Oregon's Blount suspended for season
EUGENE — A day after Oregon's college football season opened, it ended for running back LeGarrette Blount.
Blount was suspended for all remaining games on Friday for punching Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the jaw following the 16th-ranked Ducks' 19-8 loss to the 14th-ranked Broncos the night before.
Because he is a senior, Blount's playing days in Eugene are over.
Oregon's first-year coach, Chip Kelly, told a sobbing Blount about his decision after reviewing tape of the altercation.
Celebrating the victory on the Broncos' trademark blue turf, Hout yelled in Blount's face and tapped him on the shoulder pad. Before Boise State coach Chris Petersen could pull Hout away, Blount landed a right to Hout's jaw, knocking him to his knees.
Blount also had to be restrained by police from fans heckling him on the way to the locker room.
Later he apologized saying, "It was just something that I shouldn't have done. I lost my head."
Still, Kelly was taken aback when he saw the punch on tape.
"That's not what we're all about. That's not what we coach. That's not what we stand for and it's unacceptable," he said.
Blount's suspension includes bowl games. He will remain on scholarship, however, and will continue to practice with the team.
"He is taking this very hard," Kelly said, choking up. "He understands he made a mistake and he has to pay for the mistake. But we're not going to throw LeGarrette Blount out on the street."
Kelly said he hoped Blount's ultimate legacy "won't be a YouTube clip of what happened to him on September 3rd in Boise, Idaho."
Hout won't be suspended for taunting Blount. Boise State spokesman Max Corbet told The Associated Press in an e-mail that Petersen planned to spend time with Hout this week to help him learn from what happened.
Mike Bellotti, who stepped aside as head coach to become Oregon's athletic director this summer, said the Pac-10 was consulted about the punishment and supported Oregon's decision.
Bellotti was with Kelly when Blount was told of the suspension and described the running back's reaction as dismay.
"It was a very difficult decision and one I don't think he was expecting, but he was aware there was a certain amount of gravity to the situation," Bellotti said.
Oregon president Richard Lariviere 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.
Blount, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound transfer from East Mississippi CC, rushed for 1,002 yards and a school-record 17 touchdowns last season.
On Thursday night, he had eight carries for a loss of five yards.
In February, Blount was suspended indefinitely from the team for "failure to fulfill team obligations." Bellotti did not share details, but Blount reportedly missed offseason team meetings.
He was reinstated before spring practice.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was at the game and saw the punch.
"We commend the University of Oregon and its leadership for taking swift and decisive action in response to this incident," Scott said in a statement. "The Pac-10 strongly emphasizes sportsmanship and fair play in all its athletic competitions and expects high standards of sportsmanship from all participants, including student-athletes. In this case, those standards were not met and the university has taken appropriate disciplinary actions."
The NCAA also weighed in.
"Under no circumstance is fighting acceptable. ... Sportsmanship is everyone's responsibility, including student-athletes, coaches, officials, institutions and fans," NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said in a statement.