Relevance in December is like the good old days for Dolphins, Hurricanes

12/22/2013 12:01 AM

12/22/2013 1:09 AM

I’m not proposing the coming week as one of the biggest in Miami’s football history. After all, Miami and football history once were pretty much one and the same, back when the Dolphins and Hurricanes were champions or at least challengers — players on the national stage.

Maybe it is because those days have become long gone that this week seems important. Our standards have lowered; we take what we can get. And so the Dolphins on the edge of a playoff spot the same week the Canes end their postseason bowl drought feels big.

Welcome back, football Big 2. Welcome back, excitement. We missed you.

The Dolphins have Sunday, at Buffalo — in the old rivals’ 100th all-time meeting — and then a week from Sunday, here against the Stinkin’ Jets, to either end their playoff drought or find the disappointment that much more acute for the almost, the teasing. Miami last made the playoffs in 2008 but quickly exited. It was an aberration, a forgotten blip on the timeline. Dolfans haven’t truly cheered anything special in more than a decade. The club’s last playoff victory was Dec. 30, 2000.

For the Hurricanes, it has been almost that long since the last national championship, and they haven’t even won a bowl game of any kind since Dec. 31, 2006. So, yeah, Saturday’s Orlando date with Louisville in the otherwise modest Russell Athletic Bowl feels pretty big.

The idea of the Dolphins merely making the playoffs as a last seed or the Hurricanes playing in a second-tier bowl wouldn’t have meant much, once, but times have changed.

The starving fan takes what is served him, says thank you, and eats.

• An early Merry Christmas to celebrants. Only a couple of days left to fight the traffic and the crowds and get your shopping done. The holidays annually remind me how appropriate it is that “mall” is pronounced, “maul.”
• The usually under-the-radar Dolphins were the third-most-searched NFL team nationally in 2013, according to Google. “You’re welcome,” said Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.
• New technology at Dolphins stadium includes a smart-phone app allowing fans to identify where beer lines are the shortest, for example. I’m waiting for an app that tells me why a beer at a football game costs $8 or more.
• World leaders including President Obama are skipping the upcoming Sochi Olympics at least in part because of Russia’s anti-gay human rights record. The International Olympic Committee might have considered said record before awarding the Games to Russia, but that would have made too much sense.
• That reminds me. The U.S. Olympic Committee has new Winter Olympics mittens that say, “Go USA.” The mittens were made in China. Some things you can’t make up, folks.
• Marlins signed third baseman Casey McGehee, 31, who played last year in Japan, to apparently complete their winter roster upgrades of mostly bargain free agents. You know how the Yankees just got hit with a $28 million luxury-tax bill for overspending on players? I think the Marlins might be due a rebate.
• The Miami-Dade County Commission approved negotiations to build a stadium for the Major League Soccer team David Beckham wants to bring here. Gee, is it OK if I withhold my excitement until MLS actually awards Miami an expansion team?
• Tampa was chosen over Miami to host the 2016-season college football national championship game. Between this, state-legislature funding decisions and Super Bowl votes, Dolphins stadium has more losses than the Dolphins this year.
• I know it has been somewhat boring, Canes basketball fans, but hold on a bit longer. Starting Jan. 4, the UM men play three in a row at No. 2 Syracuse, at No. 14 North Carolina and home against Florida State.
• Like a lunatic accusing others of being crazy, Southern Illinois basketball coach Barry Hinson went on a viral, insulting tirade against his team’s bad attitude following a loss. I think Barry was out sick the day they went over “leading by example.”
• FAU hired Arkansas assistant Charlie Partridge as its new football coach. Can’t think of a punch line not involving a pear tree, so let’s move on.
• Former Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano announced publicly he is gay. The national group, People Surprised By That, will be meeting Monday at the Waffle House. Corner booth. Left side.
•  Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea training their national basketball team. I’d pay somebody to steal his U.S. passport and accidentally lose it.
• Answer: The wealthy parents of a 12-year-old boy competing in the Orange Bowl International junior tennis event moved the family to Bradenton, spent $160,000 on a practice facility and hired a full-time coach all so their golden child might become a star. Question: What is meant by “spoiling children”?
•  Dwight Howard admits he overcame a sugar addiction that had him consuming the equivalent of 24 Hershey bars a day in candy and soda. Dwight was the only player in the NBA who kept his dentist on speed-dial.
•  Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa each were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. I’m not sure which is more incredible. That each managed more than 2,000 victories. Or that La Russa managed Mark McGwire for 15 seasons and claims he had zero suspicions of performance-enhancing drug use.
• Somebody paid $104,765 at an auction for the “flu game” sneakers Michael Jordan wore in the 1997 NBA Finals. Somebody else paid $10,877 for David Ortiz’s beard clippings. What I’ll do with it all, I have no idea!
• The national bodybuilding championships concluded in Broward. I can think of no greater disconnect than how proud those folks are of their bodies and how the other 99 percent of us think how comically freakish they look.
•  Parting thought: Livan Hernandez is selling at auction his 1997 Marlins World Series ring and MVP trophy. Addendum to his famous quote: “I love you, Miami! Um, but not that much.”

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.

About Greg Cote

Greg Cote

@gregcote

Greg Cote has been a Miami Herald sports columnist since 1995 and also writes the Random Evidence blog and NFL predictions along with his notorious sidekick the Upset Bird. He has covered Hurricanes football (1984-88), the Dolphins (1990-91) and major events including Super Bowls, NBA Finals, World Series, Stanley Cup, Olympics and World Cup.

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