1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today calling out for Sunday's Random Evidence notes column. 2) Mentor LeBron James talks about rehabbing badboy Johnny Manziel; read it here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): National Signing Day and Canes with poll, betting updates for local teams, Super Bowl verdict, 'Dear Greg' & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Dolphins stadium re-design to include "living rooms": Ridiculous, but true. Click here to read. Remember when the game was the thing? When winning was plenty? When teams didn't need bells and whistles to attract fans?
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY POST-MORTEM ON CANES: The dust has settled (even though whenever people say that there invariably is no dust involved), the national rankings are in and opinions have gelled and are hardening. So: How'd the Miami Hurricanes and coach Al Golden do this week on National Signing Day? The big-four ratings are not too kind, with ESPN ranking the Canes' class 23rd, Rivals 26th, 247Sports 26th and Scout 34th. There were no 5-stars recruits and the 3's outnumbered the 4's. A staggering 14 de-commitments and only seven kids signed from the South Florida backyard also colored those rankings. I thought UM's class was better than it was ranked; click on The Ones That Got Away for my column. Canes really beefed up on the offensive line, for one. Some emailers are similarly upbeat but many others are not so, seeing this as the latest damnation of Golden. So let's throw it open to debate. I admit no school's recruiting class can be fairly judged for a couple of years, but that doesn't mean you can't have an immediate opinion. Take a dip in our poll and say why.
DESPITE WHITESIDE, HEAT IN PERIL: Chris Bosh after Wednesday's 102-101 loss at lowly Minnesota, the latest blown-lead defeat: "Things are slipping away from us." And they are. Slumping Miami now is the No. 8 East seed in hunt for eight playoff spots, a mere half-game ahead of Brooklyn. Dwyane Wade, Bosh and Luol Deng have missed a combined 28 games -- and counting, with Wade still out. What's doubly disappointing is that Miami is losing despite the monstrous arrival of 7-foot phenom Hassan Whiteside (pictured), who had 24 points, 20 rebounds, three steals and two blocks on 12-for-13 shooting last night. Mr. Brightside has 101 points, 92 boards and 23 blocks in his past six games. Still, disconcertingly, the Heat is only 7-16 in games Whiteside has played. (It's 5-7 when he plays 20-plus minutes). Get well soon, Dwyane.
LATEST MOCK-DRAFT GUESS FOR DOLPHINS: ESPN's Todd McShay is out with his Mock 2.0 -- oh thank God! -- and he has Miami selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (pictured) 14th overall. Drafting a CB first makes some sense if there is no inside-linebacker worth taking that high, although wide receiver still could be the target if Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline or both aren't back. McShay has Jameis Winston going No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay and Marcus Mariota falling to sixth and becoming a Stinkin' Jet.
Poll result: NSD coverage is excessive: My media brethren, take heed. We asked how readers feel about the mountainous coverage of National Signing Day, and 55.9 percent called it "excessive" while another 30.6% paid "little or no attention." Only 13.5% called the coverage "justified."
Check back often because we frequently update and add to our latest blogposts...
1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl review and poll, betting outlook for Dolphins and Canes & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
CANES CLASS NOT BAD, BUT LOW RANKINGS KEEP THE HEAT ON GOLDEN: I think UM's 2015 recruiting class is being underestimated on this National Signing Day, but the perception-is-reality thing -- its low rankings -- keeps the heat on coach Al Golden. Miami's class is ranked 24th by ESPN, 26th by Rivals and by 247Sports, and 34th by Scout, thanks to 14 de-commitments that left Golden scrambling. Click on The Ones That Got Away for my National Signing Day column, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.
THIS IS NOT YOUR 'NATIONAL SIGNING DAY' HEADQUARTERS: I rebel against the NSD mania that engulfs college football fans, ESPN and other media today. Don't get me wrong. The sport's equivalent of the NFL's draft and free agency is important -- an essential annual influx and replenishing. What I reject as absurd is the over-analysis and over-coverage of it. Hurricanes fans and others around the country will instantly choose elation or disappointment today based on the signing of a couple of dozen players they've mostly never heard of or seen play. Based on what? On the analysis and assigning of a star rating by self-anointed website experts such as Rivals.com, Scout.com and others whose opinions are regurgitated as gospel. It's mostly guesswork that usually takes a couple or three of years to fairly judge, yet by the end of the day today every college's recruiting class will be ranked, poll-style. One year ago ESPN ranked UM's class No. 10 in the nation. Which means ... who knows? The Canes had the nation's No. 1-ranked incoming class in 2008. And it meant nothing, really. In the 2010-11 seasons, when that glorious class should have been blossoming to greatness, UM was a combined 13-12. Anyway, enough of my rant. Tell us what you think of National Signing Day and why.
BETTING UPDATES ON HEAT, CANES, PANTHERS: Courtesy Bovada, Golden State (7-2) and up-trending Cleveland (15-2) are now nearly tied as faves to win the NBA title, with Heat now 100-1 (was 75-1). In the NHL, Anaheim and Chicago are co-faves at 6-1, with the Panthers now 100-1 (was 75-1). In men's NCAA hoops, Kentucky is even-odds to win it all, with Hurricanes at 200-1 (was 100-1). Best bet for a local player to win an individual honor: Cats' Aaron Ekblad stands third in NHL rookie of year odds at 3-1.
Poll result: Huge majority loved Super Bowl: We asked how this Super Bowl compared to most and 82.8 percent called it "better than average." Another 10.3% called it about the same, and 6.9% -- presumably Seahawks fans and losing bettors -- called it below average.
"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a creepy family portrait in which the Dad looks almost like a ventriloquist's dummy. Thank you!" Dear Reader: Hmm. Tough request, but let me see what I can do.
Check back often because we often update and add to our latest blogposts...
1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6. Thanks to Tony Kornheiser for having us on his radio show this morning. Only because I like you, Tony, would I talk that much about Bullygate. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden/confidence poll, D.Wade, Incognito/Martin mess plays on, Philip Seymour Hoffman & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.
CONFESSIONS OF A SOCCER FAN: "Hello, I'm Greg Cote. And I'm a soccer fan." That's right. During my college days at FAU I was a goalkeeper on the team. (Don't be impressed. It was a club team. I was the backup. In my only start, at FIT in Jensen Beach, I gave up eight goals). Friends and I would tailgate at Fort Lauderdale Strikers games circa 1977-78 and chant "Maauurriicce!" when Mo Whittle aligned to take a free kick. Just after that, covering the Strikers was the first big break in a cub reporter's Miami Herald career. During the last World Cup my son and I joined a red-white-and-blue crowd at a local Duffy's to watch U.S. matches, high-fiving strnagers when the Americans -- when we -- scored. All in between, I've been the guy at the party talking up/defending soccer if the conversation turned to how it would never really go over in this country. So, yeah, the fan in me is happy Miami will be getting a Major League Soccer team if ownership frontman David Beckham can see a stadium built. As I write in today's latest column -- click on Betting on Beckham to read -- the 1977-83 Strikers did not fail as much as the NASL collapsed all around them. Likewise the 1998-2001 MLS Miami Fusion did not fail in terms of support; bad ownership doomed that club. The way Miami supports international soccer and our market's TV ratings for the World Cup make us ripe for a new team. You can shake your head at the ridiculous circus always surrounding Beckham, but his aim is true in seeing Miami as an area perfect for a top-level soccer team. Of course, many may not agree. There are still plenty of folks at that party scoffing at soccer or simply ignoring it. I'm curioous about your thoughts. Take a dip in our poll and say why.
CHAD 'N BRAD TOP A PROMISING HURRICANES' RECRUITING CLASS: The Canes' Wednesday National Signing Day bounty is ranked No. 10 nationally by ESPN and No. 12 by Rivals.com. I laugh at the rush to immediately rank every school based on the inherently faulty guesswork on how a bunch of 18-year-olds might turn out. It is impossible, which is why I don't have a poll here for you to grade the class. Nevertheless, we all have initial impressions, and I think Miami did pretty well, all things considered. As coach Al Golden told me this week, 85 percent of the recruiting of this class was done before the NCAA ended its case and the cloud lifted, and these recruits played their entire high-school careers with UM still under investigation as they pondered their college choices. Next year's recruiting class truly will be Golden's first without shackles. What I like most about the Canes' 2014 bounty: They bring in five defensive linemen led by Chad Thomas (pictured left) who can make a big difference in an area of pressing need. Running back Joseph Yearby looks like a game-breaker to augment Duke Johnson. And QB Brad Kaaya (right) from Cali has the advertised skills to immediately challenge for the job Stephen Morris vacated.
Poll result: Confidence in UM's Golden is solid: In a poll that surrounded National Signing Day, we asked in the last blogpost for your confidence level in Al Golden seeing the Miami Hurricanes back to a championship level, and 40.3 percent said "very" conifident and 39.1% "somewhat" confident. The other 20.6% said "not" confident.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...
1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 6. A bluegrass band covers the song Rocket Man here. Astonishingly, it isn't bad. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Worst Super Bowl ever, SB '15 odds, why I'd picked Denver, Canton vote/poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.
Golden/Signing Day column: Click on Cloud Gone, Heat On for today's latest column by me, on UM football and coach Al Golden. The past-tense of the NCAA mess means the shaxckles are off, but that the pressure is on. As Golden begins to work on a levl playing field, we begin to judge him fairly.
GOLDEN HITS THE REFRESH BUTTON. NOW WHAT?: The NCAA scandal is finally past. So is the latest speculation that Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden might be leaving for Penn State or anywhere else. Now comes National Signing Day on Wednesday -- the first NSD that finds Golden unburdened, unshackled. UM expects a full incoming class that some early reports rate among the nation's top 10. But this unburdening means something else, too: It removes the excuses. It means we now get to see Golden work on a level playing field. As National Signing Day arrives and we see fresh meaning to the program's "Full Speed Ahead" marketing slogan, what is your confidence that Golden will see the Canes back to national prominence? Vote and say why.
THIS IS THE WADE THAT BEGETS A THREE-PEAT: The Dwyane Wade who scored 30 points with 10 rebounds in Monday's Heat win over Detroit -- that Wade, healthy throughout the playoffs, wins a third straight championship for Miami. Anything less is what lets Indiana and the West come into play.
Heat still the favorite: Updated NBA title odds today via Bovada show Heat still on top at 12-5, then Pacers 11-4, Thunder 15-4 and Spurs 10-1. Kevin Durant pulling away in the MVP race at 1-3; LeBron James next at 2-1.
AND THE INCOGNITO-MARTIN NONSENSE PLAYS SADLY ON...: The Dolphins' Bullygate scandal has turned into a sordid Vaudeville act. The latest: USA Today publishes hundreds of text-message exchanges between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin and the emerging picture is that the line has blurred between bully and victim. The emerging picture is that both were behaving like maturity-challenged juvenile delinquents with their talk of prostitutes and bitches and "sandpaper condoms," their references to drugs, their use of the n-word and "gay," their threats and vulgarity. The Ted Wells report on the NFL investigation of this is due any day now and can't come soon enough because it will hopefully signal the end of this embarrassing chapter in Dolphins history. What I have said before bears repeating: Good riddance to them both!
ON PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN: We learn a famous actor, only 46, has died suddenly and unexpectedly, but we don't immediately know how or why. What a tragedy, is the natural reaction. Then we find out it was a heroin overdose. That he played a role in his own death. Do we feel differently? Does the sorrow and sympathy change? Had Hoffman died of a heart attack, in an auto accident or hung himself, would our reaction be different? I'm not sure. I feel bad Hoffman has died. But would I feel even worse if he had been murdered? Maybe there are no right answers here. At least none that I have.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...
[1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8. Pictured here is the leaked cover of the upcoming 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. It's Kate Upton! Again! (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) 2) Miami Hurricanes today promoted interim athletic director Blake James to fulltime AD. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Young QBs poll, how UM lost Collins, Gangnam golfer, Heat Big 5@45, Larranaga's amazin' Canes. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
National Signing Sighing Day: Click on Absurdity Meets Excess for today's latest column by me, on the inherent lunacy of turning a signed letter of intent into a nationally televised spectacle.
GOLDEN LAUDS UM RECRUITING CLASS DESPITE "THE CLOUD OVER OUR HEAD": Hurricanes coach Al Golden spoke glowingly of his 16-player 2013 recruiting class signed Wednesday, the small number another
self-imposed penalty to perhaps lessen future NCAA sanctions. "It's a class we really had to fight for," Golden said. "I don't think anybody realizes what we've been up against [with] the cloud or the presence of the word 'sanctions.' The unknown is what's killing us and allowing us to be exposed to attack [by competing schools]. We were fighting with one arm behind our back." Golden half-kiddingly said the second question from every recruit or parent was the NCAA investigation, right after, "How are you doing?" Miami's class was ranked No. 21 in the nation, with fewere recruits than all but two schools ranked ahead of it. UM had a big win, a big loss and a weird sort of draw on Wednesday. The big win was Northeast WR Stacy Coley, the big loss was Booker T. Washington LB Matthew Thomas (to FSU), and the weirdness revolved around South Plantation RB Alex Collins. Collins had committed to Arkansas, but there was National SIgning Day drama as his mother refused to sign the letter of intent, wishing he would instead go to Miami. Collins' final decision is pending. Golden said Miami "may have room for one more" signing, but could not comment on Collins or his flux. Coley may be the prize of UM's class, along with QB Kevin Olsen, DE Al-Quadin Muhammad and Northwestern CB Artie Burns among eight four-star recruits in all. Less highly rated but also of note, of course, UM's 16 newest Hurricanes include Ray Lewis III, the son of the former Cane and newly minted Super Bowl champion, now retired.
LEBRON AND D-WADE'S 30-30 CLUB: LeBron James (32) and Dwyane Wade (31) each topped 30 points in a game this week for the 14th time in their 2 1/2 seasons together. Eight came the first season, four came last season and this was the second so far this season. Their most combined points when each tops 30 is 78 (LeBron 44, Wade 34) on Jan. 9, 2011. Next most is 71 three times, most recently March 14, 2012.
DUELING MOCKS: DOLPHINS TO TAKE RECEIVER NO. 1. OR A SAFETY: Mel Kiper Jr. in his newest mock draft has Miami taking Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson first, at 12th overall. ESPN mock rival Todd McShay has the Dolphins selecting Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. One of them may be right. Or both of them may be wrong. Or at least one of them may change their mind in future mocks. Science!
MARLINS LAND FOUR PROSPECTS IN TOP 100: The bright side: When you trade away your top players for prospects, in time your fram system feels the benefit. Miami's is ranked 16th of 30 teams entering this season, after being close to last a year earlier. The Marlins' four prospects rated in the Top 100 by ESPN.com are OF Christian Yelich (6th), RHP Jose Fernandez (16th), LHP Justin Nicolino (62nd) and OF Jake Marisnick (82nd).
Poll result: Luck a runaway for NFL's top young QB: We offered you a choice of seven passers with one or two years' experience and Andrew Luck dominated with 45.9 percent. Results otherwise reflected the great number of Dolphins fans among our readers. After Luck it was Ryan Tannehill 15.8%, Colin Kaepernick 15.5%, Robert Griffin III 11.5%, Russell Wilson 8.6%, Cam Newton 1.9%, Andy Dalton 0.6% and "other" 0.4%. I checked on votes from the state of Florida. The order was the same, though, interestingly, Luck's margin over Tannehill was slightly greater, at 47.2 to 14.6.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...
This is your National Signing Day headquarters! (Not really): Proudly, we won't have up-to-the second updates on whether, for example, the Hurricanes landed coveted long-snapper Lennay Tanktread of Surgery Prep, because we know that info is only available to you about a thousand other places including live on ESPN. However, later in the day, we will assemble all pertinent information and then -- after extensive research consisting of the Internet -- we'll assess how the Canes and others did. Stay tuned.
[1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6. Hey, sorry I'm late, y'all. Barack and I were off skeet-shooting. 2) Alex Rodriguez thinks he might be the victim of a conspiracy. Looky here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): How power outage saved Super Bowl, SB grades, TV, '14 odds. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
Yes, the Amazing Kreskin is still alive: His publicist informs us the Amazing Kreskin correctly predicted the Super Bowl winner. That puts Kreskin in the exclusive company of myself and about 86.3 million other people who also correctly picked Baltimore.
TANNEHILL AGAINST THE WORLD: NAME THE BEST YOUNG QB: Watching the Super Bowl the other night at my house with a small group, a friend remarked, of Colin Kaepernick: "(Ryan) Tannehill might become
really good, but he's not this guy." I said nothing but immediately thought: Blog poll! This is a Golden Age of Golden Young Arms in the NFL. Just look at the seven names in the poll. All meet my criteria: One or two years' NFL experience, and 25 years old or younger. (The "somebody else" category also might include, among others, Nick Foles, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder. Notes on three more: Sam Bradford is 25 but has played three pro years, Matthew Stafford turns 25 this week but has played four, and Brandon Weeden was a rookie this past season but is 29). Here is how impressive the poll names are: Tannehill might be last in some estimations, and he just passed for 3,294 yards as a rookie. You'll wish you had about five votes here but you only have one. So. Which young QB would you most want on your team? Vote and say why.
HOW AND WHY CANES LOST RB RECRUIT COLLINS TO ARKANSAS: I know folks at South Plantation High; was the baseball announcer there for several years. And I can tell you Miami didn't lose highly recruited
running back Alex Collins to Arkansas because of anything Al Golden's staff did wrong. I am told Collins' decision was based on two factors: 1) He had built up a strong relationship with Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, and when the coach moved to Arkansas (on Dec. 4, 2012) and took his Miami-area recruiter Charlie Partridge with him, Collins' thoughts immediately went with him to the Razorbacks because of that relationship. 2) The Southeastern Conference. Playing in America's premier college-football conference was something Miami and the ACC could not offer. Despite Miami's history of great running backs, Collins became convinced the SEC stage would better foster a future NFL career. A pretty major blow to UM's recruiting class as Wednesday's National Signing Day arrives.
PROFESSIONAL GOLFER DOES IT GANGNAM STYLE: It was James Hahn, on the green, after a birdie putt. Funny. Click here to watch.
HEAT BIG 5 @ 45: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so we started this new one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's a top-five cumulative
ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 45 Games (31-14):
Rank (@40) Player Total
1 (1) LeBron James 1,711.1
2 (2) Dwyane Wade 1,139.6
3 (3) Chris Bosh 1,087.5
4 (4) Ray Allen 687.5
5 (5) Mario Chalmers 665.6
Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 454.1
Heat's subtle early lobbying to re-sign LeBron: LeBron James can leave in free agency after next season, in 2014, and one way Miami hopes to keep him is simply to show constant appreciation, publicly and privately. "To never, ever take him or what he does for granted," as coach Erik Spoelstra likes to say. Two nights ago James scored 31 points on a career-best, near-perfect 13-for-14 shooting. The consistency of his excellence can make it seem routine; Spoelstra's constant praise fights that. James telling ESPN.com last week he doesn't feel he gets enough credit for taking less money to be here did not surprise Heat officials. As one member of the front-office staff told me, "LeBron likes to be appreciated."
LARRANAGA'S AMAZING HURRICANES:[Update: UM steamrolled visiting Boston College last night, Miami's 10th straight win to go 9-0 in the ACC] Original post: I try to avoid hyperbole. Don't use words like "amazing" often.
But Jim Larranaga's Miami men are 17-3, have won nine in a row, have risen to a program-best-tying No. 8 in the national polls, and are 8-0 in the ACC -- the first team other than Duke or North Carolina to do that since 1981. Yes: that's pretty amazing. I spoke to Larranaga yesterday for today's column. Being a head coach in the ACC had been a lifelong ambition of his. Even when he gained national attention leading George Mason to the Final Four in 2006, he had not arrived to where he wanted to go. Now, in his second season here in the ACC, Larranaga is proving he belongs. He is proving to be the perfect man to win big and also to grow college basketball in what has never been a hotbed. Click on Fulfilling A Dream for the full column.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...
[1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 26. Pat White signs minor-league deal with Marlins. Bill Parcells ... VINDICATED! 2) Prince has new song called Screwdriver and you'd click the word to see and hear. I like Prince and the song. Not a big fan of the naughty use of the word screw, but the music is percussive with nice bass. 3) Much flap over Beyonce lip-synching at presidential inauguration, but outcry was misdirected. Don't blame the singers for trying to make it easy on themselves. Blame the hiring party -- Super Bowl, inaugural committee, etc. -- that fails to insist on a live, real performance. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM crushes Duke, NCAA probe tainted, Miami's All-Star Game fiasco. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
BOSH-FOR-HOWARD DEAL IS PLAUSIBLE. BUT IS IT SMART?: I didn't start this rumor. Heck, ESPN.com
lists seven teams to whom a Dwight Howard trade would make some sense, and has Miami first. The trade would work financially as a straight-up deal. The Lakers could be interested because Howard -- beyond his health and attitude issues -- has not been an ideal fit in L.A. to say the least. Chris Bosh would work in the Lakers' offense better, lending an outside presence and allowing Pau Gasol to work closer to the basket. The Heat could theoretically be interested, too, in that Howard is younger and could provide the low-post presence and defensive rebounding that is lacking. For Miami, especially, though, the trade would be a gamble. It could become a chemistry issue, and it would rely on Howard's full health and his willingness to be the Heat's third scoring option. Don't get this wrong: Am not advocating a trade or even remotely predicting it might happen. Mavericks and Rockets seem likelier landing spots if L.A. made a deal. Worth considering, though, that's all. And discussing. Have a vote and say why.
LeBron's joyful tackle: LeBron James is still a big kid at heart in ways most pro athletes aren't, and that showed last night when he ran out to tackle a fan who'd just won $75,000 by making a halfcourt shot during a break in the Heat game. Click HERE for the brief video. Call this the latest step in the transformation of LeBron's national reputation since it hit rock bottom with The Decision in 2010. [Note: Heat Big 5@40 coming in new blogpost on Sunday].
TOP 10 SUPER BOWL STORYLINES YOU'LL BE SICK OF: [Note: I rarely republish in the blog what is in print but make an exception here because the column below appears in the newspaper under such a
godawful don't-read-me headline ('Lewis top Super Bowl story line') that I feel most readers ran from screaming from it. So here it is...]
I would describe Super Bowl Week — not the game itself, but the buildup to it — thusly: Thousands of journalists bound by custom and formula all writing and saying basically the same things while trying unsuccessfully to repackage them for an audience that not only has already heard these stories, but is sick enough of them to scream.
In other words, pretty much what I am doing right here with my Super Bowl Week primer, a list of top 10 story lines, a national cheat sheet for my media brethren set to descend locust-like upon New Orleans for the upcoming 49ers-Ravens game.
1. RAY LEWIS: Baltimore’s great linebacker (and ex-Hurricane) will be at the emotional epicenter of this game, a role for which he is insanely well suited. Ray is a baller. I don’t just mean once the game
starts. He’s bawling during the national anthem, pulling muscles with his squirrel dance and giving pregame speeches so fiery the field under his feet is left charred and smoldering. Your Friend the Media will plumb the soul of the Canton-bound Lewis and wonder aloud if he is the greatest defensive player ever. Coverage of him mostly will be breathlessly rosy, although some — the Serious Journalists Who Know It Isn’t All Fun and Games — will be unable to resist the temptation to revisit the 2000 murder indictment, later dismissed in exchange for Ray’s testimony against two other men. (These same Serious Journalists also will be writing densely this week about the league’s concussion crisis, a story no less important because nobody cares to read about it.) My hope? After a million floral retrospectives and odes to Lewis’ swan song have been reverently crafted, Ray casually mentions the day after the game that he has changed his mind and isn’t retiring, after all.
2. THE HARBAUGHS: Bro Bowl! Har-Bowl! Super Baugh! This has not been reported anywhere else, to my knowledge, but apparently Jim and John Harbaugh will be the first head coach brothers ever to duel
in a Super Bowl. And oh how the media swoons with enchantment! Father and former longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh, 73, will be more popular in New Orleans next week than beignets at Café Du Monde. Mom Jackie will need a phalanx of bodyguards to fend off the rush of reporters all seeking warm memories of a Harbaugh childhood, and tears, if she wouldn’t mind. For an offshoot, there also will be much contrasting and comparing of the Harbaughs with the N’Awlins-based Mannings: Peyton, Eli and patriarch Archie. (It’s why I have bought stock in media use of the phrase “first family of football.”) My hope? A major news outlet (thinking Yahoo!) will have the exclusive, intriguing interview with heretofore unknown third brother Jasper Harbaugh, but it will turn out Jasper never existed and was the work of the same guy who duped Manti Te’o.
3. BOUNTYGATE: A Super Bowl held in New Orleans the season of the Saints’ crippling Bountygate scandal and resulting penalties will spawn a thousand reheated analyses. (Not to mention vicious postgame booing of Roger Goodell as he presents the Vince Lombardi Trophy.)
4. 'MEDIA DAY': This is the one day during Super Bowl Week when both teams appear in the stadium and thousands of media members swarm upon them. The occasion is such that an
investment in media references to “circus atmosphere” might be prudent. This event is renowned for the Wacky Foreign Journalist, typically a Mexican radio bombshell in a low-cut wedding dress asking the quarterbacks to marry her, and also for the Adorable Kid Reporter, typically a 12-year-old there for Nickelodeon who gets ushered to the front of the line by handlers rudely elbowing through the crowd of legitimate journalists. This also is where hundreds of columnists looking for an easy day on account of a tee time lament the “media excess” and “circus atmosphere” of Media Day, unbothered by the irony that they are contributing to that excess by writing about it.
5. KAEPERNICK/FLACCO: It is mandatory a Super Bowl’s quarterbacks be the focus of the perspective-laden piece placing each man in an historical context, a formula challenging this time because neither
one has been in a Super Bowl before. (Or, as we in the media love to write and say: “On this stage before.”) The peg for Raven Joe Flacco: Is he “elite”? This will be the game that anoints or denies him. Unless perhaps the Ravens win even though Joe had a really crappy game, in which case a reevaluation of the word elite might be necessary. The peg for San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick: The Breath of Fresh Air. Nine games ago, this guy was most known for his tattoos, but now he’s a pass/run wunderkind. Watch an enterprising columnist visit a New Orleans tattoo parlor (say, Tats ’R Us) to discuss Kaepernick’s body art with an eclectic local ink god — only to discover that 14 other enterprising columnists are there doing the same thing.
6. FOOTBALL VS. REAL LIFE: This is the staple annual theme piece for the beyond-sports, big-picture
journalist (thinking Mitch Albom, or perhaps Jeremy Schaap) who delights to juxtapose the extravagance and partying that surround a Super Bowl with the poverty being endured by real folks just blocks away. Any host city offers this contrast, dare say New Orleans more than most. This is where the serious writer notes that champagne, lobster and shrimp the size of kittens are being served at the Commissioner’s Party while, six blocks away, a family of 11 displaced by Hurricane Katrina lives in squalor battling over a can of tuna. (If the actual conditions are not quite squalor, well, this is why God invented embellishment!)
7. O.J. BRIGANCE: Most of the tear-jerk stories will center on Lewis’ farewell and on the Har-Bros, but
here is the real deal. Brigance, 43, is a former Ravens linebacker who now works in the club’s front office. He suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), is wheelchair-bound and speaks through a computerized voice. Lewis calls him his and the team’s biggest inspiration. Bonus: Brigance played four seasons for the Dolphins (1996-99), so he qualifies to fill the coveted Hometown Angle role for South Florida reporters trying to “localize” the Super Bowl for their readers.
8. THE 'OTHER' EX'S: Here’s another Hometown Angle for the Miami guys to plumb. Stock premise:
“Ray Lewis is getting all the attention, but …” Baltimore safety Ed Reed and tackle Bryant McKinnie are other prominent ex-Miami Hurricanes for the Ravens, along with injured running back Damien Berry and receiver Tommy Streeter. For the 49ers, running back Frank Gore is a major player, and linebacker Tavares Gooden is a reserve. Oh, and of course Ted Ginn Jr., former Dolphins No. 1 draft pick, is a return guy for the Niners, so we’ll be looking for local reporters to invite a gloating Ginn to complain how he never got a fair shot here.
9. RANDY MOSS: A thousand stories and sound bites all will portray the Niners backup receiver and once-controversial figure as the “forgotten superstar” of this Super Bowl. Even though he obviously isn’t forgotten at all if so many people are writing and talking about him.
10. LOCAL FLAVOR: These is where media folks sent to New Orleans on the company dime justify the expenditure and prove to their bosses they aren’t covering the game from
their hotel bar by venturing into the city and filing descriptive “color pieces.” These would include the aromatic Cajun cuisine of Bourbon Street, the buoyant brass of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, casual use of the words “gris-gris” or “hoodoo,” and (almost certainly) a requisite tarot-card reading. A journalist’s research would likely also include three or four Hurricane cocktails at Pat O’Brien’s, a fact that would be omitted from one’s “color piece” but be deftly hidden on one’s expense report. That last thing is pure speculation, of course. I’m not speaking from experience or anything.
AL GOLDEN'S "HOMELAND SECURITY" STRATEGY: I find Al Golden's two most recent Hurricanes football hires to be good ones, but more than that interesting ones, for the same reason. James Coley, the
new offensive coordinator (from FSU, pictured top) and Mario Cristobal, assistant head coach/tight ends (from FIU, bottom) have this in common: Recruiting. It is a clear strength of both men, especially in South Florida. Cristobal is born and raised here and tapped in with local schools. Coley is a Miami High alum whose first coaching job was at Norland; ESPN has named him top recruiter in the ACC. I mentioned this coincidence to a
source in the football program. "But it isn't a coincidence. It's our 'Homeland Security' plan," the source said, the phrase his, not Golden's. "Al wants to dominate [recruiting] in Dade and Broward." That's especially true now as the school faces possible scholarship limits by the NCAA in the Nevin Shapiro case. If you don't have quantity, the quality had better be that much greater. The strategy to dominate in your bounteous backyard also sounds to me like a head coach digging in and planning to stay awhile. Golden and Cristobal were at the basketball arena with guest recruits during UM's big win over No. 1 Duke -- a result and ambience that could only have helped Canes recruiting leading to next month's signing day. And sitting right next to UM's current star running back Duke Johnson was the player Miami hopes follows in Duke's footsteps: South Plantation's heavily recruited Alex Collins. My guy coined the new reemphasis on South Florida as 'Homeland Security.' I might call it fencing in the backyard. Either way, Coley and Cristobal are smart hires to help Golden and UM get there.
SUPER BOWL PROP BETS (NORMAL AND NOT SO MUCH): There are hundreds. Some betting favorites that interested us, courtesy Bovada: MVP--Colin Kaepernick 7-4. First TD--Frank Gore 13-2. Alice Keys national anthem--2 minutes 15 seconds. Coaches' postgame handshake/bro-hug--7.5 seconds. Times word "Harbaugh" mentioned during game on telecast--20.5. TV rating/viewers--46/111 million. MVP thanks first--Teammates 5-4. (Sorry, God. You're at 5-2).
Click back. Will be updating/adding much more to this latest blogpost...
UM WINS TRACY HOWARD SWEEPSTAKES, CLAIMS TOP-10 CLASS: Tracy Howard (pictured), the elite cornerback from the backyard, Miramar High, chose Miami over Florida and FSU in a nationally televised announcement this morning. Howard was the most prominent South Florida football player not yet committed and is a huge National Signing Day prize for the Canes -- one that elevated UM's 2012 recruiting class into the No. 10 spot nationally in ESPN's rankings. Howard's announcement came in his school auditorium, cheers erupting as he pulled on a UM cap and touched his thumbs together in the familar "U" sign. "Why not win in my city and my hometown?" Howard said. "Why not do it here?" A big, big victory for coach Al Golden and the Canes. Howard is the sixth Canes recruit rated in the ESPN Top 150, and the highest ranked at 18th. The others: RB/CB Duke Johnson, Miami Norland (35th); WR Angelo Jean-Louis, Palm Beach Central (41st); DE Tyriq McCord, Tampa Jefferson (96th); S Deon Bush, Miami Columbus (101st); and WR Malcolm Lewis, Miramar (145th). All in all, a big day for Miami considering the school was recruiting under the cloud of likely NCAA sanctions ahead. How do you feel about UM's new recruiting class? Hey, here's a poll! I know, I don't like instant grades, either. So just think of it as a statement of your level of excitement over this class, all things considered. Vote now.
ANGELO DUNDEE, R.I.P.: Legendary boxing trainer Angelo Dundee passed away at 90 in a Clearwater hospital last night after a heart attack, family at his side. Dundee shaped Muhammad Ali's career; they are pictured here way back when. Dundee stands with the fight doctor, Ferdie Pacheco, as kings of Miami's heydays in the sweet science, days when the 5th Street Gym reigned. Farewell, Angelo.
SUPER BLOG THURSDAY: PRAY FOR TOMMY: Supermodel and superwife Giselle Bundchen, a.k.a. Mrs. Tom Brady, sent an email to family and friends that became privvy to the nefarious media. "I feel Tommy really needs our prayer, our support and love at this time," it partly read. Tommy! Giselle is pictured. Should the Patriots lose Sunday, think of it as one of the better consolation prizes out there. Or perhaps two of the better consolation prizes. (I didn't just say that did I?) Two other quick Super Blog Thursday thoughts: 1) EA Sports' annual SB simulation, using Madden NFL '12, has the Giants winning, 27-24, so why play the actual game? 2) The National Chicken Council reports 1.25 billion wings will be eaten Sunday. And that's just by me!
SUPER BLOG WEDNESDAY: MADONNA, ELTON: Madonna, oldish but aging well, is Sunday's Super Bowl halftime performer and her setlist is revealed! Reportedly Madge's 12-minute show will find her lip syncing singing a new song, "Gimmie All Your Luvin," the classics "Ray Of Light and "Vogue," as well as samples of "Music" and Holiday." Meanwhile, the commercials are always a favorite part of the Super Bowl -- according to the people who produce Super Bowl commercials -- and among them Sunday will be a new Pepsi ad featuring Elton John as a king. This would be the same Elton whose feud with Madonna included him recently exhorting her to "lip sync good" on Sunday. Elton is pictured here in a still from the new ad. (Love your music, Sir, but you are one strange, strange man).
A LITTLE R-E-S-P-E-C-T FOR MATT MOORE, PLEASE?: I'm talkin' to you, Brandon Marshall. But not just to you. Click on Chopped Liver for the column by me (and thanks for making it the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com today). See, the Dolphins' opportunities to upgrade their quarterback situation are few, and risky. They almost certainly won't trade up to draft Robert Griffin III. Peyton Manning is looking more and more doubtful for medical reasons. Matt Flynn stands as the likeliest path, but he is unproven with all of two career starts. The options after those three are marginal free agents and lower-ranked draftees. Don't write off Moore just yet. That's all.
MY BLOG READERS VS. STATEWIDE VOTERS: In my Republican primary poll (a few posts back), rounded results were Mitt Romney 48 percent, Ron Paul 25, Newt Gingrich 19, Rick Santorum 9. In Tuesday's statewide vote it was Romney 46, Gingrich 32, Santorum 13, Paul 7. The big difference: More Paulies here, fewer Newts. That's OK.
LEBRON AND HIS BICYCLE: Heat star LeBron James made big news for bicycling (pictured) the 40 minutes or so from his home to the downtown arena for the recent game vs. the Bulls. I'd be more impressed if he biked last night's game: Heat at Milwaukee. Postscript: LeBron scores 24 in first quarter, Heat lead by as many as 18, but somehow lose to Bucks. Miami forming a reputation for rising for the glamor opponents but sometimes coasting vs. the lesser foes. LeBron, though, has been consistent and consistently great. What a season he is having!
PANTHERS' PASS HUGE TEST: It was overshadowed by National Signing Day and the Heat playing, but the Florida Panthers' 4-2 home win over the Washington Capitals last night was the game of the year so far for the Cats -- one for first place in the NHL Southeast. Bulls-at-Heat the other day was billed as a big statement game but it was false drama; those teams will meet again in the playoffs and everybody knows it. With Caps-at-Cats, this was a truer declarative for the Panthers, who must win the division or risk continuing the club's long playoff drought.
TERRELL OWENS BROKE: Terrell Owens says he is broke (story here) after making more than $80 million in his NFL career. The national group, People Who Feel Sorry For T.O., will be meeting tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.
Click back. Will be adding to and updating this latest blogpost throughout the day...
[Bulletin: Cote on TV ... run for your lives! I sincerely believe Marconi invented the radio 100 years ago as a preemptive strike to lessen the chances my mug would ever appear on TV. But I'll be on WFOR (CBS4) tonight/Saturday from 7-7:30 on Kim Bokamper's Sportszone. Watch if you dare].
New stuff, all free and just for you...
Carey re-ups with Dolphins: The Dolphins signed right tackle Vernon Carey to a contract extension. I'd written what a strange decision it was to not to use the franchise tag by this week's deadline to assure keeping either the ex-Cane Carey or safety Yeremiah Bell. Now at least Carey is tied down, while Bell still could be lost to free agency. Offensive line and secondary are not areas where this team would be wise to pinch pennies.
Calling cousin Yuri!:So that's it, huh media?We locate Alex Rodriguez's mysterious, steroids- injecting cousin in Miami, identify him as one Yuri Sucart, and now what? Hound the guy? Chase him down? Force his public confession? Give him a book deal? Guess what, fellow journalists. Leave him alone. It wasn't his fault. A-Rod (pictured) has made two mis-plays since being forced to admit he used steroids. One was to claim he never knew they were steroids. (Hee haw!) The other was to blame his youth and naivete. C'mon! Alex was born and raised in this country and was 26 and entering his eighth major-league season when he started using. Maybe you play the young-and-naive card if you're 18 and fresh from the Dominican speaking no English. But that excuse don't play for A-Rod. Sorry. [Bonus fact exclusive to this blog: There is a family of plants commonly called Aroids. Seriously. Learn more by visiting the website of the International Aroid Society].
UM should bite bullet and show Bryce Brown patience: So far there is no verification of reports that coach Randy Shannon imposed a Wednesday deadline and now will not renew Miami's scholarship offer to the nation's No. 1 running back recruit over concerns Brown is being arrogant or selfish. Which is good. UM could use Brown and should be willing to indulge some of his drama. Agreed? Or are you fed up? Take a dip in our poll:
[Thanks once more. The above is our 52nd blogpoll to surpass 1,000 votes].
D-Wade strikes back: Dwyane Wade is suing his estranged wife and her two lawyers over their claims he infected her with a sexually transmitted disease from an extramarital affair. Sounds like a righteous suit if the charges were false. I have a feeling Wade is going to weather this off-court personal storm and come out OK.
Broward jury loses mind, awards $8 million:A Broward County jury has ruled against Philip Morris USA and awarded $8 million to the family of a man who died from lung cancer after 40 years of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. The suit alleged the tobacco-maker concealed the health effects and addictive nature of cigarettes. ARE YOU [BLEEPIN'] KIDDING ME!?!? Man, do I want THAT jury if I ever sue anybody! I mean, seriously, OK? I am sorry for the family's loss, but you smoke cigs for 40 years and then blame the cigarette? There's a little concept called "personal responsibility." There's also a little thing on every pack of cigarettes called a health-warning label.
Women's tennis blows it: The WTA erred big-time by continuing to play a tournament in Dubai after Israeli player Shahar Peer was denied entry because of her nationality. That's outrageous. It's the equivalent of a country denying entry to Serena and Venus because they are black and the WTA playing there anyway.
OUTRAGE OVER CONTROVERSIAL SANDWICH SHUTS RESTAURANT
Faked-Up News (FUN) -- A restaurant has been forced to close after several customer complaints about a sandwich on the menu called "Baby on 'Weck." Said one outraged diner: "I don't come to a restaurant to be bothered by all that crying." The establishment's owner defended the sandwich and further denied allegations that babies also are utilized in helping produce the restaurant's popular microbrew, Pale Tinkle.
Racist cartoon: You may have noticed. I am not easily offended. I tend to offend more than take offense. (See 'Baby on 'Weck). But I must say I think the New York Post owes an explanation and an apology for the racist cartoon pictured here. It is difficult to read or see the cartoon and not think President Obama is being compared to a chimpanzee. Awful.
Dear Pep Boys...: Have you heard the new Pep Boys radio ad for their tire sale? It makes a presidential play on words and refers to "Oval Offers." Hmm. Do you think the ad guy who dreamed up that one realizes that an "oval" shape (pictured) is not the same as a "round" shape (like a tire)? I tried oval tires on my car once and the ride was nauseous.
Check back. Adding more stuff later. Maybe even Dolphins and sports stuff!
Back after a couple of days' mental rehab necessitated by a severe case of XLIIIitis...
Waiting on Bryce Brown: Click on Grade-A Looking for A-Plus for my column today (shipping to Thursday's paper) on UM's National Signing Day and the continuing mystery surrounding top recruit Bryce Brown, the running back from Wichita. Then take a dip in our poll. I have purposely included no grade below C expressly and entirely to frustrate the haters.
[Congrats. The above was our 48th blogpoll to surpass 1,000 votes in its first day].
National Shining Day/National Whining Day: Today is National Signing Day, when high-school football stars from coast to coast commit to colleges. By "commit" I mean pledge themselves to that college for their entire collegiate career or until playing-time issues lead their fathers to have them transfer in a bitter huff. Some schools will be shining today, winning instant high grades in a knee-jerk analysis that may or may not prove accurate. Other schools' fans will be whining over the supposedly committed stars who got away.
For me National Signing Day is the most overblown day in sports, turned into an "event" by the Internet, by the myriad of sad websites that heap a premature national spotlight (and un-do) pressure on teenagers. This begins the entitlement cycle that convinces athletes they are extraordinarily special and should be treated as such.
Despite my bad attitude I recognize that NSD is important to schools and to many fans and welcome thoughts here on the recruiting bounties of UM and others.
Welcome to the Planet Urdreaming: A new planet discovered 457 light-years away is described by scientists as "small and Earth-like." Similarities aside, the I hear the other planet is superior in one way: There, the teachers make $6 million a year and the pro athletes make $60,000.
Greatest Super Bowl ever?: Steelers over Cardinals 27-23 should be in anybody's top-five and the arguyment for No. 1 is strong. My only hesitation is that through three-plus quarters with Pittsburgh coasting at 20-7, it wasn't very special at all except for James Harrison's 100-yard dash. XLIII needs to be in the greatest-ever conversation, though, although with Namath's guarantee, the Pats denied perfection just a year earlier, and a select few others.
Porn interupts telecast as game climaxes: That reminds me. In Tucson, about 30 seconds of a porn film, featuring full male nudity, interupted the Super Bowl with about three minutes left. Click here for the story. Comcast is offering a $10 check to viewers who were traumatized. Does that mean viewers who were delighted owe a check to Comcast?
How badly do you want those pigeons?: Click here to find out.
Near-drowning during NBA halftime show: Click here for story and video.
The Michael Phelps pot poll: I sort of think it's much ado about very little and that even Olympic champions are allowed their imperfections. But I know others feel the opposite, and strongly. You?
Scrambling for free eggs: So Denny's gave away free Grand Slam breakfasts yesterday. Let me ask you this: How [bleeping] cheap do you have to be to stand in a long line for a long time among other cheapskates, homeless people and bums* for a $4 plate of food? It's a rhetorical question. (*Homeless people are beset by honest circumstance and doing what they can to get back on their feet. Bums are on the street on account of their own choices and lack of ambition).
Flight of the Conchords: Anybody but me into this band and TV show? Great news. Just heard they'll be performing at UM's BankUnited Center on April 7.
Will refresh this post with a National Signing Day update later today along with other new stuff, so click back.