October 30, 2015

Heat-Cavs postscripts, reaction; Dan Campbell's thoughts, injury updates a day about Thursday's debacle; Dan Jennings reacts to dismissal

Lots of stuff on a Friday night:


Thoughts on Cleveland’s 102-92 victory against the Heat, which was a five-point game in the third quarter before the Heat unraveled and fell behind by 19:

### Mario Chalmers and Amar’e Stoudemire said this month that the Heat’s second unit could start for a lot of teams. Well, that’s a stretch to begin with, and certainly not remotely the case if the second unit defends as casually as it did Friday, and on nights Gerald Green is badly off with his shot.

Stoudemire, in his season debut, offered little resistance defensively, and ESPN's Hubie Brown said he must defend and rebound or Erik Spoelstra might instead opt for Chris Andersen, whose defense isn’t as strong as it once was, either. Andersen was inactive tonight.

Green, the Heat’s leading scorer in preseason and on opening night, struggled mightily (1-for-9, five points).

And so the Heat’s second unit, which extended Miami’s lead in the opener, instead lost ground, with Stoudemire finishing with a minus 16 plus/minus in 12 minutes, Justise Winslow a minus 16 in 19 minutes, Green a minus 18 in 16, and Josh McRoberts a minus 17 in 13 minutes.

Conversely, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varajao, Richard Jefferson and Matthew Dellavedova (10 assists, no turnovers) all had outstanding plus/minuses because they did much of their good work against Heat reserves.

"That's going to happen," Spoelstra said of the second unit's falloff. "Ultimately, someone will have to defend."

The Cavaliers were plus three when LeBron was on the bench, and that cannot happen if the Heat harbors any thoughts of challenging the Cavaliers this season.  

LeBron scored 29 (13 for 19 from the field). And remember, Cleveland did this without injured Kyrie Irving.

### Hassan Whiteside had 11 points, 9 boards, 6 blocks and a career-high 2 assists in 36 minutes. "I thought he was great," Spoelstra said. 

### With Green off the mark, the Heat predictably was woeful from beyond the arc (6-21) and shot 43 percent from the field overall. Cleveland shot 6 for 25 on threes but still won comfortably.

### There wasn’t enough from Goran Dragic (11 points, 6 assists, 3 for 9 shooting), who had his second consecutive quiet game offensively as he tries to get everyone involved.

"That's something I'll work on, make sure he's aggressive, get to spots where he feels confident and can make plays," Spoelstra said.

### Dwyane Wade had 25 points (on efficient 8 for 15 shooting) but also committed seven of the Heat’s 13 turnovers.

### As Hubie noted, Winslow “played LeBron perfectly twice; he wasn’t going for any of the pump fakes.” But LeBron still scored against him.

### The Heat, last in the league in rebounding a year ago, delivered a disappointing effort on the boards. Cleveland finished with a 49-38 advantage and Chris Bosh (16 points) had only five rebounds. Kevin Love (24 points, 14 rebounds) got the better of the power forward matchup.

"Love was always around the ball," Spoelstra said.

And Stoudemire had three boards, Thompson nine.

"They have three of the best rebounders in the league; they're just relentless," Bosh said. 

### More from Spoelstra afterward: "If you're going to come into a building like this, you have to be able to defend. We couldn't put together enough tough possessions defensively. We didn't defend well enough to win on the road. Offensively, when the ball's not dropping, you have to find different ways to win and we weren't able to do that tonight. There were times we were organized and the ball was moving. That will improve. We have offensive talent."

### Bosh: "There's still a lot we have to learn as a unit and it's going to take time. We' ve got a long way to go." 

### Wade: "This was a learning game. We'll build from it. They ran their offense great; give them credit. They did some things we hadn't seen. We'll be more prepared next time."


Here’s what Campbell had to say in his late-afternoon media session today:

### On losing Cam Wake for the season: "It’s a big loss. He’s going to be missed. It’s real big. Cam is a very, very productive player for us, one of our captains, one of our team leaders. Guys look up to him. It’s going to hurt. I talked to Cam last night. He’s a true pro. He’s disappointed but he’s holding his head high. He’s not going to let it drag him down."

### On replacing him: “We are fortunate to have a guy like Derrick Shelby who can step into that role and help us, among others. All those guys will pick up the slack for Cam or help us. We still got guys who can rush the passer --- [Ndamukong] Suh and [Olivier Vernon] and Shelby. Chris McCain can possible fill some of that role. And Earl Mitchell. We’ve got enough guys."

### He said there’s no timetable for Ja’Wuan James’ return from a toe injury but said he might miss four to six weeks and didn’t rule out surgery.

“This week doesn’t look good, don’t know how long he will be out. We’re looking at all the options. We know it’s not good, but don’t quite know how bad it is yet. That would be a big loss for us. Ja’Wuan has been playing good football for us, coming around like a second-year player should. Jason Fox will step in and will do a nice job for us.”

### On DeVante Parker, who left with a foot injury: “DeVante is fine. It doesn’t look like there’s anything that’s wrong there.”

### On his team’s mood, the day after a 36-7 loss at New England: “The mood of these players, and I could tell last night, you could tell the attitude was right. You could tell it burned at them. They knew they didn’t play well. They’re far better than what was put on tape.

"They’re going to be ready to come back Monday and work. You’ve got to come back and do what we’ve done the last three weeks, when we’ve been able to go full speed at practice. Get back to a competitive level and we’ll get our swagger back.”

### On reasons for Thursday’s loss: “More than anything, it was lack of production. I don’t see it as lack of emotion or lack of intensity. It was a production deal. We have one guy that would miss a block, or one guy here who didn’t make a good cut on a run or a dropped ball or a penalty.

“When you’re playing big games, your impact players really have to show up for you. We didn’t get enough plays out of those guys.

“You have to play sound smart football in all three phases. We did not do that. We didn’t help ourselves one bit. You can’t have mistakes we had. You can’t have two turnovers. You can’t have a holding call, you can’t miss a block here. I thought our defense did some good things, particularly early. We’ve got to find a way to move the ball, get it in the end zone."

### On the Dolphins’ third downs problems (2 for 11 last night): “The majority of those are third and long. I don’t care who you are. You get in 3rd and 10 plus, that’s a problem. That’s hard. That’s what we were living in the first four games of the season. We have to get more production on first and second down. We can’t have tackles for losses or no gains or incomplete passes.”

### On having a nine-day break before playing at Buffalo: “I’m glad we do have some time here; these guys need a break, need to heal up. This will serve us well. I’ll give myself maybe a day, spend it with the family, try to get to know them again. Plan on coming in [Saturday], gather my thoughts, look at Buffalo, look at what we want to do to prepare for Buffalo. That’s what I’m going to do [Saturday].”


Former Marlins manager and general manager Dan Jennings, dismissed by the team on Thursday, released a statement this afternoon:

“After 13-plus years with the Marlins organization, I received a phone call yesterday from David Samson and Mike Hill informing me that I was being relieved from my position as general manager. While this was certainly sad and regrettable news, I respect their prerogative to make changes and listen to new voices.

“It has been a fun ride during my time with the Marlins. Having the opportunity to serve as vice president of player personnel, general manager and field manager, and being part of the 2003 World Series championship.

 “However, nothing is more special than the people. I would like to thank Mr. Loria and David Samson for employing me, and the wonderful Marlins office staff I was afforded the opportunity to work with. And most importantly, the Marlins players for their energy and effort and the opportunity to win their trust and respect this season. I wish the Marlins' players and the organization the best as we all move forward with our careers.”

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

October 29, 2015

Legendary UM AD Jankovich with thoughts, advice on looming UM coach search; Hurricanes, Heat chatter; Dolphins-Pats reaction; Marlins change

Friday morning update: As expected, Cam Wake is out for the season with a torn Achilles'. Derrick Shelby will replace him as the starting defensive end, with Terrence Fede and Chris McCain backing up Shelby and Olivier Vernon. McCain said he was moved from defensive end to linebacker three weeks ago.


Former UM athletic director Sam Jankovich, who made great hires in Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson and presided over a UM program that won seven national titles during his eight years (including three in football), has some sensible thoughts on how UM should approach this coaching search.

Here would be Jankovich’s advice to UM athletic director Blake James, who has done excellent work with facilities and fundraising and now faces his first big coaching hire.

He said it would be a mistake to limit the search to people with UM ties (“you should not close the door on others and get yourself emotionally involved”), said the failed Al Golden experiment should not rule out quality mid-major coaches, and said UM needs to reach out to candidates that some people might believe aren’t available.

“Before I hired Jimmy Johnson from Oklahoma State, everyone said no way in the world Jimmy would leave there,” Jankovich said. “Before I hired Dennis Erickson [from Washington State], everyone said Erickson would never go. Now, there are six or eight that might be gettable.

“Take Sonny Dykes at California. Cal has some real drawbacks – very tough program and the surroundings of it. [Mississippi State’s] Dan Mullen -- would you rather be there in [Starkville] or at Miami? I’m not convinced James Franklin wouldn’t get tired of the shadow of Joe Paterno at Penn State. I’m not convinced Bob Stoops wants to end his career at Oklahoma. I would reach out to anyone” who’s appealing but not perceived to be looking for a job.

Along those lines, some UM people believe Texas’ Charlie Strong, Georgia’s Mark Richt and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez might emerge as candidates and that Sttrong and Rodriguez in particular would listen, despite the predictable denials from any employed coach.

Among mid-major coaches, Jankovich said: “You have to look at the guy at Memphis [Justin Fuente] and Houston [Tom Herman]. Even though I’m not an Urban Meyer fan, he has done a great job.” Herman previously was Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Ohio State. 

Jankovich said UM “shouldn’t have to panic; you don’t want to get emotionally involved and say we have to hire Butch Davis or Greg Schiano because everyone is screaming.”

He does like some of the candidates with UM ties, including Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, because “if you are around Nick Saban, you are going to learn to be a great coach. You look at Jim McElwain [at Florida] as an example.”

Though Jankovich doesn’t believe it’s essential to hire a coach with UM ties, he said it is important to have multiple assistant coaches with Hurricanes connections who really “know what made this program tick and what made it compete on a national level.”

Jankovich said strong candidates would become even more attractive if they could bring a quality staff. He said James doesn’t need to hire a search firm (James hasn’t said if he will) because “that’s what you’re getting paid for.”

He doesn’t believe salary will be an issue. “Anytime you’re around $2.5 million, you can get up to $3 million,” he said. UM might approach $4 million for the right person if that's necessary.

“Of all the jobs that will open up --- I don’t know if USC will --- the best job out is this one [because] you can compete for the national championship,” Jankovich said. “What happened to Al is beyond me, but that team never improved. I don’t know if he was too loyal to his staff but you want to make sure the new coach can surround himself with really great people.”


### James holds former UM offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski in high regard, according to someone close to James, and it won’t be surprising if Chudzinski --- now the Indianapolis Colts’ associate head coach --- emerges as a serious candidate.

Chudzinski has been a head coach only once, for Cleveland. He was fired after finishing 4-12 in 2013. But he has been an offensive coordinator with UM and the Carolina Panthers and he’s well respected.

Among high-level Board of Trustee members, there is support internally for Chudzinski, Schiano and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator and former Alabama coach Mike Shula. But this is James’ decision.

Cristobal is a polarizing candidate among some Trustees – his ability to recruit South Florida is attractive but there’s concern about how his tenure ended at FIU (3-9, and 27-47 overall).

Several Trustees said they would be surprised if Davis got the job, but UM will not automatically rule him out. Davis continued his media tour today, telling 790 The Ticket in a live interview that he would "very much" like the job.

### Whereas Dan Campbell changed a lot after replacing Joe Philbin, UM players Chris Herndon, Kc McDermott and Rayshawn Jenkins said interim coach Larry Scott hasn’t changed a single tangible thing from the way Golden operated.

The only difference, Jenkins said, is “we have more energy. He’s always telling people to run instead of walk.” Said Herndon: Scott “is a comedian. He connects with us, makes us laugh.”

### One UM official said there was nobody on the defensive staff qualified to replace Mark D’Onofrio as coordinator over the final five games, and D’Onofrio said he’s not surprised that he remains employed here after Golden’s firing.

### Got to love the no-filter candor from Chris Bosh. So is facing Cleveland on Friday still a big deal? “Hell yes, it’s a big deal! It’s on ESPN, isn’t it?... We want to get to the point where people have to measure themselves against us [not Cleveland].”

And after Justise Winslow’s outstanding opener, Bosh said Thursday what a lot of Heat people are feeling: “I’m glad everybody [nine teams] passed up on him…. He's a physical beast.”

Goran Dragic said teammates screamed, “Welcome to the league, Rook!” after Winslow’s electric dunk.

Incidentally, the Duke family is so close that coach Mike Krzyzewski texted Winslow before Wednesday’s game, and every Duke assistant coach texted him after.

### Winslow might get some time on LeBron James on Friday. Bosh's advice? "Stay between him and the basket."

Winslow won't ask for the assignment: "I'm prepared to guard all of their perimeter players, including him."

### Dragic said Erik Spoelstra told him he will “play the first six, seven minutes,” then go to the bench, then return with the second unit --- smart because he has great chemistry with Gerald Green (they played in Phoenix together).

“I know where Gerald is going to be,” Dragic said. “[And] Josh McRoberts helps a lot [on that group]. He makes the game easier for us.”


A reality check for the Dolphins tonight, who were pounded 36-7 in New England and lost Cam Wake to an Achilles' injury (Armando Salguero says he's out for the season), Ju'Wuan James to a toe injury (he was wearing a boot afterward) and DeVante Parker to another foot injury (Parker says it's not serious).

Ryan Tannehill threw for a hollow 300 yards (28 for 44) but had two picks, no touchdowns and a 64.6 passer rating. In his defense, there were several dropped passes.

Dan Campbell, afterward:

"We didn't play good enough. I told them I don't believe one bit that's really who we are. I told them I don't want them to forget that feeling. I hope it eats away at them like it eats away at me, so they don't have the feeling ever again. You can't make mistakes against that defense." 

On a running game that produced only 15 yards on 13 carries: "I'm going to be watching the film and find out exactly what happened. We got beat in some one-on-one situations. We had a couple runs that weren't real good. On the sideline watching, that's what I saw."

On losing Wake, who was on crutches after the game: "If you lost a guy like Cam, it would hurt. Not only is he a leader, he's a very productive player." 

On offensive penalties: "Those are killers. First drive out of the gate, we get a false start and holding penalty. Now you get into second, third and long against them, you can't allow that to happen."

For our scoop on Dan Jennings' dismissal (updated with quotes from Marlins executives tonight), please see the last post.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

October 28, 2015

Marlins fire Dan Jennings; Mattingly joins Marlins; Postscripts, reaction from Heat's opening night win; Phil Simms opines on Dolphins before working Miami's nationally-televised Thursday game

Thursday 6 p.m. update: The Marlins have dismissed general manager Dan Jennings, according to sources, and are not naming a replacement. Michael Hill, the team's president/baseball operations, will assume those duties.

[UPDATE: The Marlins have announced the move, which we first reported. The team Jennings was "relieved of his duties." President David Samson said tonight it was his decision to sever ties with Jennings, and Loria allowed it. The Marlins must still pay Jennings $5.6 million over the next three seasons.

 “The conversations Michael and I had with Dan, both of us would probably agree this is the best decision to make,” Samson said.

“As I was watching everything develop during October, I felt the way it was running since the middle of May was probably the way it should continue to run. The way Mike operates the baseball department and the people he has in place put us in better positions to win games. The ideas Michael has of how to turn this around I think are ideas that are right.”

Samson said Jennings, who did not return a phone call from The Miami Herald, “did not seem surprised” by his dismissal. “He understood. It was sad for me and Michael because when you've been working for people for a long time, it’s tough.”]

Jennings, who left his front office position to replace Mike Redmond in May and guided the team to a 55-69 record, was told in September that he would not return as manager, even though he wanted to.

Jennings, 55, was offered a job to return to his previous role as the team's general manager and accepted. But as I reported last Saturday, days before he was set to return to work on Oct. 19, Jennings was told to remain in Alabama and not to return to the Marlins offices.

Jennings had questions about his level of authority and responsibilities and president David Samson told Jennings that he needed to speak to owner Jeffrey Loria to answer those questions, before returning to work.

But that conversation with Loria apparently never happened, and the Marlins decided to part ways with him Thursday.

It's believed the Marlins thought the dynamics of the front office would be better without Jennings, whose once strong relationship with Loria soured during his time as manager.

Loria and Jennings squabbled over lineup decisions, including whether to play Marcell Ozuna, according to a source aligned with Jennings.

Jennings wanted to play him most every day after he returned from the minors; Loria was down on Ozuna and wanted him on the bench some days or moved from center field to right field during Giancarlo Stanton's absence.

The Marlins must pay Jennings through the end of the 2018 season. He's reportedly due $5.6 million.

It's a surprising conclusion to Jennings' 13-year tenure with the organization. After serving as assistant GM, Jenning was promoted to GM in September 2013 and was second in command in the baseball front office hierarchy, behind Hill. He gave up GM duties to become manager in May.

Michael Hill will remain the team's president/baseball operations. Besides Hill, Loria also is listening to several others in his front office, including assistant general manager Mike Berger, vice president/player personnel Jeff McAvoy and Marc Delpiano, who was hired away from the Pittsburgh Pirates in August for a job essentially running the team's farm system.

Jennings did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.



The Marlins' courtship of Don Mattingly, as reported here in the past week, ended successfully today with Mattingly agreeing to manage the Marlins, according to sources.

It's a four-year deal, as first reported by Molly Knight, who spent a year chronicling the Dodgers under Mattingly.

A Mattingly associate, who asked he not be identified because the deal has not been announced, said  Mattingly is "excited" about the opportunity and likes the "mixture of kids" and veterans on the Marlins' roster. He said he was impressed by Marlins management during Monday's interview.

"The key thing is these guys want him," the associate said. "He was someone else's guy in Los Angeles [because the current Dodgers administration didn't hire him]. The expectations there were that if he didn't win the World Series, he would be out. How many people have that pressure?"

The associate said Mattingly comes across as a "quiet guy" but he's "fierce and intense."

Mattingly returned to his hometown of Evansville, Ind., this week after meeting with Marlins officials on Monday. A formal announcement is expected after the World Series.

Mattingly replaces Dan Jennings, who replaced Mike Redmond after the team started 16-22. The Marlins finished 71-91.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who lives in New York, has always been fond of Mattingly, a former Yankee star who made All-Star team six times in 14 seasons. Loria helped arrange an event in which Mattingly was honored several years ago.

Mattingly and the Dodgers parted ways recently after he led the team to three consecutive National League West titles but no World Series appearances. 

He won 55.1 percent of his regular season games in five years in Los Angeles (446-363) but was 8-11 in postseason.

"I think he had a good sense of when to approach players, not just when to do it, if to do it at all," Dodgers general manager Farhad Zaidi told The Los Angeles Times.

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis praised Mattingly for speaking to players privately instead of calling them out in front of teammates.

But Dodgers management apparently wanted a new voice after again failing to make the World Series with baseball's largest payroll last season ($272 million). In Miami, Mattingly will have a payroll closer to $80 million.

The Marlins' managerial job has been a revolving door since Loria bought the team in 2002, and Mattingly will be the team's 10th during his ownership. One manager, Joe Girardi, was fired being winning National League Manager of the Year because Loria didn't like how he interacted with management. Another ballyhooed hire, Ozzie Guillen, was fired after one season in which the team vastly underachieved and Guillen made controversial comments about Fidel Castro.

The managers that Loria has employed during his ownership:

### Jeff Torborg: 2002-03; 95-105/.475 winning percentage; fired

### Jack McKeon: 2003-05; 286-257/ .538; won World Series in 2003; resigned

### Joe Girardi: 2006 78-84/48.1; fired 

### Fredi Gonzalez: 2007-midway through 2010; 276-279/49.7; fired

### Edwin Rodriguez: 2010-11; 78-85/47.9; resigned

### Brandon Hyde: 2011; 0-1; interim manager

### McKeon again: 2011; 40-50/.444; interim manager

### Ozzie Guillen: 2012; 69-93/ 42.6; fired

### Mike Redmond: 2013-May of 2015; 155-207, 42.8; fired

### Dan Jennings; 2015; 55-69; .443; Moved back to general manager's job, though he has been told not to report to work until he has more conversations with Loria



Postscripts and reaction from the Heat’s 104-94 season-opening win against the Charlotte Hornets at AmericanAirlines Arena:

### So much encouraging in this one, from Chris Bosh looking like the pre-blood clot Bosh; to a spry Dwyane Wade; to an active, versatile Justise Winslow making an imprint in his first game; to Gerald Green doing Gerald Green things.

Miami, at least for a night, did good work in two areas where the Heat had to improve --- three-point shooting and field-goal percentage against.

The Heat, which ranked 24th in three-point shooting percentage last season, shot 12 for 20 from the beyond the arc, including 5 for 8 from Green.

And the Heat, an uncharacteristic 19th in field-goal percentage against last season (45.4), held the Hornets to 39.3 percent shooting, including 34.4 over the last three quarters.

This helped, too: Miami shot 20 for 21 on free throws, best ever for a Heat opener.

### The Heat opened and closed with slightly different lineups. Hassan Whiteside started, naturally, but it was Green alongside the other Heat starters late.

And Green deserves to play in crunch time: He scored 19 points in 30 minutes, hit five threes (most ever for a Heat opener) and made a defensive stop late. The Heat’s bench has gone from weakness to strength, thanks in large part to Green.

“On some nights, I might start off a little slow, but as long as I can put a lot of energy on the defensive end, we’re OK,” Green told Sun Sports’ Jason Jackson afterward.

“We want him to play with the utmost confidence,” Erik Spoelstra said. "We know he’s ignitable. We know he took one Heat-check shot, but sometimes when you get on a roll, that happens. We need that scoring punch. He’s not just a scorer now. He’s developing other parts of his game.”

The Heat played small late, with Chris Bosh at center, Luol Deng at power forward, and Green, Wade and Goran Dragic.

### Wade drove to the basket with verve, hit his mid-range jumper and scored 20 points (7 for 16 shooting) with five assists.

"I enjoy having Gerald to come in for me; I haven't had a guy with that firepower to come in for me in a long time," Wade said.

### Bosh? He gave Miami exactly what it needs (21 points, 10 rebounds, 9 of 10 from the line) in his first regular season game since mid-February.

"Bosh was the X factor," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said.

### Deng (13 points) had two big fourth-quarter baskets, a corner three and a top-of-the-key three after Charlotte cut Miami’s 20-point lead to five with under a minute left. The Heat did a splendid job passing the ball to set up that late Deng three.

“That’s the toughest time to do it,” Spoelstra said. “Dwyane moved it, got the ball to Goran, looked like he was open for a second for a three and moved it for a better one. Those are habits you build of trusting your teammates.”

### Because of the improved depth (especially Green), the Heat could afford quiet nights from Whiteside (four points, six rebounds, two blocks in 20 minutes) and Dragic (8 points, six assists).

Whiteside was lifted four minutes into the game because of the “flow of the game,” Spoelstra said.

In Whiteside’s defense, he played better defense against Al Jefferson in the third quarter after struggling against him early.

“They had some stretch fours and fives out there that get your bigs running around,” Spoelstra said of Whiteside's limited minutes. “There will be times he’s playing 36 minutes.”

### Nobody saw this coming: Udonis Haslem was the first player summoned off the Heat’s bench, largely because he has had some success defending Jefferson in the past.

Jefferson scored 13 of Charlotte’s first 17 points but just four points the rest of the game. Curiously, he played just 22 minutes.

With Amar’e Stoudemire held out as part of the Heat’s maintenance program, Spoelstra opted for Haslem over Chris Andersen, who didn’t play. Josh Richardson joined Stoudemire on the inactive list. Tyler Johnson and James Ennis didn't play.

### Winslow, at 19, already has the qualities an above-average NBA defender. "He has a very mature defensive game, a thick man's body," Ron Rothstein said on the Fox Sports Sun postgame.

Winslow had five points (making both his shots from the field, including a three), seven rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes. The Heat outscored the Hornets by 26 in his 26 minutes, giving him by far the game’s best plus/minus. Nobody else was better than plus 10.

“I love seeing the box score," Spoelstra said of Winslow. "I love that stat line, where nothing jumps out at you except the scoreboard. You can’t evaluate Justise’s game by analytics. Sometimes it doesn’t tell the whole story. He just makes winning plays, both sides of the court.”

### Charlotte part-owner Michael Jordan had the chance to draft Winslow ninth or trade the pick to Boston for six draft picks. Naturally, he instead took Frank Kaminsky, who was scoreless in six minutes. (No disrespect to Kaminsky. We know it's only one game. But two GMs told us this summer that Jordan made a mistake.)

### Spoelstra played a number of small lineups with uneven results at times, but more positive than negative, with the Heat able to exploit several favorable matchups. Several times, Bosh took advantage of the slow-footed Spencer Hawes.

### Spoelstra also smartly had Dragic play considerable minutes with Green; those two played very well together in Phoenix.

### Spoelstra, afterward: “It was a good start. Really liked the energy the guys brought. Guys were playing to the point of fatigue. Defensively, until that fourth quarter when we started to foul, the commitment to keep them out of the paint, which was easier said that done. We’re taking some steps forward with our defense.”

### Josh McRoberts played 13 scoreless minutes, but his passing (two assists) and creativity are a huge asset on the second unit.


Chatted last night with Phil Simms, who calls Dolphins-Patriots with Jim Nantz on CBS and NFL Network on Thursday, and he had several thoughts on the Dolphins. Among them:

He said he needs to see more to judge how good the Dolphins are under Dan Campbell because the Titans aren’t very good. But what “they did to Houston was impressive. I have watched every Dolphins game.

"I will never say anything negative about Joe Philbin on the air. [But] it’s very noticeable the energy they’re playing with. Sometimes, the same message, different guy. It’s amazing how it’s received differently.

“I would listen to Dan Campbell because I’m afraid he would knock me on my butt if I didn’t.”

Simms said Jarvis Landry is “a really good modern day player. He’s faking reverses, running reverses. He looks quicker to me. He made some cuts, I went, ‘Oh my gosh.'

“Cameron Wake looks as fast as I’ve ever seen him… Ryan Tannehill hasn’t disappointed me. He’s a really solid NFL quarterback. [Longterm], we’ll judge him on the won/loss record.

"Lamar Miller’s speed is evident, but the offensive line has been more aggressive the last two weeks. Mike Pouncey is unbelievable. Pouncey and Branden Albert are special. You need two studs on an offensive line to win and they [have that].

"Miami getting a wild card wouldn’t shock me. The AFC is so much better than the NFC.”

This is CBS' last Thursday game for a while and next to last of the season, with the package moving exclusively to NFL Network next week. (CBS also airs a Packers-Lions game in early December, with an NFL Net simulcast). 

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

October 27, 2015

Both optimism and concern about Heat's starting five; Clemson coach rips UM; J.J. offers to assist UM; Dolphins nuggets; Marlins managerial update


As Heat season opens Wednesday, the starting lineup has become both a source of optimism and uneasiness internally.

Optimism because three are former All-Stars (Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng), a fourth (Goran Dragic) was third-team All-NBA two seasons ago and a fifth (Hassan Whiteside) became the first player in 54 years to average 10 points and 10 rebounds in less than 24 minutes a game.

“That’s arguably as good as any starting lineup in the Eastern Conference,” ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said.

But there’s also uneasiness because Heat officials (privately) and players (publicly) are already expressing concern about the dynamics of that first group.

One Heat official said though Miami obviously likes all five, the concern is whether that group fits the style it wants to play (fast). Another Heat official wondered if there’s enough three-point shooting in that group and said Erik Spoelstra (committed to this lineup for now) will need to adapt if it doesn’t work.

The Heat is one of only six teams expecting to start five players who each averaged double-figures in scoring last season.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” Wade said of this starting group. “We don’t know how shots are going to be passed out. We don’t know how it’s going to affect someone’s confidence when they’re not getting the opportunities they’re used to.

“The only thing that scares me about it is that we've got a lot of guys who are offensively minded… in that first unit. There's not a lot of role players in that first unit. It’s a good thing to look on paper saying we’ve got scorers, so you don’t necessarily have to rely every night on one or two guys. But that could be a bad thing, too, because maybe there’s no one willing to sacrifice. When you have a lot of [scoring] depth, sometimes guys like to individually will it.”

The responsibility of sharing the ball among five scorers will fall in part on Wade and in part on Dragic, who took two shots per game fewer in Miami (even without Bosh) than he did in Phoenix the year before. Dragic’s 12.8 shots per game for Miami were well beyond Stephen Curry (16.8), Kyrie Irving (16.5), Kemba Walker (15.8) and a bunch of other point guards.

He said he may “sometimes” need to pull back his scoring.

“It’s a fine line; it depends what the defense is giving,” Dragic said. “If I have the ball in the open court, I’m the best at that, try to draw fouls, try to suck the defense and then I can kick the ball out. At the beginning of the game, I try to get everybody involved. I just need to read the game. But when you’re alone, you need to shoot it.

"For me, to involve everyone is the main challenge. Let’s say four of the five are really hot. That’s really tough to stop because it’s coming from all over the place. That is going to be a great challenge for me. But it’s good because we have so many weapons.”

Bosh cautions: “We have to make sure we hold each other accountable, even if you have to say, ‘I know you can score, but that wasn’t a good shot.’ You have to tell each other, ‘I know you can score but you’ve got to move it, man.’”

Though the Heat has enough three-point shooting off the bench (Gerald Green, Josh McRoberts, Mario Chalmers), there’s no pure spacer in the starting lineup, which remains a concern. Deng can hit threes but doesn’t relish standing in the corner.

“Everyone would love to have one of those guys, but not every team wins because they have a spacer like that,” Wade said. “In 2006, we didn’t have a spacer like that and we won a championship. It helps, but it’s not the end all and be all. We have to learn to get spacing and make the game easier for each other.” 

### Good thing Dragic has gotten his legs back in the past few days, more so because he ran 194 miles during games last season, fifth-most in the league. (Portland’s Damian Lillard was first last season at 205 miles.)


### Jimmy Johnson told me that he and UM athletic director Blake James have texted and “I let him know I’m available if he wants a sounding board” on the coaching search. A UM source said James will take J.J. up on the offer.

Johnson says candidates shouldn’t be limited to people with UM ties. “You want the best candidate,” he said. “There are some outstanding individuals who will be interested in this job. I wouldn’t want any restriction.

“The University of Miami is a very unique place – there are obviously some things Miami does not have that some other top schools do have --- but Miami has some advantages – being in such a great area for recruiting. For a football coach, if you want to win, you’ve got a great opportunity. I still think it’s a great job but it takes the right individual.”

### UM safety Dallas Crawford said James told players that Golden’s firing “had to be done. He said he will do everything he can to get us the best head coach for the University of Miami.”

A UM Board of Trustee member said besides Golden’s poor record, a change was going to happen because some mid-level donors were going to stop contributing without one. One high-level Trustee said several Trustees lobbied for a coaching change during Saturday’s game, but it was James’ call ultimately.

### Credit FootballScoop.com for noticing this from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney's news conference today. Swinney called UM's game-day set-up "bush league."

“Anything that you do nowadays, everyone has a camera around, and first of all, it’s a terrible setup down there…it’s bush league," he said. "They shouldn’t have two teams going out [on the field] from the same place.”

“You’ve got bickering and all this stuff going on and there’s a distraction before the game that I wasn’t out there to address it early, and then you’ve got all this stuff in the game, and then we all have to go back through the same [tunnel]…it’s just, it’s not smart.”

### Please see the last post for a lot more UM news from Tuesday.

### Besides Reshad Jones, a Dolphins official says two others grading out very well recently are defensive end Derrick Shelby (Miami coaches love him and the front office might now make a real effort to re-sign him) and Mike Pouncey, who said, “This is my best season yet as a Dolphin. Now that my brother's out [Steelers center Maurkice], I have a chance to chase after being first team All-Pro. That would be my goal all season.”

### Good stuff tonight from Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, talking about Dan Campbell on Showtime's Inside the NFL: "Coach Campbell was our tight end coach then [when Marshall was a Dolphin].  And that guy was more passionate than anyone that I’ve ever been around … I mean, he got everything out of his players. Not only at the tight end position, but the wide receivers, the running backs, the defensive players and even coaches. So I’m not surprised about this.

"It’s obvious what you need to build a team and have a successful team: good scheme, philosophy, good players, good coaches.  But what we overlook sometimes is leadership. We overlook passion. And we overlook respect. Coach [Campbell] has all of that. And that’s why those guys are firing on all cylinders because that coach is building an environment down there, a culture, where the guys will run through a brick wall for him.”

### Jones said coaches have installed some wrinkles to make it easier to cover Rob Gronkowski.

### No malcontents on this year's Dolphins team, which certainly helps. Whereas Mike Wallace was disruptive at times last year by imploring coaches to throw him passes, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said nobody has lobbied him for balls this year. “You watch these guys block for each other downfield and it tells you the team players we have,” Lazor said.

### The Marlins continue to move toward a deal for former Yankees star Don Mattingly to become their next manager. Larry Bowa, the only other candidate who had interviewed twice for the Marlins job, announced he will remain the Phillies' bench coach and is under the impression that the Marlins want to hire Mattingly. As we first reported last week, Mattingly is very interested in the job.

Though a deal with Mattingly could be struck before the World Series ends, the Marlins are expected to wait until after the Series to announce it.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

Tuesday UM update: On Golden's and Blake James' meetings with players; Scott, Coley, D'Onofrio address issues

A tumultuous 48 hours at UM was punctuated by tragedy today. Interim coach Larry Scott said cornerback Artie Burns' mother has died. (Colleague Susan Miller Degnan reported that the UM staff was told that Burns' mother had a heart attack.)

Football pales in importance, but here’s an update on several on-field issues, including what Scott, James Coley and Mark D’Onofrio had to say on Tuesday:

### Larry Scott was non-committal about Brad Kaaya’s availability for Saturday at Duke, but his status is very, very, very much in doubt, considering he hasn't been cleared to practice after experiencing concussion-like symptoms Saturday. Malik Rosier took many of the snaps today.

### Al Golden shed tears in a very emotional meeting with players after his dismissal on Sunday night.

“Everybody cried,” Dallas Crawford said. “It was like time standing still --- he was being as strong as he could be. He said he didn’t get done what he needed to get done.”

Crawford said most of the players individually had a few words with Golden.

“We told him how much we appreciated him,” Crawford said. “He was a father figure to a lot of us.”

### UM athletic director Blake James met with players before Golden did on Sunday night.

Crawford said James told them that Golden’s firing “had to be done. He said he will do everything he can to get us the best head coach for the University of Miami.”

Crawford advocated Larry Scott (who is not a candidate at this time) but said he didn’t share that with James because that’s “above my pay grade. When the A.D. comes in, you listen. You don’t talk. We respect [James] so much.”

### Scott acknowledged the emotional difficulties for UM this week, even before the tragic death of Burns’ mother.

“It’s going to be about mentoring these young men and guide them through a tough period in their lives,” Scott said. “They’re young men. They get attached to people. We don’t want to get too far away from the human element. Young people are very impressionable.”

### Scott, asked his thinking in not making any staff changes: “We’re all about trying to do the right things for these young men.” 

Did Blake James and Scott jointly make that decision on assistant coach? “They left a lot of those things to me,” Scott said.

### D'Onofrio said the past two days have "been difficult, obviously. But we have a team, we have unity, we’re together and we’re going to rally like we’ve been doing since the beginning of the season."

### How much is D'Onofrio personally hurting over the firing of his friend? "No doubt," he said. "I just know what kind of guy he is and what he did here. I know that he worked tirelessly to have a successful team and he did everything he could. I’m proud of him."

### D'Onofrio said it was strange without Golden around Tuesday, but “for an hour and a half, hour and 45 minutes we get to go out here and do what we do. … Just battle through it.... We’re all here to support Larry. Right now my thoughts are with Al and his family, No. 1, support them, Artie and his family, our staff, their families and we’ve got to take care of our players. We’re going to take care of those guys. And support Larry while we do that.”

### Is D'Onofrio surprised he's still employed by UM?

"No. ... We all work our tails off and do everything we can for the players and that’s all we’ve done. We’re just going to continue to do that.”

### Has D'Onofrio had time to reflect on why it didn't work out with Golden? "No, because we’re in the middle of the season. Our players are first, and that’s it. You put the players first, go back to work and put together a plan, keep teaching them, keep practicing. … There’s no time to reflect."

### D'Onofrio was asked what can be changed by changing a head coach. "I don’t believe – at the end of the day, these kids love their head coach. They want to see it through for him."

### D'Onofrio said Golden will continue to be involved in these players' lives because "that’s who he is. He’s built a lot of close relationships with these guys, and that won’t change."

### D'Onofrio was asked if anger or disappointment was the first emotion after Golden's firing.

"Just disappointment. My heart goes out to Al and his family, first and foremost. And the coaches and their families, and obviously our players. That’s the bottom line, we have to be here for our players.... I’m always going to be there for Al. There hasn’t been much sleep. We have to be there for everybody. Our players and their families."

### James Coley, on the past 48 hours: “When there’s a staff change like that, it’s emotional at first but you grab onto your goal and your mission and move on.”

### Coley said he hasn't had any discussion with Scott about changes in offensive approach.

### Coley's his message to players: “That our goal hasn’t changed. We started off as a team talking about winning the Coastal, to have the opportunity to play in the ACC Championship game. That’s still what we’re targeting.”

And Coley said players responded “very well. Our guys came to work in meetings. They were focused.”

### Coley, on injured receiver Rashawn Scott:  “He’s getting better. He was out here, didn’t participate in practice. His conditioning is pretty good.”

 ### Why not give a chance to any of the highly-regarded freshmen offensive linemen? Coley said none are ready to elevate themselves into the mix for significant playing time.

"A lot we need to improve on. That’s obvious, right?" Coley said. "Our guys need to just relax and take their training. There’s no excuses. There are some young guys there that should have learned something on Saturday about preparation and about competing. For the most part, they responded today.”

### Coley said he hasn’t met with James. “Seen him a bunch of times. We talked. He came and met with us.”

### Does Coley think about where he might be in a couple of months? “Of course. I’m human. The human element. All that stuff gets into your brain. You think about it. It’s a good thing I don’t have time to think about that as much. You’re getting your guys ready.”

### Is it surprising Malik Rosier froze when he had his chance Saturday?

“It’s surprising for everybody who knows him,” Coley said. “When it’s your opportunity you have to be ready for that challenge and you have to step up and it has to be the first snap. You can’t get going after a couple series. That’s the challenge for him this week. He’s handled it pretty well so far, being ready in meetings, saying the right things on the field and coming out here and playing with that urgency.

“I wouldn’t say the word froze. I would say he wasn’t ready for that opportunity…. Still have to sit there with Malik and go through every play and go through corrections and be as detailed as you can be in the time that’s given to you.”

### Coley said recruits haven’t expressed any concern to him since the firing. “The recruits have been great.”

### Coley spoke to Golden. How’s he doing emotionally? “It’s tough but that’s between us.”

### Coley said Scott "did a great job getting everyone organized, getting everything on point and on task. A lot of stuff he put together prior to our day today.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz


October 26, 2015

Barkley, Kenny Smith like Heat; Mattingly update; Belichick opines on Dolphins

Some notes on a Monday afternoon as we await the Dolphins' only night practice this season:

### During a TNT conference call this afternoon, I asked Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith what they think of the Heat, two days before the season opener.

Barkley: "Miami is the fourth best team if everything works out together [behind Cleveland, Chicago and Milwaukee]. Pat Riley has done a good job retooling that team. The big key is Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside is the key. That's a lot of pressure to put on a young kid for them to get over the hump. Those three top teams in the East are really good. Miami is in that fourth spot. Erik Spoelstra has done a good job down there. Dwyane Wade is going to play pretty solid. Goran Dragic is an All-Star. Chris Bosh is going to do what he does. Whiteside is the key."

Kenny Smith: "They have eight guys who have started at some time. For me, that's a big upside for them and Gerald Green and the rookie Justise Winslow can give you a lot of energy. Talent wise, they're underrated and forgotten about. They are probably the second-most talented team in the Eastern Conference."


### Former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly interviewed for the Marlins’ managerial job on Monday, and both sides are interested in striking a deal with each other in the coming days.

Mattingly met with Marlins officials in Miami and more conversations are planned.

Mattingly, 54, likes working with young players and is intrigued by the idea of working with the Marlins' roster, according to an associate. He wants assurances that he could hire his own coaches, but the Marlins have said publicly they will grant that authority to anyone they hire.

He also wanted to make sure the offer would give him financial security, but finances weren’t expected to be an issue because owner Jeffrey Loria has been willing to spend generously on managers that strongly appeal to him. Mattingly earned $1.5 million this year as Dodgers manager and was reportedly set to make $1.6 million next season, which the Dodgers would not owe him if he lands another managing job for at least that amount.

Loria, who lives in New York, always has been fond of Mattingly dating to his days with the Yankees, where he spent his entire 14-year career, made six All-Star teams and was named American League MVP.

The Dodgers and Mattingly announced a “mutual agreement” to part ways last week. Mattingly won 55.1 percent of his games in five seasons there and led the Dodgers to the past three National League West titles but never made a World Series. The Dodgers apparently wanted a bigger return on their $272 million payroll, baseball’s largest in 2015.

Washington and San Diego also have managerial openings, but neither is believed to have targeted Mattingly, who wants to manage next season.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said he is “confident that Don Mattingly is going to be a World Series champion manager” and praised how he handled interaction with players.

"Nothing was ever done in a group setting," Ellis said.

“It was always one on one, which is the way I think it should be done. Nobody wants to be embarrassed or called out in front of teammates. He would have a coach grab someone and have them come to his office. He'd hash it out there and have a conversation.”

Mattingly received high marks for how he handled players.

"I think he had a good sense of when to approach players, not just when to do it, if to do it all," General Manager Farhan Zaidi told The Times. "But also the timing, when to let things calm down for a day or two before approaching guys. Knowing when to push buttons and when to let things go.”

"Being the manager of a major league baseball team, a lot of times people focus on the Xs and Os, but the players are people and individuals. Just like in any business, when you're a manager you have to know how to manage egos and personalities. And I think that's a big part of this job."

The Times said that Mattingly was receptive to analytics --- something the Marlins are placing more emphasis on.


Bill Belichick can make any opponent sound like a Super Bowl champ, and he predictably had a lot of nice things to say about the Dolphins in a conference call with South Florida writers a few hours ago.

"Coach Campbell has done a great job," Belichick said. "They’ve played great the past two weeks in all areas of the game. A lot of credit goes to coach Campbell; a lot goes to the entire organization. They have a lot of great players. I have a lot of respect for the Dolphins.

"We know how good they are. Everybody is contributing. They’ve got plays coming from everywhere. What we’ve seen the last two weeks from Miami has been a really solid team effort. Miami is a very talented team; they’re tough. They do a lot of things well. That’s why they’re winning big. They deserve it because they’re good.

"The things we’ve seen, particularly last couple weeks, where the Dolphins have clearly made some changes. They get a lot of negative runs with their defensive front. They don’t have many negative runs on offense. The running game in general has been a huge advantage for Miami.

"Disruptive plays. Their offense has done a great job of taking care of the ball, having positive plays. Ryan Tannehill had a perfect passer rating, can’t do better than that. Turning the ball over, hitting the quarterback, strip sacking them, a lot of disruptive plays and they’re making great plays in the kicking game. Jarvis Landry is the best player we’ve faced at that. Everything [with Miami] is a problem.

On Ndamukong Suh: "Strong, quick, explosive, very instinctive. He recognizes things quickly, hard to knock off his feet, good balance, good leverage player. Has an explosive violence to his game..... Good motor. Great player."

### The Dolphins, who were required to come out with an injury report today, will have only a walk-through tonight but said Brent Grimes, Brice McCain and Zack Bowman -- as well as Matt Moore and Spencer Paysinger -- would have been limited in a full practice.

### This from my colleague Adam Beasley: Brice McCain will play Thursday at New England, per sources. The assumption is he'll start at corner.

McCain missed Sunday's win over Texans with a knee injury he suffered the week before. McCain did not practice at all last week. Jamar Taylor started in McCain's place, and was part of a Dolphins pass defense that played very well in the first half, but allowed 26 points in the second.
Taylor will likely still see plenty of action Thursday, as the Patriots often spread teams out and force opponents to use their nickel package as their base defense.
Please see the last post for UM coaching news; Manny Navarro also has a couple of good blogs up on this.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

October 25, 2015

Blake James addresses Golden's firing; A look at potential UM replacements for Al Golden, including (at least) two with interest

Here's what athletic director Blake James had to say in a conference call minutes ago after firing Al Golden and replacing him with interim coach Larry Scott, the team's tight ends coach:

### "Obviously, just a tough day for me in a situation as athletic director. One you never want to have to deal with. Al navigated us through the NCAA case. He also represented the institution in a first-class manner. Anytime you have to make that type of decision it's very difficult. But it came to the point I felt [this is] what was best for our program. I made the decision this afternoon and let Al know. I notified [players] of the decision.

"I felt going through yesterday's game, my analysis had been to the point [that] the end result had been identified. We were not where I felt we needed to be as a program. I didn't feel we were where we needed to be at this point in the process, and this was the decision that needed to be made."

### Why Larry Scott? "My analysis of our staff, I felt Larry had the right qualities to be able to step in and lead our young men over the next five weeks. Larry was the best choice."

James said nobody has been fired except Golden. "Larry is the head coach for the next five weeks. He will make whatever changes he needs to do to... put our team in the best position to be successful in these games," James said.

Asked if Scott will coach UM in a potential bowl games, James said: "Larry will be our coach as long as this season is going."

### Do you regret bringing Golden back this season? "No, not at all. I stand by that decision."

### James said he would not discuss if he's going to use a search firm and whether he would wait until December to hire a coach (which would allow him to speak to active coaches).

"We are going to look to get the best person for the job," is all James would say about the search.

### What do you look for in a next coach? "You want someone who can recruit... someone who recognizes what our program's expectations are, where we have been in the past and where we want to be in the future."


Former UM assistant coaches Greg Schiano and Mario Cristobal are among those who have interest in the Hurricanes head coaching job, according to close associates, and athletic director Blake James is expected to cast a wide net in his search for a replacement for Al Golden, who was dismissed on Sunday.

Three former coaches with UM ties – Schiano, Cristobal and Rob Chudzinski – are all expected to be discussed internally and could emerge as serious candidates. Cristobal and Chudzinski both played and coached at UM.

Former UM coach Butch Davis, who went 51-20 as UM’s coach from 1995 to 2000 but has been out of coaching since North Carolina dismissed him before the 2011 season, also has interest, according to friends. [Update: Davis confirmed his interest in 790 The Ticket on Monday].

Nobody has ruled out Davis, but two Board of Trustees members said they would be surprised if Davis, 63, is considered because of the way he left North Carolina, amid a student athlete academic scandal across numerous sports. Even though he wasn’t directly implicated by the NCAA, many believe Davis was tarnished and he hasn’t found a job since. One Trustee said discussion of Davis usually elicits an eye roll among UM officials.

Schiano, 49, considered an excellent defensive coach, guided UM’s defense, under Davis, in 1999 and 2000. He transformed a moribund Rutgers program into a winner, highlighted by an 11-2 season in 2006, and went 68-67 in 11 years there, including 5-1 in bowl games.

Schiano, who recruited South Florida heavily as Rutgers’ coach, has been out of coaching since going 11-21 in two seasons as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who fired him in late December 2013.

Cristobal, 45, who attended Miami Columbus High, went 27-47 in six seasons as FIU’s coach, but that included 7-6 and 8-5 records in the fourth and fifth seasons. He was fired after finishing 3-9 in 2012.

Cristobal, a UM assistant from 2004-06 and considered a very good recruiter, joined Golden’s staff early in 2013 before leaving after only six weeks to join Nick Saban at Alabama, where he now serves as offensive line coach.

Chudzinski, 47, was a UM assistant from 1994 through 2003, including offensive coordinator the final three seasons of his tenure. He went 4-12 in his one season as a head coach, for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, and has served as the Indianapolis Colts’ associate head coach since the start of last season.

Other potential candidates:

### Tom Herman. The former OhioState offensive coordinator, 40, is 7-0 in his first season as head coach at the University of Houston.

### Mike Shula. Son of legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula, Mike has received plaudits for his work as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator since 2013. He went 4-9, 6-6, 10-2 and 6-6 in four years at Alabama before being fired after the 2006 season but left considerable talent behind for Saban, who replaced him. If Shula took the job, he could bring with him Panthers quarterbacks coach and former UM great Ken Dorsey.

### Rich Rodriguez. One UM official mentioned Rodriguez, a bright offensive mind, but it’s highly questionable if he would leave Arizona, where he’s 31-17 in three plus seasons after going 60-26 at West Virginia and 15-22 at Michigan.

### Justin Fuente. At 39, he appears to have turned around the Memphis program; he finished 4-8 and 3-9 his first two seasons but went 10-3 in 2014 and is 7-0 this season. The concern would be taking a chance on another mid-major coach, which UM did when it plucked Golden from Temple.

UM could explore pie-in-the-sky candidates such as Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (Miami spoke to him and had some interest before it hired Golden) and TCU’s Gary Patterson, but those types of names would be long shots.

Other names that could surface include Doc Holliday (30-6 over his past three years at Marshall and has signed well over 100 players from South Florida in his coaching career); Colts coach and former UM assistant Chuck Pagano (could be fired but the timing might not be right, since UM could have a coach in place before then) and former UM defensive backs coach Mark Stoops (had success as FSU’s defensive coordinator but 2-10, 5-7, 4-3 in his first three seasons coaching Kentucky).

Other interesting candidates could become available if they lose their jobs, such as Georgia's Mark Richt.

“There will be 50 head coaches who want this job,” said one high-level member of UM’s Board of Trustees. “This is a very attractive job. We’ve got talent down here. You just need to coach them up.”

But UM typically hasn’t paid as much for head coaches as the highest revenue schools.  Golden’s $2.5 million salary ranked 42nd among FBS coaches this season, according to USA Today. As an example, Mullen’s Mississippi State contract, which runs through 2018, reportedly pays him $4.3 million annually, on average.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

October 24, 2015

The case for Lamar Miller; more Campbell/Philbin differences surface; Dolphins notes; UM blowout fallout; Marlins tell DJ to stay home for now; Wade


A Dolphins six-pack:

### Perhaps Sunday’s 19-carry, 113-yard rushing performance by Lamar Miller will mark a genuine commitment to expand the impending free agent’s workload. And frankly, it should. Here’s why:

Though it’s natural that teams run the ball more when they’re leading, these numbers should not be glossed over: The Dolphins are 17-12 when they give Miller 10 or more carries. They’re 8-16 in all other games since Miami drafted him…

On carries 11 through 20 in his career, Miller has averaged 4.4 per attempt, which is very good and suggests he can handle a heavier workload. In fact, in 2014, his 4.7 average on carries 11 through 20 was sixth-best in the league, ahead of DeMarco Murray, Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch, among others. Also, the Dolphins are 7-5 when Miller has 15 or more carries.

“Every running back needs the ball to get in rhythm so the [extra carries] help,” he said.

The bottom line on Miller: The Dolphins need to give him a consistent workload, because good things often happen when they do and his 4.6 career average (4.4 this year) on exactly 500 career carries is quite good. Consider that among active backs with at least 750 NFL carries, only Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, De’Angelo Williams, Murray and Legarrette Blount have higher career rushing averages than Miller.

### Former defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle believed in reacting to what other teams were doing, instead of trying to dictate to opponents. New coordinator Lou Anurumo’s philosophy is a bit different: He told people he wants to do what the Dolphins do best but disguise more.

One player said he also does a good job putting players in position to make plays; Coyle’s tactics in that regard (such as putting Cam Wake in pass coverage occasionally) were questioned internally.

### Rishard Matthews, who entered this season with 64 catches for 734 yards and four touchdowns in three seasons, is on pace for 74, 1162 and 10 this season. And Matthews, who cleaned out his locker and asked for a trade hours after Miami drafted DeVante Parker, admits he’s somewhat surprised he’s getting this much playing time.

So what changed?

“I’ve always been a bigger, heavier set receiver,” but now “[I’m] quicker getting in and out of breaks.” An impending unrestricted free agent, Matthews said the Dolphins haven’t offered him a new contract.

### Matthews raised eyebrows when he told Jim Rome this week that even when Joe Philbin was here, Campbell “was the guy they placed in front of us to speak to get us motivated and fired up for a game."

And another player said this week that Campbell pops his head into position meetings – just to listen, crack a joke or contribute something substantive --- more than Philbin did. Philbin did that some, but as one Dolphin said, it’s more memorable with Campbell, who’s more dynamic.

During team meetings, Philbin had his assistant coaches speak a lot. Campbell doesn’t do that, according to defensive end Derrick Shelby.

Instead, Campbell speaks and then he has players stand up and speak. For example, a player might explain “why he’s playing well,” Shelby said. “Dan wants the team to run itself. He says good teams have players running themselves.”

Philbin, who has put his Davie home up for sale, has kept a low profile since his firing. Wake said he has been in touch with Philbin and he’s “doing as OK as can be expected” for someone who was fired.

### Two years ago, Dion Jordan played among the fewest snaps of any first-rounder. Last year, Ju’Wuan James played among the most.

What about Parker? Among rookie first-round draft picks who haven’t missed multiple games because of injury, only Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes (54 snaps), Cleveland offensive lineman Cam Irving (14 snaps) and Arizona offensive tackle DJ Humphries (no snaps) have played less than Parker’s 88 snaps. Of those three, only Waynes – selected 11th --- was drafted before Parker.  

### Campbell made one position switch: Chris McCain said he was moved from linebacker back to defensive end. “I can be more free, not think as much,” he said.

Why is he not playing?

“I’d love to get him up, but it’s just hard right now,” Campbell said. “We’re trying to carry more tight ends than we previously had; it’s got to come from somewhere, we’ve had eight D-linemen up. The argument goes back and forth: Is McCain a linebacker? Is he a defensive end? And how would you use him in that game? I would say it’s nothing that he’s done [bad]. He’s done a good job but, it’s just the way it is right now.”


### After being told he would not retain his job as manager, Dan Jennings was set to return to the Marlins offices this past Monday to resume his job as general manager. But president David Samson called Jennings and told him to stay in Alabama and not to report for work just yet, according to multiple sources.

Here’s why: Jennings had some questions about his role and responsibilities and Samson wanted Jennings to discuss this with owner Jeffrey Loria before returning. The Marlins haven’t rescinded their offer for Jennings to return as GM and he and Loria are expected to speak in the coming days.

Loria makes every key decision (starting with the forthcoming pursuit of Don Mattingly), but Jennings might have less influence than before he replaced manager Mike Redmond in May.

The reason: Loria is now listening to more voices: not only president/baseball operations Michael Hill, but also Marc Delpiano (hired in September to run the farm system) and executives Mike Berger and Jeff McAvoy. Because he’s not back to work, Jennings missed the Marlins’ second interview with Larry Bowa, which was attended by several Marlins executives.

### The Marlins’ out of pocket payroll of $68 million, lowest in baseball in 2015, is expected to rise slightly.

### There was a minor Marlins trade today: They acquired minor league right-handed pitcher Richard Mitchell from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for minor-league right-hander Trevor Williams.

Mitchell, 20, is 15-9 with a 3.96 ERA, four saves and a .232 batting average against in 56 games (including 14 starts) over four years in the Dominican Summer League and low-level Gulf Coast League.

### Dwyane Wade’s average shot distance rose from 9.6 feet away from the basket to 11.9 last season, largely the result of taking 102 threes --- compared to 32 the year before. 
Fortunately, Wade assures he will not continue to move his game away from the basket or become a high volume three-point shooter. Doing so would be a mistake because he’s a career 29 percent shooter from beyond the arc. And he vows he isn’t going to stop driving to the basket to save his body.

“When I can’t [drive to the basket], it’s bye bye D-Wade,” he said. “I’ve always put pressure on the rim. I used to finish over the top. Now I finish underneath over the top, with the ball going over the rim because of my body. Different game but still an effective game.

"Obviously, you always want to add the outside jumper. [But] I love my mid-range game. I love shooting mid-range shots. Some people say it’s a dying breed. Some may say it’s a bad shot. It’s a great shot to me. Give it to me.”

### For a ton of reaction from UM's historic loss today -- both internally and externally -- and Saturday Heat news, please see the last post.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Heat makes contract adjustment; Postscripts, internal and external reaction after UM's humiliating drubbing; Golden's explanation

Before we get to today's UM debacle, a small Heat scoop:

Besides releasing five players today, the Heat also amended the contract of James Ennis, with the understanding that Ennis will be on the opening night roster, according to league sources.

Ennis' contract, which had been altered in July after he struggled during Summer League, had called for his entire $845,059 salary to be guaranteed on opening night of the regular season, Wednesday against Charlotte. 

Over the past two days, Ennis agreed to this change: According to his agent, Scott Nichols, about 40 percent of that contract now will be guaranteed opening night, with the rest guaranteed if he's on the team on Jan. 10. The move gives the Heat more time to evaluate Ennis, a potentially slightly smaller luxury tax burden and flexibility with its 15th roster spot. 

The Heat also moved up the team option on Ennis' $980,431 contract for 2016-17 from Aug. 1 to before the start of free agency on July 1.

Ennis sustained a dislocated finger on his left hand in Miami's exhibition finale against New Orleans on Friday but the injury is not considered long-term.

The Heat likes Ennis' athleticism and skill set and wasn't ready to give up on him after he showed potential as a rookie last season and had some good moments this preseason. 

The Heat got down to the 15-player maximum by releasing Keith Benson, Tre Kelley, John Lucas III, Briante Weber and Greg Whittington. Several of those players will join Miami's D-League affiliate in South Dakota. 


Postscripts from today’s 58-0 Canes humiliation:

### Well, at least those who wanted a coaching change very, very likely will get their wish.

The Al Golden era assuredly will end at some point in the next two months, though it will not end today. Blake James has been very firm that he will not make a final evaluation on Golden until the end of the season and today’s loss did not elicit a change of heart (at least for today; who knows about Sunday or Monday?).

Even before today, a high-level Trustee told me Thursday that it would take something “dramatic” for Golden to save his job. Two days later, Golden suffers the most lopsided loss in UM history.

UM president Julio Frenk told Trustees on Thursday that James will determine UM’s fate. James’ question now isn’t whether to fire Golden --- that move is now obvious --- but whether to avoid the temptation to do it during the season. He will avoid that temptation at least today.

Despite the profound embarrassment today --- despite the fact this program hasn’t been nationally relevant in a decade --- let’s be clear:

This is still an attractive job, one that a bunch of quality candidates will covet --- because of the tradition, the inherent recruiting advantage of being based in South Florida, the fact it’s a name school in a power five conference.

I’ve already heard from the agent for one coach who has won 10 games in a season and had considerable success; he conveyed to me his client’s interest. (Sorry, I was asked not to use his name).

We won’t waste everyone’s time by allocating considerable space to the myriad reasons for today’s humiliation. They’re all obvious: utter domination by Clemson’s offensive and defensive lines; a putrid UM running game (29-53); an inability of UM defenders at all levels to unhinge from blocks; UM’s perpetual penchant for undisciplined mistakes (at one point in the third quarter, Miami had nearly as many penalties yards – 78 – as total yards – 85).

Losing Brad Kaaya in the second quarter obviously didn’t help, but Miami was already down big at the time.

A few nauseating numbers: Clemson had 33 first downs, UM 6. Clemson had 567 yards, UM 146…. This was UM’s 14th double-digit loss in 4 ½ seasons under Golden. Miami had 14 double-digit losses between 1980 and 1995…. UM, which entered 98th in penalties (meaning 30th worst) had five personal foul penalties…. Among the many lowlights: Clemson sacking Kaaya on a play in which it rushed two against UM’s five offensive linemen.


### Al Golden, to WQAM: "We had a good week. I thought we were locked in. We practiced really hard. We got beat in every phase you can get beat, including penalties. That's my responsibility, period....

"We didn't do a good enough job [against the run game]. They played with a lead, we couldn't bring any pressure to them and it got lopsided. Physical group up front [for Clemson]; we didn't block them well enough. We've got to do a better job protecting. We got beat up front. We've got to get it corrected quickly. 

"Artie Burns is working hard. A lot of those guys are working hard. I didn't see this coming. We helped a good football team. We've got to evaluate everything, assess where we're at, look at schemes and personnel and see what direction we want to go. It starts with me. I've got to watch all three phases tonight.”

"We've got to transition quickly. We've got five division games left.... We've got to do a better job. Some of the long runs [by Clemson], being able to read our key, and be in position on them."

Here was Golden's postgame press conference transcript (courtesy of UM):

On how he explains the result: “We got beat from top to bottom. They outplayed us, they outcoached us. I just told the team, that’s completely my responsibility for not getting them ready to play. They just beat us soundly, in every facet of the game, period.”

On the problems Clemson’s defensive front presented.: “We knew going in how strong they were. We didn’t run the ball effectively, and we didn’t protect well enough –we got one quarterback knocked out, and the other one knocked around. What we thought they were going in the game – deep, strong, physical – and they outplayed us.”

On if he sensed any lack of readiness amongst the players: ““No. Absolutely not. I thought they really invested, I thought they had a great week. They practiced really well. We got beat from the start by a really good football team and we didn’t answer. There was nothing in the week... I check with the staff every day, I check with the leadership. There was none of that. We’re not that kind of team, where we cannot be on edge and focused and compete and ready to go. I thought we had a good week of practice.”

On if the team had the fight he was looking for in the second half.: “I think there are a lot of guys that fought. The biggest thing for our guys, as I just told them, we have a five-game playoff now. They’re all divisional games.We have to move on. This was terrible. We cannot let it beat us tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. We have to move on quickly.”

On the penalty yardage: “It’s my responsibility. We’re still getting the 15-yard variety. Just inexcusable. Intolerable. Most of them are selfish in nature. We helped them. We helped a really good football team today.”

On the status of QB Brad Kaaya for next week’s game against Duke – Kaaya was hurt in the second quarter and did not return: “I don’t know. The good news is, he and Rashawn [Scott] are good, in terms of health and everything. But it’s too early to evaluate where they’re at for next week.”

On if there is any way for his team to ignore the outside pressure next week: “We’ll see how mentally tough we are. We’ll see how close we are. We’ve played one division opponent. There’s a lot of football left in our division, and that’s where our focus needs to be. Our focus doesn’t need to be on the outside. We need to fix the things we need to fix and move forward quickly. That’s my responsibility.”

On if he is worried about his status as head coach at Miami: “I am not. I’m focused on coaching the team, going to work every day and doing the things we need to do to get ready for Duke.”

On if he spoke with Athletics Director Blake James after the game: “I haven’t talked to anybody. I just talked to our team and some staff members, just reflecting on stats and some of those things.”

On if he anticipates any changes being made to his coaching staff: “What we need to do is get ready for Duke. As I’ve said, we’ve played one division game. We need to go out and play well against Duke.”

On how the team needs to improve: “We have to play better. We have to coach better, we have to execute better. We can’t have penalties. We have to get our minds right for Duke quickly. We will. They’re fighters. They’ll stay together. They’ll fight. We’ll go to work tonight on it and get them ready to play a good Duke team on the road.”

 ### Malik Rosier, who struggled in Kaaya’s absence (7 for 22, 42 yards, 2 picks), told WQAM: “They gave us some coverages they just showed for the first time. I was just learning on the fly. So was Brad. I could do a better job, making better throws. They did a good job of preparing for this game."

### Linebacker Tyriq McCord, on WQAM: ""They came out and played great football. We were trying to strip it. Their quarterback did a great job of selling his reads. That was the biggest thing. When they got their calls in, everything was in fast motion. Everyone had to be ready for it. That took us by surprise. We still have an opportunity to go out as a champion."


### Former UM great Joaquin Gonzalez ranted on Twitter all day, imploring James to fire Golden: "I'm so embarrassed! @CanesAllAccess (James). I would take his headset at halftime!! Do not wait until end of season, make a statement dammit!!!!!... I'm done holding my tongue! This guy needs to leave South Florida....I will buy his plane ticket!!! Economy!!!"

### Warren Sapp: “Thank you ABC. #Fire Him.”

### Bryant McKinnie: “Time to head in a new direction as a program, enough is enough & I sat back & have been patient & quiet long enough. Bunch of former players feel the same, so I’m not speaking just for myself… School needs to start with lifting that stupid ban, of not allowing former players on the sideline.”

### Denzel Perryman: “Embarrassing. This is the emptiest I’ve ever seen that parking lot.”

### Leon Searcy: “Al Golden can’t go on [the] bus. Tell that MF to get a Uber.”

### Seantrel Henderson: “Make football fun again for these kids. Smh. We went to Death Valley and dominated Clemson. Now this...come on man.”

### Bennie Blades: "WORST LOSS IN SCHOOL HISTORY" = #UNACCEPTABLE!!! I'm very disappointed for #TheU, our @CanesFootball program and the long suffering fans!"

### Allen Bailey tweeted a picture of Golden in a dumpster.

### Former Dolphins star: Patrick Surtain:  ”I’m at the UM game & this dude playing 2 high safeties down 21-0. SMH. Defense is all about competition..make them compete!!! Blitz somebody.”

### ABC's Kirk Herbstreit, a big Golden advocate, acknowledged that Golden is “in trouble.”

### Carlos Curbelo, who represents District 26 in the U.S. House: “A new low for Canes football --- an absolute embarrassment for what was once a great program. Anybody at the University of Miami care to try to save it?”

### Incidentally, Rivals.com insists these schools recruited comparable talent in recent years --- though it obviously didn’t look that like. From 2012-2014, Rivals.com rated UM’s classes 9th, 20th, and 12th, and Clemson’s classes 14th, 14th and 13th.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Check back tonight for a lot of Dolphins and other stuff.

October 23, 2015

Marlins' interest in Don Mattingly is mutual; conversations expected in coming days

The Marlins have considerable interest in hiring former New York Yankees star Don Mattingly as their next manager, and Mattingly has interest in the Marlins after parting ways with the Dodgers this week, multiple sources said Friday.

Mattingly, 54, has emerged as the front-runner and the Marlins are expected to initiate discussions in the next few days. It’s premature to say Mattingly-to-the-Marlins definitely will happen, because the sides haven’t had a meeting yet and it’s unclear if Mattingly will have other options.  

Washington and San Diego are the other teams searching for managers, but the Nationals do not intend to interview Mattingly, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported Friday. The Padres are not believed to have inquired as of midday Friday. Mattingly has said he wants to manage next season.

It’s likely that Mattingly – like most managers --- would seek the authority to hire his own coaching staff, and the Marlins have publicly said they will grant that authority. The Marlins would like to retain infield coach Perry Hill, but that shouldn’t be an issue for a new manager because Hill is highly regarded around baseball.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria holds Mattingly in high regard and helped arrange an event in which Mattingly was honored several years ago. Loria, who lives in New York, also has an affinity for former Yankees stars.

Mattingly spent his entire 14-year career with the Yankees, batted .307, made the All-Star team six teams and was named American League MVP in 1985.

Without much explanation, the Dodgers this week announced a “mutual agreement” to part ways with Mattingly, who won 55 percent of his games in five seasons as manager (a better winning percentage then predecessors Joe Torre and Tommy Lasorda) and led the Dodgers to the past three National League West division titles.

But the Dodgers never made the World Series under Mattingly and the organization apparently wanted a bigger return on a $272 million payroll, baseball’s largest in 2015.

Dodgers general manager Andrew Friedman said after losing to the Mets in the first round of the playoffs, the Dodgers initially had the mindset that Mattingly would return for the final year of his contract and would be given a contract extension.

So what went wrong? "We kind of got to a point where, we felt like, mutually, that it might be better to part ways at that point," Friedman said, without offering more details.

Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times: "It was definitely a mutual decision. I think as we kind of talked through the weekend and all different things, it just became, for me, clearer, for all of us, clearer, that this was the right time, best for me and best for the club."

Since informing general manager Dan Jennings that he would not return as manager, the Marlins have interviewed six people for the job: Larry Bowa, Manny Acta, Bo Porter, Alex Cora, Phil Nevin and Rick Renteria.

Bowa is the only person who has been interviewed twice, according to a source, and those meetings went well, according to a Bowa associate. But the Marlins also had been waiting to see if Mattingly would become available. Now that he is, they’re poised to begin a pursuit.

### The Marlins hired Jim Benedict as their vice president of pitching development. Benedict, who is well-regarded, was the Pirates' pitching guru and assistant to the general manager. He will work with the Marlins' minor-league pitchers.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz