« December 2019 | Main | February 2020 »

8 posts from January 2020

January 30, 2020

Super Bowl With a Smirk III: NFL? Exciting! Chiefs-49ers? Exciting! Roger Goodell? Not so much. Commish's SB press conference tops your Rampaging Torrent of Super Coverage Headquarters; plus our Kobe tragedy column & more

 It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 30. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kobe Bryant's shocking death with column, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

LivSmirk RgoodellSUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK III: Super Bowl With a Smirk returns this week with daily needling jabs at the self-important NFL and the oversized gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, "Make Fun, Not War," Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald on years we remember to do it. In the latest, Smirk III, we lead with Roger Goodell's "state of the NFL" SB Press Conference, an annual dissemination of as little information as possible. That's Smirk III: NFL's Deft, Dull Goodell Slips Up, Makes News. Also: Smirk II: Why Sunday's Most Talked-About Ad Won't Air? (Hint: Nutmobile) and Smirk I: Have Fun This Week, Fans, But Feel A Bit Guilty And Sad Doing it.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) In Part 2 of our series on the Dolphins' early rise from dysfunction to domination, coming soon, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. In Part 1, here, read how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Shula assembled a treasure trove of talent: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) And How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

Select other most recent stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020, R.I.P. Our column on the tragedy that rocked sports; plus how one long-forgotten man pre-dating Shula changed everything for Miami Dolphins; also, latest Hot Button 10 (updated), Torrent Of Super Bowl Coverage Headquarters & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 27 Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl Top 10 Storylines You'll Be Sick Of Primer, Derek Jeter's (not) unanimous election & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KobeKOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, please visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN WHO LED THE DOLPHINS' RISE FROM EARLY DYSFUNCTION TO SUPER BOWLS AND HISTORIC PERFECTION: The players who formed the nucleus of the NFL’s single greatest team of all time were stunned to learn that their Miami Dolphins head coach was prone to laziness and long, boozy lunches. He was a man who once stood before his team and, Joethomasslouching, said, "Well, I’m hoping for a 7-7 season" -- as his guys looked around at each other, dumbfounded. This was before the arrival of Don Shula, we must hasten to mention. The NFL itself anointed the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins No. 1 among the best teams ever as part of its 100th season celebration that will culminate with the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl, fittingly in Miami. But how did a Miami franchise only born in 1966 get from nothing, from the comical dysfunction under first coach George Wilson, to being the greatest ever in such short order? It happened because of Shula, who arrived in 1970, but it started before him, during the expansion years. It started with one man, a man long lost, a man so essential yet so egregiously forgotten in Dolphins history. His name was Joseph Henry Thomas. (Shula and Thomas are pictured). Thomas left the windfall of talent that Shula spun into historic gold. ..... OK, that is the entree to my latest column, a piece I'm very proud of. It is the first of a two-part series. In this Part 1, through extensive reporting, I reveal the comical dysfunction of the 1966-69 expansion years under Dolphins inaugural head coach George Wilson. Yet during that clown show stacked with losses, we tell you how Joe Thomas came to assemble a treasure trove of talent. In Part 2, coming next week, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. To read Part 1 of our series now online, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

And coming Monday: Return of Smirk!: Super Bowl with a Smirk notes columns, poking fun at the NFL and the gravitas of its big game, are an annual Super Bowl Week staple in the Miami Herald. Watch for the Return of Smirk on Monday!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 26-27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday 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. KOBE BRYANT: Tragic helicopter crash kills ex-Lakers star: A family, the NBA and all of sports were ripped apart Sunday with the news Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had been killed in a private helicopter crash in California. R.I.P. to an all-time great.

2. DEREK JETER: One vote missing, but Marlins president in Cooperstown: Derek Jeter swept into the Baseball Hall of Fame with all but one vote of 397 cast, denied a unanimous entry by one still-unnamed idiot / piss-ant anarchist. (Larry Walker got in, too, barely). Jeter is best known of course as the Miami Marlins president, although reportedly also played several years with the Yankees.

3. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats awarded '21 NHL All-Star Game: Haven't been many better weeks to be a Panthers fan. Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau skated into Saturday's NHL All-Star Game at 28-21 off six straight wins and 13 in past 17 games -- solidly on playoff pace. And this : the big news that Cats, for the first time since 2003, will host All-Star Weekend in 2021.

4. HEAT: Butler snubbed as all-star starter, Waiters debuts: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "joke" that Jimmy Butler was not named an NBA all-star starter. Bam Adebayo had a case, too, although both surely will make it as reserves. Meantime relentlessly suspended Dion Waiters made his season debut for 31-14 Heat, with four 3's and 14 points in a solid 18 minutes.

5. NFL: Chiefs, 49ers arrive in Miami for Super Bowl: SB 54 at Hard Rock Stadium is in one week, and the teams arrive today. The Kansas City Chiefs are to land in Miami at 4:40 p.m. and the San Francisco 49ers about 2 1/2 hours later. The slightly favored Chiefs are expected to continue to be ahead of the Niners through next Sunday's final whistle.

6. HURRICANES: UM football lands major transfer QB: Former Houston starting quarterback D'Eriq King announced he  has entered the college football transfer portal and chosen the Miami Hurricanes. Quick word of caution: Remember, one year ago, how excited we were were about Tate Martell? 

7. TENNIS: Serena out early as Australia Open hits midpoint: Serena Williams, only eighth-seeded but the betting favorite in year's first major, was ousted in the third round -- yet another failed effort to tie Margaret Court's career record of 24 major singles titles. Still think Serena will equal and then surpass Court ... but we've been saying that for three years now, since her 23rd title was the Aussie Open in 2017.

8. HORSE RACING: Mucho Gusto wins rich Pegasus at Gulfstream: Mucho Gusto, a star for trainer Bob Baffert, won the second annual $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstreak Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, with Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Might be horse racing's biggest day outside the Triple Crown races.

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-star game is Sunday in Orlando: Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson lead the AFC and NFC squads today in a meaningless game further watered down because players from the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs and 49ers aren't in it. No Dolphins, either, but plenty of ex-Fins in Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

10. CANES HOOPS: Can Miami (men or women) finally beat a good team?: Slumping Miami men are 10-9 off four straight losses after Saturday's L at North Carolina -- and 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams. Canes women are 11-9 overall and 0-6 vs. ranked teams after Sunday's loss at No. 14 Florida State. Jeez, beat somebody a good team, already!

Missing the HB10 cut: Overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans finally made his season debut. He scored 22 points, did not reinjure his knee and his sneakers did not explode. Stay tuned for further developments ..... A bunch of NFL eyes including those of the Dolphins' Chris Grier were watching a lot of college all-stars with the coming NFL Draft in mind in Saturday's annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. But rehabbing Tua Tagovailao of course didn't play, so our interest in the game went from gutter-low to nonexistent ..... Latest Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be revealed at NFL Honors awards show the night before Super Bowl, with ex-Dolphin Zach Thomas a finalist for first time. Of course we are journalistically neutral unabashedly hoping Zach gets in! ..... Countdown 35 days 'til Inter Miami opens its inaugural season in MLS ..... Countdown 48 days 'til No. 3-ranked Hurricanes baseball opens season ..... By the way, the Houston Astros stole their World Series trophy ..... Somebody help Antonio Brown. Baker Act, anyone? ..... Update: Countdown now 2,338 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other most recent stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 23, 2020

On Derek Jeter Cooperstown vote: IT WASN'T ME!; plus Super Bowl primer: Top 10 storylines you'll be sick off as Chiefs, 49ers head here; also, Miami's resurrection as 'Super Bowl City' & more

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 24. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, nailed our AFC and NFC Championship Game picks, Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's biggest victory, new John Anderson video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ballotagain DjeterOn Derek Jeter election: It wasn't me!: Miami Marlins president (and oh, yeah, former Yankee) Derek Jeter got into Cooperstown last night with 396 votes of 397 cast. A few weeks ago we'd been joking on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio that I (a BBWAA voter) should be the person to deny Jeter unanimous entry. They were goading me to do it. And so since last night fans of the show (even knowing better) have been suggesting I was the lone dissenting vote. Well, I was not that out-on-an-island person -- just to refute any dastardly rumors. In late November I even preemptively wrote this column: If Jeter Doesn't get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me. And pictured right is the official ballot I sent in. (Click to see enlarged version).

Jgaro AreidSUPER BOWL PRIMER: TOP 10 STORYLINES YOU'LL GROW SICK OF AS CHIEFS, 49ERS HEAD TO MIAMI: Parochially you know Miami wanted Ryan Tannehill for the Super Bowl it is hosting. The idea of the longtime Dolphins quarterback playing for an NFL championship in his former stadium, under the nose of the team that discarded him, would have been rather surreal and delicious. But get over it, already. Moving on. The matchup we got for Super Bowl 54, minted Sunday night, will have no problem filling two weeks of mountainous buildup. So: Ready, set ... hype! Here’s your primer. Our Top 10 storylines you’ll be sick of way before the Feb. 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium: The two teams' record title drought. Mahomes vs. Garoppolo. Reid vs. Shanahan. The Bosa Connection. Damien Williams and the Ex's. Finally Zach's time? Miami sets host record. Katie Sowers. The Special K's. And Canes are shut-out. Pictured left to right: Niners' Garoppolo and KC's Reid celebrating their Sunday wins. For our full latest column, please visit Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

Featured other most recent column: HOW MIAMI WENT FROM FORGOTTEN BY NFL TO BACK ON TOP AS 'SUPER BOWL CITY': We speak with Miami Super Bowl Host Committee head Rodney Barreto and Dolphins/stadium owner Stephen Ross.

Also: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Columns Headquarters. And revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 20, 2020

Miami Super Bowl set! It's 49ers-Chiefs!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, decision that changed Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's life (column), new John Anderson song (video) & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 20. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill tops NFL final four from Miami perspective, Clemson favored in 2020, NFL Divisional Round picks, new Ozzy/Elton song & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAYOFFS: PEREFECT. WE RODE CHIEFS, NINERS: Update: We were a perfect 2-0 straight-up and 2-0 against the spread on Sunday, with both winners  covering. Original post: Miami awaits. The two-week runup to the February 2 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium begins this Sunday when the two teams are determined in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The Cinderella in this final four is discarded Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill trying to lead Tennessee to its first SB appearance in 20 years — in his old stadium. But everybody packs a tale to tell. It has been 50 years (!) since Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance and win, and Andy Reid has coached more playoff games (27) than anyone to never win it all. Aaron Rodgers is after his elusive second career championship after Green Bay last reigned in 2010. And San Francisco last appeared in an SB in 2012 — but hasn’t won one since 1994. Of this final four, only K.C. made the playoffs last year, and the NFL is assured a new Super Bowl champ for the 15th season in a row. Two games. Win and you’re in. And Miami awaits. To see who'll get here, visit Will Tannehill Make It? Our AFC, NFC Championship Picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 19-20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature (back after a one-week hiatus) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's 49ers-Chiefs in Miami Super Bowl: Chiefs rallied to overwhelm Titans and 49ers comfortably handled Packers on Sunday -- winners take all to reach Miami and the Super Bowl. Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers were seen as the odd men out and were, with a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup the betting favorite all along. Miami awaited. Fate did its thing.

2. MLB: Sign-stealing scandal rocks Astros, sees 3 managers fired: The Astros fired the manager and GM who'd been suspended for a year by MLB. The Red Sox dumped Alex Cora and the Mets and Carlos Beltran parted. Baseball, if you're serious about stopping sign-stealing, here's your statement: The Astros' 2017 World Series championship is vacated.

3. HEAT: Miami completes excellent first half of season: Heat were 29-12 at the midpoint of the NBA season, second in the East and with a league-best home record (18-1) and seven players averaging in double-figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler's 20.3, before falling in San Antonio Sunday. With Bucks a near-certain No. 1 seed, Miami looks strong to earn playoff home court as season's second half begins.

4. JIMMY JOHNSON: Canes champ, ex-Fins coach makes Canton: Jimmy Johnson made Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 class, selected by a blue-ribbon panel as part of NFL 100 celebration. Toasting you with a raised Heineken, J.J! Now here's hoping a guy you draft in Miami, Zach Thomas, a finalist, finally gets in too when players are announced just before the Super Bowl. 

5. INTER MIAMI: New MLS team has first draft, opens camp Monday: New coach Diego Alonso and Inter Miami drafted Clemson forward Robbie Robinson No. 1 overall in recent MLS Draft. Miami opens training camp Monday at Barry University, working toward its inaugural season opener on March 1. Still hoping David Beckham dons a kit, but not holding our breath.

6. DOLPHINS: Miami loses defensive chief to Giants: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham jilted the Fins for a lateral move to the New York Giants. Hmm. Didn't Miami finish 30th for most yards allowed this season and 32nd (dead-worst) for most points given up? Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Pat!

7. NBA: Top pick Zion Williamson to make NBA debut -- finally!: The New Orleans Pelicans say overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, who has spent all season thus far recovering from a knee injury, will finally make his debut this Wednesday at home vs. San Antonio. Equipment guy, please make sure he doesn't wear the exploding sneaker again.

8. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as All-Star break nears: Florida is 26-21 off four straight wins after Saturday's W at Detroit, with two other games left before a schedule pause for the Jan. 25 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Cats are now right on the edge of playoff pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.

9. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favorites as Australia Open begins: Against the backdrop of the country's brushfires catastrophe, the 108th Australian Open,the year's first major, opens with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting picks. Serena looks (again) to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.

10. HURRICANES: UM basketball isn't bad ... except vs. good teams: Miami's men's and women's basketball teams, both slumping, have proven solid vs. lesser foes and lousy against good teams. The Canes women are 0-5 vs. ranked opponents, and the men are now 0-4 after Saturday's heartbreak of an OT home loss to No. 9 FSU, with a Tuesday game at No. 3 Duke on deck.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes AD Blake James confirmed that Alonzo Highsmith would not be joining football program in "chief of staff" role advising coach Manny Diaz. Not knowing if he'd have been any good at it, Canes fans nonetheless were outraged in their disappointment after premature, misleading media reports suggested he'd be joining UM ..... Wow. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Hurricanes No. 3 in its preseason baseball poll. No pressure or anything, Gino DiMare! ..... Conor McGregor beat up on some guy in a cowoy hat last night in UFC 246 ..... A former player has sued alleging that Penn State -- of all schools -- and coach James Franklin ignored sexual-based hazing that including older players threatening "to Sandusky" younger guys ... Will the last Tigers player leaving national champion LSU for the NFL Draft please turn out the light? ..... The Winter X Games are this week, and nobody cares ..... Can somebody get Antonio Brown some help, please? Seriously ..... Next weekend, Saturday's Senior Bowl battles Sunday's Pro Bowl to see which football game the fewest Americans will watch ..... Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league has lowered its minimum age requirement, surprising analysts who were unaware the BIG3 basketball league still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,345 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

JjHALL OF FAMER JIMMY JOHNSON'S BIGGEST VICTORY WAS KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT -- AND WHY: Twenty years earlier, to the day, Jimmy Johnson quit the NFL in despair, at a low point in his life. He retired from coaching and never looked back. It ended for him on January 15, 2000, on a football field in Jacksonville, his Miami Dolphins eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in a 62-7 humiliation. That wasn’t the worst of it. The recent death of his mother had hit him hard, hit him soul-deep, made him rethink everything. One of his two sons was struggling with alcohol addiction. It felt like his life was getting away from him. Wayne Huizenga, then the Dolphins owner, desperately tried to convince Johnson to stay — even offering to let him be a part-time head coach who handled the draft and worked only home games — but Johnson had to get out. "I needed to spend time with my family, and it paid dividends," the former coach was saying Wednesday, 20 years later, from his home 90 minutes south of Miami in the Upper Keys. "My two sons, we’re as close now as we’ve ever been. I am happier than I’ve ever been. Retiring from coaching — it saved my family." Sunday night, the NFL told Johnson he had done enough. He got out early because he felt he had to. But he had done enough. To read our full column on Johnson being welcomed into Canton, please visit Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why.

Other most recent columns: America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! Also: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

NEW JOHN ANDERSON SONG/VIDEO : 'YEARS': Careful readers may know I'm a longtime fan of country singer John Anderson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music. Well, he has a new album coming out that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, a fan of his. This likely will be the first single, a reflective, wistful song about aging, in which a 65-year-old (let's be honest) fading star reflects on a bountiful career and life:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 15, 2020

Lots of Miami-centric Super Bowl possibilities in NFL's final four. But only one gives America (and South Florida) a rooting interest. Our new column; plus Clemson anointed for 2020 despite loss, hear the new Ozzy/Elton song here & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dan Enos Cup for  Miami's biggest disappointment, Dream Ticket Tua and Tom for Dolphins?, our Wild Card Weekend ignominy, new Back In My Day video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NFL FINAL FOUR: LOTS OF MIAMI-CENTRIC SUPER OWL STORIES -- BUT ONLY ONE REALLY MATTERS: It’s nothing personal, Kansas City, so please don’t take it that way, Chiefs fans. But would you please lose? I know y’all haven’t been in a Super Bowl since the 1969 season, so being one win away is a little bit of a feel-good story and all that. No matter. K.C. winning the AFC championship would deny host city Miami the most intriguing Super Bowl possibility left in the NFL’s final four playoff teams. The Dolphins haven’t been in a Super Bowl since 1984, so Miami Tannyhosting the game without tasting it can be bittersweet, a cruel tease. So here we are, again, sifting through the Chiefs-Titans and 49ers-Packers semifinal matchups to find what is — or should be — of most interest in this final four to South Florida fans: No. 1--Ryan Tannhill, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Tannehill: The story is so far-fetched you dare not make it up, but then it actually happens -- this is why we love sports in all its unscripted glory. And the fall and rise of Tannehill is the best thing going right now. Yes, I know. Tennessee rides on the back of running beast Derrick Henry and stout defense more than on Tannehill’s arm. Nevertheless, the Titans season pivoted sharply when Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota as starting quarterback in Week 7. It is why the team is this far. Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating, and if he doesn’t get some MVP votes, call the cops. Now Tannehill is one win from playing in a Miami Super Bowl in the same stadium where for seven seasons he tried and failed to make the Dolphins winners. It was unfathomable as he began the season traded and demoted, sitting as Mariota’s backup. Tannehill of course didn’t fail here nearly as much as the Dolphins failed him by never doing what the Titans did in surrounding him with enough talent. Tannehill returning to Miami and maybe raising the Lombardi Trophy in the Dolphins’ backyard would simply be one of the great redemption tales in sports history — and one every Dolfan with a heart should be rooting for. So get out the way, Chiefs! No. 2--The Hall haul: The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class to be revealed just before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 has a distinct local flavor. Sunday night we saw the emotional reaction live on Fox TV as it was announced Jimmy Johnson, former Hurricanes and Dolphins coach, had so deservedly made it to Canton, Ohio. I have not covered a man who took a loss harder, or who ultimately figured out how, when and why to quit coaching, before it ate him all up. Well done, J.J. Finalists who still could make it include longtime Dolphins stalwart linebacker Zach Thomas, former Hurricanes star running back Edgerrin James and receiver Reggie Wayne, and Fort Lauderdale-born/Dillard High receiver Isaac Bruce. Best of luck to all, but let it be Zach’s time. He has shouldered the weight of the wait. No. 3--The Bosa/Kumerow connection: Defensive end John Bosa was the Dolphins’ No. 1 draft choice in 1987 and DE Eric Kumerow was the top pick the next year. They were brothers-in-law. They were not great NFL players. Oh but the bloodlines were good! Now both of their sons are playing in the final four. For more local ties and the full column, please visit America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please!

TrevorDESPITE LOSS TO LSU, CLEMSON ANOINTED FAVORITE FOR 2020: Ed Orgeron is still rasping his way through victory speeches for his LSU TIgers after last night's convincing win for the CFP national title, but it is vanquished Clemson seen as the favorite for the 2020 season. Caesars Sportsbook has Clemson 2-1 to win it all, Alabama 4-1, Ohio State 7-1, LSU 9-2 , Georgia 10-1 and Florida 15-1. Sportsbetting.ag's Heisman odds have Clesmon QB Trevor Lawernce (pictured) the trophy fave at 7-2, just ahead of Ohio State's Justin Fields at 4-1.

PicksNFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFFS: OUR PICKS, RESULTS: Update: We were 3-1 overall on our Divisional Round picks (missed Titans beating Ravens, like the rest of America), but only 1-3 against the spread (Chiefs' rout of Texans our only get). Here's how cruel the ATS gods can be: Packers were favored by four. I said they'd win by three. They won by five. A miss. The good news from the weekend: Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill are one win from reaching the Miami Super Bowl in his old stadium. Delicioso. Yes, please! ..... Original post: Road teams won three of four games last week on Wild Card Weekend as the road to the Miami Super Bowl began. Do not expect a repeat of that in the Divisional Round on Saturday and Sunday as eight teams winnow down to the final four. The home teams -- the four top seeds, all off byes -- are favored by a combined 31 points. Will the odds hold up? No upsets in store? Hint: I think the two NFC games will be a lot more competitive and upset-likely than the two AFC games. For all four of our Divisional Round picks, please visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Divisional Round Gems.

Other most recent columns: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports and Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? Also: Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

OZZY AND ELTON: WHAT MORE NEED BE SAID?: Old friends and rock warriors Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John collaborate on the title track from Ozzy's forthcoming new album, Ordinary Man, out February 21. I'm prejudiced as a fan of both, but the song, a mid-tempo, is lush and quite epic. From the backing harmonies to the closing chords, there is a Beatle-esque feeling. Listen. You're welcome.

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 09, 2020

Dan Enos Cup: Our nominees for biggest current disappointment in Miami sports. Latest column; plus Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa both Dolphins in 2020? Column; also, a new 'Back In My Day' video & more

1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 9. One last chance to visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings for the wrapup of our 22nd year of NFL passer ratings. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NFL Wild Card Weekend, Dolphins All-Decade Team, The List, happy birthday Don Shula & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Dis4IT'S THE DAN ENOS CUP. GOES TO MIAMI SPORTS' BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT. AND THE NOMINEES ARE...: So one year ago this week the Miami Hurricanes hire Dan Enos as their new offensive coordinator, and he arrives with the perfume of Alabama excellence and the papal-like blessing of having worked under Nick Saban. Canes fans are understandably thrilled. Manny Diaz would soon say flatly, "The best recruit we signed was Dan Enos." Not quite one year later, after a 6-7 season that ended with a stupefying shutout loss to Louisiana Tech (!) in a third-tier bowl game, Enos’ firing was announced in a terse one-sentence release. The sentence might as well have been, "Don’t let the door hit you on the way out." We need an annual Disappointment of the Year award in South Florida sports. The trophy would be called the Dan Enos Cup. The cup, in this case, would be half empty, of course. Here, we present our inaugural nominees. A few pictured clockwise from upper left are the Dolphins' Kalen Ballage, Heat's Dion Waiters, UM's Cup namesake Enos, and the Panthers' Sergei Bobrovsky. For my full latest column, please visit Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports.

TuatomDREAM TICKET: TOM BRADY, TUA TAGOVAILOA BOTH DOLPHINS IN 2020?: What becomes of an aging G.O.A.T? The question insisted itself suddenly upon America as Tom Brady hurried off New England’s home field in playoff defeat and disappeared into free agency. Had he just played his final game as a Patriot? His final game, period? The possibilities for Brady’s future are many, and deliciously unknowable today. He could retire and somehow scrape by on supermodel/wife Gisele Bundchen’s millions as he awaited his call from Canton, Ohio. He could enter the open market (officially becoming a free agent on March 18) as teams in need of a pricey 42-year-old QB -- assuming there were any -- lined up in a bidding war. Hey, what about the Dolphins!? They need an upgrade, and Brady is better than Ryan Fitzpatrick in every measurable category except beard-growing. The idea of Brady as a one- or two-season luxury bridge to a QB Miami might draft and groom in 2020 does have some merit. Tua Tagovailoa on Monday officially declared for the upcoming NFL Draft as expected but is rehabbing from a serious hip injury. Scenario: Miami selects Tagovailao No. 5 overall and he learns under Brady in ‘20. (They are pictured). Betting odds say it isn't even that far-fetched. Likely? Of course. But worth a flight of fancy. For the full recent column, please visit Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020?

Other most recent columns: Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Also: On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

PicksOY! WE GOT SHUT OUT ON WILD CARD WEEKEND: Big losers in the first round of the NFL playoffs: Bills, Patriots, Saints and Eagles, who all lost and were eliminated ... and me. I went 0-4 straight-up on Wild Card Weekend and also 0-4 against the spread. I got Brickered, a phrase in dishonor of a former Sun-Sentinel football writer named Charles Bricker, who once infamously went 0-14 one week against the spread, a near impossibility. For me, even 0-4 was a first. Better be a last. We'll be looking for twins 4-0s this week!

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': GIFT WRAPPING!: Weighed in with a new Back In My Day yesterday on ESPN Radio on my first 2020 appearance on the Le Batard Show. Enjoy:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 06, 2020

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Newest column; also, our NFL Wild Card Weekend results (unfortunately), happy birthday Don Shula & more

Shula1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 6. A heartfelt happy 90th birthday to the great Dolphins icon Don Shula (pictured in earlier days), who hit the milestone Saturday. Here's to many more! 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild Card Weekend picks, Wade retires (Miami) and Woods' Masters (national) voted biggest sports stories of 2019 in year-end polls, Gators win Orange Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our return to Le Batard Show: For those who've asked I'll be back on ESPN Radio tomorrow/Tuesday.

Final Herald NFL QB rankings: This was our 22nd year of NFL quarterback rankings. Visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings.

PicksWILD CARD WEEKEND! ROAD TEAMS TAKE THREE OF FOUR: Update: Ouch. We were 0-4 straight-up and 0-4 against the spread on our WCW picks. That's a first. May it be a last, please? Original post: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. Finished the regular season with a .663 winning percentage overall and .518 against the spread. Now all that matters are the 11 postseason games ahead culminating with the backyard Miami Super Bowl on February 2. For all four of our Wild Card Weekend picks -- including a pair of upsets! -- visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Wild Card Weekend Gems.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 5-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday 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. NFL: Texans, Titans, Vikings, Seahawks advance in playoffs: The king is dead! The king is dead! The reigning champion Patriots and Tom Brady are dethroned. Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill ousted them Saturday while Houston rallied to edge Buffalo. Sunday, Vikings upset Saints and Seahawks handled Eagles on Wild Card Weekend. Away teams won three of four. The road to Miami, indeed.

2. HURRICANES: Miami hiresg SMU hotshot as new offensive coordinator: UM has hired SMU offensive coordinator/QBs coach Rhett Lashlee, 36, for the same job here. Lashlee ran an exciting spread offense that was top 10 in the nation in points and yards this season. Canes fans are excited. Warning: (They were excited about Dan Enos, too, once).

3. HEAT: Miami tops Portland in Whiteside's return: Miami sits pretty in third place in the East at 26-10, with Justise Winslow, who has missed 26 games, finally close to returning from his back injury. Team beat Portland -- and Hassan Whiteside -- Sunday evening, with Whiteside mostly booed throughout the night.

4. UM HOOPS: No. 2 Duke schools Canes men: UM men fell to 9-4 with Saturday's 95-62 home loss to Duke and next plays at No. 7 Louisville Tuesday. Meanwhile No. 23 Canes women gell to 9-5 after Sunday's home loss to Florida State, and now face another top-10 foe in Louisville.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win at Pittsburgh: Florida is 22-20 after Sunday's 4-1 win at Pittsburgh that lifted the Cats to a tie for the final playoff spot at midseason. Team has won seven of past 10 and now plays four straight at home.

6. DOLPHINS: Tagovailoa decision expected Monday: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, recovering from a hip injury, has said he will announce Monday whether he'll entre the NFL Draft or return to the Crimson Tide. Many NFL teams -- the Dolphins perhaps highest among them -- will see their draft plans shaped by that decision.

7. DAVID STERN: R.I.P. to commissioner who made NBA what it is: Stern died this week at 77 and is being remembered as the longtime commissioner who made the NBA an international brand it is. He's high on a very short of of greatest commissioner in the history of sports.

8. DALLAS COWBOYS: Jerry Jones finally pulls the trigger: The underperforming Cowboys finally fired coach Jason Garrett. Prominent among the possible replacements being interviewed: Mike McCarthy and Marvin Lewis. Good to see that Jerry Jones believes in recycling.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Seven days 'til LSU-Clemson title game: Two 14-0 teams ready for the College Football playoff championship in New Orleans, with LSU a 5 1/2-point favorite and the over/under inching up toward 70. Will either remember to pack a defense for the trip?

10. INTER MIAMI: Coach in place, players next, season soon: With a coach hired in Diego Alonso but players still to come, Inter Miami's inaugural Major League Soccer season is getting more and more real. And close. Countdown to season opener: 54 days.

Missing the HB10 cut: We appear to be inching closer to war with Iran. Have a nice Sunday, everybody! ..... Great to see Dolphins great Zach Thomas make the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now get him to Canyon, voters! ..... Florida beats Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Miamians still can't believe they had to watch Florida beat Virginia in the Orange Bowl ..... Update: Countdown now 2,359 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

CamwSIFTING THROUGH THE LOSING, WE ANNOUNCE THE MIAMI DOLPHINS' 2010-19 ALL-DECADE TEAM!: In another few days you will have broken a social faux pas but for now you can still wish people a Happy New Year without them looking at you funny. There are rules for these things. For example, when introducing your new head coach in early January, you probably don’t want to begin the news conference by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, as Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder did this week. That got me thinking the window is closing to name the Miami Dolphins’ All-Decade Team for 2010 to 2019, so let’s get to it. First I will pause a second for all of your snide comments and thoughts, like, a team that went 69-91 in the decade, made one playoff and won zero playoff games — did they have any good players? Well, a few, yes. So let’s bid auld lang syne to the past decade by remembering the Dolphins who were the least bad, relatively speaking. Pictured is the most obvious choice for the team: Cameron Wake. Here is our Dolphins’ All-Decade Team, after which we will name the players of the decade from the Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins. To see our team and get our full latest column, please visit Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team.

Other most recent columns: On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL RECORDS OF 2019 PLAYOFF TEAMS: Ranked by most victories:

Team                      SB W-L            Last in SB, last won

Patriots                   6-5, .545        2018 / 2018

49ers                      5-1, .833         2012 / 1995

Packers                   4-1, .800        2010 / 2010

Ravens                    2-0, 1.000       2012 / 2012

Saints                     1-0, 1.000       2009 / 2009

Chiefs                     1-1, .500        1969 / 1969

Eagles                     1-2, .333        2017 / 2017

Seahawks                1-2, .333        2014 / 2013

Titans                     0-1, .000        1999 / Never won

Bills                        0-4, .000        1993 / Never won

Vikings                    0-4, .000        1976 / Never won

Texans                    0-0, .000        Never appeared

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. [Note: This link to our APSE-honored work will appear here through the weekend and be gone starting Monday].

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 03, 2020

NFL Wild Card Weekend previews/picks: 4 playoff games, 2 upsets!; plus annual year-end polls: Wade retires (Miami), Woods' Masters (national) were biggest sports stories of 2019. Your final results; also, our Gators/Orange Bowl column & more

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 3. Happy New Year, all! Good to meet you, 2020. 2) Scroll to previous blogpost for season-ending result of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. (It is astonishingly great). 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins stun Pats in New England with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our return to Le Batard Show: For those who've asked or otherwise wondered, I'll be back on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio next week, on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

First-time winner claims season title in Herald NFL QB rankings: This was our 22nd year of NFL quarterback rankings, which began in 1998 with Steve Young the inaugural season champ. The 2019 winner had never finished higher than ninth before. For the final, expanded Top 30, visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings.

PicksWILD CARD WEEKEND! 4 GAMES, 2 UPSETS. OUR NFL FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. We finished the regular season with a .663 winning percentage overall and .518 against the spread. Now that's erased and all that matters are the 11 postseason games ahead culminating with the backyard Miami Super Bowl on February 2. For all four of our Wild Card Weekend picks -- including a pair of upsets! -- please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Wild Card Weekend Gems.

MiaANNUAL YEAR-END POLL: BIGGEST MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS STORY OF 2019: DWYANE WADE RETIRES: Final top five: 1. Dwayne Wade retires 17.37%; 2. Hurricanes lose in football to FIU 14.82%; 3. Dolphins win in New England 12.95%; 4. Heat trade for Jimmy Butler 11.48%; 5. Brian Flores hired as Dolphins coach 10.70%. Note: In a 3-vote poll, totals should be tripled to indicate how often an answer was included. In other words, if everyone in this poll used all three votes, Wade would have been included on 52.11% of all ballots -- the only finalist over half. Original post: Dwyane Wade retires, then the Heat sign Jimmy Butler. The Dolphins trade talent for draft picks as "tanking" enters the local lexicon. The Hurricanes lose to FIU, get shut out in a bowl and end 6-7. The Panthers replace retired Roberto Luongo with a star goalie and star coach. The Fins stunningly win in New England, denying the Patriots a first-round bye. These and more make our list of the top 15 choices for biggest Miami/South Florida Sports Story of 2019. (Pictured are Dwyane Wade, Brian Flores and FIU beating UM). Now here is where you come in. What was No. 1? You may select your top three (3) choices from our alphabetical poll, and from your consensus, the winner will arise. We think we know what clearly will win, but, as the saying goes ... you never know. Remember, vote for your top three. We'll announce the final results tomorrow/Friday in the blog. Go!

NattyANNUAL YEAR-END POLL: BIGGEST NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF 2019: TIGER WOODS WINS MASTERS: Final top five: 1. Tiger Woods wins Masters 25.00%; 2. Megan Rapinoe-led U.S. wins Women's World Cup 16.22%; 3. Washington wins first World Series since 1924 13.51%; 4. Simone Biles dominates world gymnastics 12.16%; 5. Kawhi Leonard leads Toronto to first NBA title 10.14%. Note: In a 3-vote poll, totals should be tripled to indicate how often an answer was included. In other words, if everyone in this poll used all three votes, Woods would have been included on 75% of all ballots. Original post: This happened in American sports in 2019: In no particular order, the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty collapsed spectacularly, a blown call kept the Saints from a Super Bowl, Zion Williamson’s sneaker exploded, the Tampa Bay Lightning got bounced in the first round after a record regular season, the NBA had a tiff with China, MLB set an all-time home run record, Team USA gagged at the FIBA World Cup, horses kept dying at Santa Anita, the NFL staged a sham workout for Colin Kaepernick, and the Angels threw a no-hitter the night they honored the late Tyler Skaggs. And none of that made our final list of nominees for Biggest National Sports Story of 2019. So, yeah, it was a pretty eventful year. It was so eventful that our poll presents our alphabetical choice of the top 15 stories (four are pictured right), and invites you to vote for up to your top three (3). From that consensus, a No. 1 will arise. Remember, vote for your top three. We'll announce the final results tomorrow/Friday in the blog. Go!

ObGATORS WIN ORANGE BOWL IN CANES' BACKYARD. COLUMN: Oh, the comeuppance. The indignity! The hated Florida Gators invaded the Miami Hurricanes’ backyard Monday night — took over UM’s own home stadium — and reminded Canes fans of all they’ve been missing lately. That would be a team that knows how to finish a season strong, and in the top 10. That would be a program rising to national relevance again, not one wondering what just went so wrong. For my full column, from the game, visit On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game.

Select recent other columns: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football / Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. [Note: This link to our APSE-honored work will appear here through the weekend and be gone starting Monday].

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote