January 22, 2019

Rams-Patriots Super Bowl: Twin polls. Who you WANT to win, who you think WILL win. Last day to vote!; plus we're all cheated by blown non-call, not just Saints (new column); also, Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Mlk1) It's TUESDAY, JANUARY 22. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America on Monday. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." 2) Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Championship Game picks, analyzing Hurricanes' soft 2019 football schedule & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday co-host spot on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. It airs 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio affiliates and ESPNews, after a local-only 9-10 hour on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us!

Latest column: That late blown call robbed more than must the Saints: It robbed football fans of a Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees "Two Old G.O.A.T.s" classic, it robbed the NFL of its integrity and it robbed this Super Bowl of its legitimacy. To read our latest column, visit We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints.

Other most recent columns: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

SbowlRAMS-PATRIOTS IN SUPER BOWL 53: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN, WHO WILL WIN: Las Vegas sportsbooks have set New England as a slight 1 1/2-point favorite over the L.A. Rams in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in Atlanta. These polls are asking you who you want to win -- who you hope does -- versus who you you think will win, or who'd you'd bet on to win outright. It's heart vs. head. Maybe you'll vote both polls the same way, maybe you won't. Let's see. Vote now in both polls.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:x

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl!: Rams upset Saints joust for the NFC crown and then Patriots upset Chiefs for the AFC title in conference championship games Sunday. Would have/should have been a Two Old G.O.A.T.s Super Bowl -- Tom Brady, 41, vs. Drew Brees, 40 -- but an official's missed call screwed New Orleans. Home teams had won 10 straight conference championship games before both home teams lost Sunday.

2. HURRICANES: UM loses out on transfer QB, sets '19 schedule: They hired the Alabama quarterbacks coach as their new offensive coordinator. It wasn't enough. The Canes lost transfer-QB Jalen Hurts to Oklahoma, anyway. The good news for UM football? The 2019 schedule is out and, with only one ranked opponent, it looks like it came together in one of Manny Diaz's sweet dreams.

3. HEAT: Wade hits 14 off bench in his final game in hometown of Chicago: Miami is even again at .500 (22-22) after last night's win in Chicago, after which Dwyane Wade (newly turned 37) swapped jerseys with the Bulls' mascot, Benny. OK so it's only midseason and we're running out of jersey-swap recipients? Wade scored 14 off bench in his final game in his hometown. Meantime Dion Waiters got fined for publicly complaining about playing time. Um, would that be the same guy who was dead weight as he took, like, two seasons to get over an ankle injury?

4. UM BASKETBALL: Larranaga pleads for Hernandez eligibility: Canes men fell to 9-8 and 1-4 in ACC with Saturday's loss to No. 13 North Carolina. (At least UM women are percolating at 15-4/3-1). NCAA continues to rule Dewan Hernandez ineligible even with Jim Larranaga's impassioned argument that Hernandez was "duped" by his AAU coach.

5. TENNIS: Aussie Open getting good at midpoint: Two-time defending Australia Open champ Roger Federer was upset Sunday by young Greek Stafanos Tsitsipas, and on Monday, Serena Williams continued her search for women's majors record by ousting world No. 1 Simona Halep. We're heating up in Melbourne!

6. DOLPHINS: Fins still waiting on Patriots for new coach hire: Could have happen with Patriots losing last night; instead, Miami will now have to wait until after the Super Bowl to hire New England linebackers coach Brian Flores as their new head coach. Unless everybody has this wrong. Which would be sort of hilarious.

7. PANTHERS: Finally! Cats end 7-game skid: The wildly erratic, roller-coaster-y Panthers are 19-28 after two straight wins that followed a seven-game losing skid. Now comes a five-game homestand starting Monday vs. San Jose, and where that leads, nobody knows. 

8. MARLINS: Fish set spring dates, unveil golf: Miami will commence Season 2 of the Derek Jeter era on Feb. 13 (pitchers and catchers) and Feb. 18 (full squad). Meanwhile there's a temporary 9-hole golf course set up at the ballpark. How about instead of nine holes of golf the Marlins give us  nine innings of winning baseball?

9. BOXING: Pacquiao wins, seeks Mayweather rematch: Manny Pacquiao won his first match since turning 40 Saturday night in Las Vegas, beating Adrien Broner unanimously, and now is seeking a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Fight fans around the world responded by saying, "NOOOOO!"

10. CANES BASEBALL: DiMare era on deck for UM: UM baseball season rolls out Feb. 8 with the First Pitch Banquet, Feb. 9 with the Alumni Game, then Feb. 15-17 with opening weekend vs. Rutgers. With coach Jim Morris retired after 25 seasons, it's Gino DiMare time!

Missing the HB10 cut: The annual college Senior Bowl is in six days, answering the question: "Wait. Guys still sometimes play their senior year!?" ..... Update: Countdown now 2,710 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2019

Our AFC, NFC Championship Game picks: 2 old G.O.A.T.s are trying to reach Super Bowl. Only 1 will; plus Canes' 2019 football schedule looks like Manny Diaz dreamed it, happy birthday D.Wade, why Dolphins' 'Tank for '20' plan is risky & more

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

Dwhappybday1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 19. Happy birthday Dwyane Wade as Heat star turned 37 this week. He's Miami sports' all-time G.O.A.T. Or co-G.O.A.T. with Dan Marino, if you insist. 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from this week's Le Batard Show. 3) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, how we did on NFL Divisional-Round picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Newest column: Why Dolphins' supposed 'Tank for '20' strategy is dumb and risky: To read our latest column, visit This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking.

Our other most recent columns: Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Also: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: AND THE SUPER BOWL MATCHUP IS...: It's Rams-at-Saints and then Patriots-at-Chiefs on Sunday in play-in games for the Super Bowl. It's the first time in the SB era the league's four highest-scoring offenses have made the final four. Also only the eighth time in the 29 years of the current playoff format that both conference title games are No. 1 vs. 2 seeds. Oh, yeah: And two old G.O.A.T.s -- 40-something QBs Tom Brady and Drew Brees -- are trying to make it. Will both make it? Just one? Neither? Sunday should be a ratings bonanza for the NFL. For our Championship Sunday preview and predictions, visit Championship Round Gems.

MdiazANALYZING 2019 HURRICANES FOOTBALL SCHEDULE: MANNY DIAZ SHOULD BE SMILING: The Miami Hurricanes' 2019 football schedule, revealed yesterday, starts big and tough, vs. the Florida Gators in Orlando, but then turns soft. And stays that way. And for openers, Florida in-state is not as daunting a Game 1 as LSU was this past season in Arlington, Tex. Florida, 10-3 last season, is the only '19 UM foe ranked in the final 2018 polls. Miami's other 11 opponents were a combined 62-76 last season. Florida, in fact, may be the only game in which UM is the betting underdog. The schedule is such that the Canes wull have a big shot at padding the record and being ranked if they can find a way to beat the Gators. Miami's schedule also is favorable from a travel standpoint. UM plays five straight home games (Games 3 through 7) and -- because three of its road games are in Orlando, Tallahassee and at Marlins Park -- the Canes will travel out of state only three times all season. "Win%" below is our estimation of likelihood Miami will win, based on game's expected point spread. It sets up as a very favorable schedule for first-year coach Manny Diaz. Presuming he finds a good quarterback, of course.

Date       Opponent                    2018   Most recent meeting   Win%

Aug 31    Florida                        10-3   Won 21-16 (2013)        45%

Sep 7      @ North Carolina           2-9   Won 47-10                   70%

Sep 14    Bethune-Cookman         7-5   Won 45-14 (2011)         99%

Sep 21    Central Michigan           1-11  First meeting              99%  

Oct 5     Virginia Tech                 6-7    Won 38-14                   70%

Oct 11    Virginia                         8-5    Lost 16-13                  65%

Oct 19   Georgia Tech                 7-6    Lost 27-21                   65%

Oct 26   @ Pittsburgh                 7-7    Won 24-3                     60%

Nov 2    @ Florida State              5-7    Won 28-27                   55%

Nov 9    Louisville                      2-10   Lost 31-13 (2014)         70%

Nov 23   FIU                              9-4    Won 31-17                    90%

Nov 30   @ Duke                        8-5    Lost 20-12                    55%

Notes: All most recent meetings were last season except as noted. Florida opener is neutral-site game in Orlando. Virginia game is a Friday; all others are Saturday. FIU game is being play at Marlins Park.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2019

An overarching lesson for Dolphins in NFL's final four -- on how they got there, why they win. Newest column; plus R.I.P. Bob Kuechenberg, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), how we did on our NFL Divisional-Round picks & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round Playoff Picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: The lesson for Dolphins in NFL's final four: The Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams have something in common. It should be obvious to the Miami Dolphins and anybody else trying to get from here to really good. To read my latest column, visit Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them.

Our other most recent columns: Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Also: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / DIVISIONAL-ROUND (UPDATED): HOW WE DID IN WINNOW TO FINAL FOUR: We went 3-1 overall but only 1-3 against the spread on our weekend Divisional-Round playoff picks, with the Saints and Cowboys narrowly failing to cover for us. Our gambling that the Colts would upset Chiefs -- that was just a plain misfire. A bad one. For the whole playoffs we're now 5-3 overall and 3-5 ATS following a magical, record-setting regular season with our NFL picks (.705 winning percentage straight-up, .582 against the spread). Visit NFL Divisional-Round Gems for all of our past weekend's picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:x

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Will new OC from 'Bama mean Jalen Hurts, too?: Hmm, well this is interesting! Manny Diaz hires Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos to be the Canes' new offensive coordinator, and now it seems the Tide's transfer-minded QB Jalen Hurts may follow. As two-for-one package deals go, that's a goody!

2. DOLPHINS: Fins coach-search has eye on New England: Miami' search to replace fired Adam Gase (now deliciously with the Jets) has zeroed in on Patriots linebackers coach defensive play-caller Brian Flores, according to most every professional guesser. Motto: "If You Can't Beat Bill Belichick, At Least Steal One of His Top Assistants."

3. HEAT: Big loss cools heating-up Heat: They're still a modest 21-21, but Miami had won two straight and 10 of its past 14 before last night's blowout loss in Milwaukee to open a four-game road trip. Good news: Now sixth in the East. Bad news: Still a long climb to fourth.

4. NFL: And the Final Four is set!: It'll be Patriots at Chiefs and Rams at Saints in the AFC and NFC championship games next week -- the play-in to the Super Bowl. Kansas City an New Orleans both were token 3-point home favorites as betting lines opened.

5. PANTHERS: Coach in peril as skid reaches 7 games?: Florida had won six of previous eight games but now has plunged to seven straight losses and is 17-28 and way off playoff pace. Coach Bob Boughner's job has to be on thin ice. Doesn't it!? 

6. BOB KUECHENBERG: All-time great Dolphins guard dies: The Miami Dolphins family lost "Kooch" Saturday night at 71, cause of death not yet revealed. A two-time Super Bowl champ in a career that spanned 1970-84, his 196 games played for the club were more than all but Dan Marino and Jason Taylor.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men need answers, fast: While the UM women are sailing at 14-4 and just outside the Top 25, the Canes men are 9-7 after a 5-0 start -- and now face ranked opponents in five of their next seven games. Got any answers, Jim Larranaga? 

8. TENNIS: Murray out quick as Aussie Open begins: Andy Murray says he is retiring and that the Australian Open now underway (from which he quickly lost Sunday) could be his last. No offense, but after missing most of the past 18 month battling various injuries, I thought Murray already was retired.

9. TIM TEBOW: He proposes marriage, she says yes!: The former football quarterback turned baseball minor-leaguer asked Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, Miss Universe 2017, to marry him, and she said yes. Not sure why this is news. But it is.

10. ROB GRONKOWSKI: Patriots tight ends mulling retirement: Is that still news? Gronk's prime retired about two years ago.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,717 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2019

NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks: Like a redwood in Cali, a No. 1 seed shall fall!; plus the Dolphins' 1 need that dwarfs team's coaching search in importance & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 12. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from this week's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In May Day (Dating Sites!) coughs in around the 52-minute mark. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your verdict on biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2018 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Dolphins coach-search, and what's an even bigger need: Miami is trying to find a new coach (with Patriots' Brian Flores the supposed favorite) who may or may not be better than Adam Gase, now the Jets' coach. But a bigger, more important decision looms after that. For my newest column, visit A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Other most recent columns: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

Divrd PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / DIVISIONAL-ROUND: DOWN TO FINAL EIGHT, AND THE 4 SURVIVORS ARE..: Now it begins for real. At least that's the way I see it. The Super Bowl Tournament started with a dozen teams but has weeded out the four pretenders, and now we're down to the Great Eight (or lucky more than great in the case of Philadelphia, at least). We're here off a magical, record-setting regular season with our NFL picks (.705 winning percentage straight-up, .582 against the spread), but we were reminded last week the postseason is a greater challenge. No chaff; all wheat. Wild-Card Weekend saw us 2-2 both overall and vs. the betting line, highlighted by our upset call on Chargers winning in Baltimore. Now the No. 1 and 2 seeds are in play after byes last week so, again, now it begins for real. Our four Divisional-Round picks include a stunning upset loss by a No. 1 seed. (But which one?) Visit NFL Divisional-Round Gems for all of our latest selections.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2019

Why a better coach isn't Dolphins' biggest need. My new column; plus here's your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of 2018, our LeBatard and Canes Chaos-to-Calm columns, new Back In My Day (Dating Sites!) & more

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

Uswed1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy Anniversary to my wife! She is the greatest person I know, and I'm not even kidding. It's our wedding day at right. Awful photo, great day. 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In May Day (Dating Sites!) coughs in around the 52-minute mark. 3) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest Miami sports story of 2018 poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New column: On Dolphins coach-search, then what's really important: Miami is trying to find a new coach who may or may not be bettre than Ada, Gase. That's fine. But a bigger, more important decision looms after that. For my newest column, visit A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need.

The Le Batard profile, Canes' Chaos-to-Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for an unusually personal column by me. And UM athletic director Blake James talks about the day when Canes football went from upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm. Other recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

YOUR VERDICT ON MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018!: This was our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. Would the vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 be tougher, and closer? You decided. We gave you a roughly alphabetical list of our top 20 finalists, invited you to select your top six, and from that consensus came your verdict. More than 1,400 votes were cast, and here are your top five Miami sports stories of 2018, with my comment:

Diazreturns1. Richt resigns after 7-6 season; UM lures back Diaz from Temple -- 22.74%: Year-end bombshell that rocked Canes was an unsurprising winner. 

2. Inter Miami expansion MLS team wins stadium vote -- 15.21%: Hmm. This was running in 5% range but spiked due to organized rally by Inter Miami fans.
 
3. 'Miami Miracle' stuns Patriots on 69-yard trick play to end game -- 12.08%: Rare a single play would be so big, but this was an exception.
 
4. Wade re-signs with Heat for 'Last Dance' farewell season -- 9.81%: Thought this had a shot to compete for title.
 
 
Rounding out the top 10: Marlins trade Yelich, who wins MVP for Milwaukee 3.91%; Jeter's 1st year as Marlins CEO ends with NL-worst record 3.77%; Miami among sites as U.S. wins joint bid to host 2026 World Cup; Wayne Huizenga, Marlins/Panthers founder, ex-Dolphins owner, dies 3.26%; and Local teams rally, lend support after Majory Stoneman Douglas tragedy 3.06%.
 
Ranking 11th through 15th: Miami Open tennis leaves Key Biscayne for Hard Rock Stadium 2.77%; Dolphins part with Landry, Suh, Pouncey 2.70%; FIU wins bowl for school-record 9-win season 2.49%; Jim Morris retires after 25 years as Canes baseball coach 2.35%; and Serena Williams returns from pregnancy, reaches 2 Grand Slam finals 1.92%.
 
The bottom feeders: Tannehill returns from injuries, ends year with Dolphins future in doubt 0.85: Miamian Carlos Cordeiro elected president of U.S. Soccer 0.71%; UM men's basketball implicated, cleared in national FBI recruiting probe 0.50%; Joey Logano wins NASCAR season title at Homestead 0.43%; and Alabama wins Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal 0.28%.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2019

What was Miami's biggest sport story of 2018? Our 20 finalists. You pick top 6. Annual poll. Last day to vote!; plus my LeBatard and Canes columns, Radio Tuesday, Hot Button Top 10, how we did on NFL playoff picks, your top-national-story winner & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, JANUARY 8. Yes I might still say "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, biggest-national-sports-story-of-2018 poll, make-Wade-an-all-star column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, my first time back with Dan and Stu since before the holidays. Show airs 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Miami's 790 The Ticket and nationally on ESPN Radio affiliates and on ESPNews from 10 to 1. Join us! 

The Le Batard, Canes' Chaos to Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for a special, unusually personal column by me. And, in my latest column, UM director of athletics Blake James takes us behind the scenes on the day when Canes football when from a bombshell of upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm.

Other most recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff. Also: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL playoff picks: Wild-Card Weekend results: I finished 2-2 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the Saturday/Sunday TV doubleheaders that got the postseason underway. Straivght-up, I called the Chargers upset win and also had Cowboys winning. ATS, got the Chargers and Eagles covering at Chicago. Got a bit unlucky. Was sailing with Dallas to cover until that late Seattle score and 2-point conversion. And had Bears straight-up if not for that double-boink final makeable field goal miss. Thanks, Cody Parkey. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our opening round selections.

Miami18WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018? VOTING CONTINUES!: [Note: Voting continues through today and results will be announced here Wednesday morning]. This is our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. The vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 could be tougher, and closer. We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we invited you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2018 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a roughly alphabetical top 20 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Voting will continue until results are announced here mid-afternoon Tuesday. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

EaglesYOUR BIGGEST NATIONAL SPORTS STORY VERDICT: We gave you The Associated Press year-end list of Top 10 national sports stories for 2018 and invited you to select your top three. That means the highest possible percentage for any one answer would be 33.3 percent if all voters cast all three votes. Triple each vote total below for the approximate percent of times that answer was included in a top three. Your results: 1. Eagles win first Super Bowl 22.43%; 2. Larry Nasser/gymnastics sexual abuse scandal 20.15%; 3. Supreme Court allows sports betting beyond Las Vegas 15.59%; 4. Tiger Woods comeback from back surgery 9.89%; and 5. Maryland-Baltimore County first 16-seed to beat a No.1 in NCAAs 9.13%. (Nasser/gymnastics scandal won The AP vote). Others: Red Sox win World Series 6.84%; Sister Jean, 98, inspires Loyola-Chicago to NCAA Final Four 4.94%; expansion Golden Knights reach Stanley Cup Finals 4.18%; Alabama wins fifth national title under Nick Saban 4.18%; and Russia doping scandal continues into Pyeongchang Olympics 2.66%.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins in search for Gase's replacement as coach: Adam Gase is out. Chris Grier gets the personnel power Mike Tannenbaum had. The search is on for a new head coach. And none if it matters as much as this: Finding a quarterback better than Ryan Tannehill.

2. HURRICANES: Diaz continues assembling new staff: New head coach Manny Diaz digs in to try and find a new offensive coordinator to breathe life into the underperforming half of the team. Major Applewhite, perhaps? No matter who the new OC is, will N'Kosi Perry be his guy?

3. NFL: Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, Eagles advance as playoffs begin: Indianapolis won impressively in Houston, handled Seattle, the Chargers upset Baltimore and Philly upset Chicago to open the playoffs -- the latter only because Cody Parkey blew a 43-yard FG try in last seconds.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson routs Alabama for CFP title: Crimson Tide and Tigers met Monday night in Santa Clara, Calif., with both teams 14-0 and 'Bama a 5 1/2-point favorite, but it was Clemson winning in a rout, 44-16. We've seldom seen Nick Saban look so sad. Ain't it great!?

5. HEAT: All-star push for Wade is on: As Heat have won eight of past 11 and are at .500 in East race, the push is on to send Dwyane Wade off as an all-star in his final season. He's running second in fan voting. Now we'll see if the player and media vote gets it right, too.

6. UM BASKETBALL: ACC schedule begins for Canes men, women: Now it gets real. Struggling UM men dropped their ACC opener, fell at Louisville last night and now play at No. 9 Florida State Wednesday. Canes women are 14-3 after two wins to open ACC play but somehow slipped from Top 25.

7. JAMES HARDEN: Rockets star's pointfest continues: Harden has now scored 30 or more points in 13 straight games, and NBA record. There are points hidden in Harden's beard.

8. PANTHERS: Hints of hope for Cats, but is it too late?: Cats at midseason are 17-23 and a big nine points off playoff pace as they head out on five-game road trip. Even a big second half might not be enough -- not a good position to have placed yourself.

9. NBA: Warriors, King set 3's mark: Golden State and Sacramento combined for 41 3's, an NBA record. The game's evolution is such, when you pull up for a 2-point jump shot now, they look at you funny.

10. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still on hold: A destination of top free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. A trade of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Women carry babies in their wombs less time than it's taken these deals to happen.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,724 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2019

NFL Wild-Card Weekend playoff picks: Winners here!; plus What was the biggest national sports story of 2018? Annual poll. Here's The AP Top 10. You pick your top 3. Vote now!; also, our recent Dolphins/Hurricanes upheaval columns & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 5. I'm still saying "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The 3 days that shook Miami  football, final Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeSend D.Wade out as an all-star: The fan vote is saying the Heat's Dwyane Wade, in his final season, should go out as an NBA all-star starter. The players and media votes should do the same. To read our latest column, visit Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff.

Other most recent columns: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time (on firing Gase, demoting Tannenbaum). Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM (on hiring new football coach). Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes (on shocking resignation of Mark Richt). 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good (on Tide's Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal win). And Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

NFL PLAYOFF PICKS / WILD-CARD WEEKEND: AND THE 4 SURVIVING WINNERS ARE..: The Magical Season of Cote marauds into the postseason under  shower of confetti after a personal- Picksrecord-setting regular season. We’ve been doing NFL picks in the Miami Herald since Don Shula and Dan Marino were still rocking Miami. The Patriots quarterback was somebody named “Hugh Millen.” Bill Belichick was a rookie head coach with the Browns. It was 1991 — making this our 28th season of picks. And our best. Ever. Our .705 season winning percentage overall tied our personal best. And our .582 mark against the spread stands alone on the mountaintop at No. 1, beating the previous record of .574. Not a great finishing kick last week but we still managed to hit on four dogs with points in the Lions, Cowboys, Bears and Bengals. Now we wipe the slate. Playoffs, baby! Chaff has separated from wheat. Wanna-be's like the Dolphins watch on TV while the dozen qualifiers enter the Super Bowl Tournament. This opening weekend eight teams are in play while the four bye kings rest and wait. Our four Wild-Card Weekend picks include one by-the-numbers upset and at least one other that feels like one based on betting trends. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our latest selections.

YOU PICK THE 2018 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-in-review vote on the biggest national sports story in America. The top 10 stories in this poll are 2018not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically by subject here, not in the 1-through-10 order of The AP's selection, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, because if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE (3). And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. On Sunday, following our national vote, we'll offer a separate poll to choose 2018's biggest Greater Miami/South Florida sports story. For now, let's go nationwide. One year ago, you voted "NFL player protests over social justice draws critics led by President Trump" as the No. 1 national story, followed closely by "Astros win 1st World Series to lift city devastated by Hurricane Harvey." What reigned for 2018? You decide, right now. My personal top 10 probably would have found room for LeBron James joining the Lakers, the corruption scandal in college basketball and Serena Williams' successful return from maternity leave, but, again, this is The AP's list. We'll keep the poll open three-plus days and announce results on Sunday as we present the South Florida poll. Vote now! 

Vote for the top three (3) biggest national sports stories of 2018:

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 02, 2019

Happy New Year! The 3 days that rocked Miami football. With our columns; plus Mahomes win Herald NFL QB title because nobody could ketchup to him; also, our record-setting year for NFL picks, return to radio & more

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

Hnyr1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 2. Happy New Year! The season-final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating is in and it ain't pretty. Go HERE to see. 2) Last chance: Visit MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch our annual holiday video. It's ho-ho-horrible! 3) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Richt resignation and Gase firing rock South Florida, Dolphins fall in Buffalo with final DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Blog note: Our annual year-ends polls for biggest national sports story and biggest South Florida sports story are coming. Haven't forgotten. Just been a bit busy the past few days (!). Watch for them here later this week. 

We're back on radio this week: I'm in-studio this week today and Friday on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, then back in my regular Tuesday slot next week. Show airs 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Miami's 790 The Ticket and 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. Join us!  

THE THREE DAYS THAT SHOOK FOOTBALL IN MIAMI:

Monday: Dolphins fire Gase, demote Tannenbaum: To read that column, visit The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time.

Sunday: Richt retires, Diaz returns to take over Hurricanes: For those columns, visit Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes and Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM.

Saturday: Alabama, Saban win Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal: Visit 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good and Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PatmahMAHOMES WINS SEASON PASS CHAMPIONSHIP! / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 17-SEASON FINALThe Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes (pictured) finishes No. 1 to take the 2018 season championship in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. Mahomes' 614.85 season points is the fifth-highest  winning total in the 21 years of our rankings. He held a narrow lead entering the final week but saw his path cleared when Drew Brees did not play in the Saints' finale. Cowboy Dak Prescott won the Week 17 crown. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill ends in 30th place overall. This was our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The expanded final Top 40 for 2018:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 17 / FINAL SEASON
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK17        Final

1       1       PATRICK MAHOMES, KC         26.05        614.85

2       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    44.90        601.15

3       4       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        36.35        586.45

4       2       Drew Brees, NO                    DNP         584.60

5       6       Andrew Luck, IND                38.25        572.65

6       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 16.60        561.40

7       8       Jared Goff, LAR                  30.95         522.40

8       7       Philip Rivers, LAC                14.80        521.40

9       11     Tom Brady, NE                     44.50        506.75

10     10     Deshaun Watson, HOU          31.70        499.25

11     14     Dak Prescott, DAL                46.35        472.20

12     9       Aaron Rodgers, GB                2.30        470.60

13     12     Derek Carr, OAK                   18.25       458.45

14     13     Eli Manning, NYG                 25.05       453.45

15     15     Russell Wilson, SEA              15.60       439.40

16     17     Matthew Stafford, DET        32.30        427.85

17     16     Cam Newton, CAR                DNP         401.75

18     19     Mitch Trubisky, CHI              23.15        396.15

19     20     Baker Mayfield, CLE             22.80       394.25

20     18     Carson Wentz, PHI                DNP         377.70

21     21     Case Keenum, DEN              28.60        377.50

22     22     Marcus Mariota, TEN            DNP          297.40

23     24     Jameis Winston, TB             35.25        289.60

24     23     Andy Dalton, CIN                  DNP         270.30

25     25     Joe Flacco, BAL                    DNP         246.25

26     26     Blake Bortles, JAC                4.35         242.95

27     27     Alex Smith, WAS                   DNP         236.00

28     29     Sam Darnold, NYJ                12.35        233.25

29     28     Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB             DNP         225.30

30     30     RYAN TANNEHILL, MIA           6.35         224.95

31     31     Nick Mullens, SF                  27.10        215.85

32     33     Nick Foles, PHI                    42.05        186.65

33     32     Josh Rosen, ARI                   12.45        160.90

34     35     Josh Allen, BUF                   30.20        140.70

35     36     Lamar Jackson, BAL            17.95         127.05

36     34     BROCK OSWEILER, MIA         DNP          126.35

37     37     C.J. Beathard, SF                DNP          100.60

38     38     Jeff Driskel, CIN                  4.75         100.15

39     39     Cody Kessler, JAC                DNP           81.45

40     40     Jimmy Garoppolo, SF          DNP           63.90

Week 17 best: Prescott, DAL, 46.35 (27-44, 387, 4-0 in win). Week 17 worst: Josh Johnson, WAS, minus-1.45 (12-27, 91, 0-1 in loss).

Season-best game: Brees, NO, 62.80. Season-worst game: Nathan Peterman, BUF, minus-12.80.

All-time best game: Ben Roethlisberger, PIT, 80.10 (2014). All-time worst game: Tim Hasselbeck, WAS, minus-23.20 (2003).

Season record: Peyton Manning, DEN, 714.85 (2014). Dolphins record: Tannehill, 481.25 (2014) Most season titles: Brees, NO, 7.

PicksNFL WEEK 17 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picks: A solid, not great finish to a really strong season. Went 10-6 overall and 8-8 against the spread, nailing four 'dogs-with-points in Lions, Cowboys, Bears and Bengals. For the season we end at .705 overall and .582 against the spread, and I'm very proud of both figures. Been doing this since 1991 and that ties for our best-ever straight-up and sets our personal record ATS. Greg's Lobos: Done. The Lobos ended 2-1 in the consolation-bracket LeBatard Show playoffs after a 5-8 regular season. We closed with a 167.8 to 125.3 rout of Sarah Spain, led by Deshaun Watson's 36.5 points. We'll get 'em next year, because ... #WeAreTheLobos!

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 01, 2019

GASE FIRING, RICHT RETIREMENT ROCK MIAMI FOOTBALL! With my 3 (!) new columns; plus season-final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.9%; also, Fins fall at Bills 42-17 to end 7-9, Alabama wins OB, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 31. The season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter rating is its lowest since 2014. Go HERE for the sad details. 2) Last chance: Visit MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch our annual holiday video. It's ho-ho-horrible! 3) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Alabama beats Oklahoma in Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal, Clemson-Notre Dame, Gators-Michigan & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

COLUMN ON GASE FIRING, TANNENBAUM DEMOTION:To read, visit The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time.

COLUMNS ON RICHT RETIREMENT, DIAZ TAKING JOB: To read, visit Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes and Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM.

Column: Alabama dynasty? Canes have been there, done that. But have they just seen map to getting back?: For my column from the stadium off last night's Alabama win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl/CFP semfinal, visit 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good. Also: Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest and season-final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 42-17 loss at Buffalo putting Miami's final season record at 7-9. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. Because this is  the final 2018 DSM poll, we suggested added emphasis for "season as a whole." Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. The approval there was 24 %).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

G:15 3.4% following 17-7 loss vs. Jacksonville. 

G16/Final: 6.9% following 42-17 loss at Buffalo.

Yearly DSM Results: 2018--6.9% (following 7-9 season); 2017--7.7% (6-10); 2016--76.2% (10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

MiabufG16: @BUFFALO 42, DOLPHINS 17: ANOTHER ROAD COLLAPSE AS MIAMI ENDS 7-9: Final thoughts: Been preoccupied today with Mark Richt's sudden retirement. Plus, my postgame thoughts for this Dolphins loss might include swear words, so let's leave it alone ..... Original post: NFL Week 17 features all division games, all on Sunday, and 13 of the 16 matter in some way — either featuring a playoff-bound team or having a direct bearing on the postseason and its seeding order. Alas, this is one of the three exceptions: A sad wheeze to the finish line for two teams bereft of all playoff hope as the 7-8 Fins visit 5-10 Buffalo at 1 on CBS, with Miami a 3 1/2-point underdog. The Dolphins sag in with two straight losses and the Bills with four in the past five games. Expected weather in the 30s will provide a fitting tableau for a game both teams would just as soon not be playing. Fins lucked to beat Bison 21-17 on Dec. 2 when Charles (Hands Of) Clay failed to catch the game-winning pass in the end zone in the closing seconds. Make it Bills here in a venue call. Miami is 1-6 on the road this year, and has won only nine of its past 26 trips to Orchard Park. Dolphins also will be missing top cover-guy Xavien Howard for a fourth straight game. (Quick aside: Probably not a good sign when your team’s MVP award is won by a cornerback in an average pass defense who missed a quarter of the season injured. Suggests a paucity of worthy candidates. It was Ryan Tannehill’s award to win in his comeback season, but until he finds the map to the playoffs, his Dolphins future will forever be cast in doubt). I’ll hedge here with that extra half-point on the bet-line, though. See Fins within a field goal in a low-scoring game owing to offensive meekness more than defensive might. By the way, Miami didn’t really start out 3-0 this season, did it? We imagined that, right? My pick: Buffalo, 20-17.

Visit Week 17 Gems for all of our regular season-ending selections.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton

1. HURRICANES: Richt abruptly retires in wake of rout-loss in bowl, Diaz returns: UM somehow got crushed and embarrassed 35-3 to a five-loss Wisconsin team in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, closing a disappointing 7-6 season. Sunday, bad got worse with Mark Richt's abrupt retirement as head coach. Then got better with Manny Diaz returning to replace him. Crazy. For my new columns: Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes and Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM.

2. DOLPHINS: Gase fired, Tannenbaum demoted in wake of 7-9 season: An embarrassing 42-17 loss in Buffalo Sunday ended a 7-9 season. On Monday, the Fins fired coach Adam Gase and gave Mike Tannenbaum's power over personnel to Chris Grier. Crazy II. What a wild two days and end of year for football in Miami.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama wins Orange Bowl for a Tide-Clemson finale: The 85th Orange Bowl gave us two games in one Saturday night: Alabama racing to a fast 28-0 lead and then Oklahoma dominating after that. The only game that counted, though? 'Bama, 45-34, in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Hard Rock, making it Crimson Tide vs. Clemson in the championship game week from Monday. Reports that Nick Saban may have almost smiled in the closing seconds could not be substantiated.

4. HEAT: No Dragic, no problem for hot Heat: Despite Goran Dragic's extended injury absence the Heat has won six of past seven to climb to 17-17 and sixth place in East. This evening vs. Minnesota, Miami will try -- again-- to top .500 for the first time since 3-2. 

5. UM BASKETBALL: ACC schedule begins for Canes men, women: Miami men are 8-4 and the women 11-2 and ranked No. 24, but it's been breadsticks and appetizers. The meat and potatoes start this week, on Thursday with the women hosting Virginia Tech and then the men hosting No. 20 North Carolina State.

6. NFL: Six teams alive for three remaining playoff spots: Math, NFL style, as the regular seasons concludes today: 32 teams, 12 playoff spots; 17 teams eliminated (sorry, Miami), 15 teams still in it; 9 teams have clinched postseason tickets, 6 still alive for the final 3 spots to be determined today.

7. GATORS: Florida upsets Michigan in Peach Bowl rout: Florida finishes 10-3 with a 41-15 bowl-rout of Michigan in the Peach, led by QB Feliepe Franks. State teams now 2-2 in bowls, with FIU joingin Flirida win win column, and UM and South Florida falling. UCF plays LSU in the Fiesta on Tuesday.

8. PANTHERS: Hints of hope for Cats, but is it too late?: Florida has won five of its past seven games but still langusihes at 16-21 and seven points off playoff pace nearing NHL midseason. Whole year has been a long climb from those 0-4 and 2-10 starts.

9. UCF: Former cheat Jones reclaims title: Repeated PEDs cheat Jon Jones, in his first fight in 17 months, last night defeated Alexander Gustafsson to reclaim his light-heavyweight title in UFC 232, immediately talking up a rematch with rival Daniel Cormier. It's sure to happen, too, pending Jones' next test-positive.

10. FLOYD MAYWEATHER: Bizarre fight in Tokyo on deck: Floyd Mayweather loves attention almost as much as he loves money, so he is fighting Japanese kick-boxing star Tenshin Nasukawa in a bizarre three-round exhibition under boxing rules on New Year's Eve. America has never heard of Nasukawa but is now his biggest fan.

Missing the HB10 cut: Baseball free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still unsigned and Marlins' J.T. Realmuto still has not been traded. Updates as warranted ..... Update: Countdown now 2,731 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns:End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too? / Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 29, 2018

Orange Bowl: Alabama 45, Oklahoma 34 (Final): Tagovailao, 28-0 lead lift Tide to title game. NEW: My column from stadium; plus Miami's weird relationship with Nick Saban, our picks for two CFP semifinals, we called Gators upset of Michigan & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29. The season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter rating is its lowest since 2014. Go HERE for the sad details. 2) If you missed it, visit MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch out annual holiday video. It's ho-ho-horrible! 3) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes fall hard in Pinstripe Bowl with final CSM poll, NFL Week 17 picks, Beckham carves turkey & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

SabanWhy Miami hates Nick Saban is not why you think: He left the Dolphins 12 years ago but Miami fans still seriously dislike Saban. Why? It isn't because he lost here, or lied here. We explore the Saban/South Florida relationship in our latest column. To read, visit Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

NFL Week 17 picks: Visit Week 17 Gems for Dolphins-Bills and all out other latest selections.

ObORANGE BOWL: ALABAMA 45, OKLAHOMA 34 IN CFP SEMIFINAL: Alabama jumped out to fast 28-0 lead and never looked back. And game MVP Tua Tagovailaoa was fantastic: 24-for-27, 318 yards, four TDs. I predicted 'Bama, 44-30; see below. Close enough for ya!? My column from the game: Alabama Dynasty? Canes Have Been There. Now Did They Just See A Map Back? ..... Original post: 'Bama is a big (13 1/2 points) favorite to reach its fourth straight College Football Playoff championship game, and should. The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide are a complete team, while the No. 4-seeded Sooners are all offense. With OU's awful defense, anything less than a ton of points every week keeps the Sooners from being a .500 team. That imbalance won't cut it vs. Alabama. Nick Saban will find ways to exploit that obvious weakness. Most eyes will be on the two quarterbacks at Hard Rock tonight at 8 as Tua Tagovailoa and Kyler Murray battle for the first time since they finished 1-2 -- Murray winning -- in recent Heisman Trophy voting. Tagovailoa insists he'll be 100 percent, after leaving the SEC title game with an ankle injury. Both are duel-threat QBS and should make for a wide-open, offensive game. It's the only decent defense on the field that should tip this result. My pick: Alabama, 44-30

COTTON: CLEMSON 30, NOTRE DAME 3 IN OTHER CFP SEMIFINAL: No. 2 Clemson was an 11 1/2-point favorite in the 4 p.m. duel of unbeatens over No. 3 Notre Dame in Arlington, Tex. I thought the Fighting Irish would show up. Nah. My pick was: Clemson, 27-24.

PEACH: FLORIDA 41,MICHIGAN 15 IN SATURDAY APPETIZER: Noon start in Atlanta found Michigan a 4 1/2-point favorite but I was feeling an upset led by the Gators' defense. Didn't see the rout. Just the upset. My pick was: Florida, 23-17.

Select other recent columns:End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too? / Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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