February 09, 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 TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9. Oy! Dolphins are ranked a depressing 24th in ESPN's post-Super Bowl 2016 NFL Power Rankings. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl 50 with postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10, Hurricanes men rise in polls & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Today's 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 today 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

February 02, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk I: Rechristened Media Day, toppled statues, singing sheep and a woman in Hungary; plus it's Radio/TV Tuesday & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2. Happy new month, all! 2) ICYMI, click on Super Bowl Primer for our recent column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Your Super Bowl 50 Primer, Hot Button Top 10, your best All-Star game verdict & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and seen on ESPNU and Fusion TV. 

Tedcruz"Does anybody else think Ted Cruz looks like a vampire?" --Greg Cote

 

SmirkTHE RETURN OF 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK'!: A RECHRISTENED MEDIA DAY, TOPPLED STATUES, SINGING SHEEP AND A WOMAN IN HUNGARY: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year beginning today with a daily jab and needle at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald in years we remember to do it:

OpeningnightYou probably know "Media Day" is the axis of SB excess, when thousands of reporters swarm upon both teams asking the same ol’ questions eliciting the same ol’ perfunctory answers. I mean, how many times can Peyton Manning insist he hasn’t decided if Sunday will be his last game even though he probably has? Many "reporters" are clowns dressed as superheroes, turning it into an increasingly inane spectacle that probably should quietly be done away with. So what does the NFL do instead? It rechristens Media Day as "Super Bowl Opening Night" and puts it on primetime TV! It was held Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose (the arena where the Sharks play hockey), and broadcast live on NFL Network. We immediately were reminded how lackluster this matchup is relative to last year, when we had the New England Deflatriots, the polarizing Belichick and Brady, the cartoonish Gronk and the comically recalcitrant Marshawn Lynch. Some 7,000 fans paid up to $30 to sit in the stands Monday and watch the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos say as little as possible in their first interviews since arriving Sunday, reminding Smirk of that famous quote attributed to P.T. Barnum about there being 7,000 suckers born every minute.

▪ Sunday the Broncos arrived at San Jose International Airport just head of the Panthers. It is expected to be the last time all week Denver beats Carolina at anything.

▪ Wait. Denver did lead briefly in field logos. Workers at Levi’s Stadium painted the Broncos logo in both end zones before correcting their mistake.

Statues▪ The NFL erected 1,600-pound statues at 10 Bay Area landmarks, but pranksters keep knocking them over or rearranging the letters in SUPER BOWL 50 to spell things like ‘SUP BRO 50’ and ‘UP R BOWEL.’ Smirk has not yet been caught.

Sheep▪ Super Bowl TV commercials will cost a record $5 million per 30 seconds this year, and every one of them will star Alec Baldwin or a donkey in a straw hat. Actually my favorite is a Honda truck ad (see video below) in which sheep sing Queen’s Somebody To Love. Sheep: the perfect metaphor for the herd of gullible consumers swayed by cute TV commercials.

▪ The five-star Fairmont hotel in San Francisco is offering a $1 million party package that includes 22 tickets to the game and a four-night stay for six in a 6,000-square-foot penthouse. Smirk will be checking in Thursday.

▪ Pats-Seahawks last year was seen by 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television. They say Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 could break that record despite the halftime performer being Coldplay.

▪ EA Sports’ Madden video game is 9-3 on predicting SB winners, including an exact score one year. Now Madden ’16 has it Panthers, 24-20. With the outcome settled, the NFL on Monday quietly canceled Sunday’s game.

▪ The 1972 Dolphins had a rough week. Predictionmachine.com ranked the Perfect Season Fins only the ninth-best Super Bowl winner; the team lost in the round of 16 in a CBS Sports/Strat-O-Matic simulation; and only one Perfecto (Jake Scott) made the all-time Super Bowl Golden Team. Don Shula’s looking for somebody to punch.

▪ NFL security is tight throughout the Bay Area all week as league officials attempt to crack down on counterfeit merchandise and screenings of Concussion.

Oldcrone▪ Sirius XM satellite radio will offer 10 broadcasts of Sunday’s game in eight languages including Hungarian. Somewhere in Budapest right now, an old crone standing before a simmering pot of goulash ponders whether the Broncos will deploy a "spy" defender to shadow Cam Newton.

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 30, 2016

What sport has best (or least awful) All-Star Game? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dan Marino's new Super Bowl ad (with video), runners who make marathons an unhealthy obsession, '72 Dolphins lose again, control-freak LeBron & more

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

Phelps1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 30. How great is this? Champion swimmer Michael Phelps, wearing Speedos and his Olympic medals, joined Arizona's State's "Curtain of Distraction" at a basketball game last night. 2) Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane guitarist and founding member, dead at 74. Man, all the old rockers are peeling away. 3) ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for the Fusion TV/LeBatard Show spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost: Canes '16 football schedule analysis, '72 Dolphins finally lose, UM basketball and baseball, #WomenNotObjects, activities book for Satanic children & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Anybody but me noticed that Heat limited partner Raanan Katz's name is pronounced 'rainin' cats'?" --Greg Cote

Word of the day: anorak: British slang for someone obsessively interested in something that doesn't seem to merit such attention. Example: "He's a bloody anorak for running those marathons, isn't he?"

Lust for power, control is who LeBron is: That's the theme of my recent column; click Chosen And In Charge to read. Email reaction has seen Heat fans generally loving the column and others (read: Clevelanders) not so much. I don't consider the column pro-Heat or anti-LeBron. I'm simply exploring how everything about LeBron's career makes believable the prevailing idea he had a hand in David Blatt's firing, and plausible the report that he also maneuvered to see Erik Spoelstra removed while in Miami.

IT'S ALL-STAR GAME SEASON, UNFORTUNATELY: Today's latest column by me centers on All-Star Game Season, with the NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game both Sunday and the NBA's ASG Nflpb
Nhlasg Nbaasg  Mlbasgtwo weeks later. The NBA has the best of those three, though that's faint praise. Baseball's July Midsummer Classic gets it closest to right, because of tradition and the fact the game matters. The Pro Bowl to me is the worst of them all -- mainly because the players themselves don't give a s---. In the other three sports players are honored to participate. Football players actively dream up reason to avoid the game, as I detail in the column. Click on The All-Star Shame to read in full. The poll asks you which of the big-four all-star games you think is the best one, although I could as easily have worded the question, "Which is the least bad." In this poll I challenge you to separate which sport you may prefer from which league presents its all-stars best.

Dolphins in 2016 NFL Pro Bowl: C Mike Pouncey was team's only actual, originally chosen all-star but will not play because of an alleged injury. Replacement players (quasi-Pro Bowlers) are OT Branden Albert and S Reshad Jones (Team Irvin) and WR/KR Jarvis Landry and CB Brent Grimes (Team Rice).

Panthers in 2016 NHL All-Star Game: F Jaromir Jagr won a fan vote to be Atlantic Division captain, and D Aaron Ekblad and G Roberto Luongo join him on team. Gerad Gallant will coach Atlantic team via Cats' first-place division standing.

Heat in 2016 NBA All-Star Game: G Dwyane Wade was voted in as an Eastern Conference starter. F Chris Bosh was selected as a reserve.

Marlins in 2015 MLB All-Star Game: OF Giancarlo Stanton and 2B Dee Gordon made the team.

DAN MARINO'S NEW SUPER BOWL AD: The Dolphins great and actor Alec Baldwin star in an upcoming Super Bowl ad for Amazon Echo. If you don't know it, Amazon Echo goes by the nickname, "Blatant Ripoff of Apple's Siri." Cute ad, though. Here it is:

  

RunningTHE UNHEALTHINESS OF IT WHEN RUNNING BECOMES AN OBSESSION: I've seen a couple of recent instances in my own newspaper. We in the media cover and write laudingly of people who have made a lifestyle of running marathons, of running in general, without noting how strange it is, and how unhealthy it seems Running4from a mental standpoint when that practice evolves into an overriding obsession. One was the story of a 71-year Texas man who made the Miami Marathon the 1,606th he had competed in. Another was the story of a 35-year-old Massachusetts woman in the process of running in seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Both of those instances are wonderful to some, but weird to others of us. I wonder if the running-obsessed are able to step back and see what others see. The story on the woman noted she was a single mother. Hmm. I wonder why. Him: "Honey, can you take a few days off from that? I never see you anymore!" Her: "Love to chat, Bill, but I'm in training and need to get in 100 miles today." There is an inherent selfishness to running or any other obsession that takes command of one's lifestyle and life. Obsessed runners, evidently self-conscious of this and defensive about it, come up with fortune-cookie slogans like the ones pictured at left. Yes, because of course we unhealthy heathens who are not constantly training to run in 26.2-mile footraces -- we just don't understand! The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy fatties eating Cheetos on the Running2couch, right? We're jealous!! Yeah that's it. Look, I'm not anti-running. I'm not even anti-obsession. Whatever floats your boat, as we used to say. I don't think the obsessed runner is any better or worse (or much different, for that matter) than the woman who lives with 45 cats or the guy who has been collecting stamps for 70 years. What I don't like is fawning media coverage that glowingly depicts these sneakered cultists as somehow better, as special. These Quixotic folks who literally cannot stop running -- they aren't bad people, no. But neither are they heroic as so often portrayed. They are just (and hopefully we can agree on this) people who have given their lives to running in a fitness pursuit now running their lives.

BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR THE '72 DOLPHINS: Yesterday we told  you how, in a bracketed competition of all 49 Super Bowl winners by CBS Sports and Strat-O- Dolphins72Matic, the Perfect Season 1972 Dolphins were beaten in the round-of-16 by the 1992 Cowboys. Well, today, predictionmachine.com computers played all 49 champions against each other 50,000 times each, ranked the teams by overall winning percentage, and the '72 Dolphins were ranked only No. 9 overall (the '73 Fins were 22nd). Said Prediction Machine of the No. 9 ranking: "A perfect season is a special thing. Miami was the best team that year but being undefeated isn't enough to claim the top spot on this list. Don Shula's squad was good but not dominant. During its regular season run of excellence the Dolphins beat just two teams with a winning record. When we re-simulate Miami's 1972 schedule, the team would have just a 1.2 percent chance to win every game. The Dolphins would have to get lucky again for Mercury Morris to pop bottles of champagne." Ouch. By the way, the all-time top five SB champs are: 1--1999 Rams, 2--1985 Bears, 3--1989 49ers, 4--1996 Packers and 5--1979 Steelers. Update: Yet another humbling for the Class of '72: Safety Jake Scott is the lone Dolphin to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 26-man Golden Anniversary Super Bowl team out today.  

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 27, 2016

Bulletin: '72 Dolphins just lost!; plus Canes' 2016 football schedule, predicted season record; also, UM baseball, 'WomenNotObjects', fun activities for Satanic kids, your verdicts on Super Bowl 50, Whiteside Dilemma & more

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

Showkiller1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27. ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for Fusion TV's spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Panthers-Broncos Super Bowl 50 polls, Canes' and Heat's big night, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) For those who care (both of you), I went 1-1 straight-up and against the spread on my NFL Championship Sunday picks. Did not see Broncos beating Patriots. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Some headlines could not be more ridiculous if you made them up. Are you ready? 'John Rocker Endorses Trump.' Seriously." --Greg Cote

UM baseball picked to win its ACC division: The upcoming college baseball season is expected to be a big one for the Hurricanes, who are No. 5 in the preseason polls and now selected to win the ACC Coastal Division in a preseason poll of coaches. Louisville is forecast to win the Atlantic Division and overall conference title. Other strong ACC baseball schools include Virginia and Florida State.

Larranaga's vision, crystallized in one night: The ranked Hurricanes beating Duke in front of a packed house -- this is what Jim Larranaga imagined when he took this job in 2011. Click on Coach L's Vision for my column off Monday night's game.

'72 PERFECT SEASON DOLPHINS LOSE!: Oh my but Don Shula, Mercury Morris and those fellas won't like this one bit. CBS Sports and Strat-O-Matic are playing the 49 Super Bowl winners head to head in simulated games to name the ultimate all-time champion, and the '72 Dolphins, a No. 1 seed, just lost in the round of 16 to the 17th-seeded 1992 Cowboys. The recap from CBS: "Garo Yepremian's missed 44-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in regulation ended the '72 Dolphins' dreams and enabled the '92 Cowboys to advance to the Elite 8."

HURRICANES FOOTBALL SCHEDULE LOOKING LIKE 9-3 SEASON, BUT...: The ACC released its 2016 schedules today and Miami's soft non-conference opening portends a 3-0 start and gives the Canes' a leg up on a strong season under new coach Mark Richt. Initially I'm thinking 9-3 (see below) two of those projected losses could be wins: Florida State, here, and North Carolina, also here. Only the game at Notre Dame feels like a good-bet loss. Our quick thoughts:

MarkrichtG1: vs. Florida A&M Sept. 3 -- Division 1AA Rattlers finished 1-10 in the MEAC. Season opener and Mark Richt debut should be a breeze for Canes. W, 1-0 

G2: vs. Florida Atlantic Sept. 10 -- Owls were a disappointing 3-9 in Conference USA including a 44-20 loss to UM, but recall that FAU pushed then-No. 8 Florida to overtime in a 20-14 loss in the Swamp. Should be a sure Canes win, but Owls could put up some fight. W, 2-0

G3: at Appalachian State Sept. 17 -- The Mountaineers were 11-2 in the Sun Belt and gave Clemson a better game (a 41-10 loss) than Miami did last year. Miami should win without much trouble, but it's no pushover, plus it is UM's first road game. W, 3-0

G4: at Georgia Tech Oct. 1 -- UM's ACC opener is vs. a Yellow Jackets squad that will be trying to rebound from a 3-9 season that included a 38-21 loss to Miami. Liking Miami to win this and make it 4-0, especially coming off bye week, but conference games on the road seldom are easy. W, 4-0

G5: vs. Florida State Oct. 8 -- FSU finished 10-3 and only beat Miami 29-24 last year, but figures to be favored, even on the road. The Seminoles have become a nemesis and conference roadblock. Al Golden couldn't beat them. Richt must prove he can. L, 4-1

G6: vs. North Carolina Oct. 15 -- The Tar Heels whipped Miami last year 59-21 en route to an 11-3 season and only lost 45-37 to Clemson. UNC could be favored here. It's one of those swing games that will determine whether Richt's first season is seen as a success. L, 4-2

G7: at Virginia Tech Oct. 20 -- Hokies finished 7-6 including a 30-20 loss to Miami, but this is a tough place to play. Another swing game. W, 5-2 

G8: at Notre Dame Oct. 29 -- Fighting Irish were 10-1 before losing their last two, and South Bend can be a madhouse. A likely loss ... or a signature win. L, 5-3

G9: vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 5 -- Panthers were 8-5 and lost to Miami 29-24. Another competitive game is likely, but UM should prevail at home. W, 6-3

G10: at Virginia Nov.12 -- Cavaliers were 5-8 but gave Miami a fight, losing 27-21. Could be tough as a road game but count it a Canes win. W, 7-3

G11: at North Carolina State Nov. 19 -- Wolfpack were 4-0 before fading to 7-6 and did not face UM last year. The road makes it dicey, but it feels winnable for UM. W, 8-3

G12: vs. Duke Nov. 26 -- Blue Devils finished 8-5 including a 30-27 loss to UM. Home and regular finale should find Canes favored. W, 9-3 

#WOMENNOTOBJECTS: Ad executve Madonna Badger, tired of how her own industry objectifies women as sexual playthings, produced a short video skewering the advertising game. Background story here. The video is below, and it's pretty powerful stuff. Quick aside to fashion designer Tom Ford: I'm sure you are a nice guy, maybe, but your ad agency appears to be run by misogynistic idiots.

 

SatanicFUN ACTIVITIES FOR SATANIC CHILDREN. NO, SERIOUSLY: There are fervent believers in God. There are those who want to believe. There are agnostics. There are atheists. And, yes, there are Satanists. This past summer hundreds gathered at a Satanic temple in Detroit for the unveiling of a large bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed creature who has come to represent a totem of modern Satanism. Whatever, right? Free country and so forth. But what I find both a little frightening and oddly hilarious is the book pictured. I don't wanna know what those fun activities involve. Animal sacrifice? Crafting papier mache goat horns? Nor do I want my kid having a play-date with the tall, sullen Satanic Frankenstein kid on the far right.

Poll results: Thinking Panthers, but wanting Broncos: We asked your early Super Bowl 50 picks, and 81.6 percent predicted the Carolina Panthers would win, but 59.1% want the Denver Broncos to win.

Poll results: You're torn on the Whiteside Dilemma, too: We asked you what the Heat should do this summer, and it was 42.0% for making a free-agent play for Kevin Durant, 31.7% for signing Hassan Whiteside long-term instead, and 26.3% undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2016

'Making A Murderer' video spoof starring me from LeBatard Show/Fusion TV; plus NFL Championship-Round playoff picks with who'll win Super Bowl poll. Vote now!; also, your greatest-NBA-center verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 23. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins earning back trust, greatest-NBA-centers poll, Kiper downgrades Fins draft, Heat/Panthers simultaneous slumps, return of Sarah Palin & more. 2Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Congrats to Heat star Dwyane Wade for earning yet another NBA All-Star Game start. At 34, D.Wade is aging as gracefully and effectively as most any athlete I have covered or seen." --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL CHAMPIONSHIP-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Nope, the Upset Bird is quiet today as the NFL playoffs pare to a final four with Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games. I Fripix Champgameslike both favorites, the visiting Patriots (at Broncos) and the homie Panthers (over Cardinals). By the way, Cinderella couldn't get past the velvet rope this year. No classic 'dog left in the hunt. In fact this is the first time in 11 years both conference title games have been No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchups in terms of seeding. Click on Championship-Round Gems for our two full prediction capsules. Also, click on Brady-Manning: The Latest And Last for our weekly Friday Page NFL column. It centers on the 17th and likely final duel in the epic Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry. Great rivalries always end with a winner, and the winner always is Time. In the poll below, it's who you think will win the Super Bowl, NOT who you want to win. Vote here with mind, not heart. You have $100 to bet on one team, straight up, to win it all. Who you got?

Showkiller'MAKING A SHOWKILLER': Fusion TV today rolled out a pretty clever spoof of Making A Murderer, the popular Netflix docu-series. It is Making A Showkiller, a promo for my Tuesday co-host role on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Showkiller (sometimes Showkilla) is a nickname of mine on the show for reasons I'll leave to the listener and viewer. Anyway, fun spoof and thanks to Charlie Hulme and the folks at Fusion. Click on Making a Showkiller to watch.

Poll result: Kareem, Wilt and Bill the Big 3 centers: We asked your vote for greatest NBA center of all-time in an alphabetical poll using ESPN's Top 10, and three guys accounted for almost 80 percent of the votes. It was Kareem-Abdul Jabbar winning with 29.6 percent followed by Wilt Chamberlain 26.9% and Bill Russell 21.6%. Then it was a huge dropoff but notable support for Shaquille O'Neal (8.4%) and Hakeem Olajuwon (8.0%). None of the other five had even 2%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2016

What Dolphins' new OC hire signifies; plus invisible haters inspire Whiteside and Heat, who's best QB left in NFL playoffs? (Poll; vote now!); also, our Divisional-Round picks, the booming business of death & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's first-round Dolphins pick, what Powerball win would buy in sports, Dolphins and Marlins' big moves, Canes CFP title odds, Marlins caskets & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

ClydeTWO THOUGHTS ON WHAT DOLPHINS' NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR HIRE SIGNIFIES: The Dolphins today hired Clyde Christensen (pictured) as offensive coordinator. He'd been the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach. Two thoughts: 1) This is not a power position in Miami, at least not initially. New head coach Adam Gase already has said he will call offensive plays, which usually is an OC's primary task, so Christensen arrives with influence limited from the outset. 2) The fact Christensen is a QB specialist who helped develop Andrew Luck is significant. Coupled with Gase's background as sort of a quarterbacks guru, it underlines the clear objective of the Miami's coaching staff makeover: To raise Ryan Tannehill's game to the optimum level. That's it. It's obvious. It is 2016-or-bust for the Tannehill/Dolphins marriage. 

"THEY," THE UNIDENTIFIED AND PERHAPS INVISIBLE HATERS, INSPIRE WHITESIDE, HEAT: So Miami rallies furiously from 18 down and wins in Denver last night, 98-95, behind Hassan HassanwhitesideWhiteside's 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block triple double and Chris Bosh's 24 points. It was a big win, needed and timely. The team had lost three straight and four of five, and leaders Bosh and Dwyane Wade spoke out. Wade mentioned the team's "inner dilemmas." Bosh called the team's mentality "really, really bad." What I loved, though, was Whiteside (pictured) on Twitter after the game: "THEY don't want to see a triple double in blocks and win for the HEAT," he wrote, the underline mine but the all-caps his. Omnipresent DJ Khaled, the Miami record producer and social-media hound, re-Tweeted and added, "Of course they don't, so what we going to do is win more!!" My question: Who are they, exactly? Is Charles Barkley going all anti-Heat mouthy again? There was indeed a they during the four LeBron years. Much of America heaped jealousy or hate upon the Heat. Many in the national media also were throwing shade. Those teams adopted an us-against-them mentality that was real, and justified. But now? Are they still around? Is anybody really hating on a mid-pack Heat team that's pretty good but not even assured of making the playoffs? I think young Hassan is simply reaching for the easy self-motivation. And that's fine. Funny, though. Whatever works, I guess.

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Thirty-two teams funneled to 12 in the playoffs. Now that number is whittled to eight -- soon to be four, after today's and Sunday's doubleheaders. Welcome to Divisional-Round FripixWeekend, where last week's four survivors visit the four highest-seeded teams that had byes last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our four second-round playoff picks; we have three home favorites advancing with one upset -- Seahawks winning in Carolina ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on All the Reminder You Need for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with my noting seven of the eight remaining teams are quarterbacked by Canton-bound legends or current elite stars -- a reminder how the QB position is linked more directly than ever to winning. That QB-driven final eight also helps explain why the Dolphins chose quarterback guru Adam Gase as their new head coach. In the alphabetical poll below, we invite you to vote for which of the final eight QBs you'd most want starting for your team this weekend.

DeathTHE LATEST REMINDER HOW DEATH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS: The next Billboard charts will reflect that several old David Bowie albums have re-entered because sales spike upon a singer's death. It's quantifiable. Happens every time. For now, this indication: On Monday, the day we found out Bowie had died, at 69, of cancer, his videos were watched more than 51 million times, more than any other artist has ever received on Vevo in one day. The previous, short-lived record was 36 million views for Adele the day her hit song Hello was released in October.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2016

Insomniac's Dream: Epic Alabama-Clemson, Heat-Golden State, Panthers streak in the Tuesday wee hours; plus R.I.P. David Bowie, my NFL playoff pix results, your verdict on Dolphins' Gase hiring & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins hire Gase with reaction poll, Hot Button Top 10, NFL wild-card picks, Cooperstown verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday gig with the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also airing on TV on ESPNU and Fusion.

INSOMNIAC'S DREAM: 'BAMA, HEAT AND CATS IN THE TUESDAY WEE HOURS: I spent the first hour of this morning watching Nick Saban almost smile, watching the end of the Panthers' 12-game hockey winning streak, and watching Heat lose gamely in Golden State -- all the while facing a 6:30 alarm to get to South Beach for today's radio show. So if I sound even more delirious than usual on-air today you'll know why... 12:22 a.m.: Alabama finishes 45-40 national-championship win over Clemson. Glad I bet the way-over. I'm not sure if Clemson collapsed or if Alabama's 24-9 fourth quarter was the stuff of greatness. I do know it was a wholly enteraining, nearly epic game. Afterward a typically stoic, naturally angry loooking Saban was coaxed into a smile by a sideline reporter. There was a rusty creaking sound, an emission of hell's gasses and then the release of screeching bats as Saban's lips parted... 12: 41 a.m.: Panthers end 12-game win streak with 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver. Seconds after game ended the winning goal-scorer skated past the Panthers bench, said something, and a melee ensued. A chaotic scene that even involved coaches. Then it was repoted Cats coach Gerard Gallant waas flying immediately to attend his mother's funeral. It may have ended in ugliness and death, but what a marvelous run the Panthers have been on... 12:53 a.m.: Heat fall 111-103 in Golden State: Miami played very well, had 31 assists as a team, showed an ability to lift its collective game. Dwyane Wade played young. And yet Steph Curry is unstoppable and the champion Warriors are a cut above. No shame in a loss like this. 6:53 a.m.: I better put a bow on this blog item and hit the road or I'll never get to SoBe in time.

AlabamaclemsonALABAMA VS. CLEMSON: YOUR MONEY VS. YOUR HEART: (Note, These polls were posted early yesterday, before the game) No. 2-ranked but favored Alabama faces unbeaten No.1 Clemson tonight for the second College Football Playoff national championship in Glendale, Ariz. I offer to quick polls because I suspect the results may be different. The first poll asks who you think will win. This is your money talking. If you're betting the game, straight-up, and need to choose either the Crimson Tide or Tigers, who would you predict to win? The second poll asks who you want to win. This is your heart talking. Which team would you more like to see celebrating around midnight tonight? We invite your thoughts on both questions.

R.I.P., DAVID BOWIE, 1947-2016: One of the most fascinating cultural figures of our time passed away on Sunday after an unpublicized 18-month fight Bowie1 Bowie2with cancer. David Bowie had turned 69 three days earlier. He leaves us with a soon-to-be-released new album, Blackstar, that was recorded as he knew he was dying and is darkly reflective of that. Bowie's career, music but also acting, defied convention and definition. Others of his time in pop music, such as Elton John, enjoyed more mainstream, commercial success. But Bowie won critics' hearts with his lack of convention, his experimentation, his theatrics. He was The Thin White Duke, and Ziggy Stardust. He was glam, he was androgynous, he was relentlessly fascinating. How many times, and how loudly, did I blast "Rebel, Rebel." Bowie was a big part of my personal soundtrack through the years. I have much of his music, spanning decades, in my collection. I regret I never saw him perform live. I'll miss him. I think I already do.

 

FripixNFL PIX WILD-CARD PLAYOFF RESULTS: We caught a break or two to finish 3-1 overall on our first-round NFL playoff picks. (Thank you, Blair Walsh). But we went only 1-3 against the spread. We gambled big and lost big thinking Texans, at home, would surprise Chiefs. Instead it was the weekend's biggest rout going in the opposite (for me the wrong) direction. My preseason Super Bowl pick -- Packers over Patriots -- remains alive with both of my dogs still in the hunt as playoffs move forward down from 12 teams to eight.

Poll result: Dolphins' Gase hiring met with mostly dislike, but with warming trend: We asked what you thought of the Dolphins hiring Adam Gase as head coach (you may still vote), and it was "love" 9.7 percent, "like" 32.6%, "don't like" 40.5% and "hate" 17.2%. That's negative beating positive 57.7%  to 42.3%. However, it is notable that the negative percentage was running around 64-36 initially, when the hiring first was reported as imminent and then just happened. Voting was closer to 50-50 in the second wave, after Gase was introduced and fans had a chance to hear from him and from others about him.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2016

Dolphins hire Adam Gase as head coach. What do you think of the choice? New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy anniversary to my wonderful wife. I married up, what can I say? 2) The case is made right here why Marlins fans should feel very, very good about pitcher Carter Capps. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend Pix, Cooperstown who-shoulda-made-it poll, your Dolphins next-coach verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our NFL playoff picks: Click on Wild-Card Gems for our four playoff picks for yesterday's and today's first-round games. But ignore that Chiefs-Texans pick, please. Must've been a typographical error. Click on Playoff Preview, King Sport Awards for our ranking of the 12 playoff teams and season-ending awards.

AdamgaseDOLPHINS OFFICIALLY HIRE ADAM GASE AS NEW HEAD COACH!: Click on Dolphins' Latest Dice-Roll for my new version column on the hiring of Adam Gase. Miami is once again betting on promise over experience as it made official yesterday that Bears offensive coordinator Gase will be this franchise's eighth head-coach hire in a row (including three interim promotions) who had never before done the job in the NFL. Gase, 37, pictured, directed Chicago's offense last year after six seasons with Denver, the last two as offensive coordinator. Clearly, a major part of this hiring is a hope/belief that Gase will be be able to raise Ryan Tannehill's game and career to the next level. Miami interviewed seven men for this job including some (led by Mike Shanahan) with longer NFL resumes that including head-coach experience. Yet, again, the franchise is gambling it has found The Next Big Thing rather than playing it safer with the proof of experience. Gase may well prove this to be an inspired hire. It is the track record of the Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross that demands a certain wariness and skepticism. It is the Dolphins' fault, not Gase's, that trust and benefit of doubt are in short supply around here. OK, your turn. Entering the franchise's 51st season Adam Gase will be the Dolphins' ninth fulltime head coach and 12th overall if you include three interim guys. What is your initial reaction to the hiring of Gase? Vote and say why you feel as you do.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins hire Adam Gase, latest gamble on inexperienced head coach: Adam Gase, suddenly league's youngest head coach at 37, makes it five Dolphins hires in a row (eight including interims) who have never before been an NFL head coach. Miami's head-coach job posting: "EXPERIENCE REQUIRED PREFERRED TOTALLY UNNECESSARY." 

2. PANTHERS: Hot Cats put 11-game winning streak on line: Florida, talk of the NHL, puts club-record 11-game win streak to test tonight in Edmonton. "The division-leading Panthers." Still a phrase one turns in the mind with marvel, as if it were a snow globe. Time to rewrite Cat Scratch Fever and hockeyize it. Anything rhyme with "Luongo"? Get on it, Ted Nugent.

3. NFL: Wild-Card Weekend eliminates two, with two more Sunday: Bengals and Texans fell by the wayside  Saturday, now two NFC teams face elimination Sunday as NFL playoffs pare from an original 12 teams down to eight. Admit it, Dolfans. It's sort of relaxing to watch football on Sunday and know your Fins can't lose. 

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson, 'Bama meet Monday for national title: Second year of College Football Playoff ends in Glendale, Ariz. Clemson embarrassed Hurricanes 58-0 this season. Alabama coach Nick Saban lied and left the Dolphins. Um, can Miamians hope both teams lose? ESPN will air game on 14 different platforms . I'll be watching on ESPNCOTE.

5. HEAT: Miami at Golden State Monday for first test vs. champs: We know Miami is inconsistent but pretty good (currently fifth) in the East. Now we find out how good Heat is in a broader context, out west, Monday night, with first game of season vs. Steph Curry and champion Golden State. Uh oh. 

6. UM BASKETBALL: Men at No. 4 Virginia Tuesday in biggest test yet: No. 12 Canes are now 13-1 after dispatching Florida State yesterday. I think UM is really good this season. I'm about to find out how good: Tuesday night, at No. 4 Virginia, will tell us more about Team Larranaga than we yet know. 

7. BASEBALL: Griffey, Piazza are '16 inductees to Cooperstown: Ken Griffey Jr., with a record vote, and Mike Piazza, after a three-year wait, were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for summer induction. Alas, Piazza won’t be wearing a Marlins cap on his plaque despite playing for Miami an entire week in 1998.

8. MARLINS: Team acquires pitcher, shops Ozuna: As spring training draws ever nearer the Marlins continue shopping outfielder Marcell Ozuna for a trade. Hopefully they'll get a better pitcher for him than newly acquired Edwin Jackson, 32, whose arrival would be exciting if this were, like, 2009. 

9. TIGER WOODS: Is the end at hand for generation's greatest golfer?: There is growing speculation, as the PGA Tour season unfurls, that Tiger Woods won't be healthy for The Masters in April and that he may not play at all in 2016. Say it ain't so, Tiger. No, I mean that literally. Give us an update.

10. UFC: Holm's return to octagon scheduled for spring: Holly Holm reportedly will fight Miesha Tate at UFC 197 in Las Vegas on March 5, her first fight since upsetting Ronda Rousey in November. OK, I just did an item on women's MMA. I'm outta here.

Missing the cut: Mark Richt completes UM staff. It 's a complete purge. Nobody back. Fresh start. I like it ... Tennis' Australian Open is close. It's the season's first major, although it's sort of a minor major ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers signed Kleberson, one of those one-name players. But shouldn't that be an honorarium for only great players? "Kleberson" sounds like a guy working at a deli ... WQAM-560 may go after and pay big for Dolphins radio rights, unaware that most folks nowadays own televisions ... The Miami Gun Show ends today at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because that's what the world, America and especially Miami needs. More guns!

Poll result: Clemens, Bonds lead the shoulda-gotten-ins: Only Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week. We gave you a list of the nine other players who had the most support but fell short, and asked who should most have gotten in. Your top five: Rogers Clemens at 19.7 percent, Barry Bonds 18.8%, Tim Raines 13.8%, Curt Schilling 12.3% and Jeff Bagwell 10.5%.

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