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 could feature a Heisman Trophy winner in 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

November 04, 2016

Our NFL Week 9 picks for Dolphins-Jets, top game, upset special; plus King Sport Halftime Awards, why Harvard University has never stood taller, The Luddite's Heat MVP & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4. 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cubs win World Series with history of Game 7s, Wade and LeBron's bet, your Dolphins/London verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few recent columns: World Series, NFL, Jose Fernandez, Heat, Dolphins: There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win) and A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings), our two newest columns. Also: Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. What Took You So Long? (on Dolphins' running-game epiphany). Heat's System Reboot. And The 200-Yard Man (Jay Ajayi).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 9: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-JETS, REST OF NFL: Time to reclaim our mojo in Week 9 of our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, one of our best, after last week's stumble. We were 6-6-1 overall and a miserable 3-9-1 against the spread last week, our worst showing of the season by far. And yet we are now a big 22 games over .500 ATS for the year (70-48-3) after a good start to our week last night. We correctly had Falcons covering a 4-point line at Tampa Bay; click Thursday Gem for that pick. For all our latest selections click on Week 9 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with our midseason trophy choices in seven categories including league and Dolphins MVP. Click on King Sport Halftime Awards to read.

WHY HARVARD UNIVERSITY HAS NEVER STOOD TALLER: The word "Harvard" always has connoted top-tier academia, but today we applaud not its brainpower but its Harvardmoral stand. The Harvard men's soccer team, leading the Ivy League, was just suspended immediately for the rest of its season by the university, all remaining game forfeited, all postseason hopes erased. Why? Because that men's team was found to have continued a disgusting practice in which the male players offer explicit, lewd, sexually charged "scouting reports" on Harvard's women's team. Is this 2016? Or 1956? Is this the highest level of academia? Or middle school? For better or ill, this proves the men of Harvard, ostensibly smart, can be as misogynistic, boorish, juvenile and crude as anybody else. Note that the Harvard crest includes the word "veritas." In Roman myth, Veritas was the goddess of truth. So here's some truth: the offending Harvard men's soccer players are a bunch of idiots! Click here for the background story, and here for the women's team's response. Good for Harvard for its actions, although, considering there were indications of this happening as far back as 2012, you wonder if this little cancer should have been addressed sooner. There should be mutual respect between men and women athletes. Wait. Better yet: How's this for a concept? There should be mutual respect between men and women.

LudditeINTRODUCING: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS": Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updates every five games. Miami's fifth game is tonight. So look for The Luddite's debut Heat MVP standings here in the blog Saturday morning.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 22, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 20.3%; plus Canes fall 37-16 at Va-Tech for 3rd straight L; also, where Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Panthers rank in ESPN 'Ultimate Standings,' NFL Week 7 pix, deconstructing Fins playoff drought & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill challenges team, in wake of exhilarating surprise over Pittsburgh, to "show up like this every week." Click on Tannehill's Challenge to read my column. 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 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 6 results, SOPY rankings, false nobility of the third-party candidate & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 20.3%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 20.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday's 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 29 following game at Notre Dame

Espnultimate PanthersPANTHERS ARE THE BIG SOUTH FLORIDA WINNERS IN 2016 ESPN ULTIMATE STANDINGS: Each year ESPN The Magazine ranks, top to bottom, the 122 teams in MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL to come up with its "Ultimate Standings," based on eight criteria: affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership, players, stadium experience, title track and bang for the buck. It's inexact, but fun. Click here for the full rankings. Here is how Greater Miami's Big Four pro teams fared:

Panthers No. 7 -- Top 10 overall is a big deal, and that's up from No. 48 one year earlier. Florida is judged third among all NHL clubs.

Heat No. 53 -- That's a sharp drop from 21st overall last year. Miami is slotted a mid-pack 15th among NBA teams.

Marlins No. 91 -- It was No. 106 a year ago, so, progress, I guess. Fish are ranked 25th among baseball teams.

Dolphins No. 106 -- That's down from 92nd last year. And Miami is judged a lowly 26th among NFL franchises.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 7: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: The big wheel keeps rollin'! It's our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald and one of our best so far. For our latest selections click on Week 7 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest prediction capsules for Dolphins-Bills, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. Got off to a great start with Chicago-Green Bay last night, accurately predicting the Packers would cover a 7 1/2-point line; click Thursday Gem for that capsule. We're now a very, very good (almost surreal) 60-31-2 against the spread heading into Sunday's schedule. We also have our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with a deconstruction of why the Dolphins suffer a playoff drought into its eighth season. I quantify two main areas (actually, three) where Miami has consistently fallen short. Click on (Not) Takin' Care Of Business to read.

G7: VIRGINIA TECH 37, HURRICANES 16: DREAMS OF REACHING ACC TITLE GAME CRUSHED IN BLACKSBURG: Final thoughts: Three weeks ago Miami was 4-0 and ranked No. 10 in nation. Now the Canes have lost a third straight conference game to make it 4-3 in a Thursday night loss that all but kills any chance of reaching the ACC championship game. Miami's injury-depleted defense was beaten for 525 yards by a balanced Va-Tech offense. The offense again struggled to reach the end zone despite Brad Kaaya's 323 yards passing in spite of his being sacked eight times ..... 4Q: Done. UM now down 37-16 after late Tech scoring run. That's a third staright loss for Miami, all but dooming any chance of reaching ACC title game ... Yearby busts a 41-yard run inside VT's 20 but it's wasted. UM misses narrowly on 4th-down end zone pass to Coley ... Big blocked FG for Miami to keep it a two-possession deficit ... Canes D drops an easy interception ..... 3Q: Tech up 30-16 on 3rd scoring pass of night given up by Miami's defense. Not good enough from Mario Diaz's injury-depleted unit tonight ... Boom! Just like that Kaaya-Herndon 35-yard hookup has Canes within 23-16 ... Hodges 12-yard scoring catch for 23-9 Va-Tech lead in series fueled by dumb personal foul against UM. Careful, Canes. This game could slip away fast. Miami needs TDs, not FGs ... What a defensive play by Quarterman for 11-yard loss on end around ..... Halftime thoughts: Huge series just before half has UM back in it, down 16-9. The two running games are the difference at this point. Va Tech has pummeled UM's defense for 112 ground yards and 5,.6 per carry, while Canes' usually productive ground game has 11 net yards on 17 carries. Richt has 201 air yards despite shaky protection. Miami's defense overall has not been terrible but the offense is struggling for the third straight game. Barring some magical halftime words from Mark Richt, UM is staring at a third straight defeat -- although that late score changed the feel ..... 2Q: Berrios 25-yard scoring pass from Kaaya just before has UM within 16-9 after missed kick. Huge series ... UM hole now 16-3 just before half on 38-yard Tech FG ... Tech 13-3 on 7-yard TD pass. Penalties, missed tackles bedeviling UM ... Tech adds another FG for 6-3 lead ... Kaaya is morphing into Ryan Tannehill (Kaayahill?), holding ball and taking sacks ... Kaaya throws into double coverage, is picked off on deflection ... Solid opening quarter for Canes, who should be up 7-3 ..... 1Q: Njoku wide-open for 48-yard pass play. Shoulda been TD but he tripped; Joe Nobody on the tackle. And UM settles for 29-yard FG to make it 3-3 ... Kaaya takes sack to remove UM from FG range. (Now Dolphins' Tannehill getting better protection and it's Canes O-line that looks weak) ... Va-Tech 3-0 but encouraging finish to series for a UM defense depleted by injuries, especially on line .....Original post: Both teams are 4-2 and unranked entering tonight's 7 o'clock game at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, but UM has two conference losses to the Hokies' one. Plainly, while this is not literally must-win for Miami, it is all but must-win if the Canes are to have Umvtany reasonable chance to still reach the ACC Championship Game out of the Coastal division. More than that, though, puts most of the pressure on Miami tonight. This is the first game all season The U has been the betting underdog, with Va-Tech a 6-point favorite. Prime time in Blacksburg on ESPN also makes this the toughest stage on which Mark Richt's Canes have yet performed. Miami also will be missing two or three defensive starters, which could affect UM getting to a very good, dual-threat opposing QB, Jerod Evans, who has 17 TD passes and loves to run. Clearly the onus is on Miami, playing its third game in 13 days, to avoid a third straight conference loss. The best hope may be a big game from Brad Kaaya, whose offense has sputtered in losses to FSU and North Carolina that sent the Canes cascading from No. 10 in the nation to unranked. The potential for Kaaya is big tonight. Va-Tech's defense gave up 405 passing yards to a not-very-good Syracuse last week. The stakes feel like all-or-nothing tonight, a season-shaping extreme. A third straight conference loss would be demoralizing. A win would be the biggest thus far for the Richt Era and set things right. Bottom line for me? These are two pretty equal teams, and a UM upset victory would not surprise me even a little bit. But Blacksburg at night truly offers a home-field edge that could carry the night. My pick: Virginia Tech, 24-20.

Other state FBS Week 8 games, chronologically; all Saturday unless noted:

Temple 46, South Florida 30: Bulls were 7-point road favorites, but bad Friday night loss leaves them 6-2, poll hopes and AAC championship dreams hit hard.

UCF 24, UConn 16Knights were 4-point road faves in this matinee and took care of biz, improving to 4-3.

Louisiana Tech 44, FIU 24: Panthers had won three straight under Ron Cooper since coaching change, but La-Tech was a 16 1/2-point road favorite and showed why.

Off this week:

No. 13 Florida State (5-2), next vs. No. 4 Clemson.

No. 15 Florida (5-1), next vs. Georgia.

FAU (1-6), next vs. Western Kentucky.

National Collball Week 8 overview: College Football Playoff's current alignment seemed safe for another week, but wasn't. While No. 1 Alabama took care of business and turned back No. 6 Texas A&M 33-14, No. 2 Ohio State lost a stunner at Penn State 24-21.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 19, 2016

NFL Pix 'n Fantasy: The (very) good and bad of Week 6 results; plus Tannehill's challenge to Dolphins, updated SOPY rankings, Radio Tuesday, the false nobility of the third-party candidate & more

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

Chuckberry1) It is WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19. Happy 90th birthday yesterday to the music legend Chuck Berry (pictured,) who announced that in 2017 he'll release his first new album in 38 years. 2) Dolphins earn season-high Dolfan Satisfaction Meter approval rating. See previous blogpost for latest results. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Pittsburgh with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: Tannehill nails it: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill has challenged his team, in the wake of Sunday's exhilarating surprise over Pittsburgh, to "show up like this every week." Can they? Click on Tannehill's Challenge to read my latest column.

Fripix LobosNFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 6 RESULTS: PHENOMENAL 'ATS' STREAK CONTINUES, BUT LOBOS FALL HARD: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: Went a nifty 12-3 overall and a sublime 10-4-1 against the spread -- a sixth straight winning week ATS! We bull's-eyed yet another Upset of the Week call with Redskins over Eagles ("Aawwk!"), hit two other outright upsets with Chargers over Broncos and Saints over Panthers, and also hit on a trio of other 'dogs-with-points in Browns, Falcons and Cowboys. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos dipped to 3-3 in the LeBatard Show league with a disappointing 156-96 loss to Allyson. Got a nice 33 points from Drew Brees and too little from everybody else. Injury-absence of Theo Riddick hurt, but doesn't excuse a spanking like this. Time to seriously re-gird.

SOPY RANKINGS / 'STATE HEISMAN': FLOWERS GROWING OUT OF CONTROL!: South Florida QB Quinton Flowers (out of Miami Jackson High) is threatening to run away with the leaderboard Sopyin the fifth year of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year. After winning Week 7 Flowers has opened up more than a 200-point lead on second place Dalvin Cook, the Florida state running back. Our rankings are cumulative, so players whose team had a bye week take a temporary hit in the rankings that evens out over the course of a season. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. UM, Florida and UCF have played one fewer game than the other four. 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. Here is the SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 8, followed by our updated 'Cote's State of the State' team rankings:

SOPY TOP 10 AFTER WEEK 7:

RK    LW    Player, Team-pos.                            Wk7        Year

1      1      Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb                293.5      1,540

2      2      Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                          126        1,304

3      3      Deondre Francois, FSU-qb                 165.5      1,160

4      5      Jason Driskel, FAU-qb                       138.5       838

5      8      Alex McGough, FIU-qb                      187.5      782.5

6      4      Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                          39         748

7     --      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb                       188        734

8      7      Mark Walton, Miami-rb                      105        707 

9      6      Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb                        95         702.5

10     9      Gregory Howell, FAU-rb                    115        700

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 618. Other team leaders: Luke Del Rio, Florida-qb, 552; and McKenzie Milton, UCF-qb, 404.5. Week 7 best: Flowers, 293.5. Season best: Cook, 341, Week 4.

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

THE FALSE NOBILITY OF THE THIRD-PARTY CANDIDATE: John Oliver skewered third-party presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein (video below), detailing ways in which their candidacies and platforms do not stand up under scrutiny or vetting. I'm against minor third-party runners (defined as polling less than 10 percent) mainly because they are hopeless spoilers attracting wasted, pointless votes -- modern-day Ralph Naders. Johnson and Stein have zero ZERO ZERO chance of winning a single state including their own, let alone a general election. I love that idealists have convinced themselves that voting their "conscience" is the way to go in this election, and that voting for (as they might put it) "the lesser of two evils" is abhorrent to everything they stand for. To those folks I would say: Feel free to be an adult, get acquainted with the idea of pragmatism, and hop on board the real world anytime you'd like.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 14, 2016

Our NFL Week 6 picks as sizzling ATS success bids to continue; plus Barkov a sweet 16 for Panthers, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Tannehill crushed by Dolfans in poll & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14. Fulton Walker, R.I.P. Former Dolphin died this week at 58 of a reported heart attack. He became first NFL player to score a kickoff-return TD in a Super Bowl in 1983. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill referendum poll, Panthers' Opening Night, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Panthers open with win: Florida's NHL season of high expectations began Thursday with 2-1 Opening Night win over New Jersey on OT goal by Aleksander Barkov. Cats honored late Marlins great Jose Fernandez before game by all wearing No. 16 jerseys. Barkov scored game winner in his own No. 16. Click on Now the Winning Big Must Follow for my column from the arena. Panthers had a big-spending offseason. Now must come the big results.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 6: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We're bound to keep it rolling on the big start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald with our latest Fripixround of selections. Click on Week 6 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest prediction capsules for Dolphins-Steelers, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. Got off to a great start with Denver-San Diego last night, accurately calling the Chargers' upset win; click on Thursday Gem for that capsule. We're now a very, very good 50-27-1 against the spread heading into Sunday's schedule. We also have an accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with some thoughts on what options could be available to the Dolphins if the club decides to move on past Ryan Tannehill after this season. Click on As Tannehill Fights For His Future to read.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 5 RESULTS: 'ATS' STREAK ROLLS ON; LOBOS WIN HUGELY: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and fantasy team. NFL picks: Went an OK 9-5 overall last week but were a solid 8-5-1 against the spread -- a fifth straight winning week ATS. Nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Rams ("Aawwk!"), hit another upset with Cowboys over Bengals, and had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Falcons, Redskins and Chargers. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos elevated to 3-2 (tied for second in the LeBatard Show league) with a surreal 143-43 annihilation of Stugotz. Who wins by 100 points!? Got a big 26 points from Theo Riddick but the key was our scramble at QB. With both our guys on a bye week we signed Brian Hoyer last-minute and got a big 24 from him.

Poll result: Not good, Tannehill. Dolphins fans are bailing on you: We asked what best describes your confidence level, right now, in Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and it was 47.3 percent "low," 30.1% "wavering," 14.0% "moderate" and only 8.6% "solid."

Select recent columns of ours, ICYMI or wanted another look: Swagger On Skates (previewing Florida Panthers' season of high hopes) / Because He's Tiger Woods / Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance / Close to Back, But Not Back (from last Saturday's Canes loss / With massive gentle force, Miami did itself proud this week with the love it showed Jose / Time is Right For Bosh to Retire / Demanding Racial Justice / Tebow's Dream / The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton.

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 01, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.0%. Ugh; plus Fins clobbered in Cincy 22-7, NFL Week 4 predix, our trilogy on tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Loria's eulogy for Jose & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30. Speaking at a rally in Coral Springs today, Hillary Clinton spent more than a minute on a tribute to Jose Fernandez. 2) Scroll to bottom of this blogpost for yesterday's eulogy by Jeffrey Loria for Jose. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins honor Jose in emotional tribute, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseOUR TRILOGY OF COLUMNS ON THE DEATH OF MARLINS ACE AND MIAMI HERO JOSE FERNANDEZ:

What Jose Meant Lives On -- The first, reacting to the tragic news that broke South Florida's heart last Sunday.

There is Crying In Baseball, And This Was the Night -- The second, from Monday's tribute night in first game back.

A Casket, a Hearse and a Miami Tragedy That Never Should Have Happened -- The latest, from Wednesday's public events and outpouring. 

Other recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Time is Right For Bosh to Retire (and I guess the headline says it all). We Got Some Canes Over Here (UM impact in NFL). Demanding Racial Justice (on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it all).

Find our live in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 3.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday night's 22-7 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals putting Miami's season record at 1-3. That's a season low and among the lowest ratings in our poll's history. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

2016 DSM results

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

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

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

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

Next poll: Oct. 9 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G4: @ CINCINNATI 22, DOLPHINS 7: FINS SQUANDER A BIG OPPORTUNITY TO LIFT A CITY THAT NEEDS LIFTING: Final postgame thoughts: In the fairy tale, Miami would have won tonight becausehad made several  Miami needed the lift -- not the team, the Dolphins, as much as the city back home. Five days grieving over the loss of Jose Fernandez and our community dearly needed a little joy, a diversion. A big upset win by the Dolphins might have done it, however briefly. But that hope was giving the Fins too much credit, alas. This was not only a loss dropping the Dolphins record to 1-3, it was dispiriting. Miami did little other than one long scoring pass. Its defense played badly against the pass but allowed only one Bengals TD. But Ryan Tannehill's unit did not offer nearly enough help. Coach Adam Gase  had made several lineup changes and tweaks. When those things work, you're a genius. When they don't, you seem desperate. So the Dolphins head home seeming as if they're not sure where they're at, or what to do. Not a good place to be one quarter into the season. ..... 4Q: Fins in Cincy territory and Tannehill intercepted, his fifth pick in past three games. Oy vey. ... Nugent's fifth FG has 'Gals in command 22-7. Another dispiriting  effort by the Dolphins-turned-Creamsicles. ..... 3Q: Tannehill continues to take way too many sacks for a mobile QB. ... 'Gals settle for another FG and 19-7 lead. A.J. Green (9-166) is making his fantasy owners pop champagne at Miami's expense. ..... Halftime thoughts: Time of possession a big negative for Miami. Dolphins defense can't get Cincy off the field -- Andy Dalton with 197 yards passing. And MIA offense, other than that 74-yard scoring pass, hasn't done much at all. This is a winnable game, but, right now, not looking like one Miami is prepared to win. ..... 2Q: CIN up 16-7 just before half after Tannehill stripped off ball, loses fumble in own territory. ... Bengals add short FG for 13-7 lead. Pretty even game. Nobody to cover Green, though. Bad sign when, three games in, you bench the guy (Byron Maxwell) who was supposed to be your top corner. ..... 1Q: Cincy 10-7 on Dalton-A.J. Green 7Y scoring hookup. Dolphins in these unis look like animated Creamsicles. ... Crazy Adam Gase with all his lineup changes and tweaks. You know how that goes. Wins, the media calls you a genius. Lose, we call you desperte. ... Dolphins 7-3 on Tannehill 74-yard strike to glaringly open Kenny Stills. ... Bengals 3-0, settle for FG on game's first series. Dolphin stiffened after, for much of series, looking as bad as their orange uniforms. ..... Original post: Miami is hurting. The city, the community, all of South Florida. Marlins fans, Cuban Miami -- everybody who enjoyed and admired the passion and spirit, not to mention the excellence, of Jose Fernandez. Tonight, the Miami Dolphins have a chance to help us heal just a little bit. To make us forget our sorrow for a little while. To allow us to cheer after a week of civic and personal heartache. But will they? Can they? Miacin2 MiacinThe Dolphins are weird and unpredictable and I have little real idea which Fins will take the field in Cincinnati on tonight's prime-time stage to kick off NFL Week 4. Nobody can really know. Even Adam Gase doesn’t. Miami nearly stunned the league in its opener in Seattle. Miami looked awful and great in losing at New England. Then Miami needed a ton of luck and overtime at home just to barely survive lowly Cleveland — leaving Dolfans more upset by the somewhat embarrassing win than by the two losses. Now? You could tell me Miami will get blown out by the Bengals Thursday night or impress in a big upset win (Miami is a 7 1/2-point underdog) and I’d not be surprised either way. The problem here is Miami can’t run behind a disheveled and untrustworthy offensive line, and I can’t like this pass defense against AFC yards leader Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, who caught 11 for 128 yards when last facing Miami. Also, Cincy should have back defensive leader Vontaze Burfict, who is newly off suspension. There also is speculation Bengals might get tight end Tyler Eifert back from injury, but that's doubtful. In Miami’s favor, Fins are 15-5 in this series including three in a row, Cincy is given to big defensive penalties, and Dalton can be pick-prone on occasion. Miami will have a sizable upset shot if the defense can manage a takeaway or two, if Ryan Tannehill (four INTs in past two games) plays clean, or if Cam Wake can reprise the mayhem of his last game against the Bengals: Three sacks, fumble recovery, forced fumble and game-winning safety. Maybe the Dolphins have a storybook night in them; maybe they know how much their hurting city could use the lift. Alas, the safest bet here? It’s ’Gals outright, Fins covering. (Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's full prediction capsule). My pick: Bengals, 27-23.

IT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 4: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 11-5 against the spread Fripixlast week (though only 9-7 straight-up). Click on Week 4 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for the entire week. Got off to a split start on Dolphins-at-Bengals last night. Thought Cincy would win, but gave Miami too much credit and mistakenly thought they'd get inside the 7 1/2-point bet-line (see Thursday Gem for that pick). We also have an accompanying NFL notes column that leads with an analysis of the eight instances in history when quarterbacks have gone 1-2 in the NFL Draft -- the instant rivalries and how they fared vs. each other. (There's a rather stunning reason why the first of them, in 1954, was short-lived). Click on Instant Lifelong Rivals to read the column.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS ON THURSDAY NIGHT: Miami is now 6-5 all-time on Thursday night after tonight's loss in Cincinnati. The chronology:

Date            Result    Opponent 

11-29-79      Won       vs. Patriots 39-24

11-20-80      Lost       vs. Chargers 27-24 (OT)

9-10-81        Won       vs. Steelers 30-10

10-18-90      Won       vs. Patriots 17-10

9-7-06          Lost       at Steelers 28-17

11-19-09      Won        at Panthers 24-17

11-18-10      Lost        vs. Bears 16-10

11-11-12      Lost        at Bills 19-14

10-31-13      Won        vs. Bengals 22-20 (OT)

11-13-14      Won        vs. Bills 22-9

9-29-16        Lost         at Bengals 22-7

TRANSCRIPT OF JEFFREY LORIA'S EULOGY FOR JOSE FERNANDEZ TODAY: The Marlins owner has been controversial and oft-disliked, or worse. But give him credit where it is due. The Marlins have hit all the right notes this week in their tributes to their star pitcher who was tragically killed this past Sunday. In that spirit, here, verbatim, is Loria's eulogy for Jose from earlier this afternoon.

"First of all, there are a few people we need to thank. Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, and ESPECIALLY the Miami-Dade Police Department and City of Miami Police Department. We’d like to thank St. Brendan’s Catholic Church, Father Fernando, Father Alvarez, Christopher Columbus High School, Brother Kevin, Father Rumen and La Ermita.

We weren’t supposed to be here today.

As you all know, we tragically lost a giant who was one of the bright lights of our Marlins organization, the City of Miami, and for Cuban people everywhere. His story was representative of, and inspiring to, millions across the world. He worked so hard to experience the American Dream…and ended up being its very embodiment.

I was fortunate enough to play a significant role in Jose’s life, as he did in mine. I was there when he got called up. I was there when he pitched his first big league strike. I was proud to be there when he was reunited with his grandmother, and there when he won the Rookie of the Year award; no doubt it would have been the first of many such accolades.

I was blessed to have gotten to know not only the player with a golden arm, but also the man.

While some saw him as provocative, I saw him as humble, mature and never wanting to abuse his personal or professional relationships. He respected generosity, and in turn, gave it back in spades with his magnetic smile that could light up a ballpark.

I think we also know about his famously-competitive spirit. For evidence of this, one need look no further than his last at bat of the season two years ago. For weeks, he had been playfully telling anyone who would listen that he dreamt of hitting a home run.

Not having done it as the season drew to a close, this Ace who is normally better known for his fastball, crushed it into the seats, smiling broadly as he rounded the bases. This was the magic of Jose. He set the standard for making baseball FUN.

You know, Jose’s impact on people was global. This summer, my wife Julie and I were in Chicago for the Cubs series. As we strolled down Michigan Ave. in advance of a night game, we saw someone walking towards us wearing a Marlins jersey. As he got closer, we noticed it said Fernandez on the back, so we stopped him to inquire if he’d be attending the ballgame. He explained in a thick Dutch accent that he’d saved up his money and flown in from Holland specifically to see his favorite player, Jose. How far and wide the admiration went for this young man. Jackie Robinson once said a life is not important, except through the impact it has on OTHER lives. By any measure…Jose achieved that goal.

Athletically, he was clearly a superstar who would have continued to reach incredible heights in this game. He passed far too young, like other greats such as Thurmon Munson and Roberto Clemente. But more importantly, he was a superstar human being.

About a year ago, Jose tweeted “if you were given a book with the story of your life, would you want to read the end?” Well I prefer not to think of this tragedy as the end of his life…but rather the beginning of his LEGEND, his memory and his love that will endure forever.

To Jose’s family, friends, teammates and our community, I share in the deep pain we’re all feeling right now. Some words that often comfort me in times like this are that…grief is merely a healing process from the pain of loss. In other words, this pain is overwhelming, but a sign that we are coping and together we will move on.

He will never be replaced…nor forgotten…but will endure shining brightly over us all.

Thank you."

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 24, 2016

Chris Bosh, with latest setback, should retire from Heat and NBA: my new column. Agree or not? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 3 picks, has-interest-in-Heat-decreased poll, why Stanley Cup odds still are against Panthers, your Tebow verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24. It's autumn! Are we feeling autumnal? 2) Click here for ESPN Radio podcast including my latest Back In My Day segment. It kicks in around the 41-minute mark. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tim Tebow launches baseball career with poll, Bosh says Heat docs wrote him off, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Demanding Racial Justice (the latest, on why those anthem protests keep going). Tebow's Dream (from his first Mets' instructional league workout). The Case for Zach Thomas and Canton (which about says it)Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration).

CHRIS BOSH SHOULD RETIRE FROM HEAT, NBA: MY NEW COLUMN: Click on Time is Right For Bosh to Retire to read my latest column in full. What led me to write it: Four days before the start of Heat training camp in the Bahamas, the Miami Herald reports today that complications involving continued clotting have derailed or at least indefinitely delayed Bosh's comeback hopes. The issue is not considered life-threatening but requires medication at odds with the rigors of the NBA. Bosh's past two Miami seasons have been substantially ruined by blood clot issues, and it now seems a near-certainly a third season in a row will be majorly affected. The Heat, just after noon today, released a statement saying, "Chris has now taken his pre-season physical. The Miami Heat regret that it remains unable to clear Chris to return to basketball activities, and there is no timetable for his return." Ominous. Update: Bosh, saying "little setbacks happen," says he will continue working toward an NBA comeback in Miami.

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY WEEK 3: OUR LATEST NFL PICKS: We continued the strong start to our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald by going 12-4 overall and 10-6 against the spread last week. Click on Week 3 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Browns, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and every other matchup. Got off to another good start last night (see Thursday Gem) by accurately calling the Patriots' win over Houston -- one that found New England a rare home underdog, albeit by only 1 point. We also have an accompanying NFL column that leads with an analysis of the impact of state-school college players in the NFL, including a position breakdown of every current Miami Hurricane suiting up on Sundays. Click on We Got Some Canes Over Here to read the column plus NFL notes.

HeatPOST-WADE, WHAT IS YOUR INTEREST IN THE HEAT COMPARED TO BEFORE?: Incredibly, for the first time since 2002, the Miami Heat are about to open a preseason training camp without Dwyane Wade on the roster, after seeing him sign with the Chicago Bulls in free agency. The five-day camp runs this coming Tuesday through Saturday in Nassau, Bahamas. First LeBron James departs, now Wade. And with Chris Bosh still in limbo because of his medical situation, the Heat has gone from the BIg 3 to the BIg 2 to the BIg 1 ... maybe. And the team that reached four straight recent NBA Finals and won two of them is now judged as an also-ran that could struggle just to make the playoffs. I'm curious how that has impacted fans' interest in the coming season, post-Wade. Take a dip in our poll and let us know, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

STANLEY CUP? WHY ODDS STILL ARE AGAINST BIG-DREAMING PANTHERS: The Florida Panthers hit the ice to begin training camp today/Friday in Sunrise (Cats' first exhibition game is Tuesday and the season opens Oct. 13), and this may be the first season in franchise history in which winning the Stanley Cup is on minds and tips of tongues in a very Panthersnewlogoreal way. After winning its division last season, despite an unexpected first-round playoff ouster, this team believes it is really good. Florida finished with 103 standings points last year (tied for fifth in the NHL) and had a productive offseason of extending contracts on its youthful core of players. The future looks bright. But how bright will the present be? Odds remain against the Cats getting to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, and here's the reason: the best teams in the league will be roadblocks to get out of the Eastern Conference. Via Bovada, Florida's betting over/under on regular season points is 98.5, tied for eighth best. That's pretty good. Playoff good. But: the top three teams overall all are East rivals in Washington (107.5), Tampa Bay (106.5) and Pittsburgh (103.5). Before the puck ever drops on a meaningful game, the Panthers are trailing in the public perception that sets and moves betting lines. This is what happens when a non-traditional power thinks it's really good and ready to make a big move. The proving must come before the believing does. (That new logo is growing on me, by the way).

Poll result: He's polarizing, but a majority like Tebow: We asked, as he embarks on an attempted baseball career, what is your overall impression or feeling about Tim Tebow. And it was 

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 10, 2016

Upset Bird Day in America! Our NFL Week 1 picks; plus Super Bowl poll. Vote now; also, FIU falls, study slams subsidies for sports facilities including Marlins Park, your verdict on biggest Heat acquisition & more

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

Wingicecream1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Pictured right, what stars in a Greg Cote sweet dream? Yes. Yes it is. It's Chicken Wing-flavored ice cream! 2) Marlins worth watching tonight: Jose Fernandez vs. Clayton Kershaw. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat's biggest personnel move with poll, computer's gloomy prediction for Dolphins, debut of SOPY rankings, Arian Foster named starter, Canes crack Top 25, miserable Marlins & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

FIU falls hard: The now 0-2 FIU Panthers hosted and lost to Maryland 41-14 last night. The Int'l was only one of seven state FBS teams to open with loss last week, and followed that by allowing 477 yards oif offense to Terps in a blowout loss.

Recent columns, ICYMI or wanted another look: Awesome Vs. Awful, our most recent, on UM's resounding season-opening victory over Florida A&M. Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? (Hard Rock unveiled). NFL Ranking (Best to worst teams, 1 through 32). Brad Kaaya (on UM's key player). She Never Quit (on FIU coach Ron Turner's inspiration). And Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (QB sits to take a stand).

Heaviest-bet NFL team over/unders: Via Bovada: The heaviest-bet "overs" on win totals are Cardinals (84 percent on 9.5 wins), Patriots (79% on 10.5) and Panthers (72% on 10.5). Heaviest-bet "unders" are Eagles (82% on 7 wins), Colts (78% on 9.5) and Rams (74% on 7.5).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY IN MIAMI. WAIT. NO. IN AMERICA!:It has arrived -- our historic 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, today in the print edition and also online. A South Florida tradition that began in 1991 continues as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our 2016 Kickoff Weekend picks and prediction capsules for Dolphins-Seahawks, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week, Dog of the Week and every other matchup. Click on Week 1 Gems for all our picks and on Thursday Night Gem for tonight's pick. (We rolled to a big start last night, nailing Denver's upset of Carolina). We also have an accompanying NFL column with our division-by-division forecasts and projected won-lost records along with our Super Bowl pick. Click on Fearful Forecast to read.  We'll also be updating you every Tuesday here in the blog on how we fared the previous weekend with our picks, and with our Greg's Lobos fantasy teams.

Nfl Sb51KING SPORT AWAKENS! IT'S FOOTBALL DAY IN AMERICA!: The college game had a one-week head start. Now let the pros take over, kids. The NFL regular-season begins tonight -- click on Thursday Night Gem for our pick on the Panthers-Broncos game -- and so starts a continuous six-month blitzkrieg of America's immersion in fantasy football and gambling as 32 teams set out to reach and win a Super Bowl. Las Vegas betting odds and the public's reaction to those estimates suggest there are a consensus of six teams pretty clearly above the rest in terms of being likeliest to win it all. We're curious about your thoughts so we have listed all six current betting favorites in our new poll, and we added a seventh team, Denver, in the sentimental belief every reigning champion deserves at least that small nod of respect. No matter the team you cheer for, vote with head, not heart, as if you were given $100 to lay on one team only, straight up, to be this season's champ. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

NEW ECONOMIC STUDY SLAMS FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR SPORTS FACILITIES, INCLUDING MARLINS PARK: A new economic study by the respected Brookings BrookingsInstitute think tank says federal taxpayers have subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports facilities at a cost of $3.2 billion since 2000, via tax-exempt federal municipal bonds. Because high-income bond holders receive that additional tax break for holding the bonds, the resulting loss in total revenue to the federal government is even larger at $3.7 billion. The Miami Marlins' new stadium is included in the study, and is shown to have received a $100 million tax subsidy at a lost-government-revenue pricetag of $132 million. The study looked at 48 stadiums and arenas in America's Big 4 sports. The Marlins received the 12th most in federal subsidy and caused the 10th most in lost revenue. Click on Brookings Study for the full story.

Poll result: Not LeBron, not Shaq, not Wade -- Riley is Heat's biggest acquisition: We asked what has been the Miami Heat's biggest personnel move or acquisition, and hiring executive Pat Riley was a runnaway winner with 50.3 percent. After that it was 24.7% for drafting Dwyane Wade, 16.9% for signing LeBron James/BIg Three, 6.7% for trading for Shaquille O'Neal, and 1.3% for trading for Alonzo Mourning.

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

Twitter @gregcote