May 27, 2016

Turf Wars: Should it be 'Miami Super Bowl' or 'South Florida Super Bowl'? Poll. Vote now!: plus rooting for LeBron, verdict on the NBA Finals you want & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA Finals matchup you most want poll, separating Marlins from Loria, your verdict on a South Florida Super Bowl & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Whale Watching Expedition, the latest one, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title. The LeBron & Draymond Follies, on the playoffs as NBA Follies. No Benefit of Doubt Left to Give On Dolphins, on how Fins must earn back the faith and trust they've lost.

Rooting for LeBron: Many if not most Heat fans don't want to, but should know it is in their best interest, because LeBron James delivering an NBA championship to Cleveland is the best shot Miami has at landing Kevin Durant or LeBron this summer. I explore in this week's latest column. Click on Whale Watching Expedition to read in full. [Quick aside: Metrics saying this column has been burning up MiamiHerald.com; one of the most-read pieces I've written in a while. Don't miss it].

TURF WARS: 'SOUTH FLORIDA' SUPER BOWL VS. 'MIAMI' SUPER BOWL: This debate interests me, and it is explained well by colleague Douglas Hanks in this story. I can speak pretty objectively here, I think, because I walk the line on Miami-Dade vs. Broward, on 305 vs. 954. A lot of both are in me. I work for the Miami Herald and do a radio show on South Beach. Yet I live
Sblogosin Broward, was raised there, and my social orbit revolves closer to Fort Lauderdale than farther south. I have a foot in each county, if you want to picture me as a Brobdingnagian colossus. And I get the parochial bickering at play on how to promote the 2019-season (February 2020) Super Bowl awarded this week to Dolphins stadium. Argument: It should be the "Miami Super Bowl" because it is being played in Miami-Dade, that county is pouring more money into hosting it, and "Miami" is a more instantly recognizable and promotable brand than the amorphous "South Florida." Counter-argument: "South Florida Super Bowl" is more accurate and fair, mainly because so many SB-related events and hotel space will be rooted in Broward. Pictured at right: the official South Florida bid committee logo used in securing the NFL owners' vote to bring the game here, and the Miami host committee logo that Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Giminez displayed -- angering Broward officials. I am rarely on the fence about anything, an awful place to be for a sports columnist paid to have sharp opinions. But in this case I see both sides. "South Florida Super Bowl" is more inclusive, accurate and fair. But "Miami Super Bowl" is more concise and a better sell nationally and internationally. I'd probably narrowly vote for the latter, but feel a tinge of guilt in doing so. Wondering what you all think; hence, this new (and alphabetical!) poll. Try to separate where you happen to work, live or play from your vote. It isn't a which-county-rules poll. I am wondering instead which way to describe the game is the better way for "us" to promote a Super Bowl being held at Dolphins stadium. Vote, say why you think that way, and check back a lot to monitor evolving results.

Poll result: Cavaliers vs. Thunder is the NBA Finals you most want to see: We asked which of four possible Finals matchups you prefer (you may still vote), and it was Cavaliers-Thunder with 42.4 percent, Raptors-Thunder 28.8%, Cavs-Warriors 21.7% and Raptors-Warriors 7.1%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 28, 2016

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

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

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

April 18, 2016

This is the Heat team that can beat LeBron and Cavs. Miami 'perfect' in 123-91 Game 1 rout of Charlotte; plus Panthers fall in OT, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Hassan Whiteside and Jaromir Jagr named Heat/Panthers season MVPs & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 18. Heat's Hassan Whiteside finishes third in NBA Defensive Plahyer of Year vote; Spurs' Kawhi Leonard wins again. 2) ESPN's mock-draft picks for Dolphins selecting 13th are two Ohio State Buckeyes -- OLB Darron Lee (says Mel Kiper) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (via Todd McShay). So it won't be either, then. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Panthers tie Islanders series, Dolphins schedule, Heat-Hornets, Heat/Panthers MVP polls, history of Miami playoff games, your Warriors vs. Kobe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

NEW COLUMN: On Heat's refreshing reliance on rookies Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson: Shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions but available to you now. Click on Rook 1, Rook 2 to read. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: This Is the Upside, off last night's hugely impressive Heat Game 1 win. Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off Friday night's necessary Panthers Game 2 win. Now We See About the Panthers, off the series-opening loss.

Cats give one away: The Florida Panthers aren't making it easy on themselves. They lose Game 1 at home. Then, last night, they lost Game 3 in Brooklyn, 4-3 in overtime, after leading 3-1. Florida nows trails their NHL first-round series to the Islanders 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday night back up there.

G1: HEAT 123, CHARLOTTE 91: DENG, WHITESIDE LEAD 'PERFECT' GAME: As bad as the Heat were in that late collapse in Boston four nights earlier, the Heat were that good Sunday night in starting the playoffs with an impressive home bang. Miami set club playoff records for most points in a game (123) and quarter (41) and most field goals made (49). Goran Dragic called it "a perfect game on both ends." It was almost literally so for Luol Deng (31 points) and Hassan Whiteside (21), who combined for 20-of-24 shooting. Miami wasn't as bad it it looked in Boston last week and can't be as great as it looked Sunday, but we saw how good this team can be. And the team we saw Sunday night can beat anybody in the East, LeBron James and Cleveland included. Game 2 is back here Wednesday night. Click on This Is the Upside for my game column off last night's gem. ..... Original post: When last we saw the Heat on the court, they were Heathornetssundaysuffering a regular season-ending meltdown in Boston akin to Jordan Spieth's in The Masters. No time for a hangover effect now, with the first-round playoffs set to begin as No. 3 seed Miami hosts No. 6 Charlotte this evening in Game 1. Despite the seed disparity both teams were 48-34 in the season and split their series 2-2, so it's understandable that Charlotte is a trendy upset pick with some in the national media. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and is 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series at 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, but must prove here that it is capable of playing all the way into the Eastern finals. Miami is one of only five of 122 franchises in the Big Four sports to make the playoffs at least 17 times and win at least three championships in the past 21 seasons, along with Lakers, Spurs, Red Wings and Yankees. The Heat have more playoff seasons than the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers combined since Miami became a four-sport city in 1993. But I see a serious early challenge here for the Heat. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

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. HEAT: Wow! Miami saves its best game of season for playoff opener:  Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets were a trendy pick to upset the No. 3 Heat in this best-of-seven, but the Heat last night said, "I don't think so." And emphatically, in a 123-91 rout in the downtown bayside arena led by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside's combined 52 points on combined 20-for-24 shooting. If last night was the real Heat, then this team is capable of beating anybody in the East ... including that guy from Cleveland, whatshisname.

2. PANTHERS: Cats give one away in crucial Game 3 loss to Islanders: One game after Roberto Luongo saved the day for Florida, the Panthers last night blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in a 4-3 overtime Game 3 loss in Brooklyn. Islanders now are up 2-1, with Game 4 back up in New York Wednesday night. Must win? Well, don't they all sort of feel like that in a best-of-seven playoffs?

3. DOLPHINS: Season schedule is out (uh oh) as Fins prepare for draft: Does new Dolphins coach Adam Gase have enemies? Apparently one — the guy who scheduled Miami to open the season at Seattle and at New England. Fins hope they fare better in the April 28-30 NFL Draft than they did with the schedule. I can't wait for the draft ..mainly because it puts a merciful end to the endless speculation of national mocks drafts and local flat-out guessing on what Miami might do.

4. MARLINS: Shh. Don’t tell anybody, but Fish in midst of homestand: Miami is in the midst of seven games in a row at Marlins Park. The question is, with the Heat and Panthers both in the playoffs and Dolphins’ draft soon, will South Florida even notice? The homestand may not be a good thing, considering it has opened with three straight losses to previously winless Braves, making Miami now 0-5 at home this year. Fish's early-season problem is clear. If your arm is loose, report immediately to the bullpen, please.

5. HURRICANES: UM’s spring game ends offseason football practice: Hurricanes’ annual Spring Game, the first under new coach Mark Richt, was Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Green beating Orange 24-7 behind Brad Kaaya's 345 yards passing before some 14,000 fans at Lockhart Stadium. Want a sad fact? Canes baseball is ranked No. 1 in the nation, but more UM fans care about a glorified football practice taking place five months before season starts.

6. NBA: Big end to regular season segues to playoffs: Basketball's regular season ended with Golden State’s record-setting 73rd win and retiring Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his final game. Top that, first round!

7. NHL: It's No, Canada! as Stanley Cup playoffs begin: Canada invented hockey. You wouldn't know it. A Canadian team hasn't lifted Lord Stanley's Cup since 1993, and now, for the first time since 1970, no Canadian team even made the playoffs.

8. NFL: Rams trade up for No. 1 pick in draft: Good offseason for Los Angeles. First the city gets the Rams back from St. Louis. Now, in first trade involving a top pick since 2004, the team gets the No. 1 draft pick from Tennessee. 

9. GOLF: Fans still abuzz over Spieth's Masters meltdown: It's been a week and golf fans still can't get over Jordan Spieth blowing The Masters and literally handing over the green jacket to Danny Willett. Then again, at least Jordan, who tied for second, had $880,000 to help dry his tears.

10. SAILING: Miamian wins Star-class world title: Miami and Coral Reef Yacht Club hosted the Star-class world sailing championships, which is of apparent tremendous interest to Star-class sailors. No, seriously, it's a big event, and Miamian Augie Diaz parlayed home-wind advantage to victory.

Missing the cut: Sidelined Chris Bosh addressed his Heat teammates and advised them to "savor the playoffs." Had he told them to take the playoffs for granted, now that woulda been newsworthy! ... Tyler Summitt (Pat's son) resigns in disgrace after impregnating one of his basketball players. Um, what were you thinking, Louisiana Tech, hiring a then 22-year-old as a head coach? ... Dolphins are conducting voluntary offseason workouts, meaning all players are expected to "volunteer" ... FIU's spring football game was canceled by bad weather. No, seriously ... A company called U-Glove makes protective disposable gloves to wear when pumping gas. Shouldn't The U demand a cut of the action? ... MLB going high-tech with iPads in dugouts for analytic research during games. Can an iPad pick up a bat or throw a slider? Then I'm not impressed ... Kyle Busch became first NASCAR driver in 25 years to win multiple races on consecutive weekends. America still doesn't like you, Kyle! ... It has come to our attention badminton is a high-school sport, begging the question, Why?

Jagr WhitesidePOLL RESULTS: HASSAN WHITESIDE, JAROMIR JAGR NAMED HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS: It was a fairly close two-man race on the basketball side, but you had Hassan Whiteside (left) as the Heat's 2015-16 season MVP over Dwyane Wade by 51.8 percent to 41.4%, with the other 6.8% voting for "someone else." Mild upset, or no? It was a landslide on the hockey end. Jaromir Jagr (right) at age 44 won with 62.9 percent of the vote, followed by Roberto Luongo (13.8%), Aleksander Barkov (11.1%) and Aaron Ekblad (also 11.1%), with "someone else" at only 1.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT'S MIAMI REIGN: How often the Miami Heat have made the playoffs relative to SoFla's other other big teams:

Team                Seasons    PO years    Pct.

Miami Heat            28        19           .679

Miami Dolphins     50        16           .320

Florida Panthers     22         5            .227

Miami Marlins       23         2            .087

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 21, 2016

Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Angelic Canes, Heat, Cats, tennis, Fins and Fish lead the way; plus our NCAA bracket (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 21. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Super Sports Saturday, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, my NCAA bracket, Cote advances in media bracket, your who'll-win verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

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 BASKETBALL: Sweet! UM men beat Wichita State, reach the 16: Miami Hurricanes men beat Wichita State 65-57 Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, led by Angel Rodriguez's 28 points. "Heaven-sent Angel lifts Miami" -- too perfect. Canes will next face Sunday-winner Villanova on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. So your bracket is in ruins, but at least the Canes are winning.

2. HEAT: Miami routs Cavaliers, humbles LeBron to stay in hunt for third place: LeBron James now is 0-3 in Miami since leaving after the Heat's 122-101 rout of Cleveland on Saturday. LeBron returning to Miami is still a big deal, sort of. But here’s a bigger deal: The Heat is in a four-team scramble to finish third in the East and avoid seeing LeBron again until the conference finals.

3. PANTHERS: Cats stay in NHL division despite Spacey loss to Red Wings: Florida has clawed back up into the division lead despite Saturday's 5-3 home loss to Detroit. The game featured a visit by actor Kevin Spacey, who inspires the “Spacey in Space” sweatshirts that inexplicably are part of the mojo of this Cats season. The sweatshirts bring luck, although apparently Spacey himself doesn't.

4. TENNIS: Federer, Serena in spotlight as Miami Open tennis sets to launch: Perennial favorite Serena Williams, defending champ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s return from knee surgery top the marquee for Miami Open tennis, which begins its annual two-week run on Key Biscayne this Tuesday. Event’s future is in some doubt, so treat the present like a gift.

5. DOLPHINS: Mixed results, disappointments continue team’s free agency run: Bumper sticker: Honk If You’ve Left the Dolphins Facility Without Signing a Contract. Running backs C.J. Anderson and Chris Johnson were the latest to do so as Miami’s first week-plus of free agency resulted in much activity but little discernible improvement.

6. BASEBALL: MLB visit to Cuba, LaRoche saga steal the headlines: Adam LaRoche of the Chicago White Sox abruptly retires after team tells him his 14-year-old son shouldn't be in the clubhouse so much. This Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban National Team in Havana. Man, baseball will do anything for attention, won't it!?

7. MARLINS: Shenanigans with the Opening Day starter: Barry Bonds, 51, out-homered Giancarlo Stanton in a friendly hitting drill. But the big news out of Marlins spring training was the team not naming ace Jose Fernandez its Opening Day starter on April 5. Ostensibly it's to give him more rest but more like it's that, with a big crowd guaranteed for the opener, the club wants to deploy Jose to help boost the gate for Game 2. Gawd, that is soooo Marlins.

8. UM/WOMEN'S NCAA: Canes make a quick exit: The Madness started and ended quickly for coach Katie Meier's women Canes, with Saturday's 74-71 upset loss to South Dakota State in their NCAA Tournament opener. Humbling: Losing your opener. Insult to injury: Losing to team nicknamed Jackrabbits.

9. NFL: Boca Raton hosts league meetings: A league executive, Jeff Miller, became first NFL official to acknowledge a direct link between football-related head trauma and brain disease. Meanwhile the NFL owners meetings are Sunday through Wednesday in Boca. Haven't seen the complete agenda but I understand the main order of business is a resolution to make Jeff Miller quit speaking.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Canes open first spring practices under Richt: The Hurricanes began spring practice with enthusiasm and praise for Mark Richt. Shocking! It was the 89,403rd consecutive time in the history of football that players praised their new head coach after his first practice. 

Missing the cut: R.I.P., Tray Walker ... Barry men reach Elite Eight in Division II. Good job, Barry ... Its Miami FC in its inaugural NASL game next Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A natural rivalry is born! ... So a jury awards Hulk Hogan $115 million because Gawker published his sex tape -- more than double what Erin Andrews received. Pays to be a cartoon character, I guess ... This just in. Looking to place people where no one will find them, the federal witness protection program has now begun hiding people in the NIT tournament ... Gall, redefined: FIFA wants back its bribe money confiscated by the U.S. government. No, seriously ... Answer: Ultra Music Festival. Question: "Where do 99.9 percent of South Floridians want to be nowhere near this weekend?" ... Barack Obama's presidential bracket had Kansas winning the men's NCAA Tournament. Republicans demanding equal time berated Kansas as overrated ... Without being able to  vent on Twitter anymore, what's Miko Grimes doing, kicking the family dog? ... IndyCar season is underway. Wake me for the Indianapolis 500 ... The Colts are building a statue of Peyton Manning. You know who else should? The city of "Omaha!" ... What's poor FIU gotta do to get another mention here? Any more scandals on deck?

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 09, 2016

On Dolphins' dubious, rocky (and low-graded) start to free agency; plus Marlins' big problem, the week of Erin Andrews and Kim Kardashian, sympathy for Maria Sharapova, your verdict on Peyton Manning, Dollar Bill Murray & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9. Hope all y'all international women had a great International Women's Day. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Peyton's-place-in-history poll, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, Dolphins trades, Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canes men on deck: Tonight's Florida State-Virginia Tech winner will face the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night in UM's debut in the ACC Tournament.

THE DOLPHINS' DUBIOUS START TO FREE AGENCY: These are the Miami Dolphins we're talking about, so, as disappointment-hardened Dolfans well know, nothing is easy, or simple. Most every move the team makes seems to come with an asterisk, or a "yeah, but." So it is with what has happened this week:

Mario1. Mario Williams for Olivier Vernon is not a smart swap: Williams, pictured, is an accomplished sacker, but he also is 31 and arrives with a reputation for quitting on his team when he feels like it and not being a great teammate. Miami is paying him star money ($17 million over two years) but it would not surprise to see him gone after one season. It would have seemed smarter -- more in keeping with a long-range vision -- to instead commit big bucks at the end position to the imminently departing Vernon, the gifted homegrown sackman and rising talent who's still only 25. /// ESPN's Bill Barnwell, in his free-agency report card, graded the Williams signing a C. He writes, in part: "It's hard to figure out the Dolphins, who seem to stick their finger into the socket, get shocked, and wonder how many of their other fingers can fit inside. Miami's top-heavy, stars-and-replacement talent roster philosophy hasn't worked for years, but instead of getting away from the tactic, the Dolphins are doubling down in 2016. The Dolphins didn't have many other options available, especially once Jason Pierre-Paul agreed to return to New York on a one-year deal, but Williams is 31 and was just run out of Buffalo amidst a cloud of anonymous sources saying derogatory things about his effort level. Would they have been better off locking up Vernon, who is just 25 and had 36 quarterback knockdowns to Williams's 11 in 2015? Or using the money saved by [possibly] cutting Cameron Wake to add much-needed depth around the roster? Do these sorts of questions ever even enter into Miami's thinking during the offseason? Williams should be better as a 4-3 defensive end than he was dropping off the line of scrimmage at times as a 3-4 outside linebacker for Rex Ryan last year, but this is another step in a tired, unsuccessful roster-building model for the Dolphins."

2. That "blockbuster" trade with Eagles is high-priced risk: The Dolphins move down from the No. 8 overall draft pick to No. 13 to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from Philly. Hmm. A shoulder issue with Maxwell jeopardized the deal but he is now cleared physically. Still, Miami is adopting his six-year, $63 million contract, very pricey for a journeyman with eight interceptions in 61 games, one who has never made a Pro Bowl and was pretty awful last season. So let's not oversell him. He has yet to prove he is No. 1 corner-caliber. Alonso, only 25, may be worth the risk; he was great as a rookie in '13. "Yeah but": He missed all of 2014 after major knee surgery, and disappointed in his comeback last season. There was a reason both players were available. /// ESPN's Barnwell graded that deal a B+ for Phily and a C- for Miami. He wrote, in part: "It's shocking that the Eagles were able to get anything in a swap for Maxwell's onerous contract. The Dolphins will likely restructure Maxwell's $8.5 million base salary as a signing bonus to create more cap space and sign more free agents, but there's still little upside on this deal. Maxwell was erratic at best in his first year outside of the Seattle cocoon, and at $10 million per year going forward, he'll need to play like a No. 1 cornerback to justify his salary, even with the rising tide of cornerback contracts. Oddly, the Dolphins may get more out of Alonso, who will likely move back to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 after getting lost in Philly's 3-4 look. With one year remaining on Alonso's rookie deal, he offers the best chance of generating surplus value in this deal for Miami."

3. Lamar Miller gone to Houston: The starting running back will sign with the Texans and take handoffs from Brock Osweiler. Miller's departure is not a surprise, but suddenly Ryan Tannehill has nobody proven to hand-off to. Remember my recent column urging the Dolphins to consider signing available RB Matt Forte? Too late. The Stinkin' Jets got him.

Mario's big props to Ross: Dolphins introduced Mario Williams today and he gave big props to owner Stephen Ross when asked what attracted him to Miami. "The direction that the organization wants to go in from top to bottom was huge," he said. "Meeting with the owner, it was really shocking to me. I can say I’ve never been in the room with an NFL owner and it was like talking to somebody who is 30 years old. He was cool to interview with. I want to say he’s 75? I know it was something like that. But to be part of something with someone who has so much enthusiasm, so much energy and passion towards the team, and then it trickles straight down to the last guy."

 Kim ON ERIN ANDREWS AND KIM KARDASHIAN: It may be a first that these two disparate women are in the same sentence or headline -- I feel I may owe an apology for that, Erin -- but I couldn't help notice the jarring juxtaposition this week involving the prominent sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and the famous-for-being-famous Kim Kardashian. One, Andrews, was winning a $55 million jury verdict in her trial against the Nashville Marriott at which she was filmed nude through an altered peephole, the creep who did it then uploading the video to the Internet for millions to watch. She testified tearfully of the devastating, life-altering invasion of her privacy and modesty. The same day as that justified verdict was read, Kardashian, apparently abhorrent to privacy -- the queen of immodesty -- published the bathroom selfie we pass along at right. With Andrews, initially, there was false speculation she'd planned the stunt for publicity. Had Kardashian been the victim of the peephole video, suffice to say the idea would have been far easier to believe.

THE MARLINS' BIG PROBLEM: It's the farm system. The latest example: The rankings of under-21 talent by MiLB.com, the official arm of minor-league baseball. Miami is graded a D. The synopsis: "At first blush, it's a good sign for our purposes that both of the Marlins' top two prospects -- Tyler Kolek and Josh Naylor -- are so young and represent their last two first-rounders. Upon further review, neither is as impressive as he looks on paper. Kolek dropped out of the Top 100 after suffering control issues in his first full season and Naylor was a surprise pick at No. 12 last June. The latter could grow into a prodigious power hitter in time, but for now, that pick remains a head-scratcher. The rest of the system doesn't look like it has any impact Major Leaguers, even among the younger prospects." Elsewhere in the NL East the Braves are graded A-, the Phillies B+ and the Mets B. MiLB.com has only three other teams graded as low or worse than the Marlins for U-21 talent: Tigers also with a D, and Angels and Diamondbacks both with F's.

MariaI FEEL BAD FOR MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sharapova's biggest crime used to be she couldn't beast Serena Williams. Now she  is branded a cheater, a doper, because she tested positive for the banned substance Meldonium. Sponsors including Nike have dropped her. What an overreaction! The drug does not even enhance athletic performance, according to the Latvian scientist who invented it. But it does help protect athletes against heart problems related to extreme physical exercise. Meldonium is a heart medicine that improves blood flow, but was added to the banned-substances list by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Jan. 1. Sharapova said she had been legally using the drug for 10 years for various medical issues, but tested positive just days after it suddenly became illegal. She deserves sympathy or benefit of doubt, not indignant condemnation.

Poll result: Plurality think Manning greatest ever, but much disagreement: We've seldom run a more evenly split blogpoll than the one asking where Peyton Manning ranks among all-time top five greatest quarterbacks. Most, 22.3 percent, said he was No. 1, the best ever. But second-most voters, 19.0%, said he wasn't even in top five. Then it was 17.4% No. 3, 14.6% No. 5, 13.8% No. 2, and 12.9% No. 4.

IF BILL MURRAY HAD DELIVERED THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Please note I do not approve of the illegal defacing of U.S. currency. Although when the defacing involves Bill Murray's face I think I'm sort of OK with it: 

Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 08, 2016

Where does Peyton Manning rank among all-time great QBs? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins' trade with Philly a dubious blockbuster, Scott 'n Trump win Doral, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, latest Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more

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

Windhorst1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 8. No radio for me today, with Dan LeBatard and Stugotz taking the week off from their show, which I normally co-host on Tuesdays. 2) There probably has been funnier erroneous information used to describe the person on the phone, but I can't think of any better than what's pictured at right. 3) Miami tie to the Falcons' are-you-gay question of a draft prospect. The position coach who asked it is Marquand Manuel, the former Florida Gator who went to Miami High. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Revisiting my infamous "trade Marino" column, Phil Mickelson's rebirth, silly furor over my Eric Reid impression & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' deal with Eagles must prove itself a blockbuster: Miami is giving up draft picks to Philadelphia to acquire veteran cornerback Byron Maxwell and young linebacker Kiki Alonso. I am doubtful this rises to the level of a blockbuster trade. There is a reason both players were available. Maxwell has disappointed in Philly and was bad last season, though his arrival likely would signal the departure of Brent Grimes. I'd still consider drafting Florida Gators CB Vernon Hargreaves No. 8 overall. As for Alonso, he was agreat as a rookie, missed 2014 after major knee surgery and disappointed in his comeback year last season. This is a gamble for Miami. 

Scott, Trump win Doral: Click on King Adam and The Donald for my column from Doral off Sunday's final round of the World Golf Championships event. Adam Scott became the first since Lee Trevino in 1973 to win both South Florida PGA Tour events back to back. But Donald Trump owned the day, and the attention, at his own course as the Florida primary loomed.

ManningWHAT IS PEYTON'S PLACE IN THE PASSING PANTHEON?: Click on For Manning, An Epic Career Ends (Almost) Perfectly for today's latest column by me. We discuss Manning's place in history as he formally announces his retirement yesterday, going out a champion after his second Super Bowl win. There is a clear Big 5 of NFL quarterbacks (Mount Rushmore-plus?) in terms of prolific numbers. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino (that's alphabetical) are the top five in various order in career touchdowns passes, yards and completions. But there have been other great quarterbacks, of course, from Otto Graham and Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana and John Elway and now Aaron Rodgers. So where does Manning -- the career leader in TDs and yards -- rank among the all-time greatest quarterbacks by however you define that crown? Take a dip in our poll.

WhitesideTHE WONDER OF WHITESIDE, QUANTIFIED: What have we here in Hassan Whiteside? How special is Miami's blossoming 26-year-old, 7-foot center? How many reasons do the Heat have to make not losing him in free agency this summer a franchise priority? I wanted to quantify those rhetorical questions by comparing what Whiteside does best -- rebound and block shots -- against the most prolific at doing that across the club's 28 seasons. The methodology: I took the six players who rank in Heat's career top 10 in both total rebounds and in blocks, and computed their per-game average in combined boards and swats. Then I figured where Whiteside would rank, presuming Alonzo Mourning as the measuring stick. Here are the results, with all figures updated entering Sunday's home win over Philadelphia:

Player (Era)                                    Rebounds / Blocks    Averages        Combined R&B Avg.

Hassan Whiteside (2014-current)      1,100 / 329            10.89 / 3.26            14.15

Rony Seikaly (1988-94)                    4,544 / 610            10.35 / 1.39            11.74

Alonzo Mourning (1996-02, '05-08) 4,807 / 1,625           8.11 / 2.74            10.85

P.J. Brown (1996-00)                        2,251 / 305              7.93 / 1.07              9.00

Chris Bosh (2010-current)                2,816 / 332              7.33 / 0.86              8.20

Udonis Haslem (2003-current)         5,649 / 246              7.02 / 0.31              7.34

Dwyane Wade (2003-current)          4,060 / 747              4.84 / 0.89              5.74

Bottom line? Seikaly, from the expansion era, was the best pure rebounder the Heat has had, without question. Likewise Zo was the best pure shot-blocker, without question. But in the combined art of boards and blocks, Whiteside's per-game average with the Heat is better than both -- 23.3 percent better overall than Mourning, and 17.0% better than Seikaly.

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

Hotbutton1. GOLF: Scott wins trophy, Trumps wins attention at WGC-Doral: Adam Scott won the World Golf Championships event at the Blue Monster but event host Donald Trump won the day at Doral Sunday, schmoozing thousands of fans in advance of the Florida primary. Conspicuously, though, afterward, Trump was not the one who presented the trophy to the winner. Perhaps his hands were too small to hold it?

2. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes stumble heading into conference Championship Week: The No. 7-ranked Miami men are headed to Washington D.C. for the ACC Tournament (their first game is Thursday night) after losing at Virginia Tech Saturday to end 24-6 and squander a shot at the ACC regular-season crown. Meanwhile the No. 21 Canes women reached their tourney's semifinal before losing Saturday to Duke. Both UM teams will hear their names called early for the NCAA Tournament in six days on Selection Sunday. 

3. FIU: Scandal rocks Panthers' women's basketball program: FIU suspended women’s basketball coach Marlin Chinn after the team captain accused him of pursuing a sexual relationship with her. Remember the good old days, when the worst thing about that team's season was its 4-25 record?

4. HEAT: Johnson fitting in, everything clicking for surging Heat: Newly acquired Joe Johnson has fit right in, Hassan Whiteside is focused and dominating, Dwyane Wade looks good, Miami shot 67.5 percent against the Bulls, the Heat’s pace has picked up and the team has won five in a row. All would be well, except Chris Bosh is still missing, along with any info on a prognosis.

5. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Slumping Cats fall out of division lead: Florida has lost its long-held Atlantic Division lead and fallen behind Tampa Bay as the Lightning have won nine games in a row while the Cats have dropped four of the past five entering tonight's home date with Boston. The good news? Sunshine State rules division!

6. DOLPHINS: NFL, Fins prepare for free agency; Williams visits Miami: Available players may sign with new teams beginning this Wednesday. Big question in Miami: Will Fins re-sign or lose RB Lamar Miller and DE Olivier Vernon? Don’t expect a blockbuster signing by Miami a la Ndamukong Suh last year, although ex-Bills DE Mario Williams visited Fins Saturday. Club restructured deals with Suh and Koa Misi to free up spending money. 

7. PEYTON MANNING: Quarterback to announce retirement: Various media reports are that Broncos QB Peyton Manning will announce his retirement today/Monday, which the team has confirmed. He goes out chased by allegations of his involvement in HGH and an incident with a female trainer while at Tennessee. But mostly he goes out a champion, and an all-time great.

8. MARLINS: Fish host Yankees on Tuesday: Spring training drones on, and no spring game is particularly important, but Marlins-Yankees in Jupiter on Tuesday is sexier than most.

9. BUD COLLINS: Tennis' loses its legendary journalist/historian: Bud Collins, for decades America's premier voice of tennis as writer and broadcaster and distinctive in his trademark loud, colorful pants, died at 86 after suffering from Parkinson's and dementia. The upcoming Miami Open on Key Biscayne, which starts March 21, had better honor Collins in a big way.

10. SOCCER: MLS opens 21st season: Major League Soccer launched its 21st season on Sunday. David Beckham's Miami franchise is on deck. Hopefully. Eventually. Maybe.

Missing the cut: Nearing a conclusion is Erin Andrews' civil suit against the Nashville Marriott she says facilitated the stalker who published a nude video of her shot through an altered peephole. Man that was a long sentence! ... Conor McGregor loses UFC 196. Why s watching an ego deflated so damned satisfying!? ... Atlanta Falcons asked a potential draftee if he was gay. "What's wrong with that!?" said every Republican presidential candidate ... LeBron James worked out with Dwyane Wade in Miami during a break in the NBA schedule. "Thank you," said rumor-mongering social media ... The Iditarod sled-dog race is underway in Alaska. I wonder if Sarah Palin can see it form he backyard? ... Four Florida Panthers including American Aaron Ekblad were named to World Cup of Hockey rosters, which might be impressive if I were familiar with that event ... U.S. and Germany play in women's soccer Wednesday at FAU ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers are on a two-week trip to China. Hey bring back some of the jobs they stole from us would ya? ... Jimmie Johnson won his 76th NASCAR race. "I'm still the better Jimmy Johnson," said the former UM football coach ... The Tampa Bay Rays' spring game vs. Cuba in Havana was set for March 22. Anybody in Miami still care enough to protest or are we past that? ... UM baseball still No. 6 in the rankings. Updates as warranted ... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, still only 21, won her seventh LPGA tournament. Nobody likes a show-off, Lexi.

DONALD TRUMP MEETS RALPH KRAMDEN: There is much annoying about the Internet, but then something like this pops up and makes you smile:

 

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March 03, 2016

Doral's Last Stand? 3 reasons this week's WGC is special; plus Marriott's shame in Erin Andrews trial, FIU's sordid scandal with women's basketball coach, McShay on Dolphins' draft, cheerleader saves NFL Combine, your Best Oscar verdict & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 3. A terrific read (click here) by our former Herald colleague Joe Goodman on the terrible hazing injuries Bart Starr suffered while at Alabama. Terrific work, Goody! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greatest Oscar poll, Hot Button Top 10, Lists for the Ages, Miami's top 29s, Marlins odds, your presidential verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

THREE REASONS WHY THIS COULD BE THE MOST MEMORABLE DORAL TOURNAMENT EVER: The PGA Tourists are back crawling across Doral's Blue Monster today through Sunday, with 47 of the world's top 50 ranked players among the exclusive 66-man field for the season's frst World Golf Championships event, a sort of sub-major. Click on Doral's Wild Week to read today's latest column by me in full. This could turn out to be the most memorable Doral ever, for these three reasons:

TrumpThe Circus: Tournament host Donald Trump, the resort’s owner, always is at the event basking in the glory of his billions, conspicuous as the helicopter emblazoned with his name that in previous years always has been parked strategically for arriving fans to admire. Now, of course, Trump will be here as possibly the next president of the United States, a prospect that frightens the hell out of many Americans but apparently delights enough that he is the Republican frontrunner.

SpiethThe Golf: The sport is palpably moving on from the fading Tiger Woods era with bright new stars. The current top three players in the Official World Golf Ranking, Jordan Spieth (pictured), Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, all are in their 20s, and this week marks their first time all playing together since last September. They’ll go off in the same threesome Thursday at 11:32 a.m. from the 10th tee. And No. 5 in the rankings is Rickie Fowler, also in his 20s.

MonsterThe History: This could be the finish line, the end, for the PGA Tour's continuous 55-year relationship with Doral, the event a fixture on our sports landscape since 1962. Cadillac is ending its run as title sponsor, and contractually the next title sponsor may choose to relocate the event if it wishes, and perhaps with the Tour’s nudging. "We will explore all options regarding the event’s future," goes the Tour statement. There is speculation the event will abandon Trump National Resort and the Tour distances itself from Trump over his insults disparaging Mexicans, Muslims, women and others.

This week, then, is a lot about what we don’t know. We can’t know yet if Spieth, Day, McIlroy or anybody else will build the kind of historic career Woods did. We don’t know if the tournament’s namesake host will make history by becoming the next U.S. president. And we cannot be sure if Doral is about to lapse into history, the past tense, as a PGA Tour destination. All of these elements make this week special — a fitting end, if that’s what this is.

ErinandrewsON MARRIOTT'S SHAMEFUL DEFENSE IN THE ERIN ANDREWS TRIAL: Marriott lawyers on Tuesday revealed a shameful defense strategy, claiming that Erin Andrews profited from the nude video of her that was shot through a peephole of the chain's Nashville hotel in 2008 and uploaded to the Internet by the creep who shot it. It has been watched an estimated 17 million times. Convicted pervert Michael D. Barrett did 2 1/2 years in prison. Andrews, 37, then at ESPN and now at Fox Sports, is suing Marriott for $75 million. Marriott's defense is somewhat reprehensible. Andrews should be appluaded for being able to maintain her career, and the fact she has done so has zero to do with her claim the hotel was negligent in allowing Barrett to stay in the room next to hers and alter the peephole to her room with a hacksaw. Her privacy was violated in a most awful way, and Marriott's claim she gained financially because of the nude video is shameful. It makes me question my past loyalty to Marriott when traveling -- not because the incident happened at a Marriott, but because of the chain's defense in this trial. I hope Andrews gets every penny of the $75 million she is seeking.

ChinnFIU MUST ACT SWIFTLY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY OVER ALLEGATIONS AGAINST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: I just read this story by our FIU beat writer David J. Neal and it is well-reported and shocking and galling. The FIU women's basketball team is going through a 4-23 season under first-year coach Marlin Chinn (pictured), but the record no longer matters. Chinn's conduct does, if allegations made against him by team captain Destini Feagin are true. She says Chinn has pursued a sexual relationship with her most of this season. If so that is a firing offense to say the least -- the height of inappropriateness especially for a male coach of a women's team. And I must say, from the account and its details, Ms. Feagin's claims have the heft of credibility. If Chinn has been wrongly accused, let him speak. If he has not been wrongly accused, let him resign in disgrace, or be fired. FIU's investigation led by athletic director Pete Garcia must be swift because this is sordid, combustible and a huge embarrassment for Miami's major public university. Chinn today was suspended by the school pending the outcome of that investigation, a necessary step. I can imagine repercussions. If the allegations prove to be true, it stretches credulity to think no assistant coach, no one else in FIU athletics, knew what was going on. If Ms. Feagin is right, I doubt Chinn would be the only person fired over this. I also doubt FIU would be unscathed by the NCAA over lack of institutional control.

THE LATEST GUESS ON DOLPHINS' NO. 1 DRAFT PICK: This today from ESPN's Todd McShay, in his third (of 7,418) mock drafts. He has Miami selecting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, saying: "Jack, who is still recovering from an early-season knee injury, didn't participate in drills at the Combine. But his tape shows a twitched-up athlete who thrives in coverage and can make plays all over the field versus the run. If the Dolphins are looking to add a much-needed playmaker to the second level, Jack is their best bet." Well, maybe. And LB is a need. But I still think, right now, that Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is the likeliest Fins pick at No. 8 overall.

KatyKATY THE CHEERLEADER SAVES THE NFL COMBINE: Sure the NFL Combine ongoing in Indianapolis, the pre-draft meat market, is a raging bore except to football nerds and men with stopwatches, and is rather hopeless as a TV event. But it has its redeeming value. And here it is: NFL Network analyst Rich Eisen competing against two fully outfitted team mascots and a blond Falcons cheerleader named Katy in the 40-yard dash. Oh it's exquisite! Katy has terrific form. Also a pretty good running style. Click here to watch. The video is courtesy TMZ.com, which is pretty much filming everything, everywhere, including under your bed right now.

LATEST HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING ODDS: Per Bovada's latest odds, Heat are now 75-1 (tied for ninth) to win NBA title, down from 66-1, with Golden State an absurd 5-7 favorite over Cleveland's 13-4. As for the NBA MVP race, it might as well be off-the-board, with Steph Curry a ridiculous 1-30.  In the NHL, the Panthers are steady at 16-1 to win the Stanley Cup, 10th best, with Washington (9-2) and Chicago (5-1) fronting the pack.
Oscar2
OscarPoll result: Robertson edges the Grouch for Best Oscar:
We asked who was the greatest Oscar of all-time, gave you 12 choices and three votes, and when the pollen settled it was Oscar Robertson with 20.8 percent edging Oscar the Grouch with 19.0%. Bronze goes to Oscar Wilde with 12.2%. Also in double digits: Oscar Mayer (the bologna) at 11.3% and Oscar (the Academy Awards statue) right at 10.0%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 10, 2016

Do you agree with Heat retiring Shaq's jersey number? New poll. Vote now!; plus a video ode to Peyton Manning ("Omahallelujah!"), Miami Jackson High's historic gamble, how and why Super Bowl 50 let us down & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. Carly Fiorina, who looked, talked and acted like the one teacher at school every student hates, dropped out of the Republican presidential race today. 2) Oy! Dolphins are ranked a depressing 24th in ESPN's post-Super Bowl 2016 NFL Power Rankings. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl 50 with postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10, Hurricanes men rise in polls & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Congrats to Canes' four brainiacs: xFour Miami Hurricanes football players -- quarterbacjk Brad Kaaya, offensive linemen Alex Gall and Nick Linder and punyer Justin Vogel -- were among 56 players named Wednesday to the All-ACC Academic Team.

The new 'Back In My Day': Just posted it on my Facebook page.

Super Bore 50!: Let us count the ways Sunday's big game and its surrounding attractions let us down. Lady Gaga's national anthem was great. Otherwise? From the game itself to the pregame show, the broadcast, the halftime show, the TV commercials and the postgame, there was much not to like. That's the gist of my latest column. Click on I Want To Kill Puppymonkeybaby to read in full.

ShaqSHOULD THE HEAT BE LIFTING SHAQ'S JERSEY INTO THE RAFTERS?: The Miami Heat yesterday announced it would retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 uniform number at the start of next season, making him only the third player in club history (Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning) afforded such an honor. But is it justified? Leading the "yes" argument: Shaq had a huge hand in helping win Miami's first NBA championship and raising the franchise's profile to a whole new level. Leading the "no" argument: Longevity. He played only 3 1/2 seasons for the Heat (July 2004 'til February '08), and left on frosty terms. There is also the fact he is much better known as a Los Angeles Laker, for whom he spent his prime seasons and had his greatest success. So, yes or no? Your call.

Peyton"OMAHALLELUJAH!": It figured that a video tribute to Peyton Manning would come via the homespun radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, the Garrison Keillor production based out of St. Paul, Minn. Cam Newton would have gotten  some sort of rap treatment for winning the Super Bowl, one imagines. Peyton gets bluegrass from the Midwest. Check this out, though. Smarted lyrically and created and performed just in the past few days:

 

HISTORY! MIAMI JACKSON'S BOLD MOVE:  Miami Jackson High School makes history today by becoming the first Florida high school to hire a female head football coach. She is Lakatriona
"Bernice" Brunson (pictured), perhaps previously best-known as a recent star of the truTV reality tow-truck series, South Beach Tow. The Jackson Generals further make news by hiring Luther Brunson"Luke" Campbell, originally famous as the leader of the 2 Live Crew rap group, as defensive coordinator. Campbell previously has coached prep football at Central, Northwestern and Norland. If the hirings prove to be as successful on the field as they are instantly attention-getting, Jackson will have found itself a bounty. Brunson was graduated from Miami Northwestern High in 1995, playing basketball and track and field. She threw shot put and discus and helped lead one of the state's powers in the sport, later playing basketball and graduating from Tennessee State. She teaches phys-ed at Jackson. Campbell told the Miami Herald: "At first I thought this might be crazy because I take football real serious. But after a conversation with her, I said, 'Naw, she knows her football. She's on point.' I don't take this as a joke. I didn't want to be a part of no circus." In my blog headline I call this a "bold gamble " for Jackson. I say "gamble" not so much because Brunson is a woman, but because she has no coaching experience. It would be bold in any case, but the inexperience at the job is what makes it a gamble.  Jackson hopes the new regime can finally help win the school's first state football championship after three semifinal losses, most recently in 2012. It is close to impossible to not wish the trail-blazing Brunson well.

Poll result: You found Super Bowl 50 to be a bit below average: We asked how you rated the Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl experience, and it was "worse than average" at 43.4 percent, "about the same" at 33.0% and "better than average" at 23.6%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 06, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk V: Parties rage, Goodell dabs, Lombardi sings, (Florida) Panthers vs. Broncos; plus Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum, our SB 50 pick, Smirk IV, your verdict on Canes recruiting & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6. In The Previous Blogpost: National Signing Day with how-Canes-did poll, Super Bowl With a Smirks II and III, updated NBA/NHL title odds & more. 1Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

The Super Bowl's hidden key matchup: Click on Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum for today's latest column by me. I write how the game could come down to whether Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula or Denver defensive chief Wade Phillips gets the better of the other. A generation ago their fathers, Don Shula and Bum Phillips, also famously dueled.

Canton calling: Pro Football Hall of Fame will reveal its 2016 inductees during the NFL Honors show tonight. Ex-Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James is the only former Cane or Dolphin on the balot but is expected to fall short. Beyond certain first-ballot inductee Brett Favre, others with the best shot to make it are Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene and Tony Dungy.

"So great seeing retired Herald legend (and one of my mentors) Edwin Pope back in the paper yesterday with a Miami Super Bowl memories column. Had to be an unexpected treat for lots of surprised readers, like happening upon a family heirloom you thought you'd lost." --Greg Cotexx

SUPER BOWL 50 PREDICTION: UPSET! DEFENSE RULES, BRONCOS WIN: Carolina is 17-1 and favored by 5 1/2 points, which is a lot. Denver has a fading, hobbly quarterback about to turn 40. Get all of that. But still like Broncos in an upset because I don't think Peyton Manning will need to play hero Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. I think his defense will do that for him. Fripix"AAAWWWK!" crows the Upset Bird, even though he's only supposed to appear during the regular season. "Peyton Maaawwwk! Omahaawwk!" A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, "The masses are asses." He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in the Golden SB — Denver not only covering the point spread but beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. The irony of Manning in what could be his final career game is that most of the winning will be done with him on the sideline if his defense takes charge as I believe it will. My pick: Broncos, 23-20.

ESPN experts overwhelmingly like Panthers: ESPN polled 70 of its NFL experts on who'll win the Super Bowl and it was 53-17 for Carolina, or 75.7 percent. Notables for underdog Denver (meaning people I'd heard of): Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Suzy Kolber, Todd McShay, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth and Trey Wingo.

SMIRK V: EXCESS REACHES CRESCENDO WITH REGAME PARTIES: Here is the last of five Super Bowl With a Smirk columns for 2016: You know the Super Bowl is getting really close when the biggest parties are happening. Hey, is that Snoop Dogg? Look, it’s a Kardashian! A Super Bowl city on the eve of the Big Game is when you might hear someone shout, “Ludacris!” and not be Smirk Playboypartysure if they spotted the rapper or were commenting on the absurdity of it all. Playboy’s 16th annual Super Bowl party happened Friday night under a 35,000-square-foot tent erected in the parking lot of the Giants baseball stadium. At the party they handed out the first issue of the new-era Playboy that includes no explicit nudity. I believe that’s when the party immediately ended. Rolling Stone, GQ, ESPN, Maxim and Vanity Fair were among other major party hosts. The ESPN soiree was highlighted by an appearance from New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and, we imagine, a lurching, leering Chris Berman inadvertently sweating into women’s cocktails. Smirk culled through his many A-list party invites and ended up at the annual bash hosted by the recently paroled half-brother of former Monkee Peter Tork. Two NFL-related parties happen Saturday night. The fourth annual NFL Honors will include the announcement of major award winners including MVP and the naming of the newest Hall of Fame class, following voter deliberation in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room. Elsewhere will be the 25th annual Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser featuring a dish by a chef from every league city. Carolina will be represented by Springer Mountain Confit Chicken Wings Kentuckyaki, and Denver by Oak-Grilled Lamb Neck. Miami, last in a Super Bowl 31 years ago, will be represented by Rum Pork Belly with a Glaze of Dolfans’ Tears.

Goodelldabs▪ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has killed the Dab. Cam Newton made the dance move Dabbing popular. But Goodell, un-hippest man in America, was coerced to do it by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and so now the Dab is dead.

▪ Goodell announced the Raiders and Texans next season would play the first NFL regular-season game in Mexico since 2005, unless Donald Trump has sealed off the entire country with his giant wall by then.

▪ ESPN’s endless pregame show Sunday includes a segment called Riding With Vince, a Carpool Karaoke ripoff in which Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and a Vince Lombardi impersonator are lip-synching to songs. Oh how I wish I were making that up.

▪ A new University of Texas-Dallas study of NFL arrests between 2000 and 2014 found 573 players had been arrested 774 times, but only 209 of those arrests (or 27 percent) were for violent crimes. AWRIIIGHT!

▪ The NFL has issued a warning regarding counterfeit Super Bowl tickets. Folks, if you bought a Super Bowl ticket that seems exceptionally small, is stamped “Regal Cinema” and mentions the 4:40 showing of Dirty Grandpa, you might have been ripped off.

Wrongcats▪ Montreal’s Le Telejournal, a French-language news show, mistakenly used a Florida Panthers logo to preview Super Bowl 50. Wonder if they said the quarterback was Jaromir Jagr?

▪ Further indications we are out of stuff to write about and the game needs to start: ESPN reports that Robin Leach, ancient host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, picks Carolina 27-21. Also, the Amazing Kreskin offered his Super Bowl prediction on Friday, surprising analysts who thought the Amazing Kreskin had died years ago.

▪ Finally, Smirk signs off for the week after having seen way too many previews of Super Bowl commercials. Again last night I had that recurring nightmare in which Betty White is nursing the E-Trade Baby while running terrified from a herd of singing sheep.

SMIRK IV: THE 2-WEEK PREGAME SHOW, NFL'S APOLOGY TO WOMEN, NO-DRONE-ZONE, STOCK MARKET PREDICTOR: Here is the fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes
columns: We must fine-tune what we mean when we say "Super Bowl excess." It does not mean our avid interest in the game itself, or the fact some 43 million Americans will host Super Bowl parties, or the magnified attention given the halftime show or the hyped-up TV ads. No, it is Your Friend the Media that is the engine of the excess. We are to Pregameshowblame. We are the ones giving you what amounts to a nonstop two-week pregame show, like it or not, want it or not. Smirk says television is the main culprit, especially host network CBS, the ubiquitous ESPN and, of course, NFL Network. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gave voice to the ludicrousness of it on Wednesday morning as he met with hundreds of media after doing the same thing Tuesday night. "How can I reword answers to questions I’ve been asked so many times?" he said. "Nothing much has changed since I’ve seen you guys 24 hours ago [except that] I had an unbelievable sleep. I sound like a broken record.' NFL Network is airing 88 live hours of on-location coverage this week featuring 36 on-air personalities. Sunday it will air 10 hours of pre- and post-game coverage. CBS and ESPN similarly are inundating you. CBS Sports has more than 550 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, will have a four-hour pregame show and will use 70 cameras during the game. Highlight of CBS’s pregame show is expected to be a 2 p.m. interview with Barack Obama. The president is expected to say he is looking forward to a good game, after which Republicans demanding equal time are expected to argue they are not looking forward to a good game and why America should not be, either. You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off? It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting. It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.
 
Bombast▪ Coldplay and Beyoncé will have a lot to live up to Sunday. Super Bowl halftime shows are even more highly anticipated than the game itself, according to the latest annual survey by the National Association of Super Bowl Halftime Producers.

▪ The NFL held its first Super Bowl Women’s Summit on Thursday. Feels to Smirk like either pandering or an apology. Cannot confirm the event was subtitled, "Just to Remind You We Don’t Condone So Many of Our Players Being Arrested for Domestic Violence."

▪ The NFL Foundation’s Super Bowl alumni bowling tournament takes place Friday. It’s the best place to watch former players hobble and grimace as they gripe loudly about lack of medical benefits.

Drones▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “The FAA has banned drones from flying within 32 miles of the stadium Sunday.”

▪ The so-called Stock Market Predictor — Super Bowl win by NFC means market up for the year, AFC win means market down — has been accurate with 40 of the 49 SBs, including seven in a row. Throes of a dilemma: Broncos fan who invests heavily in stock market.

▪ Super Fact: The Broncos are 5-0 in games in which Sunday’s referee, Clete Blakeman, has worked. "I don’t care about that. I'm just glad to see another guy named ‘Clete’ out there," said deceased baseball player Clete Boyer.

Wherewatch▪ Finally, I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, "Where to watch the Super Bowl." The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.

Previously: Click on Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's earlier Smirks. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Poll result: Richt, Canes get strong rating for 2016 recruiting class: We asked you how you thought Miami did on National Signing Day, and it was 58.5 percent "good," 26.2% "very good," 11.4% "average" and only 3.9% "below average." That's an overall stamp of approval for new coach Mark Richt, with 84.7% saying good or better vs. 15.3% saying average or worse.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

SMIRK II: THE UNEXPECTED INSPIRATION FOR SUCCESSFUL SUPER BOWL ADS, MISS UNIVERSE, A REF NAMED CLETE, GREYHOUND FORETELLS RESULT: Welcome to Smirk II, the second of
five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

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

Twitter @gregcote