Happy Ash Wednesday. Today’s the start of the Lenten season. The Linten season started earlier this month in New York. (Another bad Jeremy Lin pun, yeah!) For me, Lent means no more fast-food, chocolate, soda … basically everything that I’ve been sucking up the past four months or so. I’m back to living a clean lifestyle. We’ll see how I do. Anyway, here are this week’s grades. As we always do, we’ll breakdown these grades on WGEM SportsCenter around 8:20 a.m. or so. Text us with your grades at 217-617-9437.
A —Detroit Red Wings. Talk about home-ice advantage. The Red Wings have won 23 straight games at Joe Louis Arena to establish a new NHL record. The Red Wings, who lead the Western Conference, haven’t lost at home since a 4-1 loss to Calgary on Nov. 3. With the playoff approaching, it looks like the Red Wings are in prime position to regain the Stanley Cup.
B — Carl Edwards. The Columbia, Mo., NASCAR star looks like he is determined to make up for missing out on the 2011 Sprint Cup title, which he lost to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker. No one was faster at Daytona International Raceway last weekend and Edwards claimed the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Don’t be surprised if he’s doing a victorious backflip in Victory Lane this weekend.
C — Greg Oden. The Trail Blazers’ big guy just can’t buy a break. We’re not going to see the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft any time soon after he underwent another knee surgery this week. Oden hasn’t played in an NBA game since early December of 2009. He’s played all of 82 NBA games, while the guy who was picked behind him, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, has become one of the league’s star players. You have to feel bad for Oden. It’s not as if he’s brought this on himself. The same genetics that gave him the gift of 7-foot height also left him with some paper mache knees.
D — Jay Norvell. I feel bad for college coaches. They have to grovel and beg 18-year-olds every year to help them keep their jobs. It’s bad enough they have to go hat in hand to coax these recruits to campus, but there are new ways for coaches to communicate with their recruiting targets. Norvell, an assistant at Oklahoma, looked pretty pathetic (and may have broken some NCAA rules) when he took to Twitter to offer full-rides to several prospects. Norvell, of course, said his Twitter was hacked, but that hacker also had Norvell’s cell number, which was included in the tweets. This is just sad.
F — University of Illinois men’s basketball team. While Mizzou fans are riding high these days, Illini fans are in the dumps. After a less-than-stellar effort last Saturday in an 80-57 loss to Nebraska, the Illini lost again Tuesday night at Ohio State. Unless the Illini run the table at the Big Ten Conference Tournament, it doesn’t look like they’ll be heading to the NCAA Tournament. It looks like the school may be writing Bruce Weber a $3.9 million buyout check so that he leaves Champaign after the season. It’s one heck of a mess.