Oregon’s financial ties to recruiting services questioned

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And now it’s all starting to take on some semblance of sense.

With speculation swirling that “a major publication is about to unseat a major college football power on recruiting violations“, both Yahoo! and ESPN.com have released reports this evening that call into question the financial relationship between Oregon and a pair of so-called recruiting services.

Each websites obtained financial documents that showed Oregon paid $25,000 to Will Lyles of Complete Scouting Services in Houston, and $3,745 to Baron Flenory of New Level Athletics.  The money was reportedly paid by the school for recruiting services.

At issue, however, is whether either Lyles or Flenory steered players under their direction to the Ducks.  In particular, the NCAA is very interested in the former individual.

Lyles has a close relationship with Lache Seastrunk, one of the top high school running backs in the country in 2009 and a 2010 Oregon signee.  Seastrunk’s recruitment, ESPN.com reports, is something the NCAA is taking a closer look at, in part because Lyles received his $25,000 from Oregon shortly after Seastrunk signed his Letter of Intent with the school.

Additionally, the NCAA is examining Lyles’ relationship with Seastrunk’s teammate and 2010 Heisman runner-up LaMichael James.  Lyles described himself as James’ trainer and advisor when he was a guest of the back at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show last December.

Oregon has confirmed the payment was made to Lyles, but says everything they’ve done regarding utilizing that particular service was above-board.

Yeah, we made the payment,” UO spokesman Dave Williford told The Oregonian. “Everybody does it. This all has been run through our compliance office. We have nothing to hide.”

“Most programs purchase recruiting services,” head coach Chip Kelly told ESPN.com Thursday. “Our compliance office is aware of it. Will has a recruiting service that met NCAA rules and we used him in 2010.”

To offer perspective on the amount of money involved, ESPN.com wrote that recruiting services typically charge $5,000 or less per season for video footage and information about high school prospects.  In offering further context, the same website writes that the $25,000 payment exceeded the $16,500 Oregon paid the recruiting service for its work during the previous two years combined.

Yahoo! notes the ramifications for Oregon if its found that Lyles or Flenory were paid money in exchange for steering recruits to the school.

If Lyles and Flenory aided in or were involved in any way in the recruitment of student athletes to Oregon, they would be classified as boosters by the NCAA, and any payment to them from the school would be considered a violation of Bylaw 13. Bylaw 13 prohibits boosters from directing a recruit to a school.

Oregon might not be alone in this Lyles boat, however.  According to ESPN.com, Lyles has ties to players who eventually signed with schools such as Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma State, USC and Texas A&M.  Of those schools mentioned, Auburn may have the most reason for concern.

Two weeks ago, it was reported that NCAA investigators were dispatched to Louisiana to speak to individuals regarding the recruitment of two players who ultimately signed with the Tigers.  Specifically, the reports stated, the NCAA is interested in the involvement of Sean Nelson, who accompanied the then-recruits on unofficial visits to the school on multiple occasions.

Per ESPN.com, the NCAA is examining Lyles’ relationship with Nelson.

With all that said, the fact that Oregon has been very upfront and forthright with the media regarding the payments would make a reasonable person think there’s a whole helluva lot of smoke but very little fire here.  However, once the NCAA starts digging, they normally don’t stop until they find something.

For all of the schools involved, and based on the word on the street, they’d better hope that the rumored skeletons in one individual’s closet are cleaned out before the NCAA opens that particular door.

UPDATED 9:52 p.m. ET: Oregon has released an official statement in response to this evening’s reports.  Here it is, in its entirety.

The athletics department paid for services rendered by a pair of scouting services that were processed through the athletics department business office to Complete Scouting Services and New Level Athletics. This is no different than services purchased by a number of colleges and universities throughout the country.

This is something we remain confident that is within the acceptable guidelines allowed by the NCAA and occurred with the knowledge of the department’s compliance office.

We have previously stated that we have not been in contact with anyone from the NCAA or Pacific-10 Conference in regards to these practices and that situation remains unchanged.

LSU says au revoir to safety Ed Paris for the season

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LSU will be without safety Ed Paris for the rest of the season, head coach Ed Orgeron said Monday. Paris suffered a “significant” knee injury during practice last week, for which he has already undergone surgery.

“He’s always around here and smiling and making sure everybody knows he’s good,” cornerback Donte Jackson told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “He wants us to know that he’s all right and that we should just keep playing. He’s always in (the film room). He gets treatment and then he’s right in there and tries to watch practice a little before he has to get his next treatment.”

Paris is a senior, which means it’s possible he has played his final game as a Tiger. However, Oregeron believes he could seek and receive a medical redshirt to return in 2018.

“Ed’s going to be out for the season,” Orgeron said. “Just went through an operation, and hopefully we can redshirt him and get him back for next year.”

A native of Arlington, Texas, Paris split at safety with Grant Deplit.

Paris has played in 40 career games, with two starts.

2018 LSU-Miami opener to be played Sunday night Labor Day weekend

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In October of 2014, it was confirmed that LSU and Miami would open the 2018 college football season against each other.  Nearly three years later, we have a date and time to go along with it.

It was announced Tuesday that the Tigers and Hurricanes will meet Sunday, Sept. 2, of next year at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. ET.  It was originally scheduled to be played the day before.

That matchup will be broadcast on ABC.

The opener will mark just the 12th meeting ever between the football programs, and the first since 2013.  This will also serve as the third-ever regular-season meeting between the ACC and SEC squads, with the last one coming way back in 1988.

The Tigers will be playing just their second game ever on a Sunday.  They last did so in 2002 against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Maryland loses yet another QB to ACL injury, this one Kasim Hill

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I don’t even know if bubble-wrapping Maryland quarterbacks would help at this point.

This past Saturday afternoon, Kasim Hill went down with what appeared to be a very serious-looking injury to his right leg in the first quarter of the loss to UCF.  Three days later, it was confirmed that the true freshman has been diagnosed with a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the 2017 season.

Hill is the second Terrapins quarterback to suffer such a fate the first four weeks of the season.  In the second half of Maryland’s season-opening 51-41 upset of Texas, Tyrrell Pigrome went down with what was later diagnosed as a torn ACL, ending his 2017 season as well.

Unfortunately for the Terps, the injuries, ACLs in particular, haven’t been limited to just those two of late.

Hill will be replaced in the starting lineup by No. 3 quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who started one game last season for the Terps.  After replacing Hill, Bortenschlager completed 15-of-26 passes for 132 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the 38-10 loss to the Knights.  Prior to that, he had attempted just two passes this season, completing one of them for four yards.

Cornhuskers legend Dave Rimington tapped as interim Nebraska AD

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There were many who thought Nebraska’s now-former athletic director was disconnected from the university’s deep football history.  With today’s move, the athletic department has made a 180-degree turn.

NU announced Tuesday afternoon that Dave Rimington has been named as the interim athletic director.  Rimington replaces Shawn Eichorst, who was dismissed late last week after nearly five years on the job.

Rimington was one of the greatest college football centers in history, and, in 1981 and 1982 for the Cornhuskers, became the only player to win back-to-back Outland Trophy Awards.  In 2000, the Rimington Trophy was established to honor the most outstanding center in college football.

In 1997, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.

“I’m so pleased that we could count on Dave Rimington, who is a Husker through and through, to answer our call to lend his administrative expertise and unwavering support for Nebraska Athletics during this key time of transition,” chancellor Ronnie Green said in a statement. “I am confident that Dave will provide exceptional leadership as we move forward in our search for a new, permanent director of athletics.”

“I am humbled and grateful to accept this responsibility,” Rimington, one of 17 former ‘Huskers with their jerseys retired, said. “I look forward to working with the coaches, staff and student-athletes at Nebraska, which is a truly special place that has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of countless others.”

Rimington is currently the president of the New York-based Boomer Esiason Foundation, but will be taking a sabbatical from those duties.