Saturday, September 05, 2009

Boise State Starts Football Season with Big Win

In what will be the program’s only opportunity to face a major conference opponent this season, Boise State made a strong statement that may well boost them into the Top Ten this week.  It will be tough for the Broncos to get consideration for a national championship even if they manage to go undefeated this season – their schedule won’t play well in the BCS ranking system – but they definitely did themselves a favor with a national audience, proving that last year’s defeat of the dominant program in the Pacific Northwest was not a fluke.  Though the loss of temper by Oregon’s Blount will likely be the most memorable image of the game in most minds, the way the young Broncos dominated the line of scrimmage will likely help the program among voters in the polls all season long.

I thought that the way Boise State’s Haut was seen taunting Blount after the game was unsportsmanlike (though I admit to not knowing if Blount had said something to Haut before the camera caught up with them), as Coach Peterson must have thought while he was trying to pull Haut away from Blount,  but there is no excuse for the sort of cold-cock punch Blount threw.  Hitting a guy that isn’t even looking is always a chickenshit move, even if the guy did mouth off.  I think what got Blount suspended for the rest of the year (and, in effect, the rest of his college career), was the combination of the sucker punch AND the way he went after BSU fans as he left the field.  Even coming out of the locker room and apologizing was too little too late after such a prolonged and thuggish lapse.  Autzen Stadium has gained a reputation among the fans of Duck opponents as a thuggish crowd – there have been assaults, vandalism of vehicles, and it has been a likely place to get beer poured on your head if you are wearing the wrong color shirt – in recent years, but this was on the field, and by a player.  It may prove to be an expensive act of self-indulgence for Blount, potentially ending his hopes for being selected in the NFL draft. 

The fact that Boise State dominated on defense, played pretty well on offense, but had lots of room to improve (witness the fumbles, poor special teams play and some sloppy route-running and blocking), makes them right on schedule for this point in the year – game 1.  Oregon, on the other hand, found themselves dominated on the line by a WAC school, dysfunctional overall and unable to make big plays on either side of the ball.  The Ducks will have Purdue and Washington State at Eugene to get early wins, with a solid Utah team, and tough games with UCLA and Cal, the Huskies and then USC rounding out the first eight games.  It is not too hard to wonder if they may be 3-5 or 4-4 after eight games.   

One thing I do have to say that might get me a homer charge, is that unless there was a lot more to what Haut said or did than what we saw, the main reason you hear some calling for him to be punished is simply because Blount hit him.  If we kicked out or suspended every guy that trash-talked or taunted there’d be no one left to play the game (except maybe Jim Zorn and Kurt Warner).  You don’t have to have played football to know how much talking goes on, simply watching from the stands or the tube will suffice.  Do I think Haut was a lout for rubbing Blount’s nose in a bad performance and a tough loss?  Yes I do.  Do I think that justified the response (a blind-side punch to Haut, a punch to the helmet of a teammate, a struggle with policemen trying to escort him to the locker room and an attempt to get to a Boise State fan who taunted him) of Blount?  No way.  Nor any of the parts of his five-minute long tantrum that covered several hundred yards to the locker room.  Haut’s taunting was lame and not an example of good sportsmanship.  Unless there was more to it, that is all it was, and as such, it was probably one of a hundred examples of trash-talk that went between the teams.  He does not deserve to be punished for his taunt simply because of the lack of self-control – the way the guy he taunted went off like a rocket – at being taunted. 

Among the good articles I’ve seen on the game (and the Blount incident) this week:

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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