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13 posts from August 2011

August 31, 2011

Canes football suspensions: Easy on 2011, but maybe not so easy down the road; plus NFL merchandise sales

[Thanks to all who joined our live online chat today. Do 1-2 p.m. each Wednesday. Click HERE to tap in live, read transcripts or post questions any time. Note: Are Dolphins wrong for honoring Gators on Canes' home field? Poll still raging in post directly below this in blog. Also, join us on Twitter @gregcote].

EIGHT CANES MUST SIT OUT GAMES, REPAY BENEFITS: The NCAA ruled that eight Miami 1aa1ncaa 1aa1ncaa2 Hurricanes football players previously recently called ineligible by the school must each sit out games this season and repay illegal benefits given them by booster Nevion Shapiro.

Olivier Vernon is suspended six games and owes approximately $1,200. Ray-Ray Armstrong ($788) and Dyron Dye ($738) are suspended four games each. Suspended one game each, alphabetically: Travis Benjamin (owes $150), Marcus Forston ($400), Jacory Harris ($140), Adewale Ojomo ($240) and Sean Spence ($275).

The three suspended for multiple games were found to have received benefits from Shapiro and school personnel while being recruited as an enticement to enroll, which the NCAA called "some of the most serious recruiting violations." The other five received benefits while already UM student-athletes.

Suspensions are effective immediately, so UM figures to be depleted somewhat in its Sept. 5 opener at Maryland. 

Click on NCAA Press Release for the complete, official details. Click on Impact Light ... For Now for my latest column on this evolving story. I write that the football team made out much better than it might have in terms of immediate impact on the 2011 season, but that the findings regarding Vernon, Armstrong and Dye are serious enough to all but guarantee future. 

UM catches a break losing top players such as Harris and Spence for only one game. The larger NCAA investigation continues, so eventual sanctions against the UM football program are still unknown. But Tuesday's finding that eight current players did receive improper benefits to varying degrees mandating game suspensions leaves little doubt that future sanctions are coming.

STEELERS, PACK TOP NFL MERCHANDISE SALES: New Numbers out. Top 10 in jersey sales entering 2011 season: Troy Polamalu, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Clay Matthews, Tony Romo and Eli Manning, with no Dolphins in top 10. Top 10 teams in moving merchandise: Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, Bears, Patriots, Eagles, Saints, Giants, Jets, Colts.

August 29, 2011

Dolphins honoring Gators on Hurricanes' home field: That's so wrong ... or is it? (with poll); plus playoff odds, Dundee, dancing & more

[Dolphins have announced that Thursday night's exhibition finale vs. Cowboys here will be blacked out locally -- no TV. Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Note: Our fantasy-football poll still accepting votes in post directly below this in the blog].

DOLPHINS SLEEPING WITH ENEMY BY HONORING GATORS: It was mentioned without much fanfare during the Dolphins-Bucs exhibition-game telecast Saturday night that Tim Tebow and the 2008-season national champion Florida Gators would be honored during the Dolphins-Broncos game here Oct. 23. Oy! I suppose the Dolphins' logic is reasonable, with so many UF alumni and fans in South Florida. But Miami Hurricanes fans are angry, based on reaction I've heard, that a bitter state-rival team would be honored on their home field. And I can understand UM fans feeling that way, especially now, in the midst of the Canes' NCAA issues over Nevin Shapiro. The timing of the Dolphins' plans to honor the Gators makes it seem like kicking UM while it's down. Click on Dolphins Shouldn't Host Gator Party for my latest column, online now and shipping to Tuesday's pulp editions. Your thoughts welcome. Poll dance! Vote now.

DOLPHIN PLAYOFF ODDS STILL LONG: A fairly solid preseason so far isn't selling Las Vegas on the Dolphins. Newest Bodog odds have Miami a plus-400 darkhorse to make the playoffs, tying for 24th longest odds. Favorite is Green Bay at minus-350. Caboose is Carolina at plus-1000.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANGELO: A happy 90th birthday today/Tuesday to Miami's boxing legend, famed trainer Angelo Dundee.

DANCING WITH THE ODDS: Via Bodog, spankin' new celebrity odds for season 13 of Dancing With The Stars: Elisabetta Canalis 3-1, Carson Kressley 4-1, Kristin Cavallari 5-1, Chynna Phillips 6-1, Robert Kardashian 15-2, Hope Solo 8-1, Ron Artest 10-1, David Arquette 10-1, J.R. Martinez 12-1, Ricki Lake 15-1, Nancy Grace 18-1, and Chaz Bono 20-1. Number of celeb-dancers I could pick out of a police lineup: 6 of 12.

Click back. Will be adding much more to this latest blogpost...

August 27, 2011

PS3: Tampa Bay 17, Dolphins 13 (Final): Chad Henne shines in loss; plus overall No. 1 fantasy draft pick should be...? (with poll), Killer Food, black Le Batard & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote. We're over there holding our breath along with Al Golden for eligibility rulings on the eight Hurricanes in abeyance. Note: Our popular Dolfan Satisfaction Meter returns in the regular season, not for exhibition play].

PS3: TAMPA 17, DOLPHINS 14: WE'RE ON OUR HENNE-MOON!: Do we love Chad Henne yet? I think maybe we do. "Hen-ne, Hen-ne, Hen-ne!" The formerly maligned QB had his second straight solid game tonight, going 10-for-13 for 175 yards in a 17-10 loss at Tampa Bay putting Miami 2-1 in the preseason. Included: A SportsCenter-quality 60-yard scoring toss to Brandon Marshall. The negative? The offensive line struggled and Miami was only 18 carries for 17 yards rushing. The loss doesn't matter much. The apparent solidifying of Henne does. Original post: Miami 2-0 in fake games entering tonight's in Tampa against the should-be-but-really-aren't rival Buccaneers. Starters figure to play into the third quarter so this will be an even better test and gauge than the first two games. Tonight also marks first action for newly acquired RB Larry Johnson, and an opportunity for QB Chad Henne to demonstrate consistency after last week's strong showing vs. Carolina. Your thoughts before, during and of course after tonight's Faux Game III are invited.

FANTASY FOOTBALL: NO CONSENSUS NO. 1 PICK ... OR IS THERE?: This strikes me as the murkiest 1aa1fantasy1 year of the past several in terms of a consensus overall No. 1 fantasy draft pick. So I'm putting it to you with the poll just below. I'm limiting myself to one fantasy league this year, a little six-team friends and family joint meaning all the teams should be pretty-well loaded. Culled through ESPN.com's Top 300 fantasy list to find eight Dolphins but none higher than Brandon Marshall, 66th overall. Others: Daniel Thomas 72nd, Reggie Bush 119th, Davone Bess 139th, Chad Henne 206th, Dan Carpenter 284th, Anthony Fasano 288th and the defense 298th. Interesting to me that Thomas out-ranks Bush. It's draft time! You have the overall No. 1 pick in your league. What you gonna do, hotshot? For poll purposes I took ESPN's top 10 and list them here alphabetically. Vote for your No. 1 and say why.

NFL BETTING ODDS FOR MVP, ROOKIES: Bodog.com has Aaron Rodgers the preseason MVP favorite at 11-2, followed by Tom Brady 13-2, Michael Vick 17-2, Philip Rivers 9-1, and Drew Brees and Peyton Manning both 10-1. Offensive rookie pick is Julio Jones at 5-1, with Miami's Thomas fifth at 8-1. Defensive rookie inside rail to Von Miller at 11-2.

1aa1danblack THE BLACK LE BATARD: My friend, Herald colleague and 790 The Ticket star Dan Le Batard, gets kidded a lot (often justifiably, quite frankly) for seeing a race angle in much of what he writes and talks about. So I am pleased to pass along to you a conception of Le Batard as black. Enjoy.

DEAR FOOD NETWORK...: The other night I saw a new show, "Killer Food," and wondered, WTF!? Seriously. Really? A show that aggrandizes the killing of animals? I mean, I love a cheeseburger, but I don't want to see the cow slaughtered. You get me? I never liked snakes and alligators ... until I saw them murdered on the Food Network. This is such an outlandish show I wish I'd TiVO'd the episode just for posterity, or for proof this actually got on the air. The Food Network has lowered itself over time by becoming less a cooking channel than a game show, but that's fine. This is not. Don't get me wrong. I'm not an animal-rights nut. Think much of the PETA agenda is ridiculous. It takes a lot to offend me. This managed.

Click back. Adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later, and we'll top it with tonight's Dolphins-Bucs exhibition by around late afternoon...

August 24, 2011

8 Canes declared ineligible; plus S.I. calls to disband UM football (again), judging AFC East talent, LeBron mocks own hairline, Marlins & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

UM DECLARES 8 INCLUDING HARRIS INELIGIBLE: University of Miami declared eight athletes ineligible today, all believed to be football players, including quarterback Jacory Harris and linebacker Sean Spence. The declaration is a procedural necessity. UM now is seeking reinstatement by the NCAA so they might be available for the Sept. 5 season opener at Maryland. But the news is ominous. It means UM is acknowledging wrongdoing. Suspensions are likely, not reinstatement. Four other football players implicated in the Nevin Shapiro scandal were determined to have accepted less than $100 in improper benefits, making them eligible to avoid suspension and make a repayment to charity. [Click on More Than Just Allegations Now for my new column, online and in today's/Friday's pulp editions].

S.I. CALLS ON SHALALA TO DISBAND FOOTBALL PROGRAM FOR AWHILE: Click here to read senior writer Alexander Wolff's open letter to UM president Donna Shalala, in which Wolff advises, "You 1aa1scandals should... drop football, at least temporarily." (In that same issue, another writer beseeches baseball to return to a 154-game schedule. Huh?). The inclination here is to advise S.I. to mind its own business and let a rightfully embarrassed Shalala get on with the business of cleaning up her school's athletic department. She won't drop football -- and shouldn't. She should fix what's broken, and much is. Click on Penalties? Yes. Death? No for my latest column on Shapirogate. Meantime, the NCAA will punish Miami football plenty, punishment that in effect has already begun as the school explores the eligibility status of 12 current players. UM also suffers the national embarrassment it has invited, a mocking exemplified by the the illustration shown here making fun of the upocming meeting between the Hurricanes and fellow rules-breaker Ohio State. 'Tats vs. 'Tutes. C'mon. You gotta admit that pretty clever!

NEVIN SHAPIRO FOUND TROUBLE WELL BEFORE MIAMI: Interesting piece in St. Petersburg Times today (click here) on UM booster-from-hell Nevin Shapiro from his days attending the University of South Florida in 1986-90. Seems Nevin, a 5-6 receiver, was big into intramural flag football and once punched a student-referee. The name of his team was a precursor of things to come: Public Enemy.

"UNCERTAINTY" HAS CANES OFF BETTING BOARDS: Bodog.com's preseason college-football conference odds out today omit the ACC Coastal division "due to uncertainty of the Miami situation," my Bodog guy tells me. That's because a pending eligibility ruling on 12 implicated players will determine if UM is seen as an ACC contender or not. FSU is the ACC Atlantic division pick at 2-5. Other select conference betting favorites: Oklahoma 4-9 in Big 12; West Virginia 2-1 in Big East; Nebraska 7-4 in Big Ten; Oregon 2-1 in Pac-12; Alabama 9-5 in SEC; and FIU and Troy tied 3-1 in Sun Belt.

DOLPHINS JUDGED EVEN WITH JETS IN AFC EAST TALENT: Scouts Inc. for ESPN.com lists the NFL's top 1aa1jakelong 200 players, not a fantasy list, but based on overall talent, and in the AFC East the Patriots have eight guys listed, the Dolphins and Jets six each, and the Bills one. DOLPHINS and their overall rank: 20--OT Jake Long (pictured); 57--LB Cameron Wake; 62--WR Brandon Marshall; 92--CB Vontae Davis; 162--LB Karlos Dansby; and 175--OT Vernon Carey. PATRIOTS: 1--QB Tom Brady; 30--DT Vince Wilfork; 47--G Logan Mankins; 53--LB Jerrod Mayo; 87--CB Devin McCourty; 93--WR Wes Welker; 181--TE Rob Gronkowski; and 182--TE Aaron Hernandez. JETS: 3--CB Darrelle Revis; 23--C Nick Mangold; 42--DT D'Brickashaw Ferguson; 43--WR Santonio Holmes; 150--G Brandon Moore; and 189--LB David Harris. BILLS: 37--DT Kyle Williams. OVERALL TOP 10: 1--Brady; 2--Colts QB Peyton Manning; 3--Revis; 4--Vikes RB Adrian Peterson; 5--Pack QB Aaron Rodgers; 6--Saints QB Drew Brees; 7--Texans WR Andre Johnson; 8--Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger; 9--Browns OT Joe Thomas; and 10--Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald.

LEBRON MOCKS OWN HAIRLINE: On his KingJames official Twitter account this morning LeBron James Tweeted the following, relayed verbatim: Had a dream my hairline was back! Woke up and went to bathroom, turned on light slowly. Same ol story. Damn! Lol #wishfulthinking (In other LeBron news, click here for a YouTube video of LeBron jumping off a 3-meter board into a pool in Barcelona. Eventually).

790 THE TICKET COMEDY SHOW: Great time at the Hard Rock Improv last night. Funny s---. My good friend Hardy Guffaw wouldn't shut up. Thanks to 790 for having us. March Hochman was terrific and so were Roy Bellamy and Ron Magill and two of the three comics. Some of Hoch's best material was poking fun at Dan LeBatard's Sept. 12-debuting new show for ESPN2, saying it should be called "Pardon The Cancellation." Good stuff. Nights like this one are, to me, what separates the 790 franchise and brand from, says, WQAM. Hoch wants the station to be involved in listeners' lives and vice versa. It works.

ON PAT SUMMITT: Courageous video yesterday from the Tennessee women's basketball coach revealing she is diagnosed with early-stage dementia at age 59, a precursor to Alzheimer's. She'll continue to coach, at least for this season, with an increased role for her assistants. Best wishes to her. 

KEEPING CAM NEWTON NEAT FOR AMERICA: Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told Charlie Rose on PBS that he wants rookie QB Cam Newton to not have any tattoos or body piercings. He also suggested he'd like Newton to keep that neat, cropped haircut. If I were Richardson here's what I'd tell Cam: "Cam, if you're as good as we think, for all I care you can have full-body tats, a nose ring and a 1968 Sly Stone 'fro."

1aa1noncrowd MARLINS CONTINUE TO REEL: How hard is it to watch Leo Nunez work a ninth inning? There is little about this guy's makeup or game that says "closer" to me. Marlins had lost six straight and 15 of 17 before Wednesday's doubleheader as they head toward the new-stadium era with whatever the opposite of momentum is. No-mentum? Yesterday turned into a doubleheader because of Hurricane Irene, and pictured is the "crowd" for Game 1. Fans reportedly numbered 347. When the crowd is that small, wise-ass media folks, they will count by section. Oh, and a quick advisory for owner Jeffrey Loria as he nears the start of his new-manager shopping: A Sports Illustrated players poll earlier this season asked who's the manager you'd least like to play for, and the "winner" was Ozzie Guillen.

GEORGE HARRISON: Am really looking forward to the new Martin Scorsese film, George Harrison: Living In The Material World. In many ways this was the most shadowed Beatle, and you know Scorsese will do this right. Click GeorgeHarrison.com to watch the 2:20 trailer. 

1aa1grannyc THE WORLD'S GREATEST IRENE: In honor of Hurricane Irene veering east away from South Florida, I name the World's Greatest Irene. Couldn't come up with enough viable candidates to turn it into a poll, so I'm just doing it on my own. Runnerup: Irene Cara, the singer. World's Greatest Irene: Irene Ryan, the late actress who brought to ornery life Granny Clampett (pictured) from TV's The Beverly Hillbillies. Granny made an art form of varmints and vittles. Join me now for a dip in the ce-ment pond.

Click back. Will be adding much more stuff to this latest blogpost...

August 22, 2011

Dolphins roll dice on RB Larry Johnson; plus Shalala admits 15 under review, Wade on "unfair" treatment & more

1aa1bobyaz [Notes: Ramping up for Live Chat Wednesday! Doing it today 1-2 p.m. Click HERE to tap in then or post questions now. .....  Marking "Week 2: South Florida Hates Nevin Shapiro." ..... Join us on Twitter @gregcote. ..... Oh, and happy birthday to the great Yaz, Carl Yastrzemski, my boyhood idol, turning 72].

DOLPHINS IGNORE CONTROVERSY, EXHUME CAREER OF RB LARRY JOHNSON: Dolfans, y'all'd 1aa1ljohnson be partying over this news if it was, say, 2005-06. Back then Larry Johnson was one of top few backs in the league, for Kansas City. The thing is his career has gradually petered out since and he'll be 32 in November and this smells like his last shot. Controversy? Johnson (pictured) has been arrested four times over domestic-related violence against women, and also has felt heat over an issue with gay slurs. Admitted Johnson Tuesday at Dolphins camp: "It's kind of hard to convince anybody with my colorful background that, yeah, I've changed." Miami obviously is accepting the baggage with the idea Johnson has enough left in him to be a complementary third-option back behind Reggie Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas. Team also worked out Clinton Portis so they wanted that veteran RB presence. In that case re-signing Ricky Williams would have seemed logical, except he and Tony Sparano weren't real chummy. I think Johnson making the squad is possible, but think it's just as likely this will prove a failed experiment and he'll be gone before the season starts. Let's see.

UM NEVINGATE SCANDAL: LOOKS LIKE PENALTIES KICKING IN THIS SEASON: UM president Donna Shalala saying today that 15 players have their eligibility under review and therefore in potential jeopardy is significant for two reasons. 1) It suggests suspensions are imminent, which means the fallout from the scandal wrought by renegade booster Nevin Shapiro could kick in now and effect this season. Canes fans had been bracing for sanctions down the road, but that road could begin Sept. 5 at Maryland. If the 15 players under review include implicated stars such as Jacory Harris, Sean Spence and Ray-Ray Armstrong, the impact this season could be significant. 2) Shalala's statement is tantamount to UM acknowledging that a substantial number of Shapiro's allegations are true, which in turns lends credence to the ones yet undetermined. Neither of these two points make today's development good news in any way for UM.

1aa1bcs WHY WAIT? GET YOUR BOWL MATCHUPS HERE: The college football season -- that's what happens in between the NCAA investigations into corruption in college football -- hasn't even begun but here are bowl projections courtesy ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards. They both have it Oklahoma-Alabama for the BCS championship, and this for the Division 1A state schools: Miami Hurricanes--vs. Kentucky in (Music City Bowl); FIU Golden Panthers--vs. Tulsa or UTEP (New Orleans); FSU 1aa1petefiutak Seminoles--vs. West Virginia (Orange) or Mississippi State (Chik-fil-A); Florida Gators--vs. Iowa or Illinois (Gator); Central Florida Knights--vs. Penn State (TicketCity) or Syracuse (St. Petersburg); and South Florida Bulls--vs. Texas Tech (New Era) or Auburn (Compass). Speaking of FIU, how is it possible that the guy pictured at left is not covering the Golden Panthers!?

DOLPHINS' LIKELIHOOD OF WINNING, BY PERCENTAGE, BY GAME: Predictionmachine.com played 50,000 computer simulations of every game to determine that the Dolphins' over/under on wins is 7.3, even though Miami is given a 50%-plus chance in only five games. Likelihood of a Dolphin win in each game, by percentage, high to low: 70.3% vs. Broncos; 66.9 vs. Raiders; 66.4 vs. Washington; 63.5 vs. Bills; 53.8 vs. Texans; 49.5 @ Bills; 47.4 @ Browns; 46.2 vs. Jets; 42.8 @ Chiefs; 35.9 @ Giants; 35.4 vs. Patriots; 35.3 vs. Eagles; 33.8 @ Jets; 33.4 @ Cowboys; 22.9 @ Chargers; and 21.7 @ Patriots.

WADE: TREATMENT OF HEAT "UNFAIR": This won't engender many nods of agreement nationwide, least of all in Cleveland, but Dwyane Wade told a Milwaukee radio station: "It was unfair, some of the stuff we had to endure." Cue violins, please.

NBA LOCKOUT = BOREDOM = TOP 500!: ESPN.com is (slowwwwwly) counting down the top 500 NBA players, which is, like, everybody. Not sure if the guy ranked No. 493 needs to be high-fiving anyone. They were up to No. 344 when last I checked and Heat players named so far are Dexter Pittman 437th, Norris Cole 413th and Jamaal Magloire 390th. Oh, and Eddy Curry, the free agent Pat Riley seems hot to sign? No. 493.   

BASEBALL'S NON-PLAYOFF RACES: Thirteen teams are alive for the eight MLB postseason spots, but not really. Nine teams are, realistically. The AL is sewn up, as verified by coolstandings.com, whose computer analysis has the Yankees playoff likelihood at 98.8%, Red Sox 96.0, Rangers 85.9 and Tigers 69.1. The nearest challenger, the Indians, are given only a 15.7% shot to surpass Detroit. In the NL the Phillies (99.9%), Brewers (97.0) and Braves (96.1) are locked in. Only real "race" is for fourth NL spot, where Diamondbacks are at 62.1 and defending champion Giants 35.3. The Marlins? Quoting Elvis: Don't be cruel. Florida is on a 2-14 skid, in last place and flatlining zeroes on the postseason shot.

1aa1dmarinofatboys "DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be much better if occasionally you would show a photo of Dan Marino wearing a Fat Boys T-shirt. Because nothing says 'I'm down with old-school Brooklyn hip-hop' like Dan Marino. Thank you."

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later...

August 19, 2011

PS2: Dolphins 20, Carolina 10 (Final); Henne, Bush shine as Miami impresses, goes to 2-0 in fake games

Our main post on UM-Nevin Shapiro scandal is directly below this in blog, and poll on how concerned fans are remains open.

[You are invited to join us on Twitter @gregcote. Note: Our popular Dolfan Satisfaction Meter returns in 2011 for a fourth season following every game but it starts with the regular season, not in preseason].

PS2: CAROLINA @ DOLPHINS: FINAL: Dolphins now 2-0 fake-game play so something got to be going right. Carolina figures to be among dregs of NFL, yes, but, still, first units looked better tonight than in last week's win in Atlanta. Chad Henne had a very good game -- those seven words alone so welcome to Dolfans -- and Reggie Bush looked quick and explosive in his Miami debut. Good night overall. 

4Q: Crowd: 54,157. Or so they announced. Seemed 40ish. ..... Panthers touchdown capitalizes on 15-yard drive after Miami turnover by scrubs-team. Cats within 20-10 with 7:07 left. ..... Carolina on board with FG with 11:05 to play. Jimmy Clausen looking sharp at QB after wunderkind Cam Newton (7-14, 66 yards) did not in first half. 

3Q: Carpenter adds 44-yard FG for 20-0 lead with 9:37 left in quarter.

Half: Big night for Chad Henne: 15-for-24, 194 yards and no interceptions. And for Reggie Bush, 8-for-53 rushing and two catches for 33 yards.

2Q: Rookie Daniel Thomas 4-yard TD run, with Henne's 38-yard pass to Anthony Fasano the series' big play. ..... Henne in fior a fifth series. He's playing whole first half. ..... Dan Carpenter kicks 39-yard FG for 10-0 lead with 2:57 left in half. ..... Henne still in game for a fourth series. He has a hot hand, and this is a head coach recognizing his QB could use the chance to further grow his self-confidence. 

1Q: Dolphins up 7-0 with inside of a minute left in first on 1-yard diving TD run by Lex Hilliard. But it's been Reggie Bush who has most excited fans early, with 16- and 17-yard catches and a 17-yard run. ..... First MIA possession ends in punt, but Henne a fairly sharp 4-for-5 for 44 yards.

Pregame: At the stadium, 15 minutes before kickoff, and the crowd looks like a Wednesday night Marlins crowd vs. the Padres, except a little worse. Bright side: No Nevin Shapiro sighting.

Original post: First I would like to personally thank the Dolphins for having a home game tonight, their first since last Dec. 26, to help divert Miami's collective sporting mind from the depressing Hurricanes/Nevin Shapiro scandal. Yeah it's just an exhibition game, but still a welcome if temporary distraction.

1aa1bushdebut Dolphins seek to build on last week's 28-23 exhibition-opening win at Atlanta and tonight should be a more accurate look at the full team, because running back Reggie Bush (pictured), receiver Brandon Marshall and outside linebacker Jason Taylor all will play after sitting out last week. Also, starters will play a bit longer than a week ago.

Side treat: Overall No. 1 draft pick Cam Newton will start at quarterback for Carolina, a nice challenge for a fellow Cam, Cameron Wake, and his crew.

Of course the big story again figures to be the performance of Miami QB Chad Henne, who was OK overall last week but threw two interceptions. Three factors brighten the spotlight on Henne: 1) He'll play longer tonight; 2) The debuts of Bush and Marshall will put at his disposal probably his two best playmakers; and 3) This will be Henne's first big chance in 2011 to begin to repair his image with Dolfans, whose support of him is wavering at best.

I'll be at the stadium tonight columnizing off the game and also tending this blogpost with score updates and running commentary.

Your thoughts on the Dolphins and tonight are welcome here before, during and of course after the game.

August 16, 2011

Expose' on UM football / booster Nevin Shapiro suggests hammer is coming down. How worried should Canes fans be? (with poll); plus more

[Note: We'll have a separate blogpost on tonight's Dolphins-Carolina exhibition game publishing here by late afternoon. Watch for it. Also, join us on Twitter @gregcote].

ON NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: NBC crew taped segment with me yesterday on the Shapiro matter. Am now told definitively it will air Sunday night on NBC Nightly News between 6:30-7. Of course I could end up on the cutting room floor, which wouldn't be all bad considering I am America's Least Telegenic Man.

Click on Where There's Smoke There's a Five-Alarm Fire for my second and newest column on this mess, online and in Wednesday's Miami Herald. ESPN SportsCenter had me on by phone yesterday to talk about the UM/Shapiro mess; also appeared on ESPN's Outside The Lines, not to mention dozens of radio spots. I haven't been this popular since the 2010 debut of the TV show, Everybody Hates LeBron. Sad but true: Scandal is good for business in my line of work.

1aa1canesuhoh NEW REVELATIONS PAINT SORDID PICTURE OF HURRICANES RULES-BREAKING: Yahoo.com and the site's respected investigative reporter Charles Robinson have today published results of an 11-month investigation into the current NCAA probe into claims by former UM booster Nevin Shapiro of illicit benefits to players -- and one is left with the impression much wrongdoing was going on and serious penalties against Miami football may be forthcoming. Click HERE for the Yahoo report, which is accompanied by the 2003 photo we bring you of Shapiro in the company of ex-Cane Kellen Winslow Jr. at a local nightclub. Here is my column on the mess, the first one, from Tuesday's Miami Herald. Shapiro names 73 players he says received benefits in violation of rules over a span from 2002-10, alphabetically from Ray-Ray Armstrong to Winslow, and including a dozen current players including Armstrong, Jacory Harris and Sean Spence. We emphasize here that Shapiro's claims and the Yahoo report prove no guilt, but it is hard to read the report and not feel it is substantive and well-reported. The report also implicates seven former football and basketball coaches as having been aware of wrongdoing, including Frank Haith. The Yahoo report is based on 100 hours of jailhouse interviews with Shapiro (serving time for a Ponzi scheme), 20,000 pages of records from his bankruptcy case, 5,000 pages of cell-phone records and 1,000 photographs. Shapiro claims his improper benefits to athletes included cash, prostitutes, entertainment at his home and on his yacht, trips to restaurants and clubs, jewelry, bonuses for on-field plays, travel and, in one case, an abortion for a player's girlfriend. The NCAA will judge how much of what Shapiro says is the truth. For now, with the publication of this detailed report, the phrase "where there's smoke there's fire" comes to mind, and for the Miami Hurricanes right now, this has become a five-alarm blaze on the eve of football season. You might not agree. Poll's open. Vote now and tell us how you see this all playing out. 

FROM S.I.'s COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW ISSUE: Well, UM is fighting the Shapiro scandal and the dreaded phrase "death penalty" is even being tossed around, but the season goes! Nuggets from Sports Illustrated's new college-football preview issue: Top 25--1. Alabama, 6. Florida State, 25. Florida. Best game-day atmosphere--1. Texas A&M, 7. Gators. Best conference--1. SEC, 5. ACC. Best game--1. Oregon at Stanford Nov. 12, 4. Oklahoma at Seminoles Sept. 17. Best coach--1. TCU's Gary Patterson, 9. Noles' Jimbo Fisher. Best tradition--1. Ohio State/Script Ohio, 7. FSU/Chief Osceola. Heisman pick--Stanford QB Andrew Luck. (Gee they really went out on a limb on that one!).

TOP-SELLING COLLEGES IN MERCHANDISE: Collegiate Licensing Company puts forth its annual list of colleges that move the most merchandise, and the top of the Top 75 is 1. Texas, 2. Alabama, 3. Florida, 4. Auburn and 5. Michigan. Other state schools: 22. Florida State, 27. Miami, 56. South Florida, 62. Central Florida.

August 15, 2011

Would you trade LeBron James for Dwight Howard? (with poll); plus UM/Shapiro mess, LoMo demotion, Mike Leach/FAU & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote].

1aa1miahurr2 1aa1miahurr ON UM/SHAPIRO/NCAA MESS: My latest column, on UM football's Nevin Shapiro/NCAA investigation, is online HERE and in today's/Tuesday's paper. Nobody looks good in this. Hurricanes will come out sullied even if no penalties result. Shapiro is human sleaze but UM will have answering to do too in terms of oversight. It's a mess unfortunately inherited by Al Golden. And it's a lesson that schools need to build and maintain a strong firewall between boosters and athletes.  

WOULD YOU TRADE LEBRON JAMES FOR DWIGHT HOWARD?: A current piece on ESPN.com (click here) 1aa1lebone 1aa1lebtwo proposes just such an even-up deal as making sense. A King for a Superman. An interesting discussion, if probably moot. I can see Orlando trading Howard (post-lockout) rather than losing him to free agency next summer, but I also know the Magic would much prefer to keep him. I also have a hard time imagining the Heat breaking up the Big 3 -- especially if it meant parting with James, but if you'd deal LBJ for anybody wouldn't it be Howard? Would I make the deal? Probably not. But the possibility is much too tempting to dismiss altogether. Voting booth open. Your thoughts welcome.

1aa1lomoimage MORRISON DEMOTION A LESSON, IF HE'LL LEARN IT: A combination of Logan Morrison's serial Tweeting, his skipping a photo op with season-ticket holders and his slip into the .240s caused the outfielder's unexpected demotion to Triple-A. Morrison's immature reaction -- "... and this is how you get treated" -- only underlined the attitude issues the club sees in him. So does his threatening to file a grievance. So does his Twitter logo (pictured). The kid should swallow his pride and abandon his Twitter account if only as a symbol of the re-dedication to baseball the club demands. Having said all that, I would not have demoted him for the reasons that are public. Team is coming off a depressing 1-9 homestand during which only 25 runs were scored, and LoMo is one of team's few power/run producers. A mess all around.

1aa1mikel MIKE LEACH REPLACING HOWARD AT FAU?: Found it interesting that FAU didn't have a coach-in-waiting with Howard Schnellenberger retiring after one more year, a la Florida State with Jimbo Fisher long-designated to replace Bobby Bowden. The reason might be that FSU has its sights on Mike Leach, the defrocked Texas Tech coach, whose name and stature would help boost the Owls' profile. Recent FAU recruit Chad Ward, a receiver from Palm Beach, told reporters he "heard" Leach will be the next coach. Makes you think he was told that as an incentive to stay home in the backyard.

1aa1lebron panda LEBRON WITH PANDA BEAR: Yeah, well, I reckon that headline about says it all.






1aa1dufner DUFNER FINISHES LIKE DUFFER: Tough to watch Jason Dufner wither in the PGA Championship, blowing a late four-shot lead and losing in a playoff, giving away his first PGA Tour win, let alone first major. Dufner was an OK golfer for St. Thomas Aquinas in the '90s (pictured as Aquinasites might recall him), hardly the star, not blossoming until he got to Auburn. The good news? He gets a consoling check for $865,000, meaning he can still expect a cheery fundraising letter from St. Thomas.

1aa1brookecage BROOKE HOGAN UPDATE: Brooke, the recording artist, songwriter, producer, musician, actress and television personality who doesn't do any of those things particularly well, has posed nude for a PETA ad and here is the artsy finished product. (Click on image to see larger version). This should partly satisfy all who believe Brooke should be jailed (or at least caged) for a lack of talent. Meantime I continue to grapple with the link PETA evidently sees between nudity and the fight for animal rights. Yeah I don't like the Iditarod, either. LET'S GET NAKED!

1aa1kkkswimsuit conmp"WHAT IF THE KKK HAD A SWIMSUIT PAGEANT?": OK that would be my caption for the photo at left. I think I'm alright with that. I don't think any reference to the KKK is automatically offensive, as long as the KKK is the butt of the joke. Then again I might be wrong.

'16 AND WELL ADJUSTED': I love the new parody video, "16 And Well Adjusted" (click here), which mocks the MTV shows 16 And Pregnant and Teen Mom. Remember when it was sort of scandalous if your teen was pregnant? Now the notion is pushed nearer acceptability by being aggrandized on television. This parody is spot-on.

KIMBO SLICE: The time it took you to read the preceding item on '16 And Well Adjusted' is about how long it took Kimbo Slice to knock out some guy (17 seconds) in his pro boxing debut Saturday night.

THE LIST: HITTING STREAKS BY MARLINS AND EX'S: Five men who have played for the Marlins have had hitting streaks of 30-plus games, though only one played with Florida at the time:

Player, Team                              Streak - Year        With Marlins

Luis Castillo, Marlins                    35 - 2002             1996-2005

Benito Santiago, Padres               34 - 1987             1993-94

Dan Uggla, Braves                        33 - 2011             2006-10

Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks       30 - 1999             2008

Moises Alou, Mets                        30 - 2007            1997

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost...

August 12, 2011

PS1: Dolphins 28, Atlanta 23. A good start. Now: Should Henne-Moore be an open competition at QB? (with poll)

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Note, our popular Dolfan Satisfaction Meter returns for a fourth season this year but begins with the regular season, not during exhibition play].


1aa1mattmoore 1aa1mattmoore2 FINAL: Miami, 28-23. A win is win, although a win in a first preseason game cannot be given much weight, and ATL's first teamers beat Miami's. Still, thought rookie corner Jimmy Wilson (right) stood out among others. But the big question arising from this game: Did backup QB Matt Moore (left) show enough to be considered in the fight for the starting job with Chad Henne? I think that will be the broad theme tomorrow moving forward. My take: Why not? Henne has not done enough to have the job conceded to him. I think that because of tonight the rest of the preseason becomes a little more interesting.

[Disclaimer: This is a knee-jerk poll, admittedly. It might be unfair to Henne. It asks for a gut reaction based on one game that doesn't mean much. So what! It's only sports, friends. We're taking a pulse, that's all. I'm running a daily blog here, not an encyclopedia...]

4Q: Falcs within 28-23. ..... MIA up 28-20 on a 75-yard punt return TD by Philip Livas. ..... Nice and deserved local TV tribute to the late great Jim Mandich. "Aww-riiight Miami!" ..... "Super Bowl! Super Bo--." OK, I'll wait.

3Q: MIA with first lead of game on Matt Moore's second TD pass, this on back-of-end-zone pass to Clyde Gates. It's versus other team's backups, yeah, but Moore has looked pretty sharp. ..... Dirty Birds up 20-14 after nice end-zone breakup by Dolphins rookie CB Jimmy Wilson. ..... Dolphins throw INT early in quarter. But it isn't Henne! It might not be a good sign that esteem tends to grow for Henne more when he isn't in the game.

HALF: "Nothing that happens in the preseason opener means much." Rinse. Repeat.

2Q: Matt Moore 28-yard TD pass to Roberto Wallace just before the half. The idea that Moore would compete with Henne for the starting job is preposterous and reasonable all at once. God bless America. ..... Dolphins within 17-7 on perfect Henne spiral to Brian Hartline. Interesting that Chad played into the second quarter, longer than expected. Think Tony Sparano figured Chad needed another shot to leave this practice-game opener feeling good. Think Tony was dead-on right.   

1Q: OK the first pick wasn't your fault Henne. THIS ONE WAS! (Leading to Falcons FG). Geez, you have a very limited time here to build fans' hope. And you do this!? ..... Falcs 14-nil and a Dolfan is invited to torture himself (or herself) by revisiting what if. What if MIA had drafted Matt Ryan instead of Jake Long!? Hey, nobody said being a sports fan was easy. ..... OMG! Nightmare start. Chad Henne interception on his very first pass, turned into a 7-0 ATL lead. Of course, the goat is TE Anthony Fasano, who should have caught that ball. Find a hole to crawl into, Fasano. And buy Chad's dinner tomorrow. ..... PK Dan Carpenter has really long hair. Hippie! Where else you gonna get analysis like this? ..... Attendance in Atlanta looks like a mid-week Marlins crowd. Sad. NFL can't fool anyone that these exhibitions matter.

Original post: You know how very little in sports is less meaningful than an NFL team's first preseason game? Well this year that game means even less than usual! Because of truncated training camps caused by the lockout, tonight's exhibition debut might seem more like a glorified practice than a faux game, rendering the result particularly unimportant. Coach Tony Sparano admitted his game plan will be "vanilla" and not particularly designed to even win the game. In turn The Herald's story advancing tonight's game ran with the fitting headline, "Taking A Bland Approach." Starters won't play much -- likely not more than two series -- so opportunities to be encouraged by quarterback Chad Henne or to throw a shoe at your television screen will be minimal. Your thoughts on Miami's preseason opener -- before, during and afterward -- are nevertheless invited here. I'll be along for a semi-live blog, meaning I'll update with score changes and add some commentary.

August 11, 2011

Trying on Dolphins optimism to see how it fits; plus Henne's QB ranking, Hope Solo as God intended, Schnellenberger, caddie, Rodman, Le Batard & more

[Follow me on Twitter @gregcote and I promise not to take out a restraining order unless you start following too closely].

Note: Our separate post on tonight's Dolphins @ Atlanta preseason opener will publish in the blog at 6:30 p.m., one hour before kickoff. Watch for it. 

1aa1optimismsmile 1aa1optimismcircle TRYING ON DOLPHINS OPTIMISM TO SEE HOW IT FITS: Pessimism seems to cloak Dolfan Nation as the preseason begins tonight at Atlanta, and I aim to do something about it in today's latest column. Click on All That Could Go Right to read and then drop a comment here on what you think. Y'all must be hungry for the optimism; the column is the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com. I know much of the negativity is rooted in lack of faith or at least uncertainty in QB Chad Henne, and headlines like the one just below don't help. But even Henne makes my list of things that could go right, all over the field and even off it. Ah, optimism!  

HENNE RANKED NO. 31 STARTER. OUCH. (IT'S 32-TEAM LEAGUE!): This doesn't prove anything but offers more anecdotal evidence why so many Dolfans seem gloom-struck. On the eve of the Dolphins' preseason opener, USA Today debuted its new NFL quarterback power rankings and Miami's Chad Henne is ranked a dismal 31st of 32 projected starters, ahead of only Redskins' Rex Grossman. Seems a bit harsh to me. Wow. The top five in order: Pack's Aaron Rodgers, Pats' Tom Brady, Saint Drew Brees, Colt Peyton Manning and Eagle Mike Vick. Others from AFC East: Jets' Mark Sanchez overranked at 11th, and Bill's Ryan Fitzpatrick checking in 24th.

SCHNELLENBERGER DOWN TO FINAL SEASON: Up at FAU, Howard Schnellenberger annnounced yesterday that 2011 will be his final season before retiring as a coach. Not surprising, but still news considering he has coached since 1959 and meant so much in South Florida, Coral Gables to Boca Raton. Congrats are due (in advance) for a monumental career that helped shape Miami Hurricanes football before growing FAU's program from nothing. Click on Ode to Howard for today's column by me.

1aa1hopenude HOPE SOLO NUDE! PINCH ME: My favorite female athlete is about to make a lot of people horny happy. America's Goalkeeper, U.S. World Cup soccer star Hope Solo, Tweeted that she had posed au natural for the next ESPN The Magazine "Body" issue. Of course that's strategically nude, tease-y more than explicit. But still! Hope then Tweeted this photo, an outtake from the shoot that shows her romping in a fountain with her white bathrobe flying up and her appearing to be wearing nothing underneath. It's at a time like this I thank God my wife never reads my blog.

DEAR STEVE WILLIAMS: Many of you know 1aa1caddie Williams is the caddie fired recently by Tiger Woods, the two of them pictured in halcyon days. The caddie has since fired back sans-class at his 13-year benefactor. Steve, first, a reminder. You are a bleepin' caddie, merely that. You are a glorified man-servant paid to carry another man's golf bag, an inherently humble job that does not jibe in any reasonable way with your obviously inflated sense of self. You are interchangeable, literally. No extraordinary talent is associated with your role. A golfer -- let alone one as experienced and accomplished as Woods -- does not need you to read his distance or to make his club selection. He does not need you or a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. (Sorry, Dylan). You are there to be his pack-mule, to rake a sand trap, maybe to glare menacingly at a photographer whose camera whir threatens to dare disturb your boss' pre-swing ritual. The luckiest person in all of sports is the valet caddie raking a cool 10 percent off his lord's big checks. Tiger made you rich, Stevie. How about you take some of that money and buy a little humility.

1aa1dennisr THE DENNIS RODMAN SHOW: Friday, 10 new inductees will enter the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Nobody will notice nine of them, because one of them will be Dennis Rodman. It is ironic that Rodman (pictured) enters for the quiet, overlooked talents of defense and rebounding, because his persona is arguably the most look-at-me outlandish in sports history. There is no amount of tattoos, hair dye or body piercings that Rodman hasn't tried, and no clothing (or lack of) has been too odd or risque. Rodman, 50, wanted to roll into Springfield on a parade float but couldn't get a permit. So he says he'll helicopter in, bring costume changes and be accompanied by acrobats. I love that this guy is going as himself into the hallowed hall. He's a blast of punk rock in a quiet church. This might be the first time in history a bunch of bronze busts have looked mortified.

1aa1danl LE BATARD'S NEW TV SHOW: Dan sent me the 25-second opening of his new show, Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable, debuting Sept. 12 on ESPN2, and I like it. Wish I could show it to you here but the Worldwide Leader has an army of lawyers. I will say it's very Miami, visually and musically, and nothing like your standard TV-show intro. Which is good. Le Batard in his career has enjoyed a Midas touch earned with talent and ingenuity, but this will be his biggest professional challenge. I like his chances.

Click back. Will be adding more to this latest blogpost...