« July 2014 | Main | September 2014 »

18 posts from August 2014

August 31, 2014

Rate my fantasy draft. Annual poll. Vote now!; plus UM, Fins, Wade wedding star in new Hot Button Top 10; also U-Bird, FIU-Herald verdict & more

1) It is SUNDAY, AUGUST 31. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FIU opens vs. Miami Herald with poll, Dolphins cuts, Dwyane Wade's wedding, Upset Bird Countdown, SOPY, Ikea & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1aaflacduckUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 5 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1abird5NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 5 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following NBA New Orleans' Pierre the Pelican), we welcome the Aflac Duck, who since 2000 has successfully peddled insurance. Main attribute: Far less annoying than Flo from Progressive.

RATE MY FANTASY DRAFT:  My eight-team friends 'n family fantasy football league held its draft earlier 1aa1afantasytoday and I invite you (as I do every year) to rate what you think is the best team, or the one you'd most like to have, based on each team's first three picks. I know that's tough but who said life was fair? Which trio would you most like to start a team with? It's a PPR (point-per-reception) league hosted  by ESPN. Teams in the poll are listed in the draft order. This is a blind list so you don' know which team is mine, but of course I'll tell you later. My draft. Now your verdict. Vote and say why.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package has returned in print from summer hiatus (click here for today's latest edition), but due to broad disinterest popular demand an expanded Hot Button continues as a Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. UM football: Kaaya leads Canes at Louisville Monday: True freshman Brad Kaaya, son of a 1980s B-film actress, starts for UM in national-stage game that concludes college Week 1. Canes fans hoping the genes extend and that Brad, cast as a great quarterback, is convinging in the role.

2. Dolphins: Ready or not, here comes Patriots, NFL season: After 3-1 preseason, Miami opens schedule next Sunday vs. rival New England. Recent ESPN poll of league insiders ranked Bill Belichick the NO. 1 coach and Joe Philbin 29th. On the plus side, Joe is a snappier dresser.

3. NFL: Fins, others reduce rosters to 53: Rams released openly gay Michael Sam, while in Miami the only real notable cuts were RB Donald Thomas and kick returner Marcus Thigpen. Exit of Thomas, former 2nd-round pick, another reminder how good former GM Jeff Ireland wasn't.

4. Dwyane Wade: Heat star's not-so-secret wedding: Wade and actress Gabrielle Union wed Saturday night at Chateau Artison, an island castle in Redland in southwest Miami-Dade. Was supposed to be top secret, but never a good sign when the confidentiality agreement guests had to sign is leaked to TMZ.

5. College football: Noles escape, Gators don't play: No. 1 Florida State and Jameis "Crab Legs" Winston escaped Oklahoma State, 37-31, while in Gainesville, lightning forced a postponement of Florida's opener vs. Idaho. "I never liked the Gators," explained God.

6. Marlins: Playoff hopes slim, getting slimmer: Fish slipped to 5 1/2 games out of wild-card chase entering today's game. Are we still pretending they're sort of alive? I mean, I guess you can still Miami's playoff hopes, but it now requires a Hubble telescope.

7. Team USA: American hoops on stage in FIBA World Cup: Top NBA star like LeBron James and Kevin Durant are sitting out the FIBA World Cup, but U.S. swamped Finland anyway Saturday, 114-55, and plays Turkey today. Soon the U.S. may face a country where they actually play basketball.

8. NFL: League gets tough on domestic violence: It's now a minimum six-game suspension for first offense and lifetime ban for a second. Ironically, the tougher penalties for physical violence happened because commissioner Roger Goodell got beat up in the media.

9. FIU: School picks a fight with Miami Herald: Athletic director Pete Garcia refused a credential for the Herald's FIU beat writer, so the Herald declined to cover the team. That means FIU lost twice Saturday, once to Bethune-Cookman, and once to common sense. 

10 (tie). NASCAR: Stewart back on track after tragedy: Tony Stewart races today for first time since Aug. 9 tragedy in which he struck and killed a sprint-car driver. Wonder if Stewart's legion of haters will break down and actually sort of almost be rooting for him?

10 (tie). Tennis: U.S. Open at midway point: Been a few upsets as usual, but major tennis remains our most predctable sport. As long as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are still alive in the U.S. Open, we have our eventual winners.

Poll result: Herald has broad support in feud with FIU: The Miami Herald is declining to cover FIU football because the school denied a credential to its beat reporter. We asked who you side with and the Herald won with 81.6 percent.

Click back a lot because we update and add to our latest blogposts very often...

August 30, 2014

FIU vs. Miami Herald. Who's right in fight? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins cut RB Thomas, D-Wade's wedding, SOPY, U-Bird & more

1) It is SATURDAY, AUGUST 30. Click on Hard Line for my latest column, on the NFL's new policy against domestic violence. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolfan-optimism poll, Upset Bird Countdown, I invented the 'It Factor', Miami facial hair & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1apierrepelicanUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 6 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season 1aa1abird6of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 6 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Froot Loops' Toucan Sam), we welcome Pierre the Pelican, the new mascot of the NBA's newly re-nicknamed New Orleans Pierres Pelicans.

Today's only Dolphins cuts you should give a crap about: As Miami pared to reach 53-man roster today, the only truly notable cuts were RB Daniel Thomas (former 2nd-round pick certified officially as a draft bust) and utilityman Marcus Thigpen (who was team's main kickoff/punt returner last year). That means one of my favorite players based solely on his name -- RB Orleans Darkwa! -- made the squad.

Invasion of the Football Sections!: Herald's annual preview sections are now out. My three contributions: Dolphins column (Angel, devil duel for the soul of Dolfans); NFL Ranking (I rate teams 1-32, slot Miami as playoff-bound); and Hurricanes column (search continues for Next Great Quarterback).

BETHUNE-COOKMAN 14, FIU 12: PANTHERS LOSE TO OPPONENT, MEDIA: FIU and second-year coach Ron Turner had enough on their hands tonight in their season opener with Bethune-Cookman, a Division 1aa1afiu
1aa1amiamiherald1AA power. FIU lost, 14-12. Coming off a 1-11 season, the Golden Panthers don't have the luxury of any automatic wins on their schedule. But unfortunately FIU is taking on more than its opponents this football season. It is taking on the Miami Herald in a self-defeating feud that is doing nothing but costing the football program coverage and attention and casting it in a terrible, dictatorial light. Click here for a news story to background you. Long-story short: FIU refused a credential tonight for David J. Neal, who covers FIU for the Herald. The school did approve a credential for a columnist (myself) and a photographer, but the newspaper decided it would send no one to cover FIU football as long as FIU continued to try to dictate that coverage. I strongly support the Herald's decision -- and I hope other media, local and beyond, will stand with us. Who is assigned to cover the team or what stories are written is not FIU's decision to make. Athletic director Pete Garcia evidently is upset with Neal over a couple of stories the school would rather have not seen not written, so he chose a strong-arm tactic from a point of weakness. He entered a battle he could not win. FIU, dying for coverage and attention in the long shadow of UM, has just alienated the only media outlet that regularly covers it. Welcome to the real world, Pete Garcia. Time to put on your big-boy pants here. You think UM appreciated the Herald's 1A story about those two football players kicked off the team over a sexual assault on campus? We cover the good and the bad, the whole program, and Neal does so professionally. What's stunning here isn't that Garcia would make an edict that his underlings -- his football coaches and players -- would be forced to suffer. Garcia's reign has been full of power grabs and strange decisions. The real stunning thing is that none of Garcia's superiors -- no FIU administrator -- has shown the spine (or belief in the First Amendment, or common sense) to stand up to him. Until somebody does, FIU football will wear the shame of this. OK that's my opinion. Time for your's. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Other Collball Week 1 state FBS games: Penn State def. UCF, 26-24; No. 22 Nebraska def. FAU, 55-7; Idaho @ Florida, postponed by lightning/weather; USF def. Western Carolina, 36-31; No. 1 Florida State def. Oklahoma State, 37-31; and (Monday) Miami @ Louisville 8.

1aa1adwadewedDWYANE WADE'S NOT-SO-SECRET WEDDING: The Heat star and longtime girl Gabrielle Union, the actress, are to be married tonight at a secret location that didn't stay secret, thanks to TMZ. The wedding will be at Chateau Artisan (pictured), a castle surrounded by water in Redland in southern Miami-Dade. Guests have been prohibited from bringing cell phones or cameras and have been made to sign a confidentiality agreement promising no media leaks. (I love that the confidentiality agreement was itself leaked to the media). Unfortunately my invitation to the wedding evidently was lost in the mail. It's a shame because I'd planned to present Dwyane and Gabby with a lovely re-gifted fondue pot.

IT'S THE BLOG RETURN OF THE WEEKLY SOPY RANKINGS!: This is the third season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive 1aa1asopyquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. We like to think of this as the "state Heisman." Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Standings are for 12-game regular seasons and exclude conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing. Here are the final Top 10s from the past two seasons:

2013 SOPY WINNER JAMEIS WINSTON FSU-qb 2,107 points; 2. Blakes Bortles UCF-qb; 3. Jacquez Johnson FAU-qb; 4. Stephen Morris Miami-qb; 5. Storm Johnson UCF-rb; 6. Allen Hurns Miami-rec; 7. Devonta Freeman FSU-rb; 8. Duke Johnson Miami-rb; 9. Rashad Greene FSU-rec; 10. Rannell Hall UCF-rec.

2012 SOPY WINNER STEPHEN MORRIS MIAMI-QB 1,900.5 points; 2. E.J. Manuel FSU-qb; 3. Blake Bortles UCF-qb; 4. B.J. Daniels SoFla-qb; 5. Graham Wilbert FAU-qb; 6. Jake Medlock FIU-qb; 7. Mike Gillislee Florida-rb; 8. Duke Johnson Miami-rb; 9. Latavius Murray UCF-rb; 10. Jeff Driskel Florida-qb.

Look for our SOPY rankings every Monday in the blog. However, our first rankings for 2014 will appear this Tuesday instead because Miami opens its season Monday night at Louisville.

Poll result: Preseason failed to increase Dolfans' optimism: In the wake of a 3-1 Miami preseason we asked in previous blogpost (you may still vote) if you thought the Dolphins would make the playoffs or not, and 61.9 percent said no. We asked the same question prior to the preseason and it was 61.0% no.

THE MYSTERIOUS LURE OF IKEA: The first Ikea furniture and home store in Miami-Dade opened the 1aa1aikeaother day in Sweetwater to absurd fanfare and manufactured media coverage. Here is a conversation I imagine between shoppers as they waited for the doors to open: First shopper--"I'm a huge fan of Ikea. I feel good that the nuisance of assembling my own furniture out of a box allows me the illusion I'm saving money." Second shopper--"I appreciate Ikea because what they sell is a perfect fit for my home's 'Dorm Room' motif." Third shopper--"Yeah, and so what if Ikea's founder was pro-Nazi!?"

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts a lot...

August 29, 2014

Playoffs or no? Optimism on Dolphins in wake of preseason. Poll. Vote!; plus me and 'It Factor', baby beards, U-Bird Countdown (7) & more

1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 29. Click on Hard Line for today's latest column by me, on the NFL's new policy against domestic violence. 2) I'm back in Random Evidence Laboratories today conjuring the Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Rams to close preseason, Philbin porn 'stache, Upset Bird Countdown, Moreno vs. Miller verdict, college football projections & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1afrootloopstoucanUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 7 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL 1aa1abird7Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 7 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Shoe the comic-strip purple martin), we welcome Toucan Sam, spokesbird for Kellogg's Froot Loops since 1963.

Invasion of the Football Sections!: Herald's annual preview sections are now out. My three contributions: Dolphins column (Angel, devil duel for the soul of Dolfans); NFL Ranking (I rate teams 1-32, slot Miami as playoff-bound); and Hurricanes column (search continues for Next Great Quarterback).

WHAT'S LEVEL OF DOLFAN OPTIMISM IN WAKE OF PRESEASON?: You have seen -- or perhaps purposely not watched but sort of followed -- the Dolphins' preseason. It ended last night with a 3-1 record. Not bad.
1aa1adolcardBut have we seen enough within those four exhibitions to warrant confidence moving forward? Miami is a tough nut to crack this year in terms of predictions. I and a few others see a playoff team. I'd say most experts do not. Pro Football Focus recently had the Fins ranked 31st, next to last. But enough with the so-called experts. We ran this exact poll question on July 22, just before the preseason. Five weeks later we'll be curious to compare results and gauge the impact (good or bad) of Miami's performance in the preseason. As always your are challenged to vote not as a fan, not on what you hope will happen, but impartially on what you honestly predict will happen. Vote and say why, and how the preseason weighed in your opinion.

Dolphins' five Top 100 players are...: ESPN's annual rank of NFL's Top 100 players on offense and defense is out, and Miami places five overall: DE Cam Wake (24th), CB Brent Grimes (60th), C Mike Pouncey (68th), OT Branden Albert (95th) and DT Randy Starks (96th). Elsewhere in the AFC East, Patriots place nine (from 7th to 86th), Bills place five (29th to 98th) and Jets place five (31st to 96th).

APPARENTLY, I INVENTED THE PHRASE 'IT FACTOR': Writer Bill Barnwell, in an NFL preview piece for ESPN's Grantland (read here), explores what the "It Factor" is and where the phrase came from, and he
1aa1aitfactor(sort of) credits me for inventing it. Who knew! He wrote: "The idea of the It Factor comes from a surprising place. Although I saw suggestions that the likes of Darrell Royal were saying that a guy had "it" as early as the mid-’70s, and plenty of coaches have used the term in the present day to describe what they saw in players from the past, nobody was using the term "It Factor" during the 20th century. The closest I could find in a newspaper search was Miami Herald columnist Greg Cote referring to the "need-it Factor" and "must-have-it Factor" in 1991..." So there you have it. I invented the It Factor. One question: WHERE MY ROYALTIES AT!?!

Wahl, a manufacturer of facial-hair grooming products, has come out with a Top 20 list of American cities most friendly to facial hair, and Miami is ranked No. 3, trailing only Boston and Los Angeles. The key to our success? In Miami, even women and babies have beards.

Check back throughout the day because update and add to our latest blogposts with a near-constant flurry...

August 28, 2014

PS4: Dolphins 14, St. Louis 13 (Final): Scrubs rally for 3-1 preseason, postgame thoughts ; plus if Philbin had a porn 'stache, '15 draft & more

1aa1abowtie1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 28. Today is National Bow Tie Day. "Things I would not be caught dead wearing." 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins Miller vs. Moreno poll, Upset Bird Countdown, dueling books, SNL verdict, J-Lo's booty & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NFL gets tough on domestic violence: NFL is implementing a new policy against domestic violence that entails a six-game suspension for first offense and possible lifteime ban for a second. It's in response to criticism that Ray Rice's two-game suspension was lenient. '"I didn't get it right," commissioner Roger Goodell admitted.

 The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL Friday
1aa1abird8Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 8 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Owlsley the FAU Owl), we welcome P. Martin "Shoe" Shoemaker, the curmudgeonly, cigar-chomping newspaper editor from the comic strip, Shoe. BTW, the "P. Martin" in the name derives from Shoe's aviary species. He's a purple martin.


Invasion of the Football Sections!: Herald's annual preview sections are now online and hit the paper Friday. My contributions:

Dolphins column. Angel, devil duel for the soul of Dolfans.

NFL Ranking. I rate teams 1-32, slot Miami as playoff-bound.

Hurricanes column. Search continues for Next Great Quarterback.

PS4: ST. LOUIS @ DOLPHINS: FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL: Miami ends preseason 3-1 with a comeback win on a scrubs-filled night. Quick thoughts: I think Daniel Thomas (13-38, 1 TD) may have done just enough to secure the third RB spot. Thought defense played OK, considering only STL touchdown was set up by an interception. Hope Seth Lobato makes squad as third QB (I doubt it), just so I can keep referring to his successful drives as Lobatomies. ..... Original post: [Note: In honor of tonight's opponent we present what Dolphins coach Joe Philbin might look like if he had a '70s porn mustache like Rams coach
Jeff Fisher]
Ask me what in all of sports is both meaningless and crucial at the same time and I'd 1aa1azjoepanswer, "An NFL team's final preseason game." For the

Dolphins that's tonight at home vs. St. Louis. It's meaningless in that starters will play very, very little if at all and who wins will be no barometer of anything. Going into the regular season healthy is the aim; the result isn't. But tonight is crucial for players on the bottom third of the roster -- the guys fighting for their professional lives. Miami must trim from a current 75 players to 53 by late Saturday afternoon. A few key decisions arising from tonight: 1. Wide receivers--Last year Miami mostly played with four but this year could keep a fifth or even sixth after big-four Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Jarvis Landry. Will Rishard Matthews or anyone else nail down a spot? 2. Running backs--It's a juddle after big-two Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. Can former second-round pick Daniel Thomas, in his preseason debut, scramble to make the squad? Will there be room for Damien Williams or the exquisitely named Orleans Darkwa? 3. Mike Pouncey--Club must decide whether to place him on PUP list, making him ineligible for first six games, or spend an active roster spot on him and hope he's ready sooner. Final note: Miami is 2-1 in the preseason and a win for 3-1 would look pretty good, right? But would it matter? For fun, I researched the years the Dolphins have lost no more than one preseason game and how that correlated to the regular season. Conclusion: Small sample, but some correlation, yes. The 15 preseasons with zero or one loss have been followed by a playoff spot eight times. And only three of those 15 times has a sub-.500 record followed.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our postgame polls are back for another season starting when the games count. Look for first DSM poll Sept. 7.

Rams' Showergate: Rams were in the news this week because starting QB Sam Bradford was lost for the season to an injury and also because ESPN apologized for airing a report that discussed the showering habits of openly gay Michael Sam. Reporter Josina Anderson quoted an unnamed player saying Sam was "respecting our space, kind of waiting to take a shower." Fisher blasted the report as "extremely disappointing" and "very, very unprofessional."

Poll result: Dolfans want Moreno over Miller, by a lot: We asked if you hope Lamar Miller or Knowshon Moreno will be named the Dolphins' starting running back (you may still vote) and get the most carries. Few of our blog poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. Moreno won in a rout with 73.0 percent. I thought it would be close or that Miller, the incumbent and an ex-Cane, might even win.

1aa1afsuEXPERTS SEE A FLORIDA STATE REPEAT TITLE: ESPN surveyed its 23 college football writers on which four teams will make the inaugural playoffs this season and the top four vote-getters were defending champ Florida State (22), Alabama (17), Michigan State (15) and Oregon/UCLA (tied with 9). Picks for top two to reach the title game were FSU (16) and Alabama (12). Top pick to win it all: Seminoles (12).

Way-early 2015 draft projections: Mel Kiper favors us with his Top 25 guys likely to be in the draft
1aa1adenzelpand he has FSU QB Jameis Winston No. 1. Other state players are Florida DE Dante Fowler (13th) and FSU DE Mario Edwards (18th). Rival Todd McShay one-ups Mel with a Top 32 and includes Winston (4th), Fowler (8th), Edwards (20th), Miami LB Denzel Perryman (pictured, 25th) and FSU WR Rashad Greene (32nd).

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts an awful lot...

August 27, 2014

M&Ms: Miller vs. Moreno: Who should be Dolphins' No. 1 running back? New poll. Vote now!; plus U-Bird Countdown (9 days), SNL verdict, J-Lo & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27. Somebody told me yesterday was National Dog Day. My reaction: Isn't every day? 2) You've watched the movie, 40-Year-old Virgin, now meet the 40-Year-Old Cheerleader. Click here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): SNL greatest cast members poll, Phibin slammed, Stanton's chilling words, Marino, Kaaya, Incognito, Upset Bird Countdown launch & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1aowlsleyowlUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1aowl9NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 9 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following magpies Heckle & Jeckle), we welcome Owlsley, the give-a-hoot mascot of Florida Atlantic University, its nickname deriving from burrowing-owl nests once found on campus.

MILLER VS. MORENO AS DOLPHINS' STARTING RUNNING BACK: Starting running back is the Dolphins' most glaring still-undecided job as the preseason ebbs to Thursday's finale and the Sept. 7 season 1aa1amillerl 1aa1amorenokopener looms. Will it be incumbent Lamar Miller (left), the former Cane? Or will it be free-agent addition Knowshon Moreno (right), the former Bronco? All signs point to Miller getting the start and most carries, largely because he is more familiar to coach Joe Philbin and has been healthy throughout camp, while Moreno made his preseason debut (impressively) just last week. Moreno as the third-down back also makes some sense if only because he is a superior blocker. But who do you hope starts? Who should? Miller last year rushed for 709 yards and a 4.0 average, and caught 26 passes for a 6.5 average. Moreno rushed for 1,038 yards and a 4.3 average, and caught 60 passes for a 9.1 average. Both have solid ball-control; Miller lost one fumble last season and Moreno none. But Moreno is a more accomplished two-way player whose pass-protection skills would come in hand on more than just third down. They are two solid, complementary choices who should make a quality tandem, but only one will start and get the most carries. Who do you hope that is? Vote and say why.

Poll result: John Belushi leads 'SNL' Mount Rushmore-plus: It's 40th anniversary of 1aa1ajohnbSaturday Night Live, and we invited you to vote for your five all-time favorite cast members from 16 finalists. The response was unexpectedly huge (thanks!), and your top five are: John Belushi with 14.1 percent, Eddie Murphy 12.9%, Dan Aykroyd 11.7%, Bill Murray 11.2% and Will Ferrell 10.1%. Next was Chris Farley with 7.8%. Others topping 5 percent: Dana Carvey, Tina Fey, Phil Hartman and Mike Myers.

DOLPHINS INDIVIDUAL OVER/UNDERS: From Bovada, key statistical betting over/unders for Dolphins this year: Ryan Tannehill--3,900 yards, 23.5 TDs, 14.5 INTs. Mike Wallace--950.5 yards, 6 TDs. Brian Hartline--875.5, 3.5. Charles Clay--625.5, 5. Cameron Wake--10.5 sacks. Oliver Vernon--9.5 sacks. Brent Grimes--3 INTs.

DUELING PURVEYORS OF WISDOM: Former college football champion-coaches Bobby Bowden, 84, and

Howard Schnellenberger, 80, have new books out tapping into their long experience on and off the field. 1aa1abowdenbook 1aa1asnells bookBowden's The Wisdom of Faith and Schnellenberger's Passing the Torch are now available to enrich your soul, enlighten your mind and instruct you when to go for it on 4th-and-1. Publisher description of Bowden's book: "The success, the influence, the accolades, the wins ... none of it matters if our lives are not rooted in faith. God trumps our best hand. He always wins." Publisher description of Snells' tome: "The coach talks about the wise decisions and the poor decisions he has made, and he shares the lessons he learned along the way."

1aa1ajlopezJ-LO ENLISTS IGGY: Friend of the Dolphins and former Orange Carpet Queen Jennifer Lopez -- who may or may not outrank special adviser Dan Marino in the adjusted hierarchy -- has enlisted hot young Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea in a re-do of J-Lo's latest single, "Booty," after her new album tanked in the charts. I write this not because I care or because J-Lo has peripheral Dolphin ties, but as a blatant excuse to publish the gratuitous promo photo of the two singers presenting their substantial derrieres for casual inspection.

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts a lot...

August 25, 2014

New survey slams Joe Philbin; plus SNL's all-time best cast members poll; also Upset Bird Countdown, Stanton's chilling words, Marino, Kaaya & more

1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 26. Not one of today's Dolphins cuts -- not one -- is surprising or a big deal except to those being cut. 2) No radio again today. We're back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show next Tuesday, Sept. 2. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes name Brad Kaaya QB, Knowshon Moreno propels Dolphins win, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1ahecklejeckleUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 10 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL
1aa1atenFriday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 10 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we begin a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. To start us off, today please welcome Heckle & Jeckle, the mischievous magpies who spread their merry mayhew for Terrytoons from 1946 to 1981.

State of the Quarterbacks: In today's latest column I scan the QB situations of the state's 10 big football teams (3 NFL, 7 FBS) on the eve of the season, and find all involve questions or doubts -- with one notable exception. Click on State of the QBs to read.

"Enough with Jim Parsons already! William H. Macy should-a won that Emmy." --Greg Cote

1aa1ajoepNEW EXPERTS SURVEY SLAMS JOE PHILBIN: Dolphin Joe Philbin is ranked 29th of 32 NFL head coaches in a new ESPN survey of 30 anonymous league "insiders." (Story and list here). Experts were asked to rate each coach from 1st through 5th tier. Patriots' Bill Belichick was No. 1 overall with an average tier rating of 1.07. Also from the AFC East, the Jets' Rex Ryan ranked 17th at 2.73, and the Bills' Doug Marrone was 28th at 3.53, just ahead of Philbin's 3.63. The 30 voters gave Philbin one 2nd-tier vote, nine 3rd-tier votes and 20 4th-tier votes.

1aa1agstantonSTANTON'S SIX CHILLING WORDS: "Five months doesn't change five years." Marlin Giancarlo Stanton said that in Anaheim yesterday when asked by Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown (story here) if Miami's unexpected playoff contention this season has altered his view of the future in terms of his re-signing long term. That's a bit ominous. It means the club and Jeffrey Loria still have much work to do to keep him and that the odds may still be long. Stanton last night hit his 33rd homer and ran his RBI count to 97 to lead a big win that drew the Fish within three games in the wild-card race, as if we needed a reminder why keeping him is such a gargantuan deal.

WE RIP OFF GRANTLAND FOR AN 'SNL' 40TH ANNIVERSARY POLL: ESPN's Grantland is running a bracket-style vote to name the greatest Saturday Night Live cast members as NBC's SNL marks its 40th 1aa1aSNLanniversary season. They're down to the final 16, and our poll features those 16, alphabetically. It's a very strong list considering the finalists do not include the likes of Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal, Jon Lovitz, Seth Meyers, Tracy Morgan, Gilda Radner, Adam Sandler or Martin Short. You may vote here for up to five (5), and there also is a "somebody else" category if this top 16 excludes one of your favorites. Vote and say why your all-time No. 1 is who it  is.


ON MARINO, KAAYA, INCOGNITO, LLWS AND TIGER: Some quick scattershot thoughts across sports for an early week...

1aa1adanmDolphins' Marino hire much ado about very little for now: "Special adviser" is one of those weightless, amorphous titles that sound mostly ceremonial. What I'm hearing from two club sources is that Dan Marino will have owner Stephen Ross' ear to offer opinions on personnel but that he'll mostly be a figurehead, a familiar face out front. Club also wants him to mentor Ryan Tannehill.

Canes right to go with Kid Kaaya: I'd not hand the reins to a 23-year-old transfer -- a stopgap solution -- unless he clearly proved himself better. Jake Heaps did not. So Al Golden was smart to opt for true freshman Brad Kaaya. Fast-forward the future. If Kaaya is the next great UM QB, find out now and have him for four seasons instead of three.

Defrocked bully Incognito gets another shot: Tampa Bay Bucs have ousted Dolphins bully Richie Incognito in for a look. Glad Miami has sanitized itself of Incognito, but I don't begrudge him another chance elsewhere. To the Bucs: Bully for you!

1aa1amoneyPaying Little Leaguers. No, seriously. Somebody said that: So evidently Mo'ne Davis being on national TV and the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 13 isn't enough, and she should get a cut of the profits. Gawd. Somewhere, the dollar-struck father of a 6-year-old T-ball phenom is trying to reach Drew Rosenhaus.

Tiger, your desperation is showing: Tiger Woods has parted ways with swing coach Sean Foley. Coach-changing and swing-tinkering are sure signs a golfer is desperate. So is this: Bearing down on age 39, struggling to stay healthy, and not having won a major since 2008.

Click back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts myriad times daily...

August 23, 2014

UM names Kaaya QB; plus Dolphins 25, Dallas 20 as Moreno leads big ground attack; also Marino's token title, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 25. NBC reported late last night that the Dolphin shave hired Dan Marino as a "special adviser." Hmm. Token title. Let's see if he has any real, meaningful involvement. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pete Rose reinstatement poll, Giancarlo Stanton verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

DSM reminder: The Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls will be back for another season starting when the games start to count. Look for the first DSM poll on Sept. 7.

My game column, return of Random Evidence: Click on Running Start for my column off last night's Dolphins exhibition win. A lot didn't go right, but what did was the ground game and Knowshon Moreno in his preseason debut. Click on Random Evidence for the return from summer hiatus of our Sunday notes-column package.

1aa1abradkCANES NAME KAAYA STARTING QB: True freshman Brad Kaaya (pictured) has won the Hurricanes' starting quarterback job over fifth-year transfer Jake Heaps, UM announced today. The season opens Sept. 1 at Louisville. Kaaya obviously must perform well to keep it, with Heaps an experienced backup,senior Ryan Williams due back from an injury sometime around early-to-midseason, and redshirt-freshman Kevin Olsen also in the muddled mix.     

PS3: DOLPHINS 25, DALLAS 20: FINAL: Matt Moore led all three touchdown drives subbing for a less-than-impressive Ryan Tannehill, but the story for Miami last night was the arrival of the ground game led by the debut of Knowshon Moreno. The Fins rushed for an even 200 yards on the ground and Moreno's 64 on 10 carries led the way. I don't care how bad the Dallas defense is or that it's only August. That's impressive. ..... THIRD: Ex-Cane LaRon Byrd's 27-yard TD catch gave Dallas the lead back after Miami had taken it on a drive led by a 54-yard completion by backup Matt Moore. ..... HALF: Well, 173 yards of offense is a decently productive first half. Three points is not. Miami defense looking good and so is running game (17-93), led by Moreno (10-64), but too many drives stalling. ..... FIRST: A ground game! MIA 67 yards rushgin on 10 carries in 1Q. Knowshon Moreno (5-40) looking strong in his preseason debut. ..... Original post: Tonight's is the most interesting game of the Dolphins' preseason for a few reasons. 1aa1adalmiaIt's the first home game. The Cowboys are still a sexy opponent even if they are many years past their America's Team buzz. And, mostly, the third exhibition game traditionally is when we see the most of the first-team units, the actual team in an actual dress rehearsal, before the regular-season opener. Starters figure to play at least a half, and the staff spent time game-planning for Dallas specifically, so tonight should be the best gauge yet of what we'll be getting in the 2014 Dolphins. In turn we should see our clearest indication yet of what the new offense holds in store. Dallas' defense is expected to be quite bad this season, so if the offensive line, the running game or any other facet of Miami's O struggles tonight, that may be a particularly ominous sign. Knowshon Moreno will have a chance to establish himself and begin to prove whether he merits more carries than Lamar Miller.

TANNEHILL, MILLER ON 'BREAKOUT LIST: ESPN.com listed its Top 50 NFL breakout players, guys expected to make a big leap in 2014, and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill is ranked No. 2, trailing only Colts TE Dwayne Allen. One other Dolph on the list: RB Lamar Miller at No. 36.

NFL rookie odds and more: Johnny Manziel remains betting favorite to win offensive rookie of the year award at 11-2 odds despite starting season on bench. Next come Sammy Watkins and Brandin Cooks at 6-1, with Dolphins' Jarvis Landry tied for 15th at 28-1. Defensive rookie pick is Jadeveon Clowney at 3-1, then Khalil Mack at 13-2. Worst-record picks are Jaguars 3-1 and Raiders 7-2. Frontrunners for Super Bowl-winning division are NFC West at 11-4 and AFC West at 7-2.

Poll result: Strong support for Rose reinstatement: We asked and by nearly a 5-to-1 margin you voted for an end to Pete Rose's banishment from baseball and letting him on the Hall of Fame ballot, with 80.9 percent for reinstatement and 16.8% to keep the ban. Only 2.3% were undecided.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package returns today in print from summer hiatus (click here), but due to broad disinterest popular demand Hot Button continues as a Sunday feature of the blog. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Tannehill shaky, but Moreno shines: Miami beat Dallas 25-20 in last night's exhibition because Matt Moore was better than Ryan Tannehill, but the story was Knowshon Moreno's preseason debut sparking a 200-yard ground attack. The Fins running game. It's aliiiiive!   

2. UM football: Still no QB call as opener looms: At Saturday's annual Canesfest event, UM fans were treated to everything but a starting quarterback. With opener at Louisville a week from Monday, it still could be Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya. Not a good sign if Al Golden asks you to borrow a coin.

3. Marlins: Stanton MVP shot is alive: Extra-innings loss in Colorado last night got nine-game road trip off to a Rockie start. Playoff hopes are on the far periphery, but the longer they stay alive, the likelier Giancarlo Stanton is to maybe win NL MVP.

4. Tennis: U.S. Open begins: Year's final tennis major starts with Serena Williams seeking her third straight title but an injury keeping Rafael Nadal from defending. "Thank you, Rafa. Get well slowly," said Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

5. Youth Baseball: LLWS championship day: Illinois vs. South Korea in today's Little League World Series title game, and I'll be rooting unabashedly for the all-black team from Chicago. OK nobody else will say it so I will: It's Soul vs. Seoul!

6. Dan Marino: Hired by Dolphins, sort of: Club's all-time great is now a "special advisor" to owner Stephen Ross. Apparently they wanted to give Marino a title that had a token feel and conveyed the idea that he'd be doing a lot of nothing but would be available for a phone consult once in a while.

7. Pete Rose: 25 years since banishment: It's been a quarter-century since Pete Rose 's lifetime ban from baseball for gambling. Not sure he's learned his lesson, though. I hear he's betting on his eventual reinstatement at 4-1 odds.

8. NBA: LeBron, Cavs add Love: The Kevin Love-to-Cleveland trade became official to make it a Cavs Big 3 of LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving. Isn't it funny how in 2010 one team getting all the talent seemed OK to Miami but now it seems so unfair!? 

9. Tennis: It's the Miami Open: Annual men's and women's pro tournament n Key Biscayne is now called, simply, the Miami Open. Can we keep it that way, please? That event has gone by more names than a career criminal.

10. NFL: Manziel's big week: Within one week Johnny Manziel showed his middle finger to an opponent, was passed over for Browns' starting job, then got sacked by Michael Sam, who mimicked his money sign. Don't know if Johnny Football will be great, but I know he won't be boring.

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogpost many times daily...

August 21, 2014

Time for baseball to reinstate Pete Rose. Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus lions fight crocodile (video), your verdict on Stanton & more

1aa1acroc1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 21. Happy birthday (of undisclosed numeral) to my best friend and wife, and also a happy 75th to my boyhood idol, Carl Yastrzemski. 2) I told y'all SI Jinx would crush Mo'Ne Davis! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ways Marlins can keep Stanton with poll, Manziel's bird, Mo'Ne's jinx, Allen's home, Dear Greg, Stitches & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Stanton, Yelich pitch-count leaders: Via baseball stats maven BIll Chuck: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton is best first-pitch hitter in MLB this season, with a .548 average when count is 0-0. Teammate Christian Yelich leads majors at .533 when count is 1-1.

TIME TO REINSTATE PETE ROSE AND LET HIM ON HALL BALLOT: I have a new column on this online and in today's/Friday's print editions (front page is below right); click Bring Pete Home to read in full. I got a jump on it here as a sort of special 1aa1arose2h'orsdouvre 1aa1arose1for our blog readers. This week marks the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose's banishment-for-life from baseball for gambling; he bet on his team, the Reds, while a manager. Now he's 73, and still in purgatory. I say it's time -- with a new commissioner taking office in January -- for MLB to reinstate Rose and in turn allow him on the Hall of Fame ballot. He has done more than enough time to fit the crime. ESPN had an unremarkable Outside The Lines special on this last evening. The most memorable thing in it was outgoing commissioner Bud Selig, asked why he has not acted on Rose's appeal for reinstatement, calling it "under 1aa1aproseadvisement." The appeal was 17 years ago! (Take your time, Bud...) Rose is pictured at left back in the day and at right looking all curmudgeonly on the OTL show. Rose is not likeable to many; quite the opposite, but even the irascible deserve a second chance. No team will hire Rose for anything meaningful at his age, with his past, so, realistically, reinstatement would be limited to ceremonial stuff like allowing him to attend the 2015 all-star game in Cincinnati, and, mainly, giving the sport's all-time hits leaders his shot at Cooperstown. No guarantee he'd make it. Voters might lump him with the Steroids Era Guys, stamp him persona non grata and keep him out. I just think he deserves a chance. Let the voters decide if they are as forgiving as I hope baseball finally will be. OK that's me. Last word to you. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Marlins fans (slightly) more optimistic about keeping Stanton: We asked if you thought it likelier the Marlins would trade Giancarlo Stanton before he becomes a free agent or be able to re-sign him long-term, and 74.6 percent predicted a trade. We asked the same question in January 2013 and 78.0 predicted a trade, so optimism at least has increased ever so slightly.

Click back frequently because we update and add to our latest blogposts an awful lot...

August 19, 2014

4 ways Marlins can keep Stanton. Will they? Poll. Vote!; plus Mo'Ne Davis, Johnny Middle Finger, wax Beyonce, Ray Allen, Stitches & more

1aa1akanyepaul1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20. R.I.P., James Foley. 2) Former Dolphins great Jason Taylor will join Mike Florio's 'Pro Football Talk' show this season on NBCSN. Taylor will appear Mondays as well as other days. 3) Kanye West and Paul McCartney reportedly are collaborating on new songs. Hmm. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge video, Hot Button Top 10, unrest in Ferguson, verdict on D'Onofrio & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

1aa1amonedavisMo'Ne Davis doomed to life of spiraling decline: Sad to report that Little League World Series star Mo'Ne Davis appears on the cover the new Sports Illustrated, subjecting her to the infamous S.I. Jinx and a life of cascading woe.

Personal radio note: I have informed The Ticket (104.3 & 790) that I won't be back on the station's Dolphins pregame show this season. Have done it past three or four years and wanted change of pace. Also find that my increasing role with LeBatard show sufficiently sates my radio appetite.  

WHAT MARLINS MUST DO TO KEEP STANTON: In my latest column I make the case why Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton should be considered the frontrunner for the NL MVP award -- a case further bolstered by last night's game-winning hit. His nearest competitiors have fallen or are flawed. Mostly, he deserves it on his own merit, and his league-leading 1aa1agia132 homers and 88 RBIs are just the start. Click on G-Spot for the entire column. In it I touch on but want to explore further here what Miami must do to keep Stanton long-term. Many baseball experts continue to believe Stanton will be traded before he becomes a free agent after the 2016 season because the Marlins don't think he'll re-sign here long-term. I don't think that is as true as it once was, and I believe the Marlins also sense hope that wasn't there before. Stanton, for his part, has smartly remained shades of silent to vague on his future, which would be a big distraction if  he let it. I see four major factors in what I call the continuing, quiet courtship of Giancarlo Stanton: 1) MONEY. I put this first because it is most obvious, not neccesarily most 1aa1agia2important. Miami only has a chance to keep him if its offer is market-competitive, and that will soar above the $25 million-a-year mark, because so many big spenders (Dodgers, Red Sox, et al) will want him. The Marlins let Miguel Cabrera get away. It cannot happen again. The club for some time now has planned to make Stanton a long-term offer after this season. 2) TEAM. What's the roster surrounding Stanton as you bid to re-sign him? This season is encouraging. That Miami is still in the playoff hunt even without Jose Fernandez can't but please Stanton. The Marlins added pieces, got better. As manager Mike Redmond told me yesterday, "Last year was tough for him, it wasn't fair to him. We didn't have guys around him to help him out. Now we do. It has energized him. He's happier. He's smiling. He wants to be part of a winning team." 3) COMMITMENT. This has not been owner Jeffrey Loria's strongsuit but it is where he must step up. The talent-adding and improvement must continue; Stanton must feel like he has a chance to win a World Series here. How will Loria's commitment show itself moving forward? Free agents after this season will include Royals ace pitcher James Shields. Will Loria surrender to the high-payroll teams or will he make a serious run at him? You know Stanton will be watching. 4. FANS. It matters. The crowd and atmosphere at Marlins Park has its role in all this. Stanton is an L.A. guy. The Dodgers average 47,000 fans a night. Miami can't compete with that but can do much better than its current average of 21,575 ranking 27th of 30 teams. TV guy Tommy Hutton blasted Marlins fans Sunday night for not appreciating Stanton, who was taken out of a big win late in the game after a home run and four RBIs in the midst of an MVP season. It was the perfect spot for an ovation; there was none. Redmond and the team know what they have in Stanton. Fans need to know it ... and show it. SUMMARY: The Marlins' unique advantage is that they can (and will) offer Stanton a contract extension now, meaning after this season, two years ahead of when other teams could. Doesn't mean he'll take it; he may be determined to test free agency. But it might be awfully tough for him to turn down what would amount to a $50 million head start on whatever riches are in his future. Miami cannot force Stanton to re-up if he wants out; as club president David Samson says, "It takes two to make a deal." But the club will make every effort to sign him, first, or, failing that, to get a trade-windfall in return. They'd demand proven talent in trade such as Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers or Yoenis Cespedes from the Bosox. OK, now the poll. We aren't asking what you hope will happen but what you honestly think is most likely to. We asked this same question in January 2013 and will be interested to compare results. Vote and say why.

Cardiac Fish:
 Marlins lead MLB in walk-off wins (11), one-run wins (32) and wins in last at-bat (21), after adding to each catgeory last night.

ON JOHNNY MIDDLE FINGER: So Johnny Manziel is playing badly in the Browns' preseason loss to 1aa1afingerWashington Sunday night and the Redskins are chirping to get under his skin and it works and Manziel flips a bird at their bench. (I bring you the screen grab without pixilating the gesture because anybody who's driven on I-95 has seen it). Johnny Football leads the NFL in jersey sales, but, we are reminded again, not in leadership or maturity. He's just a rookie, but you get the feeling he'll be doing the same s--- when he's 35. "I can tell you what the statement was that set him off," Redskins safety Ryan Clark said this morning on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike show. "[It] was, 'This isn't college anymore and these people are faster than you are.'" It's a valuable lesson for Browns' opponents: You needn't sack Manziel to get to him.

ON THE RAY ALLEN HOME CONTROVERSY: The trespassers in the former Heat player's Coral Gables 1aa1aallenhomehome (pictured; story here) is an interesting tale, and a quandary. To the cops who did not initially file charges against the seven teens (all 18 or 19), it was sort of dismissed as a harmless prank. No forced entry, nothing taken, end of story. But Allen, his family and lawyer are treating it like a traumatic home invasion and pressing the case, demanding justice. The State Attorney's Office is considering charges. I see Allen's point. Seven strangers, young adults with flashlights, are in his house uninvited at 2:30 in the morning, frightening his wife and young kids? Sorry, but that sounds like a crime to me. Dumbass kids who meant no harm? Maybe. You still don't do what they did. There also seem to be racial overtones in this. These were seven Hispanic teens from a wealthy neighborhood in a black man's home. I wonder if seven black teens in a white man's home would have been treated as such a harmless prank?

1aa1abeyonce"DEAR GREG...":
"...your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of a wax Beyonce' standing with insouciance among a flock of disinterested wax geese from Madame Tussaud's in London. Thank you." Dear reader: I'll get right on it.

CATCHING UP WITH STITCHES: Remember Stitches, the local rapper who flared into 1aa1abrickpublic consciousness during the past NBA season when his song, "Brick In Yo Face," caught the attention of the Heat's lockerroom? (A scene from the video is pictured). I'd have imagined that Stitches' proverbial 15 minutes of fame would have expired by now, but his oddball cult celebrity is exhumed and rescussitated in a lengthy piece in the latest Broward New Times. Click here to read. It is everything you wanted to know about this guy, and probably much, much more.

Check back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts in a daily flurry...

August 17, 2014

I do ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge (with video); plus new Hot Button Top 10; plus Ferguson, Mo., verdict on UM's D'Onofrio & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-Bucs exhibition, Mark D'Onofrio poll, LeBron cheer/boo result & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Hurricanes ranking outlook: Miami is ranked 39th in the Associated Press preseason ranking, or 14th among "others receiving votes" after the Top 25. Realistically, that means it'll take at least a 2-0 start, perhaps 3-0, to see the Canes ranked.

I FULFILL MY ALS ICE-BUCKET CHALLENGE: I have developed a love-hate relationship with the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge. The cause -- raising funds to fight Lou Gehrig's Disease -- is a great one. That's why I happily went along. (And yes, there was ice involved). The gimmick has been a fabulous success in raising not only money but awareness. Whomever dreamed this up hit big, because it seems everybody is doing it from famous sports stars and celebrities to regular folks. Now, though, I'm sort of ready for this thing to go away, even as I feel guilty saying it. This is like anything that goes viral and is fun for a while and then you get sick of it. Think Gangnam Style. We also can predict the spate of copycat "challenges" by others in the name of fundraising (or attention-getting). Just wait and watch. God bless America.


HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button is an added Sunday feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package in the print edition has been on summer hiatus, scheduled to return to the newspaper next Sunday, Aug. 24. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. Dolphins: Pass passes, run fails: The quarterbacking was great -- Ryan Tannehill, especially Matt Moore and even newly acquired Brady Quinn -- and so was the overall defense in last night's 20-14 exhibition win in Tampa, but the running game sputtered. It was minus-5 yards in first half, meaning you outgained Miami while sitting on your couch.

2. UM football: Quarterbacks 1 and 1A: It is 15 days until the season begins and the Canes still aren't sure if Jake Heaps or Brad Kaaya -- co-No. 1s on the depth chart -- will start the opener at Louisville. Competition is a good thing. So is a decision. Soon.

3. Marlins: Another shot at .500: After winning six of past nine Fish have another chance today to get back to .500. They enter Sunday only 3.5 games back for NL wild card. Giancarlo Stanton's best case for MVP isn't the homers, but that he has this team, sans Jose Fernandez, in playoff chase.

4. Heat: Christmas present: Release of 2014-15 NBA schedule confirmed the Heat will host Cleveland and LeBron James Dec. 25 in his first return to Miami since leaving in free agency. Four months to decide, South Florida: Cheer or boo?

5. Social media: Ice-bucket challenge: Are we tired yet of the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge? Not the fund- 1aa1aiceraiser for the terrible disease, but the incessant videos by sports stars and others dumping ice on their heads? Hope not. Because mine's coming later today. (Cannot confirm the whole idea was based on a casual suggestion from the ice industry).

6. Soccer: EPL underway: The English Premier League season is underway, with a growing audience of U.S. followers. It's like the World Cup, if the World Cup only involved one country. Sunderland! Stoke City! Woooo!

7. LLWS: Mo'Ne Davis: A girl pitcher, Mo'Ne Davis of Philadelphia, has been the talk of the ongoing Little League World Series. She's been giving the boys nightmares. Dreams, too, perhaps? (Oh, c'mon. Like you hadn't start noticing girls when you were 12 or 13?)

8. Baseball: New commissioner: Rob Manfred was elected MLB's new commissioner. Manfred hopes to bring something different to the ofifce following guys like Bowie Kuhn and Bud Selig. A personality!

9. NASCAR: Stewart idle again: Tony Stewart will voluntarily sit out a second straight race today in the wake of tragedy in which he killed a sprint-car driver on a track in upstate New York. The phrase for that? "Smart public relations."

10. Notre Dame: Academic fraud: Notre Dame football is scandalized by allegations of academic fraud involving four prominent players -- not exactly a quartet to rival the Four Horsemen for nobility. Here's to the Cheatin' Irish!

[Preemptive strike on what's below: You--"Why are you talking about race relations and political stuff!? This is supposed to be a sports blog! Cancel my subscription to the Internet!" Me--This is a Greg Cote blog, sports-based but broader. We also talk pop culture. We talk about what's fun and absurd. Sometimes we also talk about what's not fun, but real].

ON FERGUSON, MISSOURI: I get the outrage. I can't feel it like I could if I were black and living in Ferguson, Mo., but I get it. Some of the same anger and helplessness hit my own state last year with 1aa1afergusonTrayvon Martin, another young black teen, 17, killed for what 1aa1aferguson2seemed no justifiable reason. A neigborhood security-watch guy held the gun in that case. In Ferguson, it was a cop, and the victim was Michael Brown, 18. There are complications here, though; there is gray area. Had Brown just stolen from a convenience store and punched the clerk as surveillance video suggests? Not saying that justified the police shooting; it did not. But it does help explain the possible mindset on both sides of the tragedy. There were angry protests in Ferguson after Brown was shot, when it first appeared he was more of an innocent victim than we would later learn. And I understand a community needing to vent. What I don't get in Ferguson, or anywhere, is how outrage and legitimate protest segue to violence and then looting. I can't find that bridge in my mind. Can't find it in how I think civilization should work. One minute, you are demonstrating the police-shooting of a teenager. The next minute, you are marauding through the shattered window of a liquor store. The police response in Ferguson -- tear gas and rubber bullets -- seemed excessive, but did the looting and violence invite it? Quickly, then, the images conveyed to the rest of the country are of looting and cops in riot gear, and focus on a young man's death is lost. Everything here is sad: The shooting, the militaristic police response, and, yes, the people of Ferguson who found that bridge from protest to looting, and poured across it.

Poll result: The heat is on UM's D'Onofrio: We asked your opinion of Canes defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and about half, 49.8 percent, answered "moderate/let's see what happen this year." But "negative/wish he were gone" outnumbered "positive/gets a bad rap" by more than a 4-1 margin, 41.1% to 9.1%.

Click back often because we update and add to our latest blogposts an average of 4,645 times a day, which may be a slight exaggeration...