. We end after the regular season and do not include conference championship games or bowl games so that all seven state FBS teams are on equal footing. Miami QB Brad Kaaya finishes in fourth place, among six Hurricanes (underlined below) placing in the final Top 30. The weekly rankings are cumulative and measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams played 12 games except the Florida Gators, with 11. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the Final 2016 SOPY Top 30, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY FINAL 2016 TOP 30:

RK    Player, Team-pos.                    Total

1      QUINTON FLOWERS, SOFLA-QB  2,917

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                 2,160

3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb         1,885

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb              1,636

5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb               1,530

6      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb              1,442

7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb             1,397 

8      Devin Singletary, FAU-rb           1,251

9      Alex McGough, FIU-qb              1,159.5

10     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb               1,157

11. McKenzie Milton UCF-qb 1,125; 12. Rodney Adams SoFla-rec 1,025; 13. Gregory Howell FAU-rb 953; 14. Kalib Woods FAU-rec 940; 15. Ahmmon Richards Miami-rec 886; 16. Travis Rudolph FSU-rec 849; 17. Tre'Quan Smith UCF-rec 838; 18. Jordan Scarlett Florida-rb 837; 19. D'Ernest Johnson SoFla-rb 786; 20. Stacy Coley Miami-rec 75721. Joe Yearby Miami-rb 700; 22. David Njoku Miami-rec 697; 23. Thomas Owens FIU-rec 695; 24. Luke Del Rio Florida-qb 684; 25. Anthony Jones FIU-rb 675; 26. Antonio Callaway Florida-rec 649; 27. Dontravious Wilson UCF-rb 595; 28. Adrian Killins UCF-rb 563; 29. Jawon Hamilton UCF-rb 561; 30. tie, Lamical Perine Florida-rb 535 and Jonnu Smith FIU-rec 535.

Week 13 best: Singletary FAU-rb 313. Season best week: Flowers SoFla-qb 371.5.

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

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (9-3); 2. Florida (8-3); 3. Miami (8-4); 4. South Florida (10-2); 5. UCF (6-6); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 12 RESULTS: SOLID ON PREDIX, LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Not worth bugling from a rooftop, but we were solid. Went 10-6 overall and 9-6-1 against the spread, including five underdogs-with-points. The tie was the Raiders pushing at minus-3. We're now a very solid 23 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos routed Chris' squad 104-59 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 9-3 after a Dolphin-esque sixth consecutive win. Drew Brees had a big 32 points and is making a serious push for MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) honors. We have only one week left before the start of the playoffs. Let's keep it honkin', 'Bos!

LEBATARD ON 1989 GAME SHOW: Below is a video of Dan LeBatard's appearance on the 1989 ESPN game show, Boardwalk and Baseball, hosted by Chris Berman, which he spoke about on the air today. LeBatard is pictured far right on the Miami team, college-aged, chubby faced, helmet haired, and saying absolutely nothing discernable. But I do like the repeated look of frustration as he narrowly misses pressing his buzzer in time.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 18, 2016

Hard Rock Stadium: Do Dolphins, Canes fans like the new name? Poll. Last day to vote and see results here; plus Marlins' slide, Hillary as Usain, Joy Taylor, your verdict on MLB's 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 18. If coaches took their cue from Donald Trump: "The only way we lose this game is if the other side cheats and the system is rigged." 2) We're No. 8! Florida is the eighth-freest state in the U.S., based on this new study factoring various data. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore' poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins-Giants PS1, Olympic tears, Heat schedule dissected, six days in November & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On newly christened Hard Rock Stadium: The name on the stadium doesn't matter, only the team in it does. Pro Player, Land Shark, Sun Life, now Hard Rock -- it's Dolphins stadium on Sundays, Hurricanes stadium on Saturdays, and up to us whether we choose to use the leased corporate name at all. Heck, it's still Joe Robbie Stadium to me! Call it what you will. What matters is that the Dolphins and Hurricanes win inside that place, whatever it's called. That's the theme of my latest column. Click on Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter to read in full.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: A-Rod to Fish Made Sense, on what might've been. Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars, on the Purgatory Four.  Result Won't Matter, But How Tannehill Looks In New Offense Will, as Dolphins opened preseason. The Weight Has Just Begun, inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Fins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits.

WHAT DO WE THINK OF HARD ROCK STADIUM AS THE LATEST NAME FOR THE HOUSE THAT JOE BUILT?: It's still Joe Robbie Stadium to me, at least in my heart, but, putting a positive spin Hrson it, I'd say Hard Rock Stadium at least is a better name (certainly more football-macho) than the previous three. I hate all corporate names, as careful readers know. In columns I avoid them when possible. I go with the generic, such as the Heat playing in "the downtown bayside arena." Why should I pimp for an airline? I hate the idea that companies spend big to fix their name onto where our teams play. Even worse is that we fans (and most sheep-like media) immediately fall in line and obediently start using the new paid-for-advertising. We don't have to, you know. They can't make us. Call it Joe's Place. Steve's Canopy. Dolphins Stadium. Canes Park. Whatever. You wanna hear Pavlov's bell and go with Hard Rock? Great. That's fine, too. Unless you're against gambling and therefore casinos, chances are there isn't a moral issue. Plus Hard Rock Stadium beats the pants off A) Pro Player, an ill-fated subsidiary of underwear giant Fruit of the Loom; B) Land Shark, a third-tier beer; or C) Sun Life, a Canadian financial company. So the progression has gone from underwear to beer to a foreign company peddling life insurance to casinos. Here's a thought. Make the Dolphins, who haven't won a playoff game since 2000, earn that Hard Rock designation. Given the tough situation the Fins are in and have put their fans in, until the team wins another playoff game, call if Rock & A Hard Place Stadium. I'm just having a little fun. What do you think of the new name? Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HillraceSUMMER OLYMPICS MEET PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Two of my favorite things to follow closely, both current, are presidential politics and the Summer Olympics, and so I loved and couldn't resist passing along this mashup "photo" somebody sent to me, with Hillary Clinton as Usain Bolt. Relax, Republicans and Trump-ets. The photoshop is merely reflecting the trend in public opinion polls, which of course are always subject to change. If the Donald takes over the lead in the national polls lead we'll certainly rejigger this to have The Donald's coif atop Bolt's winning body. Deal? The Olympics end Sunday. The ultimate race, the one for the White House, ends Nov. 8.

MARLINS: SLIP-SLIDIN' AWAY...: Perhaps it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy that when slugger Giancarlo Stanton was lost for the season with his latest injury, most wrote off the Marlins' chances of winning a wild-card playoff ticket. The Fish have now lost two in a row and five of their past seven to fall two games off wild-card pace. One team they are chasing, Pittsburgh, hosts Miami Friday through Sunday. Marlins need to take at least two of three to keep a grip on this thing.

Poll result: Strong Hall of Fame support for MLB's 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore': We asked if Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, and by nearly a 3-to-1 margin it was 51.5 percent saying yes to all four vs. 17.4 voting no to all four. Another 19.2% said yes to Rose but not the steroids guys, while 8.2% said yes to the 'roids guys but not Rose. The remaining 3.7% were undecided.

JoytaylorWELCOME TO THE BIG-TIME, JOY TAYLOR: Former Dolphin Jason Taylor's kid sister (pictured left, and I cannot explain that beam of orange light rising out of her head)) made a nice mark in South Florida as a 790 The Ticket radio morning co-host and since has landed nationally at Fox, where she'll soon be joining Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe on a still-unnamed FS1 morning show. With the big time comes increased attention, scrutiny and criticsim, of course, so it's no surprise awfulannouncing.com dug up some old Joy Tweets to produce this story under the headline, SKIP BAYLESS' NEW MODERATOR JOY TAYLOR ONCE CALLED HIM A 'STRAIGHT UP CARTOON' AND 'TROLL'. On the bright side, without question, Skip Bayless has been called much, much, much worse.

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January 08, 2016

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoff preview, picks, King Sport Awards; plus who-shoulda-made-Cooperstown poll (vote now!), Dolphins-next-coach verdict, Marlin Briscoe & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 8. Still saying "Happy New Year!"? Stop it. Window closed. Moratorium in effect. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Next-Dolphins-head-coach poll, Griffey/Piazza make Hall, Panthers' win streak in historical perspective, NFL Pix Week 17 results & more. 3) I cannot figure out the Miami Heat, and don't pretend to. Could be a No. 2 East seed. Might not make the playoffs. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Anybody recall Marlin Briscoe?: College Football Hall of Fame announced its 16-man 2016 induction class today and included one ex-Dolphin: Marlin Briscoe (Nebraska-Omaha, '67). Briscoe, now 70, lucked to play for Miami in glory years 1972-74, as backup WR who caught 57 passes for 858 yards, seven TDs.   

My baseball Hall of Fame column: Mike Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- suggests the stigma against steroids-era guys (convicted or rumored) is softening. Speculation alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my column.

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL WILD-CARD WEEKEND PLAYOFF PICKS: End of the NFL regular season means 20 not-good-enoughs fade away to their coach searches or their drawing boards while the Fripix12 "haves" advance to Super Bowl tournament starting this weekend with two Saturday AFC games and two NFC games Sunday. Welcome to Wild-Card Weekend, baby! Click on Wild-Card Gems for our four first-round playoffs picks, along with our regular-season results. This is the first time -- ever -- that all four home teams are betting underdogs (though Packers-Vikings is all but pick-'em). I predict wins for three road faves (Steelers, Seahawks, Packers) and one home 'dog. Yes, I do think the Texans will upset a Chiefs team that has won 10 straight games. Also, click on Playoff Preview, King Sport Awards for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with my ranking of the 12 playoff teams (Seattle is No.1) and includes my King Sporties (led by league MVP Cam Newton). I also note (bragadociously) that my preseason Super Bowl pick (Packers over Patriots) is alive with both dogs still in the hunt.

COOPERSTOWN: 'THE GRIFFEY 3,' MY BALLOT, YOUR VOTE: The Griffey 3: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame this week didn't seem to be as big a story as the three writers who did not vote for Griffey. He got a record 99.3 percent of the vote, named on 437 of 440 ballots, but now there is a hunger to identify and (and possibly tar 'n Bbhoffeather) the three miscreant voters. There are righteous media demands calls for "The Griffey 3" to step forward. I -- a Hall voter but not one of those three -- can explain, I think. Do not assume The Griffey 3 were either drunk, stupid or piss-ant anarchists. Here is the likely explanation: You can only vote for a maximum 10 players. What if you felt strongly 11 were deserving? You might exclude the one you knew would sail in without you (Griffey) in order to vote for the one who otherwise would have been excluded. I can all but guarantee that's what happened with The Griffey 3. My ballot: I've been a voter for three years. My latest ballot -- in addition to Griffey and Piazza -- included, alphabetically, Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Curt Schilling and Gary Sheffield. (See my column for more on my thought process on the steroids-linked guys). I strongly considered Edgar Martinez. Also, frankly, I have second-thoughts about not voting for Tim Raines. I believe I will next year. Voters, like you and like imperfect players, are only human. Except The Griffey 3. They're aliens. Your vote: On the ballot below I have included alphabetically the nine players who fell short but got at least 40 percent of the vote. Vote for the one, two or up to three you think are most deserving of Cooperstown.

POLL RESULT: M.SHULA, COUGHLIN, SHANAHAN DOMINATE VOTING FOR NEXT DOLPHINS COACH: We had 12 candidates in our poll and Mike Shula, Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan combined for some 52 percent of the votes -- and there were a lot of those. More than 11,000 of you voted (you still may), and I thank you. When the hanging chads settled, it was Shula (18.1 percent) ultimately narrowly Mikeshula Tomcoughlin Mikeshanahanedging Coughlin (17.8%) for the top spot, with Mike Shanahan (16.0%) a close third. (Shula, Coughlin and Shanahan are pictured, left to right). Clearly, you either want to trust the bloodlines with Shula, or you want veteran experience with past Super Bowl champions Coughlin and Shanahan. Rounding out the top five, also in double digits, were Hue Jackson (11.6%) and Josh McDaniels (10.2%). Supporters of Miami interim coach Dan Campbell should be disappointed; he polled only 7.5% for sixth place. Then came Adam Gase at 6.7, Mike Smith 4.2, Doug Marrone 3.5 and Matt Patricia 3.3. Note, poll was posted before the Tampa Bay Bucs fired Lovie Smith, whom we might have included. There were two others on the ballot, but if the Dolphins hire Teryl Austin (0.9) or Anthony Lynn (0.2), they'd need to show up at the introductory press conference with a Hello My Name Is tag, and owner Stephen Ross would need to walk in with an asbestos suit.

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

Twitter @gregcote