Pro football remains in fake-game mode a bit longer, but the collegians start it up for real this week.
Well, sort of.
You know how new restaurants have “soft openings” to test drive the menu in front of invited friends and family before the actual public grand opening? College football is a little like that. Most big teams schedule cupcakes for soft openings, as we see with our state’s Big 3.
This Saturday, the Miami Hurricanes host Bethune-Cookman, 10th-ranked Florida State hosts Texas State and Florida hosts New Mexico State — the bigger home teams heavily favored in each case.
This isn’t Week 1 as much as it’s Weak 1.
FIU, alas, plays the designated cupcake, opening up Thursday at Central Florida, which has won 31 games with three bowl appearances the past three seasons.
Of course, UM coach Al Golden, FSU’s Jimbo Fisher, new Gators boss Jim McElwain and UCF coach George O’Leary will spend the entire week talking up their lightweight opponents while each team’s overconfident fans assume a waltz of a win and stand ready to sling vile on social media if the margin is less than 30 points.
Make it 40.
▪ LeBron James sold his 12,178-square-foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion (including a theater and wine cellar) for $13.4 million. The question now: Do I redecorate?
▪ The U.S. Open starts Monday, and for the first time ever the women’s final has sold out before the men’s as fans anticipate Serena Williams completing the sport’s first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. It’s almost unfair. They should make Serena use a badminton racket.
▪ The Marlins begin an extended homestand on Friday and Giancarlo Stanton figures to return from injury sometime during it. Meantime, the club gives indications it might move the fences in next year. Giving Stanton shorter fences is like giving Bill Gates a raise.
▪ The Marlins honored Juan Pierre and Dontrelle Willis before a game but Willis didn’t show and declined to provide a video, leaving club president David Samson to say he was “flummoxed.” Nobody cares. I just love the word “flummoxed.”
▪ A football assistant coach at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, took a high-voltage shot from a Taser gun last week in a morale-boosting stunt to increase team unity. It worked, as afterward players unanimously agreed the coach was an idiot.
▪ Southern Cal coach Steve Sarkisian admitted he’d been drinking when he profanely addressed boosters and fans. Could have been worse, though. No Taser involved.
▪ An AFC East study by StubHub of fans who bought tickets to both NFL games and concerts reveals that Jets and Patriots fans tend to like Billy Joel, Bills fans go for Garth Brooks and Dolphins fans prefer Ariana Grande. Based on that, Miami clearly is going to finish last in the division.
▪ The changes in Dolphins stadium seen at Saturday’s preseason home debut are mostly good, but am I alone to think shrinking the capacity by almost 11,000 isn’t so good? Miami has gone from having the seventh biggest to seventh smallest NFL stadium. Sometimes, in creating ambience, size matters.
▪ Dolphins coach Joe Philbin revealed in a Sports Illustrated article that while in college he spent a summer as a corrections officer — a prison guard. Some items need no punch line. The visual is enough.
▪ Cris Carter apologized for telling players at an NFL Rookie Symposium they should have a “fall guy” handy to help them avoid trouble. An alternate piece of advice he might have considered: Stay out of trouble so you don’t need a “fall guy.”
▪ Now-retired former Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin revealed he contemplated suicide. I must say this seriously impinges my ability to make fun of him.
▪ The Panthers announced their NHL preseason schedule would open Sept. 20. Big anniversary for the club this season: the 20th year in a row that players thought the previous season was disappointing.
▪ As NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup nears, several drivers including points leader Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were at Homestead-Miami Speedway practicing last week. I didn’t notice a Busch brother, which explains the lack of punches.
▪ The Steelers signed Michael Vick as a backup QB, and protestors met the news. Dear dog lovers: Vick did his time. Get over it.
▪ The Yale Bowl will add lights this year for the first time in the 132-year history of the Yale-Harvard game. “Hey, it happens,” said Wrigley Field.
▪ Darryl Dawkins, “Chocolate Thunder,” died at 58. Hence all of the sudden media references to “dunking in heaven.”
▪ There is a new book out about Nick Saban by author Monte Burke. It is called Saban: The Making Of a Coach. Because, evidently, all of the even worse book titles already were taken.
▪ Parting thought: Lawyers for the NFL and Tom Brady are due back Monday for the latest round of arguments. If this “Deflategate” morass were any more ridiculous, they’d move it from federal court to Vaudeville.
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Periscope.
Today: State’s top college coaches. As college football nears, we present the top 10 coaches from the state of Florida’s seven FBS teams based on winning percentage at the school (minimum 50 games):
Fins complete dress rehearsal, prepare for preseason finale: Miami wraps its preseason Thursday after hosting Atlanta on Saturday in its third exhibition, called the “dress rehearsal” because starters play more. Don’t you think a dress rehearsal would merit a reprise of the top hat and tuxedo Joe Philbin wore to sing for his players last week?
UM football is less than a week away: Coach Al Golden has declined to reveal a depth chart and Canes players are under orders to not speak about who’s starting as UM prepares for its season opener Saturday against Bethune-Cookman. The secrecy is pointless. If you can’t beat Bethune with what we used to call the JV, you’re in trouble.
In retrospect, um, about that managerial change …: For those scoring at home, the change in dugout leadership has backfired. Miami was playing at a .421 clip in 38 games under Mike Redmond before he was fired. Entering the weekend, after losing six of seven, Miami was playing at a .389 pace in 90 games under Dan Jennings. Just sayin’.
Panthers open football season on road in four days: FIU begins its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner on Thursday at UCF. Turner seems to be making progress in turning around the Panthers program. The question now is whether hair-trigger FIU athletic director Pete Garcia will give him time to finish the job.
5. LITTLE LEAGUE
It’s U.S. vs. the World in Sunday finale: The U.S. champion will face the International champ Sunday for the overall Little League World Series crown. By the way, a boy named Alex Edmondson pitched two no-hitters during the LLWS but you probably didn’t hear about it because unfortunately for him, his name wasn’t Mo’Ne Davis.