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September 8, 2009

Petersen: Learn from Blount-Hout incident

Boise State beat Oregon on Thursday in one of the biggest games in school history, fueling speculation that the Broncos can go 13-0 and earn a BCS bid.

The victory was marred by a scuffle after the game between Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount and Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in which Blount punched Hout. Blount later had to be restrained from going after a fan in the stands, and Oregon officials have suspended Blount for the season.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen talked with Rivals.com senior writer Tom Dienhart on Monday about the game, the Blount situation and some other topics.

After the victory over Oregon, how do you temper all of the talk about going unbeaten?

"We really try to block out outside expectations. We have extremely high expectations for ourselves, in our football offices and in our locker room, and those are really what we pay attention to. If you pay attention to outside expectations, you get very unrealistic fast. We are proud of our guys because they have been hearing since last year and through the summer about Oregon and expectations. And I think they've done a nice job of staying focused."

Is this your best team yet?

"I have no idea. It certainly isn't right now. We have a lot of work to do. We played well in spurts and our defense did a nice job. The defense kind of got it rolling early and sort of capitalized on the momentum early. But on offense, it usually takes a while to get that going. We have a lot of work to do. And special teams, we are still developing. Injuries and lack of focus can change those things in a hurry. And we don't take any of that for granted."

Do you think Blount was punished too harshly?

"It's hard for me to agree or disagree because that's their situation. Who knows what went on before with LeGarrette. I feel bad for that situation. I really feel bad for LeGarrette. The guy made a bad decision, and you hate to see a guy's season be thrown away because a guy made a bad decision. It is what it is, and everyone needs to learn from it and move forward."

What did Blount say to you when he called to apologize Sunday?

"He was great. It is just one of those things that you just know that everyone who was involved wishes it didn't happen and that he could take it back. I know LeGarrette feels like that, too. It was a sincere apology, and we wholeheartedly accepted it and just hope that he can move forward and play football down the road. We talked for a couple of minutes, and he talked to Byron and Byron talked to Coach [Chip] Kelly. You just know how everyone feels and wishes the whole thing never would have happened."

What is Hout's punishment?

"He is doing a bunch of stuff around here. But Byron is hurting, too, emotionally. Everyone feels really bad that this thing happened. The important thing is, and I really mean it, is that everyone learn from this. Certainly our program, programs on the outside, need to understand how things can happen so fast. You just need to do things right all of the time."

Have you received any criticism for not punishing Hout more severely?

"I am, sure, but I really try not to pay attention to the outside noise. We just need to do in our program what we think is right in our hearts and not because some other people are saying things. Byron showed poor judgment. Do we think it deserves him missing a game? We don't. If you suspended guys for saying things before or after a football game, we wouldn't play football. Now, that doesn't make it right. But I think it's all about learning lessons. I know he has learned."

What were you saying when you grabbed Hout?

"I didn't even hear what was said, I know something was said. We [tell our players] don't even say anything. There is no purpose. The thing that I think is incredible is the fact there were close to 200 players on the field and everyone else did exactly the right thing. There wasn't almost another fight, where guys were separating guys. Nobody even flinched, and a lot of people saw it. And none of those players even kind of or remotely got involved and they just stayed away. And I know a year ago or three years ago, those things probably would have gotten really out of control. And I think a lot of credit goes to the other players on that field. When a punch is thrown and those are your brothers out there, it takes tremendous poise and discipline not to react. And nobody did on both sides. I felt bad for everybody. We had such a huge game, such a hard-fought game. Right out of the gate, no one really wants to play those game. It was a hard-fought game and it was a really good win for our program. And you have Chip Kelly's first game as a head coach and we all know how hard it is to be a head coach without something like that coming on your plate."

Should an unbeaten team from a non-Big Six conference get to play in the BCS title game?

"I just don't know. I think you need to look after the season and kind of sort things out. Who did everyone play? What are the rankings at that point? And you kind of go from there. I always think these rankings the first five weeks are very much taken with a grain of salt. You have to get through half the season to figure out, really, who has what. And then maybe you make some rankings. And then it really doesn't matter until probably those last two weeks."

How would Boise State finish if it were in the Pac-10?

"One thing that we try to do here is just worry about the things that are truly on our plate, that we can control. Being in another league, that's not where we are. Who knows when and if that ever will happen, so I don't even go there."

If BYU and Boise State both are unbeaten, who will have the better resume?

"That's just hard to say. That's just looking so far ahead. If it comes down to that, I'll answer that question at the end of the season. But right now, I have no opinion on that. I mean, we are just trying to get better for [Saturday's game with] Miami of Ohio and go from there."

Would you like to see a playoff?

"I like the bowl system, I really do. Now, is it the best way to settle who the best teams are? Probably not. I just haven't seen a model yet where you go, 'Whoa, that's awesome. That is it.' We probably, slowly but surely, are going to have to make a couple of adjustments, get a couple of those teams paired up in those bowls to settle some things on the field. To tell you the truth, I'm probably one of those guys who's open to new and creative ideas."

Many have said the Oregon job is your dream job.

"That's not true. That wasn't true, first and foremost. That's just outside noise of people talking and thinking they know."

Is Boise State your final stop?

"That would be an awesome situation if that could happen. I have said it many times, this is a great place. And I think if we continue to do what we have been doing, then everybody is happy and you have a great chance to stay here a long time."

Tom Dienhart is the national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.

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