Magnifico! Dolphins unveil fab 'new' stadium in fake-game loss. Our review; plus FIU falls in opener, NFL team rankings, Brad Kaaya on expectations, Ron Turner's inspiration, quantifying Marlins' slide, your Kaepernick verdict & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Happy new month, y'all! 2) Countdown: 7 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions debut Sept. 9. 3) Dwyane Wade spoke on ABC's "Good Morning America" (it aired this morning) about gun violence and his role in trying to make things better in Chicago. Story here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Colin Kaepernick protest with poll, Heat owe Chris Bosh a decision, your latest Greg's Lobos verdict, Gene Wilder & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope and Snapchat.
Public relations faux pas? How about when you misspell "LeBron"?: The following just landed in my email inbox: "Rise Nation is where the fit get fitter! Case in point -- freshly off-season basketball stars LeBrone James and Dwyane Wade who visited the boutique fitness studio in West Hollywood yesterday..." Subsequent references by the future former PR person also had it as LeBrone. How great.
PS4: TENNESSEE 21, DOLPHINS 10: UNVEILING OF 'NEW' STADIUM WAS TONIGHT'S STAR, NOT GAME: Postgame thoughts: Miami ends a 2-2 preseason with a loss you can't really call disappointing because starters didn't play and it didn't matter except to bottom-third roster guys looking to keep their jobs. I was there and wrote a column on the public unveiling of the newly refurbished and impressive stadium. For our review of the overhauled stadium click on Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? to read. ..... Original post: The Dolphins' fourth and final preseason game is tonight at 7 vs. the Titans, but the star of the night is the official, formal unveiling of the newly refurbished and newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium, with its massive canopy against rain or sun and its four giant video screens. I've been inside the new-look stadium and I must say it's quite magnificent. (If only the Dolphins were guaranteed to be as good as their "new" home looks). As for the game itself, who wins won't weigh much at all because few starters will play much, if at all. Fake-games No. 4 are all about not getting anybody hurt and arriving at final roster decisions as the 75-man roster pares to a final 53 by Saturday. The "lower third" players fighting for jobs are guys you won't see on the field much beyond special teams, or miss if they're cut. Who'll be kept as a ninth offensive lineman? Who might be the eighth defensive back? These decisions are vitally important to coach Adam Gase and to media wonks trying to out-minutiae each other; not so much to most fans. The winner tonight will be Stephen Ross and his new-look stadium, not either team.
OPENING NIGHT: FIU FALLS 34-13 TO VISITING INDIANA IN OPENER: Postgame thoughts: FIU led a tight game in the third quarter but collapsed a bit, falling 34-13 to the BIg Ten's Indiana in the Panthers' season opener here. Wasn't the scoring binge many expected (over/under was 62 points), but FIU wasn't good enough on either side of ball, especially struggling both to run and stop the run. ..... Original post: Panthers open their football season hosting the Indiana Hoosiers tonight at 7:30 at FIU Stadium, and fans who appreciate solid defense probably should get nowhere near the place. The betting over/under is 62 total points. That's all!? Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring and offensive yards last season and yet finished 6-7 (including a bowl loss to Duke). That happens when your defense is awful, and IU's D gave up 30-plus points nine times in 2015. FIU? Coach Ron Turner begins his fourth season in Miami and Conference USA feeling pretty good about his chances of bettering last season's 5-7 mark -- those hopes pinned mostly on offense. QB Alex McGough, RB Alex Gardner and a solid blocking front could form a nice attack. But FIU's defense is young, must coalesce and wasn't very good a year ago, beaten for 30-plus points six times. Hoosiers are a 10 1/2-point favorite. I wish I sensed an upset; instead I sense a pointfest with FIU on the wrong end. I spoke at length yesterday with Turner for my latest column. It was about the team and season but mostly about him, his challenging childhood, and the strong woman who inspires him to this day. Click on She Never Quit to read.
FOOTBALLFEST! COLUMNPALOOZA!: NFL RANKINGS AND KAAYA AND TURNER, OH MY: Celebrate the return of football season as the Miami Herald rolls out its NFL/Dolphins, UM/Colleges and Dade-Broward High Schools special sections today. I contribute my annual ranking of every NFL team and also a column on Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya, along with a separate daily column on FIU coach Ron Turner as the Panthers open their season tonight:
NFL Ranking: I slot the teams 1 through 32, best to worst, in our NFL/Dolphins section, an annual exercise in futility. A year ago I way-overestimated the Dolphins, ranking them sixth. No Kool-Aid this time; I have Miami ranked 19th. For complete rank and capsule outlook on each team, click NFL Ranking.
Brad Kaaya: Hurricanes' star quarterback says, "Pressure is a good thing," as he begins what could be his final season at UM. Kaaya embraces expectations and wants to exceed them. For my UM/Colleges section column on UM's most important player, including our list of 10 greatest Canes QBs, click Brad Kaaya.
Ron Turner: Who FIU's football coach (and older coaching brother Norv) turned out to be is owed to the extraordinary strength of a mother who never quit after their father abandoned the family when Ron was a baby. For a different daily column by me as FIU opens its season tonight, click She Never Quit.
Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (a QB's one-man sit). Gase, Richt and Hope (Dolphins and Canes' positive coach hires). All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (new-name Hard Rock). The Weight Has Just Begun (inside office and expectations of Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (Wade's departure from Heat).
QUANTIFYING MARLINS' FAST FADE: It isn't just the 10-18 record in August, it's how the maudlin month ended (on a 2-7 run including five straight losses) and why (sleepy bats). Hitting coach Barry Bonds wins no-duh quote of the year in remarking Miami hitters have picked a bad time to collectively slump. So now the Fish enter Septemeber 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race, and fifth in the jockeying for two spots. Clearly the bats are to blame. Marcell Ozuna (pictured) hit .162 in August, Ichiro .209, Adeiny Hechavarria .231 and Dee Gordon has been nothing special since his return. And of course , injured power-bats Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour have been dearly missed, leaving a crater in the lineup. As a result July-to-August team totals show a .277 to .250 drop in batting average, .754 to .680 in OPS and 4.62 to 3.46 in runs per game. Can't write off Marlins' playoff chances yet, not with 29 games to go. Pressure is on now, though. Margin for error has disappeared. Miami needs to be as good this month as it was bad in August.
Poll result: Strong majority oppose Kaepernick's stand on sitting during anthem: We asked what best reflects how you feel about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, and a plurality of 43.4 percent voted that he's un-American and should be booed, while another 34.5% said they understood his cause but don't support his anthem sit. However, the other 22.1% said they fully support his cause and respect what he is doing.
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