January 19, 2017

HERALD LEGEND EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: MY TRIBUTE COLUMN; plus Kiper's first '17 mock draft: Gator to Dolphins, no Kaaya; also, 2 Marlins (sort of) elected to Hall, Goodell is a coward, newest Back In My Day video, your verdict on Super Bowl matchup & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 19. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters today figuring out my NFL Championship Game picks. Gonna nail 'em. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- best-selling of all the Herald books -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-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): NFL Final Four poll, related Tannehill column, Radio Tuesday & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

EDWIN POPE DIES AT 88: Longtime former Miami Herald sports editor and columnist Edwin Pope died early this evening at age 88. My column on my mentor and friend: Thank You, Edwin.

NFL's Final Four through a Dolphins prism, other select recent columns: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, our latest column, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

JdavisGATORS LB JARRAD DAVIS TO DOLPHINS, SAYS KIPER: Mel Kiper's first 2017 Mock Draft for ESPN is out and he has Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis (pictured) going to Miami 22nd overall in first round. Sayeth Mel: "As a steady and reliable linebacker with a nose for the football, Davis' versatility stands out. He could play inside or outside linebacker at the next level, though he's not a guy who will get 10 sacks on the outside in a 3-4. He can be an every-down guy." I think Kiper is right on the position; LB a big need. He has two other Gators, cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, going 13th and 14 overall. He has one Seminole, running back Dalvin Cook, going 12th. Conspicuously, Kiper has zero Hurricanes going in first round. I tried to tell you to stay, Brad Kaaya, but did you listen? No! Another early Canes departure, tight end David Njoku, is much more likely than Kaaya to sneak into the first round. Click here for Mel's Mock 1.0.

TWO FORMER MARLINS PLAYERS MAKE HALL OF FAME: Nailed it! Raines, Bagwell and Pudge make the Hall of Fame. Raines and Pudge had (very brief, one-year) Marlins careers. Original post: There is little suspense to tonight's (or future) Baseball Hall of Fame announcements, thanks to Bagwellrainesbbhoftracker.com, which collects and publishes ballots that have been publicly revealed. As of today they had collected 233, or 55.2 percent -- including mine, Pudgewhich I revealed in this blog on Dec. 16. From the composite numbers we can state with certainty that, barring a shocking, aberrant swing in remaining votes, Tim Raines (running at 89.2 percent) and Jeff Bagwell (88.3%) will sail in easily above the needed 75% minimum. Some may recall Raines ended his career a Marlin in 2002. A third inductee very likely will be Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- a 2003 Marlin instrumental in the World Series championship -- now at 78.7%. Raines and Bagwell are pictured right and Rodriguez left. Those three likely will be the only inductees, although two others, Trevor Hoffman (72.5%) and Vladimir Guerrero (71.7%), are close enough that a late surge in voting, though unlikely, could yet sweep them into Cooperstown. My ballot included all five of the players mentioned so far. The vote totals so far of the other five on my ballot: Edgar Martinez 65.4, Barry Bonds 63.8, Roger Clemens 62.9%, Manny Ramirez 24.2 and Gary Sheffield 11.7. The faces of the Steroid Era, Bonds and Clemens, are seeing their totals rise gradually and I predict they'll get in someday. Not as sure about Martinez. Very surprised by Ramirez's low total. And I'm almost alone on Sheffield, I guess. Sorry, Sheff. Not gonna happen for you.

THE LIST: EX-MARLINS PLAYERS IN THE HALL OF FAME: Four future Hall of Famers have worn a Marlins uniform. The short list doubled yesterday, although all four men played only a brief portion of their careers in Miami. The sort-of Marlins in Cooperstown, ranked in order of the percentage of career games played with Marlins:

Player                        Games with Marlins        With Miami    Inducted

C Pudge Rodriguez      6.23% (161 of 2,583)      2003             2017

OF Andre Dawson       4.58% (121 of 2,642)      1995-96        2010

OF Tim Raines            3.86% (98 of 2,536)        2002              2017

C Mike Piazza             0.26% (5 of 1,944)          1998              2016 

GoodellROGER GOODELL, WHAT A COWARD!: The NFL commissioner needs to rethink his weekend plans, change his flight, and get his ass over to Foxborough on Sunday. He is hiding from New England Patriots fans, who loathe him over the whole Deflategate thing. He doesn't need to sit among them. He be encased high in a suite as always. But he needs to be there and take the reaction like a man. Instead he'll be in Atlanta for the second week in a row. I have defended Goodell at times, more than most in the media. But he's wrong on this. Weak, weak!

Poll result: Bring on a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, please: With NFL down to its final four, we asked which of four possible Super Bowl matchups you'd most want to watch, and it was Packers vs. Patriots on top with 41.8 percent. After that it was Packers-Steelers 25.7%, Falcons-Steelers 19.9%, and Falcons-Patriots 12.6%. combined team totals were: Packers 67.5%, Patriots 54.4%, Steelers 45.6% and Falcons 32.4%.

THE LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE DEATH OF THE CIRCUS: There's a few seconds of unrelated jibberish here before the BIMD kicks in. Warning: Animal-rights folks might want to muster whatever sense of humor they have before watching this:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks and the perfect Super Bowl (with poll; vote now!); also, your UM/Braun verdict, The List, Bitter Mickey (video) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 16. Congratulations to my son Christopher on his wedding to Christie! So happy for them. 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's-not-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): The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Dolphins lose coordinator, UM/Braun poll, Heat-Golden State, Saban loses & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, off Sunday's eliminating loss, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

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

Hotbutton1. NFL: Dolphins out, but hunt for Super Bowl continues: The Dolphins were quickly eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in Pittsburgh last week, but the NFL decided to go on with its postseason anyway and this weekend pared from eight surviving teams down to a final four. It'll be Packers at Falcons and Steelers at Patriots on Championship  Sunday, which is better than Super Bowl Sunday -- but without the parties.

2. HEAT: Homestand awaits for reeling, miserable Heat: Miami is 11-30 with 10 losses in its past 11 games, and now begins a four-game homestand on Tuesday. And now here is your official Heat midseason report in one word: Depressing!

3. PANTHERS: Finally, Cats showing signs of life at midseason: Florida has won three of its past four games and drawn to within one point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference -- playoff pace -- entering a four-game roadie. Stanley Cup dream still far off, but progress being seen.

4. TENNIS: Serena seeks history in Australian Open: The year's first tennis major, the Australian Open, begins on Sunday in Melbourne with Palm Beach's Serena Williams chasing her women's-record 23rd major title. It's becoming less a question than a statement: She's the G.O.A.T.

5. MOTORSPORTS: Marlins Park readies for Race Of Champions: Can you picture a major auto race inside a baseball stadium? Me, neither. But top drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One and other circuits will compete against each other here next weekend. Vroom!

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson, Saban haters still celebrating: Six days after Clemson's 35-31 defeat of Alabama in the College Football Playoff championship game, it's still a tie between who's happier: Tigers fans, or Nick Saban haters.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins lose defensive coordinator to Denver: Vance Joseph left for the Broncos' head-coaching job, replaced in Miami with the promotion of linebackers coach Matt Burke. Given Fins' 29th ranking in most yards allowed and 18th in most points given up, tell me again why Joseph leaving is bad?

8. MLB: Cooperstown announces latest HOF class Wednesday: As many as five may get in. Based on vote-tracking, Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell are locks and Pudge Rodriguez is likely. Maybes are Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman. The short-agains notably include Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. (But they're getting closer).

9. UM BASKETBALL: Big challenges for Canes men, women: Things getting interesting for Hurricanes hoops. UM men, 12-4, play at No. 7 Duke in five days. Canes' No. 14-ranked women are now 14-4 after 63-59 loss at No. 9 Louisville on Sunday. 

10. NBA: Pacers-Nuggets play in London: Nuggets beat the Pacers 140-112 Thursday night in London -- the fifth straight year the NAB has played a regular season game in the United Kingdom. So, the NFL's obsession with London apparently is catching, and the spread of the virus may be unstoppable. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The San Diego Chargers are leaving for Los Angeles. Seldom has the nickname "Bolts" been more fitting ..... Rams made Sean McVay, 30, the youngest head coach in NFL history. He's paid his dues. They were just a very small amount ..... Mavs owner Mark Cuban supports putting an NBA team in Mexico. Donald Trump vows to expedite his wall to prevent it ..... Ex-FIU coach Mario Cristobal, the Alabama O-line coach, has become co-offensive coordinator at Oregon. Who think that's a better job? Yeah, me neither.

Fripix DivisionalPLAYOFFS: DIVISIONAL-ROUND WEEKEND: OUR PICKS FOR NFL'S CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS: Update: It'll be Steelers at Patriots and Packers at Falcons in the AFC and NFC title games next Sunday ..... Original post: Four teams including the Dolphins have been bounced as pretenders. King Sport is down to its final eight playoff teams, and only four will survive this weekend. Our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald saw us a robust 56.0 percent against the spread in the regular season, and 2-2 as the postseason began last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our playoff picks for the weekend's conference semifinals. I see an outright upset in one of the four games. (I wish I could tell you it was the Patriots, Dolfans, but it ain't). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today delves into possible Super Bowl matchups. Of all the combinations possible, two rise above the rest -- and one above them all. A Super Bowl to Save the Season to read.

Poll results: Divided views, but most (barely) OK with Braun at UM banquet: We asked what best reflects how you feel about PEDs-convicted Ryan Braun speaking at Hurricanes' First Pitch baseball banquet next month, and it was 42.5 percent "very good" and 36.6% "not good." Another 4.6% were undecided. The remaining 16.3% didn't care.

THE LIST: NFL'S FINAL EIGHT: The eight teams in this weekend's divisional-round playoffs, ranked in order of most all-time NFL championships won, along with all-time postseason records:

Team                                Titles (Last)    All-time postseason

Green Bay Packers                13 (2010)        .604 (32-21)     

Pittsburgh Steelers                 6 (2008)        .596 (34-23)

Dallas Cowboys                      5 (1995)        .567 (34-26)

New England Patriots             4 (2014)        .604 (29-19)

Kansas City Chiefs                  1 (1969)        .360 (9-16)

Seattle Seahawks                   1 (2013)        .517 (15-14)  

Atlanta Falcons                      0                  .368 (7-12)

Houston Texans                      0                  .400 (2-3)

MICKEY AUDITIONS FOR MNF BOOTH: This was a bit we did from this week's LeBatard Show. Hope you enjoy!:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.2% (season final); plus Fins out of playoffs in 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh with my game column, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 9. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect celebrate-they're-back-in-the-playoffs gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend predictions, Jose Fernandez death voted biggest Miami sports story of 2016 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Nflplayoffs

 

 

 

 Our Dolphins-Steelers game column from Pittsburgh: Click on When Playoffs Become the Norm Again to read. And find our in-game blog and other postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: SEASON/FINAL: 76.2%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-last -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday''s 30-12 DsmAFC wild-card playoff loss at Pittsburgh eliminating Miami following a 10-6 regular season and first postseason appearance in eight years. Reflecting that accomplishment, this is the highest final DSM reading since 2008. The DSM 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. Because this was the season-ending poll, I suggested special emphasis be given to the season as a whole. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

G16: 72.6% (following 35-14 loss vs. New England)

Playoffs/Final: 76.2% (following 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh)

Yearly DSM Results: 2016--76.2% (following 10-6 season/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

MY DOLPHINS-STEELERS SUNDAY PREVIEW COLUMN: Click MASSIVE CHALLENGE  /  NFL Wild-Card Weekend predictions: Click Wild-Card Gems  /  Ranking playoff teams, year-end awards: Click Playoffs And Hardware.

Dolphins playoffs, other select recent columns: It Isn't About Tannehill, how Fins have a chance in Pittsburgh with Moore if everything else goes right. There's A Longer Drought to End Now, on Dolphins preparing for first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

MiapitPLAYOFF: PITTSBURGH 30, DOLPHINS 12: POSTSEASON DROUGHT ENDED TODAY FOR MIAMI ... BUT SO DID SEASON: Postgame thoughts: Watch for our game column from Pittsburgh online by early evening. For now, a good season for Miami ended badly today in Pittsburgh withj this 30-12 loss. Miami's defense got crushed early in giving up three long scoring drives for a fast 20-3 hole, and Fins could never recover. Moore's three turnovers really hurt, especially a lost fumble at the Pittsburgh 8 when Miami trailed 20-6 and had a chance to be withing 20-13 at halftime. A season of progress for the franchise, but an ending that verified how much of a gap remains between the Dolphins and better teams ..... 4Q: Howard intercepts Roethlisberger, begging the question, "Why was Ben still in the game?" ... Fins onside kick fails ... MIA now down 30-12 after first TD of day, 4-yard Moore to Williams pass, followed by failed 2-point pass ... Ajayi leaves game shaken up but seems OK. Tough, quiet game for him: 16 carries, 33 yards ..... 3Q: Fins turn it over on downs with :02 left in quarter ... PIT 30-6 now late in quarter after Bell 8-yard scoring run. Call it. Dolphins are done ... Dolphins continue to kill themselves. Moore's interception, his third turnover, has Steelers threatening again ... PIT expands lead to 23-6 on 34-yard FG ... That's twice in a row Moore fumbles on sacks have cost Miami points. Dolphins having chances to get back in this game but keep squandering them ..... Halftime thoughts: Three dominant drives have been enough for Pittsburgh in a 20-6 half. Roethlisberger's 188 yards passing, Bell's 99 rushing and Brown's 125 receiving have owned the Dolphins defense. And yet Miami, with the ball to start the second half, is hardly out of it. Fins had a wonderful chasnce late to make it 20-13 and seize momentum before Moore's sack/fumble loss at Steelers 8 in final moments. A crater of a hole Miami has dug itself, but I sense a chance, a bit of hope ..... 2Q: Parker 37-yard catch makes it 1st and goal at PIT 8 but play gioes for naught as Moore is sacked, loses fumble ... Fins' Thomas intercepts Roethlisberger. PIT was on edge of FG range so play may have saved three points ... Big interference penalty on MIA's Howard, then Mitchell drops an interception ... MIA within 20-6 on Franks 47Y FG. Dirty, penalized hit by PIT's Dupree knocks Moore from game during series, but he's back in after missing only one play. Tough young man ... Grant fumbles Miami kickoff return but Fins keep it ... Bell 1-yard TD run has PIT up 20-3 after missed extra point kick. Bell's 26-yard scoring run had been overturned, with ball marked at 1 ... MIA defense gave up 213 yards, 162 through air, in first quarter ..... 1Q: Seeing some really bad non-tackling by Fins so far ... MIA on board at 14-3 with 38-yard Franks FG. Stills 36-yard catch on 3rd down led the drive ... Absolute nightmare start for Miami. Pit 14-0 now on Brown 62-yard scoring pass. Steelers have 175 yards on 11 plays so far ..... PIT quick 7-0 lead when Brown turns screen pass into 50-yard scoring play down left sideline. Great hesitation and acceleration by Brown and exactly what underdog Fins didn't need: an early deficit ..... Pregame: Dolphins in aqua pants, white jerseys today ...  Coming to you from freezing Pittsburgh, where the temp is hovering around 10 degrees but the wind-chill factor supposedly makes it feel 2-below. I'm pictured arriving this morning at the game. Sunny and dry, though ... Betting line shot all the way to 13 but settled back down to 11 1/2 ..... Original post: Dolfans this morning awakened to a playoff day for their team for the first time since Jan 4, 2009 -- or 2,926 days later. This ends the franchise's eight-year postseason drought. But Miami's season will end today in Pittsburgh (1 p.m. kickoff, CBS) unless the Dolphins can rid themselves of another, longer drought: a first playoff victory since Dec. 30, Meheinz2000. Miami (10-6, No. 6 AFC seed) is not given much of a chance vs. Pittsburgh (11-5, No. 3). Dolphins are 11-point underdogs, biggest of Wild-Card Weekend. Teams that were double-digit underdogs were 0-14 this season. That means, by that measure, it would be the biggest upset of the entire NFL season if Miami won today. Fins are huge 'dogs despite having beaten the Steelers in Miami, 30-15, in October. Some of that is the perceived huge home-field advantage of Pittsburgh in January, with temps expected today as low as 10 degrees. Miami also will be missing four key players who led the October win: QB Ryan Tannehill, C Mike Pouncey, S Reshad Jones and CB Byron Maxwell. And Pitt is healthier now. This time Steelers will have run-stopping linebacker Ryan Shazier to make sure Jay Ajayi doesn't run for 204 yards again. The gaping point spread also reflects a perception that Miami, taking its first playoff bow since '08, is the sort of the happy-to-be-here interloper ready for its reality check, in contrast to the playoff-tested Steelers. Also, it's hard to envision that Big Ben Roethlisberger, the two-time champion making his 18th postseason start, won't best Matt Moore making his first postseason start. Did I mention Steelers are on a seven-game winning streak? One more: Dolfans should be concerned less about no-Tannehill than about their defense giving up 31 or more points in three of past five games. Having said all that, though, the double-digit betting line either flatters Pitt or (more likely) disrespects Miami, or both. Do I see Dolphins winning a playoff game today for the first time since 2000? Nope. But I like them with the points, respectably bowing out, not getting blown out. My pick: Pittsburgh, 27-20.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoffs!?! Yes, playoffs. But they didn't last long for Miami: Miami visited Pittsburgh Sunday for Dolphins' first playoff game in 8 years and 4 days. Alas, it was hardly worth the weight, with Fins bounced after a resounding 30-12 defeat. Oddsmakers had given Miami little chance. Buncha know-it-alls.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama-Clemson Monday for CFP crown: It's a rematch in the third College Football Playoff championship game tonight in Tampa, after Alabama won 45-40 a year ago. Nick Saban haters everywhere are temporarily Clemson's biggest fans.

3. HEAT: Winslow done as Miami flails through season: Heat has lost eight of past nine games and is 11-28, the NBA's third-worst record. And now Justise Winslow is is done for the season after shoulder surgery. Well, um, Tuesday at Golden State should be fun! 

4. HURRICANES: Kaaya departure rocks Canes football: Still glowing from a first bowl win in 10 years, UM football took a sack with the announcement Brad Kaaya would forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Mark Richt's starting QB is now [Your Guess Goes Here].

5. NFL PLAYOFFS: It's Wild-Card Weekend!: Eight teams including Miami were in action this weekend, but only Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay survived. Their prize? The four winners get to go on the road and be underdogs next week vs. the rested, top-seeded Chiefs, Patriots, Cowboys or Falcons.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Big week for Canes hoops: Coming into the meat of the season with ACC play underway. The No. 14-ranked UM women hosted and lost to No. 7 Notre Dame on Sunday, and now the Canes men, not ranked but close, host the No. 23 Irish on Thursday.

7. PANTHERS: At midseason, Cats disappointing but not done: Florida has lost six of past eight and is 6-13 since the coaching change, and yet Panthers find themselves only four points off playoff pace at midseason. Anybody up for a hopeful “We're No. 8!” chant?

8. ESPN: The downsizing of Chris Berman: Mr. BackBackBackBackBack is slowly fading to BlackBlackBlackBlackBlack with this week's ESPN announcement of a diminished role for their iconic, original voice.

9. DUKE: Tripping guard reinstated: Duke basketball star Grayson Allen was given an "indefinite suspension" by coach Mike Krzyzewski for tripping opponents. Duke lost its first game without him. He was immediately reinstated. Lesson learned!

10: NHL: Columbus finally loses: Blue Jackets lost after 16 wins a row, one short of the 24-year-old record set by Pittsburgh. Yes, because when you think of hockey tradition and excellence, you start with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com is calling a Patriots Super Bowl win. If Nate's as accurate with that as he was on Hillary beating Trump, Pats fans should be worried, indeed ..... Erik Spoelstra called it "shameful, disgraceful" that Goran Dragic was ejected from Friday's game. Also shameful and disgraceful: Heat's 11-27 record following the loss ..... Ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor and Fort Lauderdale-born Isaac Bruce were locals making the Pro Football Hall of Fame cut to 16 finalists ..... U.S. beat Canada to win the world juniors title in hockey. First we steal their Stanley Cup trophy every year, now this ..... Marlins and Canes fans, we're one month from baseball kicking into gear ..... R.I.P., Marti Huizenga.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL TOURNAMENT: Twelve teams were in it including Miami entering this weekend, but all teams are not created equal. Here are the 12 playoff teams listed in order of betting odds that each will win the Super Bowl, via the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. We also list each team's points differential. Notice how the two correlate to some degree:

Team                                Odds       Point +/-

New England Patriots         13-10     +191

Dallas Cowboys                   4-1       +115

Pittsburgh Steelers              8-1       +72

Kansas City Chiefs             10-1       +78

Green Bay Packers             10-1       +44

Atlanta Falcons                 12-1       +134

Seattle Seahawks              12-1       +62

New York Giants                16-1       +26

Houston Texans                 80-1       -49

Oakland Raiders               100-1      +31

Detroit Lions                    100-1      -12

Miami Dolphins                 100-1      -17

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 28, 2016

Would you rather see Dolphins face Pittsburgh or Houston in playoff opener? New poll. Vote now!; plus Hurricanes bowl column, The List & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28. I'll be back on-air next Tuesday when the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz returns from vacation. 2) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas gift for any Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins make playoffs, Fins defeat Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, annual Christmas video, R.I.P. George Michael, your Hassan Whiteside verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Canes: The road 'back' starts with a bowl win: UM is 0-6 in bowl games since winning its last in 2006. That's why this evening's Russell Athletic Bowl vs. West Virginia in Orlando is big for The U. Click on Road Back Starts With Bowl Win to read my new column. We'll preview the game in a separate, new blogpost; watch for it later today.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. The Gift Of Winning, on the Dolphins rewarding their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back.

Xmas16LATE GIFT, ICYMI: OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: This year's Christmas video was taken on a sledding trip that included myself, Dan LeBatard, Cam Wake, Pat Riley and Santa Claus. What a great time we five guys had! A picture from our trip is shown at left. To watch the brief video, click HERE.

WHO'D YOU RATHER SEE DOLPHINS FACE IN PLAYOFF OPENER?: You know by now that Miami, finally over its eight-year playoff drought, will open the postseason Jan. 7 or Nflpos8 likely as the AFC's No. 6 seed playing at Pittsburgh. Miami would have a more favorable matchup as the No. 5 seed at Houston only if Dolphins beat New England this coming week and the Chiefs lose at San Diego -- seemingly an unlikely combination. I'm curious which team you'd rather the Dolphins open the playoffs against. It might seem a no-brainer, since the Steelers are pretty clearly a better team than the Texans. However, Miami beat Pittsburgh pretty easily this year (30-15) in the game that began the winning streak that saved the season. Houston would be a bit more of an unknown opponent, comparatively. Pittsburgh would likely be a more entertaining game. Houston would mean a rematch vs. ex-Fin Lamar Miller. Or maybe you don't have a preference. Only one way to find out. Take a dip in our poll.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS PLAYOFF HISTORY VS. PITTSBURGH AND HOUSTON: Miami has faced Pittsburgh three times in the postseason and Houston (when they were the Oilers) once. The results:
 
Season    Opponent               Result
1972       @ Pittsburgh           Dolphins, 21-17
1978       vs. Houston Oilers   Houston, 17-9
1979       @ Pittsburgh           Pittsburgh, 34-14
1984       vs. Pittsburgh          Dolphins, 45-28 
 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.0% (season high); plus Miami routs Jets 34-13 behind Moore, strong D; also, Vincent Viola, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 19. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- perfect for any Dolfan on your list and just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, Loria's asking price, disrespecting Hurricanes' football talent, your Davis vs. Kiffin verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Happy holidays from the Dolphins!: After a brutal recent past, the Dolphins finally are giving their fans the gift of a nice present. Click on The Gift Of Winning to read my new column.

Select recent columns: We haven't had as many lately due to vacation. A few: Week 15 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Death, Taxes and No Playoffs For Buffalo, our NFL notes column. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

Panthers owner nominated for military post: Panthers owner Vincent Viola has been nominated to be secretary of the Army. Who knew there was a secretary of the Army? Viola is a 1977 West Point graduate. Ownership will remain with the Viola family. Current club vice chairman Doug Cifu will become chairman if Viola is confirmed.

What Donald Trump and Hassan Whiteside have in common: After watching and listening Thursday night to Whiteside's Instagram video (snakes in the grass) -- since deleted -- I have come to the conclusion that the Heat center may now trail only Trump in the category of prominent people whose obsession with social media serves them most poorly.  

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 98.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 98.0 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 34-13 victory at the New York Jets putting DsmMiami's season record at 9-5. That's a season high. The DSM 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 day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Dec. 24 (following game at Buffalo)

G14: DOLPHINS @ N.Y. JETS: PLAYOFF STAKES HIGH AS MIAMI MAKES PRIME-TIME HISTORY: Postgame thoughts: Well, I totally blew it with my pick. I mean totally. Moore was great (12-18, 236, 4 TDs, 126 rating) and the Wake- and Suh-led defense was even better.  Miami has regained the golden No. 6 playoff seed, at least temporarily, entering Sunday's games ..... 4Q: Lippett INT in end zone ends it ... NYJ within 34-13 on meaningless FG ... Are we starting a quarterback controversy? We're not. Right? ..... 3Q: Miami 34-10 on 66-yard Landry TD play, Moore's fourth TD pass ... Dolphins a commanding 27-10 lead after Moore's third TD pass, a 1-yard flip to Sims ... Lippett interception for Miami. All Fins right now ... MIA 20-10 on Aikens blocked-punt TD, a huge special-teams play that has Dolfans feeling pretty good for first time tonight ... Uh oh. Moore interception to open second half ... Nervous game, right? One big play gonna swing it? ..... Halftime thoughts: Moore has been pretty great and defense has been pretty great at 13-10, Miami, at half. Game totally teetering, but a mildly optimistic first half for Miami ..... 2Q: NYJ within 13-10 just before half on 48-yard FG ... Dolphins 13-7 on Moore 52-yard strike to Stills. Moore can throw that deep ball. And Stills, every third or fourth game, looks like a star ... Big 4th-and-1 defensive stop for MIA. Game teetering ... Wake interception aborts Jets drive. Wake. INT! Seriously, this guy is having a Pro Bowl year ... MIA within 7-6 on Moore-Sims 1-yard TD pass, but then as missed extra point kick ... Dolphins need to make a big play that retakes this game ..... 1Q: Huge. Wake strip-sack and Suh fumble recovery as Jets threaten in Fins red zone ... Oy. NYJ a fast 7-0 on Petty-Anderson 40-yard scoring pass. Not the start you wanted, Dolfans ..... Original post: For me, Dolphins-Jets might be the most vibrant rivalry we have in South Florida top-tier sports. UM-FSU in football might come closest. The teams' 103rd all-time meeting finds the Dolphins 8-5, the Jets 4-9, and Miami a 2 1/2-point road favorite for Saturday's 8:30 kickoff on NFL Network. As for the prime-time history being made? This is Miami's first Saturday night game ever -- the 124th prime-time game in franchise history, but the first on this day of the week. Now don't get me wrong here. It isn’t that I think the Jets are any good or even better than their sad record. No, this Doljetupset hunch is hinged on two main factors: 1) NYJ will load up defensively on Jay Ajayi and force the game on Matt Moore, who’ll be making his first start in five years in place of injured Ryan Tannehill, and on a short week, in cold, wet, sleety conditions. I can see a miserable game by Moore more than I can envision heroics. And 2) Bitter rivals, wintry conditions, prime time, the Planes in a spoiler role — I think all of this will tend to magnify the home-field advantage for the Jets. Moore has a chance to earn his niche alongside notable Dolphins backup QBs Earl Morrall and Don Strock if he can guide Miami into the playoffs. Fins are clawing hard to stay in the AFC chace and need this, but want isn’t everything. Losing Tannehill is a major blow. And NYJ had won three in a row in this series before Dolphins parlayed a fourth-quarter kickoff-return TD in Miami to win 27-23 in November. This pick presumes Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, both less than 100 percent, will be ready for Jets. I might be guilty of underestimating the Dolphins (store that info for next time you wanna call me a homer), but I’m feeling the Jets, with nothing left but beaten pride, will pour all they have into this. My pick: N.Y. Jets, 20-17.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: No Tannehill? No worry? Moore, big defense carry Fins over Jets: Miami needed two wins in last three games to likely make playoffs for first time since 2008 – a chase complicated with Ryan Tannehill out. Saturday night at the lowly Jets needed to be one of those W's, and was, emphatically, 34-13, thanks largely to a big game from Matt Moore in his first start in five years. As for my pick on that game ... um, can I claim temporary insanity? A typographical error!?

2. HEAT: Miami seeking spark from six-game homestand: Struggling Heat is now 9-19 after Sunday's home loss to Boston and still hoping for lift from 10-day homestand. This used to be the franchise of the Big 3. Now it's the franchise that would settle for an occasional big 3-pointer.

3. CRAIG SAGER: Another tough week for loss in a tough 2016: Alan Thicke, to a heart attack while playing hockey with his son, then Craig Sager, after a long fight with  cancer. The NBA world reeled over Sager. The loud, colorful suit should be retired in his honor. R.I.P.

4. FAU: Small pond lands big fish. Lane Kiffin to Owls: You are lil' Florida Atlantic University from Conference USA coming off a 3-9 season, and you just hired champion Nick Saban's Alabama offensive coordinator as your new head coach. I'll see your Butch Davis, FIU, and raise! Merry Christmas, Owlheads. Kiffin might not stay long, but, for now, he's yours.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Miami Beach, Boca Raton on deck as bowl season underway: The bigger bowls including UM's come later, but the glut commenced Saturday with six games. Now, all eyes on South Florida with Monday afternoon's Miami Beach Bowl (Central Michigan-Tulsa) at Marlins Park, then Tuesday night's Boca Raton Bowl (Memphis-Western Kentucky) at FAU Stadium.

6. PANTHERS: Jagr nears milestone amid Cats' struggles: Florida is only 3-7  since its premature, panicked coaching change and now reportedly has righted another wrong by restoring some of Dale Tallon's GM power. On the brighter side, ageless star Jaromir Jagr is now only three points from tying and four from surpassing Mark Messier as the NHL's second all-time points producer, behind only some guy named Gretzky.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Gators, 'Noles take local stage: Miami Hurricanes men are 8-2 and No. 13 women are 9-1, but UM ceded the local college hoops stage for the weekend as the Florida Gators and FSU Seminoles won easily in the 23rd men's Orange Bowl Basketball Classic held in Sunrise.

8. MARLINS: Fish lose out on closer, Loria names his price: Marlins settled for reliever Brad Ziegler after their pursuit of ace closer Kenley Jansen ended when he resigned with the Dodgers. Meanwhile Forbes reported Jeffrey Loria is willing to sell team but his asking price is $1.7 billion -- triple the club's reported value. What say, South Florida? Hate Loria enough to pitch in?

9. JOE MIXON: Oklahoma RB stars in awful video: A video-gone-viral show the Sooners star running back punching a woman, shades of the video that ended Ray Rice's career. Dear Joe: the only thing falling harder than that poor woman in the video is your NFL future.

10. HOLIDAYS: Ready for Christmas in one week?: Note to self: Start your shopping soon.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Vikes have activated Adrian Peterson. Why do I feel dreadeda reinjury is coming? ..... Heat's Hassan Whiteside ripped Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, saying he "just catches lobs." If ever Whiteside's game fully catches up with his mouth, he'll be a superstar ..... Wake Forest fired broadcaster Tommy Elrod for providing football game plans to opponents. Whatever a "homer" announcer is, I reckon Elrod now qualifeis as the opposite ..... Minnesota's boycott ended and it will play in the Holiday Bowl, after all. Gophers threatened to sit out over the suspension of 10 teammates accused of sexual assault. Better they should have sat out either in embarrassment over those teammates or in support for the alleged victims ..... Baylor women beat Winthrop, 140-32. Not real fitting, that first syllable of Winthrop's name ..... Least-surprising things I have heard this month: Ronda Rousey is mulling a comeback ..... Finally, a farewell to the Paul & Young Ron Show's Ron Brewer, retired from the airwaves after 26 years.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS IN PRIME-TIME: Last night marked the Dolphins' 124th all-time game played in prime-time, but the first ever on a Saturday. Club's record in prime-time, in order of most games played by day of week:

Night              Games    Record, Pct.

Mondays          82          41-41, .500

Sundays          27          19-8, .704

Thursdays       12          6-6, .500

Fridays           2           1-1, .500

Saturday         1           1-0, 1.000   

Totals             124       68-56, .548

Note: Dolphins prime-time record vs. Jets is now 9-10. It is 7-4 at home, 2-6 away. It's 6-7 on Mondays, 1-3 on Sundays, 1-0 on Friday and 1-0 on Saturday. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 93.2%; plus Dolphins win offset by Tannehill knee injury with my column; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on Big 3 laughing at Heat & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 12. The Miami Herald's new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking the 11 Florida-affiliated bowl games, ex-Big 3 laughing at Heat with poll, NFL Week 14 picks, your Canes bowl-matchup verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A Dolphins win so big, and so costly: Sunday's last-second win over Arizona kept Miami in the thick of the AFC playoff chase at 8-5. But rarely has a win so big found a postgame lockerroom so somber. Ryan Tannehill's left-knee injury dominated hearts and minds as Tannehill handed the football, the team and the franchise's playoff hopes to backup Matt Moore. Click on The Handoff Nobody Wanted for my column from the game. Today there was better than expected news: Tannehill has an ACL and MCL sprain, not a tear, and will not require surgery. However, he'll miss at least the next two games and possibly the balance of the season.

Other select recent columns: Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change, on Dolphins' December imperative. Week 14 Gems, our latest NFL predictions. King Sport 3Qs, our NFL and Dolphins third-quarter awards. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a rebound to 93.2 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 26-23 victory vs. Arizona putting Miami's season record at 8-5. The DSM 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 day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

Next poll: Dec. 17 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

G13: ARIZONA @ DOLPHINS: MIAMI'S TEETERING PLAYOFF HOPES CANNOT AFFORD LOSS HERE: Postgame thoughts: Crazy, wild, weird, wet game won by Miami 26-23 on last-play field goal. Tannehill goes out with left-knee injury with Fins leading 21-9 and Miami hangs on to improve to 8-5 and bolster playoff hopes. Tannehill injury was first not thought to be serious, but after the game coach Adam Gase said the injury "doesn't look good" and that an ACL tear is the concern. It still is premature to confirm Tannehill is done for the year but that is the fear. In any case the season moves on with Moore at QB. It was a sloppy, turnover-filled game -- but the kind you have to win, at home, to be a playoff team. It also was a result overshadowed and made bittersweet by Tannehill's injury ..... 4Q: Miami wins 26-23 on 21-yard Franks FG on final play of regulation! ... Oh my. ARI ties it 23-23 with 3:01 left on Palmer-Nelson 8-yard TD pass and then 2-point conversion pass to Johnson ... MIA now up 23-15. Cards score on 9-yard Palmer-Golden TD pass, but extra point try is blocked by Phillips, returned for 2-point conversion (a rule since 2015) by Aikens ... Was announced Tannehill is questionable to return, a good sign the injury is not too serious ..... 3Q: Tannehill: leaves game with 1:23 left in third with apparent left knee injury, severity unknown. Left on his own power, though, a good sign. But limping to lockerroom, not a good sign. Moore in at QB. Tannehill took a hit from former Cane Calais Campbell after releasing pass. Hit was a bit low and late, not necessarily dirty ... Miami commits third turnover, a Landry fumble loss on punt return ... MIA with a comfy-for-now 21-9 lead on Tannehill 3-yard scoring pass to Williams, Tanny's third of game. A 71-yard pass play to Landry was big (huge) play of drive ..... Halftime thoughts: Six turnovers, 10 accepted penalties, five punts -- let's call it one of the ugliest halves of football we have seen and gives thanks for the end of it. Steady rain was a fitting backdrop that surely had a hand in the sloppiness. Stat of the half: Carson Palmer's shoe-size passer rating of 11.6. One point of concern for Dolfans, though. You only lead by five points despite a plus-2 (4-2) on turnovers ..... 2Q: ARI within 14-9 on 56-yard FG with 1:18 left in half ... Wake third-down sack just saved the Dolphins points. Forced a Cards 41-yard FG try that hit the upright and bounced no good ... Miami has turned only one of four Arizona turnovers into points. Could come back to haunt ... Arizona's fourth turnover of game is receovered by Fede, but MIA fails to capitalize, punts ... MIA 14-6 on Tannehill 7-yard scoring pass to Sims, Tanny's second of game. Sack of Tannehill erased by defensive holding was big play in drive ..... 1Q: Cards recover Miami fumble at Dolphins' 2. Appeared to be muffed snap. Huge turnover -- fifth of quarter! ... Rambo INT for Miami is fourth turnover of opening quarter, returns 17 yards to Arizona 10 ... Denver losing 10-0 in Tennessee. Titans trying to help Dolphins ... MIA gets it right back when Wake causes and Paysinger recovers fumble by Johnson. But Fins punt after officials miss facemask on Ajayi ... Tannehill intercepted as he throws intio coverage Cards CB Cooper beats Stills for the football ... ARI within 7-6 on 56-yard end-around run by WR Nelson, followed by botched extra-point kick ... Gorgeous pass! MIA up 7-0 on Tannehill bullet to Stills in-stride in the end zone ... Miami LB Hull, starrting for injured Alonso, intercepts Palmer off deflection on opening series ... Arizona opts to begin game on offense, not defer. Refreshing! ... Miami fans today are rooting for the Dolphins first and, second, for the Titans to beat Denver ..... Pregame: Today'sDolphins season milestone watch: Ajayi needs 92 rushing yards for 1,000 and Tannehill needs 200 passing yards for 3,000 ... C Pouncey, LB Alonso the most notable Fins inactives today, neither a surprise ..... Original post: Miami is 7-5 and the home team and opened as a 2 1/2-point favorite, yet Arizona, the 5-6-1 road team, closed favored by 2 because so much betting money flooded in on the Cardinals. This tells you two things: 1) Joe Public sees the Dolphins falls short of the playoffs every year Arimiaand so thinks they'll do it again. And 2) Joe recognizes that 'Zona has lots and lots of talent, has underachieved and is one of those losing-record teams tailor-made as a spoiler for the likes of Miami. And here's the thing. That big swing in that betting line was understandable, justifiable. Underachieving Cardbirds were 13-3 last year, and the Dolphins' defense has been bad the past two games. I mean, how wide was Carson Palmer’s grin as he watched Joe Flacco scissor up the Dolphins’ pass defense last week? ’Zona’s 1-4 road record gives us some pause here, but Palmer has weapons like Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and, of course, all-purpose back and fantasy monster David Johnson. Defensively, the Cacti are above average, with playmakers front to back, from Old Cane Calais Campbell rushing the passer to Patrick Peterson thinking INT on every dropback. Expect a high-quality game as both teams play with little margin for error in the playoff chase. Cards need to run the table to have any shot at all in NFC. Dolphs are in better shape in AFC but need a strong finish plus a stumble by Denver. It may take three wins in last four games to assure a playoff ticket for Miami, so today is not a loss this team can afford. Arizona coach Bruce Arians takes chances (pet phrase: “No risk-it, no biscuit”) so Miami’s D should expect some fourth-down gambles or trickery. See a tough matchup for Fins. My pick: Arizona, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 11): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins get big win but lose Tannehill: Was it the team that won six games in a row or was it the team that was so horrible in that 38-6 loss in Baltimore last week? Who are the real 2016 Miami Dolphins and will they stand up in time to (finally) make the playoffs? Sunday's 26-23 home win over Arizona suggested the playoffs remain vitally in play. But the injury loss of Tannehill may have much to say about that.

2. HEAT: Miami visits LeBron, D-Wade back to back, unfortunately: The depleted, injury-wracked Heat now sit near the NBA basement at 7-17 after back-to-back losses to LeBron James in Cleveland and Dwyane Wade in Chicago entering tonight's home game vs. Washington. Human nature: LeBron and D-Wade privately must be delighting in Miami's struggles. (And maybe Chris Bosh, too, right?)

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Army-Navy, check. Heisman, check. On deck: Bowls!: Army upset Navy to end the regular season Saturday and Louisville QB Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy. Next, in a three-week glut from Dec. 17 through Jan. 9, there will be 42 bowl games after which you'll almost certainly be sick of college football.

4. PANTHERS: Um, how's that coaching change working out?: The big-dreaming Cats were 11-11 a quarter into NHL season when, in a premature panic, they dumbly fired coach Gerard Gallant. Since the change, even with Saturday night's home win, they are only 2-5.

5. MARLINS: Fish chase elite, pricey closer: As baseball's winter meetings ended the Marlins were continuing to seriously pursue coveted closer Kenley Jansen. The apparent strategy? Post-Jose Fernandez, if you don't have a great starter, better at least have a great finisher.

6. HURRICANES: UM preps for bowl vs. West Virginia: Canes will face West Virginia Mountaineers Dec. 28 in the Russell Athletic Bowl Orlando. It's a medium-sized bowl, but when you last won a bowl game in 2006 and are 0-6 since, a win for UM would be extra-large.

7. BASEBALL: Starter, closer top the winter-meeting headlines: Ace starter Chris Sale to the Red Sox and overpriced closer Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees made the big new in baseball's "hot stove" league. A 2017 Cubs-Red Sox World Series is hereby anointed!

8. MLS CUP: Seattle wins MLS Cup: Seattle beat Toronto 5-4 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw to win the Major League Soccer Cup. This is the league in which David Beckham is trying to put a Miami team. Not succeeding, but at least trying.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women, men running smoothly: With both teams off until Friday, Miami's women are 8-1 and ranked No. 14, and the men are 7-2 despite this supposedly being a rebuilding year.

10. INTERNATIONAL SOCCER: Champions League draw is Monday: The draw for the knockout-stage round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League will be held Monday. Spain has four of the least 16 clubs standing, with three each for England and Germany.

Missing the HB10 cut: To the list of life's unending mysteries, add this: Why do newspapers, including my own, continually report as news whatever Mel Kiper Jr. guesses about the upcoming NFL Draft? ..... Tickets went on sale this week for sailing's 2017 America's Cup taking place next May and June in Bermuda. God I hope I'm not too late!!

Poll result: Yes, the ex-Big 3 are enjoying the Heat's struggles: We asked which of Heat's former Big 3 you imagine is deriving the most satisfaction from team's current struggles mirrored in a 7-17 record, and Dwyane Wade led with 27.5 percent, followed by "all three" with 25.4%, LeBron James with 23.3% and Chris Bosh with 10.8%. The other 13.1% voted "none of them."

THE LIST: MOST PROLIFIC QBS VS. DOLPHINS THIS SEASON: Bearing in mind the Dolphins did not face then-suspended Tom Brady in the early-season Patriots game, this becomes a tough question: Which starting quarterback the Dolphins have faced so far in 2016 -- including today's Arizona game -- has had the most career passing yards? It's tough because the top three choices are this close:

Quarterback, Team                    Yards on date of Miami game

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers        44,491 / Oct. 16, 2016

Philip Rivers, Chargers                44,007 / Nov. 13, 2016

Carson Palmer, Cardinals             43,267 / Dec. 11, 2016

Note: Brady, whom Fins are scheduled to meet in regular-season finale, currently has 60,498 yards, fifth all-time. The totals of Roethlisberger, Rivers and Palmer rank 11th, 12th and 14th.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 12, 2016

Opposite season outlooks (and results) for Hurricanes men, women as college basketball tips off; plus Dolphins-Chargers and other NFL Week 10 predictions, R.I.P. Bill Stanfill & more

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

Vetsday1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Happy Veterans Day, America! Yesterday we celebrated, honored and thanked all of those who have served in the U.S. military, past to present -- which we should do every day. Who sits in the White House changes, but our reliance on the world's greatest Armed Forces never does. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami return of Dwyane Wade, postscript on election, your Clinton-Trump verdict, The List (Wade) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bill Stanfill, R.I.P.: Former Miami Dolphins defensive great Bill Stanfill has died in hospice care, at age 69, in Georgia. Click here for more. The Perfect Season defensive end still is No. 3 on the franchise's all-time career sacks list with 67 1/2, after only Jason Taylor and Cam Wake.

Wade3Welcome home, old friend: Click on Return Of Wade for my column from the arena on Thursday night's surreal but emotional Miami return of Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform. A few of our other recent columns: Miami QBs: No Worries (on why Tannehill is good enough and Kaaya will return). The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

OPENING NIGHT! OPPOSITE CHALLENGES FOR HURRICANES' MEN, WOMEN AS 2016-17 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SEASON BEGINS: Miami's tandem of men's coach Jim Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier is as solid as any in the country (see The List Below), but they face far different challenges and outlooks as college basketball got bouncing Friday. Our overview outlook for each team as the season begins:

LarranagaUM men open with 92-43 home win over over Western Carolina: Canes had five players score between 11 and 14 points and seven play 23 to 25 minutes in expected easy win over lesser foe. Outlook: Miami's men were really good last season, finishing 27-8, 13-5 in the tough ACC and reaching the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, led by a terrific year from Sheldon McClellan. Well, McClellan, Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri are among that team's leaders who have departed, leaving behind a program Larranaga (pictured) is rebuilding. Expectations are modest; UM was pegged ninth of 15 conference teams in the preseason media poll. Canes will be infusing arriving talent and hoping for big seasons from returning guys such as as Davon Reed and Ja'Quan Newton. The outlook? Somewhere around .500 or just above and contention for an NIT bid seems reasonable. But never underestimate the first-rate motivator Larranaga as he sets out on his sixth UM season.

MotleyNo. 14 UM women open with 82-66 road loss at No. 19 Kentucky: No soft opener for the Canes women, who lost despite Adrienne Motley's 16 points as Wildcats ended on a 15-2 run. Outlook: Meier's 12th UM season opened big as her 14th-ranked Canes unveiled themselves at No. 19 Kentucky with a huge test out the gate -- the only Top 25 matchup in women's basketball as the season launched. Canes were 24-9 last season and 10-6 in the ACC before disappointingly losing their opener in the NCAA Tournament. They should be very good again, led by a genuine star in the senior guard Motley (pictured). No. 14 in the national polls as a starting point suggests big things are expected, as does being pegged fifth in the preseason ACC guesstimation. Unlike Larranaga, then, and despite the program's first season-opening loss since 1996, Meier faces the burden of tall expectations.

THE LIST: HURRICANES' WINNINGEST BASKETBALL COACHES: Where current coaches Jim Larranaga and Katie Meier ranked among all-time Hurricanes winningest basketball coaches entering their 2016-17 seasons:

UM men's basketball coaching victories

Coach                       Record      Pct.    Years

Bruce Hale                220-112    .663    1954-67

Leonard Hamilton     144-147    .495     1990-2000

Frank Haith              129-101    .561     2004-11

Hart Morris               119-82      .592    1938-42, '46-52

Jim Larranaga            91-49      .650    2011-present

UM women's basketball coaching victories

Ferne Labati             303-195    .608    1988-2005

Katie Meier               207-143    .591    2005-present

Lin Dunn                   149-119    .556    1978-87 

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 10: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CHARGERS, REST OF NFL: We modestly regained a bit of misplaced mojo last week in Week 10 of our 26th season of Friday Page FripixNFL predictions in the Miami Herald, after a pratfall the week before. I'm not doing handsprings over an 8-5 record overall and 7-5-1 against the spread, but it was progress. We were a big 23 games over .500 ATS entering this week, but had a mixed start last night. Had Ravens winning, but misfired on thinking Browns would lose by less than 10. (Note to self: Henceforth, don't even bet on the Browns to run onto the field for pregame intros without stumbling). We move on. For all of our latest selections click on Week 10 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Chargers (sorry, Dolfans), our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an appreciation of former Miami Hurricanes who represent on the NFL's all-time career leaders lists in so many categories. Click on Canes In the History Book to read.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 10, 2016

Welcome home, Dwyane: If there was a hatchet, Wade and Riley helped bury it tonight. Heat lose, Wade scores 13; plus a smidge more politics (sorry), The List (Wade) & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10. Girding for double-duty today. Am up at Friday Page World Headquarters researching our latest NFL predictions (click Thursday Gem for tonight's Browns-Ravens pick), then heading downtown to Heat arena for Wade Returns night. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Clinton vs. Trump thoughts and poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 9 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Countdown: In case you wondered, it is 1,454 days -- or 3 years, 11 months, 24 days -- until the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election.

A few of our most recent columns: Miami QBs: No Worries, our latest, on why I think Ryan Tannehill is good enough and Brad Kaaya will return for his senior season. Also: The Other Dolphins Would Have Lost This (from win over Jets). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs' World Series win). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It DidHeat's System Reboot.

WadehomeWELCOME HOME, DWYANE: Game tonight: Click on Return Of Wade for my column from tonight's game. Chicago beat Heat 98-95, dropping Miami to 2-5 with a third straight loss despite Hassan Whiteside's 20 points and 20 rebounds. The bigger story, of course: Wade's Miami homecoming. Wade had only 13 points on 5-for-17 shoting but felt the love from a crowd cheering for the Heat -- but also for the beloved No. 3 they cheered for 13 previous seasons ..... Pregame: Pat Riley said tonight he did finally send that long-saved, heartfelt email to Wade, although he wouldn't specify when. "After 13 years we don't need to talk or email to justify how we feel about each other." Wade, speaking later, did not specifically indicate if he'd gotten the email but said, "There's nothing to squash in my eyes," meaning hard feelings, "I'm appreciative of Pat and what we accomplished." ..... Original post: Tonight will be the first time 13-season Heat icon Dwyane Wade returns to Miami in a different uniform, with the Chicago Bulls, for his only visit of the season. It should be an emotional night that will include a video tribute and, I'd expect, a lot of love from the fans. I have a Wade column previewing tonight online and in today's inky pulp edition of the Miami Herald; click on Welcome Home, Dwyane to read in full. The column begins: "This moment has been building for four months, since the Fourth of July, his independence day, when Dwyane Wade knew he was leaving. This moment has been building, really, though, for 13 years, since the 2003 NBA Draft, when Wade and Miami first met, raised three beautiful championships together, and were happily married until they weren't." Much of the column gets into the frayed relationship between Wade and Pat Riley that contributed to Wade leaving Miami. To this day, Wade and Riley have not spoken since last season ended. There are no hard feelings, outwardly. The fists are wrapped in velvet gloves. "Life is too short to be holding grudges," Wade said. "At the end of the day, Pat has helped me become a very rich man. Me and Pat have won championships together. We've both helped each other’s legacies. I love that guy. I know how he is. He's stubborn just like I am." But, as my column concludes: Thursday won't be about Riley, though. It will be about Dwyane Wade and his biggest fans in the arena that helped raise him. Wade said: "My message to [Heat fans] is what it's been all summer. Thank you." Tonight, finally, Miami gets to say thanks back.

ONE MORE THING ON THE ELECTION: I recently railed against the hopelessly counter-productive and stupendously wasted third- and fourth-party voters. My frustration was borne out. As a Rolling Stone study reported, "Third-party protest votes helped assure the Trump victory. In three states [Clinton narrowly lost], Trump's margin of victory is a fraction of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson's vote total. Green Party nominee Jill Stein [had] more votes than Clinton's deficit in both Wisconsin (31,000) and Michigan (51,000)." So, to any Johnson or Stein voters who would have gone Clinton over Trump had their self-righteousness not gotten in the way ... congratulations! You win the Ralph Nader Cup for misguided idealism!

Poll result: Our blog readers went for Clinton: We asked who you hoped would be next president, and Clinton beat Trump, 53.4 percent to 46.6%. It was closer to around 60-40 during the day Tuesday, then narrowed post-election.

THE LIST: DWYANE WADE: As Wade returns to Miami tonight for the first time in a different uniform, a list of some of the major statistical categories in which Wade is the Heat's all-time franchise leader:

Category            Total        Second place

Games                855         Haslem, 815

2-pt FGs             6,939      Mourning, 3,434

Free throws        5,185      Mourning, 2,558

Assists                4,944      Hardaway, 2,867

Steals                1,414       Chalmers. 791

Points                20,221     Mourning, 9,459

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 01, 2016

Dolphins need to quit giving up home games to London! Agreed or no? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Andre Johnson and Canton, latest SOPY standings, Cubs' historic challenge & more

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

Pumpkins1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1. Happy new month, y'all! Hope you had a great and Happy Halloween. I have a personal animus against fake pumpkins. Pictured right are the three real ones I carved that were on display last night as trick-or-treaters come to our door. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. They ain't pretty. 3) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall at Notre Dame with CSM poll, state Collball Week 9, Hot Button Top 10, Jose and cocaine, Heat poll results, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins, World Series: Our most recent columns: Click on Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did, for our latest column. Also: The Whiteside Project (off Heat home opener). What Took You So Long? (Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot (season-preview column). The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi). And The Perfect World Series (Cubs-Indians).

FinsukDOLFANS GET SCREWED OUT OF ANOTHER HOME GAME: In 2017, for the second time in three seasons, the Miami Dolphins will give up an actual regular-season home game to "host" a game in London. Last year Dolphins fans were robbed of seeing the hated rival Jets visit Miami. Next year you'll be missing out on a rare visit by Hall of Fame bound quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints. Miami and owner Stephen Ross are obliging an NFL codicil that states a team awarded host status for a Super Bowl (which Miami was, in 2020) must "host" an international game within five years. Dumb rule. At least Miami won't be charging fans for a home game beine played an eight-hour flight from home. In any case, I hate that the Dolphins giving up a home game -- let alone twice in three years. More than fans take a hit; the Dolphins yield home-field advantage for that game. This sport is different. There are only eight home games. They are precious. Giving up one of eight would be the equivalent of the Heat playing five of their 41 home games elsewhere, or the Marlins giving up 10 of their 81 home games. Here's a poll that invites your opinion on this matter:

AjohnsonANDRE JOHNSON AND CANTON: Titans wide receiver Andre Johnson, 35, the born-and-raised Miamian and ex-Hurricane, announced today he planned to retire on Monday. Is Johnson a Hall of Famer? I think so. Perhaps not a first-ballot, no-argument guy. But one who should get to Canton eventually. Here are Johnson's pertinent NFL career numbers compared to the three most recent wide receivers to be inducted, with 'PB' indicating Pro Bowls:

Player                           PB    Catches    Yards    Avg.    TDs

Andre Johnson               7    1,062        14,185  13.4    70

Tim Brown (2015)           9     1,094       14,934  13.7    100

Andre Reed (2014)          7        951       13,198  13.9     87

Cris Carter (2013)           8      1,101       13,899  12.6    130

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 8 RESULTS: PIX IN A SLUMP, BUT LOBOS KEEP ROCKIN'!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL pix: Lousy week, period. Went 6-6-1 overall (with the tie game) and embarrassing 3-9-1 against the spread (with the Jets pushing). We're still a very solid 21 games above .500 ATS for  the season, but need to shake this two-week lull pronto. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos rose to 5-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a 138-114 spanking of Dan. That ties us for first place. Enjoyed balanced scoring, with four guys over 19 points led by Mohammad Sanu's 23. With a roster ravaged by byes, we'd just signed Sanu as a free agent late in the week, so that made us look smart. Let's keep it rollin', 'Bos!

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': CAN ANYONE SPOIL FLOWERS' GARDEN PARTY?: South Florida Bulls duel-threat QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) has expanded his season Sopylead in the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year. Second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida state running back, has played one fewer game, but even with that factored in, Flowers' lead is huge. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The number of games played for each school is listed parenthetically below. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 10, followed by a new No. 1 in our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 9:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos. (games)                 Wk9        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb (9)            309.5      2,051

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb (8)                      208        1,512

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb (8)             102        1,262

4      4      Alex McGough, FIU-qb (9)                  223.5     1,159.5

5      5      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb (9)                  156          996

6      8      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb (9)                     123         937

7      7      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb (8)                   115         936

8      6      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb (8)                    46          884

9      9      Mark Walton, Miami-rb (8)                  89          845 

10   10     Gregory Howell, FAU-rb (8)                 29          729

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 713. Other team leaders: McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 703.5 (8); and Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 594.5 (7). Week 9 best: Flowers, 309.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

THE LIST: TEAMS THAT HAVE DONE WHAT CUBS ARE TRYING TO DO: The Cubs trailed the Indians 3-1 before winning World Series game 5 last night. Should it win the next two in Cleveland, the Cubs would become only the fifth team ever to successfully overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven WS. Teams that have done it:

Year    Team                                    Series MVP

1985    Royals vs. Cardinals               Royals P Bret Saberhagen

1968    Tigers vs. Cardinals               Tigers P Mickey Lolich

1958    Yankees vs. Milw. Braves        Yankees P Bob Turley

1925    Pirates vs. Senators               None chosen

Note: Tigers and Yankees won last two on road, the challenge now facing Chicago.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 31, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 16.0%; plus new Hot Button Top 10, UM falls at Notre Dame 30-27, other state Collball Week 9; also, the Jose story that couldn't get worse, got worse (my column) & more

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

Finsat501) It is SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30. Enjoy your no-loss Sunday, Dolfans. And don't give up yet, Cubs fans! Miracle coming. 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. Pictured right, the book at Costco, which we are told has reordered due to demand. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat open season with polls, NFL Week 8 picks, Jose and alcohol, Dolphins Halloween, your Cubs-Indians verdict, The List & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jose Fernandez, Heat, NFL, Dolphins, World Series: Our most recent columns: Click on Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did, for today's latest column. Also: The Whiteside Project (off Heat home opener). Week 8 Gems (latest NFL picks). What Took You So Long? (Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot (season-preview column). The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi). And The Perfect World Series (Cubs-Indians).

 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: 16.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 16.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 30-27 loss at Notre Dame putting UM's season Csmrecord at 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 10 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

Next poll: Nov. 5 following game vs. Pitt

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCT. 30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Spurs here Sunday bring season’s first real test: The new-era Heat is two games in and 1-1 with its first real test coming Sunday against San Antonio. But the early season’s big highlight is still ahead: Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami on Nov. 10.

2. HURRICANES: UM falls at Notre Dame for fourth straight loss: It was Super Saturday for the state of Florida’s Big 3 as the Canes revived their rivalry with Notre Dame, Florida faced Georgia in its annual neutral-site game, and Florida State hosted No. 3 Clemson. Alas, only the Gators got the job done. 

3. BASEBALL: Do Cubs fans believe in miracles?: World Series Game 5 Sunday night will be the last at Wrigley Field as Cubs, down 3-1, try to win their first title since 1908. The Indians last won it all in 1948. So that’s recently, relatively speaking.

4. JOSE FERNANDEZ: Report indicates cocaine in system at time of death: You thought the Jose Fernandez tragedy couldn't get any worse. But then it did, with Saturday's toxicology report indicating cocaine in Jose's system at the time of the Marlins star's fatal boat crash.  

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes voted 9th in ACC preseason poll: Duke received 85 of 91 first-place votes in ACC men's basketball preseason media poll. The Miami Hurricanes finished ninth of 15 teams. Could be a long season for Jim Larranaga's departure-decimated Canes.

10. DWYANE WADE: Ex-Heat star fined for throat slash: The NBA fined Wade $25,000 for a throat-slash gesture near the conclusion of his first game with Chicago. Dear Dwyane: Not smart, especially coming from somebody preaching an end to violence.   

Missing the HB10 cut: Like the Dolphins, Missing the Cut is taking the day off.

UmndG8: NOTRE DAME 30, HURRICANES 27: TWO DESPERATE TEAMS RENEW A FIERCE OLD RIVALRY: Postgame thoughts: Note: I needed to suspend my live blog on this game because I'd been called upon to write an unscheduled column on the Jose Fernandez/cocaine development. UM fell behind 20-0 early, fought back, but then could not hold on. Fourth loss in row for Miami. That 4-0 start and No. 10 ranking was a long, long time ago. Canes had very little running game today and defense overall wasn't very good ..... Original post: Saturday's 3:30 kickoff in South Bend finds Miami 4-3 and Notre Dame 2-5, the game airing nationally on NBC as an homage to two storied programs and a once-great rivalry. The betting-line Cathconvtrend has been interesting. Irish opened a negligible 1-point home favorite but enough money flooded to the Canes to swing that line to UM being favored by 2 1/2, and currently 2. I'll say this. A team that has lost three conference games in a row like Miami may take no opponent lightly, and Notre Dame does not seem as bad to me as its record suggests. The Irish have been competitive all year, their five losses by 3, 8, 3, 7 and 7 points. No blowouts there. Besides that, no matter Notre Dame's record any given year, "at South Bend" can still be a challenging trip as the ghosts of a program's tradition and pedigree rattle forth. Could be an intimidating venue for a mostly young canes squad. This was a great rivalry, once, back during the UM dynasty days tinged in controversy -- the T-shirt pictured harking to that -- but the schools are meeting here for only the third time since 1990. (I covered UM fulltime in 1984-88, made two trips to South Bend, and saw the original "Catholics vs. Convicts" painted on bedsheets hanging from dorm windows. The manufactured T-shirts came later. Good stuff!) UM has lost the past three games in the series including 41-3 on the road at Soldier Field in Chicago in the most recent, in 2012. I think that three-game Miami losing streak, as well as this season's current three-game losing streak, both will end in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-16.

Other state FBS Week 9 games, chronologically:

South Florida 52, No. 22 Navy  45: I thought Navy was overanked and overestimated and was right. Bulls, now 7-2, jumped to 28-0 early lead in Friday nighter and held on.

Houston 31, UCF 24: Knights fall to 4-4. Houston bounced back after last week's embarrassing loss to Southern Methodist that sent it cascading from No. 11 clean out of the polls.

Western Kentucky 52, FAU 3: Wheels are coming off on a miserable Owls season now at 1-7.

No. 14 Florida 24, Georgia 10: They call this the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," which pretty much describes every college football game I've ever attended or covered where red plastic cups outnumber human beings. But this is one of few enduring neutral-site rivalries. No surprise in the result. Gators have owned the series, 21-6, since 1990 including past three in a row, and at 7-1 should be knocking on door of top 10. 

Middle Tennessee 42, FIU 35: Panthers saw their three-game win streak end last week and were 17-point home 'dogs here. A good-effort loss, but Cats now 3-6.

No. 3 Clemson 37, Florida State 34: If FSU had any prayer of somehow still working their way back up into the four-team College Football Playoff (where they began the season), a home win here was an absolute necessity. But wasn't sure an FSU defense that had previously given up 34-plus points in four games this year could do enough to stop Deshaun Watson et al, and was right. FSU now with a third loss, yet probably not deserving to fall much in rankings.

National Collball Week 9 overview: The initial ranking of contenders for the four-team College Football Playoff will be issued Nov. 1, so this is the weekend would shape it. The AP's current top four is Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington. The latter two were at most risk on Saturday, with Clemson playing at 12-Florida State (see above), and Washington playing at 17-Utah. But nobody ranked in the top six lost.

JOSE FERNANDEZ AND COCAINE: Marlins ace Jose Fernandez had cocaine as well as alcohol in his system when he and two friends died in a boating accident last month, according to an autopsy report obtained by USA Today Saturday. Fernandez’s blood alcohol content was .147, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, according to the toxicology results in Miami-Dade County report. The others in the boat were not as intoxicated, with Eduardo Rivera's BAC at .065 and Jesus Macias' at .044. Rivero also was found with cocaine in his system. There has been no ruling on who was driving, although it has been assumed Fernandez was since he owned the boat. My thought on the latest development: There had been an assumption of alcohol,  but the cocaine news is jarring. It accentuates the tragedy, by underlining the fact is was so preventable. That is so should not have ever happened.

Poll result: You set a modest bar for Heat wins, but higher than Vegas: We invited you to predict the most likely number of Heat regular-season wins, and it was 36.9 percent for 41-45, 31.9% for 36-40, 14.3% for 31-35, 12.2% for 46-or-more and 4.7% for 30-or-fewer. So a plurality thinks slightly better than .500, which is playoff contention for a low seed. The most common Vegas over/under for Miami wins is in the 34-36 range, likely out of the playoffs.

Poll result: Post-Wade, Whiteside anointed favorite Heat player: We asked what current, active Heat player you'd call your favorite entering this season, and Hassan Whiteside led with 34.8 percent, followed by Udonis Haslem at 22.2% and Justise Winslow ar 17.9%. Then it was Goran Dragic with 11.5%, Josh Richardson 6.8% and Tyler Johnson 5.4%, with the remaining 1.4% voting "someone else."

THE LIST: CANES' MOST COMMON FOOTBALL OPPONENTS: Top 10 schools UM has played the most number of times:

No.    Opponent                UM record        Last met

59     Florida State           29-30               2016

55     Florida                    29-26               2013

35     Pittsburgh                24-10-1           Playing Nov. 5; prior 2015

34     Virginia Tech           20-14              2016

29     Boston College         24-5                2012

26     Notre Dame             7-18-1             2016

22     Georgia Tech           11-11               2016

22     Syracuse                  15-7                2003

20     North Carolina         9-11                2016

19     West Virginia           16-3                2003

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