U of Oregon FB Recruit In Jail Over A Hat Dispute

Welcome to your new job, Chip Kelly. The new University of Oregon football coach is facing his first big crisis — what to do with star cornerback commit Cliff Harris. Cliff is currently in jail awaiting formal charges over accusations that he threatened a police officer during an incident involving his brother’s hat at his Fresno high school on Wednesday.

Cliff Harris

Harris is a four-star recruit according to both SCOUT and RIVALS, and is considered by many to be the best cover corner in the 2009 class. But will the Ducks pull their offer if Harris is charged with a felony? For what it’s worth, there are conflicting accounts of what really happened, with some students complaining that the officer used excessive force (including pepper spray) on Harris and his brother.

The FRESNO BEE reports that Harris was coming to the aid of his younger brother, who was told to take off his red hat by the officer (as apparently required by the school’s dress code) but didn’t want to comply. The brother then allegedly got into a confrontation with the officer, which is when Harris stepped in. That must’ve been some hat:

Harris came to his brother’s aid, Foster said, and more scuffling ensued. Officers then pepper-sprayed the brothers and handcuffed them.

Harris was booked on suspicion of obstructing a public officer, a misdemeanor, and a felony count of threatening a public official. The younger brother had a “medical condition” and was taken to a hospital, then to Juvenile Hall.

The Deputy Police Chief of Fresno met with students at Edison High School yesterday, where he was told by several of them that the officers were out of line.

The only student quoted specifically was the boys’ cousin, who obviously could be biased:

Jeane Horton, a student who said she is related to Harris and his brother, said she provided her name to police.

“They’re my cousins, and they should not have been pepper-sprayed and should not have been arrested,” she said.

I understand that police don’t always act in the most professional manner (i.e. the Ryan Moats situation), but it’s odd that if there was any chance that this was a case of zealous officers overstepping their bounds that Harris would still be sitting in jail right now.

Of course, it seems that this all could’ve been avoided if the younger Harris had just taken off his hat. Sad that Cliff might end up with a record and a lost scholarship over such a stupid thing.