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19 posts from January 2012

January 31, 2012

Super Blog Tuesday: Coaches in dour-off, Mr. Quiggly; plus Cristobal, Gingrich, gnikaeps drawkcab & more

[It's Election Day in Florida! You can still vote in our blog's Republican primary in the post directly below this new one. Poll hasn't closed but you can see the results as they happen. Sorry, Newt. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

SUPER BLOG TUESDAY: BELICHICK, COUGHLIN IN DOUR-OFF: In the Patriots' Bill Belichick and Giants' 1aa1bill 1aa1tomTom Coughlin -- Coach Ebullience and Coach Vivacity are pictured -- this Super Bowl has the two NFL head coaches who were most apt to be off snarling grimly in the film room when God was handing out personality. A four-pack of other thoughts for Super Blog Tuesday: 1. Last year's Skechers Super Bowl commercial featured Kim Kardashian. This Sunday's Skechers ad will feature a French bulldog named Mr. Quiggly. Sounds like an upgrade. 2. Scouts Inc. ranks all 106 players in this SB and No. 106 is Giants defensive end Justin Trattou. So my money on Trattou-for-Super Bowl-MVP is not looking good. 3. Giants safety Antrel Rolle, the ex-Cane, said, "We are expecting to win this game Sunday" -- and in New York it got displayed like a guarantee. Gawd. What hath you wrought, Joe Willie? Nowadays in the buildup to a Super Bowl the most perfunctory expression of confidence is shot up with media steroids and vomited as an implied guarantee. 4. Rome called. They want their numerals back.

DOLPHINS: ON COACHING STAFF, SOLAI: One name among the new assistant coaches jumped out at me. You how great it would be if you could combine the talents of all-time Dolphin defensive greats Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor? Miami just did. The team's new assistant quarterbacks coach is Zac Taylor. Speaking of the Dolphins, somebody explain why Paul Soliai is a Pro Bowl defensive tackle in a 3-4 defense but apparently expendable if the team converts to a 4-3 alignment? Makes little sense. Talent is talent. In both systems you need a wideload to take up space and tackle people. If the Dolphs won't spend to keep him in free agency, fine. But don't let him walk and blame it on the new alignment.

ON CRISTOBAL STAYING (FOR NOW): Here is today's column by me on Mario Cristobal deciding to remain as FIU football coach. I am a bit harsh on him, perhaps. I just think recent dalliances with Pitt and Rutgers portray Cristobal as a coach willing to listen to outside offers and looking for his next stepping stone. No crime in that. But it's tough to preach loyalty when you are sort of wearing a 'For Hire' button on the lapel.  

1aa1newtmoonFLY ON THE WALL: GINGRICH STRATEGY SESSION: Chief advisor: "Newt, our poll numbers are trending down. We need to do something to verify to voters that you are presidential, measured, sound ... the common-sense candidate. Any ideas." [Long pause] Gingrich: "Moon colony!"

TEEN WITH ODD TNELAT: Click here to see and hear a teen girl instantly repeat any word backward. For instance, you say, "Congress," and she immediately says, "Ssergnoc." I find this girl's odd skill to at once be both evisserpmi and suolucidir.

R.I.P, WOMEN'S SOCCER: The Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league has folded says it won't play in 2012. The Boca Raton-based and absurdly named magicJack franchise previously had disbanded. This was a team and a league studded with U.S. World Cup stars like Abby Wambach and Hope Solo. If this women's soccer league could make it in America, will any, ever?

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

January 30, 2012

Cristobal staying at FIU; plus Super Blog Monday (prejudiced camel picks Giants), you pick-a-Republican (with poll), meaning of Heat-Bulls, Brandon Marshall & more

[1) Pat Burrell, the ex-Hurricane, has retired from baseball. Congrats on a nice career (292 career homers). Hall of Fame? No. But a very nice career. 2) You can still vote in our Miami's-top-5-biggest-sports-stars poll in blogpost right below this new one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

MARIO CRISTOBAL STAYING AT FIU: Reported earlier in the day as headed for Rutgers, Mario Cristobal is now staying at FIU. Whose decision that was is presently unclear. In either case, whether Rutgers withdrew its interest or Cristobal changed his mind, it has become pretty clear Cristobal is open to entertain offers to leave FIU. This time it was Rutgers. In December it was Pitt. Who's next?

SUPER BLOG MONDAY: PREJUDICED, FRAUD-SEER CAMEL PICKS GIANTS: We christen Super Bowl Week 1aa1princessby launching our Super Blog feature, daily updates here as the big game draws near. Today we report that Princess, a prognosticating camel (pictured), has foreseen a Giants victory over the Patriots by choosing its zookeeper's handful of graham crackers marked Giants. The dromedary's credentials: A 5-1 record in SB picks. Feel-good story, right? Uh uh. Sorry. Princess resides at Popcorn Park Zoo in Forked River, N.J. ... in the heart of Giants country. That's right. I am alleging this camel was predisposed to select the Giants, perhaps even to pay off a gambling debt owed to some "wise guys." Somewhere in a Boston-area zoo a forlornly anonymous camel not celebrated to star in an annual publicity stunt bitterly is thinking, "Like I wouldn't pick the Pats!? Go Brady!" I'm no camel but will add a Super Bowl prediction of my own: America is about to suffer an acute case of Manning Overload.

BEAT THE RUSH. PICK A REPUBLICAN WINNER: An ongoing steadfast pledge of mine is to make this 1aa1flaprimarymore than just a typical sports blog, as loyal readers know. I risk the occasional "What's that go to do with sports!?!" outrage, but my bet is that, like me, most of you have interests beyond sports, including music, politics, food, reading, absurdity, whatever. In that spirit of variety I offer this poll in honor of Tuesday's Florida Republican primary. You needn't be a Republican to participate. Vote or don't (the poll is in alphabetical order), but I'll be curious how our subset of blog readers feel, and how this microcosm might compare or contrast with the statewide vote. I am not a Republican but if I were I'd probably vote for Mitt Romney as the most electable of the four. That Democrats hope Newt Gingrich is the nominee is a perception, I think, with substantive merit. Then again, I am occasionally wrong.

HEAT HOLD SERVE AT HOME, THAT'S ALL: Heat 97, Bulls 93. Nice win yesterday, but not a necessary or

1aa1bullsheatparticularly important win, despite the media-gravity of the matchup. This was the first of four duels between these Eastern Conference powers, and you know there will be four more (at least) in their all-but-inevitable playoff series to come. Miami fans crowing about a statement game must consider the statement includes the fact Chicago was without Luol Deng. If anything this result for me verified that the Heat -- as great and talented as they are -- will have a difficult road to the NBA championship. And perhaps even back to The Finals. Original post: Truthfully I'm not even sure if the result of Bulls at Heat today will even explain the hierarchy of the NBA's Eastern Conference or by extension how Miami's championship chances are looking. Some will see this as a "statement" game only bigger -- a declaration game! Miami, in perception if not reality, will assert itself today as the favorite for the crown, or invite doubts to creep in. Me, I see it as merely the first of four regular-season meetings between these conference powers, so let's withhold the broad assertions about what this result will "mean." Well, unless the Heat lose at home, of course. Then we all pop open the umbrellas against the rain of panic.

PRO BOWL SUCKS, BUT MARSHALL DIDN'T: Dolphin Brandon Marshall had a dream Pro Bowl with four TD catches among his six receptions for 176 yards. Hey, Brandon. Save it for the regular season. Original post: Ceremonially kicking off Super Bowl Week today in Hawaii is the pointless NFL all-star game known as the Pro Bowl, made up of AFC and NFC players, most of whom are replacements for guys who dropped out with sudden faked injuries because every player wants to makethe Pro Bowl but nobody seems to want to play in it. (Or watch it, for that matter). The score will be around 48-37, the lack of defense and effort masquerading as excitement, and a day later you'll forget who won if you ever cared to know. The NFL has never quite figured out how to make its all-star game matter. It is the glaring thing that baseball especially and even basketball do so much better. The good news for the Pro Bowl is that the NHL all-star game (also today) is even worse.

1aa1buffettWHAT IS IT ABOUT JIMMY BUFFETT?: Did not attend last night's Jimmy Buffett show at the Heat palace but have seen him in concert at least eight or 10 times over the years and am a decades-long fan if not quite to Parrothead levels. And I still marvel (with admiration, not incredulity) how this man of limited voice has built such a super-loyal following. He is his own cottage industry. More power to him. He also has made some very good, overlooked music much more recently than his familiar chestnuts from the 1970s. Click on "Bama Breeze" for the YouTube video of my favorite cut from the 2006 CD, Take the Weather With You.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT COVERAGE OF THE ING MARATHON?: I don't get it. My newspaper today dedicated the equivalent of more than five full pages of coverage to the annual ING Marathon & Half Marathon, and was hardly alone in the media obsession with this event. Bulletin to my industry: Marathons interest only people who compete in them. Nobody outside of participants much cares that a guy from Kenya (surprise!) won yesterday's race. Then again, I am occasionally wrong.

LA COTE AT FONTAINEBLEAU: Belatedly it has been brought to my attention the Fontainebleau has a trendy restaurant called La Cote. Thank you, Fontainebleau, for naming a restaurant after me. It is an honor that could only be exceeded by an invitation for a free meal for myself and a guest. I am kidding, of course. Scruples would prevent me from ever accepting such a blatant gratuity, in case an important Herald editor happens to be reading this. :)  

DAMNED !@#$ING SURVEY SAYS MIAMI IS A RUDE CITY: Readers of Travel & Leisure magazine have voted Miami No. 2 among America's rudest cities, trailing only New York City. Speaking for Miamians, I would say [bleep]ing Travel & Leisure can [censored] our [deleted]!

1aa1chickenboothDEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of a man making a call at a phone booth that looks like a giant chicken. Thank you." I'll see what I can do.

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

January 27, 2012

Who are South Florida's 5 biggest current sports figures? (with poll); plus Wade answers doubters, Dolphins invade Herald, LeBron rumor, Paula Deen & more

[1) Pat Sajak admits he has been drunk on "Wheel of Fortune." No big deal. Occasionally I am drunk in this blog. 2) Musical treat: One of my heroes, Mavis Staples, sings "You Are Not Alone," accompanied only by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy on guitar. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote

Herald hosts Philbin, Ireland: Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, GM Jeff Ireland and CEO Mike Dee visited The Miami Herald yesterday for an exclusive one-hour sit-down interview with a Herald contingent that included myself. The video of that session is now online, and begins with my question about Philbin's recent family tragedy.

WHO ARE SOUTH FLORIDA's BIGGEST CURRENT TEAM-SPORT STARS?: My poll includes 14 nominees 1aa1top5logofrom our four major pro teams, listed alphabetically. You get to pick your top FIVE (5). I have little doubt LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (or Wade and James) 1aa1top5handprobably will rank 1-2, but to me the order after that is up for grabs among a pretty strong list. I don't have a "somebody else" category but you'll let me know if I left anyone deserving out. The "biggest star" criteria is your own, but I suggest you consider the question beyond a local vantage and view it from a national perspective: Who are the biggest current figures in Miami sports? Vote now and say why.

And remember: VOTE FOR AS MANY AS 5!

Poll analysis: Two things. 1) The timing of this poll clearly favors the Heat. However I have no doubts LeBron James/Dwyane Wade would be 1-2 even if the poll were in the middle of Dolphins or Marlins seasons. The mild surprise is that Heat sweep top four spots, with Pat Riley a solid third and Chris Bosh in fourth just ahead of Reggie Bush as voting continues. 2) Bear in mind that with each voter allowed to vote for five different men, 20 percent would be the maximum total vote percentage presuming each voter completes a full ballot. In other words, James and Wade's percentages of 19 and change means they are being included in just about everyone's top 5. One would multiple each person's vote percentage by 5 for an approximation of the overall percentage of top-5's in which each man is being included. For example, Hanley Ramirez 's vote percentage of just under 5% means he is being included in roughly 25% of all top 5s.

WADE ANSWERS THE DOUBTERS: Dwyane Wade returned from his ankle injury with a sharp 28 points in last night's Heat win over the Knicks, reminding us how much harder Miami is to defend when he is on the floor. The doubters who wonder if the Heat might somehow be better off without Wade -- they are wrong. Meanwhile the silly Knicks' only answer was to hoist an absurd 43 3-point shots. What an embarrassment for the NYK.

ANATOMY OF A RIDICULOUS LEBRON RUMOR: It was "being reported" this week that LeBron James is not thrilled with Pat Riley's disciplinary ways and that he might leave the Heat in free agency after the 2013-14 season. The story is baseless. It emanates from this fluff from one Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Sam writes "there is talk" based on his "sources in Miami." Translated, that means "there is talk I just generated" based on "the sources in my head." His further speculation is that James would rejoin the Cavaliers. Which makes sense except that club owner Dan Gilbert would not have LeBron back in a million years. Maybe two million. The truth: James truly loves playing with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and company, and would not consider leaving as long as he feels he is legitimately chasing multiple championships here.

DOLPHINS 1-FOR-2 ON COORDINATOR UPGRADES: I like that new coach Joe Philbin is bringing in ex-Packers head coach Mike Sherman as his offensive coordinator. That can't but be seen as an upgrade over Brian Daboll. Not as sure about hiring Bengals DBs coach Kevin Coyle as defensive coordinator. He's a veteran, but does not seem like an upgrade over departed Mike Nolan.

SHANE BATTIER CHANNELS VANILLA ICE: Hear the Heat's Shane Battier, a karaoke guy, on YouTube sort of rapping the signature hit of Miami's own Vanilla Ice right here. Word to ya mutha.

SUPER BOWL PROP BETS: A few of the hundreds available, courtesy our friends at Bovada: MVP--Tom Brady 13-10, Eli Manning 9-4, Rob Gronkowski 8-1. Kelly Clarkson over/under on national anthem--1 minute 34 seconds. TV audience over/under--47.5 rating, 115 million viewers. Times Peyton Manning shown on TV--3 1/2. Color of Gatorade bath--Yellow 7-4.

PAULA DEEN'S LITTLE MESS: Food Network fans (like me) know Paula Deen is the Southern lady know 1aa1pauladeenfor rich, caloric foods that pay little heed to health. Many also know she just revealed she was diagnosed three years ago with type-2 diabetes, yet continued to pimp her artery-clogging dishes. Never too much butter 'n sugar 'n cream, ya'll! Now she has partnered with a diabetes drug company to profit off her condition. Angry diabetics are calling her a hypocrite and Anthony Bourdain of Travel Channel's "No Reservations" continues his critical assault. I find the controversy, well, delicious. It is stunning how Deen has misplayed this to such a degree there is outrage where sympathy otherwise would be. If I were the Food Network I'd consider saying adios, Paula. And if I were that drug company, I'd pay close attention to the public backlash, especially from diabetics, and probably run from this woman as fast as I could.

RAY LEWIS, OF COURSE: ESPN finished its countdown of the top 20 current NFL players for its "Any Era" list and of course Ray Lewis was chosen No. 1. It was probably the most anticlimactic foregone conclusion since that time ESPN's best-planet list was topped by Earth.

HEADLINES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D SEE (one in a series): Click here. Note, a judiciously blurred video of her performance is included. Not sure if that's a good thing.  

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

January 25, 2012

Peyton Manning to Dolphins is plausible. Here's why; plus Tim Thomas, Prince Fielder, Barack Lincoln, Heat, Fart magazine & more

1) You can still vote in our pick-the-Dolphins-next-QB poll in blogpost directly below this latest one. 2) Best wishes to Mark Duper on his full recovery from kidney surgery. 3) Musical treat: Our friend Brendan Benson drops a new CD, What Kind Of World, on April 24. Click here to listen to the first single, "Bad For Me," courtesy Stereogum. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Fore! Herald moving to Doral: The Miami Herald announcing its new corporate headquarters will be on a 15-acre lot in Doral, four miles west of the airport, beginning in May 2013. That's because the iconic current location off Biscayne Bay was sold, alas, to a group that is building a $3.8 billion casino resort. The move is not expected to affect Greg Cote, who never goes into the office anyway.

WHY PEYTON MANNING TO MIAMI IS PLAUSIBLE: Piece together all the little bits of circumstantial evidence and Peyton Manning ending up a Dolphin seems to make some sense. 1) The Colts intend to draft QB Andrew Luck No. 1 overall and would owe Manning a $28 million roster bonus on March 8 unless 1aa1peytondanthey release him before then. A columnist I like, Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, writes compellingly about Manning's awkward situation now in Indy from an exclusive and very candid interview with Manning this week. Click on Manning's Discomfort with Colts for the entire piece. "It's not a real good environment down there right now to say the least," Manning says. The candor upset Colts owner Jim Irsay. 2) Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland indicates very clearly from the Senior Bowl he thinks Miami needs an upgrade at QB. That leads to a strong supposition Miami is unlikely to stick with Matt Moore. (So is Miami unlikely to spend hugely for a major draft trade-up and a shot at Robert Griffin III. 3) Star-minded owner Stephen Ross wants a QB signing with the impact to sell tickets and build instant excitement or, as Ireland said, "Make a much bolder statement in South Florida." Manning would do that. Matt Flynn (of the two career starts) would not to nearly the same degree. 4) Manning as a free agent would have his choice of suitors. But Ross indicated with Jeff Fisher that money would not be an issue and likely would not be outbid for Manning. Miami has a solid offensive line, which would be important to an almost-36-year-old QB recovering from neck surgery. Oh, and the Dolphins have a unofficial lobbyist who would try to persuade Peyton to come here. They are close friends and golfing buddies. The name of the unofficial lobbyist-in-waiting is Dan Marino. In a poll in my previous blogpost I ask Dolfans what their QB choice would be for the team and by a narrow margin you all pick signing Flynn over signing Manning. I respectfully disagree. Manning -- if fully healthy, a critical caveat -- has at least a few prime seasons left and would make Miami an AFC contender the minute he stepped into the uniform. Manning to Miami at this stage in his career would not equal LeBron taking his talents to South Beach and the Heat. But it would be close. If owner Ross agrees, it could happen.

ON TIM THOMAS' WHITE HOUSE SNUB: The Boston Bruins' star goalie was absent this week when his 1aa1timthomasStanley Cup champion team was honored by President Obama at the White House. It was a protest. Thomas wrote on Facebook he didn't participate because, "The Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties and Properties of the people." It sounds like Thomas was worried he'd be stopped from bringing his shotgun onto the grounds -- you know, the one you'll only get when you pry it from his cold dead hands? -- despite the Second Amendment. Dear Tim: The tea party screed is fine, but I think the biggest statement you made was one of simple disrespect, a statement with no nobility in it. However, you had every right to do what you did (or didn't do). You owe no apologies, but the other side of freedom is fair criticism for how one might choose to exercise those rights.

1aa1melissasMIDFIELDER SIDELINED BY SEX: AC Milan star midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng is sidelined for a month with what the club calls a "muscular lesion on his left thigh" and could miss the team's Feb. 15 Champions League round-of-16 match. Girlfriend Melissa Satta tells Vanity Fair the injury was caused by the couple having sex "seven to 10 times a week." Satta is pictured for educational purposes.

PRINCE'S KINGLY SUM: Free-agent slugger Prince Fielder and his luxurious beard get a nine-year, $214 million deal from the Detroit Tigers, just a fraction less in average ($23.8M per) than Albert Pujols' recent 10-year, $240 mill deal from the L.A. Angels. It's silly money. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, the pizza magnate, must be nuts. (In a related story, a Little Caesar's medium with pepperoni now costs $75). This deal will make anyone but a Detroit fan sort of hope Fielder immediately gains 70 pounds and hits .208. Or settles in on the D.L. with a back strain incurred bending over to pick up a dropped Twinkie.

NFL 'ANY-ERA' TEAM: Latest gimmickry from list-obsessed ESPN is to count down the current top 20 NFL "any era" players. The list so far: 20, future Dolphins QB Peyton Manning (I can dream); 19, Tim Tebow (oh Lord); 18, Ndamukong Suh (I guess stomping an opponent is fashionable in any era); then 17 to 5 in order are Dwight Freeney, Jared Allen, Darrelle Revis, Ray Rice, Ed Reed, DeMarcus Ware, Tom Brady, James Harrison, Aaron Rodgers, Hines Ward, Patrick Willis, Adrian Peterson and Brian Urlacher. Top four out Friday. I'd only bet every penny I have that Ray Lewis is No. 1.

1aa1fartFART MAGAZINE: Fart was a 1950s and '60s car magazine in Sweden, in whose language "fart" means "speed." The coincidence? Both types of fart involve gas. Somewhere in Goteberg, in 1961, a man who just finished the magazine remarked to his wife [translated], "I really enjoyed that Fart." 

D-WADE'S ANKLE: Heat star Dwyane Wade missed a fifth straight game with his sore right ankle last night, and his eighth game this season overall. We caught up with Wade's ankle. "We're fine, getting close, maybe even give it a go tonight in Detroit," said Wade's ankle. "But from now do not approach me directly. Go through my agent or the team publicist, please."

PRO BOWL UPDATE: Because of fake injuries to every available player, I have been added to the AFC Pro Bowl team and so has your neighbor Ed.

ON JORGE POSADA: An L.A. Times blog has a poll asking if retired Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is a Hall of Famer. It's about like asking if I am a presidential candidate, moot in its absurdity. Short answer: No, no way, never, not even close.

1aa1obamaabeDEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show an artist's depiction of Barack Obama as Abraham Lincoln, especially since Obama referenced Lincoln in his State of the Union speech last night. Thank you." I'm sorry that won't be possible.

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

January 23, 2012

Pick Dolphins' next QB: Flynn, Griffin, Manning or Moore? (with poll); plus Heat, nightmare Super Bowl, Coker 2.0, Lomo, Steven Tyler & more

LIVE Q&A TODAY 1-2 P.M.: Click here to join us today/Wednesday at 1 or to post questions now!

1) Hope all our Chinese readers had a Happy New Year this week, and that all our American friends enjoyed a happy National Pie Day! 2) Who'll win Super Bowl? Vote in our poll in blogpost directly below this latest one. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

DOLPHINS CHECKLIST: NEW COACH? DONE. NEW QB? HMM...: Dolphins management and new coach Joe Philbin face very interesting decisions in the coming weeks if Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn become free agents as expected. To me the ideal scenario would be to acquire Manning -- if the price is right and in his case if his health is sound -- and then have a few years to develop his eventual replacement. But options abound, all of them pretty good. Take a dip in our poll and tell the Dolphins what you would like to see as their QB strategy. Weigh each man's positives and negatives below (listed alphabetically), then cast your vote and say why.

1aa1flynnSign Matt Flynn: Packers' backup will be free agent unless Green Bay applies its franchise tag, which is unlikely. Positives -- Flynn is only 26, has worked closely with Philbin, and in two career NFL starts has passed for 731 yards and nine TDs. Negatives -- "In two career NFL starts." Flynn was a 7th-round draft pick. Could be a leap of faith based on little evidence that he'll be a franchise-type QB. 

1aa1griffinTrade-up to draft Robert Griffin III: Miami won't get the Baylor star sticking with the 8th or 9th pick and might have to trade all the way to No. 2. Positives -- Griffin is a dual-threat Heisman winner who could be to his team what Cam Newton is in Carolina, a true franchise cornerstone. Negatives -- It would cost a ton to trade up that far, and no rookie QB comes with a guarantee.

1aa1manningSign Peyton Manning: Speculation is Manning will become free agent before March 8, when Indianapolis would owe him a $28 million roster bonus. Positives -- Where to begin? Manning is one of greatest, most prolific passers of all time and if healthy could have at least a few prime seasons left. Negatives -- Turns 36 in March and is coming off a season missed due to neck surgery.

1aa1mooreStick with Matt Moore: Dolphins' incumbent starter went 6-6 with solid 87.1 passer rating in 12 starts. Positives -- Moore is only 27, had 16 TDs vs. only nine picks in 2011 and his rating ranked fifth in the AFC. Negatives -- Is Moore good enough to carry a team or is he better suited as a solid backup or stopgap starter?

Something else...: This category could include giving Chad Henne another shot, signing a free agent less costly than Manning or Flynn, or drafting a QB who is more of a developmental guy like Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill or Arizona's Nick Foles.

1aa1mike 1aa1larry 1aa1joeJOE PHILBIN: LARRY COKER 2.0?: Has anyone else noticed an eerie resemblance between the new Dolphins coach, Philbin, and former Miami Hurricanes coach Larry Coker? Look and decide. The similarity had not occurred to me but was mentioned in an email by Jim Martz. Longtime readers may recall that name. Jim was an excellent Herald sports writer for years (covering UM, tennis and more) and actually was my first boss and the man who hired me. (So blame him!) Philbin is at left and Coker in the middle here. I added Dolphins CEO Mike Dee, far right, just because.

1aa1lomohottub'LOMO BEING LOMO: Logan Morrison is pictured here, far right, enjoying a glass of wine in a hot tub with fellow Marlins outfielder Bryan Peterson. The men appear to be naked. The hot tub appears to be small. I don't even wanna know where Morrison's left foot is going. Morrison later Tweeted, "nohomojustlomo." Evidently Morrison is such an established "free spirit" that he can say "homo" and everybody just grins and says with a wink, "That's Lomo!"

ROMNEY VS. GINGRICH IN FLORIDA: Mitt vs. Newt. Whatever happened to guys named John and Ed? (Or Joe and Larry?)

STINKING HEAT: The Heat stunk last night about as badly as the Heat can stink. Pinch your nose and move one. Return of D-Wade imminent.

THE NIGHTMARE SUPER BOWL: From a Dolfan perspective the worst would be the Jets in the Super Bowl. But Patriots vs. Giants is pretty close. You have the rival/nemesis Patriots of pretty boy Tom Brady and scowling Bill Belichick reminding Miami how steep the climb is in the AFC East. And you have the Giants allowing the transplanted New York fans among us to be even cockier and more obnoxious than usual. The good news? It beats a Ravens-49ers matchup in terms of overall interest and also to prevent two weeks of nonstop feel-good media schmaltz about brothers Jim Harbaugh and John Harbaugh in the "HarBowl." Both bros were denied and I have one word for that: Harbaawww.

1aa1tylersON STEVEN TYLER: I like Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith) and that great rock voice of his. I love my country and its national anthem. May the two of them never, ever intersect again. Please? Seriously. Tyler (pictured here screeching the anthem Sunday) was no match for the song's high notes prior to the Ravens-at-Patriots game. I don't think he was disrespecting the song; he just wasn't up to its challenges. One other thing about Tyler. I watch American Idol (guilty pleasure) and Tyler -- a judge along with Randy Jackson and Dolphins part owner Jennifer Lopez -- is taking the rock-star/sex-symbol persona to cartoonish extremes. Dude, you'll be 64 in March. Dial it back a notch.

PATERNO AND MIAMI: The great, late Joe Paterno didn't impact the University of Miami much over the years but did profoundly, once. It was Penn State's 14-10 victory over the Canes in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl -- the game for the national championship -- on Jan. 2, 1987. I was there. And a quarter century later I still have never seen any coach in any sport as devastated by any loss as Jimmy Johnson was then.

HERMAIN CAIN, SINGING: I guess the headline about says it all. Click here. The defrocked Republican presidential candidate start crooning at about the 1:45 mark. 

COULD I SAY IT IF IT WEREN'T TRUE? (One in a series): Iran seeks to recover Saddam Hussein's bronzed ass cheek.

1aa1batONLY IN MIAMI... (One in a series): Click here. Yet more from real-life Miami that reads like a chapter in a zany Carl Hiaasen novel. The difference: Hiaasen's bats would have been bred and colonized by the deranged homeowner.

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

January 22, 2012

Champ Sunday in NFL: Giants, Patriots advance to Super Bowl! Who'll win? (with poll)

[1) R.I.P., Joe Pa. 2) Dolfans may still vote in our reaction poll to the Joe Philbin hiring in blogpost immediately below this new one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

GOATS ON PARADE! BONEHEAD PLAYS = PATRIOTS-GIANTS SUPER BOWL: The Super Bowl -- you know, that thing Miami last won 38 years ago? -- is Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, and that fair city tonight learned it will host a Patriots-Giants rematch game. A missed 32-yard field goal by Baltimore's Billy Cundiff and a muffed punt in overtime by San Fran's Kyle Williams proved the difference. New England will be favored (I'd guess by 4 points). Who do you think will win? Not who you want to win, but who you think will? And why?

1aa1afcchAFC Championship: Patriots 23, Ravens 20 -- Good lord! Ravens miss a tying 32-yard field goal in final seconds and Patriots escape. Had New England winning but missed it against the spread. I do think the better team won, even if it did need some luck. Most impressive: That the Pats are good enough to win even when star Tom Brady has a poor game. "I sucked," Brady said afterward. He pretty much did, and yet NE is Indy-bound anyway. ..... Original post: There is nothing I am more sure of in either of these games than simply Tom Brady's ability, at home, to outscore the other team today. Also think Bill Belichick's blitz package will rattle Joe Flacco into a couple of turnovers and that New England's defense lately has been better than earlier in the season. See Pats covering the 7-point line as well. Pick: Patriots, 27-17.

1aa1nfcchNFC Championship: Giants 20, 49ers 17 (OT) (Underway) Defensive puntfest ends with winning 31-yard field goal after a muffed punt. I called the upset. Kyle Williams' turnover on punt return is the difference. ..... Original post: With some trepidation I think the hot Giants will be a road-'dog upset winner at Candlestick tonight. San Fran is a very solid team (and favored by 2 1/2 points) but NYG is chugging on all cylinders now. Eli Manning takes aim at the best threesome of wide receivers in football, and I think the Biggies' nearly awesome defensive line will really disrupt the Niners offense. Pick: Giants, 24-20.

January 20, 2012

Joe Philbin is Dolphins' new head coach: Your reaction is... (with poll); plus Joe Pa, R.I.P.

[Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1joepaJoe Paterno dies at 85: Longtime Penn State football coach and tarnished legend Joe Paterno has died at 85. Paterno was beloved in Happy Valley as a coach and icon but unfortunately his career ended badly and not of his choosing in the wake of his inaction in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. I hope time will allow the profoundly good of his life to vastly overshadow the controversy and sorrow at the end. Rest in peace, Joe Pa.

1aa1dwadeOn Dwyane Wade: A post I wrote -- "Is Heat better off without Wade?" -- was immediately overshadowed by the Dolphins' coach hiring. The Wade post is still there right below this but is lonely. Won't you support America by voting in our Wade poll?

Click on A Man And a Franchise In Need of Healing for my column on the Dolphins' hiring of Joe Philbin as head coach, now online after appearing on page 1A of the pulp editions.

DOLPHINS CHOOSE PHILBIN: ESPN first reported and then everybody did that Green Bay Packers offensive 1aa1joepcoordinator Joe Philbin, 50, is the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins -- the eighth in the franchise's 46-year history (10 if you count interim guys). Philbin was chosen over two other finalists: Broncos OC Mike McCoy (who seemed the frontrunner earlier in the day) and Dolphins interim coach Todd Bowles. Philbin game-planned but did not call plays for one of the NFL's elite offenses, helped immeasurably of course by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Negative in the hire is that Philbin has no head-coaching experience and Miami is rolling dice and offering itself as a proving ground for an inexperienced guy who'll have on training wheels for the task at hand. The Dolphins sought the opposite (experience and a proven head-coaching record) in Jeff Fisher but were rebuffed, and now settle for their second choice. But enough of my rambling. What is your gut reaction to the Philbin hiring?

Stop it! Enough with the trade-Wade nonsense! (with poll)

[1) While waiting (and waiting, and...) for a Dolphins head-coaching decision to reveal itself, life marches on. I would assume at this point it's going to be Mike McCoy, but you remember what happens to those who assume! Meantime you can still cast your vote from among the three finalists in the blogpost directly below this new one. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

WOULD THE HEAT BE BETTER OFF WITHOUT DWYANE WADE? : The far-fetched notion bloomed today (bloomed like a rash) on local sports-talk radio, where much aural nonsense is uttered before evaporating 1aa1dwadenone too soon into the ether. In this case knee-jerking Heat fans were reacting to LeBron James' big game last night against the Lakers, a result that left Miami 5-0 with Dwyane Wade out injured this season. The theory is that James is free to be himself when unencumbered by Wade. First, the opposite would be true, too; Wade naturally would score and shine more if James were the one out. Second, the Big 3 came within two wins of an NBA title in Year 1, when this truly was an experiment, something being figured out. Now much of the figuring out is accomplished. It is astonishing that some Heat fans do not know that Miami is a better, more exciting, scarier to defend team with James and Wade than with either but not both. Wade himself had to smile at the better-without-Wade notion, Tweeting late this afternoon: "It is projected to be a cold day outside but #WithoutWade the weather is quite amazing. L2MS" -- the latter Tweetspeak for "laugh to myself." He knows the talk is ludicrous. I do. Do you? Or do you see credence in the notion. I will admit a straight-up trade with Orlando for Dwight Howard is something I'd at least consider, but I don't think I'd do it. I think James and Wade are the best 1-2 punch in the NBA and can't imagine tearing that dream ticket up. Your thoughts welcome. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

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

January 18, 2012

Decision time for Dolphins: You pick next head coach (with poll); plus LeBron schools Lakers, NFL picks, Dolphins draft surprise, new Springsteen, cats in space & more

1aa1bruces 1aa1popcorn[1) R.I.P., Etta James, a great voice stilled at 73. 2) A new Bruce Springsteen CD, Wrecking Ball, drops March 5. Click on We Take Care Of Our Own to listen to the first single. Springsteen, I like a lot. The new song, I am disappointed to find a bit generic and bland-familiar. 3) At a staff meeting this week, my Minister of Silly Holidays informed me yesterday was National Popcorn Day. So enjoy! 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

NFL PICKS: Like Patriots fairly comfortbaly in AFC and Giants in an upset in the NFC. Click on Championship Gems for the full capsules. And on Old School Still In Session for today's related NFL column on why the 49ers and Ravens getting this far should provide some hope to the Dolphins and Dolfans.

Click on Doubt Awaits Winner for my column on the Dolphins coaching search. On what is positive about the three finalists, and on what's troubling, too.

DOLPHINS SEARCH DOWN TO THREE. YOU PICK ONE: OK we're done mourning over preferred candidate Jeff Fisher picking St. Louis over Miami. We're still reeling from defensive coordinator Mike Nolan dumping the Dolphins for Atlanta (see previous blogpost), but it's time to move on, to look forward. There reportedly are three finalists for the head-coaching hire, so let's review and then vote in a winner. Alphabetically:

1aa1bowlesTodd Bowles, 48, went 2-1 as Miami's interim guy replacing Tony Sparano. A DBs coach by trade, Bowles would provide continuity, especially for a defense rocked by Nolan's departure. Another plus (though not to Todd): He could be more of a bridge-hire preceding another shot at a Cowher/Gruden/Dungy in a year.

1aa1mccoyMike McCoy, 39, the Broncos offensive coordinator, is a quarterbacks specialist who has worked (while in Carolina) with current Dolphins starter Matt Moore. In 12 years with that club and Denver he has eked the maximum from other non-elite QBs including Jake Delhomme, Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow.

1aa1philbinJoe Philbin, 50, the Packers offensive coordinator, has worked six years game-planning (though not play-calling) for one of the NFL's best offenses. A supposition is that this hiring could lead to Miami acquiring Green Bay free-agent QB Matt Flynn and converting to a West Coast-style offense.

I find this a difficult choice. I like the continuity option of Bowles as a stopgap guy preceding (if warranted) another shot at a more experienced coach in a year. I like the idea of McCoy having worked with Moore. I like the idea of Philbin bringing some Packer mojo and maybe Flynn, too. I do not like that none of the finalists (save for Bowles' three games) has any NFL head-coaching experience. Miami would be clearly better off with Fisher right now and yet these three choices are appealing in their own way. 

At any rate instead of wishing for aces not there, we play the hand dealt, right? That is why this poll does not include "someone else" or griping "none of them!" options. Time to deal with the reality we are presented. Take a dip in our poll, make your choice and say why. (Nobody said life was easy, folks...)

KIPER MOCK DRAFT FOR DOLPHINS, EX-CANES: ESPN's titanium-coiffed draft analyst has released his first Mock Draft and he has the Dolphins' first-round pick as Iowa tackle Riley Reiff, for what it's worth. Meantime, the six early-departing Miami Hurricanes are among 65 players officially granted early approval for the 2012 draft by the NFL. RB Lamar Miller is projected as a first-round pick (21st overall by Kiper) and guard Brandon Washington is rated the third-best OG available. The other four -- DT Marcus Forston, WR Aldarius Johnson, DE Vernon Olivier and WR Tommy Streeter -- might end up wishing they'd stayed in school.   

HEAT OBSERVATIONS FROM SECTION 105: Attended Tuesday's Heat game not working, but as a fan 1aa1105plonked down in Section 105 with my wife and two friends. Different view for me. May I first say that asking $9 for a bottle of Miller Lite is a [bleep]ing outrage!? Noticed Magic Johnson at Pat Riley's elbow. Oh to be a fly on Riles' Armani jacket. Alex Rodriguez and his blond were seated nearby. She asked a woman next to them to take their picture on her cell phone and I'm thinking, "That's a New York Post back cover waiting to happen." As for the Heat, that second half, sans Dwyane Wade, was remarkable. LeBron James continues as the best player in the NBA when "on," and Mike Miller bounced back into action like a man possessed, 6-for-6 on 3's. (A toast, please, to Miller's continued good health). The angst over those three straight West Coast losses was proved comically unnecessary. This is the best roster in the league, period. It sure looked liked it after halftime last night, even with D-Wade dressed for GQ.

1aa1blackLEBRON RISES FROM SICKBED, BEATS LAKERS: LeBron James swats aside "flu-like" symptoms and then swats aside the Lakers last night with 31 points in an it-wasn't-that-close 98-87 win over the L.A. Meantime the annual NBA general manager survey is out and 74.4 percent say Heat will be champs. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (55.6%) beats LeBron (44.4) in a predicted two-man race for MVP. One-third of GMs call Miami "most fun to watch." Complete survey results in dozens of categories here. Last night's game was the "Back In Black" promotion. I'm old-school. I'd have thought having Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in town sort of needed no added promo.

FORRRE!: A PGA Tour golfer, albeit a bum you've not heard of, has been caught in the net of a Florida online underage-sex sting. Click here.

LESSER OF TWO EVILS: Whom you least rather be today: Disgraced Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, the accused pedophile? Or Capt. Francesco Schettino, the coward accused of causing the Costa Concordia disaster and then abandoning ship? I am not being facetious. I feel pity for both men even as I loath them.

SEXY MODEL IN UNDERWEAR PERFORMING YOGA: Figured I needed to break the mood after that last sober note. Well, I guess that headline here about says it all. Click here. Not in bad taste. Educational.

WIKIPEDIA: Wikipedia shut itself down for a day this week (annoying lazy students everywhere) to protest two bills being considered that would limit online access. I feel I must righteously step in and add my small, nasally voice to the protest, therefore I am blacking out the last sentence in this item. It is a mildly profane, anti-government screed, but you'll find it annoyingly difficult if not impossible to read, because it is blacked out: Screw the government's intention to curtail what I may see for free on the Internet!

1aa1catsinspaceDEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if you would make an effort to expose the one major story nobody has reported: China's plans to send cats on unmanned flights to outer space. Thank you." No problem. I'm-a get right on it. 

Click back. We'll be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost forthwith...

January 16, 2012

Hits keep coming: Dolphins lose Mike Nolan; plus pick a Super Bowl rooting interest (with poll), D-Wade's 30th b'day bash & more

1aa1ali2 1aa1ali1[1) Warm congratulations and respect to Muhammad Ali (pictured), The Greatest, on his 70th birthday today. And to the Heat's Dwyane Wade, One of The Greatest, on his 30th birthday today. 2) Another great man, Martin Luther King Jr., would have turned 83 Sunday. 3) Find our NFL Divisional Round playoff post directly below this. 4) If Jon Huntsman dropped out of the Republican presidential race and nobody cared, would he still make a sound? 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

LIVE ONLINE CHAT TODAY: Our Wednesday live chat is 1-2 p.m. Click HERE to join us then or to post questions now.

1aa1mikenDOLPHINS LOSE DEFENSIVE CHIEF MIKE NOLAN: Bad gets worse for the poor Miami Dolphins. Today defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, probably the most accomplished coach on the staff, leaves for the same position with the Atlanta Falcons. This is a big loss and also a bit of an insult -- to lose a top aide to essentially a lateral move. The perception is that Nolan (pictured) has jumped a sinking ship while the jumping was good. Perhaps he also figured the next head coach would not retain him. In either case, another blow to the Dolphins. And here is yet another: Colts firing Jim Caldwell today means more competition in the coach-hiring derby.

PFFSSSSS... THAT IS THE SOUND OF THE AIR LEAVING THE SUPER BOWL: The NFL would never admit it, and Giants and 49ers fans are duty-bound to disagree, but the Feb. 5 Super Bowl in Indianapolis lost a lot of air this past weekend, a lot of anticipation, with the unexpected elimination of Aaron Rodgers' Packers and Drew Brees' Saints. The ideal SB matchup was either team vs. Tom Brady's Patriots. Sorry, but Giants vs. 49ers feels more like a quarterfinal game than an NFC Championship. New York's recent run does not erase that 9-7 regular-season that cast the Giants as nothing special, while defense-minded San Fran is efficient but, well, pretty dull compared to the Packers or Saints. Going into the postseason the NFC team was set as a 4 1/2-point Super favorite over the AFC, back when the Pack or Saints were assumed. Watch that turn around. Thinking that Pats, assuming they get there, would be favored over San Fran or NYG. [Update: I'm right. Just got Bovada odds. AFC now a 2 1/2-point SB favorite, a full touchdown swing. Championship odds are Patriots 6-5, Niners/Giants both 3-1, and Ravens 6-1].  Anyway, enough grousing. This is the NFL's Final Four, so let's deal with it. What's the preferred SB matchup now, and for what team are you most rooting? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

WILL NEW DOLPHINS COACH BE SAME AS THE OLD COACH?: Miami continues to interview head-coach candidates, in no huge hurry now that Jeff Fisher has taken his highly coveted mustache to St. Louis. Who'll end up being hired is yet unknown, but I pass this along and it  might be worth remembering: A Dolphins executive I trust told me Sunday, "Be careful to not rule out Bowles." That of course would be Todd Bowles, interim coach. I am told an option being considered by owner Stephen Ross and GM Jeff Ireland right now is to stick with Bowles as a bridge guy for a season and then see if the Cowher/Gruden/Dungy tree is ready to drop any fruit a year from now. Not saying that'll be the play. But that option is very much on the Dolphin table. Meantime, NFL Network reports Dolphins want to add Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to their interview list, although that's in some doubt.

1aa1dwyane30thWAYS DWYANE WADE IS DIFFERENT THAN YOU AND I: One of the phenomenons and odd fascinations of modern sports celebrity is that, the bigger the star, the more likely he is to have a lavish party thrown for him and pay for none of it. The star's corporate partners (and others wishing to be) are eager to sponsor said bash, as with Heat star Dwyane Wade's 30th birthday celebration. Wade's birthday is today/Tuesday but the party was Sunday at The Setai on South Beach (where the cheapest room is around $1,000 a night and a penthouse tops $30K). About 400 guests were there, 1aa1dwbirthdayincluding rappers T.I. and Rick Ross, who performed. I always find it cute that promoters offer publicity such as the emailed notice pictured right even for an an affair that is, as noted, "a private, invitation-only event." Sort of a tease, no? It's like, "You too could have mingled with fame and partaken of the complimentary open bar provided by Belvedere, Hennessey and Moet, but for your unfortunate lack of membership in D-Wade's exclusive circle of trust and par-tays." Wade is pictured left at his party with actress/girlfriend Gabrielle Union. (Loving those shoes, D! Bringin' back the spats!!) I'm not picking on Dwyane here. No, the celebration-of-self partying has become de rigeur among sports stars, an all-in-all harmless narcissism calling to mind the splendid two-syllable Muhammad Ali poem: "Me, Whee!!

Bulletin! Media implores Heat to be cautious with Wade's ankle injury! Heat try to hurdle a three-game losing streak tonight at home vs. San Antonio (Spurs are good, but winless on road), and the club is being advised to be careful with Dwyane Wade's ankle injury. And thank God for that advice, because I think otherwise the Heat would have been inclined to recklessly hurry Wade back before he's ready and laugh irresponsibly at notion of aggravating the injury.

1aa1kanyeDEAR GREG...: "Yo, your blog is pretty good but would be better if occasionally you would provide a link to a rare video of Kanye West rapping as a 19-year-old in Chicago in 1996. Thank you." OK: Here

O.J. SIMPSON UPDATE: Yeah, but other than being in prison and now this, things are going pretty well for displaced Miamian O.J.

THE PANTHERS AND PANIC: Was amused by the headline, "Cats down, but not about to panic." Um, I think the recent record has begun to panic for them. Florida has lost eight of its past 11 games with last night's 3-2 shootout loss to visiting Boston, and that season-long and once-solid Southeast Division lead has melted like ice in a glass. Cats and Washington now virtually even in race, and Florida point total stands sixth in the scrum for eight playoff spots. Three straight road games ensue.

HEADLINES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D SEE (one in a series): Click here. Comment: Could have been worse. It could have been a rifle.

1aa1actresstebowsACTRESS 'TEBOWING' AT GLOBES: An actress/"television presenter" identified as Maria Menounos, whose possible celebrity is hardly diminished by the fact I've never heard of her, is photographed "Tebowing" on the red carpet prior to Sunday night club's Golden Globe awards. Updates as warranted.

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