By Chadd Cripe
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen on Monday defended his decision not to suspend defensive end Byron Hout, who was punched in the face after taunting Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount last week.
Petersen spoke Monday during the WAC coaches teleconference with the media.
"Byron is being disciplined, there's no question about that," Petersen said. "It was the wrong thing to do to say anything to anybody on the football field, but if everybody got suspended for saying something half the teams wouldn't have guys to play games. I think it's something that everybody has learned from — our program and hopefully teams from the outside."
Earlier in the teleconference, a reporter took Petersen to task for not suspending Hout — saying the Broncos were losing the public-relations battle. Oregon suspended Blount for the season and Blount and Oregon coach Chip Kelly called the Broncos to apologize.
"We have to do what we feel is right for our kids and our program," Petersen said, "and we feel like we've done the right thing."
The reporter responded by saying, "congratulations." He came back on the line later to apologize.
Petersen said it's unfortunate, but understandable, that the situation has overshadowed the Broncos' big win.
He said he has talked to his team about the incident three times.
"Everything is a learning lesson, and this is certainly one of them," Petersen said.
He also said people should remember that the rest of the players on both teams refrained from turning the incident into a melee — something that has happened many times in college football.
"There were close to 180 football players on that field and there were a lot of guys doing things correctly," Petersen said. "A year ago — two, three years ago — that thing would have been very, very ugly, and there wasn't a guy that even kind of flinched when that whole thing went down, in both programs, and those kids need to be commended for doing things correctly."
WAC commissioner Karl Benson came on after Petersen. He said Hout did violate the sportsmanship code, which allows the WAC to issue a private reprimand, a public reprimand or a suspension. He would not say if any of those were given. "All I can say is it's being handled per the WAC code," Benson said. That means it's likely a private reprimand was issued.
Benson reviewed the situation and made a decision based on the contents of Hout's words, not Blount's reaction.
"Granted, his comments triggered the Oregon player to act like he did, but the words that the Boise State player said to the Oregon player are pretty regular occurrences — before a game, during a game, after a game," Benson said. "Was it a taunt? Yes, it was a taunt. And yet if it hadn't triggered the reaction nothing would have been said."
The Hout-Blount situation dominated Petersen's press conference with local media Monday. Here's the audio.
Here are a few other notes about the Blount-Hout situation that will be in tomorrow's paper:
— Petersen knows not everyone agrees with him — and he says he won’t let outside factors influence him.
“Everybody around here knows that we don’t take discipline things lightly at all,” Petersen said. “In a lot of ways, I feel like we get criticized for coming down too hard on our guys. All you can do is what you think is right in your heart. Nothing is taken lightly. Everything is thought out. I just hope in this job — and I know it’s a political job in a lot of ways — that we don’t make decisions just for political reasons. … That’s not how we want to run the program here.”
— Blount and Oregon coach Chip Kelly called Petersen and Hout to apologize over the weekend. The apologies went both ways, Petersen said.
“There’s no other way to say it than to say everybody feels bad,” he said.
— Blount did not practice with the Ducks on Monday. Although the team has offered to let him practice the rest of the season, he has not yet decided to do that, Kelly said.
“It’s his decision now,” Kelly told the Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore. “I can’t force him to do anything. It’s his decision. But I also know the young man’s been through a lot and he probably deserves some time to catch his breath and try to make a logical decision on what he feels is the best situation for him. But we’re here for him.”
Oregon officials connected Blount with former NBA star Kermit Washington over the weekend, the Register-Guard reported. Washington is remembered for punching Rudy Tomjanovich during a brawl in 1977. Washington was suspended for 60 games.