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11 posts from January 2011

January 26, 2011

Referendum on Pro Bowl (with poll); plus Loria's big chance to do good, Sparano's curious Dolphins staff moves, Power 100 & more

[Alert: Our week-long Super Blog building up to Steelers-Packers will kick off Monday here].

1aa1probowl11 PRO BOWL OR PRO BORE?: I say Pro Bore. This evening's NFL all-star game could be eliminated and I wouldn't mind. I'm just glad it's back in Hawaii. At least it's off the mainland. That's a start. It's a game half the players drop out of with fake injuries, and nobody cares who wins. Or remembers who wins. It's pointless. But that's just me. Here is your chance to join my chorus, or shout me down. Take a dip in our poll.

LORIA'S CHANCE FOR SOME HEROIC P.R.: MLB announced that the Marlins' June 24-26 home series vs. the Mariners will be played in Seattle because the rock group U2 needs that time to set up for 1aa1bono2 its June 29 concert at the defrocked Joe Robbie Stadium. Of course it's a ridiculous situation but the Marlins are not to blame (in and of itself a novelty!). You want blame? Blame Bono (pictured) for needing way too much time for the concert's setup/rehearsal. Or blame stadium-owning Stephen Ross for thinking screw-the-Marlins and agreeing to the rock group's demands. But here's the thing: Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria -- unpopular due to years of frugality and needing some good public relations -- should see this and seize this as an opportunity. Imagine: Loria agrees to fly Marlins fans to and from Seattle for free, tickets to the game included. Why not! Limit it to a certain number of season-ticket holders or other fans on a first-come, first-served basis. Or, maybe give a $200 hotel/ticket voucher to fans traveling to the game on their own dime. The point is, do something creative, something generous, something reputation-repairing. Step up to the plate, Loria!

DOLPHINS' CURIOUS COACHING-STAFF MOVES: The Dolphins completed their revised coaching staff

1aa1tonyjr.with some curious/questionable moves that seem in keeping with the oddness so far: extending Tony Sparano's contract despite shopping for his replacement, and hiring Brian Daboll to run the offense despite his lack of success in Cleveland. In the latest moves, Miami made a special-teams coach of former ST assistant Darren Rizzi; turned wide receivers coach Karl Dorell into quarterbacks coach; moved Steve Bush from offensive quality control coach (a fairly minor position) to wide receivers coach; hired Tony Sparano Jr. (yes, the head coach's son, pictured) as offensive quality control coach; and brought in longtime former NFL receiver Ike Hilliard as assistant WRs coach. The word that connects all of these moves: Inexperience. Guys in new and in some cases unfamiliar roles. And that includes Tony The Kid coming in after a mere one year's coaching experience in the UFL. Beyond that, the appearance of nepotism alone makes the hire questionable for both Daddy and son. (The good news? Sparano's wife, Jeanette, had not yet been named as an assistant coach as of this writing). Another strange week for the Dolphins.

1aa1lebronfb LEBRON NEXT DOLPHINS QB?: A Sports Illustrated poll asked 164 NBA players who'd make the best NFL quarterback and the Heat's LeBron James dominated with 24 percent. Second: Boston point guard Rajon Rondo at 13%. In other silly LeBron news, His Kingness has come out and opined that people shouldn't assume Jay Cutler is soft just because he didn't return to the NFC Championship Game after being injured. Lifelong Bears fans Dwyane Wade seconded the notion that people should get off Jay's back.

1aa1eltoncover HARPS' IDEA OF FAMILY VALUES: An Arkansas-based chain of grocery stores called Harps placed a "family shield" over US Weekly magazine this month to (presumably) protect young shoppers from having to see Elton John and his partner with their new baby. I dunno. You sort of still expect occasional spasms of bigotry and anti-gay bias from the odd individual, but it's a bit more shocking when such things still exist on a corporate level in 2011. Shame on Harps. [Update: Harps has relented and removed the "family shield" from the magazine cover, thanks to a grass-roots, Twitter-led and blog-fed awareness campaign. Power to the people].

LEBRON DROPS FROM TOP 10 in "POWER 100" LIST: Heat's leBron James falls nine spots to No. 11 in the 2011 Bloomberg Business Week Sports Power 100, which factors athletic success, earning potential and "brand." Dwyane Wade falls six spots to No. 20. Other locals ranked: Serena Williams, down two spot to No. 18, and Venus Williams, up 10 to No. 32. The overall top five: Peyton Manning, Shaun White, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady. Conspicuously absent: No Dolphins, no Marlins. 

Click back. Maybe adding more stuff to this post later.

January 23, 2011

It's a Steelers-Packers Super Bowl! Who wins? (with poll); plus, should Dolfans be encouraged by this?

[Note: I am on Miami Herald "furlough" this week. That's corporate-speak for a week's unpaid vacation, a sign of the times. That also means no live online chat this Wednesday and nothing from me in the paper including the Sunday notes column. Consider it a vacation for you, from me!].

OH HOW RARE THIS DAY!: The Dolphins in 45 franchise seasons have reached today, the conference championship game, only seven times: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1992. The current wait stretches to 19 years. I offer this sad fact not to torture but simply to remind how special this doorstep to the Super Bowl is...

PACKERS-STEELERS: GREAT MATCHUP ... NOW WHO WINS?: This is a classic Super Bowl. Seriously. Green Bay, with the record for all-time NFL championships (12), vs. Pittsburgh, with the record for Super Bowl-era titles (6). Two great quarterbacks as well. Plus, as a bonus, South Floridians are spared the Jets being in it. Saw an early betting line that had Green Bay favored by 3. That's a slight surprise. Gut reaction is to like Pittsburgh-plus anything, but we'll see. Over/under is a high-ish 46. Tell us what you think of the matchup, who will win and why? And fathom this: Should Dolphins fans be encouraged right now? Consider. The Dolphins won at Green Bay this season and lost narrowly to Pittsburgh on some questionable officiating. In other words, Miami held its own against (ostensibly) the two best teams in the league. Is that misleading? Or does it suggest the Dolphins are not that far from being competitive?

1aa1afcpitt 1aa1afc 1aa1afcjetsSTEELERS 24, JETS 19: Pittsburgh up 24-0 in first half and then held on, minting a Steelers-Packers Super Bowl. You know that the resurrection of Ben Roethlisberger will be a national theme as the hype machine rolls out. The better team won.

Original post: Pittsburgh will win by the narrowest of margins, 21-20; so goes my prediction. As much as I personally cheer for the humbling of blowhard Rex Ryan and his honking team, I must say I respect the Jets. They slayeth the AFC's tallest giants, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to get here. They have proved themselves unfazed by the hard road. They can beat Pittsburgh. But will they? I give NYJ the edge in coaching and special teams but 'Burgh is better on both offense and defense. That and the home field shapes my pick. And the fact the Planes won at Pittsburgh just a few weeks ago makes a reversal by the Steelers all the more likely. 

1aa1nfcchi 1aa1nfc 1aa1nfcgb PACKERS 21, BEARS 14: Odd game. Packers thoroughly dominated but needed a last-minute INT by ex-Cane Sam Shields to sew it up. Bears fans, do not blame Jay Cutler's injury. Y'all got whupped. It'll be interesting to see the line on this Super Bowl. I'd imagine Gee Bees would be a slight underdog to Steelers, and a slight favorite over Jets. We'll see. For now, sure am glad I talked myself out of picking Chicago. Close one. 

Original post: This is chronologically and figuratively the day's appetizer in terms of interest, at least for me, although it figures as a great game, better than many people expect. Plenty of folks give Chicago little chance. I actually have a sneaking feeling the Bears will win. I predicted Green Bay, 31-20, yes, but frankly I talked myself into the Packers, based on logic, on how I think a really, really good Gee Bees pass defense could torment Jay Cutler. But my gut feeling was Bears in an upset, and that feeling hasn't gone away. (Still hard to believe Miami won at Lambeau in October, the Dolphins tail-spinning after that while Aaron Rodgers & the Cheesers got better and better).

Click on Champ Game Gems for my expanded predictions on both games, and click on A Worthy Final Four for my column on what's so great about these pairings. Your thoughts on today's games are invited.

THE LIST: FINAL FOUR IN POSTSEASON: Surviving NFL teams listed by most number of playoff wins:

Steelers   32-19 in 26 playoffs over 78 years; 6 titles, last in 2008

Packers   27-15 in 26 playoffs over 90 seasons; 12 titles, last in 1996

Bears   18-18 in 25 playoffs over 91 seasons; 9 titles, last in 1985

Jets   12-12 in 14 playoffs over 51 seasons; 1 title, 1968

January 20, 2011

Did Dolphins, UM hit or miss on new O-coordinators? (with poll); plus Lil' Wayne rips LeBron, D-Wade; Kiper's pick for Dolphins & more

LIL' WAYNE RIPS LEBRON, D-WADE: Rapper Lil' Wayne (pictured) gives his first post-jail 1aa1lilw interview in the latest Rolling Stone and a small part of it is a big rip-job on Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who apparently ignored him when he attended a game in Miami. The quote is verbatim, but sanitized somewhat by me: "Them n----- never speak to a n----. They don't chuck me the deuce or nothing. N---- spent all that money on them f---ing tickets ... come holla at me. We sit right by them little b----ass n-----. At least come ask me why I'm rooting for you."  Evidently they didn't, and so presumably he isn't rooting for them anymore.

[News flash: Ireland re-ups: At about 11:15 this morning (Saturday), the Dolphins announced that GM Jeff Ireland had signed a contract extension. Leave it up to you to decide if that's good news or not].

1aa1daboll2 1aa1daboll DID DOLPHINS, CANES HIT OR MISS ON NEW OFFENSIVE-COORDINATOR HIRES?: New Dolphins offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, 35, with his intentionally shaved-bald head, looks like the grandchild of Uncle Fester. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The two are pictured. Miami held a press conference to introduce Daboll -- itself remarkable for the secretive franchise -- and, other than him not being Josh McDaniels, it went well. You know from this previous column I sort of like the hire, even though he's from the Cleveland Browns. He has some pieces to work with here. The key, of course: Making Chad Henne better. By a good bit, and right now. (By the way, Dan Le Batard wrote a pro-Henne column this week and got a nice thank-you email from the QB's mom, Sue Henne. So you see, kids, no matter how old you are or what you do, Moms are always Moms). Not everybody like Daboll. Saints FB Heath Evans worked with him two years in New England and said this about Daboll on ESPN 760: "The Dolphins probably just got worse. He was never a guy that I would call the brains of the operation." UM also has a new OC in Jedd Fisch, from the Seattle Seahawks. Coach Al Golden never even met Fisch before hiring. Risky? Fisch isn't pictured here ecause he doesn't look like anybody funny. Your turn to weigh in on both new hires. I know, I know. Wait and see, right? But I'm running a daily blog here, not a damned encyclopedia. So give us your gut reactions:

1aa1durand CANES CAN'T PENETRATE FSU'S MILITARY-GRADE DEFENSE: Ex-UM coach Leonard Hamilton brought him some serious defense down here in last night's 55-53 victory over host Miami, a big ACC game. Good lord, UM had no low-post game, and poor Durand Scott (3-for-12, 8 points), pictured doing what he couldn't do last night. needed a search warrant to get into the key. Kid could not penetrate for a layup. It's still early, but coach Frank Haith's Hurricanes (12-6, 1-3 ACC) are not looking like a Big Dance squad. Not from this conference. (On the other hand, Katie  Meier's Canes women are looking, to me, like Sweet Sixteen stuff. Or better. That is one really, really good team.

1aa1chicaco! EXCITEMENT FOR NFL FINAL-FOUR BUILDS, MISSPELLINGS ASIDE: Bearing down on Jets-Steelers and Packers-Bears Sunday. Anticipation rising. Aside to the Green Bay Press-Gazette: This will be the record 182nd time your team has played the Bears. Please learn how to spell "Chicago." These should be great semifinals: Chicaco at Grene Bay, and Neu York at Pittsberg.

ASHLEY MADISON BLACKBALLED, AS IT WERE: Ashley Madison.com, the company that fosters marital infidelity with the credo "Life Is Short, Have An Affair," had its proposed Super Bowl ad rejected by the NFL. Click on this spot to watch the ad in a YouTube video. Two thoughts: 1) If I'm going to cheat on my wife, how pathetic that I might need to enlist a dot-com pimp to hook me up. 2) The company of course knew its "ad" would be rejected, and of course counted on resulting publicity via YouTube and willing accomplices such as, evidently ... myself. Guerilla advertising. God bless America.

HERE ARE TWO GUESSES ON DOLPHINS' NO. 1 DRAFTEE: ESPN.com's Todd McShay, in his new mock draft, has Miami at No. 15 overall selecting Gators center Mike Pouncey. Hmm. Interior O-line is a definite need, but that seems a bit high for a guy who isn't as good as his brother Maurkice, of the Steelers. But the even newer guesswork of King Mock himself, Mel Kiper Jr., has Miami selecting Alabama running back Mark Ingram. He's the top RB in the draft but some think he'd be a bit of a reach at 15. The only near-certainty at this point is that Dolphins will target offense.

1aa1venus VENUS' DRESS IS FROM MARS: Pictured right, Venus Williams in the dress she wore yesterday during the Australian Open. The only guess? She lost a bet.

1aa1ameridol NEW AMERICAN IDOL LACKS BITE: Simon Cowell is missed. No way around that one, based on the debut of the new season of American Idol last night. (Yes I watch it. Guilty pleasure. Sue me). Neither of the new judges -- Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler or Dolphins part owner-by-marriage Jennifer Lopez -- seem suited to the claws-out role. Where's Ricky Gervais when you need him? 

THE LIST: DOLPHINS OFFENSIVE COORDINATORS: Somebody has always run the offense and called plays, but these are the only nine men to have held the title "offensive coordinator, according to the Dolphins:

Gary Stevens 1996-97

Kippy Brown   1998-99

Chan Gailey   2000-01

Norv Turner   2002-03

Chris Foerster   2004

Scott Linehan   2005

Mike Mularkey   2006

Dan Henning   2008-10

Brian Daboll   2011-

January 18, 2011

Welcome to "The LeBrons" -- the King's new cartoon show (with video); plus where is your rooting interest in Super Bowl final four? (with poll); find Cam Wake, Heat King-o-Meter, Brian Daboll & more

[With apologies, today's live chat was canceled at the last moment. I was offline most of the afternoon until around 3:30. Will pick it back up next week. Meantime click here to post questions any time].

1aa1lebron LEBRON JAMES STARRING IN HIS OWN CARTOON: This is delicious. Coming soon, the Heat's LeBron James stars in a new cartoon show called "The LeBrons," in which he plays himself in four characters: young kid, athlete, businessman and wise old man. Click on The LeBrons for a YouTube introductory or to subscribe.

1aa1nfln 1aa1nfla NFL FINAL FOUR VERY GOOD, NOT SUPER: Do you agree? In Jets-Steelers and Packers-Bears you get the sense this is a pretty solid quartet but lacking a powerhouse. Doesn't mean Sunday's semifinals won't be great, but a certain sizzle is missing. My initial thought is that Pittsburgh and Green Bay are pretty clearly the better teams. I can't say I have a real rooting interest, other than the standard ABJ (Anybody But Jets). So I'd probably hope for Steelers (for that reason), and ultimately for Packers -- because Gee Bees were my preseason Super Bowl pick and I so rarely hit a bull's-eye on that. Now it's your turn. Which of the final four who you most like to see emerge hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, and why?

KING-O-METER: WADE NARROWING JAMES' LEAD: Click here for my column off last night's fourth 1aaking straight Heat loss. Now, to our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of the Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season, shows this after 43 games through last night's loss: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 2,406.36 King points to 2,276.25 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. However Wade leads in games led, 22-21. (Regular updates here in the blog whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

'MELO USING LEBRON LESSONS IN TRADE SAGA: Interesting pice on Carmelo Anthony's trade saga in the upcoming Sports Illustrated, and it includes the following: "I would never go about it the way LeBron did it. If he could do it all over again he wouldn't do it that way ... I can guarantee you that. We talk a lot more than we have in the past, especially now." SI also reports an innocuous comment made by LeBron at Anthony's wedding this summer may have foretold a trade. "If you want any chance against us in Miami," LeBron kidded Anthony, "you better team up with 'Stoud in New York."

1aa1camw PLAY 'WHERE'S CAMERON,' WIN HAWAII TRIP: Forget 'Where's Waldo.' Where's Cameron? Win a trip to the Pro Bowl for you and a guest by finding Cameron Wake (pictured) and telling him a password you can find by joining the Dolphins on Facebook or Twitter. He'll be at five unannounced South Florida Publix locations today between 1 and 5 p.m. Spot him with the right password and win one of 100 special leis that makes you a finalist for the  prize. Good luck!

ON NEW DOLPHINS OFFENSIVE CHIEF BRIAN DABOLL: Emails, Tweets and others spasm of social intercourse suggest Miami fans aren't thrilled with the Dolphins' hiring of Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. I sort of like the pick; it's growing on me. Click on Anybody But Henning for today's column by me on the hire -- and thanks for making it the No. 1 most-read sports column or story online today! This could be the jump-start Chad Henne's career needs.

THE LIST: MIAMI TIES IN NFL FINAL FOUR: The seven players still in Super Bowl contention who are former Dolphins or former Hurricanes, listed alphabetically:

Desmond Clark, Bears TE   Reserve played for Dolphins in 2002

Devin Hester, Bears WR/PR   Former Hurricane had four TD catches, 3 on returns

Donald Lee, Packers TE   Reserve played for Dolphins in 2003-04

Greg Olsen, Bears TE   Starter is ex-Cane

Sam Shields, Packers CB   Ex-Cane is kick-returner, backup corner

Jason Taylor, Jets DE   Longtime Dolphin had five sacks as reserve

Patrick Turner, Jets WR   Ex-Dolphins rookie a seldom-used reserve

Notes: Steelers have none. Bears starting RT J'Marcus Webb is cousin of longtime former Dolphins  tackle Richmond Webb. 

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this post soon...

January 15, 2011

Dolphins hiring Daboll as O.C.; plus NFL Playoffs: Jets (oy!), Steelers, Bears, Pack advance

 

1aa1briandaboll DOLPHINS HIRING DABOLL AS O.C.: That would be Brian Daboll, 35, set to join the Dolphins as offensive coordinator, replacing Dan Henning, ESPN is reporting today. Daboll, pictured, has been Cleveland's o.c. the past two seasons. Initial thought: Bit of a strange hire. But that doesn't mean bad. Click Anybody But Henning for today's column by me on the Daboll hiring.

PENNINGTON PLANS COMEBACK: Chad Pennington told the Palm Beach Post today he will attempt another comeabck from shoulder surgery, whether with the Dolphins or not. Pennington also applauded the hiring of Daboll, who was his Jets QB coach in 2008.

STEELERS-JETS, PACKERS-BEARS ADVANCE: I was 3-1 straight-up on Divisional Weekend, and a dismal 1-3 against the spread.

1aa1nyjpats Jets 28, Patriots 21: OK, I admit it. My disdain for loudmouth Rex Ryan and his loudmouth Jets probably affects my picks. There. I said. Not sure it does. But it might. The good news? Pittsburgh will be the clear favorite next week. And now let America unite behind Pittsburgh, because the alternative is gruesome: A week of insufferable Rex preening on the Super Bowl.

Bears 35, Seahawks 24: Anybody who watched today's game knows it was not as close the final score suggests. All Bears. The result verifies last week's Seattle upset of the Saints was more the aberration and that today was more the reality of what happens when a team with a 7-9 record sneaks into the playoffs. Packers at Bears in the NFC final should eb close to a pick-'em game, maybe Chicago favored by 1 point.

Steelers 31, Ravens 24: Watched some of this game at Bokamper's, where a jerseyed, pro-Pittsburgh crowd had much to cheer. How do you blow a 21-7 playoff lead? Baltimore has much time to consider that. Sure was the defensive scrum most figured, with turnovers playing an unexpectedly large role. Biggest play? That's easy. Rookie Antonio Brown with that spectacular catch on the 58-yard late pass from Ben Roethlisberger.

Packers 48, Falcons 21: Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers. He isnt on that Brady/P.Manning echelon yet, but he's up there a notch below on the second tier. And climbing. He hit 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three TDs, and ran for another score. What a huge game. Sounded like a lambeay crowd in ATL. What a letdown game for that city hosting its first playoff game in six years, and what an embarrassment for the Falcons' defense.  

Original post: Spoiler alert! Today the Steelers will edge the Ravens 20-17 in a bout of gridiron brutality that has been likened to Armageddon but is actually more serious than that. And tonight the Packers will upset the Falcons 34-27. Then, on Sunday, the Bears will beat the imposter Seahawks 21-14, after which the Patriots will defeat the Jets 31-20. Click on Divisional Weekend Gems for an expanded version of all four picks. And click on Ready Set Hype for our related column in which we rank the four games based on hype and anticipation, and include for each a Neutral Rooting Factor (patent pending) that determines who to cheer for if you are a fan of neither team.

1aa1nyjpats2 The two AFC games loom as the tastiest of the weekend for me, crescendo-ing with the Sunday finale in which the loudmouth Jets will effectively be silenced by Tom Brady. This game in particular will allow Dolfans to see pretty well how far Miami is from being in this game. Pictured top, the delicious "Return of the Jet-I" from the New York Post. Pictured bottom, Boston Metro counters by lampooning Rex Ryan's now-famous foot fetish. Jets-Pats. It ain't Yankees-Red Sox, but it'll do for now.

We would welcome here your own thoughts on this weekend's quartet of games, who you think will win and who you hope will.

THE LIST: PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE: Combined career playoff won-lost records of the final eight's head coaches and starting quarterbacks:

.786   11-3   Steelers (Mike Tomlin 3-1, Ben Roethlisberger 8-2)

.763   29-9   Patriots (Bill Belichick 15-5, Tom Brady 14-4)

.750   6-2   Jets (Rex Ryan 3-1, Mark Sanchez 3-1)

.667   8-4   Ravens (John Harbaugh 4-2, Joe Flacco 4-2)

.500   7-7   Seahawks (Pete Carroll 2-2, Matt Hasselbeck 5-5)

.500   3-3   Packers (Mike McCarthy 2-2, Aaron Rodgers 1-1)

.500   2-2   Bears (Lovie Smith 2-2, Jay Cutler 0-0)

.000   0-2   Falcons (Mike Smith 0-1, Matt Ryan 0-1)

January 12, 2011

Dolphins QB options vs. Henne (with poll); plus UM hires Fisch as OC, Dolphins consider Brad Childress; LeBron on karma, Shula smiles & more

[Watch for a new blogpost -- NFL Divisional Weekend playoffs -- posting Saturday morning!].

1aa1bradc 1aa1jeddUM hires Fisch as OC, Dolphins to interview Childress: Miami Hurricanes have hired Seattle Seahawks QBs coach Jedd Fisch, 34 (pictured near right) as offensive coordinator, ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported. Also, Minneapolis Star-Tribune breaks the news that former Vikings head coach Brad Childress (pictured far right) will interview for the Dolphins' offensive coordinator position. Other known candidates thus far are Ron Chudzinski, Brian Daboll, John Garrett and Chris Palmer.

SHOULD DOLPHINS SIGN VETERAN QB OR SPEND NO. 1 DRAFT PICK TO CHALLENGE HENNE?: Chances are Miami will do one or the other but not both. Help them decide. Our friends at Bodog.com post the following odds on who'll start Game 1 at QB for Dolphins in 2011: Free-agent pickup 2/3; Chad Henne 3/2; a 2011 draft pick 5/1; Tyler Thigpen 7/1; and Chad Pennington 15/1. Odds look fair, although I'd probably flip-flop the first two and make Henne a narrow favorite. In the following poll, I list eight QBs -- the four veterans who are most gettable and have some appeal, and the four collegians pegged for the first round. Before you vote, consider that of the veterans, only Young is a free-agent; the other three might require a trade if they are not released. As for the draft, with Miami picking No. 15 overall, a trade-up or trade-down could come into play based on Mel Kiper's updated board that has Gabbert going 8th, Newton 14th, Mallett 20th and Locker 24th. Take a dip in our poll and say why you voted as you did. Or tell us why you like an option not listed or would prefer Miami simply go with Henne/Thigpen.

[Poll analysis: What interests me most in these ongoing results is the utter lack of consensus. Dolfans appear thoroughly undecided not just on who, but on whether a veteran or the draft is the way to go. Last time I added it up the 4 NFL options totaled 51.6% to the 4 college options' 48.4. I wonder if the Dolphins are undecided as well...]

EX-MARLINS TAKE CRAP IN HALL VOTING: Cooperstown voting that just inducted Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven included 31 others on the ballot who didn't make it. Those included five ex-Marlins who were among the lowest vote-getters: Kevin Brown, 12 votes; Al Leiter 4; Benito Santiago 1; Lenny Harris, 0; and Charles Johnson, 0. None survived to next year's ballot.

MAKING DON SHULA SMILE: Don Shula &  The Perfectos will like this. The Sporting News has come out with its 10 best NFL teams ever list, and the 1972 Dolphins rank No. 1. Pop goes the champagne! The rest of the T10 in order: 1984 49ers, 1985 Bears, 1978 Steelers, 1962 Packers, 1958 Baltimore Colts, 1992 Cowboys, 2004 Patriots, 1977 Cowboys and 1976 Raiders. 

1aa1karma LEBRON AND KARMA: During the Cavaliers' humiliating 112-57 loss to the Lakers in L.A. the other night, the Heat's LeBron James sent this out on his Twitter account: "Crazy. Karma is a b**** .. Gets you every time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!" Click here for my latest column on LeBron and karma. I write that it's all on his side, not with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. And then the Heat lose and LeBron sprains an ankle. And then the Heat lose again. The Cote Jinx! (Update: LeBron has since explained the Tweet by saying, "It's just how I feel." But then he said, "It wasn't even a comment from me, it was someone else who sent it to me and I sent it out" -- even though his Tweet did not indicate it was a re-Tweet from anyone else. Hmm. Weird).

1aa1onioncome THE ONION, COMEDY CENTRAL TAKE ON ESPN: Love this. Comedy Central and The Onion, mavens of wiseass parody, have combined on a new Onion SportsDome TV series. Click here for a video sample. It's brilliant because it makes fun of sports and mostly makes fun of ESPN and especially SportsCenter. Good stuff.

OKLAHOMA TOPS 2011 COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLLS: Confetti has barely landed on Auburn's title win over Oregon and already the first 2011 preseason polls are out. The top five of Andy Staples of SI.com is Oklahoma, Oregon, LSU, Alabama and Stanford, with FSU 10th. ESPN.com has it Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Boise State, with FSU 7th and Florida 23rd. Nary a Cane in either top 25.

[Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this post...]

COTE TOP 30: Here is our second annual final Top 30 Ranking for the college football season just past. Please note, our rankings are unlike others. Our rankings are derived from a season's worth of the three biggest polls -- Associated Press, USA Today/Coaches and ESPN -- from preseason to post-bowls. In effect, our ranking is how the season would have turned out based on end-to-end consistency in poll performance. Here is our final 2010 Top 30, with school's 2009 rank beside it:

Rank   2009   Team   Points

1   14   Oregon   1,311

2   4   Boise State   1,266

3   5   Texas Christian   1,263

4   6t   Ohio State   1,215

5   3   Alabama   1,139

6   38   Auburn   1,097

7   19   Oklahoma   1,023

8   27   Wisconsin   1,007

9   24   Nebraska   972

10   6t   Louisiana State   917

11   32   Stanford   873

12   53   Arkansas   808

13   43   Michigan State   705

14   22   Utah   704

15   13   Iowa   628

16   36   South Carolina   588

17   11   Virginia Tech   511

18   15   Oklahoma State   510

19   34   Arizona   509

20   37   Missouri   502

21   1   FLORIDA   454

22   41   FLORIDA STATE   433

23   16   MIAMI   390

24   2   Texas   386

25   UNR   Nevada   380

26   UNR   Mississippi State   244

27   29   West Virginia   226

28   10   Southern Cal   207

29   UNR   Texas A&M   198

30   39   Michigan   178

35   UNR   CENTRAL FLORIDA   74

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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 appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's Dolphins pregame show and Tuesdays at 4:20 p.m. JOIN in live chat Wednesdays 1-2 p.m. CONTACT at gcote@miamiherald.com. Correspond by email only; I don't answer snail-mail.

January 08, 2011

NFL Playoffs: Packers, Ravens, Jets, Seahawks survive Wild Card Weekend; plus more on Tony Sparano

1aa1nflpos

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NFL PLAYOFFS: Packers, Ravens, Jets, Seahawks advance: Let me admit the obvious. I was taking a public crap after Saturday, going 0-2, but came back and rolled a 2-0 on Sunday. Did not see Seattle's upset of New Orleans, nor did I foretell the NY Foot Fetishes eliminating Peyton Manning and Indy. At least I got Baltimore over Kansas  City right. Then broke even later today/Sunday when Packers bagged an upset win at Philly as I'd prredicted. By the way, sorry I have been a bit tardy with my updates on this post. Am presently in Key West on a little R&R, so work is not exactly my priority. Sorry again. Favoriter local T-shirt embodying my weekend: "I Think I Might Be Drinking Too Much, So I've Given Up Thinking." Next week's matchups: Jets at Pats, Ravens at Steelers, Packers at Falcons, Seahawks at Bears.

Original post from Saturday: Spoiler alert. Late this afternoon the defending champion New Orleans Saints will beat the host Seattle Seahawks, and tonight the host Indianapolis Colts will defeat the New York Foot Fetishes. Then on Sunday, the visiting Baltimore Ravens will beat the Kansas City Chiefs, and the visiting Green Bay Packers will upset the Philadelphia Eagles. Click on Wild Card Weekend Gems for complete predictions and stuff on all 12 playoff teams including those with byes.

DOLPHINS WELCOME BACK SPARANO, SORT OF: The Dolphins held an incredibly awkward press conference on Saturday to announce coach Tony Sparano has earned a contract extension. No, seriously. This is the same team that stood on a mountaintop and proclaimed Sparano isn't good enough and they think they can do better by trying to hire Bill Cowher and then Jim Harbaugh. There is a school of thought that Tony should have done the righteous thing, said screw-you and quit. He'd have been a South Florida folk hero to some. However, in the real world, Tony has one of 32 jobs in America at the very pinnacle of his profession. You fight to keep that job, you don't give it up over a few days of bungled embarrassment.

THE LIST: WHO TO ROOT FOR IN PLAYOFFS: How long the 12 playoff teams have waited to celebrate a championship, from longest to shortest wait based on most recent league title:

Last title   Team   Notes

1960   Eagles   Last of three NFL titles (eliminated)  

1966   Falcons   Never won; waiting since '66

1968   Jets   Only Super Bowl win

1969   Chiefs   Only SB win (eliminated)

1976   Seahawks   Never won; waiting since '76

1985   Bears   Last of nine league titles

1996   Packers   Last of record 12 titles

2000   Ravens   Only SB win

2004   Patriots Most recent of three

2006   Colts   Last of four franchise crowns (eliminated)

2008   Steelers   Last of six titles

2009   Saints   Reigning champs, only title (eliminated)

January 06, 2011

Rejected! Dolphins fail to land Harbaugh, stick with Sparano (with poll)

SPARANO REMAINS DOLPHINS COACH. BUT HARDLY BY CHOICE: How weird is this? How [bleep]ing odd!? The Dolphins spend most of the week talking to Bill Cowher and full-court-pressing Jim Harbaugh -- 1aa1dolcoach throwing $8 million per year at him -- and in the end everybody says no-thanks and so the new coach is the same as the old coach: Tony Sparano. Wow. Bizarre. Click HERE for my new column on this. Some newspaper readers, especially in Broward, might have gotten my early version of the column, when it appeared Harbaugh was still in play. The news that Sparano was being retained didn't break until around 11:15 p.m. so we were scrambling late. Earlier in the day 790 The Ticket was reporting without equivocation that Harbaugh was the guy. They were obviously wrong. But lighten up a little on Dan Le Batard. This story was very fluid. What his source told him might have been right at the time. Anyway, I don't think having Sparano back is that bad. Two things, though: 1) How awkward for him! I mean he spent a week hearing/reading/knowing his team was trying mightily to replace him. His own GM, Judas Ireland, was in the Stephen Ross search party out west trolling for Harbaugh. How do you stay and work in that environment? 2) Why did Miami and Ross fail to do what they wished to do? They blew the chance to get the available, proven winner, Cowher, because they unwisely swore allegiance to Ireland. Then they struck out on Harbaugh despite the monetary committment. Bottom line? High hopes fritter down to settling. Same with UM a few weeks earlier. The Canes make a big public play for Jon Gruden, fail, and then have to try to convince fans that Al Golden was their guy all along. Now the Dolphins court Cowher and especially Harbaugh, fail, and must sell rightly skeptical Dolfans on the idea Sparano deserved another year. You buying it? Take a dip in our poll. Vote, and expound.

January 04, 2011

Who should Dolphins' next coach be? (with poll); plus Ricky leaves with bridges burning, Cooperstown's lame picks, Heat King-o-Meter, homeless man with voice of God & more

[GREAT response today on the live chat; thanks! We do it every Wednesday, 1-2 p.m. Click RIGHT HERE to join us live then or to post questions any time].

1aa1jimh DOLPHINS LOOKING FOR SPARANO'S REPLACEMENT: NFL Network first reported that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is interested in Stanford's Jim Harbaugh (right) as his new coach to replace Tony Sparano. In that scenerio Jeff Ireland would remain as GM. It also is reported that Bill Cowher was approached but is an unlikely candidate because he would want his own personnel people, and Ross evidently plans to keep Ireland. The push for Harbaugh intensifies; click here. Bottom line: If early reports are are accurate, Sparano is probably out-bound, but Ireland figures to survive. Who would you like to be Miami's coach next season and why? Vote now.

1aa1tonys DOLPHINS NEEDS MAJOR CHANGES, STARTING AT TOP: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross must take advantage of an opportunity -- with coaches such as Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Stanford's Jim Harbaugh available -- and replace Tony Sparano with a more proven coach if he can. GM Jeff Ireland should go, too, if his presence impedes a coaching upgrade. Sparano is not bad. I like him. But a new direction is needed. This franchise needs a jolt. All of this was the gist of my latest column. Click on They Can Do Better to read and react.

1aa1rickyw RICKY FASHIONS OWN EXIT, RIPS SPARANO: Hours after my column calling for a coaching change was written and online, longest-serving Dolphin Ricky Williams ripped Sparano on his weekly WQAM radio show Monday night. He accused the coach of micromanaging, said he had lost the lockerroom, and said Miami was ill-prepared for the loss at New England. You can always count on this man for honesty. Right 'til the end. If Sparano somehow survives, he's a goner. However, who's to say with a new coach that there might not be mutual interest in Ricky staying?

1aaking KING-O-METER UPDATE: STILL LBJ, BUT DWYANE CLOSING: Our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of the Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season, shows this after 37 games through last night's Milwaukee game: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 2,115.87 King points to 1,934.50 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. However Wade now leads in games led, 19-18. (Regular updates here in the blog whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

DOWN YEAR FOR COOPERSTOWN: Baseball on Wednesday announced 2B Roberto Alomar and pitcher  Bert Blyleven as its two 2011 inductees. Yawn. Alomar to me is borderline worthy but mostly Hall of Very Good material, with a career .300 average on the nose, decent speed, good glove, but nothing extraordinary. He's probably most famous for spitting in an umpire's face. Blyleven has shamelessly campaigned voters for years, lost almost as many games as he won (287-250), did not once lead the league in wins, ERA or strikeouts, and made only two all-star teams in 22 years. Put Bert in the Hall of Played A Really Long Time. Induction ceremony is in July. I think they should open the back door for these two. Side door, at least. 

1aa1homeless HOMELESS MAN HAS DULCET TONES: A Cleveland area homeless man (pictured) has gone viral because he has a quintessential radio/TV announcer's voice. Seriously. Click here to see and hear the surreal YouTube video. The Cavaliers supposedly have offered him an announcer's job. I think he should have a one-hour special an announce he's taking his talents to South Beach.

Click back. Might be adding more to this post later.

January 02, 2011

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8% final approval rating

[Main game post on Dolphins-Patriots is directly below this in blog].

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: DOLPHINS AT PATRIOTS: Results are certified on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll -- the last of the 2010 season -- and they show a 3.8 percent overall approval rating in the wake of Sunday's 38-7 loss at New England, leaving Miami's final season record a playoff-less 7-9. On the flip side, 90.5% of voters call themselves "very dissatisfied."

1aadsmThe DSM, completing its third season, is a continuous gauge of how fans feel 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 around 7:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

Thanks to the thousands who voted this season. The DSM will see you again next season! Previous scores may be found beneath this latest and final 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.

Game 6: 40.9% satisfaction (8.3 very, 32.6 somewhat) following 23-22 loss vs. Pittsburgh.

Game 7: 77.9% satisfaction (21.2 very, 56.7 somewhat) following 22-14 victory at Cincinnati.

Game 8: 7.8% satisfaction (1.9 very, 5.9 somewhat) following 26-10 loss at Baltimore.

Game 9: 58.3% satisfaction (18.3 very, 40.0 somewhat) following 29-17 victory vs. Tennessee.

Game 10: 6.9% satisfaction (4.4 very, 2.5 somewhat) following 16-0 loss vs. Chicago.

Game 11: 70.3% satisfaction (23.8 very, 46.5 somewhat) following 33-17 victory at Oakland.

Game 12: 2.4% satisfaction (1.6 very, 0.8 somewhat) following game 13-10 loss vs. Cleveland.

Game 13: 46.1% satisfaction (8.1 very, 38.0 somewhat) following 10-6 victory at New York Jets.

Game 14: 4.3% satisfaction (3.4 very, 0.9 somewhat) following 17-14 loss vs. Buffalo.

Game 15: 4.8% satisfaction (4.6 very, 0.2 somewhat) following 34-27 loss vs. Detroit.

Game 16: 3.8% satisfaction (3.3 very, 0.5 somewhat) following 38-7 loss at New England.

2010 DSM Final: 3.8% satisfaction (3.3 very, 0.5 somewhat)

2009 DSM Final: 31.2% satisfaction (4.5 very, 26.7 somewhat)

2008 DSM Final: 96.9% satisfaction (96.9 very, 1.5 somewhat)