February 06, 2017

Pats' monstrous Super Bowl rally tops updated Hot Button Top 10, also starring surging Heat, Jason Taylor, Canes; plus, debate "greatest," but not "winningest." Belichick will never surpass Shula for most career victories & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, February 6. A Herald Sports Facebook page has debuted. Click HERE. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Taylor gets into Canton, predicting football Hall of Fame class, week's final Super Bowl With a Smirk & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

A Super Bowl to save a season: This has been a bad season for the NFL in general, but Falcons vs. Patriots in Super Bowl 51 is matchup capable of being spectacular and saving the season. Click on Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue to read my Sunday column previewing the game.

Patriots 31, Falcons 23: Click on Super Bowl Gem for my full prediction capsule on today's Super Bowl. (I got the score pretty close, If I do say so).

'GREATEST COACH' DEBATE MAY BE LOSING CAUSE, BUT SHULA HAS TWO DISTINCTIONS THAT REMAIN HIS ALONE: "Bill Belichick closing in on Don Shula!" somehow became a Donbillmanufactured subplot to this Super Bowl from a Miami perspective. I get it. It's easy. But it's also a false narrative, for two reasons. 1) "Greatest coach ever," alas, is a train that may have already left the station for Shula. The Dolphins' icon was 2-4 in Super Bowls. Belichick just won his fifth. I don't know that there are a lot of NFL scholars and historians who would not already give the greatest-ever nod to New England's guy. But! 2) The two great distinctions that will always keep Shula's name in the greatest-ever argument -- most career victories and only Perfect Season -- seem safely his. I laugh at the suggestion Belichick is a real threat to Shula's career mark of 347 overall victories. He would have to win at his current pace and still be coaching at age 72 to have a shot, and maintaining that current pace will be tougher indeed when Tom Brady (finally) retires presumably after one or two more years. The likelihood of Belichick winning and coaching long enough to surpass 347 wins seems roughly as likely as the odds another team will equal Miami's 1972 Perfect Season. Could happen, but wouldn't bet on it. History might already see Belichick as "greater," but the distinctions of "winningest" and perfection are safely with Shula.

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

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: Monstrous rally grows Patriots dynasty: Awful game much of the way, but Patriots made a thriller of Super Bowl 51, rallying from 21-0 and 28-3 holes to win in overtime, 34-28. Massive choke by the Falcons? Maybe. But Tom Brady had a little to do with that, no?

2. HEAT: Surging Miami seeks 11th straight tonight: Heat crushed visiting Philadelphia 125-102 Saturday night behind Hassan Whiteside's 30 points and 20 rebounds to win a 10th straight and now begins a four-game road trip tonight at Minnesota. Might disappoint lottery-minded fans, but eighth seed and playoffs are no longer out of reach for the way-hot Heat.

3. HURRICANES: UM football claims signing-day bounty: Miami loaded up on National Signing Day with a 24-man bounty that ESPN ranked as the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation. "We nailed it!" said Mark Richt … then again, so did every other college coach in America on signing day.

4. HALL OF FAME: Dolphins' Taylor among new inductees: LaDainian Tomlinson was a lock. Nobody else was. But ex-Dolphins great Jason Taylor was among the seven who got in, along with Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Jerry Jones, Kenny Easley and Morten Andersen. Congrats, J.T. Now what about Zach Thomas.

5. PANTHERS: Barkov, Huberdeau back on the ice: Florida has reinforcements as it chases a playoff spot as young stars Sasha Barkov (out previous 15 games) and Jonathan Huberdeau (out all out season) returned from injuries Friday to spark Cat's third straight win. That's two fewer excuses for Cats to miss the playoffs.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women outshining men: UM men were only 3-5 since Jan. 1 before winning Friday, but Canes women are 17-5 and ranked 16th entering Monday game at No. 6 Florida State. Coach Katie Meier got her 300th career win. Adding a few more in March would be nice.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men beat Jamaica in friendly: After a scoreless draw vs. Serbia in Bruce Arena's debut as coach, the U.S. men beat Jamaica 1-0 Saturday night in Chattanooga. Now, it's what's next on the team's calendar that matters and will judge Arena: World Cup qualifying.

8. GOLF: Comeback short-lived, Tiger out again: He's out a year and a half with various back ailments, he comes back, and he can't finish the tournament, withdrawing with back spasms. Hate to say, but it may be time for Tiger Woods to call it quits.

9. BARKLEY-LEBRON: Basketball beef gets personal: Broadcaster Charles Barkley called LeBron James "whiny." LeBron shot back with a litany of bad stuff Chuck has done in the past. C'mon, kids. Play nice!

10. BASEBALL: It's just about here, folks: Miami Marlins hold their annual stadium FanFest next Saturday and Sunday, the precursor to when players negin to report for spring training. Ready or not, almost time to play ball!

Missing the HB10 cut: The 2017 FIVB world beach volleyball tours opens with the Fort Lauderdale Major beginning Tuesday, a five-star men's and women's event featuring Kerry Walsh Jennings and a bunch of people I've never heard of ..... Falcons QB Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP Saturday night. Correctly had a feeling Tom Brady would be lifting the more coveted hardware Sunday ..... Five days until Kevin Durant makes his first return to Oklahoma City. Thunder fans already are practicing their booing in preparation ..... The Winter X Games have been going on. The question is, WHY!?

HOT BUTTON DAILY / 2-6-17: What events on the Monday, Feb. 6 sports calendar interest South Florida fans most:

1. Heat at Minnesota, 8 p.m.: Good shot at 11th straight win tonight at Timberwolves.

2. Hurricanes at Florida State, 7 p.m.: No. 16 UM women visit No. 6 Seminoles.

3. Um, pretty much nothing. Light post-Super Bowl Monday.

Select recent columns: Patriots  and Falcons to the Rescue, the latest, previewing today's Super Bowl. Greatness Times Four, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 02, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,402

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,273

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             893

4. James Johnson (4)           891

5. Dion Waiters (5)              691

6. Rodney McGruder (7)     493

7. Josh Richardson (6)         483

8. Willie Reed (8)               444

9. Wayne Ellington (10)     439

10. Justise Winslow (9)       355

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

 

January 26, 2017

Analyzing Canes' 2017 football schedule game-by-game, predicting season record; plus new 'Back In My Day' (Worn Look), The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, Miami flavor to this Super Bowl & more

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

Mtm1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 26. R.I.P., Mary Tyler Moore (pictured), gone at 80. 2) A new Miami Herald Facebook page debuted this week. Click HERE to visit. 3) Cubs win World Series! Trump Elected President! Heat win fifth straight! 4) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great Edwin Pope) makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl, Montoya wins Miami Race of Champions & more. 6) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

LeBron, Serena, Brady, Tiger: Appreciate them while you can: Each of those all-time greats is on stage this week, the perfect time to appreciate them all. Click on Greatness Times Four for my newest column.

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

SmokeBREAKING DOWN CANES' 2017 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE GAME-BY-GAME: The challenge here is that, with quarterback Brad Kaaya gone a year early for the NFL Draft, we can't yet know the impact that will have on a UM team that finished 9-4 and ranked No. 20 last season after crushing West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Who'll be the new QB and how good will he be? But this we do know: Our faith in Mark Richt, our faith in Manny Diaz and that young defense, and an incoming recruiting class that could end up ranked in top-10 nationally all lead us to believe Miami will be as good as last season and more likely better. UM might very well be an underdog in only one game -- Sept. 16 at Florida State -- although an Oct. 28 trip to North Carolina and a Nov. 4 visit by Virginia Tech will be major challenges. Taking care of business in all the other games and winning at least one of those three is the path to the elusive 10-win season. Handle the rest of the schedule and win two of those three and you're talking major bowl and maybe a shot at College Football Playoff contention. That's optimistic with the QB flux and all, but optimism is merited right now. Breaking down the schedule game by game:

Sept. 2 vs. Bethune-Cookman -- An all-but-certain win for the Canes and a soft opening for whomever is the new quarterback. UM is 3-0 all-time vs. Larry Little's old school from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. B-C was 4-6 last year, and Miami won 45-0 when schools last met to open the 2015 season. Estimated Win Likelihood (EWL): 95%

Sept. 9 at Arkansas State -- Another very likely win, but a big step up from Bethune and not an opponent to be taken lightly. Arkansas State went 7-1 in Sun Belt last year and was 8-5 overall including a nice 31-13 win over UCF In the AutoNation Cure Bowl. UM leads all-time series 2-0 including a 41-20 win in 2014. EWL: 80%

Sept. 16 at Florida State -- Miami will be a clear underdog, on the road, against a nemesis that has beaten the Canes seven straight times including 20-19 last year. FSU now leads all-time series 30-29. Noles finished 10-3 and ranked No. 8 in '16 after a thrilling 33-32 win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl game. This will be first time these ACC state rivals have met in the season's opening month since 2009. EWL: 35%.

Sept. 23 vs. Toledo -- A very likely win, although Toledo was a bowl team last year after going 9-4 including 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Miami beat the Rockets in the school's only previous meeting way back in 1987. EWL: 80%.

Sept. 29 at Duke -- A return to the scene of that eight-lateral, kickoff-return Miami miracle in 2015. Friday game could be a challenging roadie, but one that should find UM expected to win. Blue Devils were 4-8 last season and 1-7 in ACC. Miami is 12-2 all-time in this ACC series, with three straight wins including 40-21 last season. EWL: 65%.

Oct. 12 vs. Georgia Tech -- Following the bye week, Canes will be expected to win this challenging Thursday ACC home date, although Yellow Jackets were 9-4 and a bowl winner last season. Teams are 11-11 all-time, though UM has won seven of past eight meetings including a 35-21 victory last season. EWL: 60%

Oct. 21 vs. Syracuse -- UM should be a heavy home favorite over Orangemen. Canes lead all-time series 15-7 including five straight wins, although this will be these teams' first meeting since 2003 back in the BIg East days. 'Cuse finished 4-8 last year and 2-6 in ACC. EWL: 75%.

Oct. 28 at North Carolina -- Tough roadie poses UM's biggest loss-threat since FSU. Miami trails all-time series 11-9 and has lost past two, 20-13 last season and 59-21 on last visit to Chapel Hill in 2015. Tar Heels went 5-3 in ACC last year and 8-5 overall with loss to Stanford in Sun Bowl. EWL: 50%.

Nov. 4 vs. Virginia Tech -- A loss-threat and a challenging test UM should be glad is at home. Miami leads all-time rivalry 20-14 but is only 5-9 in past 14 meetings, including a 37-16 loss last year. Hokies were 6-2 in ACC last year and finished 10-4 overall and ranked No. 16 after beating Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. EWL: 55%.

Nov. 11 vs. Notre Dame -- Fighting Irish's first visit to Miami since 1989 is biggest "event" game on schedule other than FSU. Miami trails all-time series 18-7-1, with four losses in a row including 30-27 in South Bend last year. Leprechauns sank to 4-8 last year but were 10-3 in '15, so it's hard to know how good ND will be. But Canes, at home, figure to be favored. EWL: 65%.

Nov. 18 vs. Virginia -- UM should be a heavy home favorite over a Cavaliers team that was miserable last season: 1-7 in the ACC and 2-10 overall. Canes lead all-time series 8-6 including two wins a row with last year's 34-14 victory at Virginia. EWL: 85%.

Nov. 24 at Pitt -- A Friday roadie closes the regular season and likely will see Miami favored. Pitt was a credible 8-5 with a bowl loss last season, Canes always seem to have Pitt's number. UM leads all-time series 25-10-1 including a 51-28 rout last year, and also has won the past six straight trips to Pittsburgh. EWL: 55%.

Predicted final regular-season record: 10-2.

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES): Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 15-30 on four straight wins after Monday night's home upset  of Golden State, here's The Luddite's ninth installment, with 40-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (45 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,315

2. Goran Dragic (2)            1,099

3. Tyler Johnson (3)             870

4. James Johnson (4)           779

5. Dion Waiters (6)              538

6. Josh Richardson (5)         483

7. Rodney McGruder (7)     428

8. Willie Reed (9)               369

9. Justise Winslow (8)        355

10. Wayne Ellington (10)    354

Others: Luke Babbitt 259, Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 231, Udonis Haslem 61, Okaro White 10.

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': THE WORN LOOK: Enjoy!

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2017

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings at midseason (40 games); plus are we OK with PEDs guy Ryan Braun at UM baseball banquet? Last day to vote!; also, Vance Joseph, Bitter Mickey/BIMD, Saban's tears, UM football ranked No. 16 & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 12. Holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my NFL divisional-round playoff picks. Anybody got any extra luck I can borrow? 2) Happy anniversary this week to my wonderful wife, the greatest person I have ever known. Love you! 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins eliminated in Pittsburgh with season-ending DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bitter Mickey/Back In My Day double-play from LeBatard Show: Click here for Tuesday's show podcast. The Bitter Mickey/BIMD back-to-back kicks in around the 38-minute mark.

Hurricanes 16th in (very) early 2017 college football Top 25: It's out from Mark Schlabach on ESPN.com. Click here to read. UM was ranked No. 20 in the final Associated Press poll for this season, the Canes' first year-end Top 25 ranking since 2009. Also, UM has 33-1 national-title odds via Bovada, tied for 11th best.

DSM final rating best since 2008: The Dolphins season ended with consecutive losses including Sunday's in the playoffs; still, the season-ending Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating of 76.2 percent is the second-best in the nine-year history of our postgame polls, and best since '08. See the previous blogpost for complete week-by-week results and year-by-year totals. 

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

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 11-29 after last night's loss at Golden State, here's The Luddite's eighth installment, with 35-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (Midseason/40 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,177

2. Goran Dragic (2)               937

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            802

4. James Johnson (4)         678

5. Josh Richardson (5)        483

6. Dion Waiters (7)                393

7. Rodney McGruder (8)      385

8. Justise Winslow (6)         355

9. Willie Reed (11)                 329

10. Wayne Ellington (9)      284

Others: Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 226, Luke Babbitt 200, Udonis Haslem 61.

IS DOLPHINS LOSING DC JOSEPH A BIG DEAL? (NAH): Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph leaves the Dolphins after one season to become Denver Broncos head coach. I guess the Broncos were not watching Sunday as Joseph's Miami defense gave up scoring drives of 85, 90 and 83 yards to Pittsburgh on the playoff game's first three series. During the season his unit ranked 29th in total defense, 15th in pass defense, 30th in run defense and 18th in points allowed, despite being one of only seven teams with two Pro Bowl defensive starters.   

IS RYAN BRAUN THE RIGHT CHOICE TO SPEAK AT CANES BASEBALL BANQUET?: I think I'm sort of against this but don't feel too strongly. I guess that makes me conflicted. I wonder if you Braunare. (Hence, the poll that follows, because I'm curious). Former Miami Hurricanes baseball great Ryan Braun (pictured), now prominently of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be the featured speaker Feb. 10 at the team's annual preseason First Pitch banquet. The negative? Braun, of course, was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal over performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Many will recall he was suspended 65 games in 2013 for violating MLB's drug policy. Not saying that should be a life sentence on his reputation, but is he the best choice just a few years later to be the star attraction at your preseason banquet? UM's baseball stadium of course is partly named in honor of another steroids guy, Alex Rodriguez, but that's contractual, and tied to a major donation. Jim Morris' program was under no such obligation to invite Braun. It  makes me wonder if UM's athletic director signed off on this and if the university president is comfortable with it. Right now, though, it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll.

UglyTHE BAD NEWS, MIAMI? HEAT AT GOLDEN STATE. COVER YOUR EYES!: Update: Heat with a credible 107-95 loss last night at Golden State. The Good Whiteside (28 points, 20 rebounds) appeared. You know it's a bad season when you see the good in a 12-point loss. Original post: I guess it wasn't bad enough that the Dolphins took a crap Sunday after finally making the playoffs, so now the reeling Miami plays at mighty Golden State tonight, and what would have been a terrific matchup in, say, 2013, now is hard to envision being anything but season-low, lopsided-ugly. The good news: Doesn't start 'til 10:30, so much of South Florida won't bother to see it. Heat, 16-point underdogs, are having a train-wreck season at 11-28, evidently with the entire roster on the trading block, while 24-karat Golden State is 32-6 after adding Kevin Durant to Stephon Curry. Let's see Reid and Fiorentino try to put a positive spin on this one!

SadsabanTHE GOOD NEWS? BUT AT LEAST NICK SABAN LOST!: College football showed the NFL how it's done Monday night. We sat through four NFL first-round playoff games decided by a combined 121-45 score, none of them close or particularly interesting to watch. Then, last night, the CFP finale in Tampa gave us Clemson 35, Alabama 31, a compelling comeback victory that dethroned Nick Saban -- which alone made it gratifying for Saban-hating South Florida slow to forgive Nick for lying and baling on the Dolphins. So, as tonight's Heat game gets sad, So Fla, bright up by picturing Saban's abject disappointment as his kingdom quaked a bit.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 30, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.2% (Final). Record set for highest season-ending approval rating; plus UM ends 10-year bowl win drought, finishes 9-4, awaits Kaaya decision; also, Greg Cote bobblehead, your word on Dolphins' preferred playoff foe & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29. I'm back up at Friday Page World Headquarters begging my regular-season-ending NFL picks. Make me smart for a day, Lord. 2) R.I.P. Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, mother dying one day after her daughter. Surreal. 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas gift for any Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins preferred-playoff-opponent poll, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

MebobbleMe, bobblehead: One of the least-expected, most bizarre and therefore best gifts I got for Christmas this year was a Greg Cote Bobblehead my wonderfully strange wife had made. It is pictured. It looks like me ... if I were younger, slimmer, better-looking and had more hair. Which makes it perfect!  

Hurricanes: The road 'back' must start with a bowl win: UM was 0-6 in bowl games since winning its last in 2006, before last night's 31-14 Russell Athletic Bowl victory over West Virginia. Click on Road Back Starts With Bowl Win to read my latest column. Select recent other columns: The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

Canes in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts from tonight directly below the latest, season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: 97.2% (SEASON FINAL): Results are certified in the latest and 2016 season final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 97.2 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Wednesday's Csm31-14 victory vs. West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando putting the Hurricanes' final season record at 9-4 and ending UM's 10-year, six-game bowl victory drought. This wraps up the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was our last 2016 DSM poll we suggested you place special emphasis on the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was be around 9 a.m. today/Friday. Thanks to the thousands who participated in our 2016 CSM polls and we'll see you again next season!

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

G12: 95.9% following 40-21 victory vs. Duke

Bowl/Final: 97.2% following 31-24 victory vs. West Virginia

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2016--97.2% (following 9-4 season); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

BOWL: HURRICANES 31, WEST VIRGINIA 14: ALL ABOUT ENDINGS TONIGHT AS MIAMI SEES ITS BOWL DROUGHT END, NOW HOPES THE KAAYA ERA DOESN'T: Postgame thoughts: Miami's first bowl win since 2006 after an 0-6 stretch tonight was sweet partly because it began so badly. West Virginia jumped out front and Brad Kaaya and the UM offense were horrible. But UM's defense kept being really good as Kaaya found his game and got hot, finishing with 282 yards and four TD passes. The result put a bow on a 9-4 season, Mark Richt's first here, that should be good enough to see Miami ranked in the final, post-bowl Top 25 poll. Now, though, UM awaits Kaaya's stay-or-go decision, which is expected by the weekend. To ESPN Radio he said, "I don't have an answer yet. I have to do some soul searching." It's a close call. I think he should stay. We'll know soon ..... 4Q: Another fourth-down stop for Canes. Almost time to start counting the win ..... 3Q: Big fourth-down stop for UM defense. Such a momentum shift since that first quarter ... The U's lead now 31-14 on 30-yard FG ... WVU within 28-14 on 4-yard Howard run ... Miami 28-7 now on Kaaya 23-yard TD toss to Njoku. Kaaya has been fantastic since his slow opening quarter ..... Halftime thoughts: Rarely have I seen a team, an offense, a quarterback, go from an awful first quirter to a dominant second like the Canes have tonight. Wow. ..... 2Q: Berrios 26-yard scoring pass from Kaaya for 21-7 just before half. Kaaya awful in 1Q, sublime in second ... Canes 14-7 now late in half on Kaaya 3-yard flip to Lewis. Big turnaround for Miami offense ... Boom! Just like that. It's 7-7 on Kaaya's pass that Ahmmon Richards turns into 51-yard scoring play ... The blessing in disguise for UM at 7-0 down? The Kaaya we are seeing tonight is not NFL-ready, and the NFL is watching ... Fortunate. Penalty wipes out Kaaya interception ... Bettors on the "under" are feeling good early, with the o/u around 56 at kickoff ..... 1Q: Miami doing nada offensively in first Q ... WVU 7-0 on McKoy 6-yard TD run. Mountaineers ranked with a better record but underdogs here -- that's big incentive ... UM's Norton big fumble recovery on opening series; WVU was on the move in Canes territory. Alas, Miami soon punts ... Seemed start of game might be picked up late by ESPN because Pitt-Northwestern ran long, but timing turned out perfect ..... Original post: One month and two days since ending its regular season at 8-4 with four straight wins, Miami will see if that momentum carries over this evening vs. Umwvu10-2 West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, in an ESPN broadcast with the odd starting time of 5:30 p.m. UM is playing the highest-ranked opponent (Mountaineers are No. 16) of any unranked team, yet WVU is a 3 1/2-point betting underdog despite its ranking and better record. Perhaps because UM leads the all-time series, 16-3. Miami likely would finish ranked in the low Top 25 in the final post-bowl Bradkaayapolls with a win to complete Mark Richt's first season. As important, UM seeks an end to an 0-6 bowl run in a drought dating to 2006 -- the predominant theme from a Canes vantage in the buildup to this game. (Click on Road Back Starts With Bowl Win for my column previewing tonight's game). Of course, the biggest result to come from this game -- bigger than a win or loss, at least to me -- will be quarterback Brad Kaaya's decision on whether to return for his senior season or enter the NFL Draft. It's pretty much assumed tight end David Njoku will turn pro [update: he did]. Many think Kaaya (pictured) will, too, although I am unconvinced. With no consensus that he'd be a first-round pick, I think Brad would be smart to return to UM, and I think he still might. Seventeen UM seniors will be playing their last game for The U, Corn Elder, Stacy Coley and ironman lineman Danny Isidora most notable among them. As for the game itself, the result will turn on how Kaaya handles a very aggressive West Virginia defense that loves to blitz. Mountaineers forced 25 opponent turnovers this season including a nation-leading (tied) eight interceptions by cornerback Rasul Douglas. I see Kaaya as experienced enough to beat the blitz, this defense and this Big 12 opponent. By the way, if Kaaya goes nuts he'll have an outside shot to challenge Bernie Kosar's 32-year-old UM season record of 3,642 passing yards. Kaaya would need 393 today to break that long-standing mark. My pick: Hurricanes, 31-23.

Poll result: Dolfans hoping for the easier game in Houston: We asked which of two possible opponents you'd rather see the Dolphins face to open the playoffs, and overwhelmingly you picked the easier foe over the sexier game, with Houston Texans drubbing Pittsburgh Steelers by 59.7 percent to 15.2%. The other 25.1% voted, "Either. It's the playoffs!" 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 28, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 16, 2016

Dolphins-Jets, other NFL Week 15 prognostications; plus Jeffrey Loria, disrespecting Miami Hurricanes' football talent, farewell Ron Brewer, R.I.P. Craig Sager, your verdict on FIU/Davis vs. FAU/Kiffin & more

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

Finsat501) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16. Farewell, Ron Brewer, the droll sidekick on the Paul & Young Ron Show, retiring today after 26 years. Was pleased to briefly swing by the final show broadcast this morning from the Hard Rock Improv. 2) R.I.P., Craig Sager, 65. What a terrible year for loss. Good riddance, 2016! 3) Our new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 (pictured) for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIU/Butch Davis vs. FAU/Lane Kiffin with poll, Dolphins playoff and draft prospects, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 14 results, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (25 games) & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Jeffrey Loria's Marlins asking price: Forbes reports (here) that Jeffrey Loria is willing to sell the Miami Marlins, but that his asking price is $1.7 billion. That would be almost triple the estimated franchise value of $675 million. Sure. And I'm willing to sell my 1988 Toyota Tercel (needs work), but the asking price is $300,000.

Select recent columns: We haven't had as many lately due to vacation. A few: The Handoff Nobody Wanted, my latest column, on Matt Moore taking over as Dolphins QB for injured Ryan Tannehill. Also: Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 15: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-JETS, REST OF NFLThe full launch of our Week 15 comes after a mixed start last night as we correctly had the Seahawks winning but mistakenly thought the Rams would cover the huge 15-point line. (Observation: Interim Rams coach John Fassel is in way over his head and looks older than his Dad). We enter the week a robust 33 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 15 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the sad Buffalo Bills topping the list of sports' longest playoff droughts. Click on Death, Taxes and No Playoffs For Buffalo.

DISRESPECTING THE MIAMI HURRICANES' FOOTBALL TALENT: The Miami Hurricanes return to the practice field today for the Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl vs. West Virginia in Orlando, and the Canes are 3-point favorites despite being 8-4 to WVU's 10-2. Yet, despite that, disrespect has become a running theme with UM. It is not entirely unfounded. Recognition of Miami's talent has
Respectbeen slow coming. The evidence is building. The All-ACC football teams were a snub. Only second-team cornerback Corn Elder and punter Justin Vogel made it on the first or second teams. No first team at all. That's one defensive player honored despite Miami being among national leaders in several defensive categories. "Maybe everybody tripped on the way to the end zone when they played us," defensive coordinator Manny Diaz famously said. Coach Mark Richt Tweeted: "It is hard for me to believe that we have one of the best defenses in America and only can get one guy as a second team All-ACC performer." Next: This week came Todd McShay's astoundingly premature Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN today. Zero Canes in it. Four (!) Florida Gators in his first round and one Florida State Seminole, but nobody from UM. Next: ESPN lists its Top 50 players competing in bowl games. Zero Canes. Two Noles, one Gators, no UM. By the way Pitt has three players on that list. Miami beat Pitt this season 51-28. Richt and Diaz have a point in making a little noise publicly about the lack of respect for some of their players. There are worse motivations to carry with you to a bowl game.

Poll result: FIU's Davis beats FAU's Kiffin for new-coach hire: We asked what school made the bigger recent football coaching hire that should be more exciting to their fans, and FIU/Butch Davis defeated FAU/Lane Kiffin, 65.5 percent to 34.5%. No surprise as we imagine Panthers fans outnumber Owls fans among our readers/voters.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 10, 2016

State of Florida has hand in 11 of 42 college football bowl games. We rank them here; plus which of ex-Big 3 is having biggest laugh over Heat's struggles? (Poll); also, Dolphins-Cardinals, other NFL Week 14 pix and King Sport 3Q Awards & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10. R.I.P., John Glenn, American astronaut and statesman who died this week at 95. 2) Click on Blockbuster Video for the latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 3) The Miami Herald's new Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes-WVU bowl matchup with poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 13 results, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Impact of Wade's departure, other select recent columns: Missing Dwyane Wade, the latest, on how Heat and its fans miss D-Wade even more than imagined. Plus Tannehill's Defining December, on imperative that Dolphins' QB be late-season closer and deliver Miami to playoffs. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Canes In the History Book.

BowlcartoonSUNSHINE STATE POWER! MORE THAN ONE-FOURTH OF ALL BOWL GAMES ARE TIED TO FLORIDA: The major-college football postseason includes 42 bowl games in a dizzying three-week burst from Dec. 17 to Jan. 9. Eleven of them, or 26.2 percent, either are being played in the state of Florida or involve a state team. We rank them from 1 to 11 on an importance/watchability scale:

1. Tampa's Raymond James Stadium is host to this season's College Football Playoff national championship game Jan. 9, between the semifinal winners of No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. 4-Washington (12-1) and 2-Clemson (12-1) vs. 3-Ohio State (11-1). Games and stages get no bigger.

2. Orange Bowl in Miami gets a great matchup in No. 6 Michigan (10-2) and No. 11 Florida State (9-3). Both teams began season expecting to be preparing for a CFP playoff semifinal game right. Michigan thinks it still should be. 

3. Orlando and the Citrus Bowl host No. 13 Louisville (9-3) and No. 20 LSU (7-4) on Dec. 31 in a matchup that now features the newly minted Heisman Trophy winner in L'ville QB Lamar Jackson. 

4. Miami Hurricanes (8-4) face No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) in Orlando in the Russell Athletic Bowl. In WVU, Miami gets the highest-ranked bowl opponent of any unranked team. 

5. Florida Gators, ranked No. 17, face Iowa in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 2 in a duel of big-conference 8-4 teams. 

6. Boca Raton Bowl has Western Kentucky (10-3) and Memphis (8-4) Dec. 20 at FAU Stadium.

7. Jacksonville and the Taxslayer Bowl get Georgia Tech (8-4) and Kentucky (7-5) on Dec. 31 in a second-tier ACC/SEC duel. 

8. UCF Knights (6-6) stay at home in Orlando in the AutoNation Cure Bowl Dec. 17 vs. Arkansas State (7-5). Make fun of six-win/.500 bowl teams; fine. But Knights were 0-12 a year ago so this game marks a big accomplishment.

9. Miami Beach Bowl hosts Tulsa (9-3) vs. Central Michigan (6-6) on Dec. 19. I mean, a bowl game tucked into Marlins Park as South Beach breezes waft in over the downtown skyline -- that's a pretty neat ambience.

10. South Florida Bulls (10-2) face South Carolina (6-6) Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl in Alabama.

11. St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26 finds an odd matchup, with Mississippi State somehow sneaking into a bowl at 5-7 and Miami of Ohio a .500 team that started 0-6. Hey, somebody gotta be last.

Big3laughWHY DENY IT? THE BIG 3 MUST BE HAVING A BIG LAUGH OVER HEAT'S STRUGGLES: The slumping, injury-wracked semi-Heat next play LeBron James in Cleveland on Friday and Dwyane Wade in Chicago Saturday, with Miami 7-15 and one of the worst teams in the NBA at the moment. You know LeBron wants to stick it to his former team because of the frostiness with Pat Riley. You know D-Wade must be feeling some satisfaction to know how much Miami misses him after essentially letting him go -- that's only human nature. Let's take it one step further: How can Chris Bosh not be smiling a little (or a lot) that the Heat is struggling after Miami would not clear him to play due to health concerns, effectively ending his career? They'd all deny it publicly, but how can all of the Big 3, for various reasons, not be taking pleasure in the down season that has enveloped Miami? (I wonder if LeBron's Cavs will be playing the "water-bottle challenge" courtside late in Friday's game? Late in Wednesday's 126-94 rout of the Knicks, LeBron, Kyrie Irving and other Cavs were seen killing time by flipping a water bottle and trying to have it land upright). Do you agree with my premise that LeBron, Wade and Bosh, for different reasons, all are feeling satisfaction over the Heat's struggles? Take a dip in our poll and let us know:

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 14: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-CARDINALS, REST OF NFL: The full launch of our Week 14 comes after a big start last night as we correctly called Chiefs covering vs. Raiders (click Thursday Gem) to move to 25 games above .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Click on Week 14 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Cardinals, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the King Sport Third-Quarter Awards, our selection to this point for seven honors including NFL MVP and Dolphins MVP. Click on King Sport 3Qs to read.

Poll result: Liking (not loving) the Hurricanes-West Virginia bowl matchup: We asked what best expressed your interest in the Miami Hurricanes facing the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, and a plurality of 47.0 percent said "very pleased." But another 38.8% said they would have preferred to play the Florida Gators, and 14.2% said they would have preferred to play Mark Richt's former Georgia Bulldogs.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 07, 2016

How much are we loving (or not) a Hurricanes-WVU bowl matchup? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 13 results, Back In My Day and Aaron Rodgers' Lobos promise, missing Dwyane Wade, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings & more

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

Pearlharbor1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor 75 years ago today. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Baltimore with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Canes' 2016 MVP isn't a player & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Back In My Day, Aaron Rodgers' promise: Summarizing my Tuesday on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Click on Blockbuster Video for the latest Back In My Day. Also, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers promised to shout out "Lobos!" during a game in an upcoming cadence. No, seriously. #WeAreTheLobos

On the colossal loss of Dwyane Wade, other select recent columns: Missing Dwyane Wade, the latest, on how the Heat and its fans miss D-Wade even more than imagined as Miami fell to an NBA-worst 2-8 at home with last night's loss to the Knicks. Plus Tannehill's Defining December, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Canes In the History Book.

UmwvuARE WE LOVING A HURRICANES-WEST VIRGINIA BOWL MATCHUP?: Don't get me wrong. West Virginia is fine. They're 10-2 and ranked No. 16. In fact Miami has the highest-ranked bowl opponent of any unranked team, which is sort of prestigious and gives the Canes -- an early 1-point favorite -- a strong claim at finishing in the Top 25 should they win. That UM and WVU haven't faced each other since 2003 adds a layer of freshness to the matchup. But don't tell me the Mountaineers are a great team. There's a reason a four-loss UM is favored (albeit barely). There also is a reason 10 teams with two or more losses are ranked higher than WVU. Me, I'd have preferred that Miami's bowl opponent was the old rival Florida Gators or Mark Richt's ex's, the Georgia Bulldogs -- both of which were pumped up in the media as strong possibilities. In any case I'm curious what you think; hence, this poll!

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 13 RESULTS: ROUGH ON PREDIX, BUT LOBOS KEEP ROLLIN': Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: We went 8-7 both ways, which is pretty awful straight-up but marginally OK against the spread. We're now a solid 24 games above .500 ATS for the season. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos bopped Breezango (the wrestler), 121-88, fueled by 27 points from reigning MVL Devonta Freeman and 24 from Mel Gordon. That seventh strauight victory makes us 10-3 to end the regular season, the radio show league's No. 1 seed entering the playoffs. Our upcoming first postseason opponent: Dan "Auto-Pilot" LeBatard. Let's keep it honkin', 'Bos!

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (20 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. Starring now we expand to a top 10 by e-mail request. (It was actually one guy, but he's emailed twice; thanks, Larry!). With Miami now 7-13 entering tonight's home date vs. the Knicks, here's the Luddite's fourth installment, with 15-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (20 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)       669

2. Goran Dragic (4)             416

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            386

4. Dion Waiters (2)              346

5. James Johnson (5)           328

6. Josh Richardson (7)        205

7. Rodney McGruder (8)     200

8. Justise Winslow (6)         181

9. Luke Babbitt (9)             123

10. Josh McRoberts (12)    100

Others: Derrick Williams 99, Willie Reed 96, Wayne Ellington 73, Udonis Haslem 16.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 06, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 34.8%; plus Fins humbled 38-6 as 6-game streak crashes in Baltimore; also, UM bowl news, CFP Big Four set, new Hot Button Top 10, Hurricanes defensive coordinator Diaz honored & more

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

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 5. The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available -- just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes MVP poll, Champ Saturday in college football, NFL Week 13 picks, D-Wade vs. LeBron, your Cooperstown verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our select recent columns: Tannehill's Defining December, the latest, on the imperative that the Dolphins' QB be a late-season closer and deliver Miami to the playoffs. And Week 13 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Also: Football Town Strikes Back. Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. There's Hope For Us All.

Dolphins in-game blog, postgame thoughts: See our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 34.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 34.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 38-6 loss at Baltimore putting Miami's Dsmseason record at 7-5 and ending the six-game winning streak. That's the lowest figure since Game 5. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Dec. 11 (following game vs. Arizona)

G12: BALTIMORE 38, DOLPHINS 6: MIAMI'S SIX-GAME WIN STREAK ENDED BY RAVENS' RUGGED DEFENSE: Postgame thoughts: Call it what you want. Embarrassing. Humbling. Reality check. Whatever. It was ugly. Flacco threw for 381 yards and four TDs, victimizing Miami linebackers on short passes all day, and throwing quickly enough to avoid even a single sack. Meanwhile Tannehill threw three INTs after having only one in the six-game win streak. An all-round ass-kicking. It doesn't erase the six-game win streeak or ruin playoff hopes. But Miami falls to seventh today in the run for six AFC spots, assuming a Denver win ..... 4Q: BAL now 38-6 on 9-yard scoring run following a third interception for Tannehill. First was a pretty good deep pass and excellent defensive play. Second was on tipped ball. This was a bad one, just a pooir throw ... Ryan Mallett! When your opponent deploys its backup QB by mid-4Q, you have officially gotten your ass kicked ... BAL now 31-6 after 53-yard Flacco TD pass, his 4th. Can't recall when Dolphins' pass defense was much worse ... Points, finally! MIA within 24-6 on Tannehill-Parker 8-yard TD pass after Thomas fumble recovery and return to BAL 8. But Fins short on 2-point pass, so uphill climb still enormous ..... 3Q: Dolphins play-calling would have you think it's a close game. Need faster pace, deeper throws ... Holding penalties really hurting Miami, on day when very little is going right ..... Halftimer thoughts: Ugh. Miami has a meager 115 yards of offense in a 24-0 first half. Worse, no pass defense. Flacco is 27-34, 258 yards, three TDs. Embarrassing. Barring a pre-Christmas miracle, the Fins' six-game win streak ends today ..... 2Q: BAL 24-0 on 55-yard FG as half expires ... Crows now up 21-0 on Flacco's 3rd TD pass, 2nd to TE Pitta ... Maxwell INT gets it right back for Miami, but team wastes takeaway, punts ... Tannehill intercepted in end-zone on deep pass, upheld on review. Only threw one INT during previous six-game win streak ..... 1Q: Fins LB Kiko Alonso out with ankle injury ... BAL 14-0 on Flacco's second TD pass. Miami forgot to pack a pass defense for trip; Flacco now 11-for-14, 136 yards. Ravens converted a ballsy 4th and 1 from own 46 to spark drive ... Ouch. Franks wide-left on 46-yard FG try for MIA on its opening series, positive sign, though: Ajayi 4 runs for 27 yards ... BAL a fast 7-0 leads as Flacco goes 6-for-7 for 73 yards on opening drive ..... Pregame: Michigan and coach Jim Harbagh were odd man out Sunday in finishing fifth for the four-team College Football Playoff. Now Dolphins try to beat Baltimore and John Harbaugh to make it a double-awful day for the coaching bros ..... Original post: OK, I’ll be the doomsayer forecasting the end of the merry six-game winning streak Miabaland a punch to Miami’s playoff hopes. Somebody’s gotta do it, Dolfans. This isn't my wish, you understand. Just doin' my job. Although, if you think I’m so often wrong that my picking against the Dolphins delights you, then … you’re welcome! In either case, this is a very good Ravens defense — all-over-the-field good — confronting Miami in a very tough place to play. Even with the Dolphins’ offensive line healthier this week, Sunday presents a bigger challenge than Ryan Tannehill or Jay Ajayi have yet faced during this streak. I would also note that Joe Flacco is 4-0 vs. the Fins in his career, as Miami’s 15-13 home win over the Crows last season came with miserable Matt Schaub subbing for an injured Flacco. Side note: WR Mike Wallace faces thwe Dolphins Sunday for first time since leaving Miami. I do judge the Fins (7-4) a slightly better all-round team than Baltimore (6-5) at the moment, but defense and the home field swing the pick Raven-ward for this 1 p.m. kickoff. I will take the Dolphs (+ 3 1/2) with that extra half-point on the betting line, though, thank you, in what figures as a low-scoring afternoon in Crabtown. My pick: Baltimore, 23-20.

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. DOLPHINS: Fins' surge ends with thud in Baltimore: Miamians could not be happier these days. Because Fidel Castro finally died? Well, yeah, that too, of course. But I meant because the Dolphins entered Sunday's game in Baltimore on playoff pace at 7-4 and seeking a seventh consecutive victory. Yes, the Dolphins! Well, it was back-to-Earth time. Miami lost 38-6 to fall  to seventh in jockeying for six AFC playoff spot. Welcome back, Dolphins-we-know.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: 'Bama, Clemson, Ohio State, Washington make CFP: Championship Saturday decided college football's conference titles, then Selection Sunday determined the four-team College Football Playoff. On Dec. 31 it'll be No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington in Atlanta, and No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. Odd team out: Michigan and Jim Harbaugh, which was idle Saturday, needed somebody above it to lose, and didn't get lucky.

3. PANTHERS: Dumb! Cats panic, fire their coach: A quarter into the NHL season, Florida flagrantly, prematurely and unwisely fired coach Gerard Gallant, replacing him with GM Tom Rowe. This perplexing, impatient franchise continues to treat stability as if it were an arch enemy.

4. HEAT: Miami returns home Tuesday. Uh oh: Still seeking that elusive first three-game win streak of the season, the Heat returns home, where team is an NBA-worst 2-7, to face the Knicks here Tuesday night. For Miami, home is where the hurt is, at least so far.

5. HURRICANES: UM to face West Virginia in bowl: Best bets for 8-4 UM were the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville or the Russell Athletic in Orlando, vs. a foe that might have been old rival Florida or Mark Richt's ex's, Georgia. Instead, it'll be the Russell Athletic vs. West Virginia. Sorry. That's disappointing. Gators or Bulldogs would-a been a tastier matchup.

6. BASEBALL: MLB averts strike, Marlins acquire pitcher: Baseball reached a new five-year labor deal and began its winter meetings Sunday outside D.C., while, in Miami, the Marlins got a jump on the wheeling and dealing by signing veteran starting pitcher Edinson Volquez -- a pebble into the crater left by Jose Fernandez.

7. TIGER WOODS: Promising return to competition for the comeback kid: Tiger Woods played his first PGA Tour event in 15 months following back and other health issues, and his comeback in the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas saw him finish a promising 4-under par. Golf has missed him. Welcome back, Eldrick!

8.NFL: Gronkowski out for season after surgery: Erasing Rob Gronkowski from Patriots for rest of year had everyone over-reacting. No, this does not mean the Dolphins will now win the AFC East. And, no, this does not mean New England has stopped being the Super Bowl favorite. 

9. NBA: LeBron vs. D-Wade as the bromance continues: In a matchup that must have hurt Heat fans to watch, latest chapter in the LeBron James/Dwyane Wade bromance happened Friday night as LBJ's Cavs met Wade's Bulls for first time. LeBron outscored his bud 27-24 but Wade won twice, game and World Series wager as James wore a Cubs uniform before game.

10. UM WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Canes get huge win at Ohio State: No. 18-ranked Hurricanes women are 6-1 after winning at No. 9 Ohio State 94-89 in overtime Thursday. With UM men in a rebuilding season, Katie Meier's gang are So Fla's big hope in major-college hoops.

Missing the HB10 cut: The MLS Cup is next Saturday. Note to self: Look up which two teams are in it to better feign interest ..... Heisman Trophy also will be awarded next Saturday. I know who the favorite is even less than I know who'll be playing for the MLS Cup.

MannydiazPOLL RESULT: DC MANNY DIAZ REIGNS AS DEFENSE DOMINATES HURRICANES MVP VOTE: We asked you who was the Miami Hurricanes' 2016 football MVP (Most Valuable Person). We presented five players and two coaches as finalists, and invited you to select your top three. From that overall consensus came a clear winner: Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz (pictured), with 27.6 percent of the vote. And one of his guys, cornerback Corn Elder, was second with 17.9%. Coach Mark Richt finished third with 17.0% and quarterback Brad Kaaya -- who we might have predicted or guessed would win -- finished only fourth at 13.9%. After that it was running back Mark Walton with 10.5%, wide receiver Ahmmon Richards with 9.8% and wide receiver Stacy Coley (despite nine touchdown catches) with only 1.8%. The ubiquitous "somebody else" drew the other 1.5%.

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

Twitter @gregcote