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26 posts from February 2013

February 05, 2013

NCAA/UM update; UM still waiting on recruits; Marlins sign reliever; Lewis, Miller adjust

We'll post the Wednesday buzz later, but here's a quick UM and Marlins update, and our full story on three Heat players adjusting to playing far less than they're accustomed:

### Maria Elena Perez, Nevin Shapiro's attorney, expected to be paid for far more than out of pocket expenses when she took two depositions that would help the NCAA's case against Miami. She also wanted to be paid for her time to conduct those depos, more than a year ago, with Sean Allen and Michael Huyghue.

So how much was her time worth?

More than $20,000, according to a CBSSports.com report Tuesday evening. CBS says that's how much NCAA enforcement director Julie Roe Lach authorized to pay Perez to do something the NCAA had no legal power to do on its own.

That Perez/NCAA relationship angered NCAA President Mark Emmert, who hired an outside law firm two weeks ago to explore what the NCAA did improperly during its UM investigation. That investigation apparently is still ongoing. And UM won't get its notice of allegations until the investigation is complete.

Once it's complete, UM will push the NCAA for a setttlement, but Emmert's appetite for that remains to be seen. As we wrote last week, NCAA experts say Emmert likely couldn't unilaterally strike a settlement with UM without gaining the approval of two key NCAA boards - the executive committee and the board of directors. Both are made up of college presidents who may or may not be willing to allow UM and the NCAA to circumvent the usual enforcement process.

### UM hoped to get a commitment today from junior college defensive tackle Terrell Brooks, but he has delayed his decision, potentially until Wednesday.

His coach said he will choose between UM and Baylor. UM really needs Brooks if it doesn't get Keith Bryant or Jaynard Bostwick, who both have been considering Miami. UM hasn't given up on Bryant and Bostwick is a toss-up with UF, UM and Alabama.

### Running back Augustus Edwards, who UM badly wants, plans to announce at 7 a.m. Wednesday whether he will attend UM or FSU.

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The Marlins found a set-up man for Steve Cishek Tuesday when they signed 6-11 right-hander Jon Rauch to a one-year, $1 million deal. Rauch has 62 career saves. He was 3-7 for the Mets last season and converted only four of eight save chances. Outfielder Bryan Peterson was designated for assignment.

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Together, they have scored 28,232 points, drained 3707 three-pointers and hit a ton of big shots.

But on perhaps the deepest Heat team in history, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and James Jones are essentially 10th through 13th men --- center Joel Anthony is lumped in that group now, too -- reduced to spare parts on a roster rich in shooters.

Lewis and Miller are sharing the 10th spot in Erik Spoelstra’s 10-man rotation, with Lewis usually getting the nod in recent games until Spoelstra chose to play neither Monday night against Charlotte.

Jones has been nearly invisible all season, playing 73 minutes and scoring 23 points.

The three skilled shooters “are good soldiers and very professional, but they’re pissed,” Dwyane Wade said good-naturedly.

“They want to play. You want guys like that. You don’t want guys who are just happy to be along for the ride. They understand when they signed up there’s a possibility this might occur.”

None have complained and all have handled their roles with class. Miller’s minutes have taken the biggest hit, largely because of the addition of Ray Allen, Spoelstra’s faith in Shane Battier, and Spoelstra’s decision to begin using Lewis again.

Miller played in 35 of the Heat’s first 37 games but appeared in just three of the past eight.

"It’s tough, but it’s part of being on this team,” said Miller, who is averaging a career-low 3.7 points on 40.3 percent shooting. “Some nights, you get four minutes. Some nights, you get 18. It’s not easy but we’re all happy where we’re at.”

It would be very surprising if Miami does not use the amnesty clause on Miller next summer when the luxury tax becomes more punitive.

He’s due to earn $6.2 million in 2013-14 and will be paid in full even if he’s amnestied. Keeping him would cost the Heat more than $10 million in luxury tax payments, even beyond his salary.

Miller’s playoff success --- including the seven three-pointers in the NBA Finals-clinching Game 5 against Oklahoma City – suggests Spoelstra might use him more in the postseason.

“If I can come out of any game where Mike’s healthy and rested, that’s a positive for us,” Spoelstra said.

Lewis was in the Heat’s rotation for Miami’s first 11 games but wasn’t used for 17 of the next 23.

He resurfaced during the Heat’s West Coast trip, first out of necessity when Battier missed three games. Averaging 5.0 points on 49 percent shooting for the season, Lewis has played in nine of the Heat’s past 11 games, but just nine minutes over the past three.

“If we’re playing a little bit of a bigger team, it gives us a little more balance with that unit to [use] Rashard” instead of Miller, Spoelstra said.

When he signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with Miami last July, “Rashard knew what he was getting into,” Spoelstra said. “Those were long meetings we had with Rashard and Ray Allen during the summer about nothing being guaranteed. All had the option not to come here.”

Even when he wasn’t playing, Lewis said, “I had a feeling I would get called again. I just didn’t know when. You don’t want to complain about minutes. When you are on a good team, you have to sacrifice.”

Jones plays the least of the group, which he knew might happen. Jones, who has a $1.5 million player option for next season, did not want to uproot his family and move out of Miami, where he grew up. And he relishes being a part of this team.

“Only so many can play,” he said. “It’s not due to lack of talent. I’m an idealist. I guess I’m crazy, but I always feel I can overcome all obstacles. I know it’s tough to find minutes here. But I’m playing with the game’s best players and won a championship.”

He said some fans tell him he should be playing more, “and I enjoy the conversations because it shows people are interested.”

Wade said the veterans who are playing talk to the veterans who aren’t, trying to keep their spirits high. “When you have a team like this with so many different parts, everyone at some point is going to become frustrated with their role,” he said. “We all do a good job of keeping each other uplifted.”

### Spoelstra is pleased with Chris Andersen – “he will play until his tank is absolutely empty” – but said he is still working on conditioning. “Right now he is probably capable of eight minutes [at a time] at the pace he goes at,” Spoelstra said.

### By shooting 13 for 14, LeBron James (31 points) became the first player to miss no more than one field goal in a 30-point game since Dwight Howard went 11 for 11 in a game in February 2010.

 

February 04, 2013

UM players disappointed by Collins; Canes recruiting update; Heat

With Alex Collins announcing Monday night that he's committing to Arkansas, UM badly needs Staten Island-based running back Augustus Edwards to choose the Hurricanes over FSU.

A few Canes reacted on Twitter to Collins choosing the Razorbacks over UM, UF and Wisconsin:

"Wow, man, really thought he was coming here - it could of been something special with him and Duke [Johnson]," Anthony Chickillo tweeted.

"That sucks - oh well," Deon Bush said. "No worries: We got Duke."

Then there was this amusing reaction from running back Dallas Crawford, who has a chance to play more than he did if Collins signed here: "So in other news, LeBron went 13 for 14 tonight."

With Wednesday's National Signing Day looming, here's an update on the status and announcement plans of several recruits in the mix for UM:

### Defensive tackle Jaynard Bostwick (announcing 8 a.m. Wednesday). His coach calls it a tossup among UM, UF and Alabama. His coaches say he's close with UF's defensive coaches, but he also liked his visit here.

### Offensive tackle Denver Kirkland (9 a.m. Wednesday, ESPNU). No, this is not a joke. Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris told us that he believes Miami is back in the mix for Kirkland, as this soap opera continues. He’ll choose among UM, FSU and Arkansas.

### Linebacker Matthew Thomas (9 a.m. Wednesday, ESPNU). FSU has always been confident, but UM, Alabama, Georgia and Southern Cal remain in the mix, according to ESPN.

### Receiver Stacy Coley (11 a.m. Wednesday, ESPNU). FSU has pulled even with the Canes, according to Canesport.com. USF and Mississippi are behind them. This is the one receiver Miami really wants.

### Defensive tackle Keith Bryant (1 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU). His coach said FSU has pulled ahead of South Carolina and UM, but there’s no final decision. FAU told him to go home during his visit a couple days ago because the coaches thought he wasn’t treating it seriously.

### Linebacker Jermaine Grace (2 p.m. Wednesday, ESPNU). Down to UM and Louisville. Grace once heavily favored the Hurricanes, but the Cardinals have made a strong late push.

### Running back Augustus Edwards (undetermined time Wednesday). He liked his Miami visit, and it’s considered a tossup between UM and FSU.

### Defensive tackle Terrell Brooks. The junior college All-American will choose among UM, Baylor and Kansas State sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours. He has been very complimentary of UM publicly.

### Also, ESPNU lists UM, Stanford and Vanderbilt as finalists for University School receiver Jordan Cunningham, who will announce at 10 a.m. Wednesday on ESPN.com. But his coach said UM hasn’t pursued him much recently.

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Couple historical footnotes on LeBron James' 13 for 14 shooting performance Monday:

### It's the best shooting game, percentage-wise, in James' career (topping a 9 for 11 game in March 2012 against New Jersey) and ties Alonzo Mourning for the second-best in Heat history (minimum 10 attempts), behind only Shaq's 15 for 16 against Seattle in 2006.

### James attempted only one shot outside the paint and didn't attempt a shot longer than 15 feet for the first time in his career.

### James said he was fouled on the one shot he missed, but it wasn't called. "I felt good all game," he said. "I didn't feel tired or jet lagged. I just had it going from the start."

### He's shooting a career-best 55.5 percent for the season.

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In sorting through the differences between individual Heat players’ performance at home and on the road, here’s one factoid that stands out:

Four Heat players are shooting significantly worse on the road than at AmericanAirlines Arena: Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller.

Allen’s disparity is particularly eye-opening: He is shooting 53.8 percent and averaging 13.0 points in Miami, compared with 39.5 percent and 9.0 outside South Florida.

Allen shot moderately better at home in each of his five seasons in Boston, but the difference was never this dramatic, and he always shot between 44 and 48 percent in road games those years.

After shooting better on the road the previous three seasons, Wade is shooting 55 percent at home, 46.4 on the road. And he’s scoring 22.4 at home, compared with 18.7 on the road.

Udonis Haslem (54.4 percent to 44.5) and Mike Miller (45.3 to 36.1) also are shooting much worse on the road. LeBron James is averaging more points on the road (27.1 to 26.1) but shooting better at home (56 to 53.9 percent).

And though Chris Bosh has played better offensively away from Miami, he rebounds worse on the road (6.9 to 7.5 boards per game).

The Heat entered Monday 18-3 at home, but just 12-11 away.

Reviewing highs, lows from CBS' Super Bowl coverage; Analysts assess Fins; Canes, Heat

Note: If you haven't read the Sunday buzz -- in which we assembled a panel of ex-GMs and analysts to assess the Dolphins and what they should do this offseason - please see our last post. There's also Canes recruiting, Heat and Marlins news. For now, we're posting a final Super Bowl media column in this space:

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Musings from a Super Bowl Sunday on the couch:

### This was hardly the way CBS wanted its Super Bowl telecast to be remembered – for a stadium power outage that briefly silenced its game announcers. But the network handled the 35-minute delay competently and then caught a break when the 49ers turned a blowout into compelling theater.

CBS is the only NFL carrier that doesn’t use sideline reporters during the regular season. But Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots, assigned to the role Sunday, did good work updating viewers during the delay.

After the outage disabled the microphones for Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, CBS went to break, before Tasker reported what was happening. After another break, CBS’ studio team returned, but without Boomer Esiason, who was working the game on radio.

“Immediately after the power failure, we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome,” CBS said in a statement. “We utilized CBS’ backup power and at no time did we leave the air.”

There were a few unanswered questions, though. Among them:

1) Why would no NFL official go on air to explain this mess?

2) Why was Shannon Sharpe confused by the 28-6 score at the time of the outage? First he said it was a 21-point margin, then said it was 17.

3) Why did Ravens coach John Harbaugh unleash an expletive-filled tirade at the NFL's director of game operations, and why didn’t CBS explain what that was about?

### Oops: After the game, CBS picked up audio of Baltimore's Marshal Yanda saying: "Holy [expletive], huh?" and then Joe Flacco yelling “[Expletive] awesome!” More Super Bowl fun for the FCC!

### Simms explains the game in simple terms, but this wasn’t one of his best performances. He spoke excessively and wasn’t entirely accurate when he said early on that the 49ers “don’t give up big pass plays down the field.” They usually did not in the regular season but relinquished three touchdown passes of 20 yards or more in their first two playoff games, and had major issues Sunday.

### Notably, Simms did not criticize the 49ers for running on two third and long situations early in the game, nor did he criticize the Ravens for attempting a fake field goal when up 14-3, even though Nantz noted it was "a lot to expect" for Justin Tucker to convert a fourth-and-nine.

But Simms questioned the 49ers for challenging the spot on a fourth-quarter play, then admitted it was a smart move after the 49ers won the challenge.

And after asserting the referees were correct in not calling defensive holding on the 49ers’ incomplete pass on fourth and goal late in the game, Simms admitted he was “confused” after watching the replay again.

He then said the Ravens shouldn’t take a safety, but justified the move after they did. It wasn't exactly flip-flopping, but Simms came off as less than decisive several times.

### After Flacco’s first touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, Simms said he heard all week that Baltimore would look for Boldin in that situation. But he should have said it before the play.

### Nantz incorrectly said a 49ers fumble was not a fumble but was otherwise very good.

### Jim Harbaugh wouldn't come out of the locker-room to be interviewed by Tasker after the game. But CBS, in a rush to leave the air, didn't criticize him, as it did when Bill Belichick refused to be interviewed after the Patriots lost the AFC Championship.

### CBS erred by using a noisy outdoor set for the first 2 ½ hours of its pregame. The crowd cheering and chanting nearly ruined a serious discussion about concussions.

### Credit Sharpe for asking two pointed questions to Ray Lewis about his involvement in the stabbing deaths of two men in 2000. (Murder charges were dropped against Lewis, who accepted a plea deal and admitted at the time to giving misleading statements to police.)

Sharpe asked Lewis what he would tell the families of the two victims, who recently have accused him of knowing more than he has ever shared. His answer would have been unsatisfying to those families. “If you really knew the way God works, he doesn’t use people who commit anything like that,” Lewis said.

That answer also didn’t appease Esiason, who snapped: “He knows what went on there. He doesn’t want to say. He paid off the families.”

 CBS said on air that Sharpe didn’t ask Lewis about an allegation that he used deer-antler spray because the interview was conducted before the Sports Illustrated report surfaced.

### CBS delivered three exceptional pre-game features: on Ravens front-office official and former player O.J. Brigance (who explained that Lou Gehrig’s disease prevents him from speaking or moving but doesn’t diminish his cognitive skills); another on Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia (CBS smartly had one of his daughters, Tori, narrate the segment), and an emotional piece on two Gateway High students – one who died, one who survived - the Aurora, Col., theater shooting last summer.

### Scott Pelley’s interview with President Barack Obama was respectful, unlike Fox’s Super Bowl session two years ago, when Bill O’Reilly repeatedly interrupted Obama.

Pelley surprisingly opened with a question Obama was asked by the New Republic a week ago: If you had a son, would you let him play football? “I’d have to think about it,” Obama said, again.

### Dan Marino did not seem distracted by Thursday’s revelation that he fathered a child out of wedlock in 2005. As expected, the topic was not broached on the broadcast.

### Thankfully, CBS did not subject us to any of those inane red carpet interviews that polluted the Fox and NBC pre-games the past two years.

###  CBS Sports allows sponsors to infiltrate its editorial content more than any other network, and that continued with a cheesy segment (no pun intended) in which Sharpe and Esiason asked fans to shout “hut, hut!” in exchange for food from Pizza Hut.

### After James Brown pointed out that none of the 15 coach or general manager openings were filled by minorities, commissioner Roger Goodell said changes would be made to the Rooney Rule. But James should have asked Goodell a follow-up: What changes?

### Funniest moment: After Sharpe inadvertently called Greg Gumbel “J.B.,” Gumbel said, “Alright, Sterling.”

### Oddest pre-game note: Tasker said the 49ers rehearsed how they would handle pre-game snacks.

### CBS insider Jason LaCanfora said Ravens safety Ed Reed might sign with the Colts this offseason.

February 02, 2013

Analysts, evaluators assess Dolphins' offseason plans; Heat, Canes notes; Stanton skipping caravan

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

With the Dolphins absent from the Super Bowl for the 28th consecutive season, we asked a panel of former general managers and analysts how Miami should attack this offseason. Some feedback:

### Most advocated trying to sign an impact receiver in free agency instead of trying to find one in a draft without a sure-fire Julio Jones or A.J. Green-type prospect.

Support was split between Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings, with none expressing a preference for Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker or anyone else.

The sense here is there’s a very good chance Miami will pursue Wallace, with Jennings also in the mix. 

“Wallace makes sense because he’s a speed guy who gives you explosiveness,” NFL Network’s Joe Theismann said. “They’ve gone the Dwayne Bowe route with Brandon Marshall. And in Hartline, you have a Greg Jennings type. In fact, Hartline is probably faster than Jennings at this point.”

Before leaving his TV job for the Browns’ front office, Mike Lombardi said Wallace would make the most sense because he “is a game changer, the fastest receiver in football. He opens up a lot of things.” But several expressed serious concerns about Wallace in Miami.

“He has been a problem child at times, and you went through that with Marshall,” said Ken Herock, a former Falcons and Packers executive who now prepares college players for interviews with NFL teams. “I would try to get Jennings.”

NFL Network’s Charley Casserly, the former Redskins and Texans GM, cautions that Wallace, while, a “speed guy, is not a complete receiver.” He had six drops and two fumbles, by the way.

And CBS’ Rich Gannon makes the best case for Jennings: “He knows Joe Philbin’s system. He’s a grounded guy, disciplined. Team-oriented, unselfish. Throwing $40 million to $50 million at Mike Wallace would scare me.”

### CBS’ Phil Simms has a different take on Jennings, Wallace and Bowe, from a Miami perspective: “I don’t look at any of those three as a big-time slam dunk, where you say you have to go get him.” But he said finding a Wallace-type speedster is essential opposite Hartline,  “who I underestimated.”

### Our panel largely supported making an earnest effort to keep Jake Long, but cautioned against overspending. “Good tackles are going to cost $8 million to $10 million a year,” Lombardi said. “You have to set a number and see if you can get a deal done.”

Jonathan Martin struggled against the 49ers and Patriots, and Herock said that would worry him: “You see the importance of the left tackle every third or fourth game when you face a really good” defensive front. “That’s why I would try to figure out a way to keep Long.”

But Casserly cautioned: “[Though] Long has been an above average left tackle, he fell way off this year.”

Incidentally, Long’s wife Jackie tweeted Thursday: “We want to be here if they want us. We’ll see what happens.”

### Even beyond Long, “this line needs to get fixed,” Lombardi said. “John Jerry isn’t a quality starter on a good team.”

### Most agreed cornerback must be fixed, too. The group of Sean Smith, Dimitri Patterson, Richard Marshall and Nolan Carroll isn’t good enough, Gannon said, noting that “with Smith, tracking the ball and playing the ball are not strengths.”

Added Casserly: “Sean Smith is a physical guy, but when he’s facing quick, change of direction guys, those are the guys that give him trouble. Cornerback needs to be upgraded there.”

Though Smith prefers to stay, it's looking like he might get more money elsewhere. Miami ignored Smith in recent months while starting talks with Hartline, Long and Randy Starks.

“You can’t pay Smith $8 million or $9 million a year,” Herock said. “They promote him as a top corner, but he’s not. Vontae Davis is the better corner, and he would have been cheaper next year ($1.1 million) than Smith.”

### Lombardi said Miami not only must improve speed on offense, but on defense also. “Most teams that have trouble creating turnovers” – like Miami – “don’t have enough speed.”

Said Gannon: “As well as that defense played at times, they need to find a couple playmakers. They don’t create negative plays. Karlos Dansby makes a lot of tackles, but you don’t see the impact plays.”

And Casserly said moving defensive end Jared Odrick to tackle makes sense, especially if Starks leaves: “He’s better inside than outside. He’s not a pass rusher.”

### All agreed Miami needs another tight end, but differed about how high a priority it should be. Gannon was the most vocal in saying it needs to be very, very high on Miami's list: “You need a guy there who can be a threat in the passing game.” 

Though Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert is worthy of a mid-first round pick (according to Mel Kiper), Theismann said “tight end is not somewhere where you need to think about spending the 12th pick.” Simms said he would keep around Anthony Fasano, even if Miami finds an upgrade.

### Gannon said beyond “needing better personnel at receiver and tight end,” they need a “back that can be a real factor in the passing game, to get linebackers in space. That’s where Reggie Bush was underutilized. Daniel Thomas was always limping off. You can’t count on a guy like that.”

### There wasn’t great support for keeping Bush, who appears bound to test the free agent market. “He’s a playmaker only every three or four games – not a lead guy most places,” Herock said.

### Couple final thoughts: Gannon said “this Dolphins staff needs to say: ‘What is happening in our league?’ and watch the teams that are best at utilization of running backs and red zone offense and other areas” where Miami was deficient…  Herock said: “I’m surprised Jeff Ireland has survived. If it was a head coach with that type of record, he would be gone. They showed some promise this year, but if they’re 7-9 again next year, something has to change.”

CHATTER

### The Dolphins know they must make at least one high impact move in free agency. Ross expects "to spend a lot of money," a close associate said.

### Jennings has given signals that he might welcome an offer from the Dolphins. Jennings told WINZ's Finsiders on Friday that Joe Philbin "is one of my favorite coaches." And he offered this message to Philbin: "Joe, how you doing? Remember me." Jennings knows he might leave Green Bay: "I've prepared my family for a change." 

### The UM/Denver Kirkland soap opera ended Saturday, when Kirkland met with UM coaches and decided not to attend Miami, according to his step-father, who said Denver will choose FSU or Arkansas.

But why did UM pull its scholarship offer to the Booker T. Washington All-American on Thursday? A UM source said here was the thinking at the time: Kirkland had a Hurricanes offer for nine months (he chose not to accept a take-it-or-leave-it offer from UM on Thursday) and UM coaches felt he was playing games with them. Plus, UM had some silent commitments at the time and was expecting a full class (17 or 18) without him. Al Golden doesn’t like to over-sign and force players to gray shirt or go to prep school.

But Golden changed his mind for reasons that he might clarify on National Signing Day. Unfortunately for UM, it was too late. Kirkland met with several Hurricanes assistant coaches on Saturday, but they couldn't persuade him after Thursday's initial yanking of the offer.

UM president Donna Shalala also called the Kirkland family, but that didn't sway him, either. Booker T. Washington coaches believe Kirkland would have picked UM if the offer hadn't been retracted Thursday.

### It’s even more critical that UM lures Alex Collins or Augustus Edwards because backup running back Eduardo Clements has been wearing a neck brace, and his status in very much in question. UM could use incoming Ray Lewis III as a running back, instead of defensive back, if needed.

UM has been pitching Collins - who will announce Monday - that he would share carries with Duke Johnson. Returnees Danny Dillard and Dallas Crawford also are in the mix.

### A very close associate of LeBron James disputed a report suggesting Rich Paul, his Ohio-based agent, will lobby James to return to Cleveland as a free agent in 2014, when James has an opt-out clause.

“LeBron is his own man, and Rich only cares about what LeBron wants,” the associate insisted. “LeBron loves it [in Miami].” But nobody is absolutely ruling out Cleveland, either.

### With Chris Andersen supplanting Joel Anthony in the rotation, don’t be surprised if the Heat – which likes Jarvis Varnado’s upside - tries to move Anthony’s contract (two years left, at $7.6 million) this summer. Anthony would cost Miami nearly $10 million if he stays next season because of a $5.8 million tax hit.

### Draft analysts say UM forward Kenny Kadji has helped his stock, but ESPN’s Jay Bilas and Chad Ford don’t see him as a first-round, partly because he turns 25 in May. “He has helped himself because of his ability to knock down shots, but for a first-round pick, you want someone not [that old],” Bilas said.

Ford isn’t convinced he will even be drafted: “He’s a good rebounder and shot blocker, but not a great one. At that age, scouts expect you to dominate players younger than you.”

### Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton will be the team's only player who won't attend any of the team's numerous community events next week, formerly known as the Marlins Caravan, or next Saturday's  event at Marlins Park, which used to be called Fanfest. But this apparently is not a case of Stanton pouting over payroll-dumping. The Marlins say he got permission to skip the events because of family reasons.

### Please see the last post for a Super Bowl TV preview media column. 

Media column: Super Bowl TV preview

We'll post our Sunday buzz later, with Dolphins, Canes and Heat news. For a few hours in this space, I'm posting the Super Bowl TV preview for our newspaper preview section: 

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Never has a network immersed itself more in a Super Bowl city than CBS, which is originating 15 programs from New Orleans --- everything from last week’s 6:30 p.m. newscasts to the morning gabfest, The Talk, to a four-hour pregame show on Sunday.

“I’ve never seen an initiative in my 28 years here that’s this large,” CBS’ Jim Nantz said.

CBS Sports president Sean McManus admitted: “There is a danger of overdoing it, but it’s different kinds of programming. No one is going to confuse The Talk with Jim Rome’s show. They’re appealing to a different kind of audience. But I don’t think we’ve reached the saturation level.”

But, McManus asks rhetorically: “Can you concentrate so much on the ancillary programming that you forget about the game? We’ve talked about that internally.”

Some nuggets on CBS’ plans:

### The seven-hour pregame lineup begins with NFL Films’ annual Road to the Super Bowl at 11 a.m.; followed by a special on the city of New Orleans, hosted by Grammy-winning trumpeter/composer Wynton Marsalis at noon; Phil Simms’ All-Iron team at 1 p.m.; and a four-hour live pregame show at 2 p.m.

### Among those who will be profiled/interviewed on the pre-game: Jim and John Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick (by Dan Marino), Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Vernon Davis, Ravens senior advisor of player development O.J. Brigance (suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease), Colts coach Chuck Pagano (focusing on his battle with leukemia during the season).

CBS also has a feature on player safety and another on high school football player Zack Golditch, who was injured in the Aurora, Col., movie theatre shooting in July. Ray Rice, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith deliver first-person accounts of their teams’ journey to the Super Bowl.

Rachel Ray has the obligatory cooking segment and OneRepublic and Matchbox Twenty perform. Also, CBS news anchor Scott Pelley interviews President Obama at 4:30 p.m.

 ### McManus said the New Orleans special -- which will focus on the city’s music, food, culture and past Super Bowls -- “is the right thing to do. If we wanted to get a higher rating, I could do a show on the world’s greatest NFL cheerleaders.”

SUPER BOWL MEDIA NOTES     

### Simms will be working his seventh Super Bowl, which trails only John Madden’s 11 among analysts.

Nantz, working his third Super Bowl, said legendary broadcaster Dick Enberg, who called eight Super Bowls, told him over dinner last weekend that the best feedback he ever received was after the 1983 Super Bowl, when Enberg and Merlin Olsen spoke a lot less, “in short, clipped phrases” because they were getting annoying feedback in their headsets in the first quarter.

“Dick passed that on to me as a wonderful teaching point,” Nantz said. “It’s one of those games where ‘less is more’ is pretty appropriate.”

Simms uses tiresome jargon less than other analysts: “I don’t give very intricate football terms,” he said. “I understand the fan sitting at home, you need to make it as simple as possible. We’re not going to confuse [viewers].”

### If Baltimore wins, CBS will walk a fine line in covering, but not overdoing, the postgame focus on Ray Lewis, whose over-the-top emotion wears on some viewers. Meanwhile, Nantz said: “I can’t wait to see the [Harbaughs] meet at midfield when the game ends. It’s going to be one of the greatest moments ever.” 

### For the first time, CBS will use “Huyeper Zoom” high-resolution system that “will give our replays four times the resolution of our regular replays,” McManus vows. “When you used to zoom in on a replay, it got very cloudy.”

McManus admits “there is some pressure” on Super Bowl networks to unveil something new. Also, CBS has slightly altered its graphics to “make them look a little fresher.”

### CBS hired Packers linebacker Clay Matthews as a contributing analyst on its pregame show Sunday.

### The network will use 62 cameras, well above the 9 to 12 on most regular season games. Two will focused mostly on the Harbaugh brothers.

### Super Bowl ads sold for a record average of $3.8 million, with some priced over $4 million.

### For its on-line coverage of the game, CBS will stream numerous alternate camera views, including a “fan’s choice” that allows viewers to select an angle.

### CBS Sports Network will air a Super Bowl postgame show for the first time, competing with ESPN’s. “It’s the highest profile branding opportunity CBS Sports Network has ever had,” McManus said.

### Brett Favre is joining NFL Network as a studio analyst Sunday. 

February 01, 2013

UM recruiting update with Signing Day looming; NFL media column

Five days before National Signing Day, here’s the most stunning factoid about UM’s recruiting class: The Canes have as many commitments from players who grew up in Nigeria as they do from recruits who attended high school in Dade or Broward.

As one clever fan cracked to Manny Navarro on Twitter, UM is putting up a wall.

Around Nigeria.

But seriously… the fact that UM has snagged only two local kids – defensive backs Artie Burns and Jamal Carter – is eye-opening and a bit disconcerting at this late date. That’s not to say UM’s class is inferior. There are some very good players in this group of 12 – quarterback Kevin Olsen, Burns, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammed and tight ends Beau Sandland and Standish Dobard.

But UM needs to close with a flourish.

That’s why many will question UM’s decision to pull its scholarship offer to Denver Kirkland after Kirkland refused to accept what amounted to a take-it-or-leave-it offer on Thursday.

Kirkland, ranked ninth nationally among offensive tackles by rivals.com, is universally rated higher than the three offensive linemen who are orally committed to UM: Alex Gall, Hunter Knighton and Sonny Odogwu.

Booker T. Washington coach Tim Harris, who used to work for UM, reacted angrily; check out Manny Navarro’s UM blog for details.

Harris didn’t go as far as to say it would hurt UM’s chances of luring Matthew Thomas, one of the nation’s top linebackers, but you have to wonder.

A quick Canes update with signing day approaching:

### Defensive tackle: Considering Miami's need for impact d-tackles, it will be a disappointment if UM can’t lure either Jaynard Bostwick or Keith Bryant. But Bryant has said Miami is trailing FSU and South Carolina, and Bostwick has a strong relationship with the Gators’ defensive coaches and will spend the weekend visiting UF.

UM still believes it has a real chance with Bostwick, but the Hurricanes are no longer a favorite here. At best, it’s a tossup for the Port St. Lucie tackle. And Alabama isn’t out of the question. If Bryant reverses course and picks UM, it would be a major surprise.

UM has a decent chance of grabbing defensive tackle Terrell Brooks, a junior college All-American in Texas this season. But his coach told me tonight that he’s not sure what Brooks will do, and that Kansas State and Baylor also are in the mix.

### Running back: As long as UM gets either Alex Collins or Augustus Edwards, the Canes will be content. But it would be troublesome if they don’t get either.

Collins’ coach, Doug Gatewood, told both me and Manny Navarro today that he isn’t pushing Collins to Arkansas, contrary to Internet chatter. He said "I don't think Alex knows" what to do. That gives him only the weekend to choose among UM, Arkansas, UF and Wisconsin before he announces on Fox Sports at 10 p.m. Monday.

Gatewood denied a report that Collins has cut the field to just Miami and Arkansas, but it would be a surprise if he doesn’t end up at one of those two schools.

Meanwhile, Edwards told Rivals.com tonight that he no longer ranks FSU ahead of UM and has both schools about even heading into his Coral Gables visit this weekend.

### Linebacker: FSU always has been confident about landing Thomas, but UM and Alabama remained strongly in the mix as of Thursday. But it remains to be seen whether Thomas is influenced by the Hurricanes’ spurning of Kirkland…. Louisville and Tennessee are making a hard push for Miramar’s Jermaine Grace, but it would be a mild surprise if he doesn’t pick UM.

### Receiver: Stacy Coley, the only receiver that UM really covets, hasn’t tipped his hand, but is said to be strongly considering UM, FSU and USF. Mississippi also has drawn consideration. His coach said he loved his USF visit this past weekend.

### Tight end: With Jeremy Kerr switching his commitment to FSU, UM has an opening for a third tight end in this class and is targeting Virginia-based Ryheem Lockley, who will visit this weekend. UM and UF appear the top contenders, according to canesport.com, but Lockley likely will spend this fall in prep school. Miami also has resumed speaking to Indiana-based Nate Wozniak, who also can play offensive tackle.

Please check the last post for the Friday media column.