A GRIP ON SPORTS
Not much has changed around here in the past 24 hours, though our thoughts about the Seahawks may have and, lest we forget, the NCAA stuck it to USC once again. Read on.
• Yes, we're still under the weather, but the storm has subsided a bit (either that or the medications are finally beginning to take effect; I don't care which) so we can put some thoughts to pixels and pass them along. We'll start with the Hawks, who are among the best in the NFL with a 6-1 record. And yesterday their offense received a couple of boosts. The first, and most important, came from the unveiling of Percy Harvin (pictured with Russell Wilson), the cat-quick receiver Seattle picked up from Minnesota in the offseason. Harvin has been out since training camp, the victim of a hip injury that needed surgery. In his absence, the Hawks have ascended to the top of the NFC mountain, though the offense has sputtered a bit in the grind up the hill. When he does return – Harvin has to be put on the 53-man roster within 21 days of being activated, but doesn't have to play until he's ready – he should give the Hawks another gear. His speed and elusiveness makes him one of the biggest big-play threats in the league and because of that, he's someone defensive coordinators have to acknowledge in every scheme. That can only help the mainstay of the offense, Marshawn Lynch, who should face fewer folks in the box whenever Harvin returns. Another addition yesterday should also help Lynch, if only mentally. Seattle brought back his good friend, fullback Michael Robinson, whose illness at the end of camp – and a big contract – probably cost him a roster spot. But with injuries to the position – Spencer Ware was put on IR yesterday and Derrick Coleman is out a while with a hamstring problem – the Hawks put a call into their former captain and he came running. Eyes open, but he came. Robinson understands the business nature of the NFL and would have signed with another team if the right offer had presented itself. It didn't, so he's back opening holes for his friend Lynch. And the Hawks have reloaded a bit.
• There was a headline in one of the papers I perused this morning saying something to the effect the Miami Hurricanes received a fair but harsh penalty from the NCAA. Really? If you read the hundreds of pages in the NCAA report, it's pretty clear Miami received a more-than-fair, something-less-than harsh punishment yesterday. And that USC's near death-penalty was vindictive on the NCAA's part. You can compare the two if you like, because I won't. There is no comparison. The Trojans had a couple of stars earn some extra benefits from agents or street agents. The largesse received by the NCAA's main villain, Reggie Bush, actually went to his parents, when they were helped into a new home in the San Diego area. All with the expectation Bush would sign with an agent. He didn't and thus began the Trojans descent into the fifth circle of Hell. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, were in the pocket of a criminal mastermind. The president, the athletic director (Paul Dee, who oversaw the USC case while Nevin Shapiro was handing out $1,000 handshakes back in Miami), the entire athletic department cozied up to a crook who was handing out money (and other benefits) to football and basketball players (the pictures of Shapiro with the powers that be in Miami are extraordinary, especially the one with president Donna Shalala in a bowling alley). Shapiro has said he "invested" about a million dollars in the program, the NCAA was able to account for about a tenth of that, but that's enough. The athletic department probably should have been shut down. Instead, the football team loses nine scholarships – less than one-third what USC lost – and the basketball team three more – that's more like it – along with other penalties. But the Hurricanes, who self-imposed a bowl ban while the case was being investigated, can move forward now. For USC, the wounds still fester.
• WSU: It's Wednesday, which means all around the West Coast, beat writers put together their Pac-12 notebooks. Jacob Thorpe has his in today's S-R, coupled with his Pac-12 power rankings, as well as a transcript on the blog of Mike Leach's comments from the coaches' conference call. Jacob also passes along links in his morning post and will host a live chat here at 11 a.m. ... As we said, there are notebooks all over, with one concerning the injury policies around the conference, a look at Colorado's quest for bowl eligibility and the commissioner defending all the night games. ... Over at ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog, there is the weekly stat post. ... We always have our eyes scanning for basketball stories and we found this from Utah.
• Gonzaga: We also found a hoop story about BYU, so we pass that along.
• EWU: The Eagles will fly into Missoula this weekend with a lot on the line. Though that's usually the case when Eastern and the Griz meet. Jim Allen has a notebook in the paper this morning and a post on the blog with links.
• Chiefs: The Chiefs weren't on the ice yesterday but that didn't keep Chris Derrick from putting together a WHL notebook. ... There was some action last night as Tri-City posted a 4-1 home win over Swift Current and Portland defeated Lethbridge 3-2 north of the border.
• HOF: Jim Meehan was in attendance as the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame welcomed its new members (pictured) yesterday and has this story.
• Preps: It should be, in Greg Lee's eyes, a good weekend of prep football with a lot of key games in the area. And, of course, Greg's right. His advance tells us what to watch. ... We can also pass along a roundup of Wednesday night's prep action.
• Seahawks: We touched on the main elements in the section above, but we didn't want to clutter up our thoughts with a bunch of links, so we have more on Harvin's day on the practice field and Robinson's return. Other than that, and comments from Pete Carroll and others on those happenings, not a lot occurred yesterday.
• Sounders: Don’t try to tell coach Sigi Schmid the Sounders backed into the playoffs. He might just take some time to blast you. ... And though Schmid's job seems safe, there is some rumblings from Seattle on the way the Sounders finished the regular season, which ends this weekend. ... The future of the franchise may come down to the playoffs and the players' performances there. With that in mind, Schmid wants to get everyone healthy. ... We can offer one man's power rankings.
• That's it for today. As usual, we'll be back tomorrow. Hope you'll join us. Maybe we'll talk about the World Series. I wonder how many of you were around when the Cardinals defeated the Red Sox in the 1967 Series. I was. And I rooted for the Sox. Not going to this time. Until then ...