Harris is driving his career off a cliff

It wasn't a good day Monday for Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris. It hasn't been a good week, either. And, really, it hasn't been a good year for Harris, whose desire to do things his way might have him headed toward the "whatever happened to him?" files.

Harris was suspended Monday from all football-related activities -- again -- after he was pulled over by Eugene police for several infractions, including driving with a suspended license and driving without insurance.

Of course, in June, Harris 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.

On the field, things haven't been that good, either. The preseason All-American hasn't won back his starting spot, and on Saturday at Colorado he was flagged for taunting before the game began, resulting in a 15-yard penalty that was assessed on the opening kickoff. Later, he fielded a punt inside the 10-yard line and, after his momentum carried him into the end zone, was tackled for a safety. Those two points cost the Ducks a shutout in a 45-2 victory.

To be fair to Harris, college athletes have done far worse things than driving fast or without a seat belt or without insurance. Harris isn't assaulting anyone. These are all errors of judgment, the sort made by an immature young man who isn't listening to the authority figures in his life. This is not untraveled territory.

But Oregon has a lot going on. It's trying to win the Pac-12. It's got an NCAA investigation it's dealing with. It doesn't have time for many more distractions.

So coach Chip Kelly is holding up his hands. In his left hand, he has Harris' talent, his ball-hawking skills, his ability to take a punt back for a TD at any time. In his right hand, he's got "We smoked it all" -- a bonanza to T-shirt makers; not so much for a football coach -- and now this.

He also has two interests in mind: What's best for his team? What's best for Harris? And those intersect on the notion that giving Harris the boot -- at least for the remainder of the season -- might be best for both parties.

For the team, Harris headlines are a distraction, no matter how well-insulated the program is. And, for Harris, perhaps the only way he gets the message to grow up and act responsibly is to have football taken away with a degree of permanence.

The Pac-12 blog is well-known for its lenience. More often than not, we find the self-righteous bombast of the zero-tolerance crowd small-minded and, truthfully, self-serving -- as in, "Look at me and my high standards. I am so awesome!"

But on Harris, suffice it to say, Kelly might have a tough call. He's tried to deliver a message with a variety of punishments, yet Harris hasn't heard the sermons.

Perhaps Kelly needs to provide some quiet time away from the game so Harris can decide what he wants to do.