In My Opinion

Fins-Pats nice, but Heat-Pacers has Odenstein factor

 

Hot list

Today: Heisman Trophy-winning, national-championship quarterbacks. As Florida State’s Jameis Winston tries to add his name, here are the only ones to win the Heisman and national title the same season:

Season Quarterback School
2010Cam NewtonAuburn
2004Matt LeinartSouthern Cal*
1996Danny WuerffelFlorida
1993Charlie WardFlorida State
1947Johnny LujackNotre Dame
1943Angelo BertelliNotre Dame
1938Davey O’BrienTexas Christian

*Southern Cal’s title subsequently was vacated because of NCAA rules violations.


What South Florida sports fans are talking about:

1. DOLPHINS

Playoffs in sight, Miami hosts rival New England: The Dolphins in a December game with high playoff stakes — how great is that?! And how bizarre the framework: One team overcoming a murder indictment, and the other a bullying scandal. Remember the days when teams pretty much had to worry only about injuries and turnovers?

2. HEAT

Heat-Pacers II here Wednesday: Let’s cut to the chase. Miami and Indiana inevitably will meet again in the NBA Eastern Conference finals. So these four regular-season meetings — the second is Wednesday — will set the stage for that playoff clash and let otherwise swaggering Heat fans know how anxiety ridden they should be.

3. HURRICANES

UM draws Louisville, Bridgewater for bowl: UM, last in a bowl in 2010, prepares for a Dec. 28 date with Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterback who decommitted from UM when Randy Shannon was fired and, in effect, turned his back on Al Golden, jilting his hometown team. (Hey, it’s the Russell Athletic Bowl. I’m finding the drama wherever I can.)

4. HEISMAN TROPHY

FSU’s Winston seen as clear front-runner: With the BCS Championship Game on deck, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was favored Saturday night to be the eighth Heisman winner from a state school. I’d imagine he thanked the usual folks in his acceptance speech: Coaches and teammates, fans, voters, the state attorney’s office …

5. MARLINS

Team active at winter meetings … but also improved? New Marlin Garrett Jones said Miami can “shock the baseball world.” New Marlin Jarrod Saltalamacchia noted Boston’s worst-to-first season. The club’s new ad slogan is: “Dream Big Miami.” Yes, now is the time for Marlins fans to be optimistic. By “now,” I mean before the games actually start.

gcote@MiamiHerald.com

It takes a lot to top Dolphins-Patriots on the local sporting calendar because it’s such an interesting matchup. I don’t mean division rival vs. division rival with playoff stakes. I don’t mean Tom Brady vs. Ryan Tannehill, either. I mean their player indicted for murder vs. our two involved in Bullygate in a battle of NFL off-field distraction leaders.

We can top that, though.

It’s called Heat-Pacers II, and it is this Wednesday night in Miami, just one week after the teams’ first of four regular-season meetings was won 90-84 by host Indiana.

The quick rematch finds Miami desperate to win and stem the tide of consensus belief that Indy has overtaken the two-time champions as the East’s best team. “Desperate” is my word, not theirs. No self-respecting champ admits to desperation, but that is part of the dynamic that makes this rivalry fascinating.

Oops. I said rivalry.

“What is a rivalry these days?” LeBron James pondered this week, denying that Heat-Pacers was one.

It is one. It is the best the Heat has these days, because Indiana is the one team that thinks it is better than Miami, and the one team able to put those thoughts in the Heat’s minds.

The reason is Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who is approximately the size of one of Micky Arison’s cruise ships if you set it on end.

Miami has nobody to match up against Hibbert … well, nobody currently playing.

The secret weapon, of course, is the rehabilitating project named Greg Oden, in clandestine development behind curtains like a sneakered Frankenstein.

Would Odenstein make a difference against the Pacers and Hibbert?

“We hope so,” LeBron said, and then he repeated the phrase.

And so here you have a Heat fan’s greatest hope and greatest fear as Heat-Pacers II approaches, and they are one in the same. They both involve the player who has had far more knee surgeries than healthy seasons. The player who has not yet played this season and has no timetable for his debut.

The great hope is being able to count on Greg Oden.

The great fear is having to.

• Golden Globe nominations came out, and I thought Urban Meyer’s was well deserved for his challenging portrayal of an Ohio State coach thrilled to be in the Orange Bowl game.

• The Panthers had a bobblehead night Friday honoring former goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, who improbably led Florida to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals. The warmth of that memory is exceeded only by the sadness of realizing the Cats have not won a playoff series since.

• That reminds me, the Panthers had 15 standings points in their first 16 games under Peter Horachek, following 10 in 16 games before the coaching change. Around here, we see progress wherever we can!

• If this is the season for being thankful, I’d imagine plenty of Dolfans gave thanks last week that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown wasn’t born with slightly smaller feet.

• Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is red-faced after controversially benching quarterback Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season. I don’t mean embarrassed. I mean Shanahan’s complexion is surreally red.

• Seemed strange that gay former figure skater Johnny Weir, part of NBC’s broadcast team for the Sochi Olympics, criticized those protesting Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. Seems less strange now that I know Weir has been on the payroll of the Russian Consulate in New York City. Hmm.

•  Logan Morrison and Justin Ruggiano were traded by the Marlins this week. Morrison’s time here was a disappointment beset by injuries. However, he did consistently lead the team in tweets.

•  Pete Carroll just woke from a nightmare in a cold sweat. Dreamed quarterback Russell Wilson abruptly retired from the Seahawks and joined the Texas Rangers’ farm system.

• Detroit receiver Nate Burleson said a homeless man heckled him during a charity appearance. Coincidentally, the Lions and the homeless have won the same number of NFL championships since 1957.

• We’re six days from the four-team men’s Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise featuring the Gators and Seminoles. They would have included the Canes, too, but that would have made too much sense.

• The Orange Bowl International junior tennis championships are under way. I didn’t need anybody to tell me. I could hear all of the boorish parents loudly berating the chair umpire and linesmen.

• Tour de France cheater and fraud Lance Armstrong complained in an interview that he was a victim of “selective prosecution.” I’d call Lance a clueless dirtbag, except I know several clueless dirtbags who would be justifiably insulted by the comparison.

• It has come to my attention there is an LPGA player named Sandra Gal. I wonder if she ever met punter Ray Guy?

•  Parting thought: NFL legend Jim Brown said on the Arsenio Hall Show that Kobe Bryant is “confused” about black culture. Biggest surprise there? That Arsenio Hall is back on the air.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote, Instagram/upsetbird, Vine/Greg Cote and Facebook/Greg Cote.

Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

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Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, left, and center Chris Bosh watch from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 in Miami. The 76ers defeated the Heat 100-87.

    IN MY OPINION

    Greg Cote: Miami Heat odyssey this time could be dynasty or dismantled

    A Heat playoff run is the annual gift we slowly unwrap together, our two-month emotional thrill ride ever since LeBron James grandly announced he was “taking my talents to South Beach” that summer night in 2010. Well, buckle up again, South Florida. Prepare for exhilarating highs and work-productivity lows. Prepare for late nights walking drained from the downtown bayside arena. Prepare for hearts to soar or plunge on whether a basketball swishes through a nylon net or bonks off a painted rim.

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Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson, left, drives past Miami Heat's Shane Battier, right, to dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.

    In My Opinion

    Miami Heat sweep would challenge rosy outlook by Bobcats’ Al Jefferson

    I think that Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson, not a star in the NBA but a good player, must lead the league in seeing the bright side, in trying to find the best in a bad situation. This talent figures to come in particularly handy in the next week-plus as his hopeless underdogs try to avert being swept in four games by the two-time, defending-champion Heat.

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LeBron James cheers as he holds both trophies after the Heat won Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: Element of doubt makes this Miami Heat quest intriguing

    This time it feels different, doesn’t it? The Heat in the Big3 Era always has found a way to keep things fresh and keep us fascinated, and now that means trying on a role unlike any the team has played in the previous three seasons. This time, for the first time since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade, Miami enters a postseason seeming a bit vulnerable — something close to the unlikeliest of underdogs.

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