USC should just keep it classy this weekend

LaGarrette Blount.

Many of you know him as the man who, last weekend, threw the best punch on a blue field in history.

But once you get past how that one punch that connected with Boise State defensive end Byron Hout’s jaw right made watching that slow game worth it, the reality of the situation sets in. That was the first time many had ever heard the name LaGarrette Blount, and now Blount will be always be remembered as a villain.

It’s not only Blount that is affected; the University of Oregon reputation fell much harder than the 241-pound defensive end. For weeks that replay will be shown during broadcasts of Oregon football games and it will be included in national year-end summary packages about the college football season.

Blount hopped, skipped and jumped over the fine line that separates uncalled-for taunting from “friendly” trash-talking (yes you just read the most obvious statement since Brett Favre announced his return to the NFL). Sure, trash-talking happens all the time, and mostly it’s in good nature. Just ask Matt Hasselbeck about his famous line when he won the coin toss a few years ago in a playoff against Green Bay,:

“We want the ball and we’re gonna score.”

Unfortunately, as in Hasselbeck’s and Blount’s cases, the nudges and knocks at the opponent come back to haunt you.

Those two examples are at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Hasselbeck’s comment was perfectly fine, as he did it mainly in good humor and didn’t inflict any physical or emotional harm on the opponent (although the same can’t be said for the harm done to himself).

But with the USC-Ohio State football game coming up, there have been a few remarks made by people associated with USC that are uncalled for and have crossed the line between good, joking fun and harmful, ignorant taunts.

You might remember last year, how former USC Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer, now of the Cincinnati Bengals, came out before the showdown at the Coliseum and said, “I cannot stand the Buckeyes … It’s amazing to hear what those guys think about that university and what they think about that football program and Tressel and all the crap I gotta put up with being back there … I’m really getting sick of it.”

Rooting for your alma mater is one thing. But taking a cheap shot at another program, especially a program that shares the same fans that come out to your games, is a classless act that reflects poorly on USC.

However, this year it’s his brother’s turn. Jordan Palmer is a third-string quarterback on the Bengals with older brother Carson, and he played quarterback at UT-El Paso. And yes, he’s the same guy who invented the iPhone application called Run Pee, which lets people know the points in various movies to hit the restroom and then fills you in on what you missed upon your return. Pretty ingenious. But I digress.

On Tuesday, the younger Palmer took a page out of his older brother’s book and made comments on the radio about Ohio State that he’ll probably hear in Cincinnati for a long time (or however long a third-string quarterback can stay with the Bengals).

“Ohio State fans are the most annoying people on the planet. So you’ve got an entire state’s worth, of, uh, I don’t have a word that I can use on the air,” Palmer said. “What kills me living in Ohio is I have a Big Ten Network channel where I get all the Big Ten games. That’s like giving a My Little Pony rerun channel, that’s how much I want to watch the Big Ten games.”

While this doesn’t do anything to help Jordan Palmer’s image, I’m not concerned about these comments as a USC fan. But he prefaces all this taunting with one sentence:

“Our Trojans are going to wreak some havoc this week.”

Last time I checked, Jordan Palmer never attended USC. But by associating himself with the school, his harsh words and bold statements, coupled with his older brother’s statements last year, give USC the appearance of a classless, ill-mannered institution. That is not something that I want my team or school to symbolize.

There are ways to show school spirit or pride without torching the opponents, and the Palmers crossed the line. There was no need to bash Ohio State like they did. Ohio State has lost two BCS Championship games in the last three years by a combined 41 points, got outplayed by the Trojans last year in a 35-3 loss and its quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, recently had this to say when defending Michael Vick:

“I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me.”

So as you can see, Ohio State shoots itself in the foot enough already. Regardless, there’s no excuse for badmouthing other teams or institutions in a way that does nothing but bring them down. I have the utmost respect for Carson and Jordan Palmer, and, sure, they didn’t punch anyone, but their verbal jabs shouldn’t be used as examples for fellow Trojan fans to follow.

Wherever you plan on watching the game this weekend, have fun but be smart. Trojan fans are some of the most passionate fans around, and I encourage that. Do anything you have to do to show your enthusiasm for USC, just don’t beat up the Buckeyes.

Our football team will take care of that.

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