Oregon dismisses Cliff Harris

December, 5, 2011
12/05/11
5:36
PM ET
The tumultuous career of cornerback Cliff Harris is over at Oregon.

The school announced his dismissal from the team Monday for "a violation of team rules," though the press release didn't say whether it was something new or just a general accumulation of past transgressions.

[+] EnlargeCliff Harris
Chris Morrison/US PresswireOregon dismissed cornerback Cliff Harris from the team on Monday.
This is a sad ending for an odd career.

Harris, who was suspended for the final five games this year, earned All-American honors in 2010 and was a consensus 2011 preseason All-American, but he never impressed Ducks coaches as much as he impressed some fans and some media. He didn't start until the second half of the 2010 season, and he didn't see much action when he returned from a suspension this year.

Harris was credited with just nine tackles and one interception in six games this season. He finished his career with 61 tackles and eight interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He scored touchdowns on four of 38 punt returns, though two were against woeful New Mexico in the 2010 opener.

He also was suspended from the team -- he missed the opener against LSU -- after he was stopped by police for driving 118 mph with a suspended license on the interstate. Dashboard camera footage from an Oregon State Police patrol car during the June 12, 4:30 a.m. traffic stop included this memorable exchange:

Patrolman: “Who’s got the marijuana in the car?”
Harris: "We smoked it all."

The good side of Harris was his quirky humor. Reporters loved his colorful quotes. The Pac-12 blog, in fact, recently got a couple of cheap laughs from fellow reporters after dinner in Eugene by imitating Harris' reported introductory line to his teammates in 2009: "My name is Cliff Harris, and I'm here to lock s--- down."

The bad side of Harris was his immaturity and poor decision-making. On the field, he could be brilliant. He was an extraordinary ballhawk. But he also was a poor-to-middling tackler and often got out of position. Many fans could never understand why coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti said -- over and over and over again -- that CB Talmadge Jackson was their best defensive back in 2010. It was because Harris made two bad plays for every good one.

Still, there was always hope -- even after the traffic stop -- that he would grow up, see the light and become a true superstar at Oregon.

That's no longer an option in Eugene. Maybe he'll find maturity somewhere else?

Some perspective here.

Ted Miller | email

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