September 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 24, 2016

Chris Bosh, with latest setback, should retire from Heat and NBA: my new column. Agree or not? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 3 picks, has-interest-in-Heat-decreased poll, why Stanley Cup odds still are against Panthers, your Tebow verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24. It's autumn! Are we feeling autumnal? 2) Click here for ESPN Radio podcast including my latest Back In My Day segment. It kicks in around the 41-minute mark. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tim Tebow launches baseball career with poll, Bosh says Heat docs wrote him off, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Demanding Racial Justice (the latest, on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it)Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CHRIS BOSH SHOULD RETIRE FROM HEAT, NBA: MY NEW COLUMN: Click on Time is Right For Bosh to Retire to read my latest column in full. What led me to write it: Four days before the start of Heat training camp in the Bahamas, the Miami Herald reports today that complications involving continued clotting have derailed or at least indefinitely delayed Bosh's comeback hopes. The issue is not considered life-threatening but requires medication at odds with the rigors of the NBA. Bosh's past two Miami seasons have been substantially ruined by blood clot issues, and it now seems a near-certainly a third season in a row will be majorly affected. The Heat, just after noon today, released a statement saying, "Chris has now taken his pre-season physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return." Ominous. Update: Bosh, saying "little setbacks happen," says he will continue working toward an NBA comeback in Miami.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 3: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 12-4 overall and 10-6 against the spread last week. Click on Week 3 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Browns, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to another good start last night (see Thursday Gem) by accurately calling the Patriots' win over Houston -- one that found New England a rare home underdog, albeit by only 1 point. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of the impact of state-school college players in the NFL, including a position breakdown of every current Miami Hurricane suiting up on Sundays. Click on We Got Some Canes Over Here to read the column plus NFL notes.

HeatPOST-WADE, WHAT IS YOUR INTEREST IN THE HEAT COMPARED TO BEFORE?: Incredibly, for the first time since 2002, the Miami Heat are about to open a preseason training camp without Dwyane Wade on the roster, after seeing him sign with the Chicago Bulls in free agency. The five-day camp runs this coming Tuesday through Saturday in Nassau, Bahamas. First LeBron James departs, now Wade. And with Chris Bosh still in limbo because of his medical situation, the Heat has gone from the BIg 3 to the BIg 2 to the BIg 1 ... maybe. And the team that reached four straight recent NBA Finals and won two of them is now judged as an also-ran that could struggle just to make the playoffs. I'm curious how that has impacted fans' interest in the coming season, post-Wade. Take a dip in our poll and let us know, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

STANLEY CUP? WHY ODDS STILL ARE AGAINST BIG-DREAMING PANTHERS: The Florida Panthers hit the ice to begin training camp today/Friday in Sunrise (Cats' first exhibition game is Tuesday and the season opens Oct. 13), and this may be the first season in franchise history in which winning the Stanley Cup is on minds and tips of tongues in a very Panthersnewlogoreal way. After winning its division last season, despite an unexpected first-round playoff ouster, this team believes it is really good. Florida finished with 103 standings points last year (tied for fifth in the NHL) and had a productive offseason of extending contracts on its youthful core of players. The future looks bright. But how bright will the present be? Odds remain against the Cats getting to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, and here's the reason: the best teams in the league will be roadblocks to get out of the Eastern Conference. Via Bovada, Florida's betting over/under on regular season points is 98.5, tied for eighth best. That's pretty good. Playoff good. But: the top three teams overall all are East rivals in Washington (107.5), Tampa Bay (106.5) and Pittsburgh (103.5). Before the puck ever drops on a meaningful game, the Panthers are trailing in the public perception that sets and moves betting lines. This is what happens when a non-traditional power thinks it's really good and ready to make a big move. The proving must come before the believing does. (That new logo is growing on me, by the way).

Poll result: He's polarizing, but a majority like Tebow: We asked, as he embarks on an attempted baseball career, what is your overall impression or feeling about Tim Tebow. And it was 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 21, 2016

Bosh: "I was written off" by Heat doctors; plus what do you think of Tim Tebow? Poll. Last day to vote!; also, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, latest SOPY rankings (Canes movin' on up), new Back In My Day & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Click here for ESPN Radio podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show. My new Back In My Day segment kicks in around the 41-minute mark. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose at New England with DSM poll, Hot BUtton Top 10. PASS rankings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: Athlete protest don't stop, because the killings don't: Unapologetically, this is the third column I've written on athletes' anthem-related protests and why the cause is just -- Tulsa the latest example. Click on Demanding Racial Justice to read. 

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and CantonWeek 2 Gems (NFL predix). Where Tannehill Falls (NFL column). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CHRIS BOSH: "I WAS WRITTEN OFF" by HEAT DOCTORS: The Bosh/Heat saga continues. The Heat's medical staff told Chris Bosh after his second blood-clots scare that his career likely was over, the player said this week on a podcast for Uninterrupted.com. "I felt right away that I was written off," he said. But, to Bosh, "It wasn't a matter of if I play again; it was when. So we took the bull by the horns." Bosh directed and produced a film about his comeback, called Rebuilt., coming out in installments as the Heat prepares to open training camp on Tuesday. The club still has not said if Bosh will be medically cleared by then. Bosh thinks he has found a medication routine that will permit him to play using blood-thinners his system would be rid of before he practiced or played.

TebowON TIM TEBOW'S PURSUIT OF BASEBALL: I spent Monday up in Port St. Lucie at the start of the New York Mets' instructional league -- Tim Tebow's debut as a pro baseball player. Do I think he'll make the majors? Long odds. Doubtful. Do I think there's a chance? Yes. Do I think it's a great story either way? Absolutely. Click on Tebow's Dream for my column from the event; the photo shown is mine. I know Tebow can be polarizing. Folks tend to love and admire him, or see him as disingenuous and an attention-seeker. I like Tebow. I think he's real. But I invite your opinion. Vote in our latest poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY: BIG WIN, NARROW LOSS FOR WEEK 1: NFL picks: Had another really nice week, going 12-4 overall and 10-6 against the spread. Nailed our Vikes-over-Pack Upset of the Week call ("Aawwk!"), also had underdog Browns and Falcons with the points, and had not only an upset bull's-eye with Cowboys-over-Skins but also an exact score on 27-23. Go me! Fantasy: Tough loss. Greg's Lobos fell to 1-1 in the LeBatard Show league, falling to Pablo Torre, 109.6 to 107.7. Bad when Delanie Walker (20.3) is your high scorer. But still had a huge shot to win. Only needed two second-half points from Randall Cobb Sunday night to eke it out, but didn't get them. Thanks for nuthin', Aaron.

SOPY RANKINGS, 'STATE HEISMAN': NEW LEADER, CANES' BIG JUMP: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds a new leader in South Florida's Sopy KaayaQuinton Flowers blasting past FSU's Deondre Francois entering Collball Week 4. Also of note: Two Canes on the move, with Mark Walton bumping up 4 to 3 and Brad Kaaya (pictured) entering the chart at 6 on the wing of the week's most productive game. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season to penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 4, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings -- which find UM leapfrogging FSU into first place:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 3:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1      2      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                148.5        559.5

2      1      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 22.5          449

3      4      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     141           442 

4      3      Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   93            433

5     10     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         171          385

6     --      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       194          376

7      5      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          62           358

8      6      Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        42            321

9      7      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       39.5         302.5

10    --      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                  124           293 

Bubble: Gregory Howell, FAU-rb, 265. Other team leader: Justin Holman, UCF-qb, 234. Week 3 best: Kaaya, 194. Season best: Francois, 280.5, Week 1.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 18): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10: 

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami tries, fails again to solve nemesis Patriots: Fins entered Sunday afternoon's game at the Patriots having lost seven straight and 13 of past 15 trips to New England. (Dear Dolphins: Less focus on kneeling during the anthem, and more on winning in Foxborough). Could have been a major statement game for Miami that things are different under Adam Gase. Fins caught a big break with no Tom Brady, and another with Rob Gronkowski out. Alas, a 24-0 early hole resulted in a 31-24 loss. Same ol' same ol'. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 19, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.2%; plus UM swamps App State 45-10 as Kaaya lifts Canes to 3-0; also, No. 2 FSU gets crushed, FIU stay winless, other state Collball Week 3 (updated) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 2 picks, FIU and Garcia to part, UM trap door poll, our Dolphins book, your Bosh verdict, Brian Wilson review & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

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

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 98.2%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter, and they show a season-high 98.2 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 45-10 Hurricanes victory at Appalachian State putting UM's season record at 3-0. 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 7:30 a.m. 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

Next poll: Oct. 1 following game at Georgia Tech

G3: NO. 25 HURRICANES 45, @ APPALACHIAN STATE 10: MIAMI ASSERTS ITSELF IN BIGGEST TEST YET OF RICHT ERA: Postgame thoughts: UM now 3-0 after 45-10 beat-down of an Appalachian State team that was only a 3 1/2-point underdog at home. Kaaya 20-26 for 362 yards and three TDs, Mark Walton with 130 yards rushing and two scores, and Ahmonn Richards with 147 yards receiving. And dominating defense by Miami all afternoon. Very, very impressive. Explosive Canes had five plays of 50 or more yards today; they had seven all last season. Now Canes have a week off before opening ACC play. After UM's big win today and with FSU getting spanked, that Oct. 8 Noles visit to Miami just got a lot more interesting, and seemingly a lot more winnable for the Canes. ..... Halftime: All Canes at 24-3, led by an excellent Brad Kaaya, who's 13-for-16 for 138 yards and two TDs. And by Mark Walton's 80-yard scoring run. And by big-time defense that has limited App State to 38 passing yards. "Giant killer"home team? Naw. Canes showing 'em who's boss in their first road game and toughest test of the Richt Era. ..... Original post: You wallop grossly overmatched Florida A&M 70-3 and then easily auto- Umapppilot past Florida Atlantic 38-10 -- two wins by a combined 108-13. And what do you know about yourself? Answer: Not nearly enough. Not yet. But the Miami Hurricanes will find out more Saturday at noon in Boone, N.C. against the Sun Belt's Appalachian State in a nationally televised (ESPN) game. The Mountaineers nearly upset No. 9 Tennessee in Knoxville in the opener and are mere 3 1/2-point underdogs to UM. App State beat Michigan in 2007. It has won a bowl game over Ohio (not Ohio State). This is Miami's first road game of season and it would be a seismic, season-making upset for App State. Said coach Scott Satterfield: "It's the biggest opponent that we've ever had come to our campus to play a football game." That the schools have never before played each other adds an additional layer of uncertainty. "First time travel. First time noon game. A noon game is different," said coach Mark Richt. "Last two games, a 6 o'clock start at home. Everything was the same back-to-back. That was very comfortable. By Game 2, we knew what was happening. Now we're traveling. It's a little different." So what the Canes did not get in their opener and barely got last week, they figure to get here: Actual competition and a first legitimate test for this team and the Richt Era. Me? I feel as if both this game and the "mighty" App State are being overhyped a bit. Don't see a rout by UM, but don't see Miami pushed to the edge of losing, either. My pick: Hurricanes, 31-16.

Poll result: High concern level for Canes today: We asked how concerned the Miami Hurricanes should be be about Appalachian State, and it was 48.8 percent "a lot," 37.2% "maybe a ittle" and 14.0% "not at all.

Other state FBS Week 3 games (all Saturday):

No. 10 Louisville 63, No. 2 Florida State 20: Seminoles were a negligible 1-point favorite (down from a mere 2 1/2) and got utterly crushed on the road in a major loss that derails FSU from its College Football Playoff inside track. Didn't think Noles could look that bad. With today's results, I now think, for the first time, Miami could be favored when it hosts FSU Oct. 8.

Kansas State 63, FAU 7: Wasn't sure how special Wildcats are, but they were a 25 1/2-point home pick over Owls and showed why.

Massachusetts 21, FIU 13: Disappointing L for now 0-3 FIU. Winnable. Panthers were Road faves by 1 point.

No. 23 Florida 32, North Texas 0: Gators coasted in the The Swamp but it was costly. QB Luke Del Rio injured a knee and coach Jim McElwain said, "It doesn't look good." 

Other state FBS games: South Florida now 3-0 after bopping Syracuse, 45-20; and Maryland beat UCF, 30-24.

National Collball Week 3 overview: There were four Top 25 matchups this week including three that threatened to shake and quake the College Football Playoff outlook. No. 2 FSU lost (see above); No. 1 Alabama barely escaped 19-Ole Miss, 48-43; then No. 3 Ohio State showed who's boss at 14-Oklahoma, 45-24.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 16, 2016

FIU moving on past AD Garcia in '18; plus NFL Week 2 predix, where Tannehill stands; also, are Canes fans worried about Appalachian State? (with poll), upcoming Dolphins book, your Bosh verdict, Brian Wilson review & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Dolphins opener and danger in 'moral victories,' Hot Button Top 10, updated SOPY rankings & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

If the presidential race were a football game: The fivethirtyeight.com presidential forecast as of yesterday had Hillary Clinton with a 63.6 percent chance of beating Donald Trump. The ESPN NFL Week 2 Football Power Index had Bills beating the Jets last night at 63.2%. Does that mean the Jets just elected Trump?

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 2: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: Bounced to a nice start on our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 10-6 overall and a nifty 11-5
Fripixagainst the spread last week. Click on Week 2 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Patriots, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to a good start last night by accurately calling the Jets' win at Buffalo in a pick 'em game; click Thursday Gem to read. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of all the quarterbacks who've been rookie starters -- Miami's Ryan Tannehill included -- since 2008, when began an ongoing nine-year streak of at least one per season, 19 in all. We rank Tannehill only 11th of the 17 entering this season, when two more joined the club. Click on Where Tannehill Falls to read the column plus NFL notes.

FIU SCHEDULES GARCIA'S EXIT AS ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: FIU president Mark Rosenberg today announced that executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia -- that's fancyspeak for Pgarciaathletic director -- would stay on through to July 31, 2018, and then depart. Said Garcia (pictured): "Leading FIU athletics has been one of my most rewarding and exciting experiences. However, after months of personal reflection, I believe it is important to explore new professional challenges." Garcia has led FIU sports since 2006, but not without controversy that left him unpopular with many. Today's announcement strikes us as a compromise: Officially a contract extension, but also a way to move past Garcia in the near future. Perhaps the decision was mutual, although it seems clear FIU was ready to move on, and rightly so.

UmappstIS A TRAP DOOR WAITING FOR CANES IN BOONE, N.C?: If walloping Florida A&M and then auto-piloting past Florida Atlantic didn't tell us much about the Miami Hurricanes, this Saturday should, in UM's first road test at Appalachian State. This isn't a major opponent; the Mountaineers are a Sun Belt team. But they're good. They nearly upset No. 9 Tennessee in the opener and are mere 3 1/2-point underdogs to No. 25-ranked Miami. Canes opened as a 5-point pick before betting dough started pouring in for App State. This is expected to be a sonic, school-record crowd and would be a seismic, season-making upset for the home team. I'm curious how concerned, fi at all, Hurricanes fan are approaching this game. Hence, the poll. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Finsat50DOLPHINS BOOK COMING: The Miami Herald is publishing Fins at 50, a book on the Dolphins' first half century, due out next week and available Sept. 20. Click on Fins at 50 for the book's Amazon page to see more or to pre-order now, at $24.95 or $14.99 on Kindle. It is  -- Shameless Plug Alert! -- the perfect holiday gift and must-have for all the Dolfans on your list! Runs the gamut of Dolphins history, from the expansion years to the Perfect Season to the Marino Era and right up to the hiring of Adam Gase and the current team. I had a lot to do with the book including an introductory essay and get author credit, but it's a collaborative effort, featuring hundreds of historic photographs as well as contributions from other Herald writers through the years including the legendary Edwin Pope. Soon, I'll be at Books & Books in Coral Gables discussing the book. Stay tuned for updates on that here or by following me on my Twitter.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY: DOUBLE THUMBS UP FOR WEEK 1: NFL picks: Had a solid Week 1 overall, going a decent 10-6 straight-up and a robust 11-5 against the spread. Bull's-eyed outright upsets by Broncos and Saints, nailed underdog Jets, Patriots, Lions and Jaguars with the points, and even had a rare exact-score for Green Bay's 27-23 win. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos rocked to 1-0 in the LeBatard Show league by beating Guillermo, 146.6-139.5. Got 31.4 points from Drew Brees -- expected. But while some of our big guns underperformed, we got the gift of 32.2 points from Willie Snead and 27.8 from Theo Riddick. Go 'Bos!

Poll result: Most think Bosh will be in Heat's opening night starting lineup: We asked for your best guess on that and it was 62.0 percent yes to 38.0 percent no.

ON THE BRIAN WILSON SHOW: Saw legendary Brian Wilson and his band Wednesday night at the Hard Rock, where the audience was surprisingly full and buoyant. He played about Bwilson1 hour 45 minutes and it was terrific. It was not a Beach Boys show per se, although it was hard to tell it wasn't, save for the rather pleasant absence of Mike Love in a Hawaiian shirt. Wilson was joiined by fellow original Beach Boy Al Jardine as well as longtime member Blondie Chaplin in a 10-piece band that was tighter than my belt when  I leave an all-you-can eat buffet. Wilson is 74 now, a bit unsteady on his feet and not daring a lot of high notes. He also is somewhat stiff and oddly peculiar as a frontman, more than once advising the standing, swaying crowd, "Please be seated." But you take him for what he is: a musical genius, and a survivor. Decades of drug abuse and mental health issues, the deaths of two brothers and bandmates, the acrimony with Love -- yet here he is, still performing. The show marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Pet Sounds album, which he played in its entirety in the middle. The show lagged there if all you were looking for was radio hits, but this was an audience that ate it all up. I have seen legendary artists so far past their prime in concert it was tough to watch (Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis), but Wilson remains inspiring to see still doing it. Great show.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 14, 2016

If you were to bet: Will Chris Bosh be in Heat's opening night lineup? Poll. Vote!; plus was Dolphins loss encouraging? Why 'moral victories' stink; also, Fins' new uniforms, team's protest, new Back In My Day, Hot Button Top 10, Week 2 SOPY rank & more

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

Newunis1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14. Excited to be seeing Brian Wilson tonight at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. Much respect for the Beach Boys' founding member and driving force. 2) Pictured right: the Dolphins' new "Nike Color Rush" uniforms, to be unveiled and worn as an alternate look in the Sept. 29 game at Cincinnati. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose heartbreaker in Seattle with DSM poll, Canes clobber FAU with CSM poll, Collball Week 2, your Super Bowl pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new 'Back In My Day': Click here for the ESPN Radio podcast of yesterday's LeBatard Show. To go directly to the latest BIMD, go to "Hour 3: 9/13/16." It starts around 14 minutes in. 

On Fins' anthem protest: My latest column is on the national-anthem kneel by Arian Foster and three other Dolphins Sunday. Many thought it was especially wrong to do it on 9/11. I disagree. Click on Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong to read the column in full. 

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

BoshBOSH DECLARES HIS READINESS, BUT STILL AWAITS TEAM CLEARANCE: In-limbo Heat forward Chris Bosh said Tuesday, "I'm ready to play,” in a podcast for Bleacher Report's Uninterrupted. Bosh has been working out in Los Angeles and calls himself in "incredible shape," adding, "I look good when I take my shirt off." Bosh, 32, has seen two seasons in a row wrecked by blood-clot issues. The Heat still has not medically cleared him to play, but, increasingly, it appears that will be the eventuality. An announcement figures to come soon, since Miami has training camp Sept. 27-Oct. 1 in Nassau, Bahamas.

DOLPHINS AND DOLFANS: WHY 'MORAL VICTORIES' ARE NOTHING TO EMBRACE: There are moral victories in sports -- some good to be found and encouragement felt even in defeat. For example, if you throw me into an octagon for a UFC fight and I somehow luck to last 30 seconds before being pulverized unconscious, that's a moral victory! But of course coaches and athletes Dolcardin professional sports are not allowed to see silver linings, or at least not allowed to admit publicly that they do. It's understandable. It isn't what the indoctrination ingrained in you. Nobody gives you credit for "almost." Nobody who has just been crushed by disappointment wants to hear, "Nice try, though!" You are paid to win, period. Here lies the dilemma for the Miami Dolphins, as a team and franchise, and also for their fans, in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 12-10 loss in Seattle. Are you allowed to be encouraged? Or have you been let down too many times by too many years of mediocrity to feel anything but "same ol' same ol'" today? What we saw Sunday from the Dolphins is the problem, and the frustration. It seems they are almost always good enough to have these big efforts in them, but seldom good enough to close the deal and turn almost into exclamation. They tease, the Fins do. In fact if the NFL kept such a stat Miami might be among league leaders in moral victories this century, but, alas, have you noticed only losing teams count those? Those kind of almosts never get your team to the playoffs, they only get your team's coaches fired. Let us count the ways Dolfans have been encouraged only to be let down since the club last reached the postseason in 2008: Miami had a stretch of seven wins in 10 games including a defeat of New England in 2009, was headed for the playoffs, then fizzled to end with three straight losses, the last two at home. In 2010 Miami also was on playoff pace before losing the last three games, two of those at home, too. The Dolphins won at the Jets 30-9 in 2012 to be 5-3 at midseason, then the trap door opened, including a 37-3 home loss to Tennessee. In 2013 Miami started 3-0 for the first time in 11 years but then lost in New Orleans on a Monday night, 38-17. Later that season the Dolphins beat New England, a third straight win that put the Fins in control for a playoff spot -- then lost two straight division games to end the year. Remember how the 2014 season opened with a rousing 33-20 home victory over the Patriots? Followed by three losses in the next four games? Sunday was the latest tease. You have to see it as such, until which time this team proves it can win games like this one -- games it dominates, games it leads late, games it has every right to win. If only the defense had one more stop in it. If only Kenny Stills makes that catch. Enough with teases and "if onlys" and almosts. When the Dolphins begin to win games like Sunday's and do it with some consistency, then real change will have begun.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami (well, almost) shocks the world in season opener: It would have shocked the NFL, at least. And almost did. As King Sport unfurled with Kickoff Weekend, the Dolphins entered Sunday's opener in Seattle as Week 1's biggest betting underdogs league-wide, but mostly acquitted themselves well in a 12-10 loss. Glass half-full: Encouragement in a moral victory. Half empty: A loss is a loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM clobber FAU, awaits tougher test: After beating Florida A&M 70-3 in opener, the No. 25-ranked Canes faced what should have been another comfy, low-stress win Saturday vs. the FAU Owls and it was: 38-10. Just wait, though. If September's schedule is a feather for UM, October's hits like a sledgehammer.  

3. MARLINS: Do you believe in miracles?: It will take one of those for Miami to somehow climb back into wild-card playoff race, at five games back with only 19 to play. Starting today/Monday all remaining games are vs. NL East. The realistic consolation prize left? Finishing above .500, at least.

4. TENNIS: Upsets rock Championship Weekend at U.S. Open: It's death, taxes and sunrise leading the way among life's certainties. Right after that it would probably be Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic favored to win tennis' next major tournament titles. Except both lost. I hereby retire all my snide comments about tennis being so predictable. 

5. HEAT: Richardson out, Bosh still in limbo: Josh Richardson is out six to eight weeks with a knee injury. Meantime Heat open their first NBA training camp without Dwyane Wade since 2002 on Sept. 27, and still no official word on the health, status or future of in-limbo Chris Bosh. Enough with the media speculation and "indications are." Tell us, Heat.

6. NASCAR: Let the Chase begin as field cut to 16 finalists: Sweet. We're down to 16 drivers competing to race the Sprint Cup trophy in November at Homestead.

7. BASKETBALL: Shaq, Iverson head Hall induction class: Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson topped the 10-person Basketball Hall of Fame induction class Friday. Shaq spent 3 ½ of his 19 NBA seasons in Miami. So Heat fans pro-rated the ownership and pride they felt to about 18 percent.

8. PANTHERS: Cats add Huberdeau to growing future: Hockey's close (Panthers' first preseason game is Sept. 27), and Florida continues to lock up key pieces and build a solid future. The latest: forward Jonathan Huberdeau signs a six-year, $35.4 million extension. Cats win the mythical offseason Stanley Cup!  

9. TIGER WOODS: Fading superstar sets October return: Golf and the PGA Tour get a jolt -- of drama, if not excitement -- next month with Tiger Woods' announced plan to return to action. The real question: Will he still be playing, and playing well, when the next major rolls 'round: The Masters in April.

10. 9/11: Never forget: But, also, remember more than once a year, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: America's Hobby, fantasy football, is underway. Congratulations on your wonderful start and your terrific team. I'm sorry about your Week 1 and your team ..... Mets signed Tim Tebow to a minor-league contract, insisted it was not a publicity stunt, and everybody laughed ..... A Tennessee-Virginia Tech game at Bristol Motor Speedway drew 156,990, biggest crowd ever to watch college football game. Did they have a final whistle, or a checkered flag? ..... Soccer's Champions League begins play Tuesday. No in-between here. You are either passionate about this, or have no idea what it is. ..... U.S. Swimming suspended Ryan Lochte 10 months for his Olympics police involvement. Wait. I thought those guys only competed once every four years anyway! ..... An Honus Wagner baseball card is expected to sell for more than $3  million at auction. For that money, it had better include Honus himself. With a check for $2.9 million ..... ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker has begun, verifying there are too many hours to fill with actual quality programming ..... The two-week World Cup Of Hockey starts this coming Saturday. Not sure exactly what it is, but it sounds important ..... Colin Kaepernick isn't standing for the anthem. But as a backup QB, he'll be doing a lot of sitting during games as well.

SOPY RANKINGS, THE 'STATE HEISMAN': NOLES QB MAINTAINS LEAD, UM'S WALTON LEAPS TO FOURTH: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- is Sopyoff and running with Florida State freshman QB Deondre Francois maintaining the overall lead after two week and Miami running back Mark Walton (pictured) making the biggest, to fourth place. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. We close it off after the regular season to penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 3, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 2:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1       1     Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                  146          426.5

2       5     Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                252          411

3       6     Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   189          340

4       --    Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      179          301 

5       3     Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          104          296

6       9     Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        148           278

7       2     Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       60.5         263

8       4     Justin Holman, UCF-qb                     55.5         234

9       7     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    85            225

10    --     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         115          214

Bubble: Antonio Callaway, Florida-rec, 213. Week 2 best: Flowers, 252. Season best: Francois, 280.5, Week 1.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 13, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 52.5%; plus Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 91.9%; also, near-shocker as Fins fall in Seattle 12-10, UM bops FAU 38-10, Collball Week 2 & more

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

9111) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13. Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Take a moment, as we celebrate football, to reflect -- and not only once a year. Never forget! 2) Because this blogpost is so crowded, the latest Hot Button Top 10 will hit the blog early Tuesday morning this week. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Upset Bird in America and NFL Week 1 picks, King Sport unfurls with Super Bowl poll, heaviest-bet NFL over/unders, economic study slams subsidies for Marlins and others, your verdict on Heat's biggest acquisition & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

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

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter returns!: The ninth season of our blog's DSM postgame polls debuts immediately below, followed by our postgame thoughts.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 52.5%: Results are certified in the season-opening launch of the ninth season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 52.5 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the  wake of Sunday's 12-10 Miami loss at DsmSeattle. 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.

Analyzing the vote: Plus-50 is an unusually satisfied vote total following a loss, but it reflects the caliber of opponent on the road. The total was fueled by 43.4 percent "somewhat" satisfied, so the overall percentage has the potential to drop sharply if the performance in New England disappoints.

2016 DSM results

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

Next poll: Sept. 18 (following game at New England)

Yearly DSM Results: 2015--18.1% (following 6-10 season); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G1: SEATTLE 12, DOLPHINS 10 (FINAL): SEAHAWKS SCORE IN FINAL MINUTE TO SPOIL OPENING-GAME SHOCKER: Postgame thoughts: If there are moral victories, this was one. Miami was the biggest Kickoff Weekend underdog in the entire NFL at Seattle on Sunday but it took a last-minute TD to beat Miami 12-10. Coaches and players won't admit it, but the Dolphins have to fly home encouraged to have gone toe to toe with an opponent many peg for the Super Bowl. I'd be surprised if most Dolfans were not encouraged as well. There were signs of encouragement on both sides of the line. The Miami team we just saw, even in defeat, is one that can compete for a playoff spot. ..... In-game: SEA up 12-10 with 38 seconds left on Wilson-Baldwin 2-yard scoring pass, but then Hawks miss extra point ... Tannehill 2-yard keeper has MIA up 10-6 with 4:08 left. Can the Fins shock the world? ... Just got back from a day of travel from Syracuse (wedding) to jinx the Dolphins. First live action I saw on my TV was Miami 1st and goal from the Seattle 5, after which they fizzled and then missed a short tying FG. ..... Original post: This thought or something like it must have occurred to new Dolphins coach Adam Gase if he noted the crosstown Miami Hurricanes won their season opener 70-3 over a much, much lesser opponent: Whatever the NFL Miasea
polar opposite of that soft opening is ... the Fins are hitting it head-on in Sunday's 4:05 p.m. kickoff of Miami's 51st season. King Sport might not have two scarier words to offer up than "at Seattle." Miami is a league-high 10 1/2-point underdog not only because most experts expect more mediocrity from the team, but because the Seahawks are really good -- dreaming Super Bowl-good -- and Seattle enjoys as strong a home-field advantage as any team in the league. That 2-2 preseason didn't tell us much about these Dolphins, but that shouldn't take long Sunday. Quick history lesson: Game 1 results matter, historically. They are a harbinger. Super Bowl winners were 40-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 27 times (59.3%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. (That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971). Running backs under a glare in this opener, on both sides. Arian Foster won Miami's starting job, Jay Ajayi didn't like that, pouted, and was left back in Miami. For Seattle, Marshawn Lynch's replacement Thomas Rawls will play on a tender ankle and be limited. Quick aside to Mr. Ajayi: Foster has accomplished a lot. You have not. Pay your dues. Be a team player. Grow up. Click here for my MIA-SEA prediction capsule. My pick: Seahawks, 30-16.

FauumG2: NO. 25 HURRICANES 38, FLORIDA ATLANTIC 10: [Note: We'll be unable to live-blog during tonight's game but will be back late tonight with postgame thoughts}. Routine win. Mark Walton and Joe Yearby with a combined 276 rushing yards. ..... Original post: Saturday's 6 p.m. home game back at The Rock surely will be a harder test for Miami than  last week's embarrassingly easy 70-3 rout of overmatched Florida A&M. (What wouldn't be?) Still, It would be a surprise if the 24 1/2-point-favorite Canes didn't ease past Florida Atlantic without much sweat or threat. Owls have a bit of offensive punch led by quarterback Jason Driskel, have recruited well lately and are on the ascent in Conference USA, but FAU lacks the defensive firepower to bother UM QB Brad Kaaya and his deep ground game. Also, Miami is ranked now for the first time since 2013 (up one spot to No. 25) and is too good and also too well-coached to suffer what would an early-season stumble of some magnitude. UM will be tested next week at Appalachian State as roughly a one-touchdown favorite, but that's later. Blinders on tonight. That's coaching, too. My pick: Hurricanes 45-17.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 91.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 91.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 38-10 home victory 1aa1csmvs. Florida Atlantic putting UM's season record at 2-0. 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 9 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

Next poll: Sept. 17 following game at Appalachian State

Other FBS Week 2 football:

Maryland 41, FIU 14: The Int'l now 0-2 after blowout loss Friday night in which Terps rolled over Panthers with 477 yards of offense. FIU was only one of seven state FBS teams to open with loss last week, and disappointed in Game 2 as 10 1/2-point 'dogs.

No. 3 Florida State 52, Charleston-Southern 8: Whatever Jimbo Fisher said at halftime Monday night, bottle it and sell it. Thought FSU might beat suspension-ravaged Cha-So by about a hundred points if they wanted.

Florida 45, Kentucky 7: Gators were bumped from No. 25 by Miami but were a comfy 16 1/2-point pick. Maybe because UF has beaten KY 29 times in a row in da Swamp. Gators back in poll this week.

Other state FBS games: No. 5 Michigan whipped UCF 51-14, and South Florida beat Northern Illinois 48-17.

National Collball Week 2 overview: We had the heart-pounding opening. Now comes the slow exhale. No. 3 Oklahoma led the sad parade of poll-jarring upset losers last week, but Week 2 should be noticeably calmer, with not a single Top 25 team facing a ranked opponent.

Poll result: Packers your pick to win Super Bowl, but it's wide open: We asked for your Super Bowl pick among betting favorites, and you had it Packers 19.7 percent, Panthers, Seahawks and Cardinals all knotted at 13.5%, Steelers 11.2%, Patriots 10.3% and Broncos 3.1%. The other 15.2% voted "other."

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 07, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Opponent                Projected Dolphins result     Win probability

G1    @ Seahawks             L 28.7-17.4                        21.4%

G2    @ Patriots                L 25.8-19.5                        33.9

G3    Vs. Browns               W 25.3-23.4                       54.4

G4    @ Bengals                L 28.8-19.2                        26.1

G5    Vs. Titans                W 25.2-24.9                       50.7

G6    Vs. Steelers             L 29.7-22.6                        33.1

G7    Vs. Bills                   L 26.1-22.3                        40.8

G8    Vs. Jets                   L 23.3-20.1                        41.9

G9    @ Chargers              L 30.0-22.4                        31.8

G10   @ Rams                  L 25.9-19.7                        33.9

G11   Vs. 49ers                W 26.6-23.6                       57.1

G12   @ Ravens                L 27.2-20.2                        32.7

G13   Vs. Cardinals          L 22.5-20.2                        44.2

G14   @ Jets                    L 25.9-18.6                        31.3

G15   @ Bills                   L 28.3-20.6                         30.9

G16   Vs. Patriots            L 29.5-20.1                         27.5

Totals: Dolphins 21.2 points per game; Opponents 26.5

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

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

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 1:

Rank   Player, Team-pos.                            Week/Year

1        Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                  280.5

2        Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                        202.5

3        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          192

4        Justin Holman, UCF-qb                     178.5

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                159

6        Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   151

7        Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    140

8        Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5

9        Joe Yearby, Miami-rb                        130

10      Jesus Wilson, FSU-rec                       125 

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

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2015--Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb, 2,077.5 points; 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote