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


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


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

November 18, 2016

NFL Week 11 picks for Dolphins-Rams, all games; plus NASCAR Sprint Cup final-four poll. Who do you hope wins? Vote now!; also, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more


1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Marlins' Christian Yelich tied for 19th in NL MVP voting with five points -- two 9th-place votes and one 10th. 2) The 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump writes Hillary on Schnellenberger's behalf, on Butch Davis joining FIU, SOPY rankings, your verdict on Brad Kaaya stay-or-go, R.I.P. Gardnar Mulloy & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. 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).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 11: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAMS, REST OF NFL: We endured our worst showing of the season last week in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, going an unmentionable 5-9 overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, seriously. Awful. But I'm bouncing back, and the bounce began last night. Won twice by predicting Carolina outright but N'Awlins with the points; click Thursday Gem for that pick. With last night we're now 16 games above .500 against the spread for the season; not bad. For all of our latest selections click on Week 11 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Rams, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an analysis of four former NFL stars with local ties who made the semifinals for 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Click on South Florida to Canton to read.

StaropoliTHE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN NASCAR: Harvard graduate. University of Miami medical student about to become a doctor of ophthalmology. Young man who became fascinated with medicine as a boy watching doctors save his father's life after a racecar crash. This man, Patrick Staropoli, 27, of Plantation, will make his NASCAR main-stage debut Friday night in the Truck Series race that kicks off Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll run his first race in that truck, and on that track, the morning of his race. There are far bigger stories down at Homestead, such as who wins the Sprint Cup title (see poll below), but I'm not sure there is a more interesting story than that of Staropoli. Click on Doctor Speed to read my latest column. The image pictured is by the great Herald photographer, Carl Juste.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (10 GAMES): IT'S A ROUT!Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings show a runaway for a certain big center, the guy who had 25 rebounds last night. With Miami now 2-8 after last night's loss to Atlanta, here's the Luddite's second installment, with 5-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (10 games):

Hassan Whiteside (1)       350

Tyler Johnson (4)             205

Goran Dragic (2)             182

Justise Winslow (3)          181

Dion Waiters (5)              179

Bubble: James Johnson 144. Others: Josh Richardson 86, Luke Babbitt 75, Rodney McGruder 70, Willie Reed 63, Derrick Williams 31, Josh McRoberts 17, Udonis Haslem 5.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 10 RESULTS: PIX IN THE TANK, BUT LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Ugh. Embarrassing. Got beat up last week with s 5-9 record straight-up and (Dear God) 3-11 against the spread. I take some solace that we're still a pretty solid 14 games above .500 ATS, but we need to bounce back this week in the most desperate way. And will. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pounded Charlie's team 135-97 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 7-3 with (like the Dolphins) four straight wins. Got 28 points from Allen Robinson last week, 27 from Delanie Walker and 21 from Drew "Money" Brees, who craps 20-point games. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

PhillebronTHE WORD "POSSE" AND RACIAL OVERTONES: We spent a good bit of time chewing this over on the LeBatard Show yesterday. Cavaliers and former Heat star LeBron James took umbrage with Knicks president Phil Jackson, saying he's lost respect for him, because Phil referred to LeBron's "posse" to mean his close groups of friends, confidants and business associates led by Maverick Carter. Said LeBron: "If you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career. It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference." For what it's worth's informal definition of "posse" is simply, "a group of friends or associates," which is pretty neutral. I'm old enough to associate "posses" with old Westerns on TV. I thought in this case it was a fairly benign term to use, and thought LeBron may have been being a bit overly sensitive. Then again, if he was offended, who am I to say he shouldn't have been? I'm curious how you feel about this. So I invite you to tell me, here:

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

Twitter @gregcote

September 02, 2016

Magnifico! Dolphins unveil fab 'new' stadium in fake-game loss. Our review; plus FIU falls in opener, NFL team rankings, Brad Kaaya on expectations, Ron Turner's inspiration, quantifying Marlins' slide, your Kaepernick verdict & more


7 Fripix1) It is FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Happy new month, y'all! 2) Countdown: 7 days 'til the Upset Bird! NFL Friday Page predictions debut Sept. 9. 3) Dwyane Wade spoke on ABC's "Good Morning America" (it aired this morning) about gun violence and his role in trying to make things better in Chicago. Story here. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Colin Kaepernick protest with poll, Heat owe Chris Bosh a decision, your latest Greg's Lobos verdict, Gene Wilder & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Public relations faux pas? How about when you misspell "LeBron"?: The following just landed in my email inbox: "Rise Nation is where the fit get fitter! Case in point -- freshly off-season basketball stars LeBrone James and Dwyane Wade who visited the boutique fitness studio in West Hollywood yesterday..." Subsequent references by the future former PR person also had it as LeBrone. How great.

PS4: TENNESSEE 21, DOLPHINS 10: UNVEILING OF 'NEW' STADIUM WAS TONIGHT'S STAR, NOT GAME: Postgame thoughts: Miami ends a 2-2 preseason with a loss you can't really call disappointing because starters didn't play and it didn't matter except to bottom-third roster guys looking to keep their jobs. I was there and wrote a column on the public unveiling of the newly refurbished and impressive stadium. For our review of the overhauled stadium click on Now Can Dolphins, UM Look as Good as the Place They Call Home? to read. ..... Original post: The Dolphins' fourth and final preseason game is tonight at 7 vs. the Titans, but the star of the Hrstadnight is the official, formal unveiling of the newly refurbished and newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium, with its massive canopy against rain or sun and its four giant video screens. I've been inside the new-look stadium and I must say it's quite magnificent. (If only the Dolphins were guaranteed to be as good as their "new" home looks). As for the game itself, who wins won't weigh much at all because few starters will play much, if at all. Fake-games No. 4 are all about not getting anybody hurt and arriving at final roster decisions as the 75-man roster pares to a final 53 by Saturday. The "lower third" players fighting for jobs are guys you won't see on the field much beyond special teams, or miss if they're cut. Who'll be kept as a ninth offensive lineman? Who might be the eighth defensive back? These decisions are vitally important to coach Adam Gase and to media wonks trying to out-minutiae each other; not so much to most fans. The winner tonight will be Stephen Ross and his new-look stadium, not either team.

OPENING NIGHT: FIU FALLS 34-13 TO VISITING INDIANA IN OPENER:  Postgame thoughts: FIU led a tight game in the third quarter but collapsed a bit, falling 34-13 to the BIg Ten's Indiana in the Panthers' season opener here. Wasn't the scoring binge many expected (over/under was 62 points), but FIU wasn't good enough on either side of ball, especially struggling both to run and stop the run. ..... Original post: Panthers open their football season hosting the Indiana Hoosiers tonight at 7:30 at FIU Stadium, and fans who Fiuappreciate solid defense probably should get nowhere near the place. The betting over/under is 62 total points. That's all!? Indiana led the Big Ten in scoring and offensive yards last season and yet finished 6-7 (including a bowl loss to Duke). That happens when your defense is awful, and IU's D gave up 30-plus points nine times in 2015. FIU? Coach Ron Turner begins his fourth season in Miami and Conference USA feeling pretty good about his chances of bettering last season's 5-7 mark -- those hopes pinned mostly on offense. QB Alex McGough, RB Alex Gardner and a solid blocking front could form a nice attack. But FIU's defense is young, must coalesce and wasn't very good a year ago, beaten for 30-plus points six times. Hoosiers are a 10 1/2-point favorite. I wish I sensed an upset; instead I sense a pointfest with FIU on the wrong end. I spoke at length yesterday with Turner for my latest column. It was about the team and season but mostly about him, his challenging childhood, and the strong woman who inspires him to this day. Click on She Never Quit to read.

FOOTBALLFEST! COLUMNPALOOZA!: NFL RANKINGS AND KAAYA AND TURNER, OH MY: Celebrate the return of football season as the Miami Herald rolls out its NFL/Dolphins, UM/Colleges and Dade-Broward High Schools special sections today. I contribute my annual ranking of every NFL team and also a column on Canes quarterback Brad Kaaya, along with a separate daily column on FIU coach Ron Turner as the Panthers open their season tonight:

NFL Ranking: I slot the teams 1 through 32, best to worst, in our NFL/Dolphins section, an annual exercise in futility. A year ago I way-overestimated the Dolphins, ranking them sixth. No Kool-Aid this time; I have Miami ranked 19th. For complete rank and capsule outlook on each team, click NFL Ranking

Brad Kaaya: Hurricanes' star quarterback says, "Pressure is a good thing," as he begins what could be his final season at UM. Kaaya embraces expectations and wants to exceed them. For my UM/Colleges section column on UM's most important player, including our list of 10 greatest Canes QBs, click Brad Kaaya.

Ron Turner: Who FIU's football coach (and older coaching brother Norv) turned out to be is owed to the extraordinary strength of a mother who never quit after their father abandoned the family when Ron was a baby. For a different daily column by me as FIU opens its season tonight, click She Never Quit.

 Six other select recent columns, ICYMI: Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (a QB's one-man sit). Gase, Richt and Hope (Dolphins and Canes' positive coach hires). All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (new-name Hard Rock). The Weight Has Just Begun (inside office and expectations of Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (Wade's departure from Heat).

QUANTIFYING MARLINS' FAST FADE: It isn't just the 10-18 record in August, it's how the maudlin month ended (on a 2-7 run including five straight losses) and why (sleepy bats). Hitting coach OzunaBarry Bonds wins no-duh quote of the year in remarking Miami hitters have picked a bad time to collectively slump. So now the Fish enter Septemeber 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race, and fifth in the jockeying for two spots. Clearly the bats are to blame. Marcell Ozuna (pictured) hit .162 in August, Ichiro .209, Adeiny Hechavarria .231 and Dee Gordon has been nothing special since his return. And of course , injured power-bats Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour have been dearly missed, leaving a crater in the lineup. As a result July-to-August team totals show a .277 to .250 drop in batting average, .754 to .680 in OPS and 4.62 to 3.46 in runs per game. Can't write off Marlins' playoff chances yet, not with 29 games to go. Pressure is on now, though. Margin for error has disappeared. Miami needs to be as good this month as it was bad in August.

Poll result: Strong majority oppose Kaepernick's stand on sitting during anthem: We asked what best reflects how you feel about 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, and a plurality of 43.4 percent voted that he's un-American and should be booed, while another 34.5% said they understood his cause but don't support his anthem sit. However, the other 22.1% said they fully support his cause and respect what he is doing.

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

Twitter @gregcote

August 31, 2016

Are you with or against Kaepernick in his anthem protest? Poll. Last day to vote!: plus Free Chris Bosh! Heat owes its star and fans a decision on his future; also, your verdict on Greg's Lobos & more


Wilder1) It is WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31. R.I.P., Gene Wilder (pictured), 83, the great comic actor who passed away from complications of Alzheimer's, and also Hubbard Alexander, 77, a receivers coach who helped Miami Hurricanes win national titles in 1983 and '87. 2) Fading Marlins now 3 1/2 back in wild-card race. Wake bats, please. 3) Got a robo-call from actor Martin Sheen on behalf of a Congressman I'd never heard of. Thanks for the valuable input, Marty. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your latest Greg's Lobos fantasy team verdict, Hot Button Top 10, introducing LeBatard Show Lobos & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.martin sheen, ronbo call. on behlaf of a confressman id never head of.

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI: Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American (the latest, on a QB's one-man sit). Gase, Richt and Hope (Dolphins and Canes' positive coach hires). All The Things That Could Go Right (combating Dolfan pessimism). Name Of Stadium Doesn't Matter (on new-name Hard Rock). The Weight Has Just Begun (inside the office and expectations of new Canes coach Mark Richt). A Chance for Football to Retake Miami (on Wade's departure from Heat).

CSM, DSM are returning: Our blog's Canesfan and Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls are back for another football season. Look for them right here immediately following every Hurricanes and Dolphins game, beginning this Saturday Sept. 3 for UM, and on Sept. 11 for the Fins.

ColinkDON'T HATE KAEPERNICK, HATE WHAT HAS MOTIVATED HIS PROTEST: The 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, is being called un-American by many for sitting during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, often at the hands of police against unarmed black men. I hate that he is doing that; it saddens and angers me to see anyone disrespect our flag by sitting during the anthem. But I hate even more what makes him feel he must. And what he is doing is closer to very American than un-American, by the way. Protest is a huge and vital part of our history, from the Boston Tea Party to the Vietnam War to the next city where the next unarmed citizen is shot. Free speech is the foundation of our freedom. This is the topic of my latest column. Click on Kaepernick's Protest Does Not Make Him Un-American to read in full. But that's my opinion. I want your's. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results.

FREE CHRIS BOSH! HEAT OWE HIM AND FANS A DECISION: Heat preseason training camp begins in less than a month, on Sept. 27, and yet the team still has not Boshcinformed Chris Bosh whether he will be cleared to play, or under what conditions, as he comes back from a second straight season interrupted by a blood-clots scare. Bosh says he is ready and able. Monday he posted videos of himself on Snapchat shooting and participating in basketball drills. rills on his Snapchat account. And on Twitter he wrote, "Everybody keeps asking if I'm hooping. Yes, I'm hooping. I'm a hooper." Well, actually, it's more accurate to say he's hoping to be hoping. He still needs the club to give him the OK. If they do not, ugliness and a legal battle may be in store. I get the team's abundant caution on Bosh. Whether he can return to a contact sport on blood-thinning medication is a real concern. But it has been a long time to figure that out and make that decision, and the new season draws near. Heat fans and especially Bosh deserve clarity from the Heat on Bosh's future with the team.

Poll result: Your rankings of my friends-n-family fantasy league teams, and where Greg's Lobos landed: We asked you which fantasy football team you'd most want to have based on each team's top four picks. Here was your order, and whose team it is in relation to me:


8.74% --

3.15% -- 

3.15% -- 

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

Twitter @gregcote

July 26, 2016

History must wait: Ichiro 1-for-5 tonight in win, now at 2,997 hits; plus the new Back In My Day, Christopher Scissorhands and throwback unis (with poll; vote now!), Kaaya stat projections, Heat get "Kobe Wade," Jordan speaks, American cars & more


1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 26. Ichiro now at 2,997 hits, after a single to left in eighth inning for Marlins tonight was his only hit in a 1-for-5 night as Marlins beat Phillies 5-0. This was first game when him reaching 3,000 was plausible, if mathematically unlikely. Now, his milestone must wait. Five games are left in this homestand. 2) Big weekend for two of Miami's biggest sports figures, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra getting married on Saturday and Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill becoming a first-time father on Sunday. Congrats to both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, can Miami be a football town again, SABR nerds, Dolphins in fantasy rankings, your verdict on NBA/Charlotte move & more. 43) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The new Back In My Day: Click here for today's latest LeBatard Show podcast, with me in-studio as cohost. Our new BIMD kicks in around the 50:45 mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or want a second look: A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating a chance for Dolphins and Canes. Original Strikers Set Template for Beckham, an ode to the 1977 Strikers and Lockhart Stadium. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chases 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp nears. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, our farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all.

Kaaya projections on stats: Individual college football statistical betting over/unxders out today via Bovada show Canes QB Brad Kaaya at 3,050.5 yards and 20.5 TDs.

Uniform destruction was silly but served a larger point: White Sox ace Chris Sale destroys team's 1976 "throwback" uniforms, is suspended and gets savaged in the media. But as a statement against the silly trend of throwback and alternate uniforms, Sale became the face of what should be a movement. That's my latest column. Click on His Scissors Had a Point to read. I'm curious of you like the idea ogf throwback and alternate uniforms or if, like me, you find them a tiresome money-grab by teams. Take a dip in our poll and check back often to monitor evolving results:

DwaitersON NEWEST HEAT PLAYER, "KOBE WADE": It takes balls to answer to the nickname "Kobe Wade," as newly signed Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters has. Now Waiters (pictured) arrives in Miami trying to literally replace departed Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup (while also wearing uniform No. 3) after signing a one-year, $2.9 million deal Monday. Should we nickname him "D-Wait"? The NBA free agent market wasn't much for Waiters, verifying he has work left to do to earn his audacious nickname and justify having been the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He hasn't lived up. Yet. But I like Miami giving him another shot. He is only 24. If you're going to err, err young. That finally seems to be Pat Riley's mindset. Waiters shot a tick under 40 percent overall last season (not good), but was a credible 35.8% from 3-land. I like Miami's guard rotation of Goran Dragic and Waiters, and Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and probably Wayne Ellington. Waiters isn't Wade (or Kobe), but he isn't worth giving up on, either.

MjMICHAEL JORDAN SPEAKS. AND NAILS IT: Jordan has spent his professional life saying very little of consequence outside the basketball rectangle, declining to get involves in social issues or politics. As the face of Nike once infamously said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too." That changed this week when Jordan spoke, to The Undefeated website (click here) against recent police-related violence both by and agsinst cops. With that he alsi is donating $1 million to each cause. Good for you, Michael. We've been waiting to hear your voice for a long time. Somewhere, Muhammad Ali would be smiling.

THE LIST: THE MOST-AMERICAN AMERICAN VEHICLES: The "Kogod Made In America Auto Index" for 2016 lists the Top 10 most-American cars, trucks and SUVs based on percentage of domestic parts used. The list:

1. Buick Enclave            90.0%

1. Chevy Traverse          90.0

1. GMC Acadia               90.0

4. Ford F-150                85.0

5. Chevy Corvette          83.0

6. Cadillac Escalade       82.5

6. Chevy Equinox           82.5

6. Chevy Impala             82.5

6. Chevy Malibu             82.5

6. GMC Yukon                82.5

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 11, 2015

The new 'Back In My Day' (coffee) video; plus latest Dolphins All-50'ers, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy results, Missouri Tigers' biggest win, SOPY standings, thank-you veterans & more


1aaamerflag1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11. Happy Veterans Day and thanks to all who have served, past and present. In case you missed it, click on The Real America's Team for my recent column on the Wounded Warriors Amputee Football Team, which played a team of former Dolphins and local NFL Alumni in flag-football last night at Flanagan High. 2) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins crushed at Buffalo with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' latest All-50'ers: Fins are marking their 50th anniversary by revealing their Top 50 all-time players five at a time in random order. The latest five: Glenn Blackwood, Vern Den Herder, Keith Jackson, Jim Jensen and John Offerdahl. Den Herder and Offerdahl are no-brainers. Glad to see Jensen make it. Blackwood is borderline but I'm OK with it. Surprised by inclusion of Jackson.

The new 'Back In My Day': "Get back to a regular cup of coffee, America!": Click here for the video. Enjoy!

Mizzou: The power of sports when sports has a conscience: Click on Missouri's Biggest Win for today's latest column by me, on how Missouri Tigers football players threatening to boycott games helped topple a university president seen as soft on a racist campus culture.

NFL PIX 'N GREG'S LOBOS FANTASY: WEEK 9: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and with our two Greg's Lobos fantasy teams: Pix: One big hit amid overall struggle: We went 7-6 overall and 7-6 against the spread. Had a big hit, 1aacote2 Lobosnailing Colts over Broncos with our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!") and also had Niners-with-points over Falcons, but not enough else went our way. Greg's Lobos / family league: Heartache: Mauled by Bears! Thought I had a win comfortably in hand but lost 133-132 when my opponent got 45 combined points Monday night from Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. Despite 32 from Drew Brees the original Lobos fell to 4-5 and are now one game off playoff pace. Greg's Lobos / radio-show league: Heartache II: The LeBatard Show Lobos fell to Charlie 114.5 to 114.1 when Philip Rivers failed us Monday night by one agonizing point. We finished our regular season 5-4 and enter next week's playoffs as the No. 3 seed facing No. 6 seed Billy in the first round. MVL was Devonta Freeman with a hollow 21.9 points. Next week will be a real challenge because we've been BBBB -- "Bitten By the Bye Bug."

SOPY: A 3-WAY FIGHT DOWN THE STRETCH FOR 'STATE HEISMAN': The fourth season of our blog's SOPY rankings --State Offensive Player of the Year -- is heading down the stretch run in a three-way Sopyfight at this point. However, current (narrow) leader Alex McGough has one fewer game remaining than either challenger now tied for second place. Our weekly cumulative rankings measure the most productive QBs, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. 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. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 entering Week 11:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                W10        Season

1 (1)          Alex McGough, FIU-qb         179        1,506.5

2 (3)          Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb             204        1,494

2 (2)          Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb   191         1,494

4 (4)         Alex Gardner, FIU-rb              95         1,152

5 (5)          Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb          152        1,083.5

6 (6)          Joseph Yearby, Miami-rb       78           955

7 (9)          Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb          131         916

8 (7)         Everett Golson, FSU-qb          DNP       863.5

9 (--)         Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      116.5      817 

10 (10)       Kelvin Taylor, Florida-rb       53         803

Bubble: Will Grier, Florida-qb, 789. Other team leader: UCF--Justin Holman, qb, 713. Season's best week: Cook, FSU-rb, 287 (Wk6). Note: FIU and UCF have played 10 games each; all others nine.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida (8-1); 2. Florida State (7-2); 3. Miami (6-3); 4. South Florida (5-4); 5. FIU (5-5); 6. FAU (2-7); 7. UCF (0-10).

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

Twitter @gregcote

June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more


1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) 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:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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

March 28, 2015

It's a Super Sports Saturday in South Florida!; plus Heat in good hands, unbeatable Kentucky, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Miami Open, Cats alive, Miami-izing of ESPN Radio & more


1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes in NIT semis with poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Jarred Cosart, Marlins odds, Dolphins draft, MLS/Miami, Haiku Challenge winner, Mavis Staples & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Turning awful into good: That racist fraternity video at the University of Oklahoma was awful, but the positive response of the Sooners football team reminds us of sports' power to involve itself in issues that matter. Click on Bigger Than Games for my latest column.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat fall, Cats still alive. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 7th place at 33-39 (L1) after last night's 99-86 loss at Atlanta, 3 games from 6th with 10 games left (next Sunday vs. Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 73.0% (down 4.8) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 34-40 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 3 points from 8th with 8 games left (next tonight at Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 4.4% (unchanged) per

1aa1asupersatWELCOME TO SUPER SATURDAY: It's a Super Sports Saturday in South Florida. We have the 64th Florida Derby at Gulfstream (I'll be there columnizing). UM's football Spring Game is up at Lockhart Stadium. The Miami Open continues down on Key Biscayne, including Serena Williams' match delayed from Friday. The spring Marlins host Astros up in Jupiter. Panthers try to keep NHL playoff hope alive at Montreal. Oh, and the NCAA Tournament begins its Elite Eight with 1's Kentucky and Wisconsin both in play. That enough for you?

1aa1aheatbig3NBA EXPERTS VERIFY HEAT IN (VERY) GOOD HANDS: The Heat may have a losing record post-LeBron and looking like a playoff seventh-seed, but regard for the people running the franchise remains high.
An ESPN experts panel this week lists NBA owners, front office executives and head coaches, first to last, plus an overall ranking, and Miami shines. Heat is ranked second in ownership (Micky Arison), third in front office (Pat Riley), sixth in coach (Erik Spoelstra) and No. 3 overall, trailing only San Antonio and Golden State. (The Spurs swept all four categories). Riley, Arison and Spoelstra are pictured left to right, immortalized on canvas -- the Heat's real Big 3. 

CAN WE PLEASE STOP PRETENDING ANYBODY CAN BEAT KENTUCKY?: I cannot remember seeing a more lopsided game this deep into an NCAA Tournament than the 78-39 Kentucky rout of West 1aa1asweet16Virginia in the Sweet 16. The Mountaineers were awful, can't shoot straight, but it was KY's defense and size that preened. You hear analysts still speculating about who can beat Kentucky and how, but it's just an injection of false drama against the growing inevitability of John Calipari's Wildcats finishing as the sport's first unbeaten national champs since 1976. By the way all seven of eight higher-seeded teams won in the Sweet 16 round (all but Oklahoma), so the March Madness Upset-o-Meter is now at 19.6 percent, with 11 upsets (based on seeds) in 56 games thus far. (By the way, CBS and Turner report that TV ratings have been the highest for a Sweet 16 since 1991, and up 30 percent over last year. So Kentucky as flagship seems to be helping, not hurting). 

Poll result: UM in NIT semifinal is big deal, sort of: We asked if the Miami Hurricanes men's basketball team reaching the NIT semifinals (Canes face Temple on Tuesday) is a big, medium or minor deal. You voted big 42.7 percent, medium 40.2% and minor 17.1%.

MIAMI OPEN: SHARAPOVA FAST-TRACKS INEVITABLE ELIMINATION: No. 2-seed Maria Sharapova (pictured) losing to little-known Daria Gavrilova in the Battle of the Russian 'Ovas' became the 1aa1amariasfirst notable big news of the Miami Open on Key Biscayne. Typically Sharapova reaches the women's semifinals or even the finals before getting steamrolled by her career nemesis, Serena Williams. This year, it was as if she chose to concede early to that inevitable fate. Sharapova's unexpected early ouster and the fact Roger Federer isn't playing on the men's side robs the Miami Open of some luster.

CATS ALIVE! PANTHERS WITHIN THREE POINTS OF NHL PLAYOFF RANGE: Don't kick the Cats to the 1aa1abrandonpirricurb yet. Florida's 4-1 win at Toronto on Thursday led by two goals from Brandon Pirri (pictured) moved the Panthers within three points of Ottawa and fading Boston for the final Eastern playoff spot. Odds are still long but made better by the fact three of the team's eight remaining games are against the two teams they're chasing: Sunday at Ottawa, Tuesday at Boston, then April 9 against the Bruins here. May take a sweep of those three to get it done.

THE MIAMI-IZATION OF ESPN RADIO: Mr. Miami Dan LeBatard captains ESPN Radio's 4-7 p.m. national ship, and now the nighttime airwaves are going Miami, too. Starting this coming Monday, March 30, the reconfigured new 1aa1aespnradio
1aa1abomaninational lineup will feature "The Sedano Show" from 7-9 p.m., with Miami-raised Jorge Sedano, and then "The Right Time With Bomani Jones" (pictured) from 9-11, featuring the South Beach-living LeBatard protege who had been Dan's co-host on Wednesdays. (The LeBatard Show will audition several people to possibly replace Jones on Wednesdays). ESPN described Bomani's new show as "evocative." I think they probably meant "provocative," but let's not nitpick. David Roberts, ESPN Audio Network VP, rightly notes the lineup's diversity. LeBatard and Sedano are Hispanic; Jones and Freddie Coleman (on after Bomani) are black.

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

February 18, 2015

Who is on your Mount Rushmore of all-time NFL quarterbacks? 12 choices, you pick 4. Vote now!; plus Westminster dog show, Lesley Gore, Tiger verdict, 'Back In My Day' & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger Woods poll, pro-rating South Florida's all-time pro coaches, Heat career ASG scorers, saving the newspaper industry & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

WHO SHOULD BE ON MOUNT RUSHMORE OF ALL-TIME NFL QUARTERBACKS?: Every once in a while we 1aa1amountrlike to do a 'Mount Rushmore' poll mainly to annoy WQAM radio host and friend Marc Hochman, who thinks he invented the time-worn idea. We got this idea from, which had the discussion earlier this week -- just the latest entity to steal Hoch's un-patented gem. We culled the ballot to 12 finalists who appear here alphabetically. No category for "other," but let us know in a Comment if we've egregiously omitted anybody deserving. You know what Mount Rushmore means, so vote for your top four (4) guys. Go!

Vote For Top Four (4)

Poll result: Mixed results, but mostly support for Tiger Woods: We asked how you feel about Tiger Woods and it was 43.3 percent liking/rooting for him, 38.0% not liking or supporting him and 18.7% neutral or disinterested.

BEAGLE WINS WESTMINSTER 'BEST IN SHOW': Miss P, an adorable 4-year-old Beagle from British 1aa1abeagleColumbia pictured right, won Best In Show last night at the prestigious annual Westminster Kennel Club pageant in New York City. (It was so good to see a winner and hear cheering in a full Madison Square Garden, a building rendered a fetid mausoleum by the Knicks). Controversy ensued, though. Random Evidence cannot 1aa1apoodlestandardconfirm but has heard that the owners of the Standard Poodle pictured at left are being sued for pet abuse and mental torture for inflicting the dog with the embarrassing haircut shown. "As if my name, 'Princess Precious," isn't bad enough, you try walking around looking like this," said the angry canine. "People stare. Other dogs taunt and bully. Even cats laugh at me. It's [bleep]ing humiliating!"

SEEING RACISM WHERE IT ISN'T: Yesterday on the Dan LeBatard Show (The Ticket Miami, ESPN Radio) my Tuesday "Back In My Day" segment excoriated athletes who complain about having to deal with the 1aa1aBIMDmedia. Marshawn Lynch and Kevin Durant were examples I used, not even considering that both are black and that I'd better toss in a white guy for balance. Mentioned Lynch and Durant as the two most prominent, recent examples, which I thought obvious. But because the rant was critical and questioned the general intelligence of athletes who grow up chasing sports more than an education, a few texters to the show and Tweeters to me heard the rant as racist. Man, that's listening so hard you aren't hearing. So if I said the same thing but with a fleeting reference to Bode Miller I'm OK on the Racism Sensitivity Scale? Sorry, but I can't be that politically correct.

PIECES OF CHILDHOOD KEEP FALLING AWAY: I never considered myself a Lesley Gore fan. I thought she was someone whose fans were girls. Besides, when she hit big in 1963 with "It's My Party," my interest in music was just beginning to awaken. But I cared enough to read the obituary when I found out this week Gore had died at age 68. Maybe subliminally, but her first big hit was a part of my early childood's background noise, her death making the sound an echo fading my degrees.


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