Wounded Duck

Will Lyles: Oregon ‘paid for… my access and influence with recruits’

26 Comments

UO?  Try uh-oh.  In all-caps.  With multiple, multiple exclamation points.

And Chip Kelly may want to study up on the fate of Jim Tressel as it’s the same thing currently in his rear-view and gaining fast.

In early March, a Yahoo! Sports article raised many questions regarding Oregon’s financial ties to recruiting services, particularly the $25,000 paid to Will Lyles of Complete Scouting Services for what was described as a “2011 National Package”.  Prompted by open-records requests from multiple media outlets, UO released documents last month pertaining to what they received in Lyles’ national package in exchange for the $25K.  As the package consisted mainly of players from the 2009 recruiting class — and 135 of the 140 profiles were for players from Texas — even more questions were raised.

Unfortunately for the Oregon football program in general and Kelly in particular, those questions may have been answered today in yet another outstanding investigative piece by Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo!.

In extensive on-the-record conversations that took place over the course of several days, Lyles claims he was paid the $25K by the university because of the influence he carried over recruits, particularly high-profile 2010 UO signee Lache Seastrunk.  Additionally, Lyles claimed that Kelly and others contacted him shortly before Yahoo!’s March story was published, saying “they were on my ass” to get the written reports on recruits he had never provided them despite the $25K payment.

Those demands for the written reports on purported members of the 2011 recruiting class came at least three weeks after National Signing Day in February, well beyond their “expiration” date even if the fact that they were for ’09 recruits isn’t factored in.

Lyles said Kelly “scrambled” in late February and asked Lyles to submit retroactive player profiles to justify the $25,000 payment to his company, just days before the transaction was revealed in a March 3 Yahoo! Sports report. …

Lyles insists Oregon did not make a direct request or payment to steer recruits to Eugene. However, he now says Oregon did not pay him for his work as a traditional scout, but for his influence with top recruits and their families and his ability to usher prospects through the signing and eligibility process. That dual role as mentor to prospects and paid contractor to Oregon is believed to be a focus of the NCAA probe.

“I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits,” Lyles said. “The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should … I made a mistake and I’m big enough of a man to admit I was wrong.” …

(It should be noted that, in early May, Lyles labeled as “unequivocally false” reports that he steered recruits to universities.)

In the expansive and lengthy piece, which should be read in full and can be accessed again by clicking HERE, Lyles claimed that Kelly personally provided, in essence, a blank check for his “recruiting service”.  And, once again, the conversation turned back around to the appearance that Kelly and the Ducks scrambled to fill in the holes created by the $25K that’s more and more taking on the appearance of a payment for a player.

Lyles said Kelly and Oregon committed to becoming the first client for CSS prior to Lyles aiding Seastrunk with the letter-of-intent issue. Then, just after the guardianship switch, Lyles said Kelly instructed him to “find out what the best paying service is” and to bill Oregon that amount. When Lyles settled on the $25,000 figure, he said he called Kelly and Kelly personally approved it.

Eleven months passed – from March 2010 until February 2011 – before the Ducks requested a single written recruiting profile, Lyles said. And when that moment came, Lyles said the demand for the reports was sudden and emphatic, leading him to believe Oregon was “scrambling” to establish that he’d provided legitimate traditional scouting services because they were aware of a Yahoo! Sports investigation. Previously, Lyles said he had provided scouting reports verbally in frequent calls with Oregon coaches.

“They said they just needed anything,” Lyles said of the embarrassingly thin recruiting profiles that Oregon made public earlier this month. “They asked for last-minute [stuff]. So I gave them last-minute [stuff] … I gave them, like, old stuff that I still had on my computer because I never thought that stuff would see the light of day.”

Lyles added that he spoke to the NCAA for several hours in early May, but “didn’t reveal the stories concerning Kelly, [LaMichael] James and Seastrunk to investigators because the specific topics never came up in questioning.”

We’re guessing that, after this expose’ finds its way to the NCAA and if — if — it has any validity, The Association will want to discuss the specific topics Lyles broached in what could prove to be the most explosive piece of journalism this offseason.  Yes, more so than the Tressel/OSU allegations.  And, yes, it’s that bad.

So much so, in fact, that it would be hard to see Kelly surviving the damning accusations leveled against him.  Or the university standing behind/beside him in the face of the latest round of allegations.

Again, if Lyles can be believed.  And the NCAA can prove he’s to be believed.

Woman allegedly knocked out by Joe Mixon punch sues Sooner RB

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 5: Running back Joe Mixon #25 of the Oklahoma Sooners runs downfield as linebacker Dylan Evans #54 of the Akron Zips defends September 5, 2015 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma defeated Akron 41-3.(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Whether it be the fight over making the video public or now this, one of the darkest moments of Joe Mixon‘s life simply refuses to go away.

In mid-August of 2014, Mixon, a five-star recruit that year, was suspended by Oklahoma for the entire 2014 season, a punitive measure that meant the running back would be excluded from any and all team activities.  The one-year suspension came about after Mixon was accused of punching a woman in a late-July confrontationbreaking four bones in her face and leaving her unconscious.

Media covering OU viewed a copy of the security tape that caught the exchange, including the knockout punch, between the woman and Mixon; Mixon’s attorney had previously claimed the altercation was preceded by racial slurs.

In late October of 2014, a plea deal was reached in the case that helped Mixon avoid a trial. As part of that deal, Mixon was given a one-year deferred sentence, 100 hours of community service and will be required to attend cognitive behavior counseling.

Now, The Oklahoman is reporting, Amelia Molitor, the victim, has filed a lawsuit against the Sooners running back, “alleging negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The newspaper writes that Molitor “is seeking compensation for her medical expenses and compensation for ‘severe anxiety, embarrassment, depression, humiliation and emotional distress.'”

The amount of monetary damages Molitor is seeking in the suit weren’t specified.

Mixon was welcomed back to the Sooners in February of last year and greatly aided OU’s run to a spot in the College Football Playoffs, finishing second on the team in rushing yards (753) and rushing touchdowns (seven). His 6.7 yards per carry led the team, and he added 28 receptions for 356 yards and four touchdowns for good measure.

In February of this year, an appeals court ruled that the assault video, in the possession of the City of Norman, is public record. A judge subsequently ruled that the video should remain sealed, only to see the Oklahoma Supreme Court agree with the appeal court’s ruling that it should be released as a public record.

The video has yet to be released — Molitor supports keeping it sealed — and yet another lawsuit was filed by media outlets in the area late last month.

Gang-rape victim shares her story with Baylor football players

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12:  The Baylor Bears enter the field before a game against the Lamar Cardinals at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

As the Baylor football program continues to (hopefully) learn and move forward from the scandal that’s rocked the university this offseason, the current roster has received a stark look at the other side of sexual violence.

Nearly two decades ago, Brenda Tracy, a single mother to two young kids at the time, was gang-raped by four men, two of whom were football players on an Oregon State Beavers football team coached at the time by Mike Riley.  Last month, Tracy spoke to Riley’s players at Nebraska; this month, Tracy, at the request of Baylor interim head coach Jim Grobe, spoke to the current members of the Bears football team.

And, according to Tracy herself after the discussion Monday, the players were very open to her message.  From the Dallas Morning News:

I was prepared to walk into a very hostile environment,” Tracy said. “I was very prepared to walk into a place where nobody wanted me there.”

“They weren’t hostile toward me, and I didn’t go in there trying to destroy their program,” said Tracy, a registered nurse and Oregon native. “We got along, and it was OK. We all survived.”

“Not only do I feel for the victims when I see a stadium,” Tracy said, “but I also see a huge potential for change.

“I guess it’s bittersweet. It used to be just bitter. But today, it’s bittersweet.

Grobe came under fire recently for his stance that there’s not “a culture of bad behavior” at Baylor. While that strident and public defense caused further backlash against the program he’s charged with navigating through these rough waters, Tracy publicly praised the coach.

Jim Harbaugh, on rap video criticisms: ‘It’s only uptight white people that didn’t like it’

Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh plays shirtless with participants during the Coach Jim Harbaugh's Elite Summer Football Camp, Friday, June 5, 2015, at Prattville High School in Prattville, Ala. (Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)  NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
5 Comments

What, did you expect Jim Harbaugh to not make some noise at the Big Ten Media Days?

Earlier this month, the Michigan head coach appeared in the video for a rap song titled “Who’s Got It Better Than Us?” If you were a Wolverines fan, you liked it; if you were not a fan of the program, you more than likely abhorred it. And you were probably a stick-up-the-keister caucasian for that matter.

At least, that’s Harbaugh’s take on the criticism, as he relayed during his time with the media Monday.

There you have it, white people, from, ironically enough, the Pasty Khaki King himself.

And, not surprisingly, Harbaugh’s off-field antics aren’t likely in the past.

“My default is usually yes,” Harbaugh said, from transcripts provided by the conference, when asked about how the video came to fruition and why he did it. “Action, why not? And the reaction has been very good. I’ve gotten multiple texts, phone calls, comments from people that really liked it and I think the cool people liked it.”

Take that, uncool white folk.

Jarrett Stidham granted release by Baylor, just not to other Big 12 teams

Jarrett Stidham, Lemaefe Galea'i
Associated Press
2 Comments

Unlike some recent 2016 signee defections, Jarrett Stidham won’t be afforded the opportunity to haunt Baylor — at least not in conference play.

Earlier this month, Stidham confirmed rampant speculation via Twitter that he would be transferring from the Bears and continuing his playing career elsewhere. Fastforward nearly four weeks, and the quarterback confirmed to ESPN.com that he has been granted a release from his BU scholarship, albeit with restrictions.

Specifically, Stidham will not permitted to transfer to any current member of the Big 12. Texas Tech, which had received a verbal commitment from Stidham before he flipped to BU two months before Signing Day 2015, had been mentioned as a potential landing spot for the transfer.

Other than other members of the league, Stidham is free to transfer anywhere he desires, including schools already on BU’s future schedules during his remaining eligibility. Those would include SMU (2016), Rice (2016-2019), Duke (2017/2018) and UT-San Antonio (2017-2018).

If Stidham goes the FBS route for 2016, he would be forced to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws by sitting out the upcoming season, and would then have three season of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017. There’s also speculation that Stidham could take the junior college path for a season and then move back to the FBS for his final three seasons, although his next step is currently unknown.

A four-star member of the Bears’ 2015 recruiting class, Stidham was rated as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 7 player at any position in the state of Texas.

Last season, Stidham started three games as a true freshman in place of the injured Seth Russell before going down with a broken ankle that ended his own season.  He had been penciled in as the Bears’ quarterback of the future when the senior Russell departed after the 2016 season.