Suggested nickname for Sunday’s Dolphins-Raiders game at Wembley Stadium in London: the Job Insecurity Bowl.
Las Vegas sports books lay rather macabre betting odds for “first NFL coach to be fired,” and Oakland’s Dennis Allen (3-2 odds) and Miami’s Joe Philbin (3-1) currently are the dubious top two in that Dead Man Coaching category.
I’m thinking Philbin could take over the unfortunate top spot if the Fins lose to the winless Raiders — on top of the bizarre week he has had.
Philbin was noncommittal most of the week on whether embattled quarterback Ryan Tannehill would start Sunday, even as Tannehill informed the media he had been told he would. Being publicly undermined understandably annoyed Tannehill, who blamed his coach for causing a “distraction.” Late in the week, Philbin owned up to his role in causing the unnecessary controversy and distraction — but still would not say who’s starting at QB.
This in turn led many experts to believe Philbin might be drunk. OK not really. Although the thought did cross my mind as I fathomed why any coach would undercut the confidence of a struggling young quarterback who needs his support.
Fleetingly, I imagined that Philbin had a secret master plan and that the man taking the first snap from center Sunday might be — surprise! — Dolphins special advisor Dan Marino.
I am still of a mind to give Philbin the benefit of doubt, so at this point I am crediting as ingenious his meticulously orchestrated plan to divert attention from the Dolphins’ consecutive 19-point losses by creating the smokescreen of a quarterback controversy.
Dolfans can only hope Sunday’s performance means their team has at least had a better week than its coach.
▪ Cleveland’s LeBron James reportedly lost 20 pounds on a very strict 67-day diet during which all he ate was Miami’s championship dreams.
▪ In a related story, ESPN’s first NBA rankings of the season have Miami 15th in the league and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Why you gotta mock us like that, Worldwide Leader?
▪ Golf’s Ryder Cup matches between the United States and Europe end Sunday in Scotland. It’s one of sports’ most riveting competitions, according to announcers for the broadcasting network.
▪ The Florida Panthers are in the midst of the NHL preseason schedule. The club has decreased arena capacity and expects smaller crowds after eliminating ticket giveaways and discounts. The Cats might consider increasing attendance by an unusual method rarely tried in club history: “Winning.”
▪ Former Canes coach Larry Coker was back in town Saturday with Texas-San Antonio, which played at FAU. From a UM national championship in 2001 to the obscurity of a second-tier university. Dramamine, please.
▪ Derek Jeter received nearly $600,000 in farewell gifts. I wonder if they’re counting the fondue set I mailed him that I re-gifted from my 1980s wedding?
▪ Former Heat guard Rex Chapman was arrested for stealing merchandise from an Apple store and pawning it. Indications Your Life May Have Taken a Turn For the Worse, one in a series.
▪ On the bright side, allegations against FSU’s Jameis Winston have gone from rape to theft to shouting profanity, so at least he’s trending from felony to misdemeanor.
▪ Four Redskins fans agreed to go on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and were surprised to be confronted by Native Americans. That’s like going on Fox News and being surprised by conservatism.
▪ NASCAR’s new Chase for the Cup rules call for a reduction from 16 drivers to 12 after the third of 10 races, to eight after the sixth race and to four after the ninth race. If the formula were any more confusing, it would be the NFL passer rating.
▪ A grand jury declined to indict Tony Stewart in the death of a sprint-car driver after victim Kevin Ward Jr. was found to have marijuana in his system when he wandered onto the track. Hmm. Do you really need a government warning label to tell you pot and high-speed auto racing don’t mix?
▪ The Hurricanes men’s basketball roster is down to nine scholarship players. Jim Larrañaga got any eligibility left?
▪ Capital One is the new title sponsor of the annual Orange Bowl Classic, meaning smiling officials of the newly endowed OB may now answer the rhetorical, “What’s in your wallet?”
▪ Rafael Nadal’s coach, forgetting it was no longer the 19th century, criticized Spain naming a woman to coach its Davis Cup team.
▪ Showtime aired footage of people smoking marijuana in Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s Las Vegas mansion. I’m not sure which I’m less of: outraged or surprised.
▪ Conde Nast Traveler named Miami the 10th-least-friendly city in America. Cannot confirm city officials responded by telling the magazine to go [bleep] itself.
▪ Parting thought: ESPN suspended Bill Simmons three weeks for a profane podcast rant in which he called embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar. Simmons previously was only annoying when discussing the Heat.
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Today: Dolphins, Hurricanes postseason wins. The only four times — in 48 shared seasons — when the Dolphins won a playoff game and the Canes won a bowl game the same season:
def. Colts 23-17
def. Florida 37-20
def. Seahawks 20-17
def. Georgia Tech 28-13
def. Bills 24-17
def. N.C. State 46-23
def. Chiefs 17-16
def. Texas 46-3
Note: The teams were in the postseason together four other times (1984, ’85, ’92 and ’94) but both didn’t win.
WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT:
Fins-Raiders in London after Philbin controversy: Joe Philbin created controversy by declining to say Ryan Tannehill would start at QB, now Miami must win after back-to-back 19-point losses. On the bright side, excited Londoners only vaguely familiar with the NFL think Dolphins-Raiders is a great matchup of league powers. So let’s not correct them.
Duke vs. Duke as UM hosts Blue Devils: It was Duke Johnson vs. Duke University on Saturday night as UM tried to shake that loss at Nebraska. Tough spot for Al Golden and Canes because most still think of Duke as lousy even though they were 4-0. So win and you don’t get credit for beating a top team, but lose and you get savaged because it was “only Duke.”
Training camp under way as post-LeBron era begins: Moving on after four years of LeBron James, media day Friday and a first practice on Saturday got the Heat’s preseason under way, with Miami’s first exhibition game coming up in six days. I’d have paid Dwyane Wade to answer Friday’s first question about LeBron with a deadpan, “LeWho!?” But no such luck.
Fish wrap strange but improved season Sunday: On Sunday, the Marlins will complete the season with no playoffs (again) but with a much-improved record from last year’s 100 losses despite injuries to stars Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton. That should earn some NL Manager of the Year votes for Mike Redmond. Didn’t say it would. Said it should.
Jeter’s perfect ending; MLB playoffs set: As baseball’s postseason is set to begin, retiring Derek Jeter enjoyed a Yankee Stadium farewell Thursday that could not have been scripted any better. It was supposed to rain, but didn’t, then Jeter had the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth. So what they’ve been saying in New York for years is true. God is a Yankee.