Geez, go to bed for a few hours and all hell breaks loose.
As relayed by John Tamanaha very early this morning, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly will address the status of suspended-for-the-year running back LeGarrette Blount following the Ducks’ walk-through practice at 2 PM EST.
The question I have is, why? What is there to address?
Here was what Kelly had to say on the day he announced Blount had been suspended for the remainder of the season for his punch to the face of Boise State’s Byron Haut and subsequent meltdown:
“I have suspended LeGarrette Blount for the season. It is my belief and this university’s belief that playing football at the University of Oregon is a privilege and with that privilege goes responsibility. LeGarrette Blount will still be on our team, LeGarrette Blount will just not play for us on Saturdays.”
Nope, no gray area there. Pretty much black and white. Yet, here we are. And the thinking could very well be that Kelly and his school may have just FUBAR’d the feel-good resurrection of the year.
If there was even the remotest of chances that Kelly was going to reinstate Blount at some point this season, the coach should’ve left the door slightly ajar. But he didn’t, and that’s going to get him killed, media-wise. And, who knows, maybe even as far as the fan base is concerned as well.
I don’t know if Blount deserves a second chance; that’s not for me to judge. But I do know that if there was a plan in place that would allow for a return, it should’ve been alluded to at some point during the press conference announcing the suspension. Or in the past month even.
And whither the Pac-10?
Commissioner Larry Scott was in attendance that night, and he robustly applauded the tack the Oregon program took in dealing with an incident that not only gave UO a black eye, but the conference as well.
“We commend the University of Oregon and its leadership for taking swift and decisive action in response to this incident,” Scott said in a statement at the time. “The Pac-10 strongly emphasizes sportsmanship and fair play in all its athletic competitions and expects high standards of sportsmanship from all participants, including student-athletes. In this case, those standards were not met and the university has taken appropriate disciplinary actions.”
So, where does the Pac-10 stand on all this? Or the president of the university, for that matter?
“At the conclusion of last night’s University of Oregon season opening football game against Boise State University, a UO player displayed inappropriate and unsportsmanlike behavior,” Pres. Richard Lariviere said in a statement shortly before the suspension was announced. “There is no place on the field of play for that kind of action, and his conduct was reprehensible.
“We do not and will not tolerate the actions that were taken by our player. Oregon’s loyal fans expect and deserve better. The University of Oregon Athletics Department is reviewing the situation and will take appropriate action, reflecting the seriousness of the player’s behavior. We then hope to put this incident behind us and look forward to the rest of the season.”
So, instead of putting this “reprehensible” conduct behind them, and allowing the team’s stunning 3-0 comeback from what could’ve been — should’ve been — a season-killing incident to speak for the character of the university, they are going to allow the Blount Circus to roll into town each and every week for the remainder of the season?
Message sent, message resoundingly received, Coach Kelly and the UO football program. Whether said message is crystal clear or not remains open to interpretation.