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10 posts from February 2011

February 27, 2011

Heat loss to Knicks = Panic. 4.0?; plus name the greatest Oscar (with poll); movies vs. baseball

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1aa1big3 HEAT-KNICKS BACK AS TOP-TIER RIVALRY: [Update: Knicks defeat Heat 91-86, which figures to cause the onset of what I would estimate as Panic 4.0. Postscript: Spike Lee is gaining on Fireman Ed as my most disliked human mascot. Can't spike come up with another $4 million opening gross dud film to occupy his time to keep him off courtside?] Original post: How you like that my-how-times-have-changed photo? The 'Bockers adding Carmelo Anthony to Amare Stoudemire, with prospects of luring Chris Paul next summer, partners with the Heat's Big 3 to return New York-Miami to big-rivalry status for the first time since the late '90s. I mean, what's a sexier visit than Knicks now? Celtics and Lakers are the only opponents that might be arguable. Maybe Jimmy Buffett will bonk Spike Lee on the head with a margarita glass. Hey, I can dream. Maybe ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy and Heat executive Alonzo Mourning will reprise the 1998 playoff melee in which the then-Knicks coach latched onto Zo's leg like a toy poddle trying to bite a redwood. This is an "event" game and I'd expect a huge home show from Miami, especially after that loss in Chicago. The over/under on combined points LeBron, D-Wade and 'Melo needs to be around 100. And you know Anthony will put on a show. He has been overshadowed by LeBron and Wade in his career and feels he finally has the stage to get up to their stardom level. We'll see. Sweet night. Let's go!

NAME THE GREATEST OSCAR: In honor of tonight's Academy Awards, we open the poll envelope and name 1aa1oscar the greatest Oscar. It was not tough limiting the poll options to 10 Oscars, although we did have to omit former Costan Rican president Oscar Arias Sanchez and South African paralympian Oscar Pistorius, the guy with blades for feet. Sorry guys. Also the list does not include Oscar the movie award, pictured, because we wanted to give the other Oscars a fighting chance. (Did you ever notice that Oscar the movie award, up close, resembles a creepy space alien? Trivia: Oscar is the 131st most common male baby name in the U.S., after peaking in the 1880s, but remains an enormously popular name in Sweden. Select your top THREE Oscars from the list. Vote now!

MOVIES VS. BASEBALL: Last night the main acting awards went to Colin Firth of "The King's Speech" and Natalie Portman for "Black Swan." That means it has been 1997 since the same film produced both the leading actor and actress -- a feat that has occurred only seven times. Got me to wondering how often we have had the baseball equivalent: One team producing both the year's batting champion and ERA leader. Answer? Much more common in baseball.

The only seven times one film has had winning leading actor and actress: 1934--Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert in "It Happened One Night"; 1975--Jack Nicholson & Louise Fletcher in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; 1976--Peter Finch & Faye Dunaway in "Network"; 1978--Jon Voight & Jane Fonda in "Coming Home"; 1981--Henry Fonda & Katherine Hepburn in "On Golden Pond"; 1991--Anthony Hopkins & Jodie Foster in "The Silence of the Lambs"; and 1997--Nicholson & Helen Hunt in "As Good As It Gets."

The last seven times one team has had leading batter and pitcher: 2006--Joe Mauer & Johan Santana, Minnesota; 2003--Bill Mueller & Pedro Martinez, Boston; 2002--Manny Ramirez & Martinez, Boston; 2001--Ichiro Suzuki & Freddy Garcia, Seattle; 2000--Nomar Garciaparra & Martinez, Boston; 1999--Garciaparra & Martinez, Boston; 1995--Edgar Martinez & Randy Johnson, Seattle.

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February 24, 2011

How much faith do you have in the people running the Dolphins? (with poll); plus UM women's hoops, Heat, Kirby Hocutt, Lost & Found (Ken Fogarty) & more

1aa1jefftony HOW MUCH FAITH IN THIS DOLPHINS' REGIME?: I explore, in a new column you'd find online now, in Friday's pulp edition or by clicking HERE, the many questions and doubts dogging the Dolphins as free agency and the NFL Draft approach. Should they sign Jeremy Shockey? What will they do for a QB? Who should they draft in the first round? I also explore the many reasons why Dolphins fans might be apprehensive right now. Because, of all the questions facing this unsettled team, the biggest question is this: Do the men running it -- GM Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano (pictured) -- have the right answers? Take a dip in our poll. How much do you trust the Dolphins' leadership as the 2011 offseason heats up?

TONIGHT WAS THE BIGGEST WOMEN'S BASKETBALL GAME IN SOUTH FLORIDA HISTORY: I'm talking FSU 1aa1shenisej at Miami's Hurricanes -- won by the Canes, 84-68 -- and I make that claim because this feels like it could be the most special season in UM's 39 years of women's hoops. Certainly it was this market's most significant women's game in the sport since the June 1, 2000 debut of the WNBA's short-lived Miami Sol. The Seminoles were AP-ranked No. 14 and the Canes No. 12, and victorious UM is now thinking top-10 and ACC championship. Miami has a chance to better its best ranking ever (No. 6 in 1992) and is certain to make the women's NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004. Full credit to coach Katie Meier and an entertaining team led by super-guards Riquna Williams and Shenise Johnson. If Miami stays hot, Johnson (pictured), who scored 25 points tonight, should be a national Player of the Year factor. More intrigue for tonight: FSU had been a nemesis, on a 15-2 series run coming in, but UM instead improved to 20-0 at home. You know how mighty oaks grow from acorns unless a deranged Alabama fan comes along and poisons the tree? Well, mighty programs grow from games like tonight's. The under-supported Canes had a chance to significantly build their following, and seized it. This was a huge game, but an even bigger opportunity.

BULLS 93, HEAT 89: Ohmygod! Ready, set, panic! No, but seriously, a four-point road loss to a tough opponent on a night when Chris Bosh was 1-for-18 shooting ... it's OK. Really. It's OK!

ON KIRBY HOCUTT: The Miami Hurricanes' bright young athletic director, Kirby Hocutt, 38, is leaving for Texas Tech after being offered that job and accepting. He has only been at UM three years. Hmm. So, umm, when he said this was his dream job and talked about "The U" and family and all that ... was he just joshing? Guess we found out.  

1aa1ken2 1aa1ken1 LOST & FOUND: KEN FOGARTY: [This debuts an occasional blog feature in which we give you a brief where-are-they-now on various South Florida sports figures from the past]. Ken Fogarty was a stout bulldog-of-a-British defender who played for the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1979-83, when the team enjoyed a thriving niche following and drew crowds of better than 10,000 to Lockhart Stadium. He appeared in 101 games, fourth-most in club history. Ken is pictured in action back in the day (No. 7) and more recently. Today, at 56, he is technical director for the Texans Soccer Club, a premier-level youth program in Houston. "Coming to this country was the best thing to ever happen to me," Ken told us today. "I came from a dour, fourth-division style of play. In England it was black and white and in Fort Lauderdale, color. What a fabulous experience for me."

1aa1cellph CELL-PHONE DRIVERS STINK: I have seen those "Shut Up And Drive" bumper stickers (and variations, as pictured) but never found the cause all that compelling, until yesterday, when a 31-year-old woman on a cell phone -- with a baby in a car seat -- plowed hard into the back of my 19-year-old son's car when he was stopped at a red light. He's OK. I'm angry. Not sure if she was texting or talking, but, either way, I am coming around to the idea that driving while using a cell phone isn't much different than DUI in terms of the potential hazard. I have observed, by the way, that women seem by far more likely to be the ones with wheel in one hand and phone in the other. C'mon, ladies. I know y'all are harried and juggling and multi-tasking and all that, but if you don't think driving deserves your undivided attention, well, call a @#%&ing cab!

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February 22, 2011

Knicks saying hello 'Melo complicates Heat's dynasty dream (with poll); plus Shockey to Dolphins?, 'Housewives' of Miami, D-Wade's fashion & more

[Thanks to all of today's live chatters. Do it every Wednesday 1-2 p.m. Click HERE to join us live then, to read transcripts or to post questions any time. Also, follow at Twitter.com/gregcote]

1aa1hellomelo KNICKS LANDING 'MELO COMPLICATES HEAT TITLE DRIVE: New York loves stars and big headlines, media as much as fans, and pictured is the New York Post splash welcoming Carmelo Anthony in the mega-deal completed late last night. The Knickerbockers, pairing Anthony with Amare Stoudemire, think they have joined Boston and Miami (OK, and Orlando and Chicago) as NBA Eastern Conference power-brokers. Maybe. But if NYK in turn can now sign Chris Paul this coming 1aa1isiaht summer, which becomes much more likely now, then yes. A Big 3 is all the rage now; every team needs to have one. The point is the Knicks suddenly are in position to be a team to be reckoned with, another big, neon obstacle to Miami's dynasty dream as the league's power continues its West-to-East shift. This trade's impact on the Heat isn't the only interest to South Florida. There are plenty of indications that former NBA star and current FIU coach Isiah Thomas (left) helped lure Anthony and broker this deal behind the scenes, as a presumed precursor to Knicks owner James Dolan now bringing Thomas back to the Knicks in a president/GM-type role. Have the Knicks become a major rival to the Heat's title hopes? Take a dip in our poll.

'THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF MIAMI': The show debuts tonight, and I feel like Sally Field in Absence of Malice 1aa1housewives stealing papers off lawns, except I want to steal televisions so nobody can watch this. I dare say the real housewives of Miami will be embarrassed by The Real Housewives of Miami. Why would anyone agree to appear on this most shaming franchise in all of not-really-reality TV? Better we should return to the days when the negative connotation of Miami involved murder and cocaine. The six housewives, pictured, are a six-pack of vapidity begging two questions: 1) Aren't there any black women in Miami? Not even one? Or is it that all the black women in Miami had too much pride to agree to be on this show? 2) I don't think Marysol Patton, second from left, has had enough work done. If those lips were any wider or less real looking she'd be Heath Ledger as The Joker. Ooh, too mean? Sorry, Marysol and you five others, but the exchange for your new piss-ant, Snookie-esque celebrity is that you are under now under a microscope that exposes every pore. I have a feeling the hardest-working man in show business is going to be the guy applying the makeup for this show.

SHOCKEY TO DOLPHINS?: Fox's Jay Glazer reporting the Saints have terminted the contract of tight end Jeremy Shockey, the ex-Cane. Let's start some Shockey-to-Dolphins momentum. He's still better offensively than what they have at that position.

1aa1dwade WADE NBA'S TOP FASHION PLATE: Sports Illustrated polled 136 NBA players, asked, "Who has the best fashion sense off the court? " and Heat's Dwyane Wade won big with 29 percent. Next: Kobe Bryant 13% and LeBron James 11%. Pictured left: Wade, being extremely fashionable. [Updated NBA championship odds, via Bodog.com: Heat favored at 11-5, then Celtics 7-2, Lakers 4-1 and Spurs 9-2. For MVP it's LeBron James 2-1, Derrick Rose 5-2, Kevin Durant 5-1 and Amare Stoudemire 11-2. Over/under on Carmelo Anthony's scoring average as a Knick: 27.5].

1aa1bayne TREVOR BAYNE SAVES NASCAR: The five years of the Jimmie Johnson reign have been no remedy for NASCAR, which has seen attendance, sponsorships and TV ratings dip during his unthrilling (except to his fans) dominance. A resurgence by popular Dale Earnhardt Jr. would work wonders as the sport's ultimate tonic, but his winless streak has stretched to 94 races now. Vladimir and Estragon waited for Godot less time than we've been Waiting For Junior. NASCAR is looking for a savior, and may have found one in Trevor Bayne (pictured), Sunday's youngest-ever Daytona 500 champion, fresh face personified, one day past his 20th birthday. I have socks older than him. Click here from my column off the race from the Speedway.

A QUESTION FOR DOG OWNERS: This does not apply to me because my old dog Sandy surveys and sniffs her own fenced-in backyard before choosing where to take a crap. But, to the people who walk their dogs so they can crap on other people's lawns: Isn't it true you carry that little plastic bag just for show and that you only pretend to scoop up Fido's gift? I think so. I think you do a quick glance to see if anyone is watching, do the bend-n-pretend, then walk away with a secret grin. Busted!

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February 19, 2011

Playoffs or bust: How good will the Marlins be? (with poll); plus Cam Newton, LeBron on dunk contest, Wittels' streak & more

[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Also, just in time for baseball, vintage Red Sox fans who are Yazheads might also enjoy following a new site from me: Twitter.com/carlyastrzemski. Spread the word!].

HEY 19! SOLID TEAM BUT TOUGH ROAD GREETS MARLINS' 19TH SEASON: Spring training has begun and 1aa1hanleyr 1aa1joshj so it's time to reconnoiter where the Marlins' final season in the old stadium might lead. Jeffrey Loria predicts the playoffs, but that's by rote. Rare is preseason pessimism from an owner. From a more neutral vantage, I am optimistic for a wild card-contending year -- led by the pictured Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez -- but also recognize the long odds. That's literally. Betting odds put the Marlins at 35-1 to win the World Series, and unfortunately for the Fish, the NL East-mate Phillies are the clear favorite to win it all at 2-1. The division's Braves also are generally seen as better than Florida. So where does the optimism come from? Always assuming good health, the Marlins' J.J.-led starting rotation is very stout. Not Phillies-awesome, but solid. The bullpen is notably improved. The regular lineup is loaded with young, ascending talent with huge upside. Negatives? Losing Dan Uggla (compounded by departures of Cody Ross and Jorge Cantu) erases a lot of home run punch. Defense always seems to be an issue. The bench seems a bit weak. And many lingering questions must answer affirmatively for this to be a playoff season, such as: Does new starter Javier Vazquez have much left? Is Matt Dominguez ready for a fulltime role at third? Will new 2B Omar Infante and new catcher John Buck prove themselves strong additions? Lots to find out about and eager to start. For now, take a dip in our poll and help set the bar on expectations. As always, asking for your reasonable, realistic view, not your wishful thinking.

CAM NEWTON SLIP-SLIP-SLIPPING FROM DOLPHINS' GRASP: This week's NFL scouting combine sort of 1aa1camn unofficially kicks off NFL Draft Season and all the raging speculation and parade of mock drafts leading up to it. A growing consensus, from a Miami perspective, seems to be that the Dolphins -- if quarterback shopping -- will have zero shot at Auburn's Cam Newton (pictured) barring an unexpected major tradeup from the 15th spot. Once he was expected to fall to around there. No more. In fact Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock for ESPN has Newton going third overall to AFC East-mate Buffalo. The Melster has Miami taking Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

LEBRON PICKS BLAKE GRIFFIN TO WIN DUNK CONTEST: The dunking happens tonight as part of NBA All-Star Weekend, and Miami's LeBron James -- it still feels weird to type those three words -- picks Blake Griffin to win, along with everybody else in the thinking world. Click here for a video in which LBJ 'splains himself.

WITTELS, POSTSCRIPT: Garrett Wittels' record-chasing 56-game hitting streak ended in last night's FIU season opener. To those who assume he is guilty or at least feel as if he should have been suspended, that must have felt like justice. Now the national media spotlight (ESPN was there) will disappear. Given the rape charges Wittels faces in the Bahamas, the commencing lack of attention is probably a very good thing for both the kid, is team and

TOMMY MORRISON: PROFESSIONAL IDIOT: Retired HIV-positive boxer Tommy Morrison says HIV does not exist and brags that he has unprotected sex every day. Click here to read the sadness. Something to ponder: Who's dumber, Morrison ... or his girlfriend?

1aa1cassy DEAR GREG...: "...your blog's OK, but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of Cassy Herkelman, the Iowa girl-wrestler who that boy refused to wrestle, standing next to a man wo appears to be an escaped Charles Manson. Thank you."

THE LIST: MARLINS IN MVP VOTING: Top 10 Marlins in annual NL MVP voting based on total number of votes received:

2009 Hanley Ramirez   233 votes (2nd place)

2006 Miguel Cabrera   170 (5th)

2005 Miguel Cabrera   146 (5th)

1996 Gary Sheffield   112 (t6th)

2005 Carlos Delgado   84 (6th)

1997 Moises Alou   60 (10th)

2008 Hanley Ramirez   55 (11th)

2007 Hanley Ramirez   49 (10th)

2005 Dontrelle Willis   42 (11th)

2003 Juan Pierre   39 (10th)

Note: No Marlin has ever received a first-place vote.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this new post throughout the day...

February 16, 2011

FIU wrong to let Wittels start season (with poll); plus Heat all-star odds, Shannon follows the $$$, Bryan Cox, Kooch, Daytona 500 & more

[Calling all Red Sox fans! Especially you vintage fans to whom the year 1967 is special. I have started a new Twitter site devoted exclusively to the great No. 8, Yaz. Follow along at Twitter.com/carlyastrzemski].

FIU WRONG TO LET WITTELS START SEASON: FIU confirmed today that baseball star Garrett Wittels remains a player in good standing, and that's wrong. This is hard to write because Florida International 1aa1garrettw University suspending Wittels might have seemed, at least on the face of it, to be in conflict with "innocent until proven guilty" -- a legal truism we should all believe in. But it isn't. The standards to which athletes are held -- high-schools to colleges to pros -- in many cases is higher. That starts with the FHSAA's stance that being a student-athlete is a privilege, not a right. It continues with many colleges and universities (I'll cite examples) suspending or kicking athletes off the team automatically if they are arrested for a felony. It includes the NFL suspending or fining players who are in violation of the league's personal conduct policy, no matter the eventual legal outcome of the case. The thinking, and I agree with it, is that teams are entitled to insist that athletes representing them stay out of trouble and not embarrass them. This is in exchange for the privilege of their college scholarship or lavish pro salary. This isn't about Wittels' guilt or innocence on the rape charge he faces from a December incident in the Bahamas involving him, a few friends and teenage girls they met there. A Bahamian inquiry commencing April 18 will determine if the case proceeds. Wittels might be not guilty, might be innocent of everything but perhaps questionable judgement. If it matters, indications are he is a good kid, devout to his Jewish faith, hardly a punk. But, as he himself has said, "I just put myself in a bad situation." He did more than that. He put FIU in a bad situation. His arrest made national headlines and overshadowed the school's first-ever bowl win in football. Now the continuing cloud of the felony charge overshadows Friday's start of the baseball season and Wittels' own attempt to break the college-record 58-game hitting streak (he's at 56). FIU should be aware, but maybe isn't, that many other schools take action in situations like this. Missouri automatically suspends any player charged with a felony. Florida, West Virginia, Alabama, UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State and Pitt all have suspended players after arrests, and that's just recently. The Miami Herald surely would suspend me over a felony arrest. Chances are your employer would, too. Perhaps more apropos here, the crosstown Miami Hurricanes kicked a player off the UM baseball team last fall after his arrest on a drug charge. So it's a handy shield for FIU to use "innocent until proven guilty" as its justification for doing nothing -- as long as FIU knows many fellow universities hold their athletes to a higher standard, and should. What ought to be a feel-good story here, Wittels' hitting streak, feels wrong instead. FIU is in an awkward, no-win spot and, regardless of guilt or innocence, that's on Wittels. The school not only has not suspended him, but took a heavy, censoring hand with the media. Threatening is not too strong a word. FIU said it would suspend Wednesday's preseason press conference immediately if any question about the rape charge was asked -- and that credentials to cover the team might be revoked. Those are Gestapo tactics that it is hard to imagine athletic director Pete Garcia sanctioned. FIU should suspend Wittels indefinitely to help lift this cloud from the team and its season, the athletic program and the university. If and when Wittels is cleared, he should be reinstated, the hitting streak waiting. Even a token, symbolic suspension -- say, from the season-opening three-game series -- would have been better than nothing. A suspension, brief or indefinite, would not have implied the player's guilt or lack of faith in his innocence. Rather, it would have forcefully reminded all athletes that no one player, not even a star, is bigger than FIU's good name.

HEAT ALL-STAR GAME ODDS: Just in from Bodog.com, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant are NBA All-Star Game MVP co-favorites at 13-2, with Dwyane Wade in at 17-2 and Chris Bosh 25-1. Blake Griffin is a prohibitive slam-dunk contest pick at 1-3. Ray Allen tops the three-point picks at 2-1, with the Heat's James Jones the longshot at 11-2.

1aa1randys RANDY $HANNON'$ $TRANGE DECI$ION: I'm taken aback with deposed UM football coach Randy Shannon turning down the defensive-coordinator position at ACC rival Maryland. Not that he did, but why. If he thought the job was below him and was holding out for a bigger program or head-coach job it would be harder to fault him. But reports are Shannon turned down the Terps because it would have meant giving up $1.5 million still due him in his buyout from the Canes. He's either sticking it to Miami or pretty baldly putting money above profession. Pick one. Neither is flattering.

1aa1kooch OFF THE MORAL SOAPBOX, BOB KUECHENBERG: The longtime great Dolphins lineman is battling his third DUI arrest. I feel bad for Kooch, pictured in his latest police booking photo. I hope this turns out OK for him. But I also think this: the local media (they know who they are) should stop going to the eagerly outspoken Kuechenberg every time an inflammatory comment on the current team is needed. I think he has officially forfeited any moral soapbox or de facto spokesman role on the shortcomings of today's athletes.

1aa1bcox BRYAN !@#$%ING COX!: Comes word that Tony Sparano might hire the team's vociferous '90s linebacker, Bryan Cox, right, as an assistant coach. Given Cox's fiery propensity for cursing and spitting and once being fined for giving the finger to Bills fans, it's hard to believe Rex Ryan isn't bringing him back to the Jets first!

1aa1dalee2 1aa1dalee DAYTONA 500'S HIGH DRAMA: Friday marks the 10th anniversary of the death of NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt (pictured right) from injuries sustained in the Daytona 500. The 2011 edition of the race is this Sunday, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left), trying to end a long winless streak, has the pole position. What a day it would be if Junior can end his drought. I'll be up there columnizing, and glad of it.

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THE LIST: HEAT IN ALL-STAR GAME: All-time appearances by Miami players:

7   Dwayne Wade (2005-11)

5   Alonzo Mourning (1996-97, 2000-02)

3   Shaquille O'Neal (2005-07)

2   Tim Hardaway (1997-98)

1   Anthony Mason (2001)

1   LeBron James (2011)

1   Chris Bosh   (2011)


GREG COTE: READ columns and blog in The Miami Herald and MiamiHerald.com, including general sports columns, Friday NFL predictions in season and Sunday "Random Evidence" notes. FOLLOW on TwitterWATCH for appearances on ESPN's Outside the Lines and elsewhere. LISTEN on 790 The Ticket's Dolphins pregame show in season 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, please; I don't answer snail-mail.

February 14, 2011

Will Heat win the NBA title? (with poll); plus BeACane.com, my Valentine video, 2011 UM football schedule, new SI swimsuits & more

[Three notes: 1) No live chat today because of a conflicting assignment. Chat returns next Wednesday to its regular 1-2 p.m. slot. 2) Click on King George for today's column by me, an ode to retiring St. Thomas Aquinas football coach George Smith. 3) Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. It's free, and you'll get your money's worth].

WHAT DOES HEAT'S LOSS IN BOSTON "MEAN"? [Update: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were among seven NBA players with brief voice roles in Sunday night's "The Cleveland Show." Don't worry, the show isn't about the Cavs]. I love the rampaging overanalysis of the Heat, and the 1aa1bosmia predictable, hand-wringing conclusion that a three-point loss in Boston Sunday dooms Miami to never get out of the Eastern Conference in the playoffs. Is February not a long way from June? The problem for now is that both teams have a Big 3 but Boston has a (much) better fourth in point guard Rajon Rondo, and also better bigs in the low post in Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins. Not sure that Udonis Haslem's eventual return will solve that. Coach Erik Spoelstra (and Pat Riley, behind the curtain) need to find how to beat the Celtics in a way they obviously (0-3) haven't so far. There also are shades of sobering gloom in Miami being 1-6 vs. the six teams with the best records in the league. Let's take a temperature read on how confident Heat fans are in an NBA title with the season nearing the two-thirds mark and the all-star break near. Try to vote not wishfully, but realistically. Honestly. Vote and say why. 

1aa1brooklyn 1aa1irina SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT ISSUE: The 2011 edition hits newsstands today/Tuesday. Pictured left is the 2010 cover with Brooklyn Decker, and right is new 2011 cover model Irina Shayk. I'm not sure if it is deft marketing or genuine interest that this annual issue is received with such excitement. It's not as if SI is the only mag offering tastefully presented skin. Not as if bikini models can't be found elsewhere. I think much of it is tradition (the swimsuit issue started in 1964) and marketing, such as David Letterman revealing the identity of the 2011 cover model on last night's show, with his Top 10 list presented by a small army of SI bikini-ites. God bless America!

BE A CANE, FOR NO APPARENT REASON: UM athletic department has created a new brand-building fan site called BeACane.com, which allows you to upload a photo of your face onto a Hurricanes football uniform -- so it's like you're an actual player! Try it if you're incredibly bored.

1aa1meandkatie A VALENTINE FROM KATIE AND I: Happy Valentine's Day everybody. University of Miami women's basketball coach Katie Meier took time out from her newly 13th-ranked team and busy schedule to dance the samba with me for this video valentine from us to you. Wasn't that nice of her? Click HERE to watch, listen and enjoy!

CANES' 2011 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE LOOKS REASONABLE...: Here it is, newly announced: Sep 5 @ Maryland; Sep 17 vs Ohio State; Sep 24 vs Kansas State; Oct 1 vs Bethune-Cookman; Oct 8 @ Virginia Tech; Oct 15 @ North Carolina; Oct 22 vs Georgia Tech; Oct 27 vs Virginia; Nov 5 vs Duke; Nov 12 @ FSU; Nov 19 @ South Florida; and Nov 26 vs Boston College. Being realistic, my initial reaction is that the probable losses are Ohio State, Va-Tech and FSU. The should-be automatic wins are K-State, Bethune, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Duke and Boston College. And the swing games are Maryland, North Carolina and South Florida. Handle who you should, take two of three swing games and pinch one of the three toughest ones and you're at 9-3 entering a substantial bowl game, Al Golden. Simple as that. Any questions?

COACH K LIKES FRANK HAITH: You know your job security might be starting to get shaky when the opposing coach who just beat you volunteers effusive praise. This was Duke's Mike Krzyzewski after Sunday's game: "I think Frank's done a remarkable job with this team." And, "I think he's done as good a job as anybody in the league." The question is whether UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt will agree if the Canes (15-10, 4-7 ACC) miss both the NCAA Tournament and NIT again.

1aa1crown HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: Update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking which of Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This is after 52 games, through Sunday's loss in Boston: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 3,011.14 King points to 2,644.31 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. The two are tied in games led, 26-26. (Regular updates here in the blog whenever you see the crown symbol pictured).

1aa1gaga2 GAGA AT THE GRAMMYS: Guilty pleasure. I like Lady Gaga. I admit it. Also like her new song, "Born This Way," although the echoes of Madonna (especially "Express Yourself") are a little too real for comfort. (Yes I am aware the photo here has a slight crack in it. I assume she'll be getting that repaired...) Highlight of the Grammy Awards, for me: Watching Justin Bieber work hard to not look crestfallen when somebody else' name was called for Best New Artist. The sound you heard at that moment: A nation of 14-year-old girls weeping incredulously.

1aa1amish AMISH HATS: Evidently Amish hats have become popular on European fashion runways (see right). I don't know why. 

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February 10, 2011

Is Heat becoming LeBron's team? (with poll); plus FIU censors media on Wittels, Movie Talk, Cameron Diaz, K.O.D. & more

[Click on Virtual Tony Sparano Explains Himself for the first in my occasional series of animated and exceptionally amateurish YouTube videos offering sporting commentary. Click on QB Fixes Needed for today's latest column by me (the most-viewed online; thanks) on the Dolphins' and Hurricanes' similar situations at the quarterback spot].

IS THE HEAT BECOMING LEBRON JAMES' TEAM?: [Sunday update: Heat lose at Boston, 85-82. Nothing proven, except to verify that the (presumed) Eastern Conference finals is going to be one hell of a ride]. Early emails and comments suggest today's column 1aa1lebwade by me -- the most-viewed in all of MiamiHerald.com; click here -- is provocative and rubbing some the wrong way. That's OK, although it wasn't my intent. If anything I tried to make very clear that proposing LeBron James is taking over down here wasn't an anti-Dwyane Wade stance in any way. It wasn't suggesting James is being selfish. Nor was it implying the two can't continue to coexist wonderfully. But it's time to be real. LeBron is better, bigger, younger and poised to surpass Wade by however one defines "whose team is it." There are precious few NBA players who are better than Wade, but one is his teammate, and LeBron is proving it this season as clearly (to me) the team's MVP after 50 games. The eventuality, I think, is that LeBron in time will become "bigger" in this town, meaning more popular. Not yet, but in time. The point of the column isn't to cause trouble, but simply to explore a topic that I find interesting and that is sensitive to a degree it has almost been taboo. I think it can be discussed reasonably; hey, it's only sports! As for those bemoaning why it has to be one's team or the other's, I'm dealing with reality, if only in terms of public perception. It isn't about who takes the last shot. It's about who is the face of the team. Whose picture is up there for Miami when national TV is promoting "Kobe's Lakers vs. (Blank)'s Heat"? Take a dip in our poll and explain your feelings if you'd care to.


1aa1cameron A-ROD POPCORN FEEDER CAMERON DIAZ VISITS UM: Alex Rodriguez girlfriend/actress Cameron Diaz stopped by a UM women's tennis team practice Thursday today; see evidence at right. I happened to mention on 790 The Ticket Wednesday that I didn't find her all that attractive. OK I take it back.

FIU'S JACKBOOT POLICY ON MEDIA AND WITTELS: This is disturbing. FIU is handling the Bahamian rape accusations against its top baseball star, Garrett Wittels, by pretending they don't exist -- and daring anybody covering the team to mention them. The school announced that at this coming Wednesday's media availability with Wittels and others, any question referring to the allegations would immediately end the press conference. And whomever dared ask the question might see his credentials revoked. This is heavy-handed, and wrong. FIU wants to be considered a big school, a major athletic department, and Wittels is the school's most prominent athlete along with T.Y. Hilton. The criminal charges happened. Doesn't mean they are true. Doesn't mean Wittels is guilty. But this is a newsworthy situation as he chases the college hitting-streak record. At the very least, Wittels should address the issue with a statement and take a few questions he may answer as he or his lawyers wish. Then move on. Instead FIU is attempting what amounts to censorship. It's wrong.

MOVIE TALK!: I rarely see new movies. My kids make fun of me because A) my favorite film of all-time remains The Wizard Of Oz and B) I found The Departed to be a bit of a chore and was not enthralled. Anyhow, I saw two new movies this week so here goes with my mini-reviews. The Fighter I loved, and you get past the ending feeling a bit formulaic when you remember it's based on a true story. The film captured Lowell, Mass. perfectly (I know the area), and Christian Bale as the loser older brother was memorably superb. The Social Network I liked, didn't love. The movie stands on its own pretty well, but I think one must be really tuned into Facebook -- like, on it constantly, can't-live-without-it -- to appreciate the film on an added level. I'm Gene Shalit. G'night.

STRIP-MINING FOR CASH: The guy who runs Miami's King of Diamonds strip club (a rappers-and-athletes 1aa1rross haven I wrote about prior to last year's Super Bowl here) recently had a night in which rapper Rick Ross (pictured) supposedly made $1 million "rain." Read the sad story here. I say sad because this stunningly ostentatious show of wealth happens in the context of a tough economy and depressed area. Always amazes me how rappers and athletes revel in the kind of gluttonous hedonism that would be seen as an embarrassment in other walks of life. And how they are so often boastful about what should shame them. OK that's my Incredibly Musty Rant of the Day.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS' HIGHEST-DRAFTED QBS: Miami selects 15th overall this year and will consider a quarterback. The 10 highest-drafted QBs in franchise history:

1. Rick Norton, Kentucky, 2nd overall (1R), 1966

2. Bob Griese, Purdue, 4th (1R), 1967

3. Dan Marino, Pitt, 27th (1R), 1983

4. John Beck, BYU, 40th (2R), 2007

5. Pat White, West Virginia, 44th (2R), 2009

6. Guy Benjamin, Stanford, 51st (2R), 1978

7. Chad Henne, Michigan, 57th (2R), 2008

8. Scott Mitchell, Utah, 93rd (4R), 1990

9. Brad Wright, New Mexico, 96th (4R), 1981

10. Joe Theismann, Notre Dame, 99th (4R), 1971

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this new blogpost throughout the day...

February 07, 2011

Debut of Virtual Tony Sparano (with video); plus Canes get transfer-QB from Michigan, judge rules in favor of Krop High, Dolphins' 2012 Super Bowl odds & more

[Thanks to today's live-chatters. Do it each Wednesday 1-2. Click right here to post questions any time].

BLOG DEBUT OF OCCASIONAL REALLY BAD, AMATEURISH MINI-MOVIES!: Me and a little technology is a potentially scary thing. Today, my first effort: "Virtual Tony Sparano Explains Himself." Click below or click here to see it on YouTube. I think it has a shot at a Golden Globe in the new category, Short-form Animation About Tony Sparano That Neither Looks Nor Sounds Anything Like Tony Sparano.  

1aa1forcier CANES GET TRANSFER-QB FROM MICHIGAN: May the Forcier be with them! QB Tate Forcier (left) is a Hurricane now after switching UM's. He lost his starting job at Michigan last season but in 20 career games passed for 2,647 yards, 17 TDs and 10 picks.

JUDGE OVERTURNS FHSAA PENALTY, RULES FOR KROP HIGH!: [Click on Reverse The Call for today's column by me on this. Can't claim what I wrote had any influence but am glad what I suggested happened: The judge overruling the FHSAA and allowing Bryan Delancy and Krop High's boys basketball team to participate in the playoffs]. Original post: Krop High in northeast Miami-Dade is being barred 1aa1briand from the boys' basketball playoffs and told to forfeit its season because of immigration issues involving senior player Bryan Delancy (pictured), who is from the Bahamas. This strikes us as unfair. The governing Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) claims the kid does not have the proper immigration paperwork, but even if true it could be argued that is beside the point. The point is that public schools are not allowed, by law, to ask a student about his or her immigration status. All that is required is to reside in the proper district and maintain an adequate grade point average, and Delancy fulfills both of those obligations. The sticking point is that Krop was supposed to have filed immigration papers for Delancy and did not. The school bears its share of responsibility here, yes. But, bottom line: What is fair? Is it right that the school's team forfeit its season because one of its players was a proper student but lacking in athletic paperwork? Lenience is called for. Sadly, the FHSAA had none.

PATS FAVORED FOR 2012 SUPER BOWL, DOLPHINS 40-1: Packers and Wisconsinites haven't even stopped partying yet, and already BetUS.com is posting odds for the lockout-threatened  2011 season. Patriots are favored to win it all at 9-2, followed by Packers 6-1, Steelers 7-1, and Colts and Jets 8-1. Next tier brings Falcons/Ravens/Chargers at 12-1, Bears/Saints/Giants/Eagles at 15-1, and Cowboys at 18-1. Buried deep in the mid-pack: Dolphins at 40-1, tied for 17th. Bodog.com has it slightly different, with Packers favored at 7-1, Pats 8-1, Steelers 10-1, Chargers 12-1, Colts/Saints/Ravens 14-1, and Falcons/Cowboys/Jets/Eagles all 16-1. Bodog puts Dolphins at 45-1, 20th overall.

LITTLE GUY CLEANS UP ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY: Well, OK, anybody who can afford to bet big isn't exactly a "little guy," but he is compared to the Las Vegas sports books. Better day for bettors than bookies, it says here.

HEAT KING-O-METER UPDATE: LEBRON STILL IN CHARGE: Latest update on our unpopular King-o-Meter, tracking 1aa1crown which of the Heat's would-be Kings is having the better overall season. This update is after 50 games, through last night's home win vs. Indy: LeBron James leading Dwyane Wade by 2,914.37 King points to 2,548.47 in our cumulative ranking factoring 10 statistical categories. The two are tied in games led, 25-25. Note, LeBron's recent 51-point game vs. Orlando equated to 107.24 King points, a season-high for either player. (Regular updates here in the blog whenever you see the crown symbol pictured.

1aa1arodcameron DEAR GREG...: ..."your blog is OK but would be better if you would show a picture of Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz frolicking last week in the Miami surf. Thank you."

CAN'T WIN A SUPER BOWL WITHOUT A GREAT QB?: The posit makes some sense. Then again, Jim McMahon, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler, Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson. Something to ponder for those dead-set on deciding there's a "formula" when there isn't.

LEBRON EDGES DURANT: Sports Illustrated polled 154 NBA players and asked whether they'd rather spend the next 10 seasons playing alongside LeBron James or Kevin Durant. LeBron: 58 percent. That's especially impressive considering LBJ is almost four years older.

THE LIST: HURRICANES IN THE DRAFT: A site called Draftmetrics.com analyzed the past 20 NFL drafts (1991-2010). Here are the top-10 schools based on most number of NFL games started by drafted players:

1. Miami Hurricanes   4,568 starts (117 players)

2. Florida State Seminoles   4,416 (114)

3. Ohio State Buckeyes   3,899 (115)

4. Tennessee Vols   3,778 (116)

5. Michigan Wolverines   3,588 (91)

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish   3,531 (105)

7. Florida Gators   3,343 (107)

8. Georgia Bulldogs   3,253 (90)

9. Nebraska Cornhuskers   3,132 (102)

10. Southern Cal Trojans   2,864 (110)

Others with 2,000-plus, in order: Penn State, Auburn, Louisiana State, Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas A&M, California, Virginia, Washington, Michigan State, Arizona State and Alabama.  

February 03, 2011

Super Blog Sunday: Cheesy Nation! Packers 31, Steelers 25 (Final)

Welcome to Super Blog, our continually updated Super Bowl Week post and countdown clock leading up to Sunday's Steelers-Packers game outside Dallas...

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY: STEELERS VS. PACKERS AT COWBOYS STADIUM: [Well, my pick was dead-wrong. I underestimated Aaron Rodgers' ability to make a very good defense seem mortal. How can a team that lost at home to the Dolphins reign as champion? The 2010 Packers won't be judged a great team (see list immediately below), but their rings will shine just as bright]. Original post: Classic matchup. Storied franchises. Big quarterbacks. Great defenses. Magnificent hair. What more could you want? Though a couple of Pittsburgh injuries concern me, I'm sticking with my pick: Steelers in an upset, 24-20. I'll be gloriously ignoring the excessive hours of pregame shows while preparing to host a Super Bowl party. That will include the making of my world-famous gumbo, and by world-famous I mean most of the people who've tried it have liked it.

The List: Most losses by an NFL champion:

6   49ers, 1988 season

6   Giants, 2007

6   Packers, 2010

5   Giants, 1934

5   Raiders, 1980

5   Patriots, 2001

5   Steelers, 2005

SATURDAY, 1 DAY 'TIL KICKOFF: THE HALL OF VERY GOOD: [Update: Hall voters generously admitted seven new members. Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders were expected. Less so, to: Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger, Les Richter, Ed Sabol and Shannon Sharpe. Should've been elected but wasn't: Tim Brown. Other notable omissions included South Floridian Cris Carter and ex-Cane Cortez Kennedy]. Original post: Strange class being voted on today in 1aa1brown 1aa1faulk 1aa1sanders Dallas. It might be the deepest ever. Heck, Michael Wilbon wrote that all 15 finalists (there are also two senior nominees) should be voted in. I disagree. Ten of the 15 finalists have been previously eligible but not voted in with reason. I see two near-locks: Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders. I see another guy who absolutely should get in: Tim Brown. (Sanders, Faulk and Brown are pictured). Beyond that? Very goods and maybes. Closest calls to me are Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter, Curtis Martin, Andre Reed and Willie Roaf. They could be argued deserving but their exclusion would hardly be a travesty. One notch below, to me, are the credible longshots: Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, Charles Haley, the old Hurricane Cortez Kennedy and Shannon Sharpe. My no-shots are the two senior nominees, Chris Hanburger and Les Richter, and a contributor, NFL Films potentate Ed Sabol. (How do you vote in Sabol a year after rejecting Paul Tagliabue?) Then again, Sabol is 94, and plenty of the 44 voters are shall we say "veterans," so anything's possible. For me, though: Faulk, Sanders, Brown. That's it.   

Non-SB Note of the Day: Palm Beach QB shuns Canes: Oy. Not good. Palm Beach Dwyer QB Jacoby Brissett chose the Gators over UM last night, meaning the Canes got zero quarterbacks in their 2011 recruiting class. However, expect at least one transfer QB to come on board. 

FRIDAY, 2 DAYS 'TIL KICKOFF: IT'S STEELERS, 24-20: Broad strokes. Pittsburgh has a more balanced offense than Green Bay, a slightly better D and a ton more experience on this stage, and when I put all that in my prognosticatory blender I get Steelers, 24-20, in a Super Bowl upset. Click on Super Bowl Gem for the complete prediction. And on Big Ben, Little Ben for my column on Ben Roethlisberger. I write how Ben the person struggles to win back respect, but that Ben the quarterback deserves more than he gets.

Non-SB Note of the Day: King James, indeed!: Caught some of LeBron James' 51-point show in the Heat's win in Orlando last night. This guy has been everything we expected. I think LeBron is the only player in the NBA who -- if he wanted to and the situation was right -- could lead the league in scoring, rebounding and assists. His lineage for all-round play is Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson. Spectacular. Click here to watch a brief video of LeBron dancing in a luxurious sweater.

THURSDAY, 3 DAYS 'TIL KICKOFF: JOE NAMATH STUNK: I am looking at the cover of the February GQ 1aa1joen magazine, which lists the 25 Coolest Athletes of All-Time. Joe Namath is on the cover and ranked No. 1. Here is what else Namath is: The Most Overrated Athlete of All-Time. He is celebrated to almost mythical proportions to this day based on one storied "guarantee" and one upset win in one Super Bowl. He was swept into the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of that. Well it's time for somebody to say that Namath's career was mediocre and not even remotely Hall-worthy. I say this as Hall voters in Dallas prepare to gather to vote in the latest inductees. Namath's career stats include an abysmal 50.1 completion percentage, 47 more interceptions than TDs (173-220) and a horrible 65.5 passer rating. He led the league in scoring passes once, and in picks four times. He was a media darling, had the great "Broadway Joe" nickname, and his popularity helped bridge the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. OK on all that. But as a quarterback? Below average. Canton lowered its standards for him in a way not seen since. 

Big Ben boozes, belts tunes in piano bar: It was in Fort Worth Tuesday night, and TMZ has the video of Ben Roethlisberger. Click here. Dear athlete: Nothing you do in public stays private any more. 

The MAC-daddy Super Bowl: A remarkable 15 players in this game played collegiately in the Mid-American Conference. It's nine Packers, led by receiver Greg Jennings (Western Michigan) and sicx Steelers, led by QB Ben Roethlisberger (Miami-Ohio).

Silly SB prop bets, an American tradition!: From our friends at Bodog, the over/under on Christina Aguilera's national anthem is 1:50. You can also bet the over/under on how long she'll carry the word "brave" as her last note. (It's 6 seconds). Also gotta love the cross-sports bets, such as: What will be Sunday's higher number: Steelers total points or Blake Griffin rebounds vs. Heat?  

Indications you have no life: Your are in Dallas, up before dawn and headed to Sundance Square to watch a live broadcast of ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning. That is correct. It is 5 a.m. and you are watching a radio show

WEDNESDAY, 4 DAYS 'TIL KICKOFF: SB WEEK'S TAWDRY UNDERBELLY: Dallas-area police and anti-sex trade advocates are on high alert to prevent horny Super Bowl Week visitors from partaking of underage prostitutes. Click here for the story. I'd be making jokes if it was ordinary prostitutes, but since we're talking about underage girls I'll just say shame on their degenerate pimps and clients and move on.

Packers demonstrate "The Raji" dance: Click here for the short video from yesterday's Media Day frivolity. It isn't much of a dance, mainly because it isn't pleasant to see a big fat guy thrusting his hips. It just isn't

Non-SB Note of the Day: Attack of the High-School Kids: It is National Signing Day. I'll have a separate post on that and a link to today's column by me beginning at 10 a.m.

TUESDAY, 5 DAYS 'TIL KICKOFF: BRUTAL WEATHER HINDERS SB WEEK: Cart-wheeling, hand-springing and high-fiving. That's undoubtedly 1aa1dallas how local folks who want to bring the Super Bowl back to South Florida feel about the massive arctic storm battering the greater Dallas area as the world's media and visiting fans arrive. The ice storm closed the airport and schools, is causing traffic nightmares and surely has sports writers -- a curmudgeonly, complaining lot to begin with -- in early Gripe Overdrive. Today writers are driving through 14-degree temps (with a wind-chill below zero) to the stadium (pictured) for Media Day. This is what the NFL gets for placing its signature winter event in places where brutal weather happens. Can't wait for the New Jersey game! Welcome to the Super Brrrr. Gorgeous right now in South Florida, by the way. Idyllic tropical breezes and the warm kiss of sun.

1aa1sbfox Fox-TV Super Bowl team leads league in bragging: Pictured right is Fox's official SB promo photo, in which five of its talking heads brandish their Super Bowl rings. Geez how about a ration of humility, fellas? It's just a ring.

Non-SB Note of the Day: Eddie House fined for having gorilla balls: The Heat guard was fined $25K by the NBA for his Sunday gorilla-balls gesture inviting attention to his crotch. What's the world coming to when a man can't be crude on national TV without fear of reprisal? 

MONDAY, 6 DAYS 'TIL KICKOFF: OFFICIAL TOP 10 SB WEEK THEMES THE MEDIA WILL BEAT TO DEATH: I have a lot on my mind. For example, I am wondering if The Bangles will produce an updated version of their '80s hit and call it, 'Fight Like An Egyptian.' Also on my mind, Official Super Bowl Week Themes That Your Friend The Media Will Beat To A Bloody Pulp: 

1aa1vince 1aa1towel 1. Franchises Steeped In Tradition: Green Bay having the most all-time NFL titles (12) and Pittsburgh having the most in the Super Bowl era (6) makes this the SB matchup begging the gravity of John Facenda's godly baritone. I'd be able to retire in advance of my industry's gradual collapse if I had a dime for every story written or broadcast that will mention all of the following: Vince Lombardi, Steel Curtain, Frozen Tundra, Chuck Noll, Lambeau Leap and Terrible Towels.

2. The Serious, Morality-Tinged Examination Of Ben Roethlisberger: A few months ago he was suspended by the NFL for moral turpitude after multiple allegations of sexual misbehavior with college coeds. Now he's a hero. Is that "OK"? This story's sub-theme is sure to be Athletes Gone Wrong Who Rehab Their Names. We're off-the-board on the certain Michael Vick reference, 4-1 on LeBron James.

1aa1cheese 1aa1iron 3. City Vs. City: This is the Super Bowl Week evergreen in which the competing cities and fans are compared and contrasted. Here will be delivered references to Iron City beer, cheese, Primanti Brothers and Laverne & Shirley. You get the idea.

1aa1troy 1aa1clay 4. Hair Vs. Hair: Troy Polamula vs. Clay Matthews: Their teams' best defenders? That, too. But this "playful" story will focus on each's signature coif, Polamalu's Polynesian afro-on-steroids vs. Matthews' long, straight blond locks -- the look of just about every dope-smoking surfer I ever knew in high school. This is the story in which the creative local columnist interviews a local hair stylist, only to find a line of other local columnists there to do the same thing.

5. Aaron Rodgers vs. Roethlisberger: The QB comparison piece is an SB Week must, and this one actually includes two very good QBs. Suggested, lazy theme: Should either be seen as "elite" on a plane with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady?

6. NFL Concussions/Health Issues: The presence of heavily fined Steelers linebacker James Harrison will be the peg launching a thousand rehashes of one of this season's overriding themes.

1aa1media 7. Super Bowl Media Day: It's Tuesday, the one day both teams and (most) all of the media are together. This is where columnists recycle their bemoaning of "Super Bowl excess" by contributing to it. This is also where Mexican and South American "journalists" dress up like cartoon characters and ask intentionally idiotic questions.

1aa1miket 8. The Black Coach: Here, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin must manufacture weighty answers to social issues in order to sate the media, when he'd rather be at practice or in his room getting a massage.

1aa1jj 9. Dallas-Themed Pieces: This one can veer in one of two directions: the Jerry Jones-focused story on The Fall of America's Team; or the piece in which a high-minded reporter looking beyond sports (quite possibly Mitch Albom or Jeremy Schaap) forays into inner-city Dallas to juxtapose Super Bowl extravagance with poor folks on the outside looking in.

1aa1moss 10. The Local Angle!: This is where media from outside of Pittsburgh and Green Bay bend over backward to "localize" the game by writing about ties to their own teams. Even atheist South Florida readers ought to thank God the Jets aren't in the game; we have narrowly avoided the onset of Acute Jason Taylor Overload. The Steelers have no So Fla ties worth noting, but the Packers are a treasure trove. Dolfans might expect "localized" pieces on GB defensive coordinator Dom Capers (ex-Dolphins), cornerback Sam Shields (ex-UM) and maybe even tight end Donald Lee (ex-Dolphin). Litmus test for the Local Angle having reached desperation level: A piece on Winston Moss (pictured), the Packers' assistant head coach and former Hurricanes linebacker.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL QBS: Ben Roethlisberger is second on Steelers' career list for passing yards with 22,502, and Aaron Rodgers is fourth on Packers' list with 12,723. The four men who rank above them:

Brett Favre   61,655   Packers 1992-2007

Terry Bradshaw   27,989   Steelers 1970-83

Bart Starr   24,718   Packers   1956-71

Lynn Dickey   21,369   Packers   1976-85

February 02, 2011

National Signing Day: What state school won? (with poll); ESPN ranks FSU class 1st, Gators 12th

[Thanks to all our Wednesday live chat participants. Click right here to join us live Wednesdays at 1 p.m. or to post questions any time].

WHAT STATE SCHOOL IS GETTING THE BEST TALENT HAUL ON NSD?: I have this column online and in 1aa1brissett today's pulp edition regarding the Hurricanes and National Signing Day. It's on the overblown phenomenon NSD has become, on the impossible need to not rush to judgment in instantly ranking a school's incoming class, and on how the decision of Palm Beach QB Jacoby Brissett (pictured) could swing whether Al Golden's first class for UM is judged positively or as a disappointment.

FSU and Florida are dominating nationally in terms of state schools, according to updated ESPN rankings, rated 1st and 8th, respectively. But things could change. Click back onto ESPN's rankings and follow The Herald's coverage for updated news.

I'll admit this poll aims higher than it can reach. I am asking college-football fans to be impartial and not automatically flock to their school and it's probably impossible. UM's recruiting class could consist solely of octogenarians and women and many Canes fans would still vote it No. 1. Same for other teams' fans. Still, let's give it a shot, shall we? It ain't rocket science. It's a blog poll! So let's defy logic and instantly judged! Take a dip, and tell us what you most like, or don't, about your school's 2011 bounty, based and early commitments and with developments throughout the day.

Will update this post with major developments as they happen.