February 10, 2016

Do you agree with Heat retiring Shaq's jersey number? New poll. Vote now!; plus a video ode to Peyton Manning ("Omahallelujah!"), Miami Jackson High's historic gamble, how and why Super Bowl 50 let us down & more


1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10. Carly Fiorina, who looked, talked and acted like the one teacher at school every student hates, dropped out of the Republican presidential race today. 2) Oy! Dolphins are ranked a depressing 24th in ESPN's post-Super Bowl 2016 NFL Power Rankings. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl 50 with postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10, Hurricanes men rise in polls & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Congrats to Canes' four brainiacs: xFour Miami Hurricanes football players -- quarterbacjk Brad Kaaya, offensive linemen Alex Gall and Nick Linder and punyer Justin Vogel -- were among 56 players named Wednesday to the All-ACC Academic Team.

The new 'Back In My Day': Just posted it on my Facebook page.

Super Bore 50!: Let us count the ways Sunday's big game and its surrounding attractions let us down. Lady Gaga's national anthem was great. Otherwise? From the game itself to the pregame show, the broadcast, the halftime show, the TV commercials and the postgame, there was much not to like. That's the gist of my latest column. Click on I Want To Kill Puppymonkeybaby to read in full.

ShaqSHOULD THE HEAT BE LIFTING SHAQ'S JERSEY INTO THE RAFTERS?: The Miami Heat yesterday announced it would retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 uniform number at the start of next season, making him only the third player in club history (Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning) afforded such an honor. But is it justified? Leading the "yes" argument: Shaq had a huge hand in helping win Miami's first NBA championship and raising the franchise's profile to a whole new level. Leading the "no" argument: Longevity. He played only 3 1/2 seasons for the Heat (July 2004 'til February '08), and left on frosty terms. There is also the fact he is much better known as a Los Angeles Laker, for whom he spent his prime seasons and had his greatest success. So, yes or no? Your call.

Peyton"OMAHALLELUJAH!": It figured that a video tribute to Peyton Manning would come via the homespun radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, the Garrison Keillor production based out of St. Paul, Minn. Cam Newton would have gotten  some sort of rap treatment for winning the Super Bowl, one imagines. Peyton gets bluegrass from the Midwest. Check this out, though. Smarted lyrically and created and performed just in the past few days:


HISTORY! MIAMI JACKSON'S BOLD MOVE:  Miami Jackson High School makes history today by becoming the first Florida high school to hire a female head football coach. She is Lakatriona
"Bernice" Brunson (pictured), perhaps previously best-known as a recent star of the truTV reality tow-truck series, South Beach Tow. The Jackson Generals further make news by hiring Luther Brunson"Luke" Campbell, originally famous as the leader of the 2 Live Crew rap group, as defensive coordinator. Campbell previously has coached prep football at Central, Northwestern and Norland. If the hirings prove to be as successful on the field as they are instantly attention-getting, Jackson will have found itself a bounty. Brunson was graduated from Miami Northwestern High in 1995, playing basketball and track and field. She threw shot put and discus and helped lead one of the state's powers in the sport, later playing basketball and graduating from Tennessee State. She teaches phys-ed at Jackson. Campbell told the Miami Herald: "At first I thought this might be crazy because I take football real serious. But after a conversation with her, I said, 'Naw, she knows her football. She's on point.' I don't take this as a joke. I didn't want to be a part of no circus." In my blog headline I call this a "bold gamble " for Jackson. I say "gamble" not so much because Brunson is a woman, but because she has no coaching experience. It would be bold in any case, but the inexperience at the job is what makes it a gamble.  Jackson hopes the new regime can finally help win the school's first state football championship after three semifinal losses, most recently in 2012. It is close to impossible to not wish the trail-blazing Brunson well.

Poll result: You found Super Bowl 50 to be a bit below average: We asked how you rated the Broncos-Panthers Super Bowl experience, and it was "worse than average" at 43.4 percent, "about the same" at 33.0% and "better than average" at 23.6%.

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 04, 2016

Rating the Hurricanes' Signing-Day bounty: New poll. Vote now!; plus skill positions, linebacker head Richt's incoming UM class; also, new Super Bowl With a Smirk III on the power of the chicken wing, updated NBA/NHL odds & more


1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4. Gulp! Today I'm at Friday Page HQ deciding who'll win the Super Bowl. 2) In The Previous Blogpost: Super Bowl With a Smirk I, Ted Cruz looks like a vampire & more. 3Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Florida Panthers remain better title bet than Heat: Latest betting odds from from Bovada have Golden State now even at 1-1 for NBA championship, with Cleveland and San Antonio next at 11-4 each. Miami is tied for eighth at 66-1. NHL title odds are led by Washington at 4-1, Chicago 5-1 and Los Anegles 15-2, with Florida tied for sixth at 16-1. (Cats could become a trendy bet; they just won at Washington, 5-2). Prohibitive MVP faves are Warriors' Steph Curry at 1-4 and Blackhawks' Patrick Kane at 1-3.

AMID THE OVERBLOWN HYPE OF NATIONAL SIGNING DAY, CANES AND RICHT SCRAMBLE TO NAIL DOWN SOLID CLASS: [Click HERE to meet the Hurricanes' newly minted 18-man 2016 recruiting class]. I get why so many fans are drunk with interest (or perhaps just drunk in general) over National Signing Day. It is to college football what the NFL Draft is at the higher level. The pipeline. The replenisher. It's a first indication how successful your team might be in the Nsdnext few years. What amuses me, though, is the media and fans' instant and self-assured analysis of something inherently unpredictable. We are talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. The coveted five-star recruit might flame out. The lightly recruited two-star guy could become your program's savior. The preps-to-colleges outlook simply is not as readable or reliable as the colleges-to-pros jump because there is a greater lump-of-clay factor. High-school players are not fully formed; they need Allisondevelopment. They  need coaching. Al Golden and his staff did not do that sufficiently. That's why Mark Richt is now running Miami Hurricanes football. Richt was hamstrung by coming into Canes recruiting late but seems to have made up ground. UM's class was ranked No. 19 nationally by ESPN, with 10 Top 300 prospects among its 18 recruits. I know there are thin areas and have been some notable defections, but I like what I see of the Canes' 2016 class. The linebacker gets are extremely impressive. And the offensive skill-position bounty seems very good, led by QB Jack Allison (Palmetto), RB Travis Homer (West Palm) and WR Sam Bruce (St. Thomas Aquinas). Allison (pictured), a 6-5 pro-style passer, will be groomed as the heir to Brad Kaaya; Bruce has five-star speed and skills but is downgraded for being only 5-8. Here is ESPN's synopsis of the UM bounty, condensed: "The Hurricanes surged after the hire of Richt. They landed ESPN 300 DE Patrick Bethel on Dec. 14. He is joined in the class by QB Allison, playmaker Bruce and fellow speedster Dionte Mullins. WR Ahmmon Richards (No. 212 in ESPN 300) was a great addition on signing day. Adding another ESPN 300 prospect, Homer and his 4.48 speed, was a big win at running back. The Hurricanes' class at receiver and linebacker is especially impressive, including LBs Shaquille Quarterman and Zachary McCloud. Three-star defensive tackle prospect Tre Johnson has considerable upside." Richt called Sam Bruce "very explosive," a slot receiver whose speed "gives him the ability to get on the edge as well." The coach called Travis Homer "A very skilled back," adding, "He was the second guy I watched after Jack [Allison] and I had a big grin when I watched the tape." Richt was hamstrung by his latte arrival in a recruiting game built on relationships. "When you have everything in place and all your support staff is clicking, there's some energy and synergy going on," he said. "But when you start that train from ground zero and try to move that thing, getting to know (everybody), there's so many things to do in such a short time." Richt and this class should be graded on that curve. The new coach sounded subdued Wednesday. Tired. "But it's a good tired," he said. We invite your initial thoughts on UM's 2016 recruiting bounty in the poll below. None of us can know for sure, of course. But that doesn't mean we don't have an opinion, right?

SMIRK III: CHICKEN-WING METRIC FAVORS CAROLINA, SB BLING UPDATE, HERDING THE HOMELESS, '17 SB ODDS: Here comes Smirk III, the third of five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes Smirkcolumns. The National Chicken Council — whose name alone conjures a clandestine assembly of poultry elders convening in George Orwell’s Animal Farm — has released its Chickens2016 Wing Report, the bible of Super Bowl snacking. The NCC estimates a record 1.3 billion wings will be eaten by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday, 39 million more than last year. The wing is king; pizza bows and curtsies. For example, Domino’s estimates it will sell 12 million slices on Sunday. Those 162.5 million pounds of wings, if laid end to end, would stretch from Charlotte to Denver almost 53 times. That amounts to 600 wings for every seat in every NFL stadium in the United States. Smirk has a word for that many wings: Dinner! Wings will not only probably dominate your Super Bowl party. The jointed marvels also have proven an accurate predictor of the game, based on the competing cities’ average expenditure on wings. This season that barometer went 7-3 in the playoffs and has accurately forecast four of the past five Super Bowls. Now the National Chicken Council reports (befitting a drum roll) that Charlotte residents spend $1,400 on wings per $1 million spent in local grocery stores — nearly three times the $480 devoted to wings in Denver. "It would be nice to see Peyton Manning go out with a victory, but numbers don’t lie," says the NCC’s fabulously named communications director, Tom Super. "Follow the chicken."

▪ The betting over/under is 2 minutes 20 seconds for Lady Gaga’s pregame national anthem on Sunday. What prevents Gaga from telling all her family and friends to bet big on the “under” and then coming in at 1:57? Hey, I’m just asking!

▪ Repucom, a sports and entertainment research company, measures the metrics on more than 3,800 athletes and celebrities and says Panthers QB Cam Newton now has a better "influential score" — the ability to change people’s perceptions — than President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. President Newton?

Jesuspendant▪ Super Bowl Week Bling Update: Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wears a Rolex watch valued at $80,000. Denver safety T.J. Ward counters with a similarly priced gold-encrusted pendant depicting the face of Jesus, replete with thorny crown.

▪ The game is in surburban Santa Clara, but San Francisco clearly is "Super Bowl City" in terms of festivities, and Fusion.net reports the city quietly has herded its homeless population to a four-block tent city three miles away. Apparently the host committee thinks NFL fans OK with concussions and player arrests would be aghast at the sight of a panhandler.

▪ Broncos-Panthers ticket prices are falling. The cost on StubHub on Wednesday started as low as $2,950. Or, you can get a much better seat for a fraction of the cost. It’s called "your couch."

Budhelen▪ Helen Mirren will star in an anti-drunk driving Super Bowl ad for Budweiser. Hmm. C’mon, Bud! Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get to preach against drunk driving any more than Smith & Wesson gets to bemoan gun violence.

▪ Super Bowl security on Sunday will include the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Air Force heading a task force of more than 60 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t deflated.

▪ OK we have officially run out of things to talk about and write and need the game to start. Evidence? This headline (I swear) on FoxSports.com: "Super Bowl history of missed extra points."

Fifty▪ Finally, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook already has laid betting odds to win next year’s Super Bowl, and it’s Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on top at 8-1. (Panthers are 10-1 and Broncos 14-1.) Smirk needed a miner’s helmet and pickaxe to find the Dolphins. At 50-1, only the 49ers and Browns have longer odds than Miami.

five daily Super Bowl notes columns. As we all know SB television commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to an annual survey conducted by the Gustavfreytag
Donkey National Association of Self-Serving Advertising Executives. Well, those TV ads also are as closely watched and analyzed as the game, apparently. A new study of each year’s highest-rated SB ads was conducted by researchers Keith Quesenberry of Messiah College and Michael Coolsen of Shippensburg University. Quesenberry told Time.com they concluded that the most successful, well-liked ads are presented as mini-movies in a five-act story structure such as that favored by legendary playwright William Shakespeare. The study also found most of the best Super Bowl ads follow “Gustav’s Pyramid,” the five-part story structure — exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and denouement — espoused by 19th Century German novelist Gustav Freytag. A separate study by Smirk found that most successful Super Bowl ads feature yodeling animals in straw hats. (Pictured left: Gustav Freytag and a typical star of a Super Bowl ad). In an unrelated story, Dan Marino and actor Alec Baldwin star in a Super Bowl television commercial for Amazon Echo, which has the electronic voice of “Alexa” answering your questions. Amazon denied it was a blatant ripoff of Apple’s Siri. “Yeah, right!” snorted the entire country.

▪ Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrived at the Super Bowl in a pair of Versace zebra-print pants that retail for almost $900. Oh, and gold-tip loafers. By contrast, I think Broncos QB Peyton Manning arrived in a Jim Tressel sweater vest and Hush Puppies. GQ “Style Guy” Anthony Green revealed to ESPN that Newton’s daring sartorial splendor could be a good omen for Carolina.

▪ Super Bowl Opening Night (formerly Media Day) featured Newton freestyle rapping, an Austrian sportscaster in ski clothes, a man dressed in a gold leotard, a leprechaun in Broncos colors and Josh Norman in a Luchador wrestling mask. In other words, pretty much the usual stuff.

▪ I don’t wanna say I’m beginning to doubt Manning’s denial that he ever used human growth hormone, but at Tuesday’s weigh-in he was 6-11 and 314 pounds.

▪ This could be a dull Super Bowl Week if we don’t get some decent controversy beyond that silly HGH story. Smirk will do his part at Wednesday’s media session by attempting to plant deer-antler spray on Ted Ginn Jr.

Missuniverse▪ Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach (Phillipines), is covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition. Apparently an embittered Miss Colombia was denied a credential. At least that’s what Steve Harvey told me.

▪ CBS held a news conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center to reveal it has more than 550 personnel and 100 cameras swarming the Bay Area. The event went well before degenerating into a fistfight between Jim Nantz and Phi Simms. OK Smirk made up that last thing.

▪ Federal officials said Tuesday there is no specific, credible threat to this week’s Super Bowl, other than it tanking in the ratings because Carolina is so far ahead.

▪ The NFL announced its Sunday officiating crew headed by referee Clete Blakeman, and nobody cared except the men’s immediate families.

Grammar▪ Panthers fans are more grammatically correct than Broncos fans, according to a Twitter study by grammarly.com. Carolina fans (6.6) made fewer grammar mistakes per 100 words than Denver fans (7.6). Both deploy the language far better than Dolphins fans, who ranked 30th of 32 teams at 11.9.

▪ A skirmish arose Tuesday along “Radio Row” when competing producers for rival stations 790 The Ticket Miami and WQAM came to blows over first dibs to a profusely sweating Chris Berman.

Carolinadog▪ Finally, at Palm Beach Kennel Club, a greyhound representing Carolina beat a dog representing Denver. Track officials denied speculation the race might have been a publicity stunt.

Previously: Click on Smirk I for Tuesday's debut. Click on Super Bowl Primer for our preview column outlining the top national and Miami-related storylines to Broncos-Panthers.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 13, 2015

The new Hot Button Top 10 with Fins, Heat, college football, Fish, Cats, Warriors, prep champs, soccer, money, Canes hoops; plus my Dolphins at 50 column, faith in Tannehill eroding & more


1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Faith in Ryan Tannehill poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 14 picks, Trump/Doral and PGA Tour, strength of Serena, Heat at quarter-mark verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins at 50: My latest column: I attended Friday night's lavish Dolphins 50th Anniversary gala in Hollywood and it informs my latest Sunday column on how this franchise is so much better at celebrating its past than it is creating new glory days for its fans. Click on Yesterday Is Great, But What About Tomorrowto read it in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DEC. 13): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: 50th anniversary celebrated as Fins host Giants on Monday night: As team skids to a seventh straight year out of the playoffs, Dolphins’ 50 greatest all-time players will be introduced at halftime Monday as franchise celebrates 50 years of football. That breaks down to about 40 seasons worthy of actual celebration, and then the last 10 or so.

2. HEAT: Still wondering at NBA’s quarter turn: How good is Miami?: With the season one-fourth done, Miami fans are still trying to decide how good the Heat is. Eastern finals? Barely make playoffs? Stay tuned, although three straight losses entering Sunday's game vs. Memphis have made the latter seem likelier at the moment.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Canes practice for bowl as city prepares to host CFP semifinal: UM readies for the Dec. 26 Sun Bowl in El Paso as Miami prepares for Clemson-Oklahoma in the Dec. 31 Orange Bowl game. Oh, and if your biggest gripe is why the College Football Playoff semifinals are on New Year’s Eve, you lead a charmed life, friend.

4. MARLINS: Lots of Jose talk, but little action for Fish at winter meetings: The Marlins made headlines entertaining offers but not trading ace Jose Fernandez during the MLB winter meetings in Nashville, but the front office struck out on making any deals to bolster their starting rotation or bullpen.

5. PANTHERS: Government tax help approval assure Cats’ local future: Broward County committed $86 million in tourist tax dollars to keep Panthers in Sunrise at least for 13 more years. Now how about a little payback, Cats? Like an occasional playoff appearance, perhaps?

6. GOLDEN STATE: Warriors finally lose after 24-0 start: It was a 108-95 loss at mediocre Milwaukee that ended the Warriors' record-setting perfect start to the NBA season. Cannot confirm that, out of habit, the '72 Dolphins raised a champagne toast. 

7. HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Four local schools win state titles: Congrats to Miami Central, Booker T. Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas and Flanagan for winning state prep football championships. Can we invent some way for that success to trickle up to the Canes and Dolphins, please? 

8. SOCCER: Champions League, Euro '16 draw have fans buzzing: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich lead the field that is down to the round of 16. Meanwhile the 24 teams have been set for next summer's Euro 2016. America contributes Portland beating Columbus for the MLS Cup title. Hey, it's better than nothing!

9. BASEBALL SPENDING: Greinke the latest to get windfall: Arizona acquired ace Zack Greinke by agreeing to pay him $206.5 million over six years. Based on my math he'll average about $1 million per start, or per starts missed injured. Put a baseball in Junior's crib, Dad.

10. CANES BASKETBALL: College hoops in Miami back with a vengeance in six days: Saturday, Dec. 19 Mark it. That's when the 10-0 UM women host No. 4 Baylor, the 17th-ranked Canes men host Charleston, and the OB Classic pits in Sunrise pits FSU vs. FAU and Florida vs Oklahoma State.

Missing the cut: They announced Alabama running back Derrick Henry as the Heisman Trophy winner Saturday. I thought I saw Nick Saban almost smile but it may have just been indigestion ... Carolina Panthers put their 12-0 record on line today. Sorry, Cats, we'll pay attention when you're going for 16-0, or 19-0 ... LeBron James signs lifetime deal with Nike. Am picturing LeBron, at 75, pushing Nike's new line of orthopedic bedroom slippers ... Florida Panthers reportedly will unveil a new logo and jersey design next season. Better they should unveil a team good enough to make the playoffs ... Dolphins safety Reshad Jones has undertakena Twitter campaign  to get Pro Bowl votes. Another idea he might consider: An interception or two on Monday Night Football ... R.I.P., NBA pioneer Dolph Schayes, gone at 87. "Sad. There aren't many of us left," noted Dolph Lundgren ... The week-long Orange Bowl International Junior tennis tournament ends Sunday in Plantation. It'll seem so quiet without all those boorish parents yelling ... New York Supreme Court ruled against DraftKings and FanDuel as those daily fantasy sites continue an apparent slide toward extinction. Sure will miss all those TV commercials (!).

Poll result: Faith in Tannehill is dwindling: We asked your degree of faith that QB Ryan Tannehill is as good as the Dolphins need him to be -- two months after asking the same thing. The downturn in faith is notable:

Faith level        Now        October

Strong              9.1%        12.9%

Medium            18.3%      29.1%

Wavering          36.8%      31.9%

Weak               35.8%      26.1%

Tannehill's strong or medium support has shrunk from 42.0% to 27.4%, while his wavering or weak support has increased from 58.0% to 72.6%. This is far from scientific. But it is a snapshot that indicates Tannehill has work to do in restoring the faith in him. Because, without question, it is eroding.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 09, 2015

Would you have booed or cheered A-Rod's 661st HR? Poll. Vote now!; plus Tom Brady suspension poll, Fins lose and win, offensive Cavaliers video, 2016 NFL mock draft (no, seriously), sombrero verdict & more


1aa1amaytbe1) It is SATURDAY, MAY 9. 1) Floyd Mayweather (pictured) models the new T-shirt his company has put out. Isn't modesty supposed to be a virtue? Furthermore, there are zero boxing historians not on his payroll who'd agree with the message. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Deflategate report implicates Patriots, D-Wade at the Met Gala, sombrero poll, heat on LeBron, local firm sues Pacquiao, new Super Bowl/MLB odds, appreciating Dee Gordon & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins lose, win: The loss? Offensive lineman La'el Collins, whom Miami wooed heavily, signing instead with Cowboys. The win? Having all seven draft choices signed already. Although that's not nearly as big a deal or impressive as it once would have been. Once NFL rookie salary cap kicked in, holdouts became extremely rare.

Offensive Cleveland Cavaliers video: Cavaliers are rightly catching lower-case heat for airing an in-game video being criticized for making light of domestic violence by depicting a Cavs fan throwing his wife/girlfriend across a room for wearing a Bulls jersey. Click here to watch, cringe and wonder who's getting fired today for approving this. Update: Team issued apology for video. Update II: Last night's playoff loss to Bulls and 2-1 series deficit gives Cavs bigger concerns.

1aa1ahassanWhiteside 4th in 'most improved': Out-of-nowhere Heat center Hassan Whiteside finished a distant, disappointing fourth in NBA "most improved" voting with 88 points, trailing winner Jimmy Butler of Bulls (535), Warriors' Draymond Green (200) and Jazz's Rudy Gobert (189).

WOULD YOU HAVE CHEERED OR BOOED A-ROD'S HISTORIC HOME RUN?: [Click on This Is The Cost for my latest column, on how one of the casualties of the Steroids Era is that what should be great baseball moments -- like A-Rod's milestone home run -- become awkward embarrassments for the game]. Original post: Miami-raised Alex Rodriguez's 661st career home run passed legendary Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time 1aa1aarodhrlist Thursday night, but of course the accomplishment is tainted. He sat out the entire 2014 season for steroids use, not his first admission of PEDs. It is not a stretch to think the number 661 is artificially juiced. The Yankee Stadium crowd gave A-Rod a curtain call but even he admitted afterward, "I certainly thought the days of curtain calls for me were long gone. I was a little embarrassed and it was a little awkward." I wonder what the reaction on the road would have been -- or should have been. Say it happened at Marlins Park. Do you appreciatively and respectfully cheer a major historic accomplishment? Is forgiveness in play? Or do you boo a man who clearly cheated to get that record? You would have done what? Vote and say why.

DOLFANS EXPECTING MAJOR BRADY SUSPENSION MAY BE DISAPPOINTED: Click on Is 'Probable' Guilt Enough? for my column on the Wells Report's Deflategate conclusion and what it might mean in terms of NFL punishment of the Patriots and QB Tom Brady. It bears further discussion and amplification 1aa1abradytomhere because I suspect Dolphins fans are expecting -- wrongly, I think -- that the league will bring the hammer down on the Patriots and especially Brady. I won't pander to Dolfans and say otherwise; plenty of others to do the pandering. Three factors by my vantage weigh against a major suspension: 1) Weak, equivocal findings. The report concluded it was "more probable than not" that Brady was at least "generally aware" of the improper activities. "More probable than not" isn't exactly definitive. Will the NFL bring the hammer down on its league champion and star QB based on "maybe"/"likely"? 2) Brady's clean record other than Deflategate. Note that Brady was not implicated or disciplined in the 2007 "Spygate" matter that aimed the hammer at coach Bill Belichick. 3) Did the rule-breaking affect results? No indication it did, certainly not in an AFC Championship Game the Colts lost, 45-7. So, what next? Certainly there will be punishment. The current climate under commissioner Roger Goodell all but assures it. No way the NFL spends time and money on a 109-day independent investigation and then doesn't act on it. Owner Robert Kraft and Belichick are not implicated and very likely won't be disciplined. However the club likely will be fined substantially and be made to forfeit a draft pick that I doubt is a first-rounder but could be. The big question is Brady's punishment. I wrote that I wouldn't suspend him at all based on "probable," but the likelihood may be a small suspension -- based as much on his lack of full cooperation in the Wells investigation as on its findings. I just don't buy the overreaction I am hearing, including Colin Cowherd predicting a "severe" punishment. And the speculation about a possible full-season suspension? Ludicrous. For what it's worth the odds on Brady's punishment via footballbettingcenter.com are: 1 game--2/1 odds; not suspended at all--5/2; 2 games--5/2; 3 games--8/1; and 4-plus games--15/1. If I'm right, and if those odds are, Dolfans and many in the media calling for a major suspension may be disappointed. I'm curious what you think would be fair discipline of Brady. It may be futile, but I challenge Dolfans here to not vote for the discipline they'd prefer for a nemesis/rival, but rather to dispassionately consider the discipline they'd think fair if roles were reversed and, say, the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill were the accused here. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

AQUINAS LEADS NFL HIT PARADE: NFL announced that Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High was only high school in nation with three players drafted this year: Phillip Dorsett, Rashad Greene and Bobby Hart. Fourteen schools had two players drafted including Miami Central, Norland and Northwestern. Florida led all states this year with 39 former prep players.

IT'S A 2016 NFL MOCK DRAFT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Blame ESPN's Todd McShay for redefining "premature." I'm just passing it along in digest form. His order is based on Football Outsiders' projected team records. The good news? The Dolphins finish 11-5. Woo hoo! Todd's overall No. 1 pick is Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg, to the Redskins. Miami, picking 29th, takes Alabama RB Derrick Henry. No Hurricanes in the first round. Also notable, Ohio State DE Joey Bosa -- from St. Thomas Aquinas High and son of ex-Dolphins draftee John -- goes third overall.

Poll result: You may wear a sombrero guilt-free: We asked if it was OK to wear a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo just for fun, and 82.2 percent said yes. Another 8.3% said no because it's insulting to Mexicans, and 9.5% were undecided.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

February 05, 2015

How would you rate Hurricanes' recruiting class? Poll. Vote!; plus Bosh says season "slipping" from Heat, latest draft projection for Dolphins & more

1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today calling out for Sunday's Random Evidence notes column. 2) Mentor LeBron James talks about rehabbing badboy Johnny Manziel; read it here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): National Signing Day and Canes with poll, betting updates for local teams, Super Bowl verdict, 'Dear Greg' & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Dolphins stadium re-design to include "living rooms": Ridiculous, but true. Click here to read. Remember when the game was the thing? When winning was plenty? When teams didn't need bells and whistles to attract fans?

"Whiteside. Whiteside! WhitesideWhitesideWhiteside. WHITESIDE!!" --Greg Cote

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY POST-MORTEM ON CANES: The dust has settled (even though whenever people say that there invariably is no dust involved), the national rankings are in and opinions have gelled and are 1aa1acanesnsdhardening. So: How'd the Miami Hurricanes and coach Al Golden do this week on National Signing Day? The big-four ratings are not too kind, with ESPN ranking the Canes' class 23rd, Rivals 26th, 247Sports 26th and Scout 34th. There were no 5-stars recruits and the 3's outnumbered the 4's. A staggering 14 de-commitments and only seven kids signed from the South Florida backyard also colored those rankings. I thought UM's class was better than it was ranked; click on The Ones That Got Away for my column. Canes really beefed up on the offensive line, for one. Some emailers are similarly upbeat but many others are not so, seeing this as the latest damnation of Golden. So let's throw it open to debate. I admit no school's recruiting class can be fairly judged for a couple of years, but that doesn't mean you can't have an immediate opinion. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

DESPITE WHITESIDE, HEAT IN PERIL: Chris Bosh after Wednesday's 102-101 loss at lowly Minnesota, the
1aa1ahassanlatest blown-lead defeat: "Things are slipping away from us." And they are. Slumping Miami now is the No. 8 East seed in hunt for eight playoff spots, a mere half-game ahead of Brooklyn. Dwyane Wade, Bosh and Luol Deng have missed a combined 28 games -- and counting, with Wade still out. What's doubly disappointing is that Miami is losing despite the monstrous arrival of 7-foot phenom Hassan Whiteside (pictured), who had 24 points, 20 rebounds, three steals and two blocks on 12-for-13 shooting last night. Mr. Brightside has 101 points, 92 boards and 23 blocks in his past six games. Still, disconcertingly, the Heat is only 7-16 in games Whiteside has played. (It's 5-7 when he plays 20-plus minutes). Get well soon, Dwyane.

LATEST MOCK-DRAFT GUESS FOR DOLPHINS: ESPN's Todd McShay is out with his Mock 2.0 -- oh 1aa1atwaynesthank God! -- and he has Miami selecting Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes (pictured) 14th overall. Drafting a CB first makes some sense if there is no inside-linebacker worth taking that high, although wide receiver still could be the target if Mike Wallace or Brian Hartline or both aren't back. McShay has Jameis Winston going No. 1 overall to Tampa Bay and Marcus Mariota falling to sixth and becoming a Stinkin' Jet.

Poll result: NSD coverage is excessive: My media brethren, take heed. We asked how readers feel about the mountainous coverage of National Signing Day, and 55.9 percent called it "excessive" while another 30.6% paid "little or no attention." Only 13.5% called the coverage "justified."

Check back often because we frequently update and add to our latest blogposts...

February 04, 2015

The ones that got away define UM's recruiting class, keep heat on Golden; plus is National Signing Day big or overblown? New poll. Vote!; also, updated bet-odds for Heat, Canes and Cats & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl review and poll, betting outlook for Dolphins and Canes & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

CANES CLASS NOT BAD, BUT LOW RANKINGS KEEP THE HEAT ON GOLDEN: I think UM's 2015 recruiting class is being underestimated on this National Signing Day, but the perception-is-reality thing -- its low rankings -- keeps the heat on coach Al Golden. Miami's class is ranked 24th by ESPN, 26th by Rivals and by 247Sports, and 34th by Scout, thanks to 14 de-commitments that left Golden scrambling. Click on The Ones That Got Away for my National Signing Day column, newly online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions.

THIS IS NOT YOUR 'NATIONAL SIGNING DAY' HEADQUARTERS: I rebel against the NSD mania that engulfs college football fans, ESPN and other media today. Don't get me wrong. The sport's equivalent of the NFL's 1aa1aNSDdraft and free agency is important -- an essential annual influx and replenishing. What I reject as absurd is the over-analysis and over-coverage of it. Hurricanes fans and others around the country will instantly choose elation or disappointment today based on the signing of a couple of dozen players they've mostly never heard of or seen play. Based on what? On the analysis and assigning of a star rating by self-anointed website experts such as Rivals.com, Scout.com and others whose opinions are regurgitated as gospel. It's mostly guesswork that usually takes a couple or three of years to fairly judge, yet by the end of the day today every college's recruiting class will be ranked, poll-style. One year ago ESPN ranked UM's class No. 10 in the nation. Which means ... who knows? The Canes had  the nation's No. 1-ranked incoming class in 2008. And it meant nothing, really. In the 2010-11 seasons, when that glorious class should have been blossoming to greatness, UM was a combined 13-12. Anyway, enough of my rant. Tell us what you think of National Signing Day and why.

BETTING UPDATES ON HEAT, CANES, PANTHERS: Courtesy Bovada, Golden State (7-2) and up-trending Cleveland (15-2) are now nearly tied as faves to win the NBA title, with Heat now 100-1 (was 75-1). In the NHL, Anaheim and Chicago are co-faves at 6-1, with the Panthers now 100-1 (was 75-1). In men's NCAA hoops, Kentucky is even-odds to win it all, with Hurricanes at 200-1 (was 100-1). Best bet for a local player to win an individual honor: Cats' Aaron Ekblad stands third in NHL rookie of year odds at 3-1.

Poll result: Huge majority loved Super Bowl: We asked how this Super Bowl compared to most and 82.8 percent called it "better than average." Another 10.3% called it about the same, and 6.9% -- presumably Seahawks fans and losing bettors -- called it below average.

1aa1acreepy photo"DEAR GREG...": "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a creepy family portrait in which the Dad looks almost like a ventriloquist's dummy. Thank you!" Dear Reader: Hmm. Tough request, but let me see what I can do. 

Check back often because we often update and add to our latest blogposts...

September 17, 2013

Should I continue on Le Batard's radio show? Self-absorbed poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated SOPY rankings & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Colts, DSM poll result & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Heady days for Dolphins, Hurricanes: Hard to believe, but in 48 shared seasons since 1966 this week marks only the fourth time the Dolphins and Canes both have been 2-0 and preparing for a home game the same weekend. I explore the state of both teams and the outlook for each in this new column.

SHOULD I BE ON LE BATARD'S RADIO SHOW WHEN IT GOES NATIONAL?: I must ask your indulgence with this. We've been writing the blog since 2005 and polls have been a staple for almost as long, and I 1aa1espnradiothink this is the first poll about, well ... about me. Dan Le Batard actually 1aa1mesuggested it. I've been his Tuesday co-host on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket for about a year now, and his show goes national on ESPN (still airing locally, of course) 1aa1theticketaround Oct. 1. I think Dan wants me to continue with him but has reservations if I'll play nationally. I think I'd like to keep doing it but am not entirely sure (the new studio is much farther from me). So I invite the opinion of readers who listen to the show either locally or by podcast and have heard enough of me to have an opinion. Should I continue doing it or not? This is a boutique poll of limited interest, perhaps, but please forgive me that. And having the poll in my own blog may skew favorably, but I'm not so sure. I do invite your honesty. Vote and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 2: Bonanza! Solid week all the way around. Whoooo! NFL predix: We were 1aa1fripixa nifty 13-3 overall on our Week 2 Friday Page predictions, and a solid 9-6-1 (Atlanta 1aa1hosscpushed) against the spread. We nailed outright upsets by the Dolphins, Bills and Cardinals. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos got even at 1-1 with a 136-115 triumph. I got 30 points from Dez Bryant (I don't care what your mother does, Dez) and 22 from the Seahawks' defense.

DOLPHINS NO. 12 IN NEW ESPN RANKINGS: That's up five from a week ago. Twelve teams make the playoffs, of course. Consensus building that Dolphins are playoff-likely and maybe top-10 material. Heady stuff  Sense the estimation is fragile, though. Must beat Atlanta Sunday to maintain the vibe. 

AQUINAS, NORLAND TOP NFL PIPELINES: It's boom time for local high school football and this reflects that: Miami Norland and St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale lead the nation's high schools with six current NFL players each. Norland's are Antwan Barnes (NYJ), Dwayne Bowe (KC), Antonio Brown (PIT), Lester Jean (Hou), Xavier Rhodes (MIN) and Tourek Williams (SD). Aquinas' are Geno Atkins (CIN, Giovani Bernard (CIN), Marcus Gilbert (PIT), Leonard Hankerson (WAS), Major Wright (CHI) and Sam Young (BUF).

SOPY 'STATE HEISMAN' RANKINGS / WEEK 3: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the most productive 1aa1bbortlesquarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Miami's Duke Johnson slips a bit this week because our rankings are cumulative so players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. Current leader Blake Bortles is pictured. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Our 2013 standings entering Week 4:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk2=Year

1 (1)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               167 = 485

2 (3)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                159 = 451

3 (5)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             133 = 392

4 (6)     Jamesis Winston, FSU-qb*         133 = 366 

5 (2)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb*           BYE = 307

6 (4)     Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb*             BYE = 278

7 (B)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb          110 = 251.5      

8 (7)     Rannell Hall, UCF-wr                  43 = 234

9 (--)     Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr*               100 = 194

10 (--)   J.J. Worton, UCF-wr                  107  = 193

Bubble: Breshad Perriman, UCF-wr, 187. FIU leader: T.J. Lowder, wr, 175. Note: Players for Miami, Florida and FSU have played one fewer game than others.

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

Click back. Will be updating and adding much to this latest blogpost...

August 27, 2013

The legacies of Howard Schnellenberger: What's No. 1? Poll. Vote now; plus Dolphin cuts, Guandolo's slap, Upset Bird Countdown (10 days) & more

1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 27. The Dan Le Batard Show remains on vacation this week, but I'm told today's "best of" show (3 p.m., 790 & 104.3 the Ticket) will include heavy doses of me. So you've been warned! 2) No Dolphins among 13 NFL player featured in new version of Carrie Underwood's "Waiting All Day For Sunday NIght," debuting Sept. 8. But ex-Cane Jimmy Graham is included. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Foot-dragging NCAA holds UM hostage, Miley Cyrus at the VMAs, George Zimmerman at the gun factory & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), on Instagram (Upsetbird) and on Vine (Greg Cote).

HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: THE MAN, THE LEGEND ... THE HERALD MISTAKE: I wrote a lengthy Howard Schnellenberger column I liked. The timing was perfect, with this week's season-opening UM-FAU game a 1aa1howardsfirst-ever meeting of two football programs that count him as so hugely influential. Just one problem: The column that was supposed to jump to page 3D in the print (newspaper) edition on Tuesday did not jump anywhere in what I'm told were about half of all papers. That's embarrassing. The good news? The Herald re-published the column in Wednesday's editions. Meantime (thank you, Internet), click on AN ARCHITECT OF LEGACIES for the piece in its entirety. I asked Howard in yesterday's interview what accomplishment makes him proudest and he mentioned three, chronologically: Making the Hurricanes national champions, completely turning around the Louisville program in his hometown, and building FAU football from ground zero. Now here's a poll to set the order on Howard's own big three, which are listed here chronologically. (I think this poll might see a landslide winner, but you never know until you know). Vote and say why. I'm also curious if Canes fans upon reflection think less of Schnellenberger because of the "terrible decision" (his words, now) to abruptly leave UM after the '83 title.

DOLPHINS TRIM TO 75: Guard Lance Louis and fullback Jorvorskie Lane were the biggest cuts today as club trimmed roster to 75 to meet NFL deadline. Others among the nine men cut were WRs Julius Pruitt, Jeff Fuller and Andrell Smith; LBs Michael Clay, Nathan Williams and David Hinds; and DE Emeka Onyenekwu. All teams must trim to a final 53 by Saturday.

ON GUANDOLO'S HELMET-SLAP: Cypress Bay football coach Mark Guandolo is suspended two weeks (one game) by the county because ESPN cameras caught him slapping the helmet of his quarterback, Lucas Tellefsen. I get it, I guess. It's discipline for appearance's sake. It's also pretty comical. Such a violent sport. That kid-QB better be prepared for bone-jarring blindside sacks, but if his coach gets a tad physical -- OH NO! Funny to me.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 10 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction 1aa1angry birds 1aa1birdupages on Sept. 6, and today we begin a 10-day countdown that each day will honor outstanding notable birds. We kick it off with Angry Birds, the video game franchise. [Never-before-told backstory: The Upset Bird, for reasons obvious, first thought the Angry Bird had usurped his name and considered legal action back in 2009 but was ultimately dissuaded by the Friday Page legal staff, which distracted and placated the Upset Bird with a plate of squirrel entrails].

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

August 05, 2013

MLB drops hammer on A-Rod: Is punishment fair or too harsh? Poll. (It's close!) Vote now; plus Cris Carter, Radio Tuesday & more

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with Le Batard and Stugotz today starting at 3 on 790 and 104.3 the Ticket. Ears and minds welcome. At least one Instagram pic and Vine vid from studio guaranteed.

1aa1t3am1) It is TUESDAY, AUGUST 6. I'll be the oldest person at Lucky's Tavern in downtown Fort Lauderdale tonight to watch the Jacksonville electronica band T3AM (pictured) perform. The guy on the far right I've been knowing his whole life; he's one of my best friend's sons. 2) To Merril Hoge, certain fellow media and hysterical Dolfans: You can't be serious, to quote John McEnroe. Are you really panicked that Ryan Tannehill misfired badly on a couple of passes or that Miami looked sloppy in a preseason opener? The first of five? C'MON, MAN! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose preseason opener to Cowboys, Johnny Manziel poll result & more. 4) You are invited to join us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Click on The Great Pretender for today's latest column by me, on the A-Rod suspension.

MLB DROPS THE HAMMER ON A-ROD. FAIR? OR TOO MUCH?: Baseball today socked Yankees star Alex Rodriguez with what amounts to a 211-game suspension, more than four times the 50-game suspensions 1aa1arodhanded down to 12 other guys on Monday. A-Rod is appealing the punishment and may play in the meantime. Commissioner Bud Selig explained the harsh penalty by noting Rodriguez's use of PEDs over many years, and also his (alleged) dishonesty and obstruction in the Biogenesis probe. A-Rod also had previously admitted to steroids use earlier in his career. Does the punishment handed down to Rodriguez strike you as harsh or fair? Vote in our poll and say why.

A CRIS CARTER YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW: Not everybody loves or likes Cris 1aa1ccarterCarter, the former receiver inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. So in fairness and in the name of balance I'll pass this along. Carter took a redeye flight home from his crowning weekend so he could be back at practice Monday at St. Thomas Aquinas High, where he is receivers coach. He didn't have to, but he did. Carter is pictured here beside offensive coordinator Bryan Baucom, who sent us the pic from yesterday, as an unidentified photobomber in white saunters in the background.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

August 06, 2012

Dolphins' gloomy outlook: Win odds for each game; plus my latest video (U-S-A!), Canes football over/under, Garrard, Uncle Luke, naked sushi & more

1aa1gc8NEW VIDEO! WHY YOU SHOULD BE ROOTING FOR U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER MORE THAN FOR LEBRON'S TEAM USA: Click on YouTube/TheGregCote for my latest video, the eighth we've done so far.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8. Marlins activate Giancarlo Stanton. 2) Happy to be back from a week's vacation (more on that below) and in the Blog Saddle again. 3) Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. 4) U.S. places land rover on Mars. Obama links his administration with NASA triumph. Not to be outdone, Romney says he invented Mars]

"U-S-A!" WOMEN'S SOCCER WINS OLYMPIC THRILLER: America's women's soccer team played itself into the gold-medal match vs. Japan with a 4-3 overtime thriller over Canada yesterday. Extra time in the second overtime, seconds from a penalty-kicks tiebreaker, when Alex Morgan's goal decided it. USA rallied from three deficits to win. One of the best moments of these London Games. (In more of a ho-hum result, LeBron James and Team USA routed Argentina 126-97 in men's basketball).

DOLPHINS ONLY FAVORED TO WIN FIVE GAMES, SAYS MEAN-SPIRITED COMPUTER: The good folks at predictionmachine.com have run the coming NFL season 50,000 times (so you don't have to) and what spits out is not good news for Miami. Dolphins are given more than a 50 percent chance of winning in only 5 games and, factoring upsets, are given an overall victory over/under of 6.5. Best bets to win the Super Bowl are the Eagles (18% likelihood), Patriots (14.2), Packers (9.2), Texans (9.2) and Steelers (7.2), with Miami's title shot put at 0.2%. Game-by-game, here is how the computer sees the Dolphins chances of winning, from most to least likely: 65.8% vs Titans (Game 9); 61.6 vs Jaguars (G14); 60.2 @ Colts (G8); 54.6 vs Rams (G6); 52.3 vs Raiders (G2); 48.5 vs Jets (G3); 44.5 vs Seahawks (G11); 41.1 vs Bills (G15); 37.8 @ Cardinals (G4); 33.7 @ Jets (G7); 32.5 @ Bills (G10); 31.1 @ Bengals (G5); 27.5 vs Patriots (G12); 27.0 @ Texans (G1); 20.7 @ 49ers (G13); and 15.6 @ Patriots (G16).

Garrard out the gate as starting QB: Dolphins' first official in-season depth chart is out and has David Garrard at No. 1 quarterback ahead of Matt Moore and rookie Ryan Tannehill. But, as coach Joe Philbin said in a late-morning news conference, "It's a fluid situation." Offensive chief Mike Sherman today, on his QB situation: "That will not be a weakness of our football team. We'll have a good starter when we get done." Dolphins open their preseason schedule this Frday night at home vs. Tampa Bay.

Poll result: Dolfans not a real optimistic bunch: In the previous blogpost we invited you all to set expectations for the coming Dolphins season (you can still vote) and a plurality of 37.3 peercent voted "short again: 7 or 8 wins." Next came "wild-card contention: 9 wins" with 32.6%, followed by "not pretty: 6 or fewer wins" with 20.9%. Only 9.2% voted for "playoffs: 10-plus wins."

CANES FOOTBALL PEGGED FOR 7 WINS: The latest Bovada over/unders on regular-season college football wins peg UM for 7, trailing fellow in-staters FSU (10), Central Florida (8.5), Florida (8) and South Florida. Nothing for FIU or FAU, although I'd guess Panthers for around 9 and Owls for about 4. Nationally, joining Noles in double-digits are Alabama, Oregon and Southern Cal at 10.5 and LSU and Oklahoma at 10.

1aa1camlukeUNCLE LUKE PREVAILS: Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell (pictured), former notorious 2 Live Crew frontman turned Miami high-school football coach, has won a court fight to regain his full coaching certificate to continue as Northwestern's defensive coordinator. It was a victory over the Florida Department of Education, which was letting its view of Luke's past obscure the good he does now. Congrats to Luke and to his terrific attorney, our friend Mike Carney of Kubicki Draper.

1aa1goldclubOLYMPICS UPDATE: PHELPS PARTIES WITH GOLD MEDALS, PINOCCHIO IN JAVELIN: TMZ.com reports that swimmer Michael Phelps has been partying in London with his gold medals (pictured left), which is considerably more acceptable than partying in London with his bong. Note to regular guys in London bars: You have no pickup line that will compete with Michael 1aa1googlejavelinPhelps whipping out his gold. Pictured right: Google's latest Olympics-related icon appears to picture Pinoccio throwing a javelin. Serious Olympic comment: Serena Williams' gold-medal obliteration of Maria Sharapova was about as dominant a major championship performance as I can recall. Click here to hear a Jacksonville sportscaster rant against Bob Costas signing off past midnight. Updated pertinent Summer Olympics medal leaders are below, entering today's/Tuesday's action:

China 31 gold - 19 silver - 14 bronze -- 64 total

United States 29 - 15 - 19 -- 63

Great Britain 19 - 12 - 12 -- 43

Cote d'Ivoire 0 - 0 - 0 -- 0

Let's go Cote, Official National Team of This Blog!

Spoiler Alert! LeBron, Team USA win basketball gold!: I am tired of media outlets giving Olympic Spoiler Alerts. This is the instant-information age. If you honestly desire a self-imposed info blackout so that you can be surprised by a result eight hours after it happened, well, you're on your own, pal.

1aa1naked sushiEATING SUSHI OFF A NAKED WOMAN: Well who hasn't, right? A Miami Beach restaurant, Kung Fu Kitchen & Sushi, offers -- for $500 -- a platter of sushi served atop a nude woman (pictured). I see at least one health-code violation (no hair net). Personally, I'll stick with a standard dinner plate, thanks. Although I wouldn't mind being at the table next to the person ordering the Nudie Roll.

LATEST WORLD SERIES ODDS: Bovada's post-trade-deadline, stretch-run odds to win the World Series have it Yankees at 19-4, Rangers 5-1, Angels 15-2, Nationals 9-1 and Reds/Tigers both 10-1. Bleepin' Nats! Your disappointing Marlins are slotted 21st and can't imagine many takers even at 90-1.

MY SUMMER VACATION: Just returned from an eight-day New England holiday around Massachusetts and Maine. We started and ended in Boston, around the Wharf/North End area, and in between we hit 1aa1gcvacBar Harbor, Boothsbay Harbor and Ogunquit in Maine, and then Salem and Provincetown in Mass. The latter is proudly self-proclaimed as the gayest city in America and was, for its everybody-gets-along diversity, as impressive and memorable in its way as the vista of rocky coastline. Special thanks to that Minke whale for the impressive breaching. (Who knew there were Minke whales?) The scale says I gained only three pounds while away, which is stunning because I think I ate approximately 415 pounds of lobster and also may have consumed a beer or two, as indicated here.

1aa1dograftDEAR GREG...: "...your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of an unbearably cute dog with plaintive eyes wearing a nautical life-vest. Thank you." Dear reader: Doubt I can find such a photo, sorry.

Click back. Will be updating/adding much more to this Back From Vacation Jubilee Blogpost...