Last night’s season-opening college football doubleheader on ESPN was a nightmare for fans everywhere. It started off with South Carolina’s dreadful 7-3 win over N.C. State, and wrapped up with a much-hyped matchup between Boise State and Oregon that quickly turned into a one-sided snoozefest. Things couldn’t have been more embarrassing for the Ducks, who didn’t even manage to get a first down until the 7:07 mark of the third quarter. Oh, wait, I guess it could get worse:
Yup, that’s Oregon running back/loose cannon LeGarrette Blount, saving the evening, entertainment-wise, by lighting up Boise State’s Byron Hout with a right cross as the teams left the field after Boise State’s 19-8 win that wasn’t really anywhere near that close. Blount, you see, had promised to give the Broncos an “ass whuppin’” in the weeks leading up to the game, and since he didn’t really deliver that while the clock was running (he had 8 carries for -5 yards) I guess he figured he might as well get a shot in afterward.
There have been some stunning falls from grace over the years, but 18 hours ago I was hearing HEISMAN PUNDIT touting Blount as a darkhorse Heisman candidate on the Dan Patrick Show. Even Boise’s paper was talking him up. Now, not only did Blount obliterate any of that talk with his game performance last night, but it appears as if he may have completely ruined his college career by losing his mind afterward. And, if you think the punch was bad, things got even uglier a few moments later. Video after the jump.
Here’s video of the punch itself. It does appear that Hout was jawing at Blount, and likely was provoking a response. In fact, if you watch the video slowly you can read Hout’s lips as he shouts the magic words, “ass whuppin’,” in Blount’s general direction. Coach Chris Petersen is quite obviously upset at what Hout said to Blount as he smacked his shoulder pads. But did it warrant a fist in his teeth? Blount was clearly out of control, as evidenced by him taking a swing at one of his own teammates in the aftermath.
Keep watching the video, though, because the most disturbing part comes as Blount is leaving the field. As he was being showered with insults from the Boise crowd, he attempted to go into the crowd and presumably take a few of them out too. Luckily, police and some of Oregon’s coaches were able to restrain him enough to get him off the field. He had the same crazy look on his face that Ron Artest had while he was being led away after the infamous brawl in Detroit.
Here’s another angle of Blount trying to go into the crowd:
The punch, while unforgivable, is something that Blount could’ve come back from. There was clear provocation. Maybe he misses a game or two. But the complete lack of self control that he displayed from that point until he was dragged into the locker room is enough to probably cost him his season. And this isn’t his first offense. Blount was suspended in the offseason (whatever that entails), and was thrown out of the first practice this year for bad behavior. In a story earlier this week about the high emotions coming into the game, he said this to the OREGONIAN:
“Emotions are running high right now, but we’ve got to keep ‘em under control,” Blount said. “We’re gonna let everybody know that we’re gonna do what we’ve got to do to win this game.”
Well, it’s a good thing he heeded his own advice. The whole night was a complete disaster for new Oregon head coach Chip Kelly, who is taking over for the most successful coach in school history, Mike Bellotti, who also happens to still be Kelly’s boss (Bellotti is the AD). Kelly clearly didn’t have his team ready for this game, and if he lets Blount off easy for this display he will jeopardize his already shaky credibility with Oregon fans. I live in Oregon, and while you may think there’s just a bunch of pacifist hippies up in these parts, Duck fans are, by and large, quite an intense bunch. And they are flipping out right now.
(The punch was shown in the stadium afterward, which is a bit irresponsible of the stadium staff, since it could’ve incited violence between the fans of the two teams.)
It took less than an hour after the game’s end for OREGONIAN columnist John Canzano to post a piece calling for Blount to be tossed off the team. He also noted that Kelly has a long way to go to win his players over:
Kelly was disrespected multiple times on the Ducks sideline during the game. Players scoffed at him. Another shouted at him. And so we’re learning calling the plays is one thing, and leading the program is another. Kelly still has a chance to lead.
Blount, for what it’s worth, attempted to apologize afterward. But it’s probably too late for that.
Boise was certainly impressive defensively, holding the Ducks to just 152 yards, but the Broncos didn’t exactly look like a BCS-busting juggernaut. They made multiple mistakes that cost them points in the first half, then got sloppy with turnovers in the fourth quarter and nearly let Oregon right back in the game. In fact, if the Ducks had even played moderately competent football, they may very well have won the game. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Broncos. Boise’s going to need to play much better than this to even win at Fresno, let alone beat a team like LSU in January.
(Oregon’s infamous unis were as bland as their offense last night.)
There were a handful of other games last night. Last year’s BCS buster, Utah, cruised to a 35-17 win over Utah State. Ball State won’t have a magical season this year. They were beaten at home by North Texas. Indiana struggled to a 19-13 win over FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky, while Temple lost to FCS opponent Villanova on a field goal at the final gun.
• Michael Vick was outplayed by Mark Sanchez last night at the Meadowlands. And, look, the “watch your beagle, Vick is an Eagle” sign is now totally played. Just put that one away, people.
(That’s a little better)
• Pedro Martinez outdueled reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum last night in Philly, then unleashed this quote: “He reminds me a lot of me, only twice as better at the same time in the big leagues.”
• Former Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell has revealed that his recent health problems are in fact the result of a cancerous tumor in his bile duct. It’s inoperable, so things aren’t looking so good for the 91-year-old legend.
• Joe Posnanski has a piece about Royals minor-league pitcher Chris Hayes, who has succeeded despite a fastball that doesn’t even touch 80 on the gun. Yes, they call him “Disco” because his fastball is in the 70s.
• While attempting to chase down a foul ball in Toronto, Alex Rodriguez ended up running over a female police officer, who was entirely unamused by the exchange, which got a little too personal for her liking:
• The new Cowboys stadium has 237 handicapped parking spots, but unless you’re a season ticket holder, you can’t park in any of them. Oh, and there’s a giant HDTV blocking all of the spots. I might’ve made that last part up.
• The Red Sox beat Tampa Bay again last night, knocking the Rays six games back in the wild card race. It might be the end of their defense of the AL crown.
• Carl Edwards drives a car 200 miles-per-hour every day, but has been defeated by the common frisbee.
• Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki is my darkhorse for making a deep run in the US Open this year. Mostly so I have an excuse to keep posting pictures of her (and we have a lot). She won her second-round match yesterday.