By Gregory Moore
When LeGarrette Blount of Oregon sucker punched Boise State’s Byron Hout, the whole sports world was in agreement that the young man from Florida had played his last down of football.
That day was September 3rd; a Wednesday.
Now almost a month to the day, Blount could be reinstated by Oregon and that is a bad decision if the school goes through with the plan.
Let’s back things up just a bit so that a full picture can be presented on this situation.
Days before the game on September 3rd, Blount had made some controversial statements about how Boise State was going to get their butts whooped in the game.
Last year the Ducks lost to Boise State in Oregon but Blount had a heck of a game with 99 yards rushing and one score. This past game? Try -5 rushing on eight carries.
The team, and Blount, was effectively neutralized on the field but as we all know that wasn’t the end of it.
BSU fans heckled Blount and yes Hout was very much in the wrong for instigating Blount.
However trash talking is one thing; sucker punching is something totally different as the video clearly shows.
VIDEO: Blount punches BSU player (AP video)
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And so the hammer fell on Blount’s career the day afterwards by Oregon officials, including president Richard Lariviere, who called Blount’s behavior “reprehensible.”
“We do not and will not tolerate the actions that were taken by our player. Oregon’s loyal fans expect and deserve better,” Lariviere said in a statement. “The University of Oregon Athletics Department is reviewing the situation and will take appropriate action, reflecting the seriousness of the player’s behavior.”
But now we are mere hours away from Lariviere, AD Mike Belotti and head coach Chip Kelly doing an about face on their harsh stance.
The three, mainly Kelly, want to reinstate the 240-pound running back in time for next week’s game.
What happened to not condoning this player’s actions?
What happened to “playing at Oregon is a privilege.”?
Were any of the words by these three school officials sincere or were they just fodder and filler until such time as to maybe slip Blount back into the family fold?
And if it were just talk then why the tough talk about suspending Blount for the rest of the season?
If Blount is reinstated then what Kelly, Belotti and Lariviere is saying is that “it’s okay to do what you did LeGarrette. We still back you and want you to play for us.”
That’s a bad, bad precedent that may be set.
Blount, for his part gets that he screwed up.
“I probably will never be able to erase the memories of the post-game events of that day. Given this, I do not expect to be given a second chance to be a positive and responsible member of the football program and of this community,” Blount wrote in his letter of apology.
Look that is all well and fine.
Did he kill anyone? Rape a student? Threaten terrorist acts?
But what he did do was very much unsportsmanlike and sometimes that behavior needs to be handled with a severe penalty.
What’s the most severe penalty that any athlete hates?
Not being able to play the sport that they love for an extended period of time.
The school administration, whether the decision was right or wrong, needs to stand by what it decided on September 4th.
Rewarding LeGarrette Blount a second opportunity because he’s sorry he ‘over reacted’ that fateful night shouldn’t even be in a discussion.
Playing football is a privilege and what Oregon officials should be about is making sure that they student athletes are held to a very high standard.
Right now Blount is on the scout team and he travels with the team to all the games.
He still has his scholarship and all the resources to finish getting his degree.
Above all that, Blount is a Political Science major.
If he ever wants to be successful in that field, he has to know that sometimes bad choices bring about horrendous consequences.
If him not playing the rest of the year helps him become a better public servant in the political realm, wouldn’t we all be the wiser and better off for it?
But if Blount is reinstated and that move is not humanitarian insomuch as it is about winning a few more football games, then I think the University of Oregon will have done us all a grave disservice of helping mold and shape young men and women to be leaders of integrity and to champion for what is fair and just.
If Blount is reinstated then this precedent will come to haunt schools of all levels for years to come.
And that would be the truest of all tragedies here.