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17 posts from November 2015

November 29, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.7%; plus UM wins at Pitt 29-24 to end regular season 8-4; also 'Noles crush Gators, NFL Week 12 picks, bacon underwear & more

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

1) It is SATURAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all are having a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend! 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our Thanksgiving Day column, Bird Day NFL predictions & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

My Thanksgiving column: ICYMI, our Thanksgiving Day column seemed to strike a chord based on overwhelming positive email response. Click on Being Thankful In These Times to read.

Our UM-Pitt postgame thoughts: Find our in-game blog and UM-Pitt postgame thoughts below, directly beneath the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. (There will be an additional, final CSM poll following the bowl game).

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 76.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 76.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 29-24 victory at Pitt putting UM's final regular-season Csmrecord at 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the ACC. 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/Sunday.

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)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Game 12: 76.7% (following 29-24 victory at Pitt)

Next/final poll: Following bowl game, date to be determined. 

G12: HURRICANES 29, PITT 24: UM COULD NOW BE STRONG BET FOR PINSTRIPE BOWL INVITE: Postgame thoughts: Miami squandered a 23-3 lead in the third quarter and made it a tad too close for comfort toward the end; still, a 29-24 road win over favored Pitt is a nice way to end the regular season. UM will go bowl-ing at 8-4, including a 4-1 marks since interim coach Larry Scott replaced the fired Al Golden. A typically solid day from QB Brad Kaaya today with 261 yards passing, augmented by 99 rushing from Joe Yearby and five field goals from Michael Badgley, who set a UM record for most FGs in a season. Defense was dominant early but beaten against the run late. All in all, a strong afternoon for The U. ..... Halftime thoughts: Not displeased to point out I'm dead wrong on my pregame prediction thus far. UM defense is dominating, limiting Pitt to 102 total yards off offense in a 23-3 game at the half. Canes have rolled up 248 yards with the ball, led by Brad Kaaya's 166 yards passing. ..... Note: We'll be live-updating the score and key plays throughout today's game, and be back here with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the arrival of the latest postgame CSM poll. ..... Original post: Miami's 7-4 Hurricanes visit Pitt's 8-3 Panthers in a noon matinee today, with Pittsburgh a 7-point home favorite. A small example why: Pitt

Miapittrouted Duke, 31-13, the team UM needed a last-second miracle to beat. I expect a shootout, and give the Canes a fair upset shot. Miami, 3-1 under interim coach Larry Scott, has much to play for. The nine-win season still in play would equal Miami's best since joining the ACC in 2004. And a win over Pitt could very well vault UM into the preferred Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, a stage the Canes program would love. I have little doubt Brad Kaaya willl put up plenty of points today. But enough? I have greater concerns about Miami's defense, which has tended to struggle on the road and now faces a Pitt offense that has put up 106 points over the past three games. My pick: Pitt, 31-27.

Other college Week 13 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

South Florida 44, UCF 3: Bulls finish 8-4 after a Thursday rout ending Knights' futility at 0-12. South Florida will be in American conference championship game if UConn beat Temple on Saturday.

FAU 33, Old Dominion 31: If you're going to have a bad season, might as well end it with a nice lil' road win. Owls finish 3-9.

No. 14 Florida State 27, No. 8 Florida 2: Dalvin Cook and huge defense carried FSU tonight to an unexpected rout of Florida in the Swamp, leaving both teams 10-2. Florida State has now won past three over Gators and was a 2 1/2-point road favorite here. This was 16th time but only the third time since 2001 that the rivals had met with both in the Top 15. Seminoles all but assured themselves a New Year's bowl. UF going in still had hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff top four if they'd beaten FSU and then somehow beaten Alabama in the Dec. 5 SEC title game. Those dreams are done.

Note: FIU completed its season at 5-7.

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: We got off to a wobbly start to our week on Thanksgiving, going 1-2 straight-up and against the spread. Knew we took a big risk picking against FripixCarolina, but Green Bay losing at Lambeau? I'd pick Pack again in a heartbeat. Anyway, onward! Click on Week 12 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Notably: Ryan Tannehill's AFC East struggles continue in a Dolphins loss at Jets, and Broncos end Patriots perfection in our Game and Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click Oh, Johnny for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the gradual self-destruction of Johnny Manziel.

BACON-SCENTED UNDERWEAR: Ready to start your holiday shopping? Seattle-based J&D's Foods has announced the launch of bacon-scented underwear, which it calls "the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon." Safe bet, that one. Another bold claim: That this is the first line of apparel "marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat" to attain "the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants." Want some? They're $19.99 a pair at www.baconunderwear.com. All of this is for real, by the way. This is a blog! Could I say it if it weren't true?

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, all! A holiday column especially for this world and these times; plus NFL Bird Day predictions & more

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


1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26. Happy Thanksgiving, all! 2) I
The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' bonehead move on Hutton, best-of-unbeatens poll, Dolphins' All-50ers, Heat jersey faux pas, NFL Week 11 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

WITH APPRECIATION FOR MY READER FAMILY, A THANKSGIVING DAY COLUMN

Happytg          Is it harder to be thankful these days? Because of the way the world has turned? Because so many terrible headlines and sound bites and images from all over make us equal parts angry, depressed or anxious about the future? For those very reasons maybe our gratefulness is more important than ever on Thanksgiving Day 2015.

          We express appreciation on this day for the health and happiness of loved ones or for the bounty of food laid out before us. Give thanks this year for hope, too, and for faith in better days. Give thanks that our fundamental belief in the prevailing good of mankind may be shaken and tested but will not be taken from us. Not ever.

          Give thanks for all of the little stuff that make up the rhythm and pulse of our lives, the things too easily taken for granted. Because the bigger the problems in the world, the more we need that reassurance of the small delights in our own backyard.

          The unexpected courtesy of a door held open and a stranger bidding you good morning.

          The jumble of loving noise in your crowded house as the turkey roasts and a dozen people all talk at once in a quilt of conversations.

          The uncontrollable wag of your dog’s tail when you return home.

          Give thanks for the friend who beat cancer this year. And for the one who didn’t.

          Hug somebody. And if you aren’t a hugger, well … become one.

          Teach your kids that “please,” “thank you” and “I love you” are words that, said enough, have the power to illuminate darkness.

          Marvel that a lump of raw dough blooms into a crescent roll in 12 minutes.

          Notice the way a toddler doesn’t sit on a chair as much as climb up onto it.

          Don’t be too jaded to enjoy all of those cute-baby and funny-animal videos people post on Facebook that your wife constantly shows you as you pretend to roll your eyes.

          Don’t sweat the small stuff — appreciate it.

          Sports in particular challenge our thankfulness because complaint is the currency of most fans. The very nature of sports trades in disappointment more than joy. Doesn’t every NFL season end with one team happy and 31 others something less?

          We’re no different in South Florida, where complaint always seems to gain a higher volume than gratitude. Look around, though. After all, Thanksgiving’s greatest gift to us is not a full belly, but rather an excuse to reboot our optimism.

          The other day Don Shula, flanked by Bob Griese and Dan Marino, was honored during a Dolphins game, the trio representing a 33-year continuum of making Miami nothing but proud. Dolfans frustrated by the present at least can dip into that constant well of what was, the perfect well of cool spring water.

          Give thanks for one of the most exciting minutes in sports: when the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton steps into a batter’s box.

          Give thanks for those five Hurricanes national football championships in a 19-year span more than you bemoan the lack of a sixth. (And how about Jim Larrañaga shepherding a renaissance for Canes basketball!)

          Give thanks for the Heat’s young slam-dunking, shot-blocking savant, Hassan Whiteside, and for all of his promise. And to Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade, for all of their promises kept.

          Marvel that we luck to have two of their sport’s future Hall of Famers — the Panthers’ Jaromir Jagr and Marlins’ Ichiro — end their splendid careers here.

          Appreciate that every year the world’s greatest golfers come to Doral, the greatest tennis players nest on Key Biscayne, the best thoroughbreds race in Hallandale and the greatest NASCAR drivers run at Homestead.

          Be thankful that, though there no longer is an Orange Bowl stadium, the annual Orange Bowl game remains a vibrant tradition that this New Year’s Eve will host a College Football Playoff semifinal game.

          Thanks that old sporting legends like Shula, Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, Gardnar Mulloy and Howard Schnellenberger are still gracefully among us.

          And gratitude, finally — of course — to you readers of all kinds, but especially to those steadfast old-schoolers out there who still enjoy the soft rattle of a newspaper in their hands.

          The crazier the world may get, the more we are challenged to see the good in it — but that is a challenge we must forever accept.

          I hope the best in your world, like the best in mine, starts with the loved ones around your table on this special day.

          Happy Thanksgiving, all!

BIRD DAY NFL PICKS: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY: The end of bye weeks coinciding with the arrival of Thanksgiving always signals the unofficial start of the stretch run to an NFL season, the time when Fripixplayoff permutations loom into view. That all begins today with Week 12 and the 10th season of Bird Day tripleheaders. At my house, the timeline of football coincides perfectly with our holiday. The early game finds the bird roasting in the oven. The middle game finds us seated and saying grace. And the late game finds me dozing from an overdose of turkey-induced Tryptophan and Miller Lite. Today's theme must be Home For the Holiday, because I like all three home teams, meaning a first loss for Carolina. Click on Thanksgiving Day Gems for the full prediction capsules on all three of today's games.

Poll result: Warriors' perfect start trumps NFL's 2 unbeatens: We asked which of the three major unbeaten teams impresses you most, and it was Golden State Warriors 53.2 percent, Carolina Panthers 26.9% and New England Patriots 19.9%.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 25, 2015

Which of the 3 remaining unbeaten teams is most impressive? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat's rare faux pas, Marlins' latest bonehead move, Dolphins' All-50'ers, NFL Week 11 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25. See previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll. Ugh. They're bad. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Dallas and DSM poll, NASCAR in Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Club is marking its 50th anniversary season by revealing its all-time 50 greatest players in five-man groups. The latest: A.J. Duhe, Bruce Hardy, Jim Kiick, Nat Moore and Ed Newman. No arguments. Moore is the most obvious choice. Hardy probably is the weakest, but tight end historically hasn't been a great positions for Fins. 

A THANKSGIVING RARITY: THIS MUCH PERFECTION, THIS LATE: The Golden State Warriors have set an NBA record with their 16-0 start, completing nearly one-fifth of their season unbeaten. In the NFL the 10-0 New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers have gone 62.5 percent of the way to a perfect regular season. This marks the first time we have had two unbeaten football teams and one in basketball as late as Thanksgiving. Question: Which of the three impresses you most?

Heat786A RARE FAUX PAS BY THE HEAT: The Heat (unlike the Marlins and Dolphins) don't make many public-relations mistakes or missteps. The best pro team among us is also the best-managed and run. But this is a mistake: Selling apparel touting the local 786 area code instead of the 305. Both are accurate for Miami. The Heat's own main numbers start with 786. But, clearly, "the 3-0-5" -- phrase and number -- is the primary area code, is what Miami sports fans say and is what identifies us nationally. The area code apparel for all teams originates with the NBA, but the Heat obviously should have made certain 305 was the code chosen for Miami. You are officially allowed to mock anyone you see wearing one of the shirts pictured at right -- but gently, in an instructive, educational tone.

OH, MARLINS. HUTTON FIRING CLUB'S LATEST MISSTEP: I won't pile on and say the Marlins eff-up at every turn. Credit where it's do. They have a wonderful new(ish) ballpark. They shocked everybody with Huttonthat lucrative long-term deal for Giancarlo Stanton. They seemed to make a strong managerial hire this month in Don Mattingly. But that doesn't erase years of shake-your-head management and decisions -- the latest the out-of-the-blue firing last evening of popular TV analyst Tommy Hutton, the club's on-air voice for 19 years. No good reason was given. Hutton obviously was at times too honest for the Marlins in his criticism and commentary. We'll miss that passion from Hutton that occasionally erupted in volcanic rants. We'll miss his knowledge and credibility. We'll miss his candor. This is a wrong-headed, senseless, counter-productive decision by the Marlins ... just the latest move to shake the faith and trust of fans.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 10: PIX UPTURN, FANTASY MISERY!: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with Fripix
Lobosour two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: A modest upturn: We went 8-6 overall and 7-6-1 vs. the spread (Patriots pushed), which, mediocre as that is, merits a party compared to the previous week. Nailed outright upsets picks with wins by Lions and Packers, and also had 'dog Colts and Bucs with the points. Greg's Lobos / family league: Yet another loss: The original Lobos lost 111-74 to fall to 4-7, now two games off even a playoff-pace tiebreaker with three left in our regular season. Had nobody better than Darren McFadden's 18 points. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: No-bos. We're out: The LeBatard Show Lobos were eliminated by Billy, 194.5 to 129.9 in a two-week playoff. No MVL award; that's how badly we finished. When you barely get 10 combined points from Philip Rivers and Devonta Freeman, you're hurtin'. Onto the consolation-round playoffs. Oh, the indignity!

SOPY: IT'S TWO-MAN RACE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN' ENTERING FINAL WEEK: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- pares to a two-man race for the title Sopyentering the final week of the season. It's South Florida QB Quinton Flowers or Florida State RB Dalvin Cook for the crown. 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 entering Week 13:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 12

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W12        Season

1 (1)        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   155.5       1,872.5

2 (2)        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             123        1,784

3 (3)        Alex McGough, FIU-qb          50.5       1,594

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          156        1,392.5

5 (5)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          118        1,324

6 (6)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             95         1,262

7 (7)        Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb        53        1,161

8 (9)        Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       123        1,052

9 (8)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      95         1,051 

10 (10)      Everett Golson, FSU-qb         31.5       921

Bubble: Treon Harris, Florida-qb, 862.5 Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 781. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 290 (Wk11). Note: FIU has played 12 games and completed season; all others have played 11.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (10-1); 2. Florida State (9-2); 3. Miami (7-4); 4. South Florida (7-4); 5. FIU (5-7); 6. FAU (2-9); 7. UCF (0-11).

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 24, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%; plus Miami falls to Cowboys, new Hot Button Top 10 (uypdated), Kyle Busch wins NASCAR crown at Homestead, UM hoops' big win & more

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

JFK1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22. See previous blogpost for results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll. 2) Fifty-two years ago yesterday, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Pray for Paris and for peace on Earth, but remember JFK, too. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes host Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball, UM next-coach verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Hurricanes men's basketball rockets from unranked to No. 15 today in new Associated Press poll.

Gordon's career trumps Busch's crown at Homestead: Click on End of the Rainbow for my column from the racetrack on Jeff Gordon, who ran his final NASCAR race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 3.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 24-14 home loss to Dallas putting Miami's season record at 4-6. 1aadsm
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 day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:15 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)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Next poll: Nov. 29 (following game at N.Y. Jets)

G10: DALLAS 24, DOLPHINS 14: NOT ENOUGH OFFENSE AS MIAMI PLAYOFF HOPES TAKE A HIT: Final thoughts: Miami falls to 4-6 and sees its wild-card hopes take a hit today because of a reason that has been common this season: Too little offense. Two touchdowns won't win many games, especially when your QB, Ryan Tannehill, gives the other team six free points on a pick-six interception. The result was fair. Miami was dominated in many ways, in total yards 386-210 and in first downs 22-9. The Fins converted only one of 10 third downs. A disappointing home loss in what had (in terms of betting odds) been a dead-even game going in. ..... Halftime: A mostly absymal first half by Miami in rainy Miami, but sunshine beamed in on the Fins late. Team doing nothing offensively until the final drive, when Ryan Tannehill's 47-yard strike to Jarvis Landry set up a 12-yard TD throw to Jordan Cameron. Defense doing OK. Only has given up one TD, considering Tanny's pick-six accounts for half of Dallas' points. ..... Note: I'm writing from NASCAR in Homestead today but will be updating Dolphins score live throughout today's game and be back with halftime and postgame thoughts prior to the posting of the new DSM poll. ..... Original post: Isn't often two teams with a combined record of 6-12 present a game as tasty as this one. Miami at 4-5 doesn't enjoy much margin of error, so call today a must-win for the Dolphins, realistically if not literally. The Dolcowopponent, despite its sorry record, arrives dangerously revitalized by the return from injury of its star, and brings with it the swagger of "America's Team" and its many fans. It will be very difficult today for the Dolphins to sack Tony Romo on account of that hero’s white steed he’s riding in on. They’ll have to tackle the horse, too, I guess. Dallas went a season-ruining 0-7 with their QB out with a broken collarbone but gets him back just in Romotantime for Miami. Romo has not shied from portraying himself in the savior’s robe, even knowing Dallas likely must finish on a 7-0 run for a playoff shot. This week he tweeted the scene from the movie Major League with the line, "Well, then I guess there’s only one thing left to do … win the whole [bleep]ing thing." A 2-7 team on the road with an even betting line further indicates Joe Public is buying into the Romo-savior myth. It won’t happen, though. Dallas won’t make the playoffs. I doubt they’ll win today, either. I see a pumped-up, sold-out crowd fomenting a palpable home-field advantage and inspiring a big, emotional effort from the Dolphins. Miami is the first NFL team since the 1970 merger to play in its home stadium only twice in the first 10 weeks. That and the marquee opponent should have Joe Robbie’s place rocking for Dallas’ first regular-season visit since 2007. These may be two teams with losing records, but it still feels like an "event" game. Adding to that: Don Shula, flanked by Bob Griese and Dan Marino, will be presented a special Hall of Fame ring in a halftime ceremony today. Key to the Fins winning will be much better pass defense than we’ve seen the past three games. A particular concern today is a depleted linebacking corps vs. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. But between Brent Grimes’ return and Romo’s rust, I see the big home crowd leaving happy. My pick: Dolphins, 27-23.

KYLE BUSCH WINS RACE, SEASON TITLE BUT IT'S JEFF GORDON'S DAY AT HOMESTEAD: Update: Kyle Busch wins NASCAR season Sprint Cup championship by finishing ahead of the three other qualifiers for the title. Busch won the race, with Kevin Harvick second, sentimental favorite Jeff Gordon sixth, and Martin Truex Jr. 12th. The night was about the season crown, and whether Gordon, in his last race, could write the perfect ending to his storied career. Original post: I'm down at Homestead-Miami Speedway today columnizing on NASCAR's Championship Sunday, because it is an event of greater national scope than the Dolphins-Cowboys game (and will draw a bigger crowd, too). It is bigger than even a typical Sprint Cup finale, because this one is Jeff Gordon's farewell ride before retiring to the TV booth. Gordon (pictured), defending series champ Kevin Harvick, bad-boy Kyle Busch and designated-underdog Martin Truex Jr. are the four drivers in the full field who'll be competing for the season title, a great mix. My preview column, online and in today's Miami Herald print editions, focuses on the 20th anniversary of the Homestead racetrack and how its origin helped lift a city from the ravages of Hurricane Andrew. Today's race is big. What this track meant and means to Homestead is bigger. Click on Saving A City to read the column in full. Race starts at 3, presuming good weather. Rain, rain, stay away. Vroooom!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 22): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Mondays) 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NASCAR: Kyle Busch wins season crown, Gordon bids farewell at Homestead: Imagine. Jeff Gordon, set to retire, runs his final race and in it dramatically wins his fifth NASCAR title and first since 2001. If only. Kyle Busch won it all Sunday night to deny Gordon the perfect ending to his career.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami falls to Romo, Cowboys: Tony Romo played Sunday for first time since Sept. 20 as "America's Team" came to town in a rare visit — Dallas was last here in 2007. Lots of hoopla. Almost forgot. Fins needed to win to bolster fading playoff hopes. They did not, falling 24-14.

3. HEAT: Whiteside's Block Party highlights early season: Miami avoiding a loss to winless Philly Saturday allows us to spotlight sensation Hassan (Sultan of Swat) Whiteside, whose 58 blocked shots in 12 games are on pace to be NBA's highest per-game average since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1989-90. 

4. HURRICANES: UM whips Georgia Tech in home finale: As UM searches for its next coach, there is plenty left to play for. Saturday's 38-21 win over Georgia Tech and this Friday at Pitt will determine whether Canes are invited to a bowl game you don't care about or one you barely care about.

5. UM BASKETBALL: Canes win Puerto Rico tournament: Big week for UM hoops. The 2016 recruiting class added two big prizes, and Canes beat No. 22 Butler last night 85-75 in final of Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament after earlier beating No. 16 Utah 90-66. Canes now 5-0 and up to No. 15 in AP poll. Hey, can Jim Larrañaga coach the football team, too!?

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Ohio State loss shakes up the CFP: College Football Playoff will have a new-look top four after Ohio State's loss Saturday. The national group, People Who Feel Sorry For Urban Meyer, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth.

7. FAU: Almost as lowly Owls take Gators to OT: Top-ten Florida would prevail 20-14 in overtime Saturday but it was a Swamp scare from now 2-8 Florida Atlantic. I'm not big on moral victories/good losses, but this performance by Owls was bigger than any win in program history.

8. PANTHERS: Trying to keep the faith at the quarter mark: Roughly one-fourth into the NHL season, Florida has played 20 games and won eight entering Monday's date with the L.A. Kings here. Cats not currently on playoff pace. Or, by now, did that go without saying?

9. MARLINS: Jose Fernandez trade rumors swirling: Much media speculation lately about Marlins shopping ace Jose Fernandez, as well as reports he has an attitude problem. Of course it would make no sense to trade Fernandez for at least two more seasons. Then again, these are the Marlins.

10. SOCCER: Latest 'El Clasico' chapter a rout: Barcelona thumps Real Madrid 4-0 Saturday in an El Clasico rout being seen as exemplifying "team" triumphing over "individuals." The three times many Americans pay attention to soccer: World Cup, Olympics, Barca-Real.

Missing the cut: Miguel Cotto vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for middleweight title. Smart on that nickname. Fighters named Saul don't scare anybody ... Steph Curry and Golden State improve to 15-0 ... FIU loses finale, misses bowl eligibility ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers fire coach Gunter Kronsteiner. Again. Who owns that team? Jeffrey Loria? ... MLB post-season awards ... David Ortiz to retire after '16 season ... Florida Sports Hall of Fame inductees ... Track & Field governing body suspends Russia for doping. Shocker!

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 21, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 63.4%; plus UM bops Ga-Tech 38-21, Gators escape FAU in OT, FIU routed, your odd love of Butch Davis & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21. Pray for Paris, and for peace on Earth. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes next-coach poll, Hassan Whiteside's shot-blocking in historical perspective, NFL Week 11 predix & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our UM-Georgia Tech postgame thoughts: Find them below in our live in-game blog, directly beneath the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 63.4%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 63.4 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 38-21 home victory over Georgia Tech putting CsmUM's season record at 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. 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 8:45 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)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Game 11: 63.4% (following 38-21 victory vs. Georgia Tech)

Next poll: Nov. 27 (following regular-season finale at Pitt)

G11: HURRICANES38, GEORGIA TECH 21: KAAYA, DEFENSE LEAD BIG SHOWING IN HOME FINALE: Final thoughts: I was right in saying that Georgia Tech would get its rushing yards but that Miami could withstand and overcome that. And the Canes did. They did with Brad Kaaya passing for 300 yards. And they did with four defensive turnovers including one for six points. As it searches for a new head coach for next season UM, now 7-4, is jockeying for bowl position to make the most of this one heading into this coming Friday's regular season finale at Pitt. Today had to impress bowl scouts. What surely did not was the small crowd -- small even factoring in the rain and lightning delay. Bowls worry about how a team's fans "travel." I worry about why UM's fans don't even travel to home games. ..... Halftime thoughts: Impressive half by Miami, which gave up the first score and then reeled off 24 unanswered points. Brad Kaaya's 193 yards passing and two defensive takeaways -- one for a TD -- led the way. I though it was strange UM was an underdog today (see original post below) and Canes are proving me right so far. ..... Note: I'll have live score updates throughout the game and be back with halftime and postgame comments. ..... Original post: Georgia Tech is 3-7 (after a 2-0 start) and the Canes are 6-4 entering today's 12:30 p.m. home matinee -- and yet the Yellow Jackets are 2 1/2-point favorites. Hmm. The wiseguys who set the CanestechVegas odds are usually on the mark or close enough to be profitable, but this line seems weird to me. The visiting will miss a bowl game for the first time since 1996, while the home team will go bowling ... somewhere. (Pinstripe Bowl?) UM being a slight underdog may be easily explained, though. Ga-Tech isn't that bad; five of their losses have been by one score. They beat Florida State, 22-16. More than that, the one thing the Jackets still do right, even in the midst of a lost year, is run the ball. That triple-option of theirs is averaging a big 257 yards rushing per game. And Miami's run defense? It is on track to be the first in UM history to allow a 5-yard opponent average per run since (are you ready?) 1944! So that's it. Miami is a slight 'dog because nobody thinks they'll adequately stop that triple-option today. This is a factor, too. The wildly undisciplined Canes had 96 penalties entering this week to lead the nation, having not yet figured out they're not good enough to be their own worse enemy at times. Despite all this I like Miami today. Senior Day for the season's final home game will add a positive emotional element, and UM's offense will strafe GT's D enough to give up a ton of rushing yards and still prevail. My pick: Hurricanes, 27-23.

Other college Week 12 state FBS games (listed in chronology):

East Carolina 44, UCF 7: Thursday rout in Orlando left Knights 0-11 and one loss from winless season.

South Florida 65, Cincinnati 27: Bulls were 2-point home 'dogs but swamped Cincy Friday night to go to 7-4 and stay alive to reach American conference title game.

No. 8 Florida 20, FAU 14: (2-8) at No. 8 Florida (9-1), Saturday noon: The now 10-1 Gators were favored by 31 but need overtime to escape now 2-9 FAU in The Swamp, 20-14. Florida was likely on auto-pilot with FSU and then SEC title game on deck. Florida could still make College Football Playoff by running table, but barely getting by the Owls won't help. FAU now is 0-16 in its history vs. Top 25 teams, but this was its best showing. Today arguably was a bigger day for FAU football than any win the program has had.

Western Kentucky 63, FIU 7: Ugly. Ug-ly! Sorry, but continuing this game, at 63-7, after a lightning delay was cruel and unusual punishment for both FIU fans who stuck around. Panthers finish season 5-7, one win shy of a bowl.

No. 14 Florida State 52, Chattanooga 13: FSU cruises with a 9-2 record into next week's test with rival Florida Gators.

Poll result: The odd fascination with Butch Davis continues: We asked in previous blogpost who you like as next UM football coach from among eight candidates (including a "someone else" option), and Butch Davis romped with 49.7 percent. Only others with sizable, double-digit support were Mario Cristobal at 15.6% and Charlie Strong at 12.8%. (Totals are from earlier this morning; you may still vote).

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 20, 2015

Pulse Read: Who should be Hurricanes' next football coach? New poll. Vote now!; plus how Heat's Whiteside ranks among NBA's all-time great shot-blockers, Dolphins/NFL Week 11 picks & more

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

Paris1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20. The atrocity was one week ago. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Larranaga's winning stewardship of UM hoops, Dolphins' playoff chances, cheetah forecasts Homestead winner, David Beckham, SOPY standings, NFL Week 10 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

SmokePULSE READ: WHO SHOULD BE HURRICANES' NEXT FOOTBALL COACH?: UM athletic director Blake James didn't ask for your help but let's give it to him anyway as his hired search firm, Korn Ferry, sets out to present James a list of contenders to replace the dismissed Al Golden next season. Our ballot below includes seven alphabetically listed contenders. They include four men with Canes ties (Rob Chudzinski, Mario Cristobal, Butch Davis and Greg Schiano); the current interim coach (Larry Scott); and two guys who'd be intriguing possibilities if they part ways with their current teams (Mark Richt and Charlie Strong). Our poll also includes the occasionally very popular Someone Else. Who, right now, do you most support as next Canes coach? Vote and say why.

PUTTING HASSAN WHITESIDE'S SHOT-BLOCKING IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Hassan Whiteside, the HassanHeat's one-man SWAT Team, has 50 blocks in 11 games this season, impressive on its own. Break it down further and per 48 minutes, he is averaging 7.57. That's blocks per full game. His career average per 48 minutes is now 5.74 blocks. I wondered how that compared to the NBA's most prolific shot-blockers of all-time so I crunched the numbers. Here is how Whiteside ranks among the league's Top 12 in total blocked shots. I list them in order of blocks-per-48-minutes (BP48M), with their rank in total blocks in parentheses. The word is impressive:

Player                                BP48M

Mark Eaton (5)                    5.84

HASSAN WHITESIDE         5.74

Tree Rollins (10)                 5.08

Alonzo Mourning (12)         4.35

Dikembe Mutombo (2)        4.29

Hakeem Olajuwon (1)        4.16

David Robinson (7)             4.14

Patrick Ewing (8)               3.42

Artis Gilmore (4)                3.24

Shaquille O'Neal (9)           3.13

Tim Duncan (6)                  3.08

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3)   2.66

Robert Parish (11)              2.48

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 11 PICKS: Coming off a predictions week that, like the Washington team's nickname is probably best not mentioned, we got off to a strong Week 11 start last Fripixnight, nailing the Jaguars' win both outright and against the spread. Click on Week 11 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Tony Romo and Dallas; Arizona beats Cincy in Game of the Week; and it's Chargers over Chiefs in our Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on Upheaval Takes the Snap for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with the leaguewide tumult at the quarterback position. Here, Ryan Tannehill in his fourth season hasn't made a Pro Bowl or the playoffs yet, but give him this: He gives Miami stability most teams don't enjoy. Tanny starts his 58th consecutive game Sunday. Only nine other teams, of 32, have had "perfect attendance" at the QB posotion with the same starter in every game since 2012.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 19, 2015

UM's latest basketball recruiting gets a tribute to Larranaga's stewardship; plus Dolphins' playoff odds, David Beckham, cheetah picks NASCAR/Homestead winner, SOPY rankings, NFL Week 10 Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results & more

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

Paris1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 19. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) I'm back at Friday Page HQ today bringing forth my NFL Week 11 picks, girding loins for a better effort than last week. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's Titans-Jaguars pick. 3) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins win in Philly with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Fins in random fives are announcing the club's all-time 50 greatest players. The latest wave: Bob Brudzinski, Norm Evans, Mike Pouncey, Patrick Surtain and Jason Taylor. Taylor is obvious. Evans and Surtain are expected. Brudzinksi for me is borderline but I'm OK with it. Surprised by Pouncey mainly for the lack of longevity.

 "BeckhamDavid Beckham has been named People's latest 'Sexiest Man Alive.' Too bad he hasn't been named 'Most Successful Man Alive at Closing an MLS Stadium Deal in Miami.'" --Greg Cote

On Canes' coach-search: This week's latest column from me is on the Hurricanes' search to replace fired football coach Al Golden and his interim fill-in Larry Scott. UM must find a great coach whose strength is recruiting and the ability to win back the South Florida talent-market. The priority should not be appeasing fans by necessarily hiring someone with Canes ties. Click on Recruiting The Best to read the column in full.

CANES' BIG RECRUITING GETS A TRIBUTE TO LARRANAGA'S STEWARDSHIP: UM basketball's 2016 recruiting class soared into the national top 10 rankings with the addition this week of Miami Norland 6- Larranaga10 power forward Dewan Huell and Massachusetts 6-4 shooting guard Bruce Brown. The biggest schools in the sport, like Louisville and Kansas, were after Huell. It's a tribute to coach Jim Larranaga and where he has the Canes program now and where it is headed under his stewardship. In Larranaga and women's coach Katie Meier, UM has one of the elite coaching duos in the entire country. Rock solid. South Florida is in good shape generally at the coach level at the moment among our top teams. The Heat's Erik Spoelstra is excellent, the Marlins made a promising managerial hire in Don Mattingly, and it seems the Panthers finally have a guy they can win with in Gerard Gallant. The questions are in football. Will Dan Campbell be a keeper for the Dolphins or will a postseason search open? That's to be determined. And the Canes job is wide open, of course. The U would do well to make a hire even approaching the quality of what basketball has in Larranaga and Meier.

DOLPHINS PLAYOFF CHANCES: A PULSE, BUT STILL A FAINT ONE: Winning in Philadelphia elevated the Dolphins' playoff chances from negligible to small. The computers of makenflplayoffs.com put Miami's playoff likelihood at 12.7 percent and numberfire.com has it at 7.2% entering this coming weekend -- both ranking the Fins 12th in the jockeying for six AFC postseason tickets. Patriots, Bengals and Broncos are the consensus definitely-in picks. The 4-5-6 seeds will be Steelers, Bills and Colts according to makenflplayoffs, and Steelers, Colts and Jets according to numberfire.

CheetahCHEETAH FORECASTS NASCAR/HOMESTEAD WINNER: Sorry, storybook-ending fans. Retiring Jeff Gordon won't be going out a champion in Sunday's season-ending race south of Miami. Koda, a 2-year-old cheetah and official Zoo Miami "wildlife prognosticator," chose Kevin Harvick from among the four miniature die-cast cars of the title-contending final four of Harvick, Gordon, Martin Truex and Kyle Busch. Koda is pictured ruminating over his decision. Zoo officials denied it was a publicity stunt.

SOPY: FLOWERS POWER! 'STATE HEISMAN' HAS A NEW LEADER: The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is too close to call as we reach the final stretch. It's Sopynow South Florida QB Quinton Flowers narrowly ahead of Florida State RB Dalvin Cook. It's pretty much a two-man race because FIU QB Alex McGough has fallen to third place and has played one additional game than the players he must catch. 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 entering Week 12:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 11

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W11        Season

1 (t2)       Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   223         1,717

2 (t2)       Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             167        1,661

3 (1)        Alex McGough, FIU-qb          37         1,543.5

4 (5)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          153        1,236.5

5 (7)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          290        1,206

6 (4)        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb             15         1,167

7 (6)        Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       153        1,108

8 (9)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      139       956 

9 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       126        929

10 (8)       Everett Golson, FSU-qb          26         889.5

Bubble: Will Grier, Florida-qb, 789. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 713. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 290 (Wk11). Note: FIU has played 11 games; all others 10.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (9-1); 2. Florida State (8-2); 3. Miami (6-4); 4. South Florida (6-4); 5. FIU (5-6); 6. FAU (2-8); 7. UCF (0-10).

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 10: OH THE AWFULNESS! RECORD EMBARRASSMENT!: 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 fantasy teams, and, this week, the admission pains us: Pix: A record-worst week: This is our 25th 1aacote2
1lobosseason doing the Friday Page picks and we have never -- ever -- had worse week than last week's 2-12 record overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, there were some weird results and losing picks I'd probably make again. But still. No excuses. Just abysmal. Or, as the Upset Bird muttered: "Aaawwwkful!" Greg's Lobos / family league: Another loss: The original Lobos lost 125-112 to fall to 4-6, off playoff pace but still in it with four weeks left in our regular season. Rode Adrian Peterson for 31 big points, but five positions scoring in single-figures and only 12 points from Drew Brees killed us. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Big loss to open playoffs: The LeBatard Show Lobos fell 117.1 to 69.4 to Bills in the first round of our playoffs. It's a two-game opening series so I'm still alive but would need to rout Billy next week to have any chance. Ill-timed bye weeks ruined me this week. Just-signed Joe Flacco was our MVL with 20.1 points but we had two guys score zero. Miserable showing for the 'Bos. Embarrassing. But, yes, I do believe in miracles, so watch us next week.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 17, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 44.6%; plus Fins rally, win at Philly 20-19 with our postgame thoughts; also, new Hot Button Top 10 with Homestead field set, Canes, Heat, Rousey's loss, Cats, UM hoops, Gators, FIU & more

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

Paris1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 16. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes clobbered in Chapel Hill with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

CSM poll results: The latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter approval rating has fallen to 49.5 percent, its lowest total since Week 4. See the previous blogpost for details.

My Ryan Tannehill column: My Sunday column is on the failure thus far of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill to transcend and be the difference-maker Miami needs him to be. Three and a half seasons in, we still aren't sure what we have in this guy. Click on When Good Isn't Good Enough to read the column. Update: Leading a winning rally from 16-3 down in Philadelphia yesterday was a step forward for Tannehill.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 44.6%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 44.6 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-19 victory at Philadelphia putting Miami's season record at 4-5. 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 day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 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)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Next poll: Nov. 22 (following game vs. Dallas)

G9: DOLPHINS 20, PHILADELPHIA 19: MIAMI RESCUES ITS PLAYOFF HOPES!: Final: Terrific road win today for underdog Miami, overcoming an early 16-3 deficit. Admit it. At that point, did you think they would? Ryan Tannehill had a solid game with 217 yard passing, two TDs and no picks. The running game toughed out 26 carries for balance. The run defense was strong. And Mark Sanchez replacing injured Sam Bradford and throwing a costly late pick (by Reshad Jones) sure helped. All in all a big win making Miami 4-5 now and keeping Dolphins close enough to playoff contention to foment hope with seven games yet to play. MIA now 3-2 under interim coach Dan Campbell. ..... Fourth Q: Reshad Jones end-zone interception of Sanchez prevents PHI a likely go-ahead score. But why'd he run it out!? ... PHI within 20-19 on 37-yard kick by ex-Dolph Caleb Sturgis. Ends 17 unanswered points by Fins. ... Wow! Miami up 20-16 (first lead since 3-0) when Jarvis Landry comes down with short pass in end zone that had been deflected and was up for grabs on first play of last quarter. A 43-yard completion to Rishard Matthews had given MIA 1st-and-goal. Birds Third Q: Birds QB Sam Bradford injured, Mark Sanchez in. ... Miami still under 200 yards total offense. Tannehill needs to go win this game. ..... Halftime: Miami allows 16 unanswered points by Eagles but rallies to within 16-13 at half. The bad: Pass D has let Sam Bradford got 16-for-20 for 196 yards, and Miami offense has a meager 153 total yards. Considering the hole once was 16-3, though, a somewhat encouraging half. ..... oughing-Second Q: Roughing-passer penalty against MIA negates a last-minute interception. Then Brice McCain injured as half ends. ... Dan "Man" Campbell wins challenge to force Philly punt but MIA gives it right back. ... Miami within 16-13 now on 13-yard Tanny pass to Miller, after blocked punt by Zach Vigil set up Fins at Philly 12. Vigil-ant! ... Fins within 16-6 but it's settling, with a 1st-and-goal turning into a 22-yard FG. Jay Ajayi runs of 24, 20 yards key the drive. ... MIA been outscored 66-6 in first quarter of its five losses and today. ... Birds miss 32-yard FG try. Something goes right for Miami! ..... First Q: Rough start. PHI up 16-3 after Ryan Mathews' 1-yard TD run following safety. ... Tannehill sacked in end zone for safety, third straight game Miami has given up one. First time in NFL since 1980 a team has given up a safety three straight games. ... Kick returner Damien Williams dumbly returns from deep in end zone, slips at own 1. Why is he evn playing with a bad hand? That's a losing-team play right there. ... Birds up 7-3 on 2-yard TD pass to finish drive that included a 61-yard catch and run by TE Brent Celek. ... MIA up early 3-0 on 42-yard FG but it was a fizzle in the red zone on a drive featuring a 35-yard completion to Lamar Miller. ..... Pregame: CB Brent Grimes is a surprise inactive today because of illness. Sam Bradford is smiling. ..... Original post: Miami begins the second half of its season a touchdown underdog in Philadelphia today, and for the Dolphins this is about nothing less than saving a season's playoff hopes or watching them all but realistically disappear. A 5-4 record is Dolphilplayoff pace in the wide-open AFC entering NFL Week 10, so Miami at 4-5 with a win today would stay in the hunt, while at 3-6 with a loss today you could all but fuhgedaboudit. Unfortunately, Miami has lost five consecutive road games as underdogs, and I’m having a tough time imagining a happy flight back from the team’s first trip to Philly since 2007. The Dolphins defense I have watched the past two games — the one clobbered by the Patriots and then absolutely gouged by the Bills — won’t find this opponent much easier. The Birds ground game has found its stride with DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews, while QB Sam Bradford seems to have found his comfort zone running Chip Kelly’s offense. Offensively, the Fins are averaging a paltry 14.8 points this year in the six games apart from those magical two against the Titans and Texans. I just can’t trust Ryan Tannehill to score sufficiently, on the road, against a Phils defense that is fourth in the NFL in interceptions and sixth in opponent passer rating. It might take a Jarvis Landry touchdown return or a defensive TD to keep Miami in this one. But this is a Dolphins defense that last Sunday became the first team — ever — to allow an opponent two 100-yard rushers and a 150-yard receiver in the same game. That’s the defense I don’t trust to win in the City of Brotherly Shove. My pick: Philadelphia, 27-17.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOV. 15): 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. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins win in Philly, stay in playoff hunt: Miami came in 3-5 and had lost two in a row, which is why today's 20-19 rally-win in Philly was huge. Now the Dolphins host Dallas and the return from injury of Tony Romo. You like a challenge, Dan Campbell? You got one. You want to keep turning around the doubters, Dolphins? Go do it.

2. HURRICANES: UM trounced in Chapel Hill, sees ACC title hopes perish: Al Golden never could seem to get that elusive “signature win.” Saturday would have been that for interim replacement Larry Scott, but the Hurricanes did not have another miracle in them. Or even any fight in them losing 59-21.

3. HEAT: Bosh, hot Heat earn a few days off; Chalmers traded: Heat is 6-3 amidst a rare four days off before returning to action here Tuesday. Meantime, Mario Chalmers was traded in a tax-relief move. Give Chalmers this: He lost his starting job, he lost his minutes, but he never lost his swagger.

4. UFC: Stunner! Ronda Rousey loses!: Holly Holm stunned the MMA world in UFC 193 in Australia Sunday, beating formerly unbeaten champion Ronda Rousey with a kick to the head and a second-round stoppage. This may be good for UFC, not bad. Rousey needed competition, a rival who could beat her.

5. NASCAR: Up next, Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts season finale: NASCAR’s race Sunday in Phoenix determined that Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex will join retiring star Jeff Gordon in the final four competing for the season championship next Sunday in Homestead. Gordon winning would be a storybook ending. Am picturing Cinderella in a flame-retardant racing suit and earplugs.

6. PANTHERS: Cats see an upturn as homestand begins: Saturday's 5-4 shootout win at Tampa Bay made it two wins in past three games for Panthers, who now begin a five-game homestand Monday night vs. the same Lightning. 

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes face first real challenge in Puerto Rico: Jim Larrañaga’s team gets its first real test of the young season in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament starting this Thursday vs. Mississippi State. If they win the tournament, Canes could get where many think they belong: in the Top 25.

8. GATORS: Florida keeps hope for miracle finish alive: Saturday's 24-14 win over South Carolina put 10th-ranked Gators at 9-1 and still dreaming that, if they win out, they might somehow still rise into the College Football Playoff's top four. A one-loss SEC champ would be hard to keep out.

9. FIU: Panthers bowl hopes now faint after clobbering: A 52-0 loss to Marshall on Saturday left FIU 5-6 and needing a win its its last game to become bowl-eligible. That game is vs.8-2 Western Kentucky. Good luck with that.

10. MISSOURI: Mizzou at the intersection of sports and social issues: A threatened boycott of football games by Missouri players forced the resignation of the university president over charges he turned a blind eye to a culture of racism on campus. Power to the people!

Missing the cut: David Beckham spends the day with Hurricanes women's soccer team. Hey, as long as he didn't spend the night, too, then it's OK ... Marlins president David Samson and agent Scott Boras feuding! ... MLS playoffs down to final four ... Steph Curry and 11-0 Golden State on a planet all their own right now ... Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team beats local NFL Alumni team 63-28 at Flanagan High ... Draft Kings, FanDuel continue to lose in court. If you want to make those apparently easy millions, better do it quick. ... U.S. men's soccer trains at Barry U for World Cup qualifying. The pressure is on, Jurgen Klinsmann! ... Dez Bryant screams at a reporter. Everybody hates us!

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 15, 2015

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 49.5%; plus UM routed at UNC 59-21; also Gators, Noles, FIU's tall task & more

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

Paris1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14. PRAY FOR PARIS, AND FOR PEACE ON EARTH. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Paris attacks, NFL/Dolphins Week 10 picks, Canes and Butch Davis, kiss Jose Fernandez goodbye, UM hoops, college basketball rankings 1 through 351, Heat yays/nays, Lobos T-shirts update & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Our UM-North Carolina postgame thoughts: Find them here below, immediately after the new Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 49.5%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Csmpostgame poll, and they show 49.5 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 59-21 loss at North Carolina putting UM's season record at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. 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 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

Deciphering the latest result: An understandable sharp drop to the lowest approval rating since Week 4. Probably still higher than it should be, perhaps owing to UM fan still on a cloud over Al Golden's dismissal.

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)

Game 4: 4.6% (following 34-23 loss at Cincinnati)

Game 5: 59.6% (following 29-24 loss at Florida State)

Game 6: 89.1% (following 30-20 victory vs. Virginia Tech)

Game 7: 54.3% (following 58-0 loss vs. Clemson)

Game 8: 82.7% (following 30-27 victory at Duke)

Game 9: 91.8% (following 27-21 victory vs. Virginia)

Game 10: 49.5% (following 59-21 loss at North Carolina)

Next poll: Nov. 21 (following game vs. Georgia Tech)

G10: NORTH CAROLINA 59, HURRICANES 21 (Final): Postgame thoughts: OK, divest of your stock in interim coach Larry Scott keeping the job. I believe today took that off the table (if that possibility ever was there, which I doubt). Like the Dolphins' Dan Campbell, Scott had begun 2-0 only to see the interim honeymoon end with a crash. Weird game, this 59-21 loss at North Carolina. Miami led in time of possession, nearly was equal in total yards, had a 300-yard day from Brad Kaaya and yet still lost big, dare say embarrassingly. Three turnovers to none by the Tar Heels will do that. So will giving up a punt-return touchdown. So will an abysmal run-defense allowing some 300 ground yards. A sobering defeat. One that sadly answers the question, "How close is The U to being 'back'?" ..... Halftime: Let us count the ugliness. Zero points. Thirty-one points allowed. Nineteen net yards rushing. Nine penalties for 80. Nine penalties -- in one half. Three turnovers. Awful. This is beginning to feel like the 58-0 loss to Clemson that got Al Golden fired. Somehow, Miami has more time of possession and total yards. But the scoreboard says it all. ..... Note: I'll be updating the score throughout the game and be back with halftime and postgame analysis prior to the posting of the postgame poll. ..... Original post: I'm not sure if beating the Tar Heels at their place would qualify as the "signature win" that always seemed to 

Canesuncelude Al Golden, but it'd be close enough for interim replacement Larry Scott and maybe for Miami fans, too. North Carolina is good, 8-1 and ranked No. 23 to UM's 6-3 and unranked. The 3:30 p.m. game finds the Canes uncommonly big 13-point underdogs. Why? One reason: The Duke team that Miami needed a disputed last-second miracle to beat was just walloped 66-31 by UNC. The Heels have a big-time passing game. Brad Kaaya's Canes may need a ton of points to pull off an upset. Heck the betting over/under is around Fedora66 points, high even for college. UNC with a win would stay on track for the ACC Coastal Division crown
and eliminate Miami's faint hopes. Miami with a win would still be alive to reach the conference title game. The Hurricanes have owned this series lately, winning two in a row and four of past five over UNC including 47-20 in Miami last year. But keeping that trend going looks like a mighty task. Quick aside: UNC's coach is the wonderfully named Larry Fedora (pictured left). My pick: North Carolina, 38-24.

Other college Week 11 state FBS games (all today, in chronology):

No. 10 Florida 24, South Carolina 14: Gators now 9-1 and trying to run the table and somehow still rise into the College Football Playoff's top four. 

Middle Tennessee 24, FAU 17: One of of those seasons for the now 2-8 Owls.

No. 16 Florida 34, North Carolina State 17: Lots of Dalvin Cook as Noles go to 8-2.

Marshall 52, FIU 0: FIU, now 5-6 after this humbling loss, must win next week to gain bowl-eligibility. Tall task, with 8-2 Western Kentucky up after tough Marshall.

South Florida 44, No. 22 Temple 23: Marlon Mack (Truck) leads upset that has Bulls 6-4 and bowl-eligible for first time since 2010.

Off this week: UCF. Knights are 0-10. Will they find a way to lose to the bye week?

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

November 13, 2015

PARIS; plus NFL/Dolphins Week 10 picks, college basketball 1 through 351, Canes' fake interest in Butch Davis, kiss Jose Fernandez goodbye, Heat yays/nays, UM hoops, Lobos T-shirt update & more

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

Friday131) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13. Happy Friday the 13th, all! Aside to paraskevidekatriaphobes: Stay inside today. Your seemingly irrational fears are not unfounded. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Missouri Tigers' biggest win, new 'Back In My Day,' Dolphins all-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

GOOD MUST PREVAIL. GOOD HAS NO CHOICE: Thoughts with Paris and its wonderful people today after last night's terrorist attacks by cowards that killed more than 100 innocents. We spent eight days there this summer. What a wonderful, enchanting city and hospitable people. 

Paris

 

 

UPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 10: We went a cringe-worthy 7-6 straight-up last week, and an 1aacote2OK 7-6 against the spread, too. Our Week 10 started with a stumble as the Jets blew that late go-ahead shot and lost to the Bills. Click on Week 10 Gems for all of our latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Fins fall in Philly, Pats stay unbeaten, and Titans stun Panthers in Upset of the Week. ("Aawwk!"). Also, click on King Sports Middies for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with our midseason awards (including Dolphins MVP), plus a shot at Greg Hardy.

RANKING ALL 351 NCAA DIVISION 1 MEN'S BASKETBALL TEAMS: ESPN does it today, from No. 1 Kansas to No. 351 Mississippi Valley State. How the state of Florida's seven big schools are ranked: 34--Florida State Seminoles; 40--Florida Gators; 47--Miami Hurricanes; 171--UCF Knights; 179--South Florida Bulls; 266--FIU Panthers; and 291--FAU Owls.

ON JOSE FERNANDEZ, BUTCH DAVIS, HEAT YAYS/NAYS, CANES HOOPS, NHL'S MATH AND STARBUCK'S CUPS: A six-pack of quick thoughts...

JoseBoras vs. Samson and Jose's future: Scott Boras, outspoken, hardball agent, vs. David Samson, outspoken, thin-skinned Marlins president, is a feud made in media heaven. Boras has been lippy this week about two of his Marlins clients, mentioning the possibility of an innings limit for Jose Fernandez and criticizing the club's treatment and motives with Marcell Ozuna. Samson in turn essentially told Boras to buy his own team or shut up. Bottom line: Kiss Fernandez goodbye after the 2018 season. I see no way he re-ups long-term with Miami because Boras likes his guys to test free agency (where the money likely will be bigger) and Samson and the Marlins don't believe in long-term deals for pitchers.

ButchPlace bets on Butch Davis at your own risk: Anonymous UM sources feeding the media about how Butch Davis has not been ruled as as the next Hurricanes football coach -- be careful what you believe. Those sources obviously want to appease Miami fans by suggesting no rock will be unturned in the search for the best man. And, since Davis is a fan favorite, it is in UM's clear interest to appear to seriously consider him. The reality: I'm told Davis is a longshot.

DragicThe Heat thus far: Miami at 6-3 looks just like what we figured they'd be this season: a playoff team, but one that could be anywhere from midpack in the East top eight to as high as second. Encouraging thus far: Chris Bosh has been great, especially on the boards, and Hassan Whiteside continues to progress in a big way. Discouraging: It isn't the tax-break trade of Mario Chalmers. It isn't even the weird episode with Gerald Green. It's that Goran Dragic (pictured) seems uncomfortable right now. Granted we're just 10 percent into the season, but Erik Spoelstra needs to make Dragic fit.

Canes basketball, rising: UM men's basketball tips off its regular season tonight (Friday) at home vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley and, after making it to NIT Final last season, much is expected. This should be a Top 25 team that can do something in the NCAA Tournament. Also, for the first time in a long time, home games could be a tough ticket. And I don't just mean when Duke comes to town.

Me vs. NHL standings: A Panthers PR person emailed to correct me because I'd listed the team's record as 5-9 instead of the official 5-6-3 -- meaning three of those nine losses were in overtime and thus brought one standings point. Sorry, Cats, but I'm a bottom-line guy on records. If you have played 14 games, won five and the other team won the rest, you're 5-9. (Update: Team is now 6-10, or, if you insist, 6-7-3).

Maddening Starbuck's: Gawd, this story is so Starbuck's. The chain removes the snowflakes and other Christmas-y designs from its red holiday cups so as not to offend non-Christians. The political correctness that steers that company is comical. But now there's an Internet-driven thing happening which I love: When the Starbuck's barista asks your name to write on the cup, say, "Merry Christmas." Touche!

LobosTHE GREG'S LOBOS T-SHIRTS HAVE ARRIVED!: This won't make much sense except to hopefully the majority of our readers who follow me not only in the Herald and online but also on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz on national ESPN radio, where I'm in-studio every Tuesday as a co-host. We have fun on the show making a big deal of my fantasy football team, Greg's Lobos, which in turn has spawned something of a national following for the team. Well, the show will soon be giving away Lobos T-shirts to select listeners. I don't have details yet how that giveaway will work, but you'll know when I do. I'm sure it'll be discussed on-air this coming Tuesday. The shirt design is shown. Why I am pictured in my underwear I have no Earthly idea. It's ludicrous. Mainly because I'm a boxers guy, not briefs.

 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote