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19 posts from December 2014

December 31, 2014

LeBron, Wade talk about reuniting?; plus Georgia Tech swamps Mississippi State in OB game 49-34; also big Cats news, NFL Pix results & more

1aa1anewyearseve1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose to Jets, DSM poll, Duke Johnson goes pro & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

ORANGE BOWL: GEORGIA TECH 49, MISSISSIPPI STATE 34 (Final)

ARE LEBRON AND D-WADE PLOTTING TO REUNITE?: Conspiracy theorists done with examining the Zapruder film for shadows on the grassy knoll have turned to enflaming Internet 1aa1adwlebronspecualtion that LeBron James already is tiring of his situation in Cleveland and plotting to reunite with Dwyane Wade. It stems from a 2 minute 53 second video (click HERE to watch) from the Cavs' Christmas Day game in Miami. The game has just ended and as the video is fading out, at about the 2:45 mark, James is saying something to Wade, something muddled but not quite inaudible. Well, folks with way too much free time, and also better audio equipment than mine, swear that James says to Wade: "Like I said, If we aren't better this year, we're gonna reunite again and do some bigger and better things, alright?" That could mean anything from buying a team together to an off-court business deal, but of course the rampant implication is that James returning to Miami might somehow be plausible. Or at least remotely possible. Seems thoroughly unlikely, of course. But then again so did LeBron coming to Miami in the first place, once. 

1aa1abowlorangeGEORGIA TECH-MISSISSIPPI STATE A GOOD MATCHUP. BUT DO WE CARE?: Wednesday night's 81st Orange Bowl game, No. 7 Mississippi State vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech, looks to be an entertaining matchup. Only two bowls other than the two College Football Playoff semifinals offer a higher-ranked matchup. But does South Florida care? Are we as a community excited? I'm not sure. That's why I'm asking!

Explaining "without championship pedigree...": In today's Orange Bowl preview column by me -- read it HERE -- I refer to this matchup as "non-traditional powers without championship pedigrees." That has led many Georgia Tech fans to blast me on Twitter and by email. For the record, GT claims national titles in 1917, 1928, 1952 and 1990 (which I knew when writing what I did), but has never won a BCS-era title or been anointed by The Associated Press. In '90 the Jackets were No. 1 in the (now-defunct) UPI Coaches poll, but Colorado won the bigger, more recognized AP crown that season. I think it's fair to say GT's first three claimed titles were relatively minor ones and that the one in '90 was, at best, a split title. Some in and around Atlanta may call that "championship pedigree." I don't.

1aa1abjugstadPANTHERS SIGN BJUGSTAD LONG-TERM: This is big if you're a SoFla hockey fan. Cats today sign forward Nick Bjugstad, 22, the team's leading scorer, to a six-year deal. He's a guy you build around. And they are. 

NFL PIX: A WEEK 17 BEATING ON THE BET-LINE: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did 1aa1afripixthe previous NFL weekend with our published predictions. Went an OK 10-6 overall as King Sport wrapped up its regular season, but we were a miserable, season-worst 5-11 against the spread. Had two 'dogs-with-points in Buccaneers and Panthers and hit a perfect score exacto in Packers' 30-20 win, but not much else went right. To the playoffs!

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

December 30, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Season-final 2.7%, record low; plus Stinkin' Jets beat Miami 37-24, Duke leaves UM as expected & more

[RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND...]

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 29. Hope y'all are having a great holiday season! Special thanks to the fine folks at Bonaventure for the hospitality Saturday. It inspired me to shoot a 92, which, for my sorry a--, is pretty good. 2) Random Evidence, the Sunday notes column, and its Hot Button Top 10 Sunday blog adjunct, are off for holidays but both will return next Sunday. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes-Gamecocks bowl, CSM poll, your national story of year & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Duke Johnson turns pro: Expected for months, no surprise as Hurricanes career rushing leader Duke Johnson announced he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. I get why he's doing it, but, because of his size, durability questions and the downsized trend of the RB position in the draft, I'd be surprised if Johnson was better than a mid-second round pick and wouldn't be surprised if he went in the third. Five RBs may be picked ahead of him. Nevertheless, farewell, Duke of Gables. A great college career. Only wish it lasted one year longer. 

CSM final poll shows record low, too: The season-ending Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll -- in the wake of Saturday's UM bowl loss making the final record 6-7 -- shows 2.7 percent overall satisfaction, a record low. See complete results in previous blogpost.

MY game column: Click HERE to  read. See our Dolphins-Jets gamepost and postgame thoughts immediately below the new/final DSM poll...

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-ending -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 2.7 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 37-24 loss to the visiting New York Jets 1aa1adsmleaving Miami's final season record at 8-8. That's a record low for a final approval rating. The DSM, in its seventh season, 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. Because this was the final DSM of the year, added consideration and weight should have been given the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2014 DSM results

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

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

G10: 93.3% (following 22-9 victory vs. Buffalo)

G11: 38.9% (following 39-36 loss at  Denver)

G12: 69.6% (following 16-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G13: 6.1% (following 28-13 loss vs. Baltimore)

G14: 5.1% (following 41-13 loss at New England)

G15: 26.5% (following 37-35 victory vs. Minnesota)

G16/Final: 2.7% (following 37-24 loss vs. N.Y. Jets)

Yearly DSM results:

2014: 2.7% (following 8-8 season)

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G16: N.Y. JETS 37, DOLPHINS 24: MIAMI FAILS TO SEIZE CONSOLATION OF WINNING SEASON: Final: MIA ends season 8-8 after disheartening loss marked by awful, awful pass defense against Geno Smith. Embarrassing. A huge game by Lamar Miller is wasted, rendered a footnote. ..... Fourth quarter: Jets tack on short FG for final score. ... All over but the crying. Fins headed for loss, 8-8 season. ... Oh! NYJ up 34-24 on 23-yard scoring pass one play after burning Miami with 38-yard completion on fake punt. ... Fins miss 53-yard FG try wide right, fail to tie it. ... Stinkers take 27-24 lead on 23-yard FG in first minute of 4Q. ..... Third quarter: Tannehill 386th completion breaks Dan Marino's 1994 club record. ... Planes tie it at 24-24 on 26-yard FG after MIA pass defense -- awful today -- gives up 50-yard play to 13 as Decker outjumps Brent Grimes. ... Crowd still buzzing about Miller's record run as Dolphins give up 74-yard scoring pass to move Jets within 24-21. Pass defense making Geno Smith look like an all-star. ... MIA up 24-14 as Lamar Miller blasts for franchise-record 97-yard TD run to give him 1,069 yards on season. ... Dolphins D with goalline stand after 87-yard Owusu kcikoff return give NYJ ball at Fins 12. Jelani Jenkins on the huge, lead-saving 4th-and-1 stop. ..... Halftime: What to say about a back-and-forth game and a narrow halftime lead against a 3-12 Jets squad? Modestly impressive? Tannehill sharp,. at least: 15-20, 161 yards, one TD. ..... Second quarter: MIA drives 93 yards to 17-14 lead on Tannehill 23-yard strike to Charles Clay 43 seconds before half. ... Geno Smith is 8-for-8 with perfect 158.3 rating so far. How not to keep your job, Kevin Coyle. ... Jets retake lead 14-10 on 89-yard TD pass from Smith to a wide-open Chris  Ivory. Whomever was supposed to cover Ivory didn't get the memo. ... MIA up 10-7 on 1-yard Thomas scoring run set up by Dolphs' Jason Trusnik recovering Geno Smith fumble at Jets' 21. It's what bad teams (and bad QBs) do. ..... FIrst quarter: Stinkers take 7-3 lead on 23-yard reverse run by WR Chris Owusu. That's right. Chris Owusu. ... MIA 3-0 opn Sturgis 37-yard FG after team filed to convert 3-and0-1 from 18/. Red Zone Fizzlin'! ... Dolphins catch a break. Jets 45-yard FG try bonks off left upright. ... Bad start. Fins punt from end zone on opening series. ... Sparse crowd, stadium maybe two-thirds full. ..... Original post: This  is one of only four NFL Week 17 games in which both teams are out of playoff contention, so it’s tough to fake much excitement beyond it being an oft-bitter division rivalry. Even the drama of two coaches fighting for their 1aa1adoljetjobs was cut in half when Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced last week — to the surprise and disappointment of many most Dolfans — that Joe Philbin would be back next season. There are reasons to watch today's 1 p.m. game, though. Here are a few: 1) Will the 8-7 Fins finish with a winning record? It would be the club's first since 2008 and mark a third straight season of improvement, however modest. 2) It's the 1aa1ajets rexStinkin' Jets! And we can enjoy watching Rex Ryan (shown tipping his cap goodbye) slipping from the sideline to the unemployment line. I believe a hearty "GOOD-BYE REX!" chant would be appropriate, don't you? 3) Ryan Tannehill is 214 yards from becoming the only Dolphins QB not named Dan Marino to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. And against NYJ's absymal secondary, you can bank on that. 4) Speculation swirls that MIA defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle could be replaced -- perhaps even by Ryan; cows fly, don't they? -- and that this game could be the tipping point. Overall, my gut tells me this game will be closer than the 6-point betting line (Miami won 16-13 on Dec. 1), but the logical mind insists Fins at home are at least a touchdown better. Quick aside: Sunday’s crowd will include a loud, fat, boorish Jets fan squeezed into a too-small Mark Gastineau jersey. Spot him and throw him a condescending smirk that is half-mocking, half-pitying. It isn't often Dolfans get to feel blatantly superior. Today should be one of those days. My pick: Dolphins, 24-16.

Check back often. We'll be live-blogging during today's Dolphins-Jets game...

December 27, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter (season final): 2.7%, record low; plus UM falls 24-21 in bowl, plus your story-of-year winner & more

[RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND...]

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27. Hope y'all are having a wonderful holiday season! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Year-end biggest-national-sports-story-of-2014 poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, reflections on LeBron's return & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Find our Miami-South Carolina bowl gamepost and postgame thoughts directly below the new/season finale CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll --the last one of the season -- and they show 2.7 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 24-21 loss to South Carolina in the 1aa1acsmDuck Commander Independence Bowl, leaving UM's final season record at 6-7. That's a record low. The CSM, in its sixth season, is 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. Because this is the final poll, special consideration and weight should be given to the season as a whole. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 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)

G3: 71.8% (following 41-20 victory vs. Arkansas State)

G4: 11.6% (following 41-31 loss at Nebraska)

G5: 73.3% (following 22-10 victory vs. Duke)

G6: 3.3% (following 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech)

G7: 29.6% (following 55-34 victory vs. Cincinnati)

G8: 80.4% (following 30-6 victory at Virginia Tech)

G9: 92.9% (following 47-20 victory vs. North Carolina)

G10: 47.6% (following 30-26 loss vs. Florida State)

G11: 3.9% (following 30-13 loss at Virginia)

G12: 1.8% (following 35-23 loss vs. Pittsburgh)

G13: 2.7% (following 24-21 bowl loss to South Carolina)

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2014--2.7% overall satisfaction (following 6-7 season); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

G13: HURRICANES VS. SOUTH CAROLINA: 'COCKS CLIP CANES IN DUCK COMMANDER INDEPENDENCE BOWL: Final: A disappointing season ends with yet more disappointment as Canes fall 24-21 to South Carolina to end 6-7, with four straight losses to end the year. Miami pass defense had no answers for Pharoh Cooper and QB Dylan Thompson outperformed counterpart Brad Kaaya. Duke Johnson ran well (24-132) in his likely UM farewell, but his lost fumble with 5 minutes left, parlayed quickly into a Gamecocks TD, was ultimately what lost the game. ..... Original post: Two football programs that expected much bettter in 2014 gather in Shreveport, La. today at 3:30 p.m. to try to spritz perfume on a stinky year so the smell doesn't linger as much all offseason. I admired Gamecocks coach
1aa1acanescocksSteve
Spurrier admitting it was tough to get either fan base excited about this game, about (my words from here) being relegated to a second-tier, off-radar bowl sponsored by a company that makes duck calls. The Duck Dynasty reality-TV clowns are behind this bowl's name. Please keep Phil Robertson out of the booth and away from a mic. Quaaack! South Carolina sank to 6-6 on lousy defense after being ranked No. 9 in The AP preseason poll. Miami is just about as thrilled to be 6-6 after losing its final three games of a once-promising season. Embattled UM coach Al Golden, 28-21 as his fourth UM season ebbs, needs a win as a launchpoint to optimism, to a sense of moving forward on the upbeat. Miami has lost its past four bowl games since last winning one in 2006 and could really use a win here. South Carolina has won its past three bowls and probably needs this game less as a program. The biggest headline from this game may come after it as UM star running back Duke Johnson, the Duke of Gables, announces if he'll enter the NFL Draft or return for his senior season. Bet heavily on the go-pro option, which is seen as a near-certainty. In any case The Duke should go out in style with a huge game in what figures to be his college farewell vs. a really bad Gamecocks defense, especially against the run. That factor is a big reason why Miami is favored by 3 1/2 points, and a big reason why Miami should win to (somewhat) quiet the fan-wolves baying angrily at Golden. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-27.

Poll result: LeBron-goes-home named national story of year: We asked you to vote for the 2014 national sports story of the year from among The Associated Press' top 10, and LeBron James going home was your top choice with 22.2 percent, followed by Donald Sterling's NBA ouster (20.7%) and NFL domestic violence (18.9%).

Check back often. We're hell-bent to constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

December 26, 2014

What was 2014's biggest national sports story? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, reflections on LeBron's return to Miami & more

1) It is FRIDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope y'all had a wonderful holiday! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My annual Christmas video to you, Heat beat LeBron & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

YOU PICK THE 2014 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog 1aa1abiggest2014vote. The top 10 stories in our poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking, newly out. I list them alphabetically, not in 1-through-10 order, so your vote will be more independent and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each, figuring that if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, chances are the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please endeavor to consider your vote in that broad context. Ready? Let's go!

Note: Your 2013 national sports story of the year was the Boston Marathon bombings, followed by the Heat winning the NBA championship and, in third place, the Aaron Hernandez arrest. Watch for our poll on the Greater Miami sports story of the year in this space soon.

1aa1afripixDOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 17 PICKS: FINAL TWO PLAYOFF TICKETS UP FOR GRABS: : Ten playoff seats are taken, two are open as King Sport reaches its final regular-season week with all 16 games happening on Sunday, as God intended it. Six teams are alive for those two spots (San Diego and Atlanta will grab them). Click on Week 17 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules. Click NFL Still Preening for my weekly Friday Page column, leading with how this time of season helps the sport focus on what it does best and helps us forget the league's off-field woes.

1aa1ajameslPOST-MORTEM ON LEBRON'S FIRST RETURN: I wrote from the arena last night. Click on Heat Wins, So Does Miami for my column. The Heat was great in its 101-91 win, sans Chris Bosh again. Dwyane Wade channeled his high-flying prime in a brilliant first half. Luol Deng was the best I've seen him this year, on both ends of the court. Even Danny Granger showed glimpses of why Miami got him. That team (that effort), plus Bosh, is a Miami that no opponent will want to face in the first round of the playoffs. Miami the city, and its fans, also won big last night. The response mostly was classy, amicable -- the opposite of how Cleveland treated LeBron's return four years earlier. James is shown acknowledging the warm ovation following a tribute video. Well done, Miami. Team, and fans.

Check back often. We constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas! Heat beat LeBron, Cavs 101-91; plus my holiday video to you (with some special guests), Cooperstown results & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 25. Merry Christmas, celebrants! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Cooperstown poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Josh Smith, Miami Beach Bowl & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1axmas14MERRY CHRISTMAS! A HOLIDAY VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: A few friends took time from their busy holiday to join me to make this Chistmas video. They are the two coaches you love to hate and hate to love, the superstar who stayed, and the one who left. Pictured from left to right are LeBron James, Joe Philbin, myself, Giancarlo Stanton and Al Golden. Click HERE for the video. Enjoy. And happy holidays!

HEAT SPOIL LEBRON'S RETURN: You know I hate the NBA playing games on Christmas. But if you must have a game, it might as be LeBron James' first return to Miami since leaving for Cleveland. And a 101-91 Miami win led by Dwyane Wade's 31 points and Luol Deng's 25. LeBron had 30 for the Cavs on an amicable night that heard more cheers than boos for James. The fans' reaction to LeBron is what was most notable about today, although the result was unexpectedly exhilirating.

Poll result: Randy Johnson leads your parade to Cooperstown: We gave you a 22-player ballot and only four men received the equivalent of the 75 percent vote that would be necessary for induction. They were, in order, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and (barely) Barry Bonds.

Have a wonderful holiday!

December 24, 2014

Cooperstown calling: Here's your Hall of Fame ballot. New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Pix ' Fantasy, Heat/Josh Smith, Miami Beach Bowl & more

Radio hiatus: The Dan LeBatard Show was off for the holidays yesterday and is again next week, so my Tuesday in-studio appearances will resume Jan. 6. 

1aa1aceve1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve! I really must start my Christmas shopping. Seriously. 2) I have zero problem with Joe Philbin declining to address whether his coordinators would be back next season. That should not be construed as non-support. Expect Bill Lazor and Kevin Coyle both to return. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): DSM poll and keeping-Philbin poll results, Dolphins beat Chargers & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

"Getting ready for LeBron by losing to the 76ers is like preparing for a marathon by failing to finish a 5K." --Greg Cote

1aa1abbhallCOOPERSTOWN CALLING: HERE IS YOUR HALL OF FAME BALLOT: I have completed my baseball Hall of Fame ballot and will reveal my choices later. First I want to offer my readers a chance to vote. The official ballot had 34 names. I weeded out 12 guys who have zero shot or frankly don't even deserve to be listed. (Sorry, Cliff Floyd. You're in the Hall of Very Good). I present here, alphabetically, the other 22 on the official ballot. Vote for as many as 10, but only those you think deserve to be in Cooperstown. Asterisks indicate players on the ballot for the first time. Remember, you may vote for as many as 10. Go!

How to interpret the ongoing voting results: Because the maximum vote is 10 each, a player's highest possible percentage of the overall would be 10 percent if everyone voted the max. In other words, any player at 7.5% or above is meeting the BBWAA equivalent of a 75 percent vote for induction. (Only five of 22 were when last I checked). By the way, for those wondering, this poll does not violate BBWAA rules and won't get me in trouble a la Le Batard. As I said, my ballot is already completed.

HEAT INTEREST IN JOSH SMITH FEELS MOOT: Can't see much reason why released 1aa1ajsmithPiston Josh Smith won't opt to sign with Houston for its far greater championship chance. Miami's interest shows the desperation of a 13-15 team with a need at power forward, with Josh McRobert lost for the season. The 6-9 Smith would fill that need. But he also was shooting 39 percent when Detroit waived him. And he carries the "chemsitry" baggage, of course. I think he's worth the risk, and Heat can offer him big minutes. Can't see him not landing in the West, though.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: AN UPLIFTING WEEK 16, BOTH WAYS: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixTuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Went 11-5 outright and a nifty 10-6 against the line, including another Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!") with Raiders over Bills. Also had Giants' upset of Rams and four other 'dogs with points. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos, relegated to the consolation round, at least salvaged a closing 107-83 win led by Marshawn Lynch's 24 points to finish 8-8. Congrats to our league champion, Mom's Maniacs!

BIG DEBUT FOR MIAMI BEACH BOWL: Memphis beating BYU 55-48 in double overtime constituted a great debut for the Miami Beach Bowl yesterday. The draw at Marlins Park, 20,761, wasn't great but not terrible, either. Even the postgame brawl, while damnable, gave the game added attention. Great start. Now let's seed if the Boca Raton Bowl debuts as successfully this evening.

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

December 23, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 26.5%; plus most disagree with Ross keeping Philbin (poll result) & more

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 22. The Sunday Random Evidence notes-column package in print, and its Hot Button Top 10 blog version, were off this week for the holidays. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins/NFL Week 16 pix, Fleetwood Mac, bowl season, Marlins trade, Heat/Panthers morphing, NBA-on-Christmas verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Click on Sticking With Philbin the Right Choice for my column off Sunday's Dolphins game. Do you agree? Vote in our Philbin poll. And find latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll directly below the Philbin poll.

SUPPORT FOR ROSS KEEPING PHILBIN IS SHAKY: We asked if you agreed with owner Stpehen Ross' decision to retain coach Joe Philbin at least another season and "no" beat "yes" by 53.5 percent to 36.5%, with the other 10.0% undecided.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: Reuslts are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 26.5 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 37-35 victory over visiting MInnesota Vikings putting 1aa1adsmMiami's season record at 8-7. The DSM, in its seventh season, 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 usually 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)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

G10: 93.3% (following 22-9 victory vs. Buffalo)

G11: 38.9% (following 39-36 loss at  Denver)

G12: 69.6% (following 16-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G13: 6.1% (following 28-13 loss vs. Baltimore)

G14: 5.1% (following 41-13 loss at New England)

G15: 26.5% (following 37-35 victory vs. Minnesota)

Next/final poll: Dec. 28 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G15: DOLPHINS 37, MINNESOTA 35: MIAMI WINS WILD ONE, TANNEHILL SHINES, PLAYOFFS OUT, PHILBIN RETAINED: Final: Wow. Thrilling game, even on a day when Miami was formally eliminated from playoff contention. Blocked-punt safety in closing minute decides it, but Ryan Tannehill is the star of day with 396 yards passing and career-best four TD passes. Miami now 8-7. Joe Philbin's future was in limbo then suddenly was not as owner Stephen Ross announced postgame that he'd be basck next season. I agree with the call; click HERE for my column from the game. ..... Fourth quarter: Unreal! Miami up 37-35 with 41 seconds left on blocked punt out of end zone by Terrence Fede resulting in safety. ... Cam Wake sack helps Miami get ball back with under a minute left. ... Miami ties it 35-35 with 1:11 left on 3-yard TD pass to Damien Williams -- Tannehill's fourth of game. ... Nightmare! Vikes up 35-28 on 5-yard Asiata scoring rplay immediately after Jarvis Landry fumbles kick-return and five MIN ball at Dolphins' 5. ... MIN ties it 28-28 with 4:46 left on 8-yasrd scoring pass and then Asiata's 2-point conversion run. Fins had stopped earlier attewmpt, buyt Came Wake offsides penalty give Vikes another shot. ... Jarius Wright 8-yard TD pass had Vikes within 28-26. ... Tannehill's third TD passs of game and second to Wallace, from 7 yards out,l has MIA up 28-20 with 6L:39 to play. A fairly entertaining game, after all. ... Vikes within 21-20 on 33-yard FG with 9:52 to play. Well-timed Randy Starks sack on the series. ... MIA leads 21-17, its first lead of game, on Miller's 1-yasrd run ending 64-yard drive. ..... ThIrd quarter: Miami knocking on MIN's goal as quarter ends. ... Bridgewater pass deflected and interceted by Derrick Shelby in MIA territory. But Jared Odrick injured on play. ... Dion Jordan first sack of season! Christmas miracle! ... MIA within 17-14 on Wallace 16-yard pass play from Tannehill, ended with an effort-reach across goalline. ..... Halftime: The great '70s defensive tackle Manny Fernandez, old No. 75, joins the Dolphins Honor Roll in a halftime ceremony. The field is filled with the club's all-time greats, contrasting as always the franchise's present-day struggles. ... Dolphins lead in yards and time of possession but not where it counts. The scoreboard. ..... Second quarter: MIN 17-7 on 18-yard FG with 2 secodns left in half. ... Owner Stephen Ross has been on sideline near Dolphins bench the entire game, not usual. Could be because Manny Fernandez being inducted to team's Honor Roll at halftime. Could be because he's hands-on with his coaching decision. Likely some of both. ... Miami within 14-7 on Tannehill 14-yard strike to Dion Sims capping an impressive 92-yard drive. There's life in here! ... Vikes 14-0 on 21-yard Bridgewater-to-Jennings pass set up by Tannehill INT when ball slipped from his hand. Awful start for Dolphinsd. ..... First quarter: Not feeling much energy from Fins or from fans. ... MIN up 7-0 on Asiata 1-yard scoring run to cap 54-yard yard drive. Fins defense pushed around at the scrimmage line. ... Typical MIA drive to open game, ending in missed 56-yard FG try after Tannehill takes sask to make kick longer. ..... Original post: Minnesota is eliminated from postseason contention but dangerous. Miami is all but mathematically out with a playoff likelihood estimated at 0.7 percent, according to the computer 1aa1adolvikeprojections of makenflplayoffs.com. That constututes the low hopes. So what are the high stakes? The immediate future of the franchise, embodied in coach Joe Philbin's job status. The Dolphins are unlikely to luck into the playoffs, even if they win out. But their performance these last two games -- the fight left in them -- may either save Philbin's job or confirm his doom. He is 22-24 with no playoffs in not quite three seasons. Not good enough, But winning out to finish 9-7 would constitute improvement on the bottom line, at least. Despite that motivating factor for Miami the Vikings' upset shot is sizable here. Purples bring a stout defense to face a struggling Miami team that has been outscored 69-26 the past two weeks in a December swoon that has put that thin ice under Philbin. Miami-born Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater rates 103.3 across his past three starts. Visitors aren’t great on road (2-5), so we’ll stick with Fins, although Miami hasn’t done much to impress ever since blowing that game at Denver a month ago. I do wonder how much fight the demoralized Fins have left in them. Maybe we'll find out today. Meantime how’s this for strange: Outbound 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh might have his choice of the Dolphins or U-Michigan jobs, and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is a prominent Michigan alum and major donor. The bright side, then: At least one of Ross’ two favorite teams might get the man it wants. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

THE LIST: DOLPHIN HIGH GAMES VS. VIKINGS: Sunday marked only the 12th all-time meeting between the Vikings and Miami. Dolphins major individual records vs. this opponent:

Category                Number    Record setter

Passing yards         431          Dan Marino, 9-25-94

Receiving yards      160          Irving Fryar, 9-25-94

Rushing yards         145          Larry Csonka, 1-13-74*

Team points            35            In 38-35 loss, 9-25-94

*-Csonka's performance was in Super Bowl.

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December 19, 2014

Dolphins, NFL Week 16 picks: 0.725%; plus Fleetwood Mac, state bowl-game winners, Heat 'n Panthers morphing, Marlins-Yanks trade, NBA-on-Christmas verdict & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20. No Random EVidence this week. The Sunday notes-column package is off for the holidays. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA-on-Christmas poll, Heat skid, Panthers surge, Philbin/Golden verdict, U.S.-Cuba relations & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: "0.725%": The percentage at left represents the less than 1-in-100 playoff likelihood for Miami right now as it hosts the Vikings on Sunday, according to computer estimations 1aa1afripixfrom makenflplayoffs.com. Miami has the second-worst odds of any of 21 teams still mathematically alive (ahead of only Cleveland). It'll be win-and-pray for the Dolphins and several other teams as the better clubs clinch remaining playoff spots. Click on Week 16 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules, which have a playoff-piocture theme. (Strong start to our week Thursday night with a near exacto. Jags beat Titans 21-13; I had it 20-13). Also, click on Overlooking Landry for my weekly Friday Page column. It posits that the Fins' Jarvis Landry is having a season that, most years, would merit offensive rookie-of-the-year consideration, but that, unfortunately for him, this is a particularly bounteous year for rookie wide receivers.

LET'S GO BOWLING: The glut of 39 bowls games begins Saturday. Astonishingly, 11 of the bowls (28%) either involve a Florida team or are played in our state. We rank those 11 by interest in South Florida, with state ties underlined, and with predictions by ESPN's Mark Schlabach:

1aa1adepend1. Rose (College Football Playoff semifinal): Oregon 42, Florida State 31. Jan. 1, 5 p.m., Pasadena, CA.

2. Duck Commander Independence: Miami 27, South Carolina 20. Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m., Shreveport, LA.

3. Birmingham: East Carolina 27, Florida 23. Jan. 3, noon, Birmingham, AL.

4. Capital One Orange: Georgia Tech 34, Mississippi State 30. Dec. 31, 8 p.m., Dolphins stadium.

5. Miami Beach: Memphis 31, BYU 24. Dec. 22, 2 p.m., Marlins Park.

6. Boca Raton: Marshall 45, Northern Illinois 38. Dec. 23, 6 p.m., FAU Stadium.

7. Bitcoin St. Petersburg: North Carolina State 21, UCF 20. Dec. 26, 8 p.m., St. Pete.

8. Outback: Auburn 42, Wisconsin 35. Jan. 1, noon, Tampa.

9. Russell Athletic: Oklahoma 31, Clemson 20. Dec. 29, 5:30 p.m., Orlando.

10. Citrus: Missouri 24, Minnesota 20. Jan. 1, 1 p.m., Orlando.

11. Taxslayer: Tennessee 28, Iowa 17. Jan. 2, 3:20 p.m., Jacksonville.

ON FLEETWOOD MAC: Saw the legendary band at the Sunrise arena last night and thought it was a great show. I've never been a huge FM fan beyond the obligatory heydays love of the Rumours LP, but as a huge pop music fan I am drawn to seeing all-time great perfomers I've not seen before. Thoughts: Lindsay Buckingham is a better guitar player live than is heard on records, but is rather insufferable as a frontman, his ego unhidden. Founding father Mick Fleetwood is terrific on drums and a delight to watch. Bassist John McVie gets too lost; he's too invisble, not musically, but onstage. Stevie Nicks is still playing the gypsy-poet. Not a huge fan of her voice but she is a commanding stage presence. The star, for me, is Christine McVie on vocals and keyboards. I don't think I would have gone to the show had she not rejoined the band.

 

1aa1ampradoMARLINS-YANKEES MAKE TRADE: Marlins today acquired infielder Martin Prado (pictured), pitcher David Phelps and cash from Yankees for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones and minor league pitcher Domingo German. I'd call it a medium trade, certainly not a big one. Prado, 31, who hit .282 with 26 doubles and 12 homers last year, will compete to start at third base. Phelps, 28, could emerge as a No. 5 starter.

HEAT, PANTHERS HAVE BECOME SAME TEAM: For years the Heat preened and reigned, and the Panthers were the forgotten and forlorn afterthought. Now the two teams have met in the middle: Mediocrity. They have morphed into the same team. The previous four seasons, the Heat's winning percentage was .718 and the Panthers' .381. This season:

Team        Record            Pos.    L10    Strk

Panthers    14-16, .467    T-7th   6-4    W2

Heat          12-14, .462     7th      3-7    L1 

Poll result: Most don't like NBA playing on Christmas: With the LeBron-at-Heat Christmas Day game looming, we asked what you thought of the NBA playing games on the holiday, and 61.2 percent were against versus 34.0% who were OK with it. The other 4.8% were undecided.

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December 18, 2014

Should NBA play games on Christmas? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat skid, Panthers surge, Philbin/Golden result, U.S.-Cuba relations & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18. I'm up at Friday Page Headquarters today conjuring the NFL Week 16 predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's putrid Titans-Jaguars game. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): 'Tis the season for being average, Miami and Shaq, Philbin/Golden poll, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Marlins, meatballs & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1asantaA POX ON NBA FOR PLAYING ON CHRISTMAS!: One week from today LeBron James-at-Heat will be one of five NBA games played on Christmas. The NHL, conspicuously, 1aa1ajesusdoes not play on Christmas. I hate that the NBA does. I'm not alone. Stan Van Gundy once said, "I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game." Phil Jackson said, "I don't think anybody should play on Christmas Day." LeBron James said, "If you ask any player in the league, we'd rather be home with our families. It's not just a regular holiday." I agree. I'm not especially religious; it just seems wrong to play on Christmas. You with me, or are you OK with it? Have a vote!

HEAT ON HISTORIC SKID: OK "historic skid" may be a bit dramatic, but last night's 105-87 home loss to reeling Utah marked the first time since 1990 that Miami has lost four consecutive home games by double digits. Heat is 1-7 overall in its past eight home dates, and fighting just to stay on the eight-team Eastern playoff grid nearly one-third into the season. The good news? Dwyane Wade had 42 points. Wasn't sure he had another 40-point game in him, frankly. The bad news? Everything else. Chris Bosh was out again, Miami couldn't buy a 3-point shot, and the defense was (again) lousy. Injuries haven't helped, but, bottom line: the post-LeBron era has set sail on much rougher seas than imagined. The Christmas game here against LeBron and Cleveland could be ugly.

PANTHERS FIND THEIR PULSE, PACE: It's funny. The Heat is 12-14 and No. 7 in their conference and it's a near-disaster to fans. The Panthers are 13-16 and tied for No. 8 and it's closer to a joyous miracle. That's one team coming down from four straight NBA Finals appearances, and the other dreaming of its first Stanley Cup postseason series victory since 1996. Florida got much attention for its record 20-round shootout win the other night, but Cats have been ascending for awhile; they're over .5000 since a 4-8 start, and 6-4 in past 10 games. (They've also won four of past five home games).

Poll result: Philbin edges Golden in "fire him!" sentiment: In the previous blogpost we asked you to make a choice who you want gone more, and Dolphins coach Joe Philbin edged the Hurricanes' Al Golden for the dubious prize, 52.6 percent to 47.4%.

A NON-CUBAN'S VIEW OF WARMING RELATIONS: [Preemptive strike: "Stay out of politics! STICK TO SPORTS!!!"] I am fascinated by the various reactions to yesterday's news that the U.S. has begun to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba. To be clear, I'd guess the vast 1aa1aamercubamajority of America doesn't much care either way. To those who do care, I'd imagine (and hope) that most think diplomacy and civil relations in general are a good thing. But in South Florida, among many Cuban-Americans and exiles -- especially older folks -- this amounts to climbing into bed with the enemy and has inspired anger, even outrage. My take: U.S.-Cuba normalized relations were a long-time coming; Raul Castro taking over for brother Fidel obviously hastened the process. I call this "progress." To me an historical analogy is Japan. After the Pearl Harbor bombing it was unimaginable America would ever be on good terms with Japan, but times change, and Japan is now a strong ally. I respect that many Cuban-Americans can't and won't ever forgive Castro, and that is their right. But that outrage is too small in the national scope to steer American foreign policy.

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December 17, 2014

Miami interested in Shaq?; plus 'tis the season to be average, fire Philbin or Golden poll (vote now!), NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Marlins, meatballs & more

1aa1ahanukkah1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17. A happy Hannukah, which began last evening, to all of our Jewish friends. 2) See previous blogpost for results of our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (Not pretty). 3) Click on Random Evidence for the return of our Sunday notes-column package after a two-week hiatus. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Patriots hammer Dolphins, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Manziel verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

MIAMI INTERESTED IN SHAQ?: Yes, that sure is a gratuitous, misleading headline! It's a "read me" hed 1aa1ashaqtdesigned to make you wonder if the Heat might somehow be trying to haul Shaquille O'Neal, 42, out of retirement. Instead, it means Todd McShay's Mock Draft 1.0 for ESPN today is projecting that the Dolphins will select Washington Huskies outside linebacker Shaq Thompson (pictured right) in the first round of next spring's NFL Draft, No. 16 overall. McShay pegs two UM Hurricanes for the first round: OT Ereck Flowers, 1aa1ashaqo12th overall, and ILB Denzel Perryman, sneaking in 32nd. Two FSU Seminoles are seen as 1R: QB Jameis Winston of course (2nd, after Marcus Mariota) and DT Eddie Goldman (18th). One Gator is projected a first-rounder: DE Dante Fowler (7th).

IN MIAMI, 'TIS THE SEASON TO BE AVERAGE: Let's get to the good news first. Won't take long. Miami Hurricanes men's basketball is 9-1 and ranked No. 18 in the latest Associated Press poll. Thus ends the 1aa1amediocrityhappy portion of today's program. Now on to our Big 5 teams: Hurricanes football -- After a bad-ending 6-6 season the Canes are headed to the ignominy of the Duck Commander Bowl in Shreveport, La. Dolphins -- Team has slumped to 7-7 with two damaging losses in a row and makenflplayoffs.com now estimates Miami's postseason chances at 0.7 percent. No, seriously. Heat -- The injured, limping, post-LeBron Heat are 12-13 with last night's win and currently the No. 7 playoff seed. Panthers -- Cats are 13-16 with last night's win and tied for the No. 7 playoff seed, which, grading on a curve, amounts to cause for celebration. And, finally, Marlins -- Positive headlines lately, yes. Encouraging. But let's not forget the Fish last season were 77-85 and missed playoffs for an 11th straight year. In the spirit of our combined funk, we offer a Survivor Poll. We have two football coaches under fire. Many fans would want both out. But you can only vote to get rid of one. You must choose. Nobody said life was fair. Or easy.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SLUMPING AND FIZZLING IN WEEK 15: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixwe did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Not satisfied with 10-6 overall and even less so with another 6-9-1 (Seahawks pushed) against the spread. Bull's-eyed another Upset of the Week with Cowboys over Eagles ("Aawwk!") and also had Bills, Vikes and Cards with points, but not enough else went right. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos not only failed to make the championship-round playoffs, but lost in the consolation bracket, 159-99, falling to 7-8 on the year. Not much good can happen when your high scorer (Marshawn Lynch) has only 16 points.

1aa1ammorseMARLINS ADD FIRST BASEMAN: Marlins agreed to terms with free-agent 1B Mike Morse, pictured (from Nova High), ESPN first reported. He batted .279 with 16 homers and 61 RBIs for the Giants last year and should be (they think) an upgrade over Garrett Jones. Morse, 32, is a journeyman but a solid one, with a .281 career average in 10 seasons with the Mariners, Nationals, Orioles and Giants. This continues a big offseason for the Marlins, including the re-signing of Giancarlo Stanton and the addition of base-stealing leadoff man Dee Gordon and starting pitcher Mat Latos.

1aa1ameatballsMEATBALLS & MARTINIS: Thanks to Paul Castronovo and the Paul & Young Ron Show (BIg 105.9) for having us out to their Meatballs & Martinis event last night at Anthony's Runway 84. It's a terrific fundraiser benefitting the Dolphins Cycling Challenge and the fight against cancer. Pictured from last night: Me being dwarfed by ex-Dolphs John Offerdahl and Kim Bokamper, the yuk factor undoubtedly fueled by libations.

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