The Boise State-Oregon game last night was the first to use the NCAA's new "handshake" policy. Both teams engaged in the totally symbolic gesture of shaking hands prior to the game. But after Oregon lost, all sportsmanship, real or symbolic, went out the window.
When the two teams passed each other on the field after the game, Byron Hout of Boise State sought out Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount to taunt him. After tapping Blount on the shoulder pads to get his attention, Hout then proceeded to say something to Blount. Blount promptly punched Hout in the jaw.
Blount needs to be disciplined, and he will be. He was suspended for a time last year for behavior issues.
However, the reality of the situation is that Hout should be disciplined as well.
It's one thing to "talk smack," as they say, when you're in the game. You're trying to get fired up, to psych out the opposition. But after the game, you're supposed to put the animosity aside and shake hands. Seeking someone out to insult them is repulsive.
Yes, punching someone in the mouth is not appropriate. In the grand scheme of things, it is obviously the much larger of the two infractions. It is not the kind of example I want my kids to see when they watch sports. But neither is what Hout did. The fact that it is the lesser of two evils only means Hout's punishment should be lighter.
According to some sources, Hout's comment consisted of, "How was that ass whuppin'?" Well, the 19-8 victory No. 14 Boise State enjoyed over No. 16 Oregon hardly meets my definition of "ass whuppin'." But even if it had been 116-8, to go and taunt a player from the other team afterward is classless.
If my son came home from school and told me he'd gotten suspended for punching someone in the mouth in the same situation, I would lay into him. I would explain to him that that type of behavior is not to be tolerated and the mature thing to do would have been to walk away.
If my son came home with a fat lip because he got socked in the gob for taunting a player from a team he's just beaten, I would give him the same speech.
Blount needs to be suspended from the team, perhaps even for the season, since this is not his first slip-up. But there are two wrongs in this story and two wrongdoers. My bet is that the other, Hout, won't receive repercussions for his bad decisions.
That is just plain unfair.