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25 posts from October 2010

October 19, 2010

Dream Team but not dream preseason. What is your biggest Heat concern? (with poll); plus Tuna leaves the building, ALCS/NLCS, Marlins manager search & more

[Live online chat Wednesday noon to 1. Click here to join us then or to post questions any time. Also join us at Twitter.com/gregcote].

1aalebron HEAT: DREAM TEAM, BUT HARDLY A DREAM PRESEASON: With the regular season a week away, the Heat is 2-3 in exhibition games, Dwyane Wade (hamstring) has missed all but three minutes and remains out; LeBron James has missed games injured, now Mike Miller (ankle) is injured, and questions remain at point guard and center. The question isn't whether this eventually will be a dominant team. The question is whether it will be anything close to that as the season begins? Concerns about that are increasingly real. Take a dip in our poll and share your biggest Heat concerns as the NBA regular season nears.

1aabillp THE MYSTERY OF THE SILENT TUNA: Now it is being reported that Bill Parcells, already receded from full-time boss of personnel to "consultant," has further reduced his Dolphins role and no longer is involved with daily operations or even working out of the team's Davie HQ. He has given up his office there. It's a "leave of absence," supposedly. Parcells owes an explanation, but of course one will likely not be forthcoming. In his silence festers a perception -- which may or may not be true -- that this break from the Dolphins has not been entirely harmonious. Do I think it has become a distraction to the team? No. But do I think the situation needs to be explained, either by Parcells or GM Jeff Ireland? Yes. If Tuna won't speak, the man now in charge should.

BASEBALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: Sitting here rooting for a Rangers-Giants World Series... ALCS: Rangers lead Yankees 3-1; Game 5 underway in da Bronx. Unless you are wearing one of those 'NY' caps backward because it didn't come with directions, how can you not root for Texas? Their player payroll is about $150 million less than that of the Yankees. The Rangers give hope to franchises like the Marlins who think shrewd decisions can make up for lavish spending. Also NYY leads the world in championships while Texas -- not even in the postseason since 1999 -- guns for its first ever. Slay the big bad Yankees! NLCS: Giants lead Phillies 2-1; Game 4 tonight out west. What a delight it has been watching SF's Cody Ross, the good-guy former Marlins fan favorite, lighting it up in the postseason. Like the AL final, this series has a David/Goliath quality. The Phillies and their smug fans were in the World Series both of the the past two years, winning in 2008. The Giants last celebrated a WS win in 1954. "Co-dy! Co-dy! Co-dy!"

1aaboporter BO PORTER NOT MARLINS' MANAGER FRONTRUNNER: MLB.com reported he was, but sources with the Marlins say Bo Porter, 38, a former Marlins' coach here and now with the Diamondbacks, is merely a candidate, along with Tony Pena, Ted Simmons, current interim guy Edwin Rodriguez and Jim Fregosi. Jim Fregosi!? He turns 69 in April, last managed in MLB in 2000 and has zero World Series title in 15 years as a manager. He'd be a Jack McKeon-esque attempt to catch lightning in a bottle. 

FANTASY: THIS IS GETTING DEPRESSING: Both of my teams sank to 1-5. I stink as a fantasy drafter/owner, apparently. The Bad Newz Fennelz lost 102-84 despite 24 points from Drew Brees. Greg's Lobos lost 95-89 in a game I gave away with critical bad decisions.

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GREG COTE: READ columns and blog in The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com, including general sports columns, Friday NFL predictions page and Sunday "Random Evidence" notes. FOLLOW on Twitter. WATCH for occasional appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's weekly Dolphins pregame show and Tuesdays around 4:20 p.m. JOIN in live chat every Wednesday noon to 1 p.m. CONTACT at gcote@miamiherald.com.

October 17, 2010

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 82.7%

[Main game post on Dolphins-Packers may be found directly below this in blog].

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: DOLPHINS @ GREEN BAY: Results are now certified for the newest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll, and they show 82.7 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 23-20 overtime victory at Green Bay putting Miami's season record at 3-2.

1aadsmThe DSM is a continuous gauge of how fans 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, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

Poll and comments section stay open; however, poll results are certified official on the morning after one full day of voting. In this case, that was late morning Tuesday.

Previous DSM scores may be found beneath this latest poll:

DSM 2010 RESULTS:

Game 1: 76.1% satisfaction (9.8 very, 66.3 somewhat) following 15-10 victory at Buffalo.

Game 2: 96.7% satisfaction (52.4 very, 44.3 somewhat) following 14-10 victory at Minnesota.

Game 3: 62.8% satisfaction (11.8 very, 51.0 somewhat) following 31-23 loss vs. N.Y. Jets.

Game 4: 7.0% satisfaction (4.5 very, 2.5 somewhat) following 41-14 loss vs. New England.

Game 5: 82.7% satisfaction (17.4 very, 65.3 somewhat) following 23-20 victory (OT) at Green Bay.

Next poll: Oct. 24 following game vs. Pittsburgh.

G5: Dolphins 23, Green Bay 20 (Final OT)

[Note: See results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in post directly below].

1aadolhel2 1aadolhel G5: DOLPHINS 23, GREEN BAY 20 (Final):Very nice road win today for Miami, on a Dan Carpenter FG in overtime at Lambeau Field. Big games by Brandon Marshall, Ronnie Brown and Chad Henne, despite one interception. Especially big game on defense, including three sacks by Cameron Wake. Look for the new DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER poll to post in a separate blog post here at 5 p.m.

Original post: Lambeau Field tundra: Unfrozen. Vince Lombardi: Long-dead, but starring on Broadway. Packers: Hobbled, but Aaron Rodgers is playing. Dolphins: Who the heck knows!? I mean, you do really have a sense yet how good Miami is? Me, neither. How can you? Narrow wins at Buffalo and Minnesota, then disappointing home losses to Jets and Pats. That's 2-0 on the road, 0-2 at home. Go figure. I like Green Bay today, around 31-27, in a venue pick, but it's another coin flip game in a particularly vexing season in the NFL. Think Miami will try to get back to run-first and establish itself on the ground this afternoon, but I also think Gee Bees' defense is pretty stout.

Your thoughts welcome here before, during and of course after today's game.

 

October 16, 2010

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 22.6%

[Main gamepost on Canes-Duke/Collball Week 7 may be found in post directly below this].

1aacsm
Results are in for the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, this in the wake of Saturday afternoon's 28-13 victory at Duke putting the Canes' season record at 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the ACC, and the overall satisfaction registers at 22.6 percent. That is unusually low following a victory, owing perhaps to the less-than-overwhelming triumph over a weaker opponent.

The CSM is our continuing weekly gauge of how Miami Hurricanes football fans are feeling about the team and the program's direction. A new poll appears in a separate blogpost soon after the conclusion of every Canes game.

Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting, in this case around 9:45 a.m. Monday.

Season results may be found beneath the latest poll:

CSM 2010 Season Results

Game 1: 95.0% satisfaction (69.8 very, 25.2 somewhat) following 45-0 victory vs. Florida A&M.

Game 2: 25.6% satisfaction (9.1 very, 16.5 somewhat) following 36-24 loss at Ohio State.

Game 3: 83.8% satisfaction (22.1 very, 61.7 somewhat) following 31-3 victory at Pittsburgh.

Game 4: 88.3% satisfaction (26.3 very, 62.0 somewhat) following 30-21 victory game at Clemson.

Game 5: 5.6% satisfaction (3.5 very, 2.1 somewhat) following 45-17 loss vs. Florida State.

Game 6: 22.6% satisfaction (2.6 very, 20.0 somewhat) following 28-13 victory at Duke.

Next poll: Oct. 23 following game vs. North Carolina.

G6: Hurricanes 28, Duke 13 (Final); plus FIU wins, Gators lose, No. 1 bows again & more

G6: HURRICANES 28, DUKE 13 (Final): 

1aaduke21aaduke[Latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll will publish in a separate post at 5 p.m. Watch for it and vote!] Sort of a routine victory for Miami, which got off to a sluggish start -- trailing 3-0 after one quarter -- and then was in control for a 28-13 ACC road win this afternoon at Duke. Jacory Harris completed 17 of 34 passes for 234 yards with a touchdown to Leonard Hankerson, and also ran for a TD. UM's defense intercepted five passes, including one returned 22 yards for a score by Micanor Regis.

Original post: The humiliating 45-17 UM home loss to FSU lingers and festers and smells but the only way to begin to get rid of it is to play again and win again and move on. Miami (3-2, 1-1) is a clear favorite over Duke (1-4, 0-2), but games like this carry their own danger. All the pressure is on the Canes here, and that factors in Jacory Harris' proneness to interceptions, especially on the road. UM could really use a comfortable, convincing, carefree rout-win along the lines of the FAMU opener. Because if you barely win at Duke, well, that raises red flags all its own. Canes need to play with anger and hurt pride and begin to set the season right. There are a couple of games left on the schedule the Canes could lose. Heaven help Randy Shannon if this is one of them.

Other Week 7 state collball FBS games:

Central Florida 35, Marshall 14: Easy Wednesday night win a testament to the putridity of the Thundering Turd.

No. 25 West Virginia 20, South Florida 6: Bulls no match for 'Neers in their Big East opener.

No. 16 Florida State 24, Boston College 19: A modest home win but letdown was natural after emotional win at Miami. Should be enough to lift Noles (now 6-1, 4-0) up another spot or two in polls.

Mississippi State 10, No. 22 Florida 7: Oh my. The Urbanators will go spiraling out of the polls after yet another loss, and in the Swamp! Quick. See if Tebow has any eligibility left.

FIU 34, North Texas 10: Two in a row for The Int'l! Break up the Golden Panthers!

Off this week: FAU (1-4) next @ Arkansas State.

National top-25 matchups: 7-Auburn d. 12-Arkansas, 65-43; 18-Wisconsin d. 1-Ohio State, 31-18.

COTE TOP 30 

Our own national ranking of the college programs with the biggest impact on the 2010 season:

Rank-LW   Team   Points

1-2   Ohio State   611

2-1   Alabama   609

3-3   Boise State   583

4-4   Texas Christian   548

5-5   Oregon   538

6-6   Nebraska   505

7-7   Oklahoma   493

8-8   Florida   427

9-11   Iowa   378

10-10   Wisconsin   372

11-12   Arkkansas   363

12-9   Texas   357

13-14   Auburn   352

14-15   Louisiana State   343

15-16   Utah   328

16-13   Miami   311

17-17   Stanford   271

18-19   South Carolina   262

19-18   Arizona   253

20-23   Florida State   184 

21-20   Penn State   163

22-21   Michigan   160

23-26   Michigan State   149

24-22   Southern Cal   141

25t-24   Virginia Tech   130

25t-25   West Virginia   130

27-30   Nevada   95

28-27   Georgia Tech   91

29-32   Missouri   84

30-33   Oklahoma State   79

October 13, 2010

Chad Henne deserves support; plus NFL picks, Herald punked by Russian fraudniks, Fredi's revenge, Canes face loss (of pants) at Duke & more

[Follow at Twitter.com/gregcote. It's me, not a fake Russian guy].

1aachad BACK OFF, HENNE HATERS / WEEK 6 GEMS: I tell you between Bill Parcells and some of the garbage out there on message boards, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne can't catch a break. He deserves better. There should not be any thought of benching him. None. Click on The Case for Henne for today's column by me appearing on my Friday NFL predictions page. And when I say Henne deserves more support, I don't just mean from fans. His own team needs to give him more by getting back to more running and better balance. Click on Week 6 Gems for all our NFL picks for the weekend. I like Green Bay at home to beat Miami 27-23, but also see it among the weekly parade of coin-flip games. Give Dolphs a big chance if they bring the run-first mindset and make it work. 

1aabros FAKE RUSSIANS INFILTRATE MIAMI!: Holy Borat! A couple of young Miami guys (right) claiming to brothers "Pavel and Yuri Kopeche" from Russia (and with pretty decent fake accents, evidently) lied their way into prominence in Wednesday's Miami Herald off the previous night's Heat exhibition vs. CSKA Moscow. Click here for the sad truth, which arose through message-board chatter from people claiming to know the two friends and calling it a prank. I was hoping the message-board writers might be government operatives planting a smokescreen to obfuscate the fact these two are in fact not only Russian brothers but the subject of a CIA investigation over illegal arms trading? I'm just saying. Who can we trust? Does anybody really know what time it is? Even if this was a prank, I can't blame the writer much. At some point one must trust the decency of one's interview subject, moreso on deadline. Besides, who would dress up like these two pictured except Russian nerds, good-natured liars or people trying to seem like anything but illegal arms traders? I got punked embarrassingly once, by the way. An old Fort Lauderdale Strikers card, Ken Fogarty, told me his sister was on a troop ship bound for the Falklands War. Neat human interest story. If it were the least bit true. S--- happens. Postscript: I don't believe these fake Russians are Miamians at all. I believe they are double-agent Russian spies pretending to be Miamians pretending to be fake Russians pretending to be two guys with way, way too much free time.

1aabravefredi FREDI'S REVENGE: The Atlanta Braves today hired deposed Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez (right), as expected, to replace retiring Bobby Cox. Congrats to Fredi, a good manager and a good man. Florida already has pretty hot division rivalries going with the Mets and Phillies, now the Fredi factor should goose the intensity of games against Los Bravos as well. Two quick thoughts: 1) First the Marlins fire NL manager of the year Joe Girardi, who gets hired by the biggest, most successful franchise in sports and wins a championship. 2) Then the Marlins fire Gonzalez, despite his mostly overachieving with silly-low payrolls, and he gets hired by the club that has won more games than any other NL franchise since 1990. Hmm. It almost makes you wonder if the Marlins should maybe consider firing the guy in charge of doing the firing. Postscript: The Marlins still are trying to hire Bobby Valentine as their next manager, the Palm Beach Post reported. Bobby last managed in the majors in 2002. Question: When one is hired as Marlins manager, is one due congratulations or commiseration?

1aakarenfowen UM GOING TO DUKE. UH OH. CANES, WATCH YOUR PANTS!: I don't mean uh oh because Duke has any real chance to beat the Hurricanes in football Saturday. I mean uh oh because that campus is the home mattress of the now notorious Karen F. Owen (brunette, far left), the former student whose "thesis" on her many alcohol-fueled sexual encounters with athletes is an Internet sensation. Blue Devil, indeed! (Hey I wonder what the "F." stands for!) Then again, restricting her 13 bedfriends to lacrosse, baseball and tennis players suggests a leaning toward white boys that should allow Randy Shannon to breathe somewhat easier as he does the curfew bedchecks. By the way, how proud must Mr. and Mrs. Owen be, huh? I have two questions for Karen: 1) Why on Earth would you shoot out emails of your name-names "thesis" to friends knowing how easily it could be mass-distributed and go viral? 2) Where were you when I was in college!?

LAWLESS UM HOME GAMES?: Granted all the trappings of a wild crowd were there this past Saturday: Night game, double the booze time, two rivals, sellout crowd. Still, what went on in the stands during UM-FSU was sad, and ridiculous at times. Click here for a YouTube video that captures a slice of the unruliness.

1aalanalawless LAWLESS SOCIETY?: A transgenderite, guy-turned-gal Lana Lawless (right), is a long-driving golfer. (Imagine that!) Now she is suing the LPGA, contesting its rule that players on tour must have been born female. See, I'm old-school I guess. I believe, for example, the WNBA has a right to insist its players are born-female, too, so a comeback-seeking, fully waxed Rony Seikaly doesn't show up in a bad wig and start dominating the paint. Dear Lana: You want to make this about civil rights? You had the right to change your gender. It doesn't mean a league should change to suit you.

SPORTSMANSHIP LIVES: Sports can foment cynicism. What we see can be depressing at times. Want a quick antidote? Click here for a remarkable YouTube video of a young man in a wheelchair, Dylan Galloway, scoring a touchdown in an Arkansas high-school game. Sweet. Good. Right.

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GREG COTE: READ columns and blog in The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com, including general sports columns, Friday NFL predictions page and Sunday "Random Evidence" notes. FOLLOW on Twitter. WATCH for occasional appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's weekly Dolphins pregame show and Tuesdays around 4:20 p.m. JOIN in live chat every Wednesday noon to 1 p.m. CONTACT at gcote@miamiherald.com.

October 11, 2010

What is it about Randy Shannon that stirs such venom? (with poll); plus Dong-gate, Panthers, Fantasy, ESPN/Heat, Dolphins get lucky, nude ironing with Hanley & more

1aacaners 1aacanets MAKING SENSE OF HYSTERIA OVER RANDY SHANNON: Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon is 24-19 (.558) into his fourth season and coming off a really bad home defeat; that record includes two bowl losses. Dolphins coach coach Tony Sparano is 20-17 (.541) into his third season and coming off a really bad home defeat; that record includes one playoff loss. Two men, similar timelines, similar bodies of work, similar results. Yet only one of them -- Shannon -- is the subject of invective from so many fans. Don't get this wrong. I am not choosing the wake of an embarrassing 45-17 home loss to FSU to defend Shannon here. He admitted he did not have his team prepared to play, and it sure looked like he was right. Neither Shannon nor Sparano has accomplished enough here to enjoy any Teflon coating. Both should be considered to be coaching for their jobs, their futures. But why does Shannon always seem one loss from vilification in a way that Sparano does not? I think some of it is the perpetually inflated-expectations of UM fans. And, yes, I think race might be a factor, too. I have to believe that Shannon does not enjoy the patience or benefit of doubt he might if he were white. I'll be particularly interested in the results of this poll, and in your related comments.

 

[Thanks to all who tapped into our live online chat today. We do it each Wednesday noon to 1 p.m. Click HERE to join us then or to post questions any time].

DONG-GATE: FAVRE SUSPENSION AHEAD?: Vikes QB Brett Favre being investigated by NFL for supposedly sending inappropriate messages, including nude photos, to Jets employee Jenn Sterger in 2008. Last night's Vikings-Jets game offered an indication how big this story has become. I could see the Monday night crew ignoring it altogether or treating it prominently. It was closer to the latter, which can only serve to push the NFL toward some sort of punitive action.

FANTASY: LOSE-A-PALOOZA CONTINUES: Both of my teams fell to 1-4 this week, the Bad Newz Fennelz bowing 123-97 and Greg's Lobos falling 154-126. Analysts suggest that my poor start could be attributable to the fact that I stink as a fantasy player.

SHOCKER: PANTHERS LOSE HOCKEY GAME: The franchise that has been 10 straight years out of the playoffs lost its season opener Sunday, 3-2, at Edmonton, which had the worst record in the NHL last season. I read that all three of Edmonton's goals were "fluke" goals. Hmm. You ever notice that bad teams always seem to let in fluke goals, get bad bounces and never catch a break?

ESPN LAUNCHES OFFICIAL HEAT OBSESSION: ESPN.com, in a continuing effort to dominate the world and set a match to local newspapers, debuts a dedicated Heat page (click here), giving the rest of the NBA yet another reason to hate LeBron and Miami. The website hired away Michael Wallace from The Miami Herald as a main contributor. The Herald just announced internally that Wallace would be replaced by Joseph Goodman as our main Heat beat writer. Give Goody a fair shot, Heatniks. He will impress you. He's done great work covering Gators football for us, and is a young, rising star.

1aacigarguy 'CIGAR GUY' REVEALED!: It always amazes me what fascinates us. What goes "viral." Like this photo of a golf fan standing in Tiger Woods' gallery at the Ryder Cup. I just assumed the guy was one of the world's few remaining Groucho Marx impersonators. But no. Click here to find out who he really is, if you give even half a crap.  

PACKERS HURTING = DOLPHINS SMILING: Miami follows its bye week with a trip to Green Bay, a trip that looks less scary than it did. The concussion bug bit Packers QB Aaron Rodgers Sunday in a 16-13 OT loss at Washington, and he'll miss practice time this week and is questionable to play. Third-year backup Matt Flynn out of LSU would make his first NFL start if Rodgers can't go. Also on Sunday the Pack lost tight end Jermichael Finley for a few weeks with a knee injury, which is great news because he is very good and because the Dolphins tend to play opposing tight ends about successfully as they play special teams. GB also said Monday LB Nick Barnett would undergo wrist surgery and be out two months.

1aahanley NUDE IRONING WITH HANLEY RAMIREZ: ESPN The Magazine's "The Body Issue," is the usual banquet of comical narcissim, showing strategically covered athletes mostly doing athletic-type things. Then, on page 90, I laughed out loud to see the photo I am passing along: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, ironing in the raw. Really, Hanley? Really. Ironing? Plus it's creepy. I feel like I'm looking through a hotel keyhole. Who shot this photo, the same guy who peeped Erin Andrews? Likelihood that Ramirez irons his own shirts: 3 percent. Likelihood that this photo will be all over the Marlins clubhouse next spring: 99 percent.

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GREG COTE: READ columns and blog in The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com, including general sports columns, Friday NFL predictions page and Sunday "Random Evidence" notes. FOLLOW on Twitter. WATCH for occasional appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's weekly Dolphins pregame show and Tuesdays around 4:20 p.m. JOIN in live chat every Wednesday noon to 1 p.m. CONTACT at gcote@miamiherald.com.

October 10, 2010

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.6%

[Main gamepost on Saturday's FSU-Miami game may be found directly below this in the blog].

1aacsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: FSU @ HURRICANES:

Results are officials in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, and they show a season-low 5.6 percent overall satisfaction following Saturday night's 45-17 UM home loss to Florida State putting the Canes' season record at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.

The CSM is our continuing weekly gauge of how Miami Hurricanes football fans are feeling about the team and the program's direction. A new poll appears in a separate blogpost soon after the conclusion of every Canes game.

Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations.

Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting, in this case, late Monday morning.

Season results may be found beneath the latest poll.

CSM 2010 Season Results

Game 1: 95.0% satisfaction (69.8 very, 25.2 somewhat) following 45-0 victory vs. Florida A&M.

Game 2: 25.6% satisfaction (9.1 very, 16.5 somewhat) following 36-24 loss at Ohio State.

Game 3: 83.8% satisfaction (22.1 very, 61.7 somewhat) following 31-3 victory at Pittsburgh.

Game 4: 88.3% satisfaction (26.3 very, 62.0 somewhat) following 30-21 victory game at Clemson.

Game 5: 5.6% satisfaction (3.5 very, 2.1 somewhat) following 45-17 loss vs. Florida State.

Next poll: Oct. 16 following game at Duke.

[Thanks again to reader Raul Pares for creating our CSM logo].

October 09, 2010

G5: FSU 45, Hurricanes 17 (Final); Rout turns to home embarrassment for UM; plus FIU wins, Gators, Tide lose & more

1aajlennon [Note: This would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. Look for latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in separate post beginning at 12:30 a.m. sharp!].

1aacanes3 1aacanes2 1aacanes

Second half: Ugh. Noles make it 45-17 with 4 minutes and change left ..... Jacory Harris suffers late interception ..... FSU up 38-17 with 7:39 to play and the Canes majority in the sellout crowd is beginning to thin ..... UM has a first at FSU's 18 but settles for Bosher 36-yard FG to draw within 31-17 with 4:57 left in 3Q ..... Damien Berry's 26-yard TD pulls Miami within 31-14 ..... I'm on deadline with my column and the game has turned to crap, so I'll only be updating the score from here.

First half: Noles up 24-7 on FG 1:53 before halftime ..... Miami within 21-7 with 5:53 left in first half as Jaciry Harris angles in from the 7 ...... Jermaine Thomas -- again -- for the Noles -- and it's 21-0 now and this one is getting close to embarrassment. ..... Oh my. Jermaine Thomas another TD, from the 1, set up by the long fumble return. FSU's Nick Moody had returned the fumble by RB Damien Berry to the Miami 1. ..... RB Jermaine Thomas nice cutback with a screen pass for a 17-yards scoring play and a 7-0 Noles lead nearing 5-minute mark of 1Q.

Original post: Nation watching this big battle of ACC rivals on ABC-TV, the game that puts the cherry on top of collball Week 6. Noles coming in at 4-1, 2-0 and Canes at 3-1, 1-0. Big statement game for UM, a 6-point favorite, in particular because a win could see The U crack the top 10 and also enhance conference-championship hopes. You know UM and its demanding fans. This result I suspect will produce an all or nothing reaction. Win and happy-days-are-here-again; lose and the-sky-is-falling. Am I right? I'll be there columnizing tonight and it's one of those games that feels like a privilege to attend more than a job assignment. Prediction: UM 31, FSU 20. Think Canes are the better team all over the field. But somebody please remind Jacory Harris, again, that throwing it away beats forcing it into double-coverage every time.

Other Week 6 state-college FBS games, chronologically:

Central Florida 42, Alabama-Birmingham 7: Big, comfortable  win for 3-2 Knights Wednesday in their Conference USA opener.

Syracuse 13, South Florida 9: Both teams came in 3-1 with USF a one-touchdown home favorite. Nad result for Bulls in the Big East opener for each.

FIU 28, Western Kentucky 20: Both teams entered 0-4 in this Sun Belt opener for each, but The Int'l was a solid 9 1/2-point betting pick because its sad opponent has lost 24 games in a row. If Golden Panthers manages to lose this one we'd have devalued their nickname all the way down to Tin Panthers. The Mario Brothers led 20-0 and held on against a pitiful foe, but a win is a win is a win.

Louisiana-Monroe 20, FAU 17: Sun Belt bout found both teams 1-3 and 0-1 in the Belt. La-M a slight home pick but a winnable game for Team Howard and a big one it would have been. Arise, Owl Nation, arise!

No. 12 Louisiana State 33, No. 14 Florida 29: Major SEC clash found LSU going in 5-0, 3-0 and The Gator 4-1, 2-1. UF was a 6 1/2-point pick in the Swamp, but I said I'd be nervous about this one if I were the Urbanators or the home fans. And i was right. Whoop whoop!

Other national Top 25 matchups: 19-South Carolina stunned 1-Alabama, 35-21 (Aww, don't you feel bad for Nick Saban!); and 17-Michigan State throttled 18-Michigan, 34-17.

COTE TOP 30

A continuing, cumulative gauge of the football programs that have had the biggest impact on the 2010 college season. The Top 30 entering Week 6:

Rank-LW   Team   Points

1-1   Alabama   540

2-2   Ohio State   521

3-3   Boise State   499

4-4   Texas Christian   468

5-5   Oregon   451

6-6   Nebraska   426

7-9   Oklahoma   418

8-7   Florida   402

9-8   Texas   352

10-10   Wisconsin   331

11-11   Iowa   330

12-12   Arkansas   309

13-13   MIAMI   298

14-15   Auburn   280

15-14   Louisiana State   279

16-16   Utah   266

17-17   Stanford   220

18-20   Arizona   214

19-18   South Carolina   200

20-19   Penn State   163

21-24t   Michigan   142

22-21   Southern Cal   141

23-23   Florida State   139

24-22   Virginia Tech   124

25-24t   West Virginia   113

26-30   Michigan State   92

27-26   Georgia Tech   91

28-27   Pittsburgh   71

29-28   Georgia   66

30-33   Nevada   61

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GREG COTE: READ columns and blog in The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com, including general sports columns, Friday NFL predictions page and Sunday "Random Evidence" notes. FOLLOW on Twitter. WATCH for occasional appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's weekly Dolphins pregame show and Tuesdays around 4:20 p.m. JOIN in live chat every Wednesday noon to 1 p.m. CONTACT at gcote@miamiherald.com.

NO. 23 FLORIDA STATE 45, NO. 13 HURRICANES 17:

October 08, 2010

How is Tony Sparano doing? (with poll); plus Lincecum/Halladay, NFL Week 5 picks, Peeping Tom & more

[Note: Look for our UM-FSU/College Football post to enter the blog midday Saturday. And join us on Twitter, where every 1 millionth follower is entered into a drawing for a small cash prize].

HOW GOOD A JOB IS TONY SPARANO DOING? THE POLL: He's well into his third season now. His Dolphins record is 20-16, plus a playoff loss. We've never run a poll inviting fans to judge Sparano's performance but I think he's been here long enough that it's time. The poll is by letter grade, but think of the letters as parallel to job security. High grade? You think he's the right guy and his future is secure. Lower grade? You think his job shouldn't be all that safe and maybe the club could do better. Since I'm taking the pulse following consecutive division losses at home, I think it's right that I ask you to step back and judge Sparano overall, not based just on the past couple of weeks. Now tell each other, and the coach himself, what you think and why.

1aalincecum ON LINCECUM, HALLADAY: Not in a century-plus of baseball have there been better, bigger games pitched on consecutive days than by the Phils' Roy Halladay throwing a no-hitter Wednesday and then Giant Tim Lincecum striking out 14 last night in the divisional playoffs. Heck, it's been almost enough to divert attention from the NFL for just a minute. I particularly love Lincecum (pictured) because he looks like he was pulled out of my high-school yearbook. Back in the '70s most of my skateboarding, dope-smoking friends looked like that while reinventing, for all time, the word "dude."

WEEK 5 PIX: NO DOLPHINS, YET NFL PLAYS ON: Dolphins have a bye -- virtually assuring they'll not yield a special-teams touchdown -- but the league plays on. Click on Week 5 Gems for our latest picks. And on Quarterly Report for our major-award frontrunners at the season's first-quarter turn. Updated Bodog.com betting odds entering the weekend have Packers as the new Super Bowl favorite at 13-2 followed by Colts and Saints at 9-1 and Jets, Ravens and Steelers at 10-1. Dolphins have tumbled to 40-1. New AFC East odds are Jets 1-1, Pats 5-4, Dolphs 4-1 and Buffoons 200-1.

GABY GETS MY ROOKIE VOTE: I'm a BBWAA member and this year my rotating vote was for NL Rookie of the Year, and the ballot I sent in was: 1. Marlin Gaby Sanchez; 2. Brave Jason Heyward; 3. Giant Buster Posey. Call me a homer, but Gaby was the most consistently good over a full season. For the record, I think Heyward or Posey will win, but I'll be surprised if I'm Sanchez's only No. 1 vote.

FAVRE-STERGER: GEEZ, LET IT GO: Who the [bleep] cares if horny Brett Favre, while with the Jets in 2008, made a play for attractive young club employee Jenn Sterger? Bulletin: Pro athletes, they do that kind of s--- all the time. And yet Deadspin.com continues to beat this story like a, like a, I'd better say dead horse. I know Favre is facing the Jets this week and all, but still. Please, will some prominent athlete kindly have the decency to volunteer himself for scandal or arrest so Deadspin might get off this tired trail and move on? Gracias.

ESPN EMPLOYEE ARRESTED AS PEEPING TOM: He was pleasuring himself outside a women's window while watching her undress. Guess the poor guy has never heard of the Internet. Anyway it turned out to be one of the network's NASCAR producers, Neil Goldberg. (Click here for story). Would have been better if it was Stuart Scott or somebody we'd heard of. Maybe next time.

1aamodel DEAR GREG...: "...your blog is good but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of a runway model who was topless but wearing body paint. And make her sort of scary looking. Thank you." 

THE LIST: EX-CANE DOLPHINS: The Dolphins famously have had little success with UM Hurricanes. Thirty ex-Canes have played for the Dolphins but few have had success or longevity. The longest-serving ex-Cane Dolphins:

1. FB Woody Bennett (9 years; 1980-88)

2. RT Vernon Carey (7 and counting; 2004-present)

3. WR Lamar Thomas (5; 1996-2000)

4. S Bobby Harden (4; 1990-93)

5. Eight tied with 3 years, most recently LB Twan Russell (2000-02).

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GREG COTE: READ columns and blog in The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com, including general sports columns, Friday NFL predictions page and Sunday "Random Evidence" notes. FOLLOW on Twitter. WATCH for occasional appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's weekly Dolphins pregame show and Tuesdays around 4:20 p.m. JOIN in live chat every Wednesday noon to 1 p.m. CONTACT at gcote@miamiherald.com.