October 03, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.9%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); also, UM No. 10 after winning at Ga Tech 35-21, Richt's Bible giveaway, Noles' stunning defeat, FIU wins, our final Jose column & more


1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 3. UM-FSU next Saturday here has been set for an 8 p.m. kickoff. 2) Thank you for veering away from us, Hurricane Matthew. That's a good Matt. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins clobbered in Cincy with DSM poll, our trilogy of Jose Fernandez columns, Loria eulogizes Jose, NFL Week 4 picks, The List (Fins on TNF) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphin-less Sunday: Admit it, Dolfans, you enjoyed a stress-free Sunday without the prospect of another discouraging Dolphins performance. Or more ghastly Creamsicle uniforms. Click on Week 4 Gems for our latest NFL picks.

Jose Fernandez: Reflecting on the good we saw in a brutal week: Sunday we offered our latest and last of four columns this week on the tragic death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, reflecting on a brutal week, but one in which something so awful brought out something so wonderful in our community. The column: With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 97.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.9 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 4-0 and 1-0 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

Next poll: Oct. 8 following game vs. Florida State

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 2): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Mourning the tragic death of Marlins' ace: A broken team ends its baseball season 79-82 with a loss Sunday in Washington, but for the Marlins, their fans, Cuban Miami and all of South Florida, it all ended one week earlier with death of their most beloved player in a boating accident. R.I.P., Jose.

2. HURRICANES: UM spanks Georgia Tech, awaits Florida State: Now 10th-ranked Miami hosts the Seminoles (down to No. 23 coming off a stunning Saturday loss) in five days in the year's most anticipated game. It was OK for you and I to look ahead to FSU. Mark Richt's Hurricanes sure didn't Saturday in winning 35-21 at Georgia Tech.

3. DOLPHINS: Reeling Fins fall to 1-3 in Cincinnati: The Dolphins looked as bad as they looked Thursday night in a 22-7 loss. Those hideous orange uniforms clowned Fins players and made them look like animated Creamsicles, and the sartorial abomination was matched by the team's performance.

4. HEAT: Ready or not, the (fake) games are about to begin: Training camp in the Bahamas ended Saturday, now the new-look Heat open their NBA preseason schedule on Tuesday at Washington. No more D-Wade, no more Bosh, no more Big 3. Only big questions are left.

5. BASEBALL: It's O's-Jays, Giants-Mets in wild cards: It'll be Baltimore at Toronto in the AL wild-card game Tuesday and San Francisco at the NY. Mets in the NL WC on Wednesday, as the six division winners wait. Cubs fans, start your anxiety!

6. GOLF: Americans surge to huge Ryder Cup triumph: Americans surged past Team Europe 17-11 in Minnesota to earn the first U.S. Ryder Cup win since 2008 and only the third in past two decades. Meantime, U.S. fans were tough on the Europeans, especially on Rory McIlroy. Make America Boorish Again!

7. ARNOLD PALMER: Golf icon dies at 87: Younger generations know the name for his eponymous iced tea-lemonade drink, but for millions of older folks, Arnie was golf's first big star and the magnet that grew the sport. R.I.P.

8. PANTHERS: NHL season nears as exhibitions continue: Florida plays its fifth of seven exhibition games Tuesday in Dallas as the Oct. 13 opener looms. Panthers think they could be Stanley Cup-good this season. Go, Cats, go. A hurting South Florida could use the lift.

9. CHRIS BOSH: Heat says he's damaged good, but players vows to continue: Bosh defiantly says he will pursue a resumption of his career with another team. Meanwhile he says he learned of his failed Miami physical through the media. You're welcome!

10. SHULA BOWL: FIU wins! FIU wins!: It was Shula Bowl XV Saturday in a series FAU has dominated, but this one went to previously winless underdog host FIU, 33-31. Interim coach Ron Cooper is now 1-0. Quit while you're ahead, dude.

Missing the HB10 cut: A LeBron James signed rookie card sold at auction for $312,000. It's like that famous P.T. Barnum line: "There's a sucker with $312,000 to waste born every minute." ..... NASCAR in Dover today cuts its finalists field from 16 drivers to 12. Homestead getting close. Vroom. ..... Team Canada beat Team Europe to win the World Cup of Hockey. Now if Canada could only end that pesky 23-year Stanley Cup drought ..... UM Sports Hall of Fame announced nine more inductees. Not saying they let too many in, but was the sports-information intern who worked the summer of '98 really that special? ..... Joakim Noah declined to attend a team dinner at West Point because of his anti-war beliefs. That, or he wasn't hungry ..... Vin Scully has retired at age 88 after 67 years as Dodgers broadcaster. Slacker! No, seriously, farewell, sir. Miss your voice already.

G4: NO. 14 HURRICANES 35, @ GEORGIA TECH 21: TWO HUGE DEFENSIVE PLAYS POWER MIAMI IN ACC OPENER: Final thoughts: This was a pretty tight game busted wide open by those two UM defensive TDs by true freshmen Shaquille Quarterman and Joe Jackson. Ga Tech ran a lot more offensive plays (74--46) and offensive yards were about dead even. It was those two back-to-back plays on defense. Hey, whatever works. Whatever you need, right? An impressive win and a conference win by the Canes as Mark Richt's personal mastery over Georgia Tech continues. This could have been a losable game but there was no looking past Tech or ahead to next week's huge visit by Florida State. Miami took care of business in a game in which one team killed itself with turnovers and the other one did not. This was UM's first real test of the Richt era. They passed ..... 4Q: Canes interception on defense with 2:21 to play seals it ... This game is over. Tech does not have the passing game or quick-strike ability to make up two TDs in a short time ... Chris Herndon's 48-yard catch and run has Canes on the move ... Huge fourth-down stop by Canes D with broken-up pass in end zone. ... Tech driving. As expected, this is UM's biggest challenge of the season by a lot. ..... 3Q: Canes now up 35-21. That's more like it. Canes needed to get Kaaya going and did, as his 31-yard scoring pass to Stacy Coley ends a fast 75-yard drive. Tech had stoilen momentum; UM has it back ... Tech within 28-21 on short TD run ending 65-yard drive. ... Mid-third Q and Miami only 177 yards of total offense today. Defense is winning, but UM will need another offensive TD to close this out. ..... Halftime thoughts: Pretty even game but for those two huuuge defensive scores by a pair of Canes true freshman. Turnovers the whole difference as UM has played clean: no giveaways, no penalties. Tech has run 38 offensive plays to Miami's 21. Canes could use a long drive or two and a few quick defensive stops to bring that to better balance. Quick aside: Always interesting hearing TV analyst Butch Davis discuss the Canes, knowing he'd have killed to get the UM job Richt got ..... 2Q: Tech stops the bleeding, counters with scoring pass to pull within 28-14 with less than a minute left in half ... Wow. Seriously. Miami suddenly up 28-7 after second straight Tech fumble and defensive  TD by a true freshman, this time Joe Jackson ... Canes now 21-7 on sack and fumble scooped up by freshman Shaquille Quarterman and returned for TD ... Miami back up 14-7 with impressive 90-yard drive finished by Mark Walton's 14-yard scoring run ... Sack = big defensive stop for Canes. ... UM defense needs some 3-and-outx to counter GT's ball control thus far.  ... Tech ties it 7-7 on 7-yard TD run ..... 1Q: Tech threatening as quarter ends. Big ball possession so far for home team ... UM up 7-0 on Joe Yearby's 27-yard scoring run. A 25-yard pass to Stacy Coley was driver's other big play. ... OT Trevor Darling out injured for UM. ... Love the green UM jerseys we're seeing for only time this season. As opposed to Thursday's look by the Miami Creamsicles. ..... Game preview: Miami is 3-0 by a combined score of 153-23 against smaller, lesser competition -- including that comically overhyped, alleged threat-that-wasn't at Appalachian State. I'm not saying UM isn't really good. I'm saying they've been largely untested so far and haven't yet had to really prove how Umgatechgood they are. But now, at high noon Saturday, it begins. The proving. The season, really. This is Miami's ACC opener, and, although the Hurricanes are 7 1/2-point favorites over 3-1 Georgia Tech, it's still a conference game on the road. It's losable -- especially if the Canes are either overconfident or glancing ahead to next week's huge visit by chief rival and nemesis Florida State. I like Miami coming off a bye. Tech's run-heavy, triple-option offense can be a challenge, but Mark Richt makes this the best-coached UM team in a long time. UM fans should also feel good about this: While at Georgia, Richt's record vs. the Yellow Jackets was a nifty 13-2. Including his days as an FSU assistant, he's 21-2 vs. the Jackets, and is 12-0 in games played at Georgia Tech. Richt knows this opponent well, and how to defeat it. Brad Kaaya (368 yards, three TDs at App State) and Mark Walton (401 yards rushing, 8.1 per carry, in three games) will help put up too many points for the Jackets to outscore. Kaaya also must be careful, though; he has three interceptions in past two games. My pick: Hurricanes, 30-20.

BibleON RICHT'S BIBLE GIVEAWAY: UM coach Mark Richt, who is very religious, gave Bibles to all of his players this week. Not sure how I feel about that. He did say they weren't required reading. Still, I'm a bit uneasy with any coach -- Christian, Jew, Muslim, atheist or anything else -- being a lockerroom evangelist for his beliefs. Don't misconstrue. I am not anti-religion. Not anti-Bible. I just think there should be a separation there. I ran a Twitter poll asking if you were OK with Richt giving players Bibles. It was 57 percent yes, 35% no, 8% undecided.

CanesjoseCANES HONORS JOSE: Friday on their @CanesFootball Twitter account UM wrote, "This past Sunday, we lost a big piece of our community. Tomorrow, we honor his memory. #JDF16." They did so on Saturday by wearing small circular helmet decals that read 'JF 16' in the memory of fallen Marlins star Jose Fernandez. That was a nice gesture. The helmet decal is pictured.

Other state FBS Week 5 games (all Saturday, in chronology):

No. 23 Florida 13, Vanderbilt 6: Gators are now 4-1 but were 10-point faves and sort of escaped Vanderbilt more than won. They were trying to shake off the sting of blowing an 18-point halftime lead in last week's loss at Tennessee, and not sure they did. Austin Appleby again started at quarterback for UF but Luke Del Rio may be back for next game.

North Carolina 37, No. 12 Florida State 35Oh. My. God. FSU falls to 3-2, beaten by a 54-yard field goal on game's last play. Miami hosts FSU next week and then North Carolina the week after, so Canes surely were watching this one. Noles were 10 1/2-point favorites. This is stunning. FSU will plummet in the polls now. There is little question the Canes will be favored next Saturday. The Florida State defense I saw today will not contain Brad Kaaya's Hurricanes.

RoncooperFIU 33, FAU 31: It was Shula Bowl XV in this natural rivalry that hasn't really ever taken off because A) both teams are usually bad and B) neither team has a great fan Fiufaubase. FAU led the series 10-4 including a 31-17 win last year, and Owls were 6-point road faves here. It was the Conference USA opener for both, and marked the debut of FIU interim head coach Ron Cooper, who replaces the fired Ron Turner. (The highest rise on the coaching food chain for Cooper, 54 (pictured), was three seasons spent as Louisville head coach in 1995-97; he was 13-20). Well, good for FIU, getting off the schneid in a result that left both local teams 1-4.

Also: UCF (now 3-2) won at East Carolina, 47-29; and South Florida (now 4-1) delivered a road-spanking to Cincinnati, 45-20.

National Collball Week 5 overview: There was a reasonable risk of change in current College Football Playoff top four because two teams currently in it both face ranked teams. No. 4 Michigan did its job against visiting 8-Wisconsin, 14-7. But No. 3 Louisville lost at 5-Clemson, 42-36.

JoseripOUR QUARTET OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ: We had four columns this past week related to Jose's tragic death. I cannot apologize if that seems excessive. The quartet:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in team's first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The third, in midst of Wednesday's public events and outpouring.

With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose: The fourth, latest and last, from Sunday, reflecting on a brutal week, but one in which something so awful brought out something so wonderful in our community.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 4 Gems (our latest NFL picks). Instant Lifelong Rivals (our NFL column on QBs drafted 1-2). Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all).

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 27, 2016

Bulletin: '72 Dolphins just lost!; plus Canes' 2016 football schedule, predicted season record; also, UM baseball, 'WomenNotObjects', fun activities for Satanic kids, your verdicts on Super Bowl 50, Whiteside Dilemma & more


Showkiller1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27. ICYMI, click on Making a Showkiller for Fusion TV's spoof (starring me) of Making a Murderer. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Panthers-Broncos Super Bowl 50 polls, Canes' and Heat's big night, Heat's Whiteside Dilemma poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) For those who care (both of you), I went 1-1 straight-up and against the spread on my NFL Championship Sunday picks. Did not see Broncos beating Patriots. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Some headlines could not be more ridiculous if you made them up. Are you ready? 'John Rocker Endorses Trump.' Seriously." --Greg Cote

UM baseball picked to win its ACC division: The upcoming college baseball season is expected to be a big one for the Hurricanes, who are No. 5 in the preseason polls and now selected to win the ACC Coastal Division in a preseason poll of coaches. Louisville is forecast to win the Atlantic Division and overall conference title. Other strong ACC baseball schools include Virginia and Florida State.

Larranaga's vision, crystallized in one night: The ranked Hurricanes beating Duke in front of a packed house -- this is what Jim Larranaga imagined when he took this job in 2011. Click on Coach L's Vision for my column off Monday night's game.

'72 PERFECT SEASON DOLPHINS LOSE!: Oh my but Don Shula, Mercury Morris and those fellas won't like this one bit. CBS Sports and Strat-O-Matic are playing the 49 Super Bowl winners head to head in simulated games to name the ultimate all-time champion, and the '72 Dolphins, a No. 1 seed, just lost in the round of 16 to the 17th-seeded 1992 Cowboys. The recap from CBS: "Garo Yepremian's missed 44-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in regulation ended the '72 Dolphins' dreams and enabled the '92 Cowboys to advance to the Elite 8."

HURRICANES FOOTBALL SCHEDULE LOOKING LIKE 9-3 SEASON, BUT...: The ACC released its 2016 schedules today and Miami's soft non-conference opening portends a 3-0 start and gives the Canes' a leg up on a strong season under new coach Mark Richt. Initially I'm thinking 9-3 (see below) two of those projected losses could be wins: Florida State, here, and North Carolina, also here. Only the game at Notre Dame feels like a good-bet loss. Our quick thoughts:

MarkrichtG1: vs. Florida A&M Sept. 3 -- Division 1AA Rattlers finished 1-10 in the MEAC. Season opener and Mark Richt debut should be a breeze for Canes. W, 1-0 

G2: vs. Florida Atlantic Sept. 10 -- Owls were a disappointing 3-9 in Conference USA including a 44-20 loss to UM, but recall that FAU pushed then-No. 8 Florida to overtime in a 20-14 loss in the Swamp. Should be a sure Canes win, but Owls could put up some fight. W, 2-0

G3: at Appalachian State Sept. 17 -- The Mountaineers were 11-2 in the Sun Belt and gave Clemson a better game (a 41-10 loss) than Miami did last year. Miami should win without much trouble, but it's no pushover, plus it is UM's first road game. W, 3-0

G4: at Georgia Tech Oct. 1 -- UM's ACC opener is vs. a Yellow Jackets squad that will be trying to rebound from a 3-9 season that included a 38-21 loss to Miami. Liking Miami to win this and make it 4-0, especially coming off bye week, but conference games on the road seldom are easy. W, 4-0

G5: vs. Florida State Oct. 8 -- FSU finished 10-3 and only beat Miami 29-24 last year, but figures to be favored, even on the road. The Seminoles have become a nemesis and conference roadblock. Al Golden couldn't beat them. Richt must prove he can. L, 4-1

G6: vs. North Carolina Oct. 15 -- The Tar Heels whipped Miami last year 59-21 en route to an 11-3 season and only lost 45-37 to Clemson. UNC could be favored here. It's one of those swing games that will determine whether Richt's first season is seen as a success. L, 4-2

G7: at Virginia Tech Oct. 20 -- Hokies finished 7-6 including a 30-20 loss to Miami, but this is a tough place to play. Another swing game. W, 5-2 

G8: at Notre Dame Oct. 29 -- Fighting Irish were 10-1 before losing their last two, and South Bend can be a madhouse. A likely loss ... or a signature win. L, 5-3

G9: vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 5 -- Panthers were 8-5 and lost to Miami 29-24. Another competitive game is likely, but UM should prevail at home. W, 6-3

G10: at Virginia Nov.12 -- Cavaliers were 5-8 but gave Miami a fight, losing 27-21. Could be tough as a road game but count it a Canes win. W, 7-3

G11: at North Carolina State Nov. 19 -- Wolfpack were 4-0 before fading to 7-6 and did not face UM last year. The road makes it dicey, but it feels winnable for UM. W, 8-3

G12: vs. Duke Nov. 26 -- Blue Devils finished 8-5 including a 30-27 loss to UM. Home and regular finale should find Canes favored. W, 9-3 

#WOMENNOTOBJECTS: Ad executve Madonna Badger, tired of how her own industry objectifies women as sexual playthings, produced a short video skewering the advertising game. Background story here. The video is below, and it's pretty powerful stuff. Quick aside to fashion designer Tom Ford: I'm sure you are a nice guy, maybe, but your ad agency appears to be run by misogynistic idiots.


SatanicFUN ACTIVITIES FOR SATANIC CHILDREN. NO, SERIOUSLY: There are fervent believers in God. There are those who want to believe. There are agnostics. There are atheists. And, yes, there are Satanists. This past summer hundreds gathered at a Satanic temple in Detroit for the unveiling of a large bronze statue of Baphomet, the goat-headed creature who has come to represent a totem of modern Satanism. Whatever, right? Free country and so forth. But what I find both a little frightening and oddly hilarious is the book pictured. I don't wanna know what those fun activities involve. Animal sacrifice? Crafting papier mache goat horns? Nor do I want my kid having a play-date with the tall, sullen Satanic Frankenstein kid on the far right.

Poll results: Thinking Panthers, but wanting Broncos: We asked your early Super Bowl 50 picks, and 81.6 percent predicted the Carolina Panthers would win, but 59.1% want the Denver Broncos to win.

Poll results: You're torn on the Whiteside Dilemma, too: We asked you what the Heat should do this summer, and it was 42.0% for making a free-agent play for Kevin Durant, 31.7% for signing Hassan Whiteside long-term instead, and 26.3% undecided.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 30, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH MAINTAINS NO. 1 AS BYES KICK IN: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY 1aa1asopyrankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- find FIU quarterback Alex McGough maintaining his lead after Week 4. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week (starting this past week) take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 02, 2015

Who's best football coach in Hurricanes history? Poll. Vote!; plus Upset Bird Countdown (9 days), bizarre UM football photos, Kim Davis/gay marriage, Suh named Top 5, Heat intrigue, Canes' RBs, Dolphins get lucky, 'Concussion' trailer & more


1aa1acyrusm1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Dolphins change punters? If you think that's big news, you aren't very confident in your offense. 2) Wonder if it has occurred to Miley Cyrus (pictured) that the slut-persona has become so expected (ho hum) that she'd truly shock us more by being demure and fully clothed? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins beat Atlanta in third fake-game, Weighing The Fish, Fins' fantasy rankings, dodging the Cone of Doom & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, list of franchise's 50 top figures (not just players). ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my talks with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have a Shula-by-the-numbers column not in original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.

A Pair of Aces: I write, in today's latest column, that big seasons by quarterbsck Ryan Tannehill and Brad Kaaya will be lifesavers for the Miami careers of their Dolphins and Hurricanes coaches, Joe Philbin and Al Golden. Click on To The Rescue to read.

WHO IS GREATEST HURRICANES FOOTBALL COACH EVER?: Championships? Longevity? Recruiting 1aa1acanesprowess? Serving with do-right class beyond wins and losses? There are many ways a college football coach might be judged. Now, it's Judgement Day. We offer you, alphabetically, the 10 University of Miami football head coaches who have coached here a minimum of 50 games. (Randy Shannon and Al Golden happen to sneak in right at 50). By whatever criteria you hold most important, vote for your top two (2), then check back here often to monitor evolving results as we find out who is the greatest football coach The U has had ... and who isn't. Vote and say why you chose as you did.


Deciphering two-vote results: The highest possible vote total in this poll would be 50 percent if everyone cast the maximum two votes. Double a coach's total for a rough idea of the percentage of voters including that person in their top two.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. And so we have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big

1aa1aseahawk 1aa1a9Four sports, from newest (No. 10) to 1aa1afripix 1aa1abird;pixoldest (No. 1). There are 14 in all. Charlotte Hornets, Baltimore Ravens, Anaheim Ducks and New Orleans Pelicans were too recent to make the cut. This pains us, because we love Ducks and Pelicans as goofy nicknames, and the Raven, of course, is the hero and official muse of the Upset Bird. Don't look for Detroit Red Wings in our countdown, either; that nickname derives from a wheel, not a bird. Also no 1aa1a10 1aa1abluejaysJets here, even though they have wings. Our countdown began Monday with the 10th longest-serving bird nickname, Toronto Blue Jays, established 1977. Today, at No. 9: Seattle Seahawks, born 1976. Ornithological note: There is no "seahawk' per se in the winged kingdom but it is accepted in our countdown as a nickname for the osprey.

1aa1acanesstrangephotoWEIRD CANES FOOTBALL PHOTOS: Here's a strange little story that first appeared on Bleacher Report on Sunday, headlined 'Miami Hurricanes Football Players Do Goofy Poses for Photo Day.' (Click here for the original report). The photos shown, by Eric Espada at Caneshooter.com, picture players in unofficial, casual poses, as pictured here. They're just having fun. Two minor problems. 1) As BR points out, "The student sections at Florida State and other ACC schools are going to have a field day with these photos." 2) As a few have pointed out to me on Twitter and in emails, the photos (at least this one) could be misconstrued as homoerotic or poking fun at gays. Like I said, it's a strange little story that I don't think is any big deal. But, for reasons 1 and 2, it's another example how athletes maybe should think twice before doing ... well, anything.

SUH ELITE, BUT DOLPHINS OTHERWISE LAG IN TOP 100 PLAYESR: ESPN.com's annual rank of the Top 100 NFL players is out today (full list here) and DT Ndamukong Suh (pictured) ranks No. 4 overall, after only J.J.
1aa1ansuhWatt, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. That bad news? Miami place only one other guy in the Top 100: DE Cam Wake at No. 51. Meanwhile the Fins' AFC East mates all have four men make the list. The Patriots have QB Brady 3rd, TE Rob Gronkowski 5th, S Devin McCourty 56th and LB Jamie Collins 97th. The Jets place CB Darrelle Revis 9th, DE Muhammad Wilkerson 50th, DE Sheldon Richardson 61st and C Nick Mangold 88th. And the Bills place RB LeSean McCoy 41st, DE Mario Williams 46th, DT Marcell Dareus 64th and DT Kyle Williams 94th. You wonder why Miami's offensive line is such a concern? That's seven front-seven pass rushing opponents in the Top 100.

ON KIM DAVIS, FAITH AND DUTY: [Warning: The following item may upset the "STICK TO SPORTS!!!" crowd. Those are the folks who accidentally wander across this blog like Mormons discovering Bourbon Street, unaware that Random Evidence is a (mostly) sports blog that also delves into pop culture and 1aa1adaviskimissues like this one]. Here is a backgrounder on the Kim Davis story, for the unaware. She (pictured) is the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky. Her office issues marriage licenses. Or not! She cites her religious belief in refusing to issue licenses to gay couples -- despite a Supreme Court ruling that says she must. "Under God's authority," she justifies her stance. Dear Ms. Davis: What you are doing does not make you a bad person or a good person as much as it simply makes you a person spectacularly unqualified to be a county clerk in the United States in 2015. That you were not summarily fired for failure to uphold the law and do your job suggests the Rowan mayor and city council may be hibernating and unaware of current events. May I suggest another line of work, Ms. Davis? Perhaps one where personal/religious beliefs and the law of the land are not at odds? Bulletin: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Nobody gives a s--- whether or who you worship when not on the job. Nobody cares if, when not on the job, you hear your God telling you the love of same-sex couples is inferior and wrong. You are entitled to your personal beliefs. What matters is that, when on the job, you do what you are being paid to do. Or leave.

ARE HEAT THE NBA'S MOST INTRIGUING TEAM?: Grantland's Zach Lowe poses the question this week at ESPN.com; click here to read. The premise sounds like a bit of hyperbole, yet is not far-fetched. Dwyane Wade trying to hang on to "elite." Chris Bosh coming back. Hassan Whiteside emerging. Goran Dragic in his first full season. The elements for "intriguing" are here. 

1aa1ajoeyearbyEDWARDS INJURY A MEDIUM LOSS FOR CANES, NOT A HUGE ONE: Gus Edwards appeared to have won
UM's starting running back job when a foot injury knocked him out for the season just before the first depth chart was revealed. Now Joe Yearby (pictured) looks like the next man up to be the featured back, although freshman Mark Walton also is in the mix, with bigger Trayone Gray also still in the RB picture and more physically suited, perhaps, for Edwards' short-yardage and goalline role. Beyond Edwards' size advantage, though, otherwise, on paper, the Hurricanes should lose nothing with Yearby replacing him. Yearby ran for 509 yards and a 5.9 average last season to Edwards' 349 and 5.7. Yearby is a bit better receiver out of the backfield, too.

DOLPHINS CATCH A BREAK WITH COUSINS IN FOR RG3 IN OPENER: Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. 1aa1acousinskEven a struggling Robert Griffin III is better and a bigger threat than backup Kirk Cousins (pictured), who'll start against Miami up there in the Sept. 13 season opener. Cousins is not as experienced (9 career starts to 35), is less accurate (59.0% completions to 63.9%), has a sizably lower passer rating (77.5 to 90.6) and, perhaps most important, is more than twice as likely to throw an interception (4.7 pick ratio to RG3's 2.2). Also, Cousins is not the least bit a running threat; Griffin definitely is. Suffice to say, Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake are not unhappy it'll be Cousins in Week 1. As colleague Barry "Buzz" Jackson pointed out, the first six QBs Miami faces this season could be Cousins, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer -- a cornucopia of inexperience or ineffectiveness. Mariota is a rookie, Taylor has zero NFL starts and the other four have a combined 48-79-1 career record.

WATCH TRAILER FOR 'CONCUSSION,' THE NFL's NIGHTMARE MOVIE: Sony Pictures drops the new Will Smith film, Concussion, on Christmas Day. Here is the new 2-minute trailer:


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April 14, 2015

It's official. It's over. Heat eliminated from playoff chase by Indy win; plus who should be on Marlins' all-time "Mount Rushmore"? Poll. Vote now!; also Dolphins draft, Jordan Spieth, Lexi Thompson topless, presidential politics, God & more


It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Will have a new 'Back In My Day' segment if I can dream one up. Ears welcome.

1aa1abosh1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 14. Chris Bosh is shown flanked by Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and their significant others during Bosh's recent 31st birthday party. Click on image to see it larger. 2) Rolling Stones fan? Mick and the boys are playing Orlando Citrus Bowl on June 12. 3) Heard Howard Stern's great 90 minutes with Madonna. Stern doesn't get enough credit for being an adroit interviewer. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Heat playoff chase, LeBron-sabotage verdict &more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins draft: ESPN and Football Outsiders offers "draft guides" for all 32 NFL teams and you'd find Miami's here. They call cornerback the Fins' greatest need and suggest a trade-down from No. 14 to acquire additional picks is very possible to likely.

Richie incognito seems to be fitting in well with the Bills. Although several players complain that a large teammate they're afraid to identify keeps stealing their lunch money. --Greg Cote

PLAYOFF CHASE: DONE. HEAT ELIMINATED: Heat's 100-93 win over Orlando in home finale last night kept Miami alive, but Heat were eliminated from playoff race tonight by Indiana's 99-95 double-overtime home win over Washington. (Click on You Know How This Ends, Right? for my column from the Heat arena. I wrote that it remained hugely likely Miami would miss the playoffs but that it hardly matters. What does is a brighter future next season with a healthy Chris Bosh, a full year of Goran Dragic and a developing Hassan Whiteside. The frustration here wasn't missing the playoffs but how they were missed: with a late-season collapse that somehow kept Miami from being one of the top eight teams in a really bad conference). Anyway, Boston clinched the No. 7 East and now it's Brooklyn or Indiana for No. 8 as Miami will watch the postseason on TV for first time since 2008.

WHO SHOULD BE ON MARLINS' FRANCHISE "MOUNT RUSHMORE"?: The time-worn "Mount Rushmore" gimmick, the concept that local radio man Marc Hochman is convinced he invented despite it being applied to myriad top-four lists throughout history, is now being done for every team at MLB.com. (Find 1aa1afishmountthe ballot here). Fans are invited to name the "Franchise Four" from eight finalists plus an other/write-in category, with results to be announced during the July All-Star break. The Marlins' final eight presented in our poll is interesting. For me Josh Beckett and Livan Hernandez are dubious picks apparently included because both were World Series MVPs. Not sure about Charles Johnson, either, because of the offensive deficiencies. Obvious omissions? Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez. Maybe Dontrelle Willis? Oh, and some guy named Ricky Nolasco happens to be No. 1 in Marlins all-time starts, innings, strikeouts and victories, that's all. So don't blame me. Our poll is based on the MLB list. Also I have excluded an "other" category because it would be a wasted vote. Let's play the hand we are dealt. By whatever criteria you wish, vote for the top four (4) and say why.

Figuring four-vote ballot results: Any one player's maximum vote would be 25 percent of the total if everyone cast the maximum four votes. Multiply a player's total times four for an idea of the overall percentage of ballots on which that player is being included.

GOLF'S GREAT DAY: Jordan Spieth (pictured) won The Masters on Sunday, but golf and the PGA Tour won, too. 1aa1ajspiethSpieth, 21, seems the real deal, the first young American who could truly be up to the "next Tiger" stuff. Meanwhile young Rory McIlroy (world No. 1 and fourth place Sunday) won't concede anything to Spieth. Golf also benefits from old-timer Phil Mickelson's big Masters and from the fact Tiger Woods also had an encouraging tournament. This is straight out of the PGA Tour's dreams: McIlroy and the American Spieth leading a new vanguard while guys like Mickelson and Woods remains relevant. Quick aside: Spieth is an old-looking 21 thanks largely to the Prince William hairline that will have Jordan endorsing implants by 25.

U.S Open odds: Via Bovada today, Rory McIlroy is an early 11-2 favorite to win golf's next major, the U.S. Open, followed by Jordan Spieth at 7-1 and Tiger Woods at 14-1.

1aa1alexitLEXI THOMPSON OH MY!: Coral Springs-born rising LPGA star Lexi Thompson, 20, poses topless (sort of) on the cover of the current Golf Digest magazine, a towel covering most of what is otherwise uncovered. What's amazing is not that this is daring or groundbreaking (it's neither), but that it is generating a lot of attention. For media and athletes alike, what once was bold is now blase'. Bumper sticker: Honk If You've Appeared Nekkid On a Magazine Cover.



RUBIO, CLINTON: TWO THOUGHTS ON PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Miami's own Marco Rubio announced his presidential candidacy last evening at Freedom Tower. I had two suggestions: Hidden, oscillating 1aa1ahillrubfans to counter Rubio's tendency to sweat like Richard NIxon in a 1960 debate. And no water bottles within 100 feet of him! More seriously, Rubio has an outside nomination shot in a muddled Republican field bereft of a clear frontrunner, although he must overcome the notion that, at 43, it's too soon for him. Damning poll numbers also suggest his support has eroded since he sort of peaked as an "it" guy in 2013. On the Democrat side there is a clear, now-declared frontrunner, but I'll be very interested to see if Hillary Clinton's age -- she'd be 68 on election day -- will emerge as a factor or be a subject considered off-limits.

1aa1abumperCOMBATIVE, COMPETITIVE CHRISTIANS: Pictured is a bumper sticker I saw on an older car while visiting my mother in Vero Beach on Sunday. The message -- I Love God More Than You Do -- struck me as comical, although I don't think it was intended to be.

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December 18, 2014

Should NBA play games on Christmas? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat skid, Panthers surge, Philbin/Golden result, U.S.-Cuba relations & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. I'm up at Friday Page Headquarters today conjuring the NFL Week 16 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's putrid Titans-Jaguars game. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Tis the season for being average, Miami and Shaq, Philbin/Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Marlins, meatballs & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asantaA POX ON NBA FOR PLAYING ON CHRISTMAS!: One week from today LeBron James-at-Heat will be one of five NBA games played on Christmas. The NHL, conspicuously, 1aa1ajesusdoes not play on Christmas. I hate that the NBA does. I'm not alone. Stan Van Gundy once said, "I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game." Phil Jackson said, "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day." LeBron James said, "If you ask any player in the league, we'd rather be home with our families. It's not just a regular holiday." I agree. I'm not especially religious; it just seems wrong to play on Christmas. You with me, or are you OK with it? Have a vote!

HEAT ON HISTORIC SKID: OK "historic skid" may be a bit dramatic, but last night's 105-87 home loss to reeling Utah marked the first time since 1990 that Miami has lost four consecutive home games by double digits. Heat is 1-7 overall in its past eight home dates, and fighting just to stay on the eight-team Eastern playoff grid nearly one-third into the season. The good news? Dwyane Wade had 42 points. Wasn't sure he had another 40-point game in him, frankly. The bad news? Everything else. Chris Bosh was out again, Miami couldn't buy a 3-point shot, and the defense was (again) lousy. Injuries haven't helped, but, bottom line: the post-LeBron era has set sail on much rougher seas than imagined. The Christmas game here against LeBron and Cleveland could be ugly.

PANTHERS FIND THEIR PULSE, PACE: It's funny. The Heat is 12-14 and No. 7 in their conference and it's a near-disaster to fans. The Panthers are 13-16 and tied for No. 8 and it's closer to a joyous miracle. That's one team coming down from four straight NBA Finals appearances, and the other dreaming of its first Stanley Cup postseason series victory since 1996. Florida got much attention for its record 20-round shootout win the other night, but Cats have been ascending for awhile; they're over .5000 since a 4-8 start, and 6-4 in past 10 games. (They've also won four of past five home games).

Poll result: Philbin edges Golden in "fire him!" sentiment: In the previous blogpost we asked you to make a choice who you want gone more, and Dolphins coach Joe Philbin edged the Hurricanes' Al Golden for the dubious prize, 52.6 percent to 47.4%.

A NON-CUBAN'S VIEW OF WARMING RELATIONS: [Preemptive strike: "Stay out of politics! STICK TO SPORTS!!!"] I am fascinated by the various reactions to yesterday's news that the U.S. has begun to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. To be clear, I'd guess the vast 1aa1aamercubamajority of America doesn't much care either way. To those who do care, I'd imagine (and hope) that most think diplomacy and civil relations in general are a good thing. But in South Florida, among many Cuban-Americans and exiles -- especially older folks -- this amounts to climbing into bed with the enemy and has inspired anger, even outrage. My take: U.S.-Cuba normalized relations were a long-time coming; Raul Castro taking over for brother Fidel obviously hastened the process. I call this "progress." To me an historical analogy is Japan. After the Pearl Harbor bombing it was unimaginable America would ever be on good terms with Japan, but times change, and Japan is now a strong ally. I respect that many Cuban-Americans can't and won't ever forgive Castro, and that is their right. But that outrage is too small in the national scope to steer American foreign policy.

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April 17, 2014

Sat pm 4-19: How many games will Heat-Charlotte series go? Poll. Vote!; plus CJ2K-to-Jets a worry to Dolphins?, word to Dabo & more

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 19. This April's Giancarlo Stanton is the Stanton we've been waiting for. This is the Stanton, with a healthy career, who gets to Cooperstown. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat vs. past years poll, Yasiel Puig saga, local money list & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

WHAT IS YOUR EXPECTATON FOR HEAT-CHARLOTTE SERIES?: I can't pretend. Won't construct false-drama by talking up Charlotte or reminding that upsets happen. Won't lie and tell you how worried the Heat 1aa1aheatchaare about Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. Um, Miami has beaten the Bobcats 16 games in a row and it's 4-0 this season by a combined 42-point margin. So, no, I do not expect a competitive series in the first-rounder that begins here Sunday at 3:30 to launch the Heat's run at a three-peat. No, Miami is not as good as last season, as I write in today's lastest column; click on Doubting the Champs to read. (Also see the poll results below). But LeBron in this season's four meetings scored 151 points -- including that 61-point game -- on 56-for-89 shooting. Charlotte has no answer for him. Chances are any doubts about Miami's ability to three-peat must wait at least until the second round. But enough of my jabberwocky. What is your realistic expectation for this series? Sweep? Competitive? Remember I'm asking not how you hope it'll turn out but how you'd honestly bet it will. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Heat isn't as good as past seasons: We asked and your verdict was clear. A majority of 57.9 percent think the Heat is not as good as the past two years, vs. only 5.3% who think this team is better. Other 36.8 percent thought this team is comparabale to the previous two.

JETS TAKING OFF. SHOULD DOLFANS BE WORRIED?: So the New York Stinkin' Jets add running back 1aa1acj2kChris Johnson on a two-year deal, balancing a retooled offense that previously added quarterback Mike Vick and receiver Eric Decker. I must say, a bad Jets offense doesn't seem so bad anymore. Johnson, at 29, isn't the runner or fantasy darling he was in rushing for 2,006 yards in 2009, but he's still very good when healthy, as last season's 1,422 for the Titans attests.

PLAYING AND PRAYING. WORD TO DABO SWINNEY: Many of you may know Dabo Swinney is the successful Clemson football coach. You may not know he also is devoutly religion, constantly references Jesus and Scriptures, organizes "Church Day" bus trips for his team, and sometimes pauses practices for 1aa1adabosprayer sessions. A Wisconsin non-profit group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has formally complained. My take: Swinney is free to believe what he wants as devoutly as he wishes, but he should separate that from his football role when with his team. Clemson hired a coach, not an evangelist. Since Clemson is a public university, the doctrine of separation of church and state also comes into play. Religious and political views are personal; when not, they are argument starters. Not saying Swinney is, but the devoutly religious often are anti-abortion and believe homosexuality is a sin. What if a coach who was open about such views had a quarterback who felt differently? What if the QB's brother was gay? There is a potential team divisiveness to what Swinney is doing beyond the other issues. Don't change what you stand for, my religious friends. Just don't wear Jesus on your sleeve at all times. I don't know or care if Canes coach Al Golden is Catholic, Baptist, agnostic or worships the devil, and his players shouldn't know, either. Likewise my kid shouldn't know if his math teacher is a staunch Democrat or hates Obama. It's all about context. Don't change who you are, Dabo, just dial it back. Compartmentalize. Praise Jesus as loudly as you wish on your own time. But on your team's time, just be a football coach.

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April 08, 2014

Tue pm 4-8: Who'll be first QB taken in NFL Draft? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat tries to cut down Nets, Bob Coy, Mickey Rooney & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan Le Batard Show for my 18th national appearance. Airs 3-7 p.m. on 790 & 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with a week of heaven for basketball junkies. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UConn beats Kentucky, Zo talks Hall, Heat Drama Week, Ryan Williams injury & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

Betting odds for Tiger-less Masters: It's Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott co-faves at 10-1, then Phil Mickelson 12-1, Jason Day 14-1, Matt Kuchar 18-1 and Sergio Garcia 20-1. 

1aa1adraft14ONE MONTH FROM NFL DRAFT, WHICH QB GOES FIRST?: The first round of the NFL Draft is May 8, so let's start the one-month countdown with a poll 1aa1abig3qbquestion. Normally this would be Dolphins-related, like, what's the greatest need, but this year offensive line is such a no-brainer answer it's pointless to ask. The most interesting draft question, for me, is which of three 1R-stamped quarterbacks will be taken first, and when. Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater are pictured, left to right. There is great variance in the many mock drafts I've perused. Most but not all mocks have all three guys going in the top 10, and each has support as the likely first QB taken. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll (listing is alphabetical) and say why.

CUTTING DOWN THE (BROOKLYN) NETS: UConn just cut down the nets. Tonight it's the Heat's turn to cut 1aa1aheatnetsdown the Nets. Beating the Knicks Sunday got Miami's Drama Week off to a strong start, but this is a greater challenge. Brooklyn has been quite good (32-13) this calendar year, and is 3-0 this season against Miami. This also serves a preview of a possible-dare-say-likely second round playoff matchup. (Miami's supposed waltz into the Eastern finals may be tougher than many think). You know LeBron James and the Heat will bring their A-game tonight; question is whether they'll have their A-team available, especially Dwyane Wade, who could miss a seventh straight game with hamstring issues. I write about Wade's hobbled season in today's latest column; click Counting On Wade to read.

CUTTING DOWN THE (NCAA) NETS: I was happy last night the One & Done Kentucky Wildcats got their comeuppance and that the Won & Done UConn Huskies snipped nets after a 60-54 win. John Calipari runs an NBA factory, while Connecticut holds truer to what college sports are supposed to be about. Having said that, it was only a year ago that UConn was closer to You-Con, banned from the postseason for academic reasons. So it wasn't exactly a feel-good final. There was not a truly great team in it, and neither was there a classic Cinderella. Seventh-seed UConn was the highest seed to win it all since No. 8 Villanova in 1985, but both UConn and Kentucky had too much program pedigree to be true Cindys. Bottom line, the right result: Team 1, Individuals 0.


Famed child star and entertainment legend Mickey Rooney passed away this week at 93, and here is a photo of Rooney taken on March 30, one week before he died. Rooney, seated, is flanked by fellow entertainment icons Dick Van Patten and Mel Brooks, at Santa Anita Park, the Los Angeles-area racetrack Rooney frequented. The picture is copyrighted by and courtesy of Benoit Photo.

ON BOB COY AND THE 'MEGACHURCH': Pastor Bob Coy (pictured) has resigned in disgrace from Fort Lauderdale's 1aa1abobcoyCalvary Chapel, a 20,000-member "megachurch," over a "moral failing" reported to include extramarital affairs. This reminds us that men of the clergy can be just as ethically bankrupt as the rest of us, and that anybody can throw on a robe and claim to speak for God. What interests me more about this story is the revelation that Calvary Chapel's assets are said to be around $135 million. Hmm. For me, the very idea of the "megachurch," the profiteering big business of of it, does more harm to the idea of religion than the occasional rogue infidel pastor. Of course, I may be wrong.

Poll result: You had NCAA final a razor's edge for Kentucky: We asked who'd win the NCAA Tournament men's championship and rarely have we had a closer blogpoll. It was 50.63 percent for Kentucky, 49.37% for Connecticut.

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May 04, 2013

Who's the idiot? LeBron 1 vote shy of unanimous for MVP; plus new NBA playoff odds, Dolphins' big loss, Tyson Clabo, Sad-O-Meter retired & more

1aa1cinco1) It is SUNDAY, MAY 5. Happy Cinco de Mayo! 2) NCAA refuses to dismiss UM case in advance of June hearing. "No duh," says rest of America. 3) Click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes column, leading with Heat playoffs. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The building and branding of Dion Jordan, Bulls-or-Nets Heat poll, Susannah Collins, Tim Tebow prank. 5Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

LEBRON MVP VOTE: NEW PROOF THAT 1 OF EVERY 121 PEOPLE IS A MORON: Heat's LeBron James got 120 of 121 frst-place votes for league MVP today, denying him the first unanimous vote in NBA history even though he was deserving. A funny Internet rumor spread that my colleague Dan Le Batard cast the lone vote for Carmelo Anthony. It wasn't true. That didn't stop it. "Probably a writer out fo New York," surmised LeBron, likely more accurately. LeBatard, sensing Twitter gold, didn't deny the initial speculation, merely re-Tweeted it. Deadspin said it was so. One of life's small pleasures is watching self-important Deadspin say, "Ah, um, uhh, oops. My bad!" Anyway, the mystery lunatic-voter is still out there. Oh he WILL be found!

HEAT-BULLS ON DECK; NBA NEXT-ROUND PLAYOFF ODDS: Second-round pairings and betting odds via Bovada, by conference, entering second-round play: Eastern: Miami over Chicago: Heat a prohibitive overall favorite at 2-11 to win East, 4-9 to repeat league title. Bulls are 40-1 to win East, 75-1 overall. There are no early indications Derrick Rose will play vs. Miami, but the fact he might will be an intriguing cloud hanging over this series. New York over Indiana: Knicks are 6-1 to win East and 14-1 to win league. Pacers are 12-1 and 25-1. Western: San Antonio over Golden State: Spurs are a big 5-7 pick to win West and 11-2 to win it all. Warriors are 9-1 in conference, 40-1 in league. Oklahoma City over Memphis: Thunder is 3-1 in West, 9-1 in league. Grizzlies are 5-1 to win West, 14-1 to win it all.

A WORD TO ROSS AND TO NFL IN WAKE OF DOLPHINS' LEGISLATIVE DEFEAT: Although it sounds as if Florida House speaker Will Weatherford (the smug-looking guy on the far right) may have done a bit of backstabbing up there in Tally, I can't get as worked up or disappointed as I'm sure Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is over the sudden collapse of his plan for 1aa1willw 1aa1dolrossmassive stadium renovations. That's partly because the plan faced a likely defeat in a Miami-Dade referendum vote even if the Legislature had let it get that far. A quick word to Ross (near right), and to the NFL. To Ross: Understand that most Dolphins fans think the stadium is fine as is (and it is), and are hugely more concerned about the Dolphins getting in the Super Bowl than they are about the stadium hosting Super Bowls. As long as your emphasis is on a winning team, you'll be fine with Dolfans even if there is no canopy to shade them. To the NFL: Threatening to withhhold future Super Bowls if this renovation didn't pass sounded a bit like extortion to folks down here, and that didn't play well. Miami -- even with Dolphins stadium as is -- should continue as a main-rotation factor in the awarding of Super Bowls. This is a destination city. That won't change. Also, a league that just awarded an outdoor Super Bowl to New Jersey -- where snow is very possible and freezing temps all but assured -- ought not wring hands over the idea a Miami Super Bowl might face the threat of rain. If the NFL wants to do what's best for the league and for fans, it should swallow its pride over this legislative defeat and get back to realizing Miami was, and is, a Super Bowl-caliber host.

Dolphins sign Clabo: That's Tyson Clabo, the long-time ex-Falcons right tackle, 31, a one-time Pro Bowl guy (2010) who'll help the blocking front. Good signing.

1aa1howardORB TAKES KENTUCKY DERBY: Orb, third-to-last early, saves energy for a brilliant finish and comfy win. Smartly run race. Good to see the Florida Derby as the springboard here. Pictured: A familiar former FAU football coach, Mr. Howard Schnellenberger, takes in the race today with his properly be-hatted wife Beverlee. Original post: The 139th running is today to launch racing's Triple Crown season, and my rooting interest probably is the betting favorite, Orb. I always root for our Florida Derby winner to represent. I have a funny feeling, though, that 5-1 shot Goldencents may carry the day. It's Rick Pitino's year, and he's part-owner. I always put more stock in gut feelings and supersition in horse racing than in other types of betting. Is that weird? Doubt that'll change until the horses start talking.

1aa1chrgayDOES MEDIA HAVE PRO-GAY, ANTI-CHRISTIAN BIAS?: A reader passed this political cartoon along to me, and I found it thought-provoking enough to post in the blog. I don't know that Christian vs. gay is a parallel discussion. Christian vs. atheist or gay vs. straight would be parallel. I'd also point out that something very unusual is more newsworthy than something common, and so Tebow's religious beliefs are much more common than Collins' ground-breaking revelation. Nevertheless, the cartoon makes its point very well.

1aa1bbsadUPDATED: MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" IN HIBERNATION: We have had this new blog feature we updated as long as Marlins' winning percentage was under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the worst season in modern MLB history and Marlins had been on pace to threaten for awhile. But Miami is now at 10-22 (.313) after today's win, so our Sad-O-Meter is on indefinite hiatus.

Poll result: No contest. Bulls tougher next foe than Nets: We asked, and by an 84.8 percent landslide you said Chicago would be a tougher next playoff opponent for the Heat than Brooklyn. (They meet in Game 7 tonight in the Kings County borough for the right to face Miami).

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May 01, 2013

Good news on Heat's preference for next round; plus Dolphins' biggest need (with poll), Tebow rumor, Broussard, Sad-O-Meter, glowing sheep & more

1aa1king1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 2. Happy dos de Mayo! 2) Always been a big Snoop Dogg fan. Now here is the reincarnated, reggae-fied Snoop Lion: Here Comes The King. 3) Panthers not making the NHL postseason? Unfortunate. Me not having to feign interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Priceless! 4) Click on Weatherman Battles Hiccups on Air for funny vid. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA's gay player, Dolphins' SB odds, Ed DuBois, Sad-O-Meter. 5bJoin us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins/Tebow rumor: How'd it start? I mean beyond ther usual Internet nonsense? Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WQAM this week he "wouldn't be shocked" if Miami showed interest in free agent QB Tim Tebow. That's how. Drew was doing what good agents do: Trying to drum up business. Tying to create the illusion of smoke so there appears to be fire. Most who follow the team closely would be far more shocked than Rosenhaus if Miami showed any interest. Bet against it. Big.

HEAT (AND FANS) SHOULD HAVE CLEAR PREFERENCE IN BULLS-NETS SERIES: [Update: Nets beat Bulls tonight to tie series 3-3, with Game 7 in Brooklyn]. What opponent should Heat players and fans most want to face in the second round starting Monday in Miami? Players would never say it because to do so would build confidence in the team they'd least like to play or incentive in the one they'd prefer. (Also, the confident Heat "fears" no team; Miami instills fear in others). But there is no doubt the Heat matches up better with Brooklyn than 1aa1aheadChicago and should hope the Nets -- who tied the series tonight and now host Game 7 -- can win one more. Miami was 3-0 vs. Brooklyn this season by an average margin of 18 points, but only 2-2 vs. Chicago, which ended Miami's 27-game win streak. But it's more than that, and more than the possibility (however remote) that Bulls star Derrick Rose could make his lonnnnng-awaited return in the next round. It is that Chicago defends Miami's strength better than any team in the NBA. LeBron James driving and then kicking it out for an open corner-3 (Ray Allen's moneymaker) is a huge part of the Heat's game. Miami shot 44 corner 3's in swamping Milwaukee in the first round, or 11 per game. But Chicago's defense this season allowed an NBA-low 3.6 corner-3 attempts per game. ESPN.com statwonk Tom Haberstroh has more on this here. Defensively the Bulls were better than the Nets this season in most categories, but it is their denying the corner-3 that would most challenge the Heat. Also worth noting, Chicago outrebounded Miami by 36 (175-139) in the four season meetings, and limited the Heat to 30 percent on 3-point shots (21-for-70), versus Miami's 41% on 3's against everybody else. Don't get me wrong. Miami still would be a heavy favorite to beat the Bulls, and deservedly. But the challenge would be a stark contrast to the playoffs' "soft opening" in that sweep of the Bucks.

DOLPHINS' BIGGEST REMAINING HOLES, POST-DRAFT: Left tackle seems to be getting most of the current attention and tryout calls (which must make Jonathan Martin feel like crap), and I can 1aa1helpunderstand that. But for me there are other roster soft spots of some concern. They include cornerback, where starters Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall would hardly count among the NFL's best tandems; tight end, where Dustin Keller is a marginal upgrade over departed Anthony Fasano; and perhaps running back, where Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas leave Miami lacking proof. Also wonder if we might add linebacker, where Koa Misi and newcomers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler have much to prove in an overhauled unit. What do you think is the Dolphins' biggest remaining area of concern and why?

Poll note: One choice above is garnering roughly two-thirds of all the votes. There is a phrase in the business for something like that. The phrase is, "Lousy poll idea."

PETITION TO SUSPEND BROUSSARD CIRCULATING: ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard is under fire for calling out-of-the-closet NBA player Jason Collins a sinner and saying his homosexuality is an 1aa1fa"open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ." The faith-based group Faithful America (click for the petition) is collecting online signatures calling for ESPN to suspend Broussard for what the group's executive director Michael Sherrard called allowing Broussard to "mischaracterize our faith and use the teachings of Jesus as the basis for gay-bashing." Faithful America's slogan is, "Love thy neighbor. No Exceptions."

MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" LIVES ON: We have this new blog feature 1aa1bbsadwe're updating as long as the Marlins' winning percentage is under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the single worst season in modern MLB history and the Marlins had been on pace to threaten that ignominy. A recent three-game win streak almost tipped the Fish up over .300 to at least temporarily shut down our Sad-O-Meter, but tonight in Philly made it two losses in a row. So: MARLINS SAD-O-METER: Current record, 8-21 (.276). Updated season pace, 44.69 wins, 117.31 losses.

1aa1glowsheepSOUNDS LIKE A BAA-AAAD IDEA: Scientists in Uruguay have engineered a "genetically modified" sheep that glows in the dark. (And you became a scientist for what exactly!?) WWMT? [What Would (Ron) Magill Think?] Click here for the story. Remember. This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

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