October 07, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 28.8% following rally-but-loss to Virginia Tech, with latest column; plus Gators handle Auburn, the new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), our NFL Week 5 picks, latest Panthers and Heat columns & more

1) It's MONDAY OCTOBER 7. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Will Panthers stop wasting the Barkov years?, 5 factors to make Heat contenders, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 4 results, latest Back In My Day video (Fake Burgers!) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

VtumG5: VIRGINIA TECH 42, @HURRICANES 35: EPIC RALLY, BUT BAD LOSS FOR UM: My column from the game: No Quit In Canes, But Still Bad Loss In Down Year. ..... Original post: Canes shook off a season-wilting 0-2 start vs. Florida and North Carolina by taking out their frustrations on poor Bethune-Cookman 63-0 -- then saw the whisper of momentum silenced in that unimpressive 17-12 escape against little Central Michigan, after the Canes had been a 29-point betting favorite. So it's a shaky 2-2 record UM brings into its full ACC schedule, after a bye week, starting at 3:30 today/Saturday vs. also 2-2 Virginia Tech at The Rock. Miami is a generous 14-point home favorite but, for me, must earn that respect. Quarterback Jarren Williams has been mostly really good but his offensive line is a wreck and converting third downs has been a real issue. For me this game turns on Miami's defense, which could wreak havoc against a Va-Tech squad prone to turnovers. The bling could be flyin' on the sideline. One wild card: Speculation out of Blacksburg that Hokies starting QB Ryan Willis may be replaced today by less experienced Hendon Hooker. Cote's pick: Hurricanes, 24-13.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 28.8%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 28.8 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 42-35 home loss  Csmvs. Virginia Tech putting the Hurricanes' season record at 2-3 overall and 0-2 in ACC conference play. The CSM is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game’s performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program’s direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 11 a.m. today/Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 64.1% following 24-20 loss vs. Florida in Orlando.

G2: 15.7% following 28-25 loss at North Carolina.

G3: 83.0% following 63-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman.

G4: 8.5% following 17-12 victory vs. Central Michigan.

G5: 28.8% following 42-35 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

Next poll: Oct. 11 following game vs. Virginia.

NO. 10 FLORIDA 24, No. 7 AUBURN 13: GATORS EARN THE RESPECT THEY'D LACKED: Original post: Florida stayed perfect and dropped one spot in the polls. Gators feeling unloved but with a big chance to get some here in the Swamp in a marquee SEC game that is these schools' first meeting since 2011. With both teams 5-0, Auburn is a 2 1/2-point road favorite and I get why. Tigers QB Bo Nix and his so-far-unstoppable ground game will be an enormous challenge for UF's strong defense. More than that, on the other side, inexperienced Gators passer Kyle Trask and a subpar offensive line and not much of a running game. Two stout defenses here, but only one scary offense. Cote's pick: Auburn 20-16.

Other state FBS games: No. 18-UCF likely falling from polls after 27-24 loss at Cincinnati Friday night. Saturday it was South Florida winning at at UConn 48-22, and FIU crushing UMass 44-0. FAU and Florida State were off.

PicksDOLPHINS OFF, BUT THE LEAGUE CHUGS ON! OUR NFL WEEK 5 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a solid start to our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our latest selections. Will the Dolphins manage to not lose o their bye week? Who takes our Packers-Cowboys Game of the Week? Agree with our Upset of the Week call? Find out about that and all the rest by visiting Week 5 Gems. Mixed start to our week last night. Seattle won a 30-29 thriller. We had Seahawks winning but had 'em covering a 2-point line, so we missed an ATS win by two points and a push by one. (Go here for that pick). No problem, though. Let's just go ahead and own Sunday!

Our other stuff from this week: Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years (Cats lost opener in Tampa 5-2 Thursday and open at home tonight) / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat (as team opened training camp) / Also: Herald NFL Week 4 QB Rankings / and Winless But Progress Is Perfect Combo For Dolphins (off Sunday's loss to Chargers).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (OCTOBER 5-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive weekend-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. HURRICANES: Ugh. UM 2-3 after home loss to Virginia Tech: Canes are now a disappointing 2-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play after Saturday's 42-35 home loss to Virginia Tech. UM was down 28-0 and didn't quit. Didn't win, either.

2. MLB: Playoffs! Final eight battling in division series: We're in the midst of the four best-of-five division series: The NL's Cardinals-Braves and Nationals-Dodgers, and the AL's Twins-Yankees and Rays-Astros. Betting odds say Astros/Dodgers/Yankees, in that order. I say anybody but Houston. They just won the Wold Series in 2017. Share, please!

3. PANTHERS: Opening Week for NHL, new-look Cats: Puck dropped on hockey season this week, with the Florida Panthers infused with a new star coach in Joel Quenneville and a new all-star goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky. Alas, Cats lost their opener in Tampa 5-2 but bounced back to win home opener against same team Saturday, 4-3, behind Mike Hoffman's hat trick.

4. HEAT: Let the games begin! OK, well, the fake games...: Post-Dwyane Wade, the Jimmy Butler-led Heat and coach Erik Spoelstra, of the four-year contract extension, wrap up a week-long training camp in West Palm. Miami opens its five-game preseason schedule Tuesday at home vs. San Antonio.

5. DOLPHINS: Miami will not lose in Week 5. Guaranteed!: The 0-4 Dolphins, outscored by 137 points, are off this week. This is where your snarky joke goes about Josh Rosen throwing an interception from his couch. Or the bye being a 14 1/2-point favorite.

6. GATORS: Florida wins top-10 battle in The Swamp: No. 10 Florida hosted No. 7 Auburn in Gainesville Saturday, with Gators a slight (2 1/2-point) home 'dog but winning 24-13. Florida fans said they are disrespected. This was their team's chance to change that. And they did.

7. NCAA: Will new California law shake up the business of college sports?: California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week signed a bill that would let college athletes make money from endorsement deals for the first time. The new law does not take effect until 2023 -- meant to give the NCAA time to change its bylaws before then. Good luck with that.

8. NASCAR: Homestead race is officially looming: It's October. Playoffs underway. Close enough to mention that the NASCAR season finale is Nov. 17 - the last season championship race here before Homestead is demoted and becomes just another earlier-season race.   

9. WNBA: Delle Donne injury messes with Finals: The Connecticut Sun and heavily favored Washington Mystics are tied 1-1 entering Game 3 of the WNBA Finals Sunday, but the back injury to league MVP Elena Delle Donne of the Mystics has tossed a monkey wrench into the thing. Sun's victory parade would need a giant asterisk.

10. E-SPORTS: Video gaming arena coming to Miami: A 12,000-square-foot e-sports arena is coming to the Wynwood area of Miami in 2020, it was announced by Millenial Gaming CEO Darren Cox. The arena is to seat 300, for those of you with nothing better to do than to watch other people play video games.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes men's basketball begins in a month, Nov. 5 vs. Louisville. Jim Larranaga's program is trying to rebound from a 14-18 season that saw a 5-13 struggle in the ACC ..... Katie Meier's UM women's program opens Nov. 10 after going 25-9 (12-4 ACC) last season ..... The Rock returns to WWE Smackdown. Yeah, because Dwayne Johnson doesn't have enough money ..... The shine is off UCF football. No. 18 Knights now 4-2 and likely falling from polls after Friday night's 27-24 loss at Cincinnati ..... Conor McGrgeor is being charged with assault for a punch thrown in a Dublin bar. Dunce! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,450 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Dolfans, Here Is Your Escape To The Glory Days / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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 / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins 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 / 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 / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / and 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

April 08, 2019

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Wade's farewell is king. See what follows; plus predict Dolphins' starting QB in 2020. Poll. Vote now! With column; also, Heat Playoff Watch (updated), Panthers change coaches, over/under on NFL wins (ouch) & more


1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 8. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted last week on Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): ESPN's latest Dolphins-draft guesses, playoff-chase drama adds to Wade's farewell, glory of an unexpected Final Four with polls, response to slam on Marlins fans, latest NBA/NHL odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: On Dolphins' next quarterback: I consider all of the players and all of the options through the next two drafts and handicap who'll be the Fins' starting QB in 2020 and beyond. To read, please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. There's a poll below awaiting your vote.

Heat Playoff Watch (updated entering Monday): Heat (9th place/38-42) after losing Sunday at Toronto; chasing Pistons (8th/39-41) after losing Sunday at Charlotte. Nets and Magic both won Sunday to clinch playoffs spots. Heat, Pistons and Hornets (also 38-42) are alive for final East playoff ticket. Remaining Heat games: Tuesday vs. Philadelphia and Wednesday at Brooklyn. Today: No games scheduled. Outlook: Heat, after an ill-timed fourth straight loss, are in trouble. Miami must win both of its final two games and get help, because both Detroit and Charlotte own the tiebreaker over Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (APRIL 7): 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: The end is near for Dwyane Wade's farewell: What started in June of 2003 is coming to an end a sweet 16 years later. Dwyane Wade's final regular-season home game of his final year in the NBA will be Tuesday in a downtown arena packed with emotion and gratitude. There could be a curtain call of at least two additional home games -- but only if Miami makes the playoffs, which now seems unlikely after Sunday's loss at Toronto. Miami is home vs. Philly Tuesday, then at Brooklyn Wednesday, needing to win both and get help.

2. MARCH MADNESS (MEN): It's Virginia vs. Texas Tech for NCAA title: After Virginia edged Auburn by one point (on a lucky late call) and Texas Tech handled Michigan State more comfortably in Saturday's Final Four, the two winners will meet Monday night in Minneapolis for the national championship. No.1-seed Cavaliers and No. 3 Red Raiders both are playing for the first national title, with Virginia a narrow 1 1/2-point favorite. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats end disappointing season, change coaches: Panthers will watch Stanley Cup playoffs on TV after finishing 36-46 with Saturday's appropriately fitting 4-3 overtime home loss to New jersey. Cats started season 0-4 and 2-8, and 7- and 6-game losing streaks along the way and just never really made a run. Wasted talent. Again. Sunday, team announced coach Bob Boughner was out after two seasons and Monday announced the hiring of 3-time Stanley Cup champion coach Joel Quenneville. Justified move. Solid hire.

4. MARLINS: Alfaro sparks Fish on first road trip: After Saturday's 4-2 win in Atlanta behind Jorge Alfaro's two homers ended a 4-game losing skid, Miami fell to 3-7 with Sunday's loss. Fish remain last in NL East in midst of young season's first road trip.

5. DOLPHINS: Countdown to NFL Draft: 17 days: Draft on April 25-27 finds Dolphins with so many needs it's anybody's guess what position will be targeted 13th overall. Why so many needs? Hint: New betting odds put Miami's over/under at 5 wins, lowest in league. Before the draft, team will hold a  "voluntary" mini-camp April 16-18. That's "voluntary" in quotes because if a player doesn't show up they look at him funny and call him names.

6. GOLF: It's Masters Week. Let us pray: The Masters is this Thursday through Sunday at Augusta, maybe the holiest-feeling annual event in sports. You can't even talk about it without hearing soft violins and tinkling pianos. Rory McIlroy is the betting fave at 7-1, then it's Dustin Johnson 10-1. At 12-1 are Justin Rose, Justin Thomas and some guy named Tiger Woods.

7. MARCH MADNESS (WOMEN): Baylor wins women's crown: After Baylor beat Oregon and Notre Dame bested UConn in Final Four semis Friday night, the two winners met Sunday in Tampa, with Baylor beating the Irish 82-81 for the national title.

8. HURRICANES: UM holds first spring scrimmage (supposedly): Coach Manny Diaz's Canes have six spring football practice days left, through April 20, after holding the first of three scrimmage games on Saturday. Well, we think so. The alleged super-secret stealth scrimmage was closed to fans and media, so do we reeeaaallly know it happened?

9. WWE: Pow! Boom! WrestleMania 35 takes place!: WrestleMania 35, Sunday in New Jersey and on pay-per view, made history with a first-ever women's main match: Becky Lynch taking the belt over Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair. The card also featured Brock Lesnar, Triple H, Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio and a long parade of other people in tights whom Greg Cote has never heard of. 

10. FOOTBALL: R.I.P. to the (incredibly short-lived) A.A.F.: The latest spring football tombstone shall read: Here lies the Alliance of American Football, 2019 to 2019. The league flopped like a dying fish on a pier after only eight weeks. Back to the golf course, Steve Spurrier!

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes baseball failed to complete a home sweep over Florida State today after shutout wins Friday and Saturday. UM is now 20-12; 'Noles are 19-12 after a 12-0 start ..... Duke's Zion Williamson is AP's college basketball player of the year. He also won in the more obscure category, Best Shoe Explosion ..... Bengals RB Mark Walton, the ex-Cane, was arrested for the third time this year. The year just entered its fourth month ..... Answer: Paul Westphal, Al Attles and Jack Sikman are among the latest inductees. Question: "What makes you say they Basketball Hall of Fame lets in too many people?" ..... Texas won men's NIT. Has anybody ever actually worn an "NIT Champions" T-shirt? Do they even make them? ..... Tennis' Miami Open set attendance records its first year at Hard Rock Stadium. Which is good. But, sorry, a stadium parking lot, even all dressed up, still cannot match the ambiance they had to leave behind on Key Biscayne ..... Stoking a future rivalry MLS with Inter Miami, Orlando FC put out a video making fun of the weeds at ramshackle Lockhart Stadium. Love it. Spot on ..... Update: Countdown now 2,631 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

JherbertCRYSTAL (FOOT)BALL: HANDICAPPING DOLPHINS' LIKELIEST STARTING QB IN 2020: Looking at all of the players, all of the possibilities and what's most realistically likely to happen, we handicap who'll be the Dolphins' starting quarterback in 2020 and beyond, after one season of stopgap bridge Ryan Fitzpatrick replacing the departed Ryan Tannehill. And the answer may surprise you. That is our newest column. Please visit Analyzing, Predicting Dolphins' Next Starting QB to read. I describe and rank the 10 possibilities, with percentage likelihoods of that player being the guy. Only the top three QBs score in double-digits percents. One of those top three, Oregon star Justin Herbert, is pictured. Here, in this poll, I list the seven most likely candidates alphabetically. Please vote for the QB you realistically think will be next -- the one you'd bet on! -- not who you hope. Vote now!

Our other most recent columns: Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong and An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing. Also: Maximum Security, Maximum Results (from the Florida Derby) and The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

BETTING OVER/UNDER WIN TOTALS FOR NFL (OUCH!): Via BetOnline.ag, your Miami Dolphins are dead-last in the NFL with a betting over/under of 5 wins. Also among early leaders in the Tua Tagovailoa Derby are the Cardinals at 5 1/2 wins and Redskins, Giants and Bengals all at 6. On the high end are the Patriots (of course!) at 11 wins and the Chiefs, Rams and Saints all 10 1/2. Elsewhere in the AFC East, Jets are at 7 wins and Bills at 6 1/2.

POLL RESULTS: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN NCAA TITLE, WHO YOU THINK WILL WIN: We asked, "Which Final Four team do you bet WILL win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" You answered 42.53 percent Michigan State, 36.78% Virginia, 16.09% Texas Tech and 4.60% Auburn. We also asked, "Which Final Four team do you (or your bracket) WANT to win the NCAA Tournament men's championship?" There it was 38.23% Virginia, 26.47% Texas Tech, 20.59% Michigan State and 14.71% Auburn. 

Final Four preferences by state: Based on geotagged Twitter data, Michigan State enjoys the most support in 27 U.S. states, Texas Tech in 10, Auburn in eight (including Florida) and Virginia in five.

My bracket's title-game needs: My bracket in the Le Batard & Friends group through ESPN.com and remains buoyant with Virginia my pick to win it all. Including Final Four results I leaped from 82nd place to 34th place among 215 players in the show pool. Ten of the teams ahead of me also have Virginia, so if the Cavaliers cut the net I'll have a chance for a great finish. Go Wahoos!

Other select recent columns: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins / Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / 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

April 05, 2019

The 3 bonus delights of Wade's Heat swansong. Latest column; plus Kiper/McShay's 1st-round guess for Fins, NCAA Final Four polls, latest Back In My Day (Breakfast!), reader rebuts slam on Marlins fans, NBA/NHL title odds & more


Bimd1) It's FRIDAY, APRIL 5. Visit Breakfast! for the new Back In My Day that debuted on Tuesday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews. 2) Football is never done, and so it's always the perfect time to buy our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life. Learn more or buy on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Florida Derby, the 3 bonus delights of Wade's farewell season, our updated NCAA bracket, your Marlins-expectations verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE THREE BONUS DELIGHTS OF WADE'S 'ONE LAST DANCE': Even in last night's hurtful home loss to Boston that (at least temporarily) dropped the Miami Heat off playoff pace with four games left, it was easy to appreciate the three bonus delights of Dwyane Wade's farewell season. For my latest column from the arena last night, please visit Playoff Chase Drama Enriches Wade's Swansong.

Eoliver RgaryESPN: D-LINE THE DOLPHINS' FIRST-ROUND TARGET: The latest guess by ESPN's rival mock drafters, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, is that the Miami Dolphins will go defensive line with the 13th overall pick later this month. Kiper has Miami selecting Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, saying, "You have to think the Dolphins, who are undergoing a serious rebuild, would be thrilled to get a high-ceiling pass-rusher like Gary here." McShay has the Fins taking Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, saying, "In this scenario, the top quarterbacks are gone. Don't overthink it; take the best available player. That's Oliver." (Gary and Oliver are pictured). QBs Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State definitely will be gone before Miami picks. There is a chance Missouri's Drew Lock could be available to the Dolphins, but Kiper and McShay have him going 11th and 10th, respectively. Kiper has Duke QB Daniel Jones going 15th overall. McShay has Miami selecting  North Carolina State passer Ryan Finely in the second round. 

Dolphins are NFL early birds: The Dolphins were one of only three NFL teams (Browns, Bucs) to start their official offseason program on Monday, April 1. Most teams (23) are starting on April 15. Dolphins follow with a voluntary mini-camp April 16-18. The NFL Draft is April 25-27. The nine OTA practice/work days are May 13-14, 16, 20-21, 23, 28-29 and 31. Mandatory mini-camp is Jun 4-6. Then it's a bit of time off until the start of full training camp. Football, baby!

FourTHE GLORY OF AN UNEXPECTED FINAL FOUR!: No blue blood programs. No Cinderellas. No Zion Williamson. No problem. Why this NCAA Tournament men's Final Four is a really good and refreshingly interesting one is the gist of my newest offering. Visit An Intriguing Final Four Despite What's Missing to read our latest column. Virginia vs. Auburn and Michigan State vs. Texas Tech this Saturday in Minneapolis gives us three programs trying to win a first national championship -- two in their first Final Four and one last this far in 1984. Then there's Michigan State, after its first national title since 2000. I both want and think Virginia will win it all, with no rooting interest other than the health of my barely breathing bracket, as I have the Cavaliers as champs and nobody else still alive. Curious what y'all think so we offer "will" and "want" polls below, with teams listed alphabetically. Who you think WILL win seeks your honest prediction, who you'd bet money one. Who you WANT to win is strictly your (or your bracket's) rooting interest. Take a dip in both polls. Vote now!

A REBUTTAL TO KISZLA ON ROCKIES VS. MARLINS: Denver Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla during the recent Marlins-Rockies series wrote one of those my- Denverpostcity's-better-than-your-city columns by saying that, of the two teams that both entered MLB in 1993, the Rockies have been much more successful even though the Marlins are ahead 2-0 in World Series titles, because they have bigger crowds. I'll give him the fan factor, although championships are sort of you, know, how success is measured! The Rockies have won nothing despite the stats-ballooning advantage of high altitude, by the way. (Kiszla also mocks the Marlins Park neighborhood with a couple of gratuitous Hispanic-stereotype swipes). I got an interesting email from a Marlins fan living in Colorado, who passed along a letter he'd written to the Denver Post. Here it is with his permission, only very slightly condensed:

I’d like to say, 'I hate to tell you' but it actually gives me great satisfaction to say, 'Marlins 2, Rockies 0!' It is telling that you have to take cheap shots at an entire fan base to make you feel good about yourself.  Last I checked, Marlins were 110-97 against the Rockies. That means the Marlins have won more games against the Rox, just to clarify. This town, Denver, places a huge emphasis on winning. (I’ve been to more than one Broncos game vs. Miami where I felt my family’s safety was compromised by drunken Bronco fans because we were winning).  Seems like the Marlins have a winning record against the Rox, a fact you overlooked in your assassination piece on Marlin fans. May I also point out that the Marlins are batting a thousand in the World Series?  I seem to recall the Rox are batting zero in the World Series. As a Marlins fan living in Colorado for the last 20 years, I have to say I am disappointed, albeit not surprised, in your feeble attempts at self-aggrandizement. You should be ashamed for stopping to such low levels as to attack an entire fan base, when what matters in Colorado is wins and losses. On that point, the Marlins clearly are the winners.
Warm Regards,
Andy Anderson 
Conifer, Colorado

StephNEWEST NBA, NHL TITLE ODDS: Via BetOnline.ag, Golden State is now a prohibitive 1-2 favorite for NBA title, with Milwaukee a distant second at 8-1. Then  it's Houston 10-1 and Philadelphia/Toronto both 12-1. Miami Heat are tie-13th at 250-1 but not favored (at -250) to make the playoffs, though now holding the 8th seed. MVP race shows The Greek Freak (1-2) and James Harden (3-2) the only two left on the board. Over in hockey, Tampa Bay is NHL favorite for the Stanley Cup at 11-4, followed by Calgary at 8-1 and a bunch at 10-1.

Our other most recent columns: A horse once for sale for $16,000 in a claiming race wins the Florida Derby. Read Maximum Security, Maximum Results, because you needn't be a fan of horse racing to appreciate what happened at Gulfstream Park. Also, from Marlins Opening Day: Growing Pains Commence For Rebuilding Marlins. And previewing the season: The Marlins Will Be Better Than You Think.

Other select recent columns: Bosh Honored On A Wistful Night Of 'What If' / Beckham's Miami Soccer Odyssey Takes Latest Detour / Will Diaz's Canes Justify 'The New Miami' Hype? Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 'Coach Crutch' Has Nova Southeastern Soaring / Dolphins Not Better Now Than When Last Season Ended / Trip to Miami Inspired a National Bobblehead Shrine / Jeter Gets Reminder Why Marlins Boss Is His Toughest Position Yet / The Intrigue Left: Will LeBron Go Out On Top? / 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

April 03, 2014

Thu pm 4-3: Pay college footballers beyond scholarship? Poll's tight. Vote!; plus Riley on Big 3's decision, Dolphins, Marlins/Loria verdict & more

1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 3. Congratulations to Alonzo Mourning for being voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. After Wade/LeBron, Zo might be the most popular Heat player of all-time. 2) Ryan Grover today was named Dolphins new head athletic trainer. He'd been an assistant the past 15 years with Steelers. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins opens season with poll, Dolphins signing, Heat surge, Hochman, Neil Young & more. 4) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

ON COMPENSATING COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS BEYOND THEIR SCHOLARSHIPS: The National Labor Relations Board ruling last week approving Northwestern players' right to vote to unionize for collective
1aa1aquestion 1aa1astudentbargaining and benefits could affect all private schools including the University of Miami. Former

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, a leader of the movement, was in Washington just yesterday lobbying politicians. The NLRB ruling says players are employees/workers, symbolically turning the phrase student-athlete backward. The ruling in time could force states to allow the same rights for public- university teams. Initially this is about medical benefits and workplace environment, but all logic suggests unionization in time would lead to full-fledged pay-for-play, a professionalization of college football. And if college football players are getting paid, you don't think men's basketball players and other athletes will want some 'o that? Pay-for-play could in turn cause a reduction in scholarships for non-revenue sports and higher mandatory student fees. in short the NLRB ruling is a nightmare for the NCAA and every college and university -- all of them opposed to it. I tackle this dense issue in today's latest column; click Draw The Line Here to read. I wrote why I'm oppoosed to the NLRB ruling and unionization, and part of it is that college football players already are well-compensated and well cared-for. A four-year full-ride scholarship to UM, for example, is worth close to $250,000. That's pretty fair compensation for playing a game and also getting the coaching and platform to enhance NFL chances. What is your view? Agree or disagree with my column. Agree or disagree with college football players deserving more? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

PAT RILEY WAXES PHILOSOPHICAL: ESPN's Mike Wallace has an interesting new piece talking to Heat impressario Pat Riley. Click HERE for the whole thing. From it: Riley on the Big 3's summer decision: 1aa1apriley"You always fear. It's not a real fear. I always have concern when players are in the situation they're in. But we feel we have the best organization in the league for those players to stay, and to also attract others to want to come here. With our three guys, we hope that this turns into a generational team. And that it's not just we're at the end of this four-year run right now because players have some options this summer." On owner Micky Arison: "He really wanted to win and wanted to put on a great show and have a great product. Micky has always been one that tactically and with great thought, weighing all the pros and cons, has swung for the fences. And I have too." On himself: "You have to have a big-picture approach. That's what I do best; I try to see the big picture." On LeBron James: "LeBron, being who he is in this world, in this game, has a very heavy load. There's a heavy load off the court and on the court. It's a lot different than what it used to be. He manages everything he has to manage that maybe Magic Johnson didn't have to manage back in the 1980s. I've adapted to that." e life we're living today."

Poll result: Support for Marlins but anti-Loria feeling remains strong: We asked what best describes your feeling toward the Marlins and a majority called themselves either a big fan (37.2 percent) or casual fan (20.6%). But another 36.3% said they were not a fan because of owner Jeffrey Loria. The remainging 5.9% said they simply don't like baseball.

Click back often. Am constantly updating/adding...

March 27, 2014

Mon am 3-31: Gators in Final Four; plus Dolphins' big upgrade, NLRB's bad ruling, Heat's shot at No. 1, Greatest Ralph & more

1) It is SUNDAY, MARCH 30. Check out my latest Random Evidence Sunday notes-column package, leading with the Marlins. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Greatest Ralph poll, Heat fall to Pacers, the art of child-spoiling, topless protestors & more. 3) Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

An optimistic take on Marlins. No, seriously: In today's special Marlins preview section I write an upbeat column on the Marlins. I list 10 reasons to like this team and feel good about this season. Check it out.

DOLPHINS AN APPRECIABLY BETTER OFFENSE BY ADDING MORENO: Signing free-agent running back Knowshon Moreno yesterday makes Miami's offense better -- period. You don't need a bunch of nerdy metrics 1aa1amorenorbor useless stat breakdowns to know that. In Denver last year he rushed for 1,038 yards and 10 TDs and -- this is important -- caught 60 passes for 548 yards and three more TDs. Yes, much of that was thanks to Peyton Manning. Still, Moreno, used right, can be the dual-threat back the Dolphins had but underutilized in Reggie Bush. Moreno also is healthy, young, a very good pass-blocker and fumbled only one time in 241 carries last year. Lots of upside. He should complement Lamar Miller well, no matter who starts. The onus now is on Daniel Thomas to earn his roster spot and carries. The fact Moreno only signed a 1-year, $3 million contract could be smart for both sides. He isn't a financial burden for the Dolphins. At that price, he's low risk, high ceiling. Smart, smart. Moreno is pictured gesturing where he hopes to be on Miami's RB depth chart this season.

BRACKETS BACK! CINDERELL-O-METER (PATENT PENDING) AT 33.3% ENTERING ELITE 8 GAMES: Excluding the four even-seeded play-in games, there have now been 20 upsets (by seeding) in the 60 men's NCAA Tournament games through the Elite Eight round, or a Cinderell-O-Meter reading of 33.3 percent. We update the Cindy Meter throughout March Madness. Here are all 20 upsets thus far, ranked based on seed differential:

1. No 14-Mercer over 3-Duke (+11)

2. 10-Stanford over 2-Kansas (+8)

2. 11-Dayton over 3-Syracuse (+8)

4. 8-Kentucky over 1-Wichita State (+7)

4. 12-North Dakota State over 5-Oklahoma (+7)

4. 12-Harvard over 5-Cincinnati (+7)

4. 12-Stephen F. Austin over 5-VCU (+7)

8. 8-Kentucky over 2-Michigan (+6)

9. 7-UConn over 2-Villanova (+5)

9. 11-Dayton over 6-Ohio State (+5)

9. 11-Tennessee over 6-UMass (+5)

12. 7-UConn ovcer 3-Iowa State (+4)

12.8-Kentucky over 4-Louisvile (+4) 

14. 4-Michigan State over 1-Virginia (+3)

14. 6-Baylor over 3-Creighton (+3)

14. 7-UConn over 4-Michigan State (+3)

14. 10-Stanford over 7-New Mexico (+3)

18. 2-Wisconsin over 1-Arizona (+1)

18. 9-Pitt over 8-Colorado (+1)

18, 11-Dayton over 10-Stanford (+1)

The Cindy Meter composite standings among teams still alive in the tournament are: Kentucky +17 and UConn +12.

Elite Eight round: And my bracket wants...: I had five of eight teams still alive on my bracket. Saturday: I needed Florida to beat Dayton (thanks, Gators), and Arizona to beat Wisconsin. Got one of two. Sunday: I needed Michigan State to beat UConn and Michigan to beat Kentucky -- and got neither.

Sweet 16 round. And my bracket wants...: I had nine of 16 teams still alive in my bracket entering the Sweet 16 games. Thursday night: I needed Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona to win, and all did. (I didn't have a dog in the Dayton-Stanford hunt). Friday night: I needed Michigan and Michigan State to win -- and both did. I did not get the wins I needed from Iowa State and Louisville.

WHY THE NLRB'S NORTHWESTERN DECISION IS WRONG-HEADED AND SHOULDN'T STAND: So a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago rules that Northwestern football players may vote to unionize, and all hell breaks loose in college sports. The ruling affects only private universities (for 1aa1anlrbnow), so the potential reaches to Coral Gables and UM. The Northwestern players bid for compensation benefits for injuries well into their post-school futures, plus bargaining rights for working conditions such as number of practices. The NLRB in effect has ruled that football players are primarily workers and employees, not students. Pay-for-play is not a part of this whole thing, although the ruling surely opens the door for that, too. There are problems with the ruling. Where do I begin? Players already have medical benefits; your ankle injury is well-treated. And is it really good for college sports to have players negotiating how much they'd like to practice? Mostly this ruling is wrong because it assumes players contribute substantially to a school's football revenue. (In Northwestern's case that was $235 million from 2003-12). That's a faulty premise. The ruling alludes to the "enormous commercial value" of players' work. That's wrong. Players come and go, and very few actually impact a university's success or brand. For every superstar exception like Johnny Manziel or Jameis Winston, there are a hundred relatively anonymous low- or no-impact players along for the ride. About 99 percent of all players have zero relevance on attendance and revenue at Any Given University. They are incidental. They are passengers. The backup guard who seldom plays and should be grateful for his scholarship is lumped in this ruling with the star quarterback -- either that or somebody has to decide relative value. The whole idea of most athletes' entitlement beyond their scholarship is faulty. The brand is Ohio State or Southern Cal or Florida, and fans will be there no matter who temporarily fills the uniform. This NLRB ruling is an unnecessary mess for college sports. I'd call it a landmark ruling if I weren't pretty sure it'll be overturned on appeal and disappear. (At least for now...).

1aa1aheatindHEAT NOT CONCEDING NO. 1 SEED: Last night's 84-83 Miami loss at Indiana gave the Pacers a 3-game lead for the Eastern Conference's top playoff seed, and 2 in the loss column. But the tiebreaker (conference record) goes to IND so Heat must finish with a better record, not tied. Still, it ain't over! Miami has 12 games left, and seven are at home including an April 11 rematch with the Pacers. Only five of 12 Heat games left are against teams with a winning record. Indiana has only four games left, of 10, and five against teams with a winning record. In sum, Miami if it wins the rematch here in two weeks will have a shot at wresting No. 1 and home-court advantage in what should be a deliciously brutal playoff series.

1aa1akramdenBUS DRIVER BEATS POET FOR GREATEST-RALPH HONORS: We asked you in the previous blogpost to name the Greatest Ralph of All-Time (you may still vote), and I'm thrilled to report a delightfully diverse two-way battle emerged from among 11 finalists, and that Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners (32.7 percent) beat Ralph Waldo Emerson (20.3%). Ralph Lauren and Happy Days' Ralph Malph were dueling for a distant third. A fictional sitcom bus driver winning my poll over a legendary essayist/poet says much about my blog readership -- all of it good!

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January 01, 2014

What was biggest Miami/South Florida sports story of 2013? New poll. Vote now!; plus Jeff Fireland, Cote's Top 10 New Year's resolutions & more

1aa1a20141) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 2. I'm back in the Friday Page Dungeon today divining my NFL first-round playoff predictions. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins who-to-fire poll, D.Wade's surprise child & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

A message from me to you: To all our readers, longtime and recent, print and online, to our Blog Family, radio listeners and followers on Twitter, Instagram and Vine ... thank you! You made it a great past year and make me look forward to 2014.

WHAT WAS MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST SPORTS STORY OF 2013?: We asked you previously to name the past year's top national sports story and you did (results below). Now we invite you to select the 2013 Miami/South Florida sports story of the year, from an alphabetically presented top 10 of my choosing. You may vote for your top three (3). I offer no synopsis beyond what's in the poll, because if it needs further explaining, it obviously wasn't that big/impactful/important to you. Remember, you can choose your top three. Ready? Vote!

Mea culpa: One glaring poll omission: As many of you are pointing out, the above poll is missing UM's ACC championship and NCAA Tournament run in men's basketball. That's my fault all the way; it just slipped between the cracks. Doubt it would have threatened the top vote-getters here, but it absolutely should have been in the poll. Sorry, Jim Larranaga! (I also could well have included either of two international soccer matches that drew huge crowds to Dolphins stadium).

MARATHON BOMBINGS TOP NATIONAL STORY: You voted from a list of The Associated Press' top 10 national sports stories of 2013, and your clear top three were the Boston Marathon bombings (30.9%), the Heat's second straight NBA title (19.6%) and the Aaron Hernandez arrest (15.8%). (I had the same top three). Others in order were Lance Armstrong admits to doping; NFL $765 million concussion settlement; Red Sox win World Series; Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax; Baseball/A-Rod PED scandal; Ravens win Super Bowl; and Auburn football resurgence.

1aa1fripixNFL PIX / WEEK 16: ENDING STRONG: Hectic holiday time to blame (again) for posting this a couple of days later than usual... NFL predix: Went a nifty 13-3 overall and a just-as-buoyant 10-5-1 against the spread to end our regular season. Where was this all year? On to the playoffs with a tailwind of mo'!

Poll result: Ireland, Sherman bear brunt of Dolfan frustration: Dolfans want change in the wake of the late-season collapse and I asked in the previous blogpost who they'd most like to fire (if anyone). The bull's-eye was on GM Jeff Ireland (53.6%) and offensive chief Mike Sherman (23.6%). Objection was mild toward coach Joe Philbin (9.8%) and owner Stpehen Ross (9.3%), and negligible toward defensive chief Kevin Coyle (2.2%) and QB Ryan Tannehill (1.5%).


1aa1a2014resolutions1. Lose 145 pounds.

2. Cut down on cigars by smoking only one at a time.

3. Admit that being Platinum Member of Functional Alcoholics Society may not be good thing.

4. Redouble efforts to recycle. Not cans and bottles. Column ideas.

5. Curb temper issues; limit road-rage incidents to one a month.

6. Do as credit-card machines rightly suggest and Remove Card Quickly.

7. Stop answering Jeff Ireland's frantic draft-day phone calls.

8. Increase blog readership with daily $100,000 giveaways.

9. Engage Le Batard in profanity-laced on-air brawl.

10. Tackle terrorism.

What y'all got planned?

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

October 23, 2013

Who is most "beloved" Dolphins player ever? Poll. Vote now; plus London calling, Greg Oden, Red Sox, NCAA/UM poll result & more

It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25. We'll have a new blogpost later today, but since our most-beloved-Dolphin poll below has proved so popular we're leaving this post up top for a while longer. 2) Click here for my latest column, on the NCAA/UM verdict. Now let's move and forget all about renegade booster, um, what was his name again!? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NCAA/UM verdict and poll, Bryant McKinnie, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, World Series odds, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

London calling for Dolphins: NFL announced that Dolphins vs. Raiders would be one of three games played in London next season. It'll be Oakland's home game. Miami played in the first-ever regular-season game at Wembley Stadium, losing 13-10 to the Giants on Oct. 28, 2007.

WHO IS THE DOLPHINS MOST "BELOVED" PLAYER EVER?: Two points I'd make about the Sporting 1aa1belovedNews. First, it used to be The Sporting News, even called itself 'TSN.' Then it quietly they dropped the The, just like The Miami Herald did, and is now simply Sporting News. Whatever. The larger point is that Sporting News just named the most "beloved" player for all 32 NFL franchises, and for Miami they chose Larry Csonka. (Click here for the gallery). "Hmm," I thought. My assumption would be that Dan Marino was the no-brainer pick, but maybe I'm wrong and they got it right. Debate or doubt, of course, form the petri dish in which our blog polls grow! Remember, this is not a greatest-player poll. Instead we invite your vote by however you define "most beloved." Make your choice and say why.

1aa1carlcard"LET'S GO RED SOX!" (NOT THAT I'M BIASED OR ANYTHING): Series now tied 1-1 heading to St. Louis. I'm nervous. ... Original post: I foresaw a Tigers-Dodgers World Series, so I'm delighted to be wrong as the Red Sox-Cardinals WS launches with Game 1 tonight at Fenway Park. Many loyal readers may know I was weaned on the 1967 Red Sox and the Year of Yaz. It's what turned a little kid into an avid sports fan, which in turn astonishingly somehow led to a career. It will be emotional for me tonight as Carl Yastrzemski throws out the first pitch. I predict a Red Sox championship, 4 games to 3, while fully admitting that's roughly 97 percent wishful thinking and 3 percent logic.

ODEN PROMISING IN HEAT DEBUT: Greg Oden played four minutes in Wednesday's Heat exhibition. But when it was your first game action since Dec. 5, 2009, that's a big deal, especially when your first touch resulted in a dunk. Miami will continue to baby Oden's progress, but this was encouraging. Michael Beasley's early effort has been encouraging, too. The Heat bench will be hugely better if these two perform as the club hopes. Early days, but the gamble on each seems smart right now.   

1aa1kinglbjSurprise! LeBron pick again for MVP: Bovada has it LeBron James at 3-2, then Kevin Durant 4-1 and Derrick Rose 11-2. For the scoring title it's Durant 7-5; for rebounds it's Dwight Howard even; for assists it's Chris Paul 3-2; and for rookie of the year it's Orlando's Victor Oladipo at 12-5, with notable others including Tim Hardaway Jr. at 12-1 and Shane Larkin at 20-1.

Poll result: NCAA's final verdict on UM was fair: A majority of 70.2 percent said the NCAA got it right Tuesday in docking the Canes with scholarship reductions but no additional postseason ban. Another 18.6% called the punishment too severe, while 11.2% said Miami got off easy.

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

October 22, 2013

Poll: Your verdict on NCAA's UM verdict. Vote now!; plus link to full 102-page NCAA report; Canes socked with scholarship cuts but no bowl ban

It is TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22. It's No-Radio Tuesday. I'm off the air today. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose again, DSM poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

UM/NCAA verdict on ESPN's Outside The Lines: Thanks to ESPN, the legendary Bob Ley and OTL for having me on today.

Verdict proves UM, NCAA both got it right: Miami was right to self-impose penalties, and NCAA was fair in properly weighing that. Click Finally, The End for today's column by me off the final verdict. An on UM Deserves Lenience for earlier column in advance of decision.    

NCAA Report on UM: Click HERE to access the full 102-page NCAA report on UM.

POLL: DID NCAA GET IT RIGHT TODAY WITH UM VERDICT? The University of Miami's long nightmare finally is over with today's long, lonnngggg-awaited NCAA verdict in the three-year 1aa1ncaa 1aa1uinvestigation stemming from renegade-booster Nevin Shapiro. The Canes had already done their time and paid their price with self-imposed penalties, especially in football. Today's NCAA verdict revealed UM will incur nine additional lost football scholarships (three each over the next three years), and three (one each year) in men's basketball. Significantly, there is no added postseason ban in football. That's reasonable. That meets our definition of proper lenience. There were also penalties imposed upon former men's basketball coach Frank Haith, now at Missouri (five-game suspension) and a two-year ban from college coaching for two since-departed football assistants. The key for UM, though, is no more postseason ban and a fairly minor hit on reduced scholarships. Another postseason ban would have been a shame -- and the shame would have been the NCAA's. Here's a new poll on today's NCAA verdict. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

MCKINNIE A DESPERATE STOPGAP: The Dolphins trading a low future draft pick for Ravens tackle (and 1aa1bmacex-Cane) Bryant McKinnie illustrates just how desperate Miami is upon three straight losses and continuing poor offensive-line play. McKinnie is 34, just had his knee drained, and is not renowned for being in great shape. Miami explored signing him in the offseason when he was a free agent and said nah. McKinnie was on the Party Bus when teammate Jacoby Jones got clocked with a champagne bottle swung by a stripper named Sweet Pea. Hmm. I like that Miami is being aggressive in helping itself any way possible, but if McKinnie is an upgrade, the Dolphins may be in worse shape than we thought.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 7: THE OK AND THE BAD: OK on the predictions, bad on the fantasy 1aa1fripixteam. NFL predix: Our 8-7 record overall sucks, but that same 8-7 against the spread we'll take, especially after the way we've been going lately. Nailed Texans-with-points over Chiefs on our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"), and also hit a rare exact score in Packers' 31-13 win. Fantasy: Must I? Greg's Lobos lost yet again, falling to 1-6, this time drubbed 125-76. Tom Brady and Arian Foster are killing me. I vow major changes. The jobs of my coach and general manager are on the line. Wait, that's me. S---!

1aa1bb13wsRED SOX A VERY SLIGHT WORLD SERIES FAVORITE: This Boston-St. Louis World Series (starting Wednesday night) is about as close to betting-even as Vegas gets. Red Sox are a 5-7 favorite to Cards' 6-5, but Bovada sports book manager Kevin Bradley tells us 60 percent of the early money has been on the Redbirds. MVP favorites are Boston 's David Ortiz (15-2) and Dustin Pedroia (8-1), then STL's Carlos Beltran (9-1) and Matt Holliday (10-1). I'll have my WS preview and pick in the blog on Wednesday.

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 8: WINSTON STRETCHES HIS LEAD: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the 1aa1sopymost productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Because our rankings are cumulative 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. FSU QB Jameis Winston is the current leader by an ever-bigger margin. 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 9:

Rk (LW)   Player, Team-pos.               SOPY Pts. Wk8=Year

1 (1)     Jameis Winston, FSU-qb           248 = 1,217.5

2 (2)     Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb           BYE = 932

3 (3)     Blake Bortles, UCF-qb               153 = 915 

4 (6)     Storm Johnson, UCF-rb             200 = 804

5 (4)     Duke Johnson, Miami-rb            83 = 756

6 (8)     Stephen Morris, Miami-qb          161 = 690

7 (5)     Marcus Shaw, USF-rb                BYE = 611

8 (--)    Rashad Greene, FSU-wr             158 = 595

9 (7)     Jonathan Wallace, FAU-rb         BYE = 579

10 (--)  Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb          101 = 550

Bubble: Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr, 548. Other team leaders: Florida--Solomon Patton-wr, 506; FIU--Jake Medlock-qb, 408.5. Note: Florida and FAU have played seven games, all others six each.

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

1aa1bieberHEADLINES YOU COULDN'T MAKE UP: Click HERE for one. My comment: Mental illness takes many forms, and I'm guessing plenty of folks have been locked away for exhibiting behavior far less bizarre than this.

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

August 29, 2013

PS5: Dolphins 24, New Orleans 21 (Final); plus more on Shapiro letter and reaction, LeBron's oops, Morris/Manziel, U-Bird Countdown (8 days) & more

1aa1mjackson1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 30. Michael Jackson would have turned 55 yesterday. 2) Will the last Miami-Dade County mayor to not be arrested please turn out the light? 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM accuser Shapiro's letter from federal prison and my response, Schnellenberger poll result, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

Coming Sept. 8: Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our sixth season of Dolfan Satisfaction Meter polls appear in the blog right after every Dolphins game, beginning with the Sept. 8 season opener at Cleveland.

Coming tonight!/Friday: Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: The fifth year of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls starts tonight right after the UM-FAU opener ends. Watch for it!

"NCAA, Texas A&M decide half-game penalty is too harsh, instead rule that Johnny Manziel may not sit by window on team bus ride to stadium."  --Greg Cote

PS5: DOLPHINS 24, NEW ORLEANS 21 (FINAL): MIAMI ENDS PRESEASON 2-3: Final: Miami wins it on a 56-yard Pat Devlin-to-Marvin McNutt TD pass with 3 minutes left and then a late win-preserving INT by DeAndre Presley. (Don't know why but I love the name Marvin McNutt! Sounds like the alter-ego of a Marvel Comics superhero). Mostly scrubs last night; RG John Jerry was the only Dolphins starter to start. So no weight in the result. The question is what to make of this 2-3 preseason overall and what kind of shape the team is in entering the season. Despite the issues and questions, I think that shape is pretty solid. Nine-win/wild-card type of solid. But solid. Can't wait to find out. ..... Halftime: Our scrubs lead their scrubs. Whooo! Most interesting to me is an uneven dossiere on QB Pat Devlin, who is 13-for-23 for 142 yards withg a TD and a pick. Good enough to secure a No. 3 roster spot? My guess is yes. I'll be back with some postgame thoughts. ..... Original post: NFL preseasons are interminably 1aa1dolnawltedious even when four games. When five games, like Miami this year, the preseason seems to 1aa1ps5drag on longer than a continuous loop of Barry Manilow singing "Mandy." Tonight the Dolphins host New Orleans, with both teams expected to field junior-varsity squads and play the starters little if at all. If you are actually attending tonight's game, chances are you lost a bet, or your TV is broken. Tonight matters vitally only to Miami's bottom-feeders, because by Saturday the roster must slash from 75 players to a final 53, meaning that the players you have barely heard of are playing for their professional lives tonight. There is real human drama in that; it just isn't a drama that interests me much. Right guard and nickel corner are two positions that still need settling as exhibition play wraps up. Coach Joe Philbin -- who provides basic information as if it was a state secret with national security at stake -- has not formally named a starting running back, either, but if it isn't Lamar Miller I'll hitchhike to Cleveland waving a Terrible Towel. The real season can't get here fast enough.

WHY I PUBLISHED NEVIN SHAPIRO'S LETTER, AND THE REACTION: I know many of you dislike that I gave a forum to Shapiro (in the previous blogpost), but like it or not he is the central figure/accuser in the NCAA's long investigation of Miami. I also found some of what he wrote illuminating, such as his obvious bitterness toward former Canes players and others he felt abandoned him. This, as I state in my reply, calls into question his credibility as a witness. The reaction to the letter and to my publishing it has been fierce, and not just in the Comments section of that blogpost. Reaction also has poured in on Twitter and in emails to me, a slight majority of it negative. Here I share snippets of a very small, representative sampling of the Twitter and email reaction:

Negative: "It is reprehensible you would publish that letter." --Scott Ramsden / "You should have replied: STFU you human excrement." -- Francis Colls / "Scum shouldn't even be allowed computer or mail." --Jorge Morales / "He is delusional. Why print such crap?" -- George Kitchens / "Giving the felon attention. Way to go Cote you turd." --Cane Fan / "Giving that liar a public forum is morally wrong." --Tony Foley

Positive: "Great rebuttal letter to Shapiro." --Deval Patel / "Thanks for posting. More evidence of his lunacy." --Chris Avros / "Great read and response on your part." --Jeff LaBelle / "Through Shapiro's noise you nailed it. Well done!" --Jason Mizrachi / "Thanks for letting us who follow you see inside his mind." --Steve Petrie

It always amazes me how two people can read the same thing with such opposite reactions. (It also amazes me that some people still use the word "turd.") Thanks to the above readers and to the dozens of others on either side who cared enough to respond.

HERALD FOOTBALL SPECIAL SECTIONS: NFL, College and High-School special preview sections appear today/Friday in the old-school, inky pulp newspaper version of the Miami Herald, but they have been available the past two days online -- yet another of myriad ways the newspaper industry astonishingly defeats itself by unnecessarily giving readers another reason to not buy the paper. But enough of that. Here are links to my three contributions to the special sections:

  • Dolphins column: No more excuses, Dolphins. This is it. Been too long. Don't preach patience. 'Almost' won't cut it. Playoffs, now!
  • NFL team rankings: I list the teams 1 through 32 and have Miami surprisingly high at No. 12, and in the playoffs. No, seriously.
  • Hurricanes column: "It's a Canes thing. You wouldn't understand." Al Golden understands. After the NCAA cloud, Golden sunshine lay ahead.

1aa1carmenoLEBRON IN RUMOR MINI-MESS: Heat star LeBron James, who is engaged to be married next month, is rumored to be involved in some sort of friendship/relationship with "bikini model" Carmen Ortega, who is pictured here, well, bikini-modeling I guess. The report is courtesy popular rumor-monger Jose Lambiet; read it here. I take it for what it's worth, which may be nothing. My guess? The future Mrs. James' wedding ring just got bigger.

CANES' MORRIS TOPS MANZIEL ON PROSPECTS LIST: Sports Illustrated trots out a Top 40 prospects list 1aa1morrissfor the 2014 NFL draft, and what jumped out at me is that Miami quarterback Stephen Morris (pictured) -- at No. 31 the only Cane listed -- slots ahead of Texas A&M Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, who is 37th. Morris is the fifth QB listed, after Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater (from Miami) at 2nd overall, Clemson's Taj Boyd 9th, UCLA's Brett Hundley 18th and Oregon's Marcus Mariota 22nd.

1aa1byrdsUPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 8 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction 1aa1birdupages on Sept. 6, and we began a 10-day countdown honoring outstanding notable birds. Today, at 8 days, we spotlight The Byrds, seminal 1960s American folk-rock band out of L.A. The Byrds' 1965 version of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," with its mesmerizing opening by Roger McGuinn on a 12-string Rickenbacker, was one of the first sounds to lure a then-very-young Greg Cote into the lifelong caress of music. This in turn would lead to the portal of serendipity in which, decades later, the Upset Bird was born.

UM-FAU / Collball Week 1 advisory: Note, our weekly in-season college football posts will debut here later today in the blog. Each week, I'll predict every game involving the seven state FBS teams and every national matchup of Top 25 teams. There was one state-school FBS game last night so I got on the record beforehand with my pick for that one: UCF 37, Akron 16. [UCF won, 38-7].

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

August 28, 2013

Exclusive: Inside the mind of Nevin Shapiro: A letter from federal prison; plus Schnellenberger poll result, Upset Bird Countdown (9 days) & more

1aa1mlk1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 29. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. Keep the dream alive! 2) Here's a hint of the breadth of my music tastes: Links to new songs from forthcoming albums by Eminem and Elton John. Click Berzerk for Em (warning, bad words) and Mexican Vacation for Elt. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The legacies of Howard Schnellenberger with poll, Dolphin roster cuts, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird) and Vine (Greg Cote).

INSIDE THE MIND OF NEVIN SHAPIRO: A LETTER FROM FEDERAL PRISON: I wrote a blog item earlier this week blasting the NCAA for the length of its continuing investigation of Miami in the Nevin Shapiro 1aa1nevin2 1aa1nevincase, and Shapiro responded to me with a lengthy email from federal prison. I am sharing the email here because this is the central figure in the UM case, a former renegade booster now serving hard time on a Ponzi scheme conviction. Shapiro is pictured, along with a T-shirt reflecting how most Canes fans feel about him. I know some of you object (strongly) to my giving Shapiro this forum, but I simply offer a glimpse into his mind. Publishing what he says does not mean I endorse any of it. My reply speaks for how I feel. Whether you think what Shapiro writes here makes him seem delusional or anything else is for you to decide. The following is as close to verbatim as possible. I only edited/condensed slightly and softened profanity. Shapiro's letter has a background shade of gray. After that I offer brief thoughts of my own in a response that bears a background shade of light green.



This is Nevin Shapiro. Although you have dogged the s--- out of me for 24 months and 9 days to be exact as of the writing of this letter, I still feel as if I need to make you aware and educate you on the reality and truth behind your commentary regarding UM and this fraudulent operation known as the NCAA. I am mailing you an article from this past week's USA Today which discusses the USC probationary status for a parallel comparison. You can choose to not read it, as this is your right, but I recommend that you do for the mere fact of being fair to your loyal readers and giving them reality as opposed to fantasy. Let's be clear and I'll be respectful yet direct in this letter, which will lay out facts not hypotheses to you. USC got four years probation for what amounted to 2 individuals, Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo. That is two players, and that investigation took approximately four years. Here is the math and it comes with an explanation. The University of Miami had 114 players involved, 72 of which were confirmed because of what the NCAA thought was used in the initial Yahoo Sports story, and the reason it wasn't 114 and "only" 72 I have no idea. That amount didn't even include walk-ons or maybe they just weren't scholarship players. There were 6 coaches involved,the entire equipment staff and 3 University Administrators and specifically 2 Athletic Directors, though they weren't completely guilty, just ignorant by selective amnesia. OK, so let's do the math: 2 players = four years of investigation and 4 years of probation. So what does 125 or so coaches, players and administrators deserve penalty-wise and how long should this have taken? Let's be realistic and practical. Forget my current criminal position and here are the reasons why. For one, nobody and I mean nobody outside of my internal camp realize or know yet what happened in my case, as I was victimized with my lender's money. That will come out shortly once my "guilty plea" is withdrawn. That is another matter for another time and will come to light eventually. Here is the second reason: 9 years worth of bank statements (cash & check deposits), credit card statements, deposed Federal Testimonies and FBI written interviews were presented as evidence. So, in fact, it wasn't my word, it was the documented evidence that subordinated this investigation. So how can you sell to your readers that this is ridiculous and taken too long? Maybe the NCAA is a sad oufit, I don't disagree. But this was also the worst case of violation of rules with no "institutional control" that has ever taken place, SMU included, though in a different era. What makes this matter even worse is this: It is still going on!!! Maybe not what I was doing because my access and network of power in South Florida was pretty strong and tight, but the agent/runner game is thriving and I know because I'm still involved from a distance. I realize the University of Miami is a big client of the Herald's and I realize that you are a hometown writer and respect that position that you must take, but let me share this with you and try to dispute it all that you want. If you were Yahoo Sports,USA Today, Sports Illustrated or just a media outlet from another venue outside of South Florida and were provided what they were all provided with, you would be trying to win a Pulitzer and wouldn't let this rest until you did. If this were a real criminal trial, which it isn't but if it were, the University of Miami would have been (a) indicted on fIrst look in front of a Grand Jury and (b) sentenced to life in prison and (c) possibly given the Death Penalty. That is exactly how gruesome and transparently blatant their charges would be and actually are in comparison to a University who operates within a structure of 1,000 or more other Universities. People are tired of this story just like A-Rod and his PED situation, as am I by now, but I ask these questions of you. Is it time to clean up the Collegiate game once and for all? Wouldn't you if you were a member of the enforcement division or even a University President just want to use this case as your barometer to remake and simplify all of these rules and lay it out in layman's terms? Or is it because it is too time consuming or maybe because you are a writer for the hometown team, let's just say "f--- it" and move on and hope that it doesn't happen again because this was more like a once-in-a-lifetime situation? I personally regret getting involved with this matter, as it took me out of Miami to serve my time while fighting and withdrawing my plea, from a very difficult situation within these walls because of how [this story] was and is portrayed. I read when you wrote about a year ago that "Is anyone else hoping that Nevin Shapiro is having a miserable time in prison?" I want to tell you how that made me feel. I have a mother and a father who have one child (me). I was raised properly, I was educated properly, I was the legal guardian of my two grandparents at the age of 22 years old (unprecedented by the family courts) and I gave time and millions of dollars (my money, not stolen) to many charitable functions and organizations but never wanted publicity for it. Even my $250K donation to a school that I never attended was done when my financial riches were new, legal and could have been used anywhere but I chose to give it to a passion of mine, the University of Miami football program, and this was way before any possible legal hurdles availed themselves. My point is that on the personal stuff, get the facts right because there are people that love and care for me who know what exactly was done to me that the public has not become aware of yet. But back to my point for writing this letter to you and here are some of my final points. You wrote one article earlier in the year about President Shalala making the whole investigation transparent so the public could wage their own opinion. Did that happen or did they (UM) just share what makes them look good in public perception? Did my attorney Maria do anything wrong? Did she? She followed the orders & direction given by a group of [NCAA] individuals that were supposedly the heads of their massive organization, Julie Roe & Ameen Najjar. Why would a billion-dollar entity such as the NCAA have incompetents running their organization and why would Maria be guilty of anything if they were in charge of their organization and she followed their protocol? She wouldn't be, that is the point. And who is to say that those persons mentioned were even incompetent? They weren't. [NCAA president] Mark Emmert is incompetent and needed a scapegoat and found them. Is there any wonder or coincidence that the two "main"investigators were fired before any of this stuff with Maria blew up? Richared Johanningmeir & Ameen Najjar, plus an additional 3 or 4 members either quit or were fired during this investigation. Aren't you curious as a media member as to why? Maybe those investigators who quit were just dumbfounded as to how their job revolves around the enforcement of rules, though the NCAA just stumbled on to the biggest scandal in recent history or in history period and yet they (NCAA) decided to just roll over and play dead? How would you feel if you were an investigator searching for and acquiring the truth and then your boss says "let's just make this go away"? You would be of a different mindset wouldn't you? Of course you would be and don't say anything contrary to that statement. I will not win this war anytime ever with the South Florida media or maybe anywhere else, all because of my currently pending criminal case but let the record show this: Miami gave themselves 2 years of probation voluntarily because they knew that they had to as a mercy plea to the COI [Committee on Infractions]. That's one, but this point is as large as that point. Of all the players mentioned in the initial Yahoo Sports reports, which subsequently was reported in multiple media outlets, none of these former players, most of which are worth in the millions dollar-wise, ever sued Yahoo or any other outlet for damages [for] slander, defamation or any other collectible damage-driven lawsuit. How come? Because they couldn't win a lawsuit. Why? Because to win a lawsuit you must prove that lies were prevalent, witnesses would have to testify and also there were criminal charges that most to all of these players would have walked into if they pressed their arrogant luck of being a professional athlete. Come on, Jon Vilma sued the NFL and they are equivalent to the Mob or maybe even the U.S. Gov't as big as they are, so he could easily pick a fight with Yahoo Sports or any other media outlet who slandered his name. Jose Canseco was a scumbag, no question about it, but he was also correct and proved it without even talking about it after the fact. Is my case different? The facts are the facts, yet the Unversity of Miami is the victim here now? Look, for the record, Greg, so you know: I loved that city and team more than any other thing in my life outside of my family. I love what they have done recruiting-wise to be mentioned in the possibility of reverence again, but let me share this with you: 47 former players were interviewed by the FBI and were prepared to testify against me in Federal Court. Furthermore, President Shalala owed me a great deal more respect than to piss right in my face at the time of my self surrender (April 21, 2010) without knowing anything that had truly taken place. I can't stomach when the UM logo and motto has always been "It's a Cane thing, you wouldn't understand." No, I understand perfectly clear. When you are supporting these guys/takers, pick a word, everything is fine, but when adversity stares you in the face, [they] run away from the subject, or in my case, [from] the guy that did a whole lot more than throw parties on yachts and in nightclubs. You don't know the personal stories involved between me and more than 20-30 of these guys, from Willie Williams to Devin Hester to Sean Taylor, Bryan Pata, Vince Wilfork, Tyrone Moss, Willis McGahee or the Antrell Rolle's of the world. It's not about money, buddy. It never was. It is about supposed family & loyalty, two descriptions opposite of what these former players, coaches and adminsitrators ever reciprocated or demonstrated to one of their own (me) at the the worst possible time of need. Please stop selling the UM Kool-Aid to the public, it's merely a myth just like the Loch Ness Monster. I copied your editor on this email/letter and if you wish to reply feel free to do so and if you wish to print this, feel free to do so as well. Miami is lucky to avoid losing their football program and if you think that they have been severely punished for what they not only allowed to happen within a 9-year period (2001-2010) but also were co-conspirators in these rules of engagement, then you are just in plain denial and don't want to be rational, realistic and perceptive, which I know you are because I read your column weekly.

Respectfully, Nevin Shapiro



I continue to believe the NCAA investigation of Miami has dragged on much too long, and that UM's significant self-imposed penalties thus far should greatly mitigate against further punishment being too severe. But I also think those volunteered penalties alone were obviously a pretty clear acknowledgment of years of lack of oversight, and of the truth of many of your allegations. Comparing yourself to Jose Canseco was apt. Even the dubious, unpopular messenger you don't want to believe can sometimes be telling the truth. On the other hand, the bitterness you harbor against former UM players and others for abandoning you in your time of need comes through clear in your letter, and that creates the sense you have an axe to grind, which in turn could leave some to think you are out to "get" the university. Your own damaged credibility and the NCAA's embarrassing internal issues in this probe are two other reasons -- along with Miami's self-imposed penalties -- why I think this two-sided mess needs to be put in the past with minimal additional sanctions. On a personal note, I admit some of the shots I have taken at you (especially in the Sunday notes column) have been harsh at times, and I have tried to be more professional in avoiding shots that seem personal. Bottom line? The Nevin Shapiros of the world would not exist if there were not willing athletes with their hands out, but you were the instigator who got Miami in trouble. You say you loved Canes football, and I don't doubt you did once. But you had a misguided way of showing it. You hurt the one you loved, badly. For that, no absolution awaits you.

Sincerely, Greg Cote

Now, on to a couple of quick unrelated blog items:

Poll result: Canes title is Schnellenberger's top legacy: I asked Howard in an interview for this column what he is proudest of, and he mentioned three accomplishments. He didn't rank them but you sure did, with 89.7 percent calling his Miami years most impressive, 8.6% opting for his building FAU football from scratch, and 1.7% citing his turnaround of Louiville. You may still vote.

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 9 DAYS: The Upset Bird and I kick off our season of Friday NFL prediction 1aa1birdu 1aa1birdladypages on Sept. 6, and we began a 10-day countdown that each day will honor outstanding notable birds. Today, at 9 days, we bring you Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson. Who? Lady Bird, of course! That's right, children. The United States of America once had a First Lady in the White House (1963-69) named Lady Bird. We have had eight First Ladies since, all bearing pedestrian names that bow to the great Lady Bird. No funkier moniker has ever graced a presidential spouse. ("Whoa! Hold on one darned second," says Mamie Eisenhower).

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