February 07, 2015

Bully for them! Bills bringing Incognito back into AFC East; plus should Dolphins pursue Ndamukong Suh? Poll. Vote!; also, 7 Canes invited to Combine, funny death-of-newspapers video & more

1aa1abobm1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7. Bob Marley (pictured), one of my musical heroes, would have turned 70 yesterday. 2) Mentor LeBron James talks about rehabbing badboy Johnny Manziel; read it here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes recruiting poll, Heat season "slipping away," Dolphins draft & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Can we please not make too much of the Heat falling off playoff pace. It's a half-game with 32 to play. Geez." --Greg Cote

Seven Canes invited to NFL Scouting Combine: Seven (former) Hurricanes are on the newly released invite list for this month's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis -- the main showcase for the NFL Draft. They are, alphabetically: DE Anthony Chickillo, WR Phillip Dorsett, OT Ereck Flowers, CB Ladarius Gunter, RB Duke Johnson, ILB Denzel Perryman and TE Clive Walford.

NDAMUKONG SUH A DOLPHIN?: This is one of those what-ifs that is intriguing to me despite the fact that -- realistically -- it seems unlikely to happen. But the fact it could makes it fair game for discussion (and a poll!). The three pertinent facts: 1) The Dolphins need help on run defense. The 165.3 yards 1aa1andamsuhMiami allowed the last six games of the season were the most in the NFL. 2) The Lions' Suh, in his prime at 28, is the best run-stopper in the NFL, a four-time Pro Bowl guy and three-time All-Pro in five stellar seasons. And 3) Suh is expected to be a free agent who can sign with anybody beginning March 1. I say "expected to be" assuming Detroit does not re-sign him or apply a franchise tag, which seem unlikely. Now, the two complications: First, money. He made $12.5 million last year. That's a starting point. He might not command J.J. Watt dough ($100 million over six seasons), but he could be close to that neighborhood. To sign him under the salary cap Miami likely would have to jettison Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline and other lesser guys, and restructure other contracts. It would be complicated and costly. Second, Suh's reputation. He has been fined $420,669 for "player safety violations," suspended once, named the league's "dirtiest player "(Sporting News) and "least-liked" player (Nielsen). He's been clean off the field but a personal-foul king on it. Should  that be a factor in pursuing him? Is he worth the monetary stake? Money, first, and his reputation make the Dolphins' pursuit unlikely but not unfathomable. Factoring everything, should the Dolphins seriously pursue Suh? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Fans generally unimpressed with Canes' recruiting class: We asked if you judged UM's National Signing Day bounty as very good, good, average or poor and your verdict was 4.1 percent very good, 29.4% good, 43.1% average and 23.4% poor. That's not condemnation, but it is twice as many on the average/poor side as on the very good/good side.

1aa1aincognitoREX RYAN EXHUMES INCOGNITO'S CAREER: In Buffalo this morning the signing of guard Richie Incognito, the former Dolphins Bullygate star, was considered imminent. He was there taking a physical. Rex Ryan upon taking the job said he planned to "build a bully" no other team wanted to play. Now he has signed a bully toward that end. Suddenly the Dolphins have three vital rivals in the East: the nemesis Patriots, the hated Jets and now, fueled by Ryan's arrival, the Bills. Fun!

FIRST WORDS FROM NEW DOLPHINS ASSISTANT TERRELL WILLIAMS: Pertinent stuff from the introductory conference call with new Dolphins defensive line coach Terrell Williams (pictured): On impressions of DE Dion 1aa1atwmsJordan--"I haven’t really evaluated Dion since college, since he was coming out in the draft. We’re still in the evaluation stage. I’m sure we’ll be able to put Dion in the best position for him." On his defensive philosophy--"It’s not about me and what my philosophy is. It’s what makes the Miami Dolphins the best. We are in the process of looking at our personnel and kind of figuring out what we do best. I just like guys who make plays." On  a 4-3 defense vs. a 3-4--"It still comes down to tackling guys. It doesn’t matter, whatever the defensive scheme is, it still comes down to tackling and fundamentals." Williams, 40, coached the Raiders' DL in 2012-14. He'd recently joined the Florida Gators' new staff before accepting the Dolphins job. Summary of today's Q&A: Bland. An unilluminating interview in which Williams repeatedly played the tough-to-comment-because-I-just-got-here card.

CLEVER VIDEO ON DECLINE OF THE NEWSPAPER: A funny video (below) called Stop the Presses humorously makes a serious point about the decline of the American newspaper. Click here for the background story. It over-emphasizes comic strips/funny pages but gets across its larger point, too:

 

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January 30, 2015

SB Smirk IV: Katy Perry promises your face will melt at halftime; plus, POLL: Do controversies make you like NFL less? Vote now!; also Kaaya and Heisman, Seattle fans 'n weed & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 30. I'm embedded at Random Evidence Laboratories today dreaming up the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk III, Villain Bowl poll, no-drone-zone, Wade injury, UM football schedule & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Kaaya on early Heisman watch list: Canes QB Brad Kaaya has early 33-1 odds to win the next Heisman Trophy, tied for 18th best in country as per Bovada. Favorite right now at 6-1 is Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott.

1aa1apickpats 1aa1acotepixSuper Bowl pick: Patriots, 27-23: It's official. (If only that meant it's sure to be right). I discuss the evenness of this game and why it looks like two great teams portending a classic-to-be Super Bowl. Also I detail the one edge that makes New England my pick. Click on SB Gem for the full prediction capsule.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK IV: KATY PERRY PROMISES TO MELT YOUR FACE. IS THAT A GOOD THING?: Today's fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns leads with the 1aa1akatyp 1aa1alionpickSunday halftime show featuring Katy Perry, who conducted a revealing press

conference on Thursday, wearing the outfit she'll have on at halftime (pictured right). I'M JUST KIDDIN'! She'll wear clothes. Who do you think she is, Miley 1aa1aguadalupeCyrus? Katy admitted some pre-recorded music would be used and said "faces
will melt" in reaction to a surprise female guest. Melting faces. Sounds creepy. (Word has since leaked that the "surprise" guest will be Missy Elliott, a rapper who was pretty big circa 1997-2005). Click on Smirk IV for the full column.
1aa1achickensAlso included today: Marshawn Lynch speaks (sort of), unlikable head coaches, Richard Sherman's baby, drones, Vulcan the lion, nuns, counterfeit merchandise and the National Chicken Council. [Previously: Smirk III, Smirk IISmirk I].

SMIRK IV POLL: IMPACT OF NFL CONTROVERSIES: The Ray Rice video, concussions, "Deflategate" -- controversies are nothing new in the NFL, and each of them spark outrage, and yet the NFL seems as popular as ever. Time for you to weigh in if you'd like:

Poll result: Pats the bad guy in Villain Bowl: Two black-hat teams here, both disliked beyond their fandoms, so we asked which makes the better villain. You said Patriots, 71.1 percent to Seahawks' 28.9%.

SUPER BOWL = BIG BUSINESS FOR SEATTLE POT INDUSTRY: Medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Washington State, and a retailer in Seattle called Solstice is rolling 12,000 joints for Sunday in anticipation of a spike in business. Cannot confirm that Seahawks fans, when asked what they are most looking forward to in Sunday's game, answered, "the snacks." [Note: So my boss doesn't get mad, this item and the following video are NOT an endorsement of marijuana, which sources tell me is evil and perhaps also wicked]. 

 

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January 29, 2015

SB Smirk III: NBC's plan to kill 6 hours when you're not looking; plus Villain Bowl poll, my SB pick, no-drone-zone, Wade's injury, '15 UM football sked & more

1aa1atannehillpick1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 29. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill makes his SB prediction known Thursday at the NFL Experience in Phoenix. Ryan and I disagree. Click on SB Gem for my call. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk II, best-Super Bowl-in-Miami poll, banned-puppy video, Marlins farm rank & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Heat's Wade out indefinitely: Dwyane Wade's hamstring injury will keep him out indefinitely, he said today. Speculation is at least three weeks. Makes hanging onto a playoff spot tougher. And only aggravates Wade's rep as a high-maintenance machine prone to breakdowns. 

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK III: NBC PREGAME SHOW. BECAUSE WHAT SAYS SEAHAWKS-PATRIOTS LIKE BRIAN WILLIAMS DRIVING A RACE CAR?: Today's third of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns leads with NBC on Wednesday having a major media conference call to tout its six-hour Sunday pregame show, which includes (of course) NBC 1aa1abrianw 1aa1aecuadoranchorman Brian Williams as Mr. NASCAR on a racetrack, along with a bunch of other stuff not really related to the game such as a feature on "Super Bowl wives" and "flamboyant" ice skater Johnny Weir interviewing celebrities. (Weir is 1aa1ajohnnywpictured lower left; Williams is above left, evidently practicing). This is what happens when you try to kill six 1aa1agodaddypuppyhours. Click on Smirk III for the full column. Also included today: Tom
Brady's cold, security
measures, a pointless petition, Ecuador, Indians, Skittles, GoDaddy being mean to a puppy, a poor cow's ultimate sacrifice and more. [Previously: Smirk II, Smirk I].

SMIRK III POLL: NAME THAT VILLAIN: There is no Cinderella in this Super Bowl. There are two black hats. There is Darth Vader in a hoodie Bill Belichick and the cheating-marred Patriots on one side, and there is surly Marshawn Lynch, strutting Richard Sherman, preening Pete Carroll and the cocky Seahawks on the other. Which of the two hard-to-love teams do you find most unlikable? Which is better cast as the villain Sunday? Vote and say why.

Smirk II Poll result: Namath's guarantee, of course: We asked in the previous blogpost to name the best or most memorable of the 10 Super Bowls that have been played in Miami, and the Jets' 16-7 win over the Colts that Joe Namath guaranteed after the 1968 season won it with 40.9 percent. Also support for Steelers' 35-31 win over Dallas in 1978 (25.0%) and 49ers' 20-16 win over Cincy in 1988 (18.2%)

PLEASE, PEOPLE. WHATEVER YOU DO ... LEAVE YOUR DRONE AT HOME!:

 

1aa1atricorneredPROOF THAT NO ONE, NOT EVEN A HUNKY TIGHT END WHO HAS INSPIRED EROTIC NOVELS, LOOKS GOOD WEARING A REVOLUTIONARY WAR-ERA TRICORNERED HAT

 

HURRICANES' 2015 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE: It's officially out today via the ACC and UM. Not many soft spots after the first two games Here it is, with kickoff times to be determined:

2015 @CANESFOOTBALL SCHEDULE
DATE 
OPPONENT
SITE ALL-TIME SERIES
Sept. 5 BETHUNE-COOKMAN Sun Life Stadium UM leads, 2-0 
Sept. 12 at FAU Boca Raton, Fla. UM leads, 1-0 
Sept. 19 NEBRASKA Sun Life Stadium NU leads 6-5 
Sept. 26 Bye Week    
Oct. 1 at Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio UM leads, 11-1 
Oct. 10 at Florida State* Tallahassee, Fla. UM leads, 31-28 
Oct. 17 VIRGINIA TECH* Sun Life Stadium UM leads, 19-13
Oct. 24 CLEMSON* Sun Life Stadium UM leads, 6-3 
Oct. 31 at Duke* Durham, N.C. UM leads, 10-2 
Nov. 7  VIRGINIA*  Sun Life Stadium  Series tied, 6-6 
Nov. 14  at North Carolina*  Chapel Hill, N.C. UM leads, 9-8  
Nov. 21 GEORGIA TECH* Sun Life Stadium GT leads, 11-9 
Nov. 27 at Pittsburgh* Pittsburgh, Pa. UM leads, 23-10-1 

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January 28, 2015

SB Smirk II: Gronk's buttchecks, which may be an upgrade from deflated balls; plus Dan Marino, GoDaddy's Puppygate, greatest-Super Bowl-in-Miami poll, Marlins farm system & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk debut, Marshawn Lynch poll, God press-conference video & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adanmarinoSI piece on Marino: Sports Illustrated has a lengthy new piece on Dan Marino (read it here) as part of a celebration of the sports year 1985 (which began with a Dolphins Super Bowl loss to the 49ers). Marino is pictured circa that era. I'm among the folks who were interviewed and are quoted in the story, but it's worth reading, anyway.

"Calm your asses down!" --Ex-Hurricanes great Michael Irvin, to perpetually dissatisfied, griping UM football fans.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK II: GRONK'S BUTTCHEEKS, AN UPGRADE FROM DEFLATED BALLS, AT LEAST: 1aa1agronkingToday's second of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns
leads with Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski enlivening Media Day with a 1aa1afirereading from a new erotic novel about him (pictured right) called, "A Gronking to Remember" (subtitle: "It was a passion that could not be 1aa1akimkspiked"), by author Lacey Noonan. The passage Gronk read included the word "buttcheeks." (Tight end, indeed!) The X-rated "novel" is 66 pages long and, unfortunately, is the first in a planned series. Click on Smirk II for the full column. Also included: A fire alarm, a prediction, Jay Glazer, a woman in Hungary, Kim Kardashian (pictured left), Roman numerals, ticket prices and a Radio Row brawl. [Previously: Smirk I].

SMIRK II POLL: WHAT HAS BEEN BEST/MOST MEMORABLE SUPER BOWL PLAYED IN MIAMI?: We list all 10 in the poll, chronologically, with the game's MVP in parentheses to give you a one-word memory jog. You tell history which game should rank as the best or most memorable of all the SB 305s:

Smirk I Poll result: Sharp divide on Marshawn Lynch: We asked in the previous blogpost your impression of Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (the person, not the player), and it was 52.2 percent favorable, 47.8% unfavorable.

GODADDY PULLS SUPER BOWL AD AFTER OUTRAGE: GoDaddy, the website-building company pimped by Danica Patrick and no stranger to controversial ads, has pulled its planned Super Bowl commercial after an online preview sparked a backlash. The ad, entitled "Journey Home," features a lost puppy named Buddy who find his way home only to be quickly sold by his owner. Awwww. Folks, the puppy is JUST AN ACTOR! Anyway, enjoy. Or, be outraged:

 

RANKING MARLINS' FARM SYSTEM: ESPN's Keith Law ranks all 30 MLB farm systems and slots Miami's 24th. His description: "Their system rarely ranks high because they promote players to big league roles so quickly, but there's a solid group of very young arms in the system that will be on the list for a while, as well as a teenage position player or two with some real upside. There's very little in near-term talent here, however.". Elsewhere in NL East, Mets' farm is ranked fourth, Braves sixth, Nationals ninth and Phillies 25th.

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January 27, 2015

Super Bowl With a Smirk debut: Deflated balls, crotch grabs, killer Clydesdales, Marshawn Lynch poll, Q&A with God; plus Hassan Whiteside verdict & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.

"The first person to see Miko Grimes, would you tell her to please shut up? Thank you." --Greg Cote

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 27. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hassan Whiteside poll, Giancarlo's world, how close to contending are Dolphins & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adeflated footballsSUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK I: DEFLATED BALLS, CROTCH-GRABS AND KILLER CLYDESDALES: The first of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns debuts today leading with an exclusive report detailing how the 1aa1aclydesdalePatriots may be under NFL scrutiny for apparently underinflating footballs -- which we haven't heard or read anywhere else. Pictured


right: The suspect footballs used in last week's AFC Championship Game. Also included in today's Smirk debut: God's will, Garo's rumination,
Pro Bowl, rabid Clydesdales, naughty Betty White, 1aa1agodfbsimulated arrests at NFL Experience, counterfeit tickets, F-16 fighter jets and (spoiler alert) solid information that New England will beat Seattle on Sunday, 28-24. Place bets now. Click
on Smirk I for today's complete debut column.

SMIRK POLL: LOVE/HATE ON MARSHAWN LYNCH: Seattle's running back rudely refuses to answer the simplest questions and grabs his crotch after touchdowns. Seahawks fans love him. But do most football fans? I don't mean as a player. I mean as a person. Let's find out.

 

Poll result: Caution, but excitement, about Hassan Whiteside: We asked how sure you are that 7-foot Heat sensation Hassan Whiteside would become an NBA all-star, and 59.6 percent were cautiously optimistic, 34.2% were very confident, and only 6.2 % were doubtful.

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January 26, 2015

The Legend of Hassan Whiteside: How good will he be? New poll. Vote now!; plus Giancarlo's world, how close Dolphins are to contending & more

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 26. Disappointed to hear tonight's Merle Haggard concert at Parker Playhouse is canceled. Was thinking of going. Instead, I think I'll just stay here and drink. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: All-Star Games poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Block Party: Click HERE for video of Hassan Whiteside's highlights -- including all 12 blocked shots -- from Sunday's Heat win at Chicago.

THE LEGEND OF HASSAN WHITESIDE: Sunday was the national introduction and coming-out party for 7-foot Heat center and dunking machine Hassan Whiteside, the team's out-of-nowhere star since his Dec. 1aa1ahassanw15 callup from the D-League. It was his first nationally televised game, and he tgreated it like the stage it was -- with a club-record 12 blocked shots along with 14 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. What a story he is. Played in Chna and Lebanon, where he competed with armed soldiers guarding the games. Rejected across the board in the NBA -- as he is quick to point out in drawing motivation. Now, at 25, he is flourishing, with his best game coming in yesterday's Block Party win at Chicago. Before the game he told reporters about being hit by a car at age 10. After the game he said, "Three months ago, ask anybody in Charlotte at the downtown Y, I was just there just chilling. I couldn't even get a team to pick up the phone. 'Who is this guy?' It's been like that my whole life." Again, what a story! Says coach Erik Spoelstra: "Clearly he gives this team a different dimension. That's exactly what we need. He just needed time to develop. You root for guys like this." Says Dwyane Wade: "A guy like Hassan, he's special. You can't teach what he has." The question now: Is Whiteside the real deal built to be a long-term star for this franchise or will he prove to be a flash in the pan? That's unknowable; it will play itself out. But that doesn't mean we can't have an opinion now. What is your best estimation of what Hassan Whiteside will become? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Poll result: Baseball best all-star game in a runaway: We asked in previous blogpost which of the Big 4 sports presents the best (or least bad) all-star game, and it's one area where the NFL gets clobbered by baseball. Results were MLB 65.3 percent, NBA 23.8%, NHL 6.8% and the NFL's Pro Bowl 4.1%.

1aa1agiancarlomissTHE BURGEONING WORLD OF GIANCARLO STANTON: Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton was one of the judges at last night's Miss Universe pageant, a Donald Trump production held at FIU and won by Miss Colombia. (Boxer Manny Pacquiao was a judge, too). It's amazing the opportunities that arise when you are a young, handsome local sports star who recently signed a $325 million contract. I think we need to start a rumor about Giancarlo and Miss Colombia. Just sayin'. Don't get me started on beauty pageants, by the way. So archaic. Surprised they still even exist. What decade is this?

HOW CLOSE ARE DOLPHINS TO SUPER BOWL-CONTENDING? EIGHT PLAYERS AWAY: Pro Football Focus analyzed roster of every team playing in AFC or NFC Championship Game since 2007 to determine how 1aa1aeightmany elite or good players each had based on players on field for at least 250 snaps in a season. (That methodology is inherently flawed. But anyway...) For what it's worth PFF determined the Dolphins are eight good players away from contending for a Super Bowl. That ties for 13th in the NFL. The Dolphins ... mid-pack ... imagine that! PFF says Dolphins have two elite players (Cam Wake, Reshad Jones), three good ones (Branden Albert, Jarvis Landy, Koa Misi), 20 average ones (including Ryan Tannehill and Brent Grimes) and six bad ones (including Mike Pouncey and Brian Hartline). There's a lot of dumbness there. Misi rated way better than Grimes? Seriously? To be further incredulous, click here for PFF's full story.

 

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January 22, 2015

"Deflategate" latest hit for beleaguered NFL (with parody video); plus Drew Rosenhaus party-yacht drama is SO Miami!; also, LeBron's game-show, Heat value, Marlins' nemesis & more

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 22. Click here for a gratuitously sexy, totally unnecessary video of Kate Upton doing fun stuff. Just because. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl prediction poll, Mariota vs. Winston & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.


1aa1adeflateNFL's Deflategate mess:
Even if you don't believe the Patriots deflating footballs is a big deal, it is because it's another image-hit for the beleaguered NFL and has hijacked the narrative leading to the Super Bowl. Click on Deflating for today's latest column by me. Postscript: Bill Belichick in a news conference this morning denies any knowledge of the issue, says he did not learn of it until Monday. I'd still expect a penalty (fine and/or forfeited draft pick) but nothing related to the Feb. 1 game vs. Seattle.
  

 

LeBron starting game show: Increasingly the former Heat star is becoming an entertainment mogul who plays basketball when time permits. I wish this game-show thing weren't true. But it is. Read about it here.

Sad news. Hassan Whiteside's media annointment as Heat savior, mayor of Miami and NBA It-Guy has been temporarily postponed by this week's ankle injury.

DREW AND LISA ROSENHAUS ARE SO MIAMI!: I love this story not because it involves marital discord -- I wish the couple well -- but because it involves the so-Miami trappings of celebrity, partying, police, a yacht and a 1aa1alisadanbfreeloading playboy millionaire named Dan Bilzerian. (I say freeloading because when your income source is "trust-fund beneficiary," you are mowing through money inherited, not earned). Short story: Bilzerian throws a party here last month during Art Basel, and the dozens of bikini'd young women 1aa1alisa2aboard include Lisa Thomson-Rosenhaus, 28, who had just marked her 1-year annivesary with Miami NFL mega-agent Drew Rosenhaus, 48. Drew and Lisa are pictured left in bliss-ier times. At right, Lisa is the one in the pink bikini at the elbow of the gesturing Bilzerian, who reposted the photo on his Instagram account. Speculation is that's why police were called to casa de Rosenhaus on Sunday in a domestic dispute. Rumors of a pending divorce now swirl. Three quick thoughts: 1) Amazing how money makes Bilzerian and his comical beard look sexy to women who would otherwise not give him the time of day. (Superficial much?) 2) Aside to Lisa: So, so sad, but it may be almost time to retire the Spring Break Party Girl persona. 3) Drew Rosenhaus has never shied from publicity, even the notorious kind, and this latest wave may actually be good for business. After all, this is precisely the kind of drama to which so many potential athlete clients can relate.

1aa1aarisonmHEAT FRANCHISE VALUE SKYROCKETS: Micky Arison is smiling and why not. New annual figures from Forbes estimate the Miami Heat franchise value is now $1.175 billion, ninth in the NBA and up a whopping 53 percent over last year. The caveat? Heat are barely above the league average of $1.1 billion, and below the average one-year increase of 74 percent fueled by new national and local TV deals.

NATIONALS TO MARLINS = PATS TO FINS: As baseball spring training looms, we lament the Marlins' new reality. No matter what they do or how much they improve, somebody in their division always seems to be better. A step ahead. The Dolphins and Dolfans can relate, after 10-plus years in the shadow of the New England Patriots. The Marlins' big-brother nemesis has become the Washington Nationals. Coming off a 96-win season the Nats are the new World Series favorites are 6-1 odds after landing premier free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer. 

Poll result: Patriots to win Super Bowl: We asked, you answered, and 54.6 percent said the Patriots would win the Super Bowl versus 45.4% who predicted a Seahawks repeat.

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December 04, 2014

Do you believe Jameis Winston? New poll. Vote!; plus Scintillating vs. Silly with UM fans, Duke Johnson wins 'state Heisman'; also 'Goodbye RGIII' video, Barkley is right, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my Week 14 NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins edge Jets, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins catch a break: Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowl run-stopper, today was suspended for the remainder of the regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. So he's erased from Sunday's Dolphins game here.

WINSTON DENIES RAPE ALLEGATION: I have no idea whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is guilty and lying or falsely accused and telling the truth. Neither, chances are, do you. It's he-said/she-said, the 1aa1ajwinstonissue is consent and it's risky to make assumptions. Winston's long-awaited two-day student conduct hearing over the rape allegation against him ended Wednesday with no decision yet reached. Winston declined to answer questions but did read from a five-page statement, declining any guilt. In part: "I did not rape or sexually assault [the accuser]," the statement reads. "I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together. [She] had the capacity to consent to having sex with me and she repeatedly did so by her conduct and her verbal expressions. I never used physical violence, threats, or other coercive means. I never endangered [hers] health, safety, or well-being." Click here for the story. Do you tend to believe Winston based on your knowledge of the case? Take a dip in our poll, and try to separate whether you are a Seminoles fan or hater from what you honestly think.

SCINTILLATING VS. SILLY AT UM: What's scintillating right now -- Hurricanes men's basketball -- isn't getting the full attention it deserves because of the distraction over what's silly: the pointless speculation over football coach Al Golden. Jim Larranaga's men's hoopers are now 8-0 and surely will 1aa1ajiml
1aa1aalgrise from their No. 15 poll ranking after Tuesday night's 70-61 home win over No. 24 Illinois. Yet the obsession these days of UM fans in general and of the media seems to be the job status of Golden following a disappointing 6-6 season. All of this was perfectly reflected last night at the arena when a "Fire Golden" chant briefly bloomed, only to be tamped out by annoyed fellow attendees directing attention to the basketball game, please. (Pictured left, the heroic Larranaga. Pictured right, Golden, being chased by an angry mob). The Golden chatter is silly because it's moot. Golden's job is not in jeopardy; UM is not considering a coaching change. Maybe we won't be able to say that a year from now, but it's ironclad-true today. Yet false rumors percolated yesterday about an imminent firing. One local radio host reported he'd been told by a source that Golden was getting the boot; then, when that proved false, the same host Tweeted, "I'm NOT a journalist!" Effing hilarious. Meanwhile, a few Board of Trustee members continue in the role of shadow snipers, anonymously criticizing Golden. The Trustees should stop with the cowardice, and the local media should cease and desist with what has become a far too common practice of using anyonymous sources. Well, at least that's what I was told by a "close associate" of a journalism professor who requested anonymity!

SOPY: CANES' DUKE JOHNSON WINS "STATE HEISMAN": Well, something went right for the Miami Hurricanes this year. Duke Johnson went right. UM's Duke of Gables comfortably beats Florida State's 1aa1asopy 1aa1adukejJameis Winston in our season-ending, blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings: the "State Heisman." The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative ranking of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Florida only played 11 games, not making up its lightning-canceled opener. UCF plays its final game Thursday night, but the result has no bearing on the overall lead so we present the final rankings now. 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 final 2014 SOPY Top 25:

SOPY FINAL 2014

Rk      Player, team-pos.                LW     Season

1        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         111     1,968

2       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         90.5    1,844

3        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     142.5   1,765

4        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            161     1,513

5        Justin Holman, UCF-qb           85     1,468.5

6        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            35      1,255

7        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        35      1,211

8       Alex McGough, FIU-qb            DNP   1,063.5

9        Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       47        958

10      Matt Jones, Florida-rb             29        924

11. Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb, 906; 12. Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 881; 13. Phillip Dorsett, Miami-rec, 874; 14. DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 830; 15.Breshad Perriman, UCF-rec, 815; 16. Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 799; 17. Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb, 797; 18. Mike White, SoFla-qb, 782.5; 19. Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec, 768; 20. Clive Walford, Miami-rec, 718; 21. William Stanback, UCF-rb, 667; 22t. Andre Davis, SoFla-rec, 636; 22t. Alex Gardner, FIU-rb, 636; 24. Anthon Samuel, FIU-rb, 617; 25. Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb, 612.

SOPY Champions

2014    Duke Johnson, Miami-rb                1,968

2013    Jameis Winston, FSU-qb                2,107

2012    Stephen Morris, Miami-qb             1,900.5

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. FSU (12-0); 2. UCF (8-3); 3. Florida (6-5); 4. Miami (6-6); 5. SoFla (4-8); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-9).

BARKLEY IS RIGHT ON FERGUSON RIOTERS: Race is a fascinating thing. If I (white as a linen napkin) call the folks rioting and looting in Ferguson, Mo. "scumbags" it comes off as racist. Black Charles 1aa1abarkleycBarkley can say it -- and did. It's still controversia, but not the way it would be if said by a white commentator. Barkley is right, by the way. "Scumbag" is an inflammatory word, but do people destroying property and looting merit much better? I hate that the looters claim an entitlement based on their outrage over the Michael Brown shooting and the police-shooter's non-indictment. Righteous protest and civil disobedience are wonderful things, part of the our freedom. Looting isn't. Not under any circumstance. Barkley sounds more like Rush Limbaugh in calling the police "the only thing in the ghetto between this place being the wild wild West," and saying, "There's a reason they racially profile us at times." But in lambasting the looters, I can't imagine he'd get much disagreement from anyone but the looters.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 13 SEES PICKS UNEVEN, LOBOS PRAYING: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixweek on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: We went a fairly solid 11-5 overall but only 7-9 against the spread despite a pair of nice outright upset picks with Falcons over Cardinals ("Aawwk!") and Jaguars over Giants. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won, 118-69, led by Calvin Johnson's big 38 Bird Day points, improving to 6-7 on the year. We're in a four-way tie for our league's final playoff spot entering the last week. However we stand fourth on the tiebreaker ladder, meaning we need a small mirale. Um, make that a large miracle.

GOODBYE, RGIII: A smart, expertly done ode to Robert Griffin III's downfall, to the tune of Elton John's Candle in the Wind:

 

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November 28, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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October 09, 2014

Poll: Chalmers or Cole? Pick a Heat point guard. Vote now!; plus Panthers hockey, Fins/Harbaugh verdict, defending MLB, Alan Cherry (R.I.P.) & more

1aa1ajlennon1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9. Thinking of the late, great John Lennon today, on what would be his 74th birthday. 2) I'm holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today pulling forth my NFL Week 6 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's pick. 3) BBC Music brings together dozens of great artists for a rendition of the Beach Boys classic, "God Only Knows." Trippy result worth a listen and watch here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/Harbaugh poll, college football upheaval, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY standings, toast to '72, Derrick Shelby, Cinder-AL-a & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aflacatsCats on the ice: NHL starting. Hockey's back. Florida Panthers open tonight/Thursday in Tampa then at home Saturday vs. New Jersey. Click on Telling Season for my preview column. Club hasn't won a playoff series since 1996 and a sharp decline in attendance is expected. This has become a franchise that needs saving. Winning is the only start.

CHALMERS VS. COLE IN HEAT POINT-GUARD BATTLE: IT'S ON: The post-LeBron Heat are 0-2 in the preseason entering Saturday's game vs. Cleveland and James in Rio -- uh oh -- and even though the games don't matter you know that panic is setting in with some fans as 1aa1amarionorris"We really might be that bad" sweeps over them. Relax. It's a playoff team. But to distract you from your growing angst here's a poll. It's incumbent Mario Chalmers vs. challenger Norris Cole (pictured left to right) in what by all accounts is an open battle for starting point guard. And that role is magnified because LeBron James, who brought the ball up and handled it so much he was a de facto point guard, is no longer here. (He went somewhere. I forget where). Chalmers probably brings more offensive pop and swagger; Cole brings better defense and energy. Both have flaws. Is Cole better-suited to being the spark off the bench? What Heat point guard would you prefer to see start and get the most minutes? I exclude rookie Shabazz Napier from the question because he obviously isn't ready yet to be in the conversation. So take a dip in the poll and say why.

Poll result: Dolfan interest in Harbaugh, but with some reservations: We asked in the previous blogpost if the Dolphins should pursue 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh should he become avaailable after the season, and 47.9 percent said yes without equivocation. However, 25.2% said only if Miami does not make the playoffs and another 18.7% voted "avoid him like the plague." The other 8.2% were undecided.

DEFENDING BASEBALL'S POSTSEASON, FINAL FOUR: The complainers are out. Not enough starpower! Not enough runs! Bad World Series ahead! I don't buy it. Yes, 10 of the 14 playoff games thus far (not 1aa1adavidandgcounting wild-cards) have been won with four runs or fewer. So what? Pitching is good. Steroids are outlawed. Deal with it. I think the Orioles-Royals ALCS (starting Friday) and the Cardinals-Giants NLCS (Game 1 Saturday) guarantees a World Series of interesting contrast. St. Louis and San Fran are recent champions from 2011 and '12, respectively, while Baltimore and Kansas City last won it all in 1983 and '85. Royals haven't even been in the postseason since then. There will be an AL-David vs. NL-Goliath element that I think America will find appealing. Besides, the fact all four division series ended either 3-0 or 3-1 indicates the vanquished teams were undeserving in some way. And there is no clear betting favorite among the four survivors; it's anybody's ring.

ALAN CHERRY, 1955-2014, R.I.P.: This is self-indulgent. Screw it. It's my blog. My oldest friend, Alan Cherry, died this week, at 59, and I miss him already. We met when we were 19, I think. Fate had us 1aa1aalancboth stumbling blind into journalism careers under the tutelage of Max Hall at BCC. I gravitated to sports. Alan ended up doing important stuff, for three decades a news reporter and editor for the Sun-Sentinel. Alan was a nonconformist both intellectually and visually. In a newsroom where men wore shirts and ties, clean-shaved faces and neat hair, you'd find Alan with long hair tucked under a ballcap and a full, straggly beard. (He was way ahead of the trend on that look. I think his wife Pat and son James deserve royalty checks from Duck Dynasty). Alan was also an accomplished songwriter. He wrote "Letting Go," which I was honored to record (click here to listen). A few years ago Alan was surprised and delighted to hear another of his songs, "House of Ghosts," played on an NPR program devoted to unsigned artists who merited attention. The song is below. Alan was a man of great talent, and greater integrity. Rest in peace, my unforgettable old friend.

 

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