September 23, 2015

Heat's immediate future rated as bright; plus NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos updates, R.I.P. Yogi Berra, Dolphins' 1st 5 on 50th all-time team, newest in Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Fins' biggest problem, SOPY Week 3 standings & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. R.I.P., Yogi Berra, 90. [Insert malaprop]. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are even sadder than you might have imagined. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose at Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The Hot List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Ndamukong Suh column: In my latest column I explore the early heat finding Dolphins megamillionaire Ndamukonh Suh. Click on There Are Greater Concerns. The heat is misplaced. Suh's had two quiet games, but Miami has greater problems at 1-1, such as a disappearing ground game, shaky-at-times defense overall and bonehead penalties. Oh, and a brutal divison. New England we know, Buffalo proved Sunday it can play with the Patriots, then, Monday night, the New York Jets' defense dominated Andrew Luck. Better play from Suh had better be just the start of all the getting-better the Dolphins do.

HEAT RANKED 6TH IN NBA 'FUTURE POWER RANKINGS': ESPN's latest annual Future Power Rankings, a guesstimate projection of how each NBA team will fare on the court over the next three seasons, has 1aa1aheat1516Miami at No. 6 (up from ninth a year ago), trailing only Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago and Houston. The Worldwide Leader's synopsis of Miami: "The Heat face a fascinating next 12 months. Miami has just four players under guaranteed contract beyond this season: guard Goran Dragic and forwards Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and (rookie) Justise Winslow. The Heat could clear significant cap space next summer -- or be completely capped out by re-signing unrestricted free agents Dwayne Wade and Hassan Whiteside. (Dragic and Wade are pictured). Whiteside presents a particularly thorny issue. The Heat will only have Whiteside's Early Bird rights, meaning Miami will have to dip into its cap space to re-sign him for more than the mid-level exception. Then again, Whiteside could regress and not be worth even that. We wouldn't trust everyone to manage an aging roster with so many question marks, but Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have earned the benefit of the doubt. And South Beach will always be a draw for players like Dragic, who left money on the table to re-sign this summer." Miami opens its 2015-16 pre-season with media day this coming Monday, following by training camp at FAU in Boca Raton.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Pix: Rough 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosweek: Stumbled at 7-9 overall with a slight bump to 8-8 against the spread. Called outright upsets by Broncos and Browns and had two other 'dogs-with-points in Redskins and Cowboys but not enough else went right. Lobos / family league: Tough loss: The original Lobos scored OK but lost 142-123 to fall to 1-1, despite 28 points from Odell Beckham, 27 from Torrey Smith and 19 from Adrian Peterson. Drew Brees (12) is letting me down and now banged up. Lobos / radio-show league: Ugh. Ouch: The new Lobos lost 111.8-93.1, dropping to 0-2. Got 28.7 from Emmanuel Sanders and then a whole lotta nuthin. Still  might have pulled it out Monday with a big game by Andrew Luck, but you saw how that went.

DOLPHINS ANNOUNCE FIRST 5 ON 50TH ALL-TIME TEAM: The Dolphins are gradually announcing their Top 50 all-time players in conjunction with this season's Golden Anniversary, and the first five announced today are safety Dick Anderson, receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, receiver O.J. McDuffie and safety Jake Scott. The "Marks Brothers" and safety tandem are no-brainers. McDuffie I think is deserving but wasn't, for me, the sure thing the other four were. The 50 were selected by fans, team alumni, local media and a "select blue ribbon panel." Five on the team will be announced each week starting with this. The entire team will be honored on the Dec. 14 home game vs. the Giants.

FLORIDA SPORTS HALL OF FAME ADDS NINE: The 54-year-old Florida Sports Hall of Fame will add nine new members, announced this week, in a Nov. 17 ceremony at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, (incredibly) the first time the group has held an induction in South Florida. Newest hall members alphabetically are: Longtime UM diving coach Randy Abelman, Ex-Hurricanes football star Bennie Blades, bowling hall of famer Paula Carter, "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine, former champion Bucs coach Tony Dungy, the late broadcaster Sonny Hirsch, the jai-alai champion Joey (Cornblit), Dolphins legend Zach Thomas and one-time Panthers goaltender John Vanbeisbrouck.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH VAULTS TO NO. 1: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State 1aa1asopy 1aa1aalexmcgOffensive Player of the Year -- are underway and FIU quarterback Alex McGough (pictured) is our new Week 3 leader. SOPY does not discriminate. The smaller-school guys have a chance! Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 3:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 3

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W3        Season

1 (2)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         216       536.5

2 (1)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             57         522

3 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       136        445

4 (9)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           192.5    434.5

5 (4)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb    127       391

6 (10)        Will Grier, Florida-qb           129.5     370 

7 (5)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             75        338

8t (--)        Alex Gardner, rb-FIU             93        318

8t (3)        Everett Golson, FSU-qb         70.5       318

10 (--)       Marlon Mack, rb-SoFla           78         313

Bubble: Thomas Owens, wr-FIU, 304. Other team leader: Jordan Akins, UCF-wr, 164. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: All teams 2 games each. Past SOPY champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (3-0); 2. Florida (3-0); 3. Miami (3-0); 4. FIU (2-1); 5. South Florida (1-2); 6. UCF (0-3); 7. FAU (0-3).

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

September 18, 2015

Do you like the Miami Herald's new redesigned look? New poll. Vote now!; plus Hurricanes-Nebraska hype video, list of UM's 21 current NFL starters, NFL Week 2 picks, Canton betting odds, FSU tonight & more


1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins DE Cam Wake and S Reshad Jones both questionable for Sunday with hamstring injuries, although, in the NFL, "questionable" usually means they'll play. 2) Sorry we've been a bit stagnant with the blog this week; been under the weather. 3) Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Butch Davis invades Al Golden's backyard, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Headline: 'Russian Pranksters Fool Elton John With Fake Phone Call from Vladimir Putin.' My reaction: "Who knew Russia had pranksters?" --Greg Cote

Top party schools: Noles No. 3: Playboy's dubious annual list of Top Party Schools is out, with a Top 5 of Ohio U., Iowa, Florida State, Tulane and Illinois. Click here for the full list. FSU ranked that high is a surprise, considering Jameis Winston left.

I LIKE THE HERALD'S NEW REDESIGNED LOOK. DO YOU?: I've been known to complain, even to occasionally say and write things about the Miami Herald that annoy my bosses. For example, when we 1aa1aheraldchanged the website last fall in a way that fundamentally discouraged comments in blogs, I hated that and said so. This week we changed the look of both the print (newspaper) and digital (online) Herald, and I think it looks terrific. Congrats to all involved. I like the emphasis on visual presentation and the compatibility across all formats. Also like the emphasis and on our personalities and other things unique to the Herald. Honestly, you can get basic news anywhere. But you can't get Leonard Pitts and Carl Hiaasen and our investigative journalism anywhere else, for example. Still getting used to the near-lifesize, full-length photo of me that now runs with my columns, but that's another story. Hey, we need to change, improve. We're fighters. We don' quit. We are an industry adapting to evolving, turbulent times for the business. I think this week is a positive step. Do you? I know change is often hard. Our knee-jerk reaction is often to not like it, to resist. We like things we're used to. With that understanding, I'm curious how you feel about the new look. Vote and say why.

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 2: Our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions got off to a boffo start last week with an 11-5 mark overall and 10-5-1 vs. the spread. [Boffo: Slang adjective, now 1aa1afripixrarely used, meaning extremely successful; great]. Week 2 took off swell as well as I bull's-eyed last night's outright Broncos upset at Kansas City. Did I get lucky? Lucky schmucky. Those breaks go both ways. I'll take it. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins handle Jax easily, Pats turn back Rex Ryan in Game of the Week, and Lions win at Minny in Upset of Week. Also click on Canes' NFL Influence Is Graying for my accompanying Friday Page column. I examine the state-college players currently on rosters, and list the dozen players (10 UM, 1 FIU, 1 FAU) from SoFla schools who are both current starters and have made at least one Pro Bowl. Our observation: the top Canes are a graying lot (think Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork) that could use replenishing. Only LSU with 40 has more than UM's 38 active NFL'ers, a list infused with this year's seven drafted rookies. But the Canes are looking for their next big star. The youngest Pro Bowl Cane is Jimmy Graham (who wasn't even a football recruit). Who's next? See The List below for the Canes' 21 current NFL starters.

Canton betting odds: Via, favorites for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class are Brett Favre at a should-be-off-the-board 1-25, Orlando Pace at 1-3, Kevin Greene at 1-3, Kurt Warner at 5-6, Marvin Harrison at 2-3 and Tony Dungy at 2-3. (I'm not nearly that certain on Greene). Reasonable longshots are Terrell Davis 2-1, Don Coryell 5-2, Roger Craig 3-1, Terrell Owens 10-3 and ex-Cane Edgerrin James 4-1.

CANES-HUSKERS HYPE VIDEO: If you're not already pumped for UM-Nebraska tomorrow a 1-minute video might not help, but here's one anyway, via The U today:

 THE LIST: HURRICANES STARTERS IN THE NFL: There are 38 former Hurricanes on current NFL rosters. Here, by team, are the 21 (on 15 teams) who are listed as starters on their team's current depth chart:

ARI: DE Calais Campbell

ATL: P Matt Bosher, RET Devin Hester

BUF: OT Seantrel Henderson

CAR: TE Greg Olsen

CHI: P Pat O'Donnell, S Antrel Rolle

GB: CB Sam Shields

HOU: DT Vince Wilfork

IND: RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson

JAC: WR Allen Hurns, OG Brandon Linder

KC: DE Allen Bailey

MIA: RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon

NYG: LB Jon Beason, OT Ereck Flowers

OAK: LB Ray-Ray Armstrong

SD: OG Orlando Franklin

SEA: TE Jimmy Graham

SEMINOLES FACING UPSET?: No. 9-ranked Florida State is a modest 7 1/2-point favorite at 2-0 Boston College tonight at 8, and an upset would not shock me. (Surprise, yes. Shock, no). Fans of the Miami Hurricanes, who visit FSU Oct. 10, will be scout-watching keenly on ESPN.

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

September 13, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 34.2%; plus UM finishes strong, whips FAU 44-20; also it's Upset Bird Day in Miami, Stugotz reigns in LeBatard Show fantasy poll, remembering 9/11 & more


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12. It was 14 years ago yesterday. 'Never forget' doesn't just mean once a year. 2)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBatard Show fantasy-draft poll, Upset Bird Countdown, Weighing The Fish, Serena verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My UM-FAU game column: Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton off last night's 44-20 Hurricanes win. It was the night Howard Schnellenberger dreamed of (minus the lightning delay that upset him), but it was hardly the night of Al Golden's dreams, at least not early. And find our gamepost and postgame thoughts in the blog just below the latest CSM poll. 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 34.2%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 34.2 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Friday's 44-20 victory at FAU putting 1aa1acsmMiami's season record at 2-0. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes 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, this season as a whole, 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 a.m. today/Sunday.

Interpreting the latest vote: Not usual to see a drop in approval after your team goes to 2-0 with a 24-point road win, but UM fas had two-thirds of Friday's game to wring hands over a poor showing before that late surge. The lesser opponent also factors in. So does widespread animus against Al Golden, which doubtlessly is impacting the voting in 2015.

2015 CSM Results

Week 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Week 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Next poll: Sept. 19 (following game vs. Nebraska) 

G2: HURRICANES 44, FAU 20: STRONG FINISH SPARES UM AN EMBARRASSMENT: Final: What a bizarre night all-round. Another hour-plus lightning delay pauses a second straight UM game. And for much of the night, before and after the delay, the Canes struggle with underdog FAU (tied 20-20) before finally pulling away to a comfy-enough 44-20 win. Fleeting thoughts of a major upset dissipated fast as Miami took control. An impressive win by Miami? No. But the tenor of the game and who had the emotional edge was predictable. This was the biggest home game in FAU history and set a stadium record by drawing 30,321 fans. For UM, this was just a smaller opponent with thoughts of Nebraska, here next Saturday. I expected the look-ahead factor to cause a fairly competitive game; see my predicted score below. I had it 45-20, missing an exacto by one point. ..... Original post: Welcome to Howard Bowl II as the program Howard 1aa1acanesfauSchnellenberger founded hosts the program he put on the national map and made a champion. This doesn't present as the waltz last week was for Miami, the 45-0 home saunter past undermanned Bethune-Cookman. Florida Atlantic is bigger and better than B-C. Let's not over-dramatize it, though. The Canes are an 18-point favorite and this should not come down to fingers-crossed in the fourth quarter for UM fans who make the short trek up to Boca for their school's first visit to FAU's neat little campus stadium (the House That Howard Built). It seats just under 30,000 and it'll be filled and rocking tonight. Looking forward to the ambience, and the game could be exciting, too, if you love scoring. The Owls don't have the defense to limit Brad Kaaya and company much. Then again, FAU quarterback Jacquez Johnson is capable (and experienced) in the art of the shootout. UM won these teams' only other meeting, Howard Bowl I, by 34-6 in 2013. By the way, Schnellenberger, the Wise Old Owl now 81, says he thinks FAU has a real upset shot tonight and doesn't see much difference between the programs' talent levels. God help Al Golden if he's proven right. My pick: Hurricanes, 45-20.

Other college Week 2 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today/Saturday):

No. 11 Florida State 34, South Florida 14: Dalvin Cook crazies for 266 yards rushing for Noles.

Florida 31, East Carolina 24: Not a win to please the Swampers

Indiana 36, FIU 22: Panthers fail to bag a second straight big road upset.

Stanford 31, UCF 7: Knights now a disappointing 0-2.

1aa1afripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. HELL, IN AMERICA!: Our 10-day countdown is over. Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions has begun! A Miami Herald tradition that began in 1991 continues with our Week 1 picks, which got off to a fortunate solid start Thursday as we called Patriots' win over Steelers and lucked to push against the spread thanks to that (very) late Pittsburgh score. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our opening-week picks, including the Dolphins' expected comfortable win in Washington. And click on Fearful Forecast for our accompanying NFL column that features our division-by-division picks as we try to break with long-standing tradition by actually getting a Super Bowl prediction right for a bleepin' change. We'll update you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we're doing with our picks.

STUGOTZ ANOINTED LEBATARD FANTASY-LEAGUE FAVORITE; GREG'S LOBOS FIFTH: We invited you to vote in a blind poll based on all teams' first four picks, not knowing which of 10 LeBatard radio show players you were voting for. Your winner: Stugotz (pictured exalting in his triumph) in a runaway. Greg's Lobos: fifth place. Teams you liked least: LeBatard and his Papi. Here are your results:

1aa1astugotz1st place: JON "STUGOTZ" WEINER, co-host, Team #1/led by Adrian Peterson, 31.1%.

2nd: "FAT" CHRIS, Shipping Container, Team #8/Julio Jones, 14.3%.

3rd: BILLY, Shipping Container, Team #7/Marshawn Lynch, 12.6%.

4th: MIKE RYAN, producer, Team #2/Le'Veon Bell, 12.2%.

5th: GREG COTE, Tuesday guest host -- me, Greg's Lobos! -- Team #9/Andrew Luck, 11.6%.

6th (tie): ALLYSON, Shipping Container, Team #4/Jamaal Charles, 5.6%.

6th (tie): CHARLIE, Fusion TV, Team #6/Rob Gronkowski, 5.6%.  

8th: ROY, Shipping Container, Team #3/Eddie Lacy, 4.6%.

9th: DAN LEBATARD, radio god, Team #10/C.J. Anderson, 1.7%.

10th: PAPI, Dan's dad, Team #5/Antonio Brown, 0.7%.

Note: There are two Greg's Lobos teams, this one in the radio fantasy league and the original Lobos in my family league. We'll be updating you on the radio league every Tuesday on-air, and I'll update you on both Lobos teams Tuesdays here in the blog. 

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

September 10, 2015

LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results. Who picked the best team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Patriots-Steelers pick, Upset Bird Countdown (1 day), new 'Weighing The Fish,' verdict on Serena & more


1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Today I research and write the season-debut of the Friday NFL predictions page. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Serena Williams G.O.A.T. poll, Howard Schnellenberger what-if, Breakfast with LeBatard, Riley speaks, debut of SOPY rankings, Marlins '16 home schedule, Stephen Colbert, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Patriots-Steelers pick: One day ahead of our Friday Page launch, today we offer our pick on tonight's Steelers-at-Patriots NFL season opener. Click on Kicking It Off for the full predix capsule. 

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

1aa1acardsstl 1aa1a1the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11 -- tomorrow -- and we've been doing a 10-day countdown. This year's theme: Bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. And today, at No. 1: St. Louis Cardinals, born 1900! [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3--Chicago Blackhawks/'26; #2--Arizona Cardinals/'20].

LEBATARD RADIO SHOW FANTASY DRAFT: WHO PICKED THE BEST TEAM?: We did a similar blind poll a few weeks ago after my family-league fantasy draft, and you all voted my team, Greg's Lobos, No. 1. 1aa1adanshow 1aa1adanshowdraftWill I be as lucky again here? This blind vote involves the 10-team LeBatard radio show fantasy draft that took place online yesterday. After the vote we'll tell you who's with what team and thus who you voted best to worst. League members are LeBatard, Stugotz, Mike Ryan, me, Allyson, Charlie, Roy, Billy, Chris and Papi. That of course is not the order of teams in the poll. Teams are listed by draft order in a standard PPR league. Vote for who made the most of his or her first four picks -- which team you'd most want based on the names you see.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (140 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 140 games (at 59-81):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @130

1  Dee Gordon                  462.6    1

2  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   3

3  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

4  Martin Prado              345.9    4

5  Christian Yelich         323.2   5

6  Jacob Realmuto         315.0   6

7  Justin Bour                 302.1    8

8  Marcell Ozuna            292.2   7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              239.3   9

10  Derek Dietrich          212.2   10

11  Cole Gillespie            150.7   11

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 5.

Poll result: Strong support for Serena as G.O.A.T.: We asked if you think Serena Williams is the greatest of all-time in women's tennis, and 61.2 percent said yes while another 15.9% said not yet but headed there. The remaining 22.9% said no.

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

September 09, 2015

Serena Williams is the G.O.A.T. Isn't she? New poll. Vote now!; plus Upset Bird Countdown (2 days), Stephen Colbert, playing what-if with Schellenberger, Marlins 2016 home schedule, Riley on Heat, LeBatard to a.m., SOPY Week 1 rankings & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9. Marlins Park will host teams from Venezuela and Dominican Republic Nov. 21-22 in the first 'Serie de las Americas' tournament. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, the next-to-last that will appear in the print edition, meaning the newspaper. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Game 1 poll and results, Hot Button Top 10, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1acolbertOn Stephen Colbert: His debut last night helming CBS' Late Show was uneven and found him seeming a bit nervous, as you'd expect. The interviews with George Clooney and Jeb Bush weren't great. Some of the bits failed. Make no mistake, though: Colbert is a smart comedic genius or close enough for me, his band is great, and the show will be terrific. Give it time to breathe.


UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 2 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions 1aa1aazcards 1aa1a2in 1aa1afripix

the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. Today, at No. 2: Arizona Cardinals, born 1920. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3Chicago Blackhawks/'26].

SERENA: G.O.A.T. (GREATEST OF ALL TIME)?: Compelling. Watching Serena Williams defeat her sister Venus 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the U.S. Open last night was great sports, great TV, great theater. I have seldom seen Venus play better; not for years, anyway. Neither have I seen Serena more intense in a match vs. 1aa1aserenawher sister -- a passion she needed to keep alive her dream of accomplishing the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Winning the Open this week would also tied Graf's 22 career Grand Slam titles for second all-time, trailing only Margaret Court's 24. Serena, who lives in Palm Beach, will turn 34 on Sept. 26. She is a marvel, a rarity -- playing her best tennis, at this age. I think she will surpass Court and make it mathematically official but, for me, that isn't required. For me, right now, Serena is the greatest women's player of all time. Some of it may be generational (athletes are just better now). Just as it's hard to imagine Bill Russell defending Shaq, it's hard to imagine Chris Evert dealing with Serena's physical game and power. I doubt most will agree with me that Serena is the G.O.A.T. A fraction of the resistance may be racial. I think most of it is simply that Serena is not the easiest athlete to like. She has some diva in her, some temper. But that is part of her game, too. Gives her some of her swagger. In any case, take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: THE ULTIMATE GAME OF "WHAT IF...": Call it Schnellenberger Week in South Florida, with FAU hosting the Miami Hurricanes this Friday night in a battle of the two football programs he built from scratch (Owls) or saved and made powerful (Canes). The occasion was bigger, 1aa1ahow1 1aa1ahow2more historic, in 2013 when these schools met for the first time, but I'll take any opportunity to appreciate Schnellenberger, now 81. (Some may recall my column from Aug. 5 promoting the man for the college Hall of Fame; click on Howard Deserves the Hall to read). This week invites the ultimate game of "What If," Miami sports edition. What if Schnellenberger had never left UM, after that '83 national championship, to pursue that ill-fated Miami USFL job that never materialized? Wouldn't at least some of those subsequent four UM national titles been on his watch? Isn't it very possible he'd have become Miami's Bobby Bowden -- the long-serving Canes coach Miami never has managed in its modern era? Howard is reluctant to admit regrets about leaving UM when he did. "If I had the same group of facts I would have made the same decision a second time," he says. But, with hindsight 20/20, the regret seeps through when he adds, "Common sense says we probably would have been able to continue in the direction we were going, which would include some [additional] championships." Bottom line: "I make a decision and I live with it," he says. And here's the glass, half-full, not empty: Had Howard stayed at UM, he might never have gone on to resurrect the Louisville program or start the one at FAU -- the one with the great little 30,000-seat stadium that is hosting Friday's game because Schnellenberger saw it built. Pictured are two of Schnellenberger's lasting monuments: UM's first national championship, and FAU's campus stadium.  

1aa1adanshowBREAKFAST WITH LEBATARD!: The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz made its ballyhooed move from afternoons to mornings yesterday, debuting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. No me, though. I'm the regular Tuesday guest-host, but the show wanted the new-time debut to be feature regulars only, no guest host. My ego had a slight bruise, but I was a little upset totally understood!

Heat's Riley sort of not quite says he has a championship roster: On LeBatard yesterday Heat president Pat Riley said, "This team has all of the elements of a championship team." And, "This team has the opportunity and the possibilities of being a contender. I’m excited about this season." Um, but Pat also said: "You know what I’m going to say. I was a coach, and if I had five guys off the street, I would say we could win a championship. That’s either my naivete' or competitive will."

MARLINS COMPLETE 2016 HOME SCHEDULE: Miami will open the season at home with two games vs 1aa1abbmarlinsthe Detroit Tigers next April 5-6. The complete 81-game home schedule: APRIL: 5-6 vs. Tigers; 15-17 vs. Braves; 18-21 vs. Nationals. MAY: 3-5 vs. Diamondbacks; 6-8 vs. Phillies; 9-11 vs. Brewers; 20-22 vs. Nationals; 23-24 vs. Rays; 30-31 vs. Pirates. JUNE: 1-2 vs. Pirates; 3-5 vs. Mets; 17-20 vs. Rockies; 21-22 vs. Braves; 23-26 vs. Cubs. JULY: 8-10 vs. Reds; 11-14: All-Star Break; 22-24 vs. Mets; 25-27 vs. Phillies; 28-31 vs. Cardinals. AUGUST: 8-10 vs. Giants; 12-14 vs. White Sox; 23-25 vs. Royals; 26-28 vs. Padres. SEPTEMBER: 5-7 vs. Phillies; 9-11 vs. Dodgers; 19-21 vs. Nationals; 22-25 vs. Braves; 26-28 vs. Mets.

SOPY: FAU'S JOHNSON TAKES EARLY LEAD IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Welcome back to the fourth season of 1aa1asopy 1aa1ajjohnsonour blog's SOPY: State Offensive Player of the Year -- our weekly rankings of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams. This is a cumulative ranking that encompasses Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Our Week 1 leader is Jacquez Johnson (pictured), the dual-threat FAU Owls QB the Hurricanes will face in Boca Raton this Friday. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 1:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 1

Rk      Player, team-pos.                W1/Season

1        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      240.5

2        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                 181

3        Everett Golson, FSU-qb            175

4        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                155

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb      151.5

6        Greg Howell, FAU-rb                 150

7        Alex McGough, FIU-qb              148

8t       Will Grier, Florida-qb                143

8t       Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb             143

10       Treon Harris, Florida-qb          142.5

Bubble: Justin Holman, UCF-qb, 140.5. Other team leader: Rashawn Scott, Miami-wr, 106. Season best: Johnson, FAU-qb, 240.5, Week 1. Note: All teams 1 game each.

SOPY Champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (1-0); 2. Florida (1-0); 3. Miami (1-0); 4. South Florida (1-0); 5. FIU (1-0); 6. UCF (0-1); 7. FAU (0-1).

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

September 07, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 62.3%; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Hurricanes, Dolphins, Brady, Marlins, Serena, Heat, FIU; also Upset Bird Countdown (4 days) & more


1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. Happy Labor Day, fellow workers! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, the next-to-last that will appear in the print edition, meaning the newspaper. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes rout Bethune in opener, College Week 1, Izzy Gutierrez tells the truth, Dan Marino makes wine, Dolphins' cut day, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 4 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions 1aa1afripix

1aa1a4 1AA1AEAGLESPHILin the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. Today, at No. 4: Philadelphia Eagles, born 1933. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51].

SOPY!: Watch for season's first weekly SOPY ranking here Tuesday/tomorrow in the blog. That's our college football State Offensive Player of the Year rankings encompassing FLA's seven FBS teams.

Small opponent, but big opener: Click on Canes Catch Lightning for my column off Saturday's 45-0 Hurricanes season-opening home win over Bethune-Cookman. 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 62.3%: Results are certified official in our season's first Canesfan Satisfaction 1aa1acsmMeter postgame polls -- and they show 62.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's season-opening 45-0 victory over visiting Bethune-Cookman. Overall satisfaction is a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes 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, this season as a whole, 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 11 a.m. today/Monday.

Interpreting the Week 1 results: A low-60s approval rating is unusually low following a win as convincing as 45-0. Three factors were in play. 1) The "it was only Bethune" caveat; 2) lingering hangover of last year's 6-7 season; and 3) an organized effort late in the voting cycle that stuffed the ballot box with "very dissatisfied" votes and pushed the overall approval rating down from what otherwise would have been in the 75 range.

2015 CSM Results

Week 1: 62.3% overall satisfaction (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Next poll: Friday night (following game at Florida Atlantic)

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 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).

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

1aa1ahotbutton1. HURRICANES: Lightning strikes! UM routs Bethune-Cookman in opener: Small opponent, big opener as Al Golden Year 5 launched Saturday night with a 45-0 rout of Bethune-Cookman. The game was delayed 75 minutes by lightning, after which the Canes scored three quick TDs to bust it open. UM plays FAU this Friday, after which the real season will start.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins cut roster to 53, open next Sunday: You know it's a boring Cut Day when biggest news is Andrew Franks unseating Caleb Sturgis as the kicker. Dolphins now prepare to open season next Sunday at Washington. First six QBs Miami faces will be Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, rookie Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer. And you wonder why Fins cornerbacks are smiling!?

3. NFL: Brady freed as Patriots-Steelers kick off season Thursday night: The federal court overturned Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension, meaning the Patriots star QB is free to play Thursday night as New England host Steelers to open season. Things could only be going worse for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell if he'd turned up on that list of outed Ashley Madison infidelity clients.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Few upsets as Week 1 launches: Unanimous No. 1 Ohio State plays tonight, but Kickoff Saturday saw few notable upsets, with No. 15 Arizona State the highest-ranked team to lose. That's because most big schools open with cupcake opponents (see UM-Bethune, FSU-Texas State and Florida-New Mexico State).

5. MARLINS: We’re (still) on Stanton Watch as homestand begins: Been a lousy season, yes, but at least Marlins had won five of past six entering today and climbed to third in NL East as fans continued to await Giancarlo Stanton’s return from a wrist injury -- a return now uncertain. Plus, Friday was Star Wars Night! Meantime it was reported Dan Jennings would not return as manager in 2016. SHOCKING!

6. TENNIS: Can anyone stop Serena at U.S. Open?: A man was arrested when his drone crashed into stands of U.S. Open. He teaches at New York’s Academy of Innovative Technology — but evidently needs lessons on how to operate said technology. Meanwhile Serena Williams (who faces sister Venus next) continues seemingly destined for sport’s first calendar Grand Slam since 1988. No woman can stop her. Might take a drone strike.

7. HEAT: All 5 starters make NBA Top 100 list: As the Heat prepare to open training camp in a few weeks, all five starters made Sports Illustrated’s NBA Top 100, with Chris Bosh ranked 22nd, Dwyane Wade 30th, Goran Dragic 42nd, Luol Deng 56th and Hassan Whiteside 69th. Don’t feel too bad for Wade slipping. I needed a miner’s helmet and a pickaxe to find Kobe Bryant all the way down at 54.

8. FIU: Panthers open with big upset win at UCF: Thursday night’s 15-14 win over Central Florida makes this the first time since 2004 that FIU is 1-0 after a season-opening road victory. Panthers fans are thrilled — both of them! Whoa. Ouch. Too mean? OK, how’s this for a deal, FIU fans: Y’all sell out a home game, just one, and I’ll stop making fun.

9. RADIO: LeBatard radio show moves to mornings starting Tuesday: The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio and locally on 790 The Ticket moves to the 9 a.m.-to-1 p.m. time slot starting tomorrow/Tuesday. I happen to be a weekly co-host on the show, but that most certainly is not why I put this in this week’s Hot Button Top 10. Wait. Of course it is. Who am I kidding?

10. THE UPSET BIRD: Friday Page NFL picks are back this Friday: Greg Cote's 25th season of Friday NFL predictions in the Miami Herald debut this Friday. Hey, wait. That's me! The creepy yet occasionally prescient Upset Bird will be back on the page as well. "Aaaawwwk!"\

Missing the HB10 cut: Labor Day, when we celebrate the American work force by not working. ... Dan Marino is partner in a Washington State vineyard called Passing Time that just issued its first cabernet sauvignon. It has subtle notes of raspberry, cocoa and a former athlete looking for a new revenue stream. ... Florida Panthers and Eastern Airlines have partnered on a private charter jet for road trips. The Panthers are a first-class organization. If only they were a first-place organization. ... Shannon Briggs won a fight at the Hard Rock in Hollywood last night, settling the question of whether Shannon Briggs was still boxing. ... Former Italian soccer star Alessandro Nesta is the new coach of Miami FC, the NASL expansion team. When the team says it wants to draw fans from as far away as Naples, I guess they meant Italy. ... Former UM receiver and Dolphins No. 1 draft pick Randal Hill is running for the U.S. Congress in Miami. Old nickname: Thrill Hill. New nickname: Thrill on Capitol Hill. ... UFC star Ronda Rousey accepted an invitation to the Marine Corps Ball as the date of a Philadelphia soldier. He’ll be a perfect gentleman, or she’ll beat the !@#$ out of him. ... On a serious note, ESPN's Israel Gutierrez reveals he is gay and getting married. Congrats, Izzy. ... Finally, in entertainment news, Miley Cyrus shocked onlookers by showing up at an event fully clothed.

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

September 05, 2015

Lightning strikes! UM clubs Bethune-Cookman 45-0 in opener; plus CSM poll, Dolphins change kickers, Izzy tells the truth, Marino makes wine, Upset Bird Countdown & more


1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. Are the Dolphins the sixth-best team in the NFL? Well, this nut says so. Click on The Order for my annual NFL team rankings, 1 through 32. 2) Note, Sunday's Random Evidence notes column will be the next-to-last in print, meaning in the newspaper. Details to come. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Dolphins preseason finale, FIU wins, Brady-wins poll, Fins U-25s, Jimmy Johnson reigns, UM hoops & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins rookie kicker Franks unseats Sturgis: The two players who put the foot in football -- the placekicker and punter -- both will be new for the Dolphins this year. Rookie kicker Andrew Franks beat out incumbent Caleb Sturgis today as the Fins met the 53-man roster max. Last week rookie punter Matt Darr Matt unseated veteran Brandon Fields. You know it has been an uneventful Cut Day when the big new is the kicker. Still, this will be first season since 2007 that Miami has had two new foot-men. That was when Jay Feely replaced PK Olindo Mare and Fields replaced P Donnie Jones.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 6 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix


1aa1abaltosthe Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related winged-creature nicknames from America's Big Four sports, from newest to oldest. Today, at No. 6: Baltimore Orioles, born 1954. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66].

On Al Golden: As the Miami Hurricanes open the new season tonight at 6 vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman, I write why this must be the no-excuses season when UM's coach restores fans' faith and his own future here. Click on Golden Opportunity to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Welcome back to another season of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter 1aa1acsmpostgame polls -- this first one in the wake of tonight's season-opening 45-0 victory vs. visiting Bethune-Cookman. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes 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, this season as a whole, 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 will be around 9 a.m. Monday.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 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).

G1: HURRICANES 45, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 0: SOFT-OPENER, BUT UM DOMINATES: Final--UM 1-0 after an impressive, maybe easier-than-expected 45-0 home rout in a game delayed 75 minutes by lightning. Corn Elder stood out with two long punt-return TDs, though one was nullified. Tough to judge the Canes off this considering the lesser opponent, but it nevertheless was an opening performance tough to criticize. ..... 4Q--UM 45-0 after Gray 2y TD run. ..... 3Q--UM 38-0 on Walton 5y TD run. ... Third and fourth quarters will be 10 minutes, not 15, because of earlier delay. ..... 2Q--UM 31-0 on Elder 72y punt-return TD. ... UM 24-0 on Yearby 25y TD run. ... UM 17-0 on Kaaya-Scott 17y TD pass after 75-minute lightning delay. ... UM denied 17-0 lead on apparent Corn Elder 70y punt-return TD because Herb Waters made an arm gesture that suggested to officials the punt would not be returned. ... UM 10-0 on 25y FG. ..... 1Q--UM 7-0 on Kaaya-Dobard 5y TD pass after Canes gambled to take three points off board following roughing-kicker penalty. ..... Original post: Dolphins stadium is all made-over, aqua seats replacing orange, and tonight starting at 6 p.m. we see if under-pressure
1aa1acanesopenercoach Al Golden's Miami Hurricanes look as good as their refurbished home. They'd better considering the opponent is Division 1AA Bethune-Cookman of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Bethune isn't bad for its size (it was 9-3 last season), but still is a second-tier program that The U had better handle without much trouble. Miami won these teams' most recent meeting in 2012 by 38-10, for example. It will be hard to gauge how good Miami really is tonight, but I'll be especially looking to see how the offensive line is protecting QB Brad Kaaya. My pick: Canes, 41-7.

Other college Week 1 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

Tulsa 47, FAU 44 (OT): I'd called a road upset by Owls. If only close counted.

South Florida 51, Florida A&M 3: Bulls rout fang-less Rattlers.

Florida 61, New Mexico State 13: Swamp serves up big debut for coach Jim McElwain.

No. Florida State 59, Texas State 16: Ex-Irish Everett Golson sharp in Noles debut.

Thursday: FIU 15, UCF 14: Nice upset as FIU opens 1-0 with road win for first time since '04.

Preseason conference-title odds for state's 7 FBS schools: Percentage likelihoods are based on ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI). ACC--Florida State is favorite at 27.0 percent and Miami is sixth at 5.1%. (Clemson is near co-favorite at 26.8%). SEC--Florida is at 1.2%. (Georgia is favorite at 35.5%). Conference USA--FIU at at 1.0% and FAU at 0.4%. (Louisiana Tech is favorite at 45.3%). American--UCF is at 5.9% and South Florida at 0.3%. (Cincinnati is favorite at 40.9%).

1aa1aizzyFREEDOM: ISRAEL GUTIERREZ COMES OUT: Our friend and former Miami Herald colleague Izzy Gutierrez, now an ESPN star and heard regularly on local radio, revealed yesterday that he is gay. Family and close friends have known for years; the "coming out" is that all now know, a bigger deal -- in scope, not importance -- when one is a public figure. Click HERE to read his simple, riveting truth written in his personal blog, something that I think he'd agree took him a whole lifetime to write. The piece is very honest (of course), and I think it is important to read. I think it was especially interesting how he'd been inspired by others who had come out. Gutierrez in turn will continue that cycle of honesty, by example helping others who are working up the courage to fully be themselves. I'm happy for the freedom and unburdening Gutierrez must now feel. I also congratulate him on his upcoming marriage to his partner; they are pictured here, with Izzy in the shades. He'll be applauded by many for being "brave" or "courageous." I doubt he wants to be seen as that. I think he'd rather just be a guy living his truest life.

1aa1adanwineDAN MARINO WINE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Dolphins icon Dan Marino and former backup quarterback Damon Huard have partnered in a Washington State winery called (pun intended), Passing Time. Huard was the Dolphins backup late in Marino's career, in 1997-99. Their winemaking venture was launched in the spring of 2014 and their first cabernet sauvignon, retailing at around $75, rolled out this year. Marino has been a longtime wine collector and has a cellar in his home. He brings the marquee name to the partnership, while Huard mans the daily operation. The partners are pictured working their vineyard. Below is a short video as they describe their passion.


Poll result: Mixed verdict on court overturning Brady suspension: Most, 56.2 percent in our blogpoll, think Tom Brady got away with cheating and that the federal court was wrong to overturn his four-game suspension. But another 40.1% said it was the right call because the NFL failed to make its case. The other 3.7% were undecided.

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

September 02, 2015

Who's best football coach in Hurricanes history? Poll. Vote!; plus Upset Bird Countdown (9 days), bizarre UM football photos, Kim Davis/gay marriage, Suh named Top 5, Heat intrigue, Canes' RBs, Dolphins get lucky, 'Concussion' trailer & more


1aa1acyrusm1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Dolphins change punters? If you think that's big news, you aren't very confident in your offense. 2) Wonder if it has occurred to Miley Cyrus (pictured) that the slut-persona has become so expected (ho hum) that she'd truly shock us more by being demure and fully clothed? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Dolphins beat Atlanta in third fake-game, Weighing The Fish, Fins' fantasy rankings, dodging the Cone of Doom & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50': Our massive "Fins at 50" coverage commemorating Dolphins' 50th season remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, list of franchise's 50 top figures (not just players). ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my talks with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have a Shula-by-the-numbers column not in original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS.

A Pair of Aces: I write, in today's latest column, that big seasons by quarterbsck Ryan Tannehill and Brad Kaaya will be lifesavers for the Miami careers of their Dolphins and Hurricanes coaches, Joe Philbin and Al Golden. Click on To The Rescue to read.

WHO IS GREATEST HURRICANES FOOTBALL COACH EVER?: Championships? Longevity? Recruiting 1aa1acanesprowess? Serving with do-right class beyond wins and losses? There are many ways a college football coach might be judged. Now, it's Judgement Day. We offer you, alphabetically, the 10 University of Miami football head coaches who have coached here a minimum of 50 games. (Randy Shannon and Al Golden happen to sneak in right at 50). By whatever criteria you hold most important, vote for your top two (2), then check back here often to monitor evolving results as we find out who is the greatest football coach The U has had ... and who isn't. Vote and say why you chose as you did.


Deciphering two-vote results: The highest possible vote total in this poll would be 50 percent if everyone cast the maximum two votes. Double a coach's total for a rough idea of the percentage of voters including that person in their top two.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. And so we have begun a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big

1aa1aseahawk 1aa1a9Four sports, from newest (No. 10) to 1aa1afripix 1aa1abird;pixoldest (No. 1). There are 14 in all. Charlotte Hornets, Baltimore Ravens, Anaheim Ducks and New Orleans Pelicans were too recent to make the cut. This pains us, because we love Ducks and Pelicans as goofy nicknames, and the Raven, of course, is the hero and official muse of the Upset Bird. Don't look for Detroit Red Wings in our countdown, either; that nickname derives from a wheel, not a bird. Also no 1aa1a10 1aa1abluejaysJets here, even though they have wings. Our countdown began Monday with the 10th longest-serving bird nickname, Toronto Blue Jays, established 1977. Today, at No. 9: Seattle Seahawks, born 1976. Ornithological note: There is no "seahawk' per se in the winged kingdom but it is accepted in our countdown as a nickname for the osprey.

1aa1acanesstrangephotoWEIRD CANES FOOTBALL PHOTOS: Here's a strange little story that first appeared on Bleacher Report on Sunday, headlined 'Miami Hurricanes Football Players Do Goofy Poses for Photo Day.' (Click here for the original report). The photos shown, by Eric Espada at, picture players in unofficial, casual poses, as pictured here. They're just having fun. Two minor problems. 1) As BR points out, "The student sections at Florida State and other ACC schools are going to have a field day with these photos." 2) As a few have pointed out to me on Twitter and in emails, the photos (at least this one) could be misconstrued as homoerotic or poking fun at gays. Like I said, it's a strange little story that I don't think is any big deal. But, for reasons 1 and 2, it's another example how athletes maybe should think twice before doing ... well, anything.

SUH ELITE, BUT DOLPHINS OTHERWISE LAG IN TOP 100 PLAYESR:'s annual rank of the Top 100 NFL players is out today (full list here) and DT Ndamukong Suh (pictured) ranks No. 4 overall, after only J.J.
1aa1ansuhWatt, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. That bad news? Miami place only one other guy in the Top 100: DE Cam Wake at No. 51. Meanwhile the Fins' AFC East mates all have four men make the list. The Patriots have QB Brady 3rd, TE Rob Gronkowski 5th, S Devin McCourty 56th and LB Jamie Collins 97th. The Jets place CB Darrelle Revis 9th, DE Muhammad Wilkerson 50th, DE Sheldon Richardson 61st and C Nick Mangold 88th. And the Bills place RB LeSean McCoy 41st, DE Mario Williams 46th, DT Marcell Dareus 64th and DT Kyle Williams 94th. You wonder why Miami's offensive line is such a concern? That's seven front-seven pass rushing opponents in the Top 100.

ON KIM DAVIS, FAITH AND DUTY: [Warning: The following item may upset the "STICK TO SPORTS!!!" crowd. Those are the folks who accidentally wander across this blog like Mormons discovering Bourbon Street, unaware that Random Evidence is a (mostly) sports blog that also delves into pop culture and 1aa1adaviskimissues like this one]. Here is a backgrounder on the Kim Davis story, for the unaware. She (pictured) is the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky. Her office issues marriage licenses. Or not! She cites her religious belief in refusing to issue licenses to gay couples -- despite a Supreme Court ruling that says she must. "Under God's authority," she justifies her stance. Dear Ms. Davis: What you are doing does not make you a bad person or a good person as much as it simply makes you a person spectacularly unqualified to be a county clerk in the United States in 2015. That you were not summarily fired for failure to uphold the law and do your job suggests the Rowan mayor and city council may be hibernating and unaware of current events. May I suggest another line of work, Ms. Davis? Perhaps one where personal/religious beliefs and the law of the land are not at odds? Bulletin: THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Nobody gives a s--- whether or who you worship when not on the job. Nobody cares if, when not on the job, you hear your God telling you the love of same-sex couples is inferior and wrong. You are entitled to your personal beliefs. What matters is that, when on the job, you do what you are being paid to do. Or leave.

ARE HEAT THE NBA'S MOST INTRIGUING TEAM?: Grantland's Zach Lowe poses the question this week at; click here to read. The premise sounds like a bit of hyperbole, yet is not far-fetched. Dwyane Wade trying to hang on to "elite." Chris Bosh coming back. Hassan Whiteside emerging. Goran Dragic in his first full season. The elements for "intriguing" are here. 

1aa1ajoeyearbyEDWARDS INJURY A MEDIUM LOSS FOR CANES, NOT A HUGE ONE: Gus Edwards appeared to have won
UM's starting running back job when a foot injury knocked him out for the season just before the first depth chart was revealed. Now Joe Yearby (pictured) looks like the next man up to be the featured back, although freshman Mark Walton also is in the mix, with bigger Trayone Gray also still in the RB picture and more physically suited, perhaps, for Edwards' short-yardage and goalline role. Beyond Edwards' size advantage, though, otherwise, on paper, the Hurricanes should lose nothing with Yearby replacing him. Yearby ran for 509 yards and a 5.9 average last season to Edwards' 349 and 5.7. Yearby is a bit better receiver out of the backfield, too.

DOLPHINS CATCH A BREAK WITH COUSINS IN FOR RG3 IN OPENER: Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. 1aa1acousinskEven a struggling Robert Griffin III is better and a bigger threat than backup Kirk Cousins (pictured), who'll start against Miami up there in the Sept. 13 season opener. Cousins is not as experienced (9 career starts to 35), is less accurate (59.0% completions to 63.9%), has a sizably lower passer rating (77.5 to 90.6) and, perhaps most important, is more than twice as likely to throw an interception (4.7 pick ratio to RG3's 2.2). Also, Cousins is not the least bit a running threat; Griffin definitely is. Suffice to say, Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake are not unhappy it'll be Cousins in Week 1. As colleague Barry "Buzz" Jackson pointed out, the first six QBs Miami faces this season could be Cousins, Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota and Brian Hoyer -- a cornucopia of inexperience or ineffectiveness. Mariota is a rookie, Taylor has zero NFL starts and the other four have a combined 48-79-1 career record.

WATCH TRAILER FOR 'CONCUSSION,' THE NFL's NIGHTMARE MOVIE: Sony Pictures drops the new Will Smith film, Concussion, on Christmas Day. Here is the new 2-minute trailer:


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December 13, 2014

Will Johnny Manziel's career fly or fail? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 predix, Marlins' big week, 'The U Part 2' & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13. No choice. Guess I'd better start my Christmas shopping. 2) Watch for return this week (after a two-week hiatus) of the Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Back In My Day" -- the complete audio library, Marlins trade, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Philbin verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

THE MYSTERY OF MANZIEL: WILL HE LIVE UP TO HYPE?: In Cleveland, Johnny Manziel was to Brian Hoyer as Jim Harbaugh is to Joe Philbin in Miami. Possibility is so often so much more tantalizing than 1aa1ajmanzielreality. Change is exciting without ever knowing whether the excitement will be justified. With Manizel the uncertainty is part of the excitement. He isn’t seen as a certain star like Andrew Luck was. To doubters, he’s the next Tim Tebow, the college phenom whose talents don’t translate. To fans, he’s the next great pass/run dual threat, the refreshingly brash personality whose jersey sales will soar to No.1 on the charts. He was a Heisman-winning superstar at Texas A&M. Now, will he justify all the hype, or be crushed by it? The finding out will be fun, and it begins with his first career start on Sunday. But why wait? Take a dip in our poll and say now what you predict for Manziel's NFL career and why.

1aa1afripixDOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: THE DAGGER: Dolphins will lose Sunday in New England and it will be the dagger to Miami's playoff hopes. Not wishing it, folks, just predicting it. Don't kill the messenger! Click on Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules. (Mixed start Thursday start. Wrongly had Rams winning, but did have Cards covering). Also, click on Hype, Meet Reality for my weekly Friday Page column. It leads with the formal introduction to the pro version of Johnny Football.

1aa1amatlatosA WINNING OFFSEASON FOR MARLINS: It started with signing Giancarlo Stanton long-term, of course. But it continued this week with deals to acquire leadoff man/base-stealing champ Dee Gordon and then, yesterday, starting pitcher Mat Latos (pictured). Mat With One T, from Coconut Creek High in north Broward, is a big boy with a top-of-the-rotation arm. If pitcher Dan Haren (part of the Gordon deal) opts to not retire, that'll be a bonus. Gordon and Latos alone give Miami needed speed and a bolstered rotation. Good week. Things looking up for the Fish. By the way [Brag Alert], my oldest son Christopher got a hit off Latos in a high-school game. I think it was a soft single to right, although my mind is reconfiguring it as a line drive to the gap.

ON 'THE U PART 2': I am reading "Rickey & Robinson," by Roger Kahn, the story of Branch Rickey integrating baseball by making Jackie Robinson a Dodger. It is holding my interest, and yet the story is so 1aa1atheupart2well-known and oft-told it can't but feel a little like a rehash. I think it's also fair to say Kahn has made a career of plumbing those old Brooklyn Dodgers for books, to the point you want to say, "Enough, already." This brings me to "The U Part 2," the Billy Corben sequel-documentary premiering on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. The nearly perfect original, in 2009, focused on the mid-'80s to early-'90s football Hurricanes, the teams that invented swagger. They were big and bad and great and controversial and it was fascinating. There was national interest. Now, I wonder. Although the program resurged to win another national title in 2001, The U we see in the new doc simply is not as interesting or nationally relevant. A large chunk of the sequel is devoted to the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA scandal, an era well-known and best moved past, not exhumed and rehashed. Before agreeing, ESPN reportedly twice declined the pitch for this sequel. I get that original hesitation. Corben does good work and Part 2 will be riveting to many younger Canes fans (as the Miami unveiling was to swooning local media). But the sequel simply can't be as compelling as the original beyond South Florida because the subject matter plainly isn't.

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November 28, 2014

Ray Rice available: Should Dolphins sign him? Poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 13 picks, Thanksgiving video, Al Golden verdict & more

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving, with special thanks to my longest-time readers and the most loyal of our blog family! 2)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden debate and poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adolriceRAY RICE REINSTATED. WANT HIM TO BE A DOLPHIN?: Former Ravens running back Ray Rice won an appeal on Friday meaning he is suddenly a reinstated free-agent NFL running back who may sign with any team. Would you like to see the Dolphins sign him? Weigh his talent, Miami's need at the position, and of course the baggage of the domestic abuse issue that got Rice suspended and cut by Baltimore ... and then vote and say why you feel as you do.

DOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 13 PICKS: Miami will win Monday night but we're on high alert for a Jets upset. Click on Week 13 Gems for all of our latest NFL predictions, and on Now, The Real Pressure for my 1aa1afripixweekly Friday Page column. It leads with the playoff chase really starting now, and how the pressure is on the Dolphins even as they face a relatively soft closing schedule. By the way, you know what I'd be extra thankful for today? If the rest of my Week 13 was a lot better than my Thanksgiving Day effort. I went 1-2 overall and 0-3 against the spread. That's the prognosticating equivalent of the turkey being cremated in a flaming oven. At our house the first game started as the turkey was just beginning to brown, the second game was on as we gave thanks and ate, and the third game coincided with our attempts to wake Uncle Buddy, who by then was deep-dozing from a day-long conversation with Jack Daniel chased by an overload of Tryptophan. Click on Bird Day Gems for all three predix capsules, although, given the outcomes, I'd just as soon you didn't.

1aa1athanks14HAPPY THANKSGIVING! HOLIDAY VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: I'd like to thank Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, enduring Heat star Dwyane Wade and newly enriched Marlin Giancarlo Stanton for joining me on this year's Thanksgiving video. Always heard Philbin resembled a pilgrim. Now we find out. Stanton's picking up the tab on dinner, by the way. Click on Bird Day '14 to watch the video.

Poll result: Support for Al Golden split but shaky: Apparently not all of you are thankful for Al Golden. We asked in previous blogpost, and "weak" or "no" support for the Hurricanes' football coach was 52.4 percent, edging "strong" or "medium" support at 47.6%. However, at the extremes, "no" swamped "strong," 36.9-15.6. I'd note (I pay attention) that support for Golden was running slightly favorable overall in the natural flow of votes until a late swarm of negative votes suggesting an orchestrated effort. Hey, free country. Power to the people!

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