September 29, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 18.0%; plus Fins ripped by Bills 41-14; also Hot Button Top 10, the sharp divide on anti-Golden flyovers & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Anti-Golden flyovers poll, rarity of Big 3 all 3-0, Collball Week 4 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin puts himself in peril: Coaches already on the hot seat cannot afford embarrassing performances like the Dolphins had Sunday in their home opener. Click on Philbin In Peril for my column off the game. Our live gamepost is directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 18.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.0 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) 1aa1adsmin the wake of Sunday's 41-14 loss to the visiting Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 4 (following game vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Interpreting the latest vote: Of course a spike from a previous 1.7 percent to this week's 18.0% makes little sense after a loss as bad as Sunday's. Pleased Bills fans weighing in? More likely pissant anarchists simply trying to throw a wrench in our gears. Whatever. No matter. Free country! The majority spoke (loudly) with 81.4% "very dissatisfied."  

G3: BUFFALO 41, DOLPHINS 14: FINAL: Home opener. Division opponent. Coming off a bad loss. So many reasons Miami needed to show up big today. What a monumental failure all the way around. ..... Fourth quarter: MIA 2nd and goal. NO score. Of course. BUF now up 41-14 on 41-yard TD run by Karlos Williams. Do the details even matter at this point? ... Fins within 34-14 on 46-yard Tanny pass to Matthews and then a missed kick. ... Miami 1st and goal at Bills 2, four straight complete passes. Way to trust that running game! Unbelievable. Seriously. ... Bills defensive hold wipes out a Tannehill sack and fumble loss. ... BUF 34-8 now on 38-yard TD pass Taylor to Chris Hogan. Just plain embarrassing. ... Wanted/needed: Miracle of Biblical proportions. ..... Third quarter: Dolphins finally do something, score, pull within 27-8 on Tanny's 21-yard TD throw to Rishard Matthews plus a 2-point conversion pass. ... Bills miss a 54-yard FG try. Hey something went right for Miami! ..... Halftime report: Awfulness times infinity equals Miami's first half performance. ..... Second quarter: Tannehill's third interception sets up 51-yard FG and 27-0 game. ... Bills 24-0 on Preston Brown 44-yard INT return. ... BUF 26-yard FG for 17-0 lead. Miami doing nothing right so far. ..... First quarter: Miami drive starts promisingly at BUF 38, then Tannehill intercepted off Landry's hands. ... Buffs 14-0 on 10-yard Shady McCoy scoring play on slant. MIA defense gouged for 158 yards on 2 TD drives totaling 13 plays. ... Nightmare start! After a 3-and-out by Dolphins, defense gives up 5-play, 77-yard Bills TD drive capped by ex-Fin Charles Clay's 25-yard romp through myriad missed tackles. Oy. ... Is there a nobler aim known to mankind than making Rex Ryan sad? ..... Pregame: Anthem by Darius "Hootie" Rucker. The Dolphins make him cry. Uh oh. ... Warren Buffett, worth 10 times more than Stephen Ross, was on home sideline in a Ndamukong Suh jersey. Buffett has only three fewer tackles than Suh this year. ... LT Branden Albert inactive today as expected. Uh oh. ... Flyover banner referencing "Sardine Can Stadium." Surprised Stephen Ross hasn't ordered his air force to shoot it down. ..... Original post: Dolphins stage their 50th franchise regular-season home opener late this afternoon vs. Buffalo and once again Dolfans have no real idea how good their team is because its maddening inconsistency defies knowing. Click on Land of No Idea for today's latest column for our full preview. The 4:25 p.m. kickoff has all the elements of a delicious matchup. It is Miami’s home opener, it’s vs. an AFC East rival, and it is coming off a bad Dolphins loss at Jacksonville to ratchet up the pressure on Joe 1aa1abillsdolPhilbin’s guys. Want more? How about blustery Rex Ryan in Bills clothes now, and former Fins bully Richie Incognito back in town tasked with blocking Ndamukong Suh. This could be damned entertaining, folks! It also could be a tough one for Miami to win. Don’t read too much into Tom Brady putting up 466 yards last week; the Buffs’ pass-D and defense in general is pretty good against everybody not named Brady. And that defensive line has the potential to dominate MIA’s blocking front and spend way too much time today in Ryan Tannehill’s pocket — especially if LT Branden Albert (hamstring) doesn’t play, as expected. The homies haven’t shown enough consistent running game (or commitment to it), or enough balance to take much heat off Tannehill. On the other side, a Dolphins run defense gouged for 284 yards the first two games will face its toughest challenge yet in LeSean McCoy. Miami is bound to get some help from Buffs’ proneness to penalties; still, I doubt the home stadium will be a happy place as dusk settles. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, people! My pick: Bills, 23-20. (Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. (Click Hot Button Top 5 for our abbreviated, print-only cousin):

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami fails huge test to Buffalo in 50th home opener Sunday: We are now in our seventh consecutive year of not knowing whether Miami will be good this time or S.O.D. (Same Ol’ Dolphins), doubts festering anew with last week's disheartening loss in Jacksonville and now Sunday's 41-14 spanking by Buffalo. We know Buffalo presented a big challenge ... and sadly found out if the Fins were up to that challenge.

2. MARLINS: Teams wraps up home schedule on disappointing season: Only six road games now remain after Sunday's home finale. Not much has gone right this year beyond Dee Gordon chasing NL batting title and Jose Fernandez improving to 17-0 in his career at home. Meanwhile club has interviewed Manny Acta as their potential next manager -- Acta, who last managed in 2012 and has career record of 372-519 (.418). Reach for the stars, Marlins!

3. HEAT: Bosh healthy as Miami opens training camp: Chris Bosh is back after missing much of last season with blood clots as training camp opens Tuesday at FAU after Media Day today/Monday at the bayside arena. The Heat expects to be much better after missing last season’s playoffs. My interpretation of much better: Anything short of a conference finals against LeBron’s Cavs will be a disappointment.

4. HURRICANES: UM braces for pass-happy Cincy: The Canes, 3-0 but unranked and with restless fans, follow a bye week with a Thursday night game on ESPN at Cincinnati. The Bearcats aren’t very good (2-2) but they average 413 passing yards per game. Hope the off week provided plenty of rest for UM’s defensive backs.

5. PANTHERS: Jagr delivers lesson in how to thwart blackmail: As NHL preseason continues, the Cats’ ageless Jaromir Jagr, 43, recently thwarted blackmail try by a Czech model, 18, who wanted $2,000 to not publish a photo of them in bed. Jagr said he didn’t care, rightly figuring that, instead of shame, the photo would likelier bring high-fives from admiring teammates.

6. GATORS: Swamp magic: Florida miracle-rallies past Tennessee: UF is now 4-0 after beating visiting Vols 28-27 Saturday after trailing 27-14 late. That's the good news. The bad news: Gators now face four ranked opponents in a row. 

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men ready for season of high hopes: Coach Jim Larranaga's guys are about to lift lid on season of big expectations. Practice opens this coming Friday and the season starts Nov. 13.

8. FIU: Panthers fall at Louisiana Tech: FIU beat the point spread with a decent road effort but still fell to 2-2 in search of first winning season since 2011.  

9. WNBA: Playoffs down to the final four: Note to self: Look up who the four surviving WNBA teams are in order to more convincingly feign interest.

10. RANDOM EVIDENCE: Greg Cote's blog turns 10!: Yeah, I know. Nobody is talking about this week being the 10th anniversary of my blog. But what's the good of having a blog if not for occasional shameless self-aggrandizing?

Poll result: Sharply divided views of anti-Golden flyovers at games: We asked in the previous blogpost what you thought of those anti-Al Golden flyovers at UM games (you may still vote), and 50.3 percent supported them because they think Golden must go. However, another 23.1% think the banners are tacky and rude, 21.7% are against them because they are pro-Golden, and 4.9% think it's silly to fly those banners while team is winning. (Note: What clearly seemed an organized effort between anti- and pro-Golden factions, ultimately won by the anti- crowd, caused a sharp spike in total votes. Democracy!)

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

September 04, 2015

5 takeaways from Dolphins loss in preseason finale; plus FIU's big win, Brady beats NFL (poll, vote now!), Upset Bird Countdown (7 days), Jimmy Johnson reigns, LeBatard, UM hoops, Lawrence Phillips & more


1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes greatest-coach poll, Upset Bird Countdown, weird Canes photos, Suh Top 5, Kim Davis, Gus Edwards, Fins' luck, 'Concussion' trailer & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

LeBatard move official: ESPN will officially announce today at 10 a.m. that the Dan LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio is moving to the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8. Readers of this blog knew about it first last month.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix


1aa1aatlfalcopnsthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 7: Atlanta Falcons, born 1966. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67].

FINS 'N FIU: A FOOTBALL DOUBLEHEADER: Granted, a Dolphins' preseason finale and FIU's season opener did not constitute a great football doubleheader ... nevertheless!

DOLPHINS LOSE PRESEASON FINALE: OUR FIVE TAKEAWAYS: The 22-17 home loss to Tampa Bay last night, leaving Miami's final preseason record at a meaningless 1-3, wasn't quite as uneventful as we'd 1aa1adparkerimagined. Miami dominated statistically but sabotaged itself with five turnovers, four of them picks, all by guys unlikely to make the final roster. Almost all of the starters sat out, but there were these five points of significance: 1) No. 1 draft pick DeVante Parker (pictured) saw his first action, albeit limited, catching one pass for 11 yards of three balls thrown his way. Good they got his feet wet before the opener. 2) RBs Jay Ajayi (103 combined yards on 11 touches) and Mike Gillislee (17-for-69 rushing) both stated their cases. Ajayi certainly makes the final roster. 3) CB Will Davis, on the trading block and thus an apparent longshot to make the team, had a pair of interceptions. 4) The kicker competition still seems a deadlock between Andrew Franks (30-yard field goal tonight) and incumbent Caleb Sturgis, though I'd give the slightest edge to Franks. And 5) Josh Freeman's late end-zone interception all but settled it. I'd be shocked at this point if Miami spent a roster spot to keep a third QB. ... Original post: Miami hosts Tampa Bay at 7 in fake-game No. 4, the final exhibition. It is significant because its conclusion will commence the countdown to the Sept. 13 NFL season opener at Washington. It also is significant for the roster's bottom third, the "bubble" players fighting to make the cut from 75 men to 53, a final paring by coach Joe Philbin that is due by Saturday. The game is otherwise insignificant. Starters will play very little if at all. The result won't matter; however, staying healthy will. [Note: A reminder our Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls are back this year, starting with the regular season].

FIU PANTHERS UPSET WINNERS: FIU last night won at UCF, 15-14, a huge upset over a 13-point home favorite in season opener. Panthers hero Darrian Dyson blocked a 47-yard field goal try in the final half minute to seal the win. 1aa1afiu"Team Alex" led the way offensively. QB Alex McGough passed for 260 yards and a TD, and RB Alex Gardner combined for 149 run/catch yards and a score. Very encouraging opening win for third-year coach Ron Turner, who told me last week he thought he'd win with defense, and did tonight. ... Original post: FIU opens its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner -- and kicks off Week 1 of the entire college season -- at UCF in Orlando. Big test for Panthers, who improved to 4-8 last year and have dreams of a bowl season, versus a Central Florida Knights squad that went 9-4 last year and is a 13-point favorite here. [Note: Our blog's State Offensive Player of the Year rankings -- the SOPYs! -- will be back this season. Look for them Mondays in the blog].

BRADY WINS, NFL LOSES AS COURT OVERTURNS 4-GAME SUSPENSION: My latest column is on this "Deflategate" development. Click on Brady Wins Big, Goodell Loses Bigger to read. Meantime, have your say:

DOLPHINS SHUT OUT IN UNDER-25 RANKINGS: List-crazy comes out with a Top 25 NFL Players Under 25 list excluding rookies (click here), and what's most disappointing is when you consider some of Miami's legitimate candidates who failed to make it. They include 1,000-yard back Lamar Miller, young sack-man Olivier Vernon, productive 2014 rookie starters Jarvis Landry and Ja-Wuan James, as well as Kenny Stills, Dion Sims, Jelani Jenkins and Chris McCain. Fins need to have a couple of those names on that U-25 ranking next year.

Betting odds on Dolphins individual stats: Over/unders courtesy our friends at Bovada today. Ryan Tannehill is pegged at 4,000 passing yards, 25.5 TD throws and 14.5 picks. Lamar Miller is 1,000 rushing yards and seven TDs. Jarvis Landry is 900 receiving yards and five TDs. And sack o/u's are 10 for Cam Wake and eight for Ndamukong Suh.

And updated World Series odds, too: Also from Bovada, it's Blue Jays favorites at 7-2, then Royals and Cardinals both 11-2, Dodgers 15-2 and Mets 9-1. Marlins now one of seven teams off-the-board.

1aa1ajjPoll result: Jimmy, Howard dominate UM greatest-coach vote: We listed the 10 Hurricanes football coaches who have worked at least 50 career games here, and nearly 80 percent of the vote went to either Jimmy Johnson (our clear champ with 47.0 percent) or Howard Schnellenberger (31.3%). Butch Davis was a distant third at 11.0%, then came Dennis Erickson at 4.8% and Larry Coker at 3.0%. At a negligible 1.0% or less: Andy Gustafson, Jack Harding, Charlie Tate, Al Golden and Randy Shannon.

HIGHLIGHTS, THOUGHTS ON HURRICANES MEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE: Jim Larranaga's guys should be pretty good this season, maybe really good, in a schedule that opens at home Nov. 13 vs. Texas-Rio 1aa1ajimlGrand Valley. UM will play at least seven games vs. teams that finished in last year's final Top 25. Our circled dates, in order, with the seven must-see home games in bold: Nov. 19-22--Canes could face Utah (#19 last season) or Butler (#24) in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament in San Juan. Dec. 8--Host Florida Gators. Jan. 2 & 9--Host Syracuse and then Florida State in first ACC games. Jan. 12--at Virginia (#6). Jan. 25--Duke (#4) here. Feb. 3--Notre Dame (#8) here. Feb. 20--at North Carolina (#15) on CBS, only network TV game. Feb. 22--Virginia (#6) here. Feb. 27--Louisville (#17) here. March 8-12--ACC Tournament.

THE TRAGIC TALE OF LAWRENCE PHILLIPS: When I think of athletes of wasted promise -- make that 1aa1adolphillipshorribly wasted -- I might now think first of Phillips, the troubled former running back who played for three NFL teams in 1996-99, including two games for the Dolphins (pictured; 18 carries for 44 yards) in '97. He failed as a pro despite being a first-round draft pick, due largely to off-field issues. Now 40, he is serving a 31-year sentence in a California prison for choking his girlfriend and ramming his car into three teens. This week, he was charged with first-degree murder in the choking of his cellmate. What a waste.


Dolphins, Hurricanes special sections: Our NFL/Dolphins and College/Canes football special sections are out (high schools, too), and here are my two contributions: NFL rank: I rate the teams, 1 through 32, and slot the Dolphins at a really high No. 6. Click on The Order to read in full. Al Golden: I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his future with the program. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our "Fins at 50" package commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online; click FINS AT 50. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND (Shula column); 50 GREATEST (list of franchise's 50 top figures, not just players); ALL-TIME TEAM (my picks) and VIDEO INTERVIEWS (Shula, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas). Also have Shula-by-the-numbers column; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.

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

August 19, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Coach                     Wins       Losing seasons

Don Shula               347          6.1% (2 of 33)

George Halas          324        15.0% (6 of 40)

Tom Landry            270        31.0% (9 of 29)

Bill Belichick          233        25.0% (5 of 20)

Curley Lambeau     229        18.2% (6 of 33)

Paul Brown            222         16.0% (4 of 25)

Chuck Noll             209         30.4% (7 of 23)

M. Schottenheimer 205           9.5% (2 of 21)

Dan Reeves            201         39.1% (9 of 23)

Chuck Knox           193         36.4% (8 of 22)

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

August 12, 2015

Heat schedule out, all 82 games here; plus new 'Back In My Day' video, Mayweather vs. Rousey poll, Canes hoops, Drone Racing League, Tannehill on SI cover, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins manager search & more


1aa1abradyct1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12. Here's why people make fun of courtroom sketch artists. Pictured right is supposed to be Tom Brady in federal court today. 2) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your picks for 10 greatest Hurricanes, Hot Button Top 10, Weighing The Fish & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too. We have a new Periscope up from yesterday's radio show.

Honor for Canes men's basketball: In an indication of high expectation for UM's men's team, ESPN announced today Miami would host two of the network's "Big Monday" telecasts this season: Jan. 25 vs. Duke and Feb. 22 vs. Virginia, both at 7 p.m.on ESPN.

1aa1adroneDrone Racing League! A, because there aren't enough ridiculous sports and B, because Stephen Ross apparently has more money than he knows what to do with: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and his money are behind the new Drone Racing League. Yes I said Drone Racing League. Click here for the details. (Pictured, a young man racing his drone). A co-mingling of Ross' two sporting passions seems inevitable, so watch for it: Dolphin play-calls getting from sideline to huddle via drone. I apologize if I'm droning on. OY!

1aa1aheatHEAT SCHEDULE OUT, INCLUDES CHRISTMAS GAME HERE: Heat released its 2015-16 regular season NBA schedule today, and it opens Oct . 28 at home vs. Charlotte. Other highlights include a Christmas Day home game vs. New Orleans, and visits by LeBron James and Cleveland on Dec. 5 and Mar. 19. Here is the entire schedule:




30 Fri. @ Cleveland 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN


1 Sun. HOUSTON 6:00 PM SUN


5 Thurs. @ Minnesota 8:00 PM SUN

6 Fri. @ Indiana 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

8 Sun. TORONTO 6:00 PM SUN

10 Tues. L.A. LAKERS 7:30 PM SUN

12 Thurs. UTAH 7:30 PM SUN

17 Tues. MINNESOTA 7:30 PM SUN

19 Thurs. SACRAMENTO 7:30 PM SUN



25 Wed. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

27 Fri. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN/NBA TV

30 Mon. BOSTON 7:30 PM SUN





9 Wed. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

11 Fri. @ Indiana 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

13 Sun. MEMPHIS 6:00 PM SUN

14 Mon. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN

16 Wed. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

18 Fri. TORONTO 7:30 PM SUN

20 Sun. PORTLAND 1:00 PM SUN

22 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN


26 Sat. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

29 Tues. @ Memphis 8:00 PM SUN


1 Fri. DALLAS 7:30 PM SUN

3 Sun. @ Washington 6:00 PM SUN



8 Fri. @ Phoenix 9:30 PM SUN

9 Sat. @ Utah 9:00 PM SUN

11 Mon. @ Golden State 10:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ L.A. Clippers 10:30 PM SUN/ESPN

15 Fri. @ Denver 9:00 PM SUN

17 Sun. @ Oklahoma City 7:00 PM SUN

19 Tues. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM SUN

20 Wed. @ Washington 7:00 PM SUN

22 Fri. @ Toronto 8:00 PM SUN/ESPN

25 Mon. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN

26 Tues. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM SUN

29 Fri. @ Milwaukee 8:30 PM SUN

31 Sun. ATLANTA 6:00 PM SUN


2 Tues. @ Houston 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

3 Wed. @ Dallas 8:30 PM SUN

5 Fri. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM SUN

7 Sun. L.A. CLIPPERS 2:00 PM ABC


19 Fri. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM SUN


22 Mon. INDIANA 7:30 PM SUN


27 Sat. @ Boston 3:00 PM SUN

28 Sun. @ New York 7:30 PM SUN



3 Thurs. PHOENIX 7:30 PM SUN

4 Fri. @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM SUN


9 Wed. @ Milwaukee 7:00 PM SUN/ESPN

11 Fri. @ Chicago 8:00 PM SUN/NBA TV

12 Sat. @ Toronto 7:00 PM SUN

14 Mon DENVER 7:30 PM SUN

17 Thurs. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM SUN


22 Tues. @ New Orleans 8:00 PM SUN

23 Wed. @ San Antonio 8:30 PM SUN

25 Fri. ORLANDO 7:30 PM SUN

28 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM SUN

30 Wed. @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 PM SUN/NBA TV


1 Fri. @ Sacramento 10:00 PM SUN

2 Sat @ Portland 10:00 PM SUN

5 Tues. DETROIT 7:30 PM SUN

7 Thurs. CHICAGO 8:00 PM TNT

8 Fri. @ Orlando 7:00 PM SUN

10 Sun. ORLANDO 6:00 PM SUN

12 Tues. @ Detroit 7:30 PM SUN

13 Wed. @ Boston 8:00 PM SUN

FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR. VS. RONDA ROUSEY, NO HOLDS BARRED. HEY, IT'S FUN TO DREAM: I doubt we'll ever see this fight. I'd bet big on that. Yes, the boxing champion vs. the UFC champion would be a 1aa1afighthuge draw. And, yes, it could work weight-wise if Mayweather (151) dropped and Rousey (135) added. But too many male athletes including Mayweather himself have made too many ugly headlines for domestic violence to imagine that the possibility of a man pummeling a woman in a ring (or octagon) would ever be sanctioned for sport. Rousey keeps keeping the topic alive, though. Just Monday night, in an ask-me-anything chat on Reddit, Rousey was asked if she would beat Mayweather in a no-holds-barred, mixed martial arts-style bout, and she said: "Floyd is one of the best boxers of all time. He would definitely beat me in a boxing match. I unfortunately don't get into 'matches.' I fight for a living. In a no-rules fight, I believe I can beat anyone on this planet. Boxing is a sweet science with strict rules that I respect. But you said rule-less fight, and that's my honest answer." Is she right? Could she beat anyone no-holds-barred even including Mayweather? She is 10 years younger; I'd give her a real chance. What do you think? Remember, this is not asking who you'd want to win, but who you honestly think would win. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': Many know that my Tuesday appearances with the Dan LeBatard Show on radio/TV include a "Back In My Day" segment that has grown quite popular with listeners and viewers. They're on Fusion TV's YouTube channel now, and here is the latest one, from yesterday:


WHERE DOLPHINS FALL IN 2015 FANTASY DRAFTING: If you're like Greg's Lobos you are preparing for your fantasy draft. And you may be wondering 1aa1almiller 1aa1asitannhow Dolphins players will be slotted. A good indication comes this week in's annual fantasy draft, based on a 12-team standard league and 16-round draft. Dolphins taken, in order, with round and overall selection: RB Lamar Miller, pictured (3rd round-30th overall); WR Jarvis Landry (7-75th); WR DeVante Parker (7-84th); QB Ryan Tannehill (10-113th); TE Jordan Cameron (10-117th); WR Kenny Stills (12-139th); RB Jay Ajayi (13-154th); Dolphins defense/special teams (15-171st); and PK Caleb Sturgis (16-192nd). Tannehill is pictured (left) on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2016 fantasy issue.

NFL MVP odds: Newly out via Bovada, it's Packer Aaron Rodgers the favorite out the gate at 5-1, followed by Colt Andrew Luck at 7-1. Only others under 20-1 are Viking Adrian Peterson and Texan J.J. Watt both 12-1, and Bronco Peyton Manning at 16-1. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is 40-1, tied for 20th.

My Uber driver is a Dolphin: Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis earned extra money as an Uber driver during the recent offseason. No, seriously. Not everybody makes Ndamukong Suh money. Click here for a feature video as's James Walker goes along for the ride. Not sure how much extra money A.J. made. I only hope he gets as much attention for football as he got doing this.xx

JUMP-STARTING MARLINS' MANAGER SEARCH: Worst record in MLB hosts worst record in AL in a two-game 1aa1afish4series ending today at Marlins Park, after Fish won 5-4 in 10 last night. So it's Stinkin' Fish vs. Bostgon Red Sux. Sorry. Truth hurts. I suggest in my latest column that the Marlins' managerial search should be on now, not wait until after the season. If their guy is out there and available -- and many are, including Bud Black and Ron Gardenhire -- why not make the move soon and give the new guy a chunk of this season to learn his team? An experienced manager with a track record is a must after the failed experiment that is Dan Jennings. This season has turned hopeless. Everything now should be about 2016. Click on Look Ahead to read the column in full. Meantime, fans last night received the poster pictured of the Marlins' "Franchise Four," part of an MLB promotion in which fans selected each team's Mount Rushmore. The Fish are Jeff Conine, Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell and Giancarlo Stanton.

1aa1agoodyGOODBYE, GOODY: Joe Goodman, a Herald sportswriter since 2005 and most recently our main Heat beat guy, is leaving us to write for in his homestate Alabama. His hunger for college football will be well sated; his love of soccer, not so much. Joe's talented and we wish him well. He and I shared some good times on the road, including a memorable drinking night at New York's wonderful little Tribeca bar, Ward III. Joe and I are pictured at right doing a Heat postgame video. He's the one who's young, handsome and well-dressed.

THE LIST: MNF LONGEVITY: Broadcasters who have had the most tenure in the Monday Night Football booth (on ABC in 1970-05, on ESPN 2006-current):

Broadcaster        Years     Duration

Frank Gifford       27        1971-97

Al Michaels          20        1986-05

Howard Cosell     14        1970-83

Don Meredith       12        1970-73, '77-84

Dan Dierdorf        12        1987-98

Mike Tirico          10        2006-current

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June 20, 2015

The ultimate "South Florida's Favorite Sports Team" poll. Last chance to vote!; plus we're back from vacation & more


I'm back!: The wife and I have returned to the Motherland after an eight-night stay in Paris. I'm back on the Herald clock Monday but will have a brand new blog post here tomorrow/Sunday morning, including a new Hot Button Top 10 and (unavoidably, I'm afraid) a synopsis of my week-plus in Paris including photos. 2) 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine, because we'll be posting stuff while away.

1aa1akingofmiamiLAST CHANCE TO VOTE IN THE ULTIMATE "SOUTH FLORIDA'S FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM" POLL: Baseball is in full bloom, basketball and hockey have just wrapped up their seasons and summer means football is getting close enough to
hear the pads popping. So this is as good a time as 1aa1akingofmiami2any to wonder what South Florida's favorite team is, and I invite you to answer that question in the poll below. We're focusing here on teams at the pro or college level in the Greater Miami market -- and you may only choose one. I know that's tough because, if you're like me and most, you follow multiple teams and certainly care about more than one. But you can only care about one the most, right? By whatever criteria you choose to use, name that team! (Hey, nobody said life was easy, or fair). With apologies to any teams left out, I had to keep the poll to a manageable length and make some tough calls, but included an "other" category for that. So think about which SoFla pro or college team you love best or follow most avidly -- the one that is simply the most important to you -- then take a dip in our poll and say why. Final results announced here Sunday so vote now!

Check back a lot to monitor evolving results above...

April 12, 2015

All but done. Heat playoff chances now 1.7%; plus the new Hot Button Top 10 with Heat, zombie Marlins, Masters, Fins, Cuba, Cats, Canes, FIU & more


1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 13. Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, took the day off but will return next week. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's plunging playoff fortunes, LeBron sabotaging Heat poll, Branden Albert boxing, NBA/Cuba verdict, Marlins off schneid, Kardashian-Free Zone & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Historical SadFact: With the Heat facing elimination today from contention for the NBA playoffs, this would be only the fifth time in 21 shared seasons that both Heat and NHL Panthers sat out the postseason. Previous occurrences were in 2008, 2003, 2002 and 1995.

PLAYOFF CHASE: MIAMI (ALL BUT) ELIMINATED: The latest home 1aa1adwadeloss, 107-104 to Toronto, was Miami's ninth in the past 12 games and pushed Heat to very edge of elimination from NBA playoff race. Dwyane Wade (pictured), who scored 30, displays an expression fitting the frustration of how Miami has blown it the past few weeks. Heat must now win its final two games and hope Brooklyn and Indiana both end 0-2, after Boston beat the LeBron-less Cavs yesterday to (all but) eliminate the Heat. Four teams were jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. Playoff-likelihood percents are updated to reflect yesterday's developments. How it looks entering Monday's NBA action:

7. Boston: 38-42, W4. Playoff likelihood: 98.3% (up 10.7) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Tuesday vs. TOR, Wednesday @ MIL. Note: All but clinched.

8. Brooklyn: 37-43, L1. Playoff likelihood: 76.4% (down 12.5). Next: Tonight vs. CHI, Wednesday vs. ORL. Note: Last two games being at home helps cause.

9. Indiana: 37-43, W5. Playoff likelihood: 23.6 (up 2.8). Next: Tonight vs. WAS, Wednesday @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat.

10. Miami: 35-45, L2. Playoff likelihood: 1.7% (down 1.1). Next: Tonight vs. ORL, Wednesday @ PHI. Note: Heat makes playoffs only if it finishes 2-0 and Brooklyn and Indiana both finish 0-2.

HOT BUTTON APR. 12: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami playoff hopes now all but over: To make the playoffs now, Miami must finish 2-0 (starting tonight vs. Orlando in home finale) and hope Brooklyn and Indiana both end 0-2. That could happen. Yes, and I could hit the Lotto on the way to my blind date with Olivia Munn.

2. MARLINS: Fish staggering at 1-5 start: Team finally won Friday on a "Zombie Night" promotion as many fans arrived dressed as the living dead -- emulating their team's bats during the punchless five losses including yesterday's. More ominous yet: Henderson Alvarez may be out as Fish begin 10-game road trip.

3. GOLF: The Masters under Spieth's spell: Jordan Spieth, 21, became the second-youngest Masters winner (after Tiger Woods in 1997) in dominating Augusta. Tiger was a big story for playing credibly, which tells you how far his career has sunk.

4. DOLPHINS: Pouncey signs long-term deal: No rest. Team signs center Mike Pouncey long-term, auditions but doesn't sign WRs Wes Welker, Greg Jennings and Michael Crabtree, and prepares (17 days and counting) for the NFL Draft.

5. NBA: League to hold camp in Cuba: League blindsided and angered Heat by unilaterally announcing an April 23-26 developmental camp in Cuba. A heads-up might have been logical and nice for the one franchise affected by any relationship with the island.

6. PANTHERS: Hockey season quietly expires: Much improvement and lots to like under first-year coach Gerard Gallant, team MVP Roberto Luongo and late-arrival JaromirJagr in season that ended with Saturday win over Jersey. Bottom line, though: For 17th time in 21 franchise seasons, no playoffs.

7. HURRICANES: 10 more inducted in UM sports hall: I don't wanna say its inducts too many people each year, but if it were a country, the UM Sports Hall of Fame would be the 43rd most populous nation on Earth.

8. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Duke men, UConn women reign: Now if we can just get the two champions to play each other for the ultimate crown. Sure, it'd be ridiculous. But you'd watch, wouldn't you?

9. TENNIS: Novak, Serena win Miami Open: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams won titles on Key Biscayne last weekend. Or, given tennis' predictability ... did that go without saying?

10. FIU BASKETBALL: FIU hires new hoops coach: FIU introduced former Maryland assistant Marlin Chinn as head coach of its women's team. Which makes him the newest Miami Marlin, right?

Poll result: Most don't think LeBron is intentionally hurting Heat: We asked if you thought LeBron James resting or sitting out two straight games vs. Celtics might be to intentionally hurt Miami's playoff chances, and it was 51.4 percent no, 38.1% yes and 10.5% maybe/undecided.

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April 05, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Flying Fish, Kentucky's loss, reeling Heat, 7 others; plus who'll win NCAA final? New poll. Vote now!; also Loria, Serena & more


1aa1aeaster1) It is SUNDAY, APRIL 5. Happy Easter, believers, and congratulations, Jesus! 2) Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Marlins. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Final Four, UM/NIT, Jordan tops poll, Heat/Panthers playoff chase, Josh Freeman, Cuban baseball, John Wolin & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Marlins' Jeffrey Loria: I visit with the team owner for my column in today's season-preview section. Many don't like Loria, but will a big-spending offseason help his image? Click on Judging Jeffrey to read.

Serena's dominance: Serena Williams is The Tennis Terminator. She proved it again yesterday at the Miami Open. Click on Queen Serena for my column on Williams and her place in tennis history.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Double doom! Heat drop off pace, Panthers eliminated. Update entering SundayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending down in 9th place at 34-42 (L3) after last night's 99-98 loss at Detroit, 1/2 game from 8th, 1 game ahead of 10th with 6 games left (next tonight at Indiana). Heat playoff likelihood: 60.5% (down 9.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down (eliminated) in 10th place at 36-43 (L1) after last night's 4-0 loss vs. Tampa Bay, 8 points from 8th with 4 games left (next today vs. Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.0% (down 0.2) per

HOT BUTTON APR. 5: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. MARLINS: Opening Day! High hopes as Fish debut Monday: Major League Baseball opens its season with Cardinals at Cubs tonight, but all other teams take the field Monday. Here is your pump-up music, South Florida: Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Giants have won more World Series since 1997 than the Marlins’ two.

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: It's Duke-Wisconsin for NCAA championship: Kentucky and Duke were five-point betting picks in Saturday’s Final Four semifinals but only one of them did their job. For the previously unbeaten Wildcats of John Calipari, that meant yesterday was one and done.

3. HEAT: Loss at Detroit knocks Miami off playoff pace: The blown-lead 99-98 loss at Detroit last night toppled Heat into ninth place in East with six games to play resuming tonight at Indiana. Miami has now lost three straight and six of past eight in a season that has proved to be exciting like hanging on to the edge of a cliff is exciting.

4. TENNIS: Serena wins, men on deck at Miami Open: Two weeks of tennis nirvana in Key Biscayne end with today's Novak Djokovic-Andy Murray men's final, after Serena Williams won Saturday's women's crown with such ease that we won't even mention her poor opponent's name.

5. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from NHL playoff contention: Last night's 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay officially eliminated Florida from race. Panthers may have been most improved team in league this season. Unfortunately, Lord Stanley doesn't believe that close counts.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes lose heartbreaker in NIT title game: The bad news? UM, with two starters out injured, lost to Stanford 66-64 in overtime in the final of the NIT. The good news? We avoid having to cringe with a condescending smile while listening to coach Jim Larrañaga claim straight-faced that his team just won a national championship.

7. GOLF: Masters on deck with Tiger in it: Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite at The Masters this week at Augusta, but as much attention was being paid to Tiger Woods on whether he would play. He will. But it speaks to the shaky state of his game -- battling health issues, and after a long layoff -- that even his fans sort of wished he hadn't.

8. NFL DRAFT: UM Pro Day showcases Canes: NFL scouts raved about the Hurricanes’ talent at UM’s annual Pro Day, notably Phillip Dorsett, who ran a 4.25 40. I don’t wanna says he’s fast, but when Dorsett flips off the light switch in his bedroom he’s under the covers before the room goes dark. Seems the Canes will have a sizable impact on the NFL Draft’s early rounds. That sound you hear is one more excuse for a 6-7 season running away from Al Golden. 

9. DOLPHINS: Fins sign quarterback Josh Freeman: That was after the team gained a court order to exhume the remains of Freeman's career and conduct an autopsy for signs of life.

10. HORSES: Show-jumping competition ends on Miami Beach: A major show-jumping competition concluded Saturday on the sands of Miami Beach. I don’t wanna say those horses are pampered, but an "equine psychotherapist" was on hand. Seriously. Am picturing a typical session. Sad horse sighs as it lays on couch. Psychotherapist: “Why the long face?”

Poll result: You want different, better NCAA Tournament format: This surprised me a bit. I'd have guessed you'd go for the status quo. Instead, 70.3 percent said they'd prefer a tournament with the 64 best teams and no automatic bids for small-conference winners. Only 29.7% preferred it as is.

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April 03, 2015

It's Final Four Saturday! But should NCAA Tournament change its format? Poll. Vote now!; plus unlucky Canes, Cuban baseball, Josh Freeman, Heat/Panthers playoff update, John Wolin & more


1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 4. I'm down on Key Biscayne today to columnize off Serena Williams' presumed crushing of her hopeless opponent in the Miami Open women's final. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 20 athletes poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Canes/NIT. dead Cats, Ricky Williams sings, Marlins, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1ajoshfExcavation: Dolphins exhume human remains of quarterback Josh Freeman's career. If he surprises everybody, he might be Miami's third-string QB. If he's the Josh Freeman of the past couple of years, he'll quietly disappear by August. This signing is a low risk hit-or-miss by GM Dennis Hickey, who, while with Tampa Bay, had a big paw in the Bucs dubiously drafting Freeman in first round (17th overall) in 2009.

Cuban baseball and MLB: ESPN's Outside The Lines has a topic premiering on Sunday (9 a.m.) that may be of special interest in Miami. "Cuba On Deck?" explores the increased footprint of Cuban players in MLB and how continued defections along with warming U.S. relations will only increase their number. Click here for a 1-minute video preview.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat hanging on, Cats about done. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 8th place at 34-41 (L2), 1 game from 7th, 1/2 game ahead of 9th with 7 games left (next tonight at Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 70.3% (down 0.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 36-42 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 6 from 8th with 4 games left (next tonight vs. Tampa Bay). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.2% (unchanged) per

FINAL FOUR SATURDAY, UNLUCKY CANES FALL IN N.I.T.; TIME FOR CHANGE IN NCAA POSTSEASON?: Finally, the Final Four! Tonight it's 7-Michigan State vs. 1-Duke and 1-Wisconsin vs. 1-Kentucky, and it sure feels like the Duke-Kentucky finale everybody expects. Meanwhile, three thoughts watching Miami's men's basketball team fall 66-64 to Stanford in overtime Thursday for the NIT championship. 1) 1aa1acanesnitNobody, ever again, question whether Michael Irvin's blood runs the greenest and orange-est of any alum ever. Man he was into it. 2) Canes got unlucky, big time. First having to play without injured center Tonye Jekiri and point guard Angel Rodriguez, two big losses. And also that big, dubious call against UM with 3.4 seconds left. I thought Miami was the better team, best in the NIT. Which brings us to ... 3) The NCAA should consider retooling its hoops postseason format so that the NCAA Tournament invites the 64 best teams in the country, period, without automatic bids for small-conference winners. Let the Grade 2 and 3 conferences have their own tournament or meld into the NIT. Hampton at 16-17 gets in the Big Tournament but Miami does not? Anybody outside of Hampton think that makes much sense? With my suggested format there still would be Cinderellas -- somebody gotta be seeded 16th -- except Cinderella would be bigger, and better, and the No. 1s would have a challenge from the start, and in every round. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say why?

Poll result: Jordan top athlete of past 20 years, but runnerup a surprise: We invited you to name your top five athletes from ESPN's list of the 20 greatest of the past 20 years (that means the maximum vote for any individual was 20 percent), and predictably Micheal Jordan won. But your runnerup, Michael Phelps, was a surprise at least to me. Your results, with ESPN rank in parentheses:

1aa1amj1. Michael Jordan 15.7% (1); 2. Michael Phelps 10.5% (9); 3. LeBron James 10.2% (2); 4. Tiger Woods 10.0% (3); 5. Usain Bolt 6.4% (16); 6. Tom Brady 6.3% (4); 7. Serena Williams 5.9% (6); 8. Roger Federer 5.7% (5); 9. Lionel Messi 4.6% (12); 10. Derek Jeter 4.1% (10).

11. Floyd Mayweather 3.7% (17); 12. Peyton Manning 3.3% (7); 13. Tim Duncan 3.0% (14); 14. Kobe Bryant 2.3% (8); 15. Lance Armstrong 1.9% (15); T16. Barry Bonds 1.6% (19); T16. Brett Favre 1.6% (15); T18. Sidney Crosby 1.3% (20); T18. Shaquille O'Neal 1.3% (11); 20. Mia Hamm 0.9% (18).

My vote? In order, it was Jordon, James, Woods, Williams and Jeter.

FOR THE LOVE OF JOHN WOLIN: One of my career mentors and best friends was John Wolin (pictured), a Miami Herald editor, reporter and beloved curmudgeon for 21 years. He died in 2004 after a life 1aa1ajwolinremarkable only partly because John was born with achondroplastic dwarfism that led to gradually increasing paralysis. Long before it became politically correct to refer to dwarfs as "little people," Wolin cut to the chase and disarmingly called himself "a bald, crippled midget." He was one of a kind. He would make you laugh and break your heart. He was one of the most passionate journalists I have ever known. When we moved into our new house John gave me an elaborate set of wrenches that I still have. His beautiful now-grown daughter is my godchild. John lives on unforgettably in the memory of those he knew but also in a scholarship fund in his name at Florida International University, benefiting aspiring journalists. The fund is now accepting donations at GoFundMe/JohnWolin. Those interested in additional information may also visit FIU's Wolin scholarship page here, or call the university's School of Journalism & Mass Communication at (305) 919-5625. The man was extraordinary. May readers blessed with generosity consider finding the cause worthy.



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March 30, 2015

Finally, the Four! Who'll win NCAA semifinals? Two polls. Vote now!; plus Bieber roast, Larranaga from NIT, Dolphins draft, ageless wonders Wade, Jagr carry Heat, Panthers & more


No radio today: My usual Tuesday in-studio gig on the Dan LeBatard Show will be Thursday this week.

1aa1abloodymary1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 31. Pictured right, a bloody mary you can buy at Minnesota Twins games that includes a slice of cold pepperoni pizza in it. Just because. 2) Click on Materiality's Burden for my latest column, from Saturday's Florida Derby. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, more Madness, Florida Derby & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Terrific TV Tuesday:

  • Hurricanes men vs. Temple, NIT semifinal, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Panthers at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. (FSFL)
  • San Antonio Spurs at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat, Cats face huge games tonight. Update entering TuesdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 34-39 (W1), 1 1/2 games from 6th with 9 games left (next tonight vs. San Antonio). Heat playoff likelihood: 79.6% (up 1.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 35-41 (W1), 1 point from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 6 games left (next tonight at Boston). Cats playoff likelihood: 6.4% (up 0.1) per

FINALLY, THE FOUR! WHO WINS THE NCAA TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS?: It's No. 1 Kentucky  vs. No. 1 Wisconsin and No. 1 Duke vs. No. 7 Michigan State this coming Saturday in the men's NCAA Tournament 1aa1afinalfourFinal Four. Kentucky and Duke both are 5-point early favorites. Kentucky is now a prohibitive 5-6 favorite to win it all, with Duke and Wisconsin both 7-2 and Michigan State 7-1. This is the 17th Final Four for Kentcucky, 15th for Duke, ninth for Michigan State and third for Wisconsin. It's a heavyweight Final Four. There are no Cinderellas here, not with Michigan State's pedigree, despite its seeding. (By the way, an oddsmaker friend tells me that, if the semis go as expected, Kentucky would likely open as a 4 1/2-point pick over Duke in the title match. But that's getting ahead of ourselves). Who do you predict will win the two semifinal games? Not who you want to win, but who you'd bet to win if you had $100 to place straight-up on either game. Vote and say why.

AGELESS WONDERS WADE, JAGR LIFT HEAT, PANTHERS: Was a big Sunday for our two teams angling for the postseason (see Playoff Chase above for more), thanks to 40 points from Heat's Dwyane Wade in 1aa1adwade 1aa1ajjagrthe 109-102 win over Detroit and two goals from Panthers' Jaromir Jagr in the 4-2 win at Ottawa. Wade, at 33, in his 12th NBA and Miami season, continues to verify he still is in his prime, albeit the far side of it. Jagr, 43, in his 21st NHL season, has proven an excellent playoff-push spark since Florida signed him in late February. The Heat, a current seventh seed, tries to climb to No. 6 in the East for a more favorable first-round matchup  vs. (likely) Chicago. Miami would draw LeBron and Cleveland by staying seventh or top-seeded Atlanta by slipping to eighth. The Panthers still must make up four points to the Bruins to climb up  to eighth. Tonight's game at Boston is must-win in most every sense; Florida needs a two-point victory to give itself a realistic chance. Heat also face a big test tonight, here, vs. San Antonio.

LATEST MOCK-DRAFT GUESS FOR DOLPHINS: Wide receiver certainly is emerging as the position of choice for Miami by most notable mock drafters. The new Mock 4.0 by ESPN's Todd McShay has Fins 1aa1abreshadpselecting Central Florida WR Breshad Perriman (pictured), 6-2 and 212 pounds, the son of longtime NFL wideout and former UM Hurricane Brett Perriman. Here is McShay's analysis: "We haven't had Perriman going this early in our previous mocks, but we've seen two promising signs from him as we've gone through the evaluation process. 1) His ball skills, which were something of a concern on his early-season tape, appeared to get better as the year wore on. His performance in UCF's bowl game against NC State was the best we've seen from him in terms of catching the ball. 2) He verified the speed he flashes on tape with 4.24 and 4.27 40 times at his pro day last week. Miami could use him to replace Mike Wallace as its deep threat opposite fellow newcomers Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, giving QB Ryan Tannehill some talented weapons to work with." Perriman is the fourth wideout going in McShay's latest mock. He has Louisville's DaVante Parker, a popular choice for Miami at 14th overall, going 10th to St. Louis.

LARRANAGA FROM THE N.I.T. AS CANESPLAY TONIGHT: A complete (minimally edited) transcript of Miami Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga from yesterday's NIT press conference as UM prepared to face Temple in Tuesday's/tonight's semifinal game at Madison Square Garden:

"The first question I was asked by the media after we beat Richmond was, 'You know you're going back to New York. What's your favorite restaurant?' I said there is only two places I absolutely go to eat when I'm in New York. The first is I get a dirty-water dog off the street vendor and I get a slice of pizza. So if you haven't done either of those you need to do that because that's the best eating you're going to find. This is a thrill for me. My first experience in the NIT was actually when I was 9 or 10 years old. My brother Bob played at St. John's University. He was a scholarship athlete, played for Joe Lapchick and he brought me to Madison Square Garden for the Holiday Festival. I had a chance to watch St. John’s play and he took me down to the lockerroom afterward and I met the St. John's players and from that moment, I wanted to be a college basketball player. I wanted to play in Madison Square Garden. It’ s a little different now because that was the old Garden and it was smoke filled. You guys remember what it was like? I didn’t know, I thought that was what Madison Square Garden looked like. So, when they built a new Garden, I said, 'Where’s all the smoke?'."

"In New York is there's no place you want to play other than Madison Square Garden. My first experience as a player was in 1969. Joe Mullaney brought our Providence College team to the Holiday Festival. We played against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his UCLA team. I thought we outplayed them, really, but they snuck away with the victory. Then eventually in my my senior year we did lose to the great Carolina team under Dean Smith and they won the NIT 1971."

"So I have great memories of New York City, the NIT and Madison Square Garden. And in particular my last experience in the NIT and in Madison Square Garden was with Jeff Jones who absolutely destroyed a great UNLV team in the semifinals. I don't remember all the number of assists. I'm guessing he does. It was like 14 or 15 assists. He led our team to the NIT championship, and he carried Ralph Sampson and Jeff Lamp along with him."

"I'm very fortunate to be here. We were down 18 against Richmond and I have no idea how we came back and won that game but we're very excited. My players are very excited to be in New York, my wife is very excited to be here in New York. She made me promise to take her to New York before the Richmond game and I said you have to talk to my players about that. I talked to my players about that and sure enough they delivered."

"This is a great group of guys. I recruited Johnny Dawkins. I tried to coach Jeff Jones. He was really uncoachable at that time. And Fran and I are contemporaries. We were both guards who never passed the ball. But I will say this about our game tomorrow night against Temple. John Chaney wrote the book on how to not turn the ball over, play great defense and have your guards just dominate a game and Fran and his team are doing the same thing. [They are an] absolutely incredible defensive team. They don't turn the ball over. I think it's going to be a great ball game."

"I hope our players realize the opportunity they have because whoever cuts down the nets on Thursday night, it's going to be winning a national championship. A memory they will have for lifetime. So thank you very much."

ON THE JUSTIN BIEBER ROAST: With no sports on TV that interested me and because making fun of the 1aa1abieberexceedingly mockable subject seemed like such a natural idea, I watched Comedy Central's The Roast Of Justin Bieber last night. A few random thoughts. It was funny, worth watching. (Click here if you missed it). Bieber was a good sport. Host Kevin Hart, at his career apex, was great. Still not sure who Jeff Ross is. Or why Martha Stewart was there, aside form the prison jokes. Also, can Hannibal Buress please fade immediately from public attention and never return? Favorite throwaway line: "Snoop Dogg looks like Shaq's skeleton."

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March 29, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10: Kentucky, Heat, Materiality, Canes, Cats, tennis, Fish, Fins, cricket & more


1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 29. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Random Evidence notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday, Heat in good hands, NCAAs, Miami Open, Cats alive, Miami-izing of ESPN Radio & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine (with new stuff from yesterday's Florida Derby).

Florida Derby: A close, controversial finish, a record betting handle -- the 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park had it all. But did it have a special winner in Materiality? A horse that can challenge the Triple Crown drought? Click on Materiality's Burden for my column from the track. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat steady, Cats lose. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 33-39 (L1), 2 1/2 games from 6th with 10 games left (next tonight vs. Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 69.2% (down 3.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending down in 10th place at 34-41 (L1) after last night's 4-3 OT loss at Montreal, 3 points from 9th and 4 points from 8th with 7 games left (next tonight at Ottawa). Cats playoff likelihood: 3.6% (down 0.8) per

HOT BUTTON MAR. 29: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kentucky escapes as Elite Eight moves toward Final Four: No. 1 overall NCAA Tournament seed Kentucky survived Notre Dame last night (barely) and Wisconsin also advanced to Final Four. Now Louisville-Michigan State and Duke-Gonzaga take stage tonight. Irish didn't prove Kentucky can be beaten because close doesn't count. Quoting John Calipari, "We're unbeaten, not perfect."

2. HEAT: Team returns home as playoffs draw near: Miami, hosting Detroit this evening, seems a likely No. 7 playoff with 10 games left, which would mean facing LeBron James in first round. Meantime an ESPN panel ranked Heat second in NBA ownership, third in front office and sixth in coaching. San Antonio swept all three categories. Evidently that ESPN panel consisted entirely of Spurs fans.

3. HORSE RACING: Materiality wins Florida Derby: Huge crowd and a record betting handle festooned Saturday's 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream, won by Materiality. This is when we begin to wonder if Materiality, starting May 2 in Kentucky Derby, can end the Triple Crown drought (and think sadly to ourselves, "Nah.") 

4. HURRICANES BASKETBALL: UM in NIT semifinals Tuesday: Miami faces Temple Tuesday night in an NIT semifinal, so at least Canes are making most out of missing the NCAAs. Game is at Madison Square Garden, which of course is nicknamed, "The World's Most Famous Arena Despite the Knicks."

5. PANTHERS: Next two games to define playoff hopes: Panthers, minus injured top scorer Nick Bjugstad, play tonight at Ottawa and Tuesday here vs. Boston -- the two teams Cats are chasing for final NHL playoff spot. Win both, and Cats have a shot. Lose either, and probably not. Playoff pressure doesn't always wait for the playoffs.

6. TENNIS: Miami Open at midpoint: Tennis’ "fifth major' runs through next weekend. The unexpected early ouster of No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova has been tournament’s biggest headline so far. Sharapova normally loses in the semifinals or final to career nemesis Serena Williams but apparently wanted to beat the rush this year and fast-track her inevitable elimination.

7. MARLINS: Cosart investigated for gambling: As Marlins wind down spring training with the season eight days away, pitcher Jarred Cosart is being investigated by MLB for gambling. Here's another gamble: Miami, despite high hopes, making the playoffs. 

8. UM FOOTBALL: Defense dominates Spring Game: Defense had four interceptions to lead UM's annual Spring Game but anybody saying "uh oh" about Brad Kaaya as result is a lunatic. Little in all of sports is a more pointless waste of money than college football teams practicing in March. Seriously.  

9. DOLPHINS: Free-agency season segues to pre-draft talk: Coach Joe Philbin this week said he hopes the team's transition to a new receiving corps "won't be too painful." Man that guy really knows how to rally the troops doesn't he!?:

10. CRICKET: Aussies win Cricket World Cup: One word. Crikey!

MADNESS: KENTUCKY SURVIVES; SIX GOES TO FOUR TONIGHT: No, I don't regret the previous headline, "Can we please stop pretending anybody can beat Kentucky?" Notre Dame almost did, last night, but when last I checked (sorry, Irish) almost didn't count. Both higher seeds (Wisconsin, too) won last night in the Elite Eight, so the March Madness Upset-o-Meter is now at 19.0 percent, with 11 upsets (based on seeds) in 58 games thus far. Tonight as we reach the Final Four, 1-Duke is a narrow favorite over 2-Gonzaga, but 7-Michigan State is a slight betting pick over 4-Louisville for the seed upset.

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