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20 posts from December 2011

December 31, 2011

Happy New Year! Vote for biggest South Florida sports story of 2011 (with poll); plus New Year's video from me to you

[1) Our Random Evidence Sunday notes column returns today. Click here to read. 2) You can still vote in our Jason Taylor/greatest-Dolphins-defenders poll in blogpost directly below this one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1gcnyeHAPPY NEW YEAR!: Wishing all our readers and blogites -- especially you long-time regulars -- a healthy, happy and preposterous prosperous 2012. Click on Resolutions for our latest holiday video from me to you. (Lowlight: Me with a fake British accent. Highlight: Cat plays guitar).

THE BIGGEST SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS STORY OF 2011 WAS...VOTE NOW: Nationally the top story was, by consensus, the Penn State scandal. As for the biggest story of the past calendar year with a Greater Miami focus, I rank the top 10 in the order appearing in the poll below. Your votes will set the real order, with the "something else" option if I've overlooked anything. ("Leo Nunez" turning out to be Juan Carlos Oviedo didn't quite make my cut, sorry). How'd I do on the list? Vote now.

You may vote for up to THREE (3)!

Click back. Might be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

December 28, 2011

Farewell, Jason Taylor. Dolphins' greatest defender ever? (with poll); plus NFL picks, Heat, Mike Stanton, change at 790, cursing baby & more

[1) LeBron James was born 27 years ago today (Friday). Happy Birthday, 'Bron. I have record albums older than you. 2) Our name-your-favorite-Heat-player poll is still accepting votes in blogpost directly below this new one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Bulletin: Oy!. Dolphins just announced that RB Reggie Bush (knee) would miss Sunday's game vs. the Jets. It does not fill me wirh confidence over my having picked Miami to win. 

Click on A Tribute to Jason Taylor for my column.

FAREWELL, JASON TAYLOR: It is Jets Week in Miami, and the final game of a disappointing 5-10 season 1aa1jtis a perfunctory anticlimax from a football perspective but suddenly significant from an emotional one. It will be be Jason Taylor's 204th and final game in a Dolphins uniform across 13 seasons. Only Dan Marino played more games for this franchise. Taylor is the Dolphins all-time sacks leader (131), a six-time Pro Bowl selection and was the 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The news of his retirement is hardly surprising; he is 37 and has been at this since 1997. Yet what is fully expected can still hit you. The finality of it. The sense of an era ending. Taylor's late-stage odyssey included a year with the Redskins, a spin on Dancing With the Stars, then a year with the Jets, but fittingly he came home to finish his career where he belongs. I think Taylor will make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I am more sure he is the greatest defensive player in club history, but invite you to tell me if I'm right or not. For the poll below I winnowed the candidates to seven, listed alphabetically. They include the Dolphins' lone defensive Hall of Famer (Nick Buoniconti), the other three defenders individually named on the team's stadium Honor Roll (Dick Anderson, Bob Baumhower, Doug Betters) and three of my choosing (Jake Scott, Taylor, Zach Thomas). A "someone else" option is there if you think I omitted somebody. Take a dip in our poll, tell us why your vote went where it did, and share your thoughts on Taylor as he prepares to say goodbye.

NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT JETS AS NFL WRAPS SEASON: The Dolphins will beat the visiting J-E-T-S 1aa1fripixSunday, 24-20, because Miami will stop the run and force the game into (uh oh) Mark Sanchez's hands. One favor: Can we stop with the manufactured, false drama that has Miami in a spoiler role trying to ruin NYJ's playoff hopes? Those hopes are realistically ruined already. Even if the Jets won, they'd need Cincy, Tennessee and Oakland or Denver to all lose. Not gonna happen, Planes. And another Rex Ryan Super Bowl guarantee looks ridiculous. Click on Week 17 Gems for all my latest NFL picks. And on Fit To Be Tied for my Friday Page column on why Arron Rodgers and Drew Brees should be co-MVPs.

'HOCH' STEPPING DOWN AT 790: Marc Hochman, "Hoch" to friends and 790 The Ticket sports-radio listeners, informed staffers today he has decided to step down as program director and devote himself 1aa1hochfulltime to his role as producer/guiding hand/third-voice of the station's popular afternoon Dan Le Batard & Stugotz show. He'd been fulfilling both roles; a new PD has not yet been announced. Hoch is pictured feathering his street cred in the company of Snoop Dogg. (Hoch's the guy on the right). Hoch the PD leaves the station in good shape, affirmed by December ratings out today that show 790 again beating runnerup WQAM-560 across the board and in the overall book among the four local sports-radio stations. Two of my Miami Herald brethren have shows in the market. Le Batard led his time slot with a combined rating of 4.9 in the two major age demographics. Armando Salguero's morning show on 640-WMEN finished fourth with a combined December rating of 0.3.

THE HEAT WILL CRUSH YOUR DREAMS, OPPOSING FANS: Almost felt bad for Charlotte-ans last night, watching them control the Heat and control the Heat and ... lose 96-95 in the final seconds. LeBron and Bosh -- both terrific. D-Wade, off his game, but he scores the game-winner. And so it's only the fourth 3-0 start in club history. Going through my notes from the home opener vs. Boston the other night I came across Doc Rivers talking about the Heat's Big 2: "Deion Sanders," he said. "That's what LeBron and Wade are. You cannot throw a cross-court pass against them. You're never going to beat that team in a race." Special, this Heat team is. Very.

LATEST SUPER BOWL ODDS: The only teams at 10-1 or better entering Week 17, via Bovada.lv: Packers 9-5, Patriots 4-1, Saints 9-2 and Ravens 10-1.

1aa1mikestantonMARLINS' STANTON "NEXT BIG THING": ESPN The Magazine's upcoming Jan. 9 annual "Next" issue anoints Miami Marlins slugger Mike Stanton as the next big thing in MLB, something those of us down here have only known for about the past year and a half. Shown is the photo running with the piece.

TOYS 'R F---ING US: Toys 'R Us sells exclusively a set of triplet "talking" dolls, one of whom, 1aa1babydollwhen squeezed, says the phrase, "Crazy b----." Not "Crazy beard," in case you 'R confused, but rather a word that rhymes with "witch." Click here for a YouTube vid about this and to hear the baby for yourself. Said baby is pictured left, her innocent facade belying an apparent undercurrent of profane street smarts. (The "crazy b----" I have heard myself. Rumors the baby also rants, "Get off my s---, ho!" is mere speculation at this point). Readers know I'm no prude (closer to the opposite), but, to quote an NFL pregame show, "C'MON, MAN!"

THE LIST: DOLPHINS' SACK LEADERS: The all-time top five:

131     Jason Taylor     1997-2007, '09, '11

67.5     Bill Stanfill     1969-76

65.5     Doug Betters     1978-87

64     Vern Den Herder     1971-81

59.5     Jeff Cross     1988-95

Note: Club season record is 18.5 by Stanfill (1973) and Taylor (2002). Single-game record is 5 by Stanfill (1973, '74) and Den Herder ('73).

Click back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost...

December 27, 2011

"My favorite Heat player is..." (with poll); plus Norris Cole, Dolphins in Pro Bowl, Brees topping Marino & more

[1. Loving this rush of wintry temps. 2. You can still endure enjoy the Christmas holiday video from me to you in the blogpost directly below this. 3. Reminder no live chat today. The Wednesday chats return next week. 4. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Bulletin: Norris Cole Elected Mayor of Miami: The Heat's rookie point guard is going to deserve his way into the poll below before long if he keeps this up. His 20 points and clutch late baskets helped lift the Heat over Boston in last night's home opener. The more wide-open, aggressive offense was a pleasure to watch. Click here for my column off the game.

HEAT, HEAT. HEAT-HEAT-HEAT. HEAT-HEAT-HEAT-HEAT -- HEAT HEAT! WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE PLAYER AND WHY?: I'm not being divisive here as the Heat prepare for tonight's home opener vs. Boston. I'm just curious. No doubt in my mind Dwyane Wade will win this poll but I wonder what kind of inroads LeBron James might be making. There was a '60s TV show called My Favorite Martian, so by that standard a poll that could be called My Favorite Heatnik seems fairly reasonable. (Speaking of divisive, not sure I'll reprise last season's King-o-Meter, an ongoing statistical comparison of James and Wade. Or maybe I'll present the numbers monthly. Yeah, that sounds right). Anyway, by however you define "favorite," take a dip in our poll (players are listed alphabetically) and say why.

1aa1danBREES BROKE HIS RECORD, BUT MARINO'S SEASON STANDS TALL: Took almost three decades, but Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 passing yards finally fell last night, to uber-prolific Drew Brees of the Saints. Brees now has 5,087 yards with a game to play. Both guys' passer ratings are almost identical -- Marino's was 108.9, Brees' is 108.4. Everyone mentions how rules-changes limiting defenses make it easier to pass nowadays -- and that is true. But I would also note that Marino set his record in 564 pass attempts, and Brees needed 622 throws to beat it. That's pretty significant. An extra 58 attempts is tantamount to an additional game or two. Bottom line: The record has changed hands, but Marino's 1984 remains a marvel.

LONG, MARSHALL MAKE PRO BOWL: Tackle Jake Long and receiverBrandon Marshall make the AFC pro Bowl team. Neither is a big surprise. Long will make it by rote, by habit, most years he is healthy. Marshall, with fairly strong numbers, benefitted from the fact no WR in the conference -- other than the Pats' Wes Welker -- stood out as an obvious choice. RB Reggie Bush had a case but came on too late. Miami's defense was good enough, especially against the run, for a selection, but no one man stood out.

ME, FANTASY: Mercifully, my fantasy season has ended. I won my final (consolation-round) playoff game, 143-130, but stunk overall with a 5-11 record despite having our league's individual scoring leader in Aaron Rodgers. Let's move on. Quickly.

ME, NFL PICKS: Went 9-7 straight-up last week (not good enough) on our Friday NFL predictions page, but went 10-6 (good enough) against the spread. Having a very solid year ATS, topping 55 percent. Details and fresh picks coming on this Friday's page.

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

December 25, 2011

LeBron, D-Wade shine as Heat unwrap big win for Christmas!; plus holiday video greeting from me to you & more

[1. Merry Christmas, Christians! Happy Hanukkah, Jews! Joyous holidays, others! Plain regular old Sunday, faithless heathens! 2. See results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this. 3. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Courtesy one of my musical heroes, Brian Wilson, we bring you the original 1963 version of "Little Saint Nick." It is nothing like the later version heard on radio. Click here. Enjoy.

1aa1christmasvidOUR CHRISTMAS VIDEO-GIFT FOR READERS WHO'VE BEEN GOOD: Recently I got together with the Heat's Big 3 -- Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh (thanks for the time, guys!) -- to record a video to the tune of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." The fifth man in the vid, upper right in the photo, is Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles. The bad news here? The annoying helium singing of The Chipmunks. The good news? You get to see LeBron in an Alpine hat. Click HERE to watch and listen. And a serious thanks and Happy Holidays to all my loyal readers and blog family!

HEAT OPEN BIG IN DALLAS: One team raised the championship banner. and then the team that will do it next won, 105-94. Anybody who watched the game knows the final score flatters Dallas. Heat thoroughly dominated, led by as many as 35 points in the third quarter. LeBron James' 37 points and Dwyane wade's 26 led a free-flowing offensive effort. ..... Original post: What else is there to say? This: The Heat will watch the Mavericks and their fans celebrate the NBA championship won at Miami's expense last season, and then the Heat will whip the Mavs and verify where the best team in the league lives.  

1aa1ice-tTHE LIST: DOLPHINS' 10-LOSS SEASONS: Saturday's defeat at New England meant the eighth 10-loss season in 46 franchise years. Let's mark the seasons gone most to L, chronologically, with the accompaniment of a photo of Ice-T sitting on Santa's lap:

Year    Record

1966    3-11

1967    4-10

1969    3-10-1

1988    6-10

2004    4-12

2006    6-10

2007    1-15

2011    5-10*

*-With one game to play.

Click back. Might be adding more to this holiday blogpost...

December 24, 2011

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 28.0%

[Main Dolphins-Patriots game post is directly below this in blog. Also, join us on Twitter @gregcote].

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: GAME 15: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan 1aa1dsmSatisfaction Meter, this in the wake of Saturday's 27-24 loss at the New England Patriots, a result putting Miami's season record at 5-10.

The DSM, in its fourth season, is a continuous gauge of how fans feel about the team and its direction. Right after each game, I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. I also suggest your vote be based on this season only, and not how it might affect the 2012 draft.

The poll never closes but results are certified official after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2011 Dolfan Satisfaction Meter

Next/Final season poll: Jan. 1 following game vs. N.Y. Jets.

G15: 28.0% satisfaction (9.9 very, 18.1 somewhat) following 27-24 loss at New England.

G14: 46.6% satisfaction (12.3 very, 34.3 somewhat) following 30-23 victory at Buffalo.

G13: 11.9% satisfaction (7.4 very, 4.5 somewhat) following 26-10 loss vs. Philadelphia.

G12: 65.4% satisfaction (29.7 very, 35.7 somewhat) following 34-14 victory vs. Oakland.

G11: 38.5% satisfaction (14.0 very, 24.5 somewhat) following 20-19 loss at Dallas.

G10: 58.5% satisfaction (23.8 very, 34.7 somewhat) following 35-8 victory vs. Buffalo.

G9: 35.9% satisfaction (7.8 very, 28.1 somewhat) following 20-9 victory vs. Washington.

G8: 31.6% satisfaction (16.0 very, 15.6 somewhat) following 31-3 victory at Kansas City.

G7: 19.6% satisfaction (18.1 very, 1.5 somewhat) following 20-17 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G6: 14.5% satisfaction (14.0 very, 0.5 somewhat) following 18-15 loss vs. Denver.

G5: 9.6% satisfaction (9.2 very, 0.4 somewhat) following 24-6 loss at New York Jets.

G4: 5.6% satisfaction (5.4 very, 0.2 somewhat) following 26-16 loss at San Diego.

G3: 3.9% satisfaction (3.3 very, 0.6 somewhat) following 17-16 loss at Cleveland.

G2: 3.7% satisfaction (2.6 very, 1.1 somewhat) following 23-13 loss vs. Houston.

G1: 34.4% satisfaction (3.9 very, 30.5 somewhat) following 38-24 loss vs. New England.

2010 Final: 3.8% overall satisfaction.

2009 Final: 31.2% overall satisfaction.

2008 Final: 96.9% overall satisfaction.

G15: Patriots 27, Dolphins 24 (Final): Sublime in first half, and then not so much

[1. Merry Christmas eve, Christians! Happy holidays, others! Join us on Twitter @gregcote. 2. You can still vote in our "No Matt Barkley -- What Next" Dolphins poll in post directly below this. 3. Heral'ds Heat special section is out today and I contribute this column on impact of Udonis Haslem's return to health].

Poll open in latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter in separate blogpost directly above this. Vote now!

G15: DOLPHINS AT NEW ENGLAND: NEW STAKES FOR MATT MOORE?: Final: There is no shame in losing 27-24 at New England, although when you lead 17-0 after a dominant first half, even losing-close doesn't feel so good. Another solid game from Matt Moore save for one pick. Another big game from Reggie Bush (22-113) and from Brandon Marshall (7-156). But in the end Tom Brady to Wes Welker was too much for Miami. This game reiterated what the surge since that 0-7 start has showed us: Miami is pretty good. But not yet good enough. ..... 4Q: Moore to Davone Bess TD pass and Dolphins within 27-24 with under 2 minutes left. (Those people cheering, led by me, are the ones who bet Miami to cover a 10-point spread). ..... Brady with another short TD run and a 27-17 Pats lead with under 3 minutes left. ..... Pats' 42-yard FG for first lead at 20-17. ..... Moore with an underthrown INT; not his finest moment. ..... 3Q: Brady sneaks in from the 1 and Pats tie it 17-17 in a big third quarter for the Tri-Cornered Hats. ..... Brady to Deion Branch for 1-yard TD pass and Pats suddenly within 17-10 after Moore loses fumble at own 38. ..... Dolphins lose fumble. My wife (and untold thousands of other Dolfans) just said, "Heeeere we go..." ..... English finally avert shutout and make it 17-3 on 45-yard FG. ..... Half: Complete domination. Matt Moore with a 120.3 passer rating to Tom Brady's 51.9. Reggie Bush already with 81 yards rushing and Brandon Marshall with 102 receiving. Defense with 3 sacks and holding NE to 107 total yards. Good lord. Very impressive performance. ..... 2Q: Pats shank a FG try wide left with 3 seconds left to keep shutout intact at half. ..... A 3-and-out by Pats elicits boos at Razor Blade Stadium. ..... Matt Moore with his second TD pass, this a 1-yarder to Charles Clay, the lead now 17-0. Wow. ..... Upset in the making? Brandon Marshall 19-yard TD from Matt Moore and it's 10-0. Tom Brady is 2-for-9. The dimple on his chin is sad! ..... 1Q: yet another case of the dropsies by Brandon Marshall. ..... Dan Carpenter 47-yard FG for 3-nil lead. ..... Original post: Matt Moore has impressed. His 1aa1dolpat88.7 passer rating is fifth in the AFC. That, coupled with USC's Matt Barkley excluding himself this week from the upcoming NFL draft, make the final two regular-season games very interesting for the Dolphins at the QB position. It had been all but a given that Miami would target Barkley in the first round. Now, without that option, with Andrew Luck out of play, with a trade-up for Robert Griffin III costly and with the Colts claiming they won't trade Peyton Manning, options have been limited. Unless Miami is enamored of Landry Jones (I hear otherwise) or a lesser-regarded collegian, it would seem increasingly likely Moore might go into 2012 as the starter-designate if he continues to impress in the final two games. Beyond that audition element today, I give Miami a decent outright upset shot at New England and think they'll beat the 10-point betting spread. Think the Dolphins can do plenty with the ball against a pretty generous (read: bad) Pats' defense. But ultimately I also think Tom Brady aiming at Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski will be too much. Pick: Patriots, 30-23.

December 22, 2011

Matt Barkley's return to USC major blow to Dolphins. What now for QB plan? (with poll); plus NFL predix, Heat betting odds, Florida in the nude & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Urgent Bulletin: Miami Beach has been named (click here) the "Most Tattooed City in America." Join me in swelling with parochial pride!

BARKLEY DECISION ERASES DOLPHINS' LIKELIEST DRAFT OPTION: Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley delighted Trojans fans and surprised NFL teams by announcing Thursday he would return for his senior 1aa1barkleymseason rather than enter the April draft. Nowhere should the news hit harder than in Miami, where Barkley was the Dolphins' leading draft option in the first round. (Barkley is pictured, preparing to punch the Dolphins in the nose with his right fist). Just hours earlier Thursday, ESPN.com's Todd McShay in his first mock draft had Barkley going 8th overall to the Dolphins. A club source had indicated to me that Barkley was the Dolphins' "realistic preference," understanding that coveted Stanford QB Andrew Luck almost certainly would go No. 1 overall to the Colts. Discounting the possibility of getting Luck, here is what the sudden elimination of Barkley could mean to Miami in rough order of likelihood: 1. Dolphins take aim now at Baylor's fast-rising QB Robert Griffin III, although Barkley's decision increases Griffin's value and makes it more likely Miami would have to spend big for a trade-up to get him. 2. Miami settles for Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, whose stock has fallen but who also will now be more coveted with Barkley's decision. 3. Dolphins de-emphasize the necessity of spending a first-round pick on a QB and stick with incumbent veteran Matt Moore (perhaps challenged by Chad Henne) for the immediate future. 4. Miami increases its interest in acquiring a proven veteran -- perhaps even Peyton Manning. Nothing ever seems to come easily for the Dolphins, right? Barkley's decision is the latest in Miami misfortune. How would you now advise the Dolphins if you could? Vote and say why.

NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT SPREAD BUT NOT PATS: Have you noticed neither of the NFL's two best 1aa1fripixteams play defense? The over/under on a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl (*-see below) might be mid-50s. I look at the way New England doesn't stop the run or pass and give Miami a big chance Saturday -- to cover, not to win. Tom Brady, at home, in December, is good enough to overcome both the Dolphins and his own D. Click on Week 16 Gems for all my latest NFL picks, and on Bad Week for Marino, 'Next Marino' for my Friday page column. Bad week for Dolphins QBs past and future as Dan Marino prepares to wave goodbye to his season yardage record and current club loses its most likely draft target in Matt Barkley. (*-Latest SB odds from Bovada.lv: Packers 9-5, Patriots 4-1, Saints 6-1, Ravens 10-1).

PSST. BETTING ODDS SUGGEST HEAT WILL BE VERY GOOD: Our friends at Bovada.lv have Miami with the highest wins over/under in the NBA at 50.5 (in a 66-game season), followed by Oklahama City 48.5, Chicago 47.5, then a big drop to Dallas at 42.5. Heat is a crazy-prohibitive 1-15 to win the Southeast division, followed by Orlando 15-2, Atlanta 18-1 and Charlotte and Washington both 100-1. Individual over/unders for Heat Big 3 are: LeBron James 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7 assists; Dwyane Wade 26-6-4.5; and Chris Bosh 19 points and 8.5 boards.

Publishing today/Saturday is The Miami Herald's Heat special section. My contribution: This column on Udonis Haslem, the quiet glue that keeps the stars aligned. Heat's biggest improvement over last season will be Haslem's return to full health.

LEBRON UNSEATED AS "MOST DISLIKED" IN NBA: A new Forbes poll (click here) anoints Kim Kardashian-dumper Kris Humphries as the NBA's most disliked player, with LeBron James second. Personally, my esteem for Humphries grew exponentially as he sought escape from the Kardashian asylum following a brief marriage. Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker and Metta World Peace (likely for the name only) round out the top five. Surprisingly: Heat's Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are 6th and 9th, respectively. Must be the proximity to LeBron causing residual dislike, a sort of second-hand-smoke effect.

1aa1nudistsFLORIDA IN THE NUDE: It has come to my attention that Pasco County north of Tampa wishes to position itself as a destination mecca for European nudists. Click here for the tail tale. My general if limited impression of naturists is that most of the folks who'd rather be naked (see photo) are people I'd much prefer to see clothed.

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

December 20, 2011

Was FIU bowl loss a farewell for Mario Cristobal? (Maybe not...); plus DeQuan Jones, LeBron and D-Wade, Kim Jong-il & more

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Four out of five doctors recommend it. The other one is drunk and being sued for malpractuce].

HOW LONG CAN FIU HOLD ONTO MARIO CRISTOBAL?: Three things I found notable about this week's FIU-Marshall football bowl game in St. Petersburg -- won by Marshall, 20-10 -- in inverse order: 3) "Thundering Herd" might be the 1aa1cristobalgreatest nickname in college sports. I am most intrigued by the vagueness of it. Thundering herd of what? Bison? Stegosaurus? Wildebeests? It's like if you had the nickname Screeching Flock. The imagination soars. The Marshall logo appears to picture a buffalo but leaves ajar the door to interpretation. 2) Congrats to FIU for a second straight bowl appearance, and yet I cannot quite take seriously something called the "Beef O'Brady's Bowl." Sorry. Since the Poulin Weedeater Bowl has lapsed into history, the Beef O'Brady's Bowl might be the silliest-named bowl most embarrassed by an unfortunate corporate sponsor. Possible challengers: Meineke Car Care, GoDaddy.com, Taxslayer.Com and the inside rail to Famous Idaho Potato. 1) Will this be coach Mario Cristobal's final game at FIU? Reports and rumors swirl. Cristobal had a glorified "no comment" this week. I look at that neutrally, just as I would if he'd chosen the perfunctory "I'm happy at FIU" non-answer. I don't think Cristobal is disloyal. I do think he is upwardly mobile, and would have seen Pitt a clear promotion from the Sun Belt conference. May we be honest here? Playing in a bowl game out of the Sun Belt is like being class valedictorian of a plywood high-school in rural Mississippi. That Cristobal might consider a bigger pond would be no shock. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette -- which happens to cover Pitt (and the Steelers) better than anybody -- reported he was the school's leading candidate. Now, to FIU's relief, it appears Pitt will hire Wisconsin assistant Paul Chryst. Will FIU be able to keep Cristobal. It appears so. For now.

LEBRON, D-WADE AMONG BETTING FAVES FOR SCORING TITLE: Bovada.lv has Kevin Durant even money at 1-1 to win the NBA scoring title, but right after that come the Heat's LeBron James at 11-4 and Dwyane Wade at 8-1. Dwight Howard and Kevin Love are tied as rebound-title picks at 3-2 with no Heatniks on the radar. Deron Williams is the assist-leader choice at 3-1, with James tied for sixth at 12-1. Heat are prohibitive 10-11 team favorites to win the Eastern Conference, followed by Bulls 3-1, Knicks 7-1, Celtics 8-1 and Magic 12-1.

UM BASKETBALL REINSTATES DEQUAN JONES: Miami, after consulting with the NCAA, reinstated 1aa1dequanjsenior basketball player DeQuan Jones, who had been suspended after being implicated in the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Not coincidentally, the action came just days after Jones had engaged an attorney to push the matter. Canes fans exalting over this as a torpedo to the original Yahoo investigation might want to dial it back a notch. This implies but does not prove that Jones was wrongly included in the report. Could just be that UM was more worried about the likelihood of a lawsuit than the possibility of repercussions for playing Jones. Anyway, around 5:30 this evening, a maybe/somewhat/temporarily/perhaps vindicated Jones Tweeted: "R.I.P. to the competition." Good for him. Presumption of innocence, remember. It may be spring before the NCAA reveals its findings and metes out punishment. Seemed unfair for Jones' senior season to be swallowed whole absent proof beyond an allegation.

ME, NFL PICKS: Upsetfest made for a tough week. Went 9-7 straight-up and 6-7-3 against the spread (with one push and two games off the board). Worst pick of the week? A tie between my thinking Bills would beat Miami and Jets-over-Eagles. Must have been the spiked egg nog. Detauils on this Friday's NFL predix page.

ME, FANTASY: Greg's Lobos at  4-10 missed my fantasy league's main playoffs then lost 128-110 in a consolation-round game. My season's epitaph: "He Had Aaron Rodgers And Still Couldn't Win!"

1aa1kimjongNORTH KOREA KEEPS DICTATORSHIP IN THE FAMILY: Kim Jong-il dies of a massive heart attack (a blow to atheism) and his son is appointed North Korea's next megalomaniac. Here, Kim Jong is pictured during his final days, sitting inexplicably nude before a scatter of spent beer cans. [Rule of thumb: If you are a notorious dictator who dies, it is not too soon. You may be made fun of immediately upon your passing. You're next, Castro. Waitin' on you!]

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

December 18, 2011

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 46.6%

[Big day for the Dolphins -- the 2011 team and the 1972 Perfectos as well. Main Dolphins-Bills game post is directly below this in blog. Also, join us on Twitter @gregcote].

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: GAME 14: Results are certified for the latest edition of the Dolfan Satisfaction 1aa1dsmMeter, and they show 46.6 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 30-23 victory at Buffalo, a result putting Miami's season record at 5-9 in the first game since the firing of coach Tony Sparano.

The DSM, in its fourth season, is a continuous gauge of how fans feel about the team and its direction. Right after each game, I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. I also suggest your vote be based on this season only, and not how it might affect the 2012 draft.

The poll never closes but results are certified official after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2011 Dolfan Satisfaction Meter

Next poll: Dec. 24  following game at New England.

G14: 46.6% satisfaction (12.3 very, 34.3 somewhat) following 30-23 victory at Buffalo.

G13: 11.9% satisfaction (7.4 very, 4.5 somewhat) following 26-10 loss vs. Philadelphia.

G12: 65.4% satisfaction (29.7 very, 35.7 somewhat) following 34-14 victory vs. Oakland.

G11: 38.5% satisfaction (14.0 very, 24.5 somewhat) following 20-19 loss at Dallas.

G10: 58.5% satisfaction (23.8 very, 34.7 somewhat) following 35-8 victory vs. Buffalo.

G9: 35.9% satisfaction (7.8 very, 28.1 somewhat) following 20-9 victory vs. Washington.

G8: 31.6% satisfaction (16.0 very, 15.6 somewhat) following 31-3 victory at Kansas City.

G7: 19.6% satisfaction (18.1 very, 1.5 somewhat) following 20-17 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G6: 14.5% satisfaction (14.0 very, 0.5 somewhat) following 18-15 loss vs. Denver.

G5: 9.6% satisfaction (9.2 very, 0.4 somewhat) following 24-6 loss at New York Jets.

G4: 5.6% satisfaction (5.4 very, 0.2 somewhat) following 26-16 loss at San Diego.

G3: 3.9% satisfaction (3.3 very, 0.6 somewhat) following 17-16 loss at Cleveland.

G2: 3.7% satisfaction (2.6 very, 1.1 somewhat) following 23-13 loss vs. Houston.

G1: 34.4% satisfaction (3.9 very, 30.5 somewhat) following 38-24 loss vs. New England.

2010 Final: 3.8% overall satisfaction.

2009 Final: 31.2% overall satisfaction.

2008 Final: 96.9% overall satisfaction.

G14: Dolphins 30, Buffalo 23 (Final): "Reg-gie! Reg-gie!" Bush's 203 rushing yards power Miami. Big day for Dolphins -- 2011 team and also 1972 Perfectos

[You can still vote in our Heat-expectations poll in blogpost directly below this. Also, join us on Twitter @gregcote. It's free and it helps you burn calories without exercise].

Watch for latest edition of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter in separate post beginning at 6 p.m. sharp!

G14: DOLPHINS 30, BUFFALO 23: Final: Big day for the Miami Dolphins as the 2011 team scores a nice road win in Buffalo, while a loss by previously unbeaten Green Bay preserves -- once again -- the Perfect Season distinction of the 1972 team. Today's three stars for Miami: Reggie Bush with 203 yards rushing, the fourth highest total in club history; Matt Moore with another strong game (122.3 pass rating and two TDs); and Vontae Davis with a pair of interceptions. ..... 4Q: Bills with a FG and within 30-23 inside of 2 minutes. Need another successful onside kick and a prayer. Got neither. ..... Buffs recover onside kick. Anthony Fasano on the oops muff. ..... Bills within 30-20 on Derek Hagan 2-yard TD pass from Fitzpatrick's beard. ..... Reggie Bush busts a 76-yard TD run to give him 203 yards rushing for the day and 973 for the season. Only other Dolphins RBs to top 200Y rushing in a game were Ricky Williams (twice in 2002) and Lamar Smith (in 2000 playoffs). ..... C.J. Spiller 3-yard TD pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick's beard, but two-point conversion pass fails so it's 23-13. ..... Another red-zone fizzle and a third short Carpenter FG makes it 23-7. With finishing power this could be a 35-7 rout right now. ..... 3Q: Brandon Marshall loses fumble after catch; actually ball was stripped/snatched from him. That's three turnovers for each team. ..... Vontae Davis with his second INT of the game! ..... Reshad Jones intercepts deflected pass. Ryan Fitzpatrick: Bad beard, and bad luck, too. ..... Matt Moore hits Brandon Marshall in stride for 65-yard scoring play and a now comfier 20-7 lead. Puts Marshall over the 1,000-yard mark for the year. What was I thinking in picking Buffalo? Can I get a do-over?. ..... Half: I feel like Miami controlled that first half but two red-zone fizzles kept the lead nervous/narrow. Two stats jump out. Reggie Bush having another big game with 81 yards rushing on 15 carries. And Brandon Marshall targeted four times but has zero catches. ..... 2Q: Bills botch a 25-yard FG try wide left as half ends. ..... Matt Moore loses fumble when hit as Miami driving near Buffs 10-yard line. Bush should have recovered but thought it was an incomplete pass. ..... Vontae Davis interception sets up Miami at Buffs 25 but yet another red-zone fizzle leads to another chip-shot Carpenter kick and 13-7 lead. Ryan Fitzpatrick, being pressured, threw a pass nearly as awful as his beard. Oh, while I think of it: Could someone please ask Brandon Marshall to quit dropping touchdown passes. ..... Dolphs up 10-7 on Dan Carpenter 20-yard kick, mid-quarter, after drive stalls. An impressive drive it was, spiced by Brian Hartline's nice 31-yard catch and a 28-yard run in which Reggie Bush faked out defender George Wilson something awful. (George might want to avoid watching ESPN SportsCenter tonight. .....  Miami knots it 7-7 on first play of second period, and I do declare that scoring toss by Matt Moore was as gorgeous a pass as you'll see, falling to Anthony Fasano in perfect stride. That's five TD catches for Fasano, having a nice season after a slow, underutilized start. ..... 1Q: Reggie Bush loses fumble (it's turnover weather), and soon after Buffs up 7-0 on C.J. Spiller 24-yard scoring dash. First 1Q TD allowed by Miami defense in nine games. ..... Snow flurries! Football weather! ..... Sittin' here wondering if Todd Bowles will be as overtly excited about field goals as Tony Sparano was. ..... Original post: This marks the 1aa1dolbilldebut of interim coach Todd Bowles, who'll get three games in place of fired Tony Sparano before the team pretends like he is a serious fulltime candidate, does the token-interview dance and then hires a bigger name guy. Bowles is pictured at left, along with Brian Billick, one 1aa1dolbillbowles 1aa1dolbillbrianof the many men likelier to get the job. Only a month ago, on Nov. 20, the Dolphins throttled the Buffs in Miami, 35-8, after which Yeremiah Bell said the Bills laid down, quit, gave up. Oooh, thems fightin' words! If team lockerrooms actually had bulletin boards, this is bulletin board material. See, professional athletes are cute. They get all sensitive and defensive if you question anything that has to do with their manhood or heart. This sense of retribution, along with temps in the wintry 30s joining Miami's 1-5 road record to form a sizable home-field factor, is partly why I see a Dolphins loss today. I also think the firing of Sparano, unpopular within the team, will not provide a positive bounce. QB Matt Moore (mild concussion) is scheduled to start, but give me the Williams anyway. Pick: Bills, 20-17. Below: Remembering when Dolphins-Bills was a vibrant rivalry between playoff regulars and almost always a meaningful game, once upon a time...

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