A.J. Duhe came to Miami with 13th overall pick and Dolphins are feeling lucky again

The Miami Dolphins pick 13th overall in next month’s NFL draft and so I ask you. Feeling lucky?

Only twice in franchise history has that particular number come up for the Dolphins, and there’s no guarantee that it even will this time. Trades happen.

77 A.J. Duhe scores a towchdown. Palm Beach Post file photo by Alan Zlotky.
MIAMI – A.J. Duhe celebrates touchdown on interception return in Jan. 23, 1983 AFC Championship game win over New York Jets (Palm Beach Post file photo by Alan Zlotky.

If the draft order stays like it is, however, Miami can only hope the early picks work out something like 1977.

That year the Dolphins were coming off a 6-8 season, the first losing record of Don Shula’s career. The stars of the Super Bowl dynasty years were starting to get old, particularly on defense, and the time had come to stir up the lineup.

So with the 13th overall pick Miami selected A.J. Duhe from LSU, an instant starter at defensive. Next, with a second-round pick that was 40th overall, the Dolphins took Alabama’s Bob Baumhower, who also stepped right in at nose tackle.

Could the Dolphins of today, also coming off a six-win season, do any better with the 13th and 42nd overall picks? Difficult to imagine.

Duhe was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and later, after switching to linebacker, he carried the Dolphins into a Super Bowl by intercepting three New York Jets passes and returning one of them for a touchdown in the 1982 AFC Championship game.

Baumhower, meanwhile, earned a spot on the Dolphins’ Honor Roll. Five times the former Palm Beach Gardens High School star was a Pro Bowl selection, and three times as a starter.

New Dolphins coach Adam Gase could use a whole lot of that. Already he says Miami picked up two defensive starters in the March 9 trade that brought cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso from Philadelphia. That trade, by the way, is what moved Miami down to 13th in the first round from its original spot at No. 8.

[Why shouldn’t UM be good in both major sports, like North Carolina?]

[Feeling bullish on Warriors finishing job and besting 72-10]

[Simplest measure to tell if Dolphins hired the right coach]

The only other time the Dolphins picked 13th overall went tragically wrong.

The pick was spent on David Overstreet in 1981 but a contract agreement never was reached and the Oklahoma running back went to Montreal of the Canadian Football League for two years. He eventually played one season for the Dolphins but was killed in a car accident in 1984 at the age of 25.

He might have been a great NFL runner if given the chance.

 

 

 

 

A funny Ronald Reagan tidbit from my upcoming story on Pembrook Burrows III

Just finished writing a long feature on West Palm Beach’s Pembrook Burrows III, who way back in 1970 played with Hall of Famer Artis Gilmore on the unlikeliest Final Four team you could ever hope to see.

The story, which is peppered with great photos, can be found at mypalmbeachpost.com beginning Thursday. It’s full of fun nuggets about the heyday of Roosevelt High School basketball and the overnight emergence of tiny Jacksonville University as a national power. Here’s one funny scene, however, that got left on the cutting-room floor.

ronnie raygunWhen Jacksonville advanced to the NCAA championship game to play mighty UCLA, Florida Gov. Claude Kirk, a real colorful guy, sent a telegram to his counterpart in California, Ronald Reagan.

Kirk had a lot of fun with it and made sure the contents of the telegram was released to the media. He referred to the Bruins as “the champagne team from Smoggy Hollow,” and announced “I am supremely comfortable in the knowledge that Jacksonville will ‘win one for the Gov’ while UCLA is ‘losing one for the old Gipper.’ “

Best of all, Kirk promised “If I lose, I will watch 50 reruns of ‘Death Valley Days.’ If I win, all I want is your public acknowledgement of this additional area of Florida’s superiority. I will await your wire of acceptance and your subsequent telephone call of congratulations.”

Reagan, the former actor and future U.S. president, served in 1964 and 1965 as narrator on television’s “Death Valley Days” anthology of western stories from the pioneer days. Some of those shows must have been a little dry based on Kirk’s wager.

[Why shouldn’t Hurricanes be formidable in both major sports?]

[Bullish on the Warriors finishing the job and besting 72-10]

[Simplest measure to tell if Dolphins hired the right coach]

There is no record of what happened when UCLA beat Jacksonville 80-69 but it figures that Reagan was gracious, not wishing to speak ill of a fellow Republican. Besides, the Bruins were beating everybody back then.

In 1972, after Kirk had left office, UCLA scored another victory over a Florida team in the NCAA championship game, beating FSU 81-76.

 

 

 

If Oklahoma and North Carolina can be formidable in both major sports, why can’t Miami?

The Oklahoma Sooners are having themselves a year. Final four in college football’s January playoffs. Final Four in college basketball right now, and a chance still to cut down the nets in Houston.

Double-duty athletic programs like this are so rare that they deserve special recognition. I see two more at the moment, using my arbitrary measurement of Sweet 16 in the NCAA hoops tournament and a corresponding finish of top 16 or better in the final Associated Press rankings from earlier this year.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 27:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrate with his team after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a score of 74 to 88 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional Final at Wells Fargo Center on March 27, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates with his team after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament East Regional Final on March 27, 2016. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

North Carolina is in the Final Four this weekend and the Tar Heels football team finished at No. 15 with a perfect conference record to win the ACC Coastal Division. Also, Notre Dame pairs an Elite Eight basketball team with a No. 11 football team from last season.

The combinations change from season to season, of course. Oklahoma basketball was going through a rough patch until Lon Kruger showed up five years ago. Michigan State, a No. 2 seed, got upset in the opening round of the NCAA tournament or the Spartans would retain their customary spot on the short list of two-sport giants, too.

My feeling is that Miami should aim at this double bullseye of overall excellence, and with a realistic chance at hitting it at some point.

The Hurricanes’ basketball team has progressed to the point with coach Jim Larranaga that going no farther than the Sweet 16 seems a disappointment. That’s how elite programs view March Madness, and Miami is as close to that status as it has ever been.

The football side is a tougher reach, but new coach Mark Richt is capable of getting the Hurricanes back in the rankings over the next few years and eventually back in the top 10. He wouldn’t have come to Miami if he didn’t think it possible.

Start the process by reeling in North Carolina within the ACC. The Tar Heels beat Miami 59-21 last November in football. Not even close. In basketball North Carolina beat the Hurricanes 96-71 in February. Same thing.

The gap shouldn’t be that wide, and does not need to stay that way. Miami is supposed to be a football school, for one thing. And North Carolina, a good bet to win its sixth basketball national championship, finished just one game ahead of Miami in the ACC regular-season standings this year.

[Believe it or not, dunks were once outlawed in March Madness]

[Bullish on Warriors finishing the job and topping 72-10 record]

[Adam Gase showing signs of openness that Joe Philbin never did]

It’s a fantasy to think that anyone will ever build the multiple monstrosity of national championship teams in both sports at the same time, like Florida did in 2006.

Miami can make itself matter in all kinds of new ways, however, with Larranaga and Richt on the job.

It doesn’t have to be about living in the past with memories of Miami’s football dynasty. Look to a double-fisted future instead, one that shines up the brand throughout the entire calendar year.

 

 

 

 

 

Believe it or not, dunks once were outlawed in March Madness

No one under the age of 30 would believe this, but there was a time when college basketball players weren’t allowed to dunk.

Imagine March Madness without it now. Great players would still deliver great performances but something would be missing, like a carbonated beverage gone flat.

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 1980, file photo, John Wooden, center, former UCLA basketball coach, poses with UCLA alumni and pro basketball stars Bill Walton, left, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during a birthday party for Wooden in Los Angeles. Abdul-Jabbar was known as Lew Alcindor when he played for the Bruins in the 1960s. Wooden, college basketball's gentlemanly Wizard of Westwood who built one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports at UCLA and became one of the most revered coaches ever, has died. He was 99. (AP Photo/File)
Bill Walton (left), coach John Wooden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (right) just kept on winning national championships for UCLA during the NCAA’s brief ban on slam dunks. (1980 AP Photo)

It was the 1966-67 season when the NCAA banned the slam during all college games, citing safety considerations. Everybody kind of figured it had more to do with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, thoroughly dominating the game at 7-feet-2. That’s what he figured, anyway, and was not happy about it.

There might have been something else going on, too. In an era before breakaway rims, it wasn’t uncommon for rims to get bent and for games to be delayed because of it. There was the occasional shattered backboard, too. What a mess, and what a cost in cleaning it all up and getting back to normal.

For seven years the dunk ban stood. That made it tougher on big men everywhere but it didn’t slow Kareem down all that much. He went from averaging 29 points per game and a .667 shooting percentage in his final season with the dunk to 26.2 and .613 in his first season without out. UCLA won national championships both of those years, too, and seemingly every year.

If anything, it might have made Kareem work on his post moves more, the sky hook included, and that probably was a good thing in the end.

UCLA’s Bill Walton also thrived during the dunk ban. In fact, it would have been difficult for him to be any more productive if allowed to dunk. In the 1973 NCAA championship game against Memphis, for instance, Walton scored 44 points on 21-of-22 shooting.

Either way, according to an NCAA news archive I came across, the number of field goals steadily increased during the years of the dunk ban. Scorers are always going to find a way to score outrageous numbers of points. The only way to stop them entirely is to nail a lid on the basket. Raising the rim to 12 feet, a topic discussed during Wilt Chamberlain’s day, might frustrate them but it wouldn’t stop them.

As far as what was lost during that dunk-free era, David Thompson, the amazing 6-foot-4 skywalker from North Carolina State, never got to posterize anybody until his NBA days. Sure did make up for lost time, though.

[Adam Gase already showing an openness that Joe Philbin did not]

[Dolphins never took the wrapper off Lamar Miller]

[Larranaga won’t make mistake FSU’s Kennedy did in leaving ACC]

Would college big men be more well-rounded in their offensive games and better prepared for the pros if they weren’t allowed to simply overpower lesser defenders and stuff the ball home?

I figure it’s more of a personal thing. Guys who have the discipline and desire to develop their skills will put in the time to do it. Those who don’t will wind up like players who don’t bother working on their free throws.

They’ll be more or less like Dwight Howard, a physical force of nature right out of high school and a sensational shotblocker and defender but never an NBA champion.

 

Hoping that Warriors finish the job and top Bulls’ 72-10 record

 

The Golden State Warriors are through pretending it doesn’t matter that much. They want to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ record of 72 regular-season wins and will bust a gut trying.

“I’m not going to shy away from saying we want the record,” Draymond Green said following Saturday night’s loss to San Antonio. “Absolutely we want it, and we’re going after it.”

SAN ANTONIO,TX - MARCH 19: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden States Warriors is defended by Danny Green #14 of the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on March 19, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO,TX – Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is defended by Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center on March 19, 2016. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

This does my heart good, and not because of any dislike for Michael Jordan or the Bulls or anything else to do with Chicago.

There’s just something admirable about striving to be the best at everything, the way Jordan always did.

The Warriors, for instance, already have an NBA title and are favored to win it again this year. They have the league’s best record, a haughty 64-7 following Wednesday night’s win over the Clippers. They have 11 games left before the long playoff grind begins and no requirement to overuse their starters or risk injury.

Still, if Steph Curry and company can plant the Golden State flag atop the NBA’s highest regular-season mountain, they will expend a ridiculous amount of energy to complete that mission.

“Now we’re right there,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “That’s pretty enticing.

“It’s really the players’ record. I know they want to get it. So we’ll act accordingly.”

My former colleague here, award-winning columnist Greg Stoda, used to pick at me good-naturedly on topics like this, primarily at the end of each college basketball season. As the top teams headed into conference tournament play, he would tell me that it probably would be better to go out in the early rounds, let somebody else win the ACC or the SEC or the Big Ten title, get rested up for the real deal of March Madness, the games that count the most.

He was probably right, but I would spark and spew about the value of hanging any banner that you can whenever you can. Only one team can win the NCAA title, after all. The rest need things to celebrate, too, and to remember forever.

[Adam Gase already showing signs of openness that Joe Philbin didn’t]

[Mario Williams is better than Olivier Vernon, at any price]

[Try Jack Nicklaus’ weight-loss plan by running between shots]

The Warriors, a fairly buoyant group, seem to get that. They went hard earlier this season at the NBA record streak of 33 regular-season wins in a row, eventually coming up five wins short of the 1971-72 Lakers led by Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. They’re going hard now after the 72-10 regular-season record set by Chicago with Michael and Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

It won’t change a thing if they come up short. They’ll still have a battle on their hands with San Antonio in the Western Conference playoffs no matter which team is seeded where. They’ll still be the team that everyone else is trying to be even as every team is trying to beat them.

To finish 73-9 or better, though, that would be something that no one has ever done.

That’s something worth having, and Kerr won’t get in the way of players going after it the way all-business Gregg Popovich might do if placed in the same position.

Really, why would Kerr? The Warriors went 39-4 to start the season without him, while their head coach was rehabbing a serious back issue and assistant Luke Walton was filling in.

They’ve kind of got this winning thing down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adam Gase showing signs of openness that did not come naturally to Philbin

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Of course, we’re just getting to know new Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase. There are some good signs, though, that his conversation with players will be more open and comfortable than it was for Joe Philbin.

Joe’s personality is his own, with a New Englander’s dry wit just below the surface. As Dolphins coach, he strived to keep his players focused on the job at hand, each drill, each walk-through, each play in each game. Not a bad idea, but there was a disconnect between Philbin and his team leaders, as proven in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying flap.

Dolphins new head coach Adam Gase is introduced at Dolphins training camp facility in Davie, FL on Jan. 9, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Dolphins new head coach Adam Gase is introduced at Dolphins training camp facility in Davie, FL on Jan. 9, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Also, Philbin worked hard to loosen up and bond with his team but it sometimes came off as just another task to be checked off the weekly list. A wacky dance to get guys giggling at a coaches’ talent show, a sardonic comment to break the tension in a team meeting, and then right back to stoic, stone-faced Joe.

Clearly, it didn’t come all that naturally, and Philbin even said at the beginning of mini-camp in 2014 that he was going to work harder on communication with players as part of learning how to be the best head coach possible.

“I think you see a more relaxed coach Philbin than I’ve ever seen before – a guy who is willing to listen to the players, listen to suggestions and put them into action,” Ryan Tannehill said at the time. “Last year and the year before, some suggestions got shot down pretty quickly. Now, he’s hearing us out.”

Great, but by then more than half of Philbin’s three-and-a-quarter seasons as coach were already gone.

Gase, too, is a first-time NFL head coach with plenty to learn about particular facets of his job that probably haven’t even occurred to him yet. Getting to know his players, however, does not seem to be a problem, and neither does showing a level of enthusiasm that will help to motivate them.

Speaking at the NFL’s annual meetings in Boca Raton, Gase sounded like he’s already made himself at home at the Dolphins’ training facility, and is getting players comfortable with having him around. That takes a little extra work during a period in the NFL calendar when coaches and players aren’t supposed to be doing much more than bumping into each other in the hallway.

“That’s the hardest part right now about where we are at in the dead period,” Gase said. “You can’t talk football. The thing you can do is you can at least, if you see a guy in the building, you can have a conversation just about general topics. You avoid any kind of football conversation but just kind of get to learn these guys as people.

“ ‘Hey, what do they like to do? What are they about? What kind of guy are they?’ So, that’s really what, at least, I try to do is try to learn these guys, which is a first step in developing a good relationship with our players. That’s the nice thing about being in Miami is we have a lot of guys that don’t leave. They stay here. I think it’s good to know that our guys are at least in the area.”

[Here’s proof that Larranaga knows how to beat Villanova]

[Simplest measure to tell if Dolphins hired the right coach]

[Dolphins never really took the wrapper off Lamar Miller]

One of the guys who doesn’t live here year-round is the uncommonly reserved Ndamukong Suh, but there are signs that he and Gase are making important connections, too.

“He (Suh) has been in multiple times to just come in and talk to me,” Gase said. “I mean, you can’t talk football. He just kind of talks to me about what he’s kind of up to during the spring. To see him be around the building and to pop in and out, I know he’s on the West Coast a lot and it’s a long flight for him. I’ve enjoyed my interaction with him so I’m excited to see him practice.”

That comes later, but the progress Gase already is making in figuring out what makes his players tick may eventually turn out to be just as important.

Here’s proof that Jim Larranaga knows how to beat Villanova

 

There’s a nugget on Miami coach Jim Larranaga’s coaching resume that reaffirms his worth in very specific terms as the Hurricanes prepare for Villanova in the Sweet 16.

The last of Larranaga’s school-record 271 victories at George Mason just happened to be an NCAA tournament win over Villanova.

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga gestures during the first half of a second-round game against Wichita State in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Saturday, March 19, 2016. Miami won 65-57. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Miami head coach Jim Larranaga gestures during a second-round game against Wichita State in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament last Saturday. Miami won 65-57. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

It was one of those classic 8-9 showdowns in 2011’s opening round, won 61-57 with a three-pointer in the closing seconds as the clincher. There were no more magic memories from that particular George Mason run. Ohio State, a No. 1 seed, crushed the Patriots 98-66 in the second round and one month later Larranaga was introduced at Miami.

At least we’re clear, however, that Larranaga knows how to beat Villanova in a massive March Madness elimination game. He’s done it before and maybe he can do it again Thursday night.

Otherwise, even if you knew nothing about this year’s teams, there are plenty of warnings about Villanova’s tournament toughness that must be heeded.

Start with the dream season of 1984-85, when Villanova came in as a No. 8 seed and rolled to a national championship behind coach Rollie Massimino, now the boss at Keiser University in West Palm Beach.

The Wildcats beat a couple of No. 1 seeds (Georgetown and Michigan) and a couple of No. 2’s (Memphis State and North Carolina) on the road to the title. Two games, including the title shot against Georgetown, were won by a single bucket. Overall, Villanova’s average winning margin was four points.

In the 2005 and 2006 NCAA tournaments, Villanova split games with Florida, a team stocked with future NBA first-rounders. In 1971 the Wildcats reached the national title game against UCLA and in 2009 they knocked off UCLA and Duke back-to-back on the way to the Final Four.

[Computer gave UM 1 percent chance of winning NCAA hoops]

[Simplest early measure to tell if Dolphins hired right coach]

[Dolphins never really took the wrapper off Lamar Miller]

Villanova, in other words, is the kind of program that would surprise people only if it didn’t make an impressive run in March. The Wildcats have been in the NCAA field 36 times, going 53-35 overall.

Miami, 8-7 in eight NCAA tournament appearances, can’t come close to that history. The Hurricanes have never advanced beyond the Sweet 16.

Worth nothing, though, that the Hurricanes dropped the sport altogether between 1971 and 1984 so there’s bound to be some catching up to do. Win on Thursday and none of this historical comparison will matter, at least until an even bigger NCAA tournament monster shows up in the next round. Someone like, say, Kansas.

 

 

Here’s a spooky parallel between UM’s NCAA tournament hopes and the Gators’ first title team

 

No. 3 seeds like Miami aren’t supposed to win the NCAA basketball tournament, right? Well, here’s a little inspiration for Hurricanes fans heading into Saturday’s second round, and it comes from the unlikeliest of sources.

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga, left, talks with guard Angel Rodriguez (13) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Coral Gables, Fla. Miami defeated Louisville 73-65. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga and guard Angel Rodriguez. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Florida Gators.

Florida won the first of its back-to-back national titles in 2006, rolling through the brackets as a No. 3 seed. The basic parallel is there, but it gets bolder and even a little bit spookier when you look at the first two opponents.

The Gators beat a No. 14 seed (South Alabama) and a No. 11 seed (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) on the opening weekend in 2006.

Miami’s first two opponents? A No. 14 seed (Hurricanes beat Buffalo 79-72 Thursday night) and a No. 11 seed (Wichita State) on Saturday.

Now we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but it generally takes some help to get a little momentum going in the tournament. The Gators got it that year when UW-Milwaukee knocked off No. 6 seed Oklahoma in the opening round. Miami got it Thursday night when Wichita State, a play-in team, upset No. 6 Arizona.

[Simplest measure to tell if Dolphins hired the right coach]

[Dolphins never really took the wrapper off Lamar Miller]

[Larranaga won’t make mistake FSU’s Kennedy did in leaving ACC]

It’s a long, long, long way to go between here and the Final Four. It figures teams seeded higher than Miami will be the ones that get there.

One more confidence booster, though, as another round of crazy, scary, spectacular games begins.

Connecticut also won an NCAA title as a No. 3 seed in 2011 and again just two years ago as a No. 7.

Jim Larranaga may not use all of this in his motivational speeches but he’s always got a personal message in his back pocket. That 2006 Florida championship team had to fight its way past a real upstart in the national semifinals – Larranaga’s 11th-seeded George Mason Patriots.

 

Miami picked to flop in NCAA tournament? Have a heart, Mr. Computer

Superstar statistician Nate Silver is pretty good at reading numerical trends and making predictions. At the age of 31 he was named to Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list, based in part on his showstopping ability to nail 49 of the 50 state outcomes in the 2008 presidential election.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: Angel Rodriguez #13 of the Miami (Fl) Hurricanes has a shot blocked by Malcolm Brogdon #15 of the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half in the semifinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Virginia Cavaliers won, 73-68.(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – Angel Rodriguez of the Miami Hurricanes has a shot blocked by Malcolm Brogdon of the Virginia Cavaliers during the semifinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 11, 2016. Virginia won 73-68.(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Well now Silver is a scholarly 38, which means he probably is even smarter, but you may not like what his FiveThirtyEight website is serving up as the NCAA tournament goes into full swing today.

According to Silver’s busy staff of data drones, the 25-7 Miami Hurricanes have a 1 percent chance of winning the national championship. In fact, they’re only being given a 14 percent chance of getting past the Sweet 16.

Since the Hurricanes have never advanced beyond the Sweet 16 and they believe this might just be the year, this crunching of numbers also crunches the soul just a bit.

Playing the entire bracket out, one analytical showdown at a time, the Silver machine has Villanova knocking Miami off in the Sweet 16 round and Kansas winning it all. Probably, speaking in probabilities, that is.

If it makes Miami fans feel any better, Florida and FSU aren’t even in the tournament field. That means the Hurricanes’ 1 percent chance of winning the NCAA title is infinitely better than the zero percent I can confidently hang on the Gators and Seminoles.

Would you be mad if I said my prediction is that Miami will get to the Elite Eight and no farther? Sorry I asked.

[Simplest measure to tell if Dolphins hired the right coach]

[Dolphins never really took the wrapper off Lamar Miller]

[Mario Williams is better than Olivier Vernon, period]

Hey, it’s foolishness thinking that any man or computer or combination thereof could really see what’s coming in March Madness. That’s why we all love it, and why we’re so upset when the upsets end.

For the record, I’ll take Maryland to knock off Kansas in the Elite Eight round and Oklahoma to win the title.

Also for the record, my guesses have never been good enough to win a routine office pool, much less to take the shine off Silver.

Simplest measure to determine if Dolphins hired the right head coach

The Miami Dolphins have “won” the free-agency period before and missed the playoffs anyway. This time around I’m going to worry less about that and focus on the more important pickup.

Who is actually coaching the players is the factor that matters most, from setting the lineup to forming a successful strategy on

Dolphins new head coach Adam Gase is introduced at Dolphins training camp facility in Davie, FL on Jan. 9, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
New Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is introduced at Dolphins training camp facility in Davie, FL on Jan. 9, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

both sides of the ball to naming a quality staff to motivating the team. In this area, even though he has yet to take the field as Dolphins coach, Adam Gase is looking like the right choice.

Why? Because Gase is the only one of the candidates interviewed by Miami who would have gotten an NFL head coaching job if the Dolphins had passed on him.

Here’s were the others ended up.

Dan Campbell – Assistant head coach and tight ends coach at New Orleans.

Doug Marrone – Assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Jacksonville.

Teryl Austin – Defensive coordinator at Detroit.

Mike Smith – Defensive coordinator at Tampa Bay.

Anthony Lynn – Assistant head coach and running backs coach at Buffalo.

Mike Shanahan – Not working in NFL.

Gase interviewed with the Giants and Eagles in addition to Miami and there’s no guarantee he would have gotten either of those jobs if he wanted them but it figures that somebody would have snapped him up. He and Hue Jackson were the two hottest prospects around the league at the time the annual coaching carousel was spinning.

If there is another measure to be made on Gase other than the raw numbers of wins and losses this season, it will be comparing him to Jackson, new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

The Dolphins had an interview scheduled with Hue but canceled it when talks started getting serious with Gase.

Full disclosure, I backed Smith as Miami’s choice early on, thinking that after all the missteps with men who had never previously served as head coaches it probably was time to go with a proven product. Smith was the 2008 NFL Coach of the Year in Atlanta. He took the Falcons to the NFC title game in 2012 as one of his four playoff appearances with the team. Overall, he was 20 games over .500 there, too.

[Dolphins never really took the wrapper off Lamar Miller]

[Mario Williams is better than Olivier Vernon at any price]

[Larranaga won’t make mistake FSU’s Kennedy did in leaving ACC]

I’ll go back to my opening premise, however, and look at what happened with each candidate. While Smith may eventually be an NFL head coach again, nobody was interested in handing him the keys right now. Gase, on the other hand, was targeted in more than one place as being ready for the job of turning a team around.

If it turns out the Dolphins were wrong about that, they wouldn’t have been the only ones.