Imagine you're Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti. You've just arrived back in Eugene after one of the worst nights in the history of the football program you raised to national prominence as coach.
Now, you have to punish tailback LeGarrette Blount for his sucker punch on Boise State's Byron Hout and his subsequent near-Artesting of a group of Boise State fans. What do you do? Do you punish him differently because the game was nationally televised, the featured event of the season's first night? Do you punish him differently because his punch came during a week in which the American Football Coaches Association and the NCAA were trying to foster sportsmanship by encouraging a pre-game handshake? Do you punish him differently because he apologized immediately and without excuse?
Fair or not, all these things matter.
Just for the sucker punch alone - followed by a quick step back in lieu of giving Hout a chance to respond in kind - Blount probably should miss half the season. For nearly igniting the Smurf Turf version of the NBA's Malice at the Palace, Blount probably should be suspended for the rest of the season, which would end his career.
But here's another idea. Blount did apologize. He didn't blame anyone else. Why not suspend him for the rest of the regular season and give him a chance to prove his dedication to his teammates? Allow him back for the bowl game, assuming Oregon finds its offense and actually makes a bowl game. He'll have to go through every workout. He'll have to endure every practice, probably on the scout team. If he cares enough about his teammates, he'll do it.
That's one idiot's opinion. What do you think? How would you discipline Blount if you were in Bellotti's shoes?
UPDATE: Oregon coach Chip Kelly suspended Blount for the remainder of the season, including any potential bowl game. Bellotti said he stands behind the decision.