September 29, 2016

How satisfied are you with the Dolphins? New poll. Vote now!; plus Fins clobbered in Cincy 22-7, our trilogy on tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Loria's eulogy for Jose & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29. Scroll to bottom of this blogpost for today's eulogy by Jeffrey Loria for Jose Fernandez. 2) We're holed up today at the Upset Bird Nest, formerly Friday Page World Headquarters, divining this week's latest NFL predictions, a welcome respite from tragedy and death. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins honor Jose in emotional tribute, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseOUR TRILOGY OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The latest, from Wednesday's public events and outpouring. 

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all).

Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: Time again for the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Thursday night's 22-7 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals putting Miami's season record at 1-3. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Saturday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: Voting now underway (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati) 

G4: @ CINCINNATI 22, DOLPHINS 7: FINS SQUANDER A BIG OPPORTUNITY TO LIFT A CITY THAT NEEDS LIFTING: Final postgame thoughts: In the fairy tale, Miami would have won tonight becausehad made several  Miami needed the lift -- not the team, the Dolphins, as much as the city back home. Five days grieving over the loss of Jose Fernandez and our community dearly needed a little joy, a diversion. A big upset win by the Dolphins might have done it, however briefly. But that hope was giving the Fins too much credit, alas. This was not only a loss dropping the Dolphins record to 1-3, it was dispiriting. Miami did little other than one long scoring pass. Its defense played badly against the pass but allowed only one Bengals TD. But Ryan Tannehill's unit did not offer nearly enough help. Coach Adam Gase  had made several lineup changes and tweaks. When those things work, you're a genius. When they don't, you seem desperate. So the Dolphins head home seeming as if they're not sure where they're at, or what to do. Not a good place to be one quarter into the season. ..... 4Q: Fins in Cincy territory and Tannehill intercepted, his fifth pick in past three games. Oy vey. ... Nugent's fifth FG has 'Gals in command 22-7. Another dispiriting  effort by the Dolphins-turned-Creamsicles. ..... 3Q: Tannehill continues to take way too many sacks for a mobile QB. ... 'Gals settle for another FG and 19-7 lead. A.J. Green (9-166) is making his fantasy owners pop champagne at Miami's expense. ..... Halftime thoughts: Time of possession a big negative for Miami. Dolphins defense can't get Cincy off the field -- Andy Dalton with 197 yards passing. And MIA offense, other than that 74-yard scoring pass, hasn't done much at all. This is a winnable game, but, right now, not looking like one Miami is prepared to win. ..... 2Q: CIN up 16-7 just before half after Tannehill stripped off ball, loses fumble in own territory. ... Bengals add short FG for 13-7 lead. Pretty even game. Nobody to cover Green, though. Bad sign when, three games in, you bench the guy (Byron Maxwell) who was supposed to be your top corner. ..... 1Q: Cincy 10-7 on Dalton-A.J. Green 7Y scoring hookup. Dolphins in these unis look like animated Creamsicles. ... Crazy Adam Gase with all his lineup changes and tweaks. You know how that goes. Wins, the media calls you a genius. Lose, we call you desperte. ... Dolphins 7-3 on Tannehill 74-yard strike to glaringly open Kenny Stills. ... Bengals 3-0, settle for FG on game's first series. Dolphin stiffened after, for much of series, looking as bad as their orange uniforms. ..... Original post: Miami is hurting. The city, the community, all of South Florida. Marlins fans, Cuban Miami -- everybody who enjoyed and admired the passion and spirit, not to mention the excellence, of Jose Fernandez. Tonight, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to help us heal just a little bit. To make us forget our sorrow for a little while. To allow us to cheer after a week of civic and personal heartache. But will they? Can they? Miacin2 MiacinThe Dolphins are weird and unpredictable and I have little real idea which Fins will take the field in Cincinnati on tonight's prime-time stage to kick off NFL Week 4. Nobody can really know. Even Adam Gase doesn’t. Miami nearly stunned the league in its opener in Seattle. Miami looked awful and great in losing at New England. Then Miami needed a ton of luck and overtime at home just to barely survive lowly Cleveland — leaving Dolfans more upset by the somewhat embarrassing win than by the two losses. Now? You could tell me Miami will get blown out by the Bengals Thursday night or impress in a big upset win (Miami is a 7 1/2-point underdog) and I’d not be surprised either way. The problem here is Miami can’t run behind a disheveled and untrustworthy offensive line, and I can’t like this pass defense against AFC yards leader Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, who caught 11 for 128 yards when last facing Miami. Also, Cincy should have back defensive leader Vontaze Burfict, who is newly off suspension. There also is speculation Bengals might get tight end Tyler Eifert back from injury, but that's doubtful. In Miami’s favor, Fins are 15-5 in this series including three in a row, Cincy is given to big defensive penalties, and Dalton can be pick-prone on occasion. Miami will have a sizable upset shot if the defense can manage a takeaway or two, if Ryan Tannehill (four INTs in past two games) plays clean, or if Cam Wake can reprise the mayhem of his last game against the Bengals: Three sacks, fumble recovery, forced fumble and game-winning safety. Maybe the Dolphins have a storybook night in them; maybe they know how much their hurting city could use the lift. Alas, the safest bet here? It’s ’Gals outright, Fins covering. (Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's full prediction capsule). My pick: Bengals, 27-23.

Note: We'll have the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll soon after this game ends.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS ON THURSDAY NIGHT: Miami is now 6-5 all-time on Thursday night after tonight's loss in Cincinnati. The chronology:

Date            Result    Opponent 

11-29-79      Won       vs. Patriots 39-24

11-20-80      Lost       vs. Chargers 27-24 (OT)

9-10-81        Won       vs. Steelers 30-10

10-18-90      Won       vs. Patriots 17-10

9-7-06          Lost       at Steelers 28-17

11-19-09      Won        at Panthers 24-17

11-18-10      Lost        vs. Bears 16-10

11-11-12      Lost        at Bills 19-14

10-31-13      Won        vs. Bengals 22-20 (OT)

11-13-14      Won        vs. Bills 22-9

9-29-16        Lost         at Bengals 22-7

TRANSCRIPT OF JEFFREY LORIA'S EULOGY FOR JOSE FERNANDEZ TODAY: The Marlins owner has been controversial and oft-disliked, or worse. But give him credit where it is due. The Marlins have hit all the right notes this week in their tributes to their star pitcher who was tragically killed this past Sunday. In that spirit, here, verbatim, is Loria's eulogy for Jose from earlier this afternoon.

"First of all, there are a few people we need to thank. Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, and ESPECIALLY the Miami-Dade Police Department and City of Miami Police Department. We’d like to thank St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, Father Fernando, Father Alvarez, Christopher Columbus High School, Brother Kevin, Father Rumen and La Ermita.

We weren’t supposed to be here today.

As you all know, we tragically lost a giant who was one of the bright lights of our Marlins organization, the City of Miami, and for Cuban people everywhere. His story was representative of, and inspiring to, millions across the world. He worked so hard to experience the American Dream…and ended up being its very embodiment.

I was fortunate enough to play a significant role in Jose’s life, as he did in mine. I was there when he got called up. I was there when he pitched his first big league strike. I was proud to be there when he was reunited with his grandmother, and there when he won the Rookie of the Year award; no doubt it would have been the first of many such accolades.

I was blessed to have gotten to know not only the player with a golden arm, but also the man.

While some saw him as provocative, I saw him as humble, mature and never wanting to abuse his personal or professional relationships. He respected generosity, and in turn, gave it back in spades with his magnetic smile that could light up a ballpark.

I think we also know about his famously-competitive spirit. For evidence of this, one need look no further than his last at bat of the season two years ago. For weeks, he had been playfully telling anyone who would listen that he dreamt of hitting a home run.

Not having done it as the season drew to a close, this Ace who is normally better known for his fastball, crushed it into the seats, smiling broadly as he rounded the bases. This was the magic of Jose. He set the standard for making baseball FUN.

You know, Jose’s impact on people was global. This summer, my wife Julie and I were in Chicago for the Cubs series. As we strolled down Michigan Ave. in advance of a night game, we saw someone walking towards us wearing a Marlins jersey. As he got closer, we noticed it said Fernandez on the back, so we stopped him to inquire if he’d be attending the ballgame. He explained in a thick Dutch accent that he’d saved up his money and flown in from Holland specifically to see his favorite player, Jose. How far and wide the admiration went for this young man. Jackie Robinson once said a life is not important, except through the impact it has on OTHER lives. By any measure…Jose achieved that goal.

Athletically, he was clearly a superstar who would have continued to reach incredible heights in this game. He passed far too young, like other greats such as Thurmon Munson and Roberto Clemente. But more importantly, he was a superstar human being.

About a year ago, Jose tweeted “if you were given a book with the story of your life, would you want to read the end?” Well I prefer not to think of this tragedy as the end of his life…but rather the beginning of his LEGEND, his memory and his love that will endure forever.

To Jose’s family, friends, teammates and our community, I share in the deep pain we’re all feeling right now. Some words that often comfort me in times like this are that…grief is merely a healing process from the pain of loss. In other words, this pain is overwhelming, but a sign that we are coping and together we will move on.

He will never be replaced…nor forgotten…but will endure shining brightly over us all.

Thank you."

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 28, 2016

On today's public farewell for Marlins' Jose Fernandez; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Our weekly NFL Pix 'n Fantasy update is coming here later this afternoon, post-radio show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tragedy: Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident, Dolphins luck to beat Browns in OT with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: What Jose Meant Lives On (my first column on death of Jose Fernandez). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our NFL picks from past weekend). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all)She Never Quit (our last column in FIU football coach Ron Turner before they fired him).

Today's public events for Jose Fernandez: The public may watch the funeral motorcade depart Marlins Park at 2:16 p.m. Fans are asked to gather at the stadium's West Plaza by 2. Fans may also pay respects as a public viewing that will occur from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today at St. Brendan Catholic Church, 8725 SW 32nd Street, Miami. There will be a private funeral mass on Thursday open only to family and Marlins players, coaches and staff. In lieu of flowers, the Fernandez family suggest charitable donations to the JDF16 Foundation. To learn more or to donate, click here.

MarlinsjoseHONORING JOSE AT MARLINS PARK: AN EMOTIONAL NIGHT FOR THE AGES: Many of you know I have been a sports journalist since newspapers were dropped on front lawns by pterodactyls. Into my fifth decade doing this, since the '70s, I have seen every event imaginable. But nothing quite like last night, as the Marlins and Miami said goodbye, cruelly too soon, to ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in the first game since his tragic death in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident. It was the most emotional night I have ever covered, top to bottom. It began with every player wearing his No. 16 uniform with "Fernandez" stitched on the back, and fans standing to applaud every time a different Jose Fernandez crossed the chalk line pregame and ran onto the field. It ended, long after the game, after the stadium had emptied of all but workers and media, as players stood around the pitcher's mound and raised bottles of beer to the heavens in a toast. What a terrible, wonderful night. I hope my column from the ballpark last night has done it justice. To read, click There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY WEEK 3: 'ATS' RUN CONTINUES, LOBOS LOSE HEARTBREAKER: NFL picks: Had a rocky week straight-up (9-7) but emerged a sparkly 11-5 against the spread thanks to three outright upset bull's-eyes including our Upset of the Week on Bills over Cardinals ("Aawwk!"), plus five other 'dogs-with-points. Fantasy: Another difficult loss to take. Greg's Lobos fell to 1-2 in the LeBatard Show league, losing to Mike Ryan, 136.5-130.9. We were getting blown away but nearly rallied miraculously with 57.6 combined Monday nihght points from Drew Brees and Devonta Freeman. Also, you know what they say about "close."

SOPY RANKINGS, 'STATE HEISMAN': COOK ON HIGH HEAT: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back Dalvin Cook (pictured) charging up the chart Dcookinto second place off a season-best effort entering Collball Week 5. Are rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (like the SopyMiami Hurricanes this past weekend) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. We close it off after the regular season to not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 5, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 4:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                245          804.5

2      7      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          341          699

3      2      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 171.5       620.5

4      9      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       200          502.5

5      3      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     BYE        442 

6      4      Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   DNP        433

7      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         40            425

8    10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   93           386 

9     --      Kalib Woods, FAU-rec                       114          377

10   6       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       BYE        376

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb, 357. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 338. Week 3 best: Cook, 341. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 27, 2016

STILL IN SHOCK: MIAMI REELS OVER JOSE FERNANDEZ TRAGEDY. MY COLUMN; plus Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; also, Fins escape vs. Browns in OT, Riley on Bosh, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26. UM Sports Hall of Fame announces nine-person 2017 induction class, notably includuing football's James Jackson and Jeremy Shockey, baseball's Ryan Braun and women's basketball coach Katie Meier. Congrats to all. 2) Pat Riley told reporters this morning that Chris Bosh's Heat career "is probably over." No shock. But when the godfather says it, you listen. 3) Golf legend Arnold Palmer has died at 87. R.I.P., Arnie. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Examining Hurricanes' brutal October, state Collball Week 4, Bosh and Wade poll verdicts & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (our latest, and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our latest NFL picks). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it).

FIU fires Ron Turner: Lost in the shock and mourning over Jose Fernandez, FIU fired football coach Ron Turner on Sunday. No shock. He was 0-4 this season and 10-30 overall. Cannot argue the decision. Good guy, though. Click She Never Quit for my recent column on Turner and the woman who inspires him.

JoseripTRAGEDY: MIAMI AWAKENS TO THE JARRING REALITY: THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE JOSE FERNANDEZ: Unimaginable tragedy shakes the Miami Marlins and South Florida with the terrible news that Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was killed in an overnight boating accident early Sunday morning off Government Cut in Miami, along with two friends who also died. The 9-1-1 call reportedly was received about 3 a.m. A tragedy beyond words. Yesterday's scheduled home game vs. the Atlanta Braves was understandably canceled in the wake of the horrible news; the Marlins will be back in action, with heavy hearts, tonight here vs. the Mets. Click on What Jose Meant Lives On for my column, online and in Monday's print editions. R.I.P., Jose.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 9.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-24 overtime victory vs. the Cleveland Browns putting Miami's season record at 1-2. It is a rare instance of an approval rating declining after a win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

Next Poll: Sept. 29 (following game at Cincinnati)

G3: DOLPHINS 30, CLEVELAND 24 (OT): LUCKY, BUT MIAMI WINS HOME OPENER: Postgame thoughts: The Dolphins did the bare minimum Sunday. They won, at home, over a bad Browns team down to its third-string QB. That it required overtime is a semi-embarrassment. So is the fact Cleveland was down to its third-string QB. Ryan Tannehill pretty solid at 25-for-39 for 319 yards and three TDs, bu also had two picks and the lost fumble that nearly cost Miami the game. All in all an escape more than a resounding win. Let's see in four short days what the Dolphins are made of at Cincinnati. Today didn't prove much or show much. Show us Thursday night, Dolphins. ..... Original post: Well, the Cleveland Browns are down to their third-string quarterback and so bad in Clemiageneral that even a winless Miami is a near double-digit favorite. Shouldn't the Browns have been relegated to the Canadian league by now? This also happens surprisingly to be the only NFL Week 3 matchup between 0-2 teams. The difference is, one of them is credibly competitive -- Miami on the heels respectable performances at league powers Seattle and New England. The other is incredibly incompetent. Cleveland has lost 10 of its past 11 road games and is now piloted by rookie Cody Kessler – the Browns' fifth different starting QB in the past five games dating to last season. The Earthtones may be the NFL's most dysfunctional franchises. Having said all of that, Miami has not proven itself good enough to take any opponent lightly, even this one. “Dolfans” and “overconfident” are not words that go together. Jay Ajayi (in for injured Arian Foster) tends to cough up the football and Brownies have a pair of very productive cornerbacks in Joe Haden and Tramon Williams, so Fins must take care that Miami turnovers don't keep the Brownies in this game. Almost forgot: Welcome home, Duke Johnson! This is the Dolphins home opener for the newly refurbished and renamed stadium. The opponent will help Miami christen it right. My pick: Dolphins, 27-10

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 25): 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: 

1. MARLINS: Tragedy strikes as Jose Fernandez killed in boasting accident: Marlins fans and South Florida in general awoke Sunday to the horrible news that ace pitcher Jose Fernandez had been killed in an overnight boating accident. There are no words. R.I.P.

Hotbutton2. DOLPHINS: Miami lucky to beat sad Browns in home opener: After losses to two of NFL's top teams, and before traveling to playoff-quality Cincinnati for a Thursday nighter, Miami caught what should have been a break vs. woeful Cleveland Browns in Sunday's home opener, but needed luck and overtime to escape, 30-24.

3. HEAT: Bosh comeback derailed again as Heat near training camp: Further complications related to clotting have derailed Chris Bosh's latest comeback attempt as Heat prepare to open five-day training camp Tuesday in Nassau. And so the outlook dims for both team and player.

4. PANTHERS: Big-dreaming Cats prepare for NHL preseason: With visions of Lord Stanley's Cup, Florida hosts Nashville Tuesday in first of six preseason games. Cats have never begun a season with higher expectations. Can a franchise usually cast as underdogs live up?

5. HURRICANES: Idle Canes brace for a tough, telling October: No. 15 Miami, off this week after a resounding win at Appalachian State, braces for five-game October test featuring in ACC -- including Florida State here Oct. 8 -- then a trip to Notre Dame. September hinted how good UM is. October will tell.

6. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers honor retiring legendary broadcaster: Los Angeles Dodgers honored broadcaster Vin Scully in an hour-long pregame ceremony celebrating his 67 seasons at the mic. Not even Scully, 88, is old enough to remember the Cubs' last World Series win. 

7. PHILANTHROPY: UM receives largest donation ever toward indoor facility: University of Miami announced the largest athletics-related donation in its history, a $14 million gift toward what will be the Carol Soffer Football Indoor Practice Facility. That's trumps my $25 donation toward the Greg Cote Parking Space.

8. GATORS: UF blows lead, falls to Vols: You lead 21-0 and lose 38-28. Ouch. Gators tails low. 

9. HOCKEY: U.S. bombs in World Cup: Team USA fell to 0-2 and failed to advance in the World Cup of Hockey, a disappointment and embarrassment.

10. NASCAR: Chase field at 16, soon 12: Sunday and next week will pare the 16 finalists to 12 drivers. The season finale at Homestead is getting close.

Missing the HB10 cut: Kevin Garnett announced his retirement, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago. Garnett's prime retired in 2007 ... UEFA Champions League is back on starting Tuesday. What the World Cup is for national teams, this is for club teams.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 20, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 13.3%; plus Fins dig early grave, fall at New England 31-24; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, Zach for Canton, PASS rankings & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Huge leap: Canes football catapults 10 spots from 25 to 15 in new Associated Press poll. 2) Click on Week 2 Gems for all of this past weekend's NFL predictions. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes clobber Appalachian State with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 3 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Zach Thomas for the Hall of Fame: First-time nominee Jason Taylor is seen as a likely-to-certain Hall of Famer, but longtime Dolphins running mate Zach Thomas is not. I compare their careers and set straight that misperception. Click on The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton to read my latest Sunday column.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 2 Gems (NFL predix). Where Tannehill Falls (NFL column). Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong (on four Dolphins' 9/11 kneel-down). Awesome Vs. Awful (on UM's resounding season-opening victory). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CSM vote shows record number: Canesfan Satisfaction Meter voting seta season high for approval. See the results in our immediate previous blogpost.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 13.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 13.3 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 Dolphins loss at New DsmEngland putting Miami's season record at 0-2. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

Next poll: Sept. 25 (following game vs. Cleveland)

G2: NEW ENGLAND 31, DOLPHINS 24: GASE, NEW FINS FAIL EARLY LITMUS TEST: Final postgame thoughts: Miami dug its own grave early with horrific pass defense and trailed 24-0 before Jimmy Garoppolo went out injured. Then it was even, with a rookie third-stringer pitching for Pats. Too late. Not enough. Tannehill had a scorching second half and ended up with 389 yards passing but that abysmal start was too much to overcome. Positives: Miami didn't quit. Tanny and defense picked it up. Negatives: 0-2 now with an eighth straight loss in New England, thanks to an inexplicably zombie-like start to the game for Fins. Nice fight, nice comeback, but can't feel too good about "almost." ..... 4Q: Desperate last-second end-zone pass by Tannehill intercepted. Game. ... Wow, Pats miss 39Y FG with 1:04 left, so Miami (sans timeouts) will have one last shot. ... Oh my. Miami within 31-24 mid-quarter after Drake's 7-yard scoring run. No-huddle and a hot Tannehill and shredding Pats defense. ... Well now. Miami within 31-17 early in fourth on Tanny 12-yard strike to Cameron in e-zone. Do you believe in miracles? Tannehill now 3-4 yards passing. ..... 3Q: Quarter ends with MIA driving and Tannehill at 292 passing yards. Too little too late, though. ... Life! Dolphins within 31-10 on 24-yard Stills collection of really nice Tannehill pass. ... Ajayi fumble leads directly to Blunt TD run and 31-3 NE lead. This game meets all the parameters of embarrassing for Miami. ... Good gawd! Promising drive snuffed by Ajayi fumble loss. Christ. ...Garappolo (shoulder) won't return in second half. That's an opening for Miami. Dolphins get kick. If they score and make it 24-10, they give themselves a shot. ..... Halftime thoughts: Do I have to? Miami came out flat, showed little life, had miserable pass defense, and got behind so big so fast the running game became a non-factor. Tannehill may need to throw 30 times in second half. Barring small miracle MIA headed to 0-2 with eighth straight L in Foxborough. ..... 2Q: Fins hit 27-yard FG on last play of forgettable half. ... Dolphins driving but Tannehill intercepted. Can this (bleep) get any worse? ... Pats add FG for 24-0 lead but Dolphins-killer Garoppolo leaves game with apparent shoulder injury. ... Bulletin: Something goes right for Miami!!! Fumble recovery. But wait! They give it right back. Of course they do. ... Pats now 21-0 on Amendola 10-yarder from Garoppolo. How many ways can you say "embarrassing"? ..... 1Q: Absymal 1Q for Fins pass D allowing 177 yards to Garoppolo on 12-for-15 accuracy. ... Pats now 14-0 on Garoppolo-Bennett 20-yard pass. Sad pass-D so far, Miami. Brady's fill-in is 9-for-10 for 136 yards. ... Garoppolo-Amendola 12-yard scoring pass and quick 7-0 Pats lead. No Brady, no Gronk, no problem. Really bad defensive series to start game for Miami. ..... Pregame: We'll have running in-game commentary here and then, right afterward, the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. ..... Original post: Miami has lost seven straight trips to Foxborough and 13 of the past 15. The Fins have allowed an average of 32 points in those seven straight road defeats in the zseries. But today at 1 the Patriots will be without QB Tom Brady and likely without tight end Rob Gronkowski, too. DolpatThe Dolphins are only 6-point underdogs. The game is winnable, ripe for a road-team upset, perhaps. But ... can they win it? The Dolphins' recent track record at The Razor leaves us doubting it until we actually see. This is a first real litmus test to gauge the change the Gase Era has brought. A season-opening 12-10 loss in Seattle was mildly encourage, at least for a loss. Now let's see if the Dolphins build, or regress. New England owns the AFC East -- 72-21 in their division the past 15 years. So it was amusing this week seeing Bill Belichick heap praise on the Dolphins and wring hands over how dangerous Miami is. That would be the same Dolphins his Patriots have mostly owned for most of this century. Did I mention that Ryan Tannehill is 0-4 at New England and been sacked 22 times in the process? OK, that’s the glass half empty, Dolfans. But Belichick has a point, too, in being wary of today's foe. Here’s the glass half full: Belichick’s career record vs. Miami is a modest 20-14. Tannehill has pitched for 996 yards in the past three meetings. Jimmy Garoppolo is not Brady. No Gronkowski (hamstring) would be a big break for MIA. [Bonus fact: Jarvis Landry reached 200 catches in his 33rd NFL game, fastest ever]. Do I sense a major upset here? Nope. But neither would it shock me. I think Gase is the smartest Dolphins coach that Belichick has faced in a long time. Fins beat the point spread in Seattle and should do it again Sunday versus the rival and nemesis that plays Lord Voldemort in the AFC East. My pick: Patriots, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 18): 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. DOLPHINS: Miami tries, fails again to solve nemesis Patriots: Fins entered Sunday afternoon's game at the Patriots having lost seven straight and 13 of past 15 trips to New England. (Dear Dolphins: Less focus on kneeling during the anthem, and more on winning in Foxborough). Could have been a major statement game for Miami that things are different under Adam Gase. Fins caught a big break with no Tom Brady, and another with Rob Gronkowski out. Alas, a 24-0 early hole resulted in a 31-24 loss. Same ol' same ol'. 

2. HURRICANES: UM crushes App State as Richt Era aces first real challenge: After two easy wins the No. 25 Canes Saturday played at "giant killer" Appalachian State. Of course that suggests UM has returned to “giant” status, the ongoing climb that is Mark Richt's challenge. Well, Canes looked the part in this one, clobbering the hometown Mountaineers, 45-10, as Brad Kaaya threw for 368 yards and three TDs. Don't  call it a statement win, though. No, no. A tough October schedule will be this team's barometer. Update: UM catapults 25 to 15 in today's new Associated Press poll.  

3. MARLINS: Write 'em off. Fish done as they prepare for year's final homestand: They're one game under .500 and 5 back in the wild-card race, with only 13 games left, as Fish prepare for Monday start of the waning season's last homestand. Finis. Done. The once-real playoff hopes are miracle-microscopic now.

4. HEAT: Bosh says he's ready for camp, team still mum, Wade says thanks: As Heat prepare to open training camp Sept. 27 in Nassau, Bahamas, Chris Bosh said this week he's ready to play but team remained noncommittal. Dear Heat: Please, a bleepin' decision, already! Meanwhile -- #Respect -- departed Dwyane Wade has billboard near the arena that reads, Thank You Miami.

5. PANTHERS: Hockey's back as Cats stage rookie camp: Florida's rookie camp is underway, through Tuesday, and includes three rookie games vs. other NHL teams, the second of them on Sunday. Cats have highest expectations of any local pro team this season. Then again, vs. Dolphins, Marlins and post-Wade Heat, that's a low bar.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida State loss shakes up CFP outlook: The top three teams faced road games against ranked opponents Saturday. No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State survived. Not so much No. 2 FSU in a crushing 63-20 humiliation at Louisville. This is the Noles waving goodbye to the College Football Playoff. This is the Canes possibly being favored when the Seminoles visit here Oct. 8.

7. TIM TEBOW: Former quarterback launches baseball career: It begins for Tebow on Monday morning, a few hours north of Miami up in Port St. Lucie, at the Mets' minor-league facility. There, amid what will be a media circus, the ex-Florida gators and NFL quarterback has his first workout as a newly signed minor-league ballplayer. Tebow has balls, Mets have a low-risk prospect. What's not to like?

8. HOCKEY: Team USA stunned in World opener: Heavily favored Team USA lost to Team Europe on Saturday in opening game of the eight-team World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, skating through Oct. 1. "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-Ohhhh..."

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes' ACC schedule announced: Season opens Nov. 11 but we now know ACC opener will be at home Dec. 31 vs. North Carolina State. UM will be showcased nationally on twice this season on CBS, Jan. 28 vs. North Carolina and Feb. 25 vs. Duke. Five other games will be broadcast on ESPN platforms and five more on the ACC Network.

10. FIU: School, AD Garcia set parting date: FIU's 10-year athletic director Pete Garcia will remain through July 31, 2018 and then depart, the two sides agreed this week. The spin is positive, but the fresh blood is needed. Garcia saves face with this; it isn't a firing. But it is FIU moving on (eventually). Oh, and FIU football fell to 0-3 Saturday.

Missing the HB10 cut: Bills coach Rex Ryan scapegoated and fired his offensive coordinator to protect his defensive coordinator brother -- the one who should have been fired. You're a sad clown, Rex ..... Penn State honored disgraced former football coach Joe Paterno on Saturday. Whose idea was that? Jerry Sandusky's? ..... Kyle Busch tops the 16-driver finalists field that will spend the two months trying to win a championship in Homestead in November. Another season with no dream finish for Dale Jr. ..... Soccer's 32-team Champions League is 32 matches in and off 'til Sept. 27. If you don't know what it is, it's too hard to explain here. If you do know what it is, you probably know more than I do ..... U.S. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem. At what point will this no longer even be newsworthy? ..... And in other news: A sentence I never imagined writing: "Ryan Lochte was attacked on Dancing With the Stars."

MstaffordPASS NFL QUARTERBACK RANKINGS ENTERING WEEK 2: Click here for Week 1 results launching the 19th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. Lion Matthew Stafford (pictured) fronts our first Top 20 chart. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill failed to chart and sits in 30th place out the gate. A backgrounder:

Previous PASS champions: 1998—Steve Young SF 462.50 points; 1999—Kurt Warner STL 517.95; 2000—Peyton Manning IND 467.65; 2001—Warner STL 557.50; 2002—Rich Gannon OAK 555.45; 2003—P.Manning IND 522.35; 2004—P.Manning IND 579.85; 2005—Carson Palmer CIN 487.80; 2006—P.Manning IND 512.85; 2007—Tom Brady NE 664.30; 2008—Drew Brees NO 535.45; 2009—Brees NO 565.35; 2010—Brees NO 557.00; 2011—Brees NO 713.80; 2012—P.Manning DEN 593.35; 2013—P.Manning DEN 714.85; 2014—Brees NO 583.60; 2015—Brees NO 575.80.

Final 2015 Top 10: 1. Drew Brees NO 575.80; 2. Tom Brady NE 565.50; 3. Kirk Cousins WAS 521.30; 4. Philip Rivers SD 520.60; 5. Carson Palmer ARI 516.55; 6. Matthew Stafford DET 509.10; 7. Russell Wilson SEA 504.50; 8. Matt Ryan ATL 484.55; 9. Eli Manning NYG 470.80; 10. Cam Newton CAR 437.85.

Season record: Manning DEN 714.85 (2013). Dolphins record: Ryan Tannehill 481.25 (2014).

Best week: Ben Roethlisberger PIT 80.10 (2014). Worst week: Tim Hasselbeck WAS minus-23.30 (2003).

Career titles: 6 each—Brees and Manning; 2—Warner; 1 each—Brady, Gannon, Palmer and Young.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2016

Upset Bird Day in America! Our NFL Week 1 picks; plus Super Bowl poll. Vote now; also, FIU falls, study slams subsidies for sports facilities including Marlins Park, your verdict on biggest Heat acquisition & more

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

Wingicecream1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Pictured right, what stars in a Greg Cote sweet dream? Yes. Yes it is. It's Chicken Wing-flavored ice cream! 2) Marlins worth watching tonight: Jose Fernandez vs. Clayton Kershaw. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's biggest personnel move with poll, computer's gloomy prediction for Dolphins, debut of SOPY rankings, Arian Foster named starter, Canes crack Top 25, miserable Marlins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FIU falls hard: The now 0-2 FIU Panthers hosted and lost to Maryland 41-14 last night. The Int'l was only one of seven state FBS teams to open with loss last week, and followed that by allowing 477 yards oif offense to Terps in a blowout loss.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

Heaviest-bet NFL team over/unders: Via Bovada: The heaviest-bet "overs" on win totals are Cardinals (84 percent on 9.5 wins), Patriots (79% on 10.5) and Panthers (72% on 10.5). Heaviest-bet "unders" are Eagles (82% on 7 wins), Colts (78% on 9.5) and Rams (74% on 7.5).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. WAIT. NO. IN AMERICA!:It has arrived -- our historic 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, today in the print edition and also online. A South Florida tradition that began in 1991 continues as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our 2016 Kickoff Weekend picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Seahawks, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our picks and on Thursday Night Gem for tonight's pick. (We rolled to a big start last night, nailing Denver's upset of Carolina). We also have an accompanying NFL column with our division-by-division forecasts and projected won-lost records along with our Super Bowl pick. Click on Fearful Forecast to read.  We'll also be updating you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we fared the previous weekend with our picks, and with our Greg's Lobos fantasy teams.

Nfl Sb51KING SPORT AWAKENS! IT'S FOOTBALL DAY IN AMERICA!: The college game had a one-week head start. Now let the pros take over, kids. The NFL regular-season begins tonight -- click on Thursday Night Gem for our pick on the Panthers-Broncos game -- and so starts a continuous six-month blitzkrieg of America's immersion in fantasy football and gambling as 32 teams set out to reach and win a Super Bowl. Las Vegas betting odds and the public's reaction to those estimates suggest there are a consensus of six teams pretty clearly above the rest in terms of being likeliest to win it all. We're curious about your thoughts so we have listed all six current betting favorites in our new poll, and we added a seventh team, Denver, in the sentimental belief every reigning champion deserves at least that small nod of respect. No matter the team you cheer for, vote with head, not heart, as if you were given $100 to lay on one team only, straight up, to be this season's champ. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NEW ECONOMIC STUDY SLAMS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR SPORTS FACILITIES, INCLUDING MARLINS PARK: A new economic study by the respected Brookings BrookingsInstitute think tank says federal taxpayers have subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports facilities at a cost of $3.2 billion since 2000, via tax-exempt federal municipal bonds. Because high-income bond holders receive that additional tax break for holding the bonds, the resulting loss in total revenue to the federal government is even larger at $3.7 billion. The Miami Marlins' new stadium is included in the study, and is shown to have received a $100 million tax subsidy at a lost-government-revenue pricetag of $132 million. The study looked at 48 stadiums and arenas in America's Big 4 sports. The Marlins received the 12th most in federal subsidy and caused the 10th most in lost revenue. Click on Brookings Study for the full story.

Poll result: Not LeBron, not Shaq, not Wade -- Riley is Heat's biggest acquisition: We asked what has been the Miami Heat's biggest personnel move or acquisition, and hiring executive Pat Riley was a runnaway winner with 50.3 percent. After that it was 24.7% for drafting Dwyane Wade, 16.9% for signing LeBron James/BIg Three, 6.7% for trading for Shaquille O'Neal, and 1.3% for trading for Alonzo Mourning.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2016

Who was Heat's biggest acquisition? Poll. Vote now!; plus gloomiest forecast yet (by far) for Dolphins season; also, new Back In My Day, Fins individual stat projections, SOPY Week 1 rankings, UM cracks Top 25, Arian Nation, miserable Marlins & more

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

2 Fripix1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Click here for latest ESPN Radio "Best Of" podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show. My new Back In My Day segment kicks in late in the pod, around the 1 hour 11 minute mark. 2) Countdown: 2 days 'til the Upset Bird! Our NFL Friday Page predictions return Sept. 9. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush FAMU in opener with season-debut CSM poll, Collball Week 1, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes (barely) crack Top 25: A 70-3 Miami win over Florida A&M combined with three other teams dropping out of the Top 25 was enough for the Hurricanes to inch up one spot to No. 25 in the latest Associated Press poll.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

DOOM! GLOOM! COMPUTER PROJECTS DOLPHINS FOR 5.9 WINS: Predictionmachine.com computers played the upcoming NFL season 50,000 times, forecasting a Seattle over Pittsburgh Super Bowl, and projecting a mere 5.9 victories for Miami -- while computing that Miami has better than a 50 percent win probablty in only three games. Ouch. This is the gloomiest forecast yet for this Dolphins season. Miami's game by game projected results, based on the computer model:

        Opponent                Projected Dolphins result     Win probability

G1    @ Seahawks             L 28.7-17.4                        21.4%

G2    @ Patriots                L 25.8-19.5                        33.9

G3    Vs. Browns               W 25.3-23.4                       54.4

G4    @ Bengals                L 28.8-19.2                        26.1

G5    Vs. Titans                W 25.2-24.9                       50.7

G6    Vs. Steelers             L 29.7-22.6                        33.1

G7    Vs. Bills                   L 26.1-22.3                        40.8

G8    Vs. Jets                   L 23.3-20.1                        41.9

G9    @ Chargers              L 30.0-22.4                        31.8

G10   @ Rams                  L 25.9-19.7                        33.9

G11   Vs. 49ers                W 26.6-23.6                       57.1

G12   @ Ravens                L 27.2-20.2                        32.7

G13   Vs. Cardinals          L 22.5-20.2                        44.2

G14   @ Jets                    L 25.9-18.6                        31.3

G15   @ Bills                   L 28.3-20.6                         30.9

G16   Vs. Patriots            L 29.5-20.1                         27.5

Totals: Dolphins 21.2 points per game; Opponents 26.5

HeatWHAT HAS BEEN HEAT'S MOST IMPORTANT PERSONNEL MOVE?: Hey, Pat Riley himself brought this up, not me! Recently he volunteered the question and discussion, saying, "I say this and I mean this. Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition we ever made, including the Big Three. Getting Shaquille changed everything for our franchise." Was he throwing a bouquet at Shaquille O'Neal because Miami is about to retire his jersey number? Was he taking a not-so-subtle shot at LeBron James for the way he left? Or, did Riley have a legitimate point? From the petri dish of questions arises this poll. I offer five main options -- listed chronologically -- and I think you could make a valid argument why at least four of them might be the right answer. So take a dip in our poll. Vote for your No. 1 choice and check back often to monitor evolving results.

THEY'RE BAA-AAACK! SOPY RANKINGS, THE 'STATE HEISMAN,' RETURN  WITH KID NOLE ON TOP: Today begins the fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Sopy DfrancoisYear -- our weekly cumulative rankings that measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. We close it off after the regular season so as not to penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Well, Kid Nole, FSU freshman QB Deondre Francois (pictured), is out the gate best with 280.5 points in last night's wild comeback pointfest. The Canes, who put up 70 points but spread the wealthy individually, put only Joe Yearby in the initial Top 10, ninth with 130 points. Here is our first SOPY Top 10 of 2016, followed by a list of annual champions and our first Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 1:

Rank   Player, Team-pos.                            Week/Year

1        Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                  280.5

2        Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                        202.5

3        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          192

4        Justin Holman, UCF-qb                     178.5

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                159

6        Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   151

7        Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    140

8        Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5

9        Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        130

10      Jesus Wilson, FSU-rec                       125 

Bubble: Mark Walton, Miami-rb, 122. Week 1, season best: Francois, FSU-qb, 280.5.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 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 (1-0); 2. Miami (1-0); 3. Florida (1-0); 4. South Florida (1-0); 5. UCF (1-0); 6. FAU (1-0); 7. FIU (0-1).

AfosterFOSTER IS DOLPHINS' STARTING RB, BUT WHAT'S IT REALLY MEAN?: Dolphins lifted Arian Foster to No. 1 running back (no real surprise) on their depth chart Monday, but that answer remains surrounded by questions. Can he stay healthy? Will he return to his prime-year productivity? Will he get a heavy load or be the front-man in a split-duty situation with Jay Ajayi and others? Fantasy drafters who gambled on Foster should be happy. Still not sure he's a fantasy starter, though. I'd want proof against a suspicion he'll be an eight-carry, three-catch kind of guy. Foster starting gives Miami a bit of star power on the field. But let's see how it plays out.  

Dolphins' individual statistical projections: Miami betting over/unders straight outta Bovada: Ryan Tannehill--4,100 pass yards, 23.5 TDs, 12 INTs; Most rushing yards--Arian Foster 2-3 odds, Jay Ajayi 6-5; Jarvis Landry--1,000 catch yards, 5 TDs; Cam Wake--10.5 sacks; Ndamukong Suh--6 sacks.

STANTON, BOUR RETURN BUT MARLINS' MISERABLE SKID CONTINUES...: Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour both were reactivated by the Marlins yesterday, to little avail. Gawd. This is so Marlins. They're in the wild-card playoff hunt and they're in it and they're in it and then ...  this. A 10-18 August record left Miami scrambling to hang in the chase, and Tuesday's home loss meant the rotting Fish now have lost 10 of their past 11 games -- a terrible skid at exactly the wrong time. They now are on the far periphery of the playoff hunt at 6 games off pace. For any chance at all, with 23 games left, they'd need a fast and dramatic pivot. They'd need to be as good the rest of September as they've been bad lately, because a once-promising season is circling the drain. It would go down as a fairly epic collapse for Don Mattingly's guys, and only the Marlins themselves can rewrite that gloomy narrative.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 05, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.2%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes' 70-3 rout, ready-or-else Dolphins, Collball Week 1, reeling Marlins & more

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

Fripix 41) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Happy Labor Day, my fellow American wokers! 2) Countdown: 4 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions return Sept. 9. 2) UM Sports Hall of Fame reminds us that this past weekend in 1994 the Canes beat Georgia Southern 56-0 to win a record-setting 58th consecutive home game. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins unveil Hard Rock Stadium, FIU opens with loss, Footballapalooza, Marlins fade, your Kaepernick verdict, 'LeBrone' & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Updated Dolphins best/worst odds: Bovada has new odds out on best and worst NFL records. "Best" picks are Packers at 5-1, Seahawks 13-2 and Patriots 15-2, with Dolphins tied for 21st at 75-1. "Worst" faves are are Browns at 4-1, 49ers 5-1 and TItans 9-1, with Miami tied for 12th at 20-1.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our latest, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

1aa1csmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 97.2%: Results are certified in the season-opening Canesfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show 97.2 percent overall satisfaction (combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday night's 70-3 victory over Florida A&M. This begins the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Analyzing the G1 vote: Well, 97.2 percent is astounding -- about the optimum you'll see in any blog vote, any topic, anytime, anywhere. Because there are always straggling naysayers. I could ask in a poll, "Would like more money?" and the vote wouldn't be higher than this. Canes fans are ebullient right now, and should be.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

Next poll: Sept. 10 following game vs. Florida Atlantic

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

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Canes ace start of Richt Era with rout of Florida A&M: Call it a soft opening of the Mark Richt Era at UM. Florida A&M? The marching band is great. The football team, not so much. FAMU is Division 1-AA and went 1-10 last year, so if the Canes didn't win this game handily, then Richt just enjoyed the shortest honeymoon in the history of sports. No worries. I don't care how bad the opponent is. You win 70-3, that's crazy-impressive.

2. DOLPHINS: 6 Days 'til season opener at Seattle. Uh oh: Miami's refurbished, renamed stadium looks great. The team in a 2-2 preseason looked OK. The roster pared to a final 53 on Saturday with no surprises. But none of that matters now. All that does is "at Seattle" this coming Sunday to open the NFL regular season. The preseason didn't tell us much about the Fins, but we're about to find out fast.

3. MARLINS: Playoff hopes trying to survive awfully timed swoon: A 10-18 August record left Miami scrambling to hang in the NL wild-card chase, with team now 4 games off pace after eight losses in past nine games including yesterday's demoralizing walkoff defeat. Maybe a six-game homestand starting today/Monday will help, but there's little margin of error left. Fish need to start being as good in September as they were bad last month.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: 'Noles, other top-ranked team gets immediate test: The four top-ranked teams that began season on inside rail for College Football Playoff -- Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma and Florida State -- could hardly coast out the gate against tough opponents. Nick Saban's Tide rolled big over USC, but the Sooners lost to Houston and Tigers barely got by Auburn. Noles close Week 1 tonight vs. No. 11 Ole Miss. Ready? Better be.

5. HEAT: Bosh mystery continues as camp draws near: Chris Bosh said on social media, "Yes, I'm hooping." More accurately, after two seasons disrupted by blood-clot issues, he's still hoping to be hooping. Club remains noncommittal on his future even as Sept. 27 start of training bears down fast. C'mon, Heat. Tick tock. You owe fans, and especially Bosh, a clear answer and soon.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open begins final week: Top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams (who surpassed Martina Navratilova's women's modern-era record for most Grand Slam matches won) lead the march into the quarterfinals round that started Sunday. This is first U.S. Open since they put a roof on the place, so fans of rain delays are totally screwed now.

7. FIU: Panthers lose to Indiana to open season: FIU led its Big Ten foe 13-12 entering the fourth quarters before collapsing like a Ponzi scheme late at home. NCAA has denied school's subsequent petition to shorten games to three quarters.

8. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB's controversial protest still making news: Now local police are threatening to refuse to work 49ers home games unless the team disciplines its quarterback for his refusal to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. I guess that "To Protect and Serve" motto has become, "To Protect and Serve Those We Like."

9. NASCAR: Dale Jr. to miss rest of season: Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss remainder of Sprint Cup season due to concussion issues, with just one race left now until the cut to the round of 16 drivers in the Chase for the Cup ending in Homestead. So at least Junior has a better excuse than usual this year for not winning the championship.

10. PAT RILEY: Heat boss says Shaq topped LeBron and Big 3: "Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition that we ever made, including the Big Three." Hmm. Careful, Pat. Once you're in your 70s and you start talking like that, people may begin to wonder if the mind is going.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins and Uber have entered a business partnership. Fins offense will now be using Uber to drive it into the end zone ..... Heat players Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson, both with recently signed mega-contracts, each have purchased huge mansions. Athletes used to be judged by their feet. Now it's their square feet .....  Canes lose two top defenders in a scandal related to luxury cars, and now a walk-on scout team QB gets arrested for cocaine. Jesus! Can't these college kids at least wait 'til they grow up to start making dumbass decisions!? .....  Sorry, Chris McCain, but when the Dolphins trade you for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, it means you weren't that good ..... Dwyane Wade, taking on the cause of Chicago gun violence, said he has "a bigger purpose than basketball." Bulls fans responded, "Yeah, but can you make basketball sort of the priority, please?" ..... Bleacher Report predicts UM men's basketball will finish 12th in the 15-team ACC. So the Canes quietly have canceled the upcoming season ..... Fantasy football: Where league members enjoy the camaraderie by all auto-selecting in an online draft ..... NFL stars James Harrison, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were exonerated by the league of a PEDs accusation in an Al Jazeera article. I don't know who this Al guy is, but he'd better get his facts straight ..... Tone-deaf Penn State plans to honor Joe Paterno Sept. 17 on 50th anniversary of his first game -- almost as if he wasn't fired in disgrace in 2011 amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal ..... Philadelphia will host the 2017 NFL Draft. Excited fans there already are preparing by practicing vociferous booing of anticipated picks ..... Tim Tebow had his baseball tryout and wasn't that impressive, but looked lovable and God-fearing anyway ..... Former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was released from jail after serving only three months for rape. The judge who gave that sentence should be jailed and serve longer ..... Joey Bosa finally ends holdout, signs with Chargers. How to Begin an NFL Career Badly 101 ..... Little League World Series continues rocked by over-age player scandals as two stars from winning team miss victory parade because their wives went into labor ..... World Series of Poker final table getting close, the annual popular gathering spot for egomaniacs wearing sunglasses indoors ..... Upcoming 23rd season of "Dancing With the Stars" will include Olympic clown Ryan Lochte, retired Lion Calvin Johnson, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe and --why the hell not! -- Vanilla Ice ..... R.I.P., Gene Wilder.

G1: HURRICANES 70, FLORIDA A&M 3 (FINAL): LAUNCH OF RICHT ERA ENJOYS A SOFT BUT IMPRESSIVE OPENING:  Final: What to say about a 70-3 game? Hugely impressive for Miami, with 4 TD passes by Kaaya and 3 UM 100-yard rushers for the first time since 1987. And equally embarrassing for poor FAMU. Click on Awesome Vs. Awful for my column from the game. ..... 4Q: Mercifully, humanely, the scoring seems to have abated. ..... 3Q: UM 70-3 in last seconds of third on Gus Edwards' 74Y run. ... UM 63-3 on Rosier's 19Y run. ... Backup QB Malik Rosier in for Kaaya with 4 minutes left in third. Smart move. Also, sportsmanlike. ... And now an INT by UM's Adrian Colbert. I'm now officially embarrassed for FAMU. ... Braxton Berrios 41Y punt-return TD makes it 56-3. My fingers are tired form typing all these Canes TDs. ... Well it's now 4 TGD passes for Kaaya and a 49-3 score. Time to sit Kaaya and some other starters now. ... Kaaya's 3rd TD pass is 15Y to a very fast Ahmmon Richards. ... Mark Walton 37Y scoring run has Miami up 35-3. Gorgeous dash with a high-step finish. ..... Half: It's a weird 28-3 because FAMU leads in time of possession by a 2-to-1 margin and only trails in total yards 214-54. And yet the game is non-competitive. Not for a minute has mistake-prone A&M given the impression it might bet back in it. ..... 2Q: It's 28-3 now with A&M on board with 31Y FG. ... Now 28-0 Canes on a Yearby 64Y scoring run. ... Canes 21-0 on Kaaya 16Y scoring pass to Chris Herndon. ..... 1Q: Canes miss 33Y FG attempt. ... UM up 14-0 on Joe Yearby 1Y TD set up by Canes block of Rattlers punt. ... UM 7-0 on Brad Kaaya to Marquez Williams 4Y pass after Corn Elder interception for UM. ... FAMU players wearing white uniforms with white numbers that cannot be seen. Perfect. ... Let's go! ..... Original post: Curtain up! Miami Hurricanes open their 91st season of college football this evening -- no wise guys, I was not there for the 1926 opener -- at 6 p.m. in a massively renovated, newly renamed home stadium that should impress those seeing it for first time. The four gigantic video screens alone are a mind- Miafamublower. The game also marks the heralded debut of new head coach Mark Richt, whose arrival helped generate a spike of 12,500 additional season tickets. Richt was hired to lead UM back to the promised land -- a promise broken or delayed ever since Miami won its last of five national championships in 2001. You notice I'm not talking about the Game 1 opponent? It doesn't figure as a compelling or even competitive game. For UM's sake, it better not be! Miami is one spot outside the Top 25 and should whisper into the polls with a win, coupled with upsets elsewhere, while Florida A&M is, well, pretty awful. Great marching band, lousy football players. The Division 1-AA Rattlers were 1-10 last year and have lost nine straight to Miami (see The List below) by an average score of 49-6. You read that right. "Expert" expectations for Miami are modest elsewhere; ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit guesses a 7-6 season, for example. I think the Canes will be better, possibly even a 10-win team. Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz preaches that his guys play "in a very violent manner." If they do and if quarterback Brad Kaaya is as great as I think he'll be, it could be strong season out of Coral Gables. By the way, Kaaya is legal now. Turns 21 today. Gift to self: Five touchdown passes? Should launch smoothly tonight with a predictable yet impressive rout that won't be much of a gauge, but should be a party. My pick: Hurricanes 52-6.

Other FBS Week 1 football:

Indiana 34, FIU 13: Panthers led 13-12 entering fourth quarter before collapsing late at home Thursday night. Three interceptions and bad run defense ushered in coach Ron Turner's fourth season at The Int'l.

FAU 38, Southern Illinois 30: Owls of Boca were 3-9 last year but have recruited well and are seen as on rise. I gave 'em a big shot at home-opening win and was right. QB Jason Driskel was great.

No. 25 Florida 24, Massachusetts 7: Gators were favored by 36 1/2 points in The Swamp but narrowly led entering fourth. Unimpressive debut for UF.

No. 4 Florida State 45, No. 11 Ole Miss 34: Plenty of experts see Jimbo Fisher leading his Noles into the four-team College Football Playoff, but FSU was only a modest 5-point favorite in this prime-timer in Orlando that closed Week 1. Noles didn't look the part in trailing by 22, but did with the monster comeback behind a freshman quarterback. 

Other state FBS games: South Florida crushed Towson State 56-20 and UCF pounded and shut out South Carolina State 38-0.

National collball Week 1 overview: No soft opening for the Big 4 teams out the gate. Prior to FSU's challenging opener Monday night, on Saturday, No. 3 Oklahoma was an upset loser to No. 15 Houston by 33-23. No. 1 Alabama crushed No. 20 Southern Cal 52-6, but No. 2 Clemson had all it could handle, winning 19-13 at unranked but upset-capable Auburn.

SopySOPY'S BACK!: Our weekly State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings return for another season, comparing the offensive output of quarterbacks, receivers and running backs from our seven state FBS schools: Miami, FSU, Florida, FIU, FAU, South Florida and UCF. Because 'Noles play Monday this week, look for the first SOPY Top 10 in the blog Tuesday morning.

THE LIST: CANES' MOST LOPSIDED FOOTBALL SERIES: The opponents Miami has most dominated in its history, minimum 10 all-time meetings:

Opponent                    UM record         Last met

Rutgers                       1.000 (11-0)     2003

Temple                        .929 (13-1)      2005

Florida A&M              .909 (10-1)         2016

Cincinnati                   .846 (11-2)       2015

Duke                           .846 (11-2)      Play Nov. 26; prior 2015

West Virginia               .842 (16-3)      2003

Boston College            .828 (24-5)       2012

East Carolina              .818 (9-2)         2003

Louisville                   .750 (9-3-1)      2014

Wake Forest               .727 (8-3)         2013

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 02, 2016

Magnifico! Dolphins unveil fab 'new' stadium in fake-game loss. Our review; plus FIU falls in opener, NFL team rankings, Brad Kaaya on expectations, Ron Turner's inspiration, quantifying Marlins' slide, your Kaepernick verdict & more

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

7 Fripix1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Happy new month, y'all! 2) Countdown: 7 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions debut Sept. 9. 3) Dwyane Wade spoke on ABC's "Good Morning America" (it aired this morning) about gun violence and his role in trying to make things better in Chicago. Story here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Colin Kaepernick protest with poll, Heat owe Chris Bosh a decision, your latest Greg's Lobos verdict, Gene Wilder & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Public relations faux pas? How about when you misspell "LeBron"?: The following just landed in my email inbox: "Rise Nation is where the fit get fitter! Case in point -- freshly off-season basketball stars LeBrone James and Dwyane Wade who visited the boutique fitness studio in West Hollywood yesterday..." Subsequent references by the future former PR person also had it as LeBrone. How great.

PS4: TENNESSEE 21, DOLPHINS 10: UNVEILING OF 'NEW' STADIUM WAS TONIGHT'S STAR, NOT GAME: Postgame thoughts: Miami ends a 2-2 preseason with a loss you can't really call disappointing because starters didn't play and it didn't matter except to bottom-third roster guys looking to keep their jobs. I was there and wrote a column on the public unveiling of the newly refurbished and impressive stadium. For our review of the overhauled stadium click on Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? to read. ..... Original post: The Dolphins' fourth and final preseason game is tonight at 7 vs. the Titans, but the star of the Hrstadnight is the official, formal unveiling of the newly refurbished and newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium, with its massive canopy against rain or sun and its four giant video screens. I've been inside the new-look stadium and I must say it's quite magnificent. (If only the Dolphins were guaranteed to be as good as their "new" home looks). As for the game itself, who wins won't weigh much at all because few starters will play much, if at all. Fake-games No. 4 are all about not getting anybody hurt and arriving at final roster decisions as the 75-man roster pares to a final 53 by Saturday. The "lower third" players fighting for jobs are guys you won't see on the field much beyond special teams, or miss if they're cut. Who'll be kept as a ninth offensive lineman? Who might be the eighth defensive back? These decisions are vitally important to coach Adam Gase and to media wonks trying to out-minutiae each other; not so much to most fans. The winner tonight will be Stephen Ross and his new-look stadium, not either team.

OPENING NIGHT: FIU FALLS 34-13 TO VISITING INDIANA IN OPENER:  Postgame thoughts: FIU led a tight game in the third quarter but collapsed a bit, falling 34-13 to the BIg Ten's Indiana in the Panthers' season opener here. Wasn't the scoring binge many expected (over/under was 62 points), but FIU wasn't good enough on either side of ball, especially struggling both to run and stop the run. ..... Original post: Panthers open their football season hosting the Indiana Hoosiers tonight at 7:30 at FIU Stadium, and fans who Fiuappreciate solid defense probably should get nowhere near the place. The betting over/under is 62 total points. That's all!? Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring and offensive yards last season and yet finished 6-7 (including a bowl loss to Duke). That happens when your defense is awful, and IU's D gave up 30-plus points nine times in 2015. FIU? Coach Ron Turner begins his fourth season in Miami and Conference USA feeling pretty good about his chances of bettering last season's 5-7 mark -- those hopes pinned mostly on offense. QB Alex McGough, RB Alex Gardner and a solid blocking front could form a nice attack. But FIU's defense is young, must coalesce and wasn't very good a year ago, beaten for 30-plus points six times. Hoosiers are a 10 1/2-point favorite. I wish I sensed an upset; instead I sense a pointfest with FIU on the wrong end. I spoke at length yesterday with Turner for my latest column. It was about the team and season but mostly about him, his challenging childhood, and the strong woman who inspires him to this day. Click on She Never Quit to read.

FOOTBALLFEST! COLUMNPALOOZA!: NFL RANKINGS AND KAAYA AND TURNER, OH MY: Celebrate the return of football season as the Miami Herald rolls out its NFL/Dolphins, UM/Colleges and Dade-Broward High Schools special sections today. I contribute my annual ranking of every NFL team and also a column on Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya, along with a separate daily column on FIU coach Ron Turner as the Panthers open their season tonight:

NFL Ranking: I slot the teams 1 through 32, best to worst, in our NFL/Dolphins section, an annual exercise in futility. A year ago I way-overestimated the Dolphins, ranking them sixth. No Kool-Aid this time; I have Miami ranked 19th. For complete rank and capsule outlook on each team, click NFL Ranking

Brad Kaaya: Hurricanes' star quarterback says, "Pressure is a good thing," as he begins what could be his final season at UM. Kaaya embraces expectations and wants to exceed them. For my UM/Colleges section column on UM's most important player, including our list of 10 greatest Canes QBs, click Brad Kaaya.

Ron Turner: Who FIU's football coach (and older coaching brother Norv) turned out to be is owed to the extraordinary strength of a mother who never quit after their father abandoned the family when Ron was a baby. For a different daily column by me as FIU opens its season tonight, click She Never Quit.

 Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (a QB's one-man sit). Gase, Richt and Hope (Dolphins and Canes' positive coach hires). All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (new-name Hard Rock). The Weight Has Just Begun (inside office and expectations of Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (Wade's departure from Heat).

QUANTIFYING MARLINS' FAST FADE: It isn't just the 10-18 record in August, it's how the maudlin month ended (on a 2-7 run including five straight losses) and why (sleepy bats). Hitting coach OzunaBarry Bonds wins no-duh quote of the year in remarking Miami hitters have picked a bad time to collectively slump. So now the Fish enter Septemeber 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race, and fifth in the jockeying for two spots. Clearly the bats are to blame. Marcell Ozuna (pictured) hit .162 in August, Ichiro .209, Adeiny Hechavarria .231 and Dee Gordon has been nothing special since his return. And of course , injured power-bats Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour have been dearly missed, leaving a crater in the lineup. As a result July-to-August team totals show a .277 to .250 drop in batting average, .754 to .680 in OPS and 4.62 to 3.46 in runs per game. Can't write off Marlins' playoff chances yet, not with 29 games to go. Pressure is on now, though. Margin for error has disappeared. Miami needs to be as good this month as it was bad in August.

Poll result: Strong majority oppose Kaepernick's stand on sitting during anthem: We asked what best reflects how you feel about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, and a plurality of 43.4 percent voted that he's un-American and should be booed, while another 34.5% said they understood his cause but don't support his anthem sit. However, the other 22.1% said they fully support his cause and respect what he is doing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 29, 2016

Our fantasy draft: Who picked best team? (Was it Greg's Lobos?) New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes, Fins, Fish, tennis, Kaepernick, Marlins Park, Little League, Heat; plus Gase/Richt column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 29. Dolphins and Uber announced a new partnership today. Go to my Facebook page to read team's press release in full. 2) R.I.P., Dick Assman, 82, the Canadian gas station owner propelled briefly to fame in 1995 when David Letterman, amused by his name, had Assman on as a recurring guest. 3) Yes, your dog's jaws are strong. An average 44-pound dog exerts a bite-pressure of 363 pounds. An average adult human's is 65 pounds. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins impress vs. Atlanta, Wade cousin killed, Fins talent vs. optimism, Canes heritage dissed, Marlins get Francoeur, Riley's Heat gloom confirmed, Rolling Stone joins our cause, your verdict on Dolfan optimism & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Twitter just told me, "Your Tweets earned 1,000,953 impressions over the last 28 days." Not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's my first time over 1 mill for a month. So, thank you, Twitter family!

Latest column: Hope for Dolphins, Canes starts with Gase, Richt: Miami's two flagship football teams have done a lot wrong most of this decade. What they've done right: Hire Adam Gase and Mark Richt. This is only the second time in 51 shared years the Fins and Canes both have begun a new season with a new head coach. Click on Gase, Richt and Hope for my latest column.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. 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).

OUR 10-TEAM FANTASY DRAFT: VOTE WHO YOU THINK PICKED THE BEST TEAM: Greg's Lobos had our last of three fantasy drafts on Sunday. The Lobos will be competing 1) in a random league Fantasyfbthat won us in an ESPN V Foundation fundraising auction; 2) in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos; and 3) in our own friends-n-family league. We had an earlier poll on our V Foundation team, and our LeBatard Show team is detailed at the end of this blogpost. Our friends-n-family league had its draft Sunday, and that's this poll. All of us gathered in person, not online. We did it old-school, with a giant draft board on the wall gradually populated with names. Afterward, of course, we stood around arguing who'd had the best draft, or worst. Whose teams looked strongest, or shakiest. Now I invite you to tell us. In this poll the teams are listed in draft order in case you wish to take that into consideration. We're a 10-team PPR league, and this was a standard snake draft. Our poll is based on each team's first four picks, because if we listed all 16 names for each team it'd be unwieldy. Peruse each team's top four and, based on that, vote which team you'd most want to have. Then check back often to monitor evolving results. Tomorrow we'll let you know who was behind the winning team and how your rated our Greg's Lobos.

 

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: College football is back! Canes suspend 2, open in 5 days: Week 1 locally features Hurricanes hosting Florida A&M on Saturday, two days after FIU debuts here vs. Indiana. UM on Saturday severed ties with two of its better defensive players in DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace after both were found guilty in a school probe of improper luxury-car rentals in violation of NCAA rules. This week signals official start of the Mark Richt era at UM. Hasn't played a gamed yet, but he's already won by keeping his program clean.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Atlanta, prepare for stadium unveiling in preseason finale: After encouraging 17-6 win over Atlanta and roster cuts, Dolphins prepare for preseason finale on Thursday -- and public unveiling of refurbished, newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium. Place looks great. Will the team?

3. MARLINS: Playoff-chasing Fish add help, wrap homestand: Team is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace in a five-team wild-card scramble as it sets out today/Monday on seven-game road trip. Fish will be a part of the Tim Tebow audition after earlier trading for outfield help in Jeff Francoeur. Dear Jeff: Pretend like it's 2011, your last really good season.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Open, year's last major, set to begin: Starts today in New York with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top seeds as usual. Tennis is predictable. Then again, defending women's champ Flavia Pennetta is a household name only in her own house.

5. MARLINS PARK: Stadium to host major auto race, World Baseball Classic: Good week for the Little Havana home of Marlins. First it's announced park will host Race of Champions on Jan. 21-22, annual event pitting Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Then stadium landed first-round WBC games March 9-12 featuring U.S., Canada, Colombia and Dominican Republic. Now if only they'd add a few Marlins playoff games.

6. LITTLE LEAGUE: New York team wins annual youth World Series wraps up: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The U.S. champion team from Endwell, N.Y. beat international champs from Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to make a U.S. team LLWS champions for first time since 2011. Was it fate? How could an American team from "End well" not have a happy ending?

7. OLYMPICS: Fallout from Rio controversy for Solo, Lochte: U.S. soccer suspended and cut ties with goalkeeper Hope Solo after she called victorious Sweden "cowards," and U.S. Swimming's Ryan Lochte saw several major sponsors including Speedo drop him over his gas-station episode in Rio. Good-looking athletes, but Ugly Americans.

8. HEAT: Riley's pronouncement of "bad summer" is affirmed: Pat Riley himself called it a "bad, bad summer" for the Heat, and evidence is rolling in. SI.com this week gave Miami a D+ in its offseason grades, and ESPN.com projected the Heat for a sub-.500 38.3 wins, 10th in the East. No LeBron, no D-Wade, no assurance yet on Bosh. No hope?

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB protest by sitting for national anthem: The 49ers' embattled QB refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the country "oppression" of people of color. It's the latest chapter in his new autobiography, "How My Once-Promising Career Went Straight to Hell."

10. SOCCER: Group stage set for Champions League: Thirty-two teams in eight groups of four were drawn this week to begin play Sept. 13 in the Champions League to crown the king of European club football. Headlines went to Group C, where Manchester City was drawn with Barcelona -- meaning new Man City manager Pep Guardiola will face his longtime former club. You know you love you some international soccer when you drop a Pep Guardiola reference!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cousin of Dwyane Wade killed in Chicago shooting. "Enough is enough" Wade had said of gun violence. So sad. ..... Cricket! World cricket powers India and West Indies playing two weekend matches at Central Broward Stadium. Do cricket players have single  names like in soccer. Is the star named Jiminy? (Sorry) ..... Tony Romo got injured. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Florida Panthers dealt Dave Bolland's bloated contract and 2015 top draft pick Lawson Crouse to Arizona for second- and third-round picks. Preseason begins Sept. 27 to launch perhaps first season in club history in which winning Stanley Cup seems a legit possibility ...... Booker T. Washington beat St. Thomas Aquinas in duel of local prep football powerhouses. Circle the date. Aquinas losses come about as often as Halley's Comet ..... Only five schools in poll-era have won more national championships than Miami's five, but the Canes were ranked only 14th in an ESPN piece on college football royalty. Question: What do they mean by "fuzzy math"? ..... The Chicago White Sox, feeling the name U.S. Cellular Field wasn't awful enough, announced their stadium's new name will be Guaranteed Rate Field. No, seriously ..... Oakland Raiders have trademarked the name "Las Vegas Raiders." No, but they aren't leaving or anything! ..... Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: You bet big on Friday's Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul game in Arena Bowl 29 ..... Answer: KFC gives away tubes of "Extra Crispy Sunscreen" that smells like fried chicken. Question: What do you mean real life sometimes reads like something from The Onion? ..... Todd Marinovich was found wandering in somebody's backyard, naked and with drugs. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Congratulations, Chargers top draft pick Joey Bosa. All of San Diego hates you and you haven't even played a down yet ..... Farewell, daily fantasy sites Draft Kings and FanDuel. Sure will miss those nonstop TV ads ..... The Oakland A's traded pitcher Mike Rzepczynski, explaining, "We got tired of trying to spell and pronounce his name" ..... According to Brazilian media, 20-year-old Ingrid Oliveira and 17-year-old Giovanna Pedroso have ended their Olympic diving partnership after Oliveira kicked the teen from the room they shared at the Olympic Village in Rio so she could enjoy a night of sex with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Gonçalves. Um, is that a canoe, or are you just happy to see me?

INTRODUCING GREG'S LOBOS II, THE LEBATARD SHOW TEAM: We introduced you previously to the 2016 Greg's Lobos team that will be competing in the league that donated the most money Lobosto ESPN's V Foundation to have me as a member. Now I'd like you to meet the Greg's Lobos squad that will be competing in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos this season, a PPR league. I'd imagine this is the team we'll be referencing most on the air. Mea culpa: We were last of 14 teams in the snake-draft order. Our players, by round: 1st--RB Devonta Freeman (reigning MVL; welcome back D-Free); 2nd--WR Allen Robinson; 3rd--QB Drew Brees; 4th--WR Randall Cobb; 5th--TE Delanie Walker; 6th--RB Melvin Gordon; 7th--WR Willie Snead; 8th--RB Theo Riddick; 9th--RB Tevin Coleman; 10th--Seahawks D/ST; 11th--WR Terrance Williams; 12th--TE Clive Walford; 13th--PK Chandler Catanzaro; and 14th--QB Teddy Bridgewater. Last season's 10-team league has grown to 14 teams with one dropout (Papi) and five expansion teams. Returning teams are Dan, Stugotz and myself along with Mike, Roy, Chris, Charlie, Guillermo and Allyson. The five newbies are Amin Elhassan, Randy Scott, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and (are you ready) WWE pro wrestler Tyler Breeze.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 27, 2016

D-Wade's cousin killed in Chicago shooting; plus Dolphins impress in dress-rehearsal and Fins talent vs. hope; also, Canes football dissed in royalty rank, Marlins host WBC, Rolling Stone joins us, Jeff Francoeur, Heat's summer grade, Zika & more

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

Zikabillboards1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 26. The Marlins' comeback from 6-2 down to win last night -- that's one of the games they'll look back on and credit should they make the playoffs. 2) Marlins hosting WBC: Marlins Park will host first-round World Baseball Classic games next March 9-12 involving USA, Canada, Colombia and reigning champ Dominican Republic. 3) A new double-billboard (pictured) in Miami-Dade near the Wynwood epicenter of the Zika virus has been put up to promote condom use against the spread of the virus. Click on image for larger view. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins preseason thus far with poll, Race Of Champions coming to Miami, what really sank Ryan Lochte, KFC sunscreen & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Miami only 14th among college football 'royalty': ESPN in this piece today examines which schools lead the list of college football royalty. They have a five-way tie for first place, which is lame. Also dubious: the Miami Hurricanes, tied for sixth with five national championships in the poll era, are ranked only 14th, below both Florida and FSU. Oy!

Imagine if Dolfans were optimists right now: Preposterous, I know. But that is the premise of today's new column by me. Pessimism is easy. Optimism takes effort. Click on All The Things That Could Go Right to read our latest column in full.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. 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). Ichiro!

The Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back with the regular season. Look for the first one the night of Sept. 11.

NykeaaldridgeWADE'S COUSIN KILLED IN CHICAGO SHOOTING: Just a few weeks ago at the ESPY Awards Dwyane Wade was one of four NBA stars to somberly address the issue of gun violence in America. "Enough is enough," he said. Yesterday in Chicago, Wade's own cousin was fatally shot on Chicago's South Side. Police said Nykea Aldridge, 32 (pictured), died when two men fired shots at a third man walking with Aldrudge and that the bullet was not intended for her. Aldridge was pushing a baby stroller when killed. She was the daughter of Wade's mother's sister. So awful. Wade, the former Heat star now with the Bulls (still strange to say), Tweeted last night: "My cousin was killed today in Chicago. Another act of senseless gun violence. 4 kids lost their mom for NO REASON. Unreal. #EnoughIsEnough." Click here for the full story via the Chicago Tribune.

PS3: DOLPHINS 17, ATLANTA 6 (FINAL) IN ORLANDO: STRONG SHOWING IN DRESS REHEARSAL: Postgame thoughts: OK I wrote that "Try Optimism" column and a lot of you angst-ridden Dolfans chided me. Fine. But last night you saw signs. Miami was playing a team that won two more games than the Dolphins did last year and Miami controlled the night. Tannehill looked sharp. The offensive line protected well. The defense looked solid. Overall a very encouraging performance. Ndamukong Suh was excellent before leaving with a minor ankle injury. I wonder if Zak Dysert might unseat concussed Matt Moore as backup QB. Bottom line? A good night for the Dolphins and coach Adam Gase. ..... Halftime thoughts: Very solid half by Miami. One that is encouraging. Ryan Tannehill sharp, 20-for-29 for 155 yards, with at least three drops, and the one interception off a deflected ball at the line. Not much running game, but a fair dose of Arian Foster (5-10 rushing with a TD, 2-20 receiving). Offense held possession by almost a 2-to-1 margin. Dolphins defense solid, too, limiting ATL to 116 offensive yards on 27 snaps. Good to see Cam Wake in his season debut. Coach Adam Gase on first half: Said offense "did a a good job. A tipped ball for a pick is always a tough one to swallow but I thought I liked the tempo of the guys." Also liked his defense: "We got some hands on some balls. I feel like they did a great job as far as putting pressure on them. The four-man rush was good. Coverage was tight. I feel like we made some strides." ..... Original post: The third exhibition of four is a Dolphins "home" game tonight, though it's being played up in Mousetown, scheduled there originally as a hedge in case the facelift on the newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium was not yet ready for public view. Miami is 1-1 in fake games after winning at the Giants then losing in Dallas, but of course PS3 is always the big one, the one dress rehearsal in which starters play a lot and how you look sort of matters. The exhibition finale Miaatlwill be mostly rest-starters/don't-get-hurt mentality, so tonight is the night to see the closest facsimile yet of the actual 2016 Dolphins. But only to a point! Expect Miami to not show much or flex the playbook offensively. Why? Simple. The Falcons' second-year coach, Dan Quinn, got hired because he previously was Seattle's defensive chief, and now runs the same defense (albeit with much less talent) in Atlanta. Miami opens the regular season where? At Seattle. So the Fins obviously won't provide a lot tonight for the Seahawks to study and prepare for. That's standard NFL gamesmanship. Having said that, the starters will play more than in the first two fake games. Receiver Jarvis Landry said tonight is "not something to judge us by," but also acknowledged the added emphasis on PS3: "Of course. Usually the third preseason game for your starters is the game that you get the most burn. For us, it’s an opportunity to go out and make it feel like a game as much as possible." Hopefully we'll see a sizable dose of Arian Foster, who continues to be slotted higher than Jay Ajayi in (for what it's worth) fantasy rankings and drafts. Also interested to see if Cam Wake, back from an Achilles injury, makes his season debut defensively. Coach Adam Gase must cut 15 players from the roster by this coming Tuesday so the bottom-thirders will be playing for their professional lives tonight. Who says there's no drama in August! Since tonight's game counts, a little, sort of, I'll update scores live here as they happen and check in with halftime and postgame thoughts.

NsuhQUANTIFYING DOLPHINS' TOP-TALENT SHORTFALL: As Miami prepares for its third preseason game tonight in Orlando, the dress rehearsal vs. Atlanta, ESPN.com this week is out with its annual Top 100 ranking of NFL players, and your Dolphins fared poorly with but one player mentioned, the guy over there. Meanwhile elsewhere in the AFC East there are 16 guys mentioned among the Patriots' seven, the Jets' five and the Bills' four. The division's Top 100 talent, according to the Worldwide Leader's panel of 50-plus King Sport experts:

Patriots (7): 3rd overall--TE Rob Gronkowski; 6th--QB Tom Brady; 50th--S Devin McCourty; tie-56th--OLB Jamie Collins; 89th--CB Malcolm Butler; tie-93rd--WR Julian Edelman; and 99th--OLB Dont'a Hightower.

Jets (5): 30th--CB Darrelle Revis; 32nd--DE Muhammad Wilkerson; tie-56th--WR Brandon Marshall; 65th--DE Sheldon Richardson; and 72nd--C Nick Mangold.

Bills (4): 79th--DT Marcell Dareus; 85th--CB Stephon Gilmore; tie-93rd--WR Sammy Watkins; and 97th--RB LeSean McCoy.

Dolphins (1): 25th--DT Ndamukong Suh (pictured). That's it, folks. I thought Jarvis Landry deserved a spot somewhere in lower 100. Reshad Jones might have, too, and thought even Cam Wake still might have snuck in. Alas, no. Only Suh. And he plummeted from a No. 4 overall ranking a year ago.

Also of note on the list: Former Hurricane TE Greg Olsen (Panthers) ranked 45th, ex-Canes DE Calais Campbell (Cardinals) ranked 66th; former Dolphin and Cane DE Olivier Vernon (Giants) ranked 91st; and ex-Dolphin CB Vontae Davis (Colts) ranked 96th.

Poll result: Preseason thus far has made Dolfans less confident, not more: We asked how the Dolphins' first two preseason performances have left you feeling about the team and season, and by a more than 6-to-1 margin it was "worse" (62.8 percent), not "better" (9.6%). The other 27.6% answered "no different."

WELCOME ABOARD, ROLLING STONE: The Chicago White Sox have announced they will change the name of their stadium from U.S. Cellular to Guaranteed Rate Field. In other words, a bad name is getting worse. This led RollingStone.com, in this article today, to write the headline, "Yes, Chicago White Sox Have the Worst Stadium Name in Sports," with this subhed: "It's time to
Rollingstonestart protesting corporate sponsorship by calling your team's stadium whatever you want."
Hallelujah! You all know I have been saying and writing that for years, and that I generally refrain from referring to corporate-named stadiums and arenas in columns. Just last week, in this column on the renaming of Hard Rock Stadium, I wrote: "I fundamentally dislike the idea of corporate names on stadiums and arenas, as many careful or longtime readers know. In most columns I avoid them where possible. I go with generic descriptions, such as the Heat playing in "the downtown bayside arena." Because why should I pimp for an airline? (Or a casino?) TV networks that have lucrative partnerships with leagues are contractually bound to mention "Hard Rock Stadium" early and often during telecasts. But newspapers and other independent media are not. Neither are fans. Consider: All that's left is for franchises to lease their very team's name to corporate sponsors. "The Heat Presented by McDonald's," with golden arches on the jerseys. Would you start calling them the McDonald's Heat because you were told to? So why can't you continue to call it Marlins Park even after naming rights are sold?" So, apparently our little cause is growing. Welcome aboard, Rolling Stone. Nice of you to join us!

JfrancoeurHERE'S WHY MARLINS GETTING JEFF FRANCOEUR WAS SMART: Marlins last night acquired right fielder Jeff Francoeur (pictured) from the Braves, giving up a pair of minor leaguers. I like the now mentality; there is a wild-card playoff spot to be won. Francoeur, 32, is past his prime but not a has-been. Here's why I like the move: 1) There was a need, with Giancarlo Stanton out, and Ichiro better when used less. 2) Very good right fielder with big range and a strong arm. Has led NL in outfield assists five times and leads all active RF'ers in defensive double plays. 3) Can still hit. Last season and this one (a combined 619 at-bats), Francoeur has 20 homers, 29 doubles and 78 RBIs with a .258 average. Not great production, but not bad, either. And 4) Really positive veteran clubhouse presence for a young team in a stretch run. Good move, Fish. 

HeathiphopRILEY SAID HEAT HAD A BAD SUMMER. CONFIRMED!: Pat Riley called it a "bad, bad summer for us." SI.com this week agreed, giving Miami a "D-plus" in its NBA offseason grades. The Heat held onto center Hassan Whiteside but not a lot else went right, from losing beloved icon Dwyane Wade to the continuing uncertainty over Chris Bosh to being forced to overspend to keep Tyler Johnson to failing to land the "whale" Kevin Durant. Franchise's summer might have been a "F," but at least none of Micky Arison's cruiseships sank. Pictured right, apropos of nothing, the Heat logo reimagined, via an uproxx.com redesign of NBA logos as hip-hop artists. Trick Daddy: Liberty City's own!

PEYTON'S STILL AN NFL STAR: Love the new DirecTV ads starring retired Peyton Manning, to the tune of Lionel Richie singing, "It's Peyton on Sunday morning," as our man walks around in his bathrobe doing menial chores. That HGH/Al-Jazeera controversy rolled off Peyton's back like water off a seal. Now, even in retirement, he's still a likable, lovable star in the buildup to this NFL season.

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

Twitter @gregcote