How Did Oregon Rise Above “The Punch”?

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How Did Oregon Rise Above “The Punch”?

Yep, there it is…”The Punch”.  LeGarette Blount decking Boise State’s Byron Hout after the Ducks lost a game everyone thought they could win.  Hout was taunting Blount and Blount completely flew off the handle and threw “The Punch”. This is a commentary on how Oregon came back from this utter disaster and put the Humpty Dumpty Ducks back together again.

Right after the punch it led every sports and news outlet in the universe.  Everyone was talking about it.  Everyone was debating how long each player would be suspended.  Some people even suggested that Blount should lose his scholarship.  I thought maybe he’d be suspended a few games and maybe Hout (the instigator) would get a game…perhaps 2.  Well, you can imagine my surprise when Blount was suspended by Chip Kelly for the entire season.  Hout got nothing.  I’m sure he paid a price in practice and in the coach’s office.  {Just imagine the guilt trip Chris Peterson laid on Byron Hout…ouch!}

Then there was the story that broke about an Oregon fan who wrote into Coach Kelly and asked for his money back from his trip to Eugene to see the Ducks (and the bad game the Ducks played against Boise State.)  Chip Kelly wrote the dude a check!  Then the Ducks went out and reeled off 5 straight wins.  They beat (then #6) Cal at home 42-3.  They came out the next week and hung 52 on Washington State and followed that by beating UCLA on the road.  Now they’re #13 (miraculously) and they get Washington this weekend.  How in the hell did Oregon come back from “The Punch” after everyone left them for dead?

It starts at the top.  Chip Kelly waited his turn and was given the Head Coaching job after Mike Bellotti’s retirement, based purely on merit.  They didn’t do some huge coaching search and whore themselves out to some dude who wanted a ton of money.  They took the safe guy from home.

He stood fast in the face of adversity and delivered about the toughest love you can imagine.  He told all of college football “We don’t do this here at Oregon and don’t think for a second that I’ll take any of your crap” by suspending Blount for the whole season.  He even issued a statement saying that he didn’t want to revoke Blount’s scholarship because he’s at Oregon to get an education.  That’s something you don’t hear everyday from a college coach (especially considering the recent revelation that an FSU academic advisor says she helped players who couldn’t read.)  Chip Kelly is all business.

Can you imagine the talking to he must have given LeGarette Blount?

Son, you know I love you like you’re my own kid.  This is painful for all of us but we cannot have things like what you did going on around here.  Everyone makes mistakes and I know that I’ve lost my cool, but you laid out some kid who yelled at you as if that had never happened before.  Then, you did it on National Television.  You represent me, yourself, and the University of Oregon when you put on that uniform and I don’t think you represented any of those things the other day.
I cannot let this stand.  Nobody can think that this is o.k. and no one, even you, can have the latitude to get a free education to play a game and play that game like it’s life or death.  It’s just a game son.  We want to win, but not that badly.  For all those reasons I’m suspending you for the remainder of the season…

I just know it went down like that.  Chip Kelly must have the coolest head ever and I’m sure that he demonstrated that to LeGarette.  Then he has to address his team.  You don’t suspend (supposedly) the best player on your team and not tell your team before it hits the papers.  [For the record, I know we don’t really have papers anymore, but it sounds good when you say it.]

Gentlemen.  Today I suspended LeGarette for the rest of the season.  You and I know full-well that what happened against Boise will not stand in this program.
Many of you think we’re done for.  You look like ESPN just told you your season is over.  IT ISN’T!  This season has just begun.  Now hold your head’s up and we’re going to change this team from Ducks to the Phoenix.  Let’s do this!

and off they went.  The Ducks cruised to 5 straight wins and now they are in the Top 15.  Don’t tell me that you thought for one second that they would be where they are right now.  Everyone on Earth said “Well, Oregon’s screwed now.  They’re done.”

Imagine how the Oregon team must have felt.  I bet alot of the kids on that team said to themselves “Oh, sh*&^%^&&$t, we’re so screwed!”  That had to be a topic in the Athletic Dorm. We’re human and we can’t help but get distressed every now and then.  The thing that amazes me is that Chip Kelly knew something we didn’t.  He knew how tough this team could be.  He showed them that they were believing the lie…the lie that they were done.  Then he showed us…all of us…how wrong we were.

All of those same people who got shown up by Oregon (including me) are eating crow.  We were dead wrong.  Oregon is a freaking good team. Oregon is looking like they’ll win the Pac-10 right now  None of us thought this possible.  I’m willing to admit I was wrong…I was wrong about Oregon, I was wrong about Chip Kelly, (and I still want my money back from the 91 World Series [but that’s another backstory.]

Let’s Look At This Team…

The Oregon offense has accounted for 1215 rushing yards in total this season.  Their Quarterbacks only have 945 yards of passing and Ed Dickson alone has 25 catches for 333 yds.  If that’s not stout I don’t know what is.  They never stopped pounding the ball even when they lost their best Running Back for the season.  How do you say no to a Coach who lost his best player (the linchpin in his offense) and continues to do what that player did best to, perhaps, better effect than when said “great” player was around?  I know I’m not going to.

Now look at the rest of the team.  These kids must be pretty tough.  In a place like Eugene, Oregon you can’t get away from something as big as “The Punch” and these kids have been dealing with it all season.  Now, it seems like they’ve played so well and done so much talking with their performance on the field that they have negated “The Punch”. I kind of almost forgot about it myself.

Let me ask you a question:  Would you want your kid to play for Chip Kelly?  I would.  I know my kid would get as much discipline from his coach as he got from me.  You know?  No one who sends their child to play at Oregon has to worry about their kid falling out of line.  Chip Kelly has me believing that he is “in step” with what’s going on in every facet of that program.  We call Bobby Bowden a CEO because the FSU program has always been wrought with shadiness (just like alot of CEOs deal with.)  Chip Kelly is the Coach.  He knows what’s up in his program and he has left nothing to chance.  It’s obvious. Remember how alot of coaches and teachers you had knew what was up and they just didn’t let on?  Chip Kelly knows and he DOES let on…that’s how his team is where it is.

Oregon leads the Pac-10 and they show no signs of slowing down.  They close with Washington (W), USC (tough W), Stanford Arizona Arizona State Oregon State (all Ws). How can you bet against them?  (Who knows, if a few chips fall their way maybe they work their way into the BCS title game.  They don’t have to play a conference championship…it could happen.)

Tough kids, great coach, uncompromising standards, step-up performances from unknowns, and not even a wiggle in playing philosophy.  That’s a recipe for success.  Let’s go ahead and rename them.  As long as Chip Kelly is the coach I’m calling Oregon “The Phoenix”.  Good job Coach Kelly.  {College picks after the jump…}

(20) Oklahoma vs. (3) Texas        High Noon

The Shootout at the Red River is one of those games that can be called very easily.  You have to go with what you know.  When Oklahoma was smoking Texas in a pipe every year back in the first half of this decade we just said “Well, Oklahoma wins that one.”  Then Texas showed us that they can beat Oklahoma (and win a National Title.)  Now the trend is reversed…how do you say Oklahoma will win this game when they’ve played so badly against Texas recently?  You don’t.  Colt McCoy wins the day and Sam Bradford still goes number 1 in the draft.

UT – 37   OU – 14

Arkansas @ (1) Florida  3:30 P.M.

Arkansas snuck up on Auburn last week.  Florida has issues (that I’ve already dealt with) and they might be ripe be caught off guard.  Florida didn’t have a Waterloo last season, but did have Ole Miss.  I think Arkansas could be Florida’s Ole Miss for this season…especially when Tim Tebow seems off.  {Remember, this is not an endorsement of Bobby Petrino.}

ARK – 21   UF – 20

(6) USC @ (25) Notre Dame   3:30 P.M.

This is the perfect combo of channel-flipping games I can remember.  IF you get bored with Florida/Arkansas you can peek over and see what USC and Notre Dame are doing.  I know Notre Dame is better this year, but better doesn’t always mean good:  It might just mean that they don’t stink like they did last year.  I know they’re ranked, but USC already screwed up their season, so they’ll go undefeated from here out…right?

USC – 34  ND – 18

(4) Virginia Tech @ (19) Georgia Tech

This game is in Atlanta on historic Grant Field…this means GT can win this thing.  If they play the way they did against FSU and Morgan Burnett has a “day” on defense I don’t care how “in” the Heisman discussion Tyrod Taylor is, Virginia Tech will lose this game.  GT slips even a little bit and it’s lights out for the Ramblin’ Wreck.  GT can pull this one out.

GT- 35  VT – 33

(22) South Carolina @ (2) Alabama   7:45 P.M.

This is what South Carolina does.  They backload their schedule and get off to a decent start.  Then, when they get to the end of their schedule they play like 50,000 top 10 teams in a row.  This is no different.  South Carolina was #8 a couple years ago…it didn’t last because their AD has no idea how to schedule them.  They’ll be unranked next week.

Bama – 42  SC – 3

Flip the channels with me between UF/ARK and USC/ND at 3:30 and enjoy the High Noon showdown between the Sooners and Horns. This will be a good day of College Football.

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