December 07, 2016

How much are we loving (or not) a Hurricanes-WVU bowl matchup? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 13 results, Back In My Day and Aaron Rodgers' Lobos promise, missing Dwyane Wade, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more

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

Pearlharbor1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Baltimore with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Canes' 2016 MVP isn't a player & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Back In My Day, Aaron Rodgers' promise: Summarizing my Tuesday on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Click on Blockbuster Video for the latest Back In My Day. Also, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers promised to shout out "Lobos!" during a game in an upcoming cadence. No, seriously. #WeAreTheLobos

On the colossal loss of Dwyane Wade, other select recent columns: Missing Dwyane Wade, the latest, on how the Heat and its fans miss D-Wade even more than imagined as Miami fell to an NBA-worst 2-8 at home with last night's loss to the Knicks. Plus Tannehill's Defining December, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Canes In the History Book.

UmwvuARE WE LOVING A HURRICANES-WEST VIRGINIA BOWL MATCHUP?: Don't get me wrong. West Virginia is fine. They're 10-2 and ranked No. 16. In fact Miami has the highest-ranked bowl opponent of any unranked team, which is sort of prestigious and gives the Canes -- an early 1-point favorite -- a strong claim at finishing in the Top 25 should they win. That UM and WVU haven't faced each other since 2003 adds a layer of freshness to the matchup. But don't tell me the Mountaineers are a great team. There's a reason a four-loss UM is favored (albeit barely). There also is a reason 10 teams with two or more losses are ranked higher than WVU. Me, I'd have preferred that Miami's bowl opponent was the old rival Florida Gators or Mark Richt's ex's, the Georgia Bulldogs -- both of which were pumped up in the media as strong possibilities. In any case I'm curious what you think; hence, this poll!

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 13 RESULTS: ROUGH ON PREDIX, BUT LOBOS KEEP ROLLIN': Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: We went 8-7 both ways, which is pretty awful straight-up but marginally OK against the spread. We're now a solid 24 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos bopped Breezango (the wrestler), 121-88, fueled by 27 points from reigning MVL Devonta Freeman and 24 from Mel Gordon. That seventh strauight victory makes us 10-3 to end the regular season, the radio show league's No. 1 seed entering the playoffs. Our upcoming first postseason opponent: Dan "Auto-Pilot" LeBatard. Let's keep it honkin', 'Bos!

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (20 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. Starring now we expand to a top 10 by e-mail request. (It was actually one guy, but he's emailed twice; thanks, Larry!). With Miami now 7-13 entering tonight's home date vs. the Knicks, here's the Luddite's fourth installment, with 15-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (20 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       669

2. Goran Dragic (4)             416

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            386

4. Dion Waiters (2)              346

5. James Johnson (5)           328

6. Josh Richardson (7)        205

7. Rodney McGruder (8)     200

8. Justise Winslow (6)         181

9. Luke Babbitt (9)             123

10. Josh McRoberts (12)    100

Others: Derrick Williams 99, Willie Reed 96, Wayne Ellington 73, Udonis Haslem 16.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 30, 2016

Here's your 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: 13 finalists, you pick the 5 who get in. Last day for poll. Vote now!; plus LeBatard on 1989 game show, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, final SOPY 'State Heisman' shows 6 Hurricanes in Top 30 & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30. See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results. They're buoyant! 2) The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat 49ers for sixth straight win with DSM poll, Florida Panthers stupidly fire coach, Canes bowl outlook, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Tannehill, other select recent columns: Click on They Dared Him to Throw, And Oh Did He for my Ryan Tannehill column off Sunday's Dolphins win. Also: Week 12 GemsFootball Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All.

COOPSYOUR 2017 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: There are 34 names on this year's official 2017 Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballot -- 19 first-timers and 15 back for another try. This is my third year as a voter and I take the task seriously as I weight voting for as many as 10 candidates prior to the Dec. 31 deadline. At least half of the guys on any given ballot have zero shot at Cooperstown and quickly fade away by not even getting the 5 percent of the vote required to be on the following year's ballot. I have winnowed the Hall of Fame ballot I offer you today by eliminating the no-shot guys and presenting only the ones who have a chance, ranging from likely to at least possible. This includes five newcomers (indicated by an asterisk (*) on the ballot), and the eight returners who garnered at least 40 percent of the vote a year ago. The magic 75% must be attained for induction. The finalists on our ballot are alphabetical. You may vote for the FIVE (5) you feel are most worthy of Cooperstown. I should emphasize my official ballot will not be based on or influenced by your vote, although certainly I'll be interested to compare our views. In a later blogpost I'll present to your my complete ballot and reasoning. For now, it's your turn. Vote for your top five and check back often to monitor evolving results.

VOTE FOR THE FIVE (5) MOST DESERVING OF COOPERSTOWN:

Sopy QfSOPY RANKINGS / SEASON FINAL: FLOWERS WINS 'STATE HEISMAN,' KAAYA 4TH, SIX CANES IN TOP 30: It was a rout. A runaway. The fifth season of our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings saw dual-threat South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (from Miami Jackson High) win the season crown going away. We end after the regular season and do not include conference championship games or bowl games so that all seven state FBS teams are on equal footing. Miami QB Brad Kaaya finishes in fourth place, among six Hurricanes (underlined below) placing in the final Top 30. The weekly rankings are cumulative and measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. All teams played 12 games except the Florida Gators, with 11. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the Final 2016 SOPY Top 30, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY FINAL 2016 TOP 30:

RK    Player, Team-pos.                    Total

1      QUINTON FLOWERS, SOFLA-QB  2,917

2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                 2,160

3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb         1,885

4      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb              1,636

5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb               1,530

6      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb              1,442

7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb             1,397 

8      Devin Singletary, FAU-rb           1,251

9      Alex McGough, FIU-qb              1,159.5

10     Alex Gardner, FIU-rb               1,157

11. McKenzie Milton UCF-qb 1,125; 12. Rodney Adams SoFla-rec 1,025; 13. Gregory Howell FAU-rb 953; 14. Kalib Woods FAU-rec 940; 15. Ahmmon Richards Miami-rec 886; 16. Travis Rudolph FSU-rec 849; 17. Tre'Quan Smith UCF-rec 838; 18. Jordan Scarlett Florida-rb 837; 19. D'Ernest Johnson SoFla-rb 786; 20. Stacy Coley Miami-rec 75721. Joe Yearby Miami-rb 700; 22. David Njoku Miami-rec 697; 23. Thomas Owens FIU-rec 695; 24. Luke Del Rio Florida-qb 684; 25. Anthony Jones FIU-rb 675; 26. Antonio Callaway Florida-rec 649; 27. Dontravious Wilson UCF-rb 595; 28. Adrian Killins UCF-rb 563; 29. Jawon Hamilton UCF-rb 561; 30. tie, Lamical Perine Florida-rb 535 and Jonnu Smith FIU-rec 535.

Week 13 best: Singletary FAU-rb 313. Season best week: Flowers SoFla-qb 371.5.

Roll Call of SOPY Champions: 2016--Quinton Flowers SoFla-qb 2,917; 2015--Flowers 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 (9-3); 2. Florida (8-3); 3. Miami (8-4); 4. South Florida (10-2); 5. UCF (6-6); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 12 RESULTS: SOLID ON PREDIX, LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Not worth bugling from a rooftop, but we were solid. Went 10-6 overall and 9-6-1 against the spread, including five underdogs-with-points. The tie was the Raiders pushing at minus-3. We're now a very solid 23 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos routed Chris' squad 104-59 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 9-3 after a Dolphin-esque sixth consecutive win. Drew Brees had a big 32 points and is making a serious push for MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) honors. We have only one week left before the start of the playoffs. Let's keep it honkin', 'Bos!

LEBATARD ON 1989 GAME SHOW: Below is a video of Dan LeBatard's appearance on the 1989 ESPN game show, Boardwalk and Baseball, hosted by Chris Berman, which he spoke about on the air today. LeBatard is pictured far right on the Miami team, college-aged, chubby faced, helmet haired, and saying absolutely nothing discernable. But I do like the repeated look of frustration as he narrowly misses pressing his buzzer in time.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 11:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9      9      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                        BYE           961

10   --      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec                  213           926

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 7:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk7        Year

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

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

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

4      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       138.5       838

5      8      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      187.5      782.5

6      4      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                          39         748

7     --      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                       188        734

8      7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      105        707 

9      6      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                        95         702.5

10     9      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    115        700

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 14, 2016

Opening Night!: Bar set high as Panthers open 23rd season with win; plus judging Ryan Tannehill. A referendum on Dolphins quarterback. Poll. Last chance to vote!; also, latest SOPY standings & more

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

Trump1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14. So pleased for Bob Dylan, a music and cultural hero, to hear he won a Nobel prize for literature! 2) Holed up today at Friday Page World Headquarters figuring out this week's NFL predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Chargers-Broncos game (Upset!) 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to Titans with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Fins ground-game woes (List) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Why we keep waiting for Tiger: Tiger Woods' comeback is delayed. Again. But we keep waiting. We keep caring. Why? Click on Because He's Tiger Woods to read my column.

OPENING NIGHT! PANTHERS LAUNCH SEASON OF LARGE HOPES WITH WIN: Panthers beat New Jersey devils 2-1 in OT on Opening Night Thursday on goal by Aleksander Barkov, the Cats' No. 16 -- after the team had honored the late Marlins' No. 16, Jose Fernandez, in a pregame ceremony. Click on Now the Winning Big Must Follow for my column from the arena ..... Original post: Click Swagger On Skates for my full column previewing this Panthers season of high expectations as the Cats host New Jersey tonight in Sunrise to begin their 23rd NHL year. The Cats come in with swagger, with cockiness. It is strange, coming from a franchise always cast as the underdog climbing uphill. PanthersStrange, from a club that has made the NHL playoffs but five times and not won a single postseason series since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals — Cinderella on skates — in 1996. It is jarring. It is audacious. It is something else, too. Refreshing. Wonderful. And perfectly timed. All of our other major pro sports teams are down. The Dolphins seem to be as depressingly bad as ever. The Marlins have been decimated by tragedy. The Heat are trying to reboot after the once- Openingnightunfathomable departure of Dwyane Wade. To the rescue come the Cats! The only one of our four major pro teams yet to throw a championship parade is now without question the closest of them all to doing that. "Underdogs no more," as president of hockey operations Dale Tallon told us Wednesday. Remember how Miami Hurricanes football players at the program's height of power in the 1980s buffed braggadocio to an art form? And how LeBron James upon arriving in 2010 talked dynasty for the Big 3-era Heat ("Not three, not four...") by counting championships? We're not elevating these Panthers to that standard of epic boastfulness, but, clearly, this is a team that thinks it can win the Stanley Cup and isn't shy to say it. This is a team publicly challenging itself to do it. "Everybody knows we're a good team now," says coach Gerard Gallant. "We're not going to sneak up on anybody." Two costly injuries during the preseason have stunned the team. Center Nick Bjugstad broke a hand and will be out four to six weeks. Far worse, forward Jonathan Huberdeau suffered a severe ankle injury that will sideline him about four months — at least two-thirds of the season. But Tallon is convinced that improved depth will allow the Cats to absorb those blows. No fissures in confidence are evident. Last season the Panthers set franchise records for most victories (47) and standings points (103), and, "This year we have a lot higher expectations for ourselves," said goaltender Roberto Luongo. This could be the best team the franchise has ever put on ice. Players expect that. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad was told the Panthers are being rated a top-10 team and among Eastern Conference powers in media polls, and said, "As players on this team, our expectations exceed those times 10." Now, beginning tonight, all that's left is the living up.

TannehillJUDGING ON RYAN TANNEHILL, NOT QUITE 4 1/2 SEASONS IN: Have opinions on the Dolphins quarterback hardened, or are they still evolving? Do we see a fully formed player, or one still improving? Bottom line, do Dolfans believe in Tannehill and have his back, or not? He was booed during Sunday's loss, and heard a "We want Moore!" chant for backup Matt Moore. The booing was more scattered than sustained. The chant quickly petered out. But they happened. Frustration is growing, and it has targeted Tannehill partly because the starting QB always is an easy target, and partly because he has invited some of the dissatisfaction with his play. Coach Adam Gase made it clear there is no QB controversy -- that Tannehill is his guy the rest of this season, at least. I address the issue in my column off Sunday's home loss to Tennessee; to read, click on Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance. We've had several judging-Tannehill blog polls over the years, but another is justified. There remains debate. He continues to be polariziing. Four-plus seasons in, there still is no consensus on whether he is Miami's long-term solution or not. So I ask it again. Take a dip in our poll. Vote, and check back often to monitor evolving results:

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': MIAMI REPRESENTS WITH FLOWERS BLOOMING, COOK ON HIGH: Miami is all over the leaderboard in the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings -- SopyState Offensive Player of the Year. Hurricanes Brad Kaaya and Mark Walton rank No. 6 and 7 this week, and FIU Panthers check in fourth and eighth. But local guys also top the chart. Top-ranked South Florida QB Quinton Flowers is from Miami Jackson High and second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida State RB, is from Miami Central. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (or a hurricane-related postponement!) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. UM, Florida and UCF have played one fewer game than the other four. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 7, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 6:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk6        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                258        1,246.5

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          215        1,178

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 150        994.5

4      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         161        709

5      4      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       96          699.5

6     7       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       105        607.5

7      6      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      81          602 

8      9      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      131.5     595

9      8      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    118        585

10   10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   119        573

Bubble: Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb, 546. Other team leaders: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 433; and Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 351. Week 6 best: Flowers, 258. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance (off Sunday loss to Titans) / Close to Back, But Not Back (from Saturday's Canes loss to FSU) / King Sport First Quarter Awards / With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose / Time is Right For Bosh to Retire / Demanding Racial Justice / Tebow's Dream / The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 28, 2016

On today's public farewell for Marlins' Jose Fernandez; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Our weekly NFL Pix 'n Fantasy update is coming here later this afternoon, post-radio show. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tragedy: Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident, Dolphins luck to beat Browns in OT with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: What Jose Meant Lives On (my first column on death of Jose Fernandez). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). Week 3 Gems (our NFL picks from past weekend). 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 all)She Never Quit (our last column in FIU football coach Ron Turner before they fired him).

Today's public events for Jose Fernandez: The public may watch the funeral motorcade depart Marlins Park at 2:16 p.m. Fans are asked to gather at the stadium's West Plaza by 2. Fans may also pay respects as a public viewing that will occur from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. today at St. Brendan Catholic Church, 8725 SW 32nd Street, Miami. There will be a private funeral mass on Thursday open only to family and Marlins players, coaches and staff. In lieu of flowers, the Fernandez family suggest charitable donations to the JDF16 Foundation. To learn more or to donate, click here.

MarlinsjoseHONORING JOSE AT MARLINS PARK: AN EMOTIONAL NIGHT FOR THE AGES: Many of you know I have been a sports journalist since newspapers were dropped on front lawns by pterodactyls. Into my fifth decade doing this, since the '70s, I have seen every event imaginable. But nothing quite like last night, as the Marlins and Miami said goodbye, cruelly too soon, to ace pitcher Jose Fernandez in the first game since his tragic death in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a boating accident. It was the most emotional night I have ever covered, top to bottom. It began with every player wearing his No. 16 uniform with "Fernandez" stitched on the back, and fans standing to applaud every time a different Jose Fernandez crossed the chalk line pregame and ran onto the field. It ended, long after the game, after the stadium had emptied of all but workers and media, as players stood around the pitcher's mound and raised bottles of beer to the heavens in a toast. What a terrible, wonderful night. I hope my column from the ballpark last night has done it justice. To read, click There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night.

NFL PICKS 'N FANTASY WEEK 3: 'ATS' RUN CONTINUES, LOBOS LOSE HEARTBREAKER: NFL picks: Had a rocky week straight-up (9-7) but emerged a sparkly 11-5 against the spread thanks to three outright upset bull's-eyes including our Upset of the Week on Bills over Cardinals ("Aawwk!"), plus five other 'dogs-with-points. Fantasy: Another difficult loss to take. Greg's Lobos fell to 1-2 in the LeBatard Show league, losing to Mike Ryan, 136.5-130.9. We were getting blown away but nearly rallied miraculously with 57.6 combined Monday nihght points from Drew Brees and Devonta Freeman. Also, you know what they say about "close."

SOPY RANKINGS, 'STATE HEISMAN': COOK ON HIGH HEAT: The fifth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- finds FSU running back Dalvin Cook (pictured) charging up the chart Dcookinto second place off a season-best effort entering Collball Week 5. Are rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week (like the SopyMiami Hurricanes this past weekend) take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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 not penalize players whose teams don't make a bowl game. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 5, followed by our updated Cote's State of the State team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 4:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Week        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                245          804.5

2      7      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          341          699

3      2      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 171.5       620.5

4      9      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       200          502.5

5      3      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                     BYE        442 

6      4      Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb                   DNP        433

7      5      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                         40            425

8    10      Rodney Adams, SoFla-rb                   93           386 

9     --      Kalib Woods, FAU-rec                       114          377

10   6       Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                       BYE        376

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb, 357. Other team leader: Adrian Killins, UCF-rb, 338. Week 3 best: Cook, 341. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

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 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

August 29, 2016

Our fantasy draft: Who picked best team? (Was it Greg's Lobos?) New poll. Vote now!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes, Fins, Fish, tennis, Kaepernick, Marlins Park, Little League, Heat; plus Gase/Richt column & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 29. Dolphins and Uber announced a new partnership today. Go to my Facebook page to read team's press release in full. 2) R.I.P., Dick Assman, 82, the Canadian gas station owner propelled briefly to fame in 1995 when David Letterman, amused by his name, had Assman on as a recurring guest. 3) Yes, your dog's jaws are strong. An average 44-pound dog exerts a bite-pressure of 363 pounds. An average adult human's is 65 pounds. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins impress vs. Atlanta, Wade cousin killed, Fins talent vs. optimism, Canes heritage dissed, Marlins get Francoeur, Riley's Heat gloom confirmed, Rolling Stone joins our cause, your verdict on Dolfan optimism & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Twitter just told me, "Your Tweets earned 1,000,953 impressions over the last 28 days." Not exactly sure what that means, but I think it's my first time over 1 mill for a month. So, thank you, Twitter family!

Latest column: Hope for Dolphins, Canes starts with Gase, Richt: Miami's two flagship football teams have done a lot wrong most of this decade. What they've done right: Hire Adam Gase and Mark Richt. This is only the second time in 51 shared years the Fins and Canes both have begun a new season with a new head coach. Click on Gase, Richt and Hope for my latest column.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). The Real Olympic Ideal (it isn't gold medals). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars. The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat).

OUR 10-TEAM FANTASY DRAFT: VOTE WHO YOU THINK PICKED THE BEST TEAM: Greg's Lobos had our last of three fantasy drafts on Sunday. The Lobos will be competing 1) in a random league Fantasyfbthat won us in an ESPN V Foundation fundraising auction; 2) in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos; and 3) in our own friends-n-family league. We had an earlier poll on our V Foundation team, and our LeBatard Show team is detailed at the end of this blogpost. Our friends-n-family league had its draft Sunday, and that's this poll. All of us gathered in person, not online. We did it old-school, with a giant draft board on the wall gradually populated with names. Afterward, of course, we stood around arguing who'd had the best draft, or worst. Whose teams looked strongest, or shakiest. Now I invite you to tell us. In this poll the teams are listed in draft order in case you wish to take that into consideration. We're a 10-team PPR league, and this was a standard snake draft. Our poll is based on each team's first four picks, because if we listed all 16 names for each team it'd be unwieldy. Peruse each team's top four and, based on that, vote which team you'd most want to have. Then check back often to monitor evolving results. Tomorrow we'll let you know who was behind the winning team and how your rated our Greg's Lobos.

 

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, 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. HURRICANES: College football is back! Canes suspend 2, open in 5 days: Week 1 locally features Hurricanes hosting Florida A&M on Saturday, two days after FIU debuts here vs. Indiana. UM on Saturday severed ties with two of its better defensive players in DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and LB Jermaine Grace after both were found guilty in a school probe of improper luxury-car rentals in violation of NCAA rules. This week signals official start of the Mark Richt era at UM. Hasn't played a gamed yet, but he's already won by keeping his program clean.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins beat Atlanta, prepare for stadium unveiling in preseason finale: After encouraging 17-6 win over Atlanta and roster cuts, Dolphins prepare for preseason finale on Thursday -- and public unveiling of refurbished, newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium. Place looks great. Will the team?

3. MARLINS: Playoff-chasing Fish add help, wrap homestand: Team is 1 1/2 games off playoff pace in a five-team wild-card scramble as it sets out today/Monday on seven-game road trip. Fish will be a part of the Tim Tebow audition after earlier trading for outfield help in Jeff Francoeur. Dear Jeff: Pretend like it's 2011, your last really good season.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Open, year's last major, set to begin: Starts today in New York with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams top seeds as usual. Tennis is predictable. Then again, defending women's champ Flavia Pennetta is a household name only in her own house.

5. MARLINS PARK: Stadium to host major auto race, World Baseball Classic: Good week for the Little Havana home of Marlins. First it's announced park will host Race of Champions on Jan. 21-22, annual event pitting Formula 1, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. Then stadium landed first-round WBC games March 9-12 featuring U.S., Canada, Colombia and Dominican Republic. Now if only they'd add a few Marlins playoff games.

6. LITTLE LEAGUE: New York team wins annual youth World Series wraps up: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" The U.S. champion team from Endwell, N.Y. beat international champs from Seoul, South Korea on Sunday to make a U.S. team LLWS champions for first time since 2011. Was it fate? How could an American team from "End well" not have a happy ending?

7. OLYMPICS: Fallout from Rio controversy for Solo, Lochte: U.S. soccer suspended and cut ties with goalkeeper Hope Solo after she called victorious Sweden "cowards," and U.S. Swimming's Ryan Lochte saw several major sponsors including Speedo drop him over his gas-station episode in Rio. Good-looking athletes, but Ugly Americans.

8. HEAT: Riley's pronouncement of "bad summer" is affirmed: Pat Riley himself called it a "bad, bad summer" for the Heat, and evidence is rolling in. SI.com this week gave Miami a D+ in its offseason grades, and ESPN.com projected the Heat for a sub-.500 38.3 wins, 10th in the East. No LeBron, no D-Wade, no assurance yet on Bosh. No hope?

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: QB protest by sitting for national anthem: The 49ers' embattled QB refused to stand for the U.S. national anthem to protest the country "oppression" of people of color. It's the latest chapter in his new autobiography, "How My Once-Promising Career Went Straight to Hell."

10. SOCCER: Group stage set for Champions League: Thirty-two teams in eight groups of four were drawn this week to begin play Sept. 13 in the Champions League to crown the king of European club football. Headlines went to Group C, where Manchester City was drawn with Barcelona -- meaning new Man City manager Pep Guardiola will face his longtime former club. You know you love you some international soccer when you drop a Pep Guardiola reference!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cousin of Dwyane Wade killed in Chicago shooting. "Enough is enough" Wade had said of gun violence. So sad. ..... Cricket! World cricket powers India and West Indies playing two weekend matches at Central Broward Stadium. Do cricket players have single  names like in soccer. Is the star named Jiminy? (Sorry) ..... Tony Romo got injured. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Florida Panthers dealt Dave Bolland's bloated contract and 2015 top draft pick Lawson Crouse to Arizona for second- and third-round picks. Preseason begins Sept. 27 to launch perhaps first season in club history in which winning Stanley Cup seems a legit possibility ...... Booker T. Washington beat St. Thomas Aquinas in duel of local prep football powerhouses. Circle the date. Aquinas losses come about as often as Halley's Comet ..... Only five schools in poll-era have won more national championships than Miami's five, but the Canes were ranked only 14th in an ESPN piece on college football royalty. Question: What do they mean by "fuzzy math"? ..... The Chicago White Sox, feeling the name U.S. Cellular Field wasn't awful enough, announced their stadium's new name will be Guaranteed Rate Field. No, seriously ..... Oakland Raiders have trademarked the name "Las Vegas Raiders." No, but they aren't leaving or anything! ..... Signs you may be a degenerate gambler: You bet big on Friday's Arizona Rattlers-Philadelphia Soul game in Arena Bowl 29 ..... Answer: KFC gives away tubes of "Extra Crispy Sunscreen" that smells like fried chicken. Question: What do you mean real life sometimes reads like something from The Onion? ..... Todd Marinovich was found wandering in somebody's backyard, naked and with drugs. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Congratulations, Chargers top draft pick Joey Bosa. All of San Diego hates you and you haven't even played a down yet ..... Farewell, daily fantasy sites Draft Kings and FanDuel. Sure will miss those nonstop TV ads ..... The Oakland A's traded pitcher Mike Rzepczynski, explaining, "We got tired of trying to spell and pronounce his name" ..... According to Brazilian media, 20-year-old Ingrid Oliveira and 17-year-old Giovanna Pedroso have ended their Olympic diving partnership after Oliveira kicked the teen from the room they shared at the Olympic Village in Rio so she could enjoy a night of sex with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Gonçalves. Um, is that a canoe, or are you just happy to see me?

INTRODUCING GREG'S LOBOS II, THE LEBATARD SHOW TEAM: We introduced you previously to the 2016 Greg's Lobos team that will be competing in the league that donated the most money Lobosto ESPN's V Foundation to have me as a member. Now I'd like you to meet the Greg's Lobos squad that will be competing in the LeBatard Show's League of Lobos this season, a PPR league. I'd imagine this is the team we'll be referencing most on the air. Mea culpa: We were last of 14 teams in the snake-draft order. Our players, by round: 1st--RB Devonta Freeman (reigning MVL; welcome back D-Free); 2nd--WR Allen Robinson; 3rd--QB Drew Brees; 4th--WR Randall Cobb; 5th--TE Delanie Walker; 6th--RB Melvin Gordon; 7th--WR Willie Snead; 8th--RB Theo Riddick; 9th--RB Tevin Coleman; 10th--Seahawks D/ST; 11th--WR Terrance Williams; 12th--TE Clive Walford; 13th--PK Chandler Catanzaro; and 14th--QB Teddy Bridgewater. Last season's 10-team league has grown to 14 teams with one dropout (Papi) and five expansion teams. Returning teams are Dan, Stugotz and myself along with Mike, Roy, Chris, Charlie, Guillermo and Allyson. The five newbies are Amin Elhassan, Randy Scott, Sarah Spain, Pablo Torre and (are you ready) WWE pro wrestler Tyler Breeze.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 18, 2016

Hard Rock Stadium: Do Dolphins, Canes fans like the new name? Poll. Last day to vote and see results here; plus Marlins' slide, Hillary as Usain, Joy Taylor, your verdict on MLB's 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore' & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 18. If coaches took their cue from Donald Trump: "The only way we lose this game is if the other side cheats and the system is rigged." 2) We're No. 8! Florida is the eighth-freest state in the U.S., based on this new study factoring various data. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore' poll, Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins-Giants PS1, Olympic tears, Heat schedule dissected, six days in November & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On newly christened Hard Rock Stadium: The name on the stadium doesn't matter, only the team in it does. Pro Player, Land Shark, Sun Life, now Hard Rock -- it's Dolphins stadium on Sundays, Hurricanes stadium on Saturdays, and up to us whether we choose to use the leased corporate name at all. Heck, it's still Joe Robbie Stadium to me! Call it what you will. What matters is that the Dolphins and Hurricanes win inside that place, whatever it's called. That's the theme of my latest column. Click on Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter to read in full.

Column six-pack: Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: A-Rod to Fish Made Sense, on what might've been. Time for Baseball and Cooperstown to Reconcile With Banished Stars, on the Purgatory Four.  Result Won't Matter, But How Tannehill Looks In New Offense Will, as Dolphins opened preseason. The Weight Has Just Begun, inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Fins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits.

WHAT DO WE THINK OF HARD ROCK STADIUM AS THE LATEST NAME FOR THE HOUSE THAT JOE BUILT?: It's still Joe Robbie Stadium to me, at least in my heart, but, putting a positive spin Hrson it, I'd say Hard Rock Stadium at least is a better name (certainly more football-macho) than the previous three. I hate all corporate names, as careful readers know. In columns I avoid them when possible. I go with the generic, such as the Heat playing in "the downtown bayside arena." Why should I pimp for an airline? I hate the idea that companies spend big to fix their name onto where our teams play. Even worse is that we fans (and most sheep-like media) immediately fall in line and obediently start using the new paid-for-advertising. We don't have to, you know. They can't make us. Call it Joe's Place. Steve's Canopy. Dolphins Stadium. Canes Park. Whatever. You wanna hear Pavlov's bell and go with Hard Rock? Great. That's fine, too. Unless you're against gambling and therefore casinos, chances are there isn't a moral issue. Plus Hard Rock Stadium beats the pants off A) Pro Player, an ill-fated subsidiary of underwear giant Fruit of the Loom; B) Land Shark, a third-tier beer; or C) Sun Life, a Canadian financial company. So the progression has gone from underwear to beer to a foreign company peddling life insurance to casinos. Here's a thought. Make the Dolphins, who haven't won a playoff game since 2000, earn that Hard Rock designation. Given the tough situation the Fins are in and have put their fans in, until the team wins another playoff game, call if Rock & A Hard Place Stadium. I'm just having a little fun. What do you think of the new name? Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HillraceSUMMER OLYMPICS MEET PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Two of my favorite things to follow closely, both current, are presidential politics and the Summer Olympics, and so I loved and couldn't resist passing along this mashup "photo" somebody sent to me, with Hillary Clinton as Usain Bolt. Relax, Republicans and Trump-ets. The photoshop is merely reflecting the trend in public opinion polls, which of course are always subject to change. If the Donald takes over the lead in the national polls lead we'll certainly rejigger this to have The Donald's coif atop Bolt's winning body. Deal? The Olympics end Sunday. The ultimate race, the one for the White House, ends Nov. 8.

MARLINS: SLIP-SLIDIN' AWAY...: Perhaps it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy that when slugger Giancarlo Stanton was lost for the season with his latest injury, most wrote off the Marlins' chances of winning a wild-card playoff ticket. The Fish have now lost two in a row and five of their past seven to fall two games off wild-card pace. One team they are chasing, Pittsburgh, hosts Miami Friday through Sunday. Marlins need to take at least two of three to keep a grip on this thing.

Poll result: Strong Hall of Fame support for MLB's 'Purgatory Mount Rushmore': We asked if Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, and by nearly a 3-to-1 margin it was 51.5 percent saying yes to all four vs. 17.4 voting no to all four. Another 19.2% said yes to Rose but not the steroids guys, while 8.2% said yes to the 'roids guys but not Rose. The remaining 3.7% were undecided.

JoytaylorWELCOME TO THE BIG-TIME, JOY TAYLOR: Former Dolphin Jason Taylor's kid sister (pictured left, and I cannot explain that beam of orange light rising out of her head)) made a nice mark in South Florida as a 790 The Ticket radio morning co-host and since has landed nationally at Fox, where she'll soon be joining Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe on a still-unnamed FS1 morning show. With the big time comes increased attention, scrutiny and criticsim, of course, so it's no surprise awfulannouncing.com dug up some old Joy Tweets to produce this story under the headline, SKIP BAYLESS' NEW MODERATOR JOY TAYLOR ONCE CALLED HIM A 'STRAIGHT UP CARTOON' AND 'TROLL'. On the bright side, without question, Skip Bayless has been called much, much, much worse.

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

Twitter @gregcote