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24 posts from September 2008

September 30, 2008

Beer for the economy, Pfund, cheating Billy the Marlin, mouth of Ricky, Elly May Clampett and more

  Aaa1beer A brand new pile of miscellania for your consideration...

     Help solve the economic crisis. Drink beer: If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stock one year ago, you would have $49 left today. With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left. But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, consumed all of the beer, then turned in the cans for an aluminum recycling refund, you would have $214 like this guy.

Aaa1ozzie     Octoberfest: Baseball playoffs begin Wednesday after White Sox beat Twins tonight 1-0 in a playoff for the eighth and last spot. I rooted for the Twins, solely because Chisox manager Ozzie Guillen (right) seems like sort of a gasbag idiot. Check this blog tomorrow morning for a poll on who you hope wins the World Series.

     Aaa1pfundPfund escapes the gargantuan shadow: The abrupt resignation of Heat GM Randy Pfund (pictured) was unexpected but not real surprising. How much pfun fun can it be to serve in that role under an omnipotent team president (Pat Riley) who possesses complete control over all personnel decisions? Pfund leaves amicably, but the fact he leaves in search of another NBA job tells you he finally grew tired of Riley's immense shadow and wants to be where he'll have more say. Can't blame him.

Aaa1billy_2     Mascot Hall of Fame screws Billy the Marlin: The three newly announced 2008 inductees into the Mascot Hall of Fame (yes there is such a thing; click here) are Rocky (Denver Nuggets), Slider (Cleveland Indians) and Smokey (University of Tennessee). However Random Evidence has learned that another nominee, Billy the Marlin, was snubbed by selectors despite leading all pro-team nominees in online fan voting. An outrage! UM's Sebastian the Ibis also was nominated and denied entry but did not lead in fan votes. Billy is pictured here, appearing to smile but weeping inside.

Aaa1ellymay      Dear Greg, Your blog is OK, but...: "...it would be much better if at some point you would show a picture of actress Donna Douglas -- Elly May Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies -- today at age 75. Thanks very much."

     If it came down to Uggla or Olsen...: Click here to find today's column by me on the Marlins' planned makeover that will sacrifice home run power for speed and defense. The two most prominent players who might not be back are second baseman Dan Uggla and pitcher Scott Olsen. If the club spends to keep just one, who would you wish it to be? I'd pick Olsen but doubt most fans would. (By the way, Jorge Cantu finished fourth in NL comeback player of the year voting announced today. Cantu got my vote for the Marlins MVP award that went to Hanley Ramirez).

Aaa1barker      Tattoos for Really, Really Old People or the Incredibly Unhip, one in a series:

Aaa1mandarich_2      Well, no bleepin' duh!: Showtime's Inside the NFL will include, in its Wednesday show, a segment in which former offensive tackle Tony Mandarich (pictured), one of the all-time draft busts, reveals he used to use steroids. What a shock! Gee, don't some things sort of go without saying? Which reminds me...

     Ricky admits pot temptation: Dolphin Ricky Williams revealed he still sometimes has the urge to spark some weed. Is that news? I love Ricky's honesty, but wish, for his sake, he'd self-edit a bit more. A guy trying to mend his image and outlive all the pot jokes probably ought to tell a little fib and say he's past all that. Sort of reminds me when President Jimmy Carter once made headlines by admitting he lusts in his heart. Too much information, Jim!

     Giants running back arrested for standing in traffic drunk!: Click here.

     Where's Waldo? Where's Grego?: Many of you, in comments and e-mails, have expressed concern that The Herald's website redesign has made it more difficult to find my blog. You are correct and I'm not too pleased, either. I'm hoping for a remedy; stay tuned. Meantime, if you don't see my ugly mug as one of the two featured blogs on the Sports homepage, simply click on 'all blogs' to find me. I'll keep trying to make it worth the effort.

Week 4 results: I'm bad. At least I admit it!

     Every Tuesday during the NFL season I keep you posted on how I'm faring with my Miami Herald prognosticating, in the paper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and with my two fantasy teams. Even though some weeks, like this one, it amounts to an exercise in public humiliation...

Aaa1picks      The Friday Page: Got a little too daring on some upset calls --had Houston over Jacksonville; if only close counted) and went 6-7 overall. Ouch. Went 4-7-2 against the spread, counting the two games that stayed off the board as pushes. Ouch again. Nailed 'dog Redskins and Texans with the points, but little else went right.

Aaa1pigskin      Pigskin Challenge: That 6-7 (for a 36-24 total) had me tumbling to 134th place overall among some 950 readers playing, now eight off the lead. Am tied for second place in the seven-man panel of six writers and last year's reader champ, but now six games behind Smokin' Israel Gutierrez. (Note to self: Find out what he's smokin').

Aaaherald      Dolphin Picks: Team had a bye, of course, so, among six Herald writers predicting the Dolphin game in each Sunday's paper, I remain tied for third place at 1-2, one game back. I correctly predicted the Dolphins would win the bye week, but that doesn't count.

Aaa1fantasy_2      Fantasy teams: In two leagues this year, and had split results. The Bad News Fennelz dropped to 0-4, losing 76-55. Not good when your leading scorer is your defense (Bucs, 20 points). The BNF have been decimated by injuries, losing Tom Brady for the year, still missing Marques Colston and last week without Willie Parker. But my other team, the Isle of Cotea Lobos, finally got off the schneid and improved to 1-3, winning 135-125 (it's a 10-starter league), thanks to Drew (Money) Brees, Adrian Peterson and Edgerrin James combining for a large 91 points.

     Week 4 summary: A combined 1-7 in fantasy and off to a slow start with my NFL picks. I stink. But at least I get points for honesty, right?

September 28, 2008

North Carolina 28, Hurricanes 24 (Final); plus Owls, FIU wins, Gators, Noles and more

Aaa1carolhelmet Aaa1caneshelmet     Butch Davis' North Carolina Tar Heels stunned the Hurricanes this afternoon, 28-24, at Dolphin Stadium in a heartbreaker for UM in its ACC opener. Canes led late but allowed a UNC touchdown pass with 46 seconds to play. Then Miami appeared to hit a dramatic last-second TD pass only to see the ball snatched from the hands of Kayne Farquharson in the end zone.

     Teams brought the same record into the game but Miami falls now to 2-2 after being a touchdown favorite. Bad home loss. One of those "swing games" a team needs to win if it is thinking bowl. I liked Miami today, fairly comfortably. Not sure yet if I underestimated Team Butch or thought too highly of the Hurricanes.

     UM hosts Florida State next week, in another swing game that takes on a greater imperative by today's defeat.

     Comments welcome here on UM's loss, on where it leaves the season as a whole now...

     ...and on the weekend's other notable college action:

     Mississippi 31, Florida 30: Gator Nation is weeping after a missed-extra-point defeat, a huge upset. UF now 3-1, its national-title hopes rocked. Man, I thought the Gators would win this one by around 30, as did most of the denizens of The Swamp, I'm sure. Ole Miss must have been inspired by the school hosting last night's presidential debate. How else to explain? A stunner. At least Canes fans can feel a little better.

     Florida State 39, Colorado 21: Noles 3-1 after a fairly routine win that I thought might be closer. FSU at UM next week looming as a great battle. Haven't seen an early line but guessing it's near pick 'em, maybe Canes by two or three.

     FIU 35, Toledo 16: Holy Toledo! Golden Panthers improve to 1-3 with huge upset road win. Two strong efforts in a row by The Int'l. Almost time to start calling Mario Cristobal's team the Super Mario Brothers!

     No. 13 South Florida 41, North Carolina State 10: I gave NC State a fair shot at a Bull's-eye upset. I think I am grossly underestimating unbeaten USF.

     No. 8 Alabama 41, No. 3 Georgia 30: College game of the day, and taking on even more importance in the wake of No. 1 Southern Cal losing Thursday night. Gotta give ol' Nick Saban credit. The little man can coach some collball.

     UTEP 58, Central Florida 13: Oy! UCF falls to 1-3.

     Middle Tennessee 14, FAU 13: Owls needed this one badly, but blew a 10-0 lead tonight (Tuesday 30th) and lost on a last-second play. Tough. FAU now 1-4.

September 25, 2008

Favorite ex-Canes coach: Howard, Jimmy, Dennis, Butch or Larry (with poll)

     Butch Davis about to swoop into town with North Carolina to face his former Hurricanes here Saturday got me to thinking: Who is our favorite former football coach of the championship era?

     The candidates, chronologically, would be Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Davis and Larry Coker. I'll be interested to see who y'all pick and why. By contrast I guess the poll's loser would be our least favorite ex.

     Make up your own criteria. Personality? Type of teams? Strict wins and losses? Championships? How he left? What he left behind? Your call.

     Have a go at the poll and drop a comment explaining your thinking.

    [Also drop a comment here about The Herald's redesigned website if you'd like].   

September 24, 2008

Marbury, Wildcat, Marlins, Obiden/McPalin and more

     A brand new mid-week slew of miscellania...

Aaa1marbury      Marbury to Heat?: Knicks about to let Stephon Marbury loose, so they say, and Miami seems a logical landing spot for the 31-year-old point guard. I advocate such a happenstance and tell you why in a column that is shipping to Thursday's paper and that you'd fine online now by clicking here. Your comments on the Marbury possibility are invited below.

    Aaa1wildcat  Dolphins' 'Wildcat' formation: Click here to read today's column by me on the creative, single-wing styled offensive set that helped Miami shock the Patriots Sunday. The excitement it created is great, but the Dolphins better learn to defend it, too, because others will be using it. It's great as an occasional change of pace (do you really want to see your QB out there blocking?), but Miami still must prove it can score consistently from its base offense.

     Marlins eliminated, eyeing future: At no point this season did it feel like this was a playoff team. But that's OK. Based on dismal spring expectations and the low-budget payroll, the year has been a good one on balance. Fredi Gonzalez should rake in a few manager of the year votes. The big story is ahead. What the payroll will be. Who'll be leaving. With lots of guys coming into arbitration, even if the payroll doubles they still won't be able to keep everybody. Jeremy Hermida is exit-bound, and thinking Dan Uggla and Josh Willingham might join him.

Aaa1sapp      Dancing Sapps your energy: Caught some of Dancing With the Stars last night, and think Warren Sapp has an outside shot to last awhile. People love a fat guy. He's Ruben Studdard, but with a personality. Ol' Warren needs to get in dancing shape, though. He was somewhre between breathing heavily and wheezing while being interviewed after his perfomance.

     Yanks defuse Rocket: Do you have a problem with the Yankees snubbing Roger Clemens and not inviting him to the Yankee Stadium closing ceremonies? I don't. Le Batard and I argued this on the radio yesterday. Clemens is to the Yankees what Barry Bonds is to the Giants. You bring embarrassment to your franchise, you'll forgive the franchise for not extending the warm embrace.

     There is joy in Motown: That cheering you hear off in the distance? It is coming from Detroit. The Lions just fired president/GM Matt Millen.

     For president: Who do you like? Barack Obiden? Or John McPalin?Aaa1aiken

     Clay comes out: Clay Aiken says he's gay. Gee. There's a surprise! People who are shocked will be holding a national meeting tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

     Ronnie Brown honored: Sunday's five-TD Dolphin is named today as AFC Offensive Player of the Week. It's the biggest shock since Clay Aiken being gay. (LB Joey Porter was nominated for Defensive POW but lost out to Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie. Miami also nominated all five of its starting offensive linemen, which has to be a POW first).

     Online changes: The Miami Herald is about to unveil a website re-design (probably sometime Thursday) that will include a different displaying of the blogs. It may not be quite as easy to find us, at least initially, but we'll try to make your effort worthwhile.

     Check back. Might be adding more crap to this post later.

September 23, 2008

Week 3 results: Reality? Looking good. Fantasy? Not so much

    Every Tuesday during the NFL season I keep you posted on how I'm faring with my Miami Herald prognosticating, in the paper's Pigskin Challenge contest, and with my two fantasy teams. Even though some weeks it amounts to an exercise in public humiliation. This week, mixed resuts...

Aaa1picks      The Friday Page: Cashed a sparkly 13-3 overall and a solid 9-7 vs. the spread this past weekend. Nailed outright upset calls with Jags over Colts and Bucs over Bears, and had Raiders with the points at Buffs. We're 18-12-1 ATS the past two weeks.

Aaa1pigskin      Pigskin Challenge: That 13-3 (for a 30-17 total) catapulted me up to 66th place overall among some 950 readers playing, and within five of the lead. Am up to second place in the seven-man panel of six writers and last year's reader champ, two games back of Israel Gutierrez and yapping at his heel.

Aaaherald      Dolphin Picks: All of us had Miami losing at Pats (c'mon, like you didn't?), so, among six Herald writers predicting the Dolphin game in each Sunday's paper, I am now tied for third place at 1-2, one game back. (Early pick for this week: Dolphins kick the bye's ass).

Aaa1fantasy_2      Fantasy teams: In two leagues this year, and now 0-3 in both. Oy! The Bad News Fennelz lost 75-56. Not good news when your only double-digit scorers are Roddy White (17) and Anthony Fasano (11). This is the jinxed team that lost Tom Brady to injury. Ryan Grant also been a bust so far. My other team, the Isle of Cotea Lobos, fell 189-156 (it's a 10-starter league), despite 37 points from Drew Brees. Adding insult to embarrassment, one loss was to my oldest son, the other to my youngest son.

     [By the way, Dolphin Joey Porter is among five nominees for NFL Defensive Player of the Week for the way he backed up his words in Sunday's win. It's an Internet vote; go to NFL.com. I took some shots at Joey's outspokenness in my Sunday notes column. He shut me up good. Real good. Ronnie Brown also nominated for offensive award and accepting your votes]. 

September 22, 2008

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.4%

     The number is unheard of and likely never to be topped except maybe after a Super Bowl win. I could run a poll asking if you favored peace on Earth and I doubt the approval would hit 98.4 percent. But that is the Miami Dolphins' favorable rating in our latest "Dolfan Satisfaction Meter" following the stunning 38-13 triumph at New England.

     Three-quarters (74.8%) are very satisfied and another 23.6% are somewhat satisfied for the overall thumbs-up mark of 98.4. Complete results below.

     New to the blog this season, the DSM is a weekly gauge of how fans are buying into the 'New Beginning' and the club's direction. Every Monday after the Dolphins play, I invite fans to share their overall degree of satisfaction with the team. The criteria should be your own, but I suggest fans consider the previous game's result and performance, the season as a whole, the direction you think the club is heading, and your current degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

     The Comment section stays open. However, the poll each week is open exactly 24 hours only -- from 8 a.m. Monday 'til 8 a.m. Tuesday. (Meaning it is now closed). We update the blog post to announce the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter result each Tuesday morning.

     The latest satisfaction reading:

    

     Week 1: 59.0% satisfaction (6.6 very, 52.4 somewhat), following loss vs. Jets.

     Week 2: 5.4% satisfaction (2.1 very, 3.3 somewhat), following loss at Arizona.

     Week 3: 98.4% satisfaction (74.8 very, 23.6 somewhat), following win at New England.

     [Thanks again to all who joined our live online chat this week. We do it every Monday from 1-2 p.m. Click here to join us live Mondays at 1 or to post a question at any time].

September 21, 2008

Dolphins 38, New England 13 (Final); do you believe in miracles?

Aaa1dolphs Aaa1pats    Do you believe in miracles? You do now, Dolfan. It wasn't just that Miami won today at New England. Or that they did it seven days after stinking up the desert in Arizona.

     It was the domination. The thoroughness. Front to back. Take away two or three penalties and a long kick-return allowed and this a perfect performance by Miami, with deadly balance on offense and punishing aggression on defense.

      Ronnie Brown ran for four TDs to tie a franchise record, topped 100 yards, and passed for another score. Chad Pennington razored through the Pats for 17 of 20 passing for 226 yards. Ricky Williams had around 100 yards. The O-line was a steamroller. The defense was all over Matt Cassel, including three sacks and a caused fumble by Joey Porter -- who backed up every word of his pre-game boastfulness. Tony Sparano got his first-career-win ice bath with 1:06 to play. And how about Dan Henning's ingenuity on offense including deploying Pennington at receiver for a few plays!

      Stunning all the way around. The "right direction" was reclaimed. And I, by the way, am officially reclaiming the plausability of my prediction of an 8-8 season for Miami. If Sunday was the start of something and not a daydream, .500 is in play.

     This was Miami's biggest margin of victory in any game since 2002, and biggest on the road since 2000.

     Your comments welcome on today's shocker.

     In-game ramble:

     Chad Henne in for mopup duty and Chad pennington finished 17-for-20 for 226 yards. Cannot get over the thoroughness of this rout. The Patriots have been flat-out spanked by the Dolphins.

     Dan Carpenter 39-yard FG with 6:08 to play. Dolphins 38, Patriots 13. That is not a misprint.

     Roughing penalty against Joey Porter (!) negates an interception by Renaldo Hill. Porter is off the hook today.

     Dolphins with a fumble recovery, Joey Porter (!) jarring the ball loose from Cassel.

     Ronnie Brown 62-yard TD run -- his fourth TD of the game to tie a Miami franchise record. Career day. Brown will be named AFC Offensive Player of the Week and Miami will win the upset of the NFL season.

     Important third-down run by Ronnie Brown keeps the pig in Dolphin hands as the third quarter ends. It is going to happen.

     Pats not done yet. NE within 28-13 after long kickoff return leads to 5-yard Cassel TD flip to Jabar Gaffney. Let third quarter. Pats will need a two-point conversion at some point.

     Ronnie Brown passes to Anthony Fasano for a TD and a huge 28-6 lead, with Chad Pennington again) lined up as a receiver. Brown, with a hand in all four TDs. I'm speechless. Dolphins are going to win this bleepin' game.

     Patriots booed into halftime, down 21-6, after a second Joey Porter sack. Stunning. The shock of the NFL season so far. Can the Dolphins hold on?

     Ronnie Brown 6 yards up the middle for his third TD. Wow. Unbelievable. And Pennington linedup at WR again. Patriots crowd must be beyond stunned. Sort of like Dolfans. And me.

     Dolphins threatening again. QB Chad Penmnington just lined up at receiver, with Ronnie Brown taking the snap and handing to Ricky Williams for a big gain. Has Dan Henning been into the mushrooms? Loving it!

     Pats add a 44-yard FG on a drive kept alive when Renaldo let a shoulda-been interception slip through his hands abnd into Wes Welker's. It bears noting that both NE field goals resulted largely from Miami defensive mistakes so far.

     Ronnie Brown with a bursting, punishing, stand-up 15-yard TD run! Another huge offensive series. Chad Pennington sharp as a Gillette razor, with a 33-yarder top Greg Camarillo and 21 toi David Martin. Dolfans all over So Fla saying, "Am I dreaming!?" Can it continue?

     Pats settle for 37-yard FG as Miami limits the cost of that Bell penalty. You can sense the Patriots crowd, simmering, restless, close to booing. Much pressure today on Cassel.

     First quarter ends with NE about to punt but getting new life on an illegal contact penalty by Yeremiah Bell. Miami needs to be mistake free. Terrific quarter, though. Anybody dreaming win yet? Too soon?

     Ronnie Brown 2-yard TD run caps very impressive scoring drive that included two big passes to TE Anthony Fasano and one to Whatever Happened to Ted Ginn. DOLPHINS GONNA SHOCK DA WORLD!!! Well, they're shocking the first quarter, anyway!

     Randy Starks intercepts Matt Cassel to thwart a Patriots scoring threat. Earlier sacks by Joey Porter and by Phillip Merling, the latter an in-the-grasp-ruling that benefitted Miami. Statement series for the loqacious Porter. Strong start for Dolphins.

     Game on!

     Just flew back from College Station (actually Houston). If the Dolphins do as well as their kid-brethren the Canes this weekend, So Fla will be an ebullient place. I'll be watching on the idiot tube from home like most of you, a different perspective for me. Looking forward to it.

     Come along for the ride if you'd like.

     Original post:

     Dolphins (0-2) try again today in one of the tougher venues in the NFL even when it isn't snowing: Gillette Stadium. Because the Patriots play there. People were way too quick to write off NE when Tom Brady went out. If sub Matt Cassel proves merely adequate, a game-managing caretaker, the Pats are still a playoff team with an outside shot at the AFC title.

     Going old-school with the Pats logo here, by the way. That guy snapping the ball looks rather fey with those ruffled cuffs on the shirt. Also: Nice hat!

     Joey Porter's silly bragadoccio aside, I don't give Miami much of a chance today. (Which isn't the same as wishing them ill, you would please note). The Dolphins have too many unresolved issues all over the field to pick them against a good team on the road.

     Then again, every couple of decades, I am wrong. How do you see the game going?

     Comments welcomed here before, during and of course after the game.

     (My plan is to live-blog during the game, presuming I make it back home in time from Texas A&M).

September 20, 2008

Hurricanes 41, Texas A&M 23 (Final); plus FIU, FAU, Gators, 'Noles & more

Aaa1canes  Aaa1aandm                       UM routs Texas A&M, 41-23 in College Station, shutting up "The 12th Man" and improving to 2-1. Big day for Robert Marve: 16-for-22 for 212 yards and two touchdowns. Two words for the Canes' day overall: Very impressive.

     You'd click on Marvelous to read my column off the game. This is about as positive as I can possibly get, Canes fans, so if this one doesn't satisfy y'all, nothing will.

     Your thoughts welcome.

     In-game live blog:

     UM about to score again but thwarted by a Marve interception at the goalline. A rare blemish for Marve.

     Aggies punch in a short TD pass to pull within 41-23 with 9:32 to play, after two-point conversion fails. Too little too late? Still looks like it. But A&M has given itself a fighting chance, at least.

     The Longest Third Quarter in the History of Football has ended. I began the second half clean-shaven. I now look like I'm in ZZ Top.

     Aggies finally on the board again with an 18-yard scoring toss. Canes now up by "only" 41-17, late third. Crowd briefly acted like A&M was back in the game. Isn't that cute!

     LB Glenn Cook scores off fumble recovery for UM: 41-10. Has an A&M crowd ever been this quiet?

     Eric Moncur interception for UM, Miami's first defensive takeaway of season. Sets up Canes at A&M 15. (Pick upheld after review).  Moncur's gem leads directly to Marve's 15-yard scoring pass to Hurri-Kayne Farquharson: 34-10.

     Marve another big third-down pass, this one 36 yards to Dedrick Epps. Then 25 yards to Collier. An enormously impressive showing so far by the young QB. Marvelous! (Sorry). Canes add a FG: 27-10.

     Dear Aggies fans making a human blizzard by waving your white towels: You didn't invent that. Dolfans were doing it in the '70s. I think it may have been at the encouragement of Rick Weaver. (Anybody still remember Rick Weaver?) 

     Second half on. Marve still in. That's a good thing.

     In the pressbox here scouting today: Randy Mueller, former Dolphins GM, now a senior executive with the Chargers. Maybe he's looking for the next Ted Ginn Jr! (SD one of nine NFL teams repped at the game; Dolphs not among them).

     Hundreds of military people are marching on to the field: Texas A&M's ROTC band. Hundreds more in the stands in uniform. Looks like we're ready to invade. That, or a John McCain ad.

     Halftime. Canes in control. You get no sense they will lose this game. Nice balance on offense. Marve looks sharp. Impressive kid. His halftime stats: 11-for-13, 128 yards, one TD. Also showing some evasiveness in scramble mode.

     Marve back in. Throws 26-yard TD pass to true freshman Thearon Collier in the end zone. There was not a defender with a zip code of Collier. Canes 24-10, 28 seconds before halftime.

     Harris still in at QB for Miami. Marve seems fine, so put it off to Randy Shannon's wont to use both guys. UM punting with around 2 minutes left in half.

     Aggies miss a 47-yard FG try, after a possible points-saving sack by DE Eric Moncur, who was said to be doubtful with a leg injury (actually ankle) but obviously is playing.   

     Marve tossing on the sideline. Seems fine and ready to return.    

     Miami moves ball 88 yards but settles for 20-yard FG and 17-10 advantage, mid-2Q. Harris had hit a big 13-yard third-down completion that had Canes knockin' on the do', first and goal from 7. Be interesting to see if Marve is back in on next possession by The U.

     Marve big third-down completion but he's hurt on the play. Up onm his own and trotting off the field. Seems OK. Jacory Harris in at QB, at least temporarily.

     Derron Thomas just ripped a 34-yard gain for UM. The Texas A&M defensive coordinator has a shovel and is now digging himself a large hole on the sideline.

     Marve 5-for-6 in 1Q, Cooper 3 carries for 77 yards.

     Scoreboard doesn't reflect it (yet), but Canes are kicking some Aggie a-- here. This game feels like it could break open for The U.

     Robert Marve 66-yard third-down TD pass to Thearon Collier nullified by illegal motion against WR Leonard Hankerson. Punt results. Hurtful penalty, but still say it: A&M D cannot stop Miami.

     Aggies add a 38-yard FG, pull within 14-10 late 1Q. Liking Canes right now. A&M defense doesn't look as if it can stop Miami.

     Canes up 14-7 after Graig Cooper's 51-yard TD run! A&M run defense as bad as advertised.

     Canes roar back fast, tie it 7-7 on a four-play, 59-yard TD drive capped by Graig Cooper's 19-yard scoring run. Robert Marve's 29-yard pass to Kayne Farquharson began the drive -- a welcome sign of an offense that may be more vertical and daring today than we saw in Gainesville. (Hope you bettors out there have the over).

     Texas A&M pops UM defense for a 62-yard catch and run for a TD by tailback Mike Goodson. Was on the first play from scrimmage after a penalty. Nightmare start.

     Game on!

     Crowd just did that back-and-forth thing during the pregame "Aggie War Hymn," one of its traditions. First time I have ever been in a press box that was literally swaying. Oy! Miami wins toss, defers to second half. 

     Live blog! (Fergie: "I'm Blogalicious.") Reporting to you from Kyle Field, "Home of the 12th Man," where the Canes are narrowly favored to whup Texas A&M.

     Flew into Houston this morning, and saw lots of Hurricane Ike damage as I barreled north in my rental car to my hotel in Brenham. "Hotel" may be a flattery. It's a Fleabag Inn. Not sure if that's a chain. Then drove from Brenham ("Home of Blue Bell Ice Cream") farther north into College Station. Looking forward to the drive back to Brenham late tonight (Borat: "Not!")

     So. The U gonna win today or what? I think so. But I'm also not sure if UM has done enough or shown enough to be favored on the road over a similar-caliber opponent in a tough venue. We'll see.

     Original post:

     This, to me, is the most telling and in some ways interesting game of the season so far for the Canes. Be honest. You knew they'd clobber Charleston Southern. And you knew (admit it) they'd lose in Gainesville. It is this Saturday's date at Texas A&M (3:30 p.m. Eastern) that is the first "swing game" offering a strong indication how good UM might be in 2008.

     If you're realistically thinking small bowl, you need to win a game like this. Both teams are 1-1 but A&M is a four-point 'dog. It tells you the Aggies are down. Yet that vaunted "12th Man" crowd presents another big challenge for Robert Marve and the Baby Canes. Miami should win, But will they? A&M struggles on run defense but I still hope Marve is unshackled here more than he was in The Swamp.

     Thoughts welcome here before, during and after today's UM game or others.

     Other notable state-college games today:

     Minnesota 37, FAU 3: Minny only was favored by 7 today and I thought Owls had a big upset shot. Oops! The Atlantic fell hard to 1-3 instead. Much more of this and Howard might pick up the pipe again.

     Boston College 34, Central Florida 7: Liked BC pretty handily. With reason, apparently. Whoever gave Central Florida its one Top 25 poll vote should have his cranium examined.

     No. 4 Florida 30, Tennessee 6: Saw Florida winning close, but The Gator swamped the host Vols in a very pollster-pleasing day for the now 3-0 Gainesvillains. Rocky Topped!

     No. 12 South Florida 17, FIU 9: Golden Panthers christened their new stadium in fair style. I thought they'd get blown out by 40. Instead USF wins modestly in dropping FIU to 0-3. A very stout showing by The Int'l. For the Bulls? Not a result the polls will like much. (Best wishes and prayers for USF linebacker Brouce Mompremier from Edison High, airlifted from the stadium with what was feared to be a spinal injury).

     No. 18 Wake Forest 12, Florida State 3: Liked the Noles, but mainly because I still haven't gotten used to Wake being anything but lousy. Instead, FSU falls to 2-1. Well, Bobby, this is what happens when you play a real opponent.

September 17, 2008

Too soon to call Ted Ginn Jr. a draft bust? (with poll); Dolphins dissed by ESPN

Aaa1ginn     [Bulletin: 'Dolphins dissed by ESPN' means ESPN.com ranks the franchises first-to-last since the 1970 merger (click here) and Miami ranks only fourth -- behind Dallas, Pittsburgh and San Fran -- even though Dolphins' winning percentage of .608 since '70 beats everybody. Personally I think fourth is fair. I say dissed on behalf of Don Shula and the '72 Perfectos, who have a new excuse to sound the Disrespect Gong].

     The diminishing role of Ted Ginn is, to me, one of the more interesting subplots to this young Dolphins season. Is he disappearing?

     He had a modest rookie season last year for a No. 9 overall draft pick, with 34 catches for 420 yards and two TDs, with a 22.7-yard kick return average, and with a 9.6-yard punt return average including an 87-yard score. There were glimpses of promise.

     Then this preseason he seemed poised for a breakout year. As recently as Aug. 24's paper, a colleague wrote glowingly beneath the headline, 'Dolphins' Ginn begins to turn the corner.'

     So what happened?

     Through two games he has a negligible three catches for 26 yards, and isn't always even deployed in the three-wideout set anymore. He has three punt returns for 13 yards and has seemed timid back there. He has lost his kick-return job to rookie undrafted free agent Davone Bess. Ginn almost seems like a guy you wouldn't be surprised to see cut outright, if he weren't protected by the salary-cap hit Miami would take by doing so.

     So what's the verdict, Dolfans? Is Ginn a bust? Is the new regime guilty of underutilizing him? Is it too soon to say? Vote in our poll and drop a comment letting us know: What do you think of Ted Ginn Jr.?