Oregon coach Willie Taggart has removed the team's best wide receiver, Darren Carrington Jr. from the program following a DUII arrest in the early morning hours of July 1, and in the process sent a message to the rest of the Ducks that certain levels of misconduct won't be tolerated.
Taggart, through the athletic department, issues the following statement:
"I have visited with Darren Carrington and informed him that he is no longer a member of our program. We will always consider Darren a Duck and support him in any way we can. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
The decision could not have been all that easy for Taggart. Carrington is the team's best playmaker on offense in the passing game, and maybe all around. But he has had far too many off-the-field transgressions to be ignored, including being suspended for the 2015 national title game due to testing positive for marijuana use, and for being accused of assaulting someone last fall.
Plus, Carrington, according to sources on the previous coaching staff, has committed a series of relatively minor to semi-serious transgressions that have indicated he hasn't taken discipline seriously while at Oregon.
Taggart wiped the slate clean with Carrington back in January and as recently as about 12 hours before the player's approximate 3 a.m. arrest on July 1, praised his star for the progress he had made on and off the field. Then, the following morning, Carrington betrayed Taggart's trust and belief in him.
When Taggart took the job last December he informed the entire team that it would not get him fired as it had Mark Helfrich by lacking discipline, cutting corners and losing games. "Try me," he warned the Ducks.
By all accounts, the team as a whole got the message. Players who were not giving 100 percent under Helfrich were flying straight under Taggart or getting out of Eugene.
Carrington is the latest and he has been dismissed the hard way. The good news for him is that as a recent graduate - a testament to him committing to academics - Carrington could transfer to play anywhere in the country. He could easily rehabilitate his image with one great season and end up in the NFL, where his talents belong.
For Oregon, this puts a lot of pressure on sophomore wide receiver Dillon Mitchell to become a legitimate threat in the lineup that now only includes one proven pass receiver, senior slot Charles Nelson.
Oregon will also need sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland, and wide receivers, redshirt sophomores Alex Ofodile and Malik Loveette, and freshman Darrian McNeal, to rise to the occasion and provide adequate to elite targets for sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert.
It's a lot to ask for. It could safely be said that losing Carrington will cost Oregon a game or two next season, especially given that the defense - 128th in the nation last year - will likely still have major holes this season.
But, in the long run, this is a move that could pay dividends by leading to a roster that now has an example of an elite talent being let go because he didn't follow team rules.
That reality could result to a better overall program as Taggart's regime moves forward.