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.

Louisville transfer reverses course after Bobby Petrino was fired, will remain with Cardinals

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The Bobby Petrino Era, y’all!

Last week, it was reported that Russ Yeast had decided to leave the Louisville football program and transfer to an undetermined elsewhere.  Sunday, the university announced that Petrino has been fired as the Cardinals’ head football coach.

Those two stories are intertwined as, in the wake of Petrino’s dismissal, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Yeast has reversed course on his transfer and will remain with the team.

In fact, the Courier-Journal wrote, “the sophomore cornerback was back with the Cards for team meetings on Sunday night and is expected to practice this week.”

Yeast, the son of former Kentucky wide receiver Craig Yeast, started seven games in 2017 due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. He had played in nine games this season, with zero starts, prior to what turned out to be a brief sabbatical.

A three-star member of the Cardinals’ 2017 recruiting class, Yeast was rated as the No. 33 cornerback in the country and the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Indiana. Only two signees in the U of L’s class that year (safety CJ Avery, running back Colin Wilson) were rated higher.

Oklahoma dismisses OL Tramonda Moore

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Another day, another college football player has seen the wrong end of his head coach’s boot.

On that front, Oklahoma confirmed Tuesday that Tramonda Moore has been dismissed from Lincoln Riley‘s football program.  The only reason given was the standard unspecified violations of team rules.

Moore had originally signed with Bedlam rival Oklahoma State in 2016 but didn’t qualify academically with the school and was forced to go the junior college route.  After a couple of years at Independent Community College in Kansas, the offensive lineman transferred to OU over the summer.

Through 10 games, Moore hadn’t played a down for the Sooners.

Moore was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Oklahoma City and was rated as the No. 1 player at any position in the state of Oklahoma in 2016. He was a four-star JUCO prospect as well, rated by 247Sports.com on its composite board as the No. 4 recruit overall at that level in 2018.

All-American Ed Oliver to miss fourth straight game for Houston

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At least this week there won’t be any pre-kickoff drama.

Because of an injury suffered to his right knee in the Week 8 win over Navy, Ed Oliver has missed the past three games as he works through the issue.  With a key AAC West matchup with Tulane looming Thursday night, head coach Major Applewhite confirmed Tuesday that the standout defensive lineman will be sidelined for the Green Wave game because of the same injury issue.

Double-teamed most times — and even triple-teamed on occasion — Oliver was held sack-less through the first six games of this season.  The last two in which he played, however, he was credited with three — two against East Carolina, one against Navy.

In March of this year, Oliver announced that the 2018 season would be his last at the collegiate level as he will leave the Cougars early and make himself available for the 2019 NFL draft, where he is widely projected to be a Top Five selection at worst.

After a consensus Freshman All-American season that saw him land on numerous first-team All-American squads, Oliver was a consensus All-American in a 2017 season that saw him become the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy in the 70-year history of the award.

In his first two seasons with the Cougars, the 6-3, 290-pound Oliver had totaled 39.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.  In addition to the three sacks, Oliver has 13.5 tackles for loss this season; his 1.9 tackles for loss were tied for third nationally prior to his injury.

At 4-2, Houston is currently tied for first place in the AAC West with SMU and Tulane.  Houston has already lost to SMU this season, while they’ll face Memphis in the regular-season finale.  Whether Oliver will (or should) play in that game, or any other for the Cougars for that matter, remains to be seen.

Michigan State staying mum on starting QB

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Brian Lewerke or Rocky Lombardi? Stay tuned to find out.

Lewerke, the starter for most of the last two seasons, has been working his way through an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. His streak of 20 straight starts was snapped last month because of the injury as Lombardi took over in the win over Purdue, although Lewerke returned to start the last two games.

In that last game, a loss to Ohio State, Lewerke struggled mightily (again), leading to questions as to just who will get the starting nod this Saturday against Nebraska. Posed that very question, Mark Dantonio declined to give any indication as to which direction he may be leaning.

“We make decisions and as we go forward those decisions become complicated at times, but we do the very best we can and everybody’s involved,” the head coach said by way of mlive.com. “I don’t really think it’s in this team’s best interest to air those decisions prior to football games. I think that’s something that needs to be kept in-house for everybody’s best benefits.”

Prior to suffering the injury in the Oct. 13 win over Penn State, Lewerke was completing 60 percent of his passes. Since then, he’s completing just 35 percent.

In his lone start, Lombardi went 26-of-46 for 318 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.