December 31, 2015

It's Clemson-'Bama! Tigers win big, Tide rolls. My postgame thoughts, Orange Bowl game column; plus here are 2015's Top 10 national sports stories. What was biggest? Poll. Vote now!; also, Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all. Make it a safe one. Lots of amateur drinkers out tonight. 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) Brent Grimes' "apology" for his wife slamming Ryan Tannehill was pretty tepid. And still no apology from Miko. 4) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Open letter to Miko Grimes, hot Panthers relevant again, NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 16 results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP award: Receiver/returner Jarvis Landry and strong safety Reshad Jones split Dolphins' MVP award announced today. Hate ties, but both are legit choices. That neither Ryan Tannehill nor Ndamukong Suh won says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach.

Orangebowl ClemsonoklahomaORANGE BOWL/CFP SEMIFINAL: CLEMSON 37, OKLAHOMA 17 (Final): Clemson proved it had no business being the betting underdog in this College Football Playoff semifinal, winning all over the field in a 37-17 domination of favored Oklahoma. The Tigers won where it gets physical, rushing for 312 yards and limiting OU to 67. The Sooners averaged 52 points its previous seven games but was shut out in the second half Thursday. Clemson impressed more than Oklahoma disappointed on this New year's Eve. Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium on tonight's game. ..... Original post: To the sport, it's a College Football Playoff semifinal in the new era's second year. To Miami, it's the 82nd Orange Bowl, the continuation of a tradition conceived in the 1930s to draw attention and boost tourism. To the No. 1 Clemson Tigers and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, it's the win they need to reach the Jan. 11 championship game in Glandale, Ariz., vs. tonight's Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl winner. Click on Miami Sets the Stage for my column previewing the game. Expect fireworks from two quarterbacks who combined for 65 touchdown passes this season. Clemson, though unbeaten and top-ranked, is a betting underdog; the buzz is that Oklahoma is right-now better. I don't buy it. My pick: Clemson 34-31.

2015YOU PICK THE 2015 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in our poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, figuring that if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, chances are the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. We'll ask your vote on the top 10 Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015 in the coming days. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Go!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

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December 20, 2015

G15: Indianapolis 15, Dolphins 6 (Half): Gore leads a parade of ex's hurting the Dolphins thus far. Our halftime thoughts; plus the new Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Christmas weekend filled with even more love than presents! 2) Click on Week 16 Gems for today's Dolphins and other NFL picks. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall in Sun Bowl with CSM poll, team-inspiring-most-optimism verdict & more. 4) ICYMI, click on The Miami 25 for my ranking of the 25 biggest current names in South Florida sports. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Voting continues in season-ending Canesfan poll: Find the latest and season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in the blogpost directly below this new one. Vote and be heard!

Watch for latest Dolfan poll later today: The new Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll will appear right here soon after today's game ends. Estimated posttime: 5 p.m.

G15: INDIANAPOLIS @ DOLPHINS: AS ANOTHER NFL CALENDAR YEAR FIZZLES TO AN END IN MIAMI: Halftime: Miami has only 151 net yards of offense in trailing 15-6 at the half. And the ex's are killing Miami. Ex-Canes Frank Gore, Philip Dorsett and Andre Johnson and ex-FIU'er T.Y. Hilton have 157 combined yards, and ex-Fins Vontae Davis (interception) and Kendall Langford (sack) also are hurting the Dolphins thus far. ..... Second Q: Matt Hasselback knocked from game with shoulder boo-boo; 3rd-stringer Charlie Whitehurst in for Indy. No matter. Gore 11-yard scoring run, his second TD. Ex-Cane is really hurting Miami and Colts now up 15-6 ... MIA within 8-6 on Lamar Miller 1-yard TD run followed by missed 2-point conversion pass. Standard call would have been extra-point kick there. Surprised they went for two so early in game. ... On the bright side. Fins far from out of it. Eight points (should be) a small hole against a bad Colts squad. ..... First Q: Good God, man! Tannehill picked off in end zone. Miami wastes 49-yard completion to DeVante Parker. I said before the 3rd-and-goal pass, "Watch them settle for a field goal." Gave 'em too much credit. ... Colts 8-0 now on Frank Gore 37-yard TD run through at least three missed tackles. Missed extra point. Bad, bad defense. ... Brent Grimes INT negated by his own penalty. ... World-safeties leader Miami is hit with another one. Colts, 2-0. You must be bleepin' kidding me. ... What the Dolphins have to play for? Avoiding a 10-loss season. Yes, It has come down to this. ..... Pregame: Center Mike Pouncey the notable Dolphin inactive today. ..... Note: be live-blogging here during today's Dolphins-Colts game, with a running commentary including halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the appearance of the new DSM poll. ..... Original post: For the seventh season in a row a calendar year ebbs with another Dolphins season petering out playoff-less. Sad. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Dolphins gave their fans the Christmas gift of a playoff team once in a damned while? Instead it’s coal in the Dolfan stocking as a 5-9 Miami team Indmiahosts the Andrew Luck-less 6-8 Colts in the season's next-to-last game. Unlike Miami, Indy still is alive for a playoff spot, though ever so faintly. Despite that Miami is a narrow 2 1/2-point favorite today. I continue to believe that the Dolphins are closer to mediocre than to awful. Sad to say, I guess that makes me an optimist. (Maybe even a homer?) It is the Colts who have been closer to awful lately, with Matt Hasselbeck looking his age (40) in three straight losses. Now creaky Hasselbeck is forced to pitch again Sunday here because Luck, though close, isn’t fully healthy yet. Sidelight: FIU’s T.Y. Hilton returns to Miami for the first time as a pro. He’s been griping about Indy’s play-calling, but it is the Nags’ defense that’s been putrid lately. Ryan Tannehill could roll a 300 against this pass defense and Lamar Miller should find friendly running lanes, too. Indy's playoff prayer is that it must win out and hope Houston loses twice to sneak in. Won’t happen. Fins will see to that today. My pick: Dolphins, 27-17.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four days until CFP semifinal in Miami: No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma arrived in town for their New Year’s Eve faceoff in a College Football Playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl game at Dolphins stadium. Only thing keeping it from being the perfect matchup is that Miami fans don’t get a chance to boo Nick Saban.

2. HURRICANES: UM fails to end postseason drought in Sun Bowl: The Canes lost 20-14 against Washington State on Saturday in El Paso, losing a sixth consecutive bowl. UM’s last postseason win had been after the 2006 season. Counting interim guys, that was six coaches ago.

3. PANTHERS: Red-hot Cats try to extend win streak on Sunday: The Panthers have won five games in a row and 11 of their past 14 to surge within two points of second place in the NHL’s East playoff race entering Sunday’s game against Columbus. If the Cats were any hotter, the ice would be melting under their skates.

4. HEAT: Team stands precariously at season’s one-third mark: Entering Sunday's games, Miami is only a half-game from second place in the NBA East but also only two games from being off playoff pace. Remember phone booths? Picture 10 people crammed into one. That’s the Eastern Conference standings.

5. DOLPHINS: Miami hosts Colts on Sunday in next-to-last game: You are a true Dolfan if you show up Sunday to watch a 5-9 team host the Andrew Luck-less Colts. For a seventh consecutive season, the Dolphins, in lieu of the gift of a playoff season, have rewarded their fans with a metaphorical lump of coal.

6. NBA: Steph tops LeBron in marquee Christmas matchup: Golden State topped Cleveland 89-83 in a Christmas rematch of the NBA Finals. What we learned: It's still Steph Curry's league, LeBron James.

7. NFL: Pro Bowl awards bring usual outcry: Center Mike Pouncey was the lone Dolphin chosen. Bengals QB Andy Dalton and Fins safety Reshad Jones were among notable surprise snubs as the NFL named its annual all-stars. The Pro Bowl. The honor every player wants, even though it's the game nobody wants to play in, or watch.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men and women, both ranked, back in action: No. 13 men (10-1) host Princeton Tuesday, the No. 23 women (12-1) host North Carolina State Wednesday. Great season so far for Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier.
 
9. SOCCER: Blatter, Platini suspended eight years: Disgraced FIFA president Sepp Blatter and European chief Michel Platini received eight-year bans each for their roles in the sport's bribery scandal. Presumably the attempted bribes of the people suspending them did not work.
 
10. YEAR-END AWARDS: The AP anoints Curry, Williams: The Associated Press named NBA star Steph Curry and tennis star Serena Williams its make and female athletes of the year. "What's a horse gotta do to get a trophy," said Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
 
Missing the cut: A drone carrying a TV camera nearly crashed into a World Cup skiier. Some sentences are so ridiculous they require no punchline ... Peyton Manning denies report he used human growth hormone. It'd be a bigger story, but the report is by Al Jazeera, a Qatar-based network ... Farewell, Frank Beamer ... Carolina Panthers go for 15-0 today in Atlanta ... Junior Orange Bowl tennis ended. By habit, disgruntled parents continued screaming over line calls ... Western Kentucky beat  South Florida in Miami Beach Bowl. Marlins Park was half empty. As usual.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Heat, college football, Fish, Cats, Warriors, prep champs, soccer, money, Canes hoops; plus my Dolphins at 50 column, faith in Tannehill eroding & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Faith in Ryan Tannehill poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 14 picks, Trump/Doral and PGA Tour, strength of Serena, Heat at quarter-mark verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins at 50: My latest column: I attended Friday night's lavish Dolphins 50th Anniversary gala in Hollywood and it informs my latest Sunday column on how this franchise is so much better at celebrating its past than it is creating new glory days for its fans. Click on Yesterday Is Great, But What About Tomorrowto read it in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: 50th anniversary celebrated as Fins host Giants on Monday night: As team skids to a seventh straight year out of the playoffs, Dolphins’ 50 greatest all-time players will be introduced at halftime Monday as franchise celebrates 50 years of football. That breaks down to about 40 seasons worthy of actual celebration, and then the last 10 or so.

2. HEAT: Still wondering at NBA’s quarter turn: How good is Miami?: With the season one-fourth done, Miami fans are still trying to decide how good the Heat is. Eastern finals? Barely make playoffs? Stay tuned, although three straight losses entering Sunday's game vs. Memphis have made the latter seem likelier at the moment.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Canes practice for bowl as city prepares to host CFP semifinal: UM readies for the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso as Miami prepares for Clemson-Oklahoma in the Dec. 31 Orange Bowl game. Oh, and if your biggest gripe is why the College Football Playoff semifinals are on New Year’s Eve, you lead a charmed life, friend.

4. MARLINS: Lots of Jose talk, but little action for Fish at winter meetings: The Marlins made headlines entertaining offers but not trading ace Jose Fernandez during the MLB winter meetings in Nashville, but the front office struck out on making any deals to bolster their starting rotation or bullpen.

5. PANTHERS: Government tax help approval assure Cats’ local future: Broward County committed $86 million in tourist tax dollars to keep Panthers in Sunrise at least for 13 more years. Now how about a little payback, Cats? Like an occasional playoff appearance, perhaps?

6. GOLDEN STATE: Warriors finally lose after 24-0 start: It was a 108-95 loss at mediocre Milwaukee that ended the Warriors' record-setting perfect start to the NBA season. Cannot confirm that, out of habit, the '72 Dolphins raised a champagne toast. 

7. HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Four local schools win state titles: Congrats to Miami Central, Booker T. Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas and Flanagan for winning state prep football championships. Can we invent some way for that success to trickle up to the Canes and Dolphins, please? 

8. SOCCER: Champions League, Euro '16 draw have fans buzzing: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich lead the field that is down to the round of 16. Meanwhile the 24 teams have been set for next summer's Euro 2016. America contributes Portland beating Columbus for the MLS Cup title. Hey, it's better than nothing!

9. BASEBALL SPENDING: Greinke the latest to get windfall: Arizona acquired ace Zack Greinke by agreeing to pay him $206.5 million over six years. Based on my math he'll average about $1 million per start, or per starts missed injured. Put a baseball in Junior's crib, Dad.

10. CANES BASKETBALL: College hoops in Miami back with a vengeance in six days: Saturday, Dec. 19 Mark it. That's when the 10-0 UM women host No. 4 Baylor, the 17th-ranked Canes men host Charleston, and the OB Classic pits in Sunrise pits FSU vs. FAU and Florida vs Oklahoma State.

Missing the cut: They announced Alabama running back Derrick Henry as the Heisman Trophy winner Saturday. I thought I saw Nick Saban almost smile but it may have just been indigestion ... Carolina Panthers put their 12-0 record on line today. Sorry, Cats, we'll pay attention when you're going for 16-0, or 19-0 ... LeBron James signs lifetime deal with Nike. Am picturing LeBron, at 75, pushing Nike's new line of orthopedic bedroom slippers ... Florida Panthers reportedly will unveil a new logo and jersey design next season. Better they should unveil a team good enough to make the playoffs ... Dolphins safety Reshad Jones has undertakena Twitter campaign  to get Pro Bowl votes. Another idea he might consider: An interception or two on Monday Night Football ... R.I.P., NBA pioneer Dolph Schayes, gone at 87. "Sad. There aren't many of us left," noted Dolph Lundgren ... The week-long Orange Bowl International Junior tennis tournament ends Sunday in Plantation. It'll seem so quiet without all those boorish parents yelling ... New York Supreme Court ruled against DraftKings and FanDuel as those daily fantasy sites continue an apparent slide toward extinction. Sure will miss all those TV commercials (!).

Poll result: Faith in Tannehill is dwindling: We asked your degree of faith that QB Ryan Tannehill is as good as the Dolphins need him to be -- two months after asking the same thing. The downturn in faith is notable:

Faith level        Now        October

Strong              9.1%        12.9%

Medium            18.3%      29.1%

Wavering          36.8%      31.9%

Weak               35.8%      26.1%

Tannehill's strong or medium support has shrunk from 42.0% to 27.4%, while his wavering or weak support has increased from 58.0% to 72.6%. This is far from scientific. But it is a snapshot that indicates Tannehill has work to do in restoring the faith in him. Because, without question, it is eroding.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 19, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOPY: FLOWERS POWER! 'STATE HEISMAN' HAS A NEW LEADER: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is too close to call as we reach the final stretch. It's Sopynow South Florida QB Quinton Flowers narrowly ahead of Florida State RB Dalvin Cook. It's pretty much a two-man race because FIU QB Alex McGough has fallen to third place and has played one additional game than the players he must catch. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 12:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 05, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 2.7%; plus Fins fizzle 'n fall in London, now 1-3 as Philbin loses job; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 5: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes lose in Cincy and CSM poll, NFL Week 4 picks, locals teams in 'Ultimate Standings,' D.Wade on fashion, 'Marlins Man' motives & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Live in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find them boht directly beneath the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 2.7 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Sunday's 27-14 loss to the New York Jets in London putting Miami's season record at 1- 1aa1adsm3. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading 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 4:30 p.m. today/Monday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Next DSM poll: Oct. 18 (following game at Tennessee)

G4: DOLPHINS VS. JETS IN LONDON: FINAL: Miserable. The final score makes the Dolphins loss seem almost respectable, but it was not. Miami trailed throughout, could not run the ball, could not protect Tannehill, could not stop the run. It was a fundamental ass-kicking arising from domination of both Miami lines. Jarvis Landry had a positive impact. Nobody else showed up. I am not sure if this will save Joe Philbin's job with the team 1-3 after three straight bad losses and the bye week up next. ..... Fourth Q: Tanny picked in end zone on ball Jordan Cameron might have caught. Turn out the lights. The London party's over. ... Kenny Stills 33-yard catch. MIA still has a pulse, but a faint one, at 2-minute warning. ... Derrick Shelby fumble recovery for MIA with 3:51 left is overturned on review. That'll do it. ... Miami had 1st and goal at NYJ 2 with chance to still win this game. Instead, Tanny picked off in end zone by Darrelle Revis when Landry slips and falls with 5 minutes left. ... DeVante Parker flagged for offensive pass interference to negate TD toss to Landry. ... Another one. Jets penalties really helping Miami. ... The human spark, Landry, with a 24-yard punt return. Do you believe in miracles? ... Tanny to Kenny Stills for 9-yard TD pass and Fins within 27-14. Landry 28-yard punt return sparked the drive. So little has gone right for Miami I thought I'd mention it. ... Dolphins can't win this. All they can do is show a little fight and heart. But will they? ..... Third Q: Zach Bowman interception for Miami D but they make nothing of it and punt. Fins now 0-for-9 on third down conversions. ... Jets miss 41-yard FG. Hey something went right for Miami!! ... No signs of a miracle comeback. ... Miami needed a big stop and didn't get it. Half-opening Jets TD drive makes it 27-7. Getting ugly. ..... Halftime: Ouch. Miami is being dominated, bearing in mind Fins' only TD was abetted by 58 yards in Jets penalties. Dolphins will rally in second half or put Joe Philbin;s job in grave jeopardy. ..... Second Q: Momentum lost. NYJ now up 20-7 just before half on Ryan Fitzpatrick to Eric Decker TD. ... Miami TD then a Jets punt. For first time today Miami has an ounce of momentum. ... MIA within 13-7 on 8-yard scoring pass from Tannehill to the gloriously named Jake Stoneburner. Dolphins benefited from 58 yards in pass-interference penalties against Jets. ... Fins hole now 13-0 after Planes FG. ... Dolphins need one big play in the worst way. A takeaway. Anything. ..... First Q: Big to force that Jets punt. Miami is one big play from getting back in this game. ... At 10-0, Planes, this if fourth straight game Miami has had a double-digits deficit. Slow starts a killer. ... NYJ 7-0 on short Chris Ivory TD run set up by 58-yard pass to Brandon Marshall over Brent Grimes. And yet another early hole for Dolphins. ... Game-opening punt for Miami. Bad sign. Dolphins offense struggling + Jets defense good = not a fortuitous combo for Fins tosay. ..... Original post: You may recall that I wrote from the home loss to Buffalo last week that coaches already on the hot seat sometimes do not survive embarrassing defeats as bad as that one. 1aa1adollondonWell, NFL.com first reported Friday night that -- with a bye week looming -- owner Stephen Ross might fire coach Joe Philbin if today's 9:30 a.m. game vs. the Jets in London produced another dispiriting result. We don't know this to be true, of course. Nobody but Ross knows at the moment. Reports citing anonymous sources must be treated as speculation. And in-season coaching changes rarely spark a dramatic turnaround. But it would make some sense. A loss would make the Dolphins, who expected a playoff season, 1-3 with a third straight defeat. A competitive loss might not cost Philbin his job, but a blowout very well could. Are those enough stakes for you, Dolfan? "Breakfast at Wembley" could completely reshape Philbin's life and this 50th Dolphins season. I don't see a blowout. But I do see a tough matchup for the Dolphins: a struggling offense facing a very stout Jets defense. My pick: Jets, 19-17. (Click on Week 4 Gems for all my latest NFL picks).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCT. 4): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins fizzle in London, Philbin future in peril: If this was Breakfast at Wembley, the Dolphins just upchucked, losing 27-14 in a game that hated Stinkin' Jets thoroughly dominated. Cannot confirm speculation that, with Miami now 1-3 after a third straight dispiriting loss, coach Joe Philbin faces deportation and may be denied a return to the U.S. Or at least to Miami.

2. HURRICANES: UM tries to shake loss as FSU Week awaits: Thursday night’s 34-23 loss at Cincinnati turns up heat on UM coach Al Golden as Canes prepare now to visit No. 11 Florida State next Saturday. Few coaches need a positive result more than Golden needs to beat the Noles in Tallahassee – unless it’s Philbin in London, of course. 

3. HEAT: Miami drops first preseason game Sunday: The Heat lost to visiting Charlotte 90-77 here Sunday in its first preseason game and next plays Orlando Wednesday. Chris Bosh looked strong, though. Unfortunately center Hassan Whiteside hasn’t practiced yet because of a strained calf. Hmm. Wait. Didn’t Hassan have about six months to rest and be healthy and ready?

4. MARLINS: Dee Gordon wins batting title as Fish wrap season: Dee Gordon winning the NL batting title and Justin Bour's emergence were highlights but can't sugarcoat a disappointing 91-loss season that ended for Miami Sunday in Philadelphia. A new manager might help. Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez healthy for a whole season will help more.

5. BASEBALL: MLB postseason begins on Tuesday: Baseball playoffs open with wild-card games Tuesday and Wednesday, followed immediately by the start of the two ALDS and NLDS series. This year the New York Yankees and Mets both made it. So all of America has a rooting-against interest, at least.

6. GATORS: Huge Swamp upset of No. 3 Ole Miss!: Third-ranked Ole Miss and No. 25 Florida gave the Swamp its first Top 25 matchup since 2012 last night, and the ease of Florida's 38-10 win was a stunner. Didn't think that Ole Miss offense could be stopped like that, but The Gator was chompin'.

7. PANTHERS: Cats five days from NHL season opener: Florida has ended its preseason and now commences real hockey at home vs. Philadelphia next Saturday. Many experts see a playoff team. Considering the Panthers have been one of those only once in past 15 years, count the law of averages in Cats’ favor, at least.

8. LIONEL MESSI: Barcelona star out seven-plus weeks: A knee injury will shelve the sublime Barca scoring star almost two months. Although Messi's so good he could go out there in a full body cast and still average two goals a game.

9. NASCAR: Tony Stewart reveals retirement plans: Volatile NASCAR star announced that 2016 would be his final season of racing. Remember when star athletes quietly retired after the fact rather than trumpeting their own year-long, " worship me" farewell tour.

10. JURISPRIDENCE: Court strikes down college-athlete payment plan: A federal appeals court struck down a plan that would have paid NCAA football and basketball players up to $5,000 a year. Thank God. That might have cut into those $12 million coaching salaries!

Missing the cut: WNBA Finals underway ... Jordan Spieth tops golf's richest year ... FIU at Massachusetts ... Pro beach volleyball in Fort Lauderdale ... UM starts basketball practice ... Derrick Rose's latest surgery ... Miami's Ernst "Nono" Jean-Baptiste running for FIFA president ... Miami High vs. Coral Gables, 50 years later.

THE HOT LIST: COLD DOLPHINS STARTS: Say what you will about Ndamukong Suh's low impact or the run defense, but Miami's biggest fundamental, bottom-line issue after three games is a lack of scoring. Its 51 total points rank 27th in the NFL, and only 11 times in the franchise's 50 seasons has Miami scored fewer through three games. Dolphins' worst point totals after three games:

Points    Year    Record    Coach/QB

23         2004    4-12       Wannstedt/Feeley

34         1968    5-8-1      Wilson/Griese

36         2006    6-10       Saban/Culpepper

37         1988    6-10       Shula/Marino

42         1967    4-10       Wilson/Griese

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

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September 25, 2015

Dolphins/NFL Week 3 picks (uh oh); plus Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson retires right, Panthers' Jaromir Jagr teaches us how to handle a blackmail attempt; also happy birthday to us, revisiting Bullygate, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1aa1abobblepope1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat future power rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins 50th team, Florida Sports Hall of Fame, latest SOPY rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1a10Happy birthday to us!: Light the candles because our Random Evidence blog turns 10 this week. We were christened as the Miami Herald first's online blog at this time in 2005 and, thanks to you, we're still going strong as the only MiamiHerald.com sports blog that covers local teams, national issues and also delves outside sports -- always with an eye on humor. Thanks for joining us on the ride!

"Welcome, Pope Francis, to America. We're still on for lunch today, right?" --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 3: Licking wounds from a tough Week 2 (we had a 7-9 record overall, 8-8 1aa1afripixvs. the spread), we barrel on undeterred in our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions. Week 3 got off to a strong start last night as we correctly had Giants winning and covering. Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins are upset losers at home to Buffalo (sorry), and Cowboys stay unbeaten despite no Tony Romo. Also click on Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood for my accompanying Friday Page column. I write how about Aaron Rodgers' greatness overall reaches another level altogether at home.

CHAD "OCHOCINCO" JOHNSON IS DOING RETIREMENT RIGHT: I enjoyed writing today's column catching up with retired receiver Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, the Miami-raised eccentric who last played in the 1aa1apchoNFL in 2011 and got his last shot in '12 training camp with Miami. He's one of a kind. Plays in a local men's soccer league. Shows up at strangers' houses challenging to play them in video soccer. He has 3.6 million Twitter followers and is blurring the line between celebrity and regular folks, making them one. He collects adventures and is having way too much fun to miss football. Click on Ocho to read the column in full. There are some great photos of Chad playing soccer in West Kendall by Gaston De Cardenas accompanying the column, including the one shown. Because Johnson is such a character, you forget what a great player he was. Great enough that, when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible next year, he should get a serious consideration. I certainly don't see him as a first-ballot guy and probably would bet he won't ever get into Canton, but check out the career comparison between Johnson and Michael Irvin, who is in Canton. Except that Irvin played for a more glamorous teams and has Super Bowl rings, they're close to the same. Food for thought:

                    Years    Catches    Yards        TDs   Pro Bowls

Irvin               12        750        11,904       65         5

Johnson          11        766        11,059       67         6

1aa1ajagrPANTHERS' JAGR HANDLES BLACKMAIL THREAT WITH SPLENDID NONCHALANCE: The Florida Panthers and ageless 43-year-old star Jaromir Jagr are in their preseason, and this happened to Jagr very recently. It's a bad-turned-great story on many levels. Essentially, in a blackmail attempt, somebody said to Jaromir, "We have compromising photos!!" And his response was to pretty much yawn and say, "Yeah? So?" An 18-year-old Czech model allegedly/reportedly tried to extort $2,000 from Jagr to stop her from releasing a photo of the two of them in bed following a recent go-round, according to the Czech tabloid Blesk. Jagr declined to pay, obviously not bothered by the photo (which I show here). Blesk identified the model as "Catherine from Moravia." She has since been identified elsewhere as Katka Provaznikova. In any case why would Jagr be bothered by this photo? He's single and he's famously active socially (shall we say), sort of a Derek Jeter on skates. What this model thought would bring him shame and embarrassment is far more likely to bring him high-fives from envious Panthers teammates and admiring NHL rivals.

REVISITING BULLYGATE: As 2013 Dolphins Bullygate central figure Richie Incognito returns to Miami this week as a Buffalo Bill, former Fins offensive line coach Jim Turner -- fired as a result of the scandal -- is in court with a lawsuit against Ted Wells, the NFL lawyer whose report Turner says made him a scapegoat and defamed him. Read this week's Daily Business Review update on the case here.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (150 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton once led comfortably before his extended injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the most impactful overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 150 games (actually 152, at 65-87):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @140 

1  Dee Gordon                505.9    1

2  Martin Prado              374.3    4

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   2

4  Christian Yelich         363.2   5

5  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    3

6  Justin Bour                 345.2    7

7  Jacob Realmuto          339.8   6

8  Marcell Ozuna            316.7   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              253.1   9

10  Derek Dietrich          228.9   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 9, Gordon 5.

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

August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by PredictionMachine.com has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:

 

12.2%:
 
5.1%: Team 1 ( 
 
 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.
 
1.7%: 
 
1.7%: 
 
1.0%: 

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 19, 2015

Grading South Florida sports fans: We examine attendance for our 15 most prominent pro and college teams. Who has best fans? Poll. Vote!; plus Herald's 'Fins at 50' project, Heat projection, Jarvis Landry saving dogs' lives & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in a preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My Don Shula video, Hot Button Top 10, fashionista Serena, Heat/Christmas verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Delmas out for season: Dolphins safety Louis Delmas will miss the entire 2015 season with a knee injury (torn ACL) sustained in practice, it was announced today. That's a fairly big blow to the defense, but hardly an insurmountable one. 

NFL yardage-leader odds: Via Bovada, Andrew Luck is betting favorite to lead NFL in passing yards at 7-2, with Dolphin Ryan Tannehill 33-1 (13th). Adrian Peterson is 7-2 fave to lead in rushing yards, with Miami's Lamar Miller 50-1 (tie 17th). And Antonio Brown is receiving yards pick at 11-2 odds, with Dolphin Jarvis Landry 66-1 (tie 21st). 

Con-men and South Florida sports: There's an in-depth piece this week at Grantland.com (click here to read) on how South Florida's hustler culture and engulfed Heat players in financial scams. All of this has been well-covered, but this is a comprehensive overview worth your time.

1aa1afinsat50 1aa1afinsat50HERALD'S 'FINS AT 50' SPECIAL PROJECT: The Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season is now online. Click on FINS AT 50 to access the entire project and all of its parts. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND is my column and accompanying video on the great Don Shula. 50 GREATEST is my list of the 50 greatest figures (not just players) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM are my picks for, well, for the Dolphins' all-time team! And VIDEO INTERVIEWS includes my conversations with not only Shula but also with Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. Enjoy! 

1aa1acardreportGRADING THE FANS: EXAMINING ATTENDANCE FOR SOUTH FLORIDA'S 14 MOST PROMINENT PRO AND COLLEGE TEAMS: We examined the attendance of South Florida's 15 most visible sports teams (five pro, 10 college), compared how it ranks among others in its leagues, and doled out grades out how each team is doing drawing fans. Only two of the 14 earned a better than average grade. Our results:

GRADE A

1aa1aheatMiami Heat: Heat averaged 19,712 last season, officially 100.6 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked sixth of 30 NBA teams, even with no LeBron James and a non-playoff team. What Pat Riley has built continues to be a South Florida juggernaut of interest.

GRADE B

1aa1adolfansMiami Dolphins: The Fins averaged 70,035 per game last season, 92.7 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked 14th of 32 NFL teams. For a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2008 and hasn't won in the postseason since 2000, that isn't bad. An improved team and stadium-makeover both will help.

Miami Hurricanes baseball: Canes averaged 2,738 per game last season, which ranked 27th among NCAA Division I schools. UM was one of only 18 schools to surpass 100,000 (101,296) in total home attendance.

GRADE C

1aa1acanesfbMiami Hurricanes football: The Canes averaged 52,518 per game last season. That ranked 40th of 125 NCAA teams at the premier FBS level. "C" means average, and that is what UM attendance, like the team itself, has become.

Miami Hurricanes men's basketball: UM averaged 5,777 per game last season, 93rd of 344 NCAA Division I teams. Canes under Jim Larranaga have ranged from competitive to quite good and must find way to more consistently fill their modestly-sized (just under 8,000) campus arena.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers: The Strikers averaged 3,626 per game in 2014 (combined spring and fall seasons), which ranked ninth of 10 NASL soccer. But attendnace through seven home games in 2015 has risen to 5,551, ranking seventh of 11 teams.

GRADE D

1aa1aballparkMiami Marlins: The Marlins are averaging 22,263 this season through 58 of 81 home games, or 59.5 percent of capacity. That attendance ranks 27th of 30 MLB teams. Clearly, the new ballpark has not been a panacea. But this season has been a major disappointment and will mark a sixth straight losing season, which would be debilitating for most any city's attendance.

Miami Hurricanes women's basketball: UM's women averaged 1,254 per game last season, which ranked 113th of 344 NCAA Division I teams. The good news? That's better than 231 others schools did. The  bad news? Coach Katie Meier consistently fields a quality product that deserves better.

FAU football: The Owls averaged 14,122 last season, roughly half of the stadium's capacity. That attendance ranked 117th of 125 FBS teams. The nifty little campus stadium that Howard Schnellenberger saw built has not been the fan kick-starter hoped.   

GRADE F

1aa1afiufbFIU football: The Panthers averaged 11,966 last season, about half of capacity. That attendnace ranked 123rd of 125 FBS schools, ahead of only Akron and Ball State. FIU must grow to meet the NCAA's 15,000 standard or risk demotion from the top-tier FBS level.

Florida Panthers: The Cats averaged 11,265 per game last season, 66.1 percent of capacity. That attendance ranked dead last in the NHL, 30th of 30 teams. You can't get lower than that, so shouldn't the grade be rock-bottom, too? I can't see how this franchise can survive long-term in South Florida unless it starts consistently winning and the fan interest jumps commensurately.

FIU men's basketball: Panthers averaged 1,474 per game last season, 268th of 344 Division I men's teams.  

FAU men's basketball: Owls averaged 1,346 per game last season, 281st of 344 teams.

FAU women's basketball: Owls women averaged 601 per game last season, 294th of 344 teams.

FIU women's basketball: And playing the caboose, Panthers women averaged 355 per game last season, 310th of 344 teams. That's officially "friends 'n family" territory.

NFL: IF THE BACKUP QB'S WERE STARTERS...: PredictionMachinbe.com, evidently with time on its hands, used its computers to figure how each team's playoff likelihood would change if the No. 2 quarterback were to start all 16 games. The biggest dropoff was New England's minus 54.4 percent from Tom Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo. The least was Jacksonville's plus 2.3% from Blake Bortles to Chad Henne. Miami had a modest 11.4% dropoff from Ryan Tannehill to Matt Moore, which ranked midpack (17th) in the league. It was 52.7% with Tannehill and 41.3% with Moore, who had the third-highest percentage of any backup.

WHY PLAY THE SEASON? HERE'S HOW HEAT WILL FINISH: ESPN.com's eighth annual NBA "Summer Forecast" is out, and its experts panel says Miami will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference at 47-35, after Cleveland (59-23), Chicago (50-32) and Atlanta (50-32). I think that's overestimating the Hawks and think the Heat have a great shot at third. Miami would host fifth place Washington in the first round of the playoffs if the forecast holds true. So there. Why even play the season?

JARVIS LANDRY WANTS TO SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE: The Dolphins' second-year receiver has recorded a public-service video for PETA urging you to avoid baking your dog in a closed car. Sounds like good advice! Here it is:

 

SEMI-HOT MARLINS: In a respite from The Lost Season, a small island in the roiling sea, your Marlins have won five of their past seven games, despite Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich all being on the DL. This rivals the second-best stretch Miami has had all season, deferring only to a 9-1 run April 22 to May 2. I continue to think this team can be very good next season, with a real manager and much better health the starting requisites.

THE LIST: NFL COACHING VICTORIES: The 10 winningest coaches for combined regular season and playoff career victories, and their percentage of losing seasons:

Coach                     Wins       Losing seasons

Don Shula               347          6.1% (2 of 33)

George Halas          324        15.0% (6 of 40)

Tom Landry            270        31.0% (9 of 29)

Bill Belichick          233        25.0% (5 of 20)

Curley Lambeau     229        18.2% (6 of 33)

Paul Brown            222         16.0% (4 of 25)

Chuck Noll             209         30.4% (7 of 23)

M. Schottenheimer 205           9.5% (2 of 21)

Dan Reeves            201         39.1% (9 of 23)

Chuck Knox           193         36.4% (8 of 22)

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 09, 2015

Here are your choices as Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes of All-Time!; plus new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, NFL, Hurricanes, golf, soccer, Heat, Trump; also latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 10. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, was off but will return in six days. 2) Click on Let Howard In! for our latest column, which makes the case why Howard Schnellenberger should be in the College Football Hall of Fame. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes poll, ESPN college 100, Jon Stewart's finale, Republican debate & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"The most unusual, shocking thing I saw in the Dolphins scrimmage Friday night? That's easy. FIU's football stadium filled with people." --Greg Cote

1aa1airvibnmYOUR TOP 10 GREATEST HURRICANES OF ALL-TIME: We invited you to select, from our hand-picked list of 30 finalists, the Top 10 Greatest Hurricanes football players of all-time and more than 5,600 votes were cast -- with mostly impressive results. I think the Top 10 is legit, although I do think two men relegated to the second tier, Bennie Blades and Jim Otto, deserved a little more love. Rankings are based on overall percentage of total top-10 ballots that included the player. Your Top 10:

1. Michael Irvin, WR, 1985-87 (pictured): 89.9 percent.

2. Ray Lewis, LB, 1993-95: 83.1%.

3. Ed Reed, S, 1998-01: 82.8%.

4. Warren Sapp, DT, 1992-94: 66.0%.

5. Jerome Brown, DT, 1983-86: 61.6%.

6. Sean Taylor, S, 2001-03: 57.6%.

7. Edgerrin James, RB, 1996-98: 56.9%.

8. Jim Kelly, QB, 1979-82: 56.0%.

9. Ted Hendricks, LB, 1966-68: 54.5%.

10. Bernie Kosar, QB, 1983-84: 42.8%.

The second 10: DT Cortez Kennedy 41.4, QB Ken Dorsey 41.0, DT Russell Maryland 36.8, QB Vinny Testaverde 33.9, S Bennie Blades 28.7, RB Ottis Anderson 25.5, C Jim Otto 17.3, RB Clinton Portis 16.2, RB Duke Johnson 15.2, KR Devin Hester 13.9.

The others: RB Chuck Foreman 13.6, WR Santana Moss 13.2, QB Gino Torretta 13.0, LB Jonathan Vilma 11.6, QB George Mira Sr. 10.2, QB Steve Walsh 10.2, FB Don Bosseler 4.1, WR Jim Dooley 2.1, RB Eddie Dunn 0.5, CB Burgess Owens 0.4.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 9): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Suh impresses (shocker!) in Fins scrimmage; preseason on deck: With preseason opener in three days, this Thursday at Chicago, Dolphins held a full scrimmage at FIU Friday night and the takeaway was Ndamukong Suh dominating Miami's interior offensive line. Our three-way summary, with apologies to N.W.A.: Straight Outta Guards.

2. MARLINS: Fish are worst in MLB, and now Jose is hurting, too: Marlins ended a six-game losing skid Sunday but still are only 6-17 since All-Star break, have sunk to worst record in baseball, and now ace Jose Fernandez -- the bright spot -- is headed to the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness. So how's that managerial switch to non-manager Dan Jennings working out, Jeffrey Loria?

3. NFL: Preseason begins in Canton: It was Vikings over Steelers 14-3 last night in annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, O., and nobody is happier for games than besieged commissioner Roger Goodell after an unending torrent of Ray Rice, arrests and Deflategate. Whoever thought the games themselves would be the welcome distraction?

4. HALL OF FAME: Seau leads latest football inductions: Junior Seau posthumously led Saturday's eight-man induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, O. Another inductee, Jerome Bettis, told a reporter he was inspired late in his career by a Miami Herald column by Greg Cote that called him "Hall of Almost." (You're welcome, Jerome). 

5. HURRICANES: Who besides Kaaya will stand up and stand out?: With practice underway and Sept. 5 season opener now less than a month away, ESPN.com's preseason Top 100 players in college football listed only one Hurricane -- quarterback Brad Kaaya at No. 97. Other Canes rising may determine whether the heat on AL Golden eases or intensifies.

6. GOLF: PGA Championship set to tee off: The PGA Championship, the season's fourth and last major, begins this Thursday in Wisconsin with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy set to return from his basketball injury. Tiger Woods also is playing. Remember when the odds of his winning a major were better than the odds he wouldn't make the cut?

7. NFL: First court appearance this week in Brady vs. league: This Wednesday is first scheduled court appearance for Tom Brady and Roger Goodell in Brady's lawsuit vs. NFL to rescind his four-game Deflategate suspension. The way the American legal system works, figure there may be a verdict soon after Brady retires.

8. SOCCER: EPL kicks off across the pond: Increasingly popular in America, the English Premier League kicked off this weekend. Don't expect many surprises, though. The league is top-heavy with only four or five teams considered to be realistic championship contenders. We have a phrase in the U.S. for that kind of predictability and lack of parity: "the NBA."

9. HEAT: No Miami players on Team USA roster: USA Basketball and coach Mike Krzyzewski released a list of 34 players, led by LeBron James, invited to this week's minicamp in Las Vegas. Notably absent: Any Heat players. Dwyane Wade was not selected. Chris Bosh might have been but still is recuperating from his blood clot scare.

10. DONALD TRUMP: The Donald doesn't disappoint in first debate: Ten leading Republicans gathered in Cleveland for their first presidential debate but, really, it was Donald Trump and nine other guys. Bumper sticker: 'Honk If You've Been Insulted by Donald Trump.'

Missing the HB10 cut: R.I.P., Frank Gifford, 84. ..... Floyd Mayweather says his final fight will be Sept. 12. Date of his final fight after that not yet announced. ..... Little League World Series regionals underway but, with no Mo'Ne Davis, do we care? ..... LPGA pioneer Louise Suggs dies. ..... American teen Katie Ledecky shines at world swimming championships in Russia. ..... 49ers cut troubled Aldon Smith. ..... Hurricanes women's basketball on exhitbition tour in Europe. ..... Finally, more than 10,000 people filled an arena in Seattle to watch two teams of video gamers compete. No, Seriously.

WEIGHING THE FISH (110 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10- 1aa1afishweighgames (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking, including the traded Morse. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race drawn close now by Stanton's continuing injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 110 games (actually 111, at 43-68):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @100

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                350.9    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   316.6   3

4  Christian Yelich        272.6   5

5  Jacob Realmuto         246.4    4

6  Martin Prado              244.9   6

7  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   7

8  Justin Bour                 207.9    8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              183.5   9

10  Derek Dietrich          143.1   --

11  Michael Morse          115.4   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 2.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

July 27, 2015

Harvard (yes, Harvard) says Dolphins will make Super Bowl; plus Zoran Dragic, latest Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Marlins, Heat, Canes, Cooperstown, Froome, Cowherd, soccer, Pan Am; also Stanton-Tannehill and Cosby-O.J. verdicts & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 27. Heat today reportedly have traded Zoran Dragic to Boston -- with the blessing of brother Goran. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's Next poll (Stanton vs. Tannehill), Al Golden's Kumbaya Manifesto, Dolphins among Top 100 players, Fall From Grace poll, U.S. men's shame, Weighing The Fish & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Sunday at Cooperstown: It was one of baseball's most illustrious inductions days. ICYMI, click here to see the four plaques, hear the tribute videos and watch the induction speeches.

HARVARD STUDY FORECASTS DOLPHINS IN SUPER BOWL. NO, SERIOUSLY: OK, Dolfans. You wanted a foundation (I mean beyond the law of averages) for your optimism about this coming season? You got it. 1aa1asb50A study by the brainiacs at Harvard University forecasts a Seattle-Miami Super Bowl. This is via the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization "dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management." In this study, researcher Kurt Bullard used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value statistic, the site’s measure of comparing individual talent. Then Bullard, using ESPN’s NFL depth charts, aggregated each team’s per-game Approximate Value of what he judged the "core" makeup of a team: QB, RB, 2 WR, TE, top 2 OL, top 4 "front seven" defenders and top 2 players from secondary. Click here for details of the study and the complete list of how teams ranked. The study lists AFC East playoff likelihood as Dolphins 77 percent, Patriots 62%, Jets 56% and Bills 43%. Here are the study's projected eight AFC and NFC playoff teams based on overall ratings:

AFC: Dolphins 145 points, Chiefs 142, Patriots 141, Broncos 137, Jets 134, Colts 133, Bills 133, Steelers 132. NFC: Seahawks 166, Packers 154, Lions 136, Giants 126, Eagles 125, Cowboys 123, Falcons 120, Saints and Cardinals (tried) 119.

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open training camp in three days: Team assembles on Wednesday and practices for first time on Thursday as lid lifts on club's 50th anniversary season. Joe Philbin will remind players they're there to win a championship. Um, yeah so will 31 other NFL head coaches. Question is whether Miami will be among the handful that actually might.

2. MARLINS: Fish return home (finally!) as trade deadline looms: Off a 3-7 road grind, Marlins are back Tuesday vs. Nationals with Jose Fernandez pitching, Miami's first home game in 16 days. Meantime team traded defrocked closer Steve Cishek to Cards for a minor-leaguer with more deals likely before July 31 deadline. In other words, there's 60-plus games left, but season is over,

3. HURRICANES: UM sees "accountability" as football nears: Al Golden is talking up intangibles like accountability and leadership as UM nears Aug. 6 start of practice. "One heartbeat," he says. Call it Camp Kumbaya. Now if Canes can just replace Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman and four other NFL draftees, they might be OK.

4. BASEBALL: Pitchers lead incoming Hall of Fame class: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, who combined for 735 wins, joined Craig Biggio in the latest Hall of Fame induction class Sunday in Cooperstown, N.Y. Johnson stood out. The 10-time All-Star won 303 games, struck out 4,875 and is sport's all-time career leader in mullets.

5. HEAT: Miami trades Napier to Magic: Heat yesterday dealt second-year guard Shabazz Napier to Orlando Magic for a second-round draft pick. Miami would have much preferred Magic take Mario Chalmers (and his salary). Chalmers and/or Birdman Andersen may yet be traded. 

6. CYCLING: Froome zooms to Tour de France victory: Great Britain's Chris Froome won his second Tour de France in the 102nd running of the event beset by recent doping scandals. How boring. Why couldn't the upset winner have been some 9-year-old kid riding a beat-up Schwinn with baseball cards flapping in the spokes?

7. COLIN COWHERD: ESPN removes radio host over comments: ESPN booted radio host Colin Cowherd from its air after widespread criticism met his suggestion that Dominican baseball players lacked intelligence. Maybe Cowherd saw that making idiotic, insulting statements seemed to be working for Donald Trump and thought he’d give it a try, too!

8. BASEBALL: Hamels tosses no-hitter as pitchers steal season spotlight: Phillies' Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs Saturday, surely boosting his trade value. Meantime Dodgers aces Zack Greinke (43 2/3) and Clayton Kershaw (29) entered the weekend with 72 2/3 combined shutout innings in a row, though Greinke's streak ended Sunday at 45 2/3. Batters, ya'll need some Viagra for those bats! (Well, except Alex Rodriguez, who hit three homers Saturday).

9. GOLF: It's 'The American Year' on PGA Tour: Zach Johnson's British Open win last Monday, following Jordan Spieth's Masters and U.S. Open triumphs, means 2015 could be the first year since 1982 that U.S. golfers win all four majors. Too bad this sport and its “Quiet Please” signs frown upon a good, loud “U.S.A!” chant.

10. SOCCER: No U.S., but there was Gold Cup final, anyway: Philadelphia hosted Mexico's 3-1 win over Jamaica in CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer final last night -- hardly the championship match expected. Jamaica stunned the U.S in one semifinal and Mexico lucked to beat Panama in the other thanks to outrageous penalty-kick calls.

Missing the HB10 cut: U.S. won medals count as Pan American Games ended Sunday in Toronto. Pan Am Games are best known for drinking heavily and undergoing years of therapy from being lost in shadow of the bigger, more prestigious Olympic Games. ..... Pro Football Hall of Fame, in apparent effort to make itself seem heartless and small, refuses to let Junior Seau's family speak at next month’s posthumous induction ..... Wednesday is “Writers Night” at Marlins Park, with contest-winning fans watching game in company of Miami Herald sportswriters. One person will then be chosen for Grand Prize: Getting to ditch the writers and return to his regular seat ..... Annual WNBA All-Star Game was Saturday and MLS all-stars play Wednesday. Still intact: My incredible personal record of having never watched a single second of either. ..... U.S. Department of Justice drops 10-year investigation of Barry Bonds with no ultimate conviction. Hmm. Why do people keep saying the government wastes so much money?

Poll result: Stanton beats Tannehill for top-tier potential: We asked whether Giancarlo Stanton or Ryan Tannehill was more likely, 10 years from now, to be considered in Dan Marino/Dwyane Wade territory as an all-time great, beloved Miami sports star, and the Marlins slugger beat the Dolphins quarterback by 54.7 percent to 45.3%.

Poll result: O.J. edges Cosby for biggest fall from grace: It was one of the closest results we've ever seen. We asked whether Bill Cosby or O.J. Simpson had the bigger, more notorious fall from grace, and the dubious "winner" was O.J. with 51.5 percent to Cosby's 48.5%.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...