Oregon Football: Chip Kelly's Blueprint to a Cliff Harris Return

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJune 21, 2011

Oregon Football: Chip Kelly's Blueprint to a Cliff Harris Return

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    The past two offseasons have not been good for the Oregon Ducks. Between the 2009 and 2010 season, Oregon ended up losing its starting quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli. The good news is it led to the beginning of the Darron Thomas era.

    Now, between the 2010 season and 2011 season, Oregon finds itself without its All-American cornerback indefinitely.

    While most people now will sit back and wait to see how long Chip Kelly will keep Cliff Harris out, Kelly has a has already shown how Harris can get back on the field.

How We Got Here

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    Cliff Harris has been making some bad decisions even before arriving at Oregon, but the most recent is the one that has cost him at least the game against LSU.

    Harris was recently pulled over for doing 118 mph on an Oregon interstate, and it has recently come to light that he has thousands of dollars of unpaid fines.

    His bad mistakes on the road were only compounded by the choice to miss a recent court date.


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    One thing you can never accuse Chip Kelly of is making a off-the-hip choice. Kelly carefully gathered the facts from this incident and made his choice once he knew what happened.

    Kelly has decided to suspend Harris indefinitely but it will include the LSU game. 

LaGarrette Blount Route

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    In Oregon's opening game of the 2009 season, they headed to Boise State, where they lost, but that was only the beginning for the Ducks. LaGarrette Blount made the loss even worse when he punched a Boise State player who was taunting him in the post game.

    Blount final punishment was an indefinite suspension, in which Kelly and the staff set goals for Blount to show that he had learned from his mistake and make him earn his way back onto the field.

    During his suspension, Blount did not complain and embraced his role as a scout team player. His positive attitude allowed him to earn his way back onto the team after eight games.

Jeremiah Masoli Route

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    Much like Blount, Jeremiah Masoli made a mistake that cost him playing time. For Masoli, during the 2010 offseason, he was guilty of theft from a school fraternity.

    Again, after Kelly found out all of the facts of the case and also saw that Masoli had originally lied to him, Kelly suspended Masoli for the entire 2010 season but did not kick him off the team. Instead, Kelly set forth a plan, just like he did for Blount, in which Masoli could earn back his trust and team for 2011.

    After being suspended, Masoli had more off-the-field issues after the spring game and was kicked off the team for good.

Moral of the Story

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    Chip Kelly has set a precedent for Cliff Harris. Each player is treated like his own son, and he makes sure he has all the facts of a situation before acting upon it.

    Once Kelly makes his decision, he does not cast off the player. Kelly gives the individual an opportunity to earn his and the team's trust back and get back on the field.

    What Kelly has proved is that if you follow the program, learn from your mistakes and become a positive influence, you will get back into his good graces. On the other hand, should you show you have learned nothing, you will be punished further.

Likely Outcome for Harris

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    Duck fans around the nation are hoping that Harris takes this as a moment to slow down and learn from his mistakes. He is going to be given a second chance, should he earn that chance.

    Like he has with other players, Kelly will lay out a program in which Harris can get back on the field and in the starting lineup. It is up to Harris to abide by that program.

    Harris has proven his immaturity can get the best of him, and it was reinforced by his choice to miss a court date. If this string of bad choices continues, Harris could find himself on the way out of Oregon. If this happens, he may end up out of football or given another opportunity at an SEC school.