February 06, 2016

Super Bowl With a Smirk V: Parties rage, Goodell dabs, Lombardi sings, (Florida) Panthers vs. Broncos; plus Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum, our SB 50 pick, Smirk IV, your verdict on Canes recruiting & more


1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6. In The Previous Blogpost: National Signing Day with how-Canes-did poll, Super Bowl With a Smirks II and III, updated NBA/NHL title odds & more. 1Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

The Super Bowl's hidden key matchup: Click on Kid Shula vs. Son of Bum for today's latest column by me. I write how the game could come down to whether Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula or Denver defensive chief Wade Phillips gets the better of the other. A generation ago their fathers, Don Shula and Bum Phillips, also famously dueled.

Canton calling: Pro Football Hall of Fame will reveal its 2016 inductees during the NFL Honors show tonight. Ex-Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James is the only former Cane or Dolphin on the balot but is expected to fall short. Beyond certain first-ballot inductee Brett Favre, others with the best shot to make it are Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene and Tony Dungy.

"So great seeing retired Herald legend (and one of my mentors) Edwin Pope back in the paper yesterday with a Miami Super Bowl memories column. Had to be an unexpected treat for lots of surprised readers, like happening upon a family heirloom you thought you'd lost." --Greg Cotexx

SUPER BOWL 50 PREDICTION: UPSET! DEFENSE RULES, BRONCOS WIN: Carolina is 17-1 and favored by 5 1/2 points, which is a lot. Denver has a fading, hobbly quarterback about to turn 40. Get all of that. But still like Broncos in an upset because I don't think Peyton Manning will need to play hero Sunday night in Santa Clara, Calif. I think his defense will do that for him. Fripix"AAAWWWK!" crows the Upset Bird, even though he's only supposed to appear during the regular season. "Peyton Maaawwwk! Omahaawwk!" A friend of mine who has his bookie on speed-dial loves the phrase, "The masses are asses." He says that to explain his pet betting philosophy-hunch: That when everybody else is zigging to one team, that’s when you zag to the other. Let the lemmings herd toward the cliff; I’ll head the other way. This crossed my mind as I decided to pull the trigger on an upset in the Golden SB — Denver not only covering the point spread but beating Carolina outright. That did not influence my decision, though, as much as this: I am sold on this Broncos’ defense, and I believe in it enough to think it will get the better of Cam Newton and a pretty awesome Panthers’ offense. This is a Denver D that limited Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to 16 points in the first playoff game, and only three field goals after the first quarter. This is a Denver D that utterly frustrated Tom Brady and New England in the AFC title game, budgeting Brady to a 56.4 passer rating and under 50 percent completions and intercepting him twice. I know that Carolina’s ground attack out of the shotgun, including Newton’s run-threat, presents a challenge Brady and the Patriots did not. But I still see Denver up to that challenge. The irony of Manning in what could be his final career game is that most of the winning will be done with him on the sideline if his defense takes charge as I believe it will. My pick: Broncos, 23-20.

ESPN experts overwhelmingly like Panthers: ESPN polled 70 of its NFL experts on who'll win the Super Bowl and it was 53-17 for Carolina, or 75.7 percent. Notables for underdog Denver (meaning people I'd heard of): Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Suzy Kolber, Todd McShay, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth and Trey Wingo.

SMIRK V: EXCESS REACHES CRESCENDO WITH REGAME PARTIES: Here is the last of five Super Bowl With a Smirk columns for 2016: You know the Super Bowl is getting really close when the biggest parties are happening. Hey, is that Snoop Dogg? Look, it’s a Kardashian! A Super Bowl city on the eve of the Big Game is when you might hear someone shout, “Ludacris!” and not be Smirk Playboypartysure if they spotted the rapper or were commenting on the absurdity of it all. Playboy’s 16th annual Super Bowl party happened Friday night under a 35,000-square-foot tent erected in the parking lot of the Giants baseball stadium. At the party they handed out the first issue of the new-era Playboy that includes no explicit nudity. I believe that’s when the party immediately ended. Rolling Stone, GQ, ESPN, Maxim and Vanity Fair were among other major party hosts. The ESPN soiree was highlighted by an appearance from New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and, we imagine, a lurching, leering Chris Berman inadvertently sweating into women’s cocktails. Smirk culled through his many A-list party invites and ended up at the annual bash hosted by the recently paroled half-brother of former Monkee Peter Tork. Two NFL-related parties happen Saturday night. The fourth annual NFL Honors will include the announcement of major award winners including MVP and the naming of the newest Hall of Fame class, following voter deliberation in the Bob Kuechenberg Disappointment Room. Elsewhere will be the 25th annual Taste of the NFL, a fundraiser featuring a dish by a chef from every league city. Carolina will be represented by Springer Mountain Confit Chicken Wings Kentuckyaki, and Denver by Oak-Grilled Lamb Neck. Miami, last in a Super Bowl 31 years ago, will be represented by Rum Pork Belly with a Glaze of Dolfans’ Tears.

Goodelldabs▪ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has killed the Dab. Cam Newton made the dance move Dabbing popular. But Goodell, un-hippest man in America, was coerced to do it by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, and so now the Dab is dead.

▪ Goodell announced the Raiders and Texans next season would play the first NFL regular-season game in Mexico since 2005, unless Donald Trump has sealed off the entire country with his giant wall by then.

▪ ESPN’s endless pregame show Sunday includes a segment called Riding With Vince, a Carpool Karaoke ripoff in which Cris Carter, Mike Ditka and a Vince Lombardi impersonator are lip-synching to songs. Oh how I wish I were making that up.

▪ A new University of Texas-Dallas study of NFL arrests between 2000 and 2014 found 573 players had been arrested 774 times, but only 209 of those arrests (or 27 percent) were for violent crimes. AWRIIIGHT!

▪ The NFL has issued a warning regarding counterfeit Super Bowl tickets. Folks, if you bought a Super Bowl ticket that seems exceptionally small, is stamped “Regal Cinema” and mentions the 4:40 showing of Dirty Grandpa, you might have been ripped off.

Wrongcats▪ Montreal’s Le Telejournal, a French-language news show, mistakenly used a Florida Panthers logo to preview Super Bowl 50. Wonder if they said the quarterback was Jaromir Jagr?

▪ Further indications we are out of stuff to write about and the game needs to start: ESPN reports that Robin Leach, ancient host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, picks Carolina 27-21. Also, the Amazing Kreskin offered his Super Bowl prediction on Friday, surprising analysts who thought the Amazing Kreskin had died years ago.

▪ Finally, Smirk signs off for the week after having seen way too many previews of Super Bowl commercials. Again last night I had that recurring nightmare in which Betty White is nursing the E-Trade Baby while running terrified from a herd of singing sheep.

SMIRK IV: THE 2-WEEK PREGAME SHOW, NFL'S APOLOGY TO WOMEN, NO-DRONE-ZONE, STOCK MARKET PREDICTOR: Here is the fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes
columns: We must fine-tune what we mean when we say "Super Bowl excess." It does not mean our avid interest in the game itself, or the fact some 43 million Americans will host Super Bowl parties, or the magnified attention given the halftime show or the hyped-up TV ads. No, it is Your Friend the Media that is the engine of the excess. We are to Pregameshowblame. We are the ones giving you what amounts to a nonstop two-week pregame show, like it or not, want it or not. Smirk says television is the main culprit, especially host network CBS, the ubiquitous ESPN and, of course, NFL Network. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gave voice to the ludicrousness of it on Wednesday morning as he met with hundreds of media after doing the same thing Tuesday night. "How can I reword answers to questions I’ve been asked so many times?" he said. "Nothing much has changed since I’ve seen you guys 24 hours ago [except that] I had an unbelievable sleep. I sound like a broken record.' NFL Network is airing 88 live hours of on-location coverage this week featuring 36 on-air personalities. Sunday it will air 10 hours of pre- and post-game coverage. CBS and ESPN similarly are inundating you. CBS Sports has more than 550 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, will have a four-hour pregame show and will use 70 cameras during the game. Highlight of CBS’s pregame show is expected to be a 2 p.m. interview with Barack Obama. The president is expected to say he is looking forward to a good game, after which Republicans demanding equal time are expected to argue they are not looking forward to a good game and why America should not be, either. You know why America will be so excited to see Sunday’s game kick off? It isn’t because Panthers vs. Broncos will finally be starting. It’s because the two weeks of mind-numbing buildup will finally be ending.
Bombast▪ Coldplay and Beyoncé will have a lot to live up to Sunday. Super Bowl halftime shows are even more highly anticipated than the game itself, according to the latest annual survey by the National Association of Super Bowl Halftime Producers.

▪ The NFL held its first Super Bowl Women’s Summit on Thursday. Feels to Smirk like either pandering or an apology. Cannot confirm the event was subtitled, "Just to Remind You We Don’t Condone So Many of Our Players Being Arrested for Domestic Violence."

▪ The NFL Foundation’s Super Bowl alumni bowling tournament takes place Friday. It’s the best place to watch former players hobble and grimace as they gripe loudly about lack of medical benefits.

Drones▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “The FAA has banned drones from flying within 32 miles of the stadium Sunday.”

▪ The so-called Stock Market Predictor — Super Bowl win by NFC means market up for the year, AFC win means market down — has been accurate with 40 of the 49 SBs, including seven in a row. Throes of a dilemma: Broncos fan who invests heavily in stock market.

▪ Super Fact: The Broncos are 5-0 in games in which Sunday’s referee, Clete Blakeman, has worked. "I don’t care about that. I'm just glad to see another guy named ‘Clete’ out there," said deceased baseball player Clete Boyer.

Wherewatch▪ Finally, I saw a consumer-oriented story with the headline, "Where to watch the Super Bowl." The target demographic: Football fans who own no television, have never heard of a sports bar and have no friends.

Previously: Click on Smirk I, Smirk II and Smirk III for this week's earlier Smirks. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

Poll result: Richt, Canes get strong rating for 2016 recruiting class: We asked you how you thought Miami did on National Signing Day, and it was 58.5 percent "good," 26.2% "very good," 11.4% "average" and only 3.9% "below average." That's an overall stamp of approval for new coach Mark Richt, with 84.7% saying good or better vs. 15.3% saying average or worse.

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January 16, 2016

What Dolphins' new OC hire signifies; plus invisible haters inspire Whiteside and Heat, who's best QB left in NFL playoffs? (Poll; vote now!); also, our Divisional-Round picks, the booming business of death & more


1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 16. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's first-round Dolphins pick, what Powerball win would buy in sports, Dolphins and Marlins' big moves, Canes CFP title odds, Marlins caskets & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

ClydeTWO THOUGHTS ON WHAT DOLPHINS' NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR HIRE SIGNIFIES: The Dolphins today hired Clyde Christensen (pictured) as offensive coordinator. He'd been the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach. Two thoughts: 1) This is not a power position in Miami, at least not initially. New head coach Adam Gase already has said he will call offensive plays, which usually is an OC's primary task, so Christensen arrives with influence limited from the outset. 2) The fact Christensen is a QB specialist who helped develop Andrew Luck is significant. Coupled with Gase's background as sort of a quarterbacks guru, it underlines the clear objective of the Miami's coaching staff makeover: To raise Ryan Tannehill's game to the optimum level. That's it. It's obvious. It is 2016-or-bust for the Tannehill/Dolphins marriage. 

"THEY," THE UNIDENTIFIED AND PERHAPS INVISIBLE HATERS, INSPIRE WHITESIDE, HEAT: So Miami rallies furiously from 18 down and wins in Denver last night, 98-95, behind Hassan HassanwhitesideWhiteside's 19-point, 17-rebound, 11-block triple double and Chris Bosh's 24 points. It was a big win, needed and timely. The team had lost three straight and four of five, and leaders Bosh and Dwyane Wade spoke out. Wade mentioned the team's "inner dilemmas." Bosh called the team's mentality "really, really bad." What I loved, though, was Whiteside (pictured) on Twitter after the game: "THEY don't want to see a triple double in blocks and win for the HEAT," he wrote, the underline mine but the all-caps his. Omnipresent DJ Khaled, the Miami record producer and social-media hound, re-Tweeted and added, "Of course they don't, so what we going to do is win more!!" My question: Who are they, exactly? Is Charles Barkley going all anti-Heat mouthy again? There was indeed a they during the four LeBron years. Much of America heaped jealousy or hate upon the Heat. Many in the national media also were throwing shade. Those teams adopted an us-against-them mentality that was real, and justified. But now? Are they still around? Is anybody really hating on a mid-pack Heat team that's pretty good but not even assured of making the playoffs? I think young Hassan is simply reaching for the easy self-motivation. And that's fine. Funny, though. Whatever works, I guess.

UPSET BIRD DAY: NFL DIVISIONAL-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Thirty-two teams funneled to 12 in the playoffs. Now that number is whittled to eight -- soon to be four, after today's and Sunday's doubleheaders. Welcome to Divisional-Round FripixWeekend, where last week's four survivors visit the four highest-seeded teams that had byes last week. Click on Divisional-Round Gems for our four second-round playoff picks; we have three home favorites advancing with one upset -- Seahawks winning in Carolina ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on All the Reminder You Need for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with my noting seven of the eight remaining teams are quarterbacked by Canton-bound legends or current elite stars -- a reminder how the QB position is linked more directly than ever to winning. That QB-driven final eight also helps explain why the Dolphins chose quarterback guru Adam Gase as their new head coach. In the alphabetical poll below, we invite you to vote for which of the final eight QBs you'd most want starting for your team this weekend.

DeathTHE LATEST REMINDER HOW DEATH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS: The next Billboard charts will reflect that several old David Bowie albums have re-entered because sales spike upon a singer's death. It's quantifiable. Happens every time. For now, this indication: On Monday, the day we found out Bowie had died, at 69, of cancer, his videos were watched more than 51 million times, more than any other artist has ever received on Vevo in one day. The previous, short-lived record was 36 million views for Adele the day her hit song Hello was released in October.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

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January 07, 2016

Who should be Dolphins' next coach? Twelve choices, you pick one. Last chance to vote; poll ends noon today!; plus my Piazza/Hall column, Panthers' streak in historical perspective, Heat vs. Cats title odds & more


1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 7. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! Barely. You get one full week. 2) See previous blogpost for final season results in Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Top Miami sports story of 2015 verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Piazza, other Hall voting show steroids stigma is softening: Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza got into the baseball Hall of Fame tonight. Griffey was fully expected. But Piazza's election -- along with increased voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens -- strongly suggest the stigma against steroids-era guys is softening. Rumors alone kept Piazza out the previous three years. Now suddenly he's in. Click on Baseball's Cold War Is Slowly Ending to read my new column, online now and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

Vote now! We declare a winner at noon today!

TannenbaumYOU PICK THE DOLPHINS' NEXT HEAD COACH: Update: Voting booth closes at noon today! Man, this poll has gotten a huuuge response and it's still too close to call. Very interesting results so far. Be a part of it. And quickly, please. Original post: I've had my say, online and in today's Miami Herald. Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the Dolphins try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Seven hires in a row (including interims) have not. Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt were the last two hires who had been NFL head coaches before; they also are the last two to be on the sideline when Miami won a playoff game. In this poll I list a dozen coaches alphabetically. Eleven have been reportedly linked to the job as candidates. I added Tom Coughlin, just for fun. Conspicuously absent from the list are Sean Payton and Chip Kelly, with no indications of Dolphins interest. Me? I'd give up a second-round draft pick for Payton in a millisecond. But it's Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) fronting the Dolphins search, not me. Ready to give Tannenbaum your input? Vote for the man you think would be the best next coach for Miami or the hire that would excite you the most. You can only vote for one. (Nobody said life was fair...) Vote now and say why you chose as you did.

FripixNFL PIX WEEK 17 RESULTS: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Well, fantasy is done. But our prognosticating isn't. Pix: Ending the regular season badly: We stumbled in at 8-8 overall. Wed also were disappointed to wrap it up 8-7-1 against the spread. Should have been better, considering we nailed our Upset of the Week with Bills over Jets ("Aawwk!") and had a big five 'dogs-with-points in the Dolphins, Saints, Redskins, Raiders and Seahawks. On to the playoffs!

PANTHERS' WINNING STREAK IN CONTEXT OF BEST WE'VE SEEN: The longest winning streak by South Florida's four major pro sports franchises:

Heat: 27 games. Feb. 3 through March 27, 2013. Third-longest in NBA history.

Dolphins: 18 games. Sept. 17, 1972 through Sept. 16, 1973. Tied third-longest in NFL history.

Panthers: 10 games. Dec. 15, 2015 through now; current. Cats' previous long streak was seven games, done three times, most recently 2008. Florida has won eight of its 10 games outright and two by shootout, and outscored opponents 35-12 during streak. NHL record is 17-game winning streak by 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Panthers' next game: Thursday at Ottawa.

Marlins: 9 games. Done four times, most recently Sept 9-19, 2008. Marlins' long win streak is shortest of any MLB franchise.

Odds say Cats likelier to win championship than Heat: New championship betting odds out from Bovada show the Florida Panthers (14-1, tie 6th) have better NHL title odds than do the Heat (40-1, tie 8th) in the NBA. Golden State is a clear basketball favorite to repeat, at 5-4. Washington Capitals top a crowded hockey field, at 6-1. 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 02, 2016

Our Top 10 Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015, your choice for the biggest. Poll. Vote now!; plus biggest-national-story verdict, Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, sports predictions for 2016 & more


20161) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 2. Happy New Year! We're Sweet '16! Let's all make it a great one, OK? 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games entering the weekend. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Clemson swamps Oklahoma in CFP semifinal Orange Bowl, national sports story-of-the-year poll, Landry and Jones share Dolphins MVP award & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Orange Bowl column: Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium off Thursday's 37-17 Tigers win over Oklahoma in the CFP semifinal Orange Bowl.

Miami2015WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2015?: We do this every year. We asked you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2015 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from an alphabetically presented top 10 of my choosing. (Did I omit one that needed to be here?). You may vote for your top three (3). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Remember, you can choose your top three. Ready? Vote!

Vote for your top three (3):

Poll result: Horsepower! American Pharoah is your national sports story of the year: We invited you to name the 2015 national sports story of the year from among The Associated Press' top 10 list, and your top five were American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown with 28.6 percent, Deflategate shadowing the Patriots Super Bowl win at 17.1%, U.S. winning the Women's World Cup with 14.7%, FIFA corruption scandal at 9.8%, and Golden State winning NBA with 8.7%

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 17 PICKS: Regular season ends with 16 division games, all Sunday, and only two playoff spots still open. Click on Week 17 Gems for all of our latest picks Fripixand full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins end miserable season with home loss to Patriots, Packers beat Vikings in winner-take-all game for division title, and Rex Ryan's Bills deny Jets in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Name That Dolphins Coach for our latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. It leads with some thoughts on Miami's head-coach opening. The Fins' next coach should be an experienced, proven winner, not a gamble on a promoted assistant with training wheels. Sean Payton and Chip Kelly are a logical starting point in the search, but there are complications. One is the compensation that would be due the Saints to get Payton. Another is the roadblock of a strong personnel chief here in Mike Tannenbaum. And another is whether Ryan Tannehill and this roster will prove enticing to top coaches with other options.

CubsPREDICTING 2016 IN SPORTS...: Aol.com throws out a bunch of predictions for sports in 2016 (click here) and they include, chronologically: Arizona beats Denver in next month's Super Bowl; Michigan State beats North Carolina in men's March Madness finale; Florida Panthers make the NHL playoffs; Peyton Manning retires in May; Heat reach Eastern Conference finals but lose to Cavaliers; Golden State beats Cleveland again for NBA title; L.A. King beat Washington Capitals for NHL crown; Cooperstown inductees are Ken Griffey Jr., Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Tim Raines; Marlins' Ichiro gets 3,000 hit on Aug. 29; Serena Williams wins tennis' Grand Slam; Marlins miss playoffs (again); and Cubs beat Astros for first World Series title in 107 years.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2015

Here's your 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Who gets in and who doesn't? Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 picks, verdict on Rose & more


1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pete Rose/Hall of Fame poll, Heat/'Melo trade verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"President Obama congratulated Abby Wambach for her great career. Republicans, demanding equal time, argued it wasn't that great." --Greg Cote

CooperstownHERE IS YOUR BASEBALL HALL OF FAME BALLOT: As a veteran member of the Baseball Writers Association of America I am honored to have a Hall of Fame vote. My ballot is due back before Christmas. There are 32 names on it and I may vote for as many as 10. Of those 32 players, 17 are back for another try at the minimum 75 percent support required, and 15 are first-timers. But, realistically, only about one-third of eligible players get serious consideration and significant support. I have reflected that in your winnowed ballot below. It includes the 10 returning players who received at least 20 percent support a year ago, and the only two first-time candidates who I think could make it -- Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffman. (Sorry, but long-time Marlins Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell are among those I excluded; they are consigned to the Hall of Very Good). Anyway, consider the 12 finalists listed alphabetically below and vote for as many as you think belong in Cooperstown -- but only for those you think do.

Vote only for the players you think belong in Cooperstown:

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: Good start to our week Thursday night as we had the Rams winning and covering and they did both. Click on Week 15 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins lose out west as Chargers get emotional boost from what could be the franchise's final home game in San Diego. Colts edge Texans in our low-records but high-stakes Game of the Week. The '72 Dolphins celebrate as the unbeaten Panther fall at the New York Giants in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). And the Steelers roll past Denver in our Game of the Week first-alternate. Also, click on Dolphins Pro Bowl Odds for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column. I wrote that safety Reshad Jones should make the Pro Bowl and that three other Dolphins could.

Poll result: Strong support to let Rose on Hall ballot: We asked if you'd like to see banished Pete Rose allowed on the Hall of Fame ballot, and it was 73.8 percent yes to 25.1% no, with only 1.1% undecided. Click on Rose's Purgatory Should End to read this week's column by me. I can tell you from my email response that, while most may agree with me, those who don't are vehement in their objection. Still a very polarizing topic.

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December 16, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.2%; plus Fins fall to Giants 31-24, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 14 results & more


1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15. I talked Dolphins on NBC Sports' Kate Delaney Show. Click here for the podcast. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, dwindling faith in Tannehill quantified & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins at 50: My latest column: I attended Friday night's lavish Dolphins 50th Anniversary gala in Hollywood and it informs my latest Sunday column on how this franchise is so much better at celebrating its past than it is creating new glory days for its fans. Click on Yesterday Is Great, But What About Tomorrow to read it in full.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: 6.2%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 6.2 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Monday night's 31-24 home loss to the New York Giants putting DsmMiami's season record at 5-8. The DSM, in its eighth year, 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 8:30 a.m. today/Wednesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Next poll: Dec. 20 (following game at San Diego)

G13: N.Y. GIANTS 31, DOLPHINS 24: Monday Night Football as a TV franchise isn't what it used to be, but then neither are the Giants or Dolphins, so who's complaining. On MNF you still have the national stage to yourself, to shine or be embarrassed, and these are two 5-7 teams desperate to shine. Tonight should Nygmia Nygmia2see an emotional, big-event atmosphere worthy of the prime-time stage in Miami despite both teams’ mediocrity — the Dolphins with a negligible playoff shot, the Giants more so only because they luck to be in the stinky NFC East. The Fins will culminate the franchise’s 50th anniversary celebration by introducing its 50 all-time greatest players at halftime. (That’s a lot of ceremony crammed into a short period of time. Some of those old-timers are gonna be moving faster than they have in years.) Adding to the evening's special, "event" feel: The Giants haven’t played here since 1996, the first year post-Shula. The anniversary festivities should make for an electric crowd and accentuated home-field edge, even as the occasion reminds forlorn Dolfans that the good ol’ days are getting older all the time as the modern-day Fins slog toward what looks to be a seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. I see the current Dolphins rising to the occasion tonight, especially Ryan Tannehill against what might be the NFL’s worst pass defense. Odell Beckham is more celebrated than his former college teammate Jarvis Landry, but Landry could put up Beckham-esque numbers as Tom Coughlin’s grip on his Biggies future continues to loosen. Upset! Sort of. Still not quite sure why NYG is a slight favorite. My pick: Dolphins, 27-23.

THE LIST: GIANTS-DOLPHINS A RARE TREAT: Last night marked only the teams' eighth all-time meeting. Miami has played the Giants less than any other franchise that has been around as long as the Dolphins. The eight meetings:

Date            Result                                           MIA coach/QB                              NYG coach/qb

12-10-72      Mia 23, @ Giants 13                   Don Shula/Earl Morrall             Alex Webster/Norm Snead

9-23-90       @ Giants 20, Mia 3                     Shula/Dan Marino                     Bill Parcells/Phil Simms

12-5-93       Giants 19, @ Mia 14                   Shula/Steve DeBerg                    Dan Reeves/Simms

12-8-96       Giants 17, @ Mia 7                     Jimmy Johnson/Marino            Reeves/Dave Brown

10-5-03       Mia 23, @ Giants 10                   Dave Wannstedt/Jay Fiedler    Jim Fassel/Kerry Collins

10-28-07     Giants 13, Mia 10 (London)      Cam Cameron/Cleo Lemon     Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning

10-30-11     @ Giants 20, Mia 17                   Tony Sparano/Matt Moore        Coughlin/Manning

12-14-15     Giants 31, @ Mia 24                   Dan Campbell/Ryan Tannehill   Coughlin/Manning 

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 14: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos Fripixfantasy teams: Pix: Meh. Not terrible: Another 9-7 record overall still isn't great but we're marginally OK with 8-7-1 against the spread (Colts-Jags was off the board when we picked). Bull's-eyed our Upset of the Week with Steelers over Bengals ("Aawwk!") and also had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in Saints and Chargers. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big win but too late: The original Lobos won our regular-season finale 162-110 led by Odell Beckham's big 36 points, but ended 5-9 to miss the championship-round playoffs by three games. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Winning but too late: The LeBatard Show Lobos are leading Dan 77.4 to 56.8 in our two-week consolation round playoffs. But all that matters now is that, in the championship matchup, Charlie leads Mike 144.7 to 138.3 entering next weekend's Lobos Bowl grand finale.

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December 12, 2015

What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote now!; plus the strength of Serena, PGA Tour may leave Doral over Trump, NFL Week 14 picks, verdict on Heat at quarter mark & more


1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat at quarter-mark poll, Marlins and Fernandez, Trump's hate-mongering, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy Week 13 results & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Golden Dolphins: Miami introduced its all-time 50 greatest players last evening during a gala at the Diplomat in Hollywood. I was there and will have a column online later today and in Sunday's paper.

AS A FRANCHISE CELEBRATES ITS PAST, DOLFANS STILL WONDER ABOUT THE FUTURE -- ESPECIALLY THAT OF TANNEHILL: The preceding headline is my suppposition, and here is why: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said six words yesterday that I thought spoke volumes. He had been asked whether he wanted to throw more passes than his 19 in last week's game and Tannehillhe said it didn't matter, explaining, "I’m in the business of winning." He is, indeed. So when is it going to start? The question is fair to ask this week — almost unavoidable, in fact — as the 50 greatest players in Miami's franchise history are in town to be honored at halftime of Monday night’s game vs. the Giants in a ceremony marking the club’s 50th season. Two of those greatest players, of course, are named Dan Marino and Bob Griese. So we are reminded of better days and better players, almost all of them in the past. It isn’t that anyone expects Tannehill to be a Hall of Famer. But it is fair, I think, to say we expected more of the No. 1 draft pick by now than a four-year record of 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, 5-7 and no playoff appearances. The mediocrity isn't all on Tannehill, for sure. But he has not demonstrated the ability special QBs have to lift and lead, to win because of them and despite surrounding talent. Has Tannehill taken a step forward this season? "I don’t know," he answered. Does he think 2016 will be his breakout season? "I hope so," he said. He called this "a crazy year for us for a lot of different reasons." Yes. When the in-season tumult includes the head coach being fired and later the offensive coordinator, too, that’s crazy. The thing is, both moves are due in part to the quarterback underperforming. As the Dolphins and Dolfans rightly celebrate their past, the frustration of the present isn’t just a likely seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. It is that we still aren’t sure what we have at the most important position. We still aren’t sure if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback who will lead Miami to new glory days. And the fact we are still asking and wondering four years in may itself be the answer. Now, your turn. What is your degree of faith that Tannehill is or will be as good as the Dolphins need him to be? We asked this same question Oct. 15. I'll be interested to compare results two months later and see how Tannehill is trending. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: We got off to a split start to our week last night. Hit on the Cardinals winning but thought they'd cover, too; they didn't. Click on Week 14 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Giants in a mild upset Monday night; Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers surprise Cincinnati in Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"); and Patriots avoid their first three-game losing streak in 13 seasons. Also, click on Judging Tannehill Amid Golden Hoopla for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column (more above), leading with Dolfans still wondering if QB Ryan Tannehill is the future as they celebrate the club's past.

DonaldPGA TOUR MAY LEAVE DORAL AFTER '16; PETITION TARGETS TRUMP AT DORAL: Update: The PGA Tour said today it will explore moving its WGC event from Doral after the '16 tournament this coming March. If so -- and it seems likely -- that would end a 53-year relationship between the Tour and Doral. ... Original post: A Care2 petition is asking the PGA Tour to cancel or move its World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship event scheduled for March 3-6 at Trump National Doral because of Donald Trump's controversial call for a sweeping ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The petition had gathered more than 33,000 supporters as of this morning; click on thepetitionsite.com to view. (Earlier this year Trump's controversial comments about Mexicans also called into question whether the PGA Tour should be doing business with Trump and his golf courses). The Tour is in a tough spot, put there by Trump himself, who has gone from flashy tournament host to outspoken, polarizing presidential candidate. I doubt very much this petition will move the PGA Tour or cause it to leave Doral, at least not now. But chances are good the Doral event in March will be as much a political circus as it is a golf tournament this year, with players asked about Trump's politics and perhaps protests. That's good for me, for Your Friend the Media. I'm not sure it's good for golf.

SerenaSTRENGTH OF SERENA: You wonder why Serena Williams dominates women's tennis? Catch her photo, pictured, taken for the 2016 Pirelli calendar.

Poll result: More think Heat is worse than expected than better: We asked how you thought the Heat were doing relative to expectations at the NBA season's quarter mark, and 58.8 percent said about as expected. However, "worse" than expected drubbed "better" by 34.3% to 6.9%.

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December 10, 2015

Assessing the Heat at season's quarter mark: Better or worse than expected? New poll. Vote now!; plus Marlins smart to listen to Fernandez trade talk, Trump's hate-mongering, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 13 results & more


1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10. I'm back at Friday Page HQ today divining this week's NFL predictions. Click Thursday Gem for tonight's Vikings-Cardinals pick. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Ravens with DSM poll, new Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

WadeboshMIAMI MYSTERY: HEAT AT THE QUARTER TURN: I'm not sure what we have in the 2015-16 Heat at the quarter mark of the NBA season. Still not sure of this is a team capable of reaching the Eastern finals vs. (presumably) Cleveland, or if this is a second-tier club whose ceiling might be getting past the first round of the playoffs. Twenty games have offered conflicting hints. The 12-8 record is tied for fifth best in the East and would be the sixth-seed at the moment. With 10 teams over .500, Miami is today as close to being a non-playoff team as it is to being a high seed. There have been very nice wins, such as the one over Oklahoma City. There also have been consecutive disheartening losses, by 11 to a mediocre Washington, and yesterday by 17 to a Charlotte team Miami thought it was better than. Depth has been strong, with eight guys averaging 20-plus minutes and seven averaging 9.6 points or better. Tyler Johnson's emergence has been a positive. Rookie Justise Winslow has shown flashes, though not enough offensively. But getting Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside to fit together on the court continues to be a an issue. And I'm not certain either Dwayne Wade or Chrish Both is playing at an all-star level, though both have been solid. I'm curious how you regard the Heat at the quarter turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

JosefernandezMARLINS ARE NOT WRONG TO LISTEN TO OFFERS FOR FERNANDEZ: Giving the Marlins benefit of doubt is seldom easy. It not a franchise or ownership that has accrued much trust or goodwill. But in the case of No. 1 pitcher Jose Fernandez and his future in Miami, the team is smart to at least listen to what others teams are offering. It is due diligence. I believe president of baseball ops Michael Hill to a point when he calls Fernandez, "Not available." I believe the team is not shopping him around. But I also believe reports that four teams including the Dodgers and Yankees have made offers to Miami, that Miami has listened, but that the demand is so high that a deal any time soon is not likely. (From Arizona, the Marlins reported demanded all-star center fielder A.J. Pollock, among others). It's a good bet Fernandez will be the opening day starter here. But beyond that? The trade rumors will renew themselves before the July 31 trade deadline and again approaching next season. For now, though, the Marlins reportedly are demanding in return premier prospects and MLB-ready talent including a starting pitcher. The likelihood is that Fernandez is with Miami at least one more season but then  is dealt prior to becoming a free agent. Meantime the club is smart to entertain offers but with windfall demands. That's win-win. Good business.

ON DONALD TRUMP'S HATE-MONGERING: I try pretty hard to avoid politics in this blog, even though I make clear this is a mostly-sports blog that occasionally colors outside the lines. Today, though, I Donaldtrumpcannot help but join in the international chorus of outrage over presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposed "total and complete" ban on Muslims entering the United States. French and British leaders have joined the world in condemning such hateful, widespread prejudice against Muslims based on the small percentage who choose a perverted interpretation of the Islam religion to justify a terrorist agenda. Trump is hate-mongering here, sowing divisiveness and pandering to Americans' fears and worst instincts. This isn't about Republican or Democrat, although I can imagine Hillary Clinton's staffers are high-fiving over Trump's latest outlandishness. This is about someone who proposes to be the leader of the free world preaching an us-and-against-them agenda that is not what the United States stands for. I have many Republican friends who repudiate and are embarrassed by Trump. It's time the national GOP and other Republican candidates did the same and distanced themselves from their cancerous frontrunner and his extreme ideology before it's too late to save their chances in a national election. OK now back to sports!

FripixNFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 13: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: Not bad: Our 9-7 record overall isn't great but we'll take 9-7 against the spread. Misfired badly on our Upset of the Week (Chargers over Broncos), but had three 'dogs-with-points in Ravens, Saints and Cowboys. Greg's Lobos / family league: Miserable: The original Lobos dropped to 4-9 with a 112-101 loss. Had 27 points from Odell Beckham and 22 from Drew Brees but only nine combined from Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Miserable II: The LeBatard Show Lobos lost our two-round playoff to Stugotz, 290-189. Had no chance with six players scoring in single digits including Philip Rivers. It's Charlie's Loboso vs. Mike's Lobos in our championship Lobo Bowl, which I like to call the LoBowl. May the best Lobo win!

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December 04, 2015

Richt records first victory as UM coach, wins introductory press conference. Here's what he said; plus Springsteen here, Dolphins/NFL Week 13 predictions & more


Bruce1) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4. Announced today Bruce Springsteen will play the Panthers' arena in Sunrise on Feb. 16. Tix on sale next Friday, Dec. 11. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes land Richt with poll, Dolphins ugliness, MLB in Cuba, Marlins do right, Kobe/Bonds poll results & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Poll result: Massive approval for hiring of Richt: We asked what you thought of the hire, more than 13,000 votes were cast, and an overwhelming consensus of more than 90 percent either "loved" the hire (71.7%) or "liked" it (18.8%). A negligible 2.8% don't like the hire, 1.6% hate it and 5.1% were unsure.  

My Hurricanes land Richt column: Click on Right Man, Right Time, Right Hire for my column on the Hurricanes landing former Georgia coach Mark Richt.

RichthomeRICHT'S FIRST WIN AS MIAMI COACH: THIS MORNING'S INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE: The University of Miami formally introduced new football coach Mark Richt this morning on campus. A bunch of current and former UM players including Brad Kaaya, Vinny Testaverde and Jonathan Vilma attended, along with a teeming media horde. It was an introductory event but this coach, unlike predecessor Al Golden, needed no introduction. We know Richt. We know his track record. Richt of course played quarterback here in 1978-82, and his return is very much a homecoming. Today, Richt wore an orange and green UM tie, flanked by athletic director Blake James and new UM president Julio Frenk. He'd met with his new team earlier in the morning. Said James: "Today's a great day for the University of Miami. I believe Mark will put us in a position to win ACC titles and national championships." Richt then stood up and recorded his first victory as UM coach: He won the press conference. "I'm very excited to be home. This is home. I understand the traditions at the University of Miami, football in particular. I know what its about," Richt began. "I don't want to make a lot of promises other than we're going to get to work and earn the right to victory." Richt made clear he thinks beyond the field when it comes to his players. "We ask our players to take care of business academically, behave socially and do their very best in every area of their life. To help them grow into men who can become wonderful husbands and fathers." He added, "This is our home. We love it. This is where we're going to finish our coaching career. I'm very excited about that." He then touched his thumbs togetgher in the sign of The U. Richt then fielded questions. A sampling:

Why he decided to coach again after initially indicating he might take a year off: "Just the outpouring of former (Georgia) players wishing me well, thanking me. The other thing that happened was The U. It's my home, my alma mater. When you coach you want to go to a place where you have a chance to do big things. This is one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the United States. I knew this job wouldn't be open next year. So I said, 'I'd better do it'."

Richt said he was first contacted soon after Al Golden was fired but stated his commitment to Georgia. UM reached out again after Richt and Georgia parted ways after 15 seasons this past Sunday: "I've been saying no for 15 years. [Then], it was time to say, 'Yes, I'm interested in what people have to say'."

On assembling his staff: "Hiring a staff is probably the most important decision I make. I'm going to be deliberate and take my time. What I've told the staff at Georgia and what I would tell the staff here is my goal is to assess everything. I've not made any promises to anyblody. I'd rather be right than fast. There's a massive of amount of people who want to come here, I can tell you that."

On possibly trying to flip Georgia recruits to Miami: "Recruiting's not over 'til it's over. I'm not going to keep a young man from calling me and saying, 'I'm interested. I'm not going to try to steal the board. But if the best place for them is the University of Miami I'm not going to try to talk them out of it."

On meeting with his new team: "We're not going to start bragging about what we're going to do. We're going to talk about the process, and that starts with work."

On his message to South Florida high-school athletes: "We absolutely want to recruit Miami, the state, this local area. You can't get every kid. There's too many. We have to find the players that fit our program the best. But we absolutely are committed to recruit Miami and nearby. We know how great the players are and how great the coaching is."

On how he has changed from his playing days to today: "In 1986 I came a born-again believer. I went from a self-centered guy to another-centered guy. I try to live a life God would be pleased with." 

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 13 PICKS: We got off to a solid start to our week last night, hitting on the Packers both winning and covering. Click on Week 13 Gems for for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get home win over Ravens but don't cover; Vikings edge Seahawks in our Game of the Week; and Charger stun Broncos in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Carolina's Run at 1972 for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the Panthers' perfect record and the chances it will continue.

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November 29, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.7%; plus UM wins at Pitt 29-24 to end regular season 8-4; also 'Noles crush Gators, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more


1) It is SATURAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend! 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our Thanksgiving Day column, Bird Day NFL predictions & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Thanksgiving column: ICYMI, our Thanksgiving Day column seemed to strike a chord based on overwhelming positive email response. Click on Being Thankful In These Times to read.

Our UM-Pitt postgame thoughts: Find our in-game blog and UM-Pitt postgame thoughts below, directly beneath the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (There will be an additional, final CSM poll following the bowl game).

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 76.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 76.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 29-24 victory at Pitt putting UM's final regular-season Csmrecord at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. The CSM, in its seventh season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, this season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Sunday.

2015 CSM Results

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

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

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Game 12: 76.7% (following 29-24 victory at Pitt)

Next/final poll: Following bowl game, date to be determined. 

G12: HURRICANES 29, PITT 24: UM COULD NOW BE STRONG BET FOR PINSTRIPE BOWL INVITE: Postgame thoughts: Miami squandered a 23-3 lead in the third quarter and made it a tad too close for comfort toward the end; still, a 29-24 road win over favored Pitt is a nice way to end the regular season. UM will go bowl-ing at 8-4, including a 4-1 marks since interim coach Larry Scott replaced the fired Al Golden. A typically solid day from QB Brad Kaaya today with 261 yards passing, augmented by 99 rushing from Joe Yearby and five field goals from Michael Badgley, who set a UM record for most FGs in a season. Defense was dominant early but beaten against the run late. All in all, a strong afternoon for The U. ..... Halftime thoughts: Not displeased to point out I'm dead wrong on my pregame prediction thus far. UM defense is dominating, limiting Pitt to 102 total yards off offense in a 23-3 game at the half. Canes have rolled up 248 yards with the ball, led by Brad Kaaya's 166 yards passing. ..... Note: We'll be live-updating the score and key plays throughout today's game, and be back here with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the arrival of the latest postgame CSM poll. ..... Original post: Miami's 7-4 Hurricanes visit Pitt's 8-3 Panthers in a noon matinee today, with Pittsburgh a 7-point home favorite. A small example why: Pitt

Miapittrouted Duke, 31-13, the team UM needed a last-second miracle to beat. I expect a shootout, and give the Canes a fair upset shot. Miami, 3-1 under interim coach Larry Scott, has much to play for. The nine-win season still in play would equal Miami's best since joining the ACC in 2004. And a win over Pitt could very well vault UM into the preferred Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a stage the Canes program would love. I have little doubt Brad Kaaya willl put up plenty of points today. But enough? I have greater concerns about Miami's defense, which has tended to struggle on the road and now faces a Pitt offense that has put up 106 points over the past three games. My pick: Pitt, 31-27.

Other college Week 13 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

South Florida 44, UCF 3: Bulls finish 8-4 after a Thursday rout ending Knights' futility at 0-12. South Florida will be in American conference championship game if UConn beat Temple on Saturday.

FAU 33, Old Dominion 31: If you're going to have a bad season, might as well end it with a nice lil' road win. Owls finish 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 27, No. 8 Florida 2: Dalvin Cook and huge defense carried FSU tonight to an unexpected rout of Florida in the Swamp, leaving both teams 10-2. Florida State has now won past three over Gators and was a 2 1/2-point road favorite here. This was 16th time but only the third time since 2001 that the rivals had met with both in the Top 15. Seminoles all but assured themselves a New Year's bowl. UF going in still had hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff top four if they'd beaten FSU and then somehow beaten Alabama in the Dec. 5 SEC title game. Those dreams are done.

Note: FIU completed its season at 5-7.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: We got off to a wobbly start to our week on Thanksgiving, going 1-2 straight-up and against the spread. Knew we took a big risk picking against FripixCarolina, but Green Bay losing at Lambeau? I'd pick Pack again in a heartbeat. Anyway, onward! Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Notably: Ryan Tannehill's AFC East struggles continue in a Dolphins loss at Jets, and Broncos end Patriots perfection in our Game and Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click Oh, Johnny for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the gradual self-destruction of Johnny Manziel.

BACON-SCENTED UNDERWEAR: Ready to start your holiday shopping? Seattle-based J&D's Foods has announced the launch of bacon-scented underwear, which it calls "the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon." Safe bet, that one. Another bold claim: That this is the first line of apparel "marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat" to attain "the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants." Want some? They're $19.99 a pair at www.baconunderwear.com. All of this is for real, by the way. This is a blog! Could I say it if it weren't true?

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