Just thinking . . .

This is the society that loves to punish, so the knee-jerk reaction to the University of Miami tale of wrongdoing is to demand the suspension of its football program for one or two years. The so-called death penalty that some say isn’t accurate because football will return.

For the many Miami players who did not accept the illegal gifts from uber-booster Nevin Shapiro, it most likely is the end of hopes and dreams. They were recruited by promises that now seem unlikely to be met. Death penalty or not, there will be sanctions that will cripple the program in the short term.

The players who didn’t have their hands out — 12 out of nearly 100 of this year’s football players are implicated — will be hurt. Unless Miami finds them places at other universities, they will be necessary victims. The NCAA has to act. This was institutional failure and there should be penalties. …

Do think Blake James’ life has become a little more stressed in the wake of the Miami scandal. He left his position as the University of Maine athletic director two years ago to become Miami’s senior associate AD for external operations. In other words, he was looking for financial gifts to help fund Miami athletics, among other duties. Don’t think he had much if any contact with Shapiro but in this mess, a lot of Miami administrators will be splattered by the mud, no matter where they happened to be standing. …

Do think the first person to ask me about the NBA lockout was Jacob, the 20-something gathering signatures for a ballot question Thursday night in Monument Square in Portland. But the NFL is into its preseason, the Patriots are stirring memories of their run to the Super Bowl in 2007 and the Celtics aren’t on the radar. …

Do think Ron Turcotte’s story is more poignant than he will admit. Turcotte is the jockey who rode Secretariart to his amazing three wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes in 1973. Five years later he was paralyzed from the chest down after his horse was bumped by another in a race and pitched her rider headfirst onto the track at Belmont. While Secretariat was retired to the breeding barns and earned millions for his owners, Turcotte eventually returned to Grand Falls, New Brunswick, across the Maine border near Van Buren. He started a tree farm.

Turcotte, 70, had a speaking appearance Tuesday night in Waterville. He talked mostly about Secretariat, the Disney movie released last year about perhaps the world’s greatest thoroughbred, and very little about his own life after his accident. “I don’t dwell on it,” Turcotte told Sports Illustrated years ago. “I woke up from my operation and I had no quarrel with anybody. …”

Don’t think trying to establish Indy-car racing in New England is a lost cause. Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway drew about 30,000, if you listen to the track promoter. NASCAR Sprint Cup races typically get 90,000 or more. The visual image of all those empty seats wasn’t good. Indy-cars’ problem in 1998 when it last ran at NHMS is the same as it is today: The drivers have no identities. Sorry, even a new generation of the Rahal and Andretti names doesn’t translate. This race series needs more than Danica Patrick, Dario Franchetti and Helio Castroneves. And Danica is talking again about jumping to NASCAR full time.

All that said, 30,000 or so isn’t bad. Indy-cars race and pass on the slightly banked mile at NHMS, something not seen with regularity over years of Sprint Cup racing on the same track. Look at it this way: The Patriots sell out Gillette Stadium, the New England Revolution soccer team can sell out the level of sections behind the Patriots’ bench. Haven’t heard anyone talking about killing the Revs’ chances to suceed. …

Don’t know who will play Dustin Pedroia years from now in the movie on his life in baseball. Mickey Rooney is way too old already, but anyone watching the 1938 black-and-white movie “Boys Town” would understand. A colleague suggested Tom Cruise. No way, even if the height is about right. One of the Wahlberg brothers? Possibly, but it will have to be a young unknown, just as Pedroia was.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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