Decision on LeGarrette Blount Will Define Oregon's Season

Tony GuadagnoliContributor ISeptember 4, 2009

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 3:  LaGarrette Blount #9 of the Oregon Ducks watches the clock as it winds downs and the Boise State defeat Oregon 19-8 on September 3, 2009 at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Blount punched a Boise State Broncos player after the game causing quite a commotion and talk of him being arrested. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

LeGarrette Blount finally made good on his promise. The Oregon running back said the Ducks owed Boise State an "ass-whuppin" and he delivered. Too bad it came after the game and possibly ended Blount's college football career.

Blount clocked Boise State's Byron Hout with a right cross to the jaw after the defensive end approached him, said something and tapped him on the shoulder pads after the Broncos' 19-8 victory over Oregon Thursday night.

Boise State coach Chris Peterson immediately tried to grab Hout after he touched Blount, who later also punched teammate Garrett Embry. As he was being led to the locker room, Blount got into it with Boise fans and had to be restrained by coaches and security personnel.

Blount said he thought one fan was ready to throw a chair at him and said he was hit on the chin by another fan.

“When I walked over there the guy with the chair kind of backed up,” Blount told the Eugene Register-Guard. “And then the other guy came out of nowhere and struck me.”

Blount was not widely known outside of the Pac-10 despite rushing for 1,002 yards and scoring a school-record 17 rushing touchdowns last season. The senior was a preseason All-American candidate and on the Doak Walker watch list for best running back in the country.

Blount is a big, power back, at 6'2", 240 pounds. He was was named Oregon's impact player of the year in 2008 after transferring from East Mississippi Community College.

Now his "impact" has become the season's biggest story after the first day of play for all the wrong reasons

He finished with minus-5 yards rushing on eight carries, was part of a bad exchange that cost his team a safety, failed to convert on 4th-and-1 in a key fourth-quarter drive, and then cold-clocked Hout after the game.

A much cooler-headed Blount talked to reporters after the game saying, “I lost my temper, and I apologize. I apologize in general, to everybody that was watching this—ESPN national TV, I apologize to our fans, all the Boise fans. It was just something I shouldn’t have done. I lost my head, and I shouldn’t have taken it that far.

“I don’t know what kind of disciplinary action Coach (Chip) Kelly has in store for me. Whatever it is, I’m ready to take it in full force.”

Ah, yes, Chip Kelly. Rich Rodriguez is no longer having the worst week of any major college football coach.

Has any coach of a Top 25 team had a worse overall debut than Kelly? His team looked ill-prepared to handle Boise Borah High let alone the Broncos. The Ducks, who averaged 465 yards per game in 2008, did not get their initial first down until midway through the third quarter. They finished with 152 yards and will tumble out of the polls.

Kelly not only has the problem of how to get his team ready for Purdue next Saturday, but he also has to make his first major decision. A decision much more important than going for it or punting on fourth and short.



His handling of whether to boot Blount for the season (which I personally favor), suspend him indefinitely, or not even do that much will stay with this team and with Oregon fans and alumni much longer than the sting of Thursday's disaster. 

Of course Kelly won't make this decision by himself as Mike Bellotti, his predecessor and now Oregon AD, will have a strong say in what is done to Blount. New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott also was at the game. 

“I’ll talk with our conference commissioner and our university president and I think, obviously we’re not very proud of that and I think it’s not something to be condoned and we’ll take steps to correct it,” Bellotti said.

Kelly will have to consider that Blount is his best running back, was taunted by Hout, had his worst college game, and was caught up in the heat of the moment. He also must consider Blount was suspended in the spring for poor grades and missing some offseason workouts. 

Taken as a whole, it seems Blount has played his last game for Oregon. Good luck, coach. The Ducks host Utah on Sept. 19 in another ESPN game, and you would have to think Blount will be gone from that game as well.

Blount told the Eugene Register-Guard: “As the game went on, it just got more and more frustrating. Me in general, I was kind of fed up. I should have just took it to the locker room. I shouldn’t have said anything, I shouldn’t have did anything, I should have just came to the locker  room. I shouldn’t have taken it to that level.”

But because he did, he might have cost himself a chance to take his football career to another level as well.


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