February 02, 2017

Canes, Richt score big with recruits. The names that jump out; plus The Luddite's MVP Standings for red-hot Heat through 50 games, latest Super Bowl With a Smirk (Goodell sacked), Hot Button Daily, your Barkley-LeBron beef verdict & more


1) It is THURSDAY, February 2. I'm back at Friday Page World Headquarters for the last time this season working up my Super Bowl pick. Anybody got a coin? 2) A new Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Barkley-LeBron beef poll, Super Bowl With a Smirk second edition, updated betting odds, new Back In My Day video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

RICHT SCORES BIG WITH CANES RECRUITING, AND ONE NAME JUMPS OUT: Miami scored the nation's 12th-ranked recruiting class (according to ESPN) this week in the first full shot for Mark JeffthomasRicht after last year's late arrival and scramble, and he wasn't lying yesterday in saying, "We nailed it." UM's 24 recruits  (11 are from South Florida) include 13 four-star rated guys, and 10 from the ESPN 300. The name that jumps out, for me, is fleet receiver Jeff Thomas (pictured), who had not been committed to UM and was a huge late get, favoring the Canes over A-list suitors including Alabama. Thomas will pair with Ahmmon Richards to form a dynamic wideout set for whomever emerges this spring as Brad Kaaya's replacement at quarterback. And that should be a great competition with four legit contenders. I also like that The U really beefed up its offensive line, including behemoth 6-6, 375-pound Navaughn Donaldson from Miami Central. He is bigger than my refrigerator. UM's defensive line looks to be pretty great with the notable addition of pass rusher D.J. Johnson. UM still seems a bit thin to me at running back, but in the overall I really like this incoming class and the job Richt and company did. With 14 of 22 starters returning and a near-Top 10 class arriving for a team that finished 9-4 with an impressive bowl win, this is a program on the upswing. Florida State and Clemson remain gigantic hurdles for UM in the ACC; still, Miami should be an improved team with a steady polls presence in 2017.

LATEST 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK': GOODELL SACKED, SMOKING WITH DITKA, RYAN LEAF, UNCLE MORT: Smirk returns with our third of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

Smirk Sb51NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual pre-Super Bowl "state of the league" news conference in Houston on Wednesday, and, really, it seemed to go fabulously well for him.

There was not a single uncomfortable question put to him, with the exception of the Chargers bolting San Diego, the Raiders trying to move to Vegas, lower TV ratings, the refugee travel ban, concussions and brain injuries, the broad perception of diminished quality of play — oh, almost forgot! — and the likelihood that Sunday night he’ll be forced to hand the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady after dodging the Patriots for two years over Deflategate.

Quarterbacks under constant sack siege face less pressure. By the end of the 75-minute grilling Goodell’s wingtips were covered by a rising puddle of his own sweat.

At one point, as yet another Deflategate-related question whizzed at him like shrapnel, Goodell said he has "no doubt" that if he were to attend a Patriots game in Foxborough he would be "welcomed."

Whatever he said next could not be detected above the massive roar of braying laughter that could be heard 1,600 miles away in New England.

(*) In college football, Wednesday was National Signing Day, when teams collect their latest bounty. In the NFL it was National Sighing Day, the dead middle of Super Bowl Week, when fans already are tired of the buildup but resigned to more of it.

Stubhub(*) You could spend up to $112,000 on a single Super Bowl ticket on StubHub on Wednesday. If Smirk is spending that much for one seat, there had better been an envelope stuffed with about $111,500 waiting on that seat.

(*) The NFL announced Wednesday that the Patriots and Raiders would play a regular-season game in Mexico next season if they can manage to scale Trump’s wall.

Ditkacigar(*) Celebrity parties are as big a part of Super Bowl Week as the game itself, according to party planners, and Mike Ditka and Ron Jaworski co-host one Thursday: "Cigars With the Stars." Sounds like fun, other than the choking cigar smoke and the dreadful possibility of inadvertently having to converse with either Ditka or Jaworski.

(*) NFL security officials are warning about counterfeit tickets. If, for example, the ticket you bought seems extraordinarily small and reads, "AMC Theaters/La La Land/Admit One," it might not be a bonafide Super Bowl ticket.

(*) A group called MVPIndex ranks most valuable NFL players on social media and says Julian Edelman, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski rank 10th, 14th and 20th overall, while the top Falcon, Julio Jones, is 47th. Hmm. Edelman ahead of Brady? Are you drunk, MVPIndex?

(*) Friday is the 26th annual NFL Foundation/NFL Legends Super Bowl Golf Tournament. One of the team captain "legends" is Ryan Leaf. Oh, how I wish I were making that up.

(*) In an NFL initiative, Houston Habitat For Humanity rebuilt a home Wednesday despite derisive heckling from members of bitter rival group Rebuilding Together. OK, I made up that second part.

Gaga(*) Super Bowl halftime performer Lady Gaga said in a revealing interview that she would not reveal much about her planned show. People are betting on which song she’ll sing first. Smirk could not care less but is hoping for a wardrobe malfunction.

(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Have those plastic zip ties and duct tape ready again just in case Uncle Mort gets belligerently sloppy-drunk before kickoff like last year.

Click Smirk I and Smirk II for this week's previous Smirks.

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (50 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 offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 20-30 on nine straight wins after last night's over Atlanta, here's The Luddite's 10th installment, with 45-game rank in parentheses. Dragic, by the way, has narrowed his deficit to Whiteside from 216 points to 129 in past five games. 

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (50 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,402

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,273

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             893

4. James Johnson (4)           891

5. Dion Waiters (5)              691

6. Rodney McGruder (7)     493

7. Josh Richardson (6)         483

8. Willie Reed (8)               444

9. Wayne Ellington (10)     439

10. Justise Winslow (9)       355

Others: Luke Babbitt 295, Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 231, Udonis Haslem 64, Okaro White 53.

Poll result: LeBron most to blame in Barkley beef: We asked who's most wrong and it was 65.4 percent for LeBron James' personal-attack response and 13.2% for Charles Barkley calling LeBron whiny. Another 14.3% said neither because both had a point, and 7.1% said both are equally to blame.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-2-17: What events on the Thursday, Feb. 2 sports calendar (a very light day) interest South Florida fans most:

1. Golden State at Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m.: Warriors pounded Clips by 46 last week.

2. Missouri at Florida, 7 p.m.: Gators men's team is ranked No. 24.

3. Hurricanes at Wake Forest, 7 p.m.: UM women take their No. 16 ranking on road.

4. Phoenix Open, all day: First round of PGA Tour event.

5. "This Was the XFL", 9 p.m.: ESPN's debuts latest 30 For 30 doc.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Twitter @gregcote


February 06, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk V: Parties rage, Goodell dabs, Lombardi sings, (Florida) Panthers vs. Broncos; plus Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum, our SB 50 pick, Smirk IV, your verdict on Canes recruiting & more


1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6. In The Previous Blogpost: National Signing Day with how-Canes-did poll, Super Bowl With a Smirks II and III, updated NBA/NHL title odds & more. 1Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

The Super Bowl's hidden key matchup: Click on Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum for today's latest column by me. I write how the game could come down to whether Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula or Denver defensive chief Wade Phillips gets the better of the other. A generation ago their fathers, Don Shula and Bum Phillips, also famously dueled.

Canton calling: Pro Football Hall of Fame will reveal its 2016 inductees during the NFL Honors show tonight. Ex-Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James is the only former Cane or Dolphin on the balot but is expected to fall short. Beyond certain first-ballot inductee Brett Favre, others with the best shot to make it are Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene and Tony Dungy.

"So great seeing retired Herald legend (and one of my mentors) Edwin Pope back in the paper yesterday with a Miami Super Bowl memories column. Had to be an unexpected treat for lots of surprised readers, like happening upon a family heirloom you thought you'd lost." --Greg Cotexx

SUPER BOWL 50 PREDICTION: UPSET! DEFENSE RULES, BRONCOS WIN: Carolina is 17-1 and favored by 5 1/2 points, which is a lot. Denver has a fading, hobbly quarterback about to turn 40. Get all of that. But still like Broncos in an upset because I don't think Peyton Manning will need to play hero Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. I think his defense will do that for him. Fripix"AAAWWWK!" crows the Upset Bird, even though he's only supposed to appear during the regular season. "Peyton Maaawwwk! Omahaawwk!" A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, "The masses are asses." He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in the Golden SB — Denver not only covering the point spread but beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. The irony of Manning in what could be his final career game is that most of the winning will be done with him on the sideline if his defense takes charge as I believe it will. My pick: Broncos, 23-20.

ESPN experts overwhelmingly like Panthers: ESPN polled 70 of its NFL experts on who'll win the Super Bowl and it was 53-17 for Carolina, or 75.7 percent. Notables for underdog Denver (meaning people I'd heard of): Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Suzy Kolber, Todd McShay, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth and Trey Wingo.

SMIRK V: EXCESS REACHES CRESCENDO WITH REGAME PARTIES: Here is the last of five Super Bowl With a Smirk columns for 2016: You know the Super Bowl is getting really close when the biggest parties are happening. Hey, is that Snoop Dogg? Look, it’s a Kardashian! A Super Bowl city on the eve of the Big Game is when you might hear someone shout, “Ludacris!” and not be Smirk Playboypartysure if they spotted the rapper or were commenting on the absurdity of it all. Playboy’s 16th annual Super Bowl party happened Friday night under a 35,000-square-foot tent erected in the parking lot of the Giants baseball stadium. At the party they handed out the first issue of the new-era Playboy that includes no explicit nudity. I believe that’s when the party immediately ended. Rolling Stone, GQ, ESPN, Maxim and Vanity Fair were among other major party hosts. The ESPN soiree was highlighted by an appearance from New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and, we imagine, a lurching, leering Chris Berman inadvertently sweating into women’s cocktails. Smirk culled through his many A-list party invites and ended up at the annual bash hosted by the recently paroled half-brother of former Monkee Peter Tork. Two NFL-related parties happen Saturday night. The fourth annual NFL Honors will include the announcement of major award winners including MVP and the naming of the newest Hall of Fame class, following voter deliberation in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room. Elsewhere will be the 25th annual Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser featuring a dish by a chef from every league city. Carolina will be represented by Springer Mountain Confit Chicken Wings Kentuckyaki, and Denver by Oak-Grilled Lamb Neck. Miami, last in a Super Bowl 31 years ago, will be represented by Rum Pork Belly with a Glaze of Dolfans’ Tears.

Goodelldabs▪ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has killed the Dab. Cam Newton made the dance move Dabbing popular. But Goodell, un-hippest man in America, was coerced to do it by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and so now the Dab is dead.

▪ Goodell announced the Raiders and Texans next season would play the first NFL regular-season game in Mexico since 2005, unless Donald Trump has sealed off the entire country with his giant wall by then.

▪ ESPN’s endless pregame show Sunday includes a segment called Riding With Vince, a Carpool Karaoke ripoff in which Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and a Vince Lombardi impersonator are lip-synching to songs. Oh how I wish I were making that up.

▪ A new University of Texas-Dallas study of NFL arrests between 2000 and 2014 found 573 players had been arrested 774 times, but only 209 of those arrests (or 27 percent) were for violent crimes. AWRIIIGHT!

▪ The NFL has issued a warning regarding counterfeit Super Bowl tickets. Folks, if you bought a Super Bowl ticket that seems exceptionally small, is stamped “Regal Cinema” and mentions the 4:40 showing of Dirty Grandpa, you might have been ripped off.

Wrongcats▪ Montreal’s Le Telejournal, a French-language news show, mistakenly used a Florida Panthers logo to preview Super Bowl 50. Wonder if they said the quarterback was Jaromir Jagr?

▪ Further indications we are out of stuff to write about and the game needs to start: ESPN reports that Robin Leach, ancient host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, picks Carolina 27-21. Also, the Amazing Kreskin offered his Super Bowl prediction on Friday, surprising analysts who thought the Amazing Kreskin had died years ago.

▪ Finally, Smirk signs off for the week after having seen way too many previews of Super Bowl commercials. Again last night I had that recurring nightmare in which Betty White is nursing the E-Trade Baby while running terrified from a herd of singing sheep.

SMIRK IV: THE 2-WEEK PREGAME SHOW, NFL'S APOLOGY TO WOMEN, NO-DRONE-ZONE, STOCK MARKET PREDICTOR: Here is the fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes
columns: We must fine-tune what we mean when we say "Super Bowl excess." It does not mean our avid interest in the game itself, or the fact some 43 million Americans will host Super Bowl parties, or the magnified attention given the halftime show or the hyped-up TV ads. No, it is Your Friend the Media that is the engine of the excess. We are to Pregameshowblame. We are the ones giving you what amounts to a nonstop two-week pregame show, like it or not, want it or not. Smirk says television is the main culprit, especially host network CBS, the ubiquitous ESPN and, of course, NFL Network. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gave voice to the ludicrousness of it on Wednesday morning as he met with hundreds of media after doing the same thing Tuesday night. "How can I reword answers to questions I’ve been asked so many times?" he said. "Nothing much has changed since I’ve seen you guys 24 hours ago [except that] I had an unbelievable sleep. I sound like a broken record.' NFL Network is airing 88 live hours of on-location coverage this week featuring 36 on-air personalities. Sunday it will air 10 hours of pre- and post-game coverage. CBS and ESPN similarly are inundating you. CBS Sports has more than 550 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, will have a four-hour pregame show and will use 70 cameras during the game. Highlight of CBS’s pregame show is expected to be a 2 p.m. interview with Barack Obama. The president is expected to say he is looking forward to a good game, after which Republicans demanding equal time are expected to argue they are not looking forward to a good game and why America should not be, either. You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off? It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting. It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.
Bombast▪ Coldplay and Beyoncé will have a lot to live up to Sunday. Super Bowl halftime shows are even more highly anticipated than the game itself, according to the latest annual survey by the National Association of Super Bowl Halftime Producers.

▪ The NFL held its first Super Bowl Women’s Summit on Thursday. Feels to Smirk like either pandering or an apology. Cannot confirm the event was subtitled, "Just to Remind You We Don’t Condone So Many of Our Players Being Arrested for Domestic Violence."

▪ The NFL Foundation’s Super Bowl alumni bowling tournament takes place Friday. It’s the best place to watch former players hobble and grimace as they gripe loudly about lack of medical benefits.

Drones▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “The FAA has banned drones from flying within 32 miles of the stadium Sunday.”

▪ The so-called Stock Market Predictor — Super Bowl win by NFC means market up for the year, AFC win means market down — has been accurate with 40 of the 49 SBs, including seven in a row. Throes of a dilemma: Broncos fan who invests heavily in stock market.

▪ Super Fact: The Broncos are 5-0 in games in which Sunday’s referee, Clete Blakeman, has worked. "I don’t care about that. I'm just glad to see another guy named ‘Clete’ out there," said deceased baseball player Clete Boyer.

Wherewatch▪ Finally, I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, "Where to watch the Super Bowl." The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.

Previously: Click on Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's earlier Smirks. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Poll result: Richt, Canes get strong rating for 2016 recruiting class: We asked you how you thought Miami did on National Signing Day, and it was 58.5 percent "good," 26.2% "very good," 11.4% "average" and only 3.9% "below average." That's an overall stamp of approval for new coach Mark Richt, with 84.7% saying good or better vs. 15.3% saying average or worse.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more


1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 05, 2015

How would you rate Hurricanes' recruiting class? Poll. Vote!; plus Bosh says season "slipping" from Heat, latest draft projection for Dolphins & more

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?

"Whiteside. Whiteside! WhitesideWhitesideWhiteside. WHITESIDE!!" --Greg Cote

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 1aa1acanesnsdhardening. 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
1aa1ahassanlatest 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 1aa1atwaynesthank 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...

February 04, 2015

The ones that got away define UM's recruiting class, keep heat on Golden; plus is National Signing Day big or overblown? New poll. Vote!; also, updated bet-odds for Heat, Canes and Cats & more

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 1aa1aNSDdraft 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.

1aa1acreepy photo"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...

February 06, 2014

Beckham circus in town: What's your interest in Miami MLS soccer team? New poll. Vote!; plus Chad 'n Brad top UM recruits, grade on Golden & more

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 1aa1afusion 1aa1astrikersFort

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 1aa1achadt 1aa1abradkmight 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.

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February 04, 2014

Post-National Signing Day, rate your confidence in Al Golden. Poll. Vote!; plus more Bullygate b.s., Heat, death of an actor & more

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 1aa1algolden14latest 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 1aa1aactorunexpectedly, 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.

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February 06, 2013

Golden talks recruiting "cloud." Grade Canes' class. Poll. Vote!; plus SI swimsuit cover, UM's new AD, LeBron/Wade 30-30 Club, Dolphins draft & more

1aa1kateu[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 1aa1algself-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...

February 05, 2013

Tannehill vs. World: Name best young QB. New poll; plus NSD, Gangnam golfer, Heat Big 5@45, Amazin' Canes win again & more

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]

1aa1kreskinYes, 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 1aa1goldenagereally 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 1aa1acollinsrunning 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 1aa1heat5ranking 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. 1aa1jimlBut 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...

January 25, 2013

Chris Bosh for Dwight Howard? Poll. Vote!; plus LeBron's joy-tackle (video), Top 10 Super Bowl stories media will beat to death, UM 'Homeland' plan & more

1aa1prince[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 1aa1boshdhlists 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 1aa1cardsbgodawful 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 1aa1lewisstarts. 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 1aa1harbaughsin 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.

1aa1bountygate3. 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 1aa1mediadayinvestment 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 1aa1kaepflacone 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 1aa1fbpovjournalist (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 1aa1brigancehere 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: 1aa1ginn“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.

1aa1moss9. 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 1aa1neworltheir 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 1aa1coleynew 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 1aa1cristobalsource 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...