August 26, 2013

Dumb, dumber, dumbest: NCAA's torture of UM, Miley at the VMAs, Zimmerman at the gun factory & more

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 26. Click on Random Evidence for latest Sunday notes column, leading with onset of college football and Canes' opener. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins lose PS4 to Tampa Bay, The List & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), on Instagram (Upsetbird) and on Vine (Greg Cote).

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest: It's up to you which of these Three Things That Make Me Mad deserve which designation on the Dumb Scale. I just woke up Monday feeling all three needed me to dropkick them...

SHAME ON THE NCAA FOR ITS EGREGIOUS FOOT-DRAGGING: There are statutes of limitations in the United States. There are laws about double-jeopardy. There is the right to a speedy trial. These safeguards convey the general belief in America that the accused should not be punished by an 1aa1emmertncaaextraordinarily long process only to then be punished again. The NCAA of course is sadly beholden to none of these principles, and that is why the Miami Hurricanes still wait, three years later, for resolution of the Nevin Shapiro investigation. This is Hurricanes Week, with the football season opener vs. FAU on Friday night. We should be beyond NCAA matters by now and free to just enjoy football. Instead coach Al Golden and his program still deal with the enormous distraction of possible penalties yet to come. "We've done everything we can do," Golden said Monday. "It's felt like 50 First Dates, answering the same question [about the NCAA] all the time. I'm looking forward to that closure." Nobody formerly connected to the renegade/jailed booster Shapiro remains with the team. Everybody is ready to move on. Self-imposed penalties including two years of postseason bans already have been served. But the foot-dragging NCAA won't let this end, and with every day of further delay you get the uneasy sense that Mark Emmert's (pictured) corrupted, dysfunctional organization will levy additional penalties if only to justify the time and expense of its ponderous probe. Miami has paid its price and the paying continues. The shamed NCAA needs to wrap this case up with nothing beyond minor additional sanctions -- and wrap it up now.

MILEY CYRUS AT THE VMA'S: I assume Miley Cyrus, the pop singer, has a personal manager who steers her career and her professional choices. I assume said personal manager either should have been fired 1aa1cyrus3before this, or will be now. Miley once had a nice, role-model persona; sort of a Taylor Swift without the talent. Remember? Then somebody decided to turn her into a character of the type one might find on a street corner and rent for an hour. Like a brainless doll, she was re-dressed, re-made-up and paraded out as all sexy. Sunday night came an in-your-face reminder at the MTV Video Music Awards, when Miley, 20, stripped down to flesh-tone undies and turned the other cheek (see left) for Robin Thicke. I did not see the VMAs live, because the competing Dexter/Ray Donovan doubleheader had my attention. In missing Miley's twerkin' performance I feel like I made a good choice. Click HERE to watch her self-degradation, which includes some naughtiness with a foam finger. Constant readers know I am quite the opposite of a prude, but I'm embarrassed for this girl and what she has allowed herself to be turned into by the pimps in charge of her.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN AT THE GUN PLANT: George, George, George. Seriously!? Last month George Zimmerman wins a controversial acquittal on charges he murdered unarmed teen Trayvon Martin while 1aa1georgegunserving as a neighborood watchman. Now Zimmerman is photographed touring the Kel-Tec firearms factory, the same Cocoa, Fla., manufacturer that made the semi-automatic handgun he used to kill Martin. Pictured via TMZ is the photo of Zimmerman all smiles with a Kel-Tec employee. This is pretty galling. This is an affront to Trayvon's family. Is this really who Zimmerman wants to be now? Mr. Vigilante? Mr. Gun Lobby Guy? I'm not sure if Kel-Tec makes bulletproof vests or not, but, with post-trial decisions such as this, I'd imagine George might want to consider such a purchase a wise investment.

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June 15, 2013

Finals G5: Spurs 114, Heat 104: Miami must now win two in a row at home to repeat as champs; also, Miguel Olivo, NCAA clowns, Sad-O-Meter back & more

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 18. Watch for a new Heat-Spurs Game 6 blogpost very soon. 2) Congrats to the Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau, the club's first-ever NHL rookie of the year. 3) Thanks for NBC Sports national radio for having us on again to talk Heat. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 4 win, Dolphins poll result, Marlins Sad-O-Meter.

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New column from San Antonio and Game 5 Heat loss: Click on It Don't Come Easy for my latest column, on the job  Miami has left itself with a 3-2 series deficit.

FINALS G5: SPURS 114, HEAT 104: POOR SHOOTING, BAD DEFENSE PUSH MIAMI'S BACK TO WALL: Heat shot only 43 percent Sunday night in the Game 5 loss but giving up 114 points and 60 percent shooting to the Spurs was worse. Can't blame the Big 3, which combined for 66 points. And Ray Allen had 21 off the bench. Miami simply must play more tenacious defense, especially against Danny Green, whom they have allowed to score an NBA Finals-record 25 3-point baskets in five games. Heat now have gone 12 consecutive playoff games this year without back-to-back wins. But they won't repeat as champs unless they end that slump and win the next two at home. Winning Sunday could have made things so much easier. But what fun is easy, right? Watch for my column from San Antonio off tonight's loss online. ..... Original post: Strange, isn't? This Heat team won a club-record 66 games including 27 in a row but the question attached to Miami tonight is, "Can they 1aa1heatspurswin two in a row?" They haven't since the second round of this postseason, an 0-5 stretch after wins that has this NBA Finals 1aa1g5knotted 2-2. That must change if a repeat title is to happen, because if they don't win a second in a row in tonight's Game 5, they'd need to win two in a row back in Miami in Games 6-7. I still feel like the far greater pressure is on San Antonio tonight. In a 2-2 Finals, Game 5 winners have won the title 20 of 27 times, and that likelihood would be even greater for a Miami team with two straight chances at home. Miami is expected to continue its small-ball starting lineup with Mike Miller in place of Udonis Haslem. All breakdowns of analytics show Miami is better when Chris Bosh (or Birdman Andersen or Haslem) is the only "big" on the floor. That stretches the Spurs' defense and provides space for LeBron and D-Wade. Should be an emotional night in central Texas, as San Antonians might be seeing their own Big 3 on the home floor for the last time. The Heat need to send them home quiet to lock down another championship.

FOR HEAT'S BIG 3, GAME 4 WAS ABOUT RESTORING FAITH: It wasn't the how as much as the 1aa1big3 who that restored so much faith in that Finals-tying Game 4 win the other night. The Heat's Big 3 collectively -- and LeBron James, 1aa1big32Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh individually -- hadn't been themselves much of this postseason. Doubts crept in. But Thursday they made all of that go away. Thursday the Big 3 were exactly what we were cheering in that arena celebration three summers ago: Dominance. Not one, not two, but three stars, all aligned. They must be that twice more for Miami to repeat as champs, but I think everything changed with Game 4. Title likelihood swung back to Miami, and trust in the Big 3 blueprint was restored. I explore this fully in my Saturday column from San Antonio. Click Restoring Faith to read.

NCAA WILL COME OUT OF THIS PROTRACTED MESS LOOKING WORSE THAN CANES: So the NCAA infractions committee hearings on the UM/Nevin Shapiro case are finished and now we wait six weeks 1aa1ncaafor the verdict on possible additional lpunishments, and then likely more time as Miami appeals the decision. The question now: Which will end first? This saga that has already dragged on more than three years, or Shapiro's prison senetnec? (He's serving 20 years). I am as convinced as ever that the NCAA, with the bungled, corrupted investigation by its enforcement wing, will come out of this with its reputation damaged far more irreparably than The U's. (I took this photo of NCAA headquarters while in Indianapolis for the Heat-Pacers series. Based on recent history, the side of the building should have had a giant red clown nose affixed to it).

1aa1molivoCATCHER OLIVO QUITS ON MARLINS: Speaking of clowns, catcher Miguel Olivo walks out on the Marlins in the middle of the national anthem. He was upset about lack of playing time and team had ignored his request for a release. Dude, you're 34 and hitting .203. What a punk move. Whatever "professionalism" means, this act was its antonym.

SAD-O-METER IS BACK! (BARELY...): We have this blog feature we update as long as Marlins' winning 1aa1bbsadpercentage is under .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. Well, after the briefest hiatus, and by the barest of margins, last night's loss brings us back! Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record 20-47, .299. Season projection: 48.36 wins, 113.64 losses.

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April 04, 2013

How much responsibility is on Shalala in UM's NCAA mess? New poll. Vote; plus The U's risky play, Bosh, Marlins, Kiper on Dolphin draft & more

1aa1ebert1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 6. New blogpost coming by late afternoon today, post-golf. 2) R.I.P. Roger Ebert, renowned film critic, dead at 70. 3) Dolphins release framework of preseason schedule. It's Aug. 4 vs. Cowboys in Hall of Fame Game in Canton; Aug. 9-11 at Jaguars; Aug. 16-18 at Texans; Aug. 23-24 vs. Buccaneers; and Aug. 28-29 vs. Saints. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins' fan dilemma poll, Kid Pitino bolts FIU, Herald's 'Heat 25' ballot, Dolphins draft. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

Click on Griner & The NBA for my most recent column, on why the best player in women's basketball has no shot in NBA and why Mark Cuban's noise about it is a disservice.

'Schulman Surge' continues!: The Herald's massive poll to name the 25 most influential figures in Heat's 25-year existence is underway, and I am encouraging my blog family to rock the vote for otherwise obscure front-office executive Sammy Schulman. Just because! Already, thanks to you, Schulman has surged ahead of the likes of Burnie the Mascot, Bimbo Coles, DJ irie, the Heat Dancers and Antoine Walker. Let's keep the harmless anarchy going! Click HERE, scroll down to vote for Schulman only and tell others to do the same. Power to the people!

RESPONSIBLE? BLAMELESS? WHAT IS SHALALA'S BURDEN IN UM'S NCAA MESS?: I explore this in Thursday's column, which uses as its launch-point the scandal at Rutgers that led to this week's firing of the 1aa1donnasmen's basketball coach. Click on The Buck Stops Where? to read. Penn State's president lost his job over that school's scandal. NCAA president Mark Emmert probably should lose his over the bungling of the UM case. Rutgers' president may yet be fired. But Miami president Donna Shalala (pictured) has received negligible criticism or suggestion of responsibility in the probe that centers on years of wrongdoing by renegade booster Nevin Shapiro. Is that fair? The poll question is specific to Shalala but really delves into the larger issue of how much responsibility college presidents should bear for major problems related to their athletic deprtments. Vote and say why.

UM's risky play with NCAA: Much is being made of UM's official motion to dismiss sent to the NCAA. It was long-expected. What is mostly newsworthy about it , to me, is the risk Miami is taking by focusing its 45-page argument on the NCAA's own "improper acts" during the 2 1/2-year probe in the Nevin Shapiro case. Those improprieties are valid; they happened. But they also are something the NCAA has said did not taint the investigation to a degree it won't go on. The likelihood of this matter being immediately concluded as UM asks is speck-of-sand small. That would be the NCAA admitting to such a botchery of the case that it could bring down president Mark Emmert. Such an admission simply will not happen. Miami's official motion here is more likely to simply anger and tweak the NCAA as it meets in June to mull any further punishments beyond what UM has already self-imposed. I do not blame UM and president Donna Shalala for being aggressive in filing this motion, as long as the very small chance of an actual dismissal was properly considered against the larger risk.

BOSH'S HOME SUSPICIOUSLY BURGLARIZED: Miami Beach police suspect an 1aa1boshcame;inside job in Wednesday night's burglary of Heat star Chris Bosh's waterfront mansion that netted thieves some $340,000 in jewelry. Cops are led to that suspicion by the lack of forced entry and the fact traceable items such as Bosh's NBA championship ring were not taken. The crime occured as Bosh and his wife were away celebrating his 29th birthday at a lavish -- and well-advertised -- nearby Moroccan-themed party that featured belly dancers, fire eaters and (not one but) two live camels. Photo from party courtesy

MARLINS SCORE A RUN! MARLINS SCORE A RUN!: [Update: Marlins off the schneid! Beat Mets!] I was holding my 1aa1confettibreath 'til they did; now I can exhale. The Marlins had never before suffered consecutive shutout losses to begin a season. The previous fewest runs scored over the first two games was 1, in 1996 and 2012. (The fewest scored in the first three games had been 6 in 1994). Game 3 at Washington yesterday found Miami losing again but finally off the scoreless schneid in the top of the 2nd inning on a Justin Ruggiano solo homer. Party! Confetti!

Poll result: Loria animus still strong, but softening slightly: We asked how Marlins fans should feel this season, and it was 62.5 percent for no longer supporting the team because of Jeffrey Loria, vs. 27.9% for still supporting the team despite the owner (with 9.6% undecided). However, in November, the percents were 76.6, 16.4 and 7.0 -- an even stronger anti-Loria/boycott mentality. 

KIPER ON DOLPHINS DRAFT: ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper, on a conference call this week, asked if he thinks Miami could something "unconventional" with the No. 12 overall pick: "The one unconventional 1aa1djflukermove they made was when they had Matt Ryan [available], they took Jake Long and ended up with Chad Henne in the second round, so they thought they could get the left tackle, then the quarterback, neither of whom are with the team now and Matt Ryan is a franchise quarterback. So that's a move that obviously was critical in this whole equation for the Dolphins. We'll have to see how Tannehill develops. But a D.J. Fluker from Alabama (pictured), who's a right tackle or guard, could be an interesting guy at 12. The guy is as good a run-blocking right tackle as you'll ever find. He would be interesting at 12." [Note: In his latest 2-round mock draft, Kiper has Miami selecting Fluker in first round. His second-round pciks for Miami are Florida State DE Tank Carradine (42nd overall) and Southeastern Louisiana CB Robert Alford (54th)].

DORSEY TOPS UM HALL INDUCTEES: Champion QB Ken Dorsey and teammate Brett Romberg (both 1999-2002) head a list of seven latest UM Sports Hall of Fame inductees who'll be installed in a 45th annual ceremony April 11. Others are Ed Contreras (baseball, 1957-59); Bryan Gilooly (diving, 1994-98); Norm Parson (coach, 1972-2012); Don Soldinger (coach, 1984-88, '95-2006); and Jay Tessmer (baseball, 1994-95). Special congrats to Soldinger, whom I covered during the Jimmy Johnson years. Well deserved, Don.

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February 22, 2013

How to feel about LeBron if leaves next year? Poll. Vote!; plus Canes finally lose, Jay Z/Timberlak, Shalala, Marlins, kvetching Perfectos & more

1aa1jayz[1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24. New blogpost coming Monday morning. Meantime, It's Oscar NIght! That's big in my house, because my wife says it is. 2) Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's 12-city summer stadium show will be coming to Dolphins stadium on Aug. 16, the grand finale of the tour. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): War! UM vs. NCAA, hot Heat, FAU and prisons, Dolphins free agency, Marlins odds, Ron Fraser celebration. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Random Evidence for today's latest wisea-- Sunday notes column by me. Lead item: Roaring women. Ronda Rousey-Liz Carmouche headline UFC 157, Danica Patrick on Daytona 500 center stage. 

HOW WILL WE FEEL WHEN LEBRON LEAVES US?: The recent column by me (click The Long Goodbye to read) wasn't popular with a lot of people, especially Heat fans, because it discusses what they'd rather 1aa1lebcle 1aa1lebmianot consider -- let alone during a win streak that reached 10 games last night. Yet this to me is on a scale from very possible to downright likely: LeBron James opting out of his contract after next season and returning to Cleveland. LeBron himself invited the speculation by saying last year it would be great to play for Cleveland fans again. Since then he helped Miami win a title and the Cavaliers drafted superstar-to-be Kyrie Irving, whom LeBron raved about during the recent All-Star break. This week one of James' loudest critics, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Bill Livingston, wrote a fence-mending column saying LeBron should and would be welcomed back. It's conjecture, of course; Miami will try very hard to re-sign LeBron. But the idea of losing him is real enough to spawn this poll. Vote, say why and click back often to monitor the evolving vote. Early results suggest this one could be interesting.

Poll result: Landslide backs Shalala over NCAA: OK, OK. I should have known. I'm a Miami blog, after all. But, still. I could ask if you prefer love or hate and not get a landslide like this. We asked who's more right: NCAA president Mark Emmert pressing the case against Miami, or UM prez Donna Shalala saying no more punishment is deserved. And it was Shalala by 94.1 percent to 4.1%, with 1.8% undecided.

NO. 2 CANES FINALLY LOSE: The 14-game win streak is over. So is the unbeaten ACC record. So, likely, is the No. 2 ranking. Miami lost yesterday at Wake Forest, 80-65. It seemed as if the Canes were due a stumble after several last-second miracle wins.

THE OLD '72 PERFECTOS ARE AT IT AGAIN: It has become a South Florida tradition: The 1972 Perfect 1aa1buonSeason Dolphins assigning themselves proprietary rights to watch over what has become of their franchise and, mostly, it seems, to b---- and moan about the sorry state of it. The latest: Former linebacker Nick Buoniconti (pictured), a Notre Dame alum, on a soapbox instructing the Dolphins to draft Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert with the 12th overall pick (even though most draftniks have Eifert going much lower). Dear Nick: I know that GM Jeff Ireland is not held in high regard by many Dolfans, but I think in this case they'd probably go ahead and trust his judgment over that of a 72-year-old former player who last played 37 years ago and is out pimping for a fellow Irish alum.

MARLINS' YOUNG TALENT: The good side of a fire sale is the infusion of young prospects. The Marlins have six in Baseball America's new Top 100: RHP Jose Fernandez (5th), OF Christian Yelich (15th), LHP Andrew Heaney (43rd), OF Jake Marisnick (64th), OF Marcell Ozuna (75th) and LHP Justin Nicolino (86th). Look for Fernandez and Yelich to get late-season callups this year and be factors by 2014.

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February 20, 2013

War! UM vs. NCAA. Shalala vs. Emmert. Poll. Vote!; plus Heat make trade, FAU and prisons, Dolphins, Marlins, Lena Dunham, Ron Fraser & more

1aa1dunhamlena[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21. My latest guilty pleasure is the HBO series 'Girls' and its star, Lena Dunham (pictured). The show is what we used to call a chick-flick and Lena is few guys' idea of classic-sexy, but I find both very appealing. 2) Giancarlo Stanton got beaned on the helmet by a fastball yesterday at spring training and walked away as if a marshmallow had hit him. That kid might be our biggest, strongest, most imposing pro athlete after LeBron James. 3) Thanks to ESPN for having us on Outside The Lines this week to discuss the UM/NCAA developments. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Hurricane Donna" Shalala blasts NCAA, Canes win again, Lil Wayne's war on Heat, Fixing NBA All-Star Weekend, Dolphins, yelling goats. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

My new column: NCAA buffoonery casts UM as sympathetic victim: Click on headline to access. Column is online and in Thursday's inky pulp editions.  

"HURRICANE DONNA" TAKES GLOVES OFF VS. NCAA, BUT WHO'S RIGHT?: U-Miami president Donna Shalala said, "We have suffered enough," after a 2-year NCAA investigation in the Nevin Shapiro case that led to significant self-imposed penalties such as a two-year football postseason ban. She calls for no 1aa1donna 1aa1donna2additional penalties and I agree, factoring in not only the self-imposed sanctions but the shady reputation of the accuser and the NCAA's own well-documented and major internal wrongdoing that tainted the investigation. These are extraordinary circumstances for which there is no template. But NCAA president Mark Emmert disagreed with Shalala and pushed forward with a Notice of Allegations that likely will result in yet-unknown additional sanctions. Who's right? I hestitated with this poll because I try not to post questions for which I think I know the answer. Then again, around 50 percent of our poll votes typically come from outside Florida; it isn't as if only Canes fans will be voting. There also is a fair argument on either side and some gray area. For example, though I agree with Shalala, I could see UM getting very minor added sanctions, perhaps. Anyway, cast your vote and say why you did.

HOT HEAT MAKE MINOR DEADLINE-DAY TRADE: Heat today traded reserve/D-League center Dexter Pittman and a 2013 second-round draft pick to Memphis for rights to center Ricky Sanchez, currently playing in Argentina. It's unlike Sanchez ever will play for Miami. Deal was done to open a roster spot for Heat to add a veteran big man, possibly Kenyon Martin. Meantime, the Heat played a home game in Atlanta last night based on what it sounded like, and Miami made it a season-best eight wins in a row, staying hot as play resumed after the break. LeBron James was held to only 24 points. The bum!

OWLCATRAZ: FAU ALIGNS WITH CONTROVERSIAL PRISON COMPANY: This might have been a feel- 1aa1geogood story: FAU selling naming rights to its Owls football stadium to GEO Group, a locally based company that privately runs prisons. It begged humor. Call the stadium Owlcatraz. Call coach-emeritus Howard Schnellenberger "The Warden." Put the cheerleaders in vertical stripes and the mascot in a county-issue orange jumpsuit. Stuff like that. The problem is GEO Group is controversial for abuses and treatment at its prisons, spawning outrage such as is reflected in the cartoon pictured. I have doubts whether this deal will stand because of the objection to it. I have doubts whether a public university should align itself with a notorious company that has the attention of human-rights and immigration-rights groups.

DOLPHINS ON FREE AGENCY, DRAFT: On free-agency: GM Jeff Ireland from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis today said re-signing DT Randy Starks was a priority, leaving the impression the franchise tag might be considered for him. He said team wants RB Reggie Bush back but at the right price. Said they want OT Jake Long back too but implied that injury concerns limit the price they'll pay. On the draft: Our fly-on-the-wall Dolphins front-office source (who will not appreciate being referred to as a fly) tells us Miami likely will not draft a receiver at No. 12 because the plan is to re-sign Brian Hartline and hard-pursue Mike Wallace in free agency. Mel Kiper and others keep pushing Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson but Dolphins consider him a project and want right-now impact. Offensive line is likelier with the top pick because the draft is very deep there and because chances of retaining Long are very iffy. Pass-rush help or a trade-down also are options being mulled.

ODDSMAKERS HAVE MARLINS SKIRTING 100-LOSS SEASON: Latest World Series odds via Bovada have Blue Jays the pick at 7-1, then Tigers 8-1, Dodgers and Nationals both 17-2 and Angels 9-1. Miami is 100-1, tied for next-to-last ahead of only the 200-1 Astros. Victory over/unders have Marlins at 63.5, a nice way of saying 98.5 losses. (Odds for upcoming World Baseball Classic have USA a 5-2 favorite, followed by Dominican Republic at 13-4 and Japan 7-2).

1aa1frasertribRON FRASER CELEBRATION OF LIFE: It'll be Saturday at the Knight Sports Complex on campus marking the great life of the former UM baseball coach who died last month at 79. The event is from 4-6 p.m. and free; doors open at 3. That night's 7 p.m. home baseball game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee also will be in Ron's honor.

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January 15, 2013

Dolphins' $400 million stadium plan: Yes or no? Poll. Vote now!; plus Manti Te'o hoax, Kiper's pick for Miami, Heat woes, UM/NCAA, Lyin' Lance & more

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16. Season debut of American Idol tonight. Used to be a guilty pleasure of mine, but less and less. Maybe give it one more shot. 2) Congrats to ex-Canes assistant coach Marc Trestman, new head coach of the Chicago Bears. 3) Did I like the season debut of Shameless? Yes. Mostly. Although the Mexico/drugs storyline with Frank seemed a bizarre tangient that didn't quite fit the show. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Kiper says: Cordarrelle Patterson No. 1 for Dolphs: That would be Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson who turns up No. 12 to Miami in the first Mock Draft of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. Patterson played only one year for Vols after two in junior college, but His Kiperness notes the size (6-3, 205), good hands and run-after-catch ability. Haven't seen Patterson in many mocks or first-round projections so this guess smells like a reach, but we'll see.

DOES DOLPHINS' $400 MILLION STADIUM PLAN HAVE PUBLIC SUPPORT? YOU TELL STEPHEN ROSS, NOW, RIGHT HERE: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wants $400 million in stadium improvements, is willing to pay a little more than half and wants public funds to pay for the rest. Are you on board? The poll below is 1aa1canopyyour forum. The Dolphins want you to know that major area hotels are backing their plan to better attract future Super Bowls and big events. The InterContinental Miami, Trump National Doral and Loews Miami Beach are the first on board. No doubt others will follow. Hmm. Naturally major hotels are on board because big events mean visitors and revenue. But wouldn't it be nice if these hotels were willing to give as well as get? This big-ticket remodeling is outlined as a typical team/taxpayer consortium, with the Dolphins and Ross paying about half and you the public (they hope) absorbing the rest. But why shouldn't private enterprise that stands to benefit also contribute? Hotels, major restaurants, car-rental companies ... why do they get the windfall of a local Super Bowl that (theoretically) comes with a better stadium while contributing nothing to that better stadium but their spoken support? Anyway, I digress. Back to reality. The renovated stadium, including a giant canopy, is pictured. Now here's the poll. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Best Super Bowl? 49ers-Ravens, the Bro Bowl: We asked your preferred Super Bowl matchup in previous blogpost and 49ers-Ravens -- the duel of coach-brothers Jim and John Harbaugh -- won with 47.1 percent, followed by 49ers-Patriots 32.8%, Falcons-Ravens 15.5% and Falcons-Pats 4.6%. Combine totals and team you most want to see is 49ers 79.9, Ravens 62.6, Pats 37.4 and Falcons 20.1.

BIZARRE: MANTI TE'O: HOAXER OR HOAX VICTIM?: This is almost too weird/unbelievable/delicious to be true: A report today by Deadspin (click here) suggesting that Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o completely made up the tragic November death of supposed girlfriend Lennay Kekua, who apparently never existed. Notre Dame in turn has issued a statement claiming Te'o is not the liar here, but rather the victim of a terrible hoax. I'll not jump to conclusions like so many have. But you an bet we'll be following this. (Hey. Maybe the whole Manti Te'o liar/hoax story was planted by Lance Armstrong to take a little heat off!)

FOOT-DRAGGING NCAA MUST GIVE UM CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED, PUNISHMENT PAID: UM is now into its fourth calendar year living this Nevin Shapiro mess and NCAA probe. The university already has self-sacrificed two bowl games and an ACC championship game, suspended eight players for 19 games, self-imposed football scholarship limits and, in effect, served two years of probation even before the NCAA has issued its sanctions. That should count for a lot, I write in my latest column. Click on Credit For Time Served to read. Some will see me as an apologist for the Hurricanes. No. They have punishment coming. My point is, much of that punishment already has been served. UM has been a model for how to properly respond, and the NCAA needs to take that into full account.

HEAT STRUGGLES: JUST A BAD TRIP, OR REAL ISSUES? SOMETHING ISN'T RIGHT: The defending champs seem in disarray, mentally beat up a bit. They are 4-6 in past 10 games and 8-9 on the road 1aa1eriksincluding 1-3 so far on this six-game swing out west. It's more than that, though. There was a veneer of lethargy to Monday night's 104-97 loss at Utah. "Low energy," LeBron James called it afterward. There also seem to be little fissures of dissension, things for coach Erik Spoelstra (pictured) to deal with. Chris Bosh has second-guessed the team's change in strategy, to smaller-ball, to "positionless." Bosh hardly played down the stretch last night. Dwyane Wade didn't get off the bench at all in the fourth quarter and obviously was not thrilled. "Coach makes the calls, I'm just a player," he said afterward. How do you not play Wade and Bosh in crunch time? A fair question for Spoelstra. (Perhaps one he has heard from Pat Riley). Panic time? No. Crisis? No. But all is not well with the Heat. All is not right. Not on the court, or off it. Something needs fixing. Mending.

LYIN' LANCE ARMSTRONG: AMERICAN CHEAT: Shamed, defrocked Tour de France icon Lance Armstrong 1aa1armstronglcomes clean to Oprah about his PED use, but how many years too late? It isn't so much his doping that galls here, it's all those years that Armstrong looked America in the eye and flat-out lied. He not only proclaimed his innocence, he was indignant at the accusations. Incredulous. All the while his fight with cancer and his good works with the Livestrong Foundation were held up as shields against the scrutiny. 'How dare you accuse me!?' Liar. Cheater. Turd. What a hypocritical fraud.

1aa1gagagunGAGA AND THE GUN BRA: Lady Gaga is in trouble with gun-control groups -- especially in light of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut -- for wearing in concert a bra with toy guns attached. I think she has a right to be as desperately outlandish as she wants to be. I also see the sensitivity, given the timing. Mostly, I've just always been looking for an excuse to picture a gun bra, which to me looks like something a beautiful counter-spy might have used to try to kill Bond in a 1960s' 007 film.

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