Wounded Duck

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

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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.

LB Nick Holman makes ‘hard decision’ to transfer from USF

Nick Holman
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A little over a week after the end of spring practice, USF has seen its depth at linebacker take a bit of a hit.

Calling it “a hard decision,” Nick Holman took to Twitter Wednesday night to announce that he has decided to transfer out of the Bulls football program and “pursue other opportunities” elsewhere. The linebacker gave no specific reason for his decision to transfer.

Barring something unforeseen, Holman would be forced t sit out the 2016 season if he moves on to another FBS program. He’d then have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.

Holman came to USF as a three-star member of the Bulls’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 31 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Holman played in 11 games in 2015.

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that “Holman led the White team with five tackles in the April 16 Green and White intrasquad game, and was listed as the backup to senior Nigel Harris at weakside linebacker on the post-spring depth chart.”

In statement, SEC reaffirms league to rescind its satellite camp ban

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The SEC had fought hard in pushing the NCAA’s Div. 1 Council to ban the practice of satellite camps, and then continued to push for The Association’s Board of Directors to reaffirm the ban.  In the end, though, that conference has taken the “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” tack.

Shortly after the NCAA confirmed that its Board of Directors had, at least for the foreseeable future, rescinded the ban on coaches taking part in football camps outside of their regions, the SEC confirmed that it will be rescinding its own ban on the practice.  That rescinding follows through on the “threat” made last year by the conference that it would, essentially, unleash its football programs on the rest of the country if a ban wasn’t enacted.

The SEC’s lifting of the ban on such camps is not effective immediately; rather, it will take effect May 29.  After that date, as outgoing commissioner Mike Slive said in late May last year, “our folks will be free to fan out all over the country and have at it.”

In a statement, Slive’s replacement, Greg Sankey, lamented the lifting of the ban while at the same time reaffirmed that “SEC coaches will be allowed to engage in summer camps as a result of Conference legislation approved during the 2015 SEC Spring Meetings.”

Below is the entirety of Sankey’s statement.

While we are disappointed with the NCAA governance process result, we respect the Board of Directors’ decision and are confident SEC football programs will continue to be highly effective in their recruiting efforts.

“We continue to believe football recruiting is primarily an activity best-focused in high schools during the established recruiting calendar, which has provided opportunities for football prospective student-athletes from all across the country to obtain broad national access and exposure but with appropriate guidance from high school coaches, teachers and advisors that focuses on both their academic and athletic opportunities as they decide where they will play college football.

DUI charge against Vols’ Charles Mosley dropped

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Sometimes, most times, a college football player will see the charges he was initially facing drastically reduces.  Very rarely are the charges dropped entirely, yet that’s where the situation involving a Tennessee Volunteer currently stands.

In late July, Charles Mosley was arrested following a traffic stop and charged with first-offense driving under the influence and speeding.  Fast-forward nine months and, the Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting, both of those charges have been dismissed.  The dismissal came after a preliminary hearing earlier today.

The initial traffic stop was initiated because Mosley was clocked doing 79 in a 55 mph zone.  The arresting officer smelled the odor of marijuana as he approached the vehicle; Mosley claimed he had been at a hotel with friends a short time earlier and they were smoking weed (the second-hand smell defense).  That said, marijuana residue was found in the passenger seat next to Mosley as well as his backseat, and the offensive lineman performed poorly on a field sobriety test.

Mosley had submitted to a drug test, but, the News Sentinel writes, “Mosley’s attorney Steve Oberman said the case was dismissed because the state failed to establish probable cause to arrest” his client.

“The arresting officer believed he had sufficient grounds to arrest Mr. Mosley,” Oberman told the paper. “The proof presented today in court was insufficient to send the case to the grand jury. … Mr. Mosley and I are thrilled to have the case concluded in such a favorable fashion.”

The proof presented in court wasn’t detailed.

After “internal discipline” from head coach Butch Jones, Mosley appeared in 12 games for the Vols in 2015.  He exited spring practice this year as a second-team offensive lineman.

In July of 2014, Mosley was involved in a car wreck the Tennessee Highway Patrol deemed serious enough that the 2014 UT signee was said to be “lucky to be alive.” The lineman sustained a broken leg in the accident, one in which he was a passenger in a vehicle that was being driven by a family member.

Because of the injury, he missed the entire 2014 season and was limited during spring practice earlier that year.

Bob Stoops ‘not relying on’ QB Cody Thomas returning to Sooners

NORMAN, OK - DECEMBER 6:  Quarterback Cody Thomas #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to throw against the Oklahoma State Cowboys December 6, 2014 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Sooners 38-35 in overtime.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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It appears Oklahoma will head into the summer and on into camp relatively thin at the quarterback position.

In January of this year, Cody Thomas announced that he had decided to leave the Sooners’ football team for OU’s baseball team.  There have been rumblings that Thomas, who started three games in 2014 but saw his playing time decrease dramatically in 2015, could return to the football team for the fall.

During a radio interview Thursday, Thomas’ former head coach essentially quashed such speculation.

“That hasn’t been talked about. I don’t think so. That isn’t something that we’ve talked about at all,” Bob Stoops told The Sports Animal by way of Tulsa World. “(Thomas’ return) isn’t something that we’re relying on.”

Baker Mayfield will enter the 2015 season firmly entrenched as the starter, and his name will likely litter preseason Heisman lists coming off a season that many felt should’ve earned him finalist recognition for the award.  Thomas served as Mayfield’s backup in 2015, and was expected to assume the same role in 2016.

Instead, that responsibility will likely fall on the shoulders of Austin Kendall, a true freshman early enrollee who very much impressed Stoops this spring.

“I really loved what Austin Kendall did,” Stoops said in same interview. “As a young guy, he was exceptional. I was really excited about that as a true freshman right out of high school.

“To play the whole spring – not just one day – the way he did was really exciting for everybody.”

The only other quarterbacks on the roster are Kyler Murray, Reece Clark and Connor McGinnis.  Murray is a transfer from Texas A&M who’s ineligible to play this season, while Clark and McGinnis, both redshirt freshmen, will likely settle in as the No. 3 quarterback, with the latter walk-on the favorite entering summer for that job.