Greg Cote

Hurricanes’ jackpot, Jeter’s circus, Dolphins’ desperation lead latest Hot Button Top 5

Teammates Mark Pope, left, and Daquris Wiggins, gesture after signing with the Miami Hurricanes NCAA college football team at Miami Southridge High in Miami, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017.
Teammates Mark Pope, left, and Daquris Wiggins, gesture after signing with the Miami Hurricanes NCAA college football team at Miami Southridge High in Miami, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. cjuste@miamiherald.com

1. HURRICANES: Richt, UM hit jackpot with early recruits: Orange Bowl date with Wisconsin isn't for another week, but UM made news this week welcoming a bounty of talent during NCAA's first-ever early recruiting period. Five-star commits in RB Lorenzo Lingard and WR Mark Pope lead an offense-rich class that won the state and was ranked No. 7 nationally by ESPN. In continuing search for signs The U is "back," this was the latest.

2. MARLINS: The circus and folly of Jeter's townhall meeting: It was necessary but meant little. New Fish boss Derek Jeter came out of hiding to hear fans vent about his money-saving fire sale. It had the appearance of openness and transparency without actually being either. Highlight: "Marlins Man" (attention-seeking Laurence Leavy) asking Jeter, "Do you know who I am?" Then Jeter saying nah to an invite to ride in Leavy's “Marlinsmobile.”

3. DOLPHINS: Is Sunday in Kansas City where playoff hopes die?: The dreary Dolphins, 6-8 but faintly alive, need several results to fall right to sneak into the playoffs -- the first a road win over heavily favored Chiefs. Do they have a chance? I'll answer that rhetorical with this one: Might you cash the winning Lotto ticket? Safety Reshad Jones was Miami's only Pro Bowl pick, and his defense will be overmatched vs. KC's varied arsenal.

4. HEAT: Unlikely win at Boston triggers new hope: Heat had nudged up over .500 and climbed to edge of playoff pace entering weekend after an unlikely 90-89 win over mighty Celtics in Boston. Unlikely? Miami got career-high 32 points from ex-Celtic Kelly Olynyk but injury-decimated Heat barely had enough players to compete. I mean, how impressive was it to see Pat Riley, 72, slip on those '70s short-shorts for some quality minutes!

5. UM BASKETBALL: No. 6 Canes men gird for ACC schedule: FAU won its bowl, FIU did not and the Panthers are still skating aimlessly, but the 5-Spot goes to the Canes, who were 9-0 entering Saturday's game at Hawaii. The real games -- the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule -- start Dec. 30 at Pitt. Season began under cloud of that national FBI recruiting probe, but UM has found the best diversion and distraction possible. Winning.

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