September 20, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 13.3%; plus Fins dig early grave, fall at New England 31-24; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, Zach for Canton, PASS rankings & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Huge leap: Canes football catapults 10 spots from 25 to 15 in new Associated Press poll. 2) Click on Week 2 Gems for all of this past weekend's NFL predictions. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes clobber Appalachian State with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 3 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Zach Thomas for the Hall of Fame: First-time nominee Jason Taylor is seen as a likely-to-certain Hall of Famer, but longtime Dolphins running mate Zach Thomas is not. I compare their careers and set straight that misperception. Click on The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton to read my latest Sunday column.

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Week 2 Gems (NFL predix). Where Tannehill Falls (NFL column). Timing Was Perfect, Not Wrong (on four Dolphins' 9/11 kneel-down). Awesome Vs. Awful (on UM's resounding season-opening victory). Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CSM vote shows record number: Canesfan Satisfaction Meter voting seta season high for approval. See the results in our immediate previous blogpost.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 13.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 13.3 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-24 Dolphins loss at New DsmEngland putting Miami's season record at 0-2. 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)

Next poll: Sept. 25 (following game vs. Cleveland)

G2: NEW ENGLAND 31, DOLPHINS 24: GASE, NEW FINS FAIL EARLY LITMUS TEST: Final postgame thoughts: Miami dug its own grave early with horrific pass defense and trailed 24-0 before Jimmy Garoppolo went out injured. Then it was even, with a rookie third-stringer pitching for Pats. Too late. Not enough. Tannehill had a scorching second half and ended up with 389 yards passing but that abysmal start was too much to overcome. Positives: Miami didn't quit. Tanny and defense picked it up. Negatives: 0-2 now with an eighth straight loss in New England, thanks to an inexplicably zombie-like start to the game for Fins. Nice fight, nice comeback, but can't feel too good about "almost." ..... 4Q: Desperate last-second end-zone pass by Tannehill intercepted. Game. ... Wow, Pats miss 39Y FG with 1:04 left, so Miami (sans timeouts) will have one last shot. ... Oh my. Miami within 31-24 mid-quarter after Drake's 7-yard scoring run. No-huddle and a hot Tannehill and shredding Pats defense. ... Well now. Miami within 31-17 early in fourth on Tanny 12-yard strike to Cameron in e-zone. Do you believe in miracles? Tannehill now 3-4 yards passing. ..... 3Q: Quarter ends with MIA driving and Tannehill at 292 passing yards. Too little too late, though. ... Life! Dolphins within 31-10 on 24-yard Stills collection of really nice Tannehill pass. ... Ajayi fumble leads directly to Blunt TD run and 31-3 NE lead. This game meets all the parameters of embarrassing for Miami. ... Good gawd! Promising drive snuffed by Ajayi fumble loss. Christ. ...Garappolo (shoulder) won't return in second half. That's an opening for Miami. Dolphins get kick. If they score and make it 24-10, they give themselves a shot. ..... Halftime thoughts: Do I have to? Miami came out flat, showed little life, had miserable pass defense, and got behind so big so fast the running game became a non-factor. Tannehill may need to throw 30 times in second half. Barring small miracle MIA headed to 0-2 with eighth straight L in Foxborough. ..... 2Q: Fins hit 27-yard FG on last play of forgettable half. ... Dolphins driving but Tannehill intercepted. Can this (bleep) get any worse? ... Pats add FG for 24-0 lead but Dolphins-killer Garoppolo leaves game with apparent shoulder injury. ... Bulletin: Something goes right for Miami!!! Fumble recovery. But wait! They give it right back. Of course they do. ... Pats now 21-0 on Amendola 10-yarder from Garoppolo. How many ways can you say "embarrassing"? ..... 1Q: Absymal 1Q for Fins pass D allowing 177 yards to Garoppolo on 12-for-15 accuracy. ... Pats now 14-0 on Garoppolo-Bennett 20-yard pass. Sad pass-D so far, Miami. Brady's fill-in is 9-for-10 for 136 yards. ... Garoppolo-Amendola 12-yard scoring pass and quick 7-0 Pats lead. No Brady, no Gronk, no problem. Really bad defensive series to start game for Miami. ..... Pregame: We'll have running in-game commentary here and then, right afterward, the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. ..... Original post: Miami has lost seven straight trips to Foxborough and 13 of the past 15. The Fins have allowed an average of 32 points in those seven straight road defeats in the zseries. But today at 1 the Patriots will be without QB Tom Brady and likely without tight end Rob Gronkowski, too. DolpatThe Dolphins are only 6-point underdogs. The game is winnable, ripe for a road-team upset, perhaps. But ... can they win it? The Dolphins' recent track record at The Razor leaves us doubting it until we actually see. This is a first real litmus test to gauge the change the Gase Era has brought. A season-opening 12-10 loss in Seattle was mildly encourage, at least for a loss. Now let's see if the Dolphins build, or regress. New England owns the AFC East -- 72-21 in their division the past 15 years. So it was amusing this week seeing Bill Belichick heap praise on the Dolphins and wring hands over how dangerous Miami is. That would be the same Dolphins his Patriots have mostly owned for most of this century. Did I mention that Ryan Tannehill is 0-4 at New England and been sacked 22 times in the process? OK, that’s the glass half empty, Dolfans. But Belichick has a point, too, in being wary of today's foe. Here’s the glass half full: Belichick’s career record vs. Miami is a modest 20-14. Tannehill has pitched for 996 yards in the past three meetings. Jimmy Garoppolo is not Brady. No Gronkowski (hamstring) would be a big break for MIA. [Bonus fact: Jarvis Landry reached 200 catches in his 33rd NFL game, fastest ever]. Do I sense a major upset here? Nope. But neither would it shock me. I think Gase is the smartest Dolphins coach that Belichick has faced in a long time. Fins beat the point spread in Seattle and should do it again Sunday versus the rival and nemesis that plays Lord Voldemort in the AFC East. My pick: Patriots, 23-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPTEMBER 18): 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: Miami tries, fails again to solve nemesis Patriots: Fins entered Sunday afternoon's game at the Patriots having lost seven straight and 13 of past 15 trips to New England. (Dear Dolphins: Less focus on kneeling during the anthem, and more on winning in Foxborough). Could have been a major statement game for Miami that things are different under Adam Gase. Fins caught a big break with no Tom Brady, and another with Rob Gronkowski out. Alas, a 24-0 early hole resulted in a 31-24 loss. Same ol' same ol'. 

2. HURRICANES: UM crushes App State as Richt Era aces first real challenge: After two easy wins the No. 25 Canes Saturday played at "giant killer" Appalachian State. Of course that suggests UM has returned to “giant” status, the ongoing climb that is Mark Richt's challenge. Well, Canes looked the part in this one, clobbering the hometown Mountaineers, 45-10, as Brad Kaaya threw for 368 yards and three TDs. Don't  call it a statement win, though. No, no. A tough October schedule will be this team's barometer. Update: UM catapults 25 to 15 in today's new Associated Press poll.  

3. MARLINS: Write 'em off. Fish done as they prepare for year's final homestand: They're one game under .500 and 5 back in the wild-card race, with only 13 games left, as Fish prepare for Monday start of the waning season's last homestand. Finis. Done. The once-real playoff hopes are miracle-microscopic now.

4. HEAT: Bosh says he's ready for camp, team still mum, Wade says thanks: As Heat prepare to open training camp Sept. 27 in Nassau, Bahamas, Chris Bosh said this week he's ready to play but team remained noncommittal. Dear Heat: Please, a bleepin' decision, already! Meanwhile -- #Respect -- departed Dwyane Wade has billboard near the arena that reads, Thank You Miami.

5. PANTHERS: Hockey's back as Cats stage rookie camp: Florida's rookie camp is underway, through Tuesday, and includes three rookie games vs. other NHL teams, the second of them on Sunday. Cats have highest expectations of any local pro team this season. Then again, vs. Dolphins, Marlins and post-Wade Heat, that's a low bar.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida State loss shakes up CFP outlook: The top three teams faced road games against ranked opponents Saturday. No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State survived. Not so much No. 2 FSU in a crushing 63-20 humiliation at Louisville. This is the Noles waving goodbye to the College Football Playoff. This is the Canes possibly being favored when the Seminoles visit here Oct. 8.

7. TIM TEBOW: Former quarterback launches baseball career: It begins for Tebow on Monday morning, a few hours north of Miami up in Port St. Lucie, at the Mets' minor-league facility. There, amid what will be a media circus, the ex-Florida gators and NFL quarterback has his first workout as a newly signed minor-league ballplayer. Tebow has balls, Mets have a low-risk prospect. What's not to like?

8. HOCKEY: Team USA stunned in World opener: Heavily favored Team USA lost to Team Europe on Saturday in opening game of the eight-team World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, skating through Oct. 1. "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-Ohhhh..."

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes' ACC schedule announced: Season opens Nov. 11 but we now know ACC opener will be at home Dec. 31 vs. North Carolina State. UM will be showcased nationally on twice this season on CBS, Jan. 28 vs. North Carolina and Feb. 25 vs. Duke. Five other games will be broadcast on ESPN platforms and five more on the ACC Network.

10. FIU: School, AD Garcia set parting date: FIU's 10-year athletic director Pete Garcia will remain through July 31, 2018 and then depart, the two sides agreed this week. The spin is positive, but the fresh blood is needed. Garcia saves face with this; it isn't a firing. But it is FIU moving on (eventually). Oh, and FIU football fell to 0-3 Saturday.

Missing the HB10 cut: Bills coach Rex Ryan scapegoated and fired his offensive coordinator to protect his defensive coordinator brother -- the one who should have been fired. You're a sad clown, Rex ..... Penn State honored disgraced former football coach Joe Paterno on Saturday. Whose idea was that? Jerry Sandusky's? ..... Kyle Busch tops the 16-driver finalists field that will spend the two months trying to win a championship in Homestead in November. Another season with no dream finish for Dale Jr. ..... Soccer's 32-team Champions League is 32 matches in and off 'til Sept. 27. If you don't know what it is, it's too hard to explain here. If you do know what it is, you probably know more than I do ..... U.S. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the national anthem. At what point will this no longer even be newsworthy? ..... And in other news: A sentence I never imagined writing: "Ryan Lochte was attacked on Dancing With the Stars."

MstaffordPASS NFL QUARTERBACK RANKINGS ENTERING WEEK 2: Click here for Week 1 results launching the 19th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. Lion Matthew Stafford (pictured) fronts our first Top 20 chart. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill failed to chart and sits in 30th place out the gate. A backgrounder:

Previous PASS champions: 1998—Steve Young SF 462.50 points; 1999—Kurt Warner STL 517.95; 2000—Peyton Manning IND 467.65; 2001—Warner STL 557.50; 2002—Rich Gannon OAK 555.45; 2003—P.Manning IND 522.35; 2004—P.Manning IND 579.85; 2005—Carson Palmer CIN 487.80; 2006—P.Manning IND 512.85; 2007—Tom Brady NE 664.30; 2008—Drew Brees NO 535.45; 2009—Brees NO 565.35; 2010—Brees NO 557.00; 2011—Brees NO 713.80; 2012—P.Manning DEN 593.35; 2013—P.Manning DEN 714.85; 2014—Brees NO 583.60; 2015—Brees NO 575.80.

Final 2015 Top 10: 1. Drew Brees NO 575.80; 2. Tom Brady NE 565.50; 3. Kirk Cousins WAS 521.30; 4. Philip Rivers SD 520.60; 5. Carson Palmer ARI 516.55; 6. Matthew Stafford DET 509.10; 7. Russell Wilson SEA 504.50; 8. Matt Ryan ATL 484.55; 9. Eli Manning NYG 470.80; 10. Cam Newton CAR 437.85.

Season record: Manning DEN 714.85 (2013). Dolphins record: Ryan Tannehill 481.25 (2014).

Best week: Ben Roethlisberger PIT 80.10 (2014). Worst week: Tim Hasselbeck WAS minus-23.30 (2003).

Career titles: 6 each—Brees and Manning; 2—Warner; 1 each—Brady, Gannon, Palmer and Young.

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 07, 2016

End of Jose Fernandez's record home win streak heaps (very) early pressure on Marlins; plus Justise Winslow, UM '17 title odds, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, rat-tastic Panthers, Rock Hall poll (vote now!), your verdicts on 2 polls & more


Rats1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 7. Congrats to the Florida Panthers for achieving their second NHL division title in franchise history. Rats! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Night with expectations poll, Villanova wins thriller, '96 Bulls vs. '16 Warriors poll, Monica Lewinsky, Dolphins in Bogota, spring football & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Disrespect for Heat's Justise Winslow?: A bunch of ESPN talking heads are jabbering here about what NBA rookie has the greatest upside/future/potential and Miami's Justise Winslow is ranked only No. 7 on one list and No. 8 on the other.

UM 2017 title odds in men's hoops: Confetti hasn't even stopped falling at Villanova and already the 2017 men's NCAA Tournament odds are out (via Bovada), with Duke on top at 9-2, then Kentucky 6-1 and 'Nova 8-1. The Miami Hurricanes, depleted by departing seniors, are tied for 18th at 40-1.

My Marlins column off opener: Click on Out Of Excuses to read in full. I write why it is imperative for the Marlins to finally win and matter again.

JoseHOMELAND SECURITY: MARLINS COUNTED ON JOSE'S MIAMI MAGIC AGAIN, LOST, AND NOW FACE EARLY-SEASON PRESSURE [Update: Fernandez was pulled in the 6th inning trailing 3-0 in an eventual 7-3 Marlins loss to Detroit yesterday, meaning his home win streak finally ended. Fernandez struck out 13 in defeat]. Original post: The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson (yes, Jeh) happened to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Marlins Opening Night. Fitting, because the Marlins' own director of Homeland Security, Jose Fernandez, takes the mound for Game 2. The home/away disparity sports is interesting. It tends to be quite pronounced with teams enjoying a home-field (or court, or ice) advantage, but much less so with individuals. A few anecdotal examples below only underline the remarkable home/road career arc of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins' Game 2 starter today. Consider:

Dan Marino passer rating: 87.4 home vs. 85.3 road.

Dwyane Wade scoring average: 24.3 home vs. 23.1 road.

Jaromir Jagr goals per game: 0.49 home vs. 0.43 road.

Giancarlo Stanton home runs per game: 0.2577 home vs. 0.2557 road.

The differences are shades of negligible. Now consider:

Jose Fernandez record and ERA, before Wednesday: 17-0 and 1.40 home vs. 5-9 and 3.78 road.

It isn't that he's terrible on the road by any means; that sub-4 ERA is decent, and his K's-per-inning away are comparable. It is that he is record-setting, all-time-great at home to begin a career. And now the Marlins are counting on him yet again today to deliver that Homeland Security at Marlins Park. You keep counting on the law of averages to kick in, but he keeps winning here. Now Fernandez maintaining his home streak is especially important because Miami lost its season opener last night and because, after today, the Fish face six consecutive road games -- all of them vs. the NL East favorite Nationals or Mets. Marlins need a fast start this season, and that's why they need Jose to stay perfect at home today. If Jose's streak ends, this team will be feeling pressure earlier than any club should.

Poll result: Most expect Marlins to be OK but not a playoff team: We asked your expectations for this Marlins season, and votes came in before and after the Opening Night loss. Most overall, 55.1 percent, voted "average" (around .500, no playoffs). However, more voted "good" (playoff drought finally ends) than "poor" (more disappointment from Fish) by 28.6% to 16.3%.

Poll result: It's M.J. over Steph, easily: Old School won. We asked who win an NBA Finals between Michael Jordan's 72-win 1996 Chicago Bulls and Stephen Curry's current, now-69-win Golden State Warriors, and it was M.J. routing Steph by 61.4 percent to 24.6%. The other 14.0% voted "too close to call."

RockhallROCK HALL: WHICH 2016 INDUCTEE IS MOST (AND LEAST) DESERVING: Music has been and is a huge (Bernie Sanders: Yuuuge) part of my life, and I've followed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ever since visiting it in Cleveland a couple of years ago. The Hall's 31st annual induction ceremony is this Friday in Brooklyn, and the five latest inductees are listed in this poll alphabetically. I'm curious what you think, so I invite you to vote for the one artist you think is most deserving, whether by your own personal preference or by how you judge that artist's importance or place in music history. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MERLE HAGGARD, 1937-2016: Merle Haggard died today on his 79th birthday, a huge loss in the country music world. I was (am) a big fan and admirer. I looked forward to seeing him in concert for the first time a few months ago, in Fort Lauderdale, but he canceled days before the show. He had reportedly been in declining health for awhile. We happened to be in Nashville over the past weekend on a small holiday, and visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which has a video that includes Merle, years ago, doing spot-on impersonations of Johnny Cash and other contemporaries. A friend with us asked, "Is he still alive?" I said, "Oh yes. He still tours!" He would pass away four days later. Haggard had many bigger hits, such as Okie From Muskogee and Mama Tried, but below is a song and video that always gets to me, and does especially today. It is called My Favorite Memory. Thank you, Merle Haggard.There will never be another. R.I.P.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more


1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:


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

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2016

Which Miami 25-&-under sports star will have greatest career? Poll too close to call. Last chance to vote!; plus Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena's pitch for Miami Open, Melania Trump, Fins on the cheap, your Cuba-trip verdict & more


Garagiola1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 24. Purim began at sundown last evening. Happy day to all our Jewish friends. 2) R.I.P. famed baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola, pictured, at age 90. His was the first TV voice I heard when I was falling love with baseball as a kid. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Other side of the cheering on Cuba visit with poll, disrespecting Canes, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

"Rays beat Cuban National Team. Thank you, Tampa Bay, for denying the Castros the added propoganda." --Greg Cote

My latest 'Back In My Day': ICYMI on Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, here it is via ESPN Radio: Click Menus to listen and watch.

BrightfutureBRIGHT FUTURES: WHICH OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 25-AND-UNDER PRO SPORTS STARS WILL HAVE THE GREATEST CAREER?: We made 25 the arbitrary line of demarcation here, and considered every current Heat, Dolphins, Marlins or Panthers player who was born in March 1991 or later. There were a lot, but we whittled it to a list of the 14 most prominent -- five Panthers and three from each of the other teams. Our poll list is alphabetical, and you may vote for your top three (3). It shouldn't be easy. For me, Jose Fernandez and Sasha Barkov were pretty easy, but the third was not. Jarvis Landry? Justise Winslow? Somebody else? Enough about me. Your turn. By the way, if you think anybody obvious is missing from the poll, I should mention as a preemptive strike that Giancarlo Stanton and Hassan Whiteside were born in 1989 and Ryan Tannehill in '88. They're still young, but too old for our 25U club. OK, ready? Remember, this is a brightest-future poll; try not to make it about which team or sport is your favorite. Vote now and check back frequently to monitor constantly evolving numbers. To decipher a three-vote ballot, triple the percentage of each player's total shown for an estimation of the percentage of ballots that include him in the top three. In other words, Winslow at 23.3 percent (when last I checked) was being included in about 70 percent of all top-threes.

Vote for your top 3:

UnisSWEET 16: NOT ALL AGREE THE HURRICANES ARE LOOKING GOOD: ESPN has one of those silly "Uni Watch" uniform rankings for the Sweet 16 teams, and the Miami Hurricanes's new Adidas duds are ranked only 14th. Ouch. The synopsis reads: "Green, orange and white are such a great color combination. Too bad they're used to such poor effect on the new March Madness uni set that Adidas prepared for the Hurricanes. It's hard to say which is worse -- the orange [or green] shoulder harness or the 'grass skirt' striping on the shorts. A real stinker." OK, then. A Thursday victory from Villanova away from their first Elite Eight appearance, we're thinking UM fans prefer their team continue to be athletically splendid even if its sartorial splendor may be somewhat dubious.

UH OH. IT'S COTE VS. STUGOTZ IN LOCAL MEDIA BRACKET'S FINAL FOUR: Website SliceMiami has been holding NCAA-style brackets in four 16-person "regions" including Media, and I -- the last Herald writer standing -- have vanquished two foes to reach the Final Four, where I will face my 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio mate, the great Stugotz. The other semifinal will pit WQAM's Marc Hochman vs. his 560 stablemate Joe Rose. I think voting in the Final Four round is Thursday and Friday but we'll update you further.xx

SerenaSERENA STANDS UP ELOQUENTLY FOR THE MIAMI OPEN: We know Serena Williams is the best women's tennis player in the world, and has been for much of the past 15 years or so. She's a pretty good writer, too, it turns out. Williams this week penned a piece for the New York Times on why the Miami Open (running now through April 3 on Key Biscayne) is so dear to her and how she'd hate to see it leave, which it could related to a legal battle over improvements to the site. Good for you, Serena! Find her entire essay here.

DOLPHINS ON THE CHEAP: ESPN ranks all 32 teams in terms of current free-agent spending and your Dolphins slot in 22nd with only $11.9 million in guaranteed money given. Dough spent does Abdul-quddusnot always equate with winning, no, but it is a bit disconcerting that division-power New England has spent more than triple ($38.1 mill) what the Dolphins have to get better. ESPN's cynopsis of the Fins' FA expenditure so far: "For the first time in several years, the Dolphins elected to be judicious with their free-agent spending. They spent just $11.9 million in guaranteed money so far, with the biggest guarantee going to safety Isa Abdul-Quddus ($6 million). Big-ticket items haven't produced more victories, so Miami is trying the opposite approach." But just as spending big isn't always smart, being economical doesn't always mean smart spending. For example, Abdul-Quddus (pictured), the big get in terms of guaranteed money, has only 16 starts and two interceptions in 74 career NFL games. Hmm.

Poll result: Most oppose Obama and baseball's visit to Cuba: We asked your reaction and it was 25.3 percent "positive," 54.9% "negative" and 19.8% "mixed emotions or undecided." Interestingly, the negative vote was running only slightly higher (58.5%) in Florida, where a higher percentage of Cuban-Americans reside. Also interesting (at least to me): The "positive" vote enjoyed a plurality when the poll appeared only in my blog, before it hit a broader/different audience when picked up by

MelaniatrumpTHE MELANIA TRUMP AD: Nasty politics continue on the Republican side of the presidential race. A super-PAC supporting Ted Cruz ran the ad pictured, showing Donald Trump's wife Melania in a GQ photo shoot from 2000, back in her modeling days. The text reads, "Meet Melania Trump: Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday."  The Donald responded on Twitter with a warning for Cruz to be careful or he'll "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Me? I have little doubt that Trump is privately not displeased at all with this ad -- with people being reminded how great he must be to have a wife this hot. But here's the bottom line: Will seeing Melania like this make anyone less likely to vote for Donald Trump? For many people, absolutely nothing could possibly make them less likely to vote for Trump.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 22, 2016

America cheers Obama 'n baseball in Cuba, but in Miami, not everyone is celebrating. With poll. Vote!; plus Radio Tuesday, Wade not 1 of LeBron's issues, disrespect for Canes continues, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket & more


1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NCAA bracket update & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

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

LeBron has problems. D.Wade isn't one of them: Click on The Downward Trajectory of LeBron for today's latest column by me.

Media Bracket Round 2: I advanced in the Media Region of's first Miami Sports Bracket. To vote for, click here

National disrespect for Hurricanes continues: They were underdogs to Wichita State but reached the Sweet 16, anyway. Now the men of Jim Larranaga are 4- to 4 1/2-point underdogs to Villanova in Thursday night's game. And, among the last 16 standing, UM's 28-1 championship odds (via Bovada) are tied for 10th best. Odds to advance from South Region are: Kanasas 10-11, Villanova 12-5, UM 6-1 and Maryland 13-2.

CUBA CELEBRATES WITH OBAMA, BASEBALL AND MICK ... BUT NOT EVERYONE CELEBRATES: The president of the United States is on the island, bringing the ultimate seal of approval for warming relations with Cuba. America's Pastime visits, too: The Tampa Bay Rays play ball against the Cuban National Team in Havana on Tuesday. Later this week Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones put on a free concert there. It's a feel-good story. But it doesn't feel good to everybody. Miami is the epicenter in America of where it doesn't feel good at all to lots of folks who think the Cubaobama Ladiesinwhitewarming U.S-Cuba relations in general -- and this week's festivities in particular -- lend credence to what continues as totalitarian regime rife with oppression and human rights violations. There will be much cheering and celebration in Cuba this week, and elsewhere as Cuba basks in a portrayal of progress. But the other side must have its voice. In Miami, those voices make a mighty choir -- especially among older Cuban exiles who have seen with their own eyes, who escaped, and whose memories won't let go of the pain. Meet Cuban-born Luisa Vega, 69, now of Hallandale, a retired court interpreter. Thousands all over South Florida share her views. "The first day [Barack Obama's visit] was announced I was doing a deposition with some lawyers and one asked if I should be happy. But it is so painful to me this is happening," she told me on Monday. "We came here because we were forced to flee. People of Cuba are oppressed. I wish before any steps [toward normalized relations] had been taken, something had been done about the dissidents, about freedom of movement. There's so many things wrong with the system. Havana has deteriorated to the point it is a slum. Cuba became a third-world country." I, like most non-Cubans, cannot feel these views viscerally. I see this week's events in Cuba positively; I see Obama's visit an an agent for continued needed change. My own father grew up hating the Japanese because of Pearl Harbor but we move on. Germany once meant Hitler; now U.S.-German relations are good. For me, improved relations with Cuba are a good thing. But, again, the pain others still feel is not my own. Luisa Vegas fled Cuba three days before she turned 14. "It was so hellish I don't think I was ever young," she said. Her grandmother was incarcerated "just because we left." He future husband was taken at 17, and held for two weeks. Luisa remembers sleeping outside the original U.S. Embassy in Havana with a group of freedom-seekers and being screamed at by government-organized mobs. She saw militia storm her home and take away an uncle. Her story is shared by many in Miami. Today, there has been some progress in Cuba in the transition from Fidel Castro to younger brother Raul. By most indications, gays on the island have it somewhat better, as an example. Still, ask the Ladies in White, the group that protests for civil and human rights, if enough progress has been made. Dozens more of them were arrested (pictured right) in advance of Obama's visit. The watchdog group Human Rights Watch begins in 2015 report on Cuba thusly: "The government continues to rely on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate individuals who exercise their fundamental rights." That, and the words and pain of Luisa Vega, bear never forgetting amid all the cheering in Cuba this week.

JOSE NOT OPENING DAY STARTER = MARLINS BEING MARLINS: Your ace starts on Opening Day, period. Particularly when your starting rotation includes one ace, a jack and three 4's. But the Joserules are never quite standard when it comes to the Miami Marlins, and so it should not have surprised Sunday when the Fish announced that recently acquired Wei-Yin Chen (the jack) would be the O.D. starter on April 5 instead, with Jose on the mound for next day. Hmm. The explantation: That the switch would set up to give Fernandez more rest thorughout the season. The likely real reason: Openers sell out, followed by a severe drop in attendance for Game 2 (at least here). So save Jose to stem the decline and increase the next-date gate. This is sooo Marlins. They can't even get Opening Day right. Jose says (publicly) he is on board with this, but you know he's disappointed. Marlins fans should be, too.

BikiniserenaSERENA PREPARES FOR MIAMI OPEN TENNIS: Defending Miami Open champion Serena Williams has been preparing for the rigors of the two-week tournament that begins this week on Key Biscayne. Pictured, is hard at work taking a bikini selfie on Snapchat. On beach or on court, Serena seldom is not looking good, or shy to show it. Still in her tennis prime at 34. A true wonder.

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far, with 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 21, 2016

Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Angelic Canes, Heat, Cats, tennis, Fins and Fish lead the way; plus our NCAA bracket (updated) & more


1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 21. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Super Sports Saturday, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, my NCAA bracket, Cote advances in media bracket, your who'll-win verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

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, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES/COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sweet! UM men beat Wichita State, reach the 16: Miami Hurricanes men beat Wichita State 65-57 Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, led by Angel Rodriguez's 28 points. "Heaven-sent Angel lifts Miami" -- too perfect. Canes will next face Sunday-winner Villanova on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. So your bracket is in ruins, but at least the Canes are winning.

2. HEAT: Miami routs Cavaliers, humbles LeBron to stay in hunt for third place: LeBron James now is 0-3 in Miami since leaving after the Heat's 122-101 rout of Cleveland on Saturday. LeBron returning to Miami is still a big deal, sort of. But here’s a bigger deal: The Heat is in a four-team scramble to finish third in the East and avoid seeing LeBron again until the conference finals.

3. PANTHERS: Cats stay in NHL division despite Spacey loss to Red Wings: Florida has clawed back up into the division lead despite Saturday's 5-3 home loss to Detroit. The game featured a visit by actor Kevin Spacey, who inspires the “Spacey in Space” sweatshirts that inexplicably are part of the mojo of this Cats season. The sweatshirts bring luck, although apparently Spacey himself doesn't.

4. TENNIS: Federer, Serena in spotlight as Miami Open tennis sets to launch: Perennial favorite Serena Williams, defending champ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s return from knee surgery top the marquee for Miami Open tennis, which begins its annual two-week run on Key Biscayne this Tuesday. Event’s future is in some doubt, so treat the present like a gift.

5. DOLPHINS: Mixed results, disappointments continue team’s free agency run: Bumper sticker: Honk If You’ve Left the Dolphins Facility Without Signing a Contract. Running backs C.J. Anderson and Chris Johnson were the latest to do so as Miami’s first week-plus of free agency resulted in much activity but little discernible improvement.

6. BASEBALL: MLB visit to Cuba, LaRoche saga steal the headlines: Adam LaRoche of the Chicago White Sox abruptly retires after team tells him his 14-year-old son shouldn't be in the clubhouse so much. This Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban National Team in Havana. Man, baseball will do anything for attention, won't it!?

7. MARLINS: Shenanigans with the Opening Day starter: Barry Bonds, 51, out-homered Giancarlo Stanton in a friendly hitting drill. But the big news out of Marlins spring training was the team not naming ace Jose Fernandez its Opening Day starter on April 5. Ostensibly it's to give him more rest but more like it's that, with a big crowd guaranteed for the opener, the club wants to deploy Jose to help boost the gate for Game 2. Gawd, that is soooo Marlins.

8. UM/WOMEN'S NCAA: Canes make a quick exit: The Madness started and ended quickly for coach Katie Meier's women Canes, with Saturday's 74-71 upset loss to South Dakota State in their NCAA Tournament opener. Humbling: Losing your opener. Insult to injury: Losing to team nicknamed Jackrabbits.

9. NFL: Boca Raton hosts league meetings: A league executive, Jeff Miller, became first NFL official to acknowledge a direct link between football-related head trauma and brain disease. Meanwhile the NFL owners meetings are Sunday through Wednesday in Boca. Haven't seen the complete agenda but I understand the main order of business is a resolution to make Jeff Miller quit speaking.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Canes open first spring practices under Richt: The Hurricanes began spring practice with enthusiasm and praise for Mark Richt. Shocking! It was the 89,403rd consecutive time in the history of football that players praised their new head coach after his first practice. 

Missing the cut: R.I.P., Tray Walker ... Barry men reach Elite Eight in Division II. Good job, Barry ... Its Miami FC in its inaugural NASL game next Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A natural rivalry is born! ... So a jury awards Hulk Hogan $115 million because Gawker published his sex tape -- more than double what Erin Andrews received. Pays to be a cartoon character, I guess ... This just in. Looking to place people where no one will find them, the federal witness protection program has now begun hiding people in the NIT tournament ... Gall, redefined: FIFA wants back its bribe money confiscated by the U.S. government. No, seriously ... Answer: Ultra Music Festival. Question: "Where do 99.9 percent of South Floridians want to be nowhere near this weekend?" ... Barack Obama's presidential bracket had Kansas winning the men's NCAA Tournament. Republicans demanding equal time berated Kansas as overrated ... Without being able to  vent on Twitter anymore, what's Miko Grimes doing, kicking the family dog? ... IndyCar season is underway. Wake me for the Indianapolis 500 ... The Colts are building a statue of Peyton Manning. You know who else should? The city of "Omaha!" ... What's poor FIU gotta do to get another mention here? Any more scandals on deck?

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 19, 2016

Super Saturday: Canes win starts a SoFla sports smorgasbord!; plus my NCAA bracket update with today's winners, Haiku Challenge champ/winning entry, Cote advances in media bracket and is embarrassed he gives a crap & more


1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 19. Thoughts with the family of NFL player Tray Walker, born in Miami and died here, yesterday, at 23. R.I.P. 2) St. Patrick's Day. The only day of the year I force myself to stomach a token amount of cooked cabbage. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): All March Madness: Haiku Challenge, who'll-win poll, my bracket, NCAA state-schools history & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Dolphins add assistant coach: Fins have named Jim Washburn as senior defensive assistant/pass rush specialist. He comes with 17 years' NFL coaching experience, including (significantly) the past three with Detroit. Miami hopes he'll bring the key that further unlocks Ndamukong Suh.

"If I could ask God one question it would be, 'Why?' Why was Dwyane Wade taking that 3-point shot to end that game!?" --Greg Cote

SupersaturdaySUPER SATURDAY! MIAMI A LOUSY SPORTS TOWN? NOT TODAY, MY FRIEND. NOT TODAY: It's Super Saturday for SoFla sports. Here's why. Buckle up:

1. Hurricanes men beat Wichita State, advance in NCAAs: After coasting past Buffalo in the first round, Jim Larranaga's guys faced Wichita State this afternoon and, after seeing a 21-point lead frittered away, won, 65-57, in a South Region game in Providence R.I. Angel Rodriguez's 28 points on 9-for-11 shooting led the way. The Shockers were a No. 11 seed to Miami's No. 3 yet Wichita State was favored by two points. They shouldn't have been. Now UM moves onto the Sweet 16 and will next face the winner of Sunday's Villanova-Iowa game.

2. Heat host LeBron, Cavaliers: Costly home loss to Charlotte Thursday night has Miami in four-team fight for third place in East, which Miami dearly wants so it can avoid having to face Cleveland in the postseason prior to conference finals. LeBron James returning to Miami isn't by itself the visceral event it once was. Saturday's 7:30 tipoff here is important mostly for that jockeying for position in standings.

3. Panthers host Red Wings: Florida, back up to a 3-point division lead, hosts Detroit Saturday at 7 with only 11 games left in the regular season. Expect a playoff atmosphere, with the Wings holding precariously onto the eighth and final spot in the East right now. Rumor: Actor Kevin (Spacey in Space) Spacey shows up, drops the ceremonial puck. 

4. UM women begin NCAA run: Katie Meier's No. 5-seeded Hurricanes open their NCAA Tournament run Saturday at 6:40 p.m. vs. the No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the women's Lexington Region. I like South Dakota State's nickname a lot more than I like their chances against The U.

5. Marlins meet Tigers in Jupiter: Miami is just past the midpoint of spring training as it welcomes Detroit for a 1:05 first pitch Saturday. We know spring results don't matter, but, at 5-10 with five straight L's entering today's game, might be nice to build a bit of excitement heading into April. Aside to Marlins: Jose Fernandez should be the Opening Day starter. Duh, right?

I could also mention the Canes held their third spring football practice under new coach Mark Richt on Saturday morning on campus. I'd also add something about the Dolphins continuing their work in free agency, but the Dolphins tend to be depressing and this is supposed to be an upbeat item about good stuff happening in Miami sports.

FlanneryWE HAVE A MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: We combed through 108 entries in our blog's 11th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge which closed at noon today, and were pleased to find that 96 of them were valid entries -- exactly 17 syllables and on-point with the topic. Congratulations to reader John Flannery (pictured right), our 2016 champion. His happened to be one of the last entries submitted. Turns out John lives in Pennsylvania but we'll be able to fulfill his prize request: a Greg's Lobos T-shirt!

John Flannery's winning haiku:

"Bracket is busted

Cinderella is dancing

No one has a clue"

The judges (meaning me) appreciated the classic 5-7-5 phrasing, the simplicity, and the undeniable truth of it. Our four honorable mentions: Bernstock--"It's not a cash cow / They must say, its for the kids / as 'they' eat lobster" ... Brett Alger--"Talk about balls and busting / Cinderella's in search of better seed." ... Travis Ford--"When my bracket busts / I'll stop drinking and go home / I'm taking my ball." ... and Kjdesouza007--"Twelve again beats Five / My Final Four Picks Alive / What is TRUtv." Thanks also to readers Scott Anderson, Daniel Angster, Chet Cienkowski, Fryer54, Phil Shore and others who played.

COTE ADVANCES IN NCAA-STYLED MIAMI MEDIA BRACKET: is running an NCAA-styled Miami Sports Bracket in four 16-person categories or "regions." One is Media, and I advanced Slicemiamito the second round this week by beating fellow Heraldite Ethan Skolnick, 59.53 percent to 40.47. I am honored by the 19-point landslide. Also, I am frankly embarrassed that I give a crap. But it's fun (because I won, it's fun). Ethan and I enjoyed going back and forth on Twitter and Facebook, fake-campaigning. I think my voters were surprised, inspired and girded loins en masse by the fact I was the much lower seed, strongly suggesting the folks running the poll were drunk at the time of the seedings. I had the toughest first-round matchup in the formidable Skolnick. I don't include Stugotz facing No. 1-seeded Dan LeBatard, since the love-to-hate-Dan tenor of their 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio show made it obvious Stugotz would win. Other first-round Media winners: Eric Reid over Tony Fiorentino in a duel of Heat TV broadcasters; Heat radio guy Mike Inglis over TV's Jim Berry; WQAM's Marc Hochman over the Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde; the Herald's Barry Jackson over TV's Will Manso; Adam Kuperstein over fellow TV talking head Steve Shapiro; and WQAM's Joe Rose over Marlins broadcaster Rich Waltz. Pictured right are the upcoming second-round matchups, featuring the disembodied head of an exalting Stugotz. Click on the image to expand. I'll let you know when 2R voting begins.

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Friday--I went 10-6 in men's NCAA Tournament games on an upset-filled day that for first time ever saw 2-3-4 seeds (Michigan State, West Virginia, Cal) lose on same day. Overall--I'm 23-9. Cinderella Meter--40.6% (13 of 32 games have been by-seed upsets, with three of those negligible 9-beat-8s). Today--My 8 winners, in order of tipoff, are Miami, Duke, Indiana, Iowa State, Virginia, Kansas, Utah and North Carolina.

Poll result: "Other," Kansas favorites to win NCAAs: We asked you who'd win the men's NCAA Tournament and the nine choices we offered all were either betting favorites or top-two seeds. So Miami was not included ... which may explain the category "someone else" winning our vote with 26.7 percent, followed by Kansas at 20.0%, North Carolina 17.3%, Michigan State 12.0% and Kentucky 10.7%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 18, 2016

Haiku Challenge window closing; vote before noon today!; plus who'll win NCAA Tournament: Poll. Vote now!; also, my bracket, history of Hurricanes and other state schools in the Big Dance & more


Patricks1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Why Hurricanes' NCAA path isn't that scary, March Madness betting odds, tourney's worst teams academically, Hot Button Top 10, Year of the Rat remembered, Dolfans' free agency verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

THE MARCH MADNESS PREDICTOR POLL: The four little play-in games are done, now, today, the real NCAA Tournament starts -- including Miami Hurricanes opening vs. big underdog Buffalo at 6:50 p.m. So, who wins it all? I have listed here, alphabetically, the nine teams that are either top-2 seeds or better than 20-to-1 in the betting odds. Vote for the the one team you think is most likely to be champion. Not the team you want to win, but the team you think will win:

Vitale HaikuOH NO! IT'S BACK! IT'S OUR 11TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: The entries are pouring in -- a veritable torrent -- but which I mean we have several ao far. We've done this as long as we've had this blog and it is back for tradition's sake and by unpopular demand. I say unpopular because many of you are intimidated by this contest, or simply do not agree that nothing captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering better than ancient Japanese short-form poetry. I do not do this for the masses, but for the select, chosen few who await the contest every year with relish. It's sort of like a restaurant menu that offers liver. Few like it, but the few who do love it. You may know that a haiku is a 17-syllable poem. (Not 16! Not 18!) Ideally it's in 5-7-5 structure but we're loose with that. Rhyming is OK but not necessary.

Three simple but hard-fast rules:

1. If your poem is 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament/March Madness/college hoops, it's a valid entry.

2. You may submit entries ONLY one of two ways: In this blog's 'Comments' section below, or via email to (No Twitter entries please!!). You may enter as many haikus as you wish.

3. Entries close Friday (today) at noon, with the winner to be announced later Friday.

Prize, you ask? I dunno, maybe a Dolphins media guide? A chance to visit the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on a Tuesday we're in-studio? We'll figure something out. In any case, do it for the sheer glory and to flex your creativity, not for the prize. OK, ready? Get the mind revving. The entry window has banged open. Haiku!

MY BRACKET: I have Kansas and North Carolina in the Final Four (no surprise), but against two opponents who'd be huge surprises to get that far. My FF has Kansas beating Texas A&M and UNC beating Iowa State. I have the Miami Hurricanes getting to the Elite Eight before bowing to the Jayhawks. We'll update you daily on how our bracket is doing. Got three out of four right in the play-in games. Our winners in today's/Thursday's 16 games games are, in order of tip-off times: Duke, Butler, UConn, Iowa State, Baylor, Virginia, Kansas, Purdue, Miami, Indiana, North Carolina, Utah, Arizona, Kentucky, Providence and Gonzaga.   

THE LIST: NCAA TOURNAMENT RESULTS BY STATE SCHOOLS: NCAA Tournament men's Division 1 basketball, listed by number of appearances/invites:

Team                                            Apps. Games    Record    Last    Best result

Florida Gators                                  19       59       42-17     2014   National champions 2006, '07

Florida State Seminoles                     14      29       15-14     2012   National championship runnerup 1972

Miami Hurricanes                              8th     13        6-7       2016    Sweet 16 2000, '13

Jacksonville Dolphins                         5         9         4-5       1986   National championship runnerup 1970

Central Florida Knights                      4         4         0-4       2005   All 1st-round losses

South Florida Bulls                            3         5         2-3       2012    3rd round 2012

Florida A&M Rattlers                         3         4         1-3       2007   2nd round 2004

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles                  2nd      3         2-1       2016   Sweet 16 2013

North Florida Ospreys                        1         1         0-1       2015   1st-round loss

Florida Atlantic Owls                        1         1         0-1        2002   1st-round loss

Florida International Panthers           1         1         0-1        1995   1st-round loss

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 12, 2016

Are Dolphins better? Have early free-agency gains outweighed losses? Poll. Vote now!; plus Chris Bosh eyes return, Hurricanes men await Selection Sunday, UM football arrests, Dear Marco Rubio & more


1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' dubious start to free agency, Erin Andrews vs. Kim Kardashian, Marlins' big problem, sympathy for Maria Sharapova, your verdict on Peyton Manning, Dollar Bill Murray & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"No surprise FIU fired women's basketball coach Marlin Chinn. NCAA violation, allegation of sexual misconduct, awful record -- it's the trifecta of career suicide!" --Greg Cote 

Arrested UM football players catch break: Welcome to Miami, Mark Richt. No new coach is fully indoctrinated until he has dealt with his first player arrests. Hurricanes offensive linemen Trevor Darling and Jahair Jones -- Darling the starting left tackle -- were arrested in Miami Beach this week for "resisting officer without violence" after they reportedly were impeding traffic and refused orders to disperse. But Jones' case will not be prosecuted and Darling is expected to similarly be cleared related to what the state attorneys office called a "legally insufficient" arrest form. In other words the cops screwed up on the report. Still, I have a feeling Richt will think his players screwed up too.

ChrisboshBOSH SPEAKS ON HEALTH, IS HOPEFUL TO RETURN THIS SEASON: Chris Bosh's full statement this week on his health, with the underlines for emphasis my own: "I know there have been many questions regarding my health and when I will play again. My situation this year has never been life threatening. I am feeling great and currently I do not have deep vein thrombosis. Together with the Miami Heat, I am working with doctors, exploring the best precautionary treatment options and taking every necessary step to make sure I am healthy for myself, my family and my team. I have been working out, training with the team, watching film of the games, walking through plays, and have attended home games despite not being visible to the public. I will continue to support my teammates in every way possible. I remain positive that I will be able to return this season. I truly appreciate everyone's concern and support." I argued strongly on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on Feb. 23 that Bosh and the Miami Heat owed it to fans to stop the speculation by being up front about the star's condition regarding blood clots and his prolonged absence from the court. I'm glad that, now, we have that update. And that it was good news, considering the growing assumption had been that Bosh was done for the season and perhaps even that his career might be in jeopardy.

MiketannenbaumGRADING THE DOLPHINS IN FREE AGENCY THUS FAR: Miami has gotten off to a rough start in free agency but scored a potential nice get with running back C.J. Anderson signing an offer sheet. Fins executive VP of football ops and roster-builder Mike Tannenbaum is pictured looking mighty relaxed but probably should be sweating and wringing hands a bit based on the team's early FA results. The most noteworthy additions, the three to the defense, all are guys coming off disappointing seasons in Mario Williams (whom the BIlls had cut), Byron Maxwell (spectacularly overpaid) and Kiko Alonso (health concerns). Meanwhile the two big losses, Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller, are seismic. Miami was priced-out of both because, lacking foresight, the club failed to secure them to long-term deals earlier and avoid losing them in free agency now. Digest this synopsis of the team's notable gains and losses thus far, then take a dip in our poll. Wonder if adding C.J. Anderson would alter your opinion?

Notable roster gains, in order of significance: DE Mario Williams, star caliber as a proven but aging sacker. RB C.J. Anderson, only 25, 4.8-yard career average, very productive in limited role. (He isn't locked up yet, though Fins are hopeful. Denver still could match the offer). LB Kiko Alonso, a steal if he can stay healthy and regain rookie form. CB Byron Maxwell, OK starter but not a shutdown corner. OT Sam Young, backup tackle. S Isa Abdul-Quddus, backup caliber, though he may start. OT Jermon Bushrod, projected to compete for starting guard spot. W (wife) Miko Grimes, outta here, an addition by subtraction to be rid of the this meddlesome, crass woman. Bottom line: Williams is a downgrade from departed Olivier Vernon, especially factoring age. But Anderson  may be every bit as good as Miller. Alonso has big upside but health a major if. Maxwell isn't as good as Brent Grimes.

Notable roster losses, in order of significance: DE Olivier Vernon, to Giants. RB Lamar Miller, to Texans. Five draft spots in first round, down from 8th to 13th in Maxwell/Alonso trade with Philly. CB Brent Grimes, cut. WR Rishard Matthews, to Titans. DE Derrick Shelby, to Falcons. CB Brice McCain, to Titans. WR Greg Jennings, cut. Bottom line: Vernon is a significant loss and Miller is almost as big. It is fair to say both were overpaid to leave and Miami was priced out. But it also is fair to say Miami -- with foresight -- would have locked up both to affordable long-term deals last year and not allowed them to reach free agency. Invisible losses for the Dolphins also must include players they explored/needed but failed to get, including CB Adam (Pacman) Jones, help at guard and RB Matt Forte, the latter of whom I pushed for the Dolphins to pursue in this column on Feb. 12.

DREAM SEASON? HURRICANES MEN GO 1-1 in ACC TOURNEY, AWAIT NCAA BID: The No. 11-ranked Miami men of Jim Larranaga can be as good as just about anybody. Dick Vitale and other Sheldoncollege hoops experts have said UM is Final Four-capable. Based on rankings alone you'd think the Sweet 16 should be a starting point on how we measure this season's success. Well, the time to show it has begun and started with this week's ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C., where the Canes beat Virginia Tech 88-82 but then lost last night to No. 4 Virginia, 73-68. UM is 25-7 as it awaits Selection Sunday and its slot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament -- March Madness. How Miami fared this week in the ACCs probably didn't boost Miami's likely seeding or help it much. Maybe if they'd been bounced earlier or reach the final, yes, but going 1-1 was average. Now Miami and leading scorer Sheldon McClellan (pictured) await UM's destination for the big tournament. Joe Lunardi's updated Bracketology for ESPN has the Canes slotted a No. 3 seed in the East; their first game will be Thursday or Friday. UM practiced all this week at George Mason, where the 2006 Final Four banner hangs. That was Larranaga's finest moment in coaching. Can he top that this year? The regular season has offered only teases and hint, and the ACC Tournament was not definitive. The real knowing is about to begin. And now is when the window is flung open wide for UM, which starts four seniors. This must be the year.

RUBIO CAMPAIGN GASPING FOR AIR: Dear Marco Rubio: Even your most ardent supporters must now know you would be smart to start crafting your concession speech Emptystadiumabout "suspending" your campaign for president. It isn't working -- and to a degree it becomes embarrassing to keep denying the obvious. Bad enough your only two primary-season victories thus far have been minor ones (Minnesota caucuses, Puerto Rico), while Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have pulled away. Worse for you is what's happening in Florida, your home state. Polls show Trump leading you by as much as a 2-1 margin. And any hope for a miracle surprise on March 15 gained no steam Wednesday night, when your rally in Hialeah drew only a couple of hundred supporters to a high-school football stadium you'd hoped to fill. Instead of filled bleachers, your crowd gathered in an end zone. The photo from that rally, pictured, is devastating. It looks like an FIU football crowd. (Ouch. Sorry, FIU. Couldn't resist). First Jeb Bush, now Rubio. Both might have been a star in what should be a winnable Republican nomination. Instead Florida is 0-for-2 on "favorite sons" running for prez in '16.

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March 09, 2016

On Dolphins' dubious, rocky (and low-graded) start to free agency; plus Marlins' big problem, the week of Erin Andrews and Kim Kardashian, sympathy for Maria Sharapova, your verdict on Peyton Manning, Dollar Bill Murray & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9. Hope all y'all international women had a great International Women's Day. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Peyton's-place-in-history poll, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, Dolphins trades, Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canes men on deck: Tonight's Florida State-Virginia Tech winner will face the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night in UM's debut in the ACC Tournament.

THE DOLPHINS' DUBIOUS START TO FREE AGENCY: These are the Miami Dolphins we're talking about, so, as disappointment-hardened Dolfans well know, nothing is easy, or simple. Most every move the team makes seems to come with an asterisk, or a "yeah, but." So it is with what has happened this week:

Mario1. Mario Williams for Olivier Vernon is not a smart swap: Williams, pictured, is an accomplished sacker, but he also is 31 and arrives with a reputation for quitting on his team when he feels like it and not being a great teammate. Miami is paying him star money ($17 million over two years) but it would not surprise to see him gone after one season. It would have seemed smarter -- more in keeping with a long-range vision -- to instead commit big bucks at the end position to the imminently departing Vernon, the gifted homegrown sackman and rising talent who's still only 25. /// ESPN's Bill Barnwell, in his free-agency report card, graded the Williams signing a C. He writes, in part: "It's hard to figure out the Dolphins, who seem to stick their finger into the socket, get shocked, and wonder how many of their other fingers can fit inside. Miami's top-heavy, stars-and-replacement talent roster philosophy hasn't worked for years, but instead of getting away from the tactic, the Dolphins are doubling down in 2016. The Dolphins didn't have many other options available, especially once Jason Pierre-Paul agreed to return to New York on a one-year deal, but Williams is 31 and was just run out of Buffalo amidst a cloud of anonymous sources saying derogatory things about his effort level. Would they have been better off locking up Vernon, who is just 25 and had 36 quarterback knockdowns to Williams's 11 in 2015? Or using the money saved by [possibly] cutting Cameron Wake to add much-needed depth around the roster? Do these sorts of questions ever even enter into Miami's thinking during the offseason? Williams should be better as a 4-3 defensive end than he was dropping off the line of scrimmage at times as a 3-4 outside linebacker for Rex Ryan last year, but this is another step in a tired, unsuccessful roster-building model for the Dolphins."

2. That "blockbuster" trade with Eagles is high-priced risk: The Dolphins move down from the No. 8 overall draft pick to No. 13 to acquire cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from Philly. Hmm. A shoulder issue with Maxwell jeopardized the deal but he is now cleared physically. Still, Miami is adopting his six-year, $63 million contract, very pricey for a journeyman with eight interceptions in 61 games, one who has never made a Pro Bowl and was pretty awful last season. So let's not oversell him. He has yet to prove he is No. 1 corner-caliber. Alonso, only 25, may be worth the risk; he was great as a rookie in '13. "Yeah but": He missed all of 2014 after major knee surgery, and disappointed in his comeback last season. There was a reason both players were available. /// ESPN's Barnwell graded that deal a B+ for Phily and a C- for Miami. He wrote, in part: "It's shocking that the Eagles were able to get anything in a swap for Maxwell's onerous contract. The Dolphins will likely restructure Maxwell's $8.5 million base salary as a signing bonus to create more cap space and sign more free agents, but there's still little upside on this deal. Maxwell was erratic at best in his first year outside of the Seattle cocoon, and at $10 million per year going forward, he'll need to play like a No. 1 cornerback to justify his salary, even with the rising tide of cornerback contracts. Oddly, the Dolphins may get more out of Alonso, who will likely move back to play middle linebacker in a 4-3 after getting lost in Philly's 3-4 look. With one year remaining on Alonso's rookie deal, he offers the best chance of generating surplus value in this deal for Miami."

3. Lamar Miller gone to Houston: The starting running back will sign with the Texans and take handoffs from Brock Osweiler. Miller's departure is not a surprise, but suddenly Ryan Tannehill has nobody proven to hand-off to. Remember my recent column urging the Dolphins to consider signing available RB Matt Forte? Too late. The Stinkin' Jets got him.

Mario's big props to Ross: Dolphins introduced Mario Williams today and he gave big props to owner Stephen Ross when asked what attracted him to Miami. "The direction that the organization wants to go in from top to bottom was huge," he said. "Meeting with the owner, it was really shocking to me. I can say I’ve never been in the room with an NFL owner and it was like talking to somebody who is 30 years old. He was cool to interview with. I want to say he’s 75? I know it was something like that. But to be part of something with someone who has so much enthusiasm, so much energy and passion towards the team, and then it trickles straight down to the last guy."

 Kim ON ERIN ANDREWS AND KIM KARDASHIAN: It may be a first that these two disparate women are in the same sentence or headline -- I feel I may owe an apology for that, Erin -- but I couldn't help notice the jarring juxtaposition this week involving the prominent sports broadcaster Erin Andrews and the famous-for-being-famous Kim Kardashian. One, Andrews, was winning a $55 million jury verdict in her trial against the Nashville Marriott at which she was filmed nude through an altered peephole, the creep who did it then uploading the video to the Internet for millions to watch. She testified tearfully of the devastating, life-altering invasion of her privacy and modesty. The same day as that justified verdict was read, Kardashian, apparently abhorrent to privacy -- the queen of immodesty -- published the bathroom selfie we pass along at right. With Andrews, initially, there was false speculation she'd planned the stunt for publicity. Had Kardashian been the victim of the peephole video, suffice to say the idea would have been far easier to believe.

THE MARLINS' BIG PROBLEM: It's the farm system. The latest example: The rankings of under-21 talent by, the official arm of minor-league baseball. Miami is graded a D. The synopsis: "At first blush, it's a good sign for our purposes that both of the Marlins' top two prospects -- Tyler Kolek and Josh Naylor -- are so young and represent their last two first-rounders. Upon further review, neither is as impressive as he looks on paper. Kolek dropped out of the Top 100 after suffering control issues in his first full season and Naylor was a surprise pick at No. 12 last June. The latter could grow into a prodigious power hitter in time, but for now, that pick remains a head-scratcher. The rest of the system doesn't look like it has any impact Major Leaguers, even among the younger prospects." Elsewhere in the NL East the Braves are graded A-, the Phillies B+ and the Mets B. has only three other teams graded as low or worse than the Marlins for U-21 talent: Tigers also with a D, and Angels and Diamondbacks both with F's.

MariaI FEEL BAD FOR MARIA SHARAPOVA: Sharapova's biggest crime used to be she couldn't beast Serena Williams. Now she  is branded a cheater, a doper, because she tested positive for the banned substance Meldonium. Sponsors including Nike have dropped her. What an overreaction! The drug does not even enhance athletic performance, according to the Latvian scientist who invented it. But it does help protect athletes against heart problems related to extreme physical exercise. Meldonium is a heart medicine that improves blood flow, but was added to the banned-substances list by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Jan. 1. Sharapova said she had been legally using the drug for 10 years for various medical issues, but tested positive just days after it suddenly became illegal. She deserves sympathy or benefit of doubt, not indignant condemnation.

Poll result: Plurality think Manning greatest ever, but much disagreement: We've seldom run a more evenly split blogpoll than the one asking where Peyton Manning ranks among all-time top five greatest quarterbacks. Most, 22.3 percent, said he was No. 1, the best ever. But second-most voters, 19.0%, said he wasn't even in top five. Then it was 17.4% No. 3, 14.6% No. 5, 13.8% No. 2, and 12.9% No. 4.

IF BILL MURRAY HAD DELIVERED THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: Please note I do not approve of the illegal defacing of U.S. currency. Although when the defacing involves Bill Murray's face I think I'm sort of OK with it: 











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

Twitter @gregcote