August 31, 2020

The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Boycotts, fans at HRS, Heat-Bucks, death in Fins family. See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 26 out now! & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, AUGUST 31. Farewell, Augie. Will you be better, September? 2) The Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us on both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Boycotts show injustice is bigger than sports right now, Allowing fans in Dolphins and Canes games a bad idea, Greg Cote Show podcast Episode 25 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter and Instagram.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: NEW EPISODE 26 OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," debuted in March and we're back with new Episode 26! New episodes drop early every Monday on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Megaphone, iHeart or wherever you pod, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Find all 26 we've done so far RIGHT HERE for free! Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. In Ep26 we chat up new TV finds, rank the five South Florida pro teams in terms of brightest future, and welcome in guest Roy Bellamy from the Le Batard Show. (Or do we?) Mount Gregmore, too, of course. We also had a lengthy discussion of the Armando Salguero controversy within the Herald, but unfortunately you won't here it. It was censored from the podcast. Listen now. 

Our two newest columns: Boycott Of NBA Playoffs Shows Nation That Injustice Is Bigger Than Sports Right Now and Having Fans at Dolphins, Canes Games A Bad Idea And Big RiskMost recent other columns: Pat Riley's Grand Plan On Track As Heat Close In On Playoff Advance / For Marlins, A Home Opener -- And First Place -- In Mid-August / Fractured College Football Mirrors America's Divide On How to Handle a Pandemic / Fall Without Football: Big Ten, Pac-12 Set Moral Compass for NFL, Others to Follow / As Panthers Move on From Tallon, Who's Next Miami Team Executive on Hot Seat? / and ''Perfect Storm For Virus Transmission': Why Football Is Struggling to Lift Off.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (AUGUST 30-31): 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:

HButton1. RACIAL JUSTICE: Boycotts over Jacob Blake shooting halt sports: It started with the Bucks refusing to take the court for their playoff game vs. Orlando to protest the police shooting of (yet another) unarmed Black man -- this in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 45 minutes from Milwaukee. The to or three day boycott spread through the NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS and NHL as athletes demonstrated that injustice is bigger than sports -- that systemic racism is no game.

2. COVID-19: Limited Fins, Canes fans ruled OK at Hard Rock this fall: Miami-Dade County decreed that Hard Rock Stadium may be filled to 20 percent capacity -- that's 13,000 fans -- for Dolphins and Hurricanes home games this fall. UM opens at home September 10 vs UAB; Fins' home opener is September 20 vs. Buffalo. Allowing thousands of fans at games seems like a really good idea, other than us being in the middle of a pandemic and Miami-Dade being among the top 10 counties nationally in most COVID-19 deaths.

3. HEAT: It's Milwaukee (as expected) in next playoff round for Miami: NBA playoffs resumed after three days of boycotts that inadvertently meant additional rest for Miami, which advanced with a sweep of Indiana. Milwaukee eliminated Orlando Saturday and will face Heat in next round starting Monday at 6:30 in the Orlando bubble. Lakers also advanced Saturday; Clippers did the same on Sunday.

4. DOLPHINS: QB Fitzpatrick takes leave from team after death in family: The mother of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick passed away Saturday morning just before the team's stadium scrimmage, and he has left the team indefinitely to be with family. There are no indications he wouldn't be back in time for the September 13 season opener at New England, although coach Brian Flores offered no guarantee. Ready or not for Tua time? We'll see.

5. MARLINS: Bats quiet as Fish drop fourth in a row: Miami fell to 14-15 and hangs onto a tie for second in NL East after a fourth straight loss Sunday and a sweep by Tampa Bay. Fish are clinging to the far edge of playoff contention nearing the midway point of the truncated 60-game season. Monday the Marlins face the Mets to make up Thursday's game postponed by racial-justice protest. Meanwhile rookie Sixto Sanchez's second straight impressive start featured 10 strikeouts and one walk in a no-decision loss Friday.

6. TENNIS: Depleted, fan-less U.S. Open begins Monday: Path to history has cleared for Serena Williams and it's even easier for Novak Djokovic as the U.S. Open fortnight starts Monday in New York. Six of top eight women including Simona Halep (opt out) aren't playing as Serena guns for record-tying 24th career major, and Djokovic should breeze in a field missing Roger Federer (knee) and Rafael Nadal (opt out). Djokovic is heavy favorite; Serena and Naomi Osaka are near-even. Event also marks return of Andy Murray and Kim Clijsters -- in her first major since 2012. 

7. SOCCER: Where will Messi land if split with Barca happens?: Soccer god Lionel Messi reportedly wants out of Barcelona, his career-long club, and some of the biggest teams in the world are jockeying to acquire the 33-year-old forward. Manchester City, Inter Milan, Paris-Saint Germain and Juventus are among the power clubs rumored after Messi. (Join me in starting an Inter Miami rumor?) But wait! Barca is resolute to not let hi  go. Stay tuned.

8. INTER MIAMI: New team back in play, loses again: Major League Soccer returned to play after six Wednesday matches Including Inter Miami-Atlanta were postponed by the racial injustice boycott. Inter Miami fell to 1-6 Sunday with a 1-0 loss at Nashville that followed the expansion team's maiden win last Saturday in its home debut. Inter Miami is back in action Wednesday at Atlanta United. 

9. NHL: Playoffs down to final eight as postseason resumes: NHL postponed Thursday and Friday games as part of the sports-wide racial justice boycott, but Stanley Cup playoffs resumed Saturday. Hockey is down to its final eight: Tampa Bay-Boston and Philadelphia-N.Y. Islanders in the East, and Vegas-Vancouver and Colorado-Dallas out West. Meanwhile, as the Florida Panthers continue search for a new general manager, the NHL is investigating an anonymous allegation that deposed GM Dale Tallon used racist language.

10. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Weirdest of all seasons is (sort of) underway!: Week 1 in college football kicked off quietly Saturday night as Central Arkansas beat Austin Peay 24-17 in a second-tier FCS matchup before limited fans in Montgomery, Alabama. No Top 25 teams are in play this week as the sport gets underway in a pandemic -- minus a large percentage of conferences opting out including two (Big Ten, Pac-12) Power 5 leagues. Week 2 will see the proper start of the season, including Hurricanes vs. UAB on Thursday, September 10.

Missing the HB10 cut: R.I.P. John Thompson Jr. Legendary Georgetown hoops coach has died at 78 ..... Phil Mickelson said hello to old age and kicked its ass. The lefty, who turned 50 in June, made his PGA Champions (nee Senior Tour) debut and went wire-to-wire for a four-stroke win at Ozarks National in Missouri. He's preparing to challenge the younger guys again in the delayed-from-June U.S. Open on September 17-20 ..... The Dolphins traded Raekwon McMillan and a 2021 fifth-round pick to Las Vegas for a 2021 fourth-rounder. The linebacker was a second round pick in 2017. If not an outright bust, that makes him bust-ish ..... What are you seeing when you look in the mirror, Brian Urlacher? ..... OK, and the NFL needs how many more reasons to force out Daniel Snyder as Washington's owner? ..... The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo was named NBA Defensive Player of the year after winning MVP last year. He's the fifth to win both, after Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin Garnett ..... A-Rod and J-Lo are out of the running to buy the Mets. That's 2-Bad ..... Truly Dumb Ideas, one in a series: The Big Ten, which said it would not play football in 2020, now reportedly is mulling a Thanksgiving start ..... The three-week Tour de France is underway. It was more fun when all the bike tires were being punctured because discarded steroid needles were everywhere ..... MLB trade deadline is Monday ..... Answer: Usain Bolt tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a massive, mask-less birthday party. Question: And you wonder why this pandemic will be around a lot longer? ..... The Greg Cote Show podcast's Episode 26 is out Monday morning ..... Update: Countdown now 2,129 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup. Hopefully we'll all be out of our masks by then?

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THE COTE ARCHIVES:

Marlins Hell Week Trilogy: Are Marlins To Blame For Own Outbreak? If So It Would Mirror America's Struggle / Marlins Outbreak Worsens, Sports Should Rethink Playing Again in 2020 / and Marlins Delaying Home Opener For COVID Outbreak a Scary Lesson For All Sports.

Special Don Shula tribute: Don Shula, 1930-2020, R.I.P. / and What Shula Meant to a Father & Son. They Boy Was Me.

George Floyd-related: Sports' Gradual Return Offers America Relief We Desperately Need / It Took George Floyd To Finally Wake Up White America / Goodell's NFL Response to Floyd Killing Is Hypocrisy At Its Most Ironic / and George Floyd Is Why Kaepernick & Sports Must Continue Fight For Social Justice

Other most recent columns: Here's Why Nobody Should Rule Out Heat Reaching NBA Finals / Marlins and Dolphins, In a Race For Relevance, Offer Hope At a Time We Need That / When Will Dolphins Unleash Tua? Exploring the Timetable as Rookies Report / Sports Resume, But Major Concerns Complicate Opening of Football Training Camps / He Made a Mistake, But Miami Knows Who Dwyane Wade Is And Knows It By Heart / Marlins Captain Miguel Rojas On Pandemic And Playoffs As Baseball Returns / Rest In Pieces, Redskins. Now Here Are Sports' Other Suspect Nicknames / 'Redskins Is Racist Nickname Based On a Lie. Time For It to Disappear / Money Or Health? NFL and Major College Football Face A Decision / Tough Times All Around, But Rise Of Miami Sports Offers Hope / The Face Of Miami Sports in 2020: Our Top 20 And Who's No.1 / Time to Abort Season Restarts and Call Off Sports For Rest Of 2020 / Uh-oh. Cam Newton means Belichick and Patriots Are Back / Saving the National Anthem From Sporting-Event Extinction / Baseball Joins In With Restart Plan. But Is Sports Walking Into a Giant Mess? / Noose Left For NASCAR's Bubba Wallace's Only Grows Resolve to End Racial Hatred / and Team That Signs Kaepernick Will Be Champions Of the Street

Select columns from earlier in 2020: Amid Pandemic And Protests, 'America's Pastime' Is Letting American Down / Return Of Sports Promises Historic TV Smorgasbord / Homestead Is Test Lab As NASCAR Gradually Welcomes Back Fans / R.I.P. Kurt Thomas, an American Gymnastics Pioneer  / MLB Players Demanding More Millions, Right Now, Is A Bad Look / Amid a Pandemic, An Outrage in Alamance County / Welcome to Sports Without Fans, the New Normal / As NBA, MLB Plot Return, We Miss Them -- Yet Sports Have Never Seemed More Trivial / Anticipation of Relevance, Excitement Is Tua's Gift to Miami / Hall of Famer Andre Dawson On Baseball and Owning a Funeral Home Amid COVID-19 / Dolphins Aim High, Win Big With Tua Tagovailoa Pick / Greg Cote's 2020 NFL Mock Draft / Coronavirus, Tua Make This Dolphins' Weirdest, Most Interesting Draft Ever / NFL Draft Will Offer Blunt Verdict on Canes' Talent / Ultimate All-Time South Florida Major Sports Trivia Challenge / Sports Should Stop Pretending It Will Resume Anytime Soon As Coronovirus Rages / How a Longtime Herald Sport Writer Came to Own a Top Contender in Florida Derby / Time for NBA, NHL to Shut it Down, End Seasons / Le Batard Show Deals with Coronavirus-Related Upheaval / Brady Leaving Patriots for Tampa. Will Belichick Be Proved Right In Letting Him Go? / Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears / Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team / and two-part series on how Dolphins' Glory Day happened: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90 

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Revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Greg is also a regular on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg Cote: TwitterInstagramFacebookColumnsPodcastPodcast on TwitterPodcast on InstagramLeBatard Show. Book: Fins At 50. Songs: Letting Go (audio) and The Ballad Of 1440 (video).

June 27, 2020

Here's why embattled Star-Spangled Banner should remain in American sports. New column; plus Baseball has return plan. But is sports walking into giant mess?, Le Batard and Papi on new Greg Cote Show podcast, Noose in Bubba Wallace's garage & more

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

1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 27. Our Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us on both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, Greg Cote Show podcast Episode 17 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter and Instagram.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: DAN LE BATARD, PAPI STAR IN NEW NEW EPISODE 17 OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," debuted in March and Episode 17 is out now! A new episode drops every Monday morning on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Megaphone or wherever you do your podding, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Find all 17 we've done so far right here. Free! No paywall! Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. Episode 17 is a Father's Day special with ESPN's Dan Le Batard and his dad Papi -- in Papi's first interview since he walked away from his fulltime role on Dan's Highly Questionable show. Why did he leave? Might he return? Join the conversation. That and more in new Ep17! Find every podcast we've done so far HERE.

Our Shula tribute columns: DON SHULA, 1930-2020, R.I.P. and WHAT SHULA MEANT TO A FATHER & SON. THE BOY WAS ME

Our George Floyd-related columns: Sports' Gradual Return Offers America Relief, a Respite We Desperately Need  /  It Took George Floyd To Finally Wake Up White America  /  Goodell's NFL Response to George Floyd Killing Is Hypocrisy At Its Most Ironic  /  and George Floyd Is Why Kaepernick & Sports Must Continue Fight For Social Justice

HERE'S WHY EMBATTLED STAR-SPANGLED BANNER SHOULD REMAIN A PART OF AMERICAN SPORTS: You thought kneeling during the national anthem was controversial? How about eliminating the national anthem? Erasing its place at sporting events altogether? It is a conversation we will be having. The signs already are here. A debate will arise from the ongoing nationwide Flagmovement for social justice and against police brutality and racial inequality in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and others. Symbolism matters in all of this. It is why Confederate statues are toppled and why Aunt Jemima got retired. It’s why we leaped to a false conclusion over the noose in Bubba Wallace’s garage. Sometimes, overreaction is better than no action at all. Now, the maelstrom of conscience the nation is in will lead some to wonder what the "Star-Spangled Banner" has to do with games, anyway? It already has. And if you ever doubted that we are polarized, far more divided than united, all the evidence required is that even the national anthem might be seen as a lightning rod of controversy. Former U.S. men’s national soccer team coach Bruce Arena, to ESPN’s Taylor Twellman: "I think it puts people in awkward positions. We don’t use the national anthem at movie theaters and on Broadway, other events in the United States, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a national anthem before a baseball game, an MLS game." This week we saw the first team to take Arena up on his suggestion. The Tulsa Athletic of the lower-tier National Premier Soccer League announced it no longer would play the national anthem before matches, and would replace the "Star-Spangled Banner" with another patriotic song, Woody Guthrie’s "This Land Is Your Land." What sports will be this summer in its restart from the coronavirus/COVID-19 delay could be the excuse sports needs to move from the national anthem as an every-game routine. No fans in the stands would be that excuse. MLS already has said it would not play the anthem before games in empty stadiums. Whether this becomes any sort of trend, we shall see. I hope it does not. Unlike many of my media brethren, I support continuing to play our national anthem before sporting events. To read our full most recent column, please visit Saving the National Anthem From Sporting-Event Extinction.

MlbBASEBALL JOINS IN WITH RESTART PLAN, BUT IS SPORTS WALKING INTO A MESS IT WILL REGRET? LATEST COLUMN: Step aside, Fubon Guardians and Rakuten Monkeys. Thank you for your service, Hyundai Unicorns and Kiwoon Heroes. Riveted as we have been by the Chinese and Korean brand of baseball, the Yankees and Dodgers will take it from here. Baseball is back! Sort of. Sports is back! Or at least this bizarre, pandemic version of it. MLB finally has a resumption plan to belatedly join the NBA, NHL and MLS in summer restarts, and the NFL and college football still hope to play as scheduled this fall — but with an asterisk as big as a cardboard golf check attached to every sport as 2020 plays out. So our leagues and teams move forward. But are they stepping into a giant mess they will regret? For our full recent column, please visit Baseball Joins In With Restart Plan. But Is Sports Walking Into a Giant Mess?

NOOSE LEFT IN BUBBA WALLACE'S NASCAR GARAGE TAKES UNEXPECTED TURN: [Update: FBI found that the noose in Wallace's garage was being used to hold a door open and had been there since October -- not placed with Wallace in mind. "It was still a noose," said Wallace] Original post: It took a single coward in the cover of darkness, or was it a few? It took this one act to remind us how far we have not come, how far we have yet to go. It took this one gut-churning symbol of hatred and inequality to verify to all why America is in the streets right now — exactly Bubba Wallacewhy a national movement is marching for change. A noose, placed in Bubba Wallace’s garage. A noose, at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, placed in the workspace of the NASCAR Cup Series’ lone Black driver. A noose, someone’s answer to the man who led and won the fight to see NASCAR recently step forward and ban Confederate flags at all of its tracks. A noose, in 2020 America, and suddenly we are in the 19th century again, where men in pointy white hoods carried torches, where 41 persons of color were found hanged in Gainesville, Texas, in 1862, where 30 years after that the governor of South Carolina, Benjamin Tillman, said, "We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will." Wallace never saw the noose, only the unimaginable prejudice and gall that put it there. A member of his team found it late Saturday night and immediately informed NASCAR. "Today’s despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism," Wallace wrote on Twitter. "We will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate." This is why Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem. This is why thousands nationwide — Black and white — march for George Floyd and for Breonna Taylor and for all of the other victims of the systemic racism that can foment deadly police brutality. To read our full recent column, please visit Noose Left For NASCAR's Bubba Wallace's Only Grows Resolve to End Racial Hatred.

My previous most recent columns: Team That Signs Kaepernick Will Be Champions Of the Street  /  Should Sports Take the Rest Of 2020 Off? There's An Argument  /  and Amid Pandemic And Protests, 'America's Pastime' Is Letting American Down

Select earlier recent columns: Return Of Sports Promises Historic TV Smorgasbord / Homestead Is Test Lab As NASCAR Gradually Welcomes Back Fans / R.I.P. Kurt Thomas, an American Gymnastics Pioneer  / MLB Players Demanding More Millions, Right Now, Is A Bad Look / Amid a Pandemic, An Outrage in Alamance County / Welcome to Sports Without Fans, the New Normal / As NBA, MLB Plot Return, We Miss Them -- Yet Sports Have Never Seemed More Trivial / Anticipation of Relevance, Excitement Is Tua's Gift to Miami / Hall of Famer Andre Dawson On Baseball and Owning a Funeral Home Amid COVID-19 / Dolphins Aim High, Win Big With Tua Tagovailoa Pick / Greg Cote's 2020 NFL Mock Draft / Coronavirus, Tua Make This Dolphins' Weirdest, Most Interesting Draft Ever / NFL Draft Will Offer Blunt Verdict on Canes' Talent / Ultimate All-Time South Florida Major Sports Trivia Challenge / Sports Should Stop Pretending It Will Resume Anytime Soon As Coronovirus Rages / How a Longtime Herald Sport Writer Came to Own a Top Contender in Florida Derby / Time for NBA, NHL to Shut it Down, End Seasons / Le Batard Show Deals with Coronavirus-Related Upheaval / Brady Leaving Patriots for Tampa. Will Belichick Be Proved Right In Letting Him Go? / Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified / Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears / Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90 / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / and Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team

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Revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards has ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Greg is also a regular on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg Cote:  Twitter.  Instagram.  Facebook.  Columns.  Podcast.  Podcast on Twitter.  Podcast on Instagram.  LeBatard Show.  Book: Fins At 50.  Songs: Letting Go (video) and The Ballad Of 1440 (audio).

June 08, 2020

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Sports' place in a time of America's national turmoil and challenge; plus the Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 15 out now!, our 4 George Floyd-related columns & more

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 8. Our Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Follow us on both! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Sports' gradual return offers America needed relief, It took George Floyd to finally wake up white America, Why Goodell's response to Floyd killing is hypocrisy, Greg Cote Show podcast new Episode 14 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote and Instagram.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: NEW EPISODE 15 OUT NOW!: Our Miami Herald podcast, "The Greg Cote Show With Greg Cote," debuted in early March and Episode 15 is out now! Find a new episode out every Monday morning on Apple, Google, Spotify, iHeart, iTunes, Megaphone, Stitcher or wherever you do your podding, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. Find the new episode and all 15 we've done so far right here. They're free! No paywall! Please listen, subscribe, rate and review. In Episode 15 you'll get to know Zoo Miami's Ron Magill beyond just animals as he shares stories about his difficult childhood, how he met his wife, his emotional and controversial first trip to Cuba and much more. Also, Greg speaks from the heart about the killing of George Floyd and its aftermath. That and more in Ep15! Find every podcast we've done so far HERE.

My Shula tribute columns: DON SHULA, 1930-2020, R.I.P. and WHAT SHULA MEANT TO A FATHER & SON. THE BOY WAS ME

My George Floyd-related columns:

Sports' Gradual Return Offers America Relief, a Respite We Desperately Need

It Took George Floyd To Finally Wake Up White America

Goodell's NFL Response to George Floyd Killing Is Hypocrisy At Its Most Ironic

George Floyd Is Why Kaepernick & Sports Must Continue Fight For Social Justice

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 7-8): 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 (non)sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

HButton1. GEORGE FLOYD: Sports continues enmeshed in national outrage over killing: Top athletes, coaches and others in sports continue to join the national protests and speak out against police brutality after the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis followed that of Breonna Taylor in Louisville. The coronavirus pandemic threat continues and sports inches back to resuming play, but the way Floyd died in custody remains out front in the nation's conscience. Adrian Peterson said all NFL players "are ready to take a knee together" before games this season.

2. OOPS!: It was a big week for apologies in sports: Roger Goodell now says NFL should-a listened four years ago when the Colin Kaepernick-led protest began. (Oops, sorry). Drew Brees said he can't agree with anyone who "disrespects the flag." (Oops, sorry). L.A. Galaxy dropped a player whose wife made offensive Instagram posts. (Oops, sorry). FSU football coach Mike Norvell lied in saying he personally reached out to all his players. (Oops, sorry). Texts from Bills rookie QB Jake Fromm about only "elite white people" owning guns turned up on Twitter. (Oops, sorry).

3. HURRICANES: Football season without fans now looms as likely: Miami director of athletics Blake James said his "gut feeling" right now is that UM football season will start on time (Sept. 5 vs. Temple at Hard Rock Stadium), but without fans. He'd said on our podcast in early April he still was optimistic about fans. The Dolphins already have revealed a contingency plan that would permit a reduced attendance of 15,000 with social distancing in place.

4. MLB: Baseball lagging behind on restart plans: While the NBA, NHL and MLS are getting specific about plans for a late summer resumption, the National Pasttime continues to balk as owners and players haggle over money and length of season. Money, mostly, if that didn't go without saying. Baseball now seems as if it will be the last spring/summer sport to resume -- if it does at all. Really bad look, MLB.   

5. NASCAR: Engines will rev in Homestead in 6 days: Homestead-Miami Speedway hosts the Dixie Vodka 400 on June 13-14. The here will be no paying customers allowed; however, the track will invite up to 1,000 military personnel, first responders and their families as guests to next Sunday's main race -- the first people to sit in the stands for a NASCAR race since the season resumed in May. 

6. MARLINS: Fish have 3rd overall pick in draft: Thinking Marlins will be thinking power bat with third pick in the MLB Draft this week. The shortened five-round 2020 draft, done virtually, will be held this Wednesday and Thursday, with Wednesday's round 1 on ESPN (7 p.m.) and rounds 2-5 Thursday on ESPN 2 (5 p.m.).

7. NFL: Coaches permitted back at practice facilities: NFL coaches were allowed back at team facilities starting this past Friday. Players remain barred except those receiving treatment, while the maximum number of people at facilities is now up to 100. No word yet when summer training camps might begin or what delays or limits may be in place.

8. GOLF: PGA Tour back this week after 3-month layoff: The PGA Tour will play ts first ev ent since March 12 this Thursday through Sunday with the Colonial/Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, with 16 of the top 20 players in the world. No Tiger Woods, but all of the top five including No. 1 Rory McIlroy will compete. No spectators will be allowed. The Memorial in Ohio July 16-19 will be the first Tour event to welcome back fans.

9. SOCCER: MLS, international leagues set returns: Major League Soccer avoided a lockout by agreeing to a restart plan that begins with a tournament in Orlando later this summer including Inter Miami and all 26 teams. Talk of a July 9 start date is not yet confirmed. Players agreed to 5 percent salary cuts. Spain's La Liga will resume play this coming Saturday, and England's Premier League reopens June 17, with "virtual fan noise" to help TV viewers imagine big crowds like in the old days.

10. CORONAVIRUS: The updated South Florida Games-Lost Tracker: The SFGLT updates you each week on how many major local pro sports games have been lost to the coronavirus shutdown. We'll continue this until the first of our four spring/summer teams has resumed play. Through today/Sunday -- 109-plus games lost: Marlins have missed first 66 games of regular season. Heat missed last 17 games of season and at least two first-round playoff games based on NBA standings when season stopped. Panthers missed last 13 games but would not have made playoffs based on NHL standings at time of stoppage. Inter Miami, after playing first two games of season, has missed last 13.  

Missing the HB10 cut: At least five Alabama football players have tested positive for coronavirus ...... Amanda Nunes! ..... Over/under on how long Conor McGregor's 'retirement' lasts: Three months? ..... OHMYGOD TETONIC PLATES ARE SHIFTING! Even Michael (Republicans Buy Sneakers Too) Jordan is actually speaking out ..... Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant says he's done for the year, even as NBA moves toward restart. K.D. hasn't played since his Achilles injury last June ..... A decision is pending whether the scheduled Sept. 25-27 Ryder Cup in Wisconsin will go on without fans, U.S. captain Steve Stricker saying that would make it "a yawner of an event" ..... For Rent: A Used 1989 Cam Newton. Inquire Within ..... The Greg Cote Show podcast is out with new Episode 15 on Monday ..... Update: Countdown now 2,212 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup. Always assuming the world is still turning by then.

Other featured recent columns: MLB Players Demanding More Millions, Right Now, Is A Bad Look / and Amid a Pandemic, An Outrage in Alamance County. 

Other recent columns: How Can A Man 6-7 Seem So Small? That's Pierce On LeBron / No Controversy Here. Dolphins Have Ideal QB Situation / Welcome to Sports Without Fans, the New Normal / As NBA, MLB Plot Return, We Miss Them -- Yet Sports Have Never Seemed More Trivial / Anticipation of Relevance, Excitement Is Tua's Gift to Miami / Hall of Famer Andre Dawson On Baseball and Owning a Funeral Home Amid COVID-19 / Miami Sports Right Now If Coronavirus Never Happened and Games Never Stopped / and Dolphins Are Winning Rebuild With 3-Year Plan That Won't Rush Top-Prize Tua

AlsoDolphins Aim High, Win Big With Tua Tagovailoa Pick / Greg Cote's 2020 NFL Mock Draft / Coronavirus, Tua Make This Dolphins' Weirdest, Most Interesting Draft Ever / Amid a Pandemic, to Florida, Pro Wrestling is 'Essential' / Baseball's Bizarre Restart Plan Would Be Unfair to Players / NFL Draft Will Offer Blunt Verdict on Canes' Talent / Ultimate All-Time South Florida Major Sports Trivia Challenge / Sports Should Stop Pretending It Will Resume Anytime Soon As Coronovirus Rages / How a Longtime Herald Sport Writer Came to Own a Top Contender in No-Fans Florida Derby / Time for NBA, NHL to Shut it Down, End Seasons / Le Batard Show Deals with Coronavirus-Related Upheaval / Brady Leaving Patriots for Tampa. Will Belichick Be Proved Right In Letting Him Go? / Miami Sports Now Utterly Engulfed By Coronavirus Threat -- But Precaution Is Justified / It's Dominate Or Bust For Dolphins GM Grier Over Next 6 Weeks

Select columns from earlier in 2020Inter Miami Is Market's Sleeping Giant As Home Opener Nears / Jeter Arrives At Camp, Calls Marlins 'Layered With Talent' / Dwyane Wade, His Transgender Daughter And A Lesson In Love / Pressure On Marlins for Big Improvement Now -- and It's About Time / Time For Anonymous Lone Voter Who Denied Jeter To Step Forward / Heat And Gloriously Impatient Riley Win In Trade For Iguodala / Return Of Ed Reed, Even If Mostly Symbolic, Leads Surge By Canes Football / Our two-part series: How One Man Long Forgotten Changed Everything For the Miami Dolphins and How Shula Made Dolphins Perfect and Made Miami Matter, And the Coach Today at 90 / Kobe's Death Sends Sports World Reeling, But Immortality Is His / Jimmy Johnson's Biggest Triumph? Knowing When To Quit -- And Why / and Announcing Miami Dolphins' 2010-19 All-Decade Team

--  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --

Revisit this blog often because it is updated regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category in 2018. Greg is also a regular co-host on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg Cote:  Twitter.  Instagram.  Facebook.  Columns.  Podcast.  Podcast on Twitter.  Podcast on Instagram.  LeBatard Show.  Book: Fins At 50.  Songs: Letting Go and The Ballad Of 1440.

August 03, 2018

What will Dwyane Wade do? Poll. 4 choices. Last chance to vote!; plus NFL's continuing clueless quagmire on anthem protests, Zach Thomas and Canton, ode to Frank Gore's return to Miami & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, AUGUST 3. Goodbye July. Didn't like you much. Be better, August! 2) Click on Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdicts on Dolphins outlook and Tannehill, 4-Man Outfield & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GoodellLatest column: NFL, Goodell still clueless on protests: We have now entered Year 3 of the NFL's public relations nightmare over (some) players taking a knee during the pregame national anthem to protest social injustice. In May the league enacted what I call a Go-Hide policy that ruled all players on the field must stand and those who wish not to stand must be off the field and out of view. But blowback from the NFLPA put that policy on hold. So there is no policy at the moment, just presidential tweets and NFL cluelessness. (Combatants Roger Goodell and Donald Trump are pictured). I explore in my latest column. To read, click NFL Enters Year 3 Of Anthem-Protest Quagmire.

GoreTHE PERFECT END RUN: AN ODE TO FRANK GORE COMING HOME: Frank Gore is the 39th former Miami Hurricane to play for the Dolphins, but his homecoming feels more full-circle, more right than any of the others. He'll be the first Cane-turned-Dolphin to reach Canton and the Hall of Fame. Born and raised in Miami, now back here at age 35, the NFL's oldest running back, and still trying to  prove himself. I spoke privately to Gore (pictured) after a Dolphins practice this week and write about his homecoming, how it happened and how it makes him feel, in this column. To read it, click on Gore Back In Miami Is The Perfect End Run. Gore is not here in a ceremonial/mentor role only. Coach Adam Gase envisions more emphasis on the ground game this season, with Kenyan Drake and Gore expected to carry the major load. Who'll start is to be determined, but I'd imagine their touches will be similar, though perhaps with an edge for Drake because of his youth.

Other recent columnsDolphins Need a Better Tannehill, Not Just A Healthy One, on start of training camp. To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades, on the death of Tony Sparano. Also: Dolphins Results Will Exceed Brutal OffseasonSoccer Stadium Progress, But Much Work LeftReasons For Hope As Jeter Plan Takes RootTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

WadePOLL: ON DWYANE WADE'S PENDING DECISION: Within a few weeks the Heat expects free agent Dwyane Wade (pictured) to inform them of his intentions for the 2018-19 season. There is no indication he will join LeBron in L.A. or sign with any other NBA team. By all accounts he will A) play another season with Miami, B) retire, or C) follow the money to the Chinese Basketball League. This poll is not asking what you hope happens, but what you predict will happen -- what you'd bet on. Vote!

ZachSUPPORT FOR MY ZACH THOMAS-FOR-CANTON CAMPAIGN: Recently Kyle Brandt, a host of Good Morning Football on the NFL Network, spoke out about and also Tweeted why former Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, emphasizing the similarity of his career accomplishments with those of newly minted first-ballot Canton inductee Brian Urlacher. Maybe Kyle read my column? I made the same case for Zach six months ago, this past Feb. 5. To read that column, click The Case for Zach Thomas And Canton.

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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

June 08, 2018

In search of Dolphins' elusive Grand Plan. My new column; plus how Trump hijacked NFL anthem protest cause, The List (NBA Finals sweeps), LeBron Summer Sweepstakes & more

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

1) It's FRIDAY, JUNE 8. Happy to be on this morning talking Miami sports with my old buddy Dan Sileo on 97.3 The Fan in San Diego. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your LeBron vs. Michael poll verdict, Dolphins Beef-O-Meter, 4-Man Outfield & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GaseIN SEARCH OF THE DOLPHINS' GRAND PLAN (OR TO SEE IF THERE IS ONE): I have coined it, "The Dolphins Disconnect" -- the gulf between the optimism you hear from Adam Gase (pictured) and his team and the consistently low expectations on the outside. The latest indication: ESPN's annual NFL offseason grades for each team, out this week. Miami is given a C-minus, ranking 30th of the 32 teams. (Detroit and Carolina are the only lower-graded teams, each with a D, while elsewhere in the AFC East, the Patriots get an A-minus, the the Jets a B and the Bills a C). I tackle the state of the Dolphins in my latest column. To read, click In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand Plan.

SignHOW TRUMP'S AWFUL (YET BRILLIANT) SUBTERFUGE HIJACKED NFL PROTEST CAUSE: Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins held signs such as the one pictured -- YOU AREN'T LISTENING -- in response to media questions yesterday about Don Trump uninviting his team from a White House visit. It is the perfect sign of frustration to illustrate my most recent column, on how President Trump's awful yet calculated and politically self-serving subterfuge -- lying -- has brilliantly (for him) hijacked the NFL's anthem protest cause to wrongly make it about the flag and patriotism. As myself,  Jenkins and others will remind, the cause is about police shootings of unarmed black men. It is about racism, profiling and social injustice. It is about trying to open eyes and make America better. It is not about what Trump says it is as he unfairly paints protesting players as un-American ingrates who should be fired from the league -- almost as if First Amendment rights such as freedom of expression did not exist. To read my column, click on Uninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's Subterfuge.

LebLEBRON WON'T WIN JUNE. BUT HE'LL WIN JULY: A 3-0 NBA Finals series hole entering tonight's Game 4 all but verifies LeBron James won't be winning the championship. The question is, who'll be winning LeBron James a few weeks later, in free agency? In this week's column, I list what I consider to be the four favorites in order. Is the Miami Heat one of them? To read the column, click Handicapping the LeBron Summer SweepstakesOther most recent columns: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & GamesThe King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

THE LIST: NBA FINALS SWEEPS: This is the 72nd NBA Finals. With Golden State now leading Cleveland 3-0, it could be only the ninth Finals to end in a sweep. The eight 4-0 shutouts in league history:

Year    Result                                                                           Winning coach, Finals MVP

1959   Boston Celtics def. Minneapolis Lakers               Red Auerbach, Elgin Baylor

1971   Milwaukee Bucks def. Baltimore Bullets              Larry Costello, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

1975   Golden State Warriors def. Washington Bullets  Al Attles, Rick Barry

1983   Philadelphia 76ers def. Los Angeles Lakers        Billy Cunningham, Moses Malone

1989   Detroit Pistons def. Los Angeles Lakers              Chuck Daly, Joe Dumars

1995   Houston Rockets def. Orlando Magic                   Rudy Tomjanovich, Hakeem Olajuwon

2002   Los Angeles Lakers def. New Jersey Nets          Phil Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal

2007   San Antonio Spurs def. Cleveland Cavaliers      Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker

Notes: No Finals MVP was named in 1959; Baylor was series' leading scorer. Losing Lakers coach in 1983 and '89 was current Heat president Pat Riley.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the 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. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 14, 2018

New: Canes on right side in Arkansas State mess ... but will the Force (Majeure) be with them?; plus video in honor of Black History Month, Happy Valentine's Day, newest Dolphins draft guess, America's Dog & more

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

Valentine1) It's WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to all the sweethearts out there, especially my wonderful wife! (I'd get credit for that, if she read my blog). 2) Click on Strange Signs! for the new Back In My Day video that debuted on Tuesday's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio. 3) The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot BUtton Top 10, latest Back In My Day video (Strange Signs!), D.Wade homecoming trilogy, LeBron flexes power, your Winter Olympics verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NEW COLUMN: ON CANES VS. ARKANSAS STATE -- THE COURT CASE: Miami would have won the football game pretty easily. Because there was no game, there might now be a court case, and winning that won't e so easy for Miami. It's the football game that turned into a mess, with Miami on the morally right side, but not necessarily the legally right side. We explore in our latest column. To read, click on UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them?

Our most recent other columns: LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. And the Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade.

IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A poignant new video from the great Mavis Staples for her song, "If All I Was Was Black":
RsmithLATEST DOLPHINS DRAFT GUESS
:
In a new mock draft from the Washington Post -- whose new doomsday-feel slogan is "Democracy Dies In Darkness," as an aside) has the Dolphins selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (pictured) 11th overall. Reasonable guess. Position of need. But I'm still banging the drum for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, if he lasts that long. There seems to be building momentum for the Broncos taking Mayfield at No. 5 overall, although that seems high. Still think Miami could have a shot.

BichonFLYNN THE BICHON FRISE' NAMED AMERICA'S TOP DOG: Flynn is pictured at left. A Bichon Frise' looks like a poodle on steroids. Do they drug-test these canines? "Bichon frise'" is a French phrase meaning "curly lap dog." The small, button-eyed breed is in the non-sporting group, meaning it just sits around annoying the neighbors by emitting a high-pitched, strident bark. Nevertheless, Flynn won Best in Show on Tuesday at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at New York's Madison Square Garden in New York. Following the show the small, foofy champion was mauled by a German shepherd. OK I made up that last part. Flynn is alive and well: America's Top Dog!

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. Also: Exploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae Riback

Thank You, Edwin Pope.Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 28, 2017

Trump vs. NFL: Poll. Vote now!; plus UM hoops scandal, R.I.P. Hefner, Herald NFL Week 3 QB rankings, new 'Back In My Day,' NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 3 results, 2 Canes Top 5 in latest SOPY standings & more

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

Lebpod1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27. #HelpPuertoRicoNow. 2) Click on Toys! for my latest Back In My Day segment from the LeBatard Show. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last week's performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed by Jets with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"R.I.P., Hugh Hefner, Playboy founder, gone at 91. Red velvet smoking jackets are hanging at half-mast." --Greg Cote

Hurricanes men's basketball scandal: A member of Jim Larranaga's staff is implicated in the nationwide FBI investigation of corruption in college basketball recruiting. Click on Larranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now This to read my latest column. 

Bears-Packers pick: NFL Week 4 kicks off tonight at Lambeau Field with King Sport's oldest rivalry. Click on Thursday Gem for our prediction capsule.

Jose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on one man's complicated legacy. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

TrumpathletesTRUMP VS. ATHLETE ACTIVISM. WHO'S RIGHT?: Some NFL players kneel during the National Anthem or in other ways protest police treatment of unarmed black men and other prejudice. President Donald Trump called such players a "son of a bitch" at an Alabama rally and suggested they should be required to stand or be "suspended or fired." I tackle this dense topic in today's latest column; click on Trump Is Wrong, Needs Lesson On What Freedom Means to read. My take: Not only do athletes have the right to not stand, they are doing so for a righteous cause. They are not being anti-American as Trump suggests. Their actions are not anti-country, flag, anthem or military. But that's just me. Your opinion is invited here:

SMITH-BRADY DEAD HEAT, CUTLER SLIPS / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 3: The Patriots' Tom Brady (pictured) wins Week 3 with a 53.90-point game, his Tbradysecond straight weekly title, to pull nearly even with the Chefs' Alex Smith for the overall season lead in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler, off a below-par game, slips one spot to 25th but has played one fewer game than others in the chart, and these are cumulative ratings. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching.

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 3
RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK3            Season
1        1     Alex Smith, KC                  29.75           120.70
2        8     Tom Brady, NE                   53.90           120.60
3        4     Aaron Rodgers, GB            40.65            111.35
4        6     Drew Brees, NO                40.00            107.35
5       14    Jared Goff, LAR                44.60              97.10
6        9     Matt Ryan, ATL                 29.70              96.35
7       16    Eli Manning, NYG              44.30              96.25
8       18    Kirk Cousins, WAS              52.25             96.20
9        3     Matthew Stafford, DET      21.20             92.90
10      2     Derek Carr, OAK                  9.90             89.50
11     11    Carson Wentz, PHI             27.80             87.80
12      7     Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     19.75              87.05
13     15    Dak Prescott, DAL             28.15              80.45
14     10    Trevor Siemian, DEN          14.95             77.45
15     22    Tyrod Taylor, BUF               35.65             74.10  
25     24    Jay Cutler, MIA                  19.00             53.50
    Bubble: Russell Wilson, SEA, 73.45. Week 3 best: Brady, NE, 53.90 (25-35, 378, 5-0 in win). Week 3 worst: Joe Flacco, BAL, minus-6.60 (8-18, 28, 0-2 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 3 RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and Fripix Loboswith my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 3: Herald picks: Embarrassing! -- And you thought the Dolphins were bad!? I went a terrible 7-9 straight-up and a woeful 4-10-2 against the spread. If this isn't my worst week all year, I'm in trouble. Did nail an outright upset with Colts over Browns and had two 'dogs with points in Giants and Saints, but, otherwise my week was exemplified by having the Lions beating the Falcons and having that bull's-eye snatched from me. Greg's Lobos: Back on the W Train! -- The Lobos improved to 2-1 by whipping Pablo Torre 119.4-99.5, led by Todd Gurley's big 37.9 points. He's early frontrunner for Lobo of the Year. We are the Gurley men!

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 4: TWO CANES IN FOUR-MAN RACE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN' LEAD: With Irma's upheaval past and full schedules back, the State
MwaltonOffensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings are heating up. What we like to call our ongoing "state Heisman" race show the top four players separated from Sopythe pack including a pair of Hurricanes as we enter Collball Week 5. UM running back Mark Walton (pictured) bumps up to No. 2 in the standings off a state-FBS-best 214-point game vs. Toledo. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven top-level FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Here is the statewide SOPY Top 10 entering Week 5:

2017 SOPY WEEK 4 TOP 10

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                     Avg.        Total-Games

1    2    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb             198.50      397-2

2    3    Mark Walton-Miami rb                191.00      382-2

3    1    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb           190.25     761-4

4    4    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                184.50      369-2

5    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                 121.83      365.5-3

6    5    Travis Homer-Miami rb               111.50      223-2

7    --    Devin Singletary, FAU-rb            111.00      444-4

8   10    Darius Tice, SoFla-rb                 103.50      414-4

9    --    D'Ernest Johnson, SoFla-rb         101.25      405-4 

10  --    Auden Tate, FSU-rec                    95.50      191-2

Bubble: Tyrie Cleveland, Florida-rec, 92.33. Week 4 best: Walton, Miami, 214 points. Season best: Flowers, SoFla, 276 (Wk3).

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

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 08, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See what falls where; plus Chris Bosh sued by porn website; also, LaVar Ball/$495 sneakers poll, R.I.P. Art Hertz, Colonel Sander's romantic side, your eSports verdict, HB Daily (Mon) & more

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

Arthertz1) It is MONDAY, May 8. Belated condolences and an R.I.P. to Art Hertz, 83 (pictured), the Miami civic giant and former Orange Bowl Committee president. Got to know Art pretty well from my years covering Hurricanes football in the '80s. Good man. 2) Know any Dolfans? Thrill them with our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): First 2018 mock draft has bad news for Dolphins and Canes, Heat's foray into eSports/gaming with poll, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Porn, rat poop a part of lawsuit against Chris Bosh: I ain't lyin'. Click here for the story.

Latest column: Wade must check ego for any shot at Heat reunion: In my latest Sunday column I explore what could happen this summer if Wade opts out of his Bulls contract -- but might only happen if he came at a bargain price with no demands on his role. Click On The Team's Term's, Not His to read.

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

Hotbutton1. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming takes a muddy Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming -- Todd Pletcher-trained, with John Velazquez aboard and co-owned by Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola -- beat the mud and a big field Saturday to usher in thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. They call it the "Run For the Roses." Which also is what I do when I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten my wife’s birthday.

2. NBA: Prelims to get to Cavaliers-Warriors continue: Cleveland swept Toronto on Sunday and tonight Golden State looks to do the same in Utah. It is looking more and more like an inevitable third consecutive Cavs-Warriors Finals, which is exactly what American wants. Or doesn't. I can't decide.

3. MARLINS: Fish back to open long homestand Monday: Flailing Fish had lost nine of 11 before winning at Mets Sunday, and now face St. Louis tonight to open a nine-game homestand. Meanwhile three groups are now bidding to buy the club from Jeffrey Loria. How perfectly fitting would it be for Loria to end his unpopular reign by not selling to the fan-preferred Derek Jeter group?

4. DOLPHINS: Harris, other draftees in Fins’ rookie minicamp: Top pick Charles Harris and other draftees wrap up Miami’s weekend rookie minicamp Sunday — as much a meet-’n-greet as actual football work. Circle June 13-15, the first mandatory full minicamp, when things start to get serious.

5. LAVAR BALL: Would you buy a $495 pair of sneakers?: Super-dad LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand introduced a $495 signature sneaker for his NBA rookie-to-be son Lonzo Ball, thereby exponentially increasing the pressure on Lonzo to be an instant superstar. If I'm spending $495 on sneakers they'd better be stuffed with about $400 in cash.

6. NHL: Nashville first through to conference finals: Nashville became the first team to win its conference semifinal series, and now Pittsburgh can advance with a win tonight. We could see Game 7s in three of the four second-round series. That's the way you do a postseason, NBA!

7. N-WORD: Racist fan in Boston ignites outcry: A dumbass Red Sox fan shouted the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones and was banned for life from Fenway Park. Official apologies and national conversation ensued. I wonder if the fan who yelled received an I-know-what-you're-going-through note from Steve Bartman? 

8. BOXING: Alvarez pounds Chavez in Vegas fight: Canelo Alvarez won an easy decision over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a battle of Mexican favorites last night in Las Vegas. The weight class was super middleweight. Alas, nothing super about the fight.  

9. HURRICANES: UM breaks ground on new football facility: It was news when UM announced plans for a new $34 million indoor football practice facility. It will be news when it opens its doors in 2018. Not sure it was news this week when people in dress shoes and hardhats stood around with gold shovels for a groudbreaking, but we sure covered it like it was. Slow news week?

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes playoff hopes on deathbed: Jim Morris' guys are an uncommonly common 24-23 and in grave jeopardy of seeing their record NCAA playoff streak come to an end. Doctors are standing by ready to call a time of death. Might take the miracle of an ACC title to save the season.

Missing the HB10 cut: Canes men's basketball is ranked No. 7 in the nation in an NBC Sports (very early) preseason Top 25 ranking newly out. And the bar is set. High ..... NASCAR did Talladega Sunday, with Ricky Stenhouse under the checkered flag ..... Ping pong balls ready? The NBA Draft Lottery is May 16 ..... Answer: UM tennis player Piotr Lomacki rose two spots, to No. 62, in the latest ITA singles rankings. Question: Whaddya mean they might wanna think about ranking fewer players? ..... Champion Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb found dead at 37. I'd never heard of him. R.I.P., anyway ..... At auction yet again: That rare 1909 T-206, the original Honus Wagner baseball card. I don't wanna say it might be a fake, but if you look closely you can see an ESPN banner on the outfield wall.

BallLAVAR BALL AND HIS $495 SNEAKERS: I have a new mini-column out on LaVar Ball's new line of $495 sneakers started for his son, Lonzo, 19, the UCLA guard about to enter the NBA. Click on The Gall Of Ball to read. It used to be you became an NBA star and from that grew the merchandise. But Dad (pictured) and his Big Baller Brand have flipped the switch. It is audacious. It might even be smart. But it also is off-putting to a lot of people as its heaps a ton of pressure on Lonzo Ball to be an instant star in order to sell sneakers and save the family brand. What are you rooting for to happen? Take a dip in our poll:

ColonelCOLONEL HARLAND SANDERS: SUPER-STUD: How KFC has brought its iconic Colonel Sanders back to life in advertising is smart, and fun. Companies that have brand ambassadors that famous are dumb to move away from them. (Who remembers his first name is Harland, by the way?) The latest dab of genius is a "romance novella" (pictured) that casts the Colonel as a stud. (Background story here). They're giving it away with the purchase of a $20 bucket of chicken, and it sounds wonderfully awful. The book. Not the chicken. Spoiler alert: In the book, Tender Wings Of Desire, the Colonel carries the gorgeous redhead to his castle (shown in the background), where together they enjoy a lavish banquet of fried chicken, after which the unhinged Colonel carries the woman into a fully appointed sex dungeon below and dons a rubber mask for hours of bondage games. OK, I made up that last part. The Colonel would never do that!

POLL RESULT: SORRY, GAMERS, BUT THAT AIN'T A SPORT: We asked if you consider eSports/competitive video gaming to be an actual sport, and it was 77.9 percent "no" to only 22.1% "yes."

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 5-8-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. St. Louis at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.: Fish 13-17, needing spark, as they open 9-game homestand.

2. NBA playoffs, 9 p.m.: Warriors up 3-0, can close out 2nd-round playoff series with sweep at Jazz.

3. NHL playoffs, 7:30 p.m.: Penguins 3-2 and home, looking to close out series with Capitals.

Select other recent columns: Not In Our Stadium, on the N-word at Fenway and fans' responsibility. The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 05, 2017

First 2018 ESPN mock draft brings bad news for Dolphins, UM; plus Heat expand ties with esports/gaming, but is that even a sport? New poll. Vote now!; also, updated Fins/Marlins title odds, your who-runs-this-town verdict, Hot Button Daily (Fri) & more

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

Cinco1) It is FRIDAY, May 5. Happy Cinco de Mayo, all! 2) Marc Anthony is the right flavor to play halftime of July's Real Madrid-Barcelona match in Miami, but I'm not sure his selection qualifies as the "historic musical performance" they teased us with. 3) Happen to know any Dolfans? Delight them. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest-team-in-town poll, Manny Machado's epic rant, Mike Dee's return to influence in Miami, your Dolphins draft verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My latest column: On Boston racial incident, sports fans' responsibility: You know by now the story of a Red Sox fan directing the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones. I explore in my latest column, and challenge fans themselves to be the problem's solution at the grass-roots level. Click on Not In Our Stadium to read. (Thanks to RealClearSports for including it in the day's national list of top columns).

CRAZY-EARLY 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT BRINGS BAD NEWS FOR DOLPHINS, HURRICANES: ESPN's Todd McShay has an absurdly early 2018 NFL mock draft out, and here are three observations from a Miami perspective:

Draftdream1. McShay's projected draft order, via Football Outsiders, has the Dolphins selecting 10th overall. Ouch. Teams with the 10th pick are not playoff teams, so the initial overarching gloom of this mock is that it sees a sizable downturn by Miami. As an example, in the recent draft, a 7-9 record "earned" the 10th pick. If it matters, the Fins are projected to select Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. (Is Minkah even a name?).

2. Florida State, of course, is the Hurricanes' nemesis and roadblock in the ACC. Well, the Seminoles are projected to have four players go in this mock's first 17 picks, suggesting an especially talented FSU team will be presenting itself to UM. The four, all on defense, are safety Derwin James (8th), cornerback Tarvarus McFadden (12th), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (15th) and DE-OLB Josh Sweat (17th). (Only one other state player, Florida Gator receiver Antonio Callaway, is projected as an '18 first rounder, going 21st).  

3. Maybe there was a method to UM QB Brad Kaaya's madness, after all, in entering this past draft even though nobody thought he'd go early (and he didn't, finally taken in the 6th round). Why? McShay has QBs going 1-2-3 next year with USC's Sam Darnold, Wyoming's Josh Allen and UCLA's Josh Rosen. That rarity has happened only twice in NFL Draft history: In 1999 with Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith going 1-2-3; and in 1971 with Jim Plunkett, Archie Manning and Dan Pastorini. 

MIAMI HEAT EXPAND INTEREST IN ESPORTS/GAMING: The Heat will be one of 17 NBA teams involved in an NBA 2K esports/video Misfitsgaming league set to debut in 2018, it was announced. The NBA thus becomes the first major traditional sports league to partner directly with the growing phenomenon of esports. The Heat already had been involved. Miami earlier this year became a partner with the esports team Misfits, a group of five teams of players based in Europe. The Misfits team will serve as the Heat in the NBA 2K league. Misfits CEO Ben Spoont told ESPN: "2K is uniquely positioned as a professional sport video game title to be able to reach fans that are esport fans as well as NBA fans and 2K fans alike. The opportunity here is to be able to reach fans that are in vastly different markets but all with a common thread, which is their love of the NBA and/or video games." Said Heat president of business operations Eric Woolworth: "We are thrilled to be working alongside 16 other NBA teams on this innovative esports league. Given our unique integration into the esports community through our relationship with Misfits, we feel confident in our ability to reach Miami Heat and Misfits fans alike as we help create a new and exciting league from scratch."

50-1UPDATED BETTINGS ODDS FOR DOLPHINS, MARLINS: All of these latest betting lines are via Bovada, and unless you are comforted by 50-1 odds, this is not good news for either the Dolphins' next season or the Marlins' current one. Post-NFL Draft odds see the Dolphins unchanged at 50-1 to win the Super Bowl, tied for 20th of 32 teams, while Patriots are a stronger-than-ever runaway favorite at 7-2, with nobody else closer than 12-1. Offensive rookie of the year pick out the gate: Leonard Fournette at 7-2. In baseball, the Cubs remain the pick to repeat World Series title at 4-1. The Marlins are now 50-1, surprising (they're 12-14) up from a pre-Opening Day 75-1, but still only tied for 17th overall of 30 clubs.

DolphinsPOLL RESULT: WHO RUNS THIS TOWN? THE MIAMI DOLPHINS: The results are hardly scientific, of course. They might just reflect how this blog's readership tends to skew. But we asked what local team is the biggest thing in South Florida sports, and it was Dolphins with 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / FRI 5-5-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. Marlins at N.Y. Mets, 7:10 p.m.: Slumping Fish need spark as NL East rivals open 3-game series.

2. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: Cavs at Raptors, Spurs at Rockets in pair of 2nd-round Game 3s.

3. NHL playoffs, 8 p.m.: Two 2nd-round Game 5s, with Nashville (at St. Louis) able to clinch.

4. Bethune-Cookman at Hurricanes, 7 p.m.: Sweep-seeking UM baseball opens 3-game set.

5. Boxing weigh-in, 6 p.m.: Stare-down preceding Alvarez-Chavez super-middleweight bout.

Select other recent columns: The Kid From Pampa, on why the Dolphin draft's late rounds matter. Right Pick For Right Reasons, on Fins' first-round choice Charles Harris. Home Run For Miami, on Bush/Jeter group reaching agreement to buy Marlins. The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose, on controversy over Marlins' planned Fernandez memorial. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 21, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 92.9%; plus UM 27-13 at NC State for 3rd straight win behind Walton, defense; also, Gators top other state Collball (updated), your verdicts on NASCAR favorite and LeBron-posse & more

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

1) It is SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half-century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 12 predictions and Week 11 Pix 'n Fantasy results, NASCAR Sprint Cup poll, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday blogpost ahead: Watch for our jam-packed new blogpost -- Dolphins-Rams / NASCAR Homestead finale / Hot Button -- by early afternoon today.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Week 11 Gems, our latest NFL picks. South Florida to Canton, on four locals up for induction. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

Canes in-game blog, postgame thoughts: Find them both right below the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G11: 92.9%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 92.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-13 victory at North Carolina State Csmputting UM's season record at 7-4 overall and 4-3 in the ACC. That's the highest rating since after Game 4.This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

G10: 82.0% following 34-14 victory at Virginia

G11: 92.9% following 27-13 victory at North Carolina State

Next poll: Nov. 26 following regular-season finale vs. Duke

UmncstG11: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA STATE: UM PULLING AWAY AFTER A 3-3 FIRST HALF: Postgame thoughts: Always makes your coaching staff look good when a 3-3 halftime score busts open in your favor in the second half, which was the case in UM's 27-13 win at North Carolina State -- a third straight win making Miami 7-4. Nice all-round win. Brad Kaaya with 286 yards passing, Ahmmon Rcihards with nine catches for 117 yards and Mark Walton with 19 carries for 120 yards and three TDs -- Walton the second-half catalyst. Defense had a huge end-zone interception and held NC State to 5-for-17 on third down. Special teams had a big takeaway. Contributors everywhere. Neatly done for a nice road win ..... 4Q: MIA with now-safe 27-13 lead with 2 minutes to go o Walton's 3rd TD run, a 24-yarder giving him 102 yards for the day ... NC State within 20-13 on 22-yard FG. Canes got lucky. A Wolfpack TD run was negated by a clipping penalty that really didn't seem like a penalty at all ... Canes up 20-10 after 22-yard FG, the result of UM's Jaquan Johnson recovering muffed NC State punt return inside Wolfpack 20 ... Yards and points hard-won in this one. Somebody going to earn this win ..... 3Q: NC State within 17-10 in last minute of quarter, after apparent end-zone INT by UM's defense was ruled out of bounds upon review ... UM with its first breathing-room lead at 17-3 on Walton 1-yard scoring run, set up by Coley 51-yard catch-and-run to NC State 2 ... Size XXL defensive play for UM as Malek Young makes an end-zone interception to halt NC State threat to tie the game ... UM 10-3 lead on Walton 30-yard scoring run to begin second half. Miami will own second half if the running game keeps going like that ..... Halftime thoughts: UM has had the better of the game even if the scoreboard at 3-3 won't say it. Negligible running room for Miami; 15 carries for 22 yards. But Kaaya has 164 passing yards including 98 on seven catches by Richards. Meanwhile Canes defense has held NC State yto 122 totals yards. Nine punts have told the tale in a boring defensive game thus far. But I'm liking UM's chances in second half ..... 2Q: Wow. It'll be 3-3 at half because UM's Badgley misses 23-yard chip-shot FG with five seconds left in half ... NC State ties it 3-3 on 35-yard FG. UM gave up 39-yard pass play on series, about the only defensive lapse for Canes so far ... Ballsy fake-punt call by NC State. That's a team that knows it's offense isn't working and thus resorts to trickery ... First touchdown wins? ..... 1Q: Whole lot of defense and run-yards hard to come by for both teams in first quarter, but Kaaya is better than counterpart Finely, a big Canes edge ... UM 3-0 on 31-yard FG. Running tough so far as expected for Canes (Walton 5 carries for 6 yards), but Kaaya is getting time and finding open looks ..... Pregame: Miami has gotten back to running the ball very well in the two-game win streak that has followed that Oh No 0-4 October. In fact Mark Walton has consecutive 100-hard games. It has alleviated pass-block pressure on the offensive line and helped QB Brad Kaaya. It's a smart recipe for UM, now 6-4 and trying to grow its bowl outlook. Today starting at 12:30 p.m. in Raleigh, though, maintaining that run emphasis will be a mighty challenge. The N.C. State Wolfpack are only 5-5 but rank fourth in the nation in run defense, budgeting opponents to 99.4 yards er game. Wolfpack need a win for bowl-eligibility and have the added incentive of Senior Day in their home finale, so Canes will need to match the emotion and intensity on the the side. UM is a wavering 2 1/2-point road favorite, but late money on the home team dropped the line from 3. This most definitely is not a game to take casually for UM. All but one Wolfpack loss has been close, including 24-17 at then-No. 3 Clemson, and 24-20 to Florida State. In fact N.C. State very much seems better than its record, led by that sterling run defense and a spread offense that has generated 500-plus yards four times. The catalyst is RB Matt Dayes, a local kid out of Cypress Bay High who has 939 yards rushing. Hope The U packed its run D for the trip and that those young linebackers are raedy to go sideline to sideline. I like Miami today, though that could be a little bit of a homer pick, I'd admit, because I see this one as even and this afternoon as a serious test for Mark Richt's Canes. My pick: Hurricanes, 24-20.

Other state FBS Week 12 games, chronologically, all Saturday:

No. 23 Florida 16, No. 16 LSU 10: Huge, huuuge road win for Gators over a higher-ranked team that was a big 14-point favorite. This was the game being replayed seven weeks after it was originally scheduled as a Florida home game but was postponed by Hurricane Matthew. Florida brought that great defense in force to improve to 8-2 and, more important, clinch a spot in the SEC championship game.

No. 17 Florida State 45, Syracuse 14: Dalvin Cook's 225 rushing yards and four TDs led Noles, now 8-3,  to the easy road win expected.

Old Dominion 42, FAU 24: Old Dominion, which always sounds to me like a brand of scotch,  was only an 8-point favorite in Owls' disappointing home finale putting them 3-8.

FIU 31, Marshall 14: FIU was off a bye and playing its home finale, and fashioned a nice little upset over a T-Herd squad favored by 2 1/2-point. FIU is now 4-7. Butch Davis surely was somewhat impressed in his first chance to see his future team in action as head coach-elect taking over in '17.

South Florida 35, SMU 27: Bulls improved to 9-2 and hoping to crack the Top 25s. SoFla still is alive to reach American conference title game but with one game left is down the tiebreaker to Temple.

Tulsa 35, UCF 20: Disappointing home showing drops Knights to 6-5.

National Collball Week 12 overview: College Football Playoff current top four teams all have (what should be) comfy wins Saturday, with No. 1 Alabama vs. Chattanooga, 2-Ohio State at Michigan State, 3-Michigan vs. Indiana and 4-Clemson at Wake Forest. All prevailed, albeit Ohio State barely, by one point. But after Earthquake Saturday last week, and with 5-Louisville losing big to Houston Thursday night, it seemed nothing in college football was certain. Well, except for Nick Saban winning big, of course.

Poll result: You want Jimmie Johnson to make history Sunday at Homestead: We asked which final-four driver do most hope wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Jimmie Johnson dominated with 51.0 percent. Then it was Joey Logano 19.6%, Carl Edwards 15.7% and Kyle Busch 13.7%.

Poll result: You think LeBron James way-overreacted to the "posse" comment: We asked where you fell on the LeBron James/Phil Jackson controversy over the word "posse" and 76.5 percent sided with Phil and 15.3% with LeBron. The other 8.2% could see both sides.

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

Twitter @gregcote