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17 posts from September 2014

September 12, 2014

Stanton injuries "devastating" but prognosis good, with new column; plus Ray Rice poll, NFL Week 2 pix, Ferry-Deng audio, Al Golden & more

1aa1asep111) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today conjuring Sunday's notes-column package. 2) Thirteen years later, never forget doesn't just mean on Sept. 11. Means always. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, updated SOPY standings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1afripixNFL Week 2 picks: Good start last night with Ravens winning. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our predictions capsules (have the Dolphins winning, but it's a low-confidence pick), and on Eventually, Forgiveness for our Friday Page NFL column, on the engulfing Ray Rice controversy. Had an earlier column on how Miami suddenly is an "it" team in the NFL. Click on The State of Show-Me to read.  

Faint memories of Tony C., and thanks this wasn't worse: My new column on Giancarlo Stanton's injury and how close he came to a career-changing tragedy. Click on Lucky to read. 

MARLINS' STANTON HIT IN FACE BY FASTBALL; SEASON LIKELY DONE: The unimaginable struck the Marlins in Milwaukee last night, with Giancarlo Stanton hit on the left cheek by an 88-mph Mike Fiers fastball, 1aa1agstantondownwheeled off in an ambulance cart and almost certainly done for the remainder of the season. Stanton, co-favorite for the NL MVP award with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, by rights should not lose his shot at the award over this, but sadly might. Stanton lay in pain for several minutes near home plate, being attended to after the fifth-inning beaning -- the scene pictured -- before being carted off. Incredibly, home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled he swung while raising his arms to defend himself. Reed Johnson came in to finish Stanton's at-bat, also was hit (on the hand), but also was said to have swung. The two dugouts emptied, with Marlins manager Mike Redmond and Casey McGehee both ejected for arguing. What an awful  break for Stanton, who had not missed a single game injured all season and was in the home stretch of a career year. Redmond afterward described Stanton as "bleeding heavily from his mouth" near home plate, adding, "It was scary." Might he possibly return in the final weeks of the season? "It's not looking good," said the manager. "It's devastating for us. Devastating." Medical update from Marlins Friday morning indicates Stanton suffered "facial lacerations requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures & dental damage," but the club said it is not expected he will require surgery. A doctor friend who deals with facial injuries said it was good news no mention was made of an orbital-bone fracture, which would involve the eye and vision, so early indications based on what we know suggest Stanton should be fully recovered by spring training. What bookend misfortune, though: the Marlins lose their two true stars -- Joe Fernandez early in the season to Tommy John surgery, and now Stanton late in the year to this. Best wishes to Giancarlo, a classy, good guy. I hope MVP voters rally around him and don't add insult to his injury by penalizing him for being hit in the face.

AUDIO OF HAWKS GM'S 'AFRICAN' COMMENT ON DENG: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a 2-minute 22-second audio of the conference call in which Hawks GM Danny Ferry says of Luol Deng (now with the Heat), "He's got some African in him." Comes about midway through. Ferry claimed he was reading from a scouting report, but it sure doesn;t seem like that on the tape. Click here to listen.

CONDEMNATION, FORGIVENESS AND RAY RICE: The revealing this week of the awful video that shows Ray Rice slugging his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator has NFL commissioner Roger Goodell scrambling to keep 1aa1arricehis job and Rice's future in the league in limbo and jeopardy. The Ravens cut him and league suspended him indefinitely amid speculation he'll never play again. I think that's harsh. Plenty don't agree. Rice and Janay Palmer both say he had never struck her before so we must assume this was a first-time offense, appalling as it was. Based solely on that he should be suspended two games (his original sentence) or six games (if the new, tougher rules are applied), and then be reinstated and be eligible to be signed. But some say the graphic video merits a full-year suspension or even a lifetime ban. And even if he were to be reinstated, would any team risk the public-relations backlash to sign him? Rice is 27 and before last season was rated among the NFL's top handful of running backs. I think this poll distills to the shades of gray in one not-simple question: Does Ray Rice deserve a second chance? Vote and say why.

MOST NFL PLAYERS BY COLLEGE: Ex-Canes, Gators and Noles in the NFL are prevalent once more. Top 10 pro-producing schools in 2014 based on opening-week NFL rosters: LSU 38 players, Southern Cal 37, Alabama 36, Georgia 34, Florida and FSU 33 each, Miami 31, Cal and Ohio State 29 each, and Notre Dame and Tennessee 28 each. 

Poll result: Most still back UM's Golden, but support wavering: We invited you to describe your support (or lack of) for UM football coach Al Golden in any of four categories (you may still vote), and it was 27.0 percent "strong," 34.5% "medium," 24.2% "weak," and 14.3% "none." That's mostly favorable -- 61.5% strong/medium to 38.5% weak/none -- but it's a soft thumbs-up, with increasing dissatisfaction apparent.

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

September 09, 2014

Do you support Canes coach Al Golden? Poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins, Ray Rice/Bruce Levenson, NFL pix 'n fantasy, SOPY standings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Dolfan satisfaction running at a buoyant 96.4%. See previous blogpost for full results of first DSM poll. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins whip Patriots, DSM poll, QB wives, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On Ray Rice, Bruce Levenson: Amid the outcry over Rice's violent video and Levenson's racially charged email, we step back and suggest that Rice deserves a second chance in the NFL, and that there may have been some truth in what Levenson wrote. Today's latest column: Beyond the Condemnation. 

Bump for Dolphins Super Bowl odds: The win over New England sent Miami's updated Super Bowl odds (via Bovada) rising from 66-1 (tied for 19th) to a current 40-1 (tied for 12th). Seattle has bumped ahead of Denver, 7-2 to 9-2, as overall SB favorite. 

'FIRE AL GOLDEN' MOVEMENT TAKES SEED. DO YOU SUPPORT UM'S COACH?: OK, "Fire Al Golden movement takes seed" may be a tad dramatic, if technically accurate. It's a very small seed at this 1aa1aalgoldenpoint. Miami New Times has a piece about "disgruntled UM fans" raising money to fly a 'Fire Al Golden' banner over the stadium during the Florida State game in November, but the cause of one disgruntled fan, Danny Vazquez, seems to have modest support (though a pretty good publicist, evidently). His GoFundMe campaign has raised only $520 from 21 donors in six days, about half of what he needs for the banner. His FireAlGolden Twitter account has a modest 230 followers. Wasn't it just a minute ago we loved Golden and students were wearing white shirts and orange ties in his honor? Wasn't it just a minute ago we were lauding how he'd navigated UM through the three-year Nevin Shapiro/NCAA mire he inherited? Now he loses the opener at Louisville and we want his scalp? Seems silly to me, or at least way premature. What if UM is 2-1 and then wins at Nebraska? What if the Canes are 7-2 and ranked going into that FSU game? How silly would that banner flyover look then? The purpose of this poll is to gauge support (or lack of) for Al Golden. I wonder if the critics calling him Al "Folden" and supporting his firing are the majority, a lunatic few or somewhere in between. Tell me. Tell Al. Tell each other. Vote now and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SOLID START: We'll update you briefly every week (on Tuesday or Wednesday) on 1aa1afripixhow we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our fantasy-leahgue team. Pix: We went 11-5 overall and 8-8 against the spread, nailing three outright upsets including Dolphins over Pats. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos, after a miserable 2-12 season last year in our eight-team league, won its opener 167-126, led by Calvin Johnson's 36 points.

SOPY: DEFENDING CHAMP WINSTON VAULTS TO SECOND: A Week 2-best 142 points lifts FSU quarterback Jameis Winston into second place in our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year
1aa1asopy(SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college football teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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 regular seasons and do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.


Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.            Wk2    Season

1 (1)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb        80       384

2 (3)        Jameis Winston, FSU-qb     142     348

3 (2)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec    80       289

4 (--)       Alex Gardner, FIU-rb           138     199

5 (7)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb     103      198

6 (6)        Karlos Williams, FSU-rb       87       189

7 (10t)     Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb         99.5    176.5 

8 (--)       Jonnu Smith, FIU-rec          133      153

9 (--)       Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb       137      137

10 (--)     Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec   60       136

10 (10t)   Jay Warren, FAU-rb             59      136

Bubble: DeMarcus Robinson, Florida-rec, 129. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman-qb, 115. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 points (Wk1). Note: All seven state FBS teams have played two games except Florida and UCF (1 each).

Cote's State of the State Week 1 rank: 1. FSU (2-0); 2. Florida (1-0); 3. Miami (1-1); 4. UCF (0-1); 5. SoFla (1-1); 6. FAU (0-2); 7. FIU (1-1).

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

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.4%; plus Miami whips Patriots, 33-20, to open season & more

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes thump FAMU, FIU rolls, Super Bowl verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 35.9%: Check out the previous blogpost for details.

Our Dolphins-Patriots game blog is directly below the new DSM poll. Click on Restoring Faith for my column off the opening victory.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: 96.4%: As we begin a seventh season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls results are certified in the first one and they 96.4 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 33-20 home victory over New 1aadsmEngland. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

Next poll: Sept. 14 (following game at Buffalo)

Previous final DSM results: 2013--4.2% (following 8-8 season); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G1: DOLPHINS 33, NEW ENGLAND 20: IS LITTLE BROTHER READY TO STAND UP? YES!: Final: Huge, huge season-opening home victory by Dolphins today, with a second-half rally as impressive any any we've seen lately. Ryan Tannehill was efficient but for one pick, Knowshon Moreno was terrific, the maligned O-line was fine, and the Came Wake-led defense tormented Tom Brady. What a performance! ..... 4Q: MIA up 33-20 on Sturgis 27-yard FG with 2:44 to play. ... Fourth-down sack by Wake all but clinches it for Dolphins! ... Moreno 4-yard TD run for a 30-20 MIA lead with 3:29 to play. Fins on the doorstep of a huge season-opening win. ... Dion Sims let a should-a been TD pass slip off his fingertips. ... Olivier Vernon sack of Brady forces punt. ..... 3Q: MIA up 23-20 on 22-yard Sturgis FG after 5-yard TD run by Miller is erased by a Ja'Wuan James holding penalty. Moreno now up to 111 yards rushing. ... Takeaway leads directly to 20-20 tie on Wallace 14-yard TD from Tannehill, Wallace beating coverage by Darrelle Revis. ... Sack by Cam Wake causes Brady fumble recovered by Louis Delmas at NE 34. ... Miami within 20-13 after settling for 24-yard Sturgis FG to cap 65-yard drive. Miller stopped his route on 3rd down incompletion, got yelled at by Tannehill on sideline. ..... Half: Miami fortunate to only be trailing by 20-10 at the half considering the wrong side of a 3-0 turnover margin and a mere 138 yards of total offense. ..... 2Q: Pats add 45-yard FG for 20-10 lead just before half. ... Fins within 17-10 on 38-yard Caleb Sturgis FG with 1:59 left in half. ... Lamar Miller loses fumble for third MIA turnover of half. Embarrassing. ... Pats drive 94 yards after INT, take 17-7 lead on Rob Gronkowski 6-yard TD pass. Drive highlighted by 44-yard Julius Edelman catch. ... Tannehill terrible interception on underthrow to a wide-open Wallace. Picked by Alfonzo Dennard. Should-a been a TD pass. Really bad. ..... 1Q: Tannehill-Wallace 22-yard pass ends quarter. ... Pats up 10-7 as Wallace fumble leads to 47-yard Stephen Gostkowski FG. ... Mike Wallace fumble after catch sets up Pats at MIA 35. ... Pats knot it 7-7 on Shane Vereen 2-yard scoring run punctuating impressive 80-yard, 13-play drive. ... Ryan Tannehill 4-yard TD pass to Lamar Miller and 7-0 MIA lead hand-delivered by punt block. ... Dolphin Chris McCain blocks NE punt, Jason Trusnik recovers at Pats 15. ..... Original post: The Patriots are the smirking, swaggering Big Brother always able to parry the punches of the Lil' Bro Dolphins. Not in every game but 1aa1adolpatin the big picture. Top to bottom. Robert Kraft out-owns Stephen Ross, Bill Belichick out-hoodies Joe Philbin and Tom Brady out-arms Ryan Tannehill. The Patriots' stranglehold on the AFC East won't stop until somebody stops it. Is Miami ready? Able? We'll continue to see in today's season opener at a sold-out Dolphins stadium. You've heard of soft openings. This is a hard opening, in every sense -- an immediate gauge. I think Miami is a playoff team; most mediaites do not. I think Miami is one of the NFL's most underrated teams entering this season; most don't agree. Today, I think the Dolphins defense will pressure Brady and fairly contain New England's offense, even Rob Gronkowski. The bigger question and intrigue, for me, is how Bill Lazor's fully unleashed new offense will perform against a very solid Pats D. Good enough, I think. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 24-20.

A GRATUITOUS, TOTALLY SEXIST COMPARISON OF HOTTIE QB WIVES: We'll see today how Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill compare. I think it's only fair to also see how the wives, Giselle Bundchen and Lauren 1aa1agiselle1
1aa1alaurenTannehill, compare. I mean, c'mon. If there's an NFL Quarterback Wives Draft, these might be the top two picks. (Talk about fantasy football. Oy!) Giselle, 34 (left), is a Brazil-born fashion model and famous; well, famous enough to have just appeared on Jimmy Fallon's show, for example. Lauren, 26 (right), is more of the blond All-American type and less famous, for now. I'd call her's girl-next-door looks, 1aa1agiselle2
1aa1alauren2except I've never been nearly that lucky in the neighbor lottery. Apologies for  the Giselle bum-shot, by the way, but remember, she's a fashion model! This concludes our leering, pandering, exceptionally creepy item about Giselle and Lauren.


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 semi-popular demand an updated, expanded 1aa1ahotbuttonHot 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:

1. Dolphins: Opposite of soft opening as Fins host Patriots: Today Miami welcomes its AFC East rival and main roadblock to the playoffs in the nemesis New England Patriots. I'd mention this marks the 41st season since Fins last won a Super Bowl, but why  make you sad like that?

2. UM football: Canes rebound, dominate undermanned FAMU: UM needed Saturday's 41-7 waltz past Florida A&M in its home opener after last week's embarrassing loss at Louisville. The Rattlers could not have been a better-timed remedy if they'd come with a doctor's Rx.

3. Soccer: Brazil, Colombia fill Dolphins stadium: More than 73,000 watched Brazil in its first action since humiliating elimination in the World Cup it hosted. Brazilian fans have since been introduced to a concept never before experienced or even considered. It's called "humility."

4. Tennis: U.S. Open to decide its championships: Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki make it a who's-who women's championship Sunday in New York, but Monday's men's final is who's-that with Kei Nishikori vs. Marin Cilic. Even the City That Never Sleeps is yawning.

5. Marlins: Stanton MVP hopes tied to strong finish?: Fish are five back in wild-card hunt and setting out on 10-game road trip. Might Giancarlo Stanton's MVP hopes rest on late charge? Hope voters don't think his value to team was that it finished third in division not fourth.

6. NFL: Champ Seahawks look repeat-ready out the gate: King Sport hasn't had repeat champ in 10 years but Seattle looked the part in Thursday's rout of Green Bay. League could save lots of time and money by simply fast-forwarding to Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl.  

7. Team USA: Americans roll on in FIBA World Cup: No LeBron James and no Kevin Durant among other missing stars, but the Americans still are 6-0 by a combined 189-point margin in the FIBA World Cup in Spain. "B-Team USA" is good enough so far.

8. NASCAR: Chase field is set: It's down to 16 drivers in a 10-race Chase for the Cup culminating Nov. 16 at Homestead. They've tinkered with the Chase format a bunch but I think it needs one more tweak for TV ratings: An automatic berth for any driver named Danica Patrick.

9. FIU: Golden Panthers win to end big week: FIU beat Wagner (whoever he is) to end an eight-game losing streak and end a week in which it mended fences, agreeing to resume its relationship with UM and ending its feud with the Miami Herald. Possible to keep playing Wagner? 

10. Heat: Team makes coaching staff changes: Erik Spoelstra has "reassigned" veteran assistants Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo. That's a nice way to put it, right? Similarly, the Dolphins might "reassign" Joe Philbin if the team fails to make the playoffs this year.

Bubble: WNBA Finals begin, Panthers prepare for training camp, Justin Verlander/Kate Upton nudies.

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

September 06, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 35.9%; plus UM thumps FAMU, FIU rolls, Super Bowl verdict & more

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. Team USA is tearing up the FIBA World Cup in Spain but does anybody care? Sorry, but no LeBron James and no Kevin Durant means next to no interest for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Upset Bird Day in America, Super Bowl poll, Heat staff, love video & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 35.9 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday night's home-opening 41-7 UM victory over Florida A&M evening Miami's record at 1-1. The CSM 1aa1acsmpolls, in their sixth season, are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville)

G2: 35.9% (following 41-7 victory vs. Florida A&M)

Next poll: Sept. 13 (following game vs. Arkansas State)

G2: HURRICANES 41, FLORIDA A&M 7: WELL-TIMED MEDICINE FOR UM: NFL coaches must envy college coaches in at least one area, right? Games like this. I mean, Joe Philbin gets zero breaks on his 1aa1acanessmokeschedule. No automatic wins, nothing easy. Then he looks across town and
1aa1acaneslogosees Al Golden and UM preparing for a 7 p.m. home debut against a smaller-school FAMU that lost its opener, went 3-9 last year and last had a winning season in 2011. Rattlers have a great marching band. The team, not so great. A&M arrives well-timed for a Canes squad reeling from Monday's 31-13 loss at Louisville, a we're-not-there-yet slap in the face that had UM fans voicing increasing impatience with Golden. Beating an opponent like tonight's doesn't win back disgruntled fans as much as hold them at bay. It's as must a must-win as any, though, because a loss here is, well, unfathomable. UM needs to not only win big but win impressively, and show remedy for some of the pitfalls from the opener. For sure, I'd expect a wide-open, stats-padding attack that finds freshman QB Brad Kaaya unshackled and going deep early and often. My pick was: Miami, 48-6.

FIU 34, Wagner 3: Who is Wagner? Anybody met him?: I kid. Wagner College is a small school (its stadium seats 3,300) from Staten Island, NY. More important, it arrives -- like FAMU does for Miami -- as what 1aa1afiushould be and better be a well-timed, certain 'W' for the home team. Game starts at 6. If by just past 9 the Golden Panthers are not celebrating, the program will have found a  new nadir. This has been a notable week of smart decisions by FIU, a week of fence-mending. The school announced it will resume playing UM in football in 2018 to end an 11-year frost, and FIU also ended its silly little feud with the Miami Herald. Only thing left undone on the football to-do list: Win. I write about all this in today's latest column; click on Image Repair to read. Beating Wagner would end a big week with a small step in the right direction.

Other Collball Week 2 state FBS games: No. 2 Alabama def. FAU, 41-0; Maryland def. South Florida, 24-17; Florida def. Eastern Michigan, 65-0; and No. 1 Florida State def. Citadel, 37-12. Off--UCF.

Poll result: Seahawks will repeat, will repeat: We offered you this year's consensus five likeliest Super Bowl winners, and you made it Seahawks with 42.0 percent, Broncos 23.9%, Patriots 15.0%, Saints 11.5% and 49ers 7.6%. I'd note that Seattle's lead over Denver was narrow early but exploded with the impressive Thursday performance.

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

September 04, 2014

It's Upset Bird Day in America!; plus Super Bowl poll (vote now), Heat staff news, message of love & more

1aa1ajrivers1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today bringing forth the Sunday notes-column package. 2) Joan Rivers, R.I.P., gone at 81. Never liked her latter-day, Botoxed, red carpet fashion police persona, but respected her as an earlier trailblazer for women comics. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 4 truisms about Canes football, SOPY season debut, Kate Upton's nudie, Stanton MVP update, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA!: We launch our 24th season of Friday Page NFL predictions today online and in the old-school inky pulp editions. I regret to note we got off to a stumbling start last night with 1aa1abird;pix 1aa1cotepixan ill-conceived risk on Green Bay winning at Seattle. (On the bright side, I got 26 points from Marshawn Lynch and 16 from Percy Harvin, so my fantasy team is off and flying. It was bittersweet watching my own guys help pummel my prediction). Click on Math By Division for the season's first Friday Page column; I forecast the records and standings of every team, by division, and issue my Super Bowl prediction. Click on Week 1 Gems for my all my predix capsules. My Upset of the Week ("Aaawwwk!") is Miami over New England. Yes, you read that right. Luckily, my only fantasy-team Patriot starter is the kicker, so I doubt he can do that much damage to the pick. [Addendum: The Upset Bird has just noticed the cartoon likeness of him above left includes a curvature of the beak, whereas, in real life, his proud raven's beak is of course as straight as a pair of needle-nose plyers. He isn't happy. "What the faaawwwk!"].

AND THE SUPER BOWL FAVORITE IS...?: I didn't want to make this poll unwieldy by including every 1aa1anflteam that thinks it has a playoff shot. (Sorry, Dolfans). Instead I narrowed it to the 1aa1aazsbfive teams with the best chance, by consensus, to win the Super Bowl. ESPN surveyed its 16 NFL experts and these were the only five teams, in fact, to be forecast as champion at least once. Also note the poll does not include "other" as a category, because the question is which team among the consensus favorites you most think will win it all. Vote and say why, or say which team not on the list you think will shock the world.

HEAT STAFF NEWS: Heat announced today that assistant coach Ron Rothstein has retired from coaching and will join the Heat broadcast team while remaining with the club as a corporate liaison, and that assistant Bob McAdoo will become a pro scout for the club and also serve as a community laision.

WHAT THE WORLD (STILL) NEEDS NOW...: Can you imagine writing about sports for a living -- trying to put forth the importance of the Dolphins stopping Rob Gronkowski, for example -- while across the globe Islamic State terrorist-megalomaniacs rampage and behead innocents? It's weird. So yesterday I'm fathoming this when across my car radio comes the song presented below. The message and lyrics are both so romantically naive and yet so urgently, increasingly needed in the world today. As long as the people who believe in the message outnumber those who don't, I guess we have a chance.


1aa1anevermoreUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY (from Thursday): The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th 1aa1abird1season of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 1 day, tomorrow, Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Captain Flint the parrot), we end our countdown with the only aviary star we could: Nevermore, talking raven from Edgar Allan Poe's 1845 poem, The Raven. The Upset Bird considers Nevermore a forebear and constant inspirational muse.

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

September 03, 2014

4 non-hysterical truisms about Canes football; plus Pats sign Thigpen, debut of SOPY Top 10, Kate/Justin nudie, U-Bird Countdown & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3. Patriots signed Marcus Thigpen today, second ex-Dolph this week. Oh, Bill, you sneak! 2) See the previous blogpost for results of our first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (Ouch!) 3) Congrats to FIU for relenting and credentialing the Herald's football beat reporter. Always nice when an institution of higher learning comes around on the First Amendment. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes lose at Louisville, CSM poll, Heat changes, fantasy verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Cowboys having press conference for Michael Sam. Leave it to Jerry Jones to make a publicity stunt of a practice-squad signing." --Greg Cote

Updated Dolphins, AFC East odds: Over/under on win totals, via Bovada, current and on May 28: Patriots 11 (was 10.5), Dolphins 7.5 (was 8), Jets 7 (same) and Bills 6.5 (same). 

 The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of 1aa1abird2NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 2 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following Woody Woodpecker), we welcome Captain Flint the parrot, profane muse of pirate Long John Silver from the 1883 classic novel Treasure Island.

FOUR NON-HYSTERICAL TRUISMS ABOUT CANES FOOTBALL MOVING FORWARD: 1. UM fans overreact. C'mon, you they do. The team loses its opener 31-13 at Louisville and the sky is falling, the Torches 'n Pitchforks Mob is roiling. Bench everybody and fire everybody else! Former Canes also 1aa1aalgoldenoverreact, and Your Friend the Media keeps giving them a forum beyond their Twitter rants to vent. The only thing more predictably sad than Good-Old-Days Canes lamenting the current program is when the '72 Dolphins are invited to blast what became of their masterpiece. Fans: Take a deep breath. It's one [bleeping] game. Ex-Canes: Get a life. It's supposed to be all about The U, not all about you. 2. It wasn't Brad Kaaya's fault. The true-freshman quarterback actually did pretty well in his first start. His mechanics weren't great but that's correctable stuff. His problem was too much pressure/poor blocking, and conservative play-calling that didn't let him take advantage of his weapons. Even Al Golden admitted that yesterday with a subtle shot at offensive chief James Coley, saying, "We probably should have opened it up more for [Kaaya]." 3. Al Golden's job should not be in jeopardy. There is obviously a shelf-life on that statement. I mean right now. The guy stepped into an NCAA s---storm he inherited, this is his first season free of that onerous cloud, and now you wanna fire him based on a season-opening loss? A loss with a rookie QB, on the road, against a quality opponent? Get real, people. Judge him on this season, not one game. If this season disappoints or regresses, then put him on your Hot Seat. 4. None of the above means 'all is well.' I'm not playing Pollyanna here. I'm not blind. I don't care much about margin of defeat; a loss is a loss. But I care about bottom-line, and Miami is 3-6 under Golden against ranked-at-the-time opponents, and 1-12 in games against teams that finished the season with at least eight wins. That I care about, because the Canes can't be good again unless they start to regularly beat good teams. The next one of those is Sept. 20 at No. 19 Nebraska. You want to turn down the negative volume, Al Golden? Start by winning the marquee games like that. The elusive Turnaround that leads to "The U Is Back!" cannot start without such signature triumphs.

SOPY SEASON DEBUT: USF BULLS' MACK TRUCKS INTO EARLY LEAD: A 275-yard rushing performance by South Florida's Marlon Mack (pictured) drives the Week 1 lead to open our third season of blog-exclusive 1aa1amackState Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the
1aa1asopyState Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, 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. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Jameis Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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 do not include conference championship games or bowls, so that all seven teams are on even footing.


Rk    Player, team-pos.                Week 1/Season

1      Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          304

2      Rashad Greene, FSU-rec      209

3      Jameis Winston, FSU-qb       206

4      Justin Holman, UCF-qb         115

5      Mike White, SoFla-qb           107.5

6      Karlos Williams, FSU-rb        102

7      Duke Johnson, Miami-rb        95

8      J.J. Worton, UCF-rec             83

9      Breshad Perriman, UCF-rec   81

10t   Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           77

10t   Jay Warren, FAU-rb              77

Bubble: Rodney Adams, SoFla-rec, 76. Other team leader: FIU--Alex Gardner-rb, 61. Note: Florida did not play; postponed by lightning.

Cote's State of the State Week 1 rank: 1. FSU (1-0); 2. Florida (0-0); 3. UCF (0-1); 4. Miami (0-1); 5. SoFla (1-0); 6. FAU (0-1); 7. FIU (0-1).

1aa1akatejustinKATE UPTON AND JUSTIN VERLANDER'S SELFIE: The supermodel and Tigers pitcher were among the celebrities whose nude photos were leaked online. Of course we think this is a terrible invasion of privacy admittedly made somewhat less terrible by the fact Upton makes a lucrative living pretty much wearing as little as possible all the time. Besides we are a family blog (some families are racier than others), so instead of showing the private parts here we have very carefully cropped the photo. Don't want to be too titillating!

STANTON STILL IN NL MVP RACE: It's clearly a two-man race now for NL MVP. Bovada calls Dodgers 1aa1agstantonpitcher Clayton Kershaw the favorite at 2-3 odds and Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton close at 6-5. ESPN baseball experts flip that in a new survey, giving Stanton a 24-22 edge over Kershaw in votes among 60 cast. If it's a close call, voters, y'all better give it to the guy who plays every day. Key for Stanton could be Marlins continuing to hang (however peripherally) in the wild-card chase; it's now 5 1/2 games with 25 to play.

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

September 01, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.7%; QB Kaaya shaky in 31-13 opening UM loss, our thoughts; also radio, U-Bird Countdown & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: We're back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today 3-7 on 104.3/790 The Ticket, 4-7 ESPN Radio. Dan's still off so it will be Stugotz and I co-hosting. Also my first time in the new South Beach studios, so I'll Vine out how they look.

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Watch for our season-debut of the college SOPY (State Offensive Player of the Year) rankings in the blog on Wednesday. 2) Patriots sign former Dolphin Don Jones. Typical Bill Belichick chicanery. 3) Happy new month, and hope all my fellow American workers had a nice Labor Day. 4) In T
he Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Rate My Fantasy Draft poll, Hot Button Top 10, Upset Bird Countdown, FIU vs. Herald verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1awoodywoodpeckerUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 3 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL 1aa1abird3Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 3 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following UM's Sebastian the Ibis), we welcome Woody Woodpecker, born in 1940 into the cartoon genre of screwball characters whose template included Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

See our live game blog and analysis and commentary on tonight's Canes loss right below the poll...

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the season's first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 6.7 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Monday's 31-13 loss 1aa1acsmat Louisville. (A roiling majority of 75.8% called themselves "very dissatisfied'). The CSM polls, in their sixth season, are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/WednesdayWelcome back. Vote now!

2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville)

Next poll: Sept. 6 following game vs. Florida A&M

CSM previous final season results: 2013--16.1% overall satisfaction (following 9-4 season); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

G1: LOUISVILLE 31, HURRICANES 13 (4Q): Final: "FIRE GOLDEN! BENCH KAAYA!" (I'm just getting ready for fan hysterics on Miami sports-talk radio...) This was a winnable game for a long time but Miami let it slip with three turnovers, too many missed chances, and 17 unanswered Louisville points to end it. I thought the Canes defense was fairly solid much of the night in the 31-13 loss, allowing 336 total yards, and bearing in mind that one of Louisville's TDs came on a 97-yard kickoff return. Overall I'd say offensive coordinator James Coley has more to fix than defensive chief Mark D'Onofrio. True-freshman QB Brad Kaaya and the offense had a rough start, partly because the coaches were hesitant to let Kaaya let it fly. The play-calling was conservative. Duke Johnson fought for every yard (he was 20-for-90), but Kaaya completed only 17 of 29 for 174 yards and had two INTs offsetting one TD. UM's offense was a miserable 1-for-12 on third downs. Kaaya struggled enough that coach Al Golden will need to address early in the week if Kaaya is still his guy or if he might immediately switch to senior Jake Heaps. ..... 4Q: Kaaya interception ends game. ... Cards make it 31-13 with late TD pass. ... Kaaya-to-Duke Johnson 36-yard completion negated by ticky-tack illegal man downfield penalty. Huge call. Was a 1st and goal. Ended in a punt. ... Redbirds add short FG for 24-13 lead. ... A winnable game Miami is letting slide. So far. ..... 3Q: UM finally a 1st down on 3rd down after being 0-for-9. But Kaaya underthrow-INT on very next play. ... Cards up 21-13 after 15-yard scoring run. ... UM within 14-13 but settled for short FG after recovering fumble at L'ville 8. That could hurt. ..... Half: I don't mind the spot UM is in at 14-10 down. Miami's defense is looking pretty solid and Canes would be up but for two key plays: the lateral/turnover in the Louisville red zone, and giving up the long kick-return TD. ..... 2Q: L'ville up 14-10 as Canes gouged for 97-yard kickoff return. ... UM up 10-7 on 24-yard FG. ... Cards go for it, make it on 4th and 1 from own 22. Usually when Bobby Petrino makes a decision that dangerous and questionable he's on a motorcycle. ... Huge blown opportunity by UM. Sack/fumble recovery gives Canes a 1st and goal, but immediately give it back. ... Canes 7-7 on Kaaya 2-yard TD pass to Clive Walford, set up by their hookup for 31. ..... 1Q: Canes driving as quarter ends. ..... What UM did NOT want tonight: Brad Kaaya, in his first start, on the road, playing from an early deficit. ... Louisville 7-0 after 93-yard drive. D'Onofrio haters, start your engines! UM getting zero pressure from its 3-man rush. ... Mmm, I don't know about those metallic-green UM helmets. You like? ..... Original post: The Miami Hurricanes' 89th season of football launches tonight at Louisville before ESPN cameras at 8 p.m., marking the fourth season for coach Al Golden. The Canes and their fans hope tonight is a lot different than the way last 1aa1amialvilleseason ended: a 36-9 loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. Same teams, but much different -- notably at the most important position. True freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya takes over for Miami, while Louisville must replace departed star Teddy Bridgewater. We'll be looking for three things, mainly: 1) How does Kid Kaaya handle the pressure of a loud, hostile crowd and a national stage in his collegiate debut. He seems well-suited for the challenge; doesn't act like a kid just turning 19 on Wednesday. But you know the Cardinals' defense will be geared to pressure and disrupt him. 2) Running back star Duke Johnson in his return from last year's season-ending injury. Domination by the Duke of Gables will make Kaaya's job so much easier. And 3) UM's defense. It was awful at times last year and must be much better all-round. Looking for a star or two to step up other than senior linebacker Denzel Perryman. With no Bridgewater and Louisville also missing star receiver DeVante Parker, the Canes have no excuse for a poor showing. This is an ACC game right out the gate, and also huge because it's one of those swing games that define a season. Most college schedules have a few games that are gimmie wins and a few you can't count on winning, with most teetering in between. This is one of those for The U. Louisville is favored by 3 1/2 points, meaning it's about a tossup aside from the location. My pick: Upset. Miami, 27-23.

Poll result: It's official. You hated my fantasy draft: We had a blind poll inviting you to rank my family fantasy league's draft based on each team's top three picks, and I came in next-to-last. Ouch. Results: Team #2 (my brother/led by Jamaal Charles) 34.3 percent; Team #7 (older nephew/Peyton Manning) 27.9%; Team #3 (oldest son/LeSean McCoy) 11.9%; Team #6 (son's girlfriend/Eddie Lacy) 8.5%; Team #1 (youngest son/Adrian Peterson) 7.5%; Team #4 (wife/Matt Forte) 6.0%; Team #5 (me/Calvin Johnson) 4.0%; and Team #8 (younger nephew/Demaryius Thomas) 0.0%.

HEAT MAKE MINOR COACHING STAFF CHANGES: Movin' on up: David Fitzdale now will be the Heat's clear No. 2 behind head coach Erik Spoelstra. And Juwan Howard will be elevated to a full assistant coach. Demoted: Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo, who'll be invited to remain with the club but in lesser roles. Spoelstra is expected to add another assistant or perhaps elevate Dan Craig. (Is this the kind of story fans care about? I have a feeling a team's staff changes -- unless they involve a head coach or, in football, a coordinator -- are of media interest only).

1aa1asebastiantheibisUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 4 DAYS (from Monday): The Upset Bird and I launch our 24th season of NFL Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald in 4 days, on Sept. 5. To celebrate we have a daily countdown honoring notable fictional birds of different species. Today (following the Aflac Duck), in honor of the Hurricanes' season opener we welcome UM football's venerable Sebastian the Ibis.

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