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17 posts from September 2015

September 30, 2015

Set the bar on Heat expectations. Poll. Vote now!; plus Philbin firing/Heat title odds, 'Marlins Man' takes on anti-Golden air force, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos Fantasy results, updated SOPY rankings; also, hear Pope Francis' new song (seriously) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) IT IS WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30: Welcome back to the Herald our new Heat and NBA insider, Ethan Skolnick. 2) Season over for Giancarlo Stanton. No surprise, and a smart call. 3) The latest five members of the Dolphins' all-time team announced by the club: Nick Buoniconti, Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Jim Mandich and Dan Marino. How the hell did Marino get in there!?! 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins collapse vs. Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, Anti-Golden flyovers verdict & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin now most likely to be fired: New Bovada odds today have Dolphins coach Joe Philbin the likeliest NFL coach to be fired during the season at 9-4 odds. (Next hottest seats belong to Lions' Jim Caldwell 4-1, Colts' Chuck Pagano 7-1 and Browns' Mike Pettine 15-2). I doubt Philbin keeps his job after this year but doubt he'll be fired in-season.

Wade leads Heat in 13th year: Click The Great Unknown for my latest column off Heat media day as team opens preseason camp at FAU. The unknown: Miami relying on starting five that hasn't been on court together at all. What you can count on? Dwyane Wade. Again. 

SETTING THE BAR ON HEAT EXPECTATIONS: The Heat has accrued such trust as a franchise that we accept last season's non-playoff year as an aberration that won't be repeated. We assume the playoffs. We assume
1aa1aheat 1aa1adragicwadewinning -- it's just a matter of how much. We assume the postseason -- it's just a matter of how far. So: How far? What are your thoughts for the Heat as Miami opens training camp today at FAU? For me, an NBA title is too much to expect but a place in the Eastern finals (presumably vs . LeBron's Cavaliers) might not be. For me that's the high side, the optimum that's in the realm of realistic. A top-four seed? Realistic. Then again I've also read and heard the Heat forecast as a likelier lower East seed, maybe sixth or seventh. I'm curious what your realistic expectations are at this point -- not what you hope, but what you'd bet is most probably -- with a starting lineup of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic (pictured), Chris Bosh and Luol Deng and center Hassan Whiteside, plus added depth. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Heat, NBA championship odds: Via Bovada today, Cleveland is updated NBA title favorite at 11-4 odds, followed by San Antonio at 3-1 and Golden State at 5-1. Miami and Chicago are tied for second in the East and seventh overall at 20-1.

'MARLINS MAN' (YEAH, THAT GUY) COMING TO AL GOLDEN'S DEFENSE: 'Marlins Man' Laurence Leavy 1aa1amarlinsman(pictured), the Fort Lauderdale lawyer who seems to spend a lot more time being a sports fan than being a lawyer, is renting a plane to fly a pro-Al Golden banner over the Miami Hurricanes' next home game Oct. 17 vs. Virginia Tech. The banner is to read, "Keep Golden -- He's Class, Not Trash." Leavy is fed up with the anti-Golden flyovers haunting the skies above UM games and wanted to counter that air force with one of his own. Interesting. AIR WARS!

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 3: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosfantasy teams. Pix: I am man, hear me roar!: Great bounce-back week for us at 13-3 overall and 10-6 against the spread. Nailed outright upset wins by Bills and Eagles and had Raiders-plus-points. Greg's Lobos / family league: Big loss: The original Lobos got buried 176-133 to fall to 1-2. Had Adrian Peterson, Seahawks defense and Odell Beckham all score in the 20s, but my opponent got 90 combined from A.J. Green and Steve Smith. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Yes! Off the schneid!: The new Lobos crushed Papi, 164-59.3, making us 1-2. Got a big 42.3 points from game MVL (Most Valuable Lobo) Devonta Freeman. I decided to start him 10 minutes before kickoff. I choose to call that great coaching.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH MAINTAINS NO. 1 AS BYES KICK IN: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY 1aa1asopyrankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- find FIU quarterback Alex McGough maintaining his lead after Week 4. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. Because they are cumulative, players on a bye week (starting this past week) take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of season. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 4

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W4        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         150.5     687

2 (6)         Will Grier, Florida-qb            153.5     523.5 

3 (2)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             BYE      522

4 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb    BYE     445

5 (4)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          BYE     434.5

6 (7)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             82        420

7 (8t)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             99        417

8 (5)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb  BYE     391

9 (--)         Thomas Owens, FIU-wr         50       354

10 (--)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       110      336

Bubble: Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb, 327. Other team leader: Tre'Quan Smith, UCF-wr, 245. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: Miami, FSU and South Florida 3 games each; all others 4.

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

1aa1afrancismusicHEAR POPE FRANCIS' NEW SINGLE. NO, SERIOUSLY: Fresh off his successful tour of the U.S., Pope Francis plans to release a musical album called Wake Up! (pictured) on Nov. 27. (This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true?) The album features the pontiff's speeches set to orchestral rock and pop music as well as to Gregorian chants, and proceeds will benefit a support fund for refugees. The first released single is called "Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!" (The pope loves exclamation points!). Click HERE for a Rolling Stone piece on the album, and to hear the single, a 5 minute 12 second opus in which the Pope is not heard until the 2:00 mark. And, yes ... yes it is about as strange as you might imagine. Francis will support the album with a winter tour featuring opening act Miley Cyrus. OK I made up that last part.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 29, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 18.0%; plus Fins ripped by Bills 41-14; also Hot Button Top 10, the sharp divide on anti-Golden flyovers & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Anti-Golden flyovers poll, rarity of Big 3 all 3-0, Collball Week 4 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Philbin puts himself in peril: Coaches already on the hot seat cannot afford embarrassing performances like the Dolphins had Sunday in their home opener. Click on Philbin In Peril for my column off the game. Our live gamepost is directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 18.0%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.0 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes) 1aa1adsmin the wake of Sunday's 41-14 loss to the visiting Buffalo Bills putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM, in its eighth year, 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 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Next poll: Oct. 4 (following game vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Interpreting the latest vote: Of course a spike from a previous 1.7 percent to this week's 18.0% makes little sense after a loss as bad as Sunday's. Pleased Bills fans weighing in? More likely pissant anarchists simply trying to throw a wrench in our gears. Whatever. No matter. Free country! The majority spoke (loudly) with 81.4% "very dissatisfied."  

G3: BUFFALO 41, DOLPHINS 14: FINAL: Home opener. Division opponent. Coming off a bad loss. So many reasons Miami needed to show up big today. What a monumental failure all the way around. ..... Fourth quarter: MIA 2nd and goal. NO score. Of course. BUF now up 41-14 on 41-yard TD run by Karlos Williams. Do the details even matter at this point? ... Fins within 34-14 on 46-yard Tanny pass to Matthews and then a missed kick. ... Miami 1st and goal at Bills 2, four straight complete passes. Way to trust that running game! Unbelievable. Seriously. ... Bills defensive hold wipes out a Tannehill sack and fumble loss. ... BUF 34-8 now on 38-yard TD pass Taylor to Chris Hogan. Just plain embarrassing. ... Wanted/needed: Miracle of Biblical proportions. ..... Third quarter: Dolphins finally do something, score, pull within 27-8 on Tanny's 21-yard TD throw to Rishard Matthews plus a 2-point conversion pass. ... Bills miss a 54-yard FG try. Hey something went right for Miami! ..... Halftime report: Awfulness times infinity equals Miami's first half performance. ..... Second quarter: Tannehill's third interception sets up 51-yard FG and 27-0 game. ... Bills 24-0 on Preston Brown 44-yard INT return. ... BUF 26-yard FG for 17-0 lead. Miami doing nothing right so far. ..... First quarter: Miami drive starts promisingly at BUF 38, then Tannehill intercepted off Landry's hands. ... Buffs 14-0 on 10-yard Shady McCoy scoring play on slant. MIA defense gouged for 158 yards on 2 TD drives totaling 13 plays. ... Nightmare start! After a 3-and-out by Dolphins, defense gives up 5-play, 77-yard Bills TD drive capped by ex-Fin Charles Clay's 25-yard romp through myriad missed tackles. Oy. ... Is there a nobler aim known to mankind than making Rex Ryan sad? ..... Pregame: Anthem by Darius "Hootie" Rucker. The Dolphins make him cry. Uh oh. ... Warren Buffett, worth 10 times more than Stephen Ross, was on home sideline in a Ndamukong Suh jersey. Buffett has only three fewer tackles than Suh this year. ... LT Branden Albert inactive today as expected. Uh oh. ... Flyover banner referencing "Sardine Can Stadium." Surprised Stephen Ross hasn't ordered his air force to shoot it down. ..... Original post: Dolphins stage their 50th franchise regular-season home opener late this afternoon vs. Buffalo and once again Dolfans have no real idea how good their team is because its maddening inconsistency defies knowing. Click on Land of No Idea for today's latest column for our full preview. The 4:25 p.m. kickoff has all the elements of a delicious matchup. It is Miami’s home opener, it’s vs. an AFC East rival, and it is coming off a bad Dolphins loss at Jacksonville to ratchet up the pressure on Joe 1aa1abillsdolPhilbin’s guys. Want more? How about blustery Rex Ryan in Bills clothes now, and former Fins bully Richie Incognito back in town tasked with blocking Ndamukong Suh. This could be damned entertaining, folks! It also could be a tough one for Miami to win. Don’t read too much into Tom Brady putting up 466 yards last week; the Buffs’ pass-D and defense in general is pretty good against everybody not named Brady. And that defensive line has the potential to dominate MIA’s blocking front and spend way too much time today in Ryan Tannehill’s pocket — especially if LT Branden Albert (hamstring) doesn’t play, as expected. The homies haven’t shown enough consistent running game (or commitment to it), or enough balance to take much heat off Tannehill. On the other side, a Dolphins run defense gouged for 284 yards the first two games will face its toughest challenge yet in LeSean McCoy. Miami is bound to get some help from Buffs’ proneness to penalties; still, I doubt the home stadium will be a happy place as dusk settles. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, people! My pick: Bills, 23-20. (Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. (Click Hot Button Top 5 for our abbreviated, print-only cousin):

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Miami fails huge test to Buffalo in 50th home opener Sunday: We are now in our seventh consecutive year of not knowing whether Miami will be good this time or S.O.D. (Same Ol’ Dolphins), doubts festering anew with last week's disheartening loss in Jacksonville and now Sunday's 41-14 spanking by Buffalo. We know Buffalo presented a big challenge ... and sadly found out if the Fins were up to that challenge.

2. MARLINS: Teams wraps up home schedule on disappointing season: Only six road games now remain after Sunday's home finale. Not much has gone right this year beyond Dee Gordon chasing NL batting title and Jose Fernandez improving to 17-0 in his career at home. Meanwhile club has interviewed Manny Acta as their potential next manager -- Acta, who last managed in 2012 and has career record of 372-519 (.418). Reach for the stars, Marlins!

3. HEAT: Bosh healthy as Miami opens training camp: Chris Bosh is back after missing much of last season with blood clots as training camp opens Tuesday at FAU after Media Day today/Monday at the bayside arena. The Heat expects to be much better after missing last season’s playoffs. My interpretation of much better: Anything short of a conference finals against LeBron’s Cavs will be a disappointment.

4. HURRICANES: UM braces for pass-happy Cincy: The Canes, 3-0 but unranked and with restless fans, follow a bye week with a Thursday night game on ESPN at Cincinnati. The Bearcats aren’t very good (2-2) but they average 413 passing yards per game. Hope the off week provided plenty of rest for UM’s defensive backs.

5. PANTHERS: Jagr delivers lesson in how to thwart blackmail: As NHL preseason continues, the Cats’ ageless Jaromir Jagr, 43, recently thwarted blackmail try by a Czech model, 18, who wanted $2,000 to not publish a photo of them in bed. Jagr said he didn’t care, rightly figuring that, instead of shame, the photo would likelier bring high-fives from admiring teammates.

6. GATORS: Swamp magic: Florida miracle-rallies past Tennessee: UF is now 4-0 after beating visiting Vols 28-27 Saturday after trailing 27-14 late. That's the good news. The bad news: Gators now face four ranked opponents in a row. 

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men ready for season of high hopes: Coach Jim Larranaga's guys are about to lift lid on season of big expectations. Practice opens this coming Friday and the season starts Nov. 13.

8. FIU: Panthers fall at Louisiana Tech: FIU beat the point spread with a decent road effort but still fell to 2-2 in search of first winning season since 2011.  

9. WNBA: Playoffs down to the final four: Note to self: Look up who the four surviving WNBA teams are in order to more convincingly feign interest.

10. RANDOM EVIDENCE: Greg Cote's blog turns 10!: Yeah, I know. Nobody is talking about this week being the 10th anniversary of my MiamiHerald.com blog. But what's the good of having a blog if not for occasional shameless self-aggrandizing?

Poll result: Sharply divided views of anti-Golden flyovers at games: We asked in the previous blogpost what you thought of those anti-Al Golden flyovers at UM games (you may still vote), and 50.3 percent supported them because they think Golden must go. However, another 23.1% think the banners are tacky and rude, 21.7% are against them because they are pro-Golden, and 4.9% think it's silly to fly those banners while team is winning. (Note: What clearly seemed an organized effort between anti- and pro-Golden factions, ultimately won by the anti- crowd, caused a sharp spike in total votes. Democracy!)

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 26, 2015

What do Hurricanes fans think of those anti-Al Golden flyovers? New poll. Vote now!; plus the rarity of the Big 3 all at 3-0, FIU falls, miracle Gators & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26. Our Random Evidence blog turned 10 this week. We were MiamiHerald.com's first online blog and we're still the only sports blog that covers local teams, national issues and also delves outside sports, all with an eye on humor. Thanks for joining us on the ride! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphin/NFL Week 3 picks, Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson retires right, Jaromir Jagr thwarts a blackmailer, happy birthday to us, Bullygate, Weighing the Fish & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

"Why do some in the media keep treating Heath Evans -- a grain of sand on the beachhead of Dolphins history -- as if anybody cares what he thinks?" --Greg Cote

WHAT DO HURRICANES FANS THINK ABOUT THOSE ANTI-AL GOLDEN FLYOVERS AT GAMES?: You've seen them. Some simply state, 'Fire Al Golden.' Some are more creative. They are banners pulled by
1aa1aalgolden 1aa1abannersmall planes that have become a fixture above most every Miami Hurricanes home game. Me? I think they are tacky, rude and unfair when the team hasn't even lost a game yet this season. They do the program a disservice. They must make potential recruits wonder about the loyalty of Miami fans. But this poll is about you, not me. I wonder how 'Canes fans feel. Many I've talked to are anti-Golden but also against those banners. Your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

A RARE START FOR STATE'S (ORIGINAL) 'BIG 3,' BUT STILL DOUBTS HOW GOOD CANES, NOLES AND GATORS REALLY ARE: Long before it came to mean LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, "Big 3" in Florida sports meant college football and the Miami Hurricanes, Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles 1aa1abig3(in whatever order you chose). Well, all three teams have 3-0 records, and I was curious how rare that was. I doubted before researching it that it was unusual at all. I was shocked to find out otherwise. As you can see by the list/chart below, 2015 marks only the fourth time in the 62 seasons all three have had teams that all three are 3-0 together. It last happened in 1996. There are doubts, though, if any of the three are really that good. FSU (off this week) is ranked No. 10 but barely got by Boston College last week and is not getting great quarterbacking from Everett Golson. Noles look to be a clear underdog Nov. 7 at No. 11 Clemson. Miami (also off this week) almost blew a 23-point lead vs. Nebraska, and must face both the Noles and Clemson coming up soon. Florida miracle-rallied past Tennessee Saturday (to go 4-0) but now faces four ranked opponents in a row.

Seasons when Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators all have been 3-0 

Year        Miami coach/QB                   FSU coach/QB                    Florida coach/QB

2015       Golden/Kaaya                        Fisher/Golson                     McElwain/Grier

1996       Davis/Clement (9-3)              Bowden/Busby (11-1)        Spurrier/Wuerffel (12-1)

1993       Erickson/Costa (9-3)             Bowden/Ward (12-1)          Spurrier/Wuerffel (11-2)

1980       Schnellenberger/Kelly (9-3)  Bowden/Stockstill (10-2)   Pell/Peace (8-4)    

College Week 4 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all games today/Saturday):

South Carolina 31, UCF 14: Knights fall to 0-4. Oy.

Louisiana Tech 27, FIU 17: Panthers, now 2-2, 14-point 'dogs, gave it a decent go on road.

Florida 28,Tennessee 27: Miracel Swamp rally for now 4-0 Gators. Good thing. UF now faces four straight ranked opponents.

FAU 17, Charlotte 7: Owls finally off the winless schneid with big defense.

Off this week: Miami (3-0), Florida State (3-0), South Florida (1-2).

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 25, 2015

Dolphins/NFL Week 3 picks (uh oh); plus Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson retires right, Panthers' Jaromir Jagr teaches us how to handle a blackmail attempt; also happy birthday to us, revisiting Bullygate, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1abobblepope1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat future power rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins 50th team, Florida Sports Hall of Fame, latest SOPY rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1a10Happy birthday to us!: Light the candles because our Random Evidence blog turns 10 this week. We were christened as the Miami Herald first's online blog at this time in 2005 and, thanks to you, we're still going strong as the only MiamiHerald.com sports blog that covers local teams, national issues and also delves outside sports -- always with an eye on humor. Thanks for joining us on the ride!

"Welcome, Pope Francis, to America. We're still on for lunch today, right?" --Greg Cote

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 3: Licking wounds from a tough Week 2 (we had a 7-9 record overall, 8-8 1aa1afripixvs. the spread), we barrel on undeterred in our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions. Week 3 got off to a strong start last night as we correctly had Giants winning and covering. Click on Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins are upset losers at home to Buffalo (sorry), and Cowboys stay unbeaten despite no Tony Romo. Also click on Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood for my accompanying Friday Page column. I write how about Aaron Rodgers' greatness overall reaches another level altogether at home.

CHAD "OCHOCINCO" JOHNSON IS DOING RETIREMENT RIGHT: I enjoyed writing today's column catching up with retired receiver Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, the Miami-raised eccentric who last played in the 1aa1apchoNFL in 2011 and got his last shot in '12 training camp with Miami. He's one of a kind. Plays in a local men's soccer league. Shows up at strangers' houses challenging to play them in video soccer. He has 3.6 million Twitter followers and is blurring the line between celebrity and regular folks, making them one. He collects adventures and is having way too much fun to miss football. Click on Ocho to read the column in full. There are some great photos of Chad playing soccer in West Kendall by Gaston De Cardenas accompanying the column, including the one shown. Because Johnson is such a character, you forget what a great player he was. Great enough that, when he becomes Hall of Fame eligible next year, he should get a serious consideration. I certainly don't see him as a first-ballot guy and probably would bet he won't ever get into Canton, but check out the career comparison between Johnson and Michael Irvin, who is in Canton. Except that Irvin played for a more glamorous teams and has Super Bowl rings, they're close to the same. Food for thought:

                    Years    Catches    Yards        TDs   Pro Bowls

Irvin               12        750        11,904       65         5

Johnson          11        766        11,059       67         6

1aa1ajagrPANTHERS' JAGR HANDLES BLACKMAIL THREAT WITH SPLENDID NONCHALANCE: The Florida Panthers and ageless 43-year-old star Jaromir Jagr are in their preseason, and this happened to Jagr very recently. It's a bad-turned-great story on many levels. Essentially, in a blackmail attempt, somebody said to Jaromir, "We have compromising photos!!" And his response was to pretty much yawn and say, "Yeah? So?" An 18-year-old Czech model allegedly/reportedly tried to extort $2,000 from Jagr to stop her from releasing a photo of the two of them in bed following a recent go-round, according to the Czech tabloid Blesk. Jagr declined to pay, obviously not bothered by the photo (which I show here). Blesk identified the model as "Catherine from Moravia." She has since been identified elsewhere as Katka Provaznikova. In any case why would Jagr be bothered by this photo? He's single and he's famously active socially (shall we say), sort of a Derek Jeter on skates. What this model thought would bring him shame and embarrassment is far more likely to bring him high-fives from envious Panthers teammates and admiring NHL rivals.

REVISITING BULLYGATE: As 2013 Dolphins Bullygate central figure Richie Incognito returns to Miami this week as a Buffalo Bill, former Fins offensive line coach Jim Turner -- fired as a result of the scandal -- is in court with a lawsuit against Ted Wells, the NFL lawyer whose report Turner says made him a scapegoat and defamed him. Read this week's Daily Business Review update on the case here.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (150 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton once led comfortably before his extended injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the most impactful overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 150 games (actually 152, at 65-87):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @140 

1  Dee Gordon                505.9    1

2  Martin Prado              374.3    4

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   2

4  Christian Yelich         363.2   5

5  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    3

6  Justin Bour                 345.2    7

7  Jacob Realmuto          339.8   6

8  Marcell Ozuna            316.7   8

9  Ichiro Suzuki              253.1   9

10  Derek Dietrich          228.9   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 9, Gordon 5.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 23, 2015

Heat's immediate future rated as bright; plus NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos updates, R.I.P. Yogi Berra, Dolphins' 1st 5 on 50th all-time team, newest in Florida Sports Hall of Fame, Fins' biggest problem, SOPY Week 3 standings & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23. R.I.P., Yogi Berra, 90. [Insert malaprop]. 2) See previous blogpost for latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results, which are even sadder than you might have imagined. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose at Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The Hot List & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Ndamukong Suh column: In my latest column I explore the early heat finding Dolphins megamillionaire Ndamukonh Suh. Click on There Are Greater Concerns. The heat is misplaced. Suh's had two quiet games, but Miami has greater problems at 1-1, such as a disappearing ground game, shaky-at-times defense overall and bonehead penalties. Oh, and a brutal divison. New England we know, Buffalo proved Sunday it can play with the Patriots, then, Monday night, the New York Jets' defense dominated Andrew Luck. Better play from Suh had better be just the start of all the getting-better the Dolphins do.

HEAT RANKED 6TH IN NBA 'FUTURE POWER RANKINGS': ESPN's latest annual Future Power Rankings, a guesstimate projection of how each NBA team will fare on the court over the next three seasons, has 1aa1aheat1516Miami at No. 6 (up from ninth a year ago), trailing only Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland, Chicago and Houston. The Worldwide Leader's synopsis of Miami: "The Heat face a fascinating next 12 months. Miami has just four players under guaranteed contract beyond this season: guard Goran Dragic and forwards Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and (rookie) Justise Winslow. The Heat could clear significant cap space next summer -- or be completely capped out by re-signing unrestricted free agents Dwayne Wade and Hassan Whiteside. (Dragic and Wade are pictured). Whiteside presents a particularly thorny issue. The Heat will only have Whiteside's Early Bird rights, meaning Miami will have to dip into its cap space to re-sign him for more than the mid-level exception. Then again, Whiteside could regress and not be worth even that. We wouldn't trust everyone to manage an aging roster with so many question marks, but Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have earned the benefit of the doubt. And South Beach will always be a draw for players like Dragic, who left money on the table to re-sign this summer." Miami opens its 2015-16 pre-season with media day this coming Monday, following by training camp at FAU in Boca Raton.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 2: We update you briefly every week on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams. Pix: Rough 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosweek: Stumbled at 7-9 overall with a slight bump to 8-8 against the spread. Called outright upsets by Broncos and Browns and had two other 'dogs-with-points in Redskins and Cowboys but not enough else went right. Lobos / family league: Tough loss: The original Lobos scored OK but lost 142-123 to fall to 1-1, despite 28 points from Odell Beckham, 27 from Torrey Smith and 19 from Adrian Peterson. Drew Brees (12) is letting me down and now banged up. Lobos / radio-show league: Ugh. Ouch: The new Lobos lost 111.8-93.1, dropping to 0-2. Got 28.7 from Emmanuel Sanders and then a whole lotta nuthin. Still  might have pulled it out Monday with a big game by Andrew Luck, but you saw how that went.

DOLPHINS ANNOUNCE FIRST 5 ON 50TH ALL-TIME TEAM: The Dolphins are gradually announcing their Top 50 all-time players in conjunction with this season's Golden Anniversary, and the first five announced today are safety Dick Anderson, receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper, receiver O.J. McDuffie and safety Jake Scott. The "Marks Brothers" and safety tandem are no-brainers. McDuffie I think is deserving but wasn't, for me, the sure thing the other four were. The 50 were selected by fans, team alumni, local media and a "select blue ribbon panel." Five on the team will be announced each week starting with this. The entire team will be honored on the Dec. 14 home game vs. the Giants.

FLORIDA SPORTS HALL OF FAME ADDS NINE: The 54-year-old Florida Sports Hall of Fame will add nine new members, announced this week, in a Nov. 17 ceremony at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, (incredibly) the first time the group has held an induction in South Florida. Newest hall members alphabetically are: Longtime UM diving coach Randy Abelman, Ex-Hurricanes football star Bennie Blades, bowling hall of famer Paula Carter, "Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine, former champion Bucs coach Tony Dungy, the late broadcaster Sonny Hirsch, the jai-alai champion Joey (Cornblit), Dolphins legend Zach Thomas and one-time Panthers goaltender John Vanbeisbrouck.

SOPY: FIU'S McGOUGH VAULTS TO NO. 1: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State 1aa1asopy 1aa1aalexmcgOffensive Player of the Year -- are underway and FIU quarterback Alex McGough (pictured) is our new Week 3 leader. SOPY does not discriminate. The smaller-school guys have a chance! Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 3:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 3

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W3        Season

1 (2)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         216       536.5

2 (1)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             57         522

3 (3)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       136        445

4 (9)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           192.5    434.5

5 (4)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb    127       391

6 (10)        Will Grier, Florida-qb           129.5     370 

7 (5)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb             75        338

8t (--)        Alex Gardner, rb-FIU             93        318

8t (3)        Everett Golson, FSU-qb         70.5       318

10 (--)       Marlon Mack, rb-SoFla           78         313

Bubble: Thomas Owens, wr-FIU, 304. Other team leader: Jordan Akins, UCF-wr, 164. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: All teams 2 games each. Past SOPY champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb.

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

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 22, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 1.7%; plus Miami falls 23-20 at Jacksonville; also the new Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21. Random Evidence the Sunday notes column has retired (click on Random Evidence for last week's farewell) but its Top 5 list goes on! Click on Hot Button Top 5 for the latest edition. Our Hot Button Top 10 (here below) is an updated, expanded version found exclusively in this blog every Sunday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat Nebraska, CSM poll, other Collball Week 3 &  more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results: See blogpost directly below for latest CSM results, showing a modest upturn. Click on This Won't Help Golden Much for my column off the UM-Nebraska game.

Sorry about that...: A computer glitch tonight caused our Dolphins-Jaguars in-game blog to disappear. It also caused our latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll to do the same. We have reinstalled the poll, now open for voting. Thanks for the patience. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 1.7 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied) in the wake of Sunday's 23-20 loss at Jacksonville putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM, in 1aadsmits eighth year, 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 7 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Next poll: Sept. 27 (following game vs. Buffalo)

Interpreting the vote: It doesn't get much lower than 1.7 percent. Literally. An Internet poll could ask "Would your rather be happy and wealthy or miserable and destitute?" and you might not have a majority like this one.  

G2: JACKSONVILLE 23, DOLPHINS 20: Note: With apologies, a computer glitch has erased our live in-game blog. Original post: There are no gimmies in the NFL, granted. No Bethune-Cookmans. But Washington and now Jacksonville 1aa1adoljaxis about as soft a season-opening road quiniela as any NFL team or its fans should have the right to hope for. Dolphins were so-so last week and still beat the Redskins 17-10. The Jaguars are worse than the Skins. I expect a better performance today, and a more impressive win at Jacksonville, where I also expect the Traveling Wilburys traveling Dolfans will make it feel almost like a home game for Miami. What I expect most is that Ndamukong Suh and his defensive-line mates, who didn't defend the run very well last week, will be much better today. I wouldn't want to be Blake Bortles. In general, but especially today. I don't buy, though, that today is any sort of Litmus test for the Dolphins. The opponent isn't up to that challenge. The first of those tests looks like next week's home opener vs. Rex Ryan's revitalized, defense-strong Bills. But let's take 'em one game at a time, shall we? My pick: Dolphins, 30-10.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (SEPT. 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM dominates, almost blows, then survives Nebraska visit: Canes are 3-0, barely, after blowing a 23-point lead and escaping Nebraska in overtime last night, 36-33, thanks to goalline interception by Corn Elder. Odds, please, that team named Cornhuskers would be beaten by man named Corn? Two programs with five national titles each were trying to recapture old mojo. Arguable which team needed the win more, although I’m confident UM coach Al Golden and his many critics would have dominated that debate.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami 1-1 after crushing upset loss at lowly Jacksonville: Bad defense, not enough offense and costly penalties cost Miami dearly in a 23-20 loss to the underdog Jaguars. Just when a Dolfan thinks it's different this time we get The Return of the S.O.D. -- Same Ol' Dolphins.

3. MARLINS: Just shut Stanton down, already!: As Fish prepare to open the season's final homestand on Tuesday they have locked up third place in NL East but are well out of wild-card hunt. So why not shut down Giancarlo Stanton and the “abnormal” scar tissue in his healing hand for the rest of the year? No gain in rushing him back now. See you on Opening Day 2016.

4. NCAA: Loss by No. 2 Alabama tops college football's wild weekend: Gators and Seminoles survived defensive struggles (and FIU won!), but it was second-ranked Alabama losing to Ole Miss that topped the national news in college football Week 3. Having a bad day? Lift your spirits by picturing Nick Saban sad.

5. NFL: Patriots at Rex Ryan. Delicioso!: Patriots edging Buffalo was our NFL Week 2 Game of the Week pick. And that was even before Rex Ryan and the Bills tweaked New England for its Deflategate scandal by selling ball-inflating needle pumps this week in its team store.  

6. PANTHERS: Cat Skate Fever! Hockey’s back, eh?: So Fla puckheads are happy. The Panthers made their preseason debut Sunday by splitting a pair of exhibitions in Nashville and now play their first home exhibition Tuesday. ESPN says the Panthers “could be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference.” So it has come to that. When your team hasn’t won a playoff series since 1996, the expectation of its success is surprising.

7. HEAT: Team eyes major improvement as training camp nears: With preseason practices starting next week, expect a big change at Media Day a week from today. Last year, every other question concerned LeBron leaving. This year, only about a third of them will.

8. NASCAR: Homestead awaits as 'The Chase' begins: With the Nov. 22 finale in Homestead-Miami Speedway the prize, race teams started winnowing the field in the first "Chase" race Sunday in Chicago won by Denny Hamlin. Gentlemen, start your drama.

9. TIGER WOODS: More back surgery for the former great one: The ebbing PGA Tour season was cut short for Tiger Woods when he elected to have more back surgery and set his sights on a 2016 return. The ultimate favorite has turned himself into the ultimate underdog. 

10. WNBA: Playoffs underway in women's basketball: I'll give you a dollar if you can name who's in the this year's playoffs. Another buck if you can tell me who won last year's WNBA championship. (Hint: Phoenix Mercury).

THE HOT LIST: DOLPHINS VS. THE STATE: How Miami has fared in NFL regular-season and playoff games vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and today's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. All are regular season except 2000 playoff loss to Jags:

                      MIA W-L      Wins                           Losses

Vs. JAC             4-4           2003-09-12-14           1998-00-06-15

Vs. TB               5-5           1976-85-88-91-09     1982-97-00-05-13

                     Seasons        Playoffs        Championships

MIA                49                22                2: 1972, 73

TB                  39                10                1: 2002

JAC                20                 6                 0

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 21, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 35.9%; plus UM beats Nebraska 36-33 in OT; also FIU wins, other state Collball Week 3, early verdict on new Herald look & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami Herald redesign with poll, NFL Week 2 picks, Seminoles & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Canes-Nebraska game column: Find our in-game blog directly below the new CSM poll. Click on This Won't Help Golden Much for my game column from the stadium, newly online.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 35.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame 1aa1acsmpoll, and they show 35.9 percent overall satisfaction (a combination of "very"and "somewhat" satisfied votes) in the wake of Saturday's 36-33 overtime victory over visiting Nebraska putting UM's season record at 3-0. The CSM, in its seventh 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, this 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 a.m. today/Monday.

2015 CSM Results

Game 1: 62.3% (following 45-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman)

Game 2: 34.2% (following 44-20 victory at Florida Atlantic)

Game 3: 35.9% (following 36-33 OT victory vs. Nebraska)

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game at Cincinnati)

Interpreting the latest vote: Majority dissatisfaction over UM's blown 23-point lead was balanced by the ultimate win and by the 3-0 record for a slight favorable bump in the overall approval rating. Still significantly below what you'd think the record would indicate, with Al Golden's unpopularity a major factor.

G3: HURRICANES 36, NEBRASKA 33 (FINAL/OT): UNRANKED? NO MATTER. IT WAS A HUGE GAME: Final: Miami led 14-0 fast and then 30-10 and then blew it and saw Nebraska force overtime before surviving 36-33. Wow. So much to like, so much not to. I'll have my game column online soon. ..... Overtime: What an escape! UM wins 36-33 on Michael Badgley 28-y FG after a Corn Elder INT thwarts Nebraska's drive to start OT. That is correct: A team named Cornhuskers were just beaten by a man named Corn. ..... Fourth Q: The unthinkable just happened. Nebraska tied it 33-33 with an 8-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion with 33 seconds to play. Overtime. Nightmare. ... Uh oh. Cornies within 33-25 on 21-y TD pass with 3:46 left. Miami can't possibly blow this game. can it? ... NEB within 33-18 on 10-yard TD pass and 2-point conversion with 8:36 left. ... UM settles for a fourth FG to make it 33-10. Kaaya up to 366 yards, a career high, still with 11 minutes left. ... Kaaya throws end-zone interception, his first turnover of season. ..... Third Q: Deon Bush pickoff for Miami defense brings third quarter to a close. ... UM settles for 41y FG and 30-10 lead after holding penalty negates 19y Mark Walton scoring run. ... Nebraska bags first TD, moves within 27-10 on 22-y pass mid-quarter. ... UM up 27-3 quickly on Joe Yearby's tackle-busting 41-y scoring run. ..... Halftime: Kaaya with 226 yards passing and two TDs and dominant defense spell the first half. Now we see if UM can pull away and make it an impressive rout, or allow a Cornhuskers comeback. ..... Second Q: Huge INT by Artie Burns, his third already this season, for Miami. NEB was driving, threatening to pull within 20-10 and make a game of it late in half. ... Cornies get on board with 49y FG, Canes counter with 27-yard for 20-3 lead. Settled, though, wasting a 53-yard Kaaya completion to Rashawn Scott. ..... First Q: UM adds FG for 17-0 lead. Near-perfect quarter for The U. Three for three on scoring drives; three Nebraska punts. ... Told ya so! Said Brad Kaaya would have a huge day against Nebraska's lousy pass-D and already in the first quarter it's 14-0 on his 10-y TD pass to Chris Herndon and then his 11-y strike to Tyre Tyre Brady. ..... Original post: You know that Nebraska is 1-1 under a new coach, that Miami is 2-0 over little guys Bethune-Cookman and FAU, that neither team is ranked and that both programs are trying to recapture their old mojo and get back to who they 1aa1acanesnebwere. You also know none of that will seem to matter today when the ball kicks off at 3:30 in Miami Gardens. It will feel big. Special. It will be Nebraska's first trip here since the '95 Orange Bowl. It will be a rematch of a titan series that provided UM three of its five national championships and Nebraska one of its five. OK. That's enough with nostalgia, backstory and hype. On to this game! It's seen as a tossup, with Miami favored by three points based on the home field. But that's guesswork because this will be UM's first 2015 test against someone its own size, someone capable of beating the Canes. But will the Cornhuskers win? No. Nebraska has a porous secondary that has given up almost 700 yards passing (692) in its first two games. Brad Kaaya should have a huge day. Miami will show more on offense and defense than we have yet seen in what will be the coming-out party for the '15 Canes. Because of that, the pressure is all on UM, the home favorite. Of course that means the pressure is all on coach Al Golden, as usual. The legitimate rap on Golden is he hasn't won the biggest games in his four-plus seasons here -- that he lacks "signature win"-type victories. This would fit the category, silence the critics if even for a little while. Nebraska may be 1-1, but the stage is big. ABC is televising. The crowd could approach a sellout. Anticipation has been high. Bigger tests lay ahead, yes, but for UM and Golden, shouldn't the credit for winning today mirror what the damnation would be for losing? My pick: Hurricanes 34-23.

Other college Week 3 state FBS games (in order of kickoff time; all today unless noted):

No. 9 Florida State 14, Boston College 0: A rarity last night. Noles win with defense!

Maryland 35, South Florida 17: Flat roadie for now 1-2 Bulls.

Buffalo 33, FAU 15: Owls stay winless with very disappointing home result.

Furman 16, UCF 15: Stunning, embarrassing home loss has Knights 0-3.

FIU 39, North Carolina Central 14: Panthers now 2-1. QB Alex McGough? Not bad!

Florida 14, Kentucky 9: Florida won a 29th straight game over KY. Some doubted they would. Not me.

Poll result: Reaction mixed to Herald's new look: We invited you to weigh in on the Miami Herald's re-design that debuted this week, and it was 37.6 percent positive, 40.0% negative and 22.4% "still not sure."

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 18, 2015

Do you like the Miami Herald's new redesigned look? New poll. Vote now!; plus Hurricanes-Nebraska hype video, list of UM's 21 current NFL starters, NFL Week 2 picks, Canton betting odds, FSU tonight & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. Dolphins DE Cam Wake and S Reshad Jones both questionable for Sunday with hamstring injuries, although, in the NFL, "questionable" usually means they'll play. 2) Sorry we've been a bit stagnant with the blog this week; been under the weather. 3) Click on Random Evidence for the farewell collector's edition of our last Sunday notes column. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Butch Davis invades Al Golden's backyard, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Headline: 'Russian Pranksters Fool Elton John With Fake Phone Call from Vladimir Putin.' My reaction: "Who knew Russia had pranksters?" --Greg Cote

Top party schools: Noles No. 3: Playboy's dubious annual list of Top Party Schools is out, with a Top 5 of Ohio U., Iowa, Florida State, Tulane and Illinois. Click here for the full list. FSU ranked that high is a surprise, considering Jameis Winston left.

I LIKE THE HERALD'S NEW REDESIGNED LOOK. DO YOU?: I've been known to complain, even to occasionally say and write things about the Miami Herald that annoy my bosses. For example, when we 1aa1aheraldchanged the website last fall in a way that fundamentally discouraged comments in blogs, I hated that and said so. This week we changed the look of both the print (newspaper) and digital (online) Herald, and I think it looks terrific. Congrats to all involved. I like the emphasis on visual presentation and the compatibility across all formats. Also like the emphasis and on our personalities and other things unique to the Herald. Honestly, you can get basic news anywhere. But you can't get Leonard Pitts and Carl Hiaasen and our investigative journalism anywhere else, for example. Still getting used to the near-lifesize, full-length photo of me that now runs with my columns, but that's another story. Hey, we need to change, improve. We're fighters. We don' quit. We are an industry adapting to evolving, turbulent times for the business. I think this week is a positive step. Do you? I know change is often hard. Our knee-jerk reaction is often to not like it, to resist. We like things we're used to. With that understanding, I'm curious how you feel about the new look. Vote and say why.

UPSET BIRD DAY/NFL WEEK 2: Our 25th Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions got off to a boffo start last week with an 11-5 mark overall and 10-5-1 vs. the spread. [Boffo: Slang adjective, now 1aa1afripixrarely used, meaning extremely successful; great]. Week 2 took off swell as well as I bull's-eyed last night's outright Broncos upset at Kansas City. Did I get lucky? Lucky schmucky. Those breaks go both ways. I'll take it. Click on Week 2 Gems for all our latest NFL picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins handle Jax easily, Pats turn back Rex Ryan in Game of the Week, and Lions win at Minny in Upset of Week. Also click on Canes' NFL Influence Is Graying for my accompanying Friday Page column. I examine the state-college players currently on rosters, and list the dozen players (10 UM, 1 FIU, 1 FAU) from SoFla schools who are both current starters and have made at least one Pro Bowl. Our observation: the top Canes are a graying lot (think Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork) that could use replenishing. Only LSU with 40 has more than UM's 38 active NFL'ers, a list infused with this year's seven drafted rookies. But the Canes are looking for their next big star. The youngest Pro Bowl Cane is Jimmy Graham (who wasn't even a football recruit). Who's next? See The List below for the Canes' 21 current NFL starters.

Canton betting odds: Via sportsbettingdime.com, favorites for the next Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class are Brett Favre at a should-be-off-the-board 1-25, Orlando Pace at 1-3, Kevin Greene at 1-3, Kurt Warner at 5-6, Marvin Harrison at 2-3 and Tony Dungy at 2-3. (I'm not nearly that certain on Greene). Reasonable longshots are Terrell Davis 2-1, Don Coryell 5-2, Roger Craig 3-1, Terrell Owens 10-3 and ex-Cane Edgerrin James 4-1.

CANES-HUSKERS HYPE VIDEO: If you're not already pumped for UM-Nebraska tomorrow a 1-minute video might not help, but here's one anyway, via The U today:

 THE LIST: HURRICANES STARTERS IN THE NFL: There are 38 former Hurricanes on current NFL rosters. Here, by team, are the 21 (on 15 teams) who are listed as starters on their team's current depth chart:

ARI: DE Calais Campbell

ATL: P Matt Bosher, RET Devin Hester

BUF: OT Seantrel Henderson

CAR: TE Greg Olsen

CHI: P Pat O'Donnell, S Antrel Rolle

GB: CB Sam Shields

HOU: DT Vince Wilfork

IND: RB Frank Gore, WR Andre Johnson

JAC: WR Allen Hurns, OG Brandon Linder

KC: DE Allen Bailey

MIA: RB Lamar Miller, DE Olivier Vernon

NYG: LB Jon Beason, OT Ereck Flowers

OAK: LB Ray-Ray Armstrong

SD: OG Orlando Franklin

SEA: TE Jimmy Graham

SEMINOLES FACING UPSET?: No. 9-ranked Florida State is a modest 7 1/2-point favorite at 2-0 Boston College tonight at 8, and an upset would not shock me. (Surprise, yes. Shock, no). Fans of the Miami Hurricanes, who visit FSU Oct. 10, will be scout-watching keenly on ESPN.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 17, 2015

May be unintentional, but Butch Davis just turned up the heat on Al Golden; plus Broncos-Chiefs pick, Ryan Tannehill's burden, Ron Turner, SOPY Week 2 standings, Yelich's doppelganger, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. I'm holed up in Friday Page Headquarters today calling forth my NFL Week 2 picks. 2) Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Redskins, DSM poll, Hot Button, goodbye-notes-column explainer & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our two most recent columns: Click on Tannehill's Test for today's latest column on how it's on Ryan Tannehill and nobody else to make the Dolphins a playoff team. Click on Enjoy The Wins for my previous column, admonishing Dolphins and Hurricanes fans to spend more time feeling good about their teams' winning starts and less less time kvetching and finding fault.

On FIU's Ron Turner: USAFootball.com has a fairly interesting, in-depth new feature story on FIU coach Ron Turner. Click here to read.

Broncos-Chiefs tonight: Upset!: Click on Thursday Gem for the full prediction capsule. 

BUTCH DAVIS SUBTLY TURNS UP THE HEAT ON AL GOLDEN: It may mean nothing in terms of his desire to get back into college coaching, but I find it interesting that, quietly this week, Butch Davis accepted 1aa1abdavisthe job of honorary chairman of the Miami Beach Bowl's new 16-member Bowl Game Committee. Davis (pictured) is in his second year as an ESPN college football studio analyst but it is an open secret among those who know him that he wants back into coaching and would be receptive to coming back to the University of Miami, which he coached in 1995-2000, should UM make a change and move on from Al Golden after this season. The interest, at least among UM fans, may be mutual. We have seen 'Bring Back Butch' signs at games.' Last week a small plane pulled a banner over the game at FAU that read, 'Make Miami Great Again -- Butch Davis 2016.' Davis' involvement with the Miami Beach Bowl, even if mostly ceremonial, increases his visibility right in Golden's backyard. "It's a great honor," Davis said of his new role. "I look forward to contributing where I can and connecting with the local college football fan base and business community." Suffice to say he may be getting an earful from that fan base and those business leaders along the lines of please-come-back-Butch. I'm not cynical enough to think that is why Davis took on this local role ... or naive enough to think it never crossed his mind.

SOPY: NOLES' DALVIN COOK TAKES WEEK 2 LEAD; TWO CANES CRASH TOP 10: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings -- State Offensive Player of the Year -- are off and rocking with Florida State 1AA1ACOOKDALVINrunning back Dalvin Cook out of Miami Central High (pictured) our new "state Heisman" leader after Week 2. Two Canes bust into the Top 10 including Joe Yearby at No. 3. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 2:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 2

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W2        Season

1 (2)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             284        465

2 (7)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         172.5     320.5

3 (--)         Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       255        309

4 (5)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb    112.5     264

5 (6)          Greg Howell, FAU-rb            113        263

6 (--)         Thomas Owens, FIU-wr         178        256 

7 (1)          Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      11.5       252

8 (3)          Everett Golson, FSU-qb         72.5       247.5

9 (--)         Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           143.5     242

10 (8t)       Will Grier, Florida-qb            97.5       240.5 

Bubble: Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb, 235. Other team leader: Jordan Akins, UCF-wr, 164. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 284 (Wk2). Note: All teams 2 games each. Past SOPY champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb.

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

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 1: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL 1aa1afripix 1aa1alobosweekend with our published predictions and with our two fantasy teams. Pix: Strong start!: Opened 11-5 overall and (better yet) 10-5-1 vs. the spread. That included outright upsets by Chiefs and 49ers and Giants-with-points. Fantasy/family league: Big opener: The original Greg's Lobos won 144-117 in our family league, led by Carlos Hyde's 32 points. Fantasy/radio league: Not so good: The new Lobos lost 142.3-116.7 in the radio-show league. Travis Kelce bagged 28.6 but not enough help. Plus Dez Bryant got hurt. Oy.

1aa1acyelichYELICH FINDS HIS DOPPELGANGER: Young Marlins star Christian Yelich resembles Saturday Night Live player Pete Davidson (or vice versa), and the two came together, pictured right, before last night's Mets game in New York. Any dose of fun to make The Lost Season seem a bit brighter is OK by me.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 14, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 31.0%; plus Radio Tuesday, Dolphins beat Redskins 17-10, Fins on Forbes $$ list, Dee Gordon honored, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), farewell Sunday notes column & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. Good morning!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. See the bottom of this blogpost for an explainer. 2) Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton on Friday's 44-20 Canes win. And see previous blogpost for first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM wins at FAU, CSM poll, Upset Bird Day in America, LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Marlins' Gordon honored, twice: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon received two nice award nominations today: For the Robert Clemente Award for sportsmanship, and for the MLBPA Marvin Miller Award. He's also still fighting (currently down seven points) for the NL batting title.

Dolphins mid-pack on franchise value list: Forbes' latest list has Dolphins as NFL's 16th-most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion. Click Money List for full rankings. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 31.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 17-10 Dolphins 1aa1adsmvictory at Washington. The DSM, in its eighth year, 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 will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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)

G1: DOLPHINS 17, WASHINGTON 10 (Final): SEASON OF (FAIRLY) GREAT EXPECTATIONS BEGINS WITH ROAD WIN: Final: Miami christens its 50th season right with 17-10 win at Washington. Reminded me a little of UM beating FAU the other night. Shaky early, but the better team emerging. Dolphins offense wasn't great today and defense was less than perfect against the run. But! Two interceptions by Miami's defense and a huge 69-yard punt-return score by Jarvis Landry made the difference. ..... Fourth Q: Miami stops a Skins 4th-and-7 from MIA 20. Fins in charge. ... Huge! McCain INT at Fins 2 denies a Skins threat. ... MIA with its first lead at 17-10 on Landry's 69-yard TD return of a punt. Money! ... Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Franks' short FG, but you gotta go into end zone on 4th and goal! MIA squanders red-zone chance to take lead. ... Third Q: Scoreless third, but Fins on the move. ... Oy! LT Albert injured, but walks off field on own, a good sign. ... Ugh. Tanny stripped of ball and loses fumble on half's opening series. ..... Dolfans Halftime: Dolfans should feel lucky to only be down 10-7. No cause for panic, but Fins must shore up their run defense in second half. ..... Second Q: Finally! Life for Fins! MIA within 10-7 on Tanny's 3y TD toss to Matthews just before half. ... Tanny misses a wide-open Stills. Hasn't been as accurate yet today as in preseason. ... Dolphins down 10-0 as defense beat up for 17-yard drive. Reed 3y TD catch over a fallen Jones ends series. ... Miami wastes the Grimes INT, denied on 4th-and-1 from Skins 12. Ballsy call; gave up an near-certain tying FG. ... TE Sims out injured trying to catch an end-zone overthrow by Tannehill. ... Grimes interception! MIA at WAS 21. ..... First Q: Olivier Vernon ankle injury; iffy return. ... Fins offense on field for only 5 plays in first quarter. Ugh. ... MIA catches small break in final seconds when Skins go wide right on 46y FG try. ... Fins fail to convert a 3rd-and-1. Not the opening quarter of Dolfans' dreams. ... Miami down 3-0 early is no worry. But the early run-defense is. ..... Pregame: I love that Your Friend The Media is making such a deal of Jarvis Landry and LaMike James having a minor shove-exchange four days ago. Zero bearing on what happens today. ..... Original post: As the Dolphins launch their 50th franchise season we bring you true math, NFL style: One season of unusually high hopes + one a bad opponent = one opener Miami really needs to win. The air would seep 1aa1adolredout of Dolfans' optimism like it does footballs on the Patriots sideline, only moreso, if Miami somehow falls flat today in Landover, Md. I doubt that happens. I'm sold on these Dolphins as a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill's multi-weaponed offense should not have a problem motoring and flying all over the field today, and the Ndamukong Suh-infused 1aa1adolredqbsdefense should make it a daytime nightmare for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. (Tannehill and Cousins are pictured left). See it as a comfy win, maybe even a rout. This isn't Bethune-Cookman to the Hurricanes as season openers go, but if there were gimmies in the NFL, Washington would be close to one. Now let's quantify why winning one's season opener is so important. Quick history lesson: Super Bowl winners were 39-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 26 times (61.5%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971. Join us back here during the game for a live running commentary.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open 50th season right at Washington: Miami’s season of unusually high hopes and uncommonly buoyant fan optimism opened Sunday with a 17-10 win over a Redskins team seen as not very good. We’ve seen the Dolphins live down to expectations a lot since their last playoff win in 2000. Now we see if they can live up to expectations for a change.

2. HURRICANES: UM surges late past FAU, awaits visit by Nebraska: Canes rallied from a second-half tie to win at FAU 44-20 in Howard Bowl II, leaving many fans displeased. Miami is 2-0, albeit vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Owls. UM's real season starts this coming Saturday at home vs. Nebraska. This is when Al Golden turns down the heat a little, or starts to feel it singe.

3. NFL: Win by Patriots (fittingly) opens King Sport's season: Patriots and Tom Brady won the last game in 2014 and the first in '15, with Deflategate talk book-ending both games but evidently not bothering either. Now we booked the first Sunday of the regular season -- a de facto national holiday in America. By the way, Roger Goodell came out of hiding in Chicago.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Opens ends without a Grand Slam by Serena: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for men's title Sunday, but the women's side was the talk of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams fell short of sport's first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, but another great story took its place as little-known Italian Flavia Pennetta, 33, won the Open and then retired, redefining "going out on top."

5. MARLINS: Jose's back, but it isn't looking good for Giancarlo: Jose Fernandez won Saturday in his return and is now 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. With this team though, the news is never all good. As Fish wrapped up homestand Sunday and now hit the road relegated to playing spoilers in a spoiled season, it's looking more and more like we won’t see Giancarlo Stanton again until Opening Day 2016.

6. HEAT: Riley really liking Heat roster as training camp nears: As Miami prepares to open its preseason training camp on Sept. 29, club prez Pat Riley said this week he thinks the Heat has "all the elements of a championship team." Hmm. That would be somewhat of a surprise to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who list Miami as the NBA’s ninth favorite at 40-1.

7. FIU: Hopes for second straight road upset wither in Indiana: After winning at Central Florida to open the season, FIU fell Saturday at Indiana 36-22. Glass half-full: Well, unbeaten for a week is better than not unbeaten for a week.

8. PANTHERS: NHL club to open training camp, exhibition play: Hockey's about back. The Panthers open training camp this Thursday and then play their first exhibition game next Sunday. This season, players swear, they'll make the playoffs. One of these years, by dumb luck, they may be right.

9. LEBRON JAMES: He's back in Miami. Temporarily: LeBron is Miami with several Cavaliers teammates this week for pre-training camp workouts. Heat fans aren’t sure whether to chase LeBron outta town with torches and pitchforks, or kidnap him and beg him to stay.

10. BOXING: Mayweather wins final (?) fight: Miamian Andre Berto lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather says it was his last fight. The national group, People Who Believe Him, meets tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Alex Rodriguez ties Hank Aaron with 15th 30-homer season. A-Rod’s steroids-free comeback year has been a marvel. The downside: Much tougher for me to make fun of him. ... R.I.P., Moses Malone. ... Speculation on the Marlins’ next manager heats up. The front-runner: Anybody but Dan Jennings. ... NBA will henceforth seed playoff teams by their records, not by division finish. The NFL would do that, too, but it makes too much sense. ... NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup begins next Sunday in Chicago, a nine-race tournament leading to the Nov. 22 championship race here. This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota. ... Just read about something called a trumpetfish. My first reaction? Donald Trump bought a species and named it after himself. ... Reds had a Pete Rose Bobblehead Night on Saturday. The Rose figurine bobbles its head and then places 100 large in the fifth race.

FAREWELL, RANDOM EVIDENCE: Random Evidence, my long-running, fun-seeking Sunday notes column after which this blog was named, ends with today's column (link above). That's because the Herald prefers I instead write a general sports column on Sundays moving forward to coincide with a dramatic redesign that will debut with this Wednesday's newspaper. Part of the notes column still will run on Sundays in print: Our weekly Top 5 list. Many of the other notes I once saved for Sundays I'll now write throughout the week on Twitter or in this blog, so rest assured our followers @gregcote and our blog family won't miss a thing. My innate need to poke gentle fun at Jeffrey Loria and others will not be denied! Meanwhile we'll continue to have the Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in the blog (sort of our Top 5 list on steroids), and Sunday's Hot List from the paper will become a blog feature starting next week. You got all that!?

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...