December 24, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 54.4% following Fins' 38-35 OT win over Cincinnati in home finale; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Merry Christmas Eve & more

Eve1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve Eve! 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU and FAU go bowling & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

CinmiaG15: DOLPHINS 38, CINCINNATI 35 (OT): DOMINATION, COLLAPSE, THEN VICTORY: Dolphins blow 23-point fourth quarter lead then survive in overtime. Original post: Miami was favored for the first time all season, albeit by a scant one point ... but only for a minute. Then the betting line swung to even. Then it moved to Bengals favored by 1 (based on Caesars Sportsbook lines). It's the ultimate ignominy, really. A 3-11 Dolphins team that has been relatively competitive lately is playing at home against a 1-13 team -- yet is the underdog! I don’t get it. What an insult. Miami is not only home but also better than Cincy. Granted, that’s like saying Spam is tastier than tripe. Still. One-win Gals have No. 1 draft pick in-pocket at the moment. Why would they want to jeopardize that? While Miami, clearly playing to win under Brian Flores, has the added incentive in this season's home finale of a halftime ceremony honoring the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins — recently voted best team of all time as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary rollout. The current Fins should be inspired to not wet the bed as the iconic Perfectos look on. Almost forgot. Did I mention Cincy is 0-7 on the road? Cote’s pick: Upset! (Sort of). MIA 27-20. See Week 16 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 54.4%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 54.4 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 38-35 overtime home win over Cincinnati putting Miami's season record at 4-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous 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 own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G15: 54.4% following 38-35 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

Next Poll: Dec. 29 G16/Final following game at New England. 

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School FootballWhy Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: 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!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 22-23): 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. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, collapse, survive vs. Bengals in home finale: Miami blew a 23-point fourth quarter leads but hung on for a 38-35 OT win. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were honored at halftime as the 1-13 Bengals played the 3-11 Fins in Miami's home finale. Those vintage Dolphins players are mostly hobbling men in their 70s now ... and they still were the best team on the field Sunday.

2. HURRICANES: Early signing done, UM readies for Independence Bowl: UM's early-signing class was rated No. 19 by ESPN, with the bounty of 19 recruits including 11 four-stars and eight who made the ESPN 300. Not bad off a 6-6 season. Now, the season wraps the day after Christmas vs. Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a fitting anticlimax for a down year.

3. HEAT: No fluke! Miami's big season is not letting up: With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the way the Heat at 21-8 continue to look like not only a playoff team but a top four East seed in the mix for home-court advantage in the first round. More than one-third into this NBA season, Miami has yet to have even a two-game losing streak.

4. NFL: Pro Bowl teams announced as playoffs take shape: Eight of 12 playoff spots had been spoken for entering Week 16. Houston on Saturday became the ninth to clinch, and Dallas and Minnesota both could on Sunday. Meantime Pro Bowl rosters were announced with the Dolphins one of only two teams shut out. But so was Tom Brady -- for the first time since 2008.

5. PANTHERS: Topsy-turvy Cats are hot again: Florida after a nice 4-2 road win at tough Carolina Saturday is 18-17 upon three straight wins -- tied for longest streak of the season. Cats are  back on playoff pace, but narrowly, and need the recent defensive improvement to continue.

6. CHRIS BOSH: Former Heat star among Hall of Fame finalists: Basketball Hall of Fame's eligible list for 2020 induction includes former Heat star Chris Bosh among prominent contenders. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan top the list as certain inductees, but Bosh (along with Kevin Garnett) should also get the call.

7. MARLINS: One intriguing name among spring non-roster invitees: Matt Kemp, the longtime Dodgers corner outfielder, is 35. He also made the all-star team as recently as 2018 and hit 35 homers as recently as 2016. It's a no-risk gamble whether he has anything left. It's also interesting the Fish think they're close enough to good to make such a veteran, niche signing.   

8. FIU/FAU: Panthers fall, Owls fly in bowl games: FIU closed 6-7 with a 34-26 loss to Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday, after FAU ended 11-3 with a 52-28 pounding of SMU ub the stay-at-home Boca Raton Bowl. Butch Davis figures what went wrong. Lane Kiffin is off to Ole Miss.

9. JIMMY JOHNSON: Ex-Canes, Fins coach gets another shot at Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 38 finalists for 2020 induction in the categories of senior players (20), contributors (10) and coaches (8) and Jimmy Johnson is one of them. Of more interest to me: Deserving Zach Thomas among the 25 semifinalists for the main vote.

10. THE HOLIDAYS: In case you hadn't heard Christmas and Hanukkah are this week: Wait a second. It's December 23 already? Holy s!@#! I need to start my Christmas shopping!

Missing the HB10 cut: Kansas became fifth No. 1 team to lose in men's basketball. Can't stand the pressure, fellas? ..... An NBA in-season tournament is being proposed. Sounds like the worst idea since New Coke ..... Will Inter Miami have a head coach by its its inaugural MLS season opener? ..... UEFA Champions League down to its round of 16 for matches resuming in February ..... The Miami Heat's arena will no longer be named American Airlines Arena after Jan. 1. Greg Cote Arena, anyone? ..... Barcelona vs. Real Madrid ended in a 0-0 draw for first time in 17 years. This one was not El Clasico ..... Update: Countdown now 2,373 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 21, 2019

NFL Week 16 picks: Dolphins-Bengals, top games, big upsets and all the rest!; plus FIU, FAU go bowling today, our most recent columns & more

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21. Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida sweeps state high-school football titles, NFL Week 15 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald  NFL Week 15 QB rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

FafiFIU, FAU go bowling today: South Florida is repped in two of today's six bowl games. At 3:30 FAU (10-3) stays home in the Boca Raton Bowl vs. 10-2 SMU, an 8 1/2-point favorite. Owls will be interim-coached, with Lane Kiffin off to Ole Miss. At 5:30, 6-6 FIU faces 7-5 Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl in a stadium miserably named the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., a near pick-'em game that finds Butch Davis' Panthers 1-point 'dogs.

PicksDOLPHINS-BENGALS, GAME OF WEEK, BIG UPSETS AND REST OF OUR NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. Our season has tailed off a bit lately, especially against the spread the past two weeks, but we’re still running solid at .664 overall and comfortably plus-.500 ATS. Last week we were 9-7 straight-up and a wobbly 6-9-1 vs. the line. Called the Cowboys’ mini-upset over Rams and had the Falcons with points at Niners, but that was about it for the highlight reel. (The tie was Seattle’s 6-point push). Santa, all I want for Christmas is 13-3 against the spread this week. Too much to ask? C’mon, I’ve been a good boy! Time to finish strong. Let's go! For all of our Week 16 picks, including Bengals at Dolphins, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 16 Gems.

Our most recent other work: 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 and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: 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! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Additional select recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 27, 2019

FIU beating Canes was huge for Panthers. Why it was even bigger -- personal -- for coach Butch Davis. Latest column; plus NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27. Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Watch for our updated NFL Week 12 Pix 'n Fantasy results and Herald NFL QB rankings here later today. 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall in Cleveland with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: There's a new No. 1 and a wide-open race for the season crown as we hit the home stretch. For the latest, visit Herald NFL Week 12 QB Rankings.

FIU BEATING CANES WAS HUGE FOR PANTHERS, EVEN BIGGER FOR BUTCH DAVIS. NEW COLUMN: This was in the merry, sonic bedlam of the FIU lockerroom after the biggest win in school history had been minted Saturday night at Marlins Park. Butch Davis choked up Monday in the remembering, the retelling. "The kids were dancing, cheering, high-fiving, chest-bumping," he said Butchof his Panthers players who had just stunned cross-county rival Miami, 30-24. "When we finally settled down..." Davis’ voice hitched, cracked. It came out closer to a whisper as he resumed. When the boisterous room quieted he looked at his players’ eyes and saw joy, saw pride, saw tears. "When we finally settled down," Davis said, "you looked into those kids’ eyes, their faces, and you saw what they had just accomplished. You saw it, knowing this night was going to stick with them for the rest of their lives." FIU had been 0-31 against Power 5 conference schools in its brief history including 0-3 against Miami before shocking college football as a three-touchdown underdog Saturday. "We had no chance. No chance," he said, of outside perceptions. "[The Hurricanes] would be playing their backups in the second half." Davis (pictured celebrating Saturday) of course coached Miami under Jimmy Johnson in in 1984-84, and was UM head coach in 1995-2000. In the latter stint he won despite inheriting Dennis Erickson’s NCAA sanctions and scholarship reductions. He left for the NFL after an 11-1 season, all but gifting Larry Coker the 2001 national championship with players Davis had drafted. Now, FIU will go to a bowl game each of Davis’ first three seasons, the streak a first for the 18-year-old program. He inherited a lot of losing but turned it around, with Saturday’s triumph a watershed. For Panthers players, this was personal. "Our kids had a chip on their shoulder," as Davis put it. "I don’t think Miami recruited any of our kids, to be honest." It was personal for Davis, too. Very. To read our full latest column, please visit Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis.

Also from me within past week: 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! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 12: DECENT, LUCKY, CLINCHED: NFL picks -- Decent. We were 10-4 overall and an even 7-7 against the spread last week. OK with the first will abide the second. Missed our Upset of the Week but hit on another outright upset with Jets beating Oakland. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Giants, Bengals and Redskins. Had the Dolphins' losing margin exact at 17 points. Missed one cover (Texans) by one point on the wrong side of a half-point line. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Lucky! Greg's Lobos improved to 7-5 with a low-scoring, fortunate 67.4 to 46.2 win over Dominique Foxworthy, led by Tyler Boyd's 19.1 points. We did something unheard of: Started a player on a bye wek (Patrick Mahomes), yet survived the blunder. Was rushing to the hospital to see a family friend Sunday morning; still, no excuse. Got lucky. I sit as the 6th of 8 playoff seeds entering the final week, likely needing to close with a win to clinch. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Clinched! Lobos fell to 7-5 with a 133-92 loss to league's top seed, despite 26 from Allen Robinson and 21 from Jared Cook. Neverthless, have clinched a playoff spot. Stand 3rd of 6 playoff teams entering final week, with final seeding to be determined. Go 'Bos!

Select other recent columns: Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / 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.

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 02, 2019

Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal. My latest column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No. 1 and what else lands where, NFL picks return this week ("Aawwk!") & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Welcome, September, month of football, month of autumn. Thanks for hopefully sparing South Florida of Dorian's full wrath. 2) It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Flores' tough spot with Tunsil, Clowney trade talks, Luck's shocking retirement, Dolphins/Canes preview-section columns & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Picks"Aaawwwk!" NFL picks return this week!: Our 29th season -- hard to believe -- of NFL predictions returns this week. A Miami Herald fixture since 1991, our picks appear in print every Friday and online Thursday afternoons. Our Thursday night pick appears Thursday in print and online Wednesday. We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the betting line. Can we slay the evil point spread again this season? Come along for the ride starting this week!

THE TUNSIL TRADE: MY COLUMN: Losing Laremy Tunsil really hurts, but getting two first-round pick and second was too much to turn down. Please visit Trading Tunsil Hurts,But Dolphins Won This Deal.

Our Dolphins and Hurricanes preview-section columns: For our 2019 NFL Team Rankings: Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land. And mining UM history for perspective on a bold decision: Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years.

Previous most recent other columns: Tunsil/Clowney Trade Would Be Powderkeg for Dolphins, Flores / Clowney Would Be Missing Piece in Dolphins' Emerging Plan / and Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football. Also: Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QBDolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / and Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): 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: Tunsil trade, QB decision and a season opener -- oh my!Can't say it's been dull in Finsville. Miami wrapped up a 3-1 preseason by (predictably and unfortunately) naming Ryan Fitzpatrick as starting quarterback, and then Saturday traded tackle Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to Houston for two first-round picks and a second. (My column on that trade here). Club also released long snapper John Denney, a Fin since 2005. Meantime, oh yeah, the regular season starts this coming Sunday for new coach Brian Flores as the Baltimore Ravens fly into Hard Rock.

2. HURRICANES: UM out to shake Gators loss, preps for Heels in ACC opener: Canes are on the road at North Carolina in five days in a game compelling because it is UM's ACC opener and because, with Miami's opening loss to Florida, an 0-2 start would make UM's season feel derailed right out the gate. It shouldn't be a problem, folks. Miami crushed UNC last season 47-10 and the Heels seem down again. Time for coach Manny Diaz and QB Jarren Williams to bag their first career wins -- or y'all might as well not even bother coming back!

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No big surprises in Week 0/1 so far: Top 25 teams are 23-1 thus far in opening week of college football's 150th season, with Notre Dame playing tonight. And the only ranked-team loss, by No. 11 Oregon, came to another ranked team. What, you wanted Alabama and Clemson to suffer stunning defeats? Dream on, Bubba.

4. NFL: Three days until kickoff of King Sport's regular season!: As the league continues to reel from the aftershock of the sudden retirement of Colts QB Andrew Luck, life goes on. The NFL's 100th season kicks off this Thursday night with Chicago hosting Green Bay. As for which two teams will cap the season in the Super Bowl Miami in hosting, let's just say if the Dolphins are one of those teams it would be a bigger stunner than Luck quitting. How about by default we just root as always for ABTP? (Anybody But The Patriots).

5. STATE COLLEGES (NON-UM): 'Noles, FIU, FAU all lose openers: The state's seven FBS (nee Division 1) teams limped to a combined 2-5 start in their openers, including Florida State losing at home to Boise State 36-31 and losses by both FIU (to Tulane) and FAU (at No. 5 Ohio State). No. 17 UCF won but South Florida fell hard. Seemed like our state mostly dodged a bullet with Hurricane Dorian, but five of seven teams didn't fare as well.

6. BASKETBALL: U.S. wins debut in FIBA World Cup: The two-week, 32-nation FIBA men's World Cup is underway in China, with the favored Team USA playing its first game Sunday and comfortably handling the Czech Republic, 88=67, led by Donovan Mitchell's 16 points. The U.S. remains the betting fave despite a tuneup loss to Australia last week, the first time in 13 years a U.S. team that included NBA players had lost in international play. (Then again, this is a superstar-less American roster whose biggest name probably is Kemba Walker, so...).

7. TENNIS: Djokovic, Osaka out in U.S Open at major's midpoint: No major upsets had happened yet in the in the U.S. Open -- but that was before No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic dropped the first two sets to Stan Wawrinka on Sunday then retired with a shoulder ailment, and No. 1 women's seed Naomi Osaka lost today/Monday. But Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still alive on the men's side, while women's play finds betting favorite Serena Williams still gunning for the title. A triumph by Serena would be a record-tying 24th major for her. Go Williams, go! 

8. MARLINS: It's official. Jeter calls season "frustrating": You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don't need Derek Jeter to tell you this has been "a frustrating year." Miami, in the midst of a six-game road trip, is on a 105-loss pace entering Sunday and threatening the franchise high of 108 losses set in 1998. Six of MLB's top 100 prospects give the Marlins hope, but when will it begin to show? Meantime, thank god for the Tigers and Orioles, who make even the Fish look good. Well, less awful.

9. FANTASY: Gentleman (and ladies), start your drafts!: This was the biggest weekend for NFL fantasy drafts, because the closer they are to the start of the regular season, the better. You want proof? Talk to anybody whose draft was two weeks ago and who was fist-pumping with happiness to have drafted Andrew Luck.  

10. PANTHERS: Ready or not, hockey is almost back: It's getting close, puckheads. Florida Panthers will stage a two-day rookie camp Sept. 10-11, then open full training camp Sept. 13. With new star coach Joel Quenneville and new star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, hopes are high. Which means a franchise that has let its fans down way too often had better live up this time.

Missing the HB10 cut: Baseball can't even get its playoff chase right. As season wanes, only one of six divisions has a real battle for first place (Cardinals-Cubs), and the biggest wild-card question is whether the Rays will make it. Yawn ..... Countdown: No dates set yet, but Jimmy Butler and the retooled Miami Heat will open training camp in late September ..... R.I.P. Jim Langer, 71, Dolphins glory-days center ..... Update: Countdown now 2,485 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Don't Overthink It, Dolphins. Start Rosen / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 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 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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.

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 22, 2018

NFL Week 16 picks for Dolphins-Jaguars and the rest; plus FIU ButchCats upset Toledo in Bahamas Bowl (and did I call it or what!) & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 22. Happy 1st birthday to my granddaughter, Gracelin! We love you so much! 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): Revealing/explaining my Baseball Hall of Fame vote, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, Two Beatles and a Stone video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL WEEK 16 PICKS: DOLPHINS-JAGUARS, GAME OF WEEK, UPSETS AND THE REST: Our rollicking, parade-worthy season of NFL picks continues into Week 16 as we carry a .694 winning percentage overall and a fat .590 against the point spread. We were a stout 11-5 both overall and vs. the betting line last week. We banked yet another Upset of the Week with Steelers beating Patriots ("Aawwk!"), nailed a second outright upset with Titans winning at Giants, and had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in Redskins and Eagles. We move on to the last two regular-season weeks and Week 16 delivers three big upsets. See what they are and whether Jaguars at Dolphins is among them. Also check out our Game of the Week and all the rest. Visit Week 16 Gems for all of our latest selections.

Recent stuff from me: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era. And How Miami-Based ESPN Star Dan LeBatard Is Growing His Empire Again.

BahamasBAHAMAS BOWL: FIU 35, TOLEDO 32: PANTHERS GET RECORD 9TH WIN: FIU beats Toledo 35-32 in the Bahamas Bowl on Saturday to finish 9-4, a school record for seasons wins. Congrats, Butch Davis. FIU was a 7-point underdog but I called the upset (and the exact margin); see below ..... Original post: FIU is 8-5 and after a school-record ninth season win in today's 12:30 matinee Bahamas Bowl in Nassau vs. 7-5 Toledo on ESPN. It's a surprise (to me) that Butch Davis' ButchCats are big 7-point underdogs in the C-USA vs. MAC matchup, on a line that opened at 4.5 and rose with money against FIU. The biggest certainty might be the "over" on 66 1/2 points, because these are two high-scoring offenses and two susceptible defenses. Buckle up. Toledo averages 41.4 points with a ground game that averages 224 yards, vs. an FIU run-D giving up 198 run yards per. Uh oh. But FIU averages 34.6 points and its air game should have a big day against a shaky Toledo pass-D. The punters may not see the field. My pick: Upset! FIU, 41-38.

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

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

November 26, 2018

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 32.7%; plus UM beats Pitt 24-3 for 7-5 regular season; also, Tannehill's Litmus Test, Elton in Sunrise concert review, other state Collball & more

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

1) It's SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25. Hope y'all are enjoying your long Thanksgiving Weekend! 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): Our Thanksgiving thank-yous, NFL Week 12 and Turkey Day picks & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New column: Tannehill has 6 games to earn his Miami future: Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill returns Sunday at Indianapolis from his latest injury, with Miami at 5-5 likely needing at least four wins in the final six games to make the playoffs. This is Tannehill's Litmus test. No excuses. He must stay healthy, and perform like the highly paid, top-10-drafted passer he is. This is my latest column. Visit Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail.

Other select recent columns: On LeBron's return to Miami with Lakers: Oh What We Had, And What We Lost. Also: Latest NFL picks: Week 12 Gems. And NASCAR Needs A Next Big ThingWade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For HimHoneymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G12: 32.7%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 32.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 24-3 Miami victory over Pitt putting Miami's final regular season record at 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the ACC. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game -- no matter the result or opponent -- to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m. today/Monday. (The CSM also takes place on my Twitter site @gregcote. The approval rate there was 25%).

2018 CSM game-by game results

G1: 9.2% following 33-17 loss to LSU.

G2: 73.8% following 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State.

G3: 76.7% following 49-24 victory at Toledo.

G4: 84.0% following 31-17 victory vs. FIU.

G5: 98.7% following 47-10 victory vs. North Carolina.

G6: 91.1% following 28-27 victory vs. FSU.

G7: 13.0% following 16-13 loss at Virginia.

G8: 7.8% following 27-14 loss at Boston College.

G9: 12.1% following 20-12 loss vs. Duke.

G10: 12.6% following 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech.

G11: 50.0% following 38-14 victory at Virginia Tech.

G12: 32.7% following 24-3 victory vs. Pitt.

Next/Final poll: Date TBD following bowl game. 

PittmiaG12: HURRICANES 24, NO. 24 PITTSBURGH 3: UM DELIVERS PAYBACK WITH HUGE DEFENSIVE SHOWPostgame thoughts: A somewhat insane game. Miami mostly struggled early on offense -- especially in what turned out to be a comfortable win. N'Kosi Perry was pretty awful, going 6-for-24 for 52 yards. The total offense was 345 yards, but 148 yards of that came on three runs by Travis Homer. Great defense and DeeJay Dallas' 65-yard punt-return TD sparked UM in addition to Homer's 64-yard scoring run. The defense won this game, primarily. The good news? Canes finish a 7-5 season strong with two straight wins. The bad news (beyond this being a season of overall regression for the program)? The offense is still sputtering. Perry's proving is not complete. Miami will carry that into its bowl game, and likely into next season. Oh and by the way, Pitt is exposed as a thoroughly fraudulent rep in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson will name its score. The betting line should be 30 ..... 4Q: UM 24-3 on Dallas 3-yard scoring run. Game over. Rout on. Bowl next ..... 3Q: Canes' Davis loses fumble late in quarter ... UM 17-3 on Homer 64-yard TD run ... Pitt 3-10 on 40-yard FG abetted by pass interference penalty against UM ..... Halftime thoughts: At 10-0 at half, Miami's offense has done nada, with Perry 4-for-18 for 27 yards. But UM's defense has dominated, holding Pitt to 115 net yards, and a Dallas punt-return score gives the Canes their cushion ..... 2Q: Miami turnover. Homer loses fumble near midfield ... UM 10-0 on Dallas 65-yard punt-return TD. Score first was negated by illegal-block penalty but call was (properly) reversed. Was perfect block by Homer ..... 1Q: Perry struggling early (2-for-10, 18 yards) but defense enough to carry UM in opening quarter .... Canes' Bandy recovers fumble caused by Joghnson ... UM 3-0 on Baxa 37-yard FG after drive led by Homer's 47-yard run ..... Original post: Is it payback time (of sorts) for the Miami Hurricanes? We'll see in today's UM regular season finale at The Rock, a 3:30 kickoff on ESPN that will be the last home game for Canes seniors. Last season Miami was 10-0 and ranked No. 2 before a stunning 24-14 upset loss at Pitt sent The U's season crashing to three straight losses. "That game hurt," said Jaquan Johnson, one of UM's seniors. One year later -- exactly, to  the day -- it is Pitt, not UM, riding high entering this game and bound for the ACC Championship Game while Miami is headed for a middling bowl game. (Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit? Independence in Shreveport?) So now it is Miami in the spoiler role. The (barely) ranked Panthers are 7-4 to Miami's 6-5, but the Canes are big 5-point home favorites. I say big because it indicates bettors think Miami is the better team beyond the home-field edge. (That's questionable, and to be determined). Even after a slump-ending win at Virginia Tech, it has been a tough week for Mark Richt's Canes. First a top quarterback prospect canceled his visit to Miami, then dynamic receiver Jeff Thomas abruptly left the program in frustration. Another worry for Richt should be that Pitt arrives hot, on a four-game win streak, and with an offense averaging 247 rushing yards a game. On the other side, QB N'Kosi Perry will start a third straight for UM. "He's getting better and more and more confident," says Richt. "There were times where he missed a guy here and there [last week], but he managed the game well. You could just see his comfort level rising. One day, I believe you'll see him really come into a zone." Pitt challenges Perry with a defense that is closer to average than great, although Dan Marino's alma mater averages 2 1/2 sacks a game and is facing a shaky Miami offensive line. If the line protects Perry and he avoids turnovers, Miami should win at home, though I'd hedge by leaning to Pitt getting this many points. My pick: Hurricanes, 27-24.

OTHER STATE COLLBALL: There are seven FBS-level college teams in Florida. Here's chronological Week 13 schedule for the rest (all Saturday unless noted):

No. 9 UCF (11-0) beats South Florida (7-5), 38-10Unbeaten Knights, who had a game canceled, closed out second straight unbeaten regular season with Friday road win over state rival and will face Memphis next week in AAC title game. But UCF lost star QB McKenzie Milton to a gruesome, season-ending right knee injury, casting somber cloud over the win and season.

No. 11 Florida (9-3) beats FSU (5-7), 41-14: Gators, playing for poll 'n bowl position, were 8-point favorites at The Doak, with rival 'Noles taking their last shot at bowl-eligibility. It was the better team vs. home field and incentive. The better team won. And FSU sees its first losing season since 1976. It was a good run, Tally.

Marshall (8-3) beats FIU (8-4), 28-25: The ButchCats were 3 1/2-point home underdogs and never led, every rally falling just short. The loss eliminated FIU from a shot at reaching the Conference USA championship game.

Charlotte (5-7) beats FAU (5-7), 27-24: The home-nesting Owls were big 17-point favorites to get Lane Kiffin bowl-eligible under the wire. But: No bowl for you, Lane!

Week 13 national Top 25 matchups (5)No. 6 Oklahoma beats No. 13 West Virginia, 59-56; 16-Washington beats 8-Washington State, 28-15; 10-Ohio State beats 4-Michigan, 62-29; 22-Texas A&M beats 7-LSU, 74-72 (OT); and 23-Boise State beats 21-Utah State, 33-24. (Ohio State won't now leapfrog Buckeyes into CFP top four ahead of No. 5 Georgia ... will it?)

EltonsunriseELTON DELIVERS POWERHOUSE PERFORMANCE IN SUNRISE FAREWELL: We saw Elton John last night at the sold-out, filled to the rafters Panthers' arena in Sunrise as part of his continuing marathon farewell tour. The 2 1/2-hour show lived up to, and exceeded, expectations. The thought that kept occurring: This man is too good to retire. I don't care his age (71). Or that he sometimes seems that age when he is up from his piano and tottering around the stage. When he is seated before his keys, the years disappear. His playing is the best there ever was. His voice (save for the lost highest notes) remains robustly strong. His catalog of hits is top-tier in the history of pop music. The show is all hits augmented by a sprinkling of deep-album cuts such as "All the Young Girls Love Alive." A career retrospective on the giant video screen enhances the performance. I'm a lifelong fan (and admirer of his generosity and philanthropy) who has seen him in concert too many times to count. If you have not, your chances are running out, and you will have missed something special, and irreplaceable.  

Select other recent columns: Dolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan 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

November 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10: LeBron torches Heat (with new column), Logano wins NASCAR; plus Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 50.0% in wake of 38-14 win making UM bowl-eligible; also, other state Collball (FIU wins) & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19. 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 11 picks, your Gase/Richt verdicts, Marlins' new logo, Hassan Whiteside's gun & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Lebronlakers Nascar LoganoHEAVYWEIGHT SUNDAY IN MIAMI: LOGANO WINS NASCAR VS. LEBRON TORCHES HEAT: NASCAR ran its season championship race down at Homestead this afternoon with final-four longshot Joey Logano winning the season crown. And as the race was ending the Heat would tip off downtown against LeBron James' L.A. Lakers in his only visit of the season -- with Lakers winning 113-97 led by LeBron James' 51 points. Yes, 51! Pretty rare we get two events of that size on the same day. I took a Twitter poll on who you wanted to win the racing title and it could hardly have been closer: Kyle Busch 27 percent, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr, both 25%, and Logano 23%. Betting odds have it Busch and Harvick co-favorites at 11-4, Truex 6-1 and Logano 10-1. #WhyWeLoveSports

NEW: LeBron torches Heat column: From the arena Sunday night as Lakers' LeBron James drops 51 on Miami: Oh What We Had, And What We Lost.

Our latest other columns: NASCAR, NFL picks, Wade, Gase/Richt: NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing. NFL Week 11 GemsWade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him. And Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

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. HEAT: Miami hosts LeBron, LeBron torches Heat: LeBron James' L.A. Lakers were here tonight for their only visit of the season, and LeBron James' 51 points led a 113-97 L.A. win that dropped Miami to 6-10 in the continuing paternity absence of Dwyane Wade. Oh, and it was revealed Hassan Whiteside had a $50,000 assault rifle stolen from his unlocked car over the summer. That enough to digest for one week, Heat fans?

2. NASCAR: Logano wins season crown at Homestead: Mega-Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway as SoFla hosted NASCAR's season championship for 17th straight year. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano or Martin Truex Jr. raced for the trophy, with Logano, the betting longshot, raising it.

3. HURRICANES: UM (finally) bowl-eligible after big win in Blacksburg: A bit of a sluggish start but the Canes came on and rolled at Va-Tech 38-14 on Saturday, ending a 4-game losing streak and getting bowl eligible at 6-5. Still a disappointing season, but UM fans were smiling for the first time in a long while.

4. MARLINS: Rebranding Fish unveil new uniforms, logo: The Derek Jeter's group's rebranding of the Marlins -- i.e., an attempt to make you forget Jeffrey Loria and David Samson ever existed -- continued this week the revealing of a new Marlins logo and colors. Rebrand and move new merchandise all at once. Brilliant!

5. DOLPHINS: Fins spend bye week with fingers crossed on Tannehill: Miami spends its bye off this week  at 5-5 after having lost five of past seven games, with a trip to Indianapolis on deck. Ryan Tannehil and his shoulder, out the last five games, is supposed to return. Any hope for a playoff run is all that depends on it.

6. PANTHERS: Cats on road trying to get hot again: Florida is now 7-10 with two straight losses following a five-game win streak. Team is away three more games before returning home as fans still wait to see who the real Cats are in an uneven start to the NHL season. 

7. SOCCER: Miami hosts international conference: Miami hosted "SoccerEx," a two-day global networking conference that drew soccer officials from 40 nations to Marlins Park. No announcement yet, but choice of sites is a strong hint where David Beckham's Inter Miami MLS expansion team might be playing while its new stadium is built at the Melreese site. 

8. UM HOOPS: Canes women lose first game: No. 24-ranked Miami women were 4-0 after Katie Meier's squad notched 63-55 home win over 19th-ranked Marquette, but UM lost Sunday at Iowa State. Almost forgot, Canes men, with an easier early schedule, are 3-0.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Playoff picture remains steady: The top eight teams in the College Football Playoff ranking all won, so teams just below, such as now 10-0 NO. 11 UCF and No. 13 Florida, will have a tough time moving up. Can anything stop an Alabama-Clemson title game? Rhetorical question. Answer: Doubt it.

10. FIU: ButchCats win again, thinking title: FIU is 8-3 after Saturday's 42-35 win over Charlotte on coach Butch Davis' 67th birthday. Mostly, Panthers remain well in the hunt for Conference USA championship. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Awards week in MLB and so your Marlins have now traded away the 2017 and 2018 NL MVPs in Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich ..... Tickets now on sale for Miami Open tennis as event moves from Key Biscayne to Hard Rock Stadium. Aesthetic downturn, yes, but the curiosity factor is there ..... MLS playoffs get intense with first leg of conference finals next Sunday. Soon, Miami. Soon ..... Update: Countdown now 2,773 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show an even 50.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 38-14 Miami victory at Virginia Tech putting Miami's season record at 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the ACC. The CSM is your invitation after every Canes football game -- no matter the result or opponent -- to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday. (The CSM also takes place on my Twitter site @gregcote. The approval vote there was 34%).

2018 CSM game-by game results

G1: 9.2% following 33-17 loss to LSU.

G2: 73.8% following 77-0 victory vs. Savannah State.

G3: 76.7% following 49-24 victory at Toledo.

G4: 84.0% following 31-17 victory vs. FIU.

G5: 98.7% following 47-10 victory vs. North Carolina.

G6: 91.1% following 28-27 victory vs. FSU.

G7: 13.0% following 16-13 loss at Virginia.

G8: 7.8% following 27-14 loss at Boston College.

G9: 12.1% following 20-12 loss vs. Duke.

G10: 12.6% following 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech.

G11: 50.0% following 38-14 victory at Virginia Tech.

Next poll: Nov. 24 following game vs. Pitt.

MiavtG11: HURRICANES 38, @VIRGINIA TECH 14: MIAMI FINALLY WINS AGAIN, FINALLY IS BOWL-ELIGIBLE: Final thoughts: Big plays defined UM's 38-14 win over Virginia Tech today in Blacksburg to end a four-game UM skid and make the Canes bowl-eligible at 6-5. Shaq Quartman's interception return to the Tech 3. Cam'Ron Davis' 42-yard TD run. Jeff Thomas' 51-yard punt-return score. And N'Kosi Perry's two TD passes without an interception. For me, Perry tightened his grip on the starting job. And freshman Cam Davis gives UM a lot to look forward to at running back. Miami was not consistently solid on offense and the defense allowed two long scoring drives. Still, after a dispiriting four straight losses, this is a huge day for a bowl-getting sixth win. This has been a disappointing season, but the Canes did not disappoint today with a nice road victory. 4QUM 38-14 on Perry-Davis 16-yard TD pass ... UM 31-14 on Thomas 51-yard punt return TD ... UM24-14 on Davis 42-yard TD run for biggest Canes lead ..... Halftime thoughts: Another teetering game by Miami. Offense again has been unimpressive, considering seven of UM's points were directly set up by a turnover. Defense has been OK overall but has allowed 76- and 75-yard scoring drives. Canes still must prove they're the better team ..... 2Q: UM 17-14 on Perry 1-yard TD run capping impressive 10-play, 71-yard drive ... VT 14-10 on 20-yard scoring run ...  UM 10-7 on Perry-Langham 3-yard TD pass, after Quarterman interception and return to VT 3 ..... UM 3-7 on 33-yard FG, after Wiggins drops well-throw Perry pass that should have been TD ... VT 7-0 on 15-yard TD pass, after UM gouged for 5-play, 76-yard opening drive ..... Original postWelcome to Saturday's Misery Bowl kicking off at 3:30 in Blacksburg before ESPN cameras. (Must be a slow week!) Trust us, when ESPN booked this game the Worldwide Leader thought it was getting something big. Instead it's getting oh what might have been! These were two preseason Top 25 teams expected to duel for the ACC Coastal division crown. This game should (theoretically) be to see who plays Clemson for the conference crown. Instead it matches two disappointing teams, also-rans scrambling just to get bowl-eligible. And both come in cold, Miami 5-5 after four straight losses, and Va-Tech 4-5 with three losses in a row. Sad! Two erstwhile proud programs trying to salvage unexpectedly down seasons and work an invite, at this point, to what? The Salad Bowl? Somebody has to snap their losing skid, and it'll be Miami, which opened as a 3 1/2 point favorite but saw that balloon to 6 1/2. And with reason. VT has been a bit of a nemesis for UM, which is 9-14 in the past 23 meetings and has lost four of the past five trips to Lane Stadium. That gives us some pause, yes. But more than that trend is this: the Hokies/Gobblers have one of the worst run defenses on Earth, and Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas should run wild to alleviate pressure and burden from N'Kosi Perry. Also like The U's pass defense really limiting what Tech does best. People, if the Canes lose this game they flat-out don't deserve a bowl, any bowl. My pick: Hurricanes, 31-16.

OTHER STATE COLLBALL: There are seven FBS-level college teams in Florida. Here's chronological Week 12 schedule for the rest (all Saturday unless noted):

North Texas (8-3) beats FAU (5-6), 41-38: With Thursday night's loss, Lane Kiffin's Owls now have one game left to get bowl-eligible then pray somebody invites a .500 FAU.

No. 13 Florida (8-3) beats Idaho (4-7), 63-10: Gators, jockeying for poll 'n bowl position, were up 49-0 at half and coasted in mismatch.

Temple (7-4) beats South Florida (7-4), 27-17: The fast-fading Bulls allowed 17 unanswered points in fourth quarter to blow it again.

FIU (8-3) beats Charlotte (4-7), 42-35: The ButchCats, still with a shot to reach the C-USA title game, with a nice road win. And a happy birthday for coach Butch Davis!

FSU (5-6) beats No. 20 Boston College (7-4), 22-21: Nice little (small) home upset as the Noles stay alive (technically) at the Doak for bowl eligibility.

No. 11 UCF (10-0) beats No. 24 Cincinnati (9-1), 38-13: Huge! UCF extended its nation-best winning streak to 23 games and will host the AAC title game Dec. 1 after routing Cincy. ESPN's College GameDay was in Orlando to bless the Knights, one more reason for Canes fans to begrudge how the UCF program (until further notice) has surpassed UM.

Week 12 national Top 25 matchups (3): No. 3 Notre Dame beats No. 12 Syracuse, 36-3; 11-UCF beats 24-Cincinnati, 38-13; and 15-Texas beats 16-Iowa State, 24-10.

Select other recent columns: Moving Beyond Tannehill Smart But Not Easy For DolphinsDolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersTannehill: Requiem For A QuarterbackWhatever Happened to Kenyan Drake? NFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan 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

November 13, 2018

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.8%; plus Fins fall 31-12 at Green Bay, drop to 5-5; also, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated; are Collapsing Canes on top?), thank you Veterans & more

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

Vetday1) It's MONDAY, NOVEMBER 12. Veterans Day is when we honor all of those who have served in our military. Thank you! 2) Find results of the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in the previous blogpost or directly here. 3) 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. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose fourth straight with CSM poll, other state Collball, your Dolphins-in-playoffs verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest columns: Sabermetrics ace and Red Sox adviser Bill James fell into hot water by saying baseball players are replaceable, likening their importance to that of beer vendors. By extension he meant athletes in general. But here's the thing. He may be right. I discuss in my newest column. To read: Bill James Struck A Nerve, But He's More Right Than Wrong. Also: Marino Set the Blueprint For Mahomes and State of Shock For Canes, Gators and Noles.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 5.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 31-12 loss at Green Bay putting Miami's season record at 5-5. That ties for the season low. 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 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday. (The DSM also takes place on our Twitter site @gregcote. The approval rating there was 25%).

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.

Next poll: Nov. 25 (after bye week) following game at Indianapolis.

G10: GREEN BAY 31, DOLPHINS 12: TEMPS in 20'S, PACKER POINTS IN 30'S. TOLD YA!: Final thoughts: Four field goals does not pass as decent offense in any world I know. Especially at Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers ..... 4Q: GB 31-12 as Pack add 38-yard FG. It's over, people ..... 3Q: GB 28-12 on Rodgers-Adam 25-yard scoring pass. This game feels over ... GB 21- Miagb12 on Jones 12-yard TD run. Like I said, FGs will nit beat Rodgers in Green Bay ... MIA 12-14 on 40-yard FG ... Halftime thoughts: Rodgers less than 100 yards passing? Gore kicking ass? Good, encouraging signs for Miami. But field goals will not beat Rodgers at Lambeau. Book that ..... 2Q: MIA 9-14 on 47-yard FG. Fins competitive, but will settling for threes come back to haunt? ... MIA 6-14 on 25-yard FG after red-zone fizzle ... GB 14-3 on Jones 2-yards TD run set up by his 67-yard run ... 1Q: Fins defense gouged for 67-yard run to arrange another Pack score as quarter ends ... MIA 3-7 on 37-yard FG after Pack fumble. A 3rd-and-8 sack forced the three ... Miami recovers fumble on punt return near midfield ... GB 7-0 on Rodgers-Adams 7-yard TD pass, capitalizing on Miami turnover ... Nice opening drive by Fins ruined by lost fumble. Shotgun snap to Osweiler looked fast and high, but catchable ..... Pregame: Patriots loss today means Miami can move within one game and re-energize whole season with win at Lambeau ... Starting OTs Laremy Tunsil and Ja'Wuan James both inactive today. Oh my. Good lukc, Osweiler! ..... Original post: Miami is a surprisingly not-terrible 5-4 and Green Bay is a surprisingly desperate 3-4-1 and yet the Packers are favored by a big 10 points in today's 4:25 p.m. Lambeau Field kickoff before CBS cameras. Why? Quotation of the week to Dolphins coach Adam Gase, who said it deadpan-perfect, when asked if his defense could carry the momentum of last week’s domination of the Jets into this Sunday’s game in Green Bay: "Aaron Rodgers is a little different than Sam Darnold," noted Gase. I might further note that Mr. Rodgers also is a little different than Brock Osweiler. And that temperatures diving into the 20s at Lambeau will be a little different for the Fins than the advantageous comfort of home humidity. I’m scrounging around for reasons to believe in a Miami upset, and finding the cupboard bare short of assuming least a couple of Dolphins takeaways. (Perhaps a pick by Reshad Jones, if he deigns to actually appear in the game rather than pouting on the sideline?) Reasons to not like the Dolphins today are easier to spot. Osweiler is gradually becoming Osweiler again; he has not thrown a touchdown pass for almost nine quarters. Miami is 1-3 away and the Gee Bees 3-0-1 at home. All four of Miami’s losses have been by double digits, and the Dolphins are on a 1-8 skid when kicking off as road underdogs. Miami’s best shot might be that Green Bay — after facing the Patriots last week and with roadies to Seattle/Minnesota on deck — might sort of not pay much attention to this game. Except the Pack’s scant margin of error in the playoff chase assures Rodgers and the Cheesers will be on high alert here, buoyed by the Frozen Tundra and the ghost of Vince Lombardi in a fedora. Bonus fact: GB’s offensive coordinator is Joe Philbin. How much do you figure he’d love to run up the score? The forecast for today in Green Bay: Temps in the 20s, Pack points in the 30s. My pick: Green Bay, 37-20.

Visit Week 10 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. 

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): 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. HURRICANES: It's four straight losses with UM's fall at Tech: With Saturday's 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech the Hurricanes are now 5-5, have lost four in a row, are not yet bowl-eligible and are 5-8 in the past 13 games. Let's all agree that the honeymoon is over for Mark Richt. Heck, at this rate, the divorce lawyers may be on call.

2. DOLPHINS: Miami fizzles on the frozen tundra: The Dolphins' defense handled the Jets in winning last week but Aaron Rodgers is different than Sam Darnold about as subtly as Green Bay temps in the 20s are to South Florida humidity. And so 31-12 Green Bay on Sunday has the Fins, once 3-0, now stalled at 5-5.

3. HEAT: Sputtering Heat brace for Sixers and Butler, then LeBron: Heat at 5-7 have lost two straight and five of seven as they prepare to host Philadelphia and newly acquired Jimmy Butler Monday night. Minnesota trading Butler into the East made Miami's playoff chase that much more problematic. Almost forgot: Lakers and LeBron here in seven days.

4. NASCAR: Championship Four is set for Homestead: Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick were joined by Kyle Busch and Martin Truex in the Championship Four for next Sunday's NASCAR title run at Homestead. The final two spots were filled in yesterday's penultimate race in Phoenix. Now the entire sport packs up and heads south of Miami.

5. SOCCER: Miami MLS wins stadium vote: The David Beckham group's embryonic Major League Soccer expansion franchise, Inter Miami, comfortably won voter approval on stadium plans for the Melreese site. Meanwhile the MLS playoffs continue with semifinals pitting Portland vs. Sporting KC and New York vs. Atlanta.

6. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! The Cats are heating up: Slow-starting Florida has now won four in a row to rise to 6-8 with Sunday's victory over Ottawa prior to a six-game road trip. Credit some of the rally to the return of goalie Roberto Luongo. They honored the late Bill Torrey, Panthers founding father, before Saturday's home win. All hail the Bowtie!

7. UM HOOPS: Canes men, women off and runnning: UM men routed Lehigh in their opener and will now beef up their record vs. a soft schedule until the serious games start in January, when we start paying attention for real. Meanwhile he 25th-ranked Canes women are 2-0 and continue relentlessly competitive under Katie Meier.

8. GATORS: UF protects ranking with big rally: No. 15 Florida scored the game's last 21 points Saturday to survive South Carolina in the Swamp, 35-31. UM and FSU have lost a combined seven games in a row, but The Gator (oh, and 9-0 UCF) are holding up the state.  

9. FIU: ButchCats sail to 7-3 record: Well at least one Miami college football team is winning. As the Canes marinate in a four-game losing streak, FIU is 7-3 with Saturday's 45-7 rout of UTSA. Overlooked program continues to climb under Butch Davis.

10. DOG RACING: State bans greyhound racing: Florida citizens this week voted to ban dog racing in the state, meaning some 6,000 suddenly retired racing greyhound may need new homes. Breathing a well-earned sigh of relief: the mechanical rabbit!

Missing the HB10 cut: State of Florida's election recount is underway in several key races. Depending on your point of view, it's a noble effort to get it right or screwing your candidate who thought he'd won ..... Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan: the CFP top four, uninterrupted ..... Would somebody give Bryce Harper and Manny Machado a bunch of money already!? ..... I'd like to report that the Duke men's basketball team is, like, really good ..... Update: Countdown now 2,780 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Other select recent columns: Dolphins Win, But Under Cloud, Not RainbowTime For Faith In Richt, And PatienceMoving Beyond Tannehill Smart But Not Easy For DolphinsDolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveSnakebit AdamFamily TraditionVictor-y, Miami! Wade Reminds Us Why We'll Miss HimNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersTannehill: Requiem For A QuarterbackWhatever Happened to Kenyan Drake? NFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownNFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest QuagmireTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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Twitter @gregcote