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Noon Fins GM update; Loria changes approach; Fins, UM, Heat chatter; Kobe's UM class

Noon update: The Dolphins have added a new candidate for their GM job: New England Patriots  personnel director Nick Caserio. He's interviewing here today, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Patriots are the only team Caserio, 38, has worked for. He was previously a scout, assistant offensive coach and receivers coach in 2007. He has been their pro personnel director since 2008. He becomes the fourth known candidate for the job as of Friday morning. He's concerned very smart, sharp, and Bill Belichick trusts him.

The others: Lake Dawson, Brian Gaine and Dennis Hickey. Dawson and Gaine have second interviews scheduled. Hickey has been in discussions with Miami over the past 24 hours and might interview again.



Among the positives to emerge from the Marlins’ front-office changes: Owner Jeffrey Loria has such faith in his executives that for the first time, he has been deferring to them on baseball decisions.

“He’s far happier with the baseball department now,” a friend of Loria said. “They presented him with a plan and he has agreed to everything.”

Loria has ordered many moves in the past – everything from significant (such as pursuing Jose Reyes and John Buck and giving a three-year deal to Heath Bell) to minor ones (demoting Chris Volstad, not promoting journeyman Chris Valaika after last summer's Tino Martinez fiasco). But he hasn’t demanded anything this offseason, according to an official who has spoken to the Marlins’ front office.

Loria still sits in the meetings and gives opinions but has apparently concluded, at least so far, that he needs to let his baseball people do their jobs. The staff is now headed up by president of baseball operations Michael Hill, general manager Dan Jennings and three new hires.

The question is whether Loria will be tempted to start meddling again when the season starts or as soon as something goes wrong.

With a promising young rotation and four new starting position players, the Marlins believe they will be much improved from last season’s 100-loss team.


### Though owner Stephen Ross loves Tony Dungy and gave thought to hiring a football czar who would oversee over his GM, he knew luring Dungy wasn’t realistic, and he decided not to give Carl Peterson the job, even though a friend said Peterson would be interested.

“I have not had any conversation with the Dolphins about a position with their organization, nor do I intend to do so,” Dungy said this week. “…I have retired from the NFL and will not be returning in any capacity.”

So instead of a football czar choosing a GM, Ross is doing it himself, and as of early afternoon Friday, had candidates remaining from only losing franchises (his own, Tennessee, Tampa Bay), with four candidates having declined interviews and a fifth (Ray Farmer) declining a follow-up interview. And so it goes.

But internal candidate Brian Gaine is respected around the league, and his chances increase at least somewhat with Farmer's decision not to pursue the job further. If Lake Dawson gets the job, Peterson's influence would again be apparent; he drafted Dawson and thinks highly of him.

### As the Dolphins prepare to interview Dawson and Gaine again, they also remain in conversations with Tampa Bay player personnel executive Dennis Hickey.

### Hialeah Champagnat four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a UM priority, will visit LSU this weekend and is down to LSU and UM. He said UM’s Al Golden and LSU’s Les Miles will visit him on the same day in late January, and told ESPN his decision will hinge partly on “the last words they tell me. Who proves that they need me more is going to put one school over the top.”

Valentine plans to announce on National Signing Day (Feb. 5).

It’s highly unlikely three-star North Carolina-based prospect Lamont Gaillard will emerge as a realistic option at defensive tackle for UM. Gaillard, who calls himself a solid Georgia commitment, canceled his visit to UM this weekend and isn’t sure he will rebook.

### Highly-regarded former junior college defensive tackle Calvin Heurtelou is expected to enroll at UM in the next few days. He had 14 tackles for loss and four sacks this past season for Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC.... Louisville and former UM assistant Clint Hurtt took a job as the Chicago Bears’ defensive line coach. He won’t have to worry about serving out the NCAA’s two-year show-cause penalty if he spends the rest of his career in the NFL.

### With the Spurs visiting Sunday, Heat guard Ray Allen will be reminded a lot this week about the shot that tied Game 6 of the NBA Finals and ultimately saved the Heat’s season. But Allen is also reminded of the shot every time he walks into his home.

As a Christmas gift for her husband, Allen’s wife paid artist Alexander Mijares to paint a photograph of Allen holding the ball in the corner before launching that three-pointer. Allen recently hung it over his fireplace.

“I totally don’t mind if people define me by that shot,” he said. “It holds great relevance to any guy on this team. It’s something that takes this franchise to the next level, so you can start building a dynasty.”

Months later, strangers continue to ask him about the shot, which tied Game 6 with 5.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter and ultimately propelled the Heat to an overtime win. They’ve broached the topic to him in restaurants, gas stations, even at a urinals (which can be pretty awkward), and Allen is always happy to oblige.

“As much as people want to say congratulations, it’s more about them, how they feel, what they were doing at the time,” he said. “I let people have those moments.”

 Allen believes Jamie Foxx is still planning a commercial on the shot. “Last I heard it was [still on],” he said. “He has it written.”

Curiously, Allen said he hasn’t once gone to his computer or VCR to watch a tape of the shot. But he said he has seen it more than a dozen times just by happenstance.

“When you’re on Instagram or some social network, it always pops up,” he said. “It’s one of those things I’m a part of forever.

“I can describe my whole life around that single shot. It didn’t start with just that shot, it was about everything I did up to that point…. Anybody that knows me or has been around me knows that it wasn’t luck. Everybody who is around me said, 'Yep, that’s what he does.'”

### To appreciate the impact Greg Oden already has made on defense, consider: In his appearances before Thursday night, the opposing team managed just four points in the 12 possessions that ended when the man Oden was guarding took a shot or committed a turnover. That points-per-possession (.333) --- albeit in very limited minutes --- is exceptional. (Indiana’s Roy Hibbert is at .732).

Chris Bosh said he has felt “an initial comfort level” playing alongside Oden: “We keep things simple. You know where he’s going to be… To have that ready for [Indiana], it will be good.”

Offensively, we saw an impressive left-handed jump hook tonight from Oden, who closed with five points, five rebounds and a block in 10 minutes, his longest stint to date. He said afterward that his timing "isn't that great" -- which is understandable -- but said "tonight was good and very encouraging for me."

### Imagine taking a class at UM, showing up and seeing Kobe Bryant in the back? That's what happened Wednesday afternoon, when the injured Lakers star --- in town for Thursday's Heat game --- sat in the back of a marketing management class at UM, soaking in a discussion about the role of social media in the re-launch of the Ford Fiesta.

The office of Eugene Anderson, the dean of UM’s School of Business, got a call Wednesday morning saying Bryant wanted to attend a marketing or management class at UM, as he had done at Boston College the previous week.

“He picked mine,” UM professor Jeffrey Weinstock said. “I was flattered…. The [students] were excited but not distracted.”

Accompanied by the dean, Bryant arrived a minute after the class started, quietly acknowledged the boisterous applause, then took a seat for the 75-minute class. Bryant, who went from high school to the NBA, conducted a five-minute Q & A session at the end. “He said he’s a psycho-perfectionist,” Weinstock said.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz