Random evidence of a cluttered mind

We’re spoiled in South Florida this bowl season

 

Hot list

Today: The top 10 sports stories of 2012, according to Associated Press survey of 157 U.S. news organizations. (I know. Heat’s LeBron James-led NBA championship should be on the list but isn’t. Blame the AP, not me!):

Rank Story
1. Penn State scandal Jerry Sandusky conviction, other penalties.
2. Lance ArmstrongSeven Tour de France titles stripped.
3. Saints’ BountygatePenalties ruin season, controversy rocks NFL.
4. NFL concussions Health and long-term risk at issue; lawsuits fly.
5. London OlympicsMichael Phelps, Usain Bolt lead gold rush.
6. NCAA football playoffsAfter years of debate, playoffs start in 2014.
7. Replacement officialsNFL labor discord ends after Week 3 debacle.
8. Giants win Super BowlOnce 7-7, New York reigns as champion.
9. Pat Summitt retiresDementia ends legendary coach’s career.
10. Peyton ManningFrom neck surgeries to comeback in Denver.


What South Florida sports fans are talking about

1. DOLPHINS

Miami ends playoff-less season Sunday at New England: Tom Brady’s Patriots are expected to end the Dolphins’ 2012 season with a stay-at-home 7-9 record in frigid and perhaps snowy Foxborough, Mass. Coincidentally, Sunday marks 12 years — Dec. 30, 2000 — since Miami’s last playoff win. Wow, that’s pretty depressing. Happy New Year, everybody!

2. ORANGE BOWL

It’s Florida State vs. Northern Illinois here Tuesday: Northern Illinois is honored to be the first Mid-American Conference team in a BCS bowl, and FSU had hoped it would be playing for a bigger prize in the same city a week later. If the thrilled-to-be-here factor translates to performance and points, maybe the OB underdogs have a shot, after all.

3. HEAT

LeBron takes break in phenomenal season to celebrate birthday: LeBron James, who turns 28 on Sunday, led Miami’s Christmas win over Oklahoma City and entered the weekend having scored 20-plus points in every game this season — the only player to do so. The best player seems to be getting better. Is that possible? Should that even be legal?

4. NFL PLAYOFFS

First-round matchups set Sunday as regular-season ends: Sunday’s Cowboys-Redskins game will determine the final spot in the NFL playoffs. In a season marked by replacement officials, Bountygate, concussions and the tragic deaths of two players, may the playoffs help us celebrate the excellence and forget the surrounding calamity.

5. BCS CHAMPIONSHIP

Alabama, Notre Dame arrive Wednesday for big game: Miami will wear its best civic smile to welcome No. 1 Notre Dame and Nick Saban’s No. 2 Alabama for the Jan. 7 college football title game. The Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish know most of us here wish both of them could lose, but can count on us to feign hospitality like we mean it.

gcote@miamiherald.com

We are just past halftime of college football’s “bowl season” — 19 games into a 35-game parade — and I can tell you we here in South Florida are most definitely spoiled.

We get to host the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game, with No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama bringing a combined 24-1 record. The prospect of an epic game is so great, we’ll even forgive the fact both teams are hated in Miami — the Tide because of Nick Saban’s lying Dolphins exit, the Irish because of old Canes-related animus.

And before that we get Tuesday’s appetizer: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois, and their combined 23-3 record, in the Orange Bowl Classic. The matchup figures as so entertaining, we’ll even look past the fact FSU was dreaming national title and is only faking being thrilled with this game, and the fact Northern Illinois is to college football tradition what Spam is to fine cuisine.

(Special mention to Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who caught FSU’s attention by saying this week, “They haven’t seen anything like our offense.” And, “In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees.” Isn’t he cute!?)

I say we are spoiled to have these two bowls because, well, nobody stinks.

So many bowls, and bowl teams, stink. Seriously.

This season’s bloated roster of 70 bowl-ing schools includes 15 teams with five losses, 14 with six losses and two — Georgia Tech and Duke — with seven. (New rule: If Duke is in a bowl, there is one too many bowl games.)

The math therefore says that 31 of 70 bowl teams, almost half, had seasons that would get the coach’s house egged in any self-respecting college town.

Sixteen bowls still to be played include Georgia Tech and Southern Cal, a combined 11-12, in the Hyundai Disappointment Bowl; and Pitt vs. Ole Miss, a pair of 6-6s, in the BBVA Mediocrity Bowl.

A .500 team being lavished with a bowl game reminds me of one of those everybody-wins school races where even the kid who gets lapped in a 100-yard dash wins a 12th-place ribbon.

So welcome, Notre Dame-Alabama, and even you, FSU-Northern Illinois.

Thank you for being really good teams that actually deserve a bowl game.

• The Internet was abuzz with the Dolphins’ supposed redesigned logo, which shows a sleeker, stylized dolphin without eyes or a helmet. Moral of story: No matter how hard you try or what you do, you simply can not make a leaping dolphin look menacing.

•  Cameron Wake was the only Dolphin selected to the Pro Bowl. That’s the game players are thrilled to be chosen for, but then schedule hangnail surgery and bad hair days to avoid actually playing in.

•  Reggie Bush and Richie Incognito shared the Dolphins’ Good Guy award for dealing with the media. Both were cooperative, although Incognito would only agree to be interviewed if he could punch you first.

• NBA suspended Heat’s Dwyane Wade one game without pay — or $154,764 — for kicking Charlotte’s Ramon Sessions in the groin is a tough financial hit, especially around the holidays. Thinking of taking up a collection for poor Dwyane. Telethon, maybe?

• The Orange Bowl Basketball Classic was Saturday at the Sunrise arena. The four-team men’s event featured Florida and Florida State. Because including Miami, that would have made too much sense.

• UM men’s basketball team finished 1-2 in Hawaii over the holidays, now prepare to open Atlantic Coast Conference play in six days at Georgia Tech. Is that talk of Sweet 16 potential make-believe? Time for Canes to make believers.

• The NHL lockout reached Day 106 with both sides apparently prepared to drive over the cliff together. They’ll all be driving those little clown cars like the Shriners ride in circles in parades.

• Several teams, including the Texas Rangers, reportedly are making offers for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Luckily we all know Marlins management and of course trust it would never, ever disappoint fans by trading away a popular, talented player like that just to save money!

Reading the Bible recently, I noticed for the first time that, in Matthew 5:5 about the meek inheriting the Earth, they were referring to the Los Angeles Clippers.

• Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron is dating the reigning Miss Alabama … an Auburn graduate. Oh, the humanity!

• Two players for the Texas Longhorns were suspended from the Alamo Bowl. I wonder if that was without pay?

• HORSE WARS! Gulfstream plans year-round racing starting in 2014, infringing on Calder’s exclusive dates. I personally don’t care. I just wanted an excuse to shout HORSE WARS!

• The Junior Orange Bowl Championships ended in tennis. The most extraordinary performance that really stood out was by that one parent who did not berate his losing child.

Parting thought: Went to my market and saw they were selling mushy old bananas nobody would want. That reminds me, I hear the Jets are willing to trade quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

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