February 03, 2020

Chiefs reign in Miami! With my column from Miami Super Bowl game; plus Latest Hot Button Top 10, nailed our SB pick, how Shula made the Dolphins perfect and the coach today at 90, the NFL's big bounce-back & more

It's MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3. Welcome, new month. Stay awhile. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kobe Bryant tragedy overshadows start of Super Bowl Week & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

MY COLUMN FROM SUPER BOWL: MAGIC CITY, INDEED: The Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes and Miami as host all rose to meet expectations in a spectacular Super Bowl show Sunday night at Hard Rock Stadium. For my column from the SB, visit Chiefs, Mahomes And A Former Dolphin Win Super Bowl 54 -- And So Does Miami.

KOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: Our column from last Sunday's tragedy: Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

YOUR VERDICT ON SUPER BOWL: We asked, in two Twitter polls that drew some 2,500 votes, who you WANTED to win Sunday's game and who you predicted WILL win. Your verdicts: Want Chiefs by 73.0%, and predict Chiefs by 65.8%. So y'all happy today!

DshulaHOW SHULA MADE DOLPHINS PERFECT AND MADE MIAMI MATTER, AND THE COACH TODAY AT 90: He came to Miami 50 years ago, almost to the day, and everything changed. The way the rest of the country thought of us and the way we thought of ourselves — it all changed. He put a star on the map at the bottom of a far-flung peninsula, in sports and beyond. He made us champions. He made us matter. Today his name is almost mythic; there is a historical quality to it. When you get to be 90, people can begin to forget what you used to be. After all, he last roamed a Dolphins sideline, jaw jutting, in 1995. He worked 26 seasons here but has now been out of coaching nearly as long. Increasing numbers of South Floridians know him mostly as a memory shared by elders, who hold him close like a family heirloom, a sign of their own mortality as glory days long past are recalled. Now, the Super Bowl is in Miami on Sunday to crown the NFL’s 100th season, and fans arriving at Hard Rock Stadium will walk past a bronze statue of the man — larger than life, of course. Now, in the middle of the tropics, Donald Francis Shula is the King in his Winter. OK, that is the entree to Part 2 of out two-part series on how the Dolphins so quickly went from dysfunctional expansion losers to the the Perfect Season -- that 1972 voted the greatest of the NFL's first 100 years. It tells the story of how and why Shula's arrival changed everything, from the players themselves, and it takes you into Shula's life today at age 90. For that full column, visit How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90. Part 1 told the how a long-lost Dolphins executive pre-dating Shula assembled a treasure trove of talent amid the dysfunction of the George Wilson-led expansion years. For that tale, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Liv PicksSUPER BOWL 54: THE PICK IS IN! AND WE NAILED IT!: Update: Nailed it! We called Chiefs win by 31-23. Chiefs won 31-20. Close enough, I say! ..... Original post: The torrent of hype is ebbing, Sunday's game is at hand, and I dare any bettor or neutral fan to claim a strong, overriding feeling about any game with a one-point spread, on a neutral site, with two teams so good a winning argument for either would be simple and sound solid. This Super Bowl is that kind of either/or proposition, a pick so tough you could flip a coin and then exhale and thank the coin for mercifully ending your vacillation. And yet I actually do have a fairly strong overriding feeling about this matchup. To read our full Chiefs-49ers preview and predix capsule -- who will win and why -- please visit Super Bowl 54: Pick for Chiefs-49ers in Miami.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 2-3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: Chiefs rally topples 49ers in Miami Super Bowl: There had been rampant speculation a "major" sporting event, reportedly a football game, was taking place Sunday evening at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Herald was working to confirm this rumor, so stay tuned for updates.  

2. KOBE BRYANT: A week later, tragedy still reverberates: One week ago former Lakers star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others perished in a helicopter crash amid thick fog in California, stunning the sports world, and tributes continue across the NBA.

3. ZACH THOMAS: No! Former Dolphins great Thomas is denied by Hall of Fame: Zach was a finalist for the first time but did not make the list of five who got in, revealed at Saturday's NFL Honors show in Miami. But three of five have local ties: RB Edgerrin James (ex-Hurricane), WR Isaac Bruce (Dillard High) and OG Steve Hutchinson (Coral Springs High). The others Canton-bound: Safeties Troy Polamalu and Steve Atwater. 

4. HURRICANES: Star alum Ed Reed joins UM football staff: Former UM great Ed Reed, College and Pro Football Hall of Fame safety, rejoins the Canes as Manny Diaz's "chief of staff" (a job for which Alonzo Highsmith also interviewed). Will the "We want Ed!" chants start after the first loss?

5. HEAT: Miami in lull but Butler, Bam named as ASG reserves: Miami, only 9-7 since Dec. 30, had slipped from second in the East to fourth despite Saturday's win in Orlando, with a big test Monday in Philly on deck. Better news: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo named as reserves for the Feb. 16 All-Star Game in Chicago.

6. PANTHERS: Cats hot lately, but playoff chase still precarious: Florida is 28-22 off and had a season-high six straight wins before Saturday's loss in Montreal, with a Monday date in Toronto next. Cats are a scorching 13-5 since Dec. 16, and yet still on the edge of playoff pace in the jammed NHL East.

7. TENNIS: Year's first major ends in Australia: Novak Djokovic rallied past Dominic Thiem for his eighth Australian Open crown in Sunday's men's final. Sofia Kenin, a 21-year-old American, won her first career major on Saturday, defeating Garbina Muguruza in a duel of two women I wouldn't know if they walked right past me.

8. NFL: Lamar Jackson wins league MVP award: Baltimore Ravens quarterback (and Pompano Beach-born) Lamar Jackson was named 2019 season MVP as expected at the NFL Honors awards show Saturday in Miami, despite a poor game in the team's playoff ouster. Also notable: Titans QB (and ex-Dolphin) Ryan Tannehill as Comeback Player of the Year and St. Thomas Aquinas alum Nick Bosa of 49ers as Defensive Rookie of Year.

9. MARLINS: Baseball is back; Marlins FanFest on deck: Are you ready for some baseball? Me neither. But Marlins FanFest is next Saturday February 8 at Marlins Park. Pitchers and catchers have their first spring workout February 14 and the full squad begins February 19, with the first spring game four days later.

10. CANES HOOPS: Tough going in new year so for UM teams: Hurricanes men are now 11-10 on the season but only 2-7 in the new year after Sunday loss at Pitt. Canes women are 12-10, but 3-7 since January 1 after Sunday loss at Virginia Tech. Also still waiting for a signature win from either; they're a combined 0-11 vs Top 25 teams.

Missing the HB10 cut: No. 3-ranked Canes baseball unfurls next Saturday with a fanfest and alumni game. Season opens February 14 with home series vs. Rutgers ..... Now less than a month away from Inter Miami's March 1 season opener in its  first season in Major League Soccer. Team this week acquired winger Lewis Morgan, 23, from top Scottish club Celtic ..... Antonio Brown said, "I owe the whole NFL an apology." It's a start, at least ..... Pending free agent Tom Brady posted on social media a mysterious, brooding what-does-it-mean photo of himself in a dark tunnel because he needed some attention as Super Bowl Week dared to go on without him ..... Good for Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe to protest the naming of Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open. Court once was a great player. She currently is an outspoken bigot and homophobe ..... Update: Countdown now 2,331 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

IT'S A PARADOX, BUT HERE'S WHY NFL HAS BOUNCED BACK AND IS HEALTHIER THAN EVER: It's a paradox because concussions and safety issues continue to hover over the sport. And yet all the while, in measurable terms of popularity and revenue, the NFL has bounced back from its malaise and is healthier than ever as it crowns its 100th season Sunday with 49ers-Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium in the 54th Super Bowl and 11th in Miami. For why and how this is, check out our latest column: How The NFL, Even Amid Safety Concerns, Bounced Back And Is Healthier Than Ever.

SmirkTHE SMIRK QUINTET: The lineup: Smirk V: It's Party Time, So Do the Hula With Gronk For Only $1 Million. Smirk IV: J.Lo, Shakira Hit All The Right Notes. From Thursday's Halftime Show press conference, Smirk wanted to make fun of it all, but then something unexpected happened. Also: Smirk III: NFL's Deft, Dull Goodell Slips Up, Makes News / Smirk II: Why Sunday's Most Talked-About Ad Won't Air? (Hint: Nutmobile) and Smirk I: Have Fun This Week, Fans, But Feel A Bit Guilty And Sad Doing it.

Also from Torrent of Super Bowl Headquarters: What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins / Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of / and How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

Select recent other stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020, R.I.P. Our column on the tragedy that rocked sports; plus how one long-forgotten man pre-dating Shula changed everything for Miami Dolphins; also, latest Hot Button 10 (updated), Torrent Of Super Bowl Coverage Headquarters & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 27 Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for every Dolfan in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl Top 10 Storylines You'll Be Sick Of Primer, Derek Jeter's (not) unanimous election & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

KobeKOBE BRYANT, 1978-2020, R.I.P.: For our column on Sunday's tragedy, please visit Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His.

 

THE FORGOTTEN MAN WHO LED THE DOLPHINS' RISE FROM EARLY DYSFUNCTION TO SUPER BOWLS AND HISTORIC PERFECTION: The players who formed the nucleus of the NFL’s single greatest team of all time were stunned to learn that their Miami Dolphins head coach was prone to laziness and long, boozy lunches. He was a man who once stood before his team and, Joethomasslouching, said, "Well, I’m hoping for a 7-7 season" -- as his guys looked around at each other, dumbfounded. This was before the arrival of Don Shula, we must hasten to mention. The NFL itself anointed the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins No. 1 among the best teams ever as part of its 100th season celebration that will culminate with the Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl, fittingly in Miami. But how did a Miami franchise only born in 1966 get from nothing, from the comical dysfunction under first coach George Wilson, to being the greatest ever in such short order? It happened because of Shula, who arrived in 1970, but it started before him, during the expansion years. It started with one man, a man long lost, a man so essential yet so egregiously forgotten in Dolphins history. His name was Joseph Henry Thomas. (Shula and Thomas are pictured). Thomas left the windfall of talent that Shula spun into historic gold. ..... OK, that is the entree to my latest column, a piece I'm very proud of. It is the first of a two-part series. In this Part 1, through extensive reporting, I reveal the comical dysfunction of the 1966-69 expansion years under Dolphins inaugural head coach George Wilson. Yet during that clown show stacked with losses, we tell you how Joe Thomas came to assemble a treasure trove of talent. In Part 2, coming next week, how Don Shula's arrival changed everything, and Shula today, the king in his winter at age 90. To read Part 1 of our series now online, visit How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins.

Previously from our Rampaging Torrent of Super Bowl Coverage:

(*) What A Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl Should Tell the Dolphins.

(*) Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

(*) How Miami Went From Forgotten to Back On Top As 'Super Bowl City'.

And coming Monday: Return of Smirk!: Super Bowl with a Smirk notes columns, poking fun at the NFL and the gravitas of its big game, are an annual Super Bowl Week staple in the Miami Herald. Watch for the Return of Smirk on Monday!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 26-27): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. KOBE BRYANT: Tragic helicopter crash kills ex-Lakers star: A family, the NBA and all of sports were ripped apart Sunday with the news Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had been killed in a private helicopter crash in California. R.I.P. to an all-time great.

2. DEREK JETER: One vote missing, but Marlins president in Cooperstown: Derek Jeter swept into the Baseball Hall of Fame with all but one vote of 397 cast, denied a unanimous entry by one still-unnamed idiot / piss-ant anarchist. (Larry Walker got in, too, barely). Jeter is best known of course as the Miami Marlins president, although reportedly also played several years with the Yankees.

3. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats awarded '21 NHL All-Star Game: Haven't been many better weeks to be a Panthers fan. Florida and Jonathan Huberdeau skated into Saturday's NHL All-Star Game at 28-21 off six straight wins and 13 in past 17 games -- solidly on playoff pace. And this : the big news that Cats, for the first time since 2003, will host All-Star Weekend in 2021.

4. HEAT: Butler snubbed as all-star starter, Waiters debuts: Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "joke" that Jimmy Butler was not named an NBA all-star starter. Bam Adebayo had a case, too, although both surely will make it as reserves. Meantime relentlessly suspended Dion Waiters made his season debut for 31-14 Heat, with four 3's and 14 points in a solid 18 minutes.

5. NFL: Chiefs, 49ers arrive in Miami for Super Bowl: SB 54 at Hard Rock Stadium is in one week, and the teams arrive today. The Kansas City Chiefs are to land in Miami at 4:40 p.m. and the San Francisco 49ers about 2 1/2 hours later. The slightly favored Chiefs are expected to continue to be ahead of the Niners through next Sunday's final whistle.

6. HURRICANES: UM football lands major transfer QB: Former Houston starting quarterback D'Eriq King announced he  has entered the college football transfer portal and chosen the Miami Hurricanes. Quick word of caution: Remember, one year ago, how excited we were were about Tate Martell? 

7. TENNIS: Serena out early as Australia Open hits midpoint: Serena Williams, only eighth-seeded but the betting favorite in year's first major, was ousted in the third round -- yet another failed effort to tie Margaret Court's career record of 24 major singles titles. Still think Serena will equal and then surpass Court ... but we've been saying that for three years now, since her 23rd title was the Aussie Open in 2017.

8. HORSE RACING: Mucho Gusto wins rich Pegasus at Gulfstream: Mucho Gusto, a star for trainer Bob Baffert, won the second annual $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstreak Park in Hallandale Beach on Saturday, with Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. Might be horse racing's biggest day outside the Triple Crown races.

9. PRO BOWL: NFL all-star game is Sunday in Orlando: Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson lead the AFC and NFC squads today in a meaningless game further watered down because players from the Super Bowl-bound Chiefs and 49ers aren't in it. No Dolphins, either, but plenty of ex-Fins in Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

10. CANES HOOPS: Can Miami (men or women) finally beat a good team?: Slumping Miami men are 10-9 off four straight losses after Saturday's L at North Carolina -- and 0-5 vs. Top 25 teams. Canes women are 11-9 overall and 0-6 vs. ranked teams after Sunday's loss at No. 14 Florida State. Jeez, beat somebody a good team, already!

Missing the HB10 cut: Overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans finally made his season debut. He scored 22 points, did not reinjure his knee and his sneakers did not explode. Stay tuned for further developments ..... A bunch of NFL eyes including those of the Dolphins' Chris Grier were watching a lot of college all-stars with the coming NFL Draft in mind in Saturday's annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. But rehabbing Tua Tagovailao of course didn't play, so our interest in the game went from gutter-low to nonexistent ..... Latest Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be revealed at NFL Honors awards show the night before Super Bowl, with ex-Dolphin Zach Thomas a finalist for first time. Of course we are journalistically neutral unabashedly hoping Zach gets in! ..... Countdown 35 days 'til Inter Miami opens its inaugural season in MLS ..... Countdown 48 days 'til No. 3-ranked Hurricanes baseball opens season ..... By the way, the Houston Astros stole their World Series trophy ..... Somebody help Antonio Brown. Baker Act, anyone? ..... Update: Countdown now 2,338 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other most recent stuff: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Column Headquarters, and revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 23, 2020

On Derek Jeter Cooperstown vote: IT WASN'T ME!; plus Super Bowl primer: Top 10 storylines you'll be sick off as Chiefs, 49ers head here; also, Miami's resurrection as 'Super Bowl City' & more

1) It's FRIDAY, JANUARY 24. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, nailed our AFC and NFC Championship Game picks, Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's biggest victory, new John Anderson video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ballotagain DjeterOn Derek Jeter election: It wasn't me!: Miami Marlins president (and oh, yeah, former Yankee) Derek Jeter got into Cooperstown last night with 396 votes of 397 cast. A few weeks ago we'd been joking on the Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio that I (a BBWAA voter) should be the person to deny Jeter unanimous entry. They were goading me to do it. And so since last night fans of the show (even knowing better) have been suggesting I was the lone dissenting vote. Well, I was not that out-on-an-island person -- just to refute any dastardly rumors. In late November I even preemptively wrote this column: If Jeter Doesn't get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me. And pictured right is the official ballot I sent in. (Click to see enlarged version).

Jgaro AreidSUPER BOWL PRIMER: TOP 10 STORYLINES YOU'LL GROW SICK OF AS CHIEFS, 49ERS HEAD TO MIAMI: Parochially you know Miami wanted Ryan Tannehill for the Super Bowl it is hosting. The idea of the longtime Dolphins quarterback playing for an NFL championship in his former stadium, under the nose of the team that discarded him, would have been rather surreal and delicious. But get over it, already. Moving on. The matchup we got for Super Bowl 54, minted Sunday night, will have no problem filling two weeks of mountainous buildup. So: Ready, set ... hype! Here’s your primer. Our Top 10 storylines you’ll be sick of way before the Feb. 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium: The two teams' record title drought. Mahomes vs. Garoppolo. Reid vs. Shanahan. The Bosa Connection. Damien Williams and the Ex's. Finally Zach's time? Miami sets host record. Katie Sowers. The Special K's. And Canes are shut-out. Pictured left to right: Niners' Garoppolo and KC's Reid celebrating their Sunday wins. For our full latest column, please visit Super Bowl Primer: Chiefs, 49ers Storylines You'll Soon Be Sick Of.

Featured other most recent column: HOW MIAMI WENT FROM FORGOTTEN BY NFL TO BACK ON TOP AS 'SUPER BOWL CITY': We speak with Miami Super Bowl Host Committee head Rodney Barreto and Dolphins/stadium owner Stephen Ross.

Also: Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! / Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Visit Greg Cote Columns Headquarters. And revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 20, 2020

Miami Super Bowl set! It's 49ers-Chiefs!; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, decision that changed Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson's life (column), new John Anderson song (video) & more

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 20. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tannehill tops NFL final four from Miami perspective, Clemson favored in 2020, NFL Divisional Round picks, new Ozzy/Elton song & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

PicksNFL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAYOFFS: PEREFECT. WE RODE CHIEFS, NINERS: Update: We were a perfect 2-0 straight-up and 2-0 against the spread on Sunday, with both winners  covering. Original post: Miami awaits. The two-week runup to the February 2 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium begins this Sunday when the two teams are determined in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The Cinderella in this final four is discarded Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill trying to lead Tennessee to its first SB appearance in 20 years — in his old stadium. But everybody packs a tale to tell. It has been 50 years (!) since Kansas City’s last Super Bowl appearance and win, and Andy Reid has coached more playoff games (27) than anyone to never win it all. Aaron Rodgers is after his elusive second career championship after Green Bay last reigned in 2010. And San Francisco last appeared in an SB in 2012 — but hasn’t won one since 1994. Of this final four, only K.C. made the playoffs last year, and the NFL is assured a new Super Bowl champ for the 15th season in a row. Two games. Win and you’re in. And Miami awaits. To see who'll get here, visit Will Tannehill Make It? Our AFC, NFC Championship Picks.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 19-20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature (back after a one-week hiatus) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: It's 49ers-Chiefs in Miami Super Bowl: Chiefs rallied to overwhelm Titans and 49ers comfortably handled Packers on Sunday -- winners take all to reach Miami and the Super Bowl. Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers were seen as the odd men out and were, with a Kansas City-San Francisco matchup the betting favorite all along. Miami awaited. Fate did its thing.

2. MLB: Sign-stealing scandal rocks Astros, sees 3 managers fired: The Astros fired the manager and GM who'd been suspended for a year by MLB. The Red Sox dumped Alex Cora and the Mets and Carlos Beltran parted. Baseball, if you're serious about stopping sign-stealing, here's your statement: The Astros' 2017 World Series championship is vacated.

3. HEAT: Miami completes excellent first half of season: Heat were 29-12 at the midpoint of the NBA season, second in the East and with a league-best home record (18-1) and seven players averaging in double-figure scoring led by Jimmy Butler's 20.3, before falling in San Antonio Sunday. With Bucks a near-certain No. 1 seed, Miami looks strong to earn playoff home court as season's second half begins.

4. JIMMY JOHNSON: Canes champ, ex-Fins coach makes Canton: Jimmy Johnson made Pro Football Hall of Fame's 2020 class, selected by a blue-ribbon panel as part of NFL 100 celebration. Toasting you with a raised Heineken, J.J! Now here's hoping a guy you draft in Miami, Zach Thomas, a finalist, finally gets in too when players are announced just before the Super Bowl. 

5. INTER MIAMI: New MLS team has first draft, opens camp Monday: New coach Diego Alonso and Inter Miami drafted Clemson forward Robbie Robinson No. 1 overall in recent MLS Draft. Miami opens training camp Monday at Barry University, working toward its inaugural season opener on March 1. Still hoping David Beckham dons a kit, but not holding our breath.

6. DOLPHINS: Miami loses defensive chief to Giants: Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham jilted the Fins for a lateral move to the New York Giants. Hmm. Didn't Miami finish 30th for most yards allowed this season and 32nd (dead-worst) for most points given up? Hey, don't let the door hit you on the way out, Pat!

7. NBA: Top pick Zion Williamson to make NBA debut -- finally!: The New Orleans Pelicans say overall No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, who has spent all season thus far recovering from a knee injury, will finally make his debut this Wednesday at home vs. San Antonio. Equipment guy, please make sure he doesn't wear the exploding sneaker again.

8. PANTHERS: Cats stay hot as All-Star break nears: Florida is 26-21 off four straight wins after Saturday's W at Detroit, with two other games left before a schedule pause for the Jan. 25 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Cats are now right on the edge of playoff pace in an uber-competitive Eastern Conference.

9. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic favorites as Australia Open begins: Against the backdrop of the country's brushfires catastrophe, the 108th Australian Open,the year's first major, opens with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the betting picks. Serena looks (again) to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major singles titles.

10. HURRICANES: UM basketball isn't bad ... except vs. good teams: Miami's men's and women's basketball teams, both slumping, have proven solid vs. lesser foes and lousy against good teams. The Canes women are 0-5 vs. ranked opponents, and the men are now 0-4 after Saturday's heartbreak of an OT home loss to No. 9 FSU, with a Tuesday game at No. 3 Duke on deck.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes AD Blake James confirmed that Alonzo Highsmith would not be joining football program in "chief of staff" role advising coach Manny Diaz. Not knowing if he'd have been any good at it, Canes fans nonetheless were outraged in their disappointment after premature, misleading media reports suggested he'd be joining UM ..... Wow. Collegiate Baseball ranks the Hurricanes No. 3 in its preseason baseball poll. No pressure or anything, Gino DiMare! ..... Conor McGregor beat up on some guy in a cowoy hat last night in UFC 246 ..... A former player has sued alleging that Penn State -- of all schools -- and coach James Franklin ignored sexual-based hazing that including older players threatening "to Sandusky" younger guys ... Will the last Tigers player leaving national champion LSU for the NFL Draft please turn out the light? ..... The Winter X Games are this week, and nobody cares ..... Can somebody get Antonio Brown some help, please? Seriously ..... Next weekend, Saturday's Senior Bowl battles Sunday's Pro Bowl to see which football game the fewest Americans will watch ..... Ice Cube's BIG3 basketball league has lowered its minimum age requirement, surprising analysts who were unaware the BIG3 basketball league still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,345 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

JjHALL OF FAMER JIMMY JOHNSON'S BIGGEST VICTORY WAS KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT -- AND WHY: Twenty years earlier, to the day, Jimmy Johnson quit the NFL in despair, at a low point in his life. He retired from coaching and never looked back. It ended for him on January 15, 2000, on a football field in Jacksonville, his Miami Dolphins eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in a 62-7 humiliation. That wasn’t the worst of it. The recent death of his mother had hit him hard, hit him soul-deep, made him rethink everything. One of his two sons was struggling with alcohol addiction. It felt like his life was getting away from him. Wayne Huizenga, then the Dolphins owner, desperately tried to convince Johnson to stay — even offering to let him be a part-time head coach who handled the draft and worked only home games — but Johnson had to get out. "I needed to spend time with my family, and it paid dividends," the former coach was saying Wednesday, 20 years later, from his home 90 minutes south of Miami in the Upper Keys. "My two sons, we’re as close now as we’ve ever been. I am happier than I’ve ever been. Retiring from coaching — it saved my family." Sunday night, the NFL told Johnson he had done enough. He got out early because he felt he had to. But he had done enough. To read our full column on Johnson being welcomed into Canton, please visit Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why.

Other most recent columns: America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please! Also: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports / Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

NEW JOHN ANDERSON SONG/VIDEO : 'YEARS': Careful readers may know I'm a longtime fan of country singer John Anderson, who has one of the most distinctive voices in all of music. Well, he has a new album coming out that was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, a fan of his. This likely will be the first single, a reflective, wistful song about aging, in which a 65-year-old (let's be honest) fading star reflects on a bountiful career and life:

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 15, 2020

Lots of Miami-centric Super Bowl possibilities in NFL's final four. But only one gives America (and South Florida) a rooting interest. Our new column; plus Clemson anointed for 2020 despite loss, hear the new Ozzy/Elton song here & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 15. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect anytime gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dan Enos Cup for  Miami's biggest disappointment, Dream Ticket Tua and Tom for Dolphins?, our Wild Card Weekend ignominy, new Back In My Day video & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NFL FINAL FOUR: LOTS OF MIAMI-CENTRIC SUPER OWL STORIES -- BUT ONLY ONE REALLY MATTERS: It’s nothing personal, Kansas City, so please don’t take it that way, Chiefs fans. But would you please lose? I know y’all haven’t been in a Super Bowl since the 1969 season, so being one win away is a little bit of a feel-good story and all that. No matter. K.C. winning the AFC championship would deny host city Miami the most intriguing Super Bowl possibility left in the NFL’s final four playoff teams. The Dolphins haven’t been in a Super Bowl since 1984, so Miami Tannyhosting the game without tasting it can be bittersweet, a cruel tease. So here we are, again, sifting through the Chiefs-Titans and 49ers-Packers semifinal matchups to find what is — or should be — of most interest in this final four to South Florida fans: No. 1--Ryan Tannhill, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Tannehill: The story is so far-fetched you dare not make it up, but then it actually happens -- this is why we love sports in all its unscripted glory. And the fall and rise of Tannehill is the best thing going right now. Yes, I know. Tennessee rides on the back of running beast Derrick Henry and stout defense more than on Tannehill’s arm. Nevertheless, the Titans season pivoted sharply when Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota as starting quarterback in Week 7. It is why the team is this far. Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating, and if he doesn’t get some MVP votes, call the cops. Now Tannehill is one win from playing in a Miami Super Bowl in the same stadium where for seven seasons he tried and failed to make the Dolphins winners. It was unfathomable as he began the season traded and demoted, sitting as Mariota’s backup. Tannehill of course didn’t fail here nearly as much as the Dolphins failed him by never doing what the Titans did in surrounding him with enough talent. Tannehill returning to Miami and maybe raising the Lombardi Trophy in the Dolphins’ backyard would simply be one of the great redemption tales in sports history — and one every Dolfan with a heart should be rooting for. So get out the way, Chiefs! No. 2--The Hall haul: The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class to be revealed just before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 has a distinct local flavor. Sunday night we saw the emotional reaction live on Fox TV as it was announced Jimmy Johnson, former Hurricanes and Dolphins coach, had so deservedly made it to Canton, Ohio. I have not covered a man who took a loss harder, or who ultimately figured out how, when and why to quit coaching, before it ate him all up. Well done, J.J. Finalists who still could make it include longtime Dolphins stalwart linebacker Zach Thomas, former Hurricanes star running back Edgerrin James and receiver Reggie Wayne, and Fort Lauderdale-born/Dillard High receiver Isaac Bruce. Best of luck to all, but let it be Zach’s time. He has shouldered the weight of the wait. No. 3--The Bosa/Kumerow connection: Defensive end John Bosa was the Dolphins’ No. 1 draft choice in 1987 and DE Eric Kumerow was the top pick the next year. They were brothers-in-law. They were not great NFL players. Oh but the bloodlines were good! Now both of their sons are playing in the final four. For more local ties and the full column, please visit America and Super Bowl Host Miami Have a Rooting Interest Now. Tannehill, Please!

TrevorDESPITE LOSS TO LSU, CLEMSON ANOINTED FAVORITE FOR 2020: Ed Orgeron is still rasping his way through victory speeches for his LSU TIgers after last night's convincing win for the CFP national title, but it is vanquished Clemson seen as the favorite for the 2020 season. Caesars Sportsbook has Clemson 2-1 to win it all, Alabama 4-1, Ohio State 7-1, LSU 9-2 , Georgia 10-1 and Florida 15-1. Sportsbetting.ag's Heisman odds have Clesmon QB Trevor Lawernce (pictured) the trophy fave at 7-2, just ahead of Ohio State's Justin Fields at 4-1.

PicksNFL DIVISIONAL ROUND PLAYOFFS: OUR PICKS, RESULTS: Update: We were 3-1 overall on our Divisional Round picks (missed Titans beating Ravens, like the rest of America), but only 1-3 against the spread (Chiefs' rout of Texans our only get). Here's how cruel the ATS gods can be: Packers were favored by four. I said they'd win by three. They won by five. A miss. The good news from the weekend: Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill are one win from reaching the Miami Super Bowl in his old stadium. Delicioso. Yes, please! ..... Original post: Road teams won three of four games last week on Wild Card Weekend as the road to the Miami Super Bowl began. Do not expect a repeat of that in the Divisional Round on Saturday and Sunday as eight teams winnow down to the final four. The home teams -- the four top seeds, all off byes -- are favored by a combined 31 points. Will the odds hold up? No upsets in store? Hint: I think the two NFC games will be a lot more competitive and upset-likely than the two AFC games. For all four of our Divisional Round picks, please visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Divisional Round Gems.

Other most recent columns: Here's Winner Of the Dan Enos Cup For Biggest Disappointment in Miami Sports and Dream Ticket: Brady, Tagovailoa Both Dolphins in 2020? Also: Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

OZZY AND ELTON: WHAT MORE NEED BE SAID?: Old friends and rock warriors Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John collaborate on the title track from Ozzy's forthcoming new album, Ordinary Man, out February 21. I'm prejudiced as a fan of both, but the song, a mid-tempo, is lush and quite epic. From the backing harmonies to the closing chords, there is a Beatle-esque feeling. Listen. You're welcome.

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked the blog's author as a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Follow on Twitter @gregcote.

January 06, 2020

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team. Newest column; also, our NFL Wild Card Weekend results (unfortunately), happy birthday Don Shula & more

Shula1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 6. A heartfelt happy 90th birthday to the great Dolphins icon Don Shula (pictured in earlier days), who hit the milestone Saturday. Here's to many more! 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect (late) holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild Card Weekend picks, Wade retires (Miami) and Woods' Masters (national) voted biggest sports stories of 2019 in year-end polls, Gators win Orange Bowl & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our return to Le Batard Show: For those who've asked I'll be back on ESPN Radio tomorrow/Tuesday.

Final Herald NFL QB rankings: This was our 22nd year of NFL quarterback rankings. Visit Herald 2019 Final NFL QB Rankings.

PicksWILD CARD WEEKEND! ROAD TEAMS TAKE THREE OF FOUR: Update: Ouch. We were 0-4 straight-up and 0-4 against the spread on our WCW picks. That's a first. May it be a last, please? Original post: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. Finished the regular season with a .663 winning percentage overall and .518 against the spread. Now all that matters are the 11 postseason games ahead culminating with the backyard Miami Super Bowl on February 2. For all four of our Wild Card Weekend picks -- including a pair of upsets! -- visit the motherlode of prognostication I like to call NFL Wild Card Weekend Gems.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JANUARY 5-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NFL: Texans, Titans, Vikings, Seahawks advance in playoffs: The king is dead! The king is dead! The reigning champion Patriots and Tom Brady are dethroned. Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill ousted them Saturday while Houston rallied to edge Buffalo. Sunday, Vikings upset Saints and Seahawks handled Eagles on Wild Card Weekend. Away teams won three of four. The road to Miami, indeed.

2. HURRICANES: Miami hiresg SMU hotshot as new offensive coordinator: UM has hired SMU offensive coordinator/QBs coach Rhett Lashlee, 36, for the same job here. Lashlee ran an exciting spread offense that was top 10 in the nation in points and yards this season. Canes fans are excited. Warning: (They were excited about Dan Enos, too, once).

3. HEAT: Miami tops Portland in Whiteside's return: Miami sits pretty in third place in the East at 26-10, with Justise Winslow, who has missed 26 games, finally close to returning from his back injury. Team beat Portland -- and Hassan Whiteside -- Sunday evening, with Whiteside mostly booed throughout the night.

4. UM HOOPS: No. 2 Duke schools Canes men: UM men fell to 9-4 with Saturday's 95-62 home loss to Duke and next plays at No. 7 Louisville Tuesday. Meanwhile No. 23 Canes women gell to 9-5 after Sunday's home loss to Florida State, and now face another top-10 foe in Louisville.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win at Pittsburgh: Florida is 22-20 after Sunday's 4-1 win at Pittsburgh that lifted the Cats to a tie for the final playoff spot at midseason. Team has won seven of past 10 and now plays four straight at home.

6. DOLPHINS: Tagovailoa decision expected Monday: Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, recovering from a hip injury, has said he will announce Monday whether he'll entre the NFL Draft or return to the Crimson Tide. Many NFL teams -- the Dolphins perhaps highest among them -- will see their draft plans shaped by that decision.

7. DAVID STERN: R.I.P. to commissioner who made NBA what it is: Stern died this week at 77 and is being remembered as the longtime commissioner who made the NBA an international brand it is. He's high on a very short of of greatest commissioner in the history of sports.

8. DALLAS COWBOYS: Jerry Jones finally pulls the trigger: The underperforming Cowboys finally fired coach Jason Garrett. Prominent among the possible replacements being interviewed: Mike McCarthy and Marvin Lewis. Good to see that Jerry Jones believes in recycling.

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Seven days 'til LSU-Clemson title game: Two 14-0 teams ready for the College Football playoff championship in New Orleans, with LSU a 5 1/2-point favorite and the over/under inching up toward 70. Will either remember to pack a defense for the trip?

10. INTER MIAMI: Coach in place, players next, season soon: With a coach hired in Diego Alonso but players still to come, Inter Miami's inaugural Major League Soccer season is getting more and more real. And close. Countdown to season opener: 54 days.

Missing the HB10 cut: We appear to be inching closer to war with Iran. Have a nice Sunday, everybody! ..... Great to see Dolphins great Zach Thomas make the list of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now get him to Canyon, voters! ..... Florida beats Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Miamians still can't believe they had to watch Florida beat Virginia in the Orange Bowl ..... Update: Countdown now 2,359 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

CamwSIFTING THROUGH THE LOSING, WE ANNOUNCE THE MIAMI DOLPHINS' 2010-19 ALL-DECADE TEAM!: In another few days you will have broken a social faux pas but for now you can still wish people a Happy New Year without them looking at you funny. There are rules for these things. For example, when introducing your new head coach in early January, you probably don’t want to begin the news conference by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, as Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder did this week. That got me thinking the window is closing to name the Miami Dolphins’ All-Decade Team for 2010 to 2019, so let’s get to it. First I will pause a second for all of your snide comments and thoughts, like, a team that went 69-91 in the decade, made one playoff and won zero playoff games — did they have any good players? Well, a few, yes. So let’s bid auld lang syne to the past decade by remembering the Dolphins who were the least bad, relatively speaking. Pictured is the most obvious choice for the team: Cameron Wake. Here is our Dolphins’ All-Decade Team, after which we will name the players of the decade from the Dolphins, Heat, Panthers and Marlins. To see our team and get our full latest column, please visit Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team.

Other most recent columns: On Miami's Home Field, Gators Remind Canes How to Win Major Bowl Game and We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL RECORDS OF 2019 PLAYOFF TEAMS: Ranked by most victories:

Team                      SB W-L            Last in SB, last won

Patriots                   6-5, .545        2018 / 2018

49ers                      5-1, .833         2012 / 1995

Packers                   4-1, .800        2010 / 2010

Ravens                    2-0, 1.000       2012 / 2012

Saints                     1-0, 1.000       2009 / 2009

Chiefs                     1-1, .500        1969 / 1969

Eagles                     1-2, .333        2017 / 2017

Seahawks                1-2, .333        2014 / 2013

Titans                     0-1, .000        1999 / Never won

Bills                        0-4, .000        1993 / Never won

Vikings                    0-4, .000        1976 / Never won

Texans                    0-0, .000        Never appeared

Select recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes / Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft / Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. [Note: This link to our APSE-honored work will appear here through the weekend and be gone starting Monday].

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 31, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 88.9%. Final approval rating is season high after Fins' 27-24 upset win at New England; plus the latest Hot Button Top. A fierce battle for No.1, what else lands where & more

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31. Hope y'all enjoyed a wonderful long holiday weekend! Scroll to previous blogpost for season-ending result of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. (Warning: It's ugly). 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald much lately. Bonus points if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose bowl game to Louisiana Tech with CSM poll, NFL Week 17 picks, Pix 'n Fantasy Week 16 results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NemiaG16: DOLPHINS 27, AT NEW ENGLAND 24: MIAMI PUTS A BOW ON A LOST SEASON: Original post: It’s all division games, all on Sunday, as NFL’s 2019 regular season crescendos with Week 17 determining the final two of 12 playoff spots. Stakes are minimal in Dolphins’ finale, of course, but there are some, at Tomryanleast. The 12-3 Patriots must win (or hope for an unlikely Chiefs loss) to secure the No. 2 AFC seed and a first-round playoff bye. Can 4-11 Miami and expatriate/ex-Patriot Brian Flores play spoiler vs. nemesis Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at a cold and cloudy Foxborough? Um, well, no. Sorry. Fins haven’t won at New England in 11 years, and Patriots have won 22 of past 23 at home overall. Pats won 43-0 in September -- back when we thought Miami might be historically bad, maybe 0-16 bound. Competitiveness and even credibility ensued, but for Fins today, as 16-point underdogs, the Pats’ end zone will still feel miles away against a majorly great defense. Pictured left: Two really old quarterbacks. Cote’s pick: NE 31-13. Visit NFL Week 17 Gems for all of our latest picks. And watch for the latest and season-finale Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 88.9%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-finale -- Miami Herald Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 27-24 upset win Dsmat New England putting Miami's final 2019 season record at 5-11. That's a season high and the second-best final rating in the poll's 12-year history. The DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested added emphasis be given to the season as a whole. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Tuesday. Final poll analysis below.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G16/Season final: 88.9%: following 27-24 victory at New England.

Final poll analysis: A nearly 90 percent thumb's-up from Dolfans after a 5-11 season? It doesn't make much sense. But I've called this The Weirdest Season all year, so maybe it does make sense. I think most fans think Miami got the best of both worlds: a high draft pick (fifth overall) and an NFL-leading bevy of 13 picks total, and the optimism borne of a strong second half to the season capped by the stunning upset at nemesis New England. 

Yearly DSM Results: 2019--88.9% (following 5-11 season); 2018--6.9% (7-9); 2017--7.7% (6-10); 2016--76.2% (10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

Our most recent columns: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football / Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft. Also: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 29-30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Enos out as embarrassing bowl loss ends miserable year: The Canes limped to the end of a really disappointing 6-7 season with an embarrassing 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a new low in a year full of those. The good news: Offensive coordinator Dan Enos, maestro of the mess, was immediately fired.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's LSU vs. Clemson for championship: No. 1 LSU crushed No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 3 Clemson survived No. 2 Ohio State in Saturdays' College Football Playoff semifinals to set up a Jan. 13 championship game. That means two full weeks to savor Nick Saban not being in it.

3. ORANGE BOWL: Florida, Virginia go at it Monday night: The No. 9 Gators (10-2) are a big two-touchdown favorite over the No. 24 Cavaliers (9-4) at Hard Rock Stadium. The hometown Hurricanes might have been in this OB had they not monumentally choked in the last two games of the season.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami ends sacrificial season with win in New England: Dolphins sacrificed the 2019 season for the future by trading talent for draft picks, with lots of losing part of the exchange. Today, the misery ended happily in Foxborough with a 27-24 upset win. And now the countdown begins: 116 days until the April 23-25 NFL Draft.

5. HEAT: Hot Heat keep sizzling along: Miami is now 24-8, and 15-1 at home, after last night's OT escape vs. Philadelphia and entering a Monday date at Washington. No more scrambling for an eighth seed. Thinking top four. Eastern finals, even?

6. INTER MIAMI: Finally! MLS team to welcome new coach Monday: Uruguayan Diego Alonso, 44, recently coach of Mexico's CF Monterrey until his firing September 30, will be introduced Monday as new coach of MLS expansion team Inter Miami. he new coach of Inter Miami. There had been speculation about bigger-name coaches. Is Alonso up to the task? 

7. NFL: Five teams alive for last two playoffs spots: The Super Bowl tournament leading to Miami has 10 of 12 invites sewn up. Today, the Eagles (likely) or Cowboys will claim the final NFC spot, and the Titans (likely), Steelers or Raiders will by the last AFC team in. (Wonder of the Dolphins will ever be in this conversation again?)

8. PANTHERS: Cats (narrowly) back on playoff pace: Florida is 19-18 after last night's 5-4 home ice win over Detroit. Cats are presently on playoff pace by a one-point margin as they host Montreal today then set out on a four-game roadie.

9. UM HOOPS: Now it gets serious for Canes men, women: No. 24-ranked and 8-3 Canes women open ACC play vs. Wake Forest today and have top-10s Florida State and Louisville upcoming. The Miami men, also 8-3 but unranked, visit Clemson Tuesday and host No. 4 Duke and and travel to No. 3 Louisville in the next week.

10. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Gonzaga sixth men's No. 1 to lose: Michigan State. Kentucky. Duke. Louisville. Kansas. Now Gonzaga. That's six No. 1-ranked teams to lose. The record for most different No 1-ranked schools in a season is seven set in 1982-83. Ohio State could be next in the top spot. Uh oh.

Missing the HB10 cut: An early Happy New Year to all! .....We're miserable! The Florida Panthers are No. 5 and the Miami Dolphins No. 7 in ESPN's latest annual Fan Misery Index. The Marlins are 28th among the 123 Big Four league teams. Only the Heat fare well, at 116th. Sacramento Kings are the dubious No. 1 and of the course the damned Patriots are last, meaning first ..... Dallas and Nashville will meet outdoors on New Year's Day in the NHL Winter Classic in the Cotton Bowl ..... Free agency has hit World Team Tennis, for those of you who had forgotten World team Tennis still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,366 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 24, 2019

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

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

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

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 54.4%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 54.4 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 38-35 overtime home win over Cincinnati putting Miami's season record at 4-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School FootballWhy Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 22-23): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, collapse, survive vs. Bengals in home finale: Miami blew a 23-point fourth quarter leads but hung on for a 38-35 OT win. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were honored at halftime as the 1-13 Bengals played the 3-11 Fins in Miami's home finale. Those vintage Dolphins players are mostly hobbling men in their 70s now ... and they still were the best team on the field Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

Also from me within past week: FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

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

Select other recent columns: Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 22, 2019

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins-Browns and all the rest; plus Le Batard explains the missing-Papi mystery; also, my Hall of Fame vote and Jeter, Dolphins should sign Kaepernick to hedge bets, NFL Week 11 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

1) It's FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at home to Buffalo with DSM poll, Kyle Busch wins NASCAR crown at Homestead, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Colts-Texans pick: Can Houston bounce back at home, on a short week, after its thorough spanking by Baltimore? Find out here: Week 12 Thursday Gem. 

New No. 1 in update Herald NFL QB rankings: A new guy sits atop our Top 20 chart, but it will be temporary, because he has a bye coming up this week and also because the men who sit second and third have both played one fewer game. To see it all, visit Herald Week 11 NFL QB Rankings.

PicksDOLPHINS-BROWNS, TOP GAMES BIG UPSETS -- OUR NFL WEEK 12 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid first half-plus of our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald. Last week was peachy at 11-3 overall and OK at 7-7 against the spread. We hit on a mini-upset with Jets winning at Washington and had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in covers by Falcons and Cardinals. Now here are our Week 12 picks, including Dolphins at Browns, our Game of the Week and our Upset of the Week (which could be one and the same), and all the rest. Please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 12 Gems. Tonight's separate Colts-Texans Thursday night pick is linked above; also find it here.

PapidanLE BATARD'S BIG REVEAL ON PAPI'S ABSENCE, FUTURE ON 'HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE': "Where’s Papi?" The mystery is finally solved. Fans of the Miami-based ESPN TV show Highly Questionable have wondered for the past two weeks why regular Gonzalo "Papi" Le Batard, father of main host Dan Le Batard, has not been on. The reason had been unexplained, and in the void of information concerns arose that it might be a health issue. Dan heard the question and fans’ concerns more than anyone, so he finally addressed them. "My father is in good health, he’s just been punching a clock for 50 years and doesn’t want to necessarily be working every day," Le Batard told listeners midway through Thursday’s radio show. "He had a pretty hard time telling me he didn’t want to be working every day. There was a palpable sadness when I sat down in the chair and [for the first time] he wasn’t next to me." Papi has for now at least retired from HQ as a regular fixture but may still appear occasionally "when he wants to," Dan said. For the full story, visit Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery

JeterA BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER VOTER (ME) SOUNDS OFF: So I am proudly a Baseball Hall of Fame voter, and the 2020 ballot came out this week, and this happened Tuesday inside the ESPN studios on South Beach, where I was co-hosting the “Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz.” During a commercial break, I volunteered how funny it would be if I was the only elector nationwide to not vote for Derek Jeter as a first-ballot inductee. It was discussed how the ensuing controversy would be such perfect fodder for the radio show — underlined by the idea it would be a Miami Herald writer (one raised as a Red Sox fan!) besmirching the otherwise pristine ballot of the Yankees icon who now happens to be part-owner and CEO of the Miami Marlins. For the full column, please visit If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

GROWING DRAFT UNCERTAINTY MEANS DOLPHINS SHOULD HEDGE BET. WHY NOT KAEPERNICK? NEW COLUMN: The phrase "hedging one’s bets" is gambling parlance that has broadened to more general use. It means doing something to offset a potential future loss. The Miami Dolphins have cause to do that right now. And the opportunity is in front of them, as Colinkobvious as a neon sign blinking in a dimly lit barroom. You may have heard the name: Colin Kaepernick. Bear with me for a second. I know the very utterance of those five syllables is an anathema to many of you. Those many evidently include 32 NFL teams, considering Kaepernick has effectively been blackballed from making a living into a third year now over the anthem-kneeling protest he started in 2016. (You know by now that the protest is over social injustice. Right? That it has zero to do with any disrespect of the flag or the military or any of that other stuff his haters put forth. You know it, and the NFL knows it, and yet illogically -- stunningly -- his ban continues). The whole idea of the weekend's group audition (Kaepernick is pictured arriving) was silly anyway, considering Kaepernick has been a free agent available to anyone for the past 2 1/2 seasons. Any team could have flown him in for a tryout, a physical, an interview — whatever. Nobody did. Will anybody now sign him after Saturday's dog-and-pony show? Who knows. But I know of at least one team that should. Nobody needs a quality quarterback more than the Dolphins. And two factors — Cincinnati being 0-10 to Miami’s 2-8, and Tua Tagovailao’s hip surgery Monday throwing his once-vaunted draft status into some doubt — means the Fins might not be in a position to get their first-choice QB in next April’s draft. They might still, yes, but signing Kaepernick would be hedging that bet in a big way. It would be a safety net for Miami. I have been on the Kaep-to-Miami bandwagon before, but Tagovailoa’s latest serious injury coupled with the Bengals’ ongoing master class in How Properly to Tank torque up the urgency and need. "I’ve been ready. I’m staying ready. And I’ll continue to be ready," Kaepernick said Saturday. "The ball’s in their court." To read my full latest column, visit Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

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

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 11: SOLID, STILL ALIVE, SITTIN' PRETTY: NFL picks -- Solid. We were 11-3 overall and a scrambling 7-7 against the spread last week. Love the first and will abide the second. Missed our Upset of the Week but hit on a mini-upset (Jets over Skins) and a pair of 'dogs with points ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Still alive. Greg's Lobos improved to 6-5 with a 95.8 to 71.7 win over ESPN news producer Jonathan Whyley. Got 21.5 from Randall Cobb to help survive off games by Patrick Mahomes and Mike Evans. With two weeks left we sit one spot out of the 8-team playoffs (on a tiebreaker). Must sweep the last two, or win one and pray ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Sittin' pretty. Lobos improved to 7-4 with a fortunate 105-104 win -- fortunate became my opponent had Melvin Gordon on Monday night, and Mel (thankfully) fell one point short. Got a nice 24 from Michael Gallup, a last-minute start. Won despite only 3 from Deshaun Watson. Have not hyte clinched but are looking really good for the 6-team playoffs. Go 'Bos!

Select other recent columns: Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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Twitter @gregcote