February 04, 2017

Dolphins' Taylor elected to Hall of Fame! How I did on my Canton predictions; plus latest and Super Bowl With a Smirk, Hot Button Daily & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, February 4. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Me and Dwyane Wade and Twitter and wine, the fourth Super Bowl With a Smirk, our Falcons-Patriots SB prediction & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

BREAKING: Jason Taylor voted into Canton: Ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Also elected" LaDanian Tomlinson, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Morten Andersen, Jerry Jones and Kenny Easley. That's seven in all. How's I do on my predictions? (See below). Six of the guys I had with a 50 percent chance or better got in. I thought John Lynch and Terrell Owens would, but they didn't. I thought Andersen wouldn't make it, but he did. Overall, not too bad on my guesswork. My original post is below:

CantonCANTON CALLING: HANDICAPPING HALL OF FAME LIKELIHOOD FOR JASON TAYLOR, OTHER 17 FINALISTS: Pro Football Hall Fame does the Big Reveal tonight at 8 on Fox, and what's intriguing is that only RB LaDainian Tomlinson is an absolute, you'd-bet-your-life lock to get in. There is big, wide debate on whether the Dolphins' contender, DE Jason Taylor, is likely to make it or has no real shot. I rank the 15 finalists and three senior/contributor nominees by likelihood of induction, with my betting odds on each:

DEAD-CERTAIN LOCK:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (99% percent likely / 1-100 odds): Bet the house, the car and your entire family.

LIKELY:

QB Kurt Warner (75% / 1-2): God's will?

S Kenny Easley (70% / 1-2): Just watch. At least one Senior nominee has gotten in every year since 1997.

MAYBE:

S John Lynch (65% / 2-3): State of the art

Owner Jerry Jones (60% / 1-1): And Jimmy Johnson didn't make it to finalist round. Ouch. 

RB Terrell Davis (60% / 1-1): Fairly short career could hurt.

OT Joe Jacoby (60% / 1-1): Boss Hog.

WR Terrell Owens (60% / 1-1): Controversial. Media didn't like him. So what!

JtDE Jason Taylor (50% / 5-4): Most experts call him a longshot in first year of eligibility, but he's sixth all-time in sacks, returned more fumbles for TDs than anybody, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and is only pass rusher on the ballot, which helps. Don't be surprised if he gets in this time, or if he doesn't, but I absolutely think Taylor is a certain future Hall of Famer (eventually) and has a big chance right now time.

SLIM SHOT:

PK Morten Andersen (35% / 8-1): Punter Ray Guy remains only specialist/foot-man in Hall.

G Alan Faneca (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday.

OT Tony Boselli (30% / 10-1): Maybe someday II.

Coach Don Coryell (25% / 15-1): No Super Bowls, .572 win percentage. Meh.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (25% / 15-1): If he didn't get in immediately, probably never happen.

NEGLIGIBLE CHANCE:

WR Isaac Bruce (20% / 20-1): Big numbers, but Fort Lauderdale native and Dillard High alum spent much of pro career overshadowed on own team by Torry Holt.

C Kevin Mawae (15% / 25-1): Hall of Very Good. 

S Brian Dawkins (15% / 25-1): Hurts him that Lynch and Easley are both on ballot.

CB Ty Law (10% / 30-1): No ugly mustard-yellow jacket for you!

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: BIDDING ADIEU FOR WEEK WITH AGRODOLCE, TAYLOR SWIFT, 22 COWS, 1.7 MILLION POUNDS OF CHICKEN WINGS AND ONE ORANGUTAN: Super Bowl With a Smirk bids farewell with our last of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game:

SmirkYou know Super Bowl Week is winding down and the game is finally near when the official parties kick in.

The 26th annual Taste of the NFL, a "Party With a Purpose" fundraiser, happens Saturday night at the University of Houston with dishes by chefs representing every league city.

Featured on the tony menu this year: Atlanta’s Roasted Quail, Parsnips, Onion Soubise and Cranberry Agrodolce vs. New England’s Cavatelli, Housemade Sausage, Butternut Squash and Shaved Truffle Butter.

AgrodolceObvious edge there to Atlanta. I mean, who doesn’t love soubise and agrodolce!?

In case you wondered, Miami, last in a Super Bowl 32 years ago, will be represented on the menu by Stone Crab Bisque and Rum-Glazed Bacon with a Glaze of Dolfan Tears.

Let’s hope there is no controversy at Saturday’s Taste of the NFL like there was last year, when the chef representing the Patriots was kicked out for intentionally deflating other chefs’ souffles.

(*) Maxim, Rolling Stone and Playboy will be among other major party hosts as a bevy of rented women and once-famous hip-hop stars make the rounds. Taylor Swift is hosting a "Super Saturday Night" party and can be expected to act all surprised to be there.

(*) Smirk culled through a stack of his exclusive A-list invites to celebrity soirees and chose to attend a Super Bowl party being hosted by the estranged second cousin of Gloria Estefan’s former gardener.

(*) Hall of Fame voters met Friday in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room to decide which new inductees will be announced Saturday. LaDainian Tomlinson is the only absolute for Canton, but ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor has a good shot. Should we expect a Tweet from President Trump that the election was rigged?

Kmkey(*) Keegan-Michael Key (of Comedy Central’s "Key & Peele") hosts the NFL Honors awards show Saturday, with winners announced in 16 categories including league MVP — likely Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Could be a shutout for Dolphins, although Cam Wake has a shot at Comeback Player of the Year. Miami also is a finalist for the Kaepernick Cup for anthem kneeling.

(*) Fox, ESPN and NFL Network are girding for pregame shows that will last longer than the game itself. ESPN’s pregame will include a 13-minute segment on how Wilson footballs are made. No, seriously. What they might not tell you: all of the footballs to be used on Sunday required the hides of 22 cows, one of them a cherished doe-eyed Guernsey named Lulu.

(*) ESPN’s pregame also will feature a tribute to Chris Berman on his final major workday before the network shoves him unceremoniously into awkward semi-retirement.

Chicken(*) The National Chicken Council says the estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings eaten on Sunday will weigh 1.7 million pounds or 300 times the combined weight of the 32 NFL teams, surprising analysts who were unaware there was a National Chicken Council.

(*) The annual NFL Foundation Super Bowl golf tournament was held Friday as dozens of former players drove the course loudly griping about their various ailments and lack of benefits.

(*) Acara, an orangutan at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, has predicted a Falcons victory.

(*) There was a brawl on Sad, Sad Radio Row at the SB Media Center on Friday when producers for rival Bangor, Maine, radio stations got into a kickfight over first dibs on Patriots backup long-snapper Tug McGillicutty.

Madea(*) Finally, our parting Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Why do what every other party in America is doing? As the Falcons and Patriots are lining up for the opening kickoff and the din of your guests reaches an excited pitch, abruptly switch the channel from the game to "A Madea Christmas" airing on BET.

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

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-4-17: What events on the Saturday, Feb. 4 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Philadelphia at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami favored to bag its 10th straight win.

2. Hall of Fame announcement, 8 p.m.: Canton's big reveal could include Jason Taylor.

3. Hurricanes at North Carolina State, 3 p.m.: UM men, 3-5 since start of year, seek spark.

4. Kentucky at Florida, 8:15 p.m.: No. 8 Wildcat men a big test for No. 24 Gators.

5. Cleveland at New York, 8:30: Because LeBron James at Carmelo Anthony is still a show.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 03, 2017

Me and Dwyane Wade, Twitter and wine; plus our Falcons-Patriots prediction, the new Super Bowl With a Smirk & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, February 3. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' recruiting bounty, latest Super Bowl With a Smirk, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (50 games), your Barkley-LeBron beef verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

ME AND DWYANE WADE, TWITTER AND WINE: I love Twitter. I do. One of the reasons why metastasized yesterday with my Tweet shown below and Dwyane Wade's response right below it. What I Tweeted was admittedly snarky. Dwyane didn't like it. His NBA prime was defined by greatness. He still is very good, but very good isn't great. From a basketball standpoint, I'll defend that Tweet all day. But from a personal standpoint? The Tweet was a bit mean-spirited, which I don't like to be. I felt bad I may have hurt Wade's feelings, so after his Tweet I Tweeted: "Love @DwyaneWade & always been big supporter as he knows. Just havin' a lil' fun. Very nice wine btw. Blend, but w/ mouthfeel of smooth cab." And of course I got beat up for that because it was seen as a retreat from my initial Tweet. Bottom line? I do not regret the initial Tweet but I do regret that Wade -- whom I like and respect very much -- took it as a cheap shot at sort of a fragile point in his career. Postscript: The wine really was pretty good. God bless Twitter.     

OUR OFFICIAL SUPER BOWL PREDICTION (SORRY, ROGER GOODELL): Sunday’s game in Houston marks only the sixth time in 51 Super Bowls that the matchup has been the team that led the NFL in scoring (Falcons) vs. the team that allowed the fewest points (Patriots). A key difference is, New England is as mighty on offense as it is stingy on D, while Atlanta’s defense, though Sbnebetter than it was, cannot claim to be the equal of what Matt Ryan gets done. As a writer, I think I subconsciously root not for a particular team but for the best story to tell. Here, Super Bowl LI wins no matter the result. Either Atlanta reigns as champion for the first time in its 51-year history. Or we get a trophy presentation that might be even more riveting than the game if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is handing the Vince Lombardi Trophy to a New England franchise he socked so hard over Deflategate — a franchise feeling it was wronged. So "best story" is a tie here. But "best team" is not. As mentioned, Bill Belichick has a complete team that can beat you with or without the ball, while the big-scoring but more lopsided Falcons have a young, somewhat unreliable defense that savvy old Tom Brady will find a way to pick apart. Intangibles also tend to come into play on this biggest stage, and the contrast there greatly favors New England as well. The been-there/won-that Patriots have built a modern dynasty on this stage, while Atlanta — its only other Super Bowl appearance in 1998 and last in the playoffs in 2012 — cannot know they’ll be ready for this. The game might swing importantly very early. Atlanta has scored a touchdown on its first possession in eight games in a row. Keeping that streak alive will give the Birds instant confidence, but if it ends there could be a fast feeling of "uh oh." Ryan is used to leading. He isn’t used to trailing. And certainly not against Belichick and Brady. In a Super Bowl. I think he’ll have that feeling on Sunday. And I think I’m looking forward to the awkward drama of the postgame trophy presentation a lot more than Roger Goodell is. My pick: New England 31, Atlanta 23. Click on Super Bowl Gem for the full predictions capsule.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK: PATRIOTS TRADEMARK FRAUDULENCE, GAGA'S SHOE, MORTARS, FAKE MERCHANDISE: Super Bowl With a Smirk is back with our fourth of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.

Smirk Sb51OK, this is war! The New England Patriots, who have never had a perfect season, have somehow won a trademark on the phrase "Perfect Season."

It's an outrage -- the most egregious "alternative fact" yet. It would be like Greg Cote trademarking the phrase "Pulitzer Winner."

Smirk today is calling upon Don Shula and the 1972 Miami Dolphins -- the only team that did have a perfect season -- to foment into an angry if aging mob and picket outside Sunday's Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl in Houston.

The Patriots were undefeated and untied before losing the Super Bowl nine years ago. They deserve a trademark on "Almost Perfect Season." Or perhaps on "Almost Perfect Cheaters."

Instead the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December granted the Patriots-owning Kraft Group legal rights to the phrases "Perfect Season" and "19-0," ESPN's Darren Rovell reports.

XaverianIt took eight years for the Kraft Group's petition to finally be approved. The loophole the Pats used to justify deserving Perfect Season was to license the phrase to a Massachusetts high-school football association to commemorate Xaverian High's 24 straight wins.

The Dolphins once filed to trademark "17-0" and "Perfectville" but eventually gave up the fight.

Now New England legally owns what Miami earned on the field, but, galling and absurd as that is, we all know better, and about this I'm not Smirking:

Perfect Season belongs to only one team in NFL history, and it sure ain't the Patriots.

(*) Lady Gaga met the media Thursday in Houston, and declined to pick a winning team, saying, "I'm going to write it down and put it in my shoe." Gaga is headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show Sponsored by Smirk's Second-Favorite Cola.

(*) National-anthem singer Luke Bryan also met the media. The Falcons fan from Leesburg, Ga., blatantly did the limbo to compliment the Patriots so as not to hurt his sales in the Northeast.

Madden17(*) Spoiler alert! The Patriots will beat the Falcons 27-24 on Sunday. Book it. Bank it. Because EA Sports' Madden 17 video game played it and says it. The Madden game is 9-4 on previous SB picks, which strikes Smirk as decent, not great.

(*) The group MVPindex took umbrage at Smirk's Wednesday suggestion they might have been drunk when ranking Julian Edelman's social media impact greater than Tom Brady's. Based on criteria including how many times followers engage with a post, "Edelman does it better," said spokesperson Amber Moore. "So we aren't drunk."

(*) Stadium security precautions will be tight Sunday. Prohibited items that fans may not carry in include umbrellas, lasers, signs and 60-millimeter hand-held mortars.

(*) Two notable Houstonians, former president George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara, ages 92 and 91, will conduct the pregame coin toss. There's a joke there somewhere, but some things are out of bounds even for Smirk.

(*) Counterfeit merchandise update: If that pricey Super Bowl jacket you bought has no logos whatsoever and looks eerily like a 1980s Members Only jacket, it might not be official Super Bowl apparel.

Odouls(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Make your Super Bowl party alcohol-free this year. It'll save you the bother of having to host a Super Bowl party next year.

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

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-3-17: What events on the Friday, Feb. 3 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Anaheim at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats chasing eighth seed and playoffs.

2. U.S. soccer vs. Jamaica, 7 p.m.: Last friendly before men's World Cup qualifying.

3. Might be time to retire this short-lived new blog feature after a second straight slowwwww day in sports.

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATED: THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (50 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 20-30 on nine straight wins after last night's over Atlanta, here's The Luddite's 10th installment, with 45-game rank in parentheses. Dragic, by the way, has narrowed his deficit to Whiteside from 216 points to 129 in past five games. 

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

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,402

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,273

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             893

4. James Johnson (4)           891

5. Dion Waiters (5)              691

6. Rodney McGruder (7)     493

7. Josh Richardson (6)         483

8. Willie Reed (8)               444

9. Wayne Ellington (10)     439

10. Justise Winslow (9)       355

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

 

February 01, 2017

If LeBron were any more thin-skinned we'd see his internal organs. New Barkley vs. James beef poll. Vote now!; plus latest Super Bowl With a Smirk, National Signing Day, blog debut of Hot Button Daily, new betting odds, latest Back In My Day video & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, February 1. Happy new month, all! 2) A new Miami Herald Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE to visit. 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk worldwide premiere, Super Bowl poll results, The List (Canes on top) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

The hate/love of National Signing Day: I really dislike the overblown hype and excess of the way Your Friend the Media covers National Signing Day as a bunch of 17-year-olds making a college decision are treated like gods. But! If you love NSD, Miami Herald Sports' new Facebook page will feed the junkie in you all day, right HERE. 

DEBUT OF NEW BLOG FEATURE! HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-1-17: What on the Wednesday, Feb. 1 sports calendar interests South Florida fans most:

1. National Signing Day, all day: Hurricanes, FIU, nation's colleges collect football bounty.

2. Atlanta at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Scorching Miami after its ninth consecutive victory.

3. Florida State at Hurricanes, 8 p.m.: Beating No. 15 FSU could lift UM men to Top 25.

4. Minnesota at Cleveland, 7 p.m.: Imagining LeBron's postgame should Cavs lose again.

5. Baylor at Kansas, 9 p.m.: Men's No. 2 at No. 3 brings Final Four feel to February.

LebbarkLEBRON-BARKLEY BEEF: IF LEBRON WERE ANY MORE THIN-SKINNED WE'D SEE HIS INTERNAL ORGANS: I find interesting and amusing this week's LeBron James-Charles Barkley beef. TNT analyst Barkley called LeBron "whiny," a pretty mild term that I found pretty justified, considering the Cavaliers are reigning champions and second-favorite to win again but here's James at midseason publicly calling out his team's management and his teammates. James, ever thin-skinned and on the lookout for perceived disrespect, called Barkley a "hater" and spewed a very personal attack-response, saying, "I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying." Oy! My take: Barkley has a right in his role as analyst to call James "whiny," and LeBron overreacted. What do you think? Take a dip in our poll.

NEW 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK': ADS AT $167,000 PER SECOND, FAN IN DJIBOUTI, BRADY'S TEARS, TUNA EYEBALLSSmirk returns with second of five daily columns needling the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game.

SmirkAgain this year, the Super Bowl television commercials have been voted even more popular than the game itself in an annual poll of the American Society of Advertisers.

In-game ads for this Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl will cost a record average of $5 million per half-minute spot, or roughly $167,000 per second.

Sunday’s ads will include has-been comic actor Jon Lovitz for Mexican avocados, a woman having a sexual fantasy about cartoon hottie Mr. Clean, an Intel ad with Tom Brady, and a Miami Herald commercial promoting Greg Cote’s blog. (OK I made up that last one).

Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad will tell the heartwarming story of immigrant founder Adolphus Busch’s 1857 journey from Germany to St. Louis, unless President Trump signs an executive order banning the ad.

Super Bowl ads used to be highly anticipated before companies put them out days in advance on social media. There still is a bit of unpredictability, other than the two annual iron-clad certainties:

Donkey1. There will be a sentimental ad revolving around a dog befriending a bedraggled donkey in a straw hat.

2. We’ll all hate the GoDaddy spot.

(*) NFL reports Falcons-Pats will be seen in 188 countries, Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and in more than 20 languages including Mandarin Chinese, Flemish and Hungarian. Right now, two bickering crones in Budapest stirring a pot of goulash are in agreement Falcons coach Dan Quinn may be “a feje folott” (in over his head).

(*) "What do they know of coaching!" cried a man in Djibouti.

(*) Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan briefly lost track of a backpack containing the team’s Sunday game plan. Cannot confirm witnesses said it had been taken by a scowling man wearing a gray hoodie.

(*) Still early, but Super Bowl Week has been too quiet and controversy-free. Can LeBron James and Charles Barkley both fly to Houston and start arguing please?

(*) Short of that, would some enterprising reporter at least please surreptitiously plant deer-antler spray on some linebacker?

7yrold(*) The question that nearly brought Tom Brady to tears talking about his father — "Who is your hero?" — was posed by a 7-year-old who won a contest to be a Super Bowl reporter. Great. Isn’t bad enough that newspapers are struggling. Now I have a second-grader after my job!

(*) Answer: Blonde/yellow is the betting favorite for the hair color of halftime performer Lady Gaga. Question: What do you mean there are too many ridiculous prop bets!?

(*) Notice how businesses refer to the "Big Game" in ads so they won’t get sued by the NFL? Smirk suggests "Stupor Bowl" or "Super Bore" instead.

(*) A team of Budweiser Clydesdales arrived in Houston Tuesday and were immediately signed to one-week contracts by Bill Belichick and trained to rush the passer.

(*) Only midweek, but already there are early indications the national media may be running out of story ideas. Trending: Experts in onomastics weigh in on the exact origin of Matt Ryan’s "Matty Ice" nickname.

(*) Wait. Smirk could swear he just saw Mercury Morris standing on an orange crate with a megaphone in downtown Houston loudly reminding passersby the ’72 Dolphins remain the only undefeated team.

Moose nose(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: Want a few party foods sure to surprise and delight your guests? Eight words: Tuna eyeballs, crispy Cambodian tarantulas, jellied moose nose.

Click Smirk I for Tuesday's Smirk debut.

UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR NBA, COLLEGE HOOPS, NHL: Not much good news here for SoFla teams in latest odds via Bovada. In the NBA: Warriors a strong title pick at 5-7 odds, followed by Cavaliers at 13-5, with Heat still off the board. James Harden is 10-11 for MVP, then Russell Westbrook close at 5-4. In men's college basketball: Kentucky is tops at 11-2 for the national title, then Gonzaga at 15-2. FSU is 20-1, Florida 50-1 and Miami 300-1. In the NHL, Capitals at 6-1 and Blackhawks at 7-1 top a very bunched field. Panthers are 21st at 50-1.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': From Tuesday's LeBatard Show:

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 31, 2017

Worldwide premiere: Super Bowl With a Smirk, today starring dodgeball, Trump, Adolphus Busch and chicken wings; plus The List (Canes on top) & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 31. A new Miami Herald Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great Edwin Pope) makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl polls & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio. You can also watch us on TV from 10-Noon on ESPNU and Noon-1 on ESPN2. 

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

"Yeah, I know. The schedule has been favorable lately. But c'mon, it's still eight straight wins..." -- Greg Cote

IT'S BACK! 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK' DAILY NOTES COLUMN DEBUTS WITH DODGEBALL, TRUMP, VIBRATING BRADY, ADOLPHUS BUSCH AND CHICKEN WINGS: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year with a daily needling jab at the self-important NFL and the excess and gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, "Make Fun, Not War," Smirk is an annual week-long feature in the Miami Herald except years we forget to do it. The first of five Smirks:

SmirkHey, did you catch the Pro Bowl game Sunday night? Yeah, me neither. But I heard one of the skills challenges the day before involved Dodgeball. No, seriously, because evidently they couldn't think of an idea even dumber. On deck: Twister!

The Pro Bowl unofficially kicks off Super Bowl Week each year, although it actually launched Monday with two major events in host-city Houston:

1. Super Bowl Live opened, a 250,000 square-foot "fan village" that features a virtual-reality trip to Mars, an outdoor skating rink and the daily live arrest of an NFL player. (OK we made up that last one).

2. Super Bowl Opening Night, formerly Media Day, where fans sat in the stands at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros, to watch reporters interview players down on the field. The only thing worse than a mass Q&A session at a Super Bowl? Paying to watch it.

DodgeballThe interview process will be its own game of NFL Dodgeball all week as the Patriots maneuver to dodge all inquiries related to Deflategate, the Pats' buddy relationship with President Donald Trump, Tom Brady's appetite for revenge against commissioner Roger Goodell, and cheating-tainted legacies.

Smirk is surprised this hasn't gotten more attention, but Trump -- close friends with Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Brady -– quietly signed an executive order on Monday ordering Matt Ryan to have a lousy game.

(*) NFC champion Atlanta arrived in Houston Sunday afternoon, while AFC champ New England arrived Monday. It was expected to be the last time all week the Falcons were ever ahead of the Patriots.

(*) The point spread might have swung wildly in Atlanta's favor, but airport officials rejected the Falcons' claim that Brady was Muslim and therefore should not be allowed to deplane.

Electricfb(*) The Patriots won by an average score of 28-25 in 50,000 computer simulations conducted by PredictionMachine.com. Smirk conducted his own simulation using an electric football game from the '60s but results were inconclusive as a wildly vibrating Brady kept falling over.

(*) To absolutely guarantee no more Deflategate-type skullduggery from the Patriots, Goodell has ordered that all of the balls used in this Super Bowl be bowling balls.

(*) "Goodell's executive orders are almost as fantastic as mine!," said Trump.

(*) Security is heightened throughout Houston this week as NFL officials crack down on counterfeit merchandise and media interviews with brain-injury experts.

(*) Enterprising columnists sniffing an offbeat angle were scrambling to locate ex-Falcon Eugene Robinson – the devout Christian arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Miami the night before Atlanta's only previous SB appearance -– only to learn, crestfallen, that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution just did that.

Busch(*) Budweiser's Super Bowl ad will tell the story of immigrant founder Adolphus Busch's 1857 journey from Germany to St. Louis, unless Trump signs an executive order banning the ad.

(*) CBS Sports played a "Madden '17" simulation of the Super Bowl and -– ah, who cares who won the video game!

(*) By the way, it's Super Bowl 51 to Smirk, not the Roman numeral "LI," because demographic studies indicate only 12 percent of current Miami Herald readers are ancient Romans from 900 AD.

(*) Finally, our Super Bowl Party Tip du Jour: When deciding how many chicken wings to order, the standard is 240 per person, according to the National Chicken Council.

Poll result: Landslide wants Falcons, but (narrow) majority thinks Pats: We asked who you want to win this Super Bowl and it was Falcons with 83.7 percent. We asked you think will win and it was Patriots with 51.8%.

THE LIST: CANES TOP COLLEGES WITH MOST ALL-TIME SUPER BOWL PARTICIPANTS: The top 10:

School                        SB players

1. Miami                        118

2. Southern Cal              116

3. UCLA                         110

4. Michigan                    106

5. Penn State                  104

6. Notre Dame                102

7. Tennessee                    97

8. Nebraska                     92

9. Colorado                     91

10. Georgia                     89

Note: Florida State is 14th with 82 and Florida is tied for 16th with 77. Alabama leads this Super Bowl with six total players. UM has only one alum playing: Falcons punter Matt Bosher.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 06, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk I: Rechristened Media Day, toppled statues, singing sheep and a woman in Hungary; plus it's Radio/TV Tuesday & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2. Happy new month, all! 2) ICYMI, click on Super Bowl Primer for our recent column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Your Super Bowl 50 Primer, Hot Button Top 10, your best All-Star game verdict & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz today, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and seen on ESPNU and Fusion TV. 

Tedcruz"Does anybody else think Ted Cruz looks like a vampire?" --Greg Cote

 

SmirkTHE RETURN OF 'SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK'!: A RECHRISTENED MEDIA DAY, TOPPLED STATUES, SINGING SHEEP AND A WOMAN IN HUNGARY: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this year beginning today with a daily jab and needle at the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald in years we remember to do it:

OpeningnightYou probably know "Media Day" is the axis of SB excess, when thousands of reporters swarm upon both teams asking the same ol’ questions eliciting the same ol’ perfunctory answers. I mean, how many times can Peyton Manning insist he hasn’t decided if Sunday will be his last game even though he probably has? Many "reporters" are clowns dressed as superheroes, turning it into an increasingly inane spectacle that probably should quietly be done away with. So what does the NFL do instead? It rechristens Media Day as "Super Bowl Opening Night" and puts it on primetime TV! It was held Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose (the arena where the Sharks play hockey), and broadcast live on NFL Network. We immediately were reminded how lackluster this matchup is relative to last year, when we had the New England Deflatriots, the polarizing Belichick and Brady, the cartoonish Gronk and the comically recalcitrant Marshawn Lynch. Some 7,000 fans paid up to $30 to sit in the stands Monday and watch the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos say as little as possible in their first interviews since arriving Sunday, reminding Smirk of that famous quote attributed to P.T. Barnum about there being 7,000 suckers born every minute.

▪ Sunday the Broncos arrived at San Jose International Airport just head of the Panthers. It is expected to be the last time all week Denver beats Carolina at anything.

▪ Wait. Denver did lead briefly in field logos. Workers at Levi’s Stadium painted the Broncos logo in both end zones before correcting their mistake.

Statues▪ The NFL erected 1,600-pound statues at 10 Bay Area landmarks, but pranksters keep knocking them over or rearranging the letters in SUPER BOWL 50 to spell things like ‘SUP BRO 50’ and ‘UP R BOWEL.’ Smirk has not yet been caught.

Sheep▪ Super Bowl TV commercials will cost a record $5 million per 30 seconds this year, and every one of them will star Alec Baldwin or a donkey in a straw hat. Actually my favorite is a Honda truck ad (see video below) in which sheep sing Queen’s Somebody To Love. Sheep: the perfect metaphor for the herd of gullible consumers swayed by cute TV commercials.

▪ The five-star Fairmont hotel in San Francisco is offering a $1 million party package that includes 22 tickets to the game and a four-night stay for six in a 6,000-square-foot penthouse. Smirk will be checking in Thursday.

▪ Pats-Seahawks last year was seen by 114.4 million viewers, the most-watched broadcast in the history of U.S. television. They say Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 could break that record despite the halftime performer being Coldplay.

▪ EA Sports’ Madden video game is 9-3 on predicting SB winners, including an exact score one year. Now Madden ’16 has it Panthers, 24-20. With the outcome settled, the NFL on Monday quietly canceled Sunday’s game.

▪ The 1972 Dolphins had a rough week. Predictionmachine.com ranked the Perfect Season Fins only the ninth-best Super Bowl winner; the team lost in the round of 16 in a CBS Sports/Strat-O-Matic simulation; and only one Perfecto (Jake Scott) made the all-time Super Bowl Golden Team. Don Shula’s looking for somebody to punch.

▪ NFL security is tight throughout the Bay Area all week as league officials attempt to crack down on counterfeit merchandise and screenings of Concussion.

Oldcrone▪ Sirius XM satellite radio will offer 10 broadcasts of Sunday’s game in eight languages including Hungarian. Somewhere in Budapest right now, an old crone standing before a simmering pot of goulash ponders whether the Broncos will deploy a "spy" defender to shadow Cam Newton.

 

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Twitter @gregcote

January 31, 2015

SB Smirk V: Parties, Rihanna and potato gnocchi; plus Richard Sherman's dilemma. Bowl or baby: What would you do? New poll. Vote now!

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 31. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk IV, NFL-controversies-impact poll, Seattle weed-smokers & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK V: HAND-ROLLED POTATO GNOCCHI. LET'S PARTY!: Today's fifth and final 1aa1arollingstoneSuper Bowl With a Smirk notes column leads with what this week is really all about when you get right down to it. The parties. There are 1aa1ajointsreferences to Rihanna, hand-rolled potato gnocchi and Chris Berman sweating. Pictured left is Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, who will perform at Saturday's Rolling Stone party, and who looks more and more like an unattrcative woman every time I see him. Click on 1aa1alombardiSmirk V for the full column. Also included today: Goodell, creepy coaches, ball security, Sherman's timing, 12,000 joints, "I Am Confetti," national anthem, a coin, griping golfers, rival do-gooders and Lombardi's remains. [Previously: Smirk IV, Smirk IIISmirk IISmirk I].

SMIRK V POLL: RICHARD SHERMAN'S DILEMMA: The Seahawks cornerback has a tough choice. Or maybe you think it shouldn't be tough. The Super Bowl is Sunday. His girlfriend could go into labor and deliver their first child on Sunday. He says he is debating what to do. What should he do? What would you do if you were Sherman?

Poll result: Love for NFL diminished but still strong: We asked if the various NFL controversies have made you watch or like the NFL less and it was "no" with 63.6 percent to 36.4% "yes."

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January 30, 2015

SB Smirk IV: Katy Perry promises your face will melt at halftime; plus, POLL: Do controversies make you like NFL less? Vote now!; also Kaaya and Heisman, Seattle fans 'n weed & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 30. I'm embedded at Random Evidence Laboratories today dreaming up the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk III, Villain Bowl poll, no-drone-zone, Wade injury, UM football schedule & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Kaaya on early Heisman watch list: Canes QB Brad Kaaya has early 33-1 odds to win the next Heisman Trophy, tied for 18th best in country as per Bovada. Favorite right now at 6-1 is Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott.

1aa1apickpats 1aa1acotepixSuper Bowl pick: Patriots, 27-23: It's official. (If only that meant it's sure to be right). I discuss the evenness of this game and why it looks like two great teams portending a classic-to-be Super Bowl. Also I detail the one edge that makes New England my pick. Click on SB Gem for the full prediction capsule.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK IV: KATY PERRY PROMISES TO MELT YOUR FACE. IS THAT A GOOD THING?: Today's fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns leads with the 1aa1akatyp 1aa1alionpickSunday halftime show featuring Katy Perry, who conducted a revealing press

conference on Thursday, wearing the outfit she'll have on at halftime (pictured right). I'M JUST KIDDIN'! She'll wear clothes. Who do you think she is, Miley 1aa1aguadalupeCyrus? Katy admitted some pre-recorded music would be used and said "faces
will melt" in reaction to a surprise female guest. Melting faces. Sounds creepy. (Word has since leaked that the "surprise" guest will be Missy Elliott, a rapper who was pretty big circa 1997-2005). Click on Smirk IV for the full column.
1aa1achickensAlso included today: Marshawn Lynch speaks (sort of), unlikable head coaches, Richard Sherman's baby, drones, Vulcan the lion, nuns, counterfeit merchandise and the National Chicken Council. [Previously: Smirk III, Smirk IISmirk I].

SMIRK IV POLL: IMPACT OF NFL CONTROVERSIES: The Ray Rice video, concussions, "Deflategate" -- controversies are nothing new in the NFL, and each of them spark outrage, and yet the NFL seems as popular as ever. Time for you to weigh in if you'd like:

Poll result: Pats the bad guy in Villain Bowl: Two black-hat teams here, both disliked beyond their fandoms, so we asked which makes the better villain. You said Patriots, 71.1 percent to Seahawks' 28.9%.

SUPER BOWL = BIG BUSINESS FOR SEATTLE POT INDUSTRY: Medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Washington State, and a retailer in Seattle called Solstice is rolling 12,000 joints for Sunday in anticipation of a spike in business. Cannot confirm that Seahawks fans, when asked what they are most looking forward to in Sunday's game, answered, "the snacks." [Note: So my boss doesn't get mad, this item and the following video are NOT an endorsement of marijuana, which sources tell me is evil and perhaps also wicked]. 

 

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