November 28, 2015

How satisfied are you with the Hurricanes? New poll. Vote now!; 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: Time again for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this 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 will be around 9 a.m. 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: Voting now underway (following 29-24 victory at Pitt)

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 All of this is for real, by the way. This is a blog! Could I say it if it weren't true?

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

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November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, all! A holiday column especially for this world and these times; plus NFL Bird Day predictions & more


1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Happy Thanksgiving, all! 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' bonehead move on Hutton, best-of-unbeatens poll, Dolphins' All-50ers, Heat jersey faux pas, NFL Week 11 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.


Happytg          Is it harder to be thankful these days? Because of the way the world has turned? Because so many terrible headlines and sound bites and images from all over make us equal parts angry, depressed or anxious about the future? For those very reasons maybe our gratefulness is more important than ever on Thanksgiving Day 2015.

          We express appreciation on this day for the health and happiness of loved ones or for the bounty of food laid out before us. Give thanks this year for hope, too, and for faith in better days. Give thanks that our fundamental belief in the prevailing good of mankind may be shaken and tested but will not be taken from us. Not ever.

          Give thanks for all of the little stuff that make up the rhythm and pulse of our lives, the things too easily taken for granted. Because the bigger the problems in the world, the more we need that reassurance of the small delights in our own backyard.

          The unexpected courtesy of a door held open and a stranger bidding you good morning.

          The jumble of loving noise in your crowded house as the turkey roasts and a dozen people all talk at once in a quilt of conversations.

          The uncontrollable wag of your dog’s tail when you return home.

          Give thanks for the friend who beat cancer this year. And for the one who didn’t.

          Hug somebody. And if you aren’t a hugger, well … become one.

          Teach your kids that “please,” “thank you” and “I love you” are words that, said enough, have the power to illuminate darkness.

          Marvel that a lump of raw dough blooms into a crescent roll in 12 minutes.

          Notice the way a toddler doesn’t sit on a chair as much as climb up onto it.

          Don’t be too jaded to enjoy all of those cute-baby and funny-animal videos people post on Facebook that your wife constantly shows you as you pretend to roll your eyes.

          Don’t sweat the small stuff — appreciate it.

          Sports in particular challenge our thankfulness because complaint is the currency of most fans. The very nature of sports trades in disappointment more than joy. Doesn’t every NFL season end with one team happy and 31 others something less?

          We’re no different in South Florida, where complaint always seems to gain a higher volume than gratitude. Look around, though. After all, Thanksgiving’s greatest gift to us is not a full belly, but rather an excuse to reboot our optimism.

          The other day Don Shula, flanked by Bob Griese and Dan Marino, was honored during a Dolphins game, the trio representing a 33-year continuum of making Miami nothing but proud. Dolfans frustrated by the present at least can dip into that constant well of what was, the perfect well of cool spring water.

          Give thanks for one of the most exciting minutes in sports: when the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton steps into a batter’s box.

          Give thanks for those five Hurricanes national football championships in a 19-year span more than you bemoan the lack of a sixth. (And how about Jim Larrañaga shepherding a renaissance for Canes basketball!)

          Give thanks for the Heat’s young slam-dunking, shot-blocking savant, Hassan Whiteside, and for all of his promise. And to Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, for all of their promises kept.

          Marvel that we luck to have two of their sport’s future Hall of Famers — the Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr and Marlins’ Ichiro — end their splendid careers here.

          Appreciate that every year the world’s greatest golfers come to Doral, the greatest tennis players nest on Key Biscayne, the best thoroughbreds race in Hallandale and the greatest NASCAR drivers run at Homestead.

          Be thankful that, though there no longer is an Orange Bowl stadium, the annual Orange Bowl game remains a vibrant tradition that this New Year’s Eve will host a College Football Playoff semifinal game.

          Thanks that old sporting legends like Shula, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Gardnar Mulloy and Howard Schnellenberger are still gracefully among us.

          And gratitude, finally — of course — to you readers of all kinds, but especially to those steadfast old-schoolers out there who still enjoy the soft rattle of a newspaper in their hands.

          The crazier the world may get, the more we are challenged to see the good in it — but that is a challenge we must forever accept.

          I hope the best in your world, like the best in mine, starts with the loved ones around your table on this special day.

          Happy Thanksgiving, all!

BIRD DAY NFL PICKS: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY: The end of bye weeks coinciding with the arrival of Thanksgiving always signals the unofficial start of the stretch run to an NFL season, the time when Fripixplayoff permutations loom into view. That all begins today with Week 12 and the 10th season of Bird Day tripleheaders. At my house, the timeline of football coincides perfectly with our holiday. The early game finds the bird roasting in the oven. The middle game finds us seated and saying grace. And the late game finds me dozing from an overdose of turkey-induced Tryptophan and Miller Lite. Today's theme must be Home For the Holiday, because I like all three home teams, meaning a first loss for Carolina. Click on Thanksgiving Day Gems for the full prediction capsules on all three of today's games.

Poll result: Warriors' perfect start trumps NFL's 2 unbeatens: We asked which of the three major unbeaten teams impresses you most, and it was Golden State Warriors 53.2 percent, Carolina Panthers 26.9% and New England Patriots 19.9%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 20, 2015

Pulse Read: Who should be Hurricanes' next football coach? New poll. Vote now!; plus how Heat's Whiteside ranks among NBA's all-time great shot-blockers, Dolphins/NFL Week 11 picks & more


Paris1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20. The atrocity was one week ago. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Larranaga's winning stewardship of UM hoops, Dolphins' playoff chances, cheetah forecasts Homestead winner, David Beckham, SOPY standings, NFL Week 10 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

SmokePULSE READ: WHO SHOULD BE HURRICANES' NEXT FOOTBALL COACH?: UM athletic director Blake James didn't ask for your help but let's give it to him anyway as his hired search firm, Korn Ferry, sets out to present James a list of contenders to replace the dismissed Al Golden next season. Our ballot below includes seven alphabetically listed contenders. They include four men with Canes ties (Rob Chudzinski, Mario Cristobal, Butch Davis and Greg Schiano); the current interim coach (Larry Scott); and two guys who'd be intriguing possibilities if they part ways with their current teams (Mark Richt and Charlie Strong). Our poll also includes the occasionally very popular Someone Else. Who, right now, do you most support as next Canes coach? Vote and say why.

PUTTING HASSAN WHITESIDE'S SHOT-BLOCKING IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Hassan Whiteside, the HassanHeat's one-man SWAT Team, has 50 blocks in 11 games this season, impressive on its own. Break it down further and per 48 minutes, he is averaging 7.57. That's blocks per full game. His career average per 48 minutes is now 5.74 blocks. I wondered how that compared to the NBA's most prolific shot-blockers of all-time so I crunched the numbers. Here is how Whiteside ranks among the league's Top 12 in total blocked shots. I list them in order of blocks-per-48-minutes (BP48M), with their rank in total blocks in parentheses. The word is impressive:

Player                                BP48M

Mark Eaton (5)                    5.84


Tree Rollins (10)                 5.08

Alonzo Mourning (12)         4.35

Dikembe Mutombo (2)        4.29

Hakeem Olajuwon (1)        4.16

David Robinson (7)             4.14

Patrick Ewing (8)               3.42

Artis Gilmore (4)                3.24

Shaquille O'Neal (9)           3.13

Tim Duncan (6)                  3.08

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3)   2.66

Robert Parish (11)              2.48

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 11 PICKS: Coming off a predictions week that, like the Washington team's nickname is probably best not mentioned, we got off to a strong Week 11 start last Fripixnight, nailing the Jaguars' win both outright and against the spread. Click on Week 11 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Tony Romo and Dallas; Arizona beats Cincy in Game of the Week; and it's Chargers over Chiefs in our Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Upheaval Takes the Snap for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the leaguewide tumult at the quarterback position. Here, Ryan Tannehill in his fourth season hasn't made a Pro Bowl or the playoffs yet, but give him this: He gives Miami stability most teams don't enjoy. Tanny starts his 58th consecutive game Sunday. Only nine other teams, of 32, have had "perfect attendance" at the QB posotion with the same starter in every game since 2012.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 19, 2015

UM's latest basketball recruiting gets a tribute to Larranaga's stewardship; plus Dolphins' playoff odds, David Beckham, cheetah picks NASCAR/Homestead winner, SOPY rankings, NFL Week 10 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more


Paris1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) I'm back at Friday Page HQ today bringing forth my NFL Week 11 picks, girding loins for a better effort than last week. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's Titans-Jaguars pick. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win in Philly with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Fins in random fives are announcing the club's all-time 50 greatest players. The latest wave: Bob Brudzinski, Norm Evans, Mike Pouncey, Patrick Surtain and Jason Taylor. Taylor is obvious. Evans and Surtain are expected. Brudzinksi for me is borderline but I'm OK with it. Surprised by Pouncey mainly for the lack of longevity.

 "BeckhamDavid Beckham has been named People's latest 'Sexiest Man Alive.' Too bad he hasn't been named 'Most Successful Man Alive at Closing an MLS Stadium Deal in Miami.'" --Greg Cote

On Canes' coach-search: This week's latest column from me is on the Hurricanes' search to replace fired football coach Al Golden and his interim fill-in Larry Scott. UM must find a great coach whose strength is recruiting and the ability to win back the South Florida talent-market. The priority should not be appeasing fans by necessarily hiring someone with Canes ties. Click on Recruiting The Best to read the column in full.

CANES' BIG RECRUITING GETS A TRIBUTE TO LARRANAGA'S STEWARDSHIP: UM basketball's 2016 recruiting class soared into the national top 10 rankings with the addition this week of Miami Norland 6- Larranaga10 power forward Dewan Huell and Massachusetts 6-4 shooting guard Bruce Brown. The biggest schools in the sport, like Louisville and Kansas, were after Huell. It's a tribute to coach Jim Larranaga and where he has the Canes program now and where it is headed under his stewardship. In Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier, UM has one of the elite coaching duos in the entire country. Rock solid. South Florida is in good shape generally at the coach level at the moment among our top teams. The Heat's Erik Spoelstra is excellent, the Marlins made a promising managerial hire in Don Mattingly, and it seems the Panthers finally have a guy they can win with in Gerard Gallant. The questions are in football. Will Dan Campbell be a keeper for the Dolphins or will a postseason search open? That's to be determined. And the Canes job is wide open, of course. The U would do well to make a hire even approaching the quality of what basketball has in Larranaga and Meier.

DOLPHINS PLAYOFF CHANCES: A PULSE, BUT STILL A FAINT ONE: Winning in Philadelphia elevated the Dolphins' playoff chances from negligible to small. The computers of put Miami's playoff likelihood at 12.7 percent and has it at 7.2% entering this coming weekend -- both ranking the Fins 12th in the jockeying for six AFC postseason tickets. Patriots, Bengals and Broncos are the consensus definitely-in picks. The 4-5-6 seeds will be Steelers, Bills and Colts according to makenflplayoffs, and Steelers, Colts and Jets according to numberfire.

CheetahCHEETAH FORECASTS NASCAR/HOMESTEAD WINNER: Sorry, storybook-ending fans. Retiring Jeff Gordon won't be going out a champion in Sunday's season-ending race south of Miami. Koda, a 2-year-old cheetah and official Zoo Miami "wildlife prognosticator," chose Kevin Harvick from among the four miniature die-cast cars of the title-contending final four of Harvick, Gordon, Martin Truex and Kyle Busch. Koda is pictured ruminating over his decision. Zoo officials denied it was a publicity stunt.

SOPY: FLOWERS POWER! 'STATE HEISMAN' HAS A NEW LEADER: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is too close to call as we reach the final stretch. It's Sopynow South Florida QB Quinton Flowers narrowly ahead of Florida State RB Dalvin Cook. It's pretty much a two-man race because FIU QB Alex McGough has fallen to third place and has played one additional game than the players he must catch. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 12:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 11

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W11        Season

1 (t2)       Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   223         1,717

2 (t2)       Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             167        1,661

3 (1)        Alex McGough, FIU-qb          37         1,543.5

4 (5)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          153        1,236.5

5 (7)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          290        1,206

6 (4)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             15         1,167

7 (6)        Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       153        1,108

8 (9)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      139       956 

9 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       126        929

10 (8)       Everett Golson, FSU-qb          26         889.5

Bubble: Will Grier, Florida-qb, 789. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 713. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 290 (Wk11). Note: FIU has played 11 games; all others 10.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (9-1); 2. Florida State (8-2); 3. Miami (6-4); 4. South Florida (6-4); 5. FIU (5-6); 6. FAU (2-8); 7. UCF (0-10).

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 10: OH THE AWFULNESS! RECORD EMBARRASSMENT!: 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, and, this week, the admission pains us: Pix: A record-worst week: This is our 25th 1aacote2
1lobosseason doing the Friday Page picks and we have never -- ever -- had worse week than last week's 2-12 record overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, there were some weird results and losing picks I'd probably make again. But still. No excuses. Just abysmal. Or, as the Upset Bird muttered: "Aaawwwkful!" Greg's Lobos / family league: Another loss: The original Lobos lost 125-112 to fall to 4-6, off playoff pace but still in it with four weeks left in our regular season. Rode Adrian Peterson for 31 big points, but five positions scoring in single-figures and only 12 points from Drew Brees killed us. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Big loss to open playoffs: The LeBatard Show Lobos fell 117.1 to 69.4 to Bills in the first round of our playoffs. It's a two-game opening series so I'm still alive but would need to rout Billy next week to have any chance. Ill-timed bye weeks ruined me this week. Just-signed Joe Flacco was our MVL with 20.1 points but we had two guys score zero. Miserable showing for the 'Bos. Embarrassing. But, yes, I do believe in miracles, so watch us next week.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 13, 2015

PARIS; plus NFL/Dolphins Week 10 picks, college basketball 1 through 351, Canes' fake interest in Butch Davis, kiss Jose Fernandez goodbye, Heat yays/nays, UM hoops, Lobos T-shirt update & more


Friday131) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13. Happy Friday the 13th, all! Aside to paraskevidekatriaphobes: Stay inside today. Your seemingly irrational fears are not unfounded. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Missouri Tigers' biggest win, new 'Back In My Day,' Dolphins all-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

GOOD MUST PREVAIL. GOOD HAS NO CHOICE: Thoughts with Paris and its wonderful people today after last night's terrorist attacks by cowards that killed more than 100 innocents. We spent eight days there this summer. What a wonderful, enchanting city and hospitable people. 




UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 10: We went a cringe-worthy 7-6 straight-up last week, and an 1aacote2OK 7-6 against the spread, too. Our Week 10 started with a stumble as the Jets blew that late go-ahead shot and lost to the Bills. Click on Week 10 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Fins fall in Philly, Pats stay unbeaten, and Titans stun Panthers in Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on King Sports Middies for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with our midseason awards (including Dolphins MVP), plus a shot at Greg Hardy.

RANKING ALL 351 NCAA DIVISION 1 MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAMS: ESPN does it today, from No. 1 Kansas to No. 351 Mississippi Valley State. How the state of Florida's seven big schools are ranked: 34--Florida State Seminoles; 40--Florida Gators; 47--Miami Hurricanes; 171--UCF Knights; 179--South Florida Bulls; 266--FIU Panthers; and 291--FAU Owls.


JoseBoras vs. Samson and Jose's future: Scott Boras, outspoken, hardball agent, vs. David Samson, outspoken, thin-skinned Marlins president, is a feud made in media heaven. Boras has been lippy this week about two of his Marlins clients, mentioning the possibility of an innings limit for Jose Fernandez and criticizing the club's treatment and motives with Marcell Ozuna. Samson in turn essentially told Boras to buy his own team or shut up. Bottom line: Kiss Fernandez goodbye after the 2018 season. I see no way he re-ups long-term with Miami because Boras likes his guys to test free agency (where the money likely will be bigger) and Samson and the Marlins don't believe in long-term deals for pitchers.

ButchPlace bets on Butch Davis at your own risk: Anonymous UM sources feeding the media about how Butch Davis has not been ruled as as the next Hurricanes football coach -- be careful what you believe. Those sources obviously want to appease Miami fans by suggesting no rock will be unturned in the search for the best man. And, since Davis is a fan favorite, it is in UM's clear interest to appear to seriously consider him. The reality: I'm told Davis is a longshot.

DragicThe Heat thus far: Miami at 6-3 looks just like what we figured they'd be this season: a playoff team, but one that could be anywhere from midpack in the East top eight to as high as second. Encouraging thus far: Chris Bosh has been great, especially on the boards, and Hassan Whiteside continues to progress in a big way. Discouraging: It isn't the tax-break trade of Mario Chalmers. It isn't even the weird episode with Gerald Green. It's that Goran Dragic (pictured) seems uncomfortable right now. Granted we're just 10 percent into the season, but Erik Spoelstra needs to make Dragic fit.

Canes basketball, rising: UM men's basketball tips off its regular season tonight (Friday) at home vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley and, after making it to NIT Final last season, much is expected. This should be a Top 25 team that can do something in the NCAA Tournament. Also, for the first time in a long time, home games could be a tough ticket. And I don't just mean when Duke comes to town.

Me vs. NHL standings: A Panthers PR person emailed to correct me because I'd listed the team's record as 5-9 instead of the official 5-6-3 -- meaning three of those nine losses were in overtime and thus brought one standings point. Sorry, Cats, but I'm a bottom-line guy on records. If you have played 14 games, won five and the other team won the rest, you're 5-9. (Update: Team is now 6-10, or, if you insist, 6-7-3).

Maddening Starbuck's: Gawd, this story is so Starbuck's. The chain removes the snowflakes and other Christmas-y designs from its red holiday cups so as not to offend non-Christians. The political correctness that steers that company is comical. But now there's an Internet-driven thing happening which I love: When the Starbuck's barista asks your name to write on the cup, say, "Merry Christmas." Touche!

LobosTHE GREG'S LOBOS T-SHIRTS HAVE ARRIVED!: This won't make much sense except to hopefully the majority of our readers who follow me not only in the Herald and online but also on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on national ESPN radio, where I'm in-studio every Tuesday as a co-host. We have fun on the show making a big deal of my fantasy football team, Greg's Lobos, which in turn has spawned something of a national following for the team. Well, the show will soon be giving away Lobos T-shirts to select listeners. I don't have details yet how that giveaway will work, but you'll know when I do. I'm sure it'll be discussed on-air this coming Tuesday. The shirt design is shown. Why I am pictured in my underwear I have no Earthly idea. It's ludicrous. Mainly because I'm a boxers guy, not briefs.


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

Twitter @gregcote

October 31, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 32.4%; plus Patriots remind Miami who's boss, 36-7; also, Heat lose at Cavs, NFL Week 8 predix, Mattingly-Marlins, FAU letter for Schnellenberger & more


Tim1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30: Homestead-Miami Speedway announced that country superstar Tim McGraw will perform at NASCAR's season ending race there Nov. 22. 2) Marlins surprised nobody yesterday by announcing that Dan Jennings, already out as manager, would not return to the front office at all. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Opening Night with poll, Fox Sports' embarrassment, racist Halloween costumes & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Heat fall at Cavaliers: As last night was a measuring stick for the Dolphins, so would tonight be for the Heat facing LeBron James in Cleveland. Heat was 1-0 after beating Charlotte, the Titans/Texans of the NBA. The Cavs are the Patriots. Or something like that. Cleveland 102, Miami 92. LeBron 29, D.Wade 25.

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL WEEK 8: No sugarcoating: I was about as bad with my NFL picks last week as the FripixDolphins were in New England last night. Stumbled to 8-6 overall and sank to 4-9-1 against the spread. If those numbers aren't my season's nadir, I'm in trouble. Our Week 8 got off to a split start last night as I had Patriots winning but not covering. Click on Week 8 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Click on Rare History for my latest weekly Friday page NFL notes column. I lead with Sunday night's Packers-Broncos matchup, which is only the fourth meeting ever between teams 6-0 or better, and only the second career head-to-head for Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning.

See our Dolphins-Pats in-game blog and postgame thoughts immediately below the new DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 32.4%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they shows 32.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday night's 36-7 loss at New England putting Miami's Dsmseason record at 3-4. 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 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

Interpreting the latest vote: This was a tough vote, having to weigh a really disappointing loss at New England against the elation of the previous two weeks. But a fresh loss to the Patriots weighs heaviest, and 3-4 is 3-4. So 32.4 percent sounds about right. 

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)

Next poll: Nov. 8 (following game at  Buffalo)

G7: NEW ENGLAND 36, DOLPHINS 7: MEASURING STICK SPANKS MIAMI, WAKE LOST FOR YEAR: Postgame thoughts: Wow. This is the difference between Titans/Texans and Patriots. Miami was never really in this game after being down early. Tom Brady was his usual excellent self, with 356 yards passing and four TDs. Ryan Tannehill countered with a 300-yard game that demeans the standard, with a meager 64.6 rating and two interceptions. Fins also managed a mere 15 yards rushing on 13 carries, the third-worst total in the franchise's 50 seasons. And cloaking the whole night like a sinister cloud: Cam Wake's injury. An Achilles. That is never good, and I'd expect it to be confirmed today what ESPN's Adam Schefter was the first to report this morning: That it's a torn Achilles and that Wake is done for the season. To summarize: Miami falls to 3-4, is 0-3 vs. the AFC East, just got embarrassed on national TV by its biggest rival, and now has lost its most impactful defender. The legend of Dan Campbell has taken a broadside hit. The rollicking, jam-packed DC Bandwagon suddenly has a few good seats available. ..... [Note: A computer gremlin zapped our live third and fourth quarter snippets. Apologies]. ..... Second Q: Miami tries 63-yard FG on last play of half, misses badly. ... Pats 19-0 just before half on short Brady pass to Dion Lewis. Man, this has turned into a rout. Miami defense barely OK, offense abysmal. ... Tannehill intercepted, leading to 52-yard Pats FG. Miami has 39 net yards of offense late in first half. Ugh. ... NE 9-0 on dumb safety against Miami. Tannehill in shotgun, not ready for snap, and Pouncey hikes it past Tanny and out of the end zone. ..... First Q: Brady ends 1Q 9-for-11 for 128 yards. ... Pats quick 7-0 lead on Gronkowski 47-yard catch and run from Brady. Missed tackle by Reshad Jones let Gronk loose. ..... Original post: They are both hot, and they are what makes this Dolphins-Patriots matchup extra special. Red-hot QBs Tom Brady vs. Ryan Tannehill? Oh that, too, I guess, now that you mention it. But I meant Gisele Bundhcen vs. Lauren Tannehill.. Anyway, the revitalized Dolphins we have seen the past two games look good enough to beat anyone, anywhere -- and that might even include the mighty Patriots in chilly Foxborough tonight on national TV. An upset win by Dolpat
Miami (an 8-point 'dog) would mildly surprise but certainly not shock. This feels like a great matchup to kick off NFL Week 8. Miami will have a big chance especially if the Cam Wake-led sack party continues and gets in Brady's pocket ... and in his head. This game is the ultimate challenge, though, and until the Dolphins prove they can pass a test this Dolpatlauren Dolpatgiseledifficult, then thinking they will remains risky. The Titans and Texans that Miami dominated have a combined 3-10 record. The Patriots fronted by Bill Belichick and Brady are a whole different animal. One with claws and fangs. The palpable lift interim coach Dan Campbell has given the

Fins is real; I respect that. But what I respect even more is that "at New England" might be any opponent's scariest three words. Too many trends pointing Pat-ward make an outright upset too tall a call here. NE has won 21 of its past 22 home games. Brady is 12-1 with eight wins in a row at home over Miami. Tannehill is 0-3 with five picks at Gillette Stadium. Having said all of that, the point spread still feels a bit fat. I trust the Dolphins' improvement enough to see this one TV-pleasing close. Click on Thursday Night Gem for our full prediction capsule. My pick: Patriots, 28-24.

MARLINS REPORTEDLY HIRE MATTINGLY: The news site Vice Sports reports today (story here) that the DonmMiami Marlins have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with manager and former Yankees star Don Mattingly, who led the Los Angeles Dodgers for five years until the team and he parted ways after this past season. His Dodgers record was 446-363, .551. The deal reportedly will not be announced until after the World Series. Mattingly would be the third high-profile "star" manager in Marlins history, after Jim Leyland and Ozzie Guillen. He'll also be the eighth Marlins manager (including interims) just since 2010, crazy instability that needs to stop. Mattingly feels like a smart hire initially but we'll ponder further. In any case his Yankees ties can't hurt in a South Florida market filled with NY transplants.

FAU SENT "LETTER OF SUPPORT" FOR SCHNELLENBERGER IN COLLEGE HALL: In a recent column pushing Howard Schnellenberger for the College Football Hall of Fame I noted that none of the three Howardsschools stamped by his success -- Miami, Louisville and FAU -- had formally nominated him for induction, a necessary first step. Well, this from FAU Athletic Director Patrick Chun: "I have spoken directly to the National Football Foundation. Per their suggestion, Dr. [John] Kelly [FAU president] has drafted and submitted a letter directly to the NFF expressing our support of Howard Schnellenberger entering the Hall of Fame. We have been told this is the most effective and appropriate manner to show our support for Howard in the quest to get him into the College Football Hall of Fame." The NFF still would need to make an exception to one of its rules: that entrants have at least a .600 career winning percentage. Because he does not meet that criteria a school may not submit a "formal" nomination, but FAU's official letter of support is a step never before taken. It at least opens a door and gives Howard, 81, a fighting chance.

BOSH, HEAT OPEN SEASON RIGHT: Click on Opening Night, Opening Right for my column off BoshWednesday's Heat season debut, leading with Chris Bosh's big game in his official return from blood clots. Three other takeaways: Miami's Gerald Green-led 3-point shooting will be better than expected. Heat's depth is so obviously improved, led led by impressive rookie sparkplug Justise Winslow, whose defense especially impressed last night. And Pat Riley, who has cultivated an un-dyed white beard, looks like a too-thin non-finalist in a Hemingway lookalike contest.

Poll result: Most see Heat in 46-50 win range: We invited you to to predict the Heat's regular-season win range and a plurality of 41.9 percent had it 46-50 victories, with another 36.5% saying 51-55. Less popular: 11.6% for 56-plus, 8.7% for 41-45 and 1.3% for 40 or less.

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October 27, 2015

Welcome to the Wild, Wild Week, South Florida sporties. Heat open, Dolphins-Pats, post-Golden Canes, World Series, Cats, Mattingly, oy!; plus NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy Week 7 results, new SOPY standings, landslide approval for UM firing & more


1) It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden fired with poll, betting odds on his UM replacement & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Sizing up World Series from three perspectives: Mets-Royals begins tonight in Kansas City. The view from three angles: Betting--Bovada has it dead-even in terms of betting odds. ESPN experts--It's Royals by a nearly 2-1 margin (17-9), say ESPN's experts panel. Greg Cote--My gut says New York because of starting pitching but the idea of imagining Mets fans that happy is so abhorrent that I must pick the Royals.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Five at a time in random order the Fins are revealing their 50th anniversary top-50 all-time players, and the latest five are Brent Grimes, Jim Langer, Reggie Roby, Paul Warfield and Ricky Williams. My thoughts: Langer and Warfield are no-brainer obvious. Williams and Roby sure would have been on my top-50 and I'm pleasantly surprised they made it. Grimes is a stunner. Hasn't served long enough. But Miami hasn't had a lot of great cornerbacks, so maybe that's it.

BUCKLE UP FOR A WILD WEEK IN LOCAL SPORTS: Sports fans -- and Your Friend The Media, too, yes --

are prone to hyperbole. Everything is the biggest game ever, most exciting week ever, et cetera. Having said that, you'd have a pretty strong hand playing this week as one of the fullest and best we've had in South Florida in a long while. A primer:

OhweekHeat: Will the improved Heat be pretty great or just pretty good? We start to find out on Opening Night this Wednesday vs. Charlotte. 

Dolphins: The Fins are 2-0 under interim god Dan Campbell but put the mjo to the ultimate test Thursday night at New England.

Hurricanes: Most fans are elated over the firing of Al Golden but now, as speculation about his replacement percolates, interim coach Larry Scott must try to divine a win Saturday at No. 22-ranked Duke.

Panthers: Playoff-thinking Cats have a three-game hockey homestand Tuesday vs. Colorado, Friday against Boston, then Saturday Washington.

Marlins: It appears increasingly likely the Fish might actually land Don Mattingly as their next manager as soon as this week.

FIU: It's FIU at FAU on Saturday in the annual "Shula Bowl" college football rivalry. It ain't Michigan-Michigan State, but it's still kind of nice.

Oops, almost forgot: The World Series, Mets-Royals, starts Tuesday night.

Buckle up, sporties!

Poll result: Landslide approval for Golden firing: we asked if you approved of YUM firing Al Golden and it was 91.6 percent yes, 6.2% no and 2.2% undecided.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 7: 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: Fripix LobosMini-slump continues: We went an unsatisfactory 8-6 overall and a closer-to-embarrassing 4-9-1 against the spread, with nothing positive worth even mentioning. Greg's Lobos / family league: A needed win!: The original Lobos improved to 3-4 with a 134-86 triumph, led by 32 points apiece from FIU's T.Y. Hilton ans from Todd (Welcome Back) Gurley. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Upset loss ends streak: After four straight wins the Lobos fell to 4-3 with a 96.2-90.6 loss to Roy. Came down to Monday night and not quite enough from Michael Floyd. Byes really hurt us this week. Andrew Luck was our MVL with 24 points; the killer was four players scoring in single-digits.

SOPY: FSU'S COOK REMAINS IN COMMAND FOR 'STATE HEISMAN': The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- find Florida State running back Dalvin Cook still Sopyfirmly in first place through Week 7, with a narrow lead but a game in hand over the runnerup. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 9:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 8

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W7        Season

1 (1)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             138      1,290

2 (2)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         209       1,261.5

3 (4)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   267.5    1,184

4 (5)         Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             114       937

5 (3)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          14.5       931.5

6 (7)         Everett Golson, FSU-qb          93        863.5

7 (6)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            BYE       789

8 (9)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       46        782

9 (8)          Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          DNP       750

10 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       BYE       617

Bubble: Thomas Owens, FIU-wr, 590. Other team leaders: FAU--Jacquez Johnson, qb, 580; UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 470. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 287 (Wk6). Note: FIU and UCF have played eight games each; all others seven.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (6-1); 2. Florida (6-1); 3. Miami (4-3); 4. South Florida (4-3); 5. FIU (4-4); 6. FAU (1-6); 7. UCF (0-8).

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

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October 23, 2015

Dolphins/NFL Week 7 picks and The Interim Kings; plus as Mattingly enters fray, who would you like as Marlins' next manager? Poll. Vote now!; also Chris Bosh reigns, new Elton & more


1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23: IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Best-Heat-player poll, MLB in Cuba, Dolphins, UM hoops hype video, SOPY standings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL WEEK 7: Had a bit of a dip last week with our picks but weathered it OK at 9-5 Fripixoverall and 6-7-1 against the spread. Our Week 7 got off to a double-barreled start last night as we rightly had Seattle both winning and covering. Click on Week 7 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. There's good news for FisherDolphins fans, who figure to be nervous Sunday but ultimately happy. Also click on The Interim Kings for my latest weekly Friday page NFL notes column. I set the bar for Fins interim coach Dan Campbell by listing the top 10 most successful interim coaches of the modern era (since the 1970 merger). One stands above all the rest. Do you know who he is? Your clue is pictured at left.

MarlinsPICK THE MARLINS' NEXT MANAGER AS MATTINGLY ENTERS THE FRAY: The Marlins will replace interim manager Dan Jennings for the 2016 season and five candidates already have interviewed for the job: Manny Acta, Larry Bowa, Alex Cora, Phil Nevin and Bo Porter. Late yesterday a sixth candidate emerged when the Dodgers and Don Mattingly mutually agreed to part ways. Mattingly is thought to be on Miami's radar, although the Fish might have competition for him from three (or more) other teams. It's early, but we invite you to weigh in on these six potential next managers currently at the forefront. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Bosh dethrones Wade as Heat's best player: We asked as the start of the NBA season nears, and you had it Chris Bosh as the Heat's best player over Dwyane Wade by 44.3 percent to 30.1%. After that it was 11.0% for Goran Dragic and 10.5% for Hassan Whiteside.

NEW ELTON SINGLE: Elton John issues his 33rd studio album in February and the first single from it, called "Looking Up," was released today. Here it is. Nice to hear an older pop star still rocking pretty good.


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

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October 16, 2015

Dolphins owner Ross founds major anti-racism initiative; plus what is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote now; also Fins/NFL Week 6 picks, updated World Series odds, Canes hoops, Spurrier-quitting poll & more


1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16: Hurricanes men are No. 36 (11th in "others receiving votes" after the Top 25 in the first basketball coaches' poll. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL 'n Greg's Lobos Fantasy Week 5 results, updated SOPY standings, 2 Canes honored, Dolphins staff change, more Ultimate Standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Updated World Series odds: For the final four, via Bovada, today: Blue Jays 9-5, Cubs 5-2, Mets 10-3, Royals 18-5. "Let's go Cubs!"

DOLPHINS OWNER ROSS FOUNDS MAJOR ANTI-RACISM INITIATIVE: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross today is introducing the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a nonprofit organization that will utilize Sross RISEathletes and sports to speak out against racism and discrimination. RISE is to begin airing public service announcements during football games this weekend. Athletes on board with the initiative include LeBron James, Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Antonio Brown and Steph Curry. Ross sees sports as a unifying force in an America that needs unifying. "Sports is the common denominator in the world that brings everyone together," Ross tells The New York Times. "If there’s any one place in the world where there is equality, it is probably sports. That was something that didn’t always exist. We’ve come a long way. Why can’t society use sports as a way to bring people together and create change?" Click here to read the full NYT story.


THE ONUS IS ON TANNEHILL TO DELIVER: Today's latest column by me is on how the Dolphins' $93 Million Man, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, must do more. Click on A Better Tannehill Is What Dolphins DoltannyNeed Most. Some are seeing the column as overly harsh, perhaps, but it notes Miami's turnaround from its 1-3 start relies mostly on Tannehill -- not on new interim coach Dan Campbell and not even on better play from Ndamukong Suh. It starts with Tannehill, who presently ranks 32nd of 35 qualifying QBs in yards per attmpts, 31st in completion percentage and 31st in passer rating. The slow starts and early deficits that have wrecked the game plans (being outscored 37-3 in the first quarter so far), well, that starts with Tannehill, too. Four years into the Tannehill Era, I am still not quite sure what we have here. Sometimes he looks like a good quarterback getting better and better. Other times he looks average. The inconsistency is itself is an issue. I'm curious your thoughts on Tannehill 3 1/4 seasons in, so I'm inviting those thoughts in this poll. What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Vote and say why.

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL WEEK 6: Still hot. Went 11-3 overall and 8-4-2 against the spread last week, although our Week 6 got off to a rocky start last night. We sensed Saints might have it in them to hand Atlanta its first loss but didn't pull the trigger. Shoulda gone with our gut, but let logic get in the eay. Click on Week 6 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. There's happy news for Dolphins fans (except those fans who think I'm always wrong or a jinx). Also click on The Patriot Way for my weekly NFL notes column. It leads with the record number of unbeaten teams and how only one has the talent -- and motivation -- to stay that way.

A GREAT BIG CAREER FOR THE OLD BALL COACH, YES. BUT IN THE END, SPURRIER QUIT: Sometimes, even great stories have bad endings. I really enjoyed Steve Spurrier over the years. (We'll claim a little piece of him since he was born in Miami Beach). College football will miss him greatly. He elevated lowly Duke. He put Stevespurrierthe Florida Gators on the national map, winning a national championship in 1996 and coining "The Swamp." Most recently he brought the same relevance to South Carolina. His career record of 228-89-2 should see him in the sport's Hall of Fame. And he was even better in a press conference than he was on a sideline. Fresh. Colorful. Unafraid of needling and tweaking opponents and rival coaches. His old Gators visor and that perpetual smirk I'll never forget. But you see a 'but' coming, right? He quit. There is no sugar-coating it. By abruptly resigning and walking away from the Gamecocks this week, Spurrier did what every coach tells his players to never do. He gave up. Quit. If that's "leaving on his own terms," well, then those terms weren't very good. Unless we find out later the walking away involved a 70-year-old man's health issues, the shabby way Spurrier went out becomes a part of his legacy. It won't be an overshadowing cloud by any means. But it shouldn't be ignored, either, among all the rosy career eulogies I've been seeing and hearing yesterday and today. The Old Ball Coach was terrific. Yes. But, bottom line: He quit.

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October 09, 2015

History says Dan Campbell won't lead Dolphins to playoffs, but here's why he might; also World Series poll, my divisional picks and Rootability Scale; also, Heat/Panthers betting odds, landslide verdict on Philbin firing, a personal note & more


1aa1ajlennon1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9: John Lennon would have turned 75 today. Imagine. 2) Click on Joe Had His Chance, Time to Move On for my earlier column on the Dolphins' firing of Philbin. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fire Philbin with poll, SOPY standings, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Dee Gordon wins Marlins' 'Weighing The Fish' title & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

IMG_0001A PERSONAL NOTE: Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook may be aware my mother passed away this week, at age 97. She is pictured just a couple of weeks earlier. I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of condolences. As I wrote on Twitter, "You have a lifetime to get ready to say goodbye, and then find it still isn't easy." But the support from our community of readers has helped. Thanks again!

THE HISTORICAL ODDS AGAINST DAN CAMPBELL MAKING DOLPHINS A PLAYOFF TEAM ... BUT WHY HE COULD: I explore the history and limited success of in-season coaching changes to lead today's Friday NFL notes column appearing with my game-by-game predictions. Click Dan Campbell's Challenge for the full column, but here are the highlights:

Why Campbell probably won't lead Miami  to playoffs: Nobody in his spot ever has. Well, not since the 1970 merger. There have been 72 previous in-season coaching changes since then, a sizable sample, and the new or interim guys are 0-for-72 in seeing their team to the playoffs. In-season changes do tend to cause a favorable bump. The 72 coaches let go had a combined record of 145-454-3 (.242), while the coaches who replaced them finished the season 145-297-1 (.328). That is not an insignificant bump, but neither is it a collective dramatic turnaround. And the absence of playoff precedent is pretty startling.

Ah, but why he might!: The average of those 72 in-season changes has been 8.4 games in, or just past midseason. Campbell has far more games than most to enact a turnaround. In fact only four of those 72 changes have been made sooner than four games in, and not since the 2000 Bengals did it after three games. Also notable, 24 teams that started 1-3 have made the playoffs since 1990 realignment, about one a year on average. Twelve games, and talent enough to get Joe Philbin fired, give Campbell a real shot to make the Dolphins that one team and be the NFL's first interim coach in the playoffs.

1aa1afripixUPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 5: Stayed strong last week in going 12-3 overall and 8-7 against the spread, and started Week 5 right by hitting Indy's win at Houston last night. Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest picks and full prediction capsules, because the NFL has the temerity to go on even though the Dolphins have a bye. Highlights: Bengals over Seahawks in our Game of the Week, and Saints winning at Philly in our Upset Special ("Aawwk!").

AND YOUR ROOTING INTEREST TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES IS...: Immediately below our new poll you'll find my division-series predictions and also our Rootability Scale. But now it's your turn. The wild-card games are out of the way and we're down to the final eight teams with the two AL division series starting today/Thursday and the two NL series beginning Friday. Which team do you most hope wins the World Series? Pick your favorite from this alphabetical list and say why they have your support.

COTE'S DIVISION-SERIES PICKS: I've got a pair of upsets, one in each league... AL: Blue Jays over Rangers: No upset. Toronto has better hitting and David Price will steer them right in Game 1. Astros over Royals: Upset. Houston drops bombs, and Johnny Cueto has been a disappointment. NL: Cubs over Cardinals: Upset. Jake Arrieta is best pitcher in MLB right now, and Yadier Molina (thumb) is iffy for Cardbirds. Dodgers over Mets: No upset. Metros have great starters, too, but tough to align against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

A NEUTRAL FAN'S GUIDE TO THE BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: We rank the 10 playoff teams including wild-cards on a Rootability Scale based on how long it has been since each team's fans last cheered a World Series championship.

1. Chicago Cubs: 1908 -- Theodore Roosevelt was president. Infants being cradled at Wrigley that fall are now aged 107, cranky and impatient. If you have no dog in this postseason hunt but are not rooting for the Cubs, you may be un-American.

2. Houston Astros: 1962 -- The Colt .45s have never won a World Series but fans have been waiting since '62, or two years before the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan.

3. Texas Rangers: 1972 -- They have never won a WS since relocating to Texas in '72. You know how long ago the Dolphins' Perfect Season seems? Exactly!

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 1979 -- Willie Stargell and "We Are Family." Peanut farmer in the White House. Current Buccos the second wild-card out.

5. Kansas City Royals: 1985 -- George Brett and Bret Saberhagen were taking fans' brett away. (Sorry).

6. New York Mets: 1986 -- Strawberry. Carter. Gooden. But the major downside to rooting for the Mets is that it unavoidably means hoping for the happiness of Mets fans.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1988 -- Doesn't it seem like they've won more recently? Plus they spent $300 million on players. Rooting for this team is like hoping Donald Trump wins the Lotto.

8. Toronto Blue Jays: 1993 -- Sorry, Canada. I know we've taken permanent custody of your Stanley Cup. But that doesn't mean we want you to purloin our National Pastime.

9. New York Yankees, 2009 -- Thank goodness the wild-card Yankees were the first team eliminated last night because, well ... they're the Yankees.

10. St. Louis Cardinals, 2011 -- Great fans. Great baseball city. But enough with the success, already!

HEAT, PANTHERS BETTING FORECASTS UNDERWHELMING: Bovada's new NBA victory over/unders out today find Miami Heat at a modest 45.5, with 41 of course a .500 record. That places Miami tied for 12th in league (Golden State leads at 59.5) and tied for fifth in the East (Cleveland is tops at 57.5). Over in the NHL, Panthers' 45-1 odds against winning the Stanley Cup rank 22nd of 30 teams. Chicago leads at 7-1.

Poll result: Enormous support for firing of Philbin: This is about as close to unanimity as you get in an online poll. We asked if you support the Dolphins' firing of Joe Philbin and 95.6 percent said yes. Only 2.8% answered no, with the other 1.6% undecided. I could ask, "Are you generally in favor of health and happiness?" and I doubt it'd be 95.6% yes.

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