October 13, 2017

Surprise! Your poll verdict on benching Jay Cutler better than expected for the embattled Dolphins QB; plus NFL Week 6 picks for Fins-Falcons & more

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

Friday13th1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13. Stay in bed, paraskevidekatriaphobes! Whatever you do, do not leave the house!! 2) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite recent performances? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jay Cutler poll, Snortgate column, Herald Week 5 NFL QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JaycurtlerPOLL RESULT: YOUR BENCH-CUTLER VERDICT BETTER FOR JAY THAN EXPECTED: We asked, "Should the Dolphins bench quarterback Jay Cutler?" This in the wake of some fans chanting for that at last week's game, but coach Adam Gase firmly stating that-ain't-gonna-happen. Players in turn have predictably publicly supported Cutler. Maybe some of the thinking is that, after a week dealing with an assistant coach quitting in a cocaine/stripper scandal, perhaps further controversy ought be avoided. In any case, a huge vote as you'd expect, and it was 45.36 percent "Yes" to bench Cutler, 39.15% "Not yet but soon if offense doesn't improve," and 15.49% "No." That's better than I thought for Jay. Yes, strong support on either extreme was nearly 3-to-1 against him. But, a pretty sizable middle ground is calling for a bit more patience. And if you were to spin it in his favor, a majority of 54.64% don't think he should be benched ... or at least not yet.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 6 PICKS: THE GOOD NEWS? DOLPHINS OFFENSE AWAKENS A BIT...: Dolphins face a tough road game Sunday in Atlanta as (tied for) the NFL's biggest Week 6 underdog. The good news? I have Miami with a needed offensive breakout, and beating the point spread. But winning? Not quite. Click on Week 6 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Falcons, our Game of the Week (Steelers-Chiefs) and Upset of the Week (also Steelers-Chiefs: "Aawwk!"). That's right. Kansas City, the only unbeaten left, loses. So it'll be a great day for the '72 Dolphins, and at least a somewhat encouraging one for the 2017 Fins. Our week got off to a disappointing start last night. Saw Panthers (-3 1/2) winning and covering vs. Eagles, 27-23. Had a near-exact-score but it was flipped, with Birds winning, 28-23.

Select recent columns: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 06, 2017

On Cam Newton and women sports writers; plus Panthers launch 24th NHL season looking for reboot; also, NFL Week 5 predix for Dolphins-Titans and the rest, World Series poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins pegged for 3-13, Derek Jeter takes over, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald's NFL QB rankings, SOPY Week 5 standings, top SoFla baseball draft prospects & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Cam Newton and women sports writers: Cam found it "funny" to hear a "female" asking a question about pass routes. Here's a few words about women sports writers from someone who actually respects them and what they put up with. Click on Here's What I Find Funny, Cam.

On Derek Jeter taking over as Marlins frontman: The new boss makes no promises on payroll or Giancarlo Stanton's future or anything else, but believes he has the reputation and cache' to convince Marlins fans whatever he does will be right. Read Jeter Betting On Jeter for this week's column.

HOCKEY, EH! PANTHERS OPEN 24TH NHL SEASON TONIGHT LOOKING FOR REBOOT: Strange franchise, this one. Panthers have not won a playoff series since 1996, by far the longest drought in the NHL. They are coming off a disappointing season that got two coaches (head and interim) fired. They are judged Boughnerthe only 25th best of 31 teams in ESPN's current hockey Power Rankings. And yet! There is a great feel of optimism around Nhlthe Panthers. Much enthusiasm that GM Dale Tallon is back in charge, that Bob Boughner (pronounced boog-ner) seems a great coaching hire, and that the young core of rising stars led by Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad -- the Kiddie Cats -- is ready for a breakout season. Tallon (pictured with his new coach) thinks this team is faster, more skilled and grittier than last year's. They lost a 30-goal scorer (Jonathan Marchessault) in the expansion draft and parted ways with popular legend Jaromir Jagr, but the dressing room brims with confidence as the team opens the season tonight in Tampa, and then at home Saturday also vs. the Lightning. Just two years ago the Panthers won the division and set a club record with 103 standings points, before last year's tumultuous nightmare. Can Boughner help them recapture that? Click on Back On Track & Ready To Roar for my Panthers season preview column.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 5 PICKS: DOLPHINS (HOME AT LAST) HANDLE TITANS: Miami plays its second-latest-ever home opener Sunday vs.  Tennessee as a three-point home underdog but should pull off the needed win, even if questionable Marcus Mariota ends up playing. Click on Week 5 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Titans, our Game of the Week (Packers-Cowboys), Upset of the Week (Vikings-Bears: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a mixed start last night. Had Patriots winning in Tampa; they did. But had them covering 5 1/2 points; they narrowly did not in a 19-14 game, that late Bucs TD a killer for me.

Mlb17BASEBALL POSTSEASON: AND YOU HOPE [FILL IN BLANK] WINS THE WORLD SERIES?: While Derek Jeter sets out to fix the Marlins and fans of the wild-card losing Twins and Rockies wonder if they actually were in the playoffs at all, the surviving eight teams begin their October hunt for World Series rings. The two AL division series start today, with the NL launching Friday. Even if your favorite team didn't make it this far, chances are you have a rooting interest. Maybe a rooting against interest? Or perhaps your wishes are steered by a wager? If you're neutral, here's our Misery Index to help steer you, with the teams ranked based on how long each fandom has waited since last cheering a World Series championship. I'm a Red Sox fan (dating to Yaz and Impossible Dream '67), but if I had no dog in the hunt, how could I not root for Cleveland to end its drought?

MISERY INDEX: Team, years waiting since most recent World Series championship: Indians 69 years (1948); Astros 55 years (none since 1962); Dodgers 29 years (1988); Diamondbacks 16 years (2001); Nationals 12 years (none since 2005 as Washington Nats); Yankees 8 years (2009); Red Sox 4 years (2013); and Cubs 1 year (2016).

Betting odds before the start of play showed the Indians (9-4) and Dodgers (5-2) as virtual co-favorites. Then it's Astros 6-1, Red Sox 9-1, Cubs and Nationals both 10-1, and Diamondbacks and Yankees the longshots at 14-1 each. Back to our Misery Index, the serious droughts are by the Indians (four times in the World Series since last winning, including 2016); the Astros (in the WS only once, losing in 2005); and the Dodgers (not back in it since last winning). Who would you most like to see win the World Series? Our poll is alphabetical based on city name. Vote now:

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 30, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.5%. Wow!; plus UM wins at Duke 31-6 in ACC opener; also, Stanton chasing 60, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30. Click on Toys! for my latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 2) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last week's performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump vs. NFL with poll, UM hoops scandal, Herald NFL Week 3 QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 3 results, SOPY Week 4 standings, RIP Hugh Hefner & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Stanton column: In Search Of 60: Baseball is the one sport where history matters most, and the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton this weekend can make some. Click on Chasing History for my latest column.

Wade column: No villains in going to Cleveland: Dwyane Wade will end up in a Miami Heat No. 3 jersey again, because both sides sincerely want that. Until then, do not fault Wade his late-career meandering. He has earned the right. Click on Wade Will End Where He Belongs to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 96.5%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll -- and they could hardly be any Csmhigher. You put the overall CSM satisfaction at 96.5 percent -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Friday night's 31-6 victory at Duke putting No. 14 UM's season record at 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the ACC. Understand internet polls. Nothing gets 100%. The poll could ask, "Do you wish for the health of your loved ones?" and it wouldn't top 96.5%. 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 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 8 p.m. tonight/Saturday.
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
Next poll: Oct. 7 following game at Florida State
 
G3: NO. 14 HURRICANES 31, @ DUKE 6: UM WINS ACC OPENER HANDILY, IMPRESSIVELY: [I'll half postgame thoughts here just before posting the new CSM postgame poll] Original post: Duke is 4-0 and one win from being ranked. The 14th-ranked Canes are 2-0 but this is the first big-conference foe, let alone Miami's ACC opener -- the biggest game of the young season for The U. The buildup to this 7 p.m. Friday nighter has been a look-back to UM's last trip to Durham in 2015 that ended in that 8-lateral miracle kickoff return on the last play for a 30-27 Canes win. That is because Your Friend The Media loves the easy rehash, the perfunctory storyline. But trust the '17 Canes better be focused and locked in on tonight, because, although Miami is a 6 1/2-point favorite, the upset potential is huge. In fact ESPN's computerized Football Power Index gives Duke a 55 percent likelihood of winning. Any frayed focus, such as minds wandering a week ahead to the FSU game in Tally, will cause a loss here. Canes lead the all-time series 12-2 including a 40-21 win last year but forget that. Duke has a quarterback, Daniel Jones, capable of getting the best of what has thus far been a weak UM secondary. Duke also has a very stout defense that leads the nation in allowing opponents only a 14% third-down conversion rate. The Blue Devils' run defense will pose the biggest test yet for Miami's excellent running back Mark Walton. Malik Rosier may be put in a spot of having to pass more than Mark Richt would like. The good news there: the likely season debut of top receiver Ahmmon Richards, who has been out with a hamstring injury. Overall I like Miami, but with shaky confidence. This would be a very nice and big road win in what looms as an extremely losable game. My pick: Hurricanes, 30-27.

Other state FBS Week 5 games (all Saturday, chronologically):

No. 21 Florida 38, Vanderbilt 24: The Gator rolls out five rushing TDs to move to 3-1.

No. 18 South Florida 61, East Carolina, 31: Bulls sky to 5-0 after halves of 31 and 30 points.

Florida State 26, Wake Forest 19: So weird to see the Seminoles unranked, dadgumit, but FSU got off the schneid and is 1-2, averting overtime with a late TD heading into Miami week.  

FIU 30, Charlotte 29: Butch Davis is making a lil' noise. Hope FIU students are listening. Panthers now 3-1 after rallying from 26-14 down at the half led by three TDs produced by QB Alex McGough.

FAU 38, Middle Tennessee 20: Big win for Lane Kiffin's Owls, now 2-3, fueled by Devin Singletary's 133 yards rushing and four TDs.

UCF 40, Memphis 13: Huge win over an unbeaten foe has Knights 3-0 and, maybe, knocking on the Top 25 door asking in.

National Collball Week 5 overview: Three national Top 25 matchups this week: No. 16 Washington State upset No. 5 Southern Cal 30-27; 13-Auburn crushed 24-Mississippi State 49-10; and 2-Clemson handled 12-Virginia Tech 31-17.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: NFL WEEK 4 PICKS: DOLPHINS FELLED BY STRONG BREESAfter lucking to win their delayed opener at the L.A. Chargers and then sucking in a sleepwalk loss at the Jets last week, the Dolphins are in London to face Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. (Only the diabolical NFL makes you fly 4,500 miles for a "home" game). I don't see it going well for the local lads. Click on Week 4 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Saints, our Game of the Week (Raiders-Broncos), Upset of the Week (Giants-Bucs: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a strong start last night in the Packers' rout of Chicago. Had the Gee Bees covering 7 1/2, and they did.
 
POLL RESULTS: MOST SIDE WITH NFL PLAYERS OVER TRUMP: We asked if you agree with President Trump that NFL players who do not stand for the National Anthem should be "suspended or fired," and you don't, but it wasn't a landslide. The topic is polarizing, and the vote reflected that. It was 52.9 percent no and 44.9% yes, with only 2.2% undecided.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 22, 2017

Upset Bird Day in America: Picks for Dolphins-Jets, rest of NFL; plus hating Heat uniform patch and media coverage of it & more

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

Shanahtova1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) In these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a hearty 'shanah tova' to all of our Jewish readers and listeners! 3) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL Week 2 QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY Week 3 Standings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: NFL WEEK 3 PICKS: NEXT-EASIEST WEEK AFTER A BYE? DOLPHINS AT JETS!After lucking to win their delayed opener at the L.A. Chargers last week the Dolphins should roll to 2-0 Sunday at the stinky, Stinkin' Jets. They'd better. A season sweep of lowly NYJ is a prerequisite if Miami is to surprise doubters with a second straight playoff season. Click on Week 3 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week (Falcons-Lions), Upset of the Week (Seahawks-Titans: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game including Breakfast at Wembley -- the season's first of four London games. Our week got off to a mixed start last night in the Rams' unexpectedly exciting 41-39 pointfest over the 49ers. Had Rams winning, but missed out on the ATS win with the push against a 2-point spread. Rams were cover-bound the whole game, until late.

HeatpatchHATING HEAT'S UNIFORM PATCH, AND MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF IT: The NBA sold-out and is allowing teams to wear small advertising patches on the front of game uniforms starting this season, another reminder our teams are businesses, and your Miami Heat will wear the logo of a Broward-based company called Ultimate Software. Except it isn't even really a logo, just the words Ultimate Software in which the 'i' in Ultimate appears to be a person. The company sells a product that is a "cloud-based human capital management solution." Gawd. The patch is ugly and the idea of it uglier. The first domino has tipped toward a time when team names themselves will be will be for sale. "And today in the NBA, your Amazon Heat take on the Samsung Knicks." Pragmatically I get why the Heat and other teams like the uniform patches. The wrd is revenue. The mystery is why Your Friend the Media plays along like a bunch of lemmings, dutifully printing and broadcasting the names of corporate sponsors. Yesterday's business deal between the Heat and Ultimate Software was reported by the Herald and other outlets as if it was actual news. Why? Because the Heat announced it as such and Pat Riley was there and so reporters flocked. Sad.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 16, 2017

NEW: Great or god-awful, Cutler won't be dull; plus the method to Brad Kaaya's madness, NFL Week 2 pix for Dolphins-Chargers and rest of league, Collball Week 3 (Gators!), Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald Week 1 QB rankings, My Weekend With Irma, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 1 results, latest SOPY rankings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NEW: Sunday column, online now: Click on Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be Dull to read.

Dolphins, Canes & Irma: A football season born to Hurricane Irma gives Dolphins and UM an unusual opportunity if they'll take it. Click Storybook Ending Waits, But Can Dolphins Or Canes Write It? to read.

THE METHOD TO BRAD KAAYA'S MADNESS: Kaaya should have come back and played his senior season for the Miami Hurricanes to improve his draft stock, Samdarnoldwhich everybody knew was low -- verified by his being a late (sixth-round) draft pick. He already has been cut once (Lions) and is on his second team (Panthers). But at least now we know why he decided to enter the NFL in 2017 instead of '18. The evidence is on Mel Kiper's first 2018 Draft "Big Board" for ESPN. Kiper has quarterbacks ranked 1-2-3 overall in USC's Sam Darnold (pictured), UCLA's Josh Rosen and Wyoming's Josh Allen. He has two other QBs on his list and projected first round in Louisville's Lamar Jackson (13th overall) and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph (25th). Even with that, though, I still believe Kaaya might have been drafted significantly higher than sixth round in '18 had he stayed and performed well. By the way, only one state-college player makes Kiper's first Big Board: Florida State safety Derwin James, ranked fifth overall.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA: WEEK 2: FINALLY, THE DOLPHINS: After an unscheduled Week 1 bye (way to go, Irma) the Dolphins finally get at it Sunday in what will be the club's latest season opener since 1977. But will it be worth the wait with a victory at the Los Angeles Chargers? Sorry, Dolfans. It'll take Fins awhile to shake off the delay-rust and catch up to regular-season speed. And I'm not sure I trust Miami's pass defense against Philip Rivers. Click on Week 2 Gems for our predix capsules on Dolphins-Chargers, our Game of the Week (Patriots-Saints), Upset of the Week (Packers-Falcons: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a stumbling start last night. Did not see the Texans winning (or covering) at Cincinnati. Ouch.

COLLBALL WEEK 3: THREE STATE FBS TEAMS BACK AT IT, BUT FOUR STILL IRMA'D: We ain't back to normal in state Collball yet, folks. Last week only two of our seven state FBS teams got games in; this week we're up to three, with the rest still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Irma.

State FBS Week 3 games (chronologically):

No. 22 South Florida 47, Illinois 23Quinton Flowers' 386 combined pass/run yards power Bulls at home to 3-0 start.

TenflaNo. 24 Florida 26, No. 23 Tennessee 20: Vols were 2-0 but 5 1/2-point road underdogs to the 0-1 Gators in Florida's SEC opener. Wirth reason, apparently. What a game, won on a last-second deep touchdown pass. Jim McElwain is so happy he's ready to lay naked on a shark in a boat!

FAU 45, Bethune-Cookman 0: Lane Kiffin's Owls get first win after 0-2 start. Good thing. Lose to Bethune and poor Lane might-a started wondering why he took this job.

Postponed: No. 17 Miami at No. 11 Florida State: Game is reset for Oct. 7. Because of season-ending injury to Noles star QB Deondre Francois, Canes as of right now would be a betting favorite in the 1 1/2 to 3-point range. 

Cancelled: FIU at Indiana: Butch Davis' Panthers denied shot at a second straight win.

Cancelled: Georgia Tech at UCF: Too bad. Had makings of an entertaining matchup.

National Collball Week 3 overview: Light week for mega-matchups. Beside Tennessee-Florida (which barely qualifies), the only other Top 25 duel was Saturday night's No. 3 Clemson at No. 14 Louisville, won easily by Clemson, 47-21.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-16-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Tennessee at Florida, 3:30 p.m.: Vols-Gators renew rivalry in Top 25 matchup.

2. Marlins at Milwaukee, 8:10 p.m.: Miami "home" again; lost 6 in row, last 3 by 28-3.

3. Clemson at Louisville, 8 p.m.: No. 3 visits No. 14 in national Collball game of week.

4. San Francisco at Miami FC, 7:30 p.m.: Locals host NASL soccer match.

5. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin, 10 p.m.: Big middleweight bout from Vegas.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 09, 2017

Be safe, all. On sports' place in our lives as a hurricane hits; plus Upset Bird Day in America. Week 1 NFL pix; also, FIU wins, FAU plays, Hot Button Daily (Sat) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY/SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9-10. Be safe, South Florida. Looks like Hurricane Irma's western veer will help some of us, but not all. All the best to all of us. 2) Know any devoted Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Irma's impact on local sports with UM cancellation poll, SOPY Week 1 rankings, BIMD and Steely Dan videos & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Blog advisory: Because of Hurricane Irma concerns and an anticipated loss of electricity at some point, our Sunday Hot Button Top 10 list is taking the weekend off. We'll be back here checking in as long as we can, and then again once order (and power) are restored. 

ON SPORTS' PLACE IN OUR LIVES AS A HURRICANE HITS: Everything seems crazy, from North Korea and terrorism and the "alt-right" to Houston flooding and now Hurricane Irma. Sports -- playing games -- can seem so insignificant in the context of our overarching worries. Yet om some ways, to me, these difficult times make sports and our teams more important than ever. They are an anchor representing the balance and normalcy in our lives. This is my latest column. Click on A Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits to read in full.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA!: Dolphins have a Week 1 bye thanks to scurrilous Hurricanes Irma but the rest of the NFL plows on, and so does our 27th season of Friday NFL picks. We got off to a mixed start last night. We didn't call Kansas City's outright upset win at New England but we did have Chiefs with the points against the spread. If we're going to split a result, we'll take the point-spread win, thanks. We had a nifty .560 ATS record last season and want to be even better this year. Click Week 1 Thursday Gem for the KC-NE pick. Click Week 1 Friday Gems for the rest of our picks. Highlights: Packers beat Seahawks 27-23 in our Game of the Week, and 49ers stun Panthers 24-21 in our Upset of the Week. "Aaawwwk!" Irma Schmirma. Nothing stops the Upset Bird!

COLLBALL WEEK 2: YOUR MIXED VERDICT ON CANES CANCELLATION CONTROVERSY: We asked if you agreed with No. 16 UM's Cancelleddecision to cancel its Saturday road game at Arkansas State due to Hurricanes Irma. Results were sharply mixed. Most, 62.3 percent, answered, "Yes. Coaches and players should be with family, and return might have been delayed." But another 31.9% answered, "No. Game was more than 1,100 miles away and not threatened by Irma." The other 5.8% answered, "Not sure." The Canes are hardly alone. UM is one of fve (of seven) state FBS teams that are a self-imposed idle, reduced to 11-game regular seasons. Another is FSU, which cancelled its home opener vs. Louisiana-Monroe due to Irma. (Or, perhaps due to not wanting UM to have an edge in preparation for next week's huge showdown in Tallahassee. Also not playing this weekend: UCF vs. Memphis, South Florida at Connecticut and Northern Colorado at Florida. The other two state FBS teams -- the stalwarts -- adjusted schedules and are managing to sneak in games this week:

State FBS Week 2 games:

FIU 17, Alcorn State 10: Butch Davis gets his first Panthers win in Friday night home game played in Birmingham, Ala., due to Irma. Alex McGough passes for 328 yards to lead the victory.

No. 9 Wisconsin 31, FAU 14: Lane Kiffin's Owls were 32-point road underdogs so count this as a credible performance for The Atlantic even as the Hooters fall to 0-2 start (and a likely delayed flight back home).

Miami, Florida, Florida State, UCF, South Florida -- CANCELLED!

National Collball Week 2 overview: Four Top 25 matchups on Saturday, led by No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 2 Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. in an early CFP-shaping duel. Other T25 games are Auburn at Clemson, Georgia at Notre Dame and Stanford at Southern Cal.

HOT BUTTON DAILY: SAT 9-9-17: Today's sports events of most interest in SoFla:

1. Marlins at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m.: Wait. Fish actually won a game last night!?
2. U.S. Open tennis, 4 p.m.: Women's final: Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys.
3. Oklahoma at Ohio State, 7:30 p.m.: No. 5 visits No. 2 in game of week.
4. FAU at Wisconsin, noon: Lane Kiffin's Owls vs. No. 9 Badgers. Uh oh.
5. Liverpool at Manchester City, 7:30 a.m.: Tastiest match of day in EPL.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2016

What was 2016's biggest national sports story? Annual year-end poll. Last day to vote!; plus FSU 33, Michigan 32 in an Orange Bowl classic; also, Dolphins-Patriots pick (uh oh), how Marino was ahead of his time & more

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

Newyear Nyeve1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all! 2) The inventor of the red Solo cup has died. A toast, anyone? 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas or Happy New Year gift for every Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat West Virginia in bowl with season-ending CSM poll, your verdict on Dolphins playoff foe, Greg Cote bobblehead & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FSU survives Michigan, 33-32: They stopped the calling the annual Orange Bowl game the Orange Bowl 'Classic' a while ago. They should have brought the word back just for last night. What a game! Click on An Orange Bowl Classic for my column from the stadium.

Vote for No. 1 Greater Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016 starting Tuesday: That poll will appear in a new, separate blogpost starting Tuesday morning. Watch for it and vote.

YOU PICK THE 2016 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in this poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Goodbye2016Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically here, not in the order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back frequently to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. I must say I am quite surprised the tragic death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez did not make the national AP list used for this poll, but be assured that won't be omitted when, beginning Tuesday morning, I invite your vote on my choices for the top Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2016. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Decide!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

FSU 33, MICHIGAN 32 (FINAL): AN ORANGE BOWL THAT FEELS (ALMOST) LIKE A PLAYOFF GAME: Click on An Orange Bowl Classic for my column from the stadium off the game. Original post: Tonight's 83rd Orange Bowl game (8 p.m., Hard Rock Stadium, ESPN) is not a tough sell. Some are. Remember Georgia Tech- ObMississippi State not that long ago? And how did Northern bleepin' Illinois get here!? But tonight we get No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 Florida State in a matchup that has (almost) the national heft of a College Football Playoff semifinal, and the local interest to match. It's Jim Harbaugh vs. Jimbo Fisher. It's Dalvin Cook vs. Jabrill Peppers. It's FSU's big offense vs. Michigan's really good defense. I also love this contrast: the host city knows one team very well and the other hardly at all. We see the Seminoles, the Miami Hurricanes' chief ACC rivals, all the time. So many of their players including Cook (Miami Central) are local guys. This will be Florida State's 10th OB appearance, third most of any school. Michigan, though, is a far-flung mystery. The Canes have played the other U-M since the '80s, and the Wolverines' most recent of only two OB appearance was following the 1999 season. Their quarterback then was some guy named Tom Brady, who'll be back in the same building Sunday pitching for the Patriots vs. the Dolphins. Click on A Matchup Worthy of OB Tradition to read my column previewing tonight's big game.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 17: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-PATRIOTS, REST OF NFL: Sixteen games, all Sunday, all division rivalries, with the final two of 12 playoff spots to be determined. FripixSounds like a big Week 17 for King Sport. We enter the regular-season finale a big 34 games over .500 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald -- one of our best years ever. Click on Week 17 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Patriots, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other contest. (Grinch Cote has picked playoff-bound Miami to lose each of the past two games and been wrong both times, as many kind readers have pointed out. Well, I'm picking Miami to lose yet again. You're welcome!). We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an ode to Dan Marino's ahead-of-his-time greatness as the Dolphins prepare to honor him on Sunday. Click on Marino Led NFL Arms Race to read.

Other select recent columns: Road Back Starts With Bowl Win, on why the Hurricanes ending their bowl victory drought was so important. The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 10, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 03, 2016

Miami Hurricanes football: Who is team's 2016 MVP? 5 players, 2 coaches make poll. You pick top 3. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Champ Saturday in college football, Dolphins-Ravens and other NFL Week 13 picks, your Cooperstown verdict & more

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

Dancingsign1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3. Caution, motorists: You have entered an area in which you are likely to encounter Fred Astaire-style dancers in the street. 2) Reminder: The Miami Herald's new book on the Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays. Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your Cooperstown ballot with poll, six Canes in final SOPY Top 30, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 12 results, LeBatard video from 1989 game show & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

D-Wade beats LeBron. Twice: In a game that had to hurt the heart of Heat fans, Dwyane Wade's Bulls beat LeBron James' Cavaliers, 111-105, last night, though LeBron outscored Wade 27-24. Wade also won his World Series bet with James, who had to dress in a Cubs uniform before the game.

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

UmmvpWHO WAS MIAMI HURRICANES' 2016 TEAM MVP IN FOOTBALL? (THAT'S MOST VALUABLE PERSON, NOT JUST PLAYER): Our seven-man ballot includes five players but also two coaches, and we invite you to vote for your top three (3). Nobody said life was easy. From the consensus of votes we'll name a team MVP -- Most Valuable Person -- with the regular-season done at 8-4 as the Canes and their fans await a bowl invitation. The poll is alphabetical. Vote now and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

CHAMP SATURDAY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL AS CFP WAITS: Championship Saturday in college football: the crescendo that decides conference championships, sets the bowl schedule and determines which select four teams will make the College Football Playoff, which meets Sunday to set its two semifinal matchups. The Miami Hurricanes are likely to end up bowling in Jacksonville or Orlando vs. an SEC opponent, possibly Florida or Georgia. More important today, nationally: the top of the CFP ranking and how the final four will shake out. What's happening with the teams that have a chance for the final four:

No. 1 Alabama (13-0) beat No. 15 Florida, 54-16, SEC Championship: Nick Saban's Tide was a silly 24-point favorite and showed why.

No. 2 Ohio State (11-1) did not play: Buckeyes fine staying right where they're at to avoid Alabama in the semis.

No. 3 Clemson (12-1) beat No. 23 Virginia Tech, 42-35, ACC Championship: Might Clemson fall to No. 4?

No. 4 Washington (12-1) beat No. 8 Colorado, 41-10, Pac-12 Championship: Huskies stated emphatically that they belong.

No. 5 Michigan (10-2) did not play: After Washington's big win, Wolverines' only realistic prayer was a loss by Clemson.

No. 7 Penn State (11-2) beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 38-31, Big Ten Championship: Winner needed Clemson loss and luck to somehow climb into top four.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 13: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAVENS, REST OF NFL: We launch our Week 13 on the heel of an OK/solid 10-6 mark straight-up last week and 9- Fripix6-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began the new week with mixed results last night on our Vikings-over-Cowboys upset call. Dallas won, but we did have Minny with the points to put us a big 24 games above .500 ATS for the year. Click on Week 13 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Ravens, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other game. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with the imperative that Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill be a December closer this time and deliver Miami to the playoff promised land. Click on Tannehill's Defining December to read.

Poll result: And your 2017 baseball Hall of Famers are...: We invited you to vote for the top five of the 13 finalists I presented, and your five "inductees" were: Barry Bonds 14.5 percent, Roger Clemens 13.0%, Pudge Rodriguez 10.9%, Manny Ramirez 9.1% and Jeff Bagwell 8.5%. Close were Curt Schilling 8.4%, Tim Raines 7.9%, Vladimir Guerrero 7.5% and Trevor Hoffman 7.2%. Far back were Mike Mussina 4.6%, Edgar Martinez 3.9%, Jorge Posada 3.8% and Magglio Ordonez 0.9%. Vote totals should be quintupled for an idea of the total percentage of ballots that included that player. By that standard, Bonds is the only player who would have come close by your votes to meeting the 75% standard for actual induction into Cooperstown by the BBWAA. I'm a voter, and will publish my picks in the blog closer to when they are due later this month.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2016

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-49ers, others; plus annual Thanksgiving holiday video from me to you, your Shaq/retired number verdict; also, Fidel Castro finally dies & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! 2) Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Retiring Shaq's number with poll, Jurgen Klinsmann fired, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 11 results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Fidel Castro dead at 90, Cuban Miami celebrates: Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died late last night at age 90, the news so many thousands in South Florida had long awaited, and are celebrating today. How the rest of America felt when the U.S. killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, this is how Cuban Miami feels about the demise of the Castro dictator, with many fervently believing he should burn in hell. My animus is not so personal, but, suffice to say, we'll attach no "R.I.P." here to this man's name. 

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 12: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-49ERS, REST OF NFL: We rebounded like Hassan Whiteside last week, shedding our slump with a 12-2 week straight-up and 9-4-1 against the spread in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald. Began our Week 12 solidly, 2-1 both ways on Thanksgiving Day games; click Thursday Gems for those picks. For all of our latest selections click on Week 12 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-49ers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column that today leads with an analysis of the Dolphins' playoff chances. We have the math on why Miami must won four of its last six games and finish 10-6 to expect to get in for the first time since 2008. Click on Ten Wins Or Bust For Fins to read. 

Other select recent columns: Football Town Strikes Back, on Dolphins' and Canes' concurrent resurgence. Also: Surreal At 200 MPH. Doctor Speed. South Florida to Canton. Return Of WadeCanes In the History Book. Miami QBs: No Worries. There's Hope For Us All. A Needed Slap In Face. Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did.

Pilgrim16A SPECIAL THANKSGIVING VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: Everybody's busy this time of year, but I managed to get Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, Heat center Hassan Whiteside, defrocked baseball Hall of Fame voter Dan LeBatard and president-elect Donald Trump to join me for this special holiday video. Hope you enjoy it. And thank you, on a serious note, to all of our longtime readers and listeners, near and far, for allowing me to  be a small part of your lives. I appreciate the support and will keep working to earn it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Click HERE to watch the special video starring the five of us...

Poll result: Mixed feelings, but ultimate thumbs-down on Heat retiring Shaq's number: Heat announced they're retiring Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32. We asked what you thought, and it was 33.5 percent "no way!", 27.1% "close call but nope," 24.7% "close call but yeah," and 14.8% "yes definitely!" Combined, the nays beat the yays, 60.6% to 39.4%. Sorry, Big Fella.

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

Twitter @gregcote