From Dennis Dodd, the college football writer from CBS Sports. He takes a well-thought out approach to the LeGarrette Blount situation from Thursday night in Boise, Idaho.
BOISE, Idaho – The person you feel for the most is Mike Bellotti.
With one punch, LeGarrette Blount burned down a lot of what Bellotti had built up in his 20 years at Oregon. The much-loved Ducks' coach-turned-athletic director had to cringe when the player he recruited disgraced himself, the program and perhaps ruined Oregon's season.
The season-long suspension for Blount was the right thing to do, the only thing to do. Blount crossed a line that had rarely, if ever, had been crossed. Blount's actions were so punk, so street that Oregon had to cut its losses. Consequences? Minor compared to the fallout from, say, a three-game suspension.
Better Oregon takes the one-year hit without its best runner and finish 5-7 – which more looks likely now – than suffer fallout from any possible return by Blount.
Oregon took the high road. Bellotti said the decision was head coach Chip Kelly's. That's hard to swallow. How do you not consult the guy who signed Blount and coached him into becoming a star in 2008? The father of Oregon football?
Ask yourself: Would Joe Paterno have been consulted? Mack Brown? You better believe Bellotti had a hand in the decision.
When the haze clears, Boise State will be the one looking a bit callous for not suspending Blount's target, defensive end Byron Hout. Oregon acted quickly and publicly. Hout has to take blame for laying a hand on Blount and appearing to taunt him. Boise coach Chris Petersen said "disciplinary measures" will be handled in-house.
That's not good enough, especially for a coach who is known for shielding his players from the media. This is not something you handle by running stadium steps.
It's Blount's selfishness, though, the lack of character and composure that has to humiliate everyone, starting with Bellotti and Duck Nation.
Where did Thursday night's monster come from? Who would have thought that Blount, or anyone, was capable of such madness? What Blount did was unfathomable. There was the Clemson-South Carolina melee in 2004 and the Florida International-Miami brawl in 2006 but both of those came during games. You can almost understand tempers boiling over in the heat of battle.
In both cases, justice was swift. Players were suspended. Officials at South Carolina and Clemson removed their teams from bowl consideration.
Blount's sucker punch came after the game, when emotions are supposed to cool, hands are supposed to be shaken. If he had been as aggressive during the game as after, Blount wouldn't have run for a career-low minus-5 yards. What followed was an unlit fuse away from becoming a riot involving fans, players and police.
In one frightening moment Blount snapped, threatening to take a proud program with him over the edge. Kelly's description of his running style in the preseason -- "like a body blow in boxing" -- almost sounds like foreshadowing.
Only Oregon's quick action salvaged Bellotti's handiwork. In 15 years as head coach he took the Ducks to 12 bowls and competed for the national championship in 2001. In many ways, it is still his program. Kelly's career as head coach one game old but he knows enough.
"You can't hit somebody in society if they call you a name," Kelly said.
Blount is lucky he wasn't arrested. There aren't many lawyers left to save you when you freak out in front of millions on national television. It was almost more frightening than the acts themselves that Blount was immediately contrite afterward saying, "it will never happen again."
Oregon made sure of it handling a widening mess with forcefulness and compassion. Blount will stay on scholarship and be allowed to work out while he waits six long months for a possible job in the NFL. A Raiders scout was raving about Blount's talents on the elevator up to the press box, comparing him to former Cal great Chuck Muncie.
"He cried, I cried," Kelly said. "LeGarrette Blount needs this football program, he needs this structure. He made a mistake and he needs to pay for that mistake. We're not going to throw LeGarrette Blount out on the street. I love LeGarrette Blount." Who is the real Blount and will his Frankenstein side ever emerge again? He came from Florida, liked Auburn out of high school but didn't have the grades. After two years at a Mississippi junior college, Blount chose Oregon over Florida State. In February he was suspended for a short time. In August he was excused from practice to return home after the death of a great aunt.
At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds the dude can play. But his actions Thursday would be considered dishonorable in a gang fight.
Bellotti's empire -- if it can be called that -- will survive. Over time he had helped built two brands, Oregon football and Nike. It was one of the most powerful partnerships in sports. That unfortunate punch added an ominous double-meaning to the marketing slogan "Just Do it."
Bellotti arrived in Eugene in 1989 as an offensive coordinator under Rich Brooks. When Brooks left for the NFL, Bellotti was his hand-picked successor, eventually becoming Oregon's winningest coach.
Hopefully the stink from Thursday will blow away soon and nothing permanent will stick. Oregon football used to stand for something quirky, modern, fun. They were the loveable Ducks with 384 uniform combinations. A Heisman campaign waged in the skyscraper jungle of Manhattan. Now there are two faces you'll never see in a Nike ad going forward -- dog-killer Michael Vick and dream-killer LeGarrette Blount
Think of Cal's Jahvid Best taking himself out of the Heisman campaign with one stupid decision.
Think of Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant ruining the Cowboys' brightest season in more than 20 years by going Steven Seagal.
In a world of cut blocks and blindside hits, there is one thing players can control, their tempers. It's not much to ask.
Now competing for a Pac-10 title already looks out of reach for Oregon. Even with Blount, the offensive line was overrun on Thursday. The offense went without a first down for the first 2 1/2 quarters.
This was going to be Bellotti's retirement gig. All he had to do was keep Phil Knight happy and enjoy the Nike boss' largesse. Imagine paying off the mortgage on your house one day, then watching it be swept away by a flood the next. That has to be a little of how Bellotti feels at the moment.
It's crummy having to pronounce sentence on Oregon, Boise or any program but maybe something good can come out of what happened on Thursday.
&bull Blount's actions made a mockery of the American Football Coaches Association/NCAA 2009 initiative urging teams to shake hands before games. Blount was actually part of the Ducks' group that exchanged handshakes with the Broncos. As written in this space previously, it's a bit misguided and self-serving on the AFCA's part to train kids to tear someone's head off one moment, then have them shake hands before the battle.
"I don't think it's necessary," Georgia quarterback Joe Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The last thing you want to do before a physical game like football is go shake hands with everybody."
&bull It brings into question proper security staffing. Luckily, the two skirmishes were broken up largely by the two teams' staff. If this had escalated into a battle with fans, guess who would have been outnumbered? That's the frightening truth at every stadium. There are always more of them than there are police.
The image is still fresh from 2002 when Ohio State security personnel helped celebrating fans down from a wall to the field to help celebrate a BCS championship game-clinching win over Michigan. Just a guess here, but Boise will evaluate its security at home games, especially the proximity of fans to players coming on and off the field.
&bull Unfortunately, they probably didn't tell Larry Scott about this part of his job. The new Pac-10 commissioner hadn't seen a college game in at least 10 years before seeing the Ducks and Broncos in person on Thursday. On Friday, Oregon took the Blount decision out of his hands.
Only two months on the job, an Ivy-educated administrator didn't have to be the one handing out Starsky and Hutch street justice. Oregon proved that the message is the same whether it's Harvard, Yale or Eugene.
You do the crime, you do the time.