January 15, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A No. 1 that hasn't been there for awhile, and what else falls where; plus how we did on our NFL playoff picks, latest troika of columns & more

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

Mlk1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 15. It  is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America and I wold dare say that, these days, his life's mission and fight for racial equality is a a cause as vital as ever, and worth supporting and carrying forward against insidious resistance. 2) Whoa, Nellie! R.I.P., Keith Jackson, gone at 89. 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks, The List: Dolphins 1st-round picks ranked top to bottom, your verdict on Fins moving past Tannehill, Alabama's recent run in perspective & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our week's troika of latest columns: Call him Sasha. Call him Barky. Call him the future, the best hope for leading the Panthers back to relevance; click And Barkov Shall Lead Them to read. On the surreal reappearance of Tonya Harding; click No Way to Escape Her Shame. And on the Dolphins moving beyond Ryan Tannehill; click Are the Fins Feeling Bold?

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

Hot1. HEAT: Sizzlin' Heat win 7th in a row!: Dion Waiters may be done for the year, but without him Miami has won a season-high seven games in a row after Sunday's home win over Milwaukee. As a five-game road trip begins today at Chicago the Heat has climbed to fourth in the East -- and closing in on third-place Cleveland. Heat is now 55-28 the last half of last season and first half of this one. Um, can we start the playoffs now?
 
2. NFL: It's Patriots-Jaguars, Eagles-Vikings for AFC, NFC crowns: Two wild games Sunday -- Jags over Steelers 45-42 and Vikes over Saints 29-24 on a miracle finish -- completed the Divisional Round playoffs and set New-England-Jacksonville and Philadelphia-Minnesota as the two games that will be play-ins for the Super Bowl. So, yes, three of the last four QB standing are Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles. Meantime the Dolphins' contribution to the NFL conversation the past week was disgraced former assistant Chris Foerster admitting he'd done cocaine a week straight at the time of that leaked video. Line coach, indeed!
 
3. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men host Duke in big ACC test: No. 18 Miami hosts Mike Krzyzewski's No. 7 Duke Blue Devils Monday night in a game that will help shape the Atlantic Coast Conference race as March Madness draws ever nearer. Duke is 15-2 and Miami 13-3, but both already have two losses in ACC play. Duke once owned this series but Miami is 5-3 vs. the Diablos Azul ever since Jim Larranaga took over as coach in 2011-12 -- including two straight UM wins in the Gables.
 
4. PANTHERS: Week to celebrate young, old as Cats chase playoffs: Fans are thrilled that rising star and team centerpiece Aleksander "Sasha" Barkov will rep Florida in the NHL All-Star Game later this month. Meantime as play resumes this coming Friday the Panthers will honor Wayne Huizenga, 80, the franchise's founding owner. One man is the main reason the team is here. The man is the main reason there is hope for its future.
 
5. TENNIS: Australian Open opens with Venus 1st major upset: Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Romania's Simona Halep are the No. 1 men's and women's seeds as the year's first tennis Grand Slam event got underway in Melbourne. Halep, 26, is most known for having breast-reduction surgery but is yet to win her first major. So it's "Win Or Bust"? Meanwhile Venus Williams was upset on Day 1 as American women went 0-for-8.
 
6. GOLF: PGA Tour event in midst of missile-attack false alarm: The low-watt Sony Open was going on in Honolulu Saturday when when the (erroneous) news broke a ballistic missile was headed to Hawaii. Tournament leader Tom Hoge never got the text. He was entranced watching college basketball in his hotel room. 
 
7. BASEBALL: Strong get stronger as Astros get Cole: The reigning World Series champ Houston Astros added Pirates ace Gerrit Cole in a five-player trade Saturday. If all the other teams just conceded the 2018 crown to the Astros, imagine how much would be save in travel expenses?
 

8. BROADCASTING: Icon Keith Jackson dies at 89: The man who brought homespun charm to college football for decades has lapsed to memory. Farewell, Mr. Jackson, and R.I.P. I'm sure it won't but wouldn't it be perfect if his tombstone read: Whoa, Nellie!

9. OLYMPICS: New 'I, Tonya' movie resurrects 1994 skating scandal: Tonya Harding's goons clubbed rival Nancy  Kerrigan's knee 24 years ago, and now Harding is doing the promotional tour for the new movie that seeks to reboot her in a sympathetic way. You can't outrun your shame, sad Tonya.

10. MARLINS: Spring training now one month away: With the decimated Fish opening spring training Feb. 14, Starlin Castro has become the latest player to want out as new owner Derek Jeter severely cuts the player payroll. If only Marlins could demand to be traded.

Missing the HB10 cut: LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball were held scoreless in their second pro game in Lithuania. Ain't it great! ..... The Cavaliers slump has LeBron James beside himself. Ain't it even greater! ..... They're still partying in Tuscaloosa. Wait. They're always partying in Tuscaloosa ..... U.S. Army is contesting the NHL Las Vegas team's Golden Knights nickname. If Army paratroopers start dropping on the arena, then be worried ..... Headline: 'UFC is headed to Russia for first time ever'. My reaction: UM, can they stay there, please? ..... Dolphins hosted the 7th annual Dade vs. Broward football high-school All-Star Game, won by Dade. Many of the competing players will emulate their Dolphins heroes by also going on to pro careers that rarely ever end up in the playoffs.

FripixRESULTS ON OUR NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: We missed both of Sunday's games straight-up (thanks Marcus Williams!), but had better fortune against the spread. Had Jags with the points at Pittsburgh, and Vikes by five was a push. For the round we were 1-3 straight-up and 2-1-1 ATS. On Saturday, we owned the Patriots' 35-14 win, calling it 31-13, but saw the favored Falcons taking care of business and blew that one. I thought the two AFC games were pretty simple, clear-cut picks, but the two NFC games I wrestled with. Divisional-Round Gems for all our second-round pick as the Super Bowl Tournament continues now with the Final Four -- King Sport-style.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2018

Time for Dolphins to think beyond Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus giving the devil (Nick Saban) his due, Heat still out front in Miami pro sports & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy wedding anniversary to my wonderful wife! I'd do it all again. 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Alabama-Georgia twin polls, Hot Button Top 10, NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, your verdict on 2017's biggest national story & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest Sunday column.

TannyIS THIS THE YEAR FOR DOLPHINS TO LOOK BEYOND TANNEHILL?: I explore the question in my latest column and propose the answer may be yes, with an upcoming quarterback-rich April draft offering five QBs who could go in the first round -- three of whom may be available to Miami. Click on Are the Fins Feeling Bold? to read the column in full. Southern Cal’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen will go way too high for Miami picking 11th. But, from the column: "The Dolphins could have a choice among Wyoming’s Josh Allen, of the ideal physique, or either of the past two Heisman Trophy winners in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. I have seen all three mock-drafted in the overall top 10 but also lower. If Miami has a chance at one of them and a conviction he could be a long-term difference-maker now or in a year, grab him. The upside would be worth the risk. Then you would have the choice of sticking with Tannehill another season as a bridge while the new guy develops, or exploring Tannehill’s trade value, which I think could be worth a second-round pick to the right buyer." The key is a conviction on an available guy. You don't draft a QB just to do it. But with Tannehill turning 30 in training camp and coming off major knee surgery, this may be the offseason and the draft to start thinking beyond him. Agree or no? Take a dip in our poll:

NickkingGIVE THE DEVIL (NICK SABAN) HIS DUE: We all hate Nick Saban. Well, OK, to be fair, most of college football fans outside of Tuscaloosa and environs hate Nick Saban. Alabama fans are celebrating that, after last night's 26-23 College Football Playoff championship win over Georgia brought Saban his sixth national crown and fifth in the past nine years to the Crimson Tide, tying Paul "Bear" Bryant, Saban is now a deity in league with The Houndstooth Hat himself. So why do we hate Saban? South Florida has a special reason for the way he left the Dolphins after saying he would not. But I think most of us hate Saban for the same reason we hate Bill Belichick. Some form of jealousy. We wish our team had him. Not only did Saban with his sixth national title last night, he did it with a masterful coaching decision that might have backfired ... but didn't. He replaced his starting quarterback with little-known Tua Tagovailoa and it worked masterfully, right down to that gorgeous game-winning TD pass in overtime -- one play afgter the raw QB had taken about a 30-yard sack. Saban's decision won the game, won the season. All hail the king we hate to crown! Oh and by the way, 13-0 UCF can call itself the real national champion all it wants. The argument is good for college football. The CFP has not ended the annual debate, and that's fine. Last night made it clear, though. Alabama is deserving of No. 1. And, love him or otherwise, Nick Saban is a sideline god.

Poll result: You thought 'Bama would win, but wanted Georgia: We asked, in this blog and on Twitter, who you thought would win last night and who you wanted to win. You predicted Alabama would win (69.01% blog, 60% Twitter), but wanted Georgia (77,78% blog, 78% Twitter).

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2018

Alabama-Georgia in CFP final: Who WILL win and who do you WANT to win? Two new polls. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of '17, my NFL playoff pick-results, new Sunday column (Heat) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 8. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-Miami-sports-story-of-year poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, NFL playoff picks & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday column: Heat still out front. A state-of on Miami's four pro teams: The Heat are out front largely because the Dolphins, Panthers and Marlins all are in a transitional flux, at a crossroads, looking for a way. Click Will Somebody Please Rise Up for my latest column on the state of South Florida Big Four pro teams as 2018 unfurls.

FripixNFL Wild-Card Weekend pick results: We nailed the Falcons' upset win: We hit a bulls-eye on the Falcons' big upset of the Rams. Overall we went 3-1 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the first round, including Panthers-with-points vs. Saints. Click Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all our first-round picks as the Super Bowl Tournament began.

AlagacfpCFP CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: WHO WILL WIN, AND WHO YOU WANT TO WIN: Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Georgia Bulldogs tonight in Atlanta in the College Football Playoff championship game. Two polls here. First asks which team you think WILL win -- who you'd place a bet on straight-up. The second poll asks you you WANT to win -- where your rotting interest lies. Take a dip in both polls now!

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. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.
 
2. NFL: Four pretenders out, eight teams left as Super Bowl Tournament begins: Sayonara, Chiefs, Bills, Panthers and Rams. Nice barely knowin' ya. NFL playoffs are down to eight. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, off a playoff bye, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

3. HEAT: Miami climbing in East standings: Heat has won four straight with Sunday's home win over Utah and risen to fifth in East, now only 1/2 game from fourth place. A now-reasonable goal: Host a first-round playoff series.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes win to open three-game Litmus test: Canes' men's team started 10-0 and highly ranked then slumped. What are they trying to mimic the UM football team? (Ouch. Too soon?) But Jim Larranaga's guys are back on track at 13-2 after Sunday's big win over No. 24 Florida State. Two more ranked foes await in No. 25 Clemson and then home vs. No. 2 Duke.
 
5. DOLPHINS: Problem solved! Fins hire new offensive coordinator: The disappointing 6-10 Dolphins and coach Adam Gase demoted offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen after averaging only 17.6 points per game to rank 28th in the NFL. They replaced him with Dowell Loggains, whom the Bears just dismissed after Chicago averaged 16.5 points, ranking 29th. Well alrighty then!
 
6. MARLINS: Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' now underway: Derek Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' is his plan to reboot the now-decimated Marlins. It sees a spike in player payroll starting in 2021. Meantime, the carnivorous wolverine has disemboweled Marlins fans and turned their optimism to bloody entrails.

7. PANTHERS: Cats can't capitalize on streak: Sunday's loss made it three L's in a row after a five-game winning streak for Florida, which still lags seven points off playoff pace right at midseason. Check Lost & Found. The map to the postseason seems to have been  misplaced.

8. JON GRUDEN: He's back on the sideline with Raiders: Gruden is transmogrifying from the ESPN football booth back to Chucky, the sideline maniac, taking over the Oakland (soon Las Vegas) Raiders on a 10-year deal. So Redskins coach Jay is now not even the NFL's best Gruden.

9. WINTER OLYMPICS: U.S. names women's figure skating team: USA named its three-woman figure skating team for the upcoming South Korea Games. Somewhere, Dick Button is beside himself with excitement. 

10. RICKY WILLIAMS: Ex-Fin plans smoke-filled Super Bowl party: Former Dolphins running back and confirmed pothead Ricky Williams is hosting a "cannabis-friendly" Super Bowl party in Miami. The star of the event? Snacks! Mmm, lots of snacks to feed those munchies!

Missing the HB10 cut: Australian Open starts next week, and both Andry Murray (injury) and Serena Williams (baby) are out. Although Serena could play with the infant on her back in a papoose and still win the women's side ..... Paul Pierce says the Celtics' tribute to Isaiah Thomas should not be same night as his jersey retirement. Petty much? ..... ESPN fired NFL analysts Eric Davis and Donovan McNabb over a sexual abuse claim. Rough year for the Worldwide Leader ..... The Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) leads the Akron Anomaly (LeBron James) in early NBA all-star voting ..... The Bills sent 1,440 chicken wings to the Bengals as a thank-your for beating the Ravens to assure Buffalo made the playoffs? Shouldn't Miami at least get some celery and blue cheese? ..... NFL ratings were down 9.7 percent this season. In an unrelated story, it is estimated 9.7% of players took part in protests during the anthem ..... UM baseball began preseason practice an the final season of Jim Morris. Omaha or bust? Heck, NCAA Regional or bust! ..... USA Today speculated the Dolphins as a possible landing spot for Tom Brady should the Patriots dynasty come apart. Hmm. Is wishing and hoping for a QB who'll be 41 next season not its own form of sadness?

ToumPOLL RESULT: TURNOVER CHAIN-FUELED CANES FOOTBALL RESURGENCE THE NO. 1 BIGGEST MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2017: We asked what was the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017, gave you 18 choices and allowed you six votes. More than 2,500 votes poured in. A six-vote ballot means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent and you'd multiply the percent total times six for any idea how often that story was included on ballots. That's IF everyone used all six votes. The fact the No. 1-voted story was off-the-grid-high suggests an organized effort by Canes fans who voted only for that story. In effect, UM fans hijacked the poll. But that's OK. All good. I should note that prior to the sharp spike we detected, UM's resurgence still was running No. 1, although by a much narrower margin over the Stanton/Jeter story. Your results on the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2017:

  1. Turnover Chain-fueled Hurricanes achieve 1st 10-win season, 1st Orange Bowl in 14 years--31.32%
  2. Giancarlo Stanton traded after 59-HR year as new owner Derek Jeter begins Marlins reboot--12.71%
  3. Jason Taylor, Dolphins icon, inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame--8.60%
  4. Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc with start of football season--7.09%
  5. Dolphins O-line coach Chris Foerster resigns after video shows him snorting white powder--6.67%
  6. Edwin Pope, Miami Herald Sports legend, dies--5.39%
  7. Jay Cutler signed by Dolphins after Ryan Tannehill's season-erasing injury--5.23%
  8. Hurricanes baseball sees end of 44-year streak of consecutive NCAA playoff appearances--4.96%
  9. Miami hosts MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby for first time--4.42%
  10. Nick Buoniconti, Jim Kiick reveal football related brain-trauma woes to Sports Illustrated--2.60%
The rest: 11. UM men's basketball implicated in FBI probe of recruiting corruption--2.44%; 12. Heat misses playoffs despite 30-11 second half, fails to land free-agent target Gordon Hayward--2.40%; 13. Soccer's El Clasico, Barcelona-Real Madrid, plays Miami--1.78%; 14. Miami Open tennis sets move from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium--1.67%; 15. Homestead hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s last race in NASCAR finale--1.05%; 16. Ferdie Pacheco, The Fight Doctor, dies--0.70%; 17. Felo Ramirez, baseball broadcasting icon, dies--0.54%; 18. Gulfstream hosts first Pegasus World Cup, richest-ever horse race--0.43%.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 06, 2018

Last day to vote! What was Miami/South Florida's biggest sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Our 18 finalists, you pick top 6. Vote now; plus your biggest-national-story verdict, our NFL playoff picks & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 6. A happy birthday to Dolphins icon Don Shula, who turned 88 Thursday. Here's to many more! 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual national-sports-story-of-the year poll, final SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Mae Riback & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2017?We had it easy in 2016 with three stories that clearly stood out above the rest, although two made us sad. You voted the Miami17tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest story of the year, followed by the Dolphins ending their eight-year playoff drought and then Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat. Nothing else was close. But is anything as clear-cut for for 2017? We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (with results below). Now we invite you to select the 2017 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a randomly presented top 18 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

Deciphering a 6-vote poll: A six-vote poll means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent if every participant voted the max six times. Any vote above 16.67 means some voted only for that story. Multiply the percents above times six for an idea how often that story is being included on the consensus top-six ballot.

NFL player protests voted biggest 2017 national story: We asked what was the biggest national sports story of 2017, gave you The Associated Press Top 10 in jumbled order, and allowed you to vote for your top three. That means the highest vote total possible would be 33.3 percent if every participant used all three votes. Triple the percentages below for an idea how often that story was included in the consensus of top threes. Your results:

1. NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump--20.14

2. Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey--19.72

3. Patriots, in year of Tom Brady suspension, stage record rally to win Super Bowl--14.31

The rest: U.S., Italy fail to qualify for men's World Cup--12.21%; Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather--9.03%; Clemson rally beats Alabama for college football title--8.06%; College basketball investigated by FBI over recruiting corruption--5.69%; Golden State led by Kevin Durant wins NBA Finals--4.17%; USA Gymnastics rocked by sex-abuse scandal involving team doctor--3.75%; Russia banned from upcoming Winter Olympics over doping--2.92%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 02, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7% final season approval; plus Happy New Year!, Fins fall in finale 22-16 to end season 6-10, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Hny1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 1. HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be a great one for you and everyone you love. Need one more gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) I was honored during Saturday's Orange Bowl game with the 2017 OB Edwin Pope Media Award. Click HERE for the story. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose Orange Bowl to Wisconsin with CSM poll, thank you OB Committee & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My UM-Wisconsin Orange Bowl column, CSM vote in: Click HERE for my game column from stadium on Saturday night's 34-24 Canes loss to Wisconsin in 84th Orange Bowl. See previous blogpost for results in latest and season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

Season-ending DSM poll online, too: Click HERE to read our postgame thoughts and to vote online.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest and season-ending installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 22-16 Dolphins home loss vs. the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism — all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested you give added weight to the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results

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

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)

G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)

G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)

G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)

G9: .5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)

G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)

G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)

G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)

G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)

G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)

G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)

G16/season final: 7.7% (following 22-16 loss vs. Buffalo)

Yearly DSM Results: 2017--7.7% (following 6-10 season); 2016--76.2% (following 10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G16: BUFFALO AT DOLPHINS: MIAMI TRYING TO END A ROTTEN YEAR WITH A FORCED SMILE: Click HERE for our postgame thoughts ..... Original postNine of the 12 NFL playoff tickets have been punched entering this final all-Sunday weekend of the regular season, and six teams remain alive for the remaining three spots. Alas, the Dolphins are not among the halves, relegated instead to the dubious incentive of trying to avoid what Bufmiawould be only the franchise’s seventh 10-loss season since 1970. Another sad, better-than-nothing incentive: The 6-9 Fins playing spoiler in the 4:25 CBS game to 8-7 Buffalo’s (faint) hopes. To reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999 the Bills must beat Miami and either have the Ravens lose or have the Chargers and Titans both lose. Got that? How fitting the Dolphins would find themselves positioned as spoilers. The entire season has looked, felt and smelled spoiled. Rotten. It was back to mediocrity, as if the aberration of last year’s playoff season never even really happened. Give coach Adam Gase credit for not sugar-coating, as when he said Thursday, simply (and accurately): “Nobody has done anything great. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” Sunday almost certainly will mark the farewell appearance for quarterback Jay Cutler, the pricey one-year rental who, like the entire team, had too few solid performances interspersed amid the prevailing erratic underperforming. Buffs beat Fins 24-16 only two weeks ago. With little cause but a hunch, I see Miami, a 2 1/2-point underdog, finishing strong with a home upset over a Bills squad that is only 2-5 away. So Miami continues the long Bison playoff drought, at least. Hey, it’s better than nothing … albeit barely. My pick: Dolphins, 23-17. [Click Week 17 Gems for all our season-ending NFL picks].

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM ends year of progress with loss in hometown Orange Bowl game: Tenth-ranked Canes were home underdogs to No. 6 Wisconsin Saturday in the 84th Orange Bowl game and fell 34-24. Three straight losses ended UM's year, but a first 10-win season and first OB invite since 2003 made it a season of progress toward the destination: Back. (Click HERE for our column from the game).
 
2. COLLEGE PLAYOFF: Last four in CFP semifinals on Monday: It's No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl today and then No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar in College Football Playoff play-ins to reach the championship game. Oddly, both lower-seeded teams are slight betting favorites. College fans at least can agree on this: Everybody outside of Tuscaloosa hates Nick Saban.  
 
3. DOLPHINS: For Fins, a season of regression mercifully expires: Miami hosted the Buffalo Bills Sunday to wrap up a disappointing, injury-wracked, no-playoffs season with a 22-16 defeat. The good news, Dolfans? It very likely was the last time in a Fins uniform for the $10 million rental with the bargain-bin results, Jay Cutler. 
 
4. HEAT: Miami warms up, gets on playoff pace: It's still early, yeah, but Heat as of today are on playoff pace as the eighth East seed -- and only 1 1/2 games from being the fourth seed, which would mean home-court advantage in the first round. Hey, in the post-Big 3 era, you seize optimism when you can.
 
5. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of life: The Florida Panthers, who'd struggled most of the season, have won a season-best five straight games entering a five-game road trip starting Tuesday. Previous long win streak had been two. Aberration? Or start of a happy new year?
 
6. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish shopping Yelich, Realmuto: Miami reportedly is "listening" to offers for left fielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto in new owner Derek Jeter's apparent continuing effort to do the impossible and make us all miss Jeffrey Loria.
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men win ACC opener: No. 15 Miami men improved to 12-1 with a 67-53 win at Pitt in their ACC opener. Meanwhile the 10-3 Canes women had won five straight entering Sunday's home day with Duke. 
 
8. NFL: Black Sunday for coaches: As NFL regular season ends today, segueing to playoffs, a handful of head coaches likely are working their final games. Meanwhile reports are the Oakland Raiders are trying to lure Jon Gruden from the comfort of the broadcast booth with partial ownership. He's gone.

9. BASEBALL: Astros' Altuve named Athlete of Year: Associated Press named champion Astros star Jose Altuve its male athlete of year. The best news in that? Runnerup Tom Brady and third place LeBron James lost at something.   

10. TENNIS: Serena makes her comeback, sort of: Serena Williams played her first match since her pregnancy and having a baby girl, losing in an exhibition. I mean, that had to be tough, holding a racket in one hand and a nursing baby in the other!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cris Cyborg beat Holly Holm to retain her title in UFC 219, challenging us to again take seriously an athlete who answer to "Cyborg" ..... Herald sports columnist Greg Cote (hey, wait, that's me!) won the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award. The previous sentence was completely gratuitous. But it is my damned blog, after all.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

1aa1adsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 5.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 5.7 percent overall  approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 29-13 Dolphins loss at the Kansas City Chiefs putting Miami's season record at 6-9 and eliminating the team from playoff contention. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
Click on DSM to read our postgame thoughts and vote in the DSM poll online. 
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)
Next/season-final poll: Dec. 31 (following game vs. Buffalo)

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Richt, UM hit jackpot in early signing period: Canes' Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin isn't for another week (Dec. 30), but UM was making news again welcoming a bounty of talent during NCAA's first-ever early recruiting period. Five-star commitments in RB Lorenzo Lingard and WR Mark Pope lead an offense-rich class that won the state and was ranked No. 7 nationally by  ESPN.com. In the continuing search for signs and proof that The U is "back," this was the latest.
 
2. MARLINS: The circus and folly of Jeter's "town hall" meeting: It was perfect and necessary and it meant little. New Fish boss Derek Jeter came out of hiding to hear season-ticket holders vent about his trading away everybody they care about. It gave the appearance of openness and transparency without actually being either. Ridiculous highlight: "Marlins Man" (attention-seeking missile Laurence Leavy) asking Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Then Jeter saying "nah" to an invite to ride in Leavy's "Marlinsmobile."  
 
3. DOLPHINS: Playoff hopes expire in loss at Kansas City: The Dolphins were a dreary 6-8 but still faintly alive, needing several results to fall just right to sneak into the playoffs -- the first prerequisite a road win over the heavily favored favored Chiefs on Sunday. Did they have a chance? I'll answer that rhetorical with this one: Might you cash the winning Lotto ticket? Safety Reshad Jones was Miami's only Pro Bowl selection, and I suspected his defense would be overmatched against KC's varied offensive arsenal. I was right: 29-13.       
 
4. HEAT: Unlikely victory at Boston triggers renewed hope: Heat has nudged up over .500 (at 17-16) and climbed to the edge of playoff pace, including an unlikely, hope-renewing 90-89 win against the mighty Celtics in Boston. Unlikely? Miami got a career-high 32 points from ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk with the injury-decimated Heat barely having enough players to compete. I mean, how impressive was it to see 72-year-old Pat Riley ditch the Armani suit and slip on those '70s short-shorts for some quality minutes!
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: No. 6 Canes lose first, prepare for ACC schedule: Jim Larranaga's No. 6-ranked basketball Canes are 10-1 after upset loss to New Mexico State 63-54 Saturday night in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The real games -- the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule -- begins Dec. 30 at Pitt. Even with the first loss, considering the season began with the cloud of UM's reported implication in that national FBI recruiting probe, the Canes have found the perfect diversion and distraction: Winning.
 
6. FAU / FIU: Opposite bowl results end winning seasons: Lane Kiffin's FAU Owls clobbered Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish 11-3, while Butch Davis' FIU Panthers got clobbered by Temple 28-3 in the Gasparilla Bowl to end 8-5. Congrats to both for only the third bowl season in each's 14 years at the FBS level.
 
7. PANTHERS: Fire on ice! Cats win third in a row!: Florida has won three straight games for the first time all season but still is only 15-21 and seven point s off NHL playoff pace, and ranked 29th (of 31) in ESPN's NHL power rankings. Lots of young, rising talent paints the picture of an underachieving team, and three in a row needs to be a start, not an aberration.

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 20, 2017

A few thoughts on Jeter's Marlins 'town hall' meeting; plus should fans of Dolphins, Heat, Marlins or Panthers be saddest? Poll. Vote now; also, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald QB rankings, Shameless Book Plug, FAU goes bowling & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. Not pretty. 2) Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It for our most recent general column. Sorry we haven't had as many lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this  month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fizzle in Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Nobody cares about the Pro Bowl and I won't pretend to, but I will say Ndamukong Suh should have joined Reshad Jones as a Dolphins selection." -- Greg Cote 

A FEW THOUGHTS ON JETER'S MARLINS 'TOWN HALL': Happily, I did not attend the Derek Jeter "town hall" Q&A session with Marlins season-ticket holders last night, but have spoken with Jetertownhallfolks who were there, have read the accounts and would share a few thoughts. First, it was smart of Jeter to do, and and necessary. He has been the sniper-owner, making unpopular deals from a safe bunker and in hiding. Last night, he showed his face. It was a start. Second, fans need a forum to vent, to voice displeasure. It was a win-win for Jeter because there would be the appearance of openness and transparency without there actually being any. Jeter said a lot without saying much. No details of the master "plan" were shared. I did find interesting that Jeter justified the Giancarlo Stanton deal by emphasizing the Marlins gained $260 million in contract relief to help the club move forward. Hmm. Wouldn't/shouldn't saving $260M on Stanton have allowed the club to then not trade Marcell Ozuna, and not consider trading Christian Yelich? Shouldn't that $260M "saving" be put back into the team by either using it to keep the best remaining players or to be a major player in free agency? Or is that windfall of "saving" just going to pay off corporate debt or enrich the owners? Finally, I laughed out loud (LOL!) at reporters who were there actually interviewing Marlins Man as if he were a news source, not just the grandstanding fan who stood behind the mic last night and asked Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Marlins Man. Puh-leeze. It would be like, back in the day, interviewing Dolfan Denny about the Dolphins' words. C'mon, media.

SadnessWHAT SOUTH FLORIDA TEAM'S FANS SHOULD BE SADDEST RIGHT NOW?: I refer a lot to Greater Miami's "Big 5" teams -- our four major pro franchises plus Canes football. Obviously in this poll I don't include UM, which is preparing for an Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin to cap the Hurricanes' first 10-win season since 2003. But our four pro teams are fair game for the dubious "most disappointing" crown that would have their fans saddest. The Marlins of course are in mid-fire sale/dismantling as the new Derek Jeter regime proves roughly as popular as the old Jeffrey Loria era. The Panthers are en route to making it a 21st consecutive season of either not making the NHL playoffs or not winning a postseason series. The Heat continue in post-Big 3 malaise, a starless doldrums, hanging around .500, with fans who became accustomed to thinking championship now relegated to hoping for a low playoff seed. And the Dolphins are back to mediocrity after last year's aberrant bump. I will volunteer that I think Heat fans have the least cause for sadness, but that the other three are in the mix. But his is your say. As you consider this poll question consider it literally: Which team's fans have the most cause right now to be the saddest?

Finsat50 Finsat50SHAMELESS BOOK PLUG! AND JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!: Know any Dolfans on your holiday shopping list? Of course you do. And that means you know Dolfans who are so sick of the current team they'd rather marinate in the heydays of Shula and Marino. Well I just so happen to have a book on the franchise's first half-century, called Fins At 50. Talk about a perfect gift! And reasonably priced, too. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to go directly to those site's page om the book to order and to learn more about it. You'll be glad you did, friend.

BRADY'S LEAD SHRINKS, CUTLER RETREATS / HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 15: The 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo wins Week 15 with a 46.05-point game while Patriot Tom Brady's overall lead shrinks further in the Miami Herald’s NFL quarterback rankings. Brady's margin over second place Drew Brees of the Saints has narrowed to only 8.40 points with two games to play. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler slips three spots, down to 24th place. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 20 plus Dolphins entering Week 16:

RK LW Player, Team                 WK15      Season

1    1  Tom Brady, NE               28.90       502.10

2    2  Drew Brees, NO             38.25       493.70

3    3  Alex Smith, KC              38.55       452.90

4    5  Matthew Stafford, DET  39.85       447.00

5    4  Ben Roethlisberger, PIT  31.05      440.25

6    9  Kirk Cousins, WAS          30.80       406.80

7  11  Case Keenum, MIN         39.80       401.95

8    7  Russell Wilson, SEA         8.10       391.45

9    8  Philip Rivers, LAC           9.35       390.90

10  6  Carson Wentz, PHI          DNP       386.80

11 10 Jared Goff, LAR            21.00       386.40

12 12 Matt Ryan, ATL              21.60      376.50

13 16 Blake Bortles, JAC         43.30      337.35

14 13 Josh McCown, NYJ          DNP       336.30

15 14 Derek Carr, OAK            18.55      335.65

16 15 Dak Prescott, DAL         18.60      331.80

17 20 Eli Manning, NYG          44.70      319.65

18 19 Cam Newton, CAR        38.10      314.10

19 18 Joe Flacco, BAL            32.40      311.05

20 17 Andy Dalton, CIN           -0.35      281.00

24 21 Jay Cutler, MIA             11.70      260.70

Bubble: Jameis Winston, TB, 277.70. Week 15 Best: Jimmy Garoppolo, SF, 46.05 (31-43, 381, 1-0 in win). Week 15 Worst: Blaine Gabbert, ARI, minus-2.55 (16-41, 189, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 15 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 15: Herald picks: Went a nifty 13-3 overall but a just-OK 6-7-3 against the spread, with the wins by Patriots, Niners and Cowboys all pushing for the ties. Called the Chiefs' mini-upset of Rams and also had a pair of dogs-with-points in Jets and Giants. Greg's Lobos: We're done. The 'Bos reached the semifinals of a 14-team league (not bad) before falling to Allyson in a shootout, 157.7-139, despite 45 points from Todd Gurley. #GurleyMen #LobosMVP.
 
OWLS ON THE PROWL: FAU SMACKS AKRON IN BOWL: For only the third time in its 14-year history as an FBS-level football program, Florida Atlantic University played in a bowl game last night, hosting Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl, and winning in a 50-3 rout. The Owls were big three-touchdown home favorites to finish the season 11-3 under first-year coach Lane Kiffin and behind the running of Devin Singletary, and showed why. Kiffin earlier in the day signed a six-year contract extension. Still doubting he's an Owls lifer, but good for now. I'll say this: I'd love to see this traditionally overshadowed program get some love now with a final, post-bowls Top 25 ranking. They deserve the consideration.
 
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2017

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

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

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

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-16 Dolphins loss at the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 6-8. That's a drop off more than 70% from the previous week. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.4%; plus Cutler, Miami stun New England 27-17; also, Radio Tuesday, Greg's Lobos news, latest Hot Button Top 10, Stanton trade poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 12. It's the holidays! Which can mean only one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Stanton to Yankees with poll, my column on trade, your verdicts on Gordon trade/faith in Jeter & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My column on Marlins trading Stanton to Yankees: Click Stanton Had All the Power -- And Used It.

Greg's Lobos Update!: Epic! EPIC! The Lobos got 24.6 points from Jarvis Landry last night to miraculously beat No. 1 seed Chris 120-117.4 in the first round of the LeBatard Show fantasy-league playoffs. Landry had The Heart of a Lobo -- the highest compliment that can be attributed to anyone. 

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' ASTOUNDING, IMPRESSIVE WIN OVER PATRIOTS: Jay Cutler thoroughly outplayed Tom Brady and the Miami Dolphins mostly dominated the New England Patriots.

The preceding may be the most unlikely sentence ever written in the history of the English language.

Five takeaways from Miami's 27-20 Monday Night Football home victory over the Patriots:

1. Where have you guys been? Why is a Dolphins team capable of this kind of effort, this kind of night, still sitting at 6-7 and still an NFL playoff longshot even after this exhilarating triumph? Miami wore its throwback uniforms and gave us a throwback performance. We thought the Dolphins just weren’t very good. Maybe it's that they've just been grossly underperforming.

2. Cutler finished with three TD passes and a 112.1 passer rating to Brady's two interceptions and 60.8 rating. Brady didn't have an off night. Miami's defense gave him an off night, forced it on him, with constant pressure and those two picks by Xavien Howard.

3. I'm finally sold on Kenyan Drake, who had 114 yards rushing and 79 receiving. He is fast, elusive, explosive. I thought Miami was dumb to trade top back Jay Ajayi earlier this season. I feel less like that after Monday night.

4. Finally -- finally -- they were ready for the prime-time stage. Before this, Miami has lost 14 of its past 18 games under the lights, including all three this season. The Fins were on a 1-7 skid on MNF. But that changed Monday as the NFL week's biggest underdog, against their longtime nemesis rival, stood up with everybody watching. Impressive.

5. This was a rotten week in South Florida sports, with the Marlins losing superstar Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Monday night made Miami smile. Ah, the power of sports. The power to lift. And to surprise!

Your challenge now: Weigh the elation of Monday night with the whole of the season and vote in the latest Dolphins postgame poll:

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: 79.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of DsmMonday night's 27-20 Dolphins home victory vs. the New England Patriots putting Miami's season record at 6-7. That is the highest positive rating in seven weeks. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results

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

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G13: NEW ENGLAND AT DOLPHINS: WILL THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIMETIME FINS FINALLY SHOW UP UNDER THE LIGHTS?: NE 17-27 (4Q): Brady-White 3-yard pass ... MIA 27-10 (3Q): Cutler-Landry 4-yard pass ... MIA 20-10 (3Q): Cutler-Grant 25-yard pass ... NE 10-13 (2Q): Gostkowski 46-yard FG ... MIA 13-7 (2Q): Cutler-Landry 5-yard pass ... NE 7-6 (2Q): Burkhead 3-yard run ... MIA 6-0 (1Q): Parkey 44-yard FG ... MIA 3-0 (1Q): Parkey 30-yard FG. ... Original post: I’m no slave to trends, friends, but some you simply cannot ignore. They are like a car in a ditch. You can’t help but slow down and rubberneck. One is that few teams in recent history are Nemiabetter in prime time than New England, and few are worse than Miami. Patriots are on a 16-3 run under the lights while Dolphins are on a 4-14 stumble — including 0-3 this season by a combined score of 112-40. Fine-tune that trend even more and find Fins are 1-7 in past eight Monday appearances. That, along with these teams’ overall disparity and a guy named Tom Brady, is why Miami is NFL Week 14's biggest betting underdog at 11 points. And there’s this: Jay Cutler in three career starts vs. NE is 0-3 with five interceptions in losses by 34, 29 and 28 points. These are reasons why the hope borne of last week’s 35-9 Dolphins rout of Denver will prove fleeting as the 10-2 Pats handle the 5-7 Fins at The Rock tonight. But now here are reasons why some hope still exists. Dolphins have beaten Patriots three of the past four meetings in Miami. Brady is below his overall career averages in most every category vs. Miami -- merely quite good, vs. otherworldly. And no Gronk. Wait. One more! Pats visit Steelers next week in a battle for the AFC’s No. 1 seed and may be peeking ahead past the disrespected, easy-to-overlook Dolphins. Bottom line: Do I give Miami much chance to upset New England? Nope. But do I sort of like the Fins getting 11 points? Yep. My pick: New England, 31-23.

StantongTHANKS FOR THE MEMORIES, GIANCARLO: [This item and the poll are carried over from previous blogpost] My column that you'd find here focuses on how the no-trade clause given to Stanton by former owner Jeffrey Loria meant Stanton could get the best deal for himself -- and that the Marlins could not get the best deal for the Marlins. The poll below invites Marlins fans to lay blame for Stanton's departure as they see fit. There has to be room for thanks as well, though. You cannot blame Stanton for the contract he got or the no-trade clause he was given. I honestly believe he wanted to stay; it was the Derek Jeter-led new owners who found his contract beyond their means. I trust Marlins fans will show Stanton the love when he returns in pinstripes. For me, he ranks below only Dan Marino and Dwyane Wade as the great team-drafted star in Miami sports history. Farewell, Giancarlo.

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. MARLINS: Team trades Stanton, Gordon. Merry Christmas, fans!: Marlins fans were still shaking heads over the team trading Dee Gordon to Seattle when the dreaded bombshell hit on Saturday: Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Miami got Starlin Castro and prospects for Stanton but couldn't get the best deal it was offered because Stanton's no-trade clause gave him ultimate control. Call it Jeffrey Loria's final parting gift. 
 
2. DOLPHINS: Fins try to keep (faint) hope alive vs. Patriots Monday: How did Miami, 5-7 and a playoff longshot, become an NFL also-ran team? Try this: Fins have lost 14 of past 18 night games including all three this season and seven of past eight on Monday stage. Somewhere along the line, folks, your Dolphins turned into the Not Yet Ready For Prime-Time Players.
 
3. HEAT: Miami beat Brooklyn in Mexico City: The Heat faced the Nets in Mexico City on Saturday night -- both teams were able to successfully scale Donald Trump's border wall -- and Miami won, 101-89. Given the disappointing, off-playoff-pace seasons both franchises are having thus far, was this a regularly scheduled game ... or were the two teams deported?
 
4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days from start of bowl season: Dec. 16 begins the parade of 41 bowl games culminating with the College Football Playoff national championship Jan. 8. This is first time all three South Florida FBS teams have made the postseason the same year, with Miami in the Orange, FAU in the Boca Raton and FIU in the Gasparilla. Gentlemen, start your bowling!
 
5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes, OB Classic in spotlight: The unbeaten, 10th-ranked Hurricanes men's team returns to action on the road this coming Saturday, the same day the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic featuring No. 5 Florida vs. Clemson and FSU vs. Oklahoma State happens at the Sunrise arena. It'll be so strange, so different, to see exciting action in the building where the NHL Panthers play.
 
6. BASEBALL: Angels land Japanese sensation Ohtani: Baseball winter meetings in Orlando don't start 'til Monday, but the two biggest prizes already have changed uniforms, with the Yankees landing Miami's Giancarlo Stanton after the Angels won the sweepstakes for Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. He is being called the sport's greatest dual threat since Babe Ruth. No pressure or anything!

7. PANTHERS: No defense for Cats' poor start: Florida is 11-18 after Saturday night's 7-3 home loss to Colorado, is eight points off playoff pace, and has given up the second-most goals in the NHL. Cats are off now on a five-game road trip. Probably just as well. Seeing bad hockey on TV is never quite as bad as enduring it in person.

8. HEISMAN TROPHY: Ho hum. It's Mayfield in a rout: Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won college football's biggest individual prize in a rout Saturday, collecting 82.5 percent of the first-place votes. If he has two more wins in him -- over Georgia, then over Clemson or Alabama -- he'll be lifting another pretty nice little trophy as well.

9. SOCCER: Toronto beats Seattle for MLS Cup: Toronto FC handled Seattle 2-0 in the championship match of Major League Soccer. You know MLS. It's the league David Beckham has been trying to get a Miami team into for about the past 45 years. 

10. TIGER WOODS: Comeback Kid to play Honda Classic?: Tiger Woods is back healthy (for now) and competing again in PGA Tour events. He lives on Jupiter Island in Florida. The Honda Classic is around the corner Feb. 22-25 in Palm Beach Gardens, which is about a 20-mile hop from Jupiter Island. Hmm....

Missing the HB10 cut: Hope Solo is running for president of U.S. Soccer. The preceding sentence would be much bigger news if we dropped the word "soccer" ..... The Cavaliers' winning streak ended at 13 games. See. I told ya that LeBron James guy would never amount to anything! ..... Actual Headlines I Never Thought I'd See, But Did: 'Vending Machine Worker and Season Ticket Holder Dresses For Blues as Emergency Goalie' ..... In football, Army beat Navy for the second straight year. It figures. Army is built to perform best on land ..... Soccer superstar Ronaldo said, "I am the best player in history." OK, Pele and Messi, you have my permission to beat the [bleep] out of him.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 56.4%; plus Miami clobbers Broncos 35-9 for rare easy win; plus new Hot Button Top 10. Canes' ACC loss, UM-Wisconsin in Orange Bowl, CFP semis on top, but see what else falls where & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 4. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes get spanked in ACC title game with CSM poll, other State Collball and conference champ-games, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column Dolphins' win over Denver: Click Dolphins Find Needed Joy for my column from Sunday's 35-9 Miami home trouncing of Denver.

Column on Canes' ACC title-game loss: Click Seeing Past the Pain to read. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 56.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 56.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 35-9 Dolphins victory over the Denver Broncos putting Miami's season record at 5-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
Next poll: Dec. 11 (following game vs. New England)

G12: DOLPHINS 35, DENVER 9: WELL, SOMEBODY'S LONG LOSING STREAK FINALLY ENDED...: Final: Watch for our column from game online soon ..... 4Q: MIA 35-9: Safety as Bronco tackled in end zone on kickoff return ..... Fins' Verner recovers Miami onside kick ..... MIA 33-9: Cutler-Stills 23-yard pass. Set up by Howard's second INT of game ..... 3Q: Grant 27-yard punt return for Miami as quarter ebbs ..... MIA 26-9: Drake 42-yard run ..... DEN 9-19: Simmons 65-yard interception return, 2-point pass failed .....  And Miami gives the gift right back as Stills loses fumble ..... Big 3rd-down sack by Phillips forces Denver punt, and Fede blocks the kick ..... MIA 19-3: Parkey 37-yard FG. Just when you forget Fasano is still on team, he catches a 29-yard pass to lead to the points .....  Halftime: Halftime tribute honoring Jason Taylor's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ..... Welp, this is like an offensive onslaught for the low-scoring Fins, although nine points were courtesy the defense. A putrid opponent helps. The Broncos are out-badding the Dolphins ..... 2Q: Cutler intercepted ..... MIA 16-3: Howard 30-yard interception return ..... MIA 9-3: Cutler-Thomas 9-yard TD pass ..... DEN 3-2: McManus 31-yard field goal on 67-yard drive ..... 1Q: MIA 2-0: Safety on Denver bad snap out of end zone ..... McDonald intercepts for Miami. Where the Turnover Chain at? ..... DT Suh 95th straight NFL start today, longest streak in league at that position ..... Penalties big issue for Fins this year. Recall how much pride Shula always took in team not being flagged much. Times have changed ..... Original post: The utter lack of public faith in and respect for the Dolphins shows in the fact Miami opened a negligible 1-point favorite but soon became a 1 1/2-point home underdog as bets flooded toward Denver. Um, that would be a DenmiaDenver team with worse record, on a seven-game losing streak and 0-5 on the road. The Fins’ are on a season-ruining five-game skid of their own, the slump leaving Miami 4-7 to Denver's 3-8, both AFC also-rans. If this matchup were any less watchable it would be banned from television by the FCC. They might not even allow a live audience to watch for fear of mass mental anguish. There are interesting sidelights, though. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was a Denver assistant six years (2009-14) and QB Jay Cutler — starting again after missing one game concussed — began his career a Bronco in 2006-08. Oh, and Denver coach Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator last year. But none of these connections are enough to sufficiently hoist this moribund matchup of teams going nowhere and doing very little well. As much as I don’t trust the Dolphins’ offensive line, Miami at home vs. an even-more-dreadful opponent is worth the gamble here. But I still can’t help but think, as I anticipate an epic Trevor Siemien vs. Cutler duel, that this would be a so much more interesting game if the quarterbacks Sunday were John Elway and Dan Marino. I mean them right now. At ages 57 and 56. Playing in business suits and wingtips. My pick: Dolphins, 19-17. [Click Week 13 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM routed by Clemson for ACC title, Orange Bowl next: Canes and Clemson faced a Saturday night play-in game for one of four spots in the College Football Playoff, with semifinal matchups set on Sunday. UM went in a big underdog and played like it, losing 38-3. Pretty decent consolation prize upcoming, though: Canes in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
 
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Conference championships shape final CFP foursome: The College Football Playoff announced its final four teams and two semifinal matchups today: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia. Big loser: Snubbed Ohio State, which thought it should be fourth. Second big loser: Tough draw for top-ranked Clemson, which likely will be underdog vs. 'Bama.
 
3. DOLPHINS: Sad Fins host Denver in moribund matchup: How's this for a weekend contrast, Miami? First your Hurricanes play Clemson for ACC title and spot in college playoffs. And then your Dolphins host Broncos in a duel of hopelessness between teams with a combined 12 straight losses. Hasn't been a dropoff that sharp since Thelma and Louise drove over the cliff.
 
4. SOCCER: 2018 World Cup sets group play: The 32 qualifying nations were drawn into eight four-team groups for next summer's men's tournament in Russia. But I'm still trying to figure something out so maybe you can explain: The United States and Italy failed to qualify but Iceland got in!? Aurora, Colorado has more people than Iceland. Do they play soccer on skates over there?
 
5. MARLINS: Giants, Yankees, others in play for Stanton: I heard the Marlins have now decided to not trade Giancarlo Stanton and that Miami also will spend big to go after Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. And then I woke up from that dream and it was back to reality. With baseball's winter meetings approaching, Stanton is now like one of his home runs: Going, going ... gone!
 
6. HEAT: As Warriors visit, erratic Heat a mystery even to Spo: Miami, .500 last season, is an up-and-down 11-11 now entering Sunday's huge home test against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and reigning champion Golden State. Coach Erik Spoelstra says even he doesn't know what to make of his team and can't quite figure 'em out. Hey, we're all right there with you, bud!
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes, Kansas win as expected: No. 10-ranked Miami men routed Princeton 80-52 and No. 2 Kansas handled Syracuse 76-60 in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at the Heat arena Saturday. UM game tipped off at same time as Canes-Clemson in Charlotte. Turns out the basketball Canes had a much better game.
 
8. FAU: Owls win C-USA championship: Lane Kiffin's Owls routed visiting North Texas 41-17 to go 10-3 and win Conference USA crown. Oh, and Butch Davis' FIU Panthers whipped UMass 63-45 to end regular season 8-4. Canes didn't take care of business Saturday, but SoFla's other two FBS teams sure did.
 
9. GOLF: Tiger Woods erratic in latest comeback: He opened with an eye-opening 69, but shot 75 on Saturday and is 10 shots off the pace entering the final round of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau -- his first competitive round in 10 months. Be good again, Tiger. Golf needs you.
 
10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream opens winter meet: The venerable Hallandale racetrack opened its winter season Saturday, with upcoming jewel events to include the Florida Derby and second annual Pegasus World Cup. Get out of the casino and watch an actual horse race, would ya? 
 
Missing the HB10 cut: Florida Panthers: We don't even make your HB top 10!? Me: You're 10-16, Cats. How 'bout you win a little? ..... Jimbo Fisher dumps Florida State and follows the big bucks to Texas A&M. Money aside, is that even a lateral move? ..... Tennessee Vols fired the athletic director over the botched football coach search. He got Schiano'd! ..... Cleveland Cavaliers have won 11 games in a row. It's all Dwyane Wade! ..... It's Seattle and Toronto in the Major League Soccer finals. Meantime it feels like we're getting close to the 10-year anniversary of David Beckham's efforts to bring MLS soccer to Miami ..... Jason Taylor was honored for his Hall of Fame election in a private event at the stadium last night. Hopefully they had a TV on for the UM-Clemson game. Come to think of it, maybe better that they didn't.
 

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