November 29, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.9%; plus Fins beat Niners for 6th straight win; also, Panthers stupidly fire coach, Canes bowl outlook, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28. FAU fired football coach Charlie Partridge on Sunday. Owls fans are split. One likes the move, the other doesn't. 2) Hope y'all had a wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes rout Duke with CSM poll, other Collball, Luddite's Heat MVP Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The 49ers defense disrespected Tannehill, and he made them pay: Dolphins coach Adam Gase said San Francisco showed "disrespect" to the Dolphins passing game in loading up to stop the run Sunday. Ryan Tannehill made them pay with one of the best games of his career. Click on They Dared Him to Throw, And Oh Did He for my column from the game. 

A few select recent columns: Click Week 12 Gems for latest NFL picks and on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins for analysis of Miami's playoff chances. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face.

Dumb dumb dumb! Panthers fire coach Gallant: It seemed premature at the least for the Florida Panthers late last night to fire coach Gerard Gallant one quarter into this NHL season -- after two successful seasons prior to that. This franchise can't seem to outgrow its habit of treating stability as if it were the enemy.

Hurricanes' bowl destination: Am hearing UM is likeliest headed to the Dec. 31 Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville vs. Florida Gators or Mark Richt's ex's, Georgia. But Dec. 28 Russell Athletic/Orlando remains in play, with an outside shot at Dec. 31 Citrus/Orlando. Safest bet: Canes staying in-state a near certainty. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They're buoyant!

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 95.9%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 95.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 7-4 after a sixth consecutive win. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 3 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

Next poll: Dec. 4 (following game at Baltimore) 

G11: DOLPHINS 31, SAN FRANCISCO 24: ANTHEM-KNEELIN', CASTRO-ADMIRIN' COLIN KAEPERNICK COMES TO TOWN. AND IN OTHER NEWS, MIAMI WINS SIXTH STRAIGHT GAME!: Postgame thoughts: Hanging on at home to barely beat a 1-9 opponent is not that impressive. But this is: When that victory is your sixth in a row. Miami's 31-24 win over San Fran was too close for comfort, but 7-4 and all in on the playoff chase makes everything better. Defense was not real great today, giving up well over 400 49ers yards. But Tannehill was pretty great: 20-30, 285 yards, three TDs and a 130.6 rating. On as day when Miami was missing three line starters and the defense stacked up to limit Ajayi, Tanny took over and won it ..... 4Q: SF now within 31-24 with 2:15 left on 36-yard FG ... Hmm. Well, ain't over yet. SF within 31-21 with 7:42 left on The Kneeler's 1-yard TD flip to ancient Torrey Smith ... I predicted Miami to win 31-16 (see below). Close enough for ya? ... Fins now 31-14 and headed for 6th straight win on Tannehill's 3rd TD pass of day, 15 yards to Carroo, the latter's career first ..... 3Q: Tanny continues excellent day with 43-yard scoring pass to Stills and 24-14 MIA lead late in third ... Apparent 32-yard catch by Parker overturned on review ... This could come back to haunt. Miami answers 49ers score with 78-yard Drake kickoff return to SF 24, but fails to score, ends up punting. Wow ... SF within 17-14 on The Kneeler's 4-yard scoring pass to Celek to finish 91-yard drive ... MIA up 17-7 on 24-yard FG set up by Alonso INT (his second takeaway) that gave Fins ball on SF 26 ..... Halftime thoughts: MIA up 14-7 at the break, led by a sharp Tannehill, who is 12-for-17 for 154 yards (a 118.3 rating), including his 100th NFL career scoring throw. Ajayi being held in check; 11 for 25, hampered by three starting linemen out injured. Biugb defensive takeaway by Alonso. Only real negative for Fins so far: Kaepernick has 62 yards rushing on four runs. Miami seems to be on its way to sixth straight win ..... 2Q: MIA 14-7 on Sims 16-yard scoring pass from Tanny. Was his 100th career TD throw. He's been excellent today ... Bad teams commit turnovers, and so Niners lose fumble after completition, recovered by Alonso at Fins 16. SF had been driving, led by 30-yard run by The Kneeler ... MIA 7-7 on Ajayi 2-yard scoring run, after earlier apparent Parker 10-yard scoring catch in corner of end zone was overturtned on review ..... 1Q: Boom! Miami finally has a notable play late in first period, a 46-yard Tanny strike deep to Parker on 3rd and 7, to the SF 42 ... ESPN's continually updated "win probability" percentile now has SF slightly more likely to win today. Don't buy it. Too bad an opponent for Dolfans to worry yet ... SF up 7-0 on Kaepernick-Hyde 11-yard scoringh pass. Fins' Michael Thomas had earlier broken up a sure TD pass ... Loud booing as The Kneeler takes the field ... Can't remember the last Dolphins game I felt so sure Miami would win. Which alone gives me pause ..... Pregame: Oy. Miami's starting offensive line will be 3/5ths absent today, with Albert, Pouncey and Tunsil all inactive with injuries ..... Original post: OK, Miami, let's all boo 49ers quarterback Kneelin' Colin Kaepernick today because he chooses to not stand during the national anthem to protest social injustice. Or, let's all boo him because he once dared to wear a T-shirt Sfmiawith Fidel Castro's image and speak positively of the despicable deceased despot we hated so. Or -- third option -- we could ignore the ultimately inconsequential opposing QB and simply cheer the Dolphins as they attempt to win a sixth consecutive game. Doomsaying Dolfans are forever waiting for the fist around the blind corner — the next loss to prove the whole damned thing was a house of cards in a rising wind. Well, take this week off from the angst as 1-9 San Fran makes its first SoFla visit since 2008. Miami has seldom, in a lot of years, been a bigger favorite than today's 7 1/2 points. And with such Sfmiasbabundant reason. The Dolphins percolate into this 1 p.m. kickoff with five straight wins creating a 6-4 record that makes playoff hopes real. While 49ers already are eliminated from NFC playoff contention, Miami enters this week seventh in the jockeying for six AFC spots -- and climbing. The Fins are 4-1 at home. The terrible Niners are 0-4 on the road. Miami is led by a quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who has been really solid lately. San Fran is led by a quarterback, Kaepernick, who says he is leading a protest for change but then doesn’t even bother to vote. Did I mention that Jay Ajayi might roll another 200 against the NFL’s worst (by far) run defense? That’s not to say South Florida should be overconfident; that right hasn’t been earned. SF is way overdue to surprise somebody, anybody, and, remember, it took a late miracle for MIA to edge the punchless Rams last week. By the way, the 49ers tried to hire Adam Gase in 2015 but he slipped from their grasp, and now he’s climbing up onto the coach-of-the-year radar for Miami. This result should give the Frans more cause to lament the one that got away. My pick: Dolphins, 31-16.

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

Hotbutton1. FIDEL CASTRO: Miami celebrates death of despised Cuban dictator: Like Cubs fans in baseball, Cuban Miamians who fled Fidel Castro's tyranny prayed they would live to see this day but feared they never would. Finally, late Friday, it happened. Castro died at age 90, the despicable despot gone at last. 

2DOLPHINS: Miami beats 49ers for 6th straight win: Dolphins are hot and in the heart of playoff contention -- now holding the No. 6 playoff seed -- after 31-24 home win over San Francisco runs winning streak to six games. Dolfans, that feeling you had entering this game that is so strange and foreign to you ... it is called "overconfidence."

3HURRICANES: Kaaya sets mark as UM routs Duke in regular-season finale: A year ago the Canes needed a last-second, eight-lateral kickoff return miracle to beat Duke. This year, no drama, just a 40-21 rout that saw Brad Kaaya throw for 396 yards and break Ken Dorsey's career record. Bring on the bowl bids!

4. HEAT: A retooling team in an early-season scramble: Heat is 5-11 entering Monday's visit by Boston. It's weird, right? The playoffs always were assumed down here. Now they seem a slippery uphill climb.

5PANTHERS: Cats shockingly, stupidly fire their coach: The high-hope Cats, idling at .500 at 11-11, prematurely and stupidly fired coach Gerard Gallant late last night. This franchise can;t seem to outgrow its habit of treating stability as if it were the enemy.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men, women in holiday tourneys: Miami men fell to No. 21 Iowa State 73-56 Friday in semifinals of AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando for UM's first loss of the season, while women beat Texas Tech on Sunday in title game of event UM hosted. Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier keep Canes hoops relevant.

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Michigan loss gives CFP committee some decidin' to do: No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Clemson won handily Saturday, but what will the College Football Playoff do with No. 3 Michigan's double-OT loss at No. 2 Ohio State? The guess? Wolverines stay at 3 or drop no lower than 4, much to the chagrin of No. 5 Washington. And in other news, FSU beat Florida.

8. SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: Heat retiring Shaq's number meets some objection: Heat announced it would retire O'Neal's No. 32 in a ceremony next month. Hmm. For 3 1/2 seasons' work? I mean, I know Pat Riley's loves him a star-studded rafters, but, c'mon!

9. TIGER WOODS: Long-awaited return set for this week: Tiger's first competitive round on the PGA Tour in more than a year will happen this coming Thursday, meaning he has only a few days left to further delay his comeback.

10. SOCCER: U.S. national team changes coaches: Jurgen Klinsmann, out. Bruce Arena, back in. The change is no shock. But the timing sort of is, coming two games into World Cup qualifying.

Missing the HB10 cut: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has many qualities. Losing gracefully ..... Finished your Christmas shopping yet? Don't we hate people who already have? ..... The more I think about the way Jimmie Johnson made history at Homestead last week, shouldn't Donald Trump have Tweeted that the race was rigged?

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 28, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 95.9%; plus UM routs Duke 40-21 behind Kaaya's record day; also, OSU survives, FSU wins, other Collball (updated); The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP standings (15 games); Castro dies & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving Weekend! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 picks, annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, Shaq/retired number verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few select recent columns: Click Week 12 Gems for latest NFL picks and on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins for analysis of Miami's playoff chances. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name.

Live-in game blog, postgame thoughts: See our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 95.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 95.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 40-21 victory vs. Duke putting UM's final regular-Csmseason record at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC awaiting its bowl destiny. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday. This is not the season-ending poll; there will be a final one following UM's bowl game.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

G12: 95.9% following 40-21 victory vs. Duke

Next poll: Following bowl game

G12: HURRICANES 40, DUKE 21: UM DIDN'T REQUIRE ANY MIRACLES THIS TIME: Postgame thoughts: Big second half makes it a comfortable Miami win as expected to finish the regular season 8-4 with a fourth straight win. Not since 2002 had UM ended a season (pro-bowl) with four straight wins. But the big story is Brad Kaaya, with 396 yards passing and four TDs  to shatter Ken Dorsey's UM career passing-yards record of 9,565 ..... 4Q: within 40-21 late o 12-yard scoring pass ... Miami 40-14 on Kaaya 58-yard TD pass to Njoku ..... 3Q: UM tacks on FG for 33-14 lead as quarter ends. The bigger news: Kaaya with 313 yards has now catapulted past Dorsey's UM career passing yards record 9,565 ... UM 30-14 on Kaaya 3-yard scoring pass to Coley, but a 38-yard setup to Berrios the big play. Kaaya now only 9 yards from surpassing Dorsey's career passing yards record ... Canes catch break with Duke wide right on FG try ... UM up 23-14, its first breathing-room lead of game, on 76-yard scoring pass from Kaaya to Njoku. One wide-open receiver and one-missed tackle equals play of game so far ..... Halftime: Did not expect a tight game, with Miami a 15-point favorite in regular season finale. Still not feeling much jeopardy on UM's behalf, though. Expect this thing to bust open in second half in Canes' favor ..... 2Q: See saw game. Canes now up 16-14 just before half on 33Y FG ... UM within 14-13, settling for 25-yard field goal ... Where is Miami's pass rush and pass defense? Duke regains lead 14-10 on 13-yard scoring pass. Devils QB now 9-for-9 ..... 1Q: UM back up 10-7 on Kaaya 30-yard scoring pass to Walton ... Duke drives 75 yards for 7-3 lead on 6-yard pass ... UM 3-0 on 47-yard FG ... I think I'd like this game better if  it was Mike Krzyzewski's team facing UM ..... Original post: A year ago in Raleigh the Hurricanes needed that eight-lateral kickoff return miracle on the final play to escape Duke with a controversial, purloined win. This afternoon beginning at 3:30 in Miami Gardens should not feature such drama or require a Houdini act in a game that finds Duke a 15-point underdog. Miami sails in on a Dukemiathree-game win streak and is 7-4, with a victory here perhaps steering the Canes to a New Year's Eve bowl date in Jacksonville vs. the Florida Gators. Duke is 4-7 after four losses in the past five games and needs an upset win today to get on the bowl standby list in case there are (it's unlikely) an insufficient number of six-win teams. UM will honor its 18 seniors today in its regular-season finale, and so wants a nice crowd they were offering $18 lower-bowl tickets and calling it a "Black Friday Sale." Miami leads the all-time series 11-2 and should be in clear command today. The U's defensive front and pass rush will disrupt Duke's offense and (it says here) force it into two or three turnovers. Meanwhile Miami's balanced, Brad Kaaya- and Mark Walton-led offense should have little problem today. Kaaya need 276 yards to break Ken Dorsey's UM career record of 9,565, and I see him doing it. Mark Richt did have a bit of ammo to guard against his team's overconfidence. His preach theme for the week was that Duke beat two teams (Notre Dame, North Carolina) that beat Miami. So there. But it would take an unexpected flat performance by the Canes today to keep the Blue Devils in this game. My pick: Hurricanes, 38-13.

Other state FBS Week 13 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

South Florida 48, UCF 31: Upstate rivalry founds Bulls big 10-point faves and winning a shootout to improve to 10-2. Top 25, anyone?

Old Dominion 42, FIU 28: The O.D.'s were 14-point picks and dominated in second half to end The Intl's season on a downer at 4-8.

Middle Tennessee 77, FAU 56: This is not a basketball score by mistake. This is a football score. Perfect way for Owls to end their season 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 31, No. 15 Florida 13: Seminoles were 7 1/2 -point home faves in one of great rivalries in college football, with big Gators defense trying to limit big Noles attack in an ABC telecast. Um, it didn't work. FSU seniors completed an 8-0 career sweep of state rivals UF and Miami, which is a first. Florida State, 9-3, began the season thinking national championship, fell short but gets this solace. Florida, 8-3, is headed to the SEC championship game vs. Alabama, but with heads hung low.

National Collball Week 13 overview: Seven days now before the College Football Playoff has its Selection Sunday and mints the two semifinal games, we saw four teams desperately trying to protect their standing Saturday. In the Big One, 2-Ohio State protected its home turf vs. 3-Michigan 30-27 in double OT -- a game that lived up to expectations. 1-Alabama eased past 15-Auburn 30-12 and 4-Clemson routed South Carolina 56-7. Might Michigan despite the stay at No. 3 or drop only to 4? No. 5 Washington, which won big Friday, certainly hopes not. Stay tuned.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (15 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings still show a runaway for a certain big center, but a fight for second place. With Miami now 5-10 after last night's win over Memphis, here's the Luddite's third installment, with 10-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (15 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       492

2. Dion Waiters (5)              307

3. Tyler Johnson (2)             304

4. Goran Dragic (3)             272

5. James Johnson (6)          241

Bubble: Justise Winslow 181 (4). Others: Josh Richardson 166, Rodney McGruder 128, Luke Babbitt 100, Willie Reed 73, Derrick Williams 71, Josh McRoberts 47, Udonis Haslem 15.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2016

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-49ers, others; plus annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, your Shaq/retired number verdict; also, Fidel Castro finally dies & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Retiring Shaq's number with poll, Jurgen Klinsmann fired, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 11 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name. 

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 12: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-49ERS, REST OF NFL: We rebounded like Hassan Whiteside last week, shedding our slump with a 12-2 week straight-up and 9-4-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began our Week 12 solidly, 2-1 both ways on Thanksgiving Day games; click Thursday Gems for those picks. For all of our latest selections click on Week 12 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-49ers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an analysis of the Dolphins' playoff chances. We have the math on why Miami must won four of its last six games and finish 10-6 to expect to get in for the first time since 2008. Click on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins to read. 

Other select recent columns: Football Town Strikes Back, on Dolphins' and Canes' concurrent resurgence. Also: Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Pilgrim16A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Everybody's busy this time of year, but I managed to get Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Heat center Hassan Whiteside, defrocked baseball Hall of Fame voter Dan LeBatard and president-elect Donald Trump to join me for this special holiday video. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you, on a serious note, to all of our longtime readers and listeners, near and far, for allowing me to  be a small part of your lives. I appreciate the support and will keep working to earn it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Click HERE to watch the special video starring the five of us...

Poll result: Mixed feelings, but ultimate thumbs-down on Heat retiring Shaq's number: Heat announced they're retiring Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32. We asked what you thought, and it was 33.5 percent "no way!", 27.1% "close call but nope," 24.7% "close call but yeah," and 14.8% "yes definitely!" Combined, the nays beat the yays, 60.6% to 39.4%. Sorry, Big Fella.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2016

Exclusive: Trump reaches out to Hillary to help get Howard Schnellenberger into College Hall of Fame; plus Butch Davis to FIU, latest SOPY standings, Radio Tuesday, your Brad Kaaya stay-or-go verdict & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15. R.I.P., Gardnar Mulloy, the Miami tennis legend, passed away at age 102. 2) Check out previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results -- a season high. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win fourth straight with DSM poll, Butch Davis to FIU, Hot BUtton Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be?, the latest, on Fins' resourcefulness in this four-game win streak. Also: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show also televised on ESPNU.

TrumpletterEXCLUSIVE: TRUMP ASKS HILLARY TO HELP GET SCHNELLENBERGER IN COLLEGE HALL OF FAME!: It's true. We have just learned that in May of 2015, then-businessman Donald J. Trump, now the U.S. president-elect, wrote a letter to Hillary on behalf of Howard Schnellenberger's candidacy for the College Football Hall of Fame. Pictured is the letter; click on it for a larger image that may be Howardeasier to read. The "Ms. Jeffries " to whom the letter is addressed is Hillary Jeffries, director of special projects for the National Football Foundation (NFF), which oversees the Hall of Fame. Jeffries' duties include "complete oversight of the College Football Hall of Fame nomination and voting processes." Wait. What!? You thought the Hillary in the headline was Clinton!? Oh how silly! Would I mislead you like that just to get a few more clicks for my blog? How low would that be! At any rate Schnellenberger, of course, is the former Miami Hurricanes 1983 national-championship coach who later resurrected Louisville's program and then birthed the FAU program from scratch. In effect he is on the coaching Mount Rushmore of three different FBS schools but cannot get into the Hall because of its misguided rule of a minimum .600 winning percentage for induction, a rule that penalizes men like DonaldHoward who dare to take over, rebuild and ultimately save struggling teams. I have written on behalf of Schnellenberger's induction; click on Let Howard In! As for the letter, I am told Schnellenberger and Trump crossed paths during the time one coached FAU in Boca Raton and the other owned properties and a home there. There also was a distant football tie. Trump owned the USFL's Washington General in the 1980s and tried to hire Schnellenberger away from UM before the coach decided to leave instead for a team being bought by local businessman Sherwood "Woody" Weiser, a deal that never came to fruition. The recent letter shown was elicited by advocates pushing for Schnellenberger's Hall induction. One wonders if the letter may be revisited and given added weight now that the writer is White House-bound. I suppose it may depend on the political leaning of the folks who run the NFF. In any case, sorry, but the idea of Trump writing to Hillary on this matter was too much fun for me to resist.

ON BUTCH DAVIS JOINING FIU: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis is returning to work in the city he wanted to return to, if not exactly the team he wanted to coach. He has signed a five-year contract to coach FIU in Conference USA. FIU will formally introduce him this afternoon as its fourth head coach. Davis intensely desired to come back to UM and the ACC (where he had coached more recently with North Carolina), but he was among the many coaches the Canes passed over in favor of hiring Mark Richt. For FIU it feels like a great hire, a big hire, getting a proven coach with major-college experience, and one with a track record grounded in strong recruiting. (I'd be worried if I were direct-rival FAU). For Davis, who turns 65 on Thursday, it seems a step down, like a man hitting the career refresh button at a decidedly lower level. But, hey, Butch wanted to still coach, and this was his shot. Good for him. Also, the rivalry that really isn't but should be and hopefully will be someday -- UM vs. FIU -- just got turned up a notch.

SOPY RANKINGS / CROWN HIM NOW! FLOWERS IN FULL BLOOM TO WIN 'STATE HEISMAN': Here is the game South Florida Bulls duel-threat QB Quinton Flowers (from Miami Jackson High) Sopyhad on Saturday: 24-for-29 passing for 263 yards and three TDs, with 210 yards rushing and two more scores. And you wonder why he is dominating the fifth season of our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings? Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams have played 10 games except the Florida Gators, with nine. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 12, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 11:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)               Wk11       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                371.5      2,422.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                         126         1,726

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 124.5      1,549.5

4      4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                      122         1,283

5      6      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       201.5      1,254

6      5      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      BYE         1,159.5

7      8      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                      136         1,132

8      7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     128         1,128 

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                        BYE           961

10   --      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec                  213           926

Bubble: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 867. Other team leader: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 684. Week 11 best: Flowers, 371.5; Season best: Flowers, 371.5, Week 11.

Cote's State of the State team rankings: 1. Florida State (7-3); 2. Florida (7-2); 3. South Florida (8-2); 4. Miami (6-4); 5. UCF (6-4); 6. FIU (3-7); 7. FAU (3-7). Did you notice? Our state was unbeaten in FBS last week. FIU had a bye, but all six other state teams won. 

Poll result: Kaaya will stay, not turn pro: We asked if you thought Hurricanes QB would return for senior season or enter the NFL Draft, and was 77.6 percent stay to 22.4% go. Hmm. May be a little wishful thinking in that disparity?

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

Twitter @gregcote

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.8%; plus Butch Davis to FIU, Fins win 4th straight 31-24, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Leonrussell1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14. Sad to note the passing of the great Leon Russell (pictured) at age 74. He'd been scheduled to play a show in Boca Raton next week and I'd hoped to see him. R.I.P. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win big at Virginia with CSM poll, other Collball Week 11, Brad Kaaya stay-or-go poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: The latest: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Week 10 Gems (latest NFL predictions). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders) Select others: Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

ButchdBUTCH DAVIS TO COACH FIU!: Former Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis is returning to work in the city he wanted to return to, if not exactly the team he wanted to coach. He has signed a five-year contract to coach FIU in Conference USA. FIU will formally introduce him Tuesday afternoon as its fourth head coach. Davis intensely desired to come back to UM and the ACC (where he had coached more recently with North Carolina), but he was among the many coaches the Canes passed over in favor of hiring Mark Richt. For FIU it feels like a great hire, a big hire, getting a proven coach with major-college experience, and one with a track record grounded in strong recruiting. (I'd be worried if I were direct-rival FAU). For Davis, who turns 65 on Thursday, it seems a step down, like a man hitting the career refresh button at a decidedly lower level. But, hey, Butch wanted to still coach, and this was his shot. Good for him. Also, the rivalry that really isn't but should be and hopefully will be someday -- UM vs. FIU -- just got turned up a notch.

CSM vote in: Results are in for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll; find them in the blogpost directly below this new one.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts below: Look for our in-game blog and postgame thoughts right below the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 96.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 96.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 victory at San Diego putting Miami's season Dsmrecord at 5-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

Next poll: Nov. 20 (following game at Los Angeles)

G9: DOLPHINS @ SAN DIEGO: CAN MIAMI FINALLY BREAK THE "3W JINX"?: Postgame thoughts: Miami with fourth straight win, 31-24 at San Diego with four defensive interceptions imn second half a sharp Tannehill throughout. Very impressive. Dolphins nauil donw their first 4-game winning streak since 2008. And playoff hope, at 5-4, is genuinely alive! ..... 4Q: Lippett INT -- 4th of half for Miami -- seals it ... OMG! Kiko Alonso 60-yard INT return puts MIA up 31-24 with 1 minute left! ... ... What a game! Franks 27-yard FG ties it 24-24. OT ahead? ... SD up 24-1 with 4 minutes left on Rivers' 51-yard scoring toss to Williams ... Another huge defensive takeaway as Maxwell intercepts Rivers! ... Lippett INT in enxd zone saves Miami! Grant had muffed punt return, gave SD ball at Miami 5. Huuuge turnover! Then defensive hold against Maxwell gave SD new set of downs. Lippett a game-changer ..... 3Q: MIA back up 21-17 on Williams' 2nd TD, asn 18-yard strike from Tannehill. Tanny really good today so far. Had a big 18-yard scramble on the drive ... Rivers-Henry 7-yard TYD pass is Rivers' 300th in his career and puts Bolts back up 17-14. Pass interference by Miami in end zone made it easier ... MIA up 14-10, first lead, on Damien Williams' 2Y run. Ajayi, afterr only 16 yards in first half, busted a 40-yarder to lead the 75-yard drive ..... Halftime thoughts: Did not expect a defensive battle. Or a lack of offense battle, as the case may be. Chargers with a modedst 157 yards in offense; Fins D has done pretty well. But Miami doing little with the ball beyond that one perfect 39-yard TD pass by Tanny. Ajayi with only 16 rushbing yards on 11 carries. But Miami has ballto start second half ..... 2Q: Wake sack bumps Bolts from FG range ... Fins LT Branden Albert wrist injury, iffy to return. Not good ... Tight ends always seem to bedevil Miami's D, and Gates is doing it today ... MIA within 10-7 on 39Y scoring pass to Stills. A perfect strike. Put that in your memory bank, Tannehill haters 'n doubters! ... SD suddenly up 10-0 on Rivers' 11-yard scoring pass to ancient TE Gates. Somebody wake the Dolphins offense? ... Bolts 3-0 on 45-yard FG to begin second quarter ..... 1Q: Unexpected scoreless first. SD's 38 total yards a good sign for Miami ... Promising first drive by Miami ends with sack that negates FG range ... Feeling lucky, Dolfans? ..... Original post: Since last achieving a four-game winning streak in 2008 (the most recent Dolphins playoff year), Miami reached three wins in a row five previous times only to then lose. Maybe the sixth time will be the charm? We find out today starting at 4:05 p.m. in San Diego. The Chargers franchise was denied by Miasdvoters this past week on a new-stadium referendum, putting the team's future there in doubt. The team is faring somewhat better. Philip Rivers' Bolts have won three of their past four games, and SD's five losses this season have been by a combined 22 points. This is not a bad Chargers team, in other words, and one that seems to be finding its rhythm. Miami's first road game in an NFL post-merger record of 44 days will be a tall task for the Dolphins in a coaching matchup between former Broncos staff-mates in Adam Gase and Mike McCoy. Did I mention Miami is 0-3 on the road? It isn’t that San Diego is a particularly a daunting venue; it’s that the Chargers present big challenges and matchup problems. Miami catches a break because top Bolts wideout Travis Benjamin likely won't play. Jarvis Landry is questionable for Miami but likelier to be ready. Miami will be tested by the prolific Rivers (two TD throws from being the ninth to reach 300), who is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season, and by hot Melvin Gordon fronts a high-powered running attack that will be a ton to handle for the Fins defense. And San Diego, though not a great defense overall, produced two defensive TDs last week and have an impact rookie sacker in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Joey Bosa. Bolts also play the run very solidly and will make it tough for Jay Ajayi to continue his surreal run of 529 yards in past three games. I could end up as wrong here as the polls were about Donald Trump. But, sorry, I doubt it. My pick: San Diego, 31-23.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. POLITICS: First Cubs, now Trump on the seismic jolt-to-history list: I guess it's true. Anything can happen. The difference is, most of America (well, outside of Cleveland) was rooting for the Chicago Cubs. It seems most of America (based on the final popular vote total and subsequent protests) did not want Donald Trump.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Chargers for fourth win in row: The Dolphins were in San Diego trying to expand their winning streak to four games, and did, 31-24. Five previous times Miami had won three straight then lost, before finally getting to four in a row for the first time since 2008.

3. HEAT: D-Wade twice a winner in highly anticipated return to Miami: Dwyane Wade's Chicago Bulls beat the Heat Thursday night in his ballyhooed first return here since leaving, and Wade also won big with appreciative, loving reaction from Miami fans.

4. HURRICANES: UM punches bowl ticket at Virginia: The favored Canes whipped Virginia 34-14 in Charlottesville Saturday for a sixth win of the season and bowl eligibility. Alas, four earlier losses assured we're talking about "medium bowl" eligibility.

5. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Road to March Madness now open: College hoops season began Friday for Miami Hurricanes and most teams, with UM's rebuilding men easily winning a soft opener, and No. 14 Canes women losing at No. 19 Kentucky. OK, now let's please fast-forward 119 days to Selection Sunday and get to the good stuff!

6. NASCAR: Homestead final four set for championship weekend: Sunday in Phoenix decide who'd join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the final four for next weekend's Sprint Cup season-championship race down south of Miami, and it was Joey Logano and Kyle Busch. November madness!

7. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Earthquake Saturday as No.s 2-3-4 all lose: No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Washington all stunningly lost Saturday, opening door for Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin to join the coveted top four in the College Football Playoff ranking. But can anybody beat No. 1 Alabama? "No" is the answer right now.

8. PANTHERS: Cats face four-game roadtrip needing momentum: The on-and-off Florida Panthers make the 15-game NHL turn at 7-8 and just off playoff pace entering a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at red-hot Montreal. Cats have not yet shown they'll be Stanley Cup contenders, but don't write 'em off yet.

9. SOCCER: U.S. drops WC qualifier to Mexico: The American men lost 2-1 to rival Mexico this week in Columbus, O., in the first game of World Cup qualifying, a huge disappointment that puts early pressure on the U.S. Mostly, though, the pressure is one U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann. 

10. UFC: McGregor makes history, awaits baby: Mixed-martial arts star Conor McGregor won big in UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, becoming first to hold two championship belts simultaneously. Afterward McGregor announced he'll be a first time Daddy in early 2017 and take some time off. Yeah, right.

Missing the HB10 cut: David Beckham now says his Miami MLS group is targeting a team to start the 2019 season. This will be have been about a five-year gestation when this baby is finally delivered, if ever it is ..... Greg Oden called himself the biggest draft bust in NBA history. "Sounds about right," America agreed ..... University of Louisville suspended cheerleader Brynn Baker over election-night posts on social media that mocked those outraged by the presidential outcome. Wait. Brynn. Aren't you supposed to be cheerful!?

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 14, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.0%; plus UM whips Virginia 34-14 for bowl eligibility; also, Brad Kaaya stay-or-go poll, other state Collball (updated), Popovich rips Trump voters & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes men and women's outlooks as college basketball opens, NFL Week 10 picks, Bill Stanfill dies, The List (UM hoops) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our most recent columns: The latest: Return Of Wade (from Heat arena Thursday night). Week 10 Gems (latest NFL predictions). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders) Select others: Miami QBs: No Worries (why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

"I'm still sick to my stomach, and not basically because the Republicans won or anything, but the disgusting tenor, tone and all the comments that have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in that country where half the people ignored all that to elect someone. That's the scariest part. We live in a country that ignored all those values that we would hold our kids accountable for." -- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs coach

Postgame thoughts on UM win at Virginia: Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts here right below the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 82.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show an 82.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 34-14 victory at Virginia putting UM's Csmseason record at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. That maintains the highest rating since the team started 4-0. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

Next poll: Nov. 19 following game at North Carolina State

G10: HURRICANES 34, @ VIRGINIA 14: UM WNS HANDILY WITH BIG RUNNING and BIG DEFENSE, BECOMES BOWL-ELIGIBLE: Postgame thoughts: UM now 6-4 and bowl-eligible with 34-14 spanking of host Virginia, now 2-8. Canes were supposed to win without much anxiety and did, behind a 222-yard ground game and opportunistic defense. Kaaya wasn't great but spun a pair of TD passes. Walton rushed for 111 yards and a score. Richard's 100 receiving yards included a 77-yard score. Defense had four takeaways and budgeted Virginia to 289 total yards. Cavaliers showed why they're a lousy team but Miami played well overall and earned the win with a dominant second half ..... 4Q: Teams swap turnovers late, Yearby fumbling for UM, Elder getting it back ... Field position from muffed Cavs punt sets Canes up for 15-yard Walton scoring run and commanding 34-14 lead. Walton now with 111 yards on ground ... Bungled punt by Cavaliers gives UM ball at VA 39 ..... 3Q: Canes with now-comfy 27-13 lead on Kaaya 77-yard scoring pass (mostly run) to Ahmmon Richards late in quarter ... Big defensive play for UM! Corn Elder sack jars ball lose and Joe Jackson recovers. No points off turnover, though; Badgley wide on 50-yard FG try ... Miami now up 20-14 with 44-yard FG ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami as a 10 1/2-point favorite is only up 17-14 but getting ball to open second half. Kaaya not real sharp today (8-for-19) but UM ground game has 121 yards in the half. Defense has been pretty solid. A steady dose of Walton and Yearby in second half sounds like the recipe for the W that would bring bowl-eligibility ..... 2Q: VA within 17-14 on 13-yard TD pass ... Miami now 17-7 with Kaaya 7-yard scoring pass to Njoku. That early deficit disappeared fats. Canes are asserting themselves ... UM 10-7 with 40-yard Badgley FG ..... 1Q: Walton/Yearby 69 combined rushing yards in 1st quarter ... Miami, 7-7. Now that's how to answer, with a 75-yard scoring drive.  Fifty-two yardswere on ground, finished by Yearby's 10-yard score, but the big play a 26-yard by Walton on 4th-and-1 from midfield. Proper mini-gamble by Richt ... Ugly start. After a Virginia punt, Kaaya's first pass attempt is picked off, giving Cavs ball at Miami 18, and a 2-yard TD run soon follows. Virginia, 7-0 ..... Original post: No Canes fan is clicking heels over a 5-4 record, but bowl eligibility is the minimum standard for sucess, and at least UM will achieve that if it wins as a 10 1/2-point favorite today in the odd 2 p.m. start (Fox Sports Sun) in chilly Charlottesville. The Cavaliers are 2-7 and not very good, having Miavalost four in a row and having allowed at least 32 opponent points in seven games this year. However, UM coach Mark Richt does have two points of ammo -- beyond the fact no 5-4 team has earned a right to be overconfident, particularly in a conference road game -- in advising his troops to not take the Cavs lightly: 1) This has has not be a kind road trip for Miami. UM is 2-4 in Charlottesville and last won there in 2008. And 2) Virginia has its moments, as when it gave then-No. 5 Louisville a big fight just two weeks ago before falling 32-25. Miami will want a fast start to keep the momentum of last week's 51-28 rout of Pitt that finally ended a season-quaking four-game losing streak. The Hurricanes' offensive line figures to be missing two starters so protection for QB Brad Kaaya again will be a key. With a fairly clean pocket, Kaaya should strafe a pass defense ranked 109th in FBS, allowing 271 yards a game on average. The UM we saw in October would struggle today. The UM we saw last week would roll. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-20.

GUT FEELING POLL: WHAT WILL KAAYA DO?: I'm on record recently writing that I think Canes QB Brad Kaaya will opt to return to UM and play his senior season (column link here). But there Bkalso is much thought, assumption and belief that he'll opt instead to turn pro and enter the NFL Draft. The Palm Beach Post has reported that six teams including the Miami Dolphins have shown the most interest in Kaaya, along with the Bears, Cardinals, Chargers, Saints and Texans. The key to his decision may be his draft status. The thought is he'd turn pro if assured he'd be a reasonably high first round pick, but perhaps not without that assurance -- if instead the NFL consensus was he'd benefit from another college season. Nobody knows at this point. Maybe Brad doesn't even know yet what he'll do. He'll likely not reveal his decision until after the season. Meantime, I'm curious how Miami fans feel. Obviously the vast majority would hope he'll stay. But this poll isn't asking what you hope happens, it's asking what you honestly think will happen. What you predict. Try to make that distinction as you vote. Answer as if the odds were even and you were placing a bet on one choice or the other.

Other state FBS Week 11 games, chronologically, all Saturday unless noted:

No. 18 Florida State 45, Boston College 7: Noles, now 7-3, rolled as expected at home Friday night, fueled by Deondre Francois' three TD passes and limiting BC to 146 total yards.

Florida 20, South Carolina 7: Gators QB Luke Del Rio was out injured (again) but UF dominated in Swamp favorite over ex-coach Will Muschamp's Gamecocks.

UCF 24, Cincinnati 3: Knights dominated at home from start and became bowl-eligible at 6-4.

FAU 35, Texas-El Paso 31: Owls improve to 3-7 in a high-scoring shootout in the home nest. Hooooot!

South Florida 49, Memphis 42: SoFla Bulls now 8-2 and tied atop American-East, angling to reach conference title game.

Off this week: FIU (3-7), next vs. Marshall. FIU made an in-season coaching change and has lost three in a row entering next week's home finale. But just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for the Panthers, tight end Jonnu Smith's season ended when he was (according to police) burned with boiling water by a girlfriend in a domestic dispute. Good lord, woman!

National Collball Week 11 overview: Earthquake Saturday! No. 2 Clemson (to Pitt), No. 3 Michigan (to Iowa) and No. 4 Washington (to Southern Cal) all stunningly lost. Dominant No. 1 Alabama remains intact but the rest of the upper College Football Playoff ranking is now in turmoil. Fifth-, sixth- and seventh-ranked Ohio State, Louisville and Wisconsin all but assuredly will now elevate into the coveted top four.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 10, 2016

Welcome home, Dwyane: If there was a hatchet, Wade and Riley helped bury it tonight. Heat lose, Wade scores 13; plus a smidge more politics (sorry), The List (Wade) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10. Girding for double-duty today. Am up at Friday Page World Headquarters researching our latest NFL predictions (click Thursday Gem for tonight's Browns-Ravens pick), then heading downtown to Heat arena for Wade Returns night. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Clinton vs. Trump thoughts and poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 9 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Countdown: In case you wondered, it is 1,454 days -- or 3 years, 11 months, 24 days -- until the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election.

A few of our most recent columns: Miami QBs: No Worries, our latest, on why I think Ryan Tannehill is good enough and Brad Kaaya will return for his senior season. Also: The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs' World Series win). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It DidHeat's System Reboot.

WadehomeWELCOME HOME, DWYANE: Game tonight: Click on Return Of Wade for my column from tonight's game. Chicago beat Heat 98-95, dropping Miami to 2-5 with a third straight loss despite Hassan Whiteside's 20 points and 20 rebounds. The bigger story, of course: Wade's Miami homecoming. Wade had only 13 points on 5-for-17 shoting but felt the love from a crowd cheering for the Heat -- but also for the beloved No. 3 they cheered for 13 previous seasons ..... Pregame: Pat Riley said tonight he did finally send that long-saved, heartfelt email to Wade, although he wouldn't specify when. "After 13 years we don't need to talk or email to justify how we feel about each other." Wade, speaking later, did not specifically indicate if he'd gotten the email but said, "There's nothing to squash in my eyes," meaning hard feelings, "I'm appreciative of Pat and what we accomplished." ..... Original post: Tonight will be the first time 13-season Heat icon Dwyane Wade returns to Miami in a different uniform, with the Chicago Bulls, for his only visit of the season. It should be an emotional night that will include a video tribute and, I'd expect, a lot of love from the fans. I have a Wade column previewing tonight online and in today's inky pulp edition of the Miami Herald; click on Welcome Home, Dwyane to read in full. The column begins: "This moment has been building for four months, since the Fourth of July, his independence day, when Dwyane Wade knew he was leaving. This moment has been building, really, though, for 13 years, since the 2003 NBA Draft, when Wade and Miami first met, raised three beautiful championships together, and were happily married until they weren't." Much of the column gets into the frayed relationship between Wade and Pat Riley that contributed to Wade leaving Miami. To this day, Wade and Riley have not spoken since last season ended. There are no hard feelings, outwardly. The fists are wrapped in velvet gloves. "Life is too short to be holding grudges," Wade said. "At the end of the day, Pat has helped me become a very rich man. Me and Pat have won championships together. We've both helped each other’s legacies. I love that guy. I know how he is. He's stubborn just like I am." But, as my column concludes: Thursday won't be about Riley, though. It will be about Dwyane Wade and his biggest fans in the arena that helped raise him. Wade said: "My message to [Heat fans] is what it's been all summer. Thank you." Tonight, finally, Miami gets to say thanks back.

ONE MORE THING ON THE ELECTION: I recently railed against the hopelessly counter-productive and stupendously wasted third- and fourth-party voters. My frustration was borne out. As a Rolling Stone study reported, "Third-party protest votes helped assure the Trump victory. In three states [Clinton narrowly lost], Trump's margin of victory is a fraction of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson's vote total. Green Party nominee Jill Stein [had] more votes than Clinton's deficit in both Wisconsin (31,000) and Michigan (51,000)." So, to any Johnson or Stein voters who would have gone Clinton over Trump had their self-righteousness not gotten in the way ... congratulations! You win the Ralph Nader Cup for misguided idealism!

Poll result: Our blog readers went for Clinton: We asked who you hoped would be next president, and Clinton beat Trump, 53.4 percent to 46.6%. It was closer to around 60-40 during the day Tuesday, then narrowed post-election.

THE LIST: DWYANE WADE: As Wade returns to Miami tonight for the first time in a different uniform, a list of some of the major statistical categories in which Wade is the Heat's all-time franchise leader:

Category            Total        Second place

Games                855         Haslem, 815

2-pt FGs             6,939      Mourning, 3,434

Free throws        5,185      Mourning, 2,558

Assists                4,944      Hardaway, 2,867

Steals                1,414       Chalmers. 791

Points                20,221     Mourning, 9,459

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 09, 2016

Good morning, America. The Celebrity Apprentice is your president-elect!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, on Tannehill and Kaaya, latest SOPY standings & more

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

Electionday1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9. Check our previous blogpost for the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating. It's downright buoyant! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Stinkin' Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Tannehill, Kaaya: Click on Miami QBs: No Worries for my new column. I tell you why I think Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is good enough, and why I think Hurricanes QB Brad Kaaya will return to UM for his senior season.

A few of our most recent columns: Click on The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This for my column on Sunday's win over the Jets. Also: Image Makeover (on Fins' sudden devotion to ground game. King Sport Halftime Awards (NFL midseason trophies). There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win). A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings). Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. And Heat's System Reboot.

ELECTION 2016: AMERICA AWAKENS TO A SURREAL NEW REALITY: THE CELEBRITY APPRENTICE IS PRESIDENT-ELECT: Our regular blog readers know we color outside the sports lines occasionally and dip a toe into other stuff including Clintontrumppolitics here. It's why the blog slogan (see above ) is 'Miami. Sports. And Beyond.' So naturally we could not let a presidential campaign season go by without delving in and inviting you to have your say, too, in the poll below, which lists the candidates alphabetically -- and which we'll keep up today. The poll purposefully and without apology includes only the two major-party candidates who had a chance tot actually win. My opinion on this is worth no more than yours; all of our votes weigh the same. I'm not preaching, just sharing a few of general thoughts on how it turned out last night. Hillary Clinton was an imperfect Democratic candidate but the Republicans did not offer a credible alternative; quite the opposite. Um, apparently many disagreed with that notion. Although Clinton slightly won the overall popular vote, Trump's win in electoral votes was pretty solid. I felt one candidate and only one was qualified to be president -- to a degree that today, The Morning After, America faces its "Brexit moment." Recall how the United Kingdom voted in June to leave the European Union and how so many Brits awoke the next morning to immediate remorse, like, "My God, what have we actually just done!?" I think electing Trump engenders that feeling in half of the country. I detested Trump's divisive, misogynist, hate-mongering campaign, his whining about a "rigged election" and his noncommitment to acknowledge the final outcome. (Wonder if he still thinks the election was rigged, by the way!?) I am honestly concerned that my country will take a step back in terms of race relations, LGBT rights and tolerance in general. I so hope I am wrong. Not saying I'm right in my views, but they are mine. We'll get back to sports nonsense soon enough. God Bless America.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 9 RESULTS: PIX BOUNCE BACK, LOBOS STAY HOT!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL pix: Decent bounce-back from our worst week of the season. Went 8-5 straight-up and 7-5-1 against the spread (Panthers pushed). We're now a very solid 23 games above .500 ATS for  the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pounded "Commissioner " Sarah Spain 137-96 in the LeBatard Show league and we're now 6-3 and tied for first place overall. Got a big 36 points from Melvin Gordon and also put Drew Brees and Allen Robinson in the 20s. Let's keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / CANES' KAAYA CLIMBS TO FOURTH IN 'STATE HEISMAN' RACE: South Florida Bulls duel-threat QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) remains way out front and a Kaayaheavy favorite for the championship in the fifth season year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year. But Miami's Brad Kaaya (pictured) has risen three spots to a credible fourth place in the standings. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The number of games played for each school is listed parenthetically below. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 11, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 10:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)                 Wk10       Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb (9)            BYE       2,051

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb (9)                       88        1,600

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb (9)             163        1,425

4      7      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb (9)                   225        1,161

5      4      Alex McGough, FIU-qb (10                DNP       1,159.5

6      8      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb (9)                  168.5      1,052.5

7      9      Mark Walton, Miami-rb (9)                 155        1,000 

8      5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb (9)                  BYE         996

9      6      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb (10)                     24           961

10   10     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb (9)                 80          809

Bubble: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 767 (9). Other team leader: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 684 (8). Week 10 best: Devin Singletary, FAU-rb, 281. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 19, 2016

NFL Pix 'n Fantasy: The (very) good and bad of Week 6 results; plus Tannehill's challenge to Dolphins, updated SOPY rankings, Radio Tuesday, the false nobility of the third-party candidate & more

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

Chuckberry1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19. Happy 90th birthday yesterday to the music legend Chuck Berry (pictured,) who announced that in 2017 he'll release his first new album in 38 years. 2) Dolphins earn season-high Dolfan Satisfaction Meter approval rating. See previous blogpost for latest results. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Pittsburgh with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: Tannehill nails it: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has challenged his team, in the wake of Sunday's exhilarating surprise over Pittsburgh, to "show up like this every week." Can they? Click on Tannehill's Challenge to read my latest column.

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 6 RESULTS: PHENOMENAL 'ATS' STREAK CONTINUES, BUT LOBOS FALL HARD: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: Went a nifty 12-3 overall and a sublime 10-4-1 against the spread -- a sixth straight winning week ATS! We bull's-eyed yet another Upset of the Week call with Redskins over Eagles ("Aawwk!"), hit two other outright upsets with Chargers over Broncos and Saints over Panthers, and also hit on a trio of other 'dogs-with-points in Browns, Falcons and Cowboys. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos dipped to 3-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a disappointing 156-96 loss to Allyson. Got a nice 33 points from Drew Brees and too little from everybody else. Injury-absence of Theo Riddick hurt, but doesn't excuse a spanking like this. Time to seriously re-gird.

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': FLOWERS GROWING OUT OF CONTROL!: South Florida QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) is threatening to run away with the leaderboard Sopyin the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year. After winning Week 7 Flowers has opened up more than a 200-point lead on second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida state running back. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. UM, Florida and UCF have played one fewer game than the other four. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 8, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 7:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk7        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                293.5      1,540

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          126        1,304

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 165.5      1,160

4      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       138.5       838

5      8      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      187.5      782.5

6      4      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                          39         748

7     --      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                       188        734

8      7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      105        707 

9      6      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                        95         702.5

10     9      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    115        700

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 618. Other team leaders: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 552; and McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 404.5. Week 7 best: Flowers, 293.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

THE FALSE NOBILITY OF THE THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE: John Oliver skewered third-party presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein (video below), detailing ways in which their candidacies and platforms do not stand up under scrutiny or vetting. I'm against minor third-party runners (defined as polling less than 10 percent) mainly because they are hopeless spoilers attracting wasted, pointless votes -- modern-day Ralph Naders. Johnson and Stein have zero ZERO ZERO chance of winning a single state including their own, let alone a general election. I love that idealists have convinced themselves that voting their "conscience" is the way to go in this election, and that voting for (as they might put it) "the lesser of two evils" is abhorrent to everything they stand for. To those folks I would say: Feel free to be an adult, get acquainted with the idea of pragmatism, and hop on board the real world anytime you'd like.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 06, 2016

Football! Set the bar on expectations: How many games will Dolphins and Hurricanes win this season? 2 new polls. Last day to vote!

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

Asglogo1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 6. Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat. 2) Pictured right, the new Marlins' 2017 All-Star Game logo.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

"Dear Bernie Sanders supporters: Welcome to adult politics. Grow up, please. Get over yourselves. Could you try to accept defeat with a modicum of grace? Thanks!" --Greg Cote

I'm back!: Back this morning on a redeye flight from a week's-plus vacation along California's Central Coast. We'll be back in action here with a new blogpost Sunday -- the new Hot Button Top 10 after a week's absence for the HB10. Also will be back writing columns starting Monday and back on the LeBatard Show as a cohost on Tuesday.

SETTING THE BAR ON DOLPHINS AND HURRICANES EXPECTATIONS...: On the upcoming calendar for our major local teams and beyond: Dolphins are upon us. Team opened training camp on July 29. First exhibition game is Aug. 12. Season starts Sept. 11 at Seattle. Canes football is here. ACC Football Kickoff is in the books. UM's first practice was Aug. 4. Season opens Sept. 3 vs. Florida Dolphins HurricanesA&M. Marlins continue chasing NL playoff spot as Ichiro (still!) chases 3,000 hits, still at 2,998. Olympics' Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro are now underway, ready or not. (And it sure seems not). Tennis' U.S. Open draws near. It starts Aug. 29. Panthers are quiet. Cats open preseason Sept. 26 and regular hockey schedule Oct. 13. Heat are quiet. Dead of offseason. Training camp will begin in late September. It is the gradual onset of football that tops the local plate as I set out on holiday, with the Dolphins and then the Canes hitting the practice field under promising new coaches in Adam Gase and Mark Richt. So it is time to set the bar on expectations for each team with separate polls. This is not asking what you wish or hope, but what your honest/realistic expectations are. In other words, pick the projected victory total for each team that you'd bet on if given $100 to place on any one number. For the Dolphins pick a number based on a 16-game regular season. For UM pick the final total based on a 12-game season with the additional possibility of an ACC Championship Game and a bowl game (or two bowls games if you make the College Football Playoff). Ten seems to be the magic number for each team. For the Dolphins that would all but assure an elusive playoff spot. For the Canes that would be a standard the program last achieved in 2003. So how realistically optimistic are you for each team? We'll leave these polls up the entire time we're away. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

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

Twitter @gregcote