LeGarrette Blount’s UO football career might not be over, after all.
The Register-Guard’s Rob Moseley blogged on Thursday evening that coach Chip Kelly on Friday will discuss Blount’s status and the possibility of the running back’s return to the UO football team.
Not much surprise there, as far as I’m concerned. Blount has been allowed to practice with the team, he has been on the sideline at games and I’ve always expected that Kelly would give him the opportunity to return.
I have two problems with all of this:
1.) Kelly should’ve laid out conditions for a possible return the day he announced Blount’s suspension.
2.) Blount should not be allowed to return at all.
Kelly appears to be going back on a very tough stance he took in regards to player behavior. Whether you thought the penalty for punching a Boise State player, going after Boise State fans and generally going ballistic was too severe, it was hard to not applaud Kelly for taking a strong stance and letting it be known that HE was running the football team and that his rules would be followed.
If he goes back on that now, even with a set of conditions that I expect he will unveil Friday, he appears to be giving in and softening his stance. He appears to be saying “I overreacted in doling out that punishment.”
Make no mistake, the conditions for Blount’s return will be strict. First, he’s going to have to miss at least two or three more games before he’s eligible. And I will be shocked if there aren’t academic requirements that Blount will have to meet. And, of course, he’s going to have to remain a model citizen, stay out of trouble, continue helping the football team in practice by competing on the scout team, continue cheering on teammates at games.
But, even with all of that — and anything else Kelly and the athletic department come up with as conditions — I don’t think Blount should be allowed back at all.
I think Kelly reacted just the way he had to when he suspended Blount for the rest of the season, after the senior running back made a mockery of the UO football program on national television.
The Ducks can’t get that negative exposure back. And allowing Blount back in any capacity after initially suspending him almost sounds like condoning the behavior.
Sure, they’ll say “we don’t condone this behavior,” and they probably don’t. But the best way to show that is to keep Blount on the sidelines.
Besides, as I mentioned in my last blog entry, it’s not as if the Ducks seem to be missing him these days.
UPDATE ON FRIDAY, OCT. 2
Press release posted on goducks.com:
EUGENE – University of Oregon Head Football Coach Chip Kelly has announced that there is potential opportunity for senior running back LeGarrette Blount to be allowed to have his playing status be reinstated prior to the conclusion of the 2009 season.
Blount was suspended by Kelly following the Ducks’ 19-8 loss at Boise State on Sept. 3, with the suspension initially to include the exclusion of playing in any games for the remainder of the season.
Kelly said he developed a plan that Blount would have to follow in order to retain his status with the team. The plan later was revised to encompass a possibility of Blount’s return.
The Oregon first-year head coach added that any reinstatement would not occur prior to the Ducks’ Nov. 7 game at Stanford.
“After speaking with a number of nationally renowned professionals in the field, which included Dr. Harry Edwards and Tony Dungy, I came to the conclusion that leaving the door open for LeGarrette’s potential return as an active player was the best solution,” Kelly said.
“He has a rigid set of conditions he must live up to and there are certainly no guarantees in place. This merely provides him the opportunity for my reconsideration in the future should he meet those demands.”
Oregon Director of Athletics Mike Bellotti said that both he and University President Richard Lariviere had been kept up to date in regards to the process, and Bellotti reiterated his support for Kelly’s decision.
If a decision is ever determined that LeGarrette has earned the opportunity for reinstatement by the University of Oregon (involving Kelly, Bellotti and University President Richard Lariviere), that request will then be forwarded to the Pacific-10 Conference for final approval.
Blount has remained a part of the school’s football program since the initial suspension was announced Sept. 4, which included remaining on scholarship. He continues to have access to all of the University’s support services provided to all student-athletes, is allowed to take part in all team activities, including practice with the team, and is held accountable to all team rules and regulations.