January 07, 2015

Here's why Dolfans, media have it wrong in blasting Tannenbaum hire; plus Cane to Fins in first round?, Bonds/Clemens verdict & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1ajesuischarlie1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 8. Charlie Hebdo forever. The terroorists don't get it and never will: They don't weaken freedom. They only strengthen it. 2) I'm back at Friday Page Headquarters divining my NFL Division Round playoff picks. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My baseball Hall ballot and poll, Dolphins hire Tannenbaum, Florida gay marriage, semi-Beach Boys & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLFANS, MEDIA WANT IT BOTH WAYS, HAVE IT WRONG IN BLASTING TANNENBAUM HIRE: Herald colleague Manny Navarro has a smart post in his "Eye On the U" Hurricanes blog, under the headline, "Mountain of negativity only makes things worse." The accurate and unfortunate point is no matter what Al Golden does or says, he'll be vilified 1aa1amiketby a waiting mob. Well, the same mindset envelopes the Dolphins in the negativity of too many of their fans and so many of the media who cover them -- as we have seen anew in the wake of yesterday's hiring for former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) as executive vice president of football operations. The perpetually negative wing of the fandom and media would have it both ways: First complaining about the status quo and lack of change ... and then complaining, instantly, in knee-jerk fashion, when the club does something, anything. I hate being a voice of reason here; it's so unfashionable (!). But people are getting way too caught up in organizational flow charts and who reports to whom. Look, cut to the chase: This bolsters the club's front office. Tannenbaum is an experienced NFL talent evaluator and AFC East expert who helped guide two Jets teams to the AFC championship game. Adding his eyes, mind and voice cannot hurt. The reality is this: Joe Philbin is right now still a marginal, yet-to-be-proven commodity as head coach, a guy who very well might have been let go rather than retained after a third straight year out of the playoffs. And Dennis Hickey, though he has done a nice job in his first year as GM, does not have the resume' heft that makes him beyond getting help. If Tannenbaum's arrival underlines that Philbin and Hickey will be fighting for their jobs in 2015, so be it. That was the case even before this move. I don't find the hiring of Tannenbaum to be misguided or ill-timed or any of that. I find it to be interesting and see its potential. Can we at least let the man report to work (his first day is Feb. 1) before we form an angry picket line outside his office?

A CANE TO DOLPHINS IN FIRST ROUND?: Bleacherreport.com has the Dolphins selecting UM tackle Ereck Flowers 14th overall in the first round in its new NFL mock draft. Won't happen. Two reasons. 1) Dolphins need a guard, not a tackle. 2) Flowers could have used another year as a Hurricane and is seen as a maybe-first rounder who could drop to 2R status.

Poll result: Mixed results on Bonds, Clemens and Cooperstown: We asked how you feel about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and the Hall of Fame, and seldom do we get such diverse response to a blog poll. A plurality, 33.5 percent, voted "never." However, 29.0% said both should be in the Hall already, 19.9% said it's time to let them in now, and 17.6% said not yet but maybe someday.

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January 06, 2015

Dolphins hire Tannenbaum; plus my Hall of Fame ballot and, yes, it includes Bonds and Clemens. Would your's? New poll. Vote now!; also gay marriage, fake Beach Boys & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND. 

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today after a two-week holiday hiatus, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" segment is in hand. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 6. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package after a two-week holiday hiatus. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-draft-needs poll, happy birthday Shula, R.I.P. Stuart Scott, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS HIRE TANNENBAUM AS DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL OPS: The Dolphins today hired Mike Tannenbaum, formerly of the Jets, as executive vice president of pro football operations -- the old Bill Parcells role. He reportedly will oversee (and have firing power over) GM Dennis Hickey but not over coach Joe Philbin. Hickey can't be happy, although he reportedly maintains final say over the 53-man roster. What this means: Owner Stephen Ross doesn't quite trust Philbin or Hickey. Dolphins in flux. Again.

On Heat, Panthers: Click on Falling, Rising for today's column by me. It's on how the Heat and Panthers both are headed for a fight just to make the playoffs, and how that's an indignity for one club but a triumph for the other.

MY HALL OF FAME BALLOT INCLUDES BONDS, CLEMENS THIS YEAR: Update: Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio elected. I voted for all four. Update 30 minutes before vote announced: The website baseballthinkfactory.org, based on a screening of voters, projects the five inductees today will be, in order of support: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and (narrowly) Mike Piazza. Original post: The latest inductees into Cooperstown are to be announced today at 2 p.m. I became a Baseball Hall of Fame voter for the first time a year ago, and did not include any "Steroids Era" guys on my ballot. It was personal. I felt my first- 1aa1abondsclemsnsever ballot should be as "clean" as the sport aspires to be. This year, however, I voted for both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (pictured). My 10 votes in all went to, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz. For the record I think Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz will get in. I think Sheffield has a good chance. I think Carlos Delgado and Mike Piazza have a shot. I do not think a sufficient 75 percent of my BBWAA brethren are ready yet to join me on Bonds and Clemens. My thinking on those two: Their career numbers are so extraordinary, so enormous, that they would have been Cooperstown-worthy even without PEDs. (I am much less sure on Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others). I also believe the Hall of Fame is not the Hall of Sainthood. I further believe that guys like Bonds and Clemens (yes, and Pete Rose) have been punished enough by their previous barring from Cooperstown and by their public shaming. Of course all of that is moot as I fully expect both men to fall well short of the Hall again today. I respect my colleagues who continue take the highest moral ground on this. Hopefully they in turn respect those of us who have come to think otherwise -- at least on Bonds and Clemens. Here's a poll inviting your thoughts on this. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Guard, linebacker top Dolphin draft needs: We asked what position the Dolphins should target with the top pick in next NFL Draft, and among eight choice offensive guard (34.9 percent) and linebacker (27.0%) dominated. Defensive tackle (15.9%) and cornerback (12.6%) were next.

1aa1agaymarriageIT'S ABOUT TIME, FLORIDA: Congratulations to my home state for stepping gingerly into the 21st Century in becoming the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage. And to Floridian gay couples for finally gaining their equal rights. Who are you, I or the government to tell any loving couple they are second-class citizens? Of course, with gay marriages inevitably will come gay divorces and the spawn of gay-divorce lawyers as a specialty practice. Oh how I wish I were kidding.     

BOYCOTT THE SEMI-BEACH BOYS!: The Beach Boys (sort of) play Thursday night in West Palm Beach, but, if you have tickets, beware. You are getting half the product. I'd ask for my money back. This is the version 1aa1amloveof the Beach Boys hijacked by frontman Mike Love (pictured), who unfortunately owns the group name. He is touring with only one other original Beach Boy, Bruce Johnstone. The group toured last year with all its original living members -- including Al Jardine, David Marks and, of course, the irreplacable Brian Wilson -- but Love essentially fired the other three. Boycott Mike Love. Boycott the fake, sort of, semi-Beach Boys. (Or at least smuggle in a 'WE WANT BRIAN WILSON!' sign).

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December 18, 2014

Should NBA play games on Christmas? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat skid, Panthers surge, Philbin/Golden result, U.S.-Cuba relations & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. I'm up at Friday Page Headquarters today conjuring the NFL Week 16 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's putrid Titans-Jaguars game. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Tis the season for being average, Miami and Shaq, Philbin/Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Marlins, meatballs & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asantaA POX ON NBA FOR PLAYING ON CHRISTMAS!: One week from today LeBron James-at-Heat will be one of five NBA games played on Christmas. The NHL, conspicuously, 1aa1ajesusdoes not play on Christmas. I hate that the NBA does. I'm not alone. Stan Van Gundy once said, "I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game." Phil Jackson said, "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day." LeBron James said, "If you ask any player in the league, we'd rather be home with our families. It's not just a regular holiday." I agree. I'm not especially religious; it just seems wrong to play on Christmas. You with me, or are you OK with it? Have a vote!

HEAT ON HISTORIC SKID: OK "historic skid" may be a bit dramatic, but last night's 105-87 home loss to reeling Utah marked the first time since 1990 that Miami has lost four consecutive home games by double digits. Heat is 1-7 overall in its past eight home dates, and fighting just to stay on the eight-team Eastern playoff grid nearly one-third into the season. The good news? Dwyane Wade had 42 points. Wasn't sure he had another 40-point game in him, frankly. The bad news? Everything else. Chris Bosh was out again, Miami couldn't buy a 3-point shot, and the defense was (again) lousy. Injuries haven't helped, but, bottom line: the post-LeBron era has set sail on much rougher seas than imagined. The Christmas game here against LeBron and Cleveland could be ugly.

PANTHERS FIND THEIR PULSE, PACE: It's funny. The Heat is 12-14 and No. 7 in their conference and it's a near-disaster to fans. The Panthers are 13-16 and tied for No. 8 and it's closer to a joyous miracle. That's one team coming down from four straight NBA Finals appearances, and the other dreaming of its first Stanley Cup postseason series victory since 1996. Florida got much attention for its record 20-round shootout win the other night, but Cats have been ascending for awhile; they're over .5000 since a 4-8 start, and 6-4 in past 10 games. (They've also won four of past five home games).

Poll result: Philbin edges Golden in "fire him!" sentiment: In the previous blogpost we asked you to make a choice who you want gone more, and Dolphins coach Joe Philbin edged the Hurricanes' Al Golden for the dubious prize, 52.6 percent to 47.4%.

A NON-CUBAN'S VIEW OF WARMING RELATIONS: [Preemptive strike: "Stay out of politics! STICK TO SPORTS!!!"] I am fascinated by the various reactions to yesterday's news that the U.S. has begun to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. To be clear, I'd guess the vast 1aa1aamercubamajority of America doesn't much care either way. To those who do care, I'd imagine (and hope) that most think diplomacy and civil relations in general are a good thing. But in South Florida, among many Cuban-Americans and exiles -- especially older folks -- this amounts to climbing into bed with the enemy and has inspired anger, even outrage. My take: U.S.-Cuba normalized relations were a long-time coming; Raul Castro taking over for brother Fidel obviously hastened the process. I call this "progress." To me an historical analogy is Japan. After the Pearl Harbor bombing it was unimaginable America would ever be on good terms with Japan, but times change, and Japan is now a strong ally. I respect that many Cuban-Americans can't and won't ever forgive Castro, and that is their right. But that outrage is too small in the national scope to steer American foreign policy.

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December 04, 2014

Do you believe Jameis Winston? New poll. Vote!; plus Scintillating vs. Silly with UM fans, Duke Johnson wins 'state Heisman'; also 'Goodbye RGIII' video, Barkley is right, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my Week 14 NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins edge Jets, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins catch a break: Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowl run-stopper, today was suspended for the remainder of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. So he's erased from Sunday's Dolphins game here.

WINSTON DENIES RAPE ALLEGATION: I have no idea whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is guilty and lying or falsely accused and telling the truth. Neither, chances are, do you. It's he-said/she-said, the 1aa1ajwinstonissue is consent and it's risky to make assumptions. Winston's long-awaited two-day student conduct hearing over the rape allegation against him ended Wednesday with no decision yet reached. Winston declined to answer questions but did read from a five-page statement, declining any guilt. In part: "I did not rape or sexually assault [the accuser]," the statement reads. "I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together. [She] had the capacity to consent to having sex with me and she repeatedly did so by her conduct and her verbal expressions. I never used physical violence, threats, or other coercive means. I never endangered [hers] health, safety, or well-being." Click here for the story. Do you tend to believe Winston based on your knowledge of the case? Take a dip in our poll, and try to separate whether you are a Seminoles fan or hater from what you honestly think.

SCINTILLATING VS. SILLY AT UM: What's scintillating right now -- Hurricanes men's basketball -- isn't getting the full attention it deserves because of the distraction over what's silly: the pointless speculation over football coach Al Golden. Jim Larranaga's men's hoopers are now 8-0 and surely will 1aa1ajiml
1aa1aalgrise from their No. 15 poll ranking after Tuesday night's 70-61 home win over No. 24 Illinois. Yet the obsession these days of UM fans in general and of the media seems to be the job status of Golden following a disappointing 6-6 season. All of this was perfectly reflected last night at the arena when a "Fire Golden" chant briefly bloomed, only to be tamped out by annoyed fellow attendees directing attention to the basketball game, please. (Pictured left, the heroic Larranaga. Pictured right, Golden, being chased by an angry mob). The Golden chatter is silly because it's moot. Golden's job is not in jeopardy; UM is not considering a coaching change. Maybe we won't be able to say that a year from now, but it's ironclad-true today. Yet false rumors percolated yesterday about an imminent firing. One local radio host reported he'd been told by a source that Golden was getting the boot; then, when that proved false, the same host Tweeted, "I'm NOT a journalist!" Effing hilarious. Meanwhile, a few Board of Trustee members continue in the role of shadow snipers, anonymously criticizing Golden. The Trustees should stop with the cowardice, and the local media should cease and desist with what has become a far too common practice of using anyonymous sources. Well, at least that's what I was told by a "close associate" of a journalism professor who requested anonymity!

SOPY: CANES' DUKE JOHNSON WINS "STATE HEISMAN": Well, something went right for the Miami Hurricanes this year. Duke Johnson went right. UM's Duke of Gables comfortably beats Florida State's 1aa1asopy 1aa1adukejJameis Winston in our season-ending, blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings: the "State Heisman." The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative ranking of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Florida only played 11 games, not making up its lightning-canceled opener. UCF plays its final game Thursday night, but the result has no bearing on the overall lead so we present the final rankings now. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The final 2014 SOPY Top 25:

SOPY FINAL 2014

Rk      Player, team-pos.                LW     Season

1        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         111     1,968

2       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         90.5    1,844

3        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     142.5   1,765

4        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            161     1,513

5        Justin Holman, UCF-qb           85     1,468.5

6        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            35      1,255

7        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        35      1,211

8       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            DNP   1,063.5

9        Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       47        958

10      Matt Jones, Florida-rb             29        924

11. Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb, 906; 12. Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 881; 13. Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec, 874; 14. DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 830; 15.Breshad Perriman, UCF-rec, 815; 16. Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 799; 17. Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb, 797; 18. Mike White, SoFla-qb, 782.5; 19. Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec, 768; 20. Clive Walford, Miami-rec, 718; 21. William Stanback, UCF-rb, 667; 22t. Andre Davis, SoFla-rec, 636; 22t. Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 636; 24. Anthon Samuel, FIU-rb, 617; 25. Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb, 612.

SOPY Champions

2014    Duke Johnson, Miami-rb                1,968

2013    Jameis Winston, FSU-qb                2,107

2012    Stephen Morris, Miami-qb             1,900.5

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. FSU (12-0); 2. UCF (8-3); 3. Florida (6-5); 4. Miami (6-6); 5. SoFla (4-8); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).

BARKLEY IS RIGHT ON FERGUSON RIOTERS: Race is a fascinating thing. If I (white as a linen napkin) call the folks rioting and looting in Ferguson, Mo. "scumbags" it comes off as racist. Black Charles 1aa1abarkleycBarkley can say it -- and did. It's still controversia, but not the way it would be if said by a white commentator. Barkley is right, by the way. "Scumbag" is an inflammatory word, but do people destroying property and looting merit much better? I hate that the looters claim an entitlement based on their outrage over the Michael Brown shooting and the police-shooter's non-indictment. Righteous protest and civil disobedience are wonderful things, part of the our freedom. Looting isn't. Not under any circumstance. Barkley sounds more like Rush Limbaugh in calling the police "the only thing in the ghetto between this place being the wild wild West," and saying, "There's a reason they racially profile us at times." But in lambasting the looters, I can't imagine he'd get much disagreement from anyone but the looters.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 13 SEES PICKS UNEVEN, LOBOS PRAYING: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixweek on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went a fairly solid 11-5 overall but only 7-9 against the spread despite a pair of nice outright upset picks with Falcons over Cardinals ("Aawwk!") and Jaguars over Giants. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won, 118-69, led by Calvin Johnson's big 38 Bird Day points, improving to 6-7 on the year. We're in a four-way tie for our league's final playoff spot entering the last week. However we stand fourth on the tiebreaker ladder, meaning we need a small mirale. Um, make that a large miracle.

GOODBYE, RGIII: A smart, expertly done ode to Robert Griffin III's downfall, to the tune of Elton John's Candle in the Wind:

 

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November 25, 2014

Ouch. Computers put Dolphins playoff shot at mere 19.7%; plus Canes' Duke nears "state Heisman," NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, (barely) remembering JFK, naughty names & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio on South Beach today with the Dan Le Batard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" is prepped and ready. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS PICK A BAD YEAR TO BE PRETTY GOOD; PLAYOFF HOPES SLIM: Miami at 6-5 has a slightly less than 1 in 5 chance (19.7 percent) to reach the postseason, according to the computer analytics at a site I 1aa1adol19.7have come to respect: makenflplayoffs.com. Following last night's end of NFL Week 12 the three clear AFC frontrunners, all but in, are the Patriots (94.3%), Colts (92.0%) and Broncos (83.1%). Then it's a mad five-team scrum for the last three spots among the Bengals (61.9%), Chiefs (50.2%), Steelers (47.6%), Chargers (47.4%), Ravens (39.9%) and Browns (38.8%). Then comes Miami, 10th overall in the hunt for six AFC tickets. The Fins' path to the playoffs from here seems pretty clear: Beat the three teams you should (Jets, twice, and Vikings) and find a way to beat either the Ravens or Patriots. Doable. But daunting.

SOPY: UM'S DUKE WITH SAFE BUT NOT INSURMOUNTABLE LEAD ENTERING FINAL GAME: Miami's Duke Johnson leads Florida State's Jameis Winston by 103.5 points entering each player's final game in our 1aa1asopyblog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." That's a nice but not insurmountable lead. The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (in 2013 with 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (in 2012 with 1,900.5 points). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 14:

SOPY WEEK 13 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk13    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         132     1,857

2 (2)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         142.5   1,753.5

3 (3)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      223     1,622.5

4 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           143     1,383.5

5 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           104.5    1,352

6 (8)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb           165      1,220

7 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       106      1,176

8 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb              8       1,063.5

9 (10)     Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       131       911

10 (9)       Matt Jones, Florida-rb            27        895

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 839. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 10 games; Miami, FSU, FAU and USF have played 11; and FIU has played 11.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (11-0); 2. UCF (7-3); 3. Miami (6-5); 4. Florida (6-4); 5. SoFla (4-7); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-8).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: PICKS, LOBOS BOTH SLIP IN WEEK 12: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team, 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixand this week's report ain't pretty. Pix: We went a mediocre 9-6 overall but only 6-9 against the spread -- breaking a season-long string of 11 straight weeks at no worse than .500 ATS. Had four 'dogs-with-points including Dolphins, but misfired badly on our Cards-over-Seahawks upset call, a bad pick. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos' three-game win streak ended with a mighty thud, 144-54. Never a good sign when your high scorer (Philip Rivers) has 13 points. The bigger issue was six guys in single-figures. Oy! The good news? At 5-7 I'm only one game off playoff pace (not counting tiebreakers) with two weeks left, so I'll have a shot if I can win out. Rally, Lobos!

REMEMBERING JFK (IF BARELY): This is what insidious time does. It fades even the most memorable of us. A year ago the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination was big news. The 51st 1aa1ajfkanniversary, this past Saturday, passed quietly. Do any of us even know when Abe Lincoln was assassinated? It was on an April 15, 149 years ago. So we may expect a proper media remembrance on the big-One-Five-Oh next spring, at least. JFK's murder is one of my faintest childhood memories. I vaguely recall us being sent home from school early and finding my mother weeping at the black-and-white TV set. On Saturday I was on a weekend cruise in the Bahamas and didn't give the date a fleeting thought. But I do now.

NAUGHTY 'N NICE NAMES: The Daily Mail of London reports a recent study of 63,000 (presumably British) school 1aa1anameschildren determined which kids tend to be naughty misbehavers and nice angels, based on first names. Ten nicest girls: Amy, Georgia, Emma, Charlotte, Grace, Sophie, Abigail, Hannah, Emily and Alice. Ten naughtiest girls: Ella, Bethany, Eleanor, Olivia, Laura, Holly, Courtney, Amber, Caitline and Jade. Ten nicest boys: Jacob, Daniel, Thomas, James, Adam, Harry, Samuel, Jack, Oliver and Ryan. Ten naughtiest boys: Joseph, Cameron, William, Jake, Joshua, Jamie, Lewis, Benjamin, Ethan and Luke. All I can say is, if Ella and Joe get together, watch out!

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November 04, 2014

What can hot Dolphins, Canes and Heat accomplish? New poll. Vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings, governor election & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Fins crush San Diego, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On Heat's first loss: Click on Reality Hasn't Changed for my column from the arena off last night's Heat loss. Losing to very good Houston wasn't a reality chcek for Miami because the reality is the same now as it was at 3-0. Heat is competitive, not a contender, and the moving on from LeBron James will be a season-long challenge.

HAPPINESS IS A MIAMI SPORTS FAN (FOR NOW, AT LEAST): My earlier column is unabashedly rah-rah, me as Homer Guy, banging the civic drum in celebration of our local teams' collective Big Weekend. 1aa1abig3Why not? I live here. I wish our teams well. Doesn't mean I can't be objective or won't be critical, but when the Dolphins, Heat, football Hurricanes and hockey Panthers are all winning on the same weekend for only the fourth time ever, well, that's good with me. Click on Happy Days for the column. It's pretty remarkable each team's turnaround the past few weeks. Dolphins, three straight wins for 5-3 at midyear. Heat, last unbeaten team left in Eastern Conference (before Tuesday night''s first loss). Canes, 6-3 after three wins in a row. Our blog's Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls both set season highs this week, and Heat fans were celebrating the smooth start to Life After LeBron. The hot streaks raise hope that all three possibilities mentioned in this poll could happen, although the argument could also be made that all three remain doubtful. Vote for only as many of the three as you honestly think will happen, and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SO-SO AND GOOD IN WEEK 9: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: So- 1aa1afripix 1aa1aarkstateso. Having a great season so far, but not helped much by going 8-5 overall and 7-6 against the spread last week. Stayed scorching hot on Upset of the Week calls by bull's-eyeing Patriots over Broncos ("Aawwk!"). But let's not mention that I picked San Diego, OK? Please? Fantasy: Good. Woebegone Greg's Lobos finally won, rising to 3-6 with a 134-107 triumph led by Marshawn Lynch's 30 points. I'm now within two games of playoff pace with five weeks left. Go 'Bos!

SOPY: CANES' DUKE OF GABLES IS RUNNING AWAY WITH IT!: Another big game from Miami's Duke Johnson last week has increased his overall lead in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the 1aa1asopyYear (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 11:

SOPY WEEK 10 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk10    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         244     1,552

2 (2)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     150.5   1,336 

3 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        215.5    1,291.5

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            97.5    1,072.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           158      1,061 

6 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            58        957

7 (7)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        62        875

8 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             61       781

9 (10)      Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb        95       741

10 (--)      Matt Jones, Florida-rb            216      713

Bubble: Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb, 667. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Miami, FIU, FAU and USF have played 9 games; FSU and UCF have played 8; and Florida has played 7.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (8-0); 2. Miami (5-3); 3. Florida (4-3); 4. UCF (5-3); 5. SoFla (3-6); 6. FIU (3-6); 7. FAU (3-6).

COTE'S TAKE ON FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL RACE: For what it's worth (not much), but because I love politics and because my blog veers occasionally from sports, I size up the three candidates: Rick Scott 1aa1aflaflag(Rep.)--Incumbent has been the worst Florida governor of my lifetime and also ran a campaign of negative ads, but nevertheless won. That's because... Charlie Crist (Dem.)--That he also was largely unlikeable to voters, with cause, was the sole reason this race was even close. A better candidate would have sailed to victory over the unpopular Scott. Adrian Wyllie (Lib.)--In theory, a vote for Wyllie was a noble statement against the two mainstream contenders. In reality, support for Wyllie may well be to blame for Scott's return to office. Decision '14: I voted Crist as the less-damnable of unsatisfying choices, but respect the verdict. Whomever was your choice, I hope you voted!

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Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.4%; plus Fins rout Chargers 37-0 behind Tannehill and D, my Philbin column; also Canes record, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whomp North Carolina, CSM poll, FIU falls, Gators stun Georgia & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CSM sets season high: Voting in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll wrapped this morning at 92.2 percent, a season high. Find complete results in the blogpost directly below this.

My Philbin column: Getting a huge email response to my column off the game on coach Joe Philbin celebrating his biggest Dolphins win while mouring the death of his father. It seems to have touched many readers who aren't even sports fans. Click on Heartache and Joy to read it. (Find our Dolphins-Chargers gamepost and postgame thoughts immediately below the latest DSM poll).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.4 percent overall satisfaction -- a season high -- in the wake of Sunday's 37-0 victory over visiting San Diego putting Miami's season record at 5-3. The DSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

;

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

Next poll: Nov. 9 (following game at Detroit)

G8: SAN DIEGO @ DOLPHINS: A PLAYOFF TEAM DECLARES ITSELF HERE: Final: Miami's first defensive shutout since 2006. Ryan Tannehill's career-best 125.6 passer rating. A dominating home triumph over a quality opponent has Miami 5-3 at midseason and very much thinking playoffs. Impressive. The best all-round, end-to-end victory in the three-year Joe Philbin/Tannehill era. Happy for Philbin, personally, with the win coming just two days after he tended to the death of his father, Paul, who passed away at 93. ..... Fourth quarter: Starting QBs Tannehill and Rivers both out of game, it's so lopsided. ..... Third quarter: It's 37-0. Jarvis Landry 14-yard TD is Tannehill's third scoring throw of game. TD set up by fumble-causing sack by Olivier Vernon that Jared Odrick recovered, Miami's fourth defensive takeaway. ... Grimes with his second pick. Dolphins D is making this a nightmare for Rivers. ... MIA 30-0 after 23-yard FG set up by Grimes pick. Should have been more. Clay and Wallace both dropped TD passes inside the 10. ... Brent Grimes intercepts Rivers, returns to SD 19. ... Miami sails to 27-0 lead on Tannehill's 21-yard TD pass to Rishard Matthews. What an a-- kicking! ..... Halftime: Tannehill is 18-for-25, 208 yards and a TD at the break, and Miami's defense has limited the Chargers to 118 total yards. A dominating half by Miami. Did not expect to be saying that. Good Fins, Good Tanny are in the house so far. ..... Second quarter: MIA 20-0 inside of 2 minutes. Fins ride 38-yard Wallace catch to 1st and goal but settle for 25-yard FG. ... Reshad Jones intercepts Philip Rivers, returns 16 yards to Bolts 31. A 26-yard FG and 17-0 lead is result. ... Lamar Miller 2-yard TD run has MIA up 14-0 early in second Q. ..... First quarter: Strong start for Dolphins. ... MIA up 7-0 on 77-yard opening drive capped by Charles Clay 6-yard TD pass from Ryan Tannehill. Tanny 6-for-6 on drive. ... Bolts unwisely eschew 39-yard FG attempt, go for it on 4th and 1 from MIA 22 and are stopped on Reshad Jones tackle. ..... Pregame: Kickoff temp 69 degrees with crazy-low 29% humidity. Hope game is as good as this perfect weather. ... I'm second-guessing today's pick (Chargers 24-20) a little bit. Usually don't do that. ..... Original post: San Diego is 5-3. Miami is 4-3 at it reaches midseason today. Today's 1 p.m. kickoff feels like a pivotal game that will see the winner looking like a playoff-team and the loser seeming like something else. The Dolphins have won two games 1aa1adolsdin a row and are one last-second play (vs. Packers) from carrying four consecutive W’s into Sunday’s matinee. Oppositely, two consecutive losses have sort of knocked the bloom off Philip Rivers (erstwhile MVP candidate) and San Diego (erstwhile NFL “it” team). I’m still a bit surprised the Dolphins are favored here, albeit slightly, by 1 1/2 points. The Chargers defense is as good as Miami’s — actually 18.6 points allowed to Fins’ 21.6 — and Rivers is more reliable than Ryan Tannehill, who for some reason has tended to struggle more at home than away this season. Dolphins’ O was really bad in Jacksonville last week, leaving Mike Wallace to complain, “We’re not going to get nowhere like that.” (Tweet! Throw a grammar flag. That’s a double negative!) I just see Bolts as a little less erratic and a little better all-round. Aside to Dolphins defense: Diego TE Antonio Gates is reborn and having a monster year. Cover him, won’t you? Historical note: Fins have won seven consecutive games in this occasional series, with SD’s last win in Miami the famous 41-38 overtime playoff game on Jan.2, 1982. So add the law of averages embodied in the weight of 32 years to the reasons my gut is telling me the visitors' return flight will be happier than the home team’s postgame locker room. My pick: Chargers, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON NOV. 2: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature, an expanded, updated Hot Button Top 10. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami hosts Chargers seeking third straight wins: Dan Marino was still a Pitt Panther and Chargers' QB was Dan Fouts when San Diego last won in Miami — that famous 41-38 overtime game Jan.2, 1982. Bolts have since lost seven in a row here. Dolfans who believe in trends are happy. Those who believe in law of averages are nervous.

2. Hurricanes: UM, Duke of Gables stay hot in rout of UNC: Canes beat ACC rival North Carolina 47-20 here in a Saturday homecoming game that saw Duke Johnson pile up 226 offensive yards and score three TDs. Team had ceremony honoring former UM quarterback great Jim Kelly. It was "Kelly Tough," then it was "Duke Great."

3. Heat: Strong start to post-LeBron era for Miami: Heat are 2-0 entering this evening's home game vs. Toronto, and Chris Bosh has 56 points. Oh, and Cleveland fans were disappointed after an opening loss in which LeBron James shot only 5 for 15 and had eight turnovers. "Pinch me," said Miami fans. "I must be dreaming!"

4. College football: First playoff rankings already due a shakeup: The first College Football Playoff rankings had Mississippi State, FSU, Auburn and Ole Miss as the top four, but Ole Miss' Saturday loss will change that. I trust the CFP committee featuring Condoleezza Rice. I just hope her intel on football is better than her intel was in ’03 on those Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

5. Baseball: Giants deny Cinderella Royals: No offense, Madison Bumgarner, but I think San Francisco’s third title in five years was something only a Giants fan could love. It answered the question, "Is it possible for a World Series to go to a Game 7 that ends 3-2 with the tying run on third and still think that World Series was boring?"

6. Gators: Florida stuns No. 11 Georgia: UF fans were left toasting the World's Largest Cocktail Party with a 38-20 win that may have saved Will Muschamp's job. New QB Treon Harris did great, expertly handing off as Gators topped 400 yards rushing.

7. Panthers: Cats finding their claws after slow start: Florida has shaken off an 0-3 start to win four of past six hockey games including last night over Flyers. Grading on a curve, that's a hot streak.

8. Horse racing: Bayern wins controversial Breeders' Cup: It was a rough start and a photo finish in the only horse race outside of the Triple Crown that most of us pay any attention to.

9. NASCAR: Only two races left before Homestead: Can't wait for the big Nov. 16 finale at Homestead. Looking forward to an exciting day of bitter feuds, intentional wrecks, pit-row shoving, and, time permitting, an auto race.

10. Politics: Florida elects governor Tuesday: Hey, we sports fans are interested in more than sports, right? We're also intrested in electing a great next governor. Unfortunately, our choice is Rick Scott or Charlie Crist.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

October 21, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 80.7%; plus Fins, hot Tannehill win in Chicago 27-14; also new Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 20. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Noles edge Irish and other collball, Royals-Giants WS poll, NFL Week 7 picks, Jameis Winston verdict, Chelsea showers & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins-Bears gameblog and postgame report directly below latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 80.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the highest level since the season opener -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 27-14 victory at Chicago putting Miami's season record at 3-3. 1aa1adsmThe DSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

Next poll: Oct. 26 (following game at Jacksonville)

G6: DOLPHINS 27, CHICAGO 14: TANNEHILL, DEFENSE IN CHARGE: Final: Huge road win bringing MIA to 3-3, led by Ryan Tannehill, who completed his first 14 passes and finished 25-32 for 277 yards, two TDs and 123.6 rating. Excellent. Eight receivers with two-plus catches. And Tanny adds 48 yards rusing from read-option runs to lead a 137-yard ground attack. Defensively Miami wins turnover war 3-0 and dominates in time of possession 37  minutes to 23. All around Miami's best end-to-end performance of the season. ..... Fourth quarter: Defensive stop clinches it for Miami! ... MIA 27-14 on 19-yard FG just outside 2-minute warning, after Charles Clay holding penalty wipes away Miller TD run. ... Jamar Taylor bad pass interference penalty cost MIA 39 yards, leads directly to 1-yard Forte TD run as Bears within 24-14 with 7:38 to play. ... Fins muff FG try set up by Starks, waste chance. Kick was partially blocked. ... Cortland Finnegan knocks ball from Brandon Marshall, Randy Starks recovers. Third takeaway for MIA defense. ... Fins 24-7 on 32-yard FG after Cam Wake sack/fumble recovery sets up team at CHI 16. ..... Third quarter: MIA 21-7 on 2-yard Lamar Miller TD run after Tannehill 30-yard run on 4th down made it 1st and goal. Huge for Fins to answer CHI's TD and keep momentum. ... Matt Forte 10-yard scoring pass from Cutler puts Da Bears right back in game. ..... Halftime: Miami thoroughly dominated half and probably should be ahead more than 14-0. Tannehill superb at 14-for-15, 176 yards, 2 TDs. Been sacked four times, though, about the only negative for Fins in half. ..... Second quarter: Wallace 10-yard TD catch makes good use of Jones' INT. Tannehil now 10-for-10 for 136 yards, two TDs. Man! ... He's baa-aaack. Reshad Jones intercepts Cutler, returns ball 49 yards. ... Sturgis pushes a 50Y FG try wide right. This is an average NFL kicker, not a good one. That 3rd-down sack cost Miami three points. ..... First quarter: Fins 7-0 with first 1Q TD since Game 1, a 13-yard Tannehill strike to TE Charles Clay. Of course it was Clay. I benched him on my fantasy team today! ..... Original post: One of the mysteries and intrigues of today's 1 p.m. game is that "Dolphins at Chicago" is one of the most rare phrases in the Dolfan lexicon. This marks only the club’s fifth visit to Soldier Field, following earlier trips in 1975, 1988, 1991 and 1aa1achimia2006. (With apologies to the superstitious, Fins did not make the playoffs any of the four previous seasons they played in Chicago). Joey Harrington pitched for Miami when last the Dolphins ventured into Soldier Field. I’d fancy Jay Cutler over Ryan Tannehill in the duel of present-day arms. That’s mostly because Cutler’s targets, ex-Fin Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, have a combined 11-inch height advantage over Dolphin mini-corners Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. Also, Tannehill is 0-4 with six picks in career road games vs. NFC teams, and he could face a bunch of third-and-longs if Chitown’s run-D is as stout today as it has been the past few weeks. I also wonder how Miami will respond after last week’s last-second, sort-of-blew-it heartbreak loss. (Here comes the “but.”) But the Soldier has hardly been magic lately for the Bears. Chicago, a mere 3 1/2-point favorite, is 0-2 at home this season, and is 1-10-1 against the spread in the past 12 home games. This is a huge swing game for Miami, with lousy Jacksonville on deck. Win today to go 3-3 and playoff hopes will be rekindled. Lose to go 2-4 and a here-we-go-again pall will revisit. Alas, I see the latter as likelier. My pick: Chicago, 23-20.

Poll result: Royals dominate World Series rooting interest: We asked un the previous blogpost who you hope wins the World Series, and it was 78.6 percent for the Royals and 21.4% for the Giants. 

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click HERE for today's latest edition), but due to semi-popular demand an updated, expanded Hot Button continues as an exclusive Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Miami makes rare visit to Soldier Field: Today marks only team's fifth visit to Chicago and only second since 1991. Will we see Good Fins or Bad Fins? Any Dolfan confident in the answer is probably lying to himself.

2. College football: FSU, Winston survive Notre Dame: As we await the firing of Gators coach Will Muschamp, Florida State and embattled QB Jameis Winston survived last night in Tallahassee, 31-27, when a last-second Notre Dame TD was nullified by a penalty. Luck o' the Irish ... not. 

3. Hurricanes: UM readies for Va-Tech after short bye: Miami prepares to face Virginia Tech this Thursday night in Blacksburg. UM was off this week but the bye rushed for 318 yards against the beleaguered Canes' run defense.

4. World Series: It's Royals vs. Giants starting Tuesday: Best thing about matchup? Contrast in SF having won two recent WS titles and KC in its first postseason since 1985. Worst thing? Maudlin media rehashing on 25th anniversary of '89 World Series earthquake in San Fran.

5. Heat: Countdown 10 days 'til season opener: Miami is 2-4 in preseason with two exhibitions left after winning in San Antonio yesterday despite Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng all sitting. Which pretty much tells you how significant preseason results are.

6. Panthers: Cats on road seeking second win: Florida has won only once and scored a league-low five goals in the first five games of the NHL schedule. Bad sign when you're two weeks in and it already seems like a long season. 

7. NASCAR: Elimination day in Chase: Today at Talladega the Chase for the Cup field will be reduced from 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the drivers in jeopardy of being eliminated, despite the wishes of televising network ESPN.

8. Tennis: Official suspended over Williams slur: The WTA has suspended a Russian Tennis Federation official who referred to Serena and Venus Williams as "brothers" and called them "scary to look at." If only he'd have said "scary to play," nobody would have argued.

9. Biogenesis: Bosch pleads guilty: Anthony Bosch, founder of the Coral Gables "anti-aging clinic" that funneled PEDs to Alex Rodriguez and others, pleaded guilty and faces sentencing. Bosch was only doing his part to keep Cooperstown quaint by keeping the population down.

10. Politics: Gubernatorial Fangate: The Florida gubernatororial debate between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist was delayed when Scott briefly boycotted over Crist's use of a small cooling fan. The irony? Based on the low approval and trust ratings for both men, I'm not either have many fans.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

October 16, 2014

Should Jameis Winston be suspended? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL odds, Rick Scott & The Fan, Heat still reign locally & more

1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16. I'm ensconsed in Friday Page Headquarters creating this week's NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Big 5 who-do-you-trust poll, Heat betting odds, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"My reaction to Brandon Marshall criticizing Chad Henne's time as Dolphins quarterback? Get in line, pal." --Greg Cote

WHAT TO DO WITH JAMEIS WINSTON: Florida State and coach Jimbo Fisher move forward as if there's no doubt QB Jameis Winston will play Saturday when No. 2 FSU hosts No. 5 Notre Dame. But Las Vegas 1aa1ajameishad enough doubts that the game was yanked off betting boards yesterday over the uncertainty. Plenty think Winston should be suspended over a cumulative effect of several off-field controversies. Click on Jimbo's Dilemma for today's latest column by me. The 2012 sexual-assault allegation against Winston has not gone away amid recent reports of collusion between the Tallahassee Police Department and the FSU athletic department. Now the school plans a disciplinary board hearing with Winston, which could lead to a decision he violated the student code of conduct. Beyond the overriding rape cloud there is this week news that he signed some 950 items of memorabilia, which would violate NCAA rules if he was paid. Jameis says he wasn't; Jimbo believes him. We won't even get into the stolen crab legs or the shouted mysoginist vulgarity that got him suspended from the Clemson game. The question is whether Jameis Winston -- all things considered -- should still be out there as the face of FSU on Saturday and beyond? It isn't an easy question with a clear answer. Your opinion is nonetheless invited.

UPDATED NFL ODDS: Broncos are reinstalled as Super Bowl favorites (via Bovada) at 4-1, but Seahawks are still second at 6-1. Then it's Chargers/49ers both 9-1, Packers/Patriots both 11-1 and Cowboys 12-1. Dallas RB DeMarco Murray is slight MVP pick at 7-2, over Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers both 4-1.

RICK SCOTT AND THE FAN: The start of last night's Charlie Crist-Rick Scott guberatorial debate at Broward College played out like a Saturday NIght Live skit. The audience murmered and tittered awkwardly like 1aa1adebatethey weren't sure if this was a joke or not. If only it were. Click HERE to see what I mean. Gov. Rick Scott refused to take the stage, delaying the debate for seven minutes, because opponent Crist had a small fan at the bottom of his podium to cool him. Evidently "no electronics" was part of the rules. The presumption is that meant impportant things like teleprompters. But a fan!? Scott came off like a persnickety kid holding his breath to get his way. He turned himself into a national laughingstock in a way that even four years in office could not. Scott has been the worst Florida governor of my lifetime IMHO, and has taken negative campaigning to new depths in this race. I'm not a Crist fan, either. This state deserves a better choice. But the feeling of Crist as the lesser of two evils bobbed once again to the surface as Scott let something so small and silly be what people are talking about today.

Poll result: In Heat's leadership we trust. In everything else, not so much: Lebron James left but Heat remain our model franchise in terms of which Big 5 team's leadership you most trust. We asked in the previous blogpost and Heat led with 70.7 percent -- roughly six times more than runnerup UM football's 11.9%. Then it was Marlins 7.9%, Dolphins 6.1% and Panthers 3.4%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

September 19, 2014

Your Canton Hall of Fame ballot. Poll. Vote!; plus NFL Week 3 pix, new Jeter ad, Jameis Winston, erosion of faith in Tannehill, UO boycott & more

To disgruntled blog readers: You know by now there are big changes at MiamiHerald.com affecting this blog and others. One is that commenters must now log in with a Facebook account. Another (unfortunately) is a redesign that has bumped my blog from its usual spot on the upper lefthand corner of the Sports front. Another (unfortunately again) is that all comments prior to yesterday have disappeared; it's as if everything started over on Thursday. Folks, these changes are corporate and not my idea or wish. I gauge from the solid response to our latest poll that our overall blog traffic remains strong. I invite our longtime regulars -- our Blog Family -- to stay strong with us through the changes.

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Congrats to ex-Cane Devin Hester for last night setting the NFL career record for most return TDs. 2) I'm in Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill poll, LeBron's new hairline, Kevin Olsen, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY Top 10, 3D-printed car & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acantonYOU SELECT CANTON'S NEXT HALL OF FAME CLASS: This week the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O. revealed the 113 people on its 2015 ballot. It'll be pared to 25 names in November and to 15 finalists in January before four to eight new members are elected during Super Bowl Week. This poll includes the 10 people most likely, in my view, to produce the next class of inductees. Our list includes the five most prominent 2014 finalists back for another shot, and the five most prominent first-time eligibles, who are designated in the poll by an asterisk. Say this is your Hall of Fame ballot and you may vote for as many as five. Who are your picks?

NFL WEEK 3 PICKS: Good start last night with Falcons winning and covering -- no, smothering -- the 1aa1afripixpoor Buccaneers. Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest prediction capsules (have the Dolphins beating Chiefs, but not covering), and on Talking Football for our Friday Page NFL column. I write how this week's big game -- Seahawks-Broncos, the Super Bowl rematch and likely SB preview -- delivers a welcome break from the controversies that have engulfed the league.

ON JAMEIS WINSTON'S LATEST IMAGE-HIT: So FSU's Heisman-winning quarterback stands up on a table 1aa1ajameisin the middle of campus and shouts an unfortunately popular string of words that are juvenile, vulgar and sexist: "F--- her right in the p----!" Naturally it gets out. He is suspended for a half-game -- the first half of Saturday's biggie vs. Clemson. Oh, Jameis. So stupid for two reasons: 1) Did you think, in the age of smart-phones turning everybody into photographers and videographers, that this wouldn't go viral and get you in trouble? Can you be that dense? 2) You of all, people. You, who have been the subject of rape allegations, shouting mysogenist garbage. The good news: What you shouted just gave somebody at Urban Outfitters an idea for a new sweatshirt slogan!

Poll result: Quantifying the erosion of confidence in Ryan Tannehill: We asked your degree of faith in the quarterback's Dolphins future (you may still vote), and more than one in three voters -- 34.5 percent -- answered, "I've seen enough. He isn't the answer. Then it was 31.4% for "not given up but serious doubts," 28.5% for "still back him but must see improvement" and only 4.7% for "very optimistic." Opinions are hardening, with a negligible 0.8% still undecided. This is a clear erosion of faith from previous Tannehill polls. In August 2012 we asked what you realistically expect of his Miami career and most, 49.2%, said "very good, at least a few Pro Bowls." In July 2013 we asked waht you see as his future and most, 42.7%, said "very good." Now, he must earn back the former supporters who have lost faith.

NEW JETER FAREWELL AD A TEAR-JERKER: This is Gatorade's new farewell ad for retiring Yankee Derek Jeter, and it's a good one, a wonderful use of Sinatra's signature song. It brought a tear to my eye ... and I'm a Red Sox fan!

 

BOYCOTT URBAN OUTFITTERS: Urban Outfitters is a Philadelphia-headquartered clothing company whose 1aa1akentidea of being hip and cutting-edge is to consistently insult and offend. It's time we put them out of business. The latest UO outrage was a "vintage" Kent State University sweatshirt with a blood-splatter pattern. It was quickly removed from shelves after complaints from grownups who still associate Kent State with the 1970 tragedy (see photo). UO said, "We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively." Bulls---! Don't put it on our misperception. Put it on your own business plan. UO's previous controversies included "fashion symbols" that resembled Nazi stars, a handgun-shaped Christmas ornament, Che Guevara clothing and a "Ghettopoly" game board. Enough. Boycott.

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