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Aggies were asked to pay for top player

3/31/2011

Patrick Peterson won the Thorpe Award last year as the nation's best defensive back and currently sits atop Mel Kiper's Big Board as the best prospect for the upcoming NFL draft.

He could have played for Texas A&M -- for a price.

According to a report by colleague Kelli Naqi, a Texas football trainer under scrutiny for his practices while running a recruiting service, asked Texas A&M for money to secure Peterson's commitment to the Aggies in 2007.

From the story:

Van Malone, the former defensive secondary coach at Texas A&M, told ESPN that [Will] Lyles phoned him in 2007 after Peterson had visited the College Station campus.

"A few days after the kid's visit, Will calls and says, 'If you want this kid, there are other schools that want this kids as well. They're willing to pay a certain amount of money, around the $80,000 mark,'" Malone said. "He said that was something we were going to have to beat as a university to be able to obtain the services of this kid."

Peterson originally committed to Miami before playing out his career at LSU, who coincidentally beat Texas A&M in last year's Cotton Bowl, but Malone, now at Tulsa, told Lyles that Texas A&M doesn't pay for players.

Lyles' services have been under scrutiny lately after a report surfaced that Oregon had paid $25,000 to a recruiting firm that employs Lyles. Subsequently, Lache Seastrunk, a running back from Temple, Texas, signed with the Ducks.

Malone chose not to tell then-coach Dennis Franchione or anyone else at Texas A&M about the request from Lyles.

"A Texas A&M spokesman said the university was unaware of Malone's comments about Lyles. Malone said he never told then-Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione about Lyles request because he planned to continue to recruit Peterson without going through Lyles."

Telling Lyles no? Good decision, clearly. Not telling compliance or any other Texas A&M higher-ups about the proposition? Not a good decision. The pressure every coach feels to succeed, especially that which Franchione and his staff felt in their fifth year of an unremarkable run at Texas A&M, combined with Peterson's clear potential make it obvious why the Aggies continued to recruit him, but letting an overt bribe like that go unreported isn't what any university wants to read.

In cases like this, schools would rather not have their name come up in anything revolving around Lyles. There's been plenty of smoke surrounding his services lately, and now, it looks like at least a little bit has crossed over into Big 12 country.

It should be interesting to see what else emerges from Lyles and his relationships and interactions with others across the league.

Franchione resigned from his post at Texas A&M in 2007 after five seasons coaching the Aggies. He was 32-28 overall and 19-21 in Big 12 play.

He hadn't been a head coach anywhere since, but was hired by Texas State in January 2011.