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31 posts from January 2007

January 20, 2007


    [Updated Saturday morning, 1-20.]

    SanAacam2 Diego ChargAacamers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron as new head coach of the Miami Dolphins seems to me like a very strong hiring. He is a tremendous offensive mind and playcaller; this team needs a jolt in that area. He is a quarterback specialist; this team needs nothing more than for Daunte Culpepper to be great again.

     Cameron, 45, becomes the seventh head coach in franchise history, following George Wilson (1966-69), Don Shula (1970-95), Jimmy Johnson (1996-99), Dave Wannstedt (2000-04), Jim Bates (2004 interim) and Nick Saban (2005-06).

     I like the choice, for reasons you'd find in today's column. I know many of you do, too, based on our Dolphin year-end blog poll in which Cameron drew 31 percent support and no other candidate topped 11%.

     Comments welcome on Miami's choice.

'Canes pick Nix to run offense

Aanix     [Updated Saturday morning, 1-20.]

     UM coach Randy Shannon has hired Georgia Tech offensive coordinator Patrick Nix for the same role with the Hurricanes. This is The U's most important coach hiring other than Shannon himself, given the 'Canes' problems moving the ball last season.

     Nix, 34, former Auburn quarterback, has run the Yellow Jackets offense the past three seasons under Chan Gailey and began calling plays last season.

     He inherits plenty of talent, and what figures to be an intriguing quarterback battle between Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman.

     Comments invited on the Nix hiring. What's the one thing you would tell him if you had his ear for 30 seconds?

The picks: Saints, Colts

     [Updated Saturday morning, 1-20. Well, my predictions -- find picks here -- have it Saints and Colts. Meaning you should run to the phone like an Olympic sprinter, call your bookie and plunge your child's college fund on the Bears and Pats.]

     Saints at Bears for the NFC title, Patriots at Colts for the AFC crown. Thoughts welcome on the playoffs so far, who you like in the conference title games, and your preferred Super Bowl matchup.

January 19, 2007

Dolphin coach search: Looking like Cameron

  [Updated Friday afternoon, 1-19. The Herald is now reporting the Dolphins have decided they want Cameron, but that the coach has not yet said yes and will speak with his family before deciding. ESPN.com reports the job has formally been offered.] 

  All indications are that Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will be named the Dolphins' new head coach later today, chosen over other finalists Jim Mora, Chan Gailey, Mike Shula and Dom Capers.

     Club brass interviewed Cameron for a marathon 10 1/2 hours yesterday, and I doubt you interview anybody for that long unless you are sold on him.

     Our quick take on the five finalists, alphabetically, including their two most recent jobs:Aaacameron

     CAMERON, 45, Chargers offensive coordinator since 2002; head coach Indiana University 1997-2001 -- Upside: Offensive whiz who has  worked wonders in San Diego (although having LaDainian didn't hurt). Downside: Never been a pro head coach, and not a successful one (18-37) in college.

Aaacapers     CAPERS, 56, Dolphins special assistant to head coach since last season; Texans head coach 2001-05 -- Upside: Wealth of experience including nine years as NFL head coach with Panthers and Texans. Downside: Is promoting from within and hiring a defense-oriented coach the answer?Aaagailey_3

     GAILEY, 55, Georgia Tech head coach since 2002; Dolphins offensive coordinator 2000-01 -- Upside: Has NFL head-coach experience (Cowboys 1998-99) and coming off best season (9-4, Gator Bowl) with Tech. Downside: Might feel like Dolphins recycled someone safe, familiar.Aaamora       

     MORA, 45, Falcons head coach past three years; 49ers defensive coordinator 1999-2003 -- Upside: Bright, ascending coach who reached NFC Championship Game in 2004. Downside: Fired by Falcons after saying on a radio show he'd jump at chance to coach his alma mater Washington.Aaashula

     SHULA, 41, Alabama head coach past four seasons; Dolphins quarterbacks coach 2000-02 -- Upside: The Shula Name. Return to glory? Has been an NFL coordinator (Bucs offense). Downside: The Shula name. Nepotism? Fired by Crimson Tide for diminishing returns.

     We'll start a separate blog post when the new coach is named. Meantime, it's still a final five but now apparently with a clear frontrunner. Comments welcome.

Ask the Blogmaster General (January)

Aaq_1     [Updated late Friday night 1-19. The Blogmaster General window for January has nicked shut. Decent response. The BG Q&A will see you again mid-Feb...]

     We're back with the latest episode of our incredibly semipopular mid-month (or thereabouts) feature, in which I directly answer any questions you may have.

     The daily give-and-take in this blog is your forum. I read all comments and appreciate the participation, but want the last word to be yours. However, once a month, I invite and reply to your Q's on a variety of topics including but not limited to: Me, this blog, my columns, sports writing, The Miami Herald, the competition, local teams, national stories, current events, singing on the radio and the history and myths of Transylvania.

     Any questions you've posted to me in the daily blogs that have gone unanswered -- now is the time and this is the place. I'll check back periodically throughout the next couple of days and reply with the exactitude and alacrity you have come to expect.

January 18, 2007

On Shaq's return; recruiting hype; Vick's trick; Ali's 65th; shameless plug

     A little Thursday smorgasbord while you hold your breath for the Dolphins' big coaching decision...Aashaq

     1. [Updated late morning Thursday 1-18] Shaquille O'Neal had been expected back in the Heat lineup tonight at home vs. Indiana after missing 31 games with a knee injury, but he will NOT play. Can't put into words how much we've missed you, Big Fella. But I can put it into numbers: 17-20, 9th place in East. Wondering who think Shaq's imminent return is the answer, and who thinks the season malaise will continue.

     2. Evidently the champion Florida Gators are doing well in football recruiting (well, duh). A recruitnik says, "Florida State and Miami should be scared." Please. The margin of error is off the charts on projecting what some 18-year-old kid you've never heard of will or won't be in two years. Meantime, here's suggesting the 'Noles and 'Canes go ahead and still play rather than give up and forfeit. 

Aagetsmart     3. Hilarious story in today's paper (find it here) on Falcon Michael Vick in trouble for carrying into the Miami airport a trick water bottle with a secret compartment that smelled of marijuana residue. The good news? Vick got past security wearing the shoe phone he'd borrowed from Maxwell Smart.

Aaali      4. Happy 65th birthday, Muhammad Ali. I'll leave it to social scholars and ESPN p.r. people to determine if you indeed are the father of rap. However I can testify you are one of the most influential, mesmerizing athletes of my lifetime. Here's to many more, champ. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Aathnaks_1     5. Our website folks have provided numbers showing that -- Shameless Plug Alert! -- our Random Evidence web-log here ranks No. 2 in popularity among all The Herald's 41 blogs based on page views. Dave Barry ranks first, and I'm OK with that, a mere mortal finishing second to God. Anyway, thanks, readers and bloggers. It's all you.

January 15, 2007

Seeking a sporting sloth!

Aacouch      You -- yes you -- have the rare and wonderful opportunity to appear in an upcoming Miami Herald sports story about football fans preparing to watch the Super Bowl.

     But only if you reside in South Florida and are a sporting sloth.

     Sloth, noun: Habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness.

     We're looking for a couch potato, basically. Somebody who rarely is happier than when parked on a soft chair with a remote watching football, surrounded by ravaged bags of chips and other snacks and an army of spent 12-ounce soldiers. I picture you obese, but that's not a requirement, merely a bonus.

     This is a serious, limited offer. Interested sloth-fans should proudly declare their slothdom with a brief description in a comment below and then e-mail contact information to story writer Barry Jackson at bjackson@miamiherald.com

January 14, 2007

On The Herald honoring Gators

Aafla_2     My newspaper today devotes a six-page special section to the Florida Gators' national football champions. Anybody got a problem with that?

     It is justified because we are a major statewide paper above parochial biases, and more practically because so many UF alum live and work down here. Yet I suspect this doesn't sit right with some Miami Hurricanes fans, who may see The Herald as aiding and abetting the enemy.

     As a peripheral thought: I must say in all neutrality that over the year I have observed Gators fans to be steadfastly loyal for the most part, whereas 'Canes fans -- a larger percentage of whom are not UM graduates -- tend to include more frontrunners and bandwagoners. Is that a fair generalization?

January 12, 2007

VOTE: Dolphins Year-End Poll

     Here is our annual Dolphins' post-season poll. Choose the answers that best reflect your opinion, and add a comment below if you'd like to explain or amplify. Dig in.

The Dolphins' 2006 MVP was:
Ronnie Brown
Jason Taylor
Zach Thomas
Wes Welker

The most disappointing player was:
Jason Allen
Chris Chambers
Daunte Culpepper

On Nick Saban leaving for Alabama:
He'd have won here; sorry to see him go
He was a disappointment; good riddance

How confident are you that Culpepper will be healthy and a very good QB for Miami in 2007?
Not very

Ricky Williams says he hopes and plans to return to the team next season:
Hope he does; we need him
Hope he doesn't; he's had enough chances

Should former guard Bob Kuechenberg, a finalist again, be in the Hall of Fame?

What do you think of local politicians being given the chance by the NFL to buy Super Bowl tickets at face value?
An acceptable/understandable perk

The Dolphins may be picked to play a regular season game in Germany or Britain next season:
Good idea
Bad idea

Miami's priority for the ninth overall draft pick should be:
Offensive line
Best available athlete

Of the candidates interviewed so far, I hope Miami's next head coach is:
Cam Cameron
Dom Capers
Pete Carroll
Chan Gailey
Mike Martz
Jim Mora
Brian Schottenheimer
Ron Turner
Ken Whisenhunt
Somebody else

Chris Webber to Heat?

Aacwebb      [Updated Tuesday morning, 1-16: Webber is signing with his hometown Pistons as expected. Miami's path to the East finals just got a little tougher.]

     Probably not -- the Detroit Free-Press is reporting today that suddenly available Chris Webber is leaning to the Pistons -- but it's an interesting possibility considering Webber told ESPN. com (story here) that Miami was on his short wish list.

     The Heat need depth (remember their run at Jalen Rose in November?) and could use a veteran power forward who averaged 11 points and eight boards in 30 minutes before the 76ers bought out his contract this week.

     Obviously Pat Riley isn't at all sure he can get through the playoffs without adding a key piece. And Webber joining Detroit would only make the path to a HeatPeat that tougher.

     Comments welcome here on the Webber-to-Heat possibility and in general on what if anything Miami most needs in the way of help.