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Lyles told Wetzel in the most recent podcast that he provided both outdated and legitimate information to his clients, with most of the useful information reportedly being verbal.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

 

Report: Baylor LB DeMarco Artis, WR Rajah Preciado leave team

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Baylor linebacker DeMarco Artis and wide receiver Rajah Preciado have left the team, according to a report from SicEm365The site reports that the pair leave the program on good terms; both players are still on the online roster as well as the paper roster that was distributed at Big 12 media days on Monday.

Artis was a rising sophomore from Sanford, Fla. He appeared in six games as a true freshman in 2017, recording one tackle and one hurry.

Preciado was a junior from College Station, Texas. Appearing in 18 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons, Preciado did not record a catch but posted 14 career tackles and returned one kickoff for 10 yards.

 

 

Former Ohio State defensive MVP Mike Kudla passes away

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Former Ohio State defensive end Mike Kudla passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, according to a Facebook post from his high school alma mater, Highland High School in Medina, Ohio. Kudla was 34.

Kudla signed with Ohio State in 2002 and immediately helped the Buckeyes to their first national championship since 1968. He would go on to become one of the top 15 sack artists in Ohio State history, a First Team All-Big Ten performer and Ohio State’s defensive MVP in 2005. He recorded 41 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks.

Kudla worked in business after football and eventually returned to Ohio State in 2012 as managing director of development for the Fisher College of Business. At the time of his death, Kudla worked as the owner of Core Plex, which “built medical facilities all over the country.”

“Despite his success on and off the football field, Mike remained humble and was extremely generous with his time and resources,” Highland school district director of communications Dawn Marzano wrote in the Facebook post. “He was always willing to share his experience and mentor youth. He was loved and respected by many and will be missed terribly.”

Lincoln Riley suggests there is a competition for QB that nobody should believe

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It’s a standard procedure for a head coach to suggest there is an open competition for any number of positions on a football team, but nobody seems to be buying the idea there is a competition at Oklahoma to replace Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. And when one of the players supposedly in the running for the job has a lucrative baseball career on the table, the idea is a little more comical.

Kyler Murray was drafted by the Oakland A’s with the No. 9 overall pick in the recent amateur MLB amateur draft. His contract with the A’s guarantees him $5 million and still allows for him to play one more year of football, which Murray has stated is his plan at Oklahoma. Still, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley addressed the quarterback situation at Big 12 media days on Monday and suggested Murray will have to win the job against redshirt sophomore Austin Kendall.

“Kyler’s not the quarterback yet,” Riley said when asked how the offense will change with Riley at the position following the departure of No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Mayfield to Cleveland. “There’s a really good competition going on and Kyler’s gonna have to fight like crazy to win this job.”

Sure. OK. Whatever you say, Riley.

It is worth noting Murray appeared in seven games for the Sooners last season with 18-of-21 for 359 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in backup duty for Mayfield. Kendall redshirted last season and was named one of the team’s Offensive Scout Team Players of the Year. Kendall did make appearances in two games in 2016 in a back-up role. While Kendall may have a bright future in Norman, few are willing to accept Oklahoma is welcoming back Murray to potentially be a back-up quarterback when he could jump right into his pro baseball career right now.

But this could just be nothing more than the latest example of a coach simply setting the tone for the offseason and holding the bar high for even the most talented of players on the roster. Riley may be blowing smoke, but it could also pay off in the long run of the 2018 season.

Tennessee DL Ryan Thaxton suspended, charged with domestic assault

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Tennessee defensive lineman Ryan Thaxton has been suspended by the football program after being arrested and charged for an alleged domestic assault of his girlfriend. The incident leading to the arrest and charge occurred over the weekend.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Thaxton was arrested Sunday night and charged with domestic assault and false imprisonment. According to police records, Thaxton is accused of pushing his girlfriend to his dorm room while she refused to follow him. It is reported Thaxton than carried the unidentified woman to his dorm room and blocked the door so she could not leave as an argument continued inside the room.

“We are aware of the incident,” a statement from Tennessee read. “The student-athlete has been suspended from all team activities while law enforcement and the university investigates.”

Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt is scheduled to address the media at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.