Ducks Suspend Harris Indefinitely
You know, all in all, Chip Kelly has done a pretty good job of managing the Romper Room down there in Eugene. Wednesday, the Ducks suspended Cliff Harris for at least the season-opener against LSU.
Which would seem to be prudent considering that Harris was cited for driving 118 mph with a suspended license in a borrowed car. I mean, it’s not trading memorabilia for tattoos, but still . . .
And the important part is that Kelly left the door open for further sanctions against Harris.
“Cliff’s future is clearly in Cliff’s hands,” the coach said in a press release. “Earning an opportunity to represent the University of Oregon and this football program certainly rests far beyond a player’s ability on the field of play. Our behavior out of the spotlight often is more important and will be held to a higher standard.
“Until Cliff is able to conform to the same standards all of us must comply with, his status will remain unchanged.”
This continues a pattern for Kelly. Following the punch at Boise State, LeGarrette Blount initially was suspended for the season but was allowed to remain with the team. He was given the opportunity to earn his way back onto the field, which he eventually did, rather than being cut loose and allowed to flounder.
In the case of starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, the player was suspended for the season but allowed to remain with the team following a guilty plea in a theft at a fraternity house. When the suspended Masoli was cited for traffic and drug violations, he was kicked off the team.
These are difficult calls. But I think that Kelly is right to give the players a second chance, provided they can conform to the rules following their transgressions. Blount earned his way back; Masoli did not; Harris’ fate will be up to him. It certainly makes more sense than allowing guys to play in the Sugar Bowl under the condition that they return to school the following year, when they will face a five-game suspension — like Ohio State did.
Of course, much of this could be avoided. The underlying problem is that college football has an inherently flawed system which leads to some athletes being in school when they have no business being there. If only there were some way to solve that.