A consistent complaint from Oregon fans amid the Willie Lyles, NCAA, "what did the Ducks' $25,000 pay for?" brouhaha is this: Lache Seastrunk is a good guy and the media is treating him unfairly.
An article in the Oregon Daily Emerald -- the student newspaper -- gave a positive, first-hand account of taking a class with Seastrunk.
No matter how indirectly, I observed and listened to a lot of the things he had to say, and was not only impressed, but also taken back by the amount of emotion he was willing to show in a room filled with more than 150 of his peers.
When and where are we ever going to get Lache’s side of the story? At what point to we stop dragging his name through the mud on the coattails of Lyles?
(In answer to the first question, we can't get Lache's side because he's not allowed to speak on the matter).
A blogger and Oregon fan has done his own leg work, talking to Seastrunk's family and a counselor, Deanna Carter, the primary purpose of which was to question the primacy of the role Lyles played in Seastrunk's recruitment by Oregon.
Not sure if it will prove relevant to the NCAA, but it provides some background on Seastrunk's recruitment.
We live in interesting times in the information business. Frustrating times, too. Written pieces are often Rorschach tests. The content of what is actually there in the text is often not what readers take away. One of the aspects of interactivity with this blog is how often I read in the comments section -- or in my mailbag -- that I wrote something that I actually didn't write. Or even ever think.
First, I do not know Seastrunk, but from what I've heard -- and read -- he's a sincere young man working hard to make his way in the world just like the rest of us. So, yes, he seems like a good guy.
Now, can anyone produce a single line from a story from a reputable source that suggested otherwise? Has any story suggested he is a villain in this still fluid narrative? It has never been implied that he had his hand out, that he took extra benefits. The worst you could say is he perhaps showed bad judgement by allowing Lyles to enter his life. But we don't really know yet how to define how bad that judgment was because we still don't have all the facts. If Seastrunk and those close to him feel they are victims of guilt by association, that's understandable. That's always a potential cost of entering the public eye, which happens when young men play big-time college football.
All I can say to that: This too shall pass. Eventually.
As strange as it might sound, this story is not really about Seastrunk, other than the fact that his ability to avoid people trying to tackle him made him an object of interest for various parties. Further, it's not really about his family situation or the good intentioned people who tried to help him in his life.
The story -- the NCAA story -- is about Willie Lyles and what Oregon got from him for $25,000. It's about how Oregon explains itself -- how Chip Kelly explains himself -- and how the NCAA interprets that position within vague rules that appear to contain more than a few loopholes.
Anyone telling you they know the endgame is fibbing. Oregon has yet to receive an official letter of inquiry, so we don't even know the specifics of the case as defined by the NCAA.
Oregon's fans, Oregon's coaches and Oregon's players are eager for this story, this narrative, to change, to be about football. I get that.
But until a black and white resolution -- as if that really ever exists with the NCAA -- is presented, Le Affair de Willie Lyles will hover over Oregon's 2011 season like a gray cloud, the shape of which everyone will see something different.