It couldn’t be a bigger time for football. The NFL on Sunday winnows down to its final four. College football on Monday crowns the first national champion of its new playoff era. And, here in Miami, the Dolphins made big news by hiring former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum to oversee football operations.
Each is seismic in its own way.
The AFC and NFC championship games being set means the Super Bowl looms within view.
The College Football Playoff crescendo between Oregon and Ohio State is so big it will be covered by not only ESPN but also by ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com. That’s according to Mort Schmidlap, ESPN Director of Wretched Excess.
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Locally, the Dolphins news was big, of course, because it allowed Dolfans, briefly dormant since the end of another disappointing season, to rise up in indignant objection to the Tannebaum hire.
You know what’s weird, though?
Amid all of this big, surround-sound football noise, two much smaller Dolphins-related stories caught my eye over the past few days and made me smile.
One was former Dolphins fullback Rob Konrad (1999-2004) heroically — maybe miraculously — swimming nine miles though choppy Atlantic seas in the dead of night to save his own life after he’d been alone on a fishing boat that was on autopilot and slipped off, falling into the ocean. Movies and books have grown from less dramatic stuff.
The other story was just-turned-85-year-old icon Don Shula, in an interview, referring to Patriots coach Bill Belichick as “Beli-cheat.” This caused some negative national reaction but, hey, you earn some latitude when you reach that age. Besides, Shula has the best defense on his side. It’s called the truth. Belichick did cheat in the 2007 “Spygate” incident for which he was fined $500,000 and his team was made to forfeit a first-round draft pick.
I admire Shula’s gumption almost as much as a I admire, and marvel at, Konrad’s ability to survive a situation that would have tragically ended most of our lives.
Dolfans are calloused, perpetually disappointed and discouraged. They don’t like the owner, don’t like the coach, don’t like the Tannebaum hire, don’t like much of anything, it seems.
Shula and Konrad gave them something to applaud, not boo. You take your smiles when you can.
▪ The Hurricanes switching uniform and equipment suppliers from Nike to Adidas got way more attention than was merited. Who should really care outside of Nike and Adidas? UM fans would be fine with the Canes wearing burlap jerseys from K-Mart as long as the team wins.
▪ UM women’s basketball is now 12-3 and should be ranked after ending the 30-game road win streak of No.4 Notre Dame, led by Adrienne Motley’s 32 points. Is there even the slightest chance that the team’s de facto new nickname isn’t Motley Crew?
▪ Ex-Canes football coach Randy Shannon joined the Florida Gators staff but declined to talk about UM. Hmm. Here’s guessing he’ll be doing a fair share of that on the recruiting trail.
▪ An independent investigation found NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was not aware of the Ray Rice video when meting out his initial punishment. Which sort of means Goodell was both exonerated and called incompetent at the same time.
▪ Victim no more: The 49ers’ Jonathan Martin punched and held an alleged shoplifter for police at a Versace store in Los Angeles. How perfect if the thief had been Richie Incognito!
▪ Jameis Winston’s father said his son was turning pro but Jameis said he hasn’t decided. Geez, this dad, Duke Johnson’s mom, Derrick Rose’s brother, Brent Grimes’ wife — can all of you chatty relatives please get off social media and stop complicating your guys’ lives? Bulletin: It isn’t about you.
▪ Several Seminoles football players and staff found their cars vandalized upon returning to Tallahassee after their semifinal playoff loss. Fortunately, I’d arranged for an alibi.
▪ Seven-foot Heat center Hassan Whiteside is a getting an awful lot of attention for a sparingly used reserve. He leads the NBA in GSPMP: Glowing Stories Per Minutes Played.
▪ I just Googled the word “tanking” and saw a Knicks logo. Team had lost 14 consecutive games and was 5-34 entering Saturday, and fans had begun to wear paper bags on their heads at home games at Madison Square Graveyard.
▪ The Knicks traded J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cavaliers as Cleveland fans struggled to believe that was supposed to be a good thing.
▪ It Might Be A Slow News Week If … Serena Williams having an espresso during a tennis match makes international headlines. You’d have thought the poor girl was shooting heroin.
▪ Answer: Tiger Woods is about to begin his seventh season since winning his last major and he’s still the biggest thing in golf. Question: What makes you think the PGA Tour might be in trouble?
▪ Ricky Williams is among the College Football Hall of Fame’s 2015 inductees. [Your punch line goes here. Must include the word “bong.”]
▪ R.I.P., Stuart Scott. “Boo-ya’s!” at half-mast, please.
▪ Parting thought: The NFL is investigating whether the Cleveland Browns improperly received text messages on the sideline during games. Cannot confirm one of them was from Johnny Manziel saying he’d partied late and overslept but was on his way.
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: Associated Press college football national champions. Most AP national titles in the 78-year history of the granddaddy of polls, since 1936:
Note: Schools with four championships are Nebraska, Minnesota and Ohio State. Schools with three are Florida, Florida State and Texas. Seven schools have two. Nine schools have one.
What South Florida sports fans are talking about:
Sunday sets AFC, NFC title-game matchups: The conference championships are half set, now it’s Colts-Broncos and Cowboys-Packers on Sunday to complete the final four. Dallas back in the playoffs has been great for ratings. Conspiracy theorists are on high alert should the Cowboys somehow win on another mysteriously favorable officials’ decision.
2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Oregon, Ohio State to complete historic first playoff: Is it fair to say Oregon and good-guy Marcus Mariota will have the rooting interest of most of the country outside of Ohio in Monday night’s first playoff-era championship game? I mean, we don’t have Jameis Winston to taunt or Nick Saban to hate, but Urban Meyer will do, right?
Team adds ex-Jets GM Tannebaum to front office: Mike Tannebaum becoming Dolphins vice president of football operations was met with knee-jerk derision by fans and media, who clamored for change but evidently not THIS change. Tannebaum starts work Feb. 1. Critics already are picketing in anticipation of the lousy job he might do.
Struggling Miami carries slump to West Coast: Heat star Chris Bosh stars in Funny Or Die’s new short comedy video, “Tall Justice 2.” Is it just me, or do Heat players’ various side projects tend to be far more assuming when your team is sailing to another NBA Finals than they are when your team has lost five of the past six games and is 15-21?
Hall of Fame adds four more to Cooperstown: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected, the largest class since 1955. That could be because those four were the only ones left on the ballot who were untarnished by steroid use or rumors. (And that’s giving generous benefit of the doubt to Biggio, by the way.)