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Fins to sign Clabo; Golden quantifies NCAA damage; Shapiro explains K. Wright move; Fins, Heat, Marlins

The Sunday buzz column is below. First, some breaking Dolphins news:

The Dolphins addressed their void at offensive tackle on Sunday by agreeing to terms with veteran Tyson Clabo on a one-year deal.

Clabo, 31, has started every game at right tackle for the Atlanta Falcons over the past five seasons and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2010.

His signing means Jonathan Martin will shift to left tackle to replace Jake Long, who signed with St. Louis.

Clabo signed a five year, $25 million deal in 2011, but the Falcons released him last month in a move designed to give them additional salary cap space to sign their draft picks. “Tyson was a valuable contributor to our team,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said at the time.

Clabo, who auditioned for the Dolphins on Wednesday, graded out well the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus, which analyzes every play in every game. His 2012 performance ranked 14th among 80 tackles, and fifth-best among right tackles, behind Andre Smith, Gosder Cherilus, Anthony Davis and Sebastian Vollmer.

Clabo was ranked 23rd in pass protection (he allowed five sacks) and 21st in run blocking.
In 2011, Pro Football Focus rated him second overall among all tackles.

By contrast, PFF ranked Martin 76th among 80 tackles last season.

Undrafted out of Wake Forest, Clabo began his career in Denver and spent the past seven seasons with the Falcons.

The Dolphins tried to sign left tackle Bryant McKinnie earlier this week, but he opted for a slightly better deal with Baltimore. The Dolphins also explored trading for Kansas City’s Branden Albert, but did not offer the second-round pick that the Chiefs were seeking.

The Dolphins signed Clabo instead of two other right tackleswho auditioned: Eric Winston and Winston Justice.

Martin played left tackle at Stanford but began his Dolphins career as a right tackle before shifting to the left side when Long was injured in the 12th game last season.

Martin played well against Jacksonville and Buffalo but struggled against San Francisco and New England.

He said previously that he is more comfortable at left tackle than right tackle and has gained 20 pounds this offseason while increasing his strength.

Clabo reached out to the Dolphins shortly after being released, but the Dolphins never called his representation until last week, when they booked a workout with him.



As we reported in our last post, the NCAA this past week essentially ruled out UM’s hopes of the case against it being dismissed before a full hearing in front of the infractions committee in mid-June.

Meanwhile, for the first time, Al Golden is quantifying – with numbers -- the impact this case has had on recruiting.

“If you just take the number of kids that flipped on us in the last two years, that’s a big number,” Golden told us. “But I’m talking about kids [that say]: ‘I really like Miami, but I don’t know what’s going to happen’ [with the NCAA]. That number is well over 40. Easily over 40.

    “The further they get along in the decision-making process, the attacks on us grow exponentially once we’re identified as one of the players in their picks.”

Golden said he doesn’t believe the investigation has hurt the perception of the program but “the toxicity is the problem, whether it’s through the media or things the kids are exposed to. There hasn’t been a time where we haven’t had negative recruiting. It’s been difficult.”

UM basketball coaches say the NCAA mess has hurt them, too -- it’s one of the first questions that recruits keep asking about.

UM discussed modest scholarship reductions during settlement talks in February before the NCAA abruptly ended those talks. Now, president Donna Shalala says publicly UM deserves no additional punishment.

If UM is given another bowl ban, an appeal would not be surprising. The problem is that the appeals process can take a long time – seven months in Central Florida’s just-completed case --- which would carry UM through National Signing Day next February. (UCF won its appeal of a bowl ban, which is unusal.)

“It’s really important for us when we go to camp that that’s all in the rearview mirror,” Golden said.

But even if UM doesn’t appeal, it might not know its punishment before the season starts. North Carolina waited four months after its hearing before receiving its penalty. UM’s hearing is June 14-16, with a verdict expected between July and October.

Of course, this should have been over by May or June. The NCAA now admits its investigation “was virtually complete” last September, but the process was delayed for four months while the NCAA realized it obtained evidence improperly and began sorting through it.

UM athletic director Blake James said at a  Hurricanes Club luncheon: “We’re all tired of dealing with it. There’s no one who has had to deal with it more than Al Golden.”

And ACC Commissioner John Swofford told ESPN on Thursday: “It’s dragged on long enough. That’s a sanction it itself, which something of this nature drags on literally for years without being brought to a conclusion. So hopefully, we’re near the end of it.

“I think Miami has handled its part of this in a quality way and a very appropriate way and has addressed it head-up with self-imposed sanctions.”

### The NCAA confirmed to UM last week that it’s throwing out all of Kyle Wright’s incriminating claims against the Hurricanes because they may have resulted from Sean Allen’s improperly-obtained testimony. But if Nevin Shapiro had his way, Wright never would become embroiled in this.

Shapiro never implicated Wright to the NCAA –  though he allegedly accepting trips from Shapiro’s sports agency (to the Bahamas, a concert in Detroit). Why?

“Kyle got [expletive] by UM and Randy Shannon specifically,” Shapiro said, explaining why Wright was the only player he excluded. “UM really did that kid bad. He came from California and gave up a lot to do so and they [expletive] all over him. They left him to defend for himself against a clown like Randy Shannon.

Kirby Freeman ahead of him in the quarterback competition? Get the [bleep] out of here. Kirby couldn’t beat me out and I’m 44,” claiming he out-threw Freeman in a competition on UM’s practice field. OK then.

Wright declined to comment, through his father. The NCAA claimed Wright called the NCAA to report UM; Wright told UM it was the other way around.

### Turns out, most of the basketball violations were revealed to the NCAA (involving use of airlines miles for Durand Scott, his AAU coach and Reggie Johnson’s mother and sister), because UM gave the NCAA e-mails “from Jorge Fernandez’s institutional account” when asked by the NCAA.

### For more on why the NCAA has punted on UM’s motion to dismiss, please see our last post.


### UM remains firmly behind baseball coach Jim Morris and his job is safe barring a surprising change of heart. Morris, who has said it irritates him when anyone asks about the topic, is trying to lead UM to its 41st consecutive postseason appearance.

UM knows it’s not playing on a level field with the state schools (UF, FSU, etc.) because of its high cost of tuition. With teams permitted to split 11.7 scholarships among 30 players, some players simply cannot afford to pay a lot to attend UM. Miami has been left with a roster bereft of power; its eight homers entering the weekend were tied for fewest in a major conference.

### Several Dolphins players privately have voiced displeasure about the team cutting Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett, but Joe Philbin on Friday explained the overhaul and decision to add faster linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Jelani Jenkins.

“This is a passing league at this point,” Philbin said. And Miami wants “to have linebackers with that ability to do more than just play the run, and be multidimensional. Play man, zone, blitz effectively. The more skills you have as an athlete, the better you’ll be.”

### The Dolphins have $10 million in cap space and will have another $10 million after June 1, but need about $8 million of that to sign draft pick. Miami can carry over some of that space to next year, when they likely will need to address right tackle and re-sign Reshad Jones, Paul Soliai and/or Randy Starks, among other moves.

### Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent, living in Vero Beach, said watching the Mets-at-Marlins series last week “was so sad. I could almost count the people in the stands. It’s tragic – so few people in that ballpark, no buzz. Both teams are pathetic.”

But he said he doesn’t believe there’s anything commissioner Bud Selig can do, and the players union hasn’t tried to pressure MLB to intervene. “It’s not Bud’s job to tell owners how to run their business, but other owners aren’t happy with a weak franchise,” Vincent said.

### Though Udonis Haslem’s percentage on all shots beyond two feet has dropped from 43 to 36.7 percent over the past four years, nobody was surprised to see him nail four jumpers in a row to help close out Milwaukee. “When it’s most stressful, he’s at his best,” assistant coach David Fizdale said.

Haslem admits his shot has been affected the past couple years partly because his role changed on pick-and-rolls: “I wasn’t able to get that rhythm. Fans need to understand I might get only one shot. I’m not in the same role. I’m not the same player. My job is to set screens, go to basket” rebound, etc.  

### I'm on Twitter now: @flasportsbuzz