LaMichael James, James Dockery

Willie Lyles meets with NCAA to discuss relationship with Oregon


Willie Lyles, owner of the Houston-based Complete Scouting Services, reportedly met with the NCAA today to discuss his business relationship with the University of Oregon, a source close to the situation has confirmed to the Eugene Register-Guard.

Lyles was featured on a podcast earlier today with Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel in which Lyles told Wetzel he was meeting with NCAA investigators.

Lyles said it was the second such meeting with the NCAA, the first being in May when he was, by his own account, interviewed “for six hours”.

The specifics of the NCAA’s agenda earlier today is still unknown, but the heart of their investigation into Oregon’s football program surrounds the suspicion that Lyles steered certain recruits — namely, running backs Laches Seastrunk (now at Baylor) and LaMichael James — to sign with the Ducks in exchange for financial compensation from the school.

Both Lyles and Oregon have denied that Lyles “steered” recruits.

But when UO released scouting information provided by Lyles — known as a “2011 National Package” — that was shown to contain no recruits for that year’s class, it caught the attention of the national media. Likewise, the school’s $25,000 invoice for the useless information caught the attention of the NCAA.

Lyles has previously stated to Yahoo! that Oregon paid that amount for his “access and influence with recruits” and that he “scrambled” to put together the aforementioned national package.

From the July 1 interview:

“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.”

Lyles told Wetzel in the most recent podcast that he provided both outdated and legitimate information to his clients, with most of the useful information reportedly being verbal.

From the Register-Guard:

“He also talked about his $6,000 transaction with LSU, ostensibly for a junior college scouting package for the states of California and Kansas. Lyles said he provided LSU instead with information on Texas high school recruits, and that the junior-college package was a way for LSU to skirt a rule about purchasing only one package per state.”

Oregon, LSU and Cal are all clients of Lyles; the former two have been under the most scrutiny for their business connection to Lyles. Incidentally, the two are playing each other this Saturday in an opening-weekend top-five matchup that many have dubbed “The Lyles Bowl”.

While there’s no bylaw against a bad business relationship with a scouting service, there are questions if Oregon bent the rules of allowable recruiting practices — and if so, by how much.

That’s for the NCAA to decide; Oregon and coach Chip Kelly have maintained throughout the investigation that they have done nothing wrong.


Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

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Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

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It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

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Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.