September 17, 2018

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.7%; plus No. 21 Hurricanes ride Rosier's 5 TDs at Toledo, NFL Week 2 picks, Bachelor Dan gets engaged & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Football's back meaning it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald debuts weekly NFL QB rankings, Week 1 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Cote's State of the State rankings, new Back In My Day video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Newest columns: On D.Wade's decision, Dolphins running game: Dwyane Wade is taking longer than most (including Pat Riley) would like to make his Heat-or-retire decision. I explore the delay, why it isn't bad and what Wade will do: Give Dwyane Time And He'll Make Right Call. And: Ryan Tannehill is better when he throws less, and running more leads to Dolphins success. Enter Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore. To read: Why Drake/Gore Will Work, And Why That's Crucial to Fins.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3 76.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 76.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 49-24 road victory at Toledo putting No. 21-ranked Miami's season record at 2-1. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game -- no matter the result or opponent -- to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:45 a.m. today/Monday. (You may also vote on my Twitter site @gregcote; the CSM vote there for this game was 62%).

2018 CSM game-by game results

G1: 9.2% following 33-17 loss to LSU.

G2: 73.8% following 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State.

G3: 76.7% following 49-24 victory at Toledo.

Next poll: Sept. 22 following game vs. FIU.

G3: NO. 21 HURRICANES (2-1) WINS AT TOLEDO (1-1), 49-24: Original Post: Guaranteed: Saturday's noon matinee in Ohio will not be nearly the breeze Miami enjoyed Toledo Theuwith last week's 77-0 home rout of woefully overmatched Savannah State. Toledo is an actual competitive team. Smaller than The U. But competitive. Miami is only a 10-point favorite. Toledo's little 26,000-seat stadium will be jammed and this will be a season-maker for them. As Canes coach Mark Richt said: "We'll get everything they've got." His Toledo counterpart John Candle: "I think everybody on our team wanted to play this game on June 1. This is not just another game." Toledo beat VMI 66-3 in its opener and is coming off a craftily positioned bye week. In last year's meeting at Hard Rock the Canes trailed Toledo 16-10 at the half and were only up 38-30 in the middle of the fourth quarter before pulling away to win 52-30. None of this is to suggest Miami should be worried. As Candle put it: "Whoever made that saying up, 'You always get better from Week 1 to Week 2,' didn't have to play the Hurricanes in Week 2." Still, unlike last week, this is not a game where Richt will likely enjoy the luxury of playing all four quarterbacks. Malik Rosier will start and I doubt any other QB will play unless Rosier is struggling. Richt: "Bottom line is we're going to play who we think gives us the best chance of winning. As long as [Rosier] is that, he'll start. If we think someone else gives us a better chance, we'll start that guy." Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence for Malik. This is a game that must not slip away from UM if the Canes are to rebound from that opening loss to LSU and still make this a special season. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-23.

OTHER STATE COLLBALL: There are seven FBS-level college teams in Florida. With Saturday's Miami game previewed above, here's chronological Week 2 schedule (all Saturday) for the rest:

No. 18 UCF (2-0) at North Carolina (0-2), POSTPONED: No game as scheduled on account of Hurricane Florence. Schools are discussing makeup date.

Syracuse (3-0) beats FSU (1-2), 30-7: After barely beating lowly Samford, humbled 'Noles were mere 3-point road faves. Can Willie Taggert survive this?

South Florida (3-0) beats Illinois (2-1), 25-19: Off nice win over Georgia Tech, Bulls should be headed for Top 25 od at least rappin' on the door.

Florida (2-1) beats Colorado State (1-3), 48-10: Gators seem to be finding their a feet after slow start.

FAU (2-1) beats Bethune-Cookman (1-2), 49-28, 6: Fowl Owl on the Prowl! The Lane Train is back on track.  

FIU (2-1) beats UMass (1-3), 63-24: Panthers off nice win at Old Dominion were narrow home faves but showed up big.

Week 3 national Top 25 matchups: No. 12 LSU beats No. 7 Auburn, 22-21; 24-Oklahoma State beats 17-Boise State, 44-21; and 4-Ohio State beats 15-TCU, 40-28.

PicksDOLPHINS-JETS AND ALL THE REST OF OUR NFL WEEK 2 PICKS: The Dolphins are going to go on the road and upset the Jets on Sunday. I explain why at the top of my latest NFL predictions. They include my Game of the Week, Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") and all the rest. Our 28th season of Friday (but online Thursday) NFL picks launched with a bang last week as we rolled a nifty 10-5-1 mark against the spread. That's solid. Strong. Now we need to keep it going. Dive into Week 2 Gems for all my latest picks. (Included there is a separate link to Thursday night's Ravens-Bengals pick). Pictured at right, our "How the Darts Landed" shield, the bull's-eye representing wishful thinking.

DanvalerieBACHELOR DAN FINALLY GETS ENGAGED!: As you may know I broke the news on Thursday of Dan Le Batard's recent engagement to girlfriend Valerie Scheide. Go to Le Batard Headed to the Altar for the controversial full story -- controversial in the sense that I didn't warn Dan I was writing it or get his permission and he was less than pleased at being scooped on his own announcement. (Oops!) I think he'll forgive me. I may have to rethink that if you don't hear me on the air this coming Tuesday. Meantime here is the lovely couple and congrats to them both!  

Other select recent columns: Somehow, Dolphins Make A 7-Hour Wait Worth ItSoft Stretch In Schedule Is About Improving At QBNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 13, 2018

On Dwyane Wade's big (and delayed) Heat decision. New column; plus Dolphins' Tannehill makes Top 15 in Herald NFL QB rank debut, tonight's Ravens-Bengals pick, latest Back In My Day, Week 1 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Cote's State of the State ranking & more

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

Never1) It's THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13. There are some thing we never forget. Hope you took a moment to reflect this week, but not just on 9/11. 2) Scroll to our previous blogpost or get there directly HERE for the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter season-debut results. They're strong! 3) Football's back and that means it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win lightning-delayed season opener with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Week 2 NFL Thursday pick: Bengals are mere 1-point home favorites over Ravens this week in a Thursday night matchup that should interest Dolfans. For my pick: Thursday Gem.

DwadeNEW COLUMN: ON DWYANE WADE'S BIG DECISION: The Heat venerable No. 3 is about to decide (or to reveal) whether he is returning for another NBA season in Miami ... or retiring. Pat Riley has said he hoped for a decision by mid-August. One month later, still no word. What does it mean? Some fans and media have begun to criticize Wade for his delay. That's unjustified, and I explain why in my latest column, which explores the likely what-and-when of Wade's pending decision. While South Florida immerses itself in football, its single most beloved athleteis about to make a decision affecting Miami's only three-time champion pro franchise. For my latest column: On Dwyane Wade's Big Decision.

Most recent other columns: Why Drake/Gore Will Work, And Why That's Crucial to Fins. Also: Somehow, Dolphins Make A 7-Hour Wait Worth It (on Fins' season-opening win) and Soft Stretch In Schedule Is About Improving At QB (on Hurricanes' home-opening win).

BreesBREES-FITZPATRICK SHOOTOUT LEADS THE WAY! / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 1: You'd think the Saints' Drew Brees would look happier about leading the Herald's NFL QB Rankings after Week 1, but I guess the glum look comes from having lost the game to standings runnerup Ryan Fitzpatrick. This launches the Miami Herald's 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL quarterback rankings. Dolphins Ryan Tannehill lands a respectable 13th in the initial Top 15. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. (Exact formula detailed below). 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. Here we go!
 
MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 1
RK    '17    Player, Team                    Week 1/Season

1       2       Drew Brees, NO                    59.95

2       34     Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB             51.85

3       6       Philip Rivers, LAC                 44.20

4       NR    Andrew Luck, IND                 43.95

5       13     Joe Flacco, BAL                    41.80

6       26     Aaron Rodgers, GB                38.30

7       1       Tom Brady, NE                      37.85

8       4       Alex Smith, WAS                   35.75

9       18     Andy Dalton, CIN                  34.15

10     50     Patrick Mahomes, KC            32.80

11     7       Case Keenum, DEN               32.45

12     NR    Sam Darnold, NYJ                 28.90

13     NR    Ryan Tannehill, MIA              28.50

14     9       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 27.20

15     11     Jared Goff, LAR                   25.65

        Bubble: Derek Carr, OAK, 24.15. Week 1/season best: Brees, NO, 59.95 (37-45, 439, 3-0 in loss). Week 1/season worst: Nathan Peterman, BUF, minus-12.80 (5-18, 24, 0-2 in loss).
        Herald PASS Championships: 7—Brees (2008-11, '14-16); 6—Peyton Manning (2000, '03-04, '06, '12-13); 2—Kurt Warner (1999, '01) and Tom Brady (2007, '17); 1 each—Steve Young (1998), Rich Gannon (2002) and Carson Palmer (2005).
        Points formula: Accuracy—Completions times two minus attempts. Ex: 17 for 28 = 6 points. Yardage—Five percent of total. Ex: 202 yards = 10.10 points. TD-interception ratio—Difference times three. Ex: Four TDs and one pick = 9 points. Team result—Winning QB of record = 5 points.

ThillNFL WEEK 1 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: GOOD AND GOOD!: Every Tuesday in the blog starting today I'll update you on how I did the just-past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and Picks Loboswith my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. So let's get it started in here! Herald picks: Solid week!. Went 10-5-1 overall (Steelers-Browns tied) and also a nifty 10-5-1 against the spread (Seahawks-Broncos pushed at 3). Nailed our Upset of the Week with Bengals over Colts ("Aaawwwk!"). Also called mini-upset by Dolphins, had underdog Bears and Jets with the points, and hit a rare Exacto with Patriots' 27-20 win. Greg's Lobos: What a comeback! Trailed deep into Sunday before heroically rallying to trounce Lorenzo 141-121, behind a giant 42 points from Tyreek Hill (pictured). Also got 23 from old Adrian Peterson, a last-minute start for me. I'm one of the millions of fantasy owners being held hostage by the Le'Veon Bell situation. Given that, we survived opening week nicely.

COTE'S STATE OF THE STATE RANKINGS: Each Tuesday starting today I'll rank the state's seven FBS-level college football teams. The kickoff: 1. UCF (2-0); 2. Miami (1-1); 3. South Florida (2-0); 4. Florida (1-1); 5. FAU (1-1); 6. FIU (1-1); 7. Florida State (1-1).

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': BINOCULARS!: This debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:

Other select recent columns: Don't Bail On Canes Yet, But... NFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownDolphins Must Make Us BelieveFinally, a Chance to Say ThanksNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 09, 2018

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter (G2): 73.8%; plus UM routs Savannah State 77-0 as all 4 QBs play in home opener, with my game column; also, rest of state Collbal, NFL Week 1 picks, R.I.P. Burt, farewell Elton & more

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

Ejohn1) It's SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9. Elton John kicked off his three-year farewell tour last night. Elton's farewell tour will last longer than most others' entire music careers. 2) R.I.P., Burt Reynolds, gone at 82. Saw him as Vic Edwards in "The Last Movie Star" last year. A real actor. Forget the cheeky "Smokey and the Bandit" stuff. Check out the serious roles. He'll be missed. Also was an FSU running back in the '50s. 3) Football's back and that means it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy draft poll and results, MLS Miami gets name and logo, latest Back In My Day & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW: Tonight began soft stretch in Canes schedule that's all about the quarterback: Don't be overly impressed with Saturday's 77-0 UM win, considering the utterly outmanned opponent. Be more impressed that coach Mark Richt played all four quarterbacks in a newly introduced effort to find a better Malik Rosier ... or his replacement. That's my new column. To read it: Canes Need Better QB; Auditions Underway. Other most recent columns: Don't Bail On Canes Yet, But... and NFL 2018 Team Rankings.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 73.8%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 73.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of 1aa1csmSaturday night's 77-0 home victory over Savannah State putting No. 22-ranked Miami's season record at 1-1. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game -- no matter the result or opponent -- to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday. (You may also vote on my Twitter site @gregcote; the unofficial approval there was 40%).  

2018 CSM game-by game results

G1: 9.2% following 33-17 loss to LSU.

G2: 73.8% following 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State.

Next poll: Sept. 15 following game at Toledo.

SavumG2: NO. 22 HURRICANES (1-1) 77, SAVANNAH STATE (0-2) 0: A PAUSE TO CORRECT THE FLAWS AS ALL FOUR QBS PLAY: For my column from the stadium off Saturday's UM home opener: Canes Need Better QB; Auditions Underway ..... Original post: Here are two teams that could play, "Who's Coming Off the Worse Loss?" Savannah State, a second-tier FCS-level school, lost 52-0 to Alabama-Birmingham. But Miami's loss, given the stage and stakes, was worse: the 33-17 neutral-site collapse against LSU that sent the Canes cascading down the charts from a No. 8 national ranking to 22nd. Savannah State can't offer redemption this evening/Saturday at 6 p.m. at Hard Rock, but it is a chance for UM to get a little bit of feelgood back after a deflating opener. With the game off the betting boards because of its expected lopsidedness, it would be a bit concerning if Miami didn't cruise by a margin of at least 40 or 50 points. College coaches have it easy. Unlike in the NFL there are games like this one where winning is not a question, so you have the luxury to just flex your roster, tinker with what needs tinkering and not worry the least about the opponent or final score. In this case quarterback play will be under the microscope for coach Mark Richt, with starter Malik Rosier coming off an inaccurate opener that included a pick-six, and with at least two younger QBs expected to see action along with Rosier. The enthusiasm for this Hurricanes season took a huge hit with the opening-week loss. You don't get it back against an opponent like this one. But an impressive rebound win is a necessary first step. My prediction: Hurricanes, 62-3.

OTHER STATE COLLBALL: There are seven FBS-level college teams in Florida. With Saturday's Miami game previewed above, here's chronological Week 2 schedule (all Saturday) for the rest:

South Florida (2-0) defeats Georgia Tech (1-1), 49-38: Bulls had no problem with a small opening opponent (Elon) but now took a  big step up in competition with slightly favored Ga-Tech. And delivered.

FAU (1-1) defeats Air Force (1-1), 33-27: Lane Kiffin got spanked at Oklahoma in a 49-point loss but here was a comfy 9 1/2-point pick in the Owls' home opener.

No. 19 UCF (2-0) defeats South Carolina State (0-2), 38-0: Knights throttled UConn and now got another softy in an off-the-board mismatch. 

FSU (1-1) defeats Samford (1-1), 36-26: Noles tumbled from rankings (19th) after a 24-3 spanking by 20-Virginia Tech that ended new coach Willie Taggert's honeymoon right quick. Now they get to take it out on poor lil' Samford, Bobby Bowden's alma mater. Except they almost lost! Lucky Noles needed a late rally to avoid a monumental embarrassment.

Kentucky (2-0) defeats No. 25 Florida (1-1), 27-16: Gators entered poll, albeit barely, after 53-6 rout of Charleston Southern but their stay will be short-lived after terrible loss as 14-point Swamp favorites.  

FIU (1-1) defeats Old Dominion (0-2), 28-20: FIU opened with 10-point loss to Indiana but was 1-point road fave in this conference game, and neatly rallied from 17 down to win behind James Morgan's three TD passes. Of more gravity, two FIU players -- top RB Antonio Jones and OL Mershawn Miller -- were shot in a drive-by shooting in Opa-locka, a calamity for the families and the last thing coach Butch Davis needed. Miller's wound was minor. Jones' wounds are serious but non-life threatening and Davis said "encouraging reports" suggest a recovery.

Week 2 national Top 25 matchups: The only two: No. 3 Georgia defeats No. 24 South Carolina, 41-17; and 10-Stanford defeats 17-Southern Cal, 17-3.

Picks RtannyWELCOME BACK, UPSET BIRD! OUR NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: Oh lord here come our 28th season of Friday (but online Thursday) NFL picks. When we started this endeavor in 1991 Ryan Tannehill was a 2-year-old toddling around Lubbock, Texas and (if memory serves) Tom Brady was an NFL rookie. All these years later we haven't been fired yet are still at it. For Kickoff Weekend we bring you our picks for Dolphins-Titans, our Game of the Week, our Upset of the Week and more. Dive into Week 1 Gems for the whole package. (It includes a link to last night's Falcons-Eagles pick. Atlanta led much of the way toward our upset call; alas, Philly prevailed late). By the way, the Upset Bird is back. But please follow our picks, anyway. Pictured at right, our "How the Darts Landed" shield. At left, Tannehill is shouting at you, "Hey, read Greg Cote's picks, everybody. But only when he picks us to win!"

Other select recent columns: Canes Have the Hype. Now the Proving StartsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownDolphins Must Make Us BelieveFinally, a Chance to Say Thanks (Stanton's return). NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades (death of Tony Sparano). Soccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 04, 2018

G1: Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.2%: plus Radio Tuesday!, UM drops opener to LSU, 33-17 with my game column, Opening Week for rest of state collball, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Labor1) It's TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. Hope y'all  had a Happy Labor Day, the date on which we all celebrate work by not working! 2) Football's back and that means it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): What team owns this town with poll, latest Back In My Day video, your verdict on No. 1 fantasy pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 to 1 on Miami's 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Join us! 

DON'T BAIL ON CANES, BUT TIME FOR MIAMI TO REMIND US WHY WE THOUGHT THE U WAS BACK: NEW COLUMN: To read my column of UM's 33-17 season-opening loss to LSU Sunday night: Don't Bail On Canes Yet, But... Other most recent Canes football columns: Canes Have the Hype. Now the Proving StartsCanes Could Go 12-0 and Still Have Mountain to ClimbNow We See How Hurricanes Handle Burden Of ExpectationsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town.

Annual NFL team rankings: Dolphins higher than you think: My annual NFL Team Rankings are out, and who's No. 1 might surprise you. So might how low the Patriots are ranked, how high the Dolphins are, and a bunch of other stuff, too. Check it out, 1 through 32: NFL 2018 Team Rankings.

CsmG1: CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: 9.2%: Results are certified in the season-first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 9.2 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday night's season-opening 33-17 Miami Hurricanes loss to LSU in Arlington, Texas. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 7 a.m. today/Tuesday. (You may also vote on my Twitter site @gregcote).

 

CaneslsuG1: NO. 25 LOUISIANA STATE DEFEATS NO. 8 HURRICANES, 33-17: RUGGED OPENER FOR UM'S SEASON OF HIGH HOPES: Turnover Chain made no appearance and Malik Rosier was pretty bad until a late spurt in Miami's 33-17 loss to LSU. [Find link to my game column above] ..... Original post: Miami opens its much-anticipated season a slim 3 1/2-point favorite over LSU in this nationally televised, neutral-site matchup at the Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas. Will LSU fans turn the joint into Death Valley? Or will RichtCanes fans win the crowd? In either case a loss out the gate will feel devastating, while the winner gets to feel like a national contender. Said third-year UM coach Mark Richt: "Until you play somebody, you really don't know. There are no warm-up games here. We will be physically and mentally tested. It will be a gut check." Veteran Canes quarterback Malik Rosier will be expected to outplay LSU transfer Joe Burrow, making his first college start against Miami's havoc-wreaking, Turnover Chain-getting defense. But the Tigers' defense figures to be a big challenge for Rosier, too. I feel like the two team's rankings are accurate, that UM is better all-round, including Richt's coaching edge over Ed Orgeron. And I'll be surprised if that Turnover Chain doesn't change hands at least twice. My prediction: Hurricanes, 24-16.

OTHER STATE COLLBALL WEEK 1: There are seven FBS-level college football teams in Florida. With Sunday's Miami game previewed above, here's Week 1 chronological schedule for the rest:

No. 21 UCF defeats UConn, 56-17: Strong Thursday night debut for self-proclaimed 2017 national champs and new coach Josh Heupel, behind McKenzie Milton's five TD passes. 

No. 7 Oklahoma defeats FAU, 63-14: Sooners, a three-TD home fave, absolutely spanked Lane Kiffin to open his second Owls season, after last year's 11-3 gem.

South Florida defeats Elon, 34-14: Bulls roll comfortably here but will have tough time matching last year's 10-2 season.  

Indiana defeats FIU, 38-28: FIU was a 10-point home underdog and played to the odds as Year 2 began for Butch Davis following progress of last year's 8-5 season.

Florida defeats Charleston Southern, 53-6: Gators with a big Swamp debut for new coach Dan Mullen as Feleipe Franks tosses 5 TD passes.

No. 20 Virginia Tech defeats No. 19 Florida State, 24-3, 8 Monday: Seminoles a 7-point pick as new coach Willie Taggert debuts and Week 1 wraps up.

Week 1 national Top 25 matchups: In addition to Miami-LSU and Virginia Tech-FSU, there was No. 9 Auburn beating No. 6 Washington 21-16, and 12-Notre Dame beating 14-Michigan, 24-17.

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

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Ouch! UM crushed by LSU tonight as season of high hopes begins: Ready, set ... hype! Hurricanes fans had the swagger back. An ESPN prediction model had UM going 12-0. The College Football Playoff was the goal. All Mark Richt's Canes had to do was not lose Sunday night to keep that buzz going. Instead, a buzz-kill opener: 33-17, LSU.

2. DOLPHINS: Ready or not, Fins, here come the real games: An encouraging 34-7 win in Atlanta closed a 1-3 preseason for Miami, but forget that. All that matters now is the season opener next Sunday here vs. Tennessee. Opposite UM, it's a season of low expectation for the Dolphins. Can they erase the prevailing doubts?

3. GATORS/SEMINOLES: Florida coasts in opener, FSU on deck: Florida began the Dan Mullen era with a 53-6 Swamp rout of Charleston Southern, meaning Mullen ain't done nuthin' yet. Willie Taggert takes his first bow Monday night for No. 19 FSU vs. No. 20 Virginia Tech. Now that's an opener.

4. HEAT: We're still waiting, Mr. Wade: With the first preseason game coming at the end of this month, it might be an opportune time for free agents Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to inform the Heat whether they'll be re-signing with Miami. Wade says it's Heat or retire. We know you'll be back, guys. So say it, already!

5. SOCCER: Miami MLS team to unveil name, colors: A source, whom I prefer to call "a Little Birdie," tells us the Jorge Mas/David Beckham group's Miami Major League Soccer team set to begin play in 2020 will unveil its name, colors and other details this week. Alas, despite my suggestion, they won't be the Miami Lobos.

6. FIU/FAU: Davis, Kiffin both fall in openers: Years 2.0 for FIU's Butch Davis and FAU's Lane Kiffin began with losses Saturday. Panthers fell to Indiana 38-28, after Owls got crushed at No. 7 Oklahoma, 63-14. A little humbling isn't a bad thing, Lane.

7. TENNIS: U.S. Open reaches midpoint: Men's No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal and 17th seeded woman (but favored -- c'mon) Serena Williams are in action today/Sunday as tennis' fourth major of the year. Serena routed sis Venus. Even more impressive: Serena's purple tutu dress.

8. MARLINS: Fish win but continue mired in elongated slump: Miami beat Toronto Saturday as Martin Prado returned from the DL with three RBIs before losing Sunday. Fish are only 8-22 since July 30 as homestand continues. Latest from the 100-Loss Meter: Current pace 64-98. 

9. COLIN KAEPERNICK: His grievance will go to trial: Kaepernick's collusion grievance against the NFL will go to trial, a big legal win for the quarterback blackballed (though not officially!) because he instigated the anthem-kneeling protests now in their third year. His best evidence? Still unemployed! 

10. NFL: It's fantasy draft weekend: Has your league had its fantasy draft yet? Better get to it, with NFL season opening this Thursday night. Only sure bet with fantasy drafts? You'll think your team is a lot better than it really is. Me, too.

Missing the HB10 cut: You know outspoken Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is doing something right when I can't decide if the NFL needs more players like him or I want him to shut up ..... The national group, People Who Feel Sorry For Urban Meyer is meeting tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth ..... Just to torment Marlins fans, Giancarlo Stanton became the fifth-fastest to 300 career home runs ..... Marlins released their 2019 spring and regular season schedules. Based on this year -- can't wait!! ..... In the WNBA playoffs, four teams are alive in the conference finals entering Sunday games, and I can't name any of them ..... The Big 3 basketball league crowned a champion, and nobody cared ..... Headlines I Never Imagined Seeing (one in a series): "Usain Bolt Makes Pro Soccer Debut In Australia" ..... Update. Countdown now 2,850 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Dolphins Must Make Us BelieveFinally, a Chance to Say Thanks (Stanton's return). NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades (death of Tony Sparano). Soccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 31, 2018

PS4: Dolphins 34, at Atlanta 7: Wizard of Os shines, Fins provide some hope as rocky preseason ebbs; plus our 2018 NFL Team Rankings, Hurricanes and burden of expected greatness, your verdict on what team owns this town, Beckham and Uncle Elton & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 31. Farewell, August. You were a trying month of turbulence but, ultimately, of renewed hope. 2) Football's back and that means it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): What team owns this town with poll, latest Back In My Day video, your verdict on No. 1 fantasy pick & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our annual NFL team rankings: Dolphins higher than you think: My annual NFL Team Rankings are out today, and who's No. 1 might surprise you. So might how low the Patriots are ranked, how high the Dolphins are and a bunch of other stuff, too. Check it out, 1 through 32: NFL 2018 Team Rankings. 

New column: Hurricanes face burden of expected greatness: Reality: No. 8-ranked UM has a chance for a 12-0 regular season when the games begin Sunday night vs. LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Also reality: That might not be good enough. The Canes are close to all the way back -- close enough to see the four-team College Football Playoff as a reasonable goal. But they still must find a way to close the gap on elite powerhouses like Alabama and ACC roadblock Clemson to be all the way back, meaning national-championship good. I explore in my latest column: Canes Could Go 12-0 and Still Have Mountain to Climb.

PS4: DOLPHINS 34, @ ATLANTA 7: WHY THIS ONE WAS A LITTLE BIT IMPORTANT: Miami tonight avoided what would have been only the fourth winless preseason in its history in a game of scrubs on both sides. Notably, Brock (Wizard of Os) Osweiler outplayed David Fales to (likely) secure the backup QB job. The result was largely meaningless, except that it allows the Fins lockerroom and Dolfans a bit of feelgood, a hint of momentum, as the regular season moves in ..... Original post: Fourth and final preseason games mostly are about helping a head coach settle the close calls on roster decisions. MiaatlStarters don't play much, and avoiding injuries is seen as more important than winning. But tonight's PS4 in Atlanta is a bit different for Miami (0-3 in exhibitions) and coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins in 52 seasons have finished a preseason 0-4 only three times (in 1966, 1989 and 2012), and in none of those years did Miami make the playoffs or have a winning record. Small sample size, but it’s pretty clear that if you haven’t found a way to win in August, chances are you won’t find a magic light switch once the real games begin. That, and last week’s dispiriting 27-10 home spanking by Baltimore, means Gase is looking for a positive preseason-closing performance that will give his team (and its fans) something to feel good about. A puff of tailwind as the Sept. 9 season opener vs. Tennessee chugs into view. "We just didn’t have a very good game last week," as Gase put it. "We have to make sure that we play better." The ongoing duel between pessimism and doubt about the Dolphins and reasons to believe is the subject of my new column: Dolphins Must Make Us Believe.

UPOLL RESULT: CANES FOOTBALL 'OWNS THIS TOWN': We ran a poll (you may still vote in preceding blogpost) to accompany this recent column: Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town. Because I wondered if you all agreed. The poll asked, "If you could choose only one, which team currently 'owns this town,' by however you define the term?" Your results: Hurricanes football 56.85 percent, Heat 20.55%, Dolphins 19.18% and "other" 3.42%. These things are cyclical. The same poll five years ago and the Heat likely would have dominated. But right now? It's all about The U!

BecksDAVID BECKHAM AND 'UNCLE ELTON': The face of the new Miami franchise that will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020, David Beckham, is pictured this week on a yacht in the French Riviera alongside wife Victoria and Elton John, a fellow Brit whom Becks has known for years.  Life is good for the Beckham clan. Do not fret that he is overworking himself. This is the fourth vacation this summer for the Beckhams and their four children: Brooklyn, 19, Romeo, 15, Cruz, 13, and Harper, 7. The French Riviera follows family forays to Croatia, Bali and Montenegro. "Uncle Elton. We have known each other now for 25 years. Fun times with each other," Beckham wrote on his Instagram page.

Other select recent columns: Finally, a Chance to Say Thanks (Stanton's return). NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades (death of Tony Sparano). Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 29, 2018

Dolphins? Canes football? Heat? Who owns this town? New poll. Vote now!; plus latest 'Back In My Day' (Rear-View Mirrors!), your verdict on No. 1 fantasy pick & more

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

1) It's Wednesday, August 29. Football's back and that means it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins fall to 0-3 in preseason, fantasy football who's-No. 1 poll, R.I.P. John McCain, 4-Man Outfield, The List, your Stanton verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

CanesfbLATEST COLUMN: FOR NOW, AT LEAST, CANES FOOTBALL OWNS THIS TOWN: I write in my latest column that Miami Hurricanes football is poised to own this town Dolphins Heat Canesin a way it did not even during its run of five championships in that 19-year span from 1983-2001. That's because the Dolphins were interesting and competitive at that time. It was the Dan Marino era, a time in which the Fins had only one losing season in those 19 years. Now, the rising Canes (safety Sheldrick Redwine is pictured) are really good at a time when the Dolphins are deep-stuck in mediocrity, and when the Heat are downsized and nobody's idea of a title contender. I explore all of this and more in that new column. To read it, click Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town. But that's my opinion. I want yours. Take a dip in our poll. Vote now!

 
POLL RESULT: GURLEY REIGNS AS NO. 1 FANTASY PICK: We asked in a blog poll, "Who among these ESPN-projected top 10 fantasy players would you most want on your team in a PPR league this season?" Todd Gurley won easily with 45.98 percent, followed by Le'Veon Bell at 18.39% and Antonio Brown with 12.64%. Nobody else was in double digits. Then we asked in a poll on our Twitter site which of those top-three votegetters you'd want. The results: Gurley 45%, Bell 28% and Brown 13%, with "somebody else" drawing 14%.
 
NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': REAR-VIEW MIRRORS!: This debuted on yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio:

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 27, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus the good, bad and ugly of Fins' 3rd preseason loss; also, fantasy football poll, 4-Man Outfield, Fins in fantasy Top 300, The List, your Stanton verdict & more

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

Mccain1) It's Monday, August 27. R.I.P., John McCain, the war hero, great statesman and independent thinker who passed away last evening at age 81 from brain cancer. 2) Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stanton back in Miami with poll, me back from vacation, Herald endorses alien-abduction survivor, Canes' recycled uniforms, R.I.P. Aretha & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday and updated-Monday feature -- back for the first time since August 5 after three weeks' vacation -- is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Countdown 6 days until UM football season opener: It's No. 8 Miami vs. No. 25 LSU next Sunday in prime time on ABC in a neutral-site season opener in Arlington, Texas and the only football game in the nation that day. Canes' most anticipated season in years has a chance to be special but starts with a major challenge. This ain't no soft opening, folks.

2. DOLPHINS: Tannehill sharp again but Fins fall to 0-3 in preseason: Miami played its starters much of the game Saturday night at The Rock. Ravens did not. Baltimore won, 27-10, dropping Miami to 0-3 in fake games. The good news? Comeback-strong Ryan Tannehill is a sharp 29-for-39 this preseason for 247 yards, one TD and zero picks. 

3. HEAT: Wade, Haslem re-signing with Miami seems nearly certain: Isn't official yet, or announced, but you'd probably be safe to bet on Heat legend Dwyane Wade and franchise lifer Udonis Haslem, both free agents, each signing again with Miami. Welcome back, fellas.

4. MARLINS: Miami ends its Braves jinx: Rebuilding Marlins had lost nine in a row to Atlanta before winning two straight prior to Sunday's series-ending loss up there. Now it's two straight at Fenway against the best team in baseball. Fish are fighting to avoid a 100-loss season. Current pace: 65-97.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: And we're underway!: Week 1 of Division 1A college football began Saturday night with four minor games. There are three opening-week Top 25 matchups. Beside Miami-LSU, they are No. 14  Michigan at 12-Notre Dame next Saturday, and 20-Virginia  Tech at 19-FSU a week from Monday. 

6. FIU: Davis' second season launches in 5 days: FIU Panthers begin second season under Butch Davis this coming Saturday at home vs. Indiana (and three weeks later face the Hurricanes). Can Cats build on success of last year's 8-5 record?

7. FAU: Kiffin 2.0 opens with brutal opening test: Colorful, attention-getting Lane Kiffin's second season with the FAU Owls begins this coming Saturday with a bang (and very likely a loss) at No. 7 Oklahoma. Owls ended last season 11-3 with 10 straight wins, so Kiffin is the King of Boca Raton until further notice.

8. TENNIS: French Open tells Serena how to dress: The French Open instituted a new dress code pretty much specifically designed to prevent Serena Williams from again wearing her skin-tight "cat suit." Some saw it as an affront to women's right. Um, let's save our outrage for causes that are actually important, shall we?

9.YOUTH BASEBALL: LLWS crown decided Sunday: Hawaii defeated South Korea on Sunday ("U-S-A! U-S-A!") for the Little League World Championship title. From what I've seen of some of these "kids," let's check those birth certificates, OK?

10. GOLF: Another week with Tiger not winning: The PGA Tour's Northern Trust in New Jersey wrapped up Sunday and somebody won but it wasn't Tiger Woods.

Missing the HB10 cut: A Los Angeles restaurant jokingly presented Astros pitcher Justin Verlander a $1 million lunch bill after he beat the Dodgers. Um, what'd be the 15 percent tip on that? ..... Jemele Hill and ESPN are parting ways. Meaning she can now criticize Donald Trump without fear of admonishment or suspension ..... Update. Countdown now 2,857 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

BaldolPS3: BALTIMORE 27, DOLPHINS 10: A FEW POSITIVE SIGNS AMID OVERALL BLIGHT: Ryan Tannehill (11-for-16, 115 yards, 110.2 rating) looked sharp -- again -- including a 75-yard TD drive finished by a Danny Amendola catch last night. But there isn't a lot else good to say about a 27-10 loss to Baltimore and an 0-3 fake-game record -- especially because, while Miami treated the game as a dress rehearsal, the Raven sat most of their key players. Overall the Dolphins were dominated in possession time, allowed 223 hyards rushing, had eight penalties, were 2-for-12 on third down conversions, and the backup QB stunk again. Oh, and the offensive line gave up five sacks. We thought last night would be true gauge, with both teams playing starters and trying to win. We wrote so here: Unveiling: The Dolphins Are About To Be Revealed. Instead the Dolphins tried harder to win, making the result all the more jarring. Perfect snapshot of the night: Fins linebacker Kiko Alonso getting lost and running toward the Ravens sideline before sheepishly being turned around, embarrassed, and making the long trek across the field to his own sideline. Kiko and his team. Befuddled. And without much time left to discover answers. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL POLL: WHO'S YOUR NO. 1 OVERALL PICK?: My two fantasy league drafts are almost here. Yours probably are, too. IN the poll below are the top 10 projected players, via ESPN.com, based on a PPR league, with the list alphabetical, not by ranking. Vote who among these top 10 would be your No. 1 pick. Click here for ESPN's complete top 300. To save you time, Dolphins making the list are: RB Kenyan Drake (42nd), WR DeVante Parker (94th), WR Kenny Stills (102nd), WR Danny Amendola (112th), RB Frank Gore (206th), QB Ryan Tannehill (220th), WR Albert Wilson (225th), TE Mike Gesicki (247th) and RB Kalen Ballage (277th). I thik Amendola would be my first pick among Dolphins receivers. And I like Tannehill as a backup. Anyway, who's No. 1 overall? Vote now!

POLL RESULT: WE'D HAVE CHEERED A HOMER BY YANKS' STANTON: We asked, "Should Miami fans have cheered if the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton hit his 300th career home run here this week at Marlins Park?" And the vote was 

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): YELICH, STANTON BATTLINGThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current (though injured) Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the most highly regarded prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog when we remember to. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .906  116 463 89 143   67  27-4-23     .309

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .879  129  505 84 141   82  27-1-32    .279

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .728  123 484  52 133   69  13-2-16     .275

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

THE LIST: UNBEATEN AND WINLESS DOLPHINS PRESEASONS: With Miami now 0-3 in the preseason, we were curious how rare that unbeaten and winless preseasons (including no ties) have been in the Dolphins' 52 seasons -- and how that correlated to that year's regular season record. Well, there have been a total of only eight, and there is a correlation to season success:

UNBEATEN (5x)

Year (Record)        Coach/QB                Regular season

1976 (6-0)             Shula/Griese            6-8, no playoffs  

1979 (4-0)             Shula/Griese            10-6, won division, 0-1 playoffs

1981 (4-0)             Shula/Woodley         11-4-1, won division, 0-1 playoffs 

1998 (4-0)             Johnson/Marino       10-6, 2nd in division, 1-1 playoffs

2009 (4-0)             Sparano/Henne        7-9, no playoffs

WINLESSS (3x)

Year (Record)        Coach/QB                Regular season

1966 (0-4)             Wilson/Wilson Jr.     3-11, no playoffs

1989 (0-4)             Shula/Marino           8-8, no playoffs

2012 (0-4)             Philbin/Tannehill     7-9, no playoffs

Note: QB refers to most regular season games started that year. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 23, 2018

On Stanton's 1st return to Marlins Park as a Yankee: My column, and a poll. Vote now!; plus our summer vacation and what we missed, LeBatard Show best-of podcast, Canes' recycled unis, R.I.P. Aretha, Herald endorses alien-abduction survivor & more

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

Aretha1) It's Thursday, August 23. Happy birthday yesterday to my wife, the greatest person I know! 2) R.I.P. on the passing of the great Aretha Franklin. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. 3) Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Vacation advisory, personal health scare, Dolphins drop preseason opener & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LeBatard Show reunion: Still no Dan, but Stugotz and I were back from vacation and in-studio Tuesday on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Click HERE for listen to the best-of podcast.

StantonON STANTON'S FIRST RETURN AS A YANKEE: Giancarlo Stanton said it would be "weird" for him. For Miami fans, too, as Stanton returned to Marlins Park for a two-game series with the Yankees that the team split this week -- his first time back since his offseason trade to New York. He went 3-for-9 in the two games (two singles, one double) with five strikeouts. and was greeted warmly by Marlins fans. His return is the topic of my latest column. To read it, click on Finally, a Chance to Say Thanks. And vote in the poll below. His 300th career homer didn't happen here. But if it had, how would you have reacted?

Colo ColomeI'M BACK. WHAT'D I MISS? ANYTHING?: Wife and I spent a glorious eight days on a Colorado vacation. I'm back to work (and thankfully to sea-level oxygen) today. The very high altitudes of Colorado are not something one adjusts to easily, or quickly. Nevertheless we had a great time flying in and out of Denver and balling the jack in a rental SUV to Boulder, Aspen, Vail and ghost towns in between. We love these driving vacations, and the road course and vistas of the Rocky Mountains provided maybe the most picturesque trip we have enjoyed in the U.S., challenged only by the majesty of the Pacific Coast Highway, which we experienced two summers earlier. Meanwhile, back home, while we were away, the Dolphins were 0-2 in preseason games, the Marlins went 2-7 and Dwyane Wade was still keeping the Heat on hold in terms of his future. In other words, I guess we didn't miss much. Happy to be back.

Our most recent columns: NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireGore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End RunDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy OneTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades (on death of Tony Sparano). Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

Bettina AlienHERALD ENDORSES ALIEN-ABDUCTION SURVIVOR: An only-in-Miami moment if ever there was one. The Miami Herald's Editorial Board endorsing a candidate who professes to believe in extra-terrestrials, says she was taken aboard a spaceship at age 7, and that throughout her life she has communicated telepathically with alien beings. Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, former Doral councilwoman, is pictured far right. She is among several Republican Congressional candidates running to fill the vacancy of retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and (astonishingly to some) received the Herald's backing in the Aug. 28 election. "We realize that Rodriguez Aguilera is an unusual candidate," admitted the Herald in a rather hilarious understatement. One surmises that the newspaper perhaps settled on this candidate after determining that all of the other Republicans in the field are actual aliens. The image at right, found all over the Internet, may or may not be Rodriguez Aguilera's actual campaign poster.

And the only headline that could possibly be stranger than the one directly above...

NEW HURRICANES FOOTBALL UNIFORMS MADE OF RECYCLED OCEAN TRASH: Ripe fodder for making fun, but good for them. Save the oceans! Protect your Mother! They've recycled nylon  fishing line. Somebody should invent uniforms made of recycled plastic straws.

R.I.P, QUEEN OF SOUL, 1942-2018:

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 08, 2018

One Hurricane makes list of Top 50 college football players entering 2018 season; plus Cassius Clay at 19, Ryan Tannehill's rank in new PFF rating, personal note & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8. Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on Dwyane Wade's next move, 4-Man Outfield & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Personal note: On radio, vacation: I am on vacation this week and next so you'll see less of me in the newspaper (online and print), although I'll still be tending to this blog regularly. I'll not be on the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio these two Tuesdays (yesterday or next week) before returning. Meantime here are my two most recent columns. Click on NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest Quagmire and Gore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End Run. One is on Roger Goodell's cluelessness, and the other is a feelgoodie on ex-Cane Frank Gore back in the 3-0-5 for first time in 14 years.

ShaqONE HURRICANE MAKES COLLEGE  FOOTBALL TOP  50: Better than nothing, I suppose. One Miami Hurricanes makes ESPN's new Top 50 ranking of the best players in college football entering the 2018 season. Unsurprisingly, it's inside linebacker Shaq Quarterman, the tackle machine, who makes it at No. 48. Quarterman (pictured) figures as the figurative and literal center of what should be a formidable UM defense. Four other state-college players make it: No. 20 UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, No. 21 FSU running back Cam Akers, No. 34 FSU cornerback Levonta Taylor and No. 50 FAU running back Devin Singletary. Click here for the full story and top-50 list.

Clay19ALI (THEN STILL CASSIUS CLAY) in MIAMI BEACH AT AGE 19: Saw this photo on Pinterest. Unfortunately there was no credit given to a photographer, but clearly it was taken at the original 5th Street Gym on Miami Beach, reportedly in 1961 when the then-still Cassius Clay would have been 19. Clay would change his name to Muhammad Ali three years later. Notice the spanking clean signage and what appears to be a freshly painted wall. That's a far cry from the dingy, dilapidated charm the place would take on before the building at last was demolished in 1993. 

RyantDOLPHINS' TANNEHILL 24TH IN NEW QB RANKING: From Pro Football Focus, for what it's worth, comes a new ranking of all 32 expected starting quarterbacks entering the '18 season, and Miami's Ryan Tannehill (pictured) checks in a rather disrespected No. 24. Old man Tom Brady of the Patriots is No. 1, but the other two QBs in the AFC East form the list's caboose: the Jets' Josh McCown 31st and the Bills' A.J. McCarron 32nd.

Other recent columnsDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One, on start of training camp, and To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades, on the death of Tony Sparano. Also: Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNS: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 04, 2018

The new Hot Button Top 10: Football in top spot, but see which team and what else falls where; plus our latest columns, your Dwyane Wade verdict, 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY-MONDAY, AUGUST 4-6. Posting Sunday's Hot Button Top 10 early this week because I'm-a takin' the long weekend off! 2) Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade's next move with poll, Frank Gore's perfect end run, NFL cluelessness on anthem protests, Zach Thomas and Canton & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: On NFL's quagmire, Gore's homecoming: Click on NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest Quagmire and Gore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End Run to read my most recent columns. The headlines are pretty self-explanatory. One's on Roger Goodell's cluelessness, the other's a feelgoodie on ex-Cane Frank Gore back in the 3-0-5 for first time in 14 years.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (AUGUST 5): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (posted a bit early this week) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Let the (preseason) games begin!: Are you ready for some football? Better question: Are the Miami Dolphins ready for some football? After a little over a week of practice and then Saturday's midday scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami plays its first of four exhibition games Thursday August 9 vs. Tampa Bay at The Rock. It'll be a play-everybody dress rehearsal with early roster trims in mind, yes. Who wins won't count for much, no. But, still: Football's back, baby!

2. HURRICANES: UM football No. 8 in first big preseason poll: With the Sept. 2 season opener looming, the high hopes for Canes football got validation with The U's debut at No. 8 in the nation in the USA Today Coaches poll, the first major ranking out -- marking UM's first time in a preseason top 10 since 2005. The  bad news? Miami's ACC roadblock, Clemson, checks in No. 2, trailing only (of course) Alabama.

3. MLS MIAMI: Team takes shape as new GM is hired: Paul McDonough was Atlanta United's VP of soccer operations. Now he is Miami's new general manager who'll start putting together the Major League Soccer expansion team's roster. (Although McDonough's official title here will be "Sporting Director." Which is sooo soccer). The Jorge Mas/David Beckham's group's team is to begin play in 2020 and be in its new stadium by 2021, presuming a November referendum green-lights the Melreese site.

4. MARLINS: Two small trades, one special callup top week: Fish beat the MLB trade deadline by dealing middle reliever Brad Ziegler and outfielder Cameron Maybin for prospects. It's who they didn't trade (J.T. Realmuto) that mattered. And this: Outfielder Isaac Galloway finally earning his promotion from Triple A and getting his first big league at-bat after 947 games in the minors. That's the kind of feelgood story baseball does best.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Trouble for Urban Meyer at Ohio State: Preseason No. 3 Ohio State got gut-punched when the university placed coach Urban Meyer on paid "administrative leave" pending an investigation whether Meyer knew of a 2015 domestic violence allegation against an assistant but did nothing. That's d-i-s-t-r-a-c-t-i-o-n. With a capital D.

6. GOLF: Tiger, Phil agree to mega-match: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson agreed to play a head-to-head match for a reported $10 million payout over the Thanksgiving weekend in (where else?) Las Vegas. Tiger is 42, Phil is 48, both are past their prime and this will be the biggest thing in golf. Not sure if that says more about the state of the sport or the enduring appeal and popularity of Tiger and Phil. But I'll watch.

7. LEGAL SYSTEM: Jose Fernandez estate settles suit: The estate of former Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez settled a wrongful-death suit brought by the families of the two men killed in the September 2016 boat crash that killed all three men. The agreement was reached on what would have been Fernandez's 26th birthday, bringing closer to closure one of the worst tragedies in South Florida sports history.

8. SOCCER: Brits rule ICC's swing through Miami: English Premier League giants Manchester United and Manchester City prevailed in the two International Champions Cup men's matches at Hard Rock Stadium. Man U defeated Spain's Real Madrid 2-1, after Man City beat Germany's Bayern Munich 3-2. The Real Madrid match drew a sellout of 64,000. Maybe they hadn't hard Cristiano Ronaldo was no longer with the team?

9. NFL: Ex-Cane Ray Lewis leads Hall inductees in Canton: After Thursday's Bears-Ravens game kicked off the preseason in Canton, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher and no-show Terrell Owens led the Saturday parade of latest members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dear T.O.: Nobody missed you and you'll regret not going the rest of your life. Dear Hall voters: Compare Urlacher's career to Zach Thomas' and tell me why one was a first-ballot inductee and the other gets no love?

10. GOLF: Year's final major on deck: The 100th PGA Championship, the season's final major, is this coming Thursday through Sunday in Missouri. Will this be Tiger's breakthrough for his first career major win since 2008? And what's the over/under on how many times I've asked that since 2008?

Missing the HB10 cut: WWDD. What would Dwyane do? Free agent Dwyane Wade soon will decide either to play another season in Miami, retire, play in China or play elsewhere in the NBA. That's in order of likelihood, with one more Heat season the betting -- and sentimental -- favorite ..... NFL announced the 2019 Pro Bowl would be returning to Orlando, and nobody cared ..... Patriots sign Eric Decker. Evidently he was the last small white receiver available ...... Yankees at Red Sox on Sunday night. Still the best rivalry in sports. And getting better? ..... An Italian football team hired Art Briles. Um, did they not Google his name first!? ..... Juventus beats MLS All-Stars on penalties after a 1-1 draw.  Anything in sports worse than deciding soccer games on penalty-kick tiebreaker? ..... Dear young athletes who used to be dumb bigots: Erase those old Tweets! ..... Update. Countdown now 2,878 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

POLL RESULT: STRONG MAJORITY SEE D-WADE RETURNING TO HEAT: With Dwyane Wade a free agent at age 36 and expected to announce his intentions sometime this month, we asked, "What do you predict Dwyane Wade will do?" and offered four choices. "Play another season with the Heat" won easily with 69.95 percent, while "Follow money, play in China" drew 16.75%. Another 10.34% voted "Retire from basketball," and only 2.96% said "Sign with different NBA team."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): HOT YELICH GROWS LEADThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current (though injured) Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the most highly regarded prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .921   97 380 77 122   59  23-4-17     .321

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .849  107  419 67 116   66  20-1-25    .277

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .704  106 415  44 111   59  11-1-13     .267

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

Other recent columnsDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One, on start of training camp, and To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades, on the death of Tony Sparano. Also: Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote