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14 posts from March 2010

March 31, 2010

Helping Dolphins make sense of difficult draft decision (with poll)

DOLPHIN DILEMMA: TRADE UP? TRADE DOWN? STAY PUT? PICK WHO?: I get the feeling No. 12 is sort of an odd place to be in the NFL draft for Miami this year, based on needs and availability. WR Dez Bryant and NT Dan Williams seem to have issues or baggage that scares the team. LB Rolando McClain would seem like a luxury pick considering they signed free agent Karlos Dansby. And S Earl Thomas might be a reach taken that high. It leaves you with the feeling Miami should try to trade up -- maybe with an eye on S Eric Berry? -- but that the conservative Dolphins likelier might trade down. Weird year and a close-mouthed team makes the guessing even more treacherous than usual. So does the fact a handful of Dolphin position coaches could argue they need the help most. Help Big Tuna decide where he should go in a draft barely three weeks away.

[Poll comment: I rarely disagree this much with results, but the Dolphins are not a team that can afford to take the best-available-athlete. Too many specific needs. You don't take a running back or a tackle just because he has the highest marks of anybody left; you take the best-rated player filling a "need" position].

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 29, 2010

How exciting is this Final Four? (with poll); plus Dorell Wright's latest apology (with incriminating photo)

1aabutler 1aabutler2 1aabutler3 1aabutler4 THE FINAL FOUR: YOU LIKE?: Granted, I might be a professional curmudgeon. Might be too hard to please. Might be obsessing on the Kentucky-Kansas final I was savoring. But this doesn't strike me as a scintillating Final Four based on the matchups and teams involved. You cannot claim a true Cinderella when the worst of the seeds is No. 5 (even though most would assign Butler that role). And, to me, the only top seed to advance, Duke, might have been the weakest of the 1's. Could turn out to be a great Final Four as it plays out. But, on paper, it feels somewhat disappointing. Then again, I could be wrong. Tell me. Take a dip in our poll. Try to vote not based on how your bracket fared or how your team did, but based on how excited you are about this Final Four.

1aadorell DORELL WRIGHT CAUGHT WITH PANTS DOWN:

Young Heat player Dorell Wright, just off a brief suspension following a DUI bust, is apologizing again -- this time because a photo of Wright  brandishing his private parts (pictured) has appeared on the Internet. Tell you what, sports fans. Just assume your local players are doing something stupid unless you hear otherwise.

DOLPHINS BEAT HEAT, PANTHERS IN DOUGH: The TV show Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsay ("Yes?") visited a Boca Raton restaurant and Dolphins Nate Jones, Lousaka Polite and John Denney won a pizza-making contest over the Heat's James Jones and the Panthers' (radio announcers) Randy Moller and Bill Lindsay. Click here for video. My favorite part: Moller saying, "We wanted to make [the pizza] a success, just like the Panthers." Hmm. That might have been a pizza topped with shards of glass or motor oil, considering how long it's been since the Panthers last made the playoffs.

 

NCAA ELITE EIGHT SUNDAY: CBS GETS ITS WISH: Be assured CBS-TV is rooting for Final Four regulars Duke and Michigan State to win today and give the Final Four some familiarity and heft, and the likelihood of better ratings. Saturday provided Cinderella-ish Butler and outsider West Virginia, so Tennessee and Bayor winning today would hardly form a dream-like Final Four. Well, CBS got its wish. In the early game No. 5 Michigan State did its job, edging No.6 seed Tennessee, 70-69. Then 1-Duke eliminated 3-Baylor, 78-71. (And what were the odds that Duke, seen by many as the weakest of the top seeds, would be the last No. 1 standing?)

NCAA ELITE EIGHT SATURDAY: WHO LET THE 'DOGS IN!?: Today's early game, No. 5 Butler vs. No. 2 Kansas State, meant nothing to me; neither was alive on my bracket. But that 63-56 upset win means everything to Butler, which now will enjoy home-court advantage in next week's Final Four in Indianapolis. Seemed there was a lot of feeling for a Butler upset, and it proved correct. I liked the K-Staters led by former Miami High coach Frank Martin, but was wrong. Saturday's late game was 2-West Virginia vs. 1-Kentucky -- and another stunner. Mountaineers, 73-66, for WVU's first Final Four spot since 1959. I thought nobody left alive was better than Kentucky. What the hell do I know, apparently. Tournament totals entering Sunday's games: 21 upsets in 58 games, or 36.2 percent. Also, regret to inform I have dropped to third in the Miami Herald bracket challenge, now seven points behind leader Manny Navarro.

1aafrankm ON FRANK MARTIN: Speaking of Kansas State's coach, were we filled with pride, South Florida? Or would we just as soon have not be reminded he is one of us? Many but likely not all know Martin is Miami-born and raised, of Cuban-immigrant parents, and an FIU graduate. Mostly he is remembered for coaching Miami High to three straight state championships in 1996-98 -- and also for being fired after the latter title was vacated over a recruiting-violations scandal that included several prominent players including current Heat yeoman Udonis Haslem. The FHSAA commissioner at the time called it "one of the most, if not the most, blatant violation of rules that I have ever encountered." More than a decade later, Martin is an immensely successful (and volatile) major-college coach whose season ended one win from the Final Four. But his Miami legacy remains decidedly mixed, and ultimately tinged in the kind of controversy that later, bigger successes never quite erase.

THE LIST: ELITE EIGHT: The eight teams trying to get into the 2010 Final Four have a combined 41 previous FF appearances, although the two schools with the most -- UCLA and North Crolina with 18 each -- are nowhere to be found. Final Four appearances of this years' Elite Eight entering weekend play:

14   Duke

13   Kentucky

7   Michigan State

4   Kansas State

2   Baylor

1   West Virginia

0   Butler, Tennessee

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 26, 2010

Elite Eight set but for me only four survive; plus Dolphins not sexy enough for HBO, Kendall Berry, Jason Taylor, UM's treatment of Shannon & more

1aaberryk [Thoughts going out the FIU community over the death of football player Kendall Berry (pictured) in a campus stabbing Thursday night following an argument. Coach Mario Cristobal suspended spring practice indefinitely, the right decision].

[Our Dolphins-and-Canes-in-NFL-top-100 poll still accepting votes in the post just below this one. Also, look for the March Madness Haiku Challenge post and enter if you haven't already. Deadline Sunday night!]

NCAA SWEET 16 FRIDAY: VOLS WIN, DUKE ADVANCES: Sorry, St. Mary's. You too, Northern Iowa. Charming stories. Heartwarming. Neat. (Anybody still say neat?) Last night: 6-Tennessee upset 2-Ohio State, 76-73, for Vols' first-ever Elite Eight appearance. 3-Baylor routed 10-St. Mary's 72-49, with the latter's losing performance so bad that St. Mary's was stripped of its sainthood immediately following the game and is now just Mary's. 5-Michigan State bounced 9-Northern Iowa, 59-52. And 1-Duke beat 4-Purdue, 70-57, for the B-Devils' first round-of-eight showing since 2004. March Madness totals entering Elite Eight: 19 upsets in 56 games, or 33.9 percent. Miami Herald challenge, updated: I hang onto first place with 56 points, still one ahead of Manny Navarro.

NCAA SWEET 16 THURSDAY: 'CUSE FALLS, K-STATE WINS EPIC: Four tickets to the Elite Eight got punched Thursday night, with two thrillers among them: No. 5 seed Butler shocking No. 1 Syracuse, 63-59, and 2-Kansas State surviving 6-Xavier, 101-96 in double-overtime. Thursday's ho-hum games were 2-West Virginia winning 69-56 over 11-Washington, and 1-Kentucky dispatching 12-Cornell, 62-45. (Hope you didn't cut your toes on that shattered glass slipper, Cornell). Kentucky to me looks like the favorite right now; look like men among boys with that size and those long arms. My beleaguered bracket wanted all four favorites last night and managed three. March Madness totals through Thursday night: 18 upsets (based on seedings) in 52 games, or 34.6 percent. Miami Herald challenge, updated: I still lead out quartet with 48, but by a scant one point over Manny Navarro.

DOLPHINS TOO DULL, NOT SEXY ENOUGH FOR HBO?: HBO's Hard Knocks training-camp reality show will focus this year on the stinkin' New York Jets, of the never-shuts-up bullhorn coach Rex Ryan and prettyboy celubu-passer Mark Sanchez. Last year it was the Bengals and heavy doses of Chad Ochocinco. The year before that it was Ray Lewis and the Ravens. Sense a pattern here? HBO wants stars, big personalities. Miami has nobody who qualifies from a national perspective. Check that. Miami has Bill Parcells. But he's a recluse and wants no part of such things. The Dolphins mindset is they'd probably say no, anyway, but why would HBO ask? After all these years, backup running back Ricky Williams remains the Dolphins' most compelling, interesting player in terms of the kind of personality Hard Knocks likes to package. That's just one more reason the Dolphins could use a guy like Brandon Marshall. For the 100 catches first, make no mistake. But also for the national sizzle.

1aajt 1aajt2 ON TREATMENT OF JASON TAYLOR, RANDY SHANNON: Valid column in the Sun-Sentinel today suggesting UM is lowballing Randy Shannon on money, which is causing the delay in his extension. Based on what is out there and known, I would agree. My own paper had a piece on the Dolphins seeming to be cold-shouldering Jason Taylor. Let's wait and see. Those stories are very fluid. Miami's hesitation in re-signing JT is understandable based solely on his age, and the club being in no hurry is closer to prudent than puzzling at this point.

1aadraftpot MORE SNACKS, PLEASE. DRAFTEES HAVE MUNCHIES: NFL executives tell SI.com (click here) that roughly one-third of the players likely to go in the first-round of the 2010 draft have marijuana histories. "One-third. That's all?" said NBA players in a joint statement. (Pictured right, unnamed NFL player prepares for NFL Draft).

DOLPHINS PART-OWNER TAKES A STAND: YOU GO, GLORIA!: Bravo to Gloria Estefan for spearheading a Miami march this evening in support of Cuba's Las Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), the wives and mothers of imprisoned Cuban dissidents who have bravely marched there in opposition to the Castro(s) regime. This is a conscientious, big-hearted gesture, a moral stand. It is an example of the best use of celebrity.

1aameyeru URBAN, URBAN, URBAN...: Ridiculous, Gators coach Urban Meyer publicly berating an Orlando reporter for (accurately) quoting a player's extremely mild, benign criticism of departed Tim Tebow. First, the quote Meyer didn't like gets 10 times the attention it otherwise would have. Second, didn't Meyer take his not really a leave of absence because the stress was getting to him? Quit micro-managing, Urb. Chill. (Meyer is pictured at right in mid-scold, enjoying that newfound perspective that came from spending all that time with family while he was not really away from the team). Click here for the story and confrontation video.

THE LIST: FINAL FOUR HOSTS: The NCAA spreads its men's basketball Final Fours around much more liberally then does the NFL with Super Bowls. Twenty-one states have hosted at least one Final Four since the first in 1939. States to have hosted the most:

Missouri   13

Kentucky   7

New York   7

Indiana   6 (counting 2010)

Texas   5

Washington   5

Note: The only Final Four held in Florida was at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in 1999.

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 24, 2010

Which Dolphins, Canes should be among NFL's all-time top 100 players? (with poll); vote now!

THE "OTHER" SWEET 16: Sixteen Dolphins (nine) and Hurricanes (seven) are among 261 finalists being considered for a list of the NFL's all-time 100 top players. I know because I am on the voting panel for this major NFL Films project, and I am staring at the ballot. It includes every member of the Hall of Fame, plus a select list of 32 mostly current or recent players seen as Hall-worthy.

I've been asked to rate all 261 players on a 1-through-10 scale for the project that will begin airing this fall. Your task is simpler. Tell me -- and each other -- which three Dolphins and which three Hurricanes most deserve to make the final all-time top 100. Vote for as many as three; in other words, if you think only one or two are worthy, then vote for only one or two. (Anybody who should be on either list but isn't?)

I'll give you my ballot at the bottom of the two polls.

Here is the Dolphins poll (vote for up to three):

[Note: Excluded above are two top-100 nominees who very briefly played for the Dolphins: Cris Carter and Thurman Thomas].

And here is the Hurricanes poll (vote for up to three):

My ballot:

DOLPHINS: Marino is a no-brainer. I also vote Csonka and Little but found narrowing it to three very difficult. Also strongly considered Stephenson, Taylor and Warfield,  

HURRICANES: Also tough settling on only three. I pick Hendricks, Irvin and Lewis, but think an argument could be made for all of them.

Twitter.com/gregcote

March Madness Haiku Challenge: Deadline near. Enter now!

It's LIVE CHAT WEDNESDAY! Doing it from 1-2 p.m. today in the Q&A Forum. Click on Chatter to join us then or to post questions early].

1aahaiku 1aahaiku2 MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE DEADLINE NEARING!:

The NCAA Tournament has reached its Sweet 16, brackets are plundered or surviving, our blog's fifth annual "March Madness Haiku Challenge" is getting close to its end. We celebrate the natural marriage of fanatical American men's college basketball and mystical Japanese short-form poetry. Just imagine the two men pictured here are unlikely brothers who share each other's interests only for three magical weeks per year.

Two simple rules:

1. Haikus must be about the NCAA Tournament or college basketball and must be in haiku form, meaning precisely 17 syllables. We do NOT require 5-7-5 metrical phrasing, and rhyme-or-no-rhyme is your choice, but only entries of 17 syllables will be considered.

2. Enter as many times as you like in the Comments section, but only ONE entry per comment, please! Haikus must be entered as a comment in this blogpost to be considered. (Deadline will be this coming weekend, so submit soon). In the case of similar haikus, favored status will be given to the first posted.

There will be a prize to be announced for the best, most original or inventive haiku. Not sure what yet. Last year it was a 264-page Official Men's Final Four Records Book.

Tip: Haikus specific to this year and this tournament preferred. Bonus tip: "Krzyzewski" is three syllables.

To give you some idea what this is all about, here were winning entries from the past four years:

2009 Champion r.duke with: "Basketball baby! / Vitale gets priapism / this time every year."

2008 Champion Tococane with: "The Padawan Haith / Will Do Battle With Darth Barnes / The Force Will Prevail."

2007 Co-champions. Bruce with: "Slighted Syracuse / Sadness Surrounds Snow City / Orange Turned to blue." And David Tucker with: "The Five Gator Boys / Only Forty Minutes Left / History Awaits."

2006 Inaugural champion Kurt from Boca with: "Stay Home and Watch Games / Or Check Scores from the Office / Forget Champ by June."

[Note: Controvery arose last year when the Haiku Selection Committee affirmed the winning entry as 17 syllables with an interpretation that "every," read phonetically as "ev-ry," was acceptable as two syllables].

OK, wiseguys and wisegals. Don't like those? Think it's easy? Accept a challenge. Do better. Enter now and await your mystery prize!

March 23, 2010

Sparano kills chance of Brandon Marshall trade; plus Ronnie Brown's arrest (with poll), Erin Andrews dancing, Tiger's latest mea culpa & more

[MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE ending soon! Get entries in now in appropriate post] 

BRANDON MARSHALL DREAM DIES FOR REAL: Today at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Tony Sparano said nah-no-thanks to the possibility of a trade for on-the-block Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall. More understandably, he also said nah to aging free agent Terrell Owens. Marshall for the overall No. 12 pick, straight up? I'd do it in a heartbeat. Sparano instead indicated satisfaction with his current group of receivers. OY!

RONNIE BROWN THE LATEST ATHLETE WHO DOESN'T GET IT: I like Ronnie Brown, think he's a good guy, and do not think he stops being a good guy because his previously clean record is now blemished by a DUI arrest. But Brown's arrest is indicative of a troubling pattern in which pro athletes seem to take for granted what a privilege it is to be doing what they do for a living. They are paid millions to A) perform on the field and B) be responsible citizens who do not embarrass their club. It is the latter that they seem to fall short of so often. Click on Crumbling Pedestal for my latest column.

1aaerin1 1aaerin2 ERIN ANDREWS WIGGLES HIPS: ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews wows crowd on TV's "Dancing With the Stars." Shown here: Photographic evidence that Erin looks pretty good even when not seen nude through a hotel peephole.

TIGER'S LATEST APOLOGY: Speaking of nude women, Tiger's latest mea culpa was a brief 5-minute quickie interview with ESPN. Click here for the video. Not much new or different than in his earlier, lengthy statement. I'm sure this was calculated to maybe lessen the circus atmosphere of his Masters return. Won't work. I predict Tiger at some point will announce that at Augusta he will answer only golf-related questions. That won't work, either.

DONALD THOMAS POCKETS EXTRA 316K: Announced by the NFL today (Tuesday), Miami guard Donald Thomas is the only Dolphin in the top 25 (at No. 7) in the performance-based pay bonus program for the 2009 season, with an added $316,577. The program was established in 2002 to reward players whose playing time most exceeds the relative size of their salary.

DOLPHS PICK UP EXTRA DRAFT PICK: Today in the 5 o'clock hour the NFL awarded the Dolphins one of dozens of compensatory draft picks. Miami's will be the 45th choice in the seventh and last round, or the 252nd pick overall. Make the most of it, Tuna! 

THE LIST: FLORIDA DERBY: I enjoy lists, and starting today will present one in each new blogpost (until I forget to). Today, the 17 Florida Derby winners who have gone on to win a total of 27 Triple Crown races:

1955   Nashua   (Preakness, Belmont)

1956   Needles   (Kentucky Derby)

1958   Tim Tam   (Ky, Pr)

1960   Bally Ache   (Pr)

1961   Carry Back   (Ky, Pr)

1963   Candy Spots   (Pr)

1964   Northern Dancer   (Ky, Pr)

1968   Forward Pass   (Ky, Pr)

1979   Spectacular Bid   (Ky, Pr)

1984   Swale   (Ky, Bel)

1986   Snow Chief   (Pr)

1990   Unbridled   (Ky)

1995   Thunder Gulch   (Ky, Bel)

2001   Monarchos   (Ky)

2003   Empire Maker   (Bel)

2006   Barbaro   (Ky)

2008   Big Brown   (Ky, Pr)

[By the way, the sadness of my ravaged NCAA Tournament bracket may be experienced in the blogpost immediately below this].

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 21, 2010

NCAA bracket update: Sweet 16 is my Not-So-Great 8; plus Florida Derby, Pierre-Paul to Dolphins?, Tony Sparano joins UFL, Joslyn James & more

[Enter our MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE in appropriate post. Only haikus submitted in that blogpost will be considered for the grand prize. Deadline fast approaching. Don't delay!]

1aababy NCAA TOURNEY: MY BRACKET AFTER SECOND ROUND: Ouch. After going 14-2 on Friday, yesterday was a crusher for me. I advanced only three teams Saturday (Kentucky, Baylor, K-State) as second-round play began, on a day that took a wrecking ball to my bracket. Northern Iowa!? Seriously!? Holy Ali Farokhmanesh! Kansas was my pick for national champion, so I'm done. Sunday was a bit better for me, with five more teams going through to the Sweet 16. My surviving eight teams are Michigan State, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas State, Kentucky, West Virginia, Duke and Baylor. (Pictured: Me as an infant, crying in anticipation of Kansas losing to Northern Iowa). The good news? I still lead The Herald's "March Mania Bracket Challenge," 40 points to 37 over second place Michelle Kaufman.

NCAA TOURNEY BY THE NUMBERS THROUGH SECOND ROUND: Three of eight Saturday second-round games were upsets (based on seedings), including the stunner of March Madness so far with 9-Northern Iowa bouncing overall 1-Kansas. on Sunday, three more of eight games were upsets, including 12-Cornell over 4-Wisconsin. That makes it 17 upsets in 48 games, or 35,4 percent, through the second round.

FLORIDA DERBY'S GAMBLE: Gulfstream might not like this column by me off yesterday's Florida Derby, a photo-finish win by 20-1 lonsghot Ice Box. It was a great finish to what was in many ways a great race. The trouble is, Gulfstream diminished its field by moving its race to one week earlier to avoid conflict with races elsewhere. It caused an increase in betting handle, one of the goals I'm sure. But it was hurtful in other ways. The later date is advantageous to many horse owners and trainers as a prep race for the Triple Crown season. It was why Eskendereya -- arguably the Kentucky Derby favorite and a Triple Crown candidate -- withdrew from the Florida Derby. The date change also caused yesterday's race to not to be on national TV. Finally, in its massive redesign to include a casino and a sprawling shops/restaurants area, Gulfstream seems to have neglected its horse-racing fans. There is not nearly enough grandstand seating, and bettors were complaining about not being able to get wagers in because of a gross lack of betting windows and automated machines. Great day for Ice Box. Not a great day for Gulfstream or the Florida Derby. 

DSC01428_0053 NCAA TOURNAMENT: MY BRACKET: Day 1 Thursday: Ten of my 16 teams survived, or 62.5 percent. I wasn't braggin'. Hit a pair of significant early upset picks with 11-Washington over Marquette and 11-Old Dominion over Notre Dame. Ended the day tied for first with colleague Michelle Kaufman (10 points each) in The Miami Herald's March Mania Bracket Challenge. But Georgetown and Vandy losing were bracket-killers for me because I had each winning multiple games. Day 2 Friday: Things looked up for my bracket. Big-time. Now I'm braggin'. Yes, baby, because 14 of my 16 teams won, or 87.5 percent. Included were two upset-pick bull's-eyes with 12-Cornell over Temple and 10-Missouri beating Clemson. Through first round: I have 24 of my 32 teams still alive, or 75 percent. I'm totally out of only two of 16 games this weekend. Plus I have taken over first place with a three-point lead over Michelle (24-21) in The Herald's Bracket Challenge. Feeling pretty good I must say. That's me here, toasting my own good fortune.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: BY THE NUMBERS THROUGH FIRST ROUND: On Day 1 of first-round action Thursday, half of the games -- 8 of 16 -- were upsets, based on seedings, although that includes a pair of 9-over-8's. Biggest stunners were by 14-Ohio over Georgetown and 13-Murray State over Vanderbilt. (Thought Wake Forest's tough win over Texas further validated my column about how the Miami Hurricanes got screwed not even making the NIT). Things calmed down on Day 2 Friday as the first round was completed, with only 3 upsets of 16 games. Biggest was 12-Cornell beating Temple. For the total first round it's 11 upsets in 32 games, or 34.4 percent.

WOFFORD AND ME: Last week in a column about how ludicrous a proposed 96-team NCAA Tournament was, I poked gen1aawoffordtle fun at the Wofford Terriers as an example of how even 64 teams is bloated because so many smaller conference schools with no chance of winning it all are included. Well, Wofford coach Mike Young went on National Public Radio/Boston and called me a clown. In turn 790 The Ticket had both Young and I on the other day, hoping for fireworks, but we made up, with him lying that he'd followed and admired my writing for years and me lying that he was one of America's great coaches. Now I have officially adopted Wofford as my team, even though I had to root for Wisconsin Friday on account of my bracket. "Go Terriers! Make it close!" [Update: They did, losing 53-49 No. 4 regional seed Wisconsin].

DOLPHINS TO DRAFT PIERRE-PAUL?: A recent "intersite" mock draft involving a couple of dozen major Internet draft sites (click here) had the Dolphins at No. 12 selecting South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul. More interesting, to me, the mock had two other guys associated with possible Miami interest, Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant and Tennessee DT Dan Williams, falling to 22nd and 26th, respectively. Still Bryant is the right pick, unless Dolphs go get a quality veteran receiver in the meantime. [Update: For what it's worth, latest AOL.com/FanHouse mock has Pierre-Paul going 10th to Jaguars, Bryant 11th to Broncos and Williams 12th to Miami). 

1aajunior TONY SPARANO NOW COACHING IN UFL: Tony Sparano has joined the Hartford Colonials of the fledgling UFL as assistant defensive line coach. Luckily for the Dolphins, it's the Miami head coach's 23-year-old son, Tony Jr. (pictured).

1aachad CHAD OCHODANCO: Chad Ochocinco and his Dancing With the Stars partner, pic courtesy of Chad's Twitter site. He so shy. Hates attention.

KORNHEISER DOES IT AGAIN: Just off ESPN suspension for criticizing colleague Hannah Storm on the air, Tony Kornheiser under fire again for urging drivers to intentionally run bicyclists off the road. Lance Armstrong on Twitter called Tony the K a "complete f-ing idiot." Korny has apologized. I do not advocate running bicyclists off the road, but do share Tony's bemused disdain for the subset of cyclists who ride in full gear as if competing in the Tour de France. C'mon, dorks. Who you trying to impress?

1aajoslynjames JOSLYN JAMES' CLAIMS: Porn star Joslyn James on her website publishes a bunch of text messages she claims are from former paramour Tiger Woods. Because that cannot be proven I won't lower myself to re-publishing the sometimes-nasty texts here. However, I will lower myself to publish a salacious photo of Joslyn James! 

"NBA" IN SPANISH: The Heat's Carlos Arroyo teaches teammate Daequan Cook how to speak Spanish, sort of. Click here.

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day video greeting from me to you; plus Dolphins go Incognito, my NCAA bracket, Mike Lowell/Marlins, Tiger's return, 600-pound woman & more

1aamestpats HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!: It's one of the "national drinking holidays" where amateurs get to imbibe like they're Greg Cote. (The preceding was written entirely in jest and not meant to advocate the consumption of alcohol in any way whatsoever). Speaking of Greg Cote, click right here on Lucky Charms for a personal holiday greeting from him, er, me!

1aaincognito DOLPHINS GO INCOGNITO: Ridiculously named free-agent guard Richie Incognito, 26, signing today, Miami's first FA catch since LB Karlos Dansby. (Quick question: When Incognito arrived at camp, how did they know it was him? Sorry). Incognito (pictured) is a fairly minor signing. Didn't think guard was a real "need" position, and it's only a one-year deal. Clearly, with a reputation for being a dirty player with a childish temper, Incognito must prove himself in a lot of ways. Would not surprise in the least if this kid punked out in camp, failed to make the final roster and left pouting.

MY BRACKET: I am one of five writers competing in The Miami Herald's March Mania Bracket Challenge, along with Joseph (Goody) Goodman, Israel Gutierrez, Michelle Kaufman and Manny Navarro. Click on March Mania and then on the Bracket Challenge logo to access my bracket and the rest. My eight first-round upsets based on seedings are: UTEP (12) over Butler; Cornell (12) over Temple; San Diego State (11) over Tennessee; Minnesota (11) over Xavier; Washington (11) over Marquette; Old Dominion (11) over Notre Dame; Missouri (10) over Clemson; and Northern Iowa (9) over UNLV.

MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CONTEST: It's our blog's annual "boutique" contest, which means not a lot of people might be interested but we do it the hell anyway, almost for spite. So brain-up on those NCAA Tournament-related haikus, everybody. Watch for our separate 'March Madness Haiku Contest' blogpost tomorrow/Thursday morning, follow the simple rules and enter to win!

MIKE LOWELL BACK TO MARLINS?: That's the topic of my latest column. I'll be a genius if you agree with me and a [bleeping] idiot if you don't. It's OK. I'm used to it.

TIGER WOODS ANNOUNCES COMEBACK: It'll be at The Masters in Augusta in April, unsurprisingly. Cannot confirm that, in Tiger's honor, The Masters this year will be called The Mistresses. [The preceding is a joke I used several weeks ago in my Sunday "Random Evidence" notes column, but I liked it enough to plagiarize myself].

1aaeskendereya 1aaed THE COMPLAINING LIFE OF A SPORTS COLUMNIST: So I agree to write off this Saturday's Florida Derby, even though horse racing is way out of my comfort zone. Last time I covered a horse race, Mr. Ed was being chased by Wilbur. Then I find out the heavy favorite, Eskendereya, is withdrawn and won't be running. I am taking this personally. (Eskendereya is pictured left; Mr. Ed and Wilbur are seen right).

1aadonna JERSEY WOMAN COMMITTING FATRICIDE: A goal-oriented New Jersey woman, 600-pound Donna Simpson, pictured here, is reportedly consuming 12,000 calories per day and moving as little as possible (story here) in an effort to systematically become the heaviest woman on Earth. Pride takes many forms, judges! Simpson is the mother of two children. I just pray one of them did not happen to be on this chair when she sat down to eat.

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 14, 2010

Hurricanes screwed by NIT; plus other, happier stuff

[It's coming. Oh you can't stop it! Our blog's annual March Madness Haiku Contest is right around the corner. Keep an eye out. Meantime, get your haikus ready. Or Google the word "haiku" to learn more as needed].

NIT SAYS N-O TO CANES: [Click on Snub Job for my new column on this, online now and shipping to Tuesday's paper]. Selection Sunday became Rejection Sunday for the Hurricanes. I know this will seem very parochial to some because I am railing against The U being screwed, but here is what is broken about college basketball's postseason -- the one that gets universally lauded compared to college football's. UM finished 20-13 and in the ACC Tournament beat Wake Forest and Virginia Tech before losing 77-74 to mighty Duke -- yet was told on Sunday it is not one of the 97 best teams in the country. Didn't make the 65-team NCAA Tournament bracket (that was no surprise) and then wasn't invited to the 32-team NIT, either (that was pretty much criminal). I'm not saying Miami didn't have a heavy hand in its own fate. I know about the conference record and all that. But are you telling me the Canes team we saw in the ACC tourney isn't flat-out one of the 97 best in the country? Seriously? Two words for that. Or maybe it's one word. BULLS---.

1aarex DOLFANS, THERE'LL BE LESS OF REX RYAN TO DISLIKE: The Jets' blowhard coach (pictured at left accompanied by several of his chins) had lap-band surgery to lose weight (click here for story), following an apparent decades-old love affair with cake. In other Jets news, the team signed fading running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Much as I (and most Dolfans) want to make fun of this (because it's the Jets), I think L.T. has some life left and that this makes NYJ better.

ELS OVERCOMES DISTRACTION OF [ABSENT UNNAMED SUPERSTAR]: Click here for Sunday's column by me off Ernie Els' PGA Tour victory at Doral. 

BOXING: WE AIN'T DEAD YET: More than 50,000 turning out at Cowboys Stadium for Manny Pacquiao's rout of Joshua Clottery proves again that boxing has not been run asunder by bastard-brother mixed martial arts and deranged cousin pro wrestling. All it takes is a great personality or a great fighter (like Pac-Man) to reinvigorate the sport. They'll probably sell 100,000 tickets and set pay-per-view records when Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather face off.

1aanutrisystem NUTRI-SYSTEM PROFIT MARGIN LOSING WEIGHT: Speaking of Rex Ryan and fat people, The Nutri-System weight-loss plan is taking a financial bath, and some analysts blame the company's obsession with hiring athletes and ex-athletes as spokespersons. Pictured right, our boys Dan Marino and Don Shula at a commercial taping. Notice that Shula looks as if he's thinking, "What the hell is this they want me to say!?" And Marino looks as if somebody just dropped a perfect pass.  

Click back. Adding more crap to this post on Monday... 

Twitter.com/gregcote

March 12, 2010

Canes fall to Duke in ACC semifinal; plus Dolphins' all-time most valuable draft picks and 2010 No. 1, NCAA Tournament bracket (with poll), Dorell Wrong, Mandich & more

CANES BOW OUT IN ACC SEMIFINAL: No. 12-seeded UM loses to No. 1 Duke today 77-74 in ACC Tournament semifinal. Canes had earlier finished off No. 4 Virginia Tech, 70-65, behind 17 points from rising star Durand Scott and 24 points off the bench. That made it 2-0 in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., all but assuring UM an NIT bid. Something in the basketball water down here. Can't figure out the inconsistent Heat. And sure didn't see the Hurricanes, playing without injured Dwayne Collins, upsetting No. 5 Wake Forest in the ACC opener Thursday (83-62) and then doing it again. Thursday it was behind 22 points from Reggie Johnson. In my mind, one and out would have clinched this as a disappointing season. Think the consecutive upsets give Miami a chance to still feel good. But where has this UM team been the past month-plus? The team that plays great defense and holds leads!? A successful conference tourney for the Canes.

DOLPHINS' All-TIME TOP 10 MOST VALUABLE DRAFT PICKS: NFL.com chose 10 from each franchise for a nationwide vote commencing March 12, and for Miami its 10, alphabetically, are Dick Anderson, Larry Csonka, Leon Gray, Bob Griese, Sam Madison, Dan Marino, Jake Scott, Dwight Stephenson, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. That's nine obvious, solid choices and one small question: "LEON GRAY!??" Must be somebody's idea of a joke. Miami did draft Leon Gray in the third round in 1973 and he went on to have a solid NFL career as a guard for three teams, but never played a game for the Dolphins.

DOLPHINS' NO. 1 DRAFT PICK A DEFENSIVE TACKLE?: E1aadanwmsSPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, Mr. and Mr. Mock Draft, have new mocks out and both predict Miami at No. 12 will select Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams (pictured left). However it should be noted both have Denver, picking 11th, taking Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant. Williams would be a solid choice for Miami. But only if Bryant isn't available.

EXPANDING NCAA TOURNAMENT TO 96 TEAMS IS MADNESS: Today's column by me (click on Cinderella Is Dead) proposes that the NCAA Tournament is bloated as is with too many teams with zero credentials who have no business being on this stage. (Sorry, Wofford). So it figures I hate the idea of expanding from the current 64 teams (after the play-in game) to a proposed 96. Your feelings are what? Take a dip in our poll and expound.

ON JIM MANDICH'S BATTLE: I don't want to post the latest lengthy, maudlin tribute to Jim that reads like an obituary or lecture on real life vs. sports. Mandich, the former Dolphin and WQAM fixture, is battling cancer and, knowing Jim, staring it in the eye and battling it hard. Leave it at that. Simply add my best thoughts to the many throughout South Florida wishing only the best for one of the market's best radio talents and good guys.

DORELL WRONG: The Heat's Dorell Wright was arrested this morning on South Beach for DUI and driving with a suspended license. The careless stupidity of some pro athletes never ceases to amaze. Rafer Alston's AWOL stunt, now this. This NBA season cannot end quickly enough. 

COLLEGE HALL 2010 BALLOT: College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 2010, just released, has 77 players and seven coaches. No first-timers in terms of ex-Hurricanes or Dolphins. Back for another try: Ex-Canes George Mira (the first) and Russell Maryland, and old-time Dolph Jake Scott (of Georgia).  

1aalindsay EARTH TO LINDSAY LOHAN: The actress is suing E-trade because in its latest baby ad the "milkaholic" girl baby is called Lindsay. Seriously. Next logical step: Make it a class-action suit on behalf of America's estimated 8,453,614 Lindsays. 

Click back. Adding more to this post later...

Twitter.com/gregcote