Greg Cote

Nick Saban, Patriots rift, Canes’ test, a man named Dowell & a wolverine make Hot Button

Alabama head coach Nick Saban looks on during NCAA college football practice Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide face Georgia in the national championship on Monday.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban looks on during NCAA college football practice Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide face Georgia in the national championship on Monday. AP

1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's Alabama-Georgia in Monday title game: Alabama is a small favorite in College Football Playoff's all-SEC championship, despite it being held in Atlanta, a home game for Georgia. Crimson Tide are in CFP final for third straight year but, for a change, Nick Saban might not be the least popular man in the stadium, because President Donald Trump plans to attend.

2. NFL: Playoffs! Sunday wraps up Wild-Card Weekend: Two pretenders were ousted Saturday and two more will fall Sunday. Meantime ESPN reported a rift among Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady and suggested the empire may be crumbling. Um, the No. 1-seeded Pats, on a bye this week, are Super Bowl favorites. Again. Oh to have such problems!

3. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes begin three-game Litmus test: Canes' men's team started 10-0 and highly ranked then slumped. What, are they trying to mimic the UM football team? (Ouch. Too soon?) Jim Larranaga's guys are now 12-2 and can prove themselves (or not) with three big tests in a row: Sunday vs. No. 24 Florida State, then at No. 25 Clemson and home vs. No. 2 Duke.

4. DOLPHINS: Problem solved! Fins hire new offensive coordinator: The disappointing 6-10 Dolphins and coach Adam Gase demoted offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen after averaging only 17.6 points per game to rank 28th in the NFL. They replaced him with Dowell Loggains, whom the Bears just dismissed after Chicago averaged 16.5 points, ranking 29th. Well alrighty then!

5. MARLINS: Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' now underway: Heat had climbed to three games over .500 entering weekend to catch our eye, but the 5-Spot goes to Derek Jeter's 'Project Wolverine' plan to reboot the now-decimated Marlins. It sees a spike in player payroll starting in 2021. Meantime, the carnivorous wolverine has disemboweled Marlins fans and turned their optimism to bloody entrails.

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