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The Cliff Harris Suspension, and Why It's the Right Decision

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BREAKING NEWS: THREE DUCKS KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT is not a headline any Duck fan wants to see, on this site or anywhere else. But that could have blown up Twitter Monday morning had Cliff Harris' late-night antics gone differently. It was dark and it was late, and at the speed the car was traveling, a crash would have been catastrophic. Let's first be thankful that nothing truly serious happened. Then we can move on to the real issue: Cliff Harris' behavior is not deserving of a place on the Oregon football team, and until he straightens himself out, he should stay suspended.

Ordinarily I don't consider a moving violation to be reflective of a person's character. Everyone has bent the rules of the road at one time or another. But this is not an ordinary incident, nor is it an isolated one. Harris drove someone else's car 118 mph, in the middle of the night, on a poorly-lit highway, without a valid license, and with two of his teammates in the backseat. Is it as egregious as sexual assault or driving drunk? No. But it demonstrates a lack of judgment, especially considering his prior history, and Chip Kelly has made it abundantly clear that teaching good life habits is part of his job description. 

Cliff Harris started 2010 fall practices down on the depth chart, despite his immense physical gifts, because of the same maturity concerns. This latest incident, taken by itself, is not grounds for suspension. But this misstep can be seen as the tipping point for Harris' career. 

I interpret Chip Kelly saying "he is suspended indefinitely" to mean "he needs to get his head out of his ass and start acting like an adult." It has nothing to do with the severity of the incident. It is simply a way to say, "you will not play football for this team until you get your act together." LeGarrette Blount made it back. Jeremiah Masoli did not. Cliff Harris' destiny as an Oregon Duck is to be determined in the coming months.