April 28, 2016

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

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

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
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April 12, 2016

Micky Arison in the crosshairs on Carnival cruises to Cuba: New poll. Vote now!; plus Ronda Rousey loves Dolphins, Heat and Panthers parlay similar blueprint to playoffs, Cats' Stanley Cup odds, Donald Trump porn parody & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 12. Ronda Rousey praises Dolphins. Click here for the video. 2) Thanks to all the listeners, viewers and Tweeters who liked our "Back In My Day" on today's LeBatard Show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, The List (Dolphins), your verdicts on LeBron/Tiger & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

Panthers' Stanley Cups odds: Out today via Bovada, Florida is tied for eighth at 16-1 odds, better than opponent Islanders' 25-1. Capitals are favorites at 4-1, followed by a knot of five teams at 8-1. Cats Roberto Luongo (30-1) and Jaromir Jagr (35-1) are team's most plausible betting longshots for playoffs MVP. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint, the latest, on two teams' similar philosophy. Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excusesoff Marlins Opening Night.

HEAT OWNER ARISON IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF CARNIVAL, CUBA AND POLITICS: Micky Arison's net worth is $7.7 billion, although it may have risen to $8 billion while you were reading this sentence. He is chairman of Doral-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest. He also is principle owner of the Miami Heat. As such, his two primary interests and business ventures put Arisonhim in the crosshairs of the latest news regarding his cruiseships, Cuba and politics. We first tackled this subject in the blog last July when Carnival first won Carnivalapproval to begin cruises to Cuba. For Arison (pictured) and Carnival it could be great for business. But many South Florida Cubans who fled that island's Castro tyranny (and many of those are Heat fans) are angry over normalized U.S.-Cuba relations and also about Carnival ships docking there. We ran a poll here last July asking if Carnival planning trips to Cuba negatively impacts how you view Arison, and it was 79.9 percent "no" vs. only 16.8% "yes" and 3.3% "undecided. But I wonder if the view has changed now that the Carnival-Cuba startup is soon -- first ships are set to head south in May -- and now that we know this disturbing detail: the still-oppressive Cuban government controls what passengers may be aboard the cruiseships, and they do not include Cuban-born people, which of course includes Cuban exiles living in and around Miami. Carnival has asked the Cuban government to relent on that policy, but, if Carnival wishes to do business in Cuba, it has no choice but to agree to that one huge restriction, even though it is plain discrimination, of course. Imagine Carnival traveling to a country that insisted only white people be aboard the ship? Or banned Muslims? As I wrote last July, I am in favor of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations, which I think ultimately will benefit the Cuban economy and people. But clearly it is wrong for the Cuban government to not allow folks born in Cuba and exiles in Miami to be aboard those Carnival ships, as we discussed on yesterday's Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Dan was particularly passionate on the topic. And there protesters outside Carnival headquarters Tuesday. So, nine months after our first poll, let's repeat the question and compare the vote. Check back often to monitor evolving results.

TWO TEAMS, SIMILAR BLUEPRINT AS HEAT, PANTHERS FORGE PLAYOFF PATH: [Panthers Sasha Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, pictured left, and the Heat's Justise Winslow and Dwyane Wade, right, personify each team's winning blend of experience and youth -- the blueprint that carries each to the playoffs. Click on Heat & Panthers' Shared Blueprint for the online version of the my latest column] Appreciate the rarity of this first. The Miami Heat and Florida Panthers are about to both enter the playoffs in the same season for only the fifth time since 1993, when hockey joined basketball down here. And South Florida is one of only five markets to have both its teams reach the 2016 postseason, along with Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Oakland/San Jose. Even more notable is the similar blueprint the Heat and Panthers have shared to find success, with rosters that blend wise and wizened veterans and raw youth. For the Heat it’s a blueprint that is very different from the company norm, showcasing an unusual reliance on young players by a franchise that, from Pat Barkov Wade WinslowRiley on down, Jagrhas never quite trusted youth. For the Cats it’s a blueprint taken to extremes, bookended by 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr and by 10 players not even born when Jagr first entered the NHL, such as rising stars Sasha Barkov, 20, and Aaron Ekblad, 19. Both teams’ uncommonly wide gulf between its oldest and youngest players was reflected perfectly Monday in the Panthers’ dressing room following a midday practice. Nick Bjugstad, the Cats center, is 23 but looks even younger. His hand kept drifting absent-mindedly to his chin and rubbing what was there, which isn’t much. He is trying, the poor kid. The NHL postseason is upon us, the fight for the Stanley Cup beginning, and in hockey, the playoff beard is a near-sacred tradition. A wisp of blond whiskers trying bravely to be a goatee and an even wispier sprout on his alabaster cheeks is all Bjugstad can claim for now. "I keep playing with it – it’s more than I’ve ever had!' he is saying after Monday’s midday practice. "It is what it is. But it’s kind of embarrassing." Elsewhere around the dressing room manly playoff beards are in full bloom. It looks like a casting call for a movie about lumberjacks. A media guy trying to be kind tells Bjugstad most of the full-bearded guys probably started growing their facial hair at least a month ago. "So did I," Nick had to admit. The beard thing is the perfect reflection of what the Panthers see when they look in the mirror: A blend of age and youth, of over-35 veterans like Jagr, Roberto Luongo, Brian Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Willie Mitchell, offset by what is perhaps hockey’s premier core of players under 25. It was a risk that relies on aging players still having enough prime left and youthful guys proving ready. It was a chemistry experiment that has worked but might have blown up in the lab. "Our older guys have been so willing," as general manager Dale Tallon told me Monday. "It could have been a disaster." From the 45-minute jaunt from Sunrise down to Miami, from ice to hardwood, Heat veterans like Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and (even sidelined) Chris Bosh similarly mentor a youthful core led by rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, by second-year man Tyler Johnson and by Hassan Whiteside, who is 26 but still learning. "I’m just passing down knowledge," Wade describes the role that doesn’t show up on stat sheets. "All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped." It is a good time to be a fan of both teams, with each franchise locked in win-now mode but also boasting a blossoming young core that suggests a bridge to a promising future beyond the Hall of Fame-bound old guard led by Jagr and Wade. Both teams share justifiably high playoff hopes as the Panthers face the New York Islanders in the first round with Game 1 here Thursday night, while the Heat enter their final two regular-season games still unsure of their seeding, who’ll they’ll face or whether they’ll have home-court advantage. You’d think the Heat might be in happy-to-be-here mode, after missing the playoffs last year and with Bosh out. Yet there is the sense of a wide-open Eastern Conference, and of a real chance to reach the East finals, maybe head-to-head vs. old friend LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers. You’d think the Panthers might really be in happy-to-be here mode. They last made the playoffs in 2012 and last won a playoff series in Year of the Rat 1996. Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant both admitted Monday they did not expect to win a division title this year. But hockey’s Eastern Conference also is wide open. An ESPN experts panel by a 9-0 vote picked the Panthers to advance past the Islanders. Washington was the only East team with an appreciably better record than Florida this season, but the Cats were 2-1 against the Capitals, outscoring them 10-5. The idea of a championship run by either the Panthers or especially the Heat is fanciful and not being discussed much in any sober conversation, but, in only their fifth playoffs at the same time, the idea of either team or both reaching their conference finals is tantalizingly plausible. And who knows? If that happens, by then, Nick Bjugstad’s patchwork of whiskers might even pass for a decent beard.

ThedonaldPERFECT! A DONALD TRUMP PORN PARODY!: How great and absolutely fantastic and terrific is this!? I'm so happy I feel like building a giant wall! Just when you think Larry Flynt might be dead, the Hustler impresario rises to produce something fun, like "The Donald," his new Donald Trump "porn parody" video. The photo at right surely whets your appetite and suggests the cinematic gravitas at play here. Click on Trump Porn Parody to read more. The video goes on sale to the public today/Tuesday, available to everyone including Muslims and Mexicans. Trump is the perfect target. I mean, who is more cocksure? Don't worry. Cocksure is a real word, not a dirty word, and describes Trump quite spot-on.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 01, 2016

NCAA Final Four polls: Who will win? And who do you hope does? Vote now!; plus what Dwyane-Kobe rivalry always lacked, Marlins individual betting odds, Trump hires lawyer he "fired" on TV, your verdict on Arian Foster & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, APRL 1. Happy new month, all! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins and Arian Foster poll, Miami Open casualties & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

COTE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: I'll be retiring from the Miami Herald and from ESPN Radio, effectively immediately. April Fools!! "Damn," said South Florida in unison. "Thought we finally got rid of him!"  

FinalfourWHICH NCAA FINAL FOUR MEN'S TEAM WILL WIN? AND WHICH DO YOU WANT TO WIN?: Here are two polls, both with the Final Four teams listed alphabetically, but each asking a very different question. One is "Who do do you think will win?" This is your head answering. It's who you'd bet on if given 100 bucks to place on just one straight-up team to win it all. The other poll is asking "Who do you hope wins?" Your heart answers this one. Whether based on what's left of your bracket or other factors, what team has earned your rooting interest? Vote in both polls and we'll be interested to see how the results might differ.

IT WAS DWYANE VS. KOBE FOR FINAL TIME, BUT HERE'S WHAT FRIENDSHIP AND RIVALRY ALWAYS LACKED: [Update: Wade popped 26 points Wednesday night and Kobe scored only two in nine minutes in a 102-100 overtime loss by Heat in L.A. Bad loss as Miami squanders chance to take over third place in East] Original post: Kobe Bryant was questionable to play with a tender right shoulder Dwyanekobetonight as the absymal Lakers host the Heat. And Dwyane Wade had said that if Kobe didn't play, "Then I'm not playing either." So a highly anticipated matchup could have ended up a letdown. Instead the two future Hall of Famers played their 20th and last head-to-head meeting as Bryant is retiring after this season. That's a fair sample size, the equal of a quarter of a season, and we see in the comparative stats that the rivalry has tended to bring out the best in each other. Bryant averages 27.3 points and Wade 24.2 when they face each other, above the career averages for each. Kobe's high game in the series is 42 points (Christmas Day 2004) and Wade's is 40 (Christmas '06). The two also have faced off in All-Star games and played as USA Olympic teammates in a long friendship. But one thing is glaringly missing. Here is why Dwyane-Kobe is a far cry from Magic-Bird in terms of all-time NBA personal rivalries: Despite Heat-Lakers meriting the Christmas Day spotlight four times, Wade and Bryant have never met in the playoffs. Not once. Eight different seasons have found Heat and Lakers in the playoffs at the same time, but never have the teams intersected in the Wade-Bryant era. And no personal rivalry is full-fledged in this sport without championship implications or at least postseason stakes.

MARLINS INDIVIDUAL BETTING ODDS: Via Bovada today, Giancarlo Stanton's projected regular-season final numbers are a .280 average, 39.5 home runs and 105.5 RBIs. The HR figure is tied for the MLB high with Bryce Harper. Other select Marlins betting over/unders: Jose Fernandez 13.5 wins, 199.5 strikeouts, 2.75 ERA; Wei-Yin Chen 11.5 wins, 3.49 ERA; A.J. Ramos 30.5 saves; Dee Gordon .295 average, 50.5 steals; Justin Bour 23.5 homers; and Christian Yelich .290 average.

FUN FACT ABOUT TRUMP LAWYER IN CAMPAIGN-MANAGER SCANDAL: You know that Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has been arrested for misdemeanor battery for his Bradcohenhandling of a treatment of a reporter, Michelle Fields, at a March 8 news conference at Trump National Golf Club in Palm Beach. And you may have heard Lewandowski's attorney, Brad Cohen, speaking on the NBC's Today show on Wednesday; click here for the story and video. Now, what you may not know: Bradford (Brad) Cohen, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, is the same Bradford Cohen who Trump "fired" early in the 2004 season of his TV show The Apprentice, forerunner of the later Celebrity Apprentice. Local attorneys who know Cohen tell me he delighted in the fleeting fame of his brief TV role and loved that Trump would refer to him on-air as "The Bradford." Trump called Cohen "stupid" in dismissing him. Twelve years later, Cohen (pictured), now 44, is smart enough to be one of the point-men Trump has brought in to help defuse the mini-scandal dogging his Republican presidential run.

LEBATARD SHOW INTENTIONALLY ABORTS 'BACK IN MY DAY' EPISODE: Tuesday the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz intentionally cut off the end of my very popular "Back In My Day" segment, a staple of my Tuesday in-studio co-host gig. I believe Dan purposely delayed the start of it and then attempted to distract and delay me throughout, evidently thinking it was better to have me miss the hard network out than to finish my piece. He quickly apologized on-air, and later off-air, but it's in my craw a day later to the degree I don't mind milking it for a blog item. Click here for yesterday's show podcast; BIMD starts around the 52:45 mark. #LeBaFraud #Disrespect. Of course I'm kidding. Probably.

Poll result: Dolfans unimpressed by interest in Arian Foster: I was not impressed; as told in this column. For me Arian Foster is an aging, damaged-goods running back, the one position that best exemplifies the Dolphins' offseason struggles in free agency. Well, y'all agreed. We asked how you felt about the Dolphins' interest in the free agent Foster, and by a better than 5-to-1 margin you said "skeptical/past prime" (72.9 percent) over "good/plenty left" (13.9%). The other 13.2% were undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2016

Which Miami 25-&-under sports star will have greatest career? Poll too close to call. Last chance to vote!; plus Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena's pitch for Miami Open, Melania Trump, Fins on the cheap, your Cuba-trip verdict & more

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

Garagiola1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 24. Purim began at sundown last evening. Happy day to all our Jewish friends. 2) R.I.P. famed baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola, pictured, at age 90. His was the first TV voice I heard when I was falling love with baseball as a kid. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Other side of the cheering on Cuba visit with poll, disrespecting Canes, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

"Rays beat Cuban National Team. Thank you, Tampa Bay, for denying the Castros the added propoganda." --Greg Cote

My latest 'Back In My Day': ICYMI on Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, here it is via ESPN Radio: Click Menus to listen and watch.

BrightfutureBRIGHT FUTURES: WHICH OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 25-AND-UNDER PRO SPORTS STARS WILL HAVE THE GREATEST CAREER?: We made 25 the arbitrary line of demarcation here, and considered every current Heat, Dolphins, Marlins or Panthers player who was born in March 1991 or later. There were a lot, but we whittled it to a list of the 14 most prominent -- five Panthers and three from each of the other teams. Our poll list is alphabetical, and you may vote for your top three (3). It shouldn't be easy. For me, Jose Fernandez and Sasha Barkov were pretty easy, but the third was not. Jarvis Landry? Justise Winslow? Somebody else? Enough about me. Your turn. By the way, if you think anybody obvious is missing from the poll, I should mention as a preemptive strike that Giancarlo Stanton and Hassan Whiteside were born in 1989 and Ryan Tannehill in '88. They're still young, but too old for our 25U club. OK, ready? Remember, this is a brightest-future poll; try not to make it about which team or sport is your favorite. Vote now and check back frequently to monitor constantly evolving numbers. To decipher a three-vote ballot, triple the percentage of each player's total shown for an estimation of the percentage of ballots that include him in the top three. In other words, Winslow at 23.3 percent (when last I checked) was being included in about 70 percent of all top-threes.

Vote for your top 3:

UnisSWEET 16: NOT ALL AGREE THE HURRICANES ARE LOOKING GOOD: ESPN has one of those silly "Uni Watch" uniform rankings for the Sweet 16 teams, and the Miami Hurricanes's new Adidas duds are ranked only 14th. Ouch. The synopsis reads: "Green, orange and white are such a great color combination. Too bad they're used to such poor effect on the new March Madness uni set that Adidas prepared for the Hurricanes. It's hard to say which is worse -- the orange [or green] shoulder harness or the 'grass skirt' striping on the shorts. A real stinker." OK, then. A Thursday victory from Villanova away from their first Elite Eight appearance, we're thinking UM fans prefer their team continue to be athletically splendid even if its sartorial splendor may be somewhat dubious.

UH OH. IT'S COTE VS. STUGOTZ IN LOCAL MEDIA BRACKET'S FINAL FOUR: Website SliceMiami has been holding NCAA-style brackets in four 16-person "regions" including Media, and I -- the last Herald writer standing -- have vanquished two foes to reach the Final Four, where I will face my 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio mate, the great Stugotz. The other semifinal will pit WQAM's Marc Hochman vs. his 560 stablemate Joe Rose. I think voting in the Final Four round is Thursday and Friday but we'll update you further.xx

SerenaSERENA STANDS UP ELOQUENTLY FOR THE MIAMI OPEN: We know Serena Williams is the best women's tennis player in the world, and has been for much of the past 15 years or so. She's a pretty good writer, too, it turns out. Williams this week penned a piece for the New York Times on why the Miami Open (running now through April 3 on Key Biscayne) is so dear to her and how she'd hate to see it leave, which it could related to a legal battle over improvements to the site. Good for you, Serena! Find her entire essay here.

DOLPHINS ON THE CHEAP: ESPN ranks all 32 teams in terms of current free-agent spending and your Dolphins slot in 22nd with only $11.9 million in guaranteed money given. Dough spent does Abdul-quddusnot always equate with winning, no, but it is a bit disconcerting that division-power New England has spent more than triple ($38.1 mill) what the Dolphins have to get better. ESPN's cynopsis of the Fins' FA expenditure so far: "For the first time in several years, the Dolphins elected to be judicious with their free-agent spending. They spent just $11.9 million in guaranteed money so far, with the biggest guarantee going to safety Isa Abdul-Quddus ($6 million). Big-ticket items haven't produced more victories, so Miami is trying the opposite approach." But just as spending big isn't always smart, being economical doesn't always mean smart spending. For example, Abdul-Quddus (pictured), the big get in terms of guaranteed money, has only 16 starts and two interceptions in 74 career NFL games. Hmm.

Poll result: Most oppose Obama and baseball's visit to Cuba: We asked your reaction and it was 25.3 percent "positive," 54.9% "negative" and 19.8% "mixed emotions or undecided." Interestingly, the negative vote was running only slightly higher (58.5%) in Florida, where a higher percentage of Cuban-Americans reside. Also interesting (at least to me): The "positive" vote enjoyed a plurality when the poll appeared only in my blog, before it hit a broader/different audience when picked up by MiamiHerald.com.

MelaniatrumpTHE MELANIA TRUMP AD: Nasty politics continue on the Republican side of the presidential race. A super-PAC supporting Ted Cruz ran the ad pictured, showing Donald Trump's wife Melania in a GQ photo shoot from 2000, back in her modeling days. The text reads, "Meet Melania Trump: Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday."  The Donald responded on Twitter with a warning for Cruz to be careful or he'll "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Me? I have little doubt that Trump is privately not displeased at all with this ad -- with people being reminded how great he must be to have a wife this hot. But here's the bottom line: Will seeing Melania like this make anyone less likely to vote for Donald Trump? For many people, absolutely nothing could possibly make them less likely to vote for Trump.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 19, 2015

UM's latest basketball recruiting gets a tribute to Larranaga's stewardship; plus Dolphins' playoff odds, David Beckham, cheetah picks NASCAR/Homestead winner, SOPY rankings, NFL Week 10 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more

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

Paris1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) I'm back at Friday Page HQ today bringing forth my NFL Week 11 picks, girding loins for a better effort than last week. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's Titans-Jaguars pick. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win in Philly with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Fins in random fives are announcing the club's all-time 50 greatest players. The latest wave: Bob Brudzinski, Norm Evans, Mike Pouncey, Patrick Surtain and Jason Taylor. Taylor is obvious. Evans and Surtain are expected. Brudzinksi for me is borderline but I'm OK with it. Surprised by Pouncey mainly for the lack of longevity.

 "BeckhamDavid Beckham has been named People's latest 'Sexiest Man Alive.' Too bad he hasn't been named 'Most Successful Man Alive at Closing an MLS Stadium Deal in Miami.'" --Greg Cote

On Canes' coach-search: This week's latest column from me is on the Hurricanes' search to replace fired football coach Al Golden and his interim fill-in Larry Scott. UM must find a great coach whose strength is recruiting and the ability to win back the South Florida talent-market. The priority should not be appeasing fans by necessarily hiring someone with Canes ties. Click on Recruiting The Best to read the column in full.

CANES' BIG RECRUITING GETS A TRIBUTE TO LARRANAGA'S STEWARDSHIP: UM basketball's 2016 recruiting class soared into the national top 10 rankings with the addition this week of Miami Norland 6- Larranaga10 power forward Dewan Huell and Massachusetts 6-4 shooting guard Bruce Brown. The biggest schools in the sport, like Louisville and Kansas, were after Huell. It's a tribute to coach Jim Larranaga and where he has the Canes program now and where it is headed under his stewardship. In Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier, UM has one of the elite coaching duos in the entire country. Rock solid. South Florida is in good shape generally at the coach level at the moment among our top teams. The Heat's Erik Spoelstra is excellent, the Marlins made a promising managerial hire in Don Mattingly, and it seems the Panthers finally have a guy they can win with in Gerard Gallant. The questions are in football. Will Dan Campbell be a keeper for the Dolphins or will a postseason search open? That's to be determined. And the Canes job is wide open, of course. The U would do well to make a hire even approaching the quality of what basketball has in Larranaga and Meier.

DOLPHINS PLAYOFF CHANCES: A PULSE, BUT STILL A FAINT ONE: Winning in Philadelphia elevated the Dolphins' playoff chances from negligible to small. The computers of makenflplayoffs.com put Miami's playoff likelihood at 12.7 percent and numberfire.com has it at 7.2% entering this coming weekend -- both ranking the Fins 12th in the jockeying for six AFC postseason tickets. Patriots, Bengals and Broncos are the consensus definitely-in picks. The 4-5-6 seeds will be Steelers, Bills and Colts according to makenflplayoffs, and Steelers, Colts and Jets according to numberfire.

CheetahCHEETAH FORECASTS NASCAR/HOMESTEAD WINNER: Sorry, storybook-ending fans. Retiring Jeff Gordon won't be going out a champion in Sunday's season-ending race south of Miami. Koda, a 2-year-old cheetah and official Zoo Miami "wildlife prognosticator," chose Kevin Harvick from among the four miniature die-cast cars of the title-contending final four of Harvick, Gordon, Martin Truex and Kyle Busch. Koda is pictured ruminating over his decision. Zoo officials denied it was a publicity stunt.

SOPY: FLOWERS POWER! 'STATE HEISMAN' HAS A NEW LEADER: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is too close to call as we reach the final stretch. It's Sopynow South Florida QB Quinton Flowers narrowly ahead of Florida State RB Dalvin Cook. It's pretty much a two-man race because FIU QB Alex McGough has fallen to third place and has played one additional game than the players he must catch. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 12:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 11

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W11        Season

1 (t2)       Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   223         1,717

2 (t2)       Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             167        1,661

3 (1)        Alex McGough, FIU-qb          37         1,543.5

4 (5)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          153        1,236.5

5 (7)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          290        1,206

6 (4)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             15         1,167

7 (6)        Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       153        1,108

8 (9)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      139       956 

9 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       126        929

10 (8)       Everett Golson, FSU-qb          26         889.5

Bubble: Will Grier, Florida-qb, 789. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 713. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 290 (Wk11). Note: FIU has played 11 games; all others 10.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (9-1); 2. Florida State (8-2); 3. Miami (6-4); 4. South Florida (6-4); 5. FIU (5-6); 6. FAU (2-8); 7. UCF (0-10).

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 10: OH THE AWFULNESS! RECORD EMBARRASSMENT!: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams, and, this week, the admission pains us: Pix: A record-worst week: This is our 25th 1aacote2
1lobosseason doing the Friday Page picks and we have never -- ever -- had worse week than last week's 2-12 record overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, there were some weird results and losing picks I'd probably make again. But still. No excuses. Just abysmal. Or, as the Upset Bird muttered: "Aaawwwkful!" Greg's Lobos / family league: Another loss: The original Lobos lost 125-112 to fall to 4-6, off playoff pace but still in it with four weeks left in our regular season. Rode Adrian Peterson for 31 big points, but five positions scoring in single-figures and only 12 points from Drew Brees killed us. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Big loss to open playoffs: The LeBatard Show Lobos fell 117.1 to 69.4 to Bills in the first round of our playoffs. It's a two-game opening series so I'm still alive but would need to rout Billy next week to have any chance. Ill-timed bye weeks ruined me this week. Just-signed Joe Flacco was our MVL with 20.1 points but we had two guys score zero. Miserable showing for the 'Bos. Embarrassing. But, yes, I do believe in miracles, so watch us next week.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 30, 2015

Set the bar on Heat expectations. Poll. Vote now!; plus Philbin firing/Heat title odds, 'Marlins Man' takes on anti-Golden air force, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Fantasy results, updated SOPY rankings; also, hear Pope Francis' new song (seriously) & more

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

1) IT IS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30: Welcome back to the Herald our new Heat and NBA insider, Ethan Skolnick. 2) Season over for Giancarlo Stanton. No surprise, and a smart call. 3) The latest five members of the Dolphins' all-time team announced by the club: Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich and Dan Marino. How the hell did Marino get in there!?! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins collapse vs. Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Anti-Golden flyovers verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin now most likely to be fired: New Bovada odds today have Dolphins coach Joe Philbin the likeliest NFL coach to be fired during the season at 9-4 odds. (Next hottest seats belong to Lions' Jim Caldwell 4-1, Colts' Chuck Pagano 7-1 and Browns' Mike Pettine 15-2). I doubt Philbin keeps his job after this year but doubt he'll be fired in-season.

Wade leads Heat in 13th year: Click The Great Unknown for my latest column off Heat media day as team opens preseason camp at FAU. The unknown: Miami relying on starting five that hasn't been on court together at all. What you can count on? Dwyane Wade. Again. 

SETTING THE BAR ON HEAT EXPECTATIONS: The Heat has accrued such trust as a franchise that we accept last season's non-playoff year as an aberration that won't be repeated. We assume the playoffs. We assume
1aa1aheat 1aa1adragicwadewinning -- it's just a matter of how much. We assume the postseason -- it's just a matter of how far. So: How far? What are your thoughts for the Heat as Miami opens training camp today at FAU? For me, an NBA title is too much to expect but a place in the Eastern finals (presumably vs . LeBron's Cavaliers) might not be. For me that's the high side, the optimum that's in the realm of realistic. A top-four seed? Realistic. Then again I've also read and heard the Heat forecast as a likelier lower East seed, maybe sixth or seventh. I'm curious what your realistic expectations are at this point -- not what you hope, but what you'd bet is most probably -- with a starting lineup of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic (pictured), Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and center Hassan Whiteside, plus added depth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Heat, NBA championship odds: Via Bovada today, Cleveland is updated NBA title favorite at 11-4 odds, followed by San Antonio at 3-1 and Golden State at 5-1. Miami and Chicago are tied for second in the East and seventh overall at 20-1.

'MARLINS MAN' (YEAH, THAT GUY) COMING TO AL GOLDEN'S DEFENSE: 'Marlins Man' Laurence Leavy 1aa1amarlinsman(pictured), the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who seems to spend a lot more time being a sports fan than being a lawyer, is renting a plane to fly a pro-Al Golden banner over the Miami Hurricanes' next home game Oct. 17 vs. Virginia Tech. The banner is to read, "Keep Golden -- He's Class, Not Trash." Leavy is fed up with the anti-Golden flyovers haunting the skies above UM games and wanted to counter that air force with one of his own. Interesting. AIR WARS!

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 3: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosfantasy teams. Pix: I am man, hear me roar!: Great bounce-back week for us at 13-3 overall and 10-6 against the spread. Nailed outright upset wins by Bills and Eagles and had Raiders-plus-points. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big loss: The original Lobos got buried 176-133 to fall to 1-2. Had Adrian Peterson, Seahawks defense and Odell Beckham all score in the 20s, but my opponent got 90 combined from A.J. Green and Steve Smith. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Yes! Off the schneid!: The new Lobos crushed Papi, 164-59.3, making us 1-2. Got a big 42.3 points from game MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) Devonta Freeman. I decided to start him 10 minutes before kickoff. I choose to call that great coaching.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH MAINTAINS NO. 1 AS BYES KICK IN: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY 1aa1asopyrankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- find FIU quarterback Alex McGough maintaining his lead after Week 4. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, 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. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week (starting this past week) take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 4

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W4        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         150.5     687

2 (6)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            153.5     523.5 

3 (2)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             BYE      522

4 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb    BYE     445

5 (4)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          BYE     434.5

6 (7)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             82        420

7 (8t)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             99        417

8 (5)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb  BYE     391

9 (--)         Thomas Owens, FIU-wr         50       354

10 (--)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       110      336

Bubble: Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb, 327. Other team leader: Tre'Quan Smith, UCF-wr, 245. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: Miami, FSU and South Florida 3 games each; all others 4.

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

1aa1afrancismusicHEAR POPE FRANCIS' NEW SINGLE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Fresh off his successful tour of the U.S., Pope Francis plans to release a musical album called Wake Up! (pictured) on Nov. 27. (This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true?) The album features the pontiff's speeches set to orchestral rock and pop music as well as to Gregorian chants, and proceeds will benefit a support fund for refugees. The first released single is called "Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!" (The pope loves exclamation points!). Click HERE for a Rolling Stone piece on the album, and to hear the single, a 5 minute 12 second opus in which the Pope is not heard until the 2:00 mark. And, yes ... yes it is about as strange as you might imagine. Francis will support the album with a winter tour featuring opening act Miley Cyrus. OK I made up that last part.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 13, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 34.2%; plus UM finishes strong, whips FAU 44-20; also it's Upset Bird Day in Miami, Stugotz reigns in LeBatard Show fantasy poll, remembering 9/11 & more

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


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12. It was 14 years ago yesterday. 'Never forget' doesn't just mean once a year. 2)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBatard Show fantasy-draft poll, Upset Bird Countdown, Weighing The Fish, Serena verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My UM-FAU game column: Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton off last night's 44-20 Hurricanes win. It was the night Howard Schnellenberger dreamed of (minus the lightning delay that upset him), but it was hardly the night of Al Golden's dreams, at least not early. And find our gamepost and postgame thoughts in the blog just below the latest CSM poll. 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 34.2%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 34.2 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Friday's 44-20 victory at FAU putting 1aa1acsmMiami's season record at 2-0. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, 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 10 a.m. today/Sunday.

Interpreting the latest vote: Not usual to see a drop in approval after your team goes to 2-0 with a 24-point road win, but UM fas had two-thirds of Friday's game to wring hands over a poor showing before that late surge. The lesser opponent also factors in. So does widespread animus against Al Golden, which doubtlessly is impacting the voting in 2015.

2015 CSM Results

Week 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Week 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Next poll: Sept. 19 (following game vs. Nebraska) 

G2: HURRICANES 44, FAU 20: STRONG FINISH SPARES UM AN EMBARRASSMENT: Final: What a bizarre night all-round. Another hour-plus lightning delay pauses a second straight UM game. And for much of the night, before and after the delay, the Canes struggle with underdog FAU (tied 20-20) before finally pulling away to a comfy-enough 44-20 win. Fleeting thoughts of a major upset dissipated fast as Miami took control. An impressive win by Miami? No. But the tenor of the game and who had the emotional edge was predictable. This was the biggest home game in FAU history and set a stadium record by drawing 30,321 fans. For UM, this was just a smaller opponent with thoughts of Nebraska, here next Saturday. I expected the look-ahead factor to cause a fairly competitive game; see my predicted score below. I had it 45-20, missing an exacto by one point. ..... Original post: Welcome to Howard Bowl II as the program Howard 1aa1acanesfauSchnellenberger founded hosts the program he put on the national map and made a champion. This doesn't present as the waltz last week was for Miami, the 45-0 home saunter past undermanned Bethune-Cookman. Florida Atlantic is bigger and better than B-C. Let's not over-dramatize it, though. The Canes are an 18-point favorite and this should not come down to fingers-crossed in the fourth quarter for UM fans who make the short trek up to Boca for their school's first visit to FAU's neat little campus stadium (the House That Howard Built). It seats just under 30,000 and it'll be filled and rocking tonight. Looking forward to the ambience, and the game could be exciting, too, if you love scoring. The Owls don't have the defense to limit Brad Kaaya and company much. Then again, FAU quarterback Jacquez Johnson is capable (and experienced) in the art of the shootout. UM won these teams' only other meeting, Howard Bowl I, by 34-6 in 2013. By the way, Schnellenberger, the Wise Old Owl now 81, says he thinks FAU has a real upset shot tonight and doesn't see much difference between the programs' talent levels. God help Al Golden if he's proven right. My pick: Hurricanes, 45-20.

Other college Week 2 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today/Saturday):

No. 11 Florida State 34, South Florida 14: Dalvin Cook crazies for 266 yards rushing for Noles.

Florida 31, East Carolina 24: Not a win to please the Swampers

Indiana 36, FIU 22: Panthers fail to bag a second straight big road upset.

Stanford 31, UCF 7: Knights now a disappointing 0-2.

1aa1afripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. HELL, IN AMERICA!: Our 10-day countdown is over. Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions has begun! A Miami Herald tradition that began in 1991 continues with our Week 1 picks, which got off to a fortunate solid start Thursday as we called Patriots' win over Steelers and lucked to push against the spread thanks to that (very) late Pittsburgh score. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our opening-week picks, including the Dolphins' expected comfortable win in Washington. And click on Fearful Forecast for our accompanying NFL column that features our division-by-division picks as we try to break with long-standing tradition by actually getting a Super Bowl prediction right for a bleepin' change. We'll update you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we're doing with our picks.

STUGOTZ ANOINTED LEBATARD FANTASY-LEAGUE FAVORITE; GREG'S LOBOS FIFTH: We invited you to vote in a blind poll based on all teams' first four picks, not knowing which of 10 LeBatard radio show players you were voting for. Your winner: Stugotz (pictured exalting in his triumph) in a runaway. Greg's Lobos: fifth place. Teams you liked least: LeBatard and his Papi. Here are your results:

1aa1astugotz1st place: JON "STUGOTZ" WEINER, co-host, Team #1/led by Adrian Peterson, 31.1%.

2nd: "FAT" CHRIS, Shipping Container, Team #8/Julio Jones, 14.3%.

3rd: BILLY, Shipping Container, Team #7/Marshawn Lynch, 12.6%.

4th: MIKE RYAN, producer, Team #2/Le'Veon Bell, 12.2%.

5th: GREG COTE, Tuesday guest host -- me, Greg's Lobos! -- Team #9/Andrew Luck, 11.6%.

6th (tie): ALLYSON, Shipping Container, Team #4/Jamaal Charles, 5.6%.

6th (tie): CHARLIE, Fusion TV, Team #6/Rob Gronkowski, 5.6%.  

8th: ROY, Shipping Container, Team #3/Eddie Lacy, 4.6%.

9th: DAN LEBATARD, radio god, Team #10/C.J. Anderson, 1.7%.

10th: PAPI, Dan's dad, Team #5/Antonio Brown, 0.7%.

Note: There are two Greg's Lobos teams, this one in the radio fantasy league and the original Lobos in my family league. We'll be updating you on the radio league every Tuesday on-air, and I'll update you on both Lobos teams Tuesdays here in the blog. 

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 10, 2015

LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results. Who picked the best team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Patriots-Steelers pick, Upset Bird Countdown (1 day), new 'Weighing The Fish,' verdict on Serena & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Today I research and write the season-debut of the Friday NFL predictions page. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Serena Williams G.O.A.T. poll, Howard Schnellenberger what-if, Breakfast with LeBatard, Riley speaks, debut of SOPY rankings, Marlins '16 home schedule, Stephen Colbert, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Patriots-Steelers pick: One day ahead of our Friday Page launch, today we offer our pick on tonight's Steelers-at-Patriots NFL season opener. Click on Kicking It Off for the full predix capsule. 

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix

1aa1acardsstl 1aa1a1the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11 -- tomorrow -- and we've been doing a 10-day countdown. This year's theme: Bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. And today, at No. 1: St. Louis Cardinals, born 1900! [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3--Chicago Blackhawks/'26; #2--Arizona Cardinals/'20].

LEBATARD RADIO SHOW FANTASY DRAFT: WHO PICKED THE BEST TEAM?: We did a similar blind poll a few weeks ago after my family-league fantasy draft, and you all voted my team, Greg's Lobos, No. 1. 1aa1adanshow 1aa1adanshowdraftWill I be as lucky again here? This blind vote involves the 10-team LeBatard radio show fantasy draft that took place online yesterday. After the vote we'll tell you who's with what team and thus who you voted best to worst. League members are LeBatard, Stugotz, Mike Ryan, me, Allyson, Charlie, Roy, Billy, Chris and Papi. That of course is not the order of teams in the poll. Teams are listed by draft order in a standard PPR league. Vote for who made the most of his or her first four picks -- which team you'd most want based on the names you see.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (140 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 140 games (at 59-81):


Rank Player                   WTF#  @130

1  Dee Gordon                  462.6    1

2  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   3

3  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

4  Martin Prado              345.9    4

5  Christian Yelich         323.2   5

6  Jacob Realmuto         315.0   6

7  Justin Bour                 302.1    8

8  Marcell Ozuna            292.2   7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              239.3   9

10  Derek Dietrich          212.2   10

11  Cole Gillespie            150.7   11

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 5.

Poll result: Strong support for Serena as G.O.A.T.: We asked if you think Serena Williams is the greatest of all-time in women's tennis, and 61.2 percent said yes while another 15.9% said not yet but headed there. The remaining 22.9% said no.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...