While this is not a sports site, nor one that normally writes about this kind of stuff, I had to make an exception. As a father, former college athlete, and fan I have to say that the beginning of the college football season has not given me that warm fuzzy feeling. Last years Oregon vs. Boise State game ended with much animosity, which led to Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount’s pre-game statement saying they must keep their emotions in check…..heh. Well that didn’t turn out very well!
Sportsmanship is a concept that is very much emphasized in the college ranks, so while the Boise St. player that screamed in Blount’s face didn’t deserve being sucker-punched, he should have also shown a little more class. However Blount’s reaction was rash, unwarranted, and just downright disgusting. Now I have never played football, I am a lifelong baseball player, so I can’t empathize with the emotions of the ‘gridiron’…but emotions or not, you are a grown man on national TV, keep yourself in check!
On the flip side of this ordeal is 1st year Oregon coach Chip Kelly with the situation of “what do I now do with my running back who is a senior starter, 1,000 yard rusher, team leader, and potential 2-3 round draft pick? Oh yeah, and how do I do this and keep the Alumni and Nike happy?” He made the difficult decision that most large Div I college coaches wouldn’t have, he suspended Blount for the year!
My hat is off to you Coach Kelly, for a very classy move that I hope rings a resounding bell of the way things should be in college sports! In a nutshell, this ends Blount’s college career and all but ensures he will not be drafted in April. But Coach Kelly did not just sweep him aside, which in my book shows even more class. Kelly has decided to keep Blount on the team and allow him to practice with his teammates; Blount will also keep his scholarship and be permitted to finish his senior year.
Many say “they should kick him out of school”, but my reply is “Why? Why take away a learning opportunity from a young man and the chance to finish a college degree, simply because he lost his cool?”
Now don’t get me wrong, as I don’t agree with what Blount did at all. But I do agree with Kelly taking the opportunity to mentor this young man for the benefit of his future outside of football! Now that gives me the warm fuzzy feeling that I like; Coach Kelly appears to be more concerned with preparing his players to become men rather than just coddled athletes!
Thank you, Coach Kelly!