January 19, 2018

Canes football 2018: The game-by-game case for a 12-0 regular season; plus our NFL Championship Sunday picks, Kiper's new mock-pick for Dolphins, your NFL Final Four verdicts & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 10. Need a late holiday gift? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Final Four polls, rarity of UM football/basketball dual poll power, new Back In My Day video & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

The week's column platter: Larry Nassar, Miami Dolphins: The empowerment of the #MeToo movement is crushing Dr. Larry Nassar this week in the USA Gymnastics sexual abuse scandal, and it an awesome thing to see. Click When Victims Seize The Power for my newest column. Prior to that, we look at AFC and NFC Championship Games and say why Dolphins fans might feel both renewed hope and increased frustration and impatience -- all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! OUR NFL CONFERENCE-CHAMPIONSHIPS PLAYOFF PICKS: We're down to the final four teams, and Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship Games will be play-ins for the Super Bowl. It's Jaguars at Patriots and Vikings at Eagles. We explore the matchups, lay out the storylines and predict the winners. And, yes, there will be one upset. Click on Championship Sunday Gems for our full Final Four predix capsules as the Super Bowl Tournament reaches its penultimate round.

MrichtTHE CASE FOR A 12-0 HURRICANES FOOTBALL REGULAR-SEASON IN 2018: Next season's schedule just came out, and oh does it look (mostly) soft 'n friendly for the Hurricanes! It starts brutally tough with LSU in a neutral site kickoff classic, but then doesn't really scare you again until November brings back to back roadies at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Eight of 12 opponents played in recent bowl games, yes, but most of those were sneak-ins to lousy bowls. UM finished 10-3 and ranked No. 13 in 2017. Here's a game by game synopsis on why a 12-0 regular season in '18 looks plausible:

LsuSept. 2 vs. LSU (in Arlington, Tex.) -- Tigers were 9-4 and ended ranked No. 18 after losing to Notre Dame 21-17 in Citrus Bowl. This is UM's single toughest-looking game. LSU leads all-time series 9-3 and won most recent meeting 40-3 in the 2005 Peach Bowl. But with four weaker opponents to follow, Mark Richt can put all his offseason into this game, whereas LSU faces Auburn soon after. Canes Win Likelihood (CWL): 55%

Sept. 8 vs. Savannah State -- Home opener is a waltz. Savannah State, a lower FCS-division school, was 3-8 in Mid-Eastern and only previous meeting with a Miami was a 77-7 Canes rout in 2013. Games this lopsided shouldn't even be allowed. CWL: 99.99999%.

Sept. 15 at Toledo -- Toledo was 11-3 as a Mid-American power, but shouldn't be a problem. Rockets lost 34-0 to Appalachian State in Dollar General Bowl. Miami whipped Toledo last season 52-30. CWL: 90%.   

Sept. 22 vs. FIU -- OK, keep it clean. No brawling, kids! The brief history of this backyard rivalry (Miami is 2-0; last met in 2007) and Butch Davis facing The U will make the buildup delicious. But the game figures ugly. FIU was a credible 8-5 but lost 28-3 to Temple in the Gasparilla Bowl. CWL: 85%.

Sept. 27 vs. North Carolina -- Thursday game makes it a short week of prep, it's ACC opener, and Miami only beat Tar Heels by 24-19 last season. So, despite UNC being 3-9 in '17, got to pay attention to this one. CWL: 80%

FsuOct. 6 vs. Florida State -- New Noles coach is a wild card. FSU was 7-6 after 42-13 Independence Bowl win over Southern Miss and won't stay down long. UM's 24-20 win last season to end seven-game series losing streak was huge. Now it's home. Also huge. CWL: 60%.

Oct. 13 at Virginia -- Cavaliers ended 6-7 after losing to Navy 49-7 in Military Bowl. UM handled Virginia 44-28. Even on road, ought not be a real problem. CWL: 75%

Oct. 26 at Boston College -- Tough road challenge follows a bye. Eagles were 7-6 after losing to Iowa 27-20 in Pinstripe Bowl. UM sort of owns BC, leading all-time series 24-5, but Canes only got by 41-32 in last meeting in 2012, but gap since last meeting adds element of unpredictability. CWL: 70%.

Nov. 3 vs. Duke -- Duke isn't bad. Finished 7-6 after beating Northern Illinois 36-14 in Quick Lane Bowl. But Canes lead all-time series 13-2 and have won four straight including 31-6 last season. CWL: 80%.

Nov. 10 at Georgia Tech -- Yellow Jackets were down last year, a bowl-less 5-6. Nevertheless, it's on road, Miami only leads series by 12-11, and last season's meeting was a 25-24 escape by Canes. CWL: 65%

VtNov. 17 at Virginia Tech -- The most likely loss other than LSU opener. Hokies were 9-4 and ended No. 24 after 30-21 loss to Oklahoma State in Camping World Bowl. Miami handled Va-Tech 28-10 last season, but Blacksburg has traditionally been tough venue for Canes. CWL: 55%.    

Nov. 24 vs. Pittsburgh: Panthers were a bowl-less 5-7 last season but made their year with the 24-14 home upset of then-unbeaten Miami that dealt a severe blow to UM's national-title hopes at the time. Now the game is here, and revenge should be sweet. CWL: 80%.

McglincheyKIPER'S FIRST MOCK DRAFT PICK FOR DOLPHINS IS A TACKLE. NOOOOO!!!!!: ESPN mock-draft impresario Mel Kiper emits his Mock Draft 1.0 today and, with the No. 11 overall pick, Junior has your Miami Dolphins selecting Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (pictured). Says Mel: "The Dolphins are a tough team to pick for because the roster has so many questions. What's going to happen with free agent Jarvis Landry? Are they set long-term at quarterback? Is there a No. 1 back on the team? And that's just offense. For now I'll go with McGlinchey, who is my top-ranked tackle in a solid class. There are five tackles who could go in the first round. He has played on the left and right sides and could be the immediate starter at right tackle for the Dolphins, who have Laremy Tunsil slotted in on the blindside." Says me: You remember McGlinchey, right? Yeah he was on that dominant Fighting Irish blocking front that the Canes thoroughly dominated. I say "Nooooo!!!!!" to Kiper's pick because, with Tunsil on the left and top-graded Fins tackle Ja'Wauan James on the right, tackle should be one position that is buttoned-down solid. Click Are the Fins Feeling Bold? for my recent Dolphins draft-related column.  

POLL RESULTS: YOU PREDICT PATS WILL WIN SUPER BOWL, BUT WANT JAGS OR VIKES: We offered two different NFL Final Four polls. In the first we asked who you think WILL win the Super Bowl among the last teams standing, and it was Patriots 66.91 percent, Vikings 19.12%, Eagles 8.09% and Jaguars 5.88%. In the second we asked who you most WANT to win it all, and the results were far different. It was Jaguars 36.84%, Vikings 36.09% and Eagles and Patriots both 13.53%.

Select other recent columns: And Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Will Somebody Please Rise Up. Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaCanes-Irish: Game For The Ages. Appreciate Perfection -- PeriodThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 17, 2018

Final Four: Who you think WILL win Super Bowl, and who you WANT to win. 2 polls. Last day to vote!; plus new 'Back In My Day' video (Vaping!), my NFL Final Four column from Dolphins view & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17. Hope y'all had a reflective Martin Luther King Jr. Day. His life's mission and fight for racial equality is a cause as vital as ever. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, our NFL Divisional-Round playoff results, MLK Day & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: NFL Final Four through a Dolphins lens: Why Dolfans might look at the AFC and NFC Championship Game participants and feel both renewed hope and increased frustration and impatience -- all at once. Click on For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final Four to read.

Jaxne Phimin AfcnfcNFL FINAL FOUR: WHO WILL WIN SUPER BOWL, AND WHO YOU HOPE DOES: Very interesting Final Four, or at least three-quarters interesting, as I note in my new column linked directly above. Now I invite yout o predict which team still standing will raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and which team you hope does. One poll is head; who you'd bet on. The other poll is heart; who you're rooting for. Teams are listed alphabetically. Vote now!

Aptop25THE RARITY OF CANES FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL DUAL POLL POWER: It has happened only three times -- UM football finishing a season ranked in the Associated Press final Top 25 as Canes men's hoops was ongoing with a season that also ended in the Top 25. And all three instances were within a four-year period. It happened in 1998-99 (football No. 20, basketball No. 10); in 1999-00 (FB15, B23); and in 2001-02 (FB1, B21). It could happen a fourth time this season, but Jim Larranaga's guys will have to work to hold up their end. After football finished with a No. 13 ranking, the basketball team this week was ranked No. 25. But that was before Monday night's home loss to Duke.

NEWEST 'BACK IN MY DAY' VIDEO: VAPING!: This is from Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. It seemed to go over very well. Except, perhaps, with manufacturers of electronic cigarettes and owners of vape shops:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 06, 2018

Last day to vote! What was Miami/South Florida's biggest sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Our 18 finalists, you pick top 6. Vote now; plus your biggest-national-story verdict, our NFL playoff picks & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 6. A happy birthday to Dolphins icon Don Shula, who turned 88 Thursday. Here's to many more! 2) Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our Dolphins book. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual national-sports-story-of-the year poll, final SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video, R.I.P. Mae Riback & more. 4Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2017?We had it easy in 2016 with three stories that clearly stood out above the rest, although two made us sad. You voted the Miami17tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest story of the year, followed by the Dolphins ending their eight-year playoff drought and then Dwyane Wade leaving the Heat. Nothing else was close. But is anything as clear-cut for for 2017? We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (with results below). Now we invite you to select the 2017 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a randomly presented top 18 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

Deciphering a 6-vote poll: A six-vote poll means the maximum percentage for any one story would be 16.67 percent if every participant voted the max six times. Any vote above 16.67 means some voted only for that story. Multiply the percents above times six for an idea how often that story is being included on the consensus top-six ballot.

NFL player protests voted biggest 2017 national story: We asked what was the biggest national sports story of 2017, gave you The Associated Press Top 10 in jumbled order, and allowed you to vote for your top three. That means the highest vote total possible would be 33.3 percent if every participant used all three votes. Triple the percentages below for an idea how often that story was included in the consensus of top threes. Your results:

1. NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump--20.14

2. Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey--19.72

3. Patriots, in year of Tom Brady suspension, stage record rally to win Super Bowl--14.31

The rest: U.S., Italy fail to qualify for men's World Cup--12.21%; Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather--9.03%; Clemson rally beats Alabama for college football title--8.06%; College basketball investigated by FBI over recruiting corruption--5.69%; Golden State led by Kevin Durant wins NBA Finals--4.17%; USA Gymnastics rocked by sex-abuse scandal involving team doctor--3.75%; Russia banned from upcoming Winter Olympics over doping--2.92%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 04, 2018

What was biggest national sports story of 2017? Annual poll. Ten finalists, you pick top 3. Last day to vote!; plus final Herald NFL QB rankings, final college SOPY standings, latest Back In My Day video (Apple Watches) & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 4. How long should one keep saying "Happy new year." I say one week. Speaking of the new year, what a perfect time to treat the Dolfans in your life to my book on the club's first half century! Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out Fins At 50. 2) So honored to have received the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award over the weekend. Thanks again, OB. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) final rankings later today. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose finale to Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

MaeribackRest in peace, Mae Riback: I'm sorry to say that the dear reader and "my oldest fan" whom I wrote about in March passed away peacefully a few days ago at age 104. Click here for the tale of how me came to meet. R.I.P., Tiny.

 

YOU PICK THE 2017 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this Nattystorypoll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically here, not in Nationalstorythe 1 through 10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back often to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. Soon, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2017's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. A year ago, you voted the Cubs' World Series win the No. 1 national sports story, followed by LeBron James leading Cleveland to the NBA title and the death of Muhammad Ali. What will reign for '17? You decide. Vote now. We'll keep the poll open three days and announce results on Friday as we present the local poll. 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2017 in the poll below. You may also vote online by clicking HERE:

Deciphering a 3-vote ballot: A three-vote ballot means that, theoretically, if everyone cast the maximum three votes, no one story could receive more than 33.3 percent of the vote. It also means the vote totals can be tripled to give an indication of how many ballots that story is included on. In other words, a story drawing 20 percent would have been included on about 60% of ballots.

BradyBRADY EDGES BREES IN CLOSEST FINISH EVER FOR HERALD NFL QB CROWN: The Patriots' Tom Brady edges the Saints' Drew Brees by less than one full point, 554.80 to 553.90 — the closest finish in our rankings' 20-year history — to win the Miami Herald's 2017 NFL quarterback championship. The season title is Brady's second and first since 2007. Brees is the all-time leader with seven crowns. Dolphin Jay Cutler finishes in 24th place, just making our final Top 25 chart. The Chargers' Philip Rivers wins Week 17 to end in sixth place overall. Our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings began in 1998 and the formula has been unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL’s and ESPN’s are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.

The final Top 25 for 2017:

Rk Lw Player, Team                  Wk17      Season

1   1   Tom Brady, NE                19.50      554.80

2   2   Drew Brees, NO              29.25      553.90

3   5   Matthew Stafford, DET    41.15     501.30

4   3   Alex Smith, KC                 DNP      487.10

5   4   Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     DNP      473.55

6   9   Philip Rivers, LAC            52.35     469.75

7   8   Case Keenum, MIN           30.45     450.35

8 10   Russell Wilson, SEA          24.05     438.15

9   6   Kirk Cousins, WAS             1.90      435.65

10 11 Matt Ryan, ATL                34.85     433.75

11 7  Jared Goff, LAR                DNP       424.45

12 12 Carson Wentz, PHI            DNP      386.80

13 14 Joe Flacco, BAL              16.15      370.05

14 13 Blake Bortles, JAC           -2.10      365.35

15 15 Dak Prescott, DAL           20.95      363.85

16 16 Derek Carr, OAK              22.15     362.80

17 18 Eli Manning, NYG             3.60      339.40

18 21 Andy Dalton, CIN            27.10     338.00

19 17 Josh McCown, NYJ           DNP      336.30

20 20 Jameis Winston, TB        22.15     336.20

21 19 Cam Newton, CAR          -3.00      328.10

22 23 Tyrod Taylor, BUF           29.20     315.95

23 22 Marcus Mariota, TEN      17.70     309.60

24 24 Jay Cutler, MIA                0.30     278.30

25 25 Jacoby Brissett, IND       18.70    275.90

Week 17 Best: Rivers, LAC, 52.35 (28-37, 387, 3-0 in win). Season Best: Roethlisberger, PIT, 58.30 (Wk14). Record BestRoethlisberger, PIT, 80.10 (2014).

Week 17 WorstNick Foles, PHI, minus-4.05 (4-11, 39, 0-1 in loss). Season Worst: Nathan Peterman, BUF, minus-13.70 (Wk 11). Record WorstTim Hasselbeck, WAS, minus-23.20 (2003).

Most championshipsBrees, NO, 7; Peyton Manning IND/DEN, 6.

Season recordManning, DEN, 714.85 (2013). Dolphins season record: Ryan Tannehill, 481.25 (2014).

FLOWERS TOPS MILTON FOR HERALD STATE OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF YEAR!: [Click HERE to see this online] South Florida Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers (pictured, from Miami Jackson High) edges UCF counterpart QfMcKenzie Milton as the Miami Herald’s 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year — the “state Heisman” for our seven top-level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college teams. Miami Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier finishes third in the final rankings, followed closely by FAU running back Devin Singletary. The top-finishing receiver, eighth overall, is UCF’s Tre’Quan Smith. The do-it-all, dual-threat Flowers passed for 2,911 yards and 25 touchdowns, while running for 1,078 yards and 11 TDs. The final Top 25 shows balance among the seven schools, with five players from UCF and South Florida making it, and three each from Miami, Florida State, Florida, FAU and FIU. Our weekly SOPY rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state’s seven FBS teams. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game, or total points divided by the number of games a player’s team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams play the same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

The 2017 FINAL TOP 25 (including bowls):

RK Player, School-Pos.                            Avg.       Total (Games)

1. Quinton Flowers, SoFla qb                  229.13    2,749.5 (12)

2. McKenzie Milton, UCF qb                    223.19    2,901.5 (13)

3. Malik Rosier, Miami qb                       171.27     2,226.5 (13)

4. Devin Singletary, FAU rb                     165.79     2,321 (14)

5. Alex McGough, FIU qb                        135.08     1,756 (13)

6. Jason Driskel, FAU qb                         118.25    1,655.5 (14)

7. Cam Akers, FSU rb                             100.27    1,303.5 (13)

8. Tre’Quan Smith, UCF rec                     98.31    1,278 (13)

9. Travis Homer, Miami rb                        95.69    1,244 (13)

10. James Blackman, FSU qb                   91.54    1,190 (13)

11. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, SoFla rec  85.75    1,029 (12)

12. Darius Tice, SoFla rb                         85.17    1,022 (12)

13. D’Ernest Johnson, SoFla rb                83.58    1,003 (12)

14. Adrian Killins, UCF rb                        79.62    1,035 (13)

15. Jacques Patrick, FSU rb                    73.92       961 (13)

16. Thomas Owens, FIU rec                    72.73       945.5 (13)

17. Feleipe Franks, Florida qb                71.27       784 (11)

18. Alex Gardner, FIU rb                         69.00      897 (13)

19. Otis Anderson, UCF rec                    68.23       887 (13)

20. Lamical Perrine, Florida rb               63.36      697 (11)

21. Tyre McCants, SoFla rec                   63.17      758 (12)

22. Willie Wright, FAU rec                      59.86      838 (14)

23. Dredrick Snelson, UCF rec                58.46      760 (13)

24. Braxton Berrios, Miami rec               57.00      741 (13)

25. Malik Davis, Florida rb                     54.18      596 (11)

Cote’s State of the State final rankings: 1. UCF (13-0); 2. Miami (10-3); 3. South Florida (10-2); 4. FAU (11-3); 5. Florida State (7-6); 6. FIU (8-5); 7. Florida (4-7).

LATEST BACK IN MY DAY: APPLE WATCHES!: Here  it is, from yesterday's LeBatard Show:


Select recent columns: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Also: Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Adam Gase Must Find A WayTruex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaCanes-Irish: Game For The Ages. Appreciate Perfection -- PeriodThe Godfather SpeaksLatest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonBack On Track & Ready To Roar. Jeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 02, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 7.7% final season approval; plus Happy New Year!, Fins fall in finale 22-16 to end season 6-10, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Hny1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 1. HAPPY NEW YEAR! May it be a great one for you and everyone you love. Need one more gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) I was honored during Saturday's Orange Bowl game with the 2017 OB Edwin Pope Media Award. Click HERE for the story. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose Orange Bowl to Wisconsin with CSM poll, thank you OB Committee & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My UM-Wisconsin Orange Bowl column, CSM vote in: Click HERE for my game column from stadium on Saturday night's 34-24 Canes loss to Wisconsin in 84th Orange Bowl. See previous blogpost for results in latest and season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

Season-ending DSM poll online, too: Click HERE to read our postgame thoughts and to vote online.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 7.7%: Results are certified in the latest and season-ending installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 7.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 22-16 Dolphins home loss vs. the Buffalo Bills putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism — all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested you give added weight to the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 game-by-game DSM results

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)

G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)

G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)

G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)

G9: .5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)

G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)

G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)

G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)

G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)

G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)

G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)

G16/season final: 7.7% (following 22-16 loss vs. Buffalo)

Yearly DSM Results: 2017--7.7% (following 6-10 season); 2016--76.2% (following 10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G16: BUFFALO AT DOLPHINS: MIAMI TRYING TO END A ROTTEN YEAR WITH A FORCED SMILE: Click HERE for our postgame thoughts ..... Original postNine of the 12 NFL playoff tickets have been punched entering this final all-Sunday weekend of the regular season, and six teams remain alive for the remaining three spots. Alas, the Dolphins are not among the halves, relegated instead to the dubious incentive of trying to avoid what Bufmiawould be only the franchise’s seventh 10-loss season since 1970. Another sad, better-than-nothing incentive: The 6-9 Fins playing spoiler in the 4:25 CBS game to 8-7 Buffalo’s (faint) hopes. To reach the playoffs for the first time since 1999 the Bills must beat Miami and either have the Ravens lose or have the Chargers and Titans both lose. Got that? How fitting the Dolphins would find themselves positioned as spoilers. The entire season has looked, felt and smelled spoiled. Rotten. It was back to mediocrity, as if the aberration of last year’s playoff season never even really happened. Give coach Adam Gase credit for not sugar-coating, as when he said Thursday, simply (and accurately): “Nobody has done anything great. We’ve got a lot of work to do.” Sunday almost certainly will mark the farewell appearance for quarterback Jay Cutler, the pricey one-year rental who, like the entire team, had too few solid performances interspersed amid the prevailing erratic underperforming. Buffs beat Fins 24-16 only two weeks ago. With little cause but a hunch, I see Miami, a 2 1/2-point underdog, finishing strong with a home upset over a Bills squad that is only 2-5 away. So Miami continues the long Bison playoff drought, at least. Hey, it’s better than nothing … albeit barely. My pick: Dolphins, 23-17. [Click Week 17 Gems for all our season-ending NFL picks].

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM ends year of progress with loss in hometown Orange Bowl game: Tenth-ranked Canes were home underdogs to No. 6 Wisconsin Saturday in the 84th Orange Bowl game and fell 34-24. Three straight losses ended UM's year, but a first 10-win season and first OB invite since 2003 made it a season of progress toward the destination: Back. (Click HERE for our column from the game).
 
2. COLLEGE PLAYOFF: Last four in CFP semifinals on Monday: It's No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl today and then No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson in the Sugar in College Football Playoff play-ins to reach the championship game. Oddly, both lower-seeded teams are slight betting favorites. College fans at least can agree on this: Everybody outside of Tuscaloosa hates Nick Saban.  
 
3. DOLPHINS: For Fins, a season of regression mercifully expires: Miami hosted the Buffalo Bills Sunday to wrap up a disappointing, injury-wracked, no-playoffs season with a 22-16 defeat. The good news, Dolfans? It very likely was the last time in a Fins uniform for the $10 million rental with the bargain-bin results, Jay Cutler. 
 
4. HEAT: Miami warms up, gets on playoff pace: It's still early, yeah, but Heat as of today are on playoff pace as the eighth East seed -- and only 1 1/2 games from being the fourth seed, which would mean home-court advantage in the first round. Hey, in the post-Big 3 era, you seize optimism when you can.
 
5. PANTHERS: Cats finally showing signs of life: The Florida Panthers, who'd struggled most of the season, have won a season-best five straight games entering a five-game road trip starting Tuesday. Previous long win streak had been two. Aberration? Or start of a happy new year?
 
6. MARLINS: Fire-sale Fish shopping Yelich, Realmuto: Miami reportedly is "listening" to offers for left fielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto in new owner Derek Jeter's apparent continuing effort to do the impossible and make us all miss Jeffrey Loria.
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men win ACC opener: No. 15 Miami men improved to 12-1 with a 67-53 win at Pitt in their ACC opener. Meanwhile the 10-3 Canes women had won five straight entering Sunday's home day with Duke. 
 
8. NFL: Black Sunday for coaches: As NFL regular season ends today, segueing to playoffs, a handful of head coaches likely are working their final games. Meanwhile reports are the Oakland Raiders are trying to lure Jon Gruden from the comfort of the broadcast booth with partial ownership. He's gone.

9. BASEBALL: Astros' Altuve named Athlete of Year: Associated Press named champion Astros star Jose Altuve its male athlete of year. The best news in that? Runnerup Tom Brady and third place LeBron James lost at something.   

10. TENNIS: Serena makes her comeback, sort of: Serena Williams played her first match since her pregnancy and having a baby girl, losing in an exhibition. I mean, that had to be tough, holding a racket in one hand and a nursing baby in the other!

Missing the HB10 cut: Cris Cyborg beat Holly Holm to retain her title in UFC 219, challenging us to again take seriously an athlete who answer to "Cyborg" ..... Herald sports columnist Greg Cote (hey, wait, that's me!) won the 2017 Orange Bowl Edwin Pope Media Award. The previous sentence was completely gratuitous. But it is my damned blog, after all.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 01, 2018

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 68.4% final season approval; plus UM's 34-24 Orange Bowl loss to Wisconsin caps 10-3 season, with my game column & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31. Need one more gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Been burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 17 picks, year-in-review polls advisory & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Note: Our Dolphins-Bills preview, latest Hot Button Top 10 will appear in blog about 2 p.m. today.

CLICK HERE FOR MY GAME COLUMN STADIUM ON UM'S ORANGE BOWL LOSS TO WISCONSIN

CLICK HERE TO VOTE IN CSM POLL ONLINE

My Hurricanes bowl-review column and thank you Orange Bowl Committee: Click Where The Swagger Was Born for my latest column on Miami's first Orange Bowl game in 14 years tonight. And thank you, OBC. At Friday's Coaches Luncheon at the Hilton Downtown Miami I was honored to receive the 2017 Edwin Pope Orange Bowl Media Award. Honored because I respect the Orange Bowl Committee's good works and especially because the award is named for my friend, longtime colleague and mentor who passed away last January. Click HERE for the Herald story.

CSMCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13/SEASON FINAL: 68.4%: Results are certified in the latest and season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 68.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 34-24 Orange Bowl Game loss by the No. 10 ranked Hurricanes vs. the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers putting UM's final season record at 10-3. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this is the final poll, we suggested you give special emphasis to the season as a whole. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2017 CSM results

G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman

G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo

G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke

G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State

G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech

G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse

G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina

G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech

G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame

G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia

G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt

G12: 57.8% following 38-3 ACC Championship Game loss vs. Clemson

G13/Final: 68.4% following 34-24 Orange Bowl Game loss vs. Wisconsin

ObowlORANGE BOWL GAME: HURRICANES VS. WISCONSIN: CAN MIAMI RIDE HOME MAGIC TO UPSET WIN?: 4Q: Wisconsin 34-24 ..... Miami 24-27: Badgley 41-yard field goal ..... 3Q: Wisconsin 27-21 ..... Miami 21-24: Cager 38-yard pass from Rosier ..... 2Q: Wisconsin 24-14 ..... Wisconsin 17-14 ..... Wisconsin 10-14 ..... 1Q: Miami 14-3: Dallas 39-yard run ..... Miami 7-3: Homer 5-yard run ..... Wisconsin 3-0 ..... Original post: It's the Big Ten and ACC runnersup tonight in the 84th Orange Bowl game as the No. 6-ranked and 12-1 Wisconsin Badgers face the No. 10 and 10-2 Miami Hurricanes on what is supposed to be a neutral field but of course won't be. Plenty of Wisconsinites in red made the trip, but, still, Hard Rock Stadium is sure to be dominated by Canes fans. Miami is playing in its first hometown bowl game since 2003, while Wisconsin (hard t believe) has never before played in the OB. Wisconsin is a solid 6-point favorite despite the venue disadvantage. Cannot say this is a bigger game for Miami than the recent ACC championship-game loss to Clemson, because that was a play-in for the College Football Playoff. Wisconsin had CFP dreams as well before losing its conference title game, so this OB is a glorified consolation prize for both teams -- but still with much at stake. A Badgers win would set a school record for most season victories. A Canes would would assure Miami its first top-10 finish since 03 on the road to 'Back.' Why is Wisconsin a clear favorite? UM's Turnover Chain-fueled defense is its strength ... but Wisconsin's D may be better than Miami's. The U had 30 defensive takeaways, but the Badgers had 26, led the nation in fewest yards allowed and ranked No. 3 in fewest points allowed. Three Badgers defenders were first-team All-Big Ten and three others were second-team. Miami's offensive line will be under the gun, and so will QB Malik Rosier, who is coming off consecutive bad games (in the Pitt and Clemson losses) and is missing his two top receivers in injured Ahmmon Richards and Chris Herndon. Miami's best upset hope by my view? Wisconsin can be sloppy with the ball, meaning that Turnover Chain could be changing hands tonight. Badgers sophomore QB Alex Hornibrook had 15 interceptions this season -- a lot. And Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, though really good, lost five fumbles. Two really good defenses are in play tonight, but only one offense that is prone to turnovers. That is the Canes' best hope tonight. Well, that and the crowd. If UM fans can lift the Canes tonight as palpably as they did in the crucial late-season home wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, Miami will win. My Orange Bowl Game pick: Upset. Hurricanes, 23-20.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 29, 2017

NFL Week 17 picks for Dolphins-Bills and the rest; plus thank you Orange Bowl Committee, our Canes/OB column, year-in-review polls coming & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29. Need a late gift for the Dolfans in your life? Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and check out my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Been burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My baseball Hall of Fame ballot, my first grandchild, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald NFL QB rankings & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Hurricanes back in OB game, where UM first got America's attention 34 years ago: Click Where The Swagger Was Born for my latest column, on Miami's first Orange Bowl game appearance in 14 years.

Thank you, Orange Bowl Committee: At today's OB coaches luncheon at the Hilton Downtown Miami I was honored to receive the 2017 Edwin Pope Orange Bowl Media Award. Honored because I respect the Orange Bowl Committee's good works, and especially because the award is named for my friend, longtime colleague and mentor who passed away last January. Thanks to all. Click HERE for the story the Herald was king enough to write.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 17 PICKS: DOLPHINS END ROTTEN SEASON IN SPOILER ROLE. ON MIAMI-BUFFALO AND THE REST: Nine of NFL's 12 playoff teams have been claimed, with six teams alive for the final three spots entering Sunday's regular season finales. Alas, the Dolphins are not among them, relegated to a spoiler role, trying to deny visiting Buffalo its first playoff berth since 1999. Will Miami do it to end a disappointing season on the upbeat? Click Week 17 Gems for my full Dolphins-Bills predix capsule, my Game of the Week (Panthers-Falcons), Upset of the Week (49ers-Rams: "Aawwk!") and the rest.

ANNUAL YEAR-IN-REVIEW POLLS COMING: Soon, in the blog and also online, we'll invite you to vote for what was the biggest national sports story of 2017, and then separately for the biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of the year. Watch for the National poll starting Tuesday Jan. 2 and the Miami poll starting Friday Jan. 5.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.7%; plus our annual Christmas video starring me, Jeter, Smokin' Jay and 2 others; also, Miami out of playoff hunt with 29-13 loss at KC, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Merryc1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope you all had a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Need a late gift for the Dolfans in your life? Not too late. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and buy my historical book, Fins At 50. 2) Sorry we haven't had as many general sports columns lately. Burning a slew of leftover vacation time this month. 3) Watch for our season-ending college State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) results following all of the bowl games involving state FBS teams. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU loses bowl game, your Saddest Fans verdict & more. 5Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Xmas17OUR ANNUAL MERRY CHRISTMAS VIDEO: This year I got together with four of my closest friends -- Derek Jeter, Mark Richt, Hassan Whiteside and Smokin' Jay Cutler -- to make my annual holiday video. Click HOHOHERE to watch. Enjoy!

FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM DOLPHINS' PLAYOFF-ELIMINATING LOSS AT KANSAS CITY: 1) Miami mathematically, scientifically, sociologically and philosophically was eliminated from NFL playoff contention, and it felt like a humane bullet ending the suffering of a writhing racehorse. The funny thing is, the Dolphins still would have been in contention entering the final week of the Gaseaseason had they won, because the Bills and Titans both lost Sunday. But you'd have to be a pie-eyed Dolfan wearing aqua and orange face paint to not see this was not a playoff-caliber Fins team or a season that deserved a postseason reward. 2) The Dolphins were their own worst enemy Sunday -- a persisting symptom of mediocre and bad teams. Miami had two turnovers to KC's none -- balls stripped from Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills after catches -- and had 11 penalties for 75 yards in addition to shoddy tackling. 3) Jay Cutler began very strong but petered out badly, starting out 11-for-15 on accuracy but going 8-for-23 after that. And Miami was a miserable 0-for-8 on third-down conversions, which is on either Cutler or the play-calling. There were sparks on offense, such as Jakeem Grant's four catches for 107 yards and a TD, but 13 points is 13 points. Not good enough. 4) The defense, despite having Ndamukong Suh, Came Wake and Reshad Jones, continues to be not consistent enough or good enough. Sunday Alex Smith threw for 304 yards, and Miami was overmatched by KC's weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. All over the field, the Dolphins do good things sporadically, but not with any reliability or regularity. 5) Always next year, right? OK, the Dolphins have given you a lump of coal for Christmas, now we are giving you a chance to vent, in the latest Dolphins postgame poll. Ready? Go!

1aa1adsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 5.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 5.7 percent overall  approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 29-13 Dolphins loss at the Kansas City Chiefs putting Miami's season record at 6-9 and eliminating the team from playoff contention. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.
 
Click on DSM to read our postgame thoughts and vote in the DSM poll online. 
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
G13: 79.4% (following 27-20 victory vs. New England)
G14: 6.9% (following 24-16 loss at Buffalo)
G15: 5.7% (following 29-13 loss at Kansas City)
Next/season-final poll: Dec. 31 (following game vs. Buffalo)

G15: DOLPHINS AT KANSAS CITY: PLAYOFF HOPES HANGING ON BY A (FRAYING) THREAD ... AND SNAP: Final: Kansas City 29, Miami 13. See our postgame thoughts above ..... 4Q: KC 29-13: Butker 49-yard FG ..... KC 26-13: Butker 29-yard FG ..... 3Q: KC 23-13: Butker 21-yard FG ..... Halftime thoughts: Credible performance thus far for Miami, down 20-13 at half, especially offensively. Jay Cutler has been pretty sharp (169 yards) and getting ball into Jakeem Grant's hands (3 catches, 101 yards) has provided a spark. Defensively, though, Miami having trouble containing KC's big weapons Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce. Bills and Titans each are tied at the half. Both must lose today, and Miami must win, or Fins will be eliminated from playoff hunt ..... 2Q: KC 20-17: Butker 32-yard FG ..... MIA 13-17: Grant 65-yard pass from Cutler ..... KC 17-6: Hunt 1-yard run ..... MIA 6-10: Parkey 28-yard FG ..... KC 10-3: Kelce 9-yard pass from Smith ..... 1Q: MIA 3-3: Parkey 44-yard FG ..... KC 3-0: Butker 31-yard FG ..... Landry loses fumble after catch on opening drive. That's why losing teams are losing teams ..... Original post: ’Tis the season for the head to explode with NFL playoff scenarios, but it ain’t that difficult, folks. MiakcThree things must happen Sunday for Miami to remain alive in wild-card contention: The Dolphins (6-8) must win Sunday's 1 p.m. game, and the Titans and Bills both must lose. That’s it. (Yes, it would also benefit Miami if the Raiders and Chargers both lost, but that isn’t absolutely essential in Week 16). A problem for Fins’ chances and hope is that Kansas City (8-6) also needs this game. The Chiefs clinch a playoff spot with a win here (or an unlikely loss by Chargers), but a KC loss could create a very precarious spot, so the home team has much to play for here. A computer model I saw gave Miami a 3.1 percent likelihood of reaching the postseason so keep those hopes reigned in, Dolfans! Unfamiliarity is at play in this game. This is only these teams’ seventh meeting in the past 20 years, lending a shade of unpredictability to what might happen. But Miami has not been great traveling this season (2-5 away) and Chiefs have been stout at Arrowhead (5-2), and there are other reasons why K-City is a big 10 1/2-point favorite. One is that there is very little about the Dolphins to trust and rely on starting with erratic Jay Cutler. Another is that Alex Smith has a ton of dangerous weapons led by RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, and it would not surprise me to see the Dolphins defense overwhelmed. I hate to play Grinch. I really do. Wish I could leave an upset win under the tree with a bow on it. But I’m afraid a victory by Miami here feels decidedly less likely than a blowout loss. My pick: Chiefs, 34-16. [Click Week 16 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 25): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Richt, UM hit jackpot in early signing period: Canes' Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin isn't for another week (Dec. 30), but UM was making news again welcoming a bounty of talent during NCAA's first-ever early recruiting period. Five-star commitments in RB Lorenzo Lingard and WR Mark Pope lead an offense-rich class that won the state and was ranked No. 7 nationally by  ESPN.com. In the continuing search for signs and proof that The U is "back," this was the latest.
 
2. MARLINS: The circus and folly of Jeter's "town hall" meeting: It was perfect and necessary and it meant little. New Fish boss Derek Jeter came out of hiding to hear season-ticket holders vent about his trading away everybody they care about. It gave the appearance of openness and transparency without actually being either. Ridiculous highlight: "Marlins Man" (attention-seeking missile Laurence Leavy) asking Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Then Jeter saying "nah" to an invite to ride in Leavy's "Marlinsmobile."  
 
3. DOLPHINS: Playoff hopes expire in loss at Kansas City: The Dolphins were a dreary 6-8 but still faintly alive, needing several results to fall just right to sneak into the playoffs -- the first prerequisite a road win over the heavily favored favored Chiefs on Sunday. Did they have a chance? I'll answer that rhetorical with this one: Might you cash the winning Lotto ticket? Safety Reshad Jones was Miami's only Pro Bowl selection, and I suspected his defense would be overmatched against KC's varied offensive arsenal. I was right: 29-13.       
 
4. HEAT: Unlikely victory at Boston triggers renewed hope: Heat has nudged up over .500 (at 17-16) and climbed to the edge of playoff pace, including an unlikely, hope-renewing 90-89 win against the mighty Celtics in Boston. Unlikely? Miami got a career-high 32 points from ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk with the injury-decimated Heat barely having enough players to compete. I mean, how impressive was it to see 72-year-old Pat Riley ditch the Armani suit and slip on those '70s short-shorts for some quality minutes!
 
5. UM BASKETBALL: No. 6 Canes lose first, prepare for ACC schedule: Jim Larranaga's No. 6-ranked basketball Canes are 10-1 after upset loss to New Mexico State 63-54 Saturday night in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The real games -- the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule -- begins Dec. 30 at Pitt. Even with the first loss, considering the season began with the cloud of UM's reported implication in that national FBI recruiting probe, the Canes have found the perfect diversion and distraction: Winning.
 
6. FAU / FIU: Opposite bowl results end winning seasons: Lane Kiffin's FAU Owls clobbered Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to finish 11-3, while Butch Davis' FIU Panthers got clobbered by Temple 28-3 in the Gasparilla Bowl to end 8-5. Congrats to both for only the third bowl season in each's 14 years at the FBS level.
 
7. PANTHERS: Fire on ice! Cats win third in a row!: Florida has won three straight games for the first time all season but still is only 15-21 and seven point s off NHL playoff pace, and ranked 29th (of 31) in ESPN's NHL power rankings. Lots of young, rising talent paints the picture of an underachieving team, and three in a row needs to be a start, not an aberration.

8. SOCCER: And it's another in the 'El Clasico' series: Historic rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid faced off again Saturday in the latest El Clasico matchup, with Barca winners in a 3-0 rout. Yes, the rivalry's intensity preceded them and will go on without them, but, admit it: El Clasico will pale when its centerpiece is no longer Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo.

9. VINCE MCMAHON: WWE leader explores new football league: McMahon reportedly has invested $100 million into the startup of a "new XFL" football league to rival the NFL. (Wonder how long he'd been wrestling with the idea?) No date has yet been scheduled for the announcement the venture has been scrapped and will never happen.

10. BASKETBALL: Two ex-Heat among Hall of Fame candidates: Favorites for 2018 induction are thought to be Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Ray Allen. In addition to Allen, another former Heat player among contenders is Tim Hardaway. What, they're only letting guards in from now on?

Missing the HB10 cut: Darryl Strawberry revealed he used to have sex during games, between innings. Thank goodness for those last two words. I was picturing him doing it in right field ..... An Alabama radio station plays only songs Nick Saban likes. [Your punchline goes here] ..... LaVar Ball is forming a Big Baller league for high school grads. Um, I think there's already one of those. It's called "college basketball" ..... And in today's title match: An NBA player who had a tractor trailer drive into his swimming pool vs. a former NBA player who found burglars had stolen his toilet ..... Former Heat No. 1 pick Michael Beasley has resurrected his career as a valuable role player for the Knicks. Over/under on the love affair lasting? Five more weeks ..... David Beckham is now in line to have his Miami expansion team make its Major League Soccer debut in 2020, or seven years after the bid began. World Wars I and II didn't take as long ..... Jaguars fans are shipping garbage cans to Texans' Jadeveon Clowney after he called QB Blake Bortles "trash." I'm not sure what's more surprising: That Bortles is having a good season. Or that there are Jaguars fans ..... UFC 219 featured Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm. Now what were the odds a fighter would luck to have the surname Cyborg!? ..... NFL fined Seahawks $100,000 for ignoring concussion protocol to keep Russell Wilson in game. That's cheating! Who they think they are, the Patriots? ..... R.I.P., Dick Enberg, 82. If he doesn't make your sports-broadcasting Mount Rushmore, get a bigger mountain.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 05, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 56.4%; plus Miami clobbers Broncos 35-9 for rare easy win; plus new Hot Button Top 10. Canes' ACC loss, UM-Wisconsin in Orange Bowl, CFP semis on top, but see what else falls where & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 4. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes get spanked in ACC title game with CSM poll, other State Collball and conference champ-games, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Column Dolphins' win over Denver: Click Dolphins Find Needed Joy for my column from Sunday's 35-9 Miami home trouncing of Denver.

Column on Canes' ACC title-game loss: Click Seeing Past the Pain to read. See previous blogpost for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 56.4%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 56.4 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 35-9 Dolphins victory over the Denver Broncos putting Miami's season record at 5-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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.
 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
G11: 7.7% (following 35-17 loss at New England)
G12: 56.4% (following 35-9 victory vs. Denver)
Next poll: Dec. 11 (following game vs. New England)

G12: DOLPHINS 35, DENVER 9: WELL, SOMEBODY'S LONG LOSING STREAK FINALLY ENDED...: Final: Watch for our column from game online soon ..... 4Q: MIA 35-9: Safety as Bronco tackled in end zone on kickoff return ..... Fins' Verner recovers Miami onside kick ..... MIA 33-9: Cutler-Stills 23-yard pass. Set up by Howard's second INT of game ..... 3Q: Grant 27-yard punt return for Miami as quarter ebbs ..... MIA 26-9: Drake 42-yard run ..... DEN 9-19: Simmons 65-yard interception return, 2-point pass failed .....  And Miami gives the gift right back as Stills loses fumble ..... Big 3rd-down sack by Phillips forces Denver punt, and Fede blocks the kick ..... MIA 19-3: Parkey 37-yard FG. Just when you forget Fasano is still on team, he catches a 29-yard pass to lead to the points .....  Halftime: Halftime tribute honoring Jason Taylor's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame ..... Welp, this is like an offensive onslaught for the low-scoring Fins, although nine points were courtesy the defense. A putrid opponent helps. The Broncos are out-badding the Dolphins ..... 2Q: Cutler intercepted ..... MIA 16-3: Howard 30-yard interception return ..... MIA 9-3: Cutler-Thomas 9-yard TD pass ..... DEN 3-2: McManus 31-yard field goal on 67-yard drive ..... 1Q: MIA 2-0: Safety on Denver bad snap out of end zone ..... McDonald intercepts for Miami. Where the Turnover Chain at? ..... DT Suh 95th straight NFL start today, longest streak in league at that position ..... Penalties big issue for Fins this year. Recall how much pride Shula always took in team not being flagged much. Times have changed ..... Original post: The utter lack of public faith in and respect for the Dolphins shows in the fact Miami opened a negligible 1-point favorite but soon became a 1 1/2-point home underdog as bets flooded toward Denver. Um, that would be a DenmiaDenver team with worse record, on a seven-game losing streak and 0-5 on the road. The Fins’ are on a season-ruining five-game skid of their own, the slump leaving Miami 4-7 to Denver's 3-8, both AFC also-rans. If this matchup were any less watchable it would be banned from television by the FCC. They might not even allow a live audience to watch for fear of mass mental anguish. There are interesting sidelights, though. Dolphins coach Adam Gase was a Denver assistant six years (2009-14) and QB Jay Cutler — starting again after missing one game concussed — began his career a Bronco in 2006-08. Oh, and Denver coach Vance Joseph was Miami’s defensive coordinator last year. But none of these connections are enough to sufficiently hoist this moribund matchup of teams going nowhere and doing very little well. As much as I don’t trust the Dolphins’ offensive line, Miami at home vs. an even-more-dreadful opponent is worth the gamble here. But I still can’t help but think, as I anticipate an epic Trevor Siemien vs. Cutler duel, that this would be a so much more interesting game if the quarterbacks Sunday were John Elway and Dan Marino. I mean them right now. At ages 57 and 56. Playing in business suits and wingtips. My pick: Dolphins, 19-17. [Click Week 13 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 3): 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. HURRICANES: UM routed by Clemson for ACC title, Orange Bowl next: Canes and Clemson faced a Saturday night play-in game for one of four spots in the College Football Playoff, with semifinal matchups set on Sunday. UM went in a big underdog and played like it, losing 38-3. Pretty decent consolation prize upcoming, though: Canes in their home stadium for the Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
 
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Conference championships shape final CFP foursome: The College Football Playoff announced its final four teams and two semifinal matchups today: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia. Big loser: Snubbed Ohio State, which thought it should be fourth. Second big loser: Tough draw for top-ranked Clemson, which likely will be underdog vs. 'Bama.
 
3. DOLPHINS: Sad Fins host Denver in moribund matchup: How's this for a weekend contrast, Miami? First your Hurricanes play Clemson for ACC title and spot in college playoffs. And then your Dolphins host Broncos in a duel of hopelessness between teams with a combined 12 straight losses. Hasn't been a dropoff that sharp since Thelma and Louise drove over the cliff.
 
4. SOCCER: 2018 World Cup sets group play: The 32 qualifying nations were drawn into eight four-team groups for next summer's men's tournament in Russia. But I'm still trying to figure something out so maybe you can explain: The United States and Italy failed to qualify but Iceland got in!? Aurora, Colorado has more people than Iceland. Do they play soccer on skates over there?
 
5. MARLINS: Giants, Yankees, others in play for Stanton: I heard the Marlins have now decided to not trade Giancarlo Stanton and that Miami also will spend big to go after Japanese hit/pitch sensation Shohei Ohtani. And then I woke up from that dream and it was back to reality. With baseball's winter meetings approaching, Stanton is now like one of his home runs: Going, going ... gone!
 
6. HEAT: As Warriors visit, erratic Heat a mystery even to Spo: Miami, .500 last season, is an up-and-down 11-11 now entering Sunday's huge home test against Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and reigning champion Golden State. Coach Erik Spoelstra says even he doesn't know what to make of his team and can't quite figure 'em out. Hey, we're all right there with you, bud!
 
7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes, Kansas win as expected: No. 10-ranked Miami men routed Princeton 80-52 and No. 2 Kansas handled Syracuse 76-60 in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at the Heat arena Saturday. UM game tipped off at same time as Canes-Clemson in Charlotte. Turns out the basketball Canes had a much better game.
 
8. FAU: Owls win C-USA championship: Lane Kiffin's Owls routed visiting North Texas 41-17 to go 10-3 and win Conference USA crown. Oh, and Butch Davis' FIU Panthers whipped UMass 63-45 to end regular season 8-4. Canes didn't take care of business Saturday, but SoFla's other two FBS teams sure did.
 
9. GOLF: Tiger Woods erratic in latest comeback: He opened with an eye-opening 69, but shot 75 on Saturday and is 10 shots off the pace entering the final round of the Hero World Challenge in Nassau -- his first competitive round in 10 months. Be good again, Tiger. Golf needs you.
 
10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream opens winter meet: The venerable Hallandale racetrack opened its winter season Saturday, with upcoming jewel events to include the Florida Derby and second annual Pegasus World Cup. Get out of the casino and watch an actual horse race, would ya? 
 
Missing the HB10 cut: Florida Panthers: We don't even make your HB top 10!? Me: You're 10-16, Cats. How 'bout you win a little? ..... Jimbo Fisher dumps Florida State and follows the big bucks to Texas A&M. Money aside, is that even a lateral move? ..... Tennessee Vols fired the athletic director over the botched football coach search. He got Schiano'd! ..... Cleveland Cavaliers have won 11 games in a row. It's all Dwyane Wade! ..... It's Seattle and Toronto in the Major League Soccer finals. Meantime it feels like we're getting close to the 10-year anniversary of David Beckham's efforts to bring MLS soccer to Miami ..... Jason Taylor was honored for his Hall of Fame election in a private event at the stadium last night. Hopefully they had a TV on for the UM-Clemson game. Come to think of it, maybe better that they didn't.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 04, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 57.8%; plus UM spanked 38-3 in ACC final; also, FAU, FIU, UCF win, other State Collball and conference title games (updated), your Cooperstown election verdict & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3. Holiday season? That can only mean one thing: Giving the Dolfans on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Baseball Hall of Fame poll, NFL Week 13 picks & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read.

'Tis the season to celebrate Canes, FIU, FAU: The Three Kings, Mark Richt, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin, have led their three teams to the best combined record ever, with all three bowl-bound for the first time. UM and FAU played for conference titles Saturday and Richt and Kiffin have had the loudest seasons, but Davis quietly has done his share at FIU. Click on 'Tis The Season to read the column.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 57.8%: Results are certified in the latest edition of the Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, this in the wake of Saturday night's 38-3 loss by the No. 7 Hurricanes to the No. 1 Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte putting UM's season record at 10-2. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Monday. [You may also find the poll online HERE].
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo 
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
G7: 64.3% following 24-19 victory at North Carolina
G8: 98.0% following 28-10 victory vs. Virginia Tech
G9: 98.6% following 41-8 victory vs. Notre Dame
G10: 95.4% following 44-28 victory vs. Virginia
G11: 54.9% following 24-14 loss at Pitt
G12: 57.8% following 38-3 ACC Championship Game loss vs. Clemson
Next: Season/final poll: Dec. 30 following Orange Bowl game vs. Wisconsin
 

MiaclemACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: HURRICANES VS. CLEMSON: HEAVY-UNDERDOG MIAMI MUST SHOCK WORLD TO REACH CFP FINAL FOUR: My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read ..... It is UM's biggest football game since the 2002 season ended, bar none. Saturday night at 8, ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, No. 1-ranked and 11-1 Clemson vs. No. 7-ranked and 10-1 Miami in what is all but a play-in game for the College Football Playoff semifinals. It also is UM's first conference title-game appearance since joining the ACC in 2003. A win here would mean the Canes are two wins away from winning the school's sixth national championship and first since '01. No hyperbole is needed to frame this game. All you need are the facts. Alas, Clemson is favored by 9 points -- biggest spread of any Power 5 conference final -- and with valid reason. The Tigers are not only top-ranked but also defending national champs. The bet-line opened at 6 1/2 and climbed. This, clearly, is the gauge-game for whether UM truly is "back" or merely headed in that direction, on the right path. "We'll find out Saturday for sure," as second-year coach Mark Richt put it. "It'll be a great measuring stick to see where we're at." In the words of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, both teams are playing for "a seat at the table" -- the final four. The Hurricanes lead the nation with a plus-17 turnover margin and also lead the country in sacks with an average of 3.55 per game. The Turnover Chain-fueled defense is Miami's strength. But Clemson's D may be even  better. It will be difficult for QB Malik Rosier and RB Travis Homer to bounce back from off-games in the loss at Pitt. Especially because the Canes will be missing two of their top receivers to injuries in Ahmmon Richards and Christopher Herndon. All four Clemson defensive-line starters made 1st- or 2nd-team All-ACC (UM was shut out) and all four will be NFL-bound. UM's inconsistent offensive line will really be under the gun. These teams' most recent meeting, in 2014, was the 58-0 Clemson rout that got Al Golden fired -- the first domino in UM's turnaround. I am concerned for another lopsided game. I've been high on UM all season (called the wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame), but unfortunately I do not have a very good feeling about this game. My ACC Championship Game pick: Clemson, 27-16.

Other state FBS Week 14 games (chronologically, all Saturday):

FIU 63, Massachusetts 45: Butch Davis' Panthers close out regular season at 8-4 to bolster bowl outlook. It was a pick-'em game, betting-wise, so the home rout is all the more impressive.

No. 14 UCF 62, No. 20 Memphis 55 (OT): Knights stay unbeaten at 12-0 after surviving a wild overtime shootout at home to win the American Athletic Association conference championship game.

Florida State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 10: Seminoles were 27-point faves to wrap up uncommonly disappointing regular season with the consolation of .500 at 6-6 as coach Jimbo Fisher bolts for Texas A&M.

FAU 41, North Texas 17: Lane Kiffin's Owls dominated throughout to go to 10-3 and win Conference USA championship. #LaneTrain.

No. 1 Clemson 38, No., 7 Miami 3: My new column from Canes' ACC loss: Click on Seeing Past the Pain to read.

FBS conference championship games (chronologically, all Saturday except as noted):

ConfchampsPac-12: No. 10 Southern Cal 31, No. 12 Stanford 28: USC, now 11-2, was slightly favored in Santa Clara, Calif. on Friday night and delivered, but has no real shot at leaping into final four-team CFP.

American: No. 14 UCF 62, No. 20 Memphis 55 (OT): See above.

Mid-American: Toledo 45, Akron 28: Toledo now 11-2 after comfy win in Detroit.

C-USA: FAU 41, North Texas 17: See above.

Big 12: No. 3 Oklahoma 24, No. 11 Texas Christian 17: Unbeaten Sooners lock up one of final four spots in College Football Playoff.

SEC: No. 6 Georgia 28, Auburn 7: Auburn was slightly favored in Atlanta but it's the Dawgs likely joining the CFP semifinals.

Mountain West: Boise State 17, No. 25 Fresno State 14: Boise was the favorite at home. 

ACC: No. 1 Clemson 38, No. 7 Miami 3: See above.

Big Ten: No. 8 Ohio State 27, No. 4 Wisconsin 21: Wisconsin was unbeaten but Buckeyes were 7-point favorites. But will the win be enough to elevate OSU  into CFP final four?

POLL RESULT: YOU ELECT FIVE TO BASEBALL HALL OF FAME: It was among our most popular blog polls ever, with more than 2,700 electors casting more Chipperthan 22,000 votes. You could vote for as many as 10 players on a 16-man ballot, with a share of 7.5 percent or more in our poll equating to the 75 percent needed for induction into Cooperstown by the actual BBWAA vote. On that basis, the five men you elected were: Chipper Jones 12.24% (pictured), Jim Thome 9.93%, Vladimir Guerrero 8.96% Barry Bonds 8.88% and Roger Clemens 8.46%. The close-but-sorry guys were: Trevor Hoffman 7.41%, Manny Ramirez 6.99%, Edgar Martinez 6.46% and Curt Schilling 6.22%. And the also-rans: Mike Mussina 5.21%, Omar Vizquel 4.66%, Fred McGriff 4.18%, Larry Walker 3.81%, Andruw Jones 3.08%, Scott Rolen 1.99% and Jamie Moyer 1.52%. Thanks for the tremendous response!

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

Twitter @gregcote