January 22, 2019

Rams-Patriots Super Bowl: Twin polls. Who you WANT to win, who you think WILL win. Last day to vote!; plus we're all cheated by blown non-call, not just Saints (new column); also, Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

Mlk1) It's TUESDAY, JANUARY 22. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in America on Monday. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." 2) Football is at its crescendo and so it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Championship Game picks, analyzing Hurricanes' soft 2019 football schedule & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my regular Tuesday co-host spot on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz. It airs 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio affiliates and ESPNews, after a local-only 9-10 hour on Miami's 790 The Ticket. Join us!

Latest column: That late blown call robbed more than must the Saints: It robbed football fans of a Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees "Two Old G.O.A.T.s" classic, it robbed the NFL of its integrity and it robbed this Super Bowl of its legitimacy. To read our latest column, visit We All Got Cheated, Not Just Saints.

Other most recent columns: This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking / Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need / From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

SbowlRAMS-PATRIOTS IN SUPER BOWL 53: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN, WHO WILL WIN: Las Vegas sportsbooks have set New England as a slight 1 1/2-point favorite over the L.A. Rams in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in Atlanta. These polls are asking you who you want to win -- who you hope does -- versus who you you think will win, or who'd you'd bet on to win outright. It's heart vs. head. Maybe you'll vote both polls the same way, maybe you won't. Let's see. Vote now in both polls.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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:x

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's a Rams-Patriots Super Bowl!: Rams upset Saints joust for the NFC crown and then Patriots upset Chiefs for the AFC title in conference championship games Sunday. Would have/should have been a Two Old G.O.A.T.s Super Bowl -- Tom Brady, 41, vs. Drew Brees, 40 -- but an official's missed call screwed New Orleans. Home teams had won 10 straight conference championship games before both home teams lost Sunday.

2. HURRICANES: UM loses out on transfer QB, sets '19 schedule: They hired the Alabama quarterbacks coach as their new offensive coordinator. It wasn't enough. The Canes lost transfer-QB Jalen Hurts to Oklahoma, anyway. The good news for UM football? The 2019 schedule is out and, with only one ranked opponent, it looks like it came together in one of Manny Diaz's sweet dreams.

3. HEAT: Wade hits 14 off bench in his final game in hometown of Chicago: Miami is even again at .500 (22-22) after last night's win in Chicago, after which Dwyane Wade (newly turned 37) swapped jerseys with the Bulls' mascot, Benny. OK so it's only midseason and we're running out of jersey-swap recipients? Wade scored 14 off bench in his final game in his hometown. Meantime Dion Waiters got fined for publicly complaining about playing time. Um, would that be the same guy who was dead weight as he took, like, two seasons to get over an ankle injury?

4. UM BASKETBALL: Larranaga pleads for Hernandez eligibility: Canes men fell to 9-8 and 1-4 in ACC with Saturday's loss to No. 13 North Carolina. (At least UM women are percolating at 15-4/3-1). NCAA continues to rule Dewan Hernandez ineligible even with Jim Larranaga's impassioned argument that Hernandez was "duped" by his AAU coach.

5. TENNIS: Aussie Open getting good at midpoint: Two-time defending Australia Open champ Roger Federer was upset Sunday by young Greek Stafanos Tsitsipas, and on Monday, Serena Williams continued her search for women's majors record by ousting world No. 1 Simona Halep. We're heating up in Melbourne!

6. DOLPHINS: Fins still waiting on Patriots for new coach hire: Could have happen with Patriots losing last night; instead, Miami will now have to wait until after the Super Bowl to hire New England linebackers coach Brian Flores as their new head coach. Unless everybody has this wrong. Which would be sort of hilarious.

7. PANTHERS: Finally! Cats end 7-game skid: The wildly erratic, roller-coaster-y Panthers are 19-28 after two straight wins that followed a seven-game losing skid. Now comes a five-game homestand starting Monday vs. San Jose, and where that leads, nobody knows. 

8. MARLINS: Fish set spring dates, unveil golf: Miami will commence Season 2 of the Derek Jeter era on Feb. 13 (pitchers and catchers) and Feb. 18 (full squad). Meanwhile there's a temporary 9-hole golf course set up at the ballpark. How about instead of nine holes of golf the Marlins give us  nine innings of winning baseball?

9. BOXING: Pacquiao wins, seeks Mayweather rematch: Manny Pacquiao won his first match since turning 40 Saturday night in Las Vegas, beating Adrien Broner unanimously, and now is seeking a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Fight fans around the world responded by saying, "NOOOOO!"

10. CANES BASEBALL: DiMare era on deck for UM: UM baseball season rolls out Feb. 8 with the First Pitch Banquet, Feb. 9 with the Alumni Game, then Feb. 15-17 with opening weekend vs. Rutgers. With coach Jim Morris retired after 25 seasons, it's Gino DiMare time!

Missing the HB10 cut: The annual college Senior Bowl is in six days, answering the question: "Wait. Guys still sometimes play their senior year!?" ..... Update: Countdown now 2,710 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 19, 2019

Our AFC, NFC Championship Game picks: 2 old G.O.A.T.s are trying to reach Super Bowl. Only 1 will; plus Canes' 2019 football schedule looks like Manny Diaz dreamed it, happy birthday D.Wade, why Dolphins' 'Tank for '20' plan is risky & more

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

Dwhappybday1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 19. Happy birthday Dwyane Wade as Heat star turned 37 this week. He's Miami sports' all-time G.O.A.T. Or co-G.O.A.T. with Dan Marino, if you insist. 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from this week's Le Batard Show. 3) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, how we did on NFL Divisional-Round picks & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Newest column: Why Dolphins' supposed 'Tank for '20' strategy is dumb and risky: To read our latest column, visit This Is Offseason for Dolphins to Be Bold, Not Think Tanking.

Our other most recent columns: Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them / Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Also: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES: AND THE SUPER BOWL MATCHUP IS...: It's Rams-at-Saints and then Patriots-at-Chiefs on Sunday in play-in games for the Super Bowl. It's the first time in the SB era the league's four highest-scoring offenses have made the final four. Also only the eighth time in the 29 years of the current playoff format that both conference title games are No. 1 vs. 2 seeds. Oh, yeah: And two old G.O.A.T.s -- 40-something QBs Tom Brady and Drew Brees -- are trying to make it. Will both make it? Just one? Neither? Sunday should be a ratings bonanza for the NFL. For our Championship Sunday preview and predictions, visit Championship Round Gems.

MdiazANALYZING 2019 HURRICANES FOOTBALL SCHEDULE: MANNY DIAZ SHOULD BE SMILING: The Miami Hurricanes' 2019 football schedule, revealed yesterday, starts big and tough, vs. the Florida Gators in Orlando, but then turns soft. And stays that way. And for openers, Florida in-state is not as daunting a Game 1 as LSU was this past season in Arlington, Tex. Florida, 10-3 last season, is the only '19 UM foe ranked in the final 2018 polls. Miami's other 11 opponents were a combined 62-76 last season. Florida, in fact, may be the only game in which UM is the betting underdog. The schedule is such that the Canes wull have a big shot at padding the record and being ranked if they can find a way to beat the Gators. Miami's schedule also is favorable from a travel standpoint. UM plays five straight home games (Games 3 through 7) and -- because three of its road games are in Orlando, Tallahassee and at Marlins Park -- the Canes will travel out of state only three times all season. "Win%" below is our estimation of likelihood Miami will win, based on game's expected point spread. It sets up as a very favorable schedule for first-year coach Manny Diaz. Presuming he finds a good quarterback, of course.

Date       Opponent                    2018   Most recent meeting   Win%

Aug 31    Florida                        10-3   Won 21-16 (2013)        45%

Sep 7      @ North Carolina           2-9   Won 47-10                   70%

Sep 14    Bethune-Cookman         7-5   Won 45-14 (2011)         99%

Sep 21    Central Michigan           1-11  First meeting              99%  

Oct 5     Virginia Tech                 6-7    Won 38-14                   70%

Oct 11    Virginia                         8-5    Lost 16-13                  65%

Oct 19   Georgia Tech                 7-6    Lost 27-21                   65%

Oct 26   @ Pittsburgh                 7-7    Won 24-3                     60%

Nov 2    @ Florida State              5-7    Won 28-27                   55%

Nov 9    Louisville                      2-10   Lost 31-13 (2014)         70%

Nov 23   FIU                              9-4    Won 31-17                    90%

Nov 30   @ Duke                        8-5    Lost 20-12                    55%

Notes: All most recent meetings were last season except as noted. Florida opener is neutral-site game in Orlando. Virginia game is a Friday; all others are Saturday. FIU game is being play at Marlins Park.

APSE-HONORED WORKThe 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 16, 2019

An overarching lesson for Dolphins in NFL's final four -- on how they got there, why they win. Newest column; plus R.I.P. Bob Kuechenberg, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), how we did on our NFL Divisional-Round picks & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Divisional-Round Playoff Picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: The lesson for Dolphins in NFL's final four: The Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams have something in common. It should be obvious to the Miami Dolphins and anybody else trying to get from here to really good. To read my latest column, visit Blueprint For Dolphins Is Right In Front Of Them.

Our other most recent columns: Kooch Never Made Canton But Helped Make Dolphins History / A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Also: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / DIVISIONAL-ROUND (UPDATED): HOW WE DID IN WINNOW TO FINAL FOUR: We went 3-1 overall but only 1-3 against the spread on our weekend Divisional-Round playoff picks, with the Saints and Cowboys narrowly failing to cover for us. Our gambling that the Colts would upset Chiefs -- that was just a plain misfire. A bad one. For the whole playoffs we're now 5-3 overall and 3-5 ATS following a magical, record-setting regular season with our NFL picks (.705 winning percentage straight-up, .582 against the spread). Visit NFL Divisional-Round Gems for all of our past weekend's picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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:x

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Will new OC from 'Bama mean Jalen Hurts, too?: Hmm, well this is interesting! Manny Diaz hires Alabama quarterbacks coach Dan Enos to be the Canes' new offensive coordinator, and now it seems the Tide's transfer-minded QB Jalen Hurts may follow. As two-for-one package deals go, that's a goody!

2. DOLPHINS: Fins coach-search has eye on New England: Miami' search to replace fired Adam Gase (now deliciously with the Jets) has zeroed in on Patriots linebackers coach defensive play-caller Brian Flores, according to most every professional guesser. Motto: "If You Can't Beat Bill Belichick, At Least Steal One of His Top Assistants."

3. HEAT: Big loss cools heating-up Heat: They're still a modest 21-21, but Miami had won two straight and 10 of its past 14 before last night's blowout loss in Milwaukee to open a four-game road trip. Good news: Now sixth in the East. Bad news: Still a long climb to fourth.

4. NFL: And the Final Four is set!: It'll be Patriots at Chiefs and Rams at Saints in the AFC and NFC championship games next week -- the play-in to the Super Bowl. Kansas City an New Orleans both were token 3-point home favorites as betting lines opened.

5. PANTHERS: Coach in peril as skid reaches 7 games?: Florida had won six of previous eight games but now has plunged to seven straight losses and is 17-28 and way off playoff pace. Coach Bob Boughner's job has to be on thin ice. Doesn't it!? 

6. BOB KUECHENBERG: All-time great Dolphins guard dies: The Miami Dolphins family lost "Kooch" Saturday night at 71, cause of death not yet revealed. A two-time Super Bowl champ in a career that spanned 1970-84, his 196 games played for the club were more than all but Dan Marino and Jason Taylor.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men need answers, fast: While the UM women are sailing at 14-4 and just outside the Top 25, the Canes men are 9-7 after a 5-0 start -- and now face ranked opponents in five of their next seven games. Got any answers, Jim Larranaga? 

8. TENNIS: Murray out quick as Aussie Open begins: Andy Murray says he is retiring and that the Australian Open now underway (from which he quickly lost Sunday) could be his last. No offense, but after missing most of the past 18 month battling various injuries, I thought Murray already was retired.

9. TIM TEBOW: He proposes marriage, she says yes!: The former football quarterback turned baseball minor-leaguer asked Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, Miss Universe 2017, to marry him, and she said yes. Not sure why this is news. But it is.

10. ROB GRONKOWSKI: Patriots tight ends mulling retirement: Is that still news? Gronk's prime retired about two years ago.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,717 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2019

NFL Divisional-Round playoff picks: Like a redwood in Cali, a No. 1 seed shall fall!; plus the Dolphins' 1 need that dwarfs team's coaching search in importance & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JANUARY 12. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from this week's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In May Day (Dating Sites!) coughs in around the 52-minute mark. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your verdict on biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2018 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Dolphins coach-search, and what's an even bigger need: Miami is trying to find a new coach (with Patriots' Brian Flores the supposed favorite) who may or may not be better than Adam Gase, now the Jets' coach. But a bigger, more important decision looms after that. For my newest column, visit A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need. Other most recent columns: From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 / Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm / Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

Divrd PicksNFL PLAYOFF PICKS / DIVISIONAL-ROUND: DOWN TO FINAL EIGHT, AND THE 4 SURVIVORS ARE..: Now it begins for real. At least that's the way I see it. The Super Bowl Tournament started with a dozen teams but has weeded out the four pretenders, and now we're down to the Great Eight (or lucky more than great in the case of Philadelphia, at least). We're here off a magical, record-setting regular season with our NFL picks (.705 winning percentage straight-up, .582 against the spread), but we were reminded last week the postseason is a greater challenge. No chaff; all wheat. Wild-Card Weekend saw us 2-2 both overall and vs. the betting line, highlighted by our upset call on Chargers winning in Baltimore. Now the No. 1 and 2 seeds are in play after byes last week so, again, now it begins for real. Our four Divisional-Round picks include a stunning upset loss by a No. 1 seed. (But which one?) Visit NFL Divisional-Round Gems for all of our latest selections.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2019

Why a better coach isn't Dolphins' biggest need. My new column; plus here's your verdict on biggest Miami sports story of 2018, our LeBatard and Canes Chaos-to-Calm columns, new Back In My Day (Dating Sites!) & more

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

Uswed1) It's THURSDAY, JANUARY 10. Happy Anniversary to my wife! She is the greatest person I know, and I'm not even kidding. It's our wedding day at right. Awful photo, great day. 2) Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. The new Back In May Day (Dating Sites!) coughs in around the 52-minute mark. 3) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest Miami sports story of 2018 poll, your biggest-national-story verdict, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New column: On Dolphins coach-search, then what's really important: Miami is trying to find a new coach who may or may not be bettre than Ada, Gase. That's fine. But a bigger, more important decision looms after that. For my newest column, visit A Better Coach Isn't Dolphins' Biggest Need.

The Le Batard profile, Canes' Chaos-to-Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for an unusually personal column by me. And UM athletic director Blake James talks about the day when Canes football went from upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm. Other recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff / The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

YOUR VERDICT ON MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018!: This was our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. Would the vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 be tougher, and closer? You decided. We gave you a roughly alphabetical list of our top 20 finalists, invited you to select your top six, and from that consensus came your verdict. More than 1,400 votes were cast, and here are your top five Miami sports stories of 2018, with my comment:

Diazreturns1. Richt resigns after 7-6 season; UM lures back Diaz from Temple -- 22.74%: Year-end bombshell that rocked Canes was an unsurprising winner. 

2. Inter Miami expansion MLS team wins stadium vote -- 15.21%: Hmm. This was running in 5% range but spiked due to organized rally by Inter Miami fans.
 
3. 'Miami Miracle' stuns Patriots on 69-yard trick play to end game -- 12.08%: Rare a single play would be so big, but this was an exception.
 
4. Wade re-signs with Heat for 'Last Dance' farewell season -- 9.81%: Thought this had a shot to compete for title.
 
 
Rounding out the top 10: Marlins trade Yelich, who wins MVP for Milwaukee 3.91%; Jeter's 1st year as Marlins CEO ends with NL-worst record 3.77%; Miami among sites as U.S. wins joint bid to host 2026 World Cup; Wayne Huizenga, Marlins/Panthers founder, ex-Dolphins owner, dies 3.26%; and Local teams rally, lend support after Majory Stoneman Douglas tragedy 3.06%.
 
Ranking 11th through 15th: Miami Open tennis leaves Key Biscayne for Hard Rock Stadium 2.77%; Dolphins part with Landry, Suh, Pouncey 2.70%; FIU wins bowl for school-record 9-win season 2.49%; Jim Morris retires after 25 years as Canes baseball coach 2.35%; and Serena Williams returns from pregnancy, reaches 2 Grand Slam finals 1.92%.
 
The bottom feeders: Tannehill returns from injuries, ends year with Dolphins future in doubt 0.85: Miamian Carlos Cordeiro elected president of U.S. Soccer 0.71%; UM men's basketball implicated, cleared in national FBI recruiting probe 0.50%; Joey Logano wins NASCAR season title at Homestead 0.43%; and Alabama wins Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal 0.28%.
 

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 08, 2019

What was Miami's biggest sport story of 2018? Our 20 finalists. You pick top 6. Annual poll. Last day to vote!; plus my LeBatard and Canes columns, Radio Tuesday, Hot Button Top 10, how we did on NFL playoff picks, your top-national-story winner & more

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

1) It's TUESDAY, JANUARY 8. Yes I might still say "Happy New Year" and I don't care who objects with their silly rules. 2) Football is at its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend picks, biggest-national-sports-story-of-2018 poll, make-Wade-an-all-star column & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today on the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, my first time back with Dan and Stu since before the holidays. Show airs 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Miami's 790 The Ticket and nationally on ESPN Radio affiliates and on ESPNews from 10 to 1. Join us! 

The Le Batard, Canes' Chaos to Calm columns: Visit From Dark and Empty to the Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50 for a special, unusually personal column by me. And, in my latest column, UM director of athletics Blake James takes us behind the scenes on the day when Canes football when from a bombshell of upheaval to the calm of continuity within hours. Visit Hurricanes' Wild Ride From Chaos to Calm.

Other most recent columns: Wade Deserves All-Star Sendoff. Also: The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time / Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM / Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes / Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

PicksNFL playoff picks: Wild-Card Weekend results: I finished 2-2 straight-up and 2-2 against the spread in the Saturday/Sunday TV doubleheaders that got the postseason underway. Straivght-up, I called the Chargers upset win and also had Cowboys winning. ATS, got the Chargers and Eagles covering at Chicago. Got a bit unlucky. Was sailing with Dallas to cover until that late Seattle score and 2-point conversion. And had Bears straight-up if not for that double-boink final makeable field goal miss. Thanks, Cody Parkey. Visit NFL Wild-Card Weekend Gems for all of our opening round selections.

Miami18WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2018? VOTING CONTINUES!: [Note: Voting continues through today and results will be announced here Wednesday morning]. This is our third year doing this. In 2016 you voted the tragic death of Jose Fernandez the biggest local story of the year, and for 2017 it was the Hurricanes' Turnover Chain-fueled surge to UM's first 10-win season in 14 years. The vote to name the biggest local story of 2018 could be tougher, and closer. We'll see. And you'll decide. Previously we invited you to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2018 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from a roughly alphabetical top 20 of my choosing. You may vote for your top six (6). I offer no synopsis beyond the description phrase in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Voting will continue until results are announced here mid-afternoon Tuesday. OK. Ready? Vote!

VOTE FOR YOUR TOP SIX (6)

EaglesYOUR BIGGEST NATIONAL SPORTS STORY VERDICT: We gave you The Associated Press year-end list of Top 10 national sports stories for 2018 and invited you to select your top three. That means the highest possible percentage for any one answer would be 33.3 percent if all voters cast all three votes. Triple each vote total below for the approximate percent of times that answer was included in a top three. Your results: 1. Eagles win first Super Bowl 22.43%; 2. Larry Nasser/gymnastics sexual abuse scandal 20.15%; 3. Supreme Court allows sports betting beyond Las Vegas 15.59%; 4. Tiger Woods comeback from back surgery 9.89%; and 5. Maryland-Baltimore County first 16-seed to beat a No.1 in NCAAs 9.13%. (Nasser/gymnastics scandal won The AP vote). Others: Red Sox win World Series 6.84%; Sister Jean, 98, inspires Loyola-Chicago to NCAA Final Four 4.94%; expansion Golden Knights reach Stanley Cup Finals 4.18%; Alabama wins fifth national title under Nick Saban 4.18%; and Russia doping scandal continues into Pyeongchang Olympics 2.66%.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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 in search for Gase's replacement as coach: Adam Gase is out. Chris Grier gets the personnel power Mike Tannenbaum had. The search is on for a new head coach. And none if it matters as much as this: Finding a quarterback better than Ryan Tannehill.

2. HURRICANES: Diaz continues assembling new staff: New head coach Manny Diaz digs in to try and find a new offensive coordinator to breathe life into the underperforming half of the team. Major Applewhite, perhaps? No matter who the new OC is, will N'Kosi Perry be his guy?

3. NFL: Colts, Cowboys, Chargers, Eagles advance as playoffs begin: Indianapolis won impressively in Houston, handled Seattle, the Chargers upset Baltimore and Philly upset Chicago to open the playoffs -- the latter only because Cody Parkey blew a 43-yard FG try in last seconds.

4. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Clemson routs Alabama for CFP title: Crimson Tide and Tigers met Monday night in Santa Clara, Calif., with both teams 14-0 and 'Bama a 5 1/2-point favorite, but it was Clemson winning in a rout, 44-16. We've seldom seen Nick Saban look so sad. Ain't it great!?

5. HEAT: All-star push for Wade is on: As Heat have won eight of past 11 and are at .500 in East race, the push is on to send Dwyane Wade off as an all-star in his final season. He's running second in fan voting. Now we'll see if the player and media vote gets it right, too.

6. UM BASKETBALL: ACC schedule begins for Canes men, women: Now it gets real. Struggling UM men dropped their ACC opener, fell at Louisville last night and now play at No. 9 Florida State Wednesday. Canes women are 14-3 after two wins to open ACC play but somehow slipped from Top 25.

7. JAMES HARDEN: Rockets star's pointfest continues: Harden has now scored 30 or more points in 13 straight games, and NBA record. There are points hidden in Harden's beard.

8. PANTHERS: Hints of hope for Cats, but is it too late?: Cats at midseason are 17-23 and a big nine points off playoff pace as they head out on five-game road trip. Even a big second half might not be enough -- not a good position to have placed yourself.

9. NBA: Warriors, King set 3's mark: Golden State and Sacramento combined for 41 3's, an NBA record. The game's evolution is such, when you pull up for a 2-point jump shot now, they look at you funny.

10. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still on hold: A destination of top free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. A trade of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Women carry babies in their wombs less time than it's taken these deals to happen.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,724 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

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

Twitter @gregcote

January 01, 2019

GASE FIRING, RICHT RETIREMENT ROCK MIAMI FOOTBALL! With my 3 (!) new columns; plus season-final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.9%; also, Fins fall at Bills 42-17 to end 7-9, Alabama wins OB, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 31. The season-final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter rating is its lowest since 2014. Go HERE for the sad details. 2) Last chance: Visit MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch our annual holiday video. It's ho-ho-horrible! 3) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the (late) gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Alabama beats Oklahoma in Orange Bowl/CFP semifinal, Clemson-Notre Dame, Gators-Michigan & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

COLUMN ON GASE FIRING, TANNENBAUM DEMOTION:To read, visit The Dolphins Seem Desperate, And It's About Time.

COLUMNS ON RICHT RETIREMENT, DIAZ TAKING JOB: To read, visit Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes and Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM.

Column: Alabama dynasty? Canes have been there, done that. But have they just seen map to getting back?: For my column from the stadium off last night's Alabama win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl/CFP semfinal, visit 'Bama Shows Miami The Way Back To That Good. Also: Miami's Hate-Hate Relationship With Nick Saban.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 6.9%: Results are certified in the latest and season-final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they 6.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 42-17 loss at Buffalo putting Miami's final season record at 7-9. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this is  the final 2018 DSM poll, we suggested added emphasis for "season as a whole." Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10:30 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. The approval there was 24 %).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

G:15 3.4% following 17-7 loss vs. Jacksonville. 

G16/Final: 6.9% following 42-17 loss at Buffalo.

Yearly DSM Results: 2018--6.9% (following 7-9 season); 2017--7.7% (6-10); 2016--76.2% (10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

MiabufG16: @BUFFALO 42, DOLPHINS 17: ANOTHER ROAD COLLAPSE AS MIAMI ENDS 7-9: Final thoughts: Been preoccupied today with Mark Richt's sudden retirement. Plus, my postgame thoughts for this Dolphins loss might include swear words, so let's leave it alone ..... Original post: NFL Week 17 features all division games, all on Sunday, and 13 of the 16 matter in some way — either featuring a playoff-bound team or having a direct bearing on the postseason and its seeding order. Alas, this is one of the three exceptions: A sad wheeze to the finish line for two teams bereft of all playoff hope as the 7-8 Fins visit 5-10 Buffalo at 1 on CBS, with Miami a 3 1/2-point underdog. The Dolphins sag in with two straight losses and the Bills with four in the past five games. Expected weather in the 30s will provide a fitting tableau for a game both teams would just as soon not be playing. Fins lucked to beat Bison 21-17 on Dec. 2 when Charles (Hands Of) Clay failed to catch the game-winning pass in the end zone in the closing seconds. Make it Bills here in a venue call. Miami is 1-6 on the road this year, and has won only nine of its past 26 trips to Orchard Park. Dolphins also will be missing top cover-guy Xavien Howard for a fourth straight game. (Quick aside: Probably not a good sign when your team’s MVP award is won by a cornerback in an average pass defense who missed a quarter of the season injured. Suggests a paucity of worthy candidates. It was Ryan Tannehill’s award to win in his comeback season, but until he finds the map to the playoffs, his Dolphins future will forever be cast in doubt). I’ll hedge here with that extra half-point on the bet-line, though. See Fins within a field goal in a low-scoring game owing to offensive meekness more than defensive might. By the way, Miami didn’t really start out 3-0 this season, did it? We imagined that, right? My pick: Buffalo, 20-17.

Visit Week 17 Gems for all of our regular season-ending selections.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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:

Hotbutton

1. HURRICANES: Richt abruptly retires in wake of rout-loss in bowl, Diaz returns: UM somehow got crushed and embarrassed 35-3 to a five-loss Wisconsin team in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, closing a disappointing 7-6 season. Sunday, bad got worse with Mark Richt's abrupt retirement as head coach. Then got better with Manny Diaz returning to replace him. Crazy. For my new columns: Richt Can Call It Retirement, But He Just Quit On The Canes and Getting Diaz Back The Perfect Fit For UM.

2. DOLPHINS: Gase fired, Tannenbaum demoted in wake of 7-9 season: An embarrassing 42-17 loss in Buffalo Sunday ended a 7-9 season. On Monday, the Fins fired coach Adam Gase and gave Mike Tannenbaum's power over personnel to Chris Grier. Crazy II. What a wild two days and end of year for football in Miami.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama wins Orange Bowl for a Tide-Clemson finale: The 85th Orange Bowl gave us two games in one Saturday night: Alabama racing to a fast 28-0 lead and then Oklahoma dominating after that. The only game that counted, though? 'Bama, 45-34, in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Hard Rock, making it Crimson Tide vs. Clemson in the championship game week from Monday. Reports that Nick Saban may have almost smiled in the closing seconds could not be substantiated.

4. HEAT: No Dragic, no problem for hot Heat: Despite Goran Dragic's extended injury absence the Heat has won six of past seven to climb to 17-17 and sixth place in East. This evening vs. Minnesota, Miami will try -- again-- to top .500 for the first time since 3-2. 

5. UM BASKETBALL: ACC schedule begins for Canes men, women: Miami men are 8-4 and the women 11-2 and ranked No. 24, but it's been breadsticks and appetizers. The meat and potatoes start this week, on Thursday with the women hosting Virginia Tech and then the men hosting No. 20 North Carolina State.

6. NFL: Six teams alive for three remaining playoff spots: Math, NFL style, as the regular seasons concludes today: 32 teams, 12 playoff spots; 17 teams eliminated (sorry, Miami), 15 teams still in it; 9 teams have clinched postseason tickets, 6 still alive for the final 3 spots to be determined today.

7. GATORS: Florida upsets Michigan in Peach Bowl rout: Florida finishes 10-3 with a 41-15 bowl-rout of Michigan in the Peach, led by QB Feliepe Franks. State teams now 2-2 in bowls, with FIU joingin Flirida win win column, and UM and South Florida falling. UCF plays LSU in the Fiesta on Tuesday.

8. PANTHERS: Hints of hope for Cats, but is it too late?: Florida has won five of its past seven games but still langusihes at 16-21 and seven points off playoff pace nearing NHL midseason. Whole year has been a long climb from those 0-4 and 2-10 starts.

9. UCF: Former cheat Jones reclaims title: Repeated PEDs cheat Jon Jones, in his first fight in 17 months, last night defeated Alexander Gustafsson to reclaim his light-heavyweight title in UFC 232, immediately talking up a rematch with rival Daniel Cormier. It's sure to happen, too, pending Jones' next test-positive.

10. FLOYD MAYWEATHER: Bizarre fight in Tokyo on deck: Floyd Mayweather loves attention almost as much as he loves money, so he is fighting Japanese kick-boxing star Tenshin Nasukawa in a bizarre three-round exhibition under boxing rules on New Year's Eve. America has never heard of Nasukawa but is now his biggest fan.

Missing the HB10 cut: Baseball free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still unsigned and Marlins' J.T. Realmuto still has not been traded. Updates as warranted ..... Update: Countdown now 2,731 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns:End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too? / Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2018

On tonight's big Heat test, Dolphins award winners; plus my annual Christmas/holiday video, this year with Jeter, Beckham, Gase and Wade; also, Herald NFL QB rankings (fight to the finish), Pix 'n Fantasy results (Yes, I went 15-1) & more

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

Mc1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope y'all had a Merry Christmas, fellow Christians, and a joyous holiday season to all! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, ButchCats & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our 'Debacle of Disappearing Dolphins' column: The Grinch stole the playoffs in Sunday's 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. Did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job? I explore in my column from the stadium off the game. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too? to read.

MerryxmasMERRY CHRISTMAS! IT'S OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY VIDEO AND IT'S HO-HO-HORRRIBLEE!: That's me unsmiling in red with a bad beard. My holiday friends are Marlins boss Derek Jeter in blue, Dolphins coach Adam Gase in yellow, MLS Miami potentate David Beckham in green and of course Heat star Dwyane Wade in whatever the heck color that is. The five of us recently got together for a sled race that was recorded for my annual holiday greeting. (Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedules, fellas). Hope you enjoy! Click MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch.

JoshrON HEAT'S TELLING TEST TONIGHT: Toronto at Miami tonight is a bigger than typical midseason test for the suddenly surging Heat. (Leading scorer Josh Richardson is pictured). Miami rides the NBA's best current winning streak (five games) to 16-16 and tonight can go over .500 for the first time since 3-2. But to do that they must beat the best team in the league in the Raptors, who are 25-10 and atop the standings. Toronto beat Miami 125-115 one month ago in Canada. Is Miami a team that can contend for a top-four playoff seed or will be scrambling for an eighth? Look for clues tonight. Encouraging sign: The Heat surge has been without Goran Dragic, who is out for several more weeks following knee surgery.

XhowardON DOLPHINS' 2018 TEAM AWARD WINNERS: Announced today, it's cornerback Xavien Howard (pictured) as Most Valuable Player, running back Frank Gore the Leadership Award, quarterback Ryan Tannehill the Courage Award, and wide receiver Kenny Stills the Community Service Award. Quick thoughts: No complaint with any of the choices, but  I don't think it's a good sign when a CB on a middle-of-the-pack pass defense is your season MVP. Or, put another way, when your QB or some other offensive skill-position player failed to rise up and seize the award.

NfolesFOLES WINS WEEK, MAHOMES TAKES NARROW LEAD TO FINISH LINE / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 16: The Eagles' Nick Foles (pictured) takes Week 16 honors with a big 58.55-point game, but, more importantly, the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes maintains his overall No. 1 spot in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. Mahomes has a scant 4.20-point lead over the Saints' Drew Brees, and it figures as a two-man race for the season championship entering the final week. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill falls one spot to 30th overall. Our rankings are cumulative, but with bye weeks finished the playing field has leveled for the stretch run. This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering the Week 17 finale:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 16
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK16        Season

1       1       Patrick Mahomes, KC           28.65         588.80

2       2       Drew Brees, NO                   39.30        584.60

3       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    29.95        556.25

4       4       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        44.00        550.10

5       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 40.65        544.80

6       7       Andrew Luck, IND                40.85        534.40

7       6       Philip Rivers, LAC                12.05        506.60

8       8       Jared Goff, LAR                  32.80        491.45

9       11     Aaron Rodgers, GB              52.10        468.30

10     10     Deshaun Watson, HOU         40.95        467.55

11     9       Tom Brady, NE                    10.30         462.25

12     12     Derek Carr, OAK                  25.35        440.20

13     14     Eli Manning, NYG                32.45        428.40

14     15     Dak Prescott, DAL               31.05        425.85

15     16     Russell Wilson, SEA             34.55        423.80

16     13     Cam Newton, CAR               DNP          401.75

17     17     Matthew Stafford, DET        9.80          395.55

18     18     Carson Wentz, PHI              DNP           377.70

19     19     Mitch Trubisky, CHI            41.30          373.00

20     21     Baker Mayfield, CLE          45.20          371.45

21     20     Case Keenum, DEN            19.10         348.90

22     22     Marcus Mariota, TEN         14.50          297.40

23     23     Andy Dalton, CIN               DNP           270.30

24     28     Jameis Winston, TB          39.80          254.35

25     24     Joe Flacco, BAL                 DNP           246.25

30     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA          15.30          218.60

34     33     Brock Osweiler, MIA           DNP           126.35

Bubble: Blake Bortles, JAC, 238.60. Week 16 best: Nick Foles, PHI, 58.55 (35-49, 471, 4-1 in win). Week 16 worst: Josh Rosen, ARI, 5.35 (12-23, 87, 0-0 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 16 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: STRONG ... AND STRONG!: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picks: Strong. Again. My surreal season continues. We went 15-1 -- yes 15-1 -- overall, missing only on the Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. (Thanks, Fins). And we were 9-7 against the spread. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Ravens winning at Chargers ("Aawwk!"), and two other outright upsets Seahawks beating Chiefs and Raiders beating Broncos last night. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Redskins, Bengals and Giants. All in all, maybe our best season ever girds for its final week! Greg's Lobos: Strong. The Lobos ended 2-1 in the consolation-bracket playoffs after a 5-8 regular season. We closed with a 167.8 to 125.3 rout of Sarah Spain, led by Deshaun Watson's 36.5 points. We'll get 'em next year, because ... #WeAreTheLobos!

Select other recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 24, 2018

How satisfied are you with the Dolphins? Latest DSM postgame poll. Vote now!; plus embarrassing Fins lose 17-7 to Jax, end playoff hope. Gase, Tannehill on outs? My game column; plus newest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

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

Ceve1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Weeek 16 picks, FIU wins Bahamas Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our 'Debacle of Disappearing Dolphins' column: The Grinch stole the playoffs in Sunday's dispiriting 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. But did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job. I explore in my column from the stadium off the game. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. Of Tannehill, Gase, too? to read. Other most recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era and How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: Time again for the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 17-7 home loss to Jacksonville putting Miami's season record at 7-8 and eliminating the Fins from playoff contention. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 8 a.m. Tuesday/Christmas morning. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. You may vote there now, too.

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

G:15 Voting now underway following 17-7 loss vs. Jacksonville. 

G15: JACKSONVILLE 17, @DOLPHINS 7 (FINAL): PLAYOFF HOPE EXPIRES AS MIAMI CLOSES HOME SEASON: Final thoughts: An embarrassing loss by Miami, which had been 6-1 at home this season, to a Jags team that was one of the NFL's biggest disappointments. No excuses for playoff hope to officially expire in this manner. Read my column from the game HERE ..... 4Q: JAC 17-7 on Telvin Smith 32-yard return of Tannehill interception ... JAC 10-7 on 26-yard FG, first score of game since first quarter. It's pretty bad when three points feels like a big hole for Miami ... OK. Next score wins? ..... 3Q: Jags have 1st at Miami 17 after turnover, end up with 4th and 46 and punt. A lot of awfulness on display here ... Oh my. Miami's Bolden loses fumble at own 17. Ex-Cane Calais Campbell recovers ... Jalen Davis blitz-sack for Miami forces Jags punt ... Kessler back at QB for Jags to open second half ..... Halftime thoughts: One good drive by the Miami offense, one bad series by the defense and bunch of nothing about summarizes this 7-7 first half. Telling: Fins get ball at Jags 33 after fumble recovery and fail to score. This game is to close. You must beat a bad Jax team at home! ..... 2Q: Jags have 44-yard punt return but miss 55-yard FG on last play of half ... Wake 3rd-down sack forces punt after Bortles replaces shaken-up Kessler ... Fins' Branch recovers Kessler fumble at Jags 33 but Miami fails to take advantage, misses 47-yard FG ..... 1Q: JAC 7-7 on Fournette 1-yard TD run. Fins defense looked as bad that series as the offense looked good in taking the lead ... MIA 7-0 on Tannehill-Bolden 4-yard TD pass. Ends impressive 78-yard opening drive that includes completions of 20 to Amendola, 31 to Ballage ..... Pregame notes: Xavien Howard is among Miami's inactives. They'd hoped he'd play; instead he's out a third straight game ... Betting line has dipped from Miami favored by 4 to 3 1/2 ..... Original post: Jacksonville, one of the NFL's biggest disappointments, is 4-10. Miami is a standard still-mediocre disappointment at 7-7. Together they make a 1 p.m. Hard Rock kickoff that won't set ratings records for CBS as the Dolphins close their home season before next week's finale at Buffalo. Example No. 438 of how little faith there is Mia Jaxin Miami: The Dolphins are favored by a mere 4 points, or only one point above standard home-field advantage over a colossally disappointing Jacksonville team that has lost nine of its past 10 games. Oh, and that’s with the Jaguars 1-5 on the road while Fins are a stout 6-1 at home. And with Miami still fighting on the periphery of playoff contention while Jags are mentally headed to the first tee. An insult, this 4-point line! QB Blake Bortles was bad enough for Jax to bench him but Cody Kessler has been worse. By a lot. Kessler has led one touchdown drive in 31 possessions over three games since taking over, yet will start again. Ryan Tannehill is sure to look great Sunday if only in contrast to his counterpart’s epic putridity. That figures as Miami’s secret weapon today: The other team’s QB. Dolphins also expect to have top cornerback (and lone Pro Bowl pick) Xavien Howard back from injury. Jaguars’ only real hope is to feed Leonard Fournette enough carries to reduce chances of Kessler doing something dumb. As for my earlier putting "Miami" and "playoff contention" in the same sentence, the two technically fit although it’s win-out-and-pray for the Fins. Closing at Buffalo next week won’t be easy. Neither will getting sufficient help from a confluence of other results all falling just right. But beating Jax and Cody Kessler at home? This should be the easy part of what’s left. Call it a little consolation parting holiday gift from from the Dolphins to Dolfans in the season's home finale -- a little thank-you for enduring what is looking like yet another ultimately unfulfilling Miami season. My pick: Dolphins,24-13.

Visit Week 16 Gems for all of our latest NFL selections. Had a good Saturday. Called Ravens' upset at Chargers in a bull's-eye of an Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Was perfect on Titans beating 'Skins until that last-second pick-six ruined us against the spread. Oh well. Them breaks work both ways.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 23-24): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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. DOLPHINS: Miami ends home season sourly to end playoff hope: Miami playoff hopes were on life support entering the game. The plug was pulled with Ryan Tannehill's late pikc-six interception sealing Sunday's 17-7 home loss to lowly Jacksonville. Now, let the speculation about Ryan Tannehill and Adam Gase's futures begin!

2. HEAT: Hot Heat finally hitting their stride: Miami has won five in a row and nine of post 12 to surge onto playoff pace (current seventh seed) with Sunday's win in Orlando, as Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside do some heavy lifting. Heat has reached .500 at 16-16 and on Wednesday can top it for the first time since 3-2.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Five days' til CFP Orange Bowl semifinal: It'll be No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl this coming Saturday -- the sexier of the two College Football Playoff semifinals. (Sorry, Clemson-Notre Dame). With the Dolphins and Canes a combined 14-13, it'll be a nice change to see excellence on the Hard Rock field for a change.

4. HURRICANES: Bowl Thursday, but latest Perry scandal dogs team: Miami faces Wisconsin in a Pinstripe Bowl duel of 7-5 teams Thursday at Yankees Stadium with Canes a shaky 3-point favorite. Shaky because QB N'Kosi Perry may not play after reports he's posted a sexually explicit video on social media. That would make it three such errors in judgement for Perry. Isn't there a phrase ... something about three strikes?

5. FIU: ButchCats triumph in Nassau, set record for wins: FIU's 35-32 winover Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl capped a 9-4 season to set a school record for wins. Dolphins and Canes disappointed, but at least one Miami team stood up.

6. RECRUITING: Early signing period not a winner for Canes: College football's early signing period Dec. 19-21 found Miami's incoming class ranked only 34th in nation by ESPN.com. A 7-5 season and sudden departure defensive boss Manny Diaz hurt. Ranked No.1 overall is Alabama. Or, did that go without saying?

7. PANTHERS: Signs of life at last for Cats!: It is now four wins in past five games for Florida and signs of life in a down-so-far season after last night's 6-3 win in Chicago. Cats still six points off playoff NHL pace,but finally climbing.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women continue early excellence: Katie Meier's UM women are ranked No. 24 and 11-2 with five straight wins after impressing in the Florida Sunshine Classic with defeats of Vanderbilt and Alabama. Jim Larranaga's guys are more quietly at 7-4 as they ready for ACC schedule.

9. BASEBALL: Biggest winter deals still on hold: Free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and Marlins on-the-trading-block all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto are still out there and available with no deals struck. Hey, pitchers and catchers report in seven weeks. Tick tock.

10. DAVID SAMSON: Marlins ex-president, fans exchange unpleasantries: At a LeBatard Show "Mas Miami" event in Wynwood last weekend David Samson took the microphone to wish Dan a happy birthday, was roundly booed and responded by saying "F--- you" to  the crowd. Alrighty then!

Missing the HB10 cut: A New Jersey high-school wrestling official with a history of racist behavior forced a black competitor to cut his dreadlocks. What needs to be cut next: That official, from his job ..... Answer: Imprisoned-for-life Larry Nasser says his years of sexual abuse of female gymnasts should have been tried as a medical malpractice case. Question: What's the new and ultimate definition of "delusional"? ..... NFL suspends Josh Gordon. Again. The only good to come of it? Belichick and Brady are sad ..... Update: Countdown now 2,738 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

FiuMOMENTUM FOR FIU NICKNAME CHANGE?: In wake of Saturday's Bahamas Bowl victory giving FIU a 9-4 season and school-record for wins -- and two straight encouraging seasons under Butch Davis -- there is a move to change FIU's nickname from Panthers to ButchCats. Actually there is no such move. There is just me playfully suggesting it. I ran a Twitter poll, there were 734 votes, and ButchCats beat Panthers 2-to-1 -- 67 percent to 33%.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 18, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.5%; plus Sacked! Miami crushed 41-17 by Vikes, falls to 7-7, sees playoff hope go cold. With our postgame thoughts; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Mas Miami & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 17. Had a fun time at Saturday night's Le Batard Mas Miami event at The Wynwood Yard. Great to meet so many of you! 2) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, you verdict on Diaz leaving Canes, our LeBatard scoop 2.0 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Most recent stuff from me: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era, on abrupt departure of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to be Temple's head coach. And How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 6.5%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a sharp fall to 6.5 percent -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 41-17 loss at Minnesota putting Miami's season record at 7-7. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on Twitter @gregcote. The vote there was 26%).

2018 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 86.8% following 27-20 victory vs. Tennessee.

G2: 93.4% following 20-12 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G3: 96.2% following 28-20 victory vs. Oakland.

G4: 17.2% following 38-7 loss at New England.

G5: 6.4% following 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

G6: 75.0% following 31-28 OT victory vs. Chicago.

G7: 8.9% following 32-21 loss vs. Detroit.

G8: 5.8% following 42-23 loss at Houston.

G9: 29.6% following 13-6 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G10: 5.8% following 31-12 loss at Green Bay.

G11: 4.1% following 27-24 loss at Indianapolis.

G12: 15.6% following 21-17 victory vs. Buffalo.

G13: 83.9% following 34-33 victory vs. New England.

G14: 6.5% following 41-17 loss at Minnesota.

Next poll: Dec. 23 following game vs. Jacksonville. 

G14: DOLPHINS AT MINNESOTA: CAN THE ROAD-WORRIER FINS BECOME ROAD WARRIORS?: Final thoughts: Three games in one. Miami falls behind 21-0 fast with worst first quarter of season. Miami scores 17 unanswered points to get back in it. Then the first-quarter bums return in an ultimate 41-17 loss that levels the Dolphins record at 7-7 and renders playoff hopes remote. Fins must win out for 9-7 and then get lucky with other teams losing and tiebreakers. Miami was equally bad on offense and defense Sunday. The offensive line gave up nine sacks (!) and Ryan Tannehill was lousy beyond that. The defense could not do anything right, especially against the run. Only two big plays -- Minkah Fitzpatrick's 50-yard pick-6 and a 75-yard Kalen Ballage scoring run -- kept it from being an even greater embarrassment. Miami has now lost 111 of its past 12 road games to put playoff hopes on life support ..... Original post: Miami's realistic playoff hopes hang in the balance of the question posed in the headline as the 7-6 MiaminDolphins visit the 6-6-1 Vikings Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS, with the Fins sizable 7 1/2-point road underdogs. There is huge NFL Week 15 playoff impact here for your holiday season, with Minnesota presently hanging on to the sixth and last NFC seed and Miami in a mad scrum for the same final spot in the AFC. That makes it even on desperation, although Vikes’ sense of must-have may be magnified by losses in two straight games and three of past four. The pick here tilts simply and heavily on venue. It did last week in our calling the Dolphins’ home upset of New England, and it does to the other extreme here. Fins are 1-10 in past 11 road games, traveling about as well as a dead body in a trunk, while the Vikings are 10-2 in past dozen at home. I’m not a slave to trends, but not blind to ‘em either. See a big and needed home lift for a team that played Monday night and then kneejerk-fired its offensive coordinator. The change should mean better balance (more running, more Dalvin Cook), which in turn should open things up for Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Cousins infamously is 4-24 in his career vs. teams with a winning record, but this figures to be a lot to handle for a Fins defense likely without injured top CB Xavien Howard again. (He's officially "doubtful," which in NFL injury-speak almost always translates to  "out"). I also see Vikes’ D as better all-round than the Pats’. Having said all that, the betting line feels too big. Oddsmakers consistently have disrespected Miami and its competitiveness all season, and here’s the latest example. My pick: Vikings, 23-17.

Visit Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 16): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-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. HURRICANES: Ouch. UM loses excellent DC Diaz to Temple: Not the holiday gift Mark Richt was looking for, losing defensive coordinator and father of the Turnover Chain Manny Diaz, who bolted to become Temple's head coach but will coach Canes' D a final time Dec. 27 in the Pinstripe Bowl vs. Wisconsin. Richt promoted two from his staff to be co-defensive coordinators. Might take three to replace Diaz.

2. DOLPHINS: Roadkill! Fins get crushed in Minnesota: Last week the "Miami Miracle" beat the Patriots and kept playoff hope alive. Sunday a more standard football miracle was required. That would be a team on a 1-10 skid in road games beating a team on a 10-2 roll at home with Miami as a big 7 1/2-point underdog. Didn't happen in a 41-17 defeat putting playoff hopes on life support.

3. HEAT: Miami wraps up 4-2 road trip: Heat banked a 4-2 road trip with Sunday might's win in New Orleans. One reason Miami is spinning wheels at 13-16 this season? Up and down Heat are yet to put together more than a two-game win streak. They'll got for three in a row in returning to action Thursday vs. Houston.

4. PANTHERS: As Cats continue to disappoint, is coach on thin ice?: Should coach Bob Boughner be worried? Cats beat Toronto in OT last night but still are only 12-19 in a season that has never quite taken off. Now Florida has four straight on road starting Tuesday.

5. FIU: Four days 'til ButchCats go bowling: It's FIU vs. Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau this coming Friday afternoon. Not a big deal? It's on ESPN, FIU has chance for a school-record ninth win, and the conch fritters over there are to die for.

6. BASEBALL: Biggest deals still pending at winter meetings: No definitive news on Bryce Harper yet. Or Manny Machado. Or the Marlins' J.T. Realmuto. How about this: Wake me when one of those three guys is officially changing uniforms.

7. UM BASKETBALL: Women carrying banner thus far for Canes hoops: The 24th-ranked UM women are 9-2 after winning Sunday and now face Vanderbilt and Alabama in a December 20-21 holiday event in Winter Park, Fla. Meanwhile the 5-4 Canes men are back in action Wednesday trying to end a four-game losing streak and find answers before ACC games commence Jan. 3.

8. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Bowl season is underway!: Six games on Saturday kicked off bowl season -- the three-week parade of 39 bowl games. Bulletin: If your team is not Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame or Oklahoma, your bowl game is superfluous.

9. RECRUITING: Early signing period is this week: December 19-21 is the early signing period for top high-school football players choosing colleges. Imagine being National Signing Day in February and having your thunder stolen like that?

10. MAS MIAMI: LeBatard Show fans flock to Wynwood: Thousands of LeBatard Show fans partied at The Wynwood Yard last night in a Mas Miami event to celebrate Dan's 50th birthday, and Greg Cote isn't sure which was the higher number: Selfies taken, or drinks consumed.

Missing the HB10 cut: Update: Countdown now 2,745 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins / The Magic Saved Gase, And Made Fins the Toast of Town / Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day / Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote