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Responsibility and Accountability

On Thursday September 3, the University of Oregon played Boise State in a season-opening game which was important to both schools, as they were each nationally-ranked and hoping to start off strong. The game ended in a 19-8 win for Boise State, after starting with a larger-than-usual show of sportsmanship. An ironic gesture, given the ending. At the game's end, Byron Hout of Boise State approached LeGarrette Blount of Oregon, slapped him on the shoulder pad to get his attention, and yelled something at him which has not yet been revealed to the public. As he turned away to face Boise State head coach Chris Peterson, who was pulling Hout away from Blount, Blount angrily launched a punch which landed on Hout's jaw. To make matters worse, Blount then attempted to punch another player, struggled with his own teammates as they wrestled him towards the locker room, and had to be restrained by police from attacking fans who taunted him at the stands as he left the field. Still worse, the game and the actions of Blount were nationally televised by ESPN. And then the day after that, it was discovered that Blount had been suspended from the Oregon team back in February.

Friday, Oregon coach Chip Kelley suspended running back LaGarrette Blount for the rest of the season.

To some degree, the decision to end Blount's collegiate career (he is a Senior, and the suspension includes any bowl games that Oregon may earn) was predictable. Blount's action was not only blatent and deliberate, not to mention nationally televised, Coach Kelly serves on the NCAA's committee which address athletes' sportsmanship, and Kelly had already been under fire for an apparent lack of discipline on the Ducks' team. The public opinion on the matter seemed to demand a heavy punishment, and so the axe fell quickly in this case. To be honest, I don't know that I disagree all that much with the decision, except of course that Blount will not have a public opportunity to show his better side. I might have expected an indefinite suspension to be a better fit, but on the other hand the Oregon officials have sent a clear message and presumably have put this behind them.

But I am writing this article to address the other man who needs to accept accountability: Byron Hout. No, I am not saying that Hout should be suspended or even given any kind of official punishment for his part in the incident. That said, I am concerned about his part in the event. Hout chose to come over to Blount, whatever he said was obviously meant to be trash talk, and Hout's grinning face as he turned towards his coach indicates that he was just fine with insulting a key player on an opposing team. What Hout did was clearly out of bounds. If it has happened during the game, it would have earned a penalty for taunting, and I speak as a former UIL football official in Texas (which uses the NCAA rulebook). Normally, a good coach considers the damage done when assessing punishment to a player for an infraction. A face-mask penalty, for example, one thing, but if they score the winning touchdown because on 3rd-and-20 you tackled the runner by his facemask, then you are in big trouble. A false start may not be a big deal, unless of course it happens on 4th down and pushes you just out of field goal range. And sportsmanship is a much bigger issue when something you say impacts the game's outcome or the image of the school. Back in my day, players were expected to wear dress clothes and ties on the bus and to represent the school and team, with total respect. It was silly at times and made the trip longer. But then again, you knew you stood for something worth your work, win or lose. Call me old school, but the sport could do with getting back to that.

Coach Peterson has said that he will meet privately with Hout and considers the incident a 'teachable moment'. The problem, of course, is that the incident was public and Hout needs to make some gesture to show he recognizes that his taunt started a series of actions which had serious consequences. Hout did not make Blount throw a punch, but he knew he was not acting in the best interests of his school, team, or the game. And Hout's unsporting behavior was public, and so it needs a public response. At the very least, Hout should apologize in public for his behavior, and Peterson needs to show that such behavior has consequences, real ones.


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Comments (12)

"..except of course that Bl... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"..except of course that Blount will not have a public opportunity to show his better side."

Sure he does. Every moment of every day he has a public opportunity to behave. There's more to 'public opportunity' than a 60 minute football game. In fact, the real test of his 'better side' is when the cameras AREN'T on him.

" Hout chose to come over to Blount, whatever he said was obviously meant to be trash talk, and Hout's grinning face as he turned towards his coach indicates that he was just fine with insulting a key player on an opposing team. "

And Blount was trash talking to the media leading up to the game. Sounds to me like one loud-mouthed jerk could dish it out but couldn't take it when the other loud-mouthed jerk gave it back to him.

I wish they ALL would just shut up and play.

" Call me old school, but the sport could do with getting back to that. "
Agree 100%.

Anyway, it's all good. If he's got the talent to go pro, I'm sure the NFL will punish Blount severely. (giggle)
He might get drafted in a later round now or (gasp) not get drafted and have to try out for a team.
Instead of making 4 or 5 mill in his first few years, he'll only make 1 or 2 mill; poor baby.

Pro and major college sports are just sooo good for our society. They sure make a lot of Bread off of those Circuses.

Unsportsmanlike behavior al... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Unsportsmanlike behavior always offends me. Especially when it's from players from my home state.

That same OU player had bee... (Below threshold)

That same OU player had been trash talking the BSU team before and during the game. I realize that some teams do this, and some don't. But if you dish it out be prepared to also take it.

Sucker punching another player on the opposite team, plus your own team members is pure BS. I feel he got off lucky, he gets to keep his scholarship. He should have been kicked out of college.

We have, IMO, seen most likely a future felon, child/wife abuser. And no, the player from BSU should not be punished for anything.

He needs to be charged with... (Below threshold)

He needs to be charged with assault and prosecuted.

Why is no one talking about that?

I speak as I remember as a college Frosh being punched by an angry member of the Penn State football team (yeah, wonderful Joe Paterno's crowd). My crime? I was standing by my bicycle as this cretin was walking up the sidewalk in front of Burrowes Hall, kicking bicycles randomly. As I was standing in front of mine, he decided to punch me instead. Campus cops told me to drop it when I contacted them to report the assault. This was the 70's, and I wasn't into being a martyr, so I did. Player's name withheld for privacy (hell, he'd probably hunt me down and punch me again).

How do you KNOW that Hout w... (Below threshold)
Harold Geroge:

How do you KNOW that Hout was trash-talking? You say that his smile was "evidence" of that? As opposed to, say, just being happy that his team won? Maybe all he said to Blount was "good game" or something like that. Do you KNOW any different?

Harold, I did not mention i... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Harold, I did not mention in the article, but ESPN reports that Peterson agrees thar Hout was trash talking. Also, immediately after Hout's comment, Peterson can be seen on the tape becoming angry and grabbing Hout - BEFORE Blount's punch.

I see many here talking about Blount, but that's the easy question - we all agree Blount was wrong. My point was what should be done about Hout? As I said, he did not make Blount throw the punch but he did set off the series of events. What about Hout's accountability?

Yea Harold thats it. Whenev... (Below threshold)

Yea Harold thats it. Whenever someone would say good game to me and actually mean it, I ALWAYS took offense and wanted to punch him in the face. If he did say those exact words, it clearly wanst meant to be a friendly gesture.

Another great article, DJ. ... (Below threshold)

Another great article, DJ. However, accountability and responsibility is something missing in most of America. Parents and teachers get in trouble with the "nanny state" for disciplining children, generational welfare recipients rather stay "on the dole, than work, celebrities getting passes for boorish behaviour. Anyone want to add a "pet peeve"?

Before the game, Blount sai... (Below threshold)

Before the game, Blount said OU owed Boise State a "Good ass whupin", for what BS did to OU last year. (Beating them at home) After the game, Hout asked Blount "How's that ass whuppin thing working out for you"
If Blount goes pro, he better realize that opponents will talk about his Mama.

Hout should get the same pu... (Below threshold)

Hout should get the same punishment as Blount. Nothing would have happened if he had not started it. Right now, he is probably smiling at himself in the mirror because he apparently got away with it and got an opposing player eliminated.

Very well said, DJ. Amen.<... (Below threshold)

Very well said, DJ. Amen.

Blount it right up there wi... (Below threshold)

Blount it right up there with OJ and Mike Tyson.






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