11:30 p.m.: Heat shakes up coaching staff; UM schedules series with FIU; Ex-players vocal on UM program; Heat summons FA center; Dolphins, Marlins
Quick 11:30 p.m. update: As Yahoo! reported tonight, Erik Spoelstra is shaking up his coaching staff.
Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo will no longer be in the significant positions they've held for years and have been offered other jobs in the organization. Juwan Howard is expected to take one of their spots on the bench.
The other spot held by Rothstein and McAdoo might go to a former NBA coach (Yahoo! said that has been discussed) or possibly to Dan Craig, who has coached the Heat's summer league team the past two years.
Meanwhile, David Fizdale, 40, will become Spoelstra's unquestioned lead assistant. He joined the Heat's staff in 2008, one of Spoelstra's first hires as coach, after holding assistant jobs with the Warriors and Hawks. He declined overtures to interview for Portland's job a couple of years ago, saying that he wanted to remain with the Heat.
Rothstein, 71, was the Heat's first coach and has been a Heat assistant for the past 11 seasons. McAdoo, 62, has been a Heat assistant for the past 20.
SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Hurricanes chatter as we approach Monday's season opener:
### Eight years after an ugly football brawl created a rift between UM and FIU, the schools have struck a deal to resume their cross-town rivalry. Look for UM and FIU to announce that they have scheduled football games in 2018 at Sun Life Stadium and 2019 at a site-to-be-determined.
The 2019 meeting is technically an FIU home game, but the game will not be at FIU Stadium because it’s too small; it figures to be played at Marlins Park (the Marlins would be interested) or Sun Life. The schools also will resume playing in other sports.
Emotions have thawed since 13 players were ejected and 31 assessed one-game suspensions after a bench-clearing brawl in their 2006 game. After that incident, UM said it would not schedule any more football or basketball games with FIU, beyond the 2007 football game already scheduled.
### I asked several UM players and officials for tangible reasons why this defense will be better after finishing 89th last season.
Among their answers: better defensive line depth with the additions of Chad Thomas, Trent Harris and Demetrius Jackson; the instincts and physicality that Dallas Crawford will bring to safety; talent and depth at cornerback; and the belief that Calvin Heurtelou, Courtel Jenkins and eventually Michael Wyche will be slightly better at defensive tackle than Curtis Porter (out of football), Justin Renfrow (cut by Arizona last week) and Luther Robinson (cut today by Green Bay).
Anthony Chickillo cited another reason: “Our defense is an NFL system and you have to put in the work. Guys are taking the initiative to learn it more” than past years.
Cornerback Tracy Howard said one reason for that increased player diligence is “we got a lot of distractions out of the program,” declining to elaborate.
Still, one UM person voiced concern about how UM will defend runs to the perimeter.
In general, “how they play defense is just crazy,” Fox analyst and former UM assistant and ex-Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. “I’m pulling for them but they have some issues.”
### Some former UM players are restless with the state of the program.
“It’s a short leash this year,” Brett Romberg said this offseason. “Excuses are over. You’ve getting good athletes. No excuses any more! You’re seeing the same mistakes, and that’s coaching.
“They aren’t capable of running a 3-4 defense [which they will play sometimes]. Their linebackers aren’t capable of holding the gap in a 3-4. Bill Belichick was able to get the most even when he didn’t have great talent on his lines.”
Clinton Portis likes Al Golden --- "he's the right man for the job" --- but said: “For what we’re used to in a defensive coordinator, it’s not up to our standards. But we also don’t have the defensive linemen, linebackers and secondary we’re used to, don’t have playmakers who command double teams, don’t have linebackers who wreak havoc. But you have to give Mark D’Onofrio something to work with.”
And Randal Hill said: “Fans are spoiled because it’s Miami. And rightfully so. Butch Davis went through sanctions and won games. You can’t just win against only teams with losing records. A lot of former players want to see better defense and a better team. Are they going in the right direction? My jury is out.”
### Offensive coordinator James Coley insists UM has no intention of playing conservatively because Brad Kaaya is a freshman. “But you wouldn’t know he’s a freshman,” receiver Malcolm Lewis said, noting his poise and sound decision-making.
Provided Kaaya fulfills expectations, the future --– regardless of whether suspended Kevin Olsen sticks around --- looks promising at quarterback with Kaaya, Malik Rosier, 2015 Tampa-based oral commitment Dwayne Lawson (rivals.com’s 23rd-ranked dual threat quarterback who also has offers from UF, FSU and Ohio State) and 2016 four-star UM oral commitment Jack Allison, the 6-5 Palmetto High junior whom analyst Charles Fishbein calls “elite” and comparable in ability to Kyle Wright.
### Running backs coach Tim Harris predicts freshman Joseph Yearby “is going to be very special this season and the future, one of the great ones that comes through here. He reminds me of Clinton Portis. He has that type of ability to make guys miss in space and accelerate for a long run.”
### What do Las Vegas bookmakers think of the Dolphins? Not much.
Miami’s over/under for wins at the MGM Grand and 12 Nevada casinos is 7.5 and its odds to win the Super Bowl are 60-to-1. Only three teams have longer odds: Buffalo (80 to 1) and Tennessee and Jacksonville (125 to 1).
### Remember that committee that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross formed to review the team’s conduct policies and make suggestions? Tony Dungy told me last week that the group (Dungy, Dan Marino, Jason Taylor, Don Shula, Curtis Martin) never even met and has no plans to.
### The injury to Dolphins rookie linebacker Jordan Tripp is a bruised sternum, and the team is hopeful he will be back this week or next.... Please see the last post for a wrap-up of the Dolphins' roster moves, as chronicled in our running blog Saturday.
### The Heat, looking to add another veteran backup center, summoned 6-11 Nazr Mohammed, 34, for a workout and meeting with team executives on Thursday. Mohammed, who has career averages of 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds, played in 80 games for the Bulls last season.
Among free agent centers, the Heat is most intrigued by Emeka Okafor. But ESPN said he might not play until midseason because of a herniated disk. The Heat also has inquired about 6-11 free agent center Andray Blatche, who has a home here.
### One veteran NBA scout said of the most prominent shooting guards still available last week --- Ray Allen, Jordan Crawford, Golden State-bound Leandro Barbosa, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Heat-bound Shannon Brown --- the Heat signed the worst in Brown, who’s an erratic shooter.
But the Heat wanted a backup two-guard with size (6-4) and one who can defend, and there were concerns about Barbosa’s defense and durability, and maturity questions about Crawford, who remains available. Also, Brown was willing to take a non-guaranteed deal, according to basketballinsiders.com.
The Heat would love for Allen to come back but know that’s unlikely. Associates say he has been conflicted about whether to retire or sign with Cleveland or another top contender (the Clippers and Spurs also want him).
Incidentally, before they were charged with trespassing, the seven teenagers who traipsed through Allen’s home tried to placate Allen and his wife by sending them flowers. The Allens refused to accept the flowers.
### Though David Beckham’s two preferred MLS stadium sites were rejected (PortMiami and the boat slip), a friend said Beckham remains very optimistic about finding another Miami location (downtown or nearby) to place a team here. Broward's interest, to this point, has not been reciprocated.
### Among the perplexing Marlins’ developments: how right-handers have gone from hitting .185 off closer Steve Cishek in 2013 to .289 in 2014, entering the weekend.
Teams have hit .279 off Cishek since the All-Star break and .248 overall, compared with .211 last season. One scout said his “slider is not as hard as it was; he’s a little shaky for me” and his overall velocity is down from last year.
Cishek (4-5, 3.74) has a good save percentage (31 for 35) and should command trade interest this winter. He would top $4 million in salary if he goes to arbitration, and the Marlins will need to decide if they believe he’s worth that.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz