« Monday afternoon report: More Dolphins injuries; Philbin, Lazor unhappy with passing game | Main | 7:15 p.m. Wednesday report: Dolphins, Hurricanes, Marlins, Heat, broadcast chatter »

Rose leaving NBC-6; Is UM defensive improvement real?; UM, Dolphins, Marlins chatter


Former Dolphins tight end Joe Rose, one of South Florida’s most recognizable sportscasters, is leaving his job as NBC-6’s lead sportscaster at the end of the year but will remain in radio, as a morning host on WQAM-560 and the Dolphins’ radio analyst on WINZ-940.

NBC 6 said Rose is retiring after nearly 20 years at the station.

But according to a station source, Rose, 57, has told people that NBC 6 is inexplicably buying out the last year of his contract, and he’s perfectly fine with that.

Station management has made decisions that have angered the sports staff in the past year, including dramatically cutting the length of the evening sportscasts. Though Rose is comfortable with the decision, NBC 6 looks foolish for buying him out.

“It’s time for me to slow down and get a decent night’s sleep,” Rose said. “It’s been a fun ride.”

The station also is still searching for a replacement for No. 2 sportscaster Courtney Fallon, who took a job with CBS Sports Net. Stefano Fusaro, a Univision sportscaster in Houston, has spoken to NBC 6 about that job.


On Saturday night, when UM visits a potent Nebraska team, we’ll know whether the apparent improvement in this Hurricanes defense --- which ranks eighth overall nationally --- is a mirage or real and legitimate and sustainable. Remember, the 2013 Hurricanes defense surged in September against FAU and UF and Savannah State, rising into the top 25 in several statistical categories, then unraveled as the season progressed.

UM doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt here, not after the past two years, and not after a less-than-grueling early season schedule featuring Louisville (which lost at Virginia), Florida A&M and Arkansas State.

That said, there are promising signs that should leave Canes fans guardedly optimistic: Miami ranks sixth in yards allowed per play, 15th in rushing defense, fourth in yards allowed per carry (just over 2.0), 13th in sacks and 35th in scoring defense, at 19.3.

The reasons for the improvement? Anthony Chickillo is playing the best of his career; “he’s more sound in his technique,” defensive tackle Olsen Pierre said… Calvin Heurtelou and Courtel Jenkins have been a clear upgrade at defensive tackle. One reason, Pierre said, is those two “listen and stay in their gaps” and do not freelance like others did “in the past.”….

Thurston Armbrister has blossomed into an impact player; his four sacks are tied for fifth nationally. Denzel Perryman is playing at a level worthy of Todd McShay ranking him the 25th-best prospect in next year’s draft…. Safety Deon Bush has given UM range and physicality it lacked last year, when he wasn’t completely healthy… And though Tracy Howard has struggled, UM has five legitimate, experienced cornerbacks --- its best depth in years.

What else has changed? “Our safeties are tackling a lot better in the alleys,” Al Golden said. “Guys know where they need to be. Guys know where the ball needs to be directed to the free hitters.”

Aside from FSU, Nebraska could be this defense’s biggest test; the Cornhuskers have an elite tailback (Ameer Abdullah), are 10th in scoring offense (47 points per game) and have allowed only one sack. Only Arkansas averages more yards per carry than Nebraska’s 7.4. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong had seven touchdown passes and 158 yards rushing in three games.

“If there’s any silver lining, we’ve seen running quarterbacks the past two weeks,” Golden said of Florida A&M and Arkansas State.

### Though some fans have questioned UM defensive backs for giving too much cushion to opposing receivers at times, one UM official said Mark D’Onofrio told at least one of his prominent defensive backs to give his receiver less space and it hasn’t consistently been executed. “You can’t blame that on Mark,” the UM person said.

And why has UM several times put a linebacker on a slot receiver, which some have second-guessed? UM likes having the extra linebacker in the game to protect itself against the run, and a safety is supposed to give the linebacker help in coverage.

### With Kevin Olsen departing, the total number of players who signed with UM under Golden, but either never made it to campus, transferred, quit football or were bounced prematurely has reached an astounding 30, according to the records of myself and my esteemed colleague, Manny Navarro.

Of those 30, 10 have had disciplinary problems, including five arrested and one (Al Quadin-Muhammad) who was dismissed from school for one semester but plans to return in January. Six were four-star prospects and six couldn’t qualify academically.

Three others had injuries that ended their football careers. Heck, a whole starting-caliber linebacker group has departed: Alex Figueroa (charged with sexual assault), Gionni Paul (at Utah) and Eddie Johnson.

Golden and his staff can’t be blamed for most of this; nobody knows when a player will be arrested, when a prospect will need to return home for family medical reasons (four-star safety Kiy Hester) and nobody would have predicted Olsen’s life would careen off track like this.

Some players who left were over-estimated by UM, including Beau Sandland (Mario Cristobal’s Jeremy Shockey comparisons were laughable in retrospect); four-star tackle Jalen Grimble (now at Oregon State) and the Jedd Fisch-recruited quarterbacks: Olsen, Preston Dewey (no longer playing football because of an injury) and Gray Crow (now a seldom-used H-back).

Crow, incidentally, is being moved back to quarterback because of Olsen's departure, according to our Susan Miller Degnan.

Golden indicated he and his coaches speak to high school coaches and counselors to try to get a feel for players’ character.

“But it is a challenge,” he said Tuesday. “Everybody is going through it now. Maybe...in their high school or living at home, they [make] certain choices. Given the freedom of college, they make another decision.”

In the case of UM’s behavior-or arrest-related dismissals, “there is really no excuse,” Golden said. “We discuss it all the time, talking about choices and hanging around with the right people. It’s disappointing.”

### Though some UM football people believe the semester suspension of Muhammad was too harsh, a neutral party who has seen the evidence said it was deserved, that punching a student three times (and breaking his nose, in this case) in the Sun Life Stadium parking lot April 12 should warrant a one semester suspension at the very least.

### ESPN has given the marquee post-Heisman Trophy show time slot (9 p.m. Dec. 13) to the documentary sequel on the UM football program, which will focus on the 2001 team and address the Nevin Shapiro scandal and other issues.


### With the Marlins prepared to offer Giancarlo Stanton a longterm contract this winter, it’s worth noting that Stanton and his agent, Joel Wolfe, have been very impressed by how the Marlins have handled the aftermath of his injuries from being hit in the face with a pitch --– from owner Jeffrey Loria sending a private plane to transport Stanton and his family from Milwaukee to Miami, to Loria calling Bud Selig to line up the best medical specialists, to Loria calling or texting Stanton a bunch of times, to team president David Samson spending hours with Stanton’s father in the hospital last Friday.

“The Marlins have been great --– spared no expense, opened up every possible door,” Wolfe said. “We couldn’t ask for more. David had other commitments that day and he spent hours with [Stanton's] father, making him feel comfortable. It was a very decent thing to do.”

Could this make Stanton more likely to consider staying longterm? Wolfe said he doesn’t know yet, saying that decision is “not on his radar.”

Stanton is eligible for free agency after 2016.

### The Dolphins this week auditioned running back LaMichael James, the 49ers' second-round pick out of Oregon in 2012, and though he didn't sign immediately afterward, it's still a possibility at some point.

James and the Dolphins had discussions after the workout and James is contemplating his options.

### The Dolphins do not expect Dion Jordan or Reshad Jones to be reinstated early from their drug suspensions, according to a league official. NFL.com reported last week that both would be reinstated. Colleague Armando Salguero said Jordan won't be, and the Dolphins hadn't been given any reason to believe Jones will be, either. 

### One of the criticisms of this Dolphins team, under this staff, is that they take on the unemotional personality of their coach. And though Mike Wallace has never said that, he reiterated Tuesday that he was bothered Sunday that “I didn’t see anybody playing with emotion out there. We needed to be more into it.”

### Joe Philbin said Jarvis Landry will keep his punt return job despite his fumble Sunday… Michael Thomas said defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told him he started ahead of Louis Delmas Sunday because “they wanted to see how I fit in as a starter.” Delmas played nearly four times as many snaps, but Thomas said he received high marks.