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

Wounded Duck

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.

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26 Responses to “Will Lyles: Oregon ‘paid for… my access and influence with recruits’”
  1. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Jul 1, 2011 2:47 PM

    Cue Ducks fans questioning the credibilty of everything, just as tOSU fans constantly did during the whole TP/Tressel thing.

    I say it’s Duck season, now shoot!!! You’re disssssssssspicable. Nice pic choice, JT

  2. swcoach says: Jul 1, 2011 2:52 PM

    Um, getting discounts for things and selling trinkets compared to buying players??? Which one is worse myopinionisright?

    No OSU fan questioned the credibility of the tattoos or Tressel cause OSU self reported this. All the info that came out, esp the SI story, after was all PROVEN wrong. This comes directly from the horses mouth… with written notes AND emails AND a check from Oregon itself! Not a booster!

    If Tressel gets fired and OSU gets run through the mud, the same better happen to Oregon as well cause paying players is 100 times worse and IS a competitive advantage.

  3. myopinionisrighterthanyours says: Jul 1, 2011 3:01 PM

    swcoach, you must be brand new around here if you think Buckeye fans on the site were refusing to take off their scarlet and grey colored glasses when the whole Tressel thing was going down. And it’s irrelevent as to which is worse. I actually agree that if true, the Oregon thing is worse. But they are both wrong.

    http://collegefootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/05/30/sports-illustrated-reveals-tressels-lengthy-dirty-history/

  4. soflatrojan says: Jul 1, 2011 3:02 PM

    Other than using mob type tactics I don’t see how Oregon survives. This is the most damaging information that has come to light in any of the recent investigations including Cam Newton. Illegally recruiting players is far worse than players receiving extra benefits while in school. This information is straight from the horse’s mouth.

    U of Zero is already being investigated in basketball this just assures them of LOIC. Now take your highlighter

  5. dkhhuey says: Jul 1, 2011 3:09 PM

    Excellent – now the pitchfork and torches crowd can vacate Columbus and start beating the weeds in Oregon for a bit.

  6. soflatrojan says: Jul 1, 2011 3:15 PM

    oops meant to say “take your highlighter socks and go home!!

  7. drummerhoff says: Jul 1, 2011 3:15 PM

    When can we expect Charles Robinson’s bombshell story about a “top 10-12 program” that will make the Ohio State story “look like an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10″?

  8. southernpatriots says: Jul 1, 2011 3:30 PM

    You can’t time these revelations, or at least we don’t think these were “timed” but we wish Oregon were at their best when they play us (LSU) at Jerry’s World in a couple of months, but with this, which is far worse than a smoking gun, it looks doubtful.

  9. bradentonbuc says: Jul 1, 2011 4:37 PM

    Explains a lot, if the slimeball can be believed.

  10. brownsfrown says: Jul 1, 2011 4:40 PM

    Nice!

  11. overratedgators says: Jul 1, 2011 5:30 PM

    Oregon’s president just released a statement regarding Kelly’s future: “Fire him? I just hope he doesn’t fire ME.”

  12. mb526 says: Jul 1, 2011 5:54 PM

    I think there is a lot of circus right now, around the allegations made by one man who feels that he’s been wronged. If you follow Lyles he’s changed his story a couple times. A week ago he was defending himself and his company on the radio claiming that Oregon received “a great service”. I know people are going to read into that statement, but when he was interviewed by the NCAA in May for 6 hours he did not talk about any of these allegations because “they didn’t come up”. You mean to tell me that in a 6 hour interview about his relationship to Oregon, that this stuff didn’t come up? Lyles is a dubious source, and I believe his “allegations” are being launched by a angry man who’s business is going down and seeks to take anyone he can with him. The evidence shown is that he had a relationship with UO, which he did, but the real damning things are what he himself is claiming. I say wait, and see how this pans out before rushing to crucify the Ducks.

  13. southernpatriots says: Jul 1, 2011 5:57 PM

    overratedgators: Now that is funny!

  14. pomanski says: Jul 1, 2011 5:57 PM

    @drummerhoff

    I heard the story is coming in august and its big, like half of the SEC big. Of coarse alot of what I hear is here on Columbus Ohio sports radio and most them are SEC haters so who knows how true it is.

    Its a long read but its woth it for the NON SEC fans.
    http://www.theclevelandfan.com/ohio-state-buckeyes/3-buckeye-archive/7274-the-fall-of-bobby-lowder-and-the-fallout-at-auburn

    This one too.

    http://www.teamspeedkills.com/2011/2/25/2014667/cam-newton-investigation-cecil-auburn-mississippi-state-john-bond

  15. frankbullit says: Jul 1, 2011 6:01 PM

    Take a look at NCAA rosters across all the BCS conferences: when one school starts stock-piling players from regions they’ve never scored(recruiting) big with previously, something is usually up. Its not even close to being ironic or coincidental that Ohio State and Oregon were the final two teams during the Terrell Pryor recruiting fiasco.

  16. frankbullit says: Jul 1, 2011 7:00 PM

    One last thought:

    “those questions may have been answered today in yet another outstanding investigative piece by Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo!.”

    Why is this an “outstanding” piece? The Press don’t know what they do. The game has always operated like this. Changing it could be “better” for the game? The last thing the game needs is a sanitizing overhaul. I like the game I’ve watched my whole life, and don’t want it to change. The press are shooting themselves in the foot.

  17. soflatrojan says: Jul 1, 2011 8:59 PM

    MB526,
    Yes Lyles is a slimeball but everyhting he says int he interview adds up. Plues if you read the article on Yahoo he has hand written letters from Chip Kelly and another coach. this is by far the biggest smoking gun I have seen in a few years. It’s already way more evidence then they had against McNair and USC. Plus throw in the basketball investigation and their ship is sinking!

    I would love to see them look into the recruitment of DeAnthony Thomas. Tons of stories circulated about why he ended up at OU and based on this report it seems pretty accurate.

  18. mike2347 says: Jul 1, 2011 10:25 PM

    yep,we can’t trust lyles story…but the crack ho and con who gave the putz winner from si his info is to be considered as true as if god himself passed it to him

  19. swcoach says: Jul 2, 2011 12:18 AM

    @frankbullit

    Your comment would’ve made sense if Ohio State never got any player from the state of Pennsylvania before (which many of their players are)… and if there was ever a pay for play scandal at OSU.

    Don’t you think with all the media in Columbus fishing for stuff they would’ve found something out if there was. The only thing they got right was stuff OSU originally reported to the NCAA then they fabricated everything else with the “anonymous sources” because people would believe it. Once real investigating started nothing was found.

  20. frankbullit says: Jul 2, 2011 12:44 AM

    @swcoach,

    Certain programs get reputations for being “player” friendly. Recruits hear about this, not just through the grapevine, they see it on visits. That being said, of course, I am not discounting that more was going behind the scenes with the Pryor recruiting than we were told or will ever find out. Relax, I’ve always respected OSU football, and I know very well they are part of the majority of winning teams in the NCAA for a reasons. OSU and UO didn’t do anything 99% of Top 20 don’t do. Players just got lazy and started talking. UO and OSU just got lazy and we all know how the old saying goes, “loose lips sink ships.”

  21. swcoach says: Jul 2, 2011 5:04 AM

    I respect that, but you can’t really be comparing what OSU did to what UO did? Paying large sums of money to have recruits actually come to your school vs getting discounts on tattoos and selling ones property?

    I think every big time school can be considered “player friendly” cause there are so many people with money around them. And I understand OSU had some players do some things wrong and the coach tried to keep it in house, but OSU is not as dirty as the media claimed it to be (like pay for play schemes). If so, we would’ve heard the proof don’t you think?

  22. frankbullit says: Jul 2, 2011 9:47 AM

    @swcoach,

    I don’t think OSU is any more “dirty” than anyother program, but like I previously stated, the players and coaches got to lazy. Hubris got in the way. I wish all the luck to OSU. NCAA football aint the same with traditional teams not in the mix. I am not a “homer” for any team, I just like the game: too bad alot of reporters and current players don’t respect it enough.

  23. hawkinsob says: Jul 2, 2011 1:50 PM

    swcoach, I’m going to disagree with you. I think its worse for players themselves to get paid in services, cars, cash, or anything of value than it is for a school to pay a recruiting service which provides some recruiting info and also “crosses the line” by telling a kid “hey, you should really go to school X because its a great school.” In the one case, players are paid, in the other case, they are not.

    All schools pay people large sums of money to lobby kids directly to come to their school (these people are coaches and assistant coaches, and they sit in living rooms and try to steer kids to their school and they are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for it). If paying some third party to do the same thing is against the rules, then the rule should be enforced in a consistent way, and Oregon (and a lot of other schools who spend way more for such “recruiting services”) should pay for it. But I think its a lot easier for people to understand why having a player or his family get flat out PAID (in money, free rent, deals on cars, etc.) makes a school “player friendly” in a prohibited way, than it is to understand why a school paying someone to verbally persuade a kid to sign with them is against the rules.

    Also, although I’m not an OSU fan, I’m certain that the same kind of things that happened at OSU happen at lots of schools, and those schools seem to go unpunished. The same is true with this “street agent” stuff. The NCAA needs to get way more consistent about investigating and punishing people for this stuff than they are if they want to change people’s practices.

  24. motherscratcher23 says: Jul 2, 2011 11:19 PM

    @hawkinsob – I think what is being implied here is NOT that Oregon payed a Lyle to help recruit players. In fact. I think that would be legal.

    what I think is being implied here is that Oregon essentially payed the player through Lyle. That is obviously different. And that is why Kelly wanted Lyle to give him something written, so that it looked like they were paying Lyle for some kind of service.

    That being said, after witnessing all of the false allegations that came out during the OSU investigation, I’m reserving judgement until the facts are in.

    My hope is that Oregon is ultimately cleared of this.

  25. dkhhuey says: Jul 3, 2011 10:49 PM

    Nike better start puckering up their backsides because I’m guessing the NCAA is going to bring an extra long thick microscope around that relationship when they get to town.

  26. t16rich says: Jul 4, 2011 1:12 PM

    Oregon. Get it together or your going to sink like USC or Ohio St. Your product on the field is great but your alumni must be getting sick of the off the field news your school generates. From the number of robberies commited by Duck players to this bullcrap recuitment. The Ducks suddenly can become an easy to hate team with all the negative attention.

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