Abercrombie Out, Hicks Suspended, and Why Arlen Specter is Incompetent

It had been in the rumor mill for quite some time, but Thomas Abercrombie appears to be headed back to New Zealand to play professionally, according to the Spokesman-Review.

The always informative Vince Grippi speculates that although this frees up yet another scholarship for 2008, his spot may not be filled until next year. I agree with him. This Cougar team will already be ridiculously young with eight freshmen and six true freshmen on the 15-man roster. Unless Tony has a recruit on the radar for this upcoming season, I expect the scholarship to go back to Charlie Enquist, who was set to be a non-scholarship player per an agreement he made with Tony prior to last season. And because this always comes up, let me squash it again: It’s not going to Rochestie. He wants to, and he is, helping the team by giving up his free ride for next season.

It is sad, in a way. The sophomore forward from New Zealand had potential as a player but just turned out to be a wrong fit on the Cougars’ squad. He doesn’t have the height to be a Robbie Cowgill or Caleb Forrest type player at the power forward position, and he doesn’t have the ballhandling skill or 3-point shooting to be an effective option at guard or small forward. But he was a talented, athletic kid who was mentally everything you’d want from a Bennett Baller. Behind the Lord of the Rings movies and Flight of the Conchords, he’s the third best thing to come out of New Zealand this decade. I wish him the best of luck going forward.

Xavier Hicks can add a three game suspension to his 45-day jail stint, all as a result of substituting rubbing alcohol for his roommates’ contact solution (and a theft charge). (note: see the aforementioned Spokesman blog post) The contacts never made it in the victims’ eyes, but it’s not too hard to imagine how it would have felt. That resulted in the assault charge, and coupled with the theft of a credit card, Hicks landed in the Whitman County jail. He entered into a plea agreement to avoid felonies – he instead gets booked with two gross misdemeanors.

It’s a good move by Paul Wulff – Hicks is receiving sufficient punishment already in the form of his jail sentence, and Wulff needs to send a message that bad behavior wont be tolerated during his tenure in Pullman. One can question whether or not Wulff should cut Hicks from the team altogether, but in this case I think a second chance is warranted. And suspending him for the whole season, considering he’s a junior, might be a little too severe.

Off-Topic – Arlen Specter (R-PA) probably cemented his place as the biggest idiot in Congress (not an easy feat) by suggesting an independent investigation into “Spygate” – the New England Patriots videotaping scandal. This thing is OVER, folks. After NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with Patriot filmmaker Matt Walsh on Tuesday, the league found nothing that they hadn’t already known. There isn’t even that notorious Super Bowl walkthrough tape of the Rams that the Boston Globe had believed existed.

And if there was, who cares? I fail to see how a) teams don’t switch up their defensive signals frequently from game to game and b) how this is that big of an issue when you could hire a guy without a videotape to watch a team’s defensive signals throughout the game then report back to the head coach. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan admitted to watching opponents’ defensive signals, yet we don’t crucify Denver’s back-to-back championship teams. To me, Spygate is fueled by an overly aggressive northeastern media and a national hatred of all things Patriots. People have grown wary of Boston sports fans since they stopped being lovable losers and became gloating winners.

But that dislike shouldn’t turn into incompetence. The Patriots broke the rules, they were penalized, and it’s over. The Super Bowl rings are still good, the game is still intact, and this scandal isn’t 1/40th as damaging as the Steroid Era has been to baseball. Like Jim Walden says, it’s less about X’s and O’s and more about Jerrys and Joes. Players win games. Whatever slight advantage the Pats got from Spygate has already been punished by the fines and the loss of a first round draft pick.

Specter’s incompetence isn’t just because he believes in Spygate, but because he should be serving the American people. Over 4,000 United States soldiers are dead in Iraq, and it’s not over. If I were a Senator I’d be spending some quality time figuring out how to calm down the situation in the Middle East. I wouldn’t be dabbling in sports to give myself some extra publicity or satisfy some demographic of my voting constituents. Specter doesn’t deserve his job. With so many more meaningful problems to address in this nation, what kind of irrational scum do you have to be to focus on an already-resolved videotaping scandal in the National Football League?

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