Willie Lyles meets with NCAA to discuss relationship with Oregon

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Lyles told Wetzel in the most recent podcast that he provided both outdated and legitimate information to his clients, with most of the useful information reportedly being verbal.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

 

Because of neck injury, Texas A&M RB Vernon Jackson ‘will probably never play again’

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The tumult Texas A&M has experienced in its backfield the past several months has taken yet another negative twist.

In April, Texas A&M’s Vernon Jackson posted on social media that he had “suffered a neck injury in practice… [that] could keep me from ever playing again.” Three months later, A&M would only confirm that the running back would be sidelined for the entire 2019 season because of the injury.

Wednesday night on his weekly radio show, Jimbo Fisher acknowledged that, because of the injury, “Vernon will probably never play again.” The specific nature of the neck issue has never been divulged.

According to the head coach, Jackson will remain on a medical scholarship and serve as a student coach with the football program.

“He wanted to be in coaching,” Fisher said according to the Dallas Morning News. “He’s a tremendous human being. We wanted him to be a part of our team. He’s become a student coach and learning all the things you got to be to do that.”

Jackson was a four-star member of the Aggies’ 2018 recruiting class.  As a true freshman, he appeared in 12 games, carrying the ball seven times for 49 yards.

The situation around Jackson, as well as a couple of other developments, has left the Aggies with just three healthy running backs heading into Week 4.

Starter Jashaun Corbin, who posted his first career 100-yard game in the 2019 opener, is out for the season after suffering a hamstring injury in the Week 2 loss to Clemson.  This week, Deneric Prince opted to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Isaiah Spiller‘s 246 yards (on just 28 carries) currently leads the Aggies.  His 8.8 yards per carry is seventh nationally among all players with at least 25 rushing attempts.

Braylon Edwards: Michigan ‘light years behind Ohio State’ right now

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There is some breaking news, y’all.

To say that Ohio State has owned the greatest rivalry in all of sports of late would be an understatement of mammoth proportions, with Michigan losing each of the last seven editions of The Game.  Taking it back further, the Buckeyes have won 14 of the last 15 and 16 of the last 18.

Throughout the offseason, and as OSU is in its first year of the post-Urban Meyer era, there’s has been many a discussion that this is the season that, finally, the Wolverines get over that Buckeye hump.  Michigan, though, has hardly looked the part thus far — they nearly lost to Army in the Big House in double overtime — while Ohio State has outscored its opponents 138-31 in starting 3-0 and still looks like the class of the Big Ten.

Enter Braylon Edwards, the former U-M receiving great who has never in the past been shy about criticizing his alma mater when he feels it’s warranted.  During a radio appearance this week, Edwards laid out his unvarnished opinion on how the Wolverines stand in comparison to their hated rivals.

“Falling [behind OSU]? We fell,” Edwards said by way of USA Today. “It’s past tense. We’re light years behind Ohio State right now.”

Edwards also had stern words for how the Wolverines approach The Game compared to the Buckeyes.

My biggest concern, if I’m being honest. Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year, [OSU is] breathing, living, hating – they can’t even say our name. They hate us so much. When they go into that game, that’s that old-school, 1960s football, Friday Night Lights in Texas – that’s the atmosphere. That’s what they bring to the table when they play us. You can feel it on them. You can almost smell the hate when you play against them.

… You approach certain teams differently. We got to start approaching that game from the standpoint that they do. I feel like when we go into that game, you’re looking at two different preparation systems.

The latest edition of The Game will be played Nov. 30 in Ann Arbor.  If U-M were to lose that game, the heat underneath Jim Harbaugh‘s seat, regardless of the record the first 11 games, will be cranked up exponentially.

Nick Saban says Alabama’s highest-rated 2019 signee has ‘basically quit’ the team

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I guess it’s time to close the books on this little mini-soap opera, at least for now.

Antonio Alfano was suspended for unspecified reasons and didn’t dress for Alabama’s Week 2 home opener against New Mexico State.  Last week, Nick Saban added a bit of mystery to Alfano’s status when he stated that the highly-touted defensive lineman has “kind of disappeared a little bit” before launching into an oral dissertation about failing to confront and learn from one’s mistakes.

On Twitter nearly a week ago, Alfano’s parents stated that, in large part because of an ailing grandmother, their son “has not attended classes or practices” for an unspecified period of time.  Against their wishes, the parents also confirmed that Alfano has entered the NCAA transfer database.

Wednesday, Saban offered up an update in which the head coach, very bluntly, stated that the defensive lineman has basically quit the team as he hasn’t shown up for football-related activities, classes or counseling for unspecified issues.  The player isn’t responding to attempts by the team to contact him, either, Saban added.

With his name in the transfer database, other schools can contact Alfano without receiving permission from Alabama.  The true freshman also, as the parents alluded to in their social media posts last week, can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Crimson Tide.

During summer camp, Alfano missed a couple of practices for what were described as personal reasons but ultimately returned to the team.  Even before the suspension, the lineman didn’t play in the season opener against Duke.

A five-star 2019 signee, Alfano was rated as the No. 1 strongside defensive end in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 5 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was the highest-rated Crimson Tide signee during this most recent cycle.

Oklahoma State’s Blake Barron opts to enter transfer database

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Another morning, another portal post to start the day.

The latest to see a personnel loss is Oklahoma State, with Blake Barron announcing on Twitter earlier this week that he has decided to leave the OSU football program.  Said Barron, “This has been the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life.”

“I am forever grateful for the [life-changing] opportunity that the OSU football program has provided for me,” Barron wrote, adding, “Thank you Oklahoma State for everything, I wish the university and football program nothing but the best.”

The redshirt freshman linebacker gave no specific reason for his departure, saying only that he feels it’s in his “best interest.”

While OSU has yet to publicly address Barron’s departure, his bio is no longer available of the program’s official website.

The Rockwall, Tex., native was a three-star member of the Cowboys’ 2018 recruiting class.  A knee injury Barron sustained prior to the 2018 season kicking off sidelined for the entire year.  This season, a healthy Barron hadn’t seen the field at all.