Chip Kelly: Second Guessing the Blount Decision Would Be a Fatal Flaw
When I was a child I remember doing some stupid things, fighting with my brother being one of them. I remember once when I caught him square on the jaw and sent him toppling to the floor. This was a big moment for me, being three years younger I had never landed a good one on my brother before.
After the incident my parents intervened like any good parent would. We got reprimanded, sent to our respective corners and ultimately punished.
My parents took the time to think about a punishment suitable for us and then grounded us or sentenced us to hard labor (cleaning/working on the lawn no sweat shops don’t worry). And they never, ever, let us off the hook early.
Some FBS schools could learn from this attitude of parenting. Now I know that college kids are “young adults,” but really they are just college kids. Sometimes they lash out and let emotions take over and need to be punished especially if they lash out doing the thing they get a free education for doing.
Yes, you guessed it. I’m talking once again about LeGarrette Blount.
Who can forget the first game of the NCAA FBS football 2009 season? Highly touted Oregon got spanked, and ultimately gave the game to Boise State with untimely turnovers and stagnant offensive play.
But this isn’t about the game.
This is about the player that lost his cool at the end of the game. LeGarrette Blount was walking off of the field, understandably upset and hanging his head, when out of nowhere came Byron Hout. The Boise State player jaws something at the downtrodden Blount, obviously something that caught Blount by surprise and offended him. So, Blount hit him.
A strong right cross it was. Right in Hout’s face. Again, we all know the story. So why rehash it?
The reason is coach Chip Kelly’s reaction. It was obviously emotional in response. This is the same coach that mailed a disgruntled fan a check for $400 because the fan wasn’t “satisfied with the performance.”
If that was the case, then I as a Nebraska fan am entitled to a lot of money for the past seven years of Husker football. But again, I digress.
Kelly’s response was quick, maybe too quick. Immediately Kelly dismissed Blount for the rest of the season. But didn’t kick him off the team.
As soon as I heard that Blount wasn’t kicked off the team I knew where this predicament would be in Week Six, and much to my dismay I was correct.
Apparently Oregon has plans to reinstate Blount. Not officially yet, but a press release by coach Kelly makes it seem that he could be reinstated as soon as Oct. 17.
After all, he has been practicing with the team and displaying good behavior. He’s become a father and now has more responsibility, so why not reinstate him?
I would agree, except for two things:
First is that not only did Blount punch a player, but he went after fans, coaches, security and Scott Frost had to wrestle him away from the action to preserve his well-being, and prevent a jail sentence.
Second, beyond the actions, is the new regime’s credibility. Kelly is a new head coach. And after an abysmal start it seems things are going in the right direction, especially after a walloping of California last week.
But in order to create credibility in a coaching staff you must stick to your guns. That’s why I was more for suspending Blount indefinitely and deciding a correct course of action. That way, if and when Kelly decided to bring the young man back, there would be no recourse. Oregon would look clean and there would be no thoughts of softness or going back on your word to win a few extra games.
But Kelly made a definitive statement that weekend. He called Blount’s actions reprehensible and uncharacteristic of the Oregon program saying that was not “what Oregon football was about.”
So he suspended Blount for the year, a knee jerk reaction and one that is going to cost him if Oregon really does allow Blount to return.
If Kelly allows Blount to return, like it seems he will seeing as he was allowing the senior to practice with the team, then his credibility will be in serious jeopardy.
Think about the message that it sends. Basically Kelly is saying that he will punish you, but if he feels bad about it he will let you do what you want, and get back into the program.
Someone needs to step in and let Chip Kelly know that this is not the way a first-year coach needs to handle the situation. You have to have an iron fist, or at least stick to your guns when you are under fire.
Sure, Oregon fans have put salve over the wound of the Boise State loss and they must feel pretty good about the 3-1 start in spite of what it looked like Oregon would do at the beginning of the season. But to bring back Blount would be a blunder of the utmost proportions for the new coaching staff.
Is that really the standard Kelly wants to set? I hope and pray that it is not.
I, like anyone else believe in second chances, but not at the expense of the credibility of your program. Like I said, if he would have suspended him indefinitely and brought Blount back this would be a different story.
But Kelly, like a grown man, like a parent, made a decision and he needs to stick to it no matter if he realizes it could have been handled better or not. Because if he doesn’t, this could bring countless repercussions to a program that has recovered well in the face of this plight.
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