Deeds, Not Words Are What's Necessary

Eugene – Chip Kelly has spent a tough couple of days. His team suffered an embarrassing loss and, on top of that, Kelly was forced to make a decision that affected not only his team but also the future of a young man who made a mistake. The team will have a chance to right itself next Saturday against Purdue, but for Kelly the process to arrive at his decision was more than just a game.

Coming in from the finish of a day on the practice field Monday, Chip Kelly was still stoic and somber in his weekly media conference held in the Casanova Center. Asked the state of his team, he was brief and to the point.

"They had a good practice, a good mindset," said Kelly, of his team. "They had a couple of days off since that game (Boise State) to put it behind them. It is kind of what we do here whether you win or lose. Every week is a season. The season this week is Purdue."

For most of the media conference the new Oregon coach responded with either short sentences or one-word answers. Kelly ended any discussion of his decision to suspend LeGarrette Blount for the rest of the year following a horrific episode at the conclusion of Thursday night's game, calling the topic closed. It was an obvious sore subject. The coach did indicate that safety T.J. Ward (ankle) is possible for the Saturday game, but stuck by his normal day-to-day response to the question of Ward's health. Kelly also mentioned that with Blount out of the equation, the Ducks have made adjustments at the running back position.

"We have three capable guys now in Andre (Crenshaw), LaMichael (James) and Kenjon (Barner)," remarked Kelly, about the running back situation. "We'll continue to develop some depth there just in case we have some injuries."

More questions were asked and terse responses given. Purdue, according to Kelly, was going to be a tough; the offensive line is experiencing growing pains; the punter, Jackson Rice was a bright spot in the Boise State game.

It looked like it was going to be a tough day to get much out of Kelly, until one of the last questions of the day.

The question was if Kelly personally felt that after nine months of preparation and the first game finally was played was there any sense of relief that he could now move on with business as usual. Relief, Kelly said, was not exactly the word he'd use, and then Kelly started talking about some things that had really been on his mind.

"It's obviously been a difficult couple of days for the entire football program," responded Kelly, to the question. "There's not a manual for this that you can go look up and say, now how do I handle this situation? Fortunately I had a lot of good people reach out to me and I had a chance to talk to a lot people about the situation. If I had to do it again, I'd do it the same way.

"One of the things the president (University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere) and (Athletic Director) Mike (Bellotti) asked me was, 'Will you feel the same way tomorrow (and) will you feel the same way a month from now?' You're always going to be judged on the decision you made, (but) there's no going back and I truly believe I made the right decision. It's about moving forward, our football team, our players, our coaching staff, LeGarrette, everybody.

"It's what happened, it happened and you can't take it back. (It's) how we move forward and put it (the team) into a positive situation. I was very fortunate, and I want to thank a lot of people who reached out and I had a chance to visit with."

Kelly indicated that several people had called, but specifically mentioned that Kemit Washington and Miami's coach Randy Shannon talked to Kelly over the weekend about the Blount situation.

Washington, the former NBA player, was involved in a near deadly punching incident in 1977 that led to the end of Rudy Tomjanovich's playing career. Washington later played for the Portland Trail Blazers and has been known for his charity work in Africa.

"There are people out there who are willing to help you and try to counsel you on what's the right thing to do," explained Kelly. "We're always going to be questioned if we did the right thing or the wrong thing."

Kelly also indicated that Washington spoke to Blount as well. While there is a plan in place for Blount to continue his education and football career at Oregon (he will not play in games), Kelly made it clear those plans would not be made public. Blount was not on hand for practice on Monday but Kelly said it was an expected absence. Kelly also indicated that Blount is taking a few days off, but the option is there for him to continue on at Oregon.

"As LeGarrette talked about and I talked about, it's the same with this football team right now, it's not about words, it's about deeds," remarked Kelly.

When the media conference ended, Kelly seemed to be more relaxed. Perhaps he had used the conference as catharsis to sweep away some of the emotions that had built up over the last five days. In five more days the Ducks will play Purdue in a rematch of last year's game in which the Ducks won 32-26 in overtime, when Blount plunged into the end zone for the game-winning score. This year, things are so different, but for Kelly at least, in his first year in command, he is satisfied he made the correct decision in a matter that may have been one of the toughest he'll ever face.


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