Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Lots of skepticism about Lyles, Oregon
By Ted Miller
Here's some reaction to Oregon's release of documents on Monday that seem to fall woefully short of $25,000 worth of recruiting information paid to Willie Lyles.
- Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples, "The Price is Wrong, Ducks." Writes Staples: "If [coach Chip] Kelly or any of his coaches tried to pass off the booklet released Monday as legitimate, NCAA investigators might consider that a fib on the level of, say, claiming a recruit wasn't at a cookout at a coach's house when he actually was or, possibly, conveniently forgetting to mention that series of e-mails about the tattoo parlor. Ask former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel how those fibs turned out for them."
- Writes Doc Saturday: "If this sounds too stupid to believe, well, that's because it probably is. The merely unflattering explanation is that Oregon was ripped off by a con man who stuck the Ducks with a shoddy product — embarrassing, maybe, but there's no NCAA rule against being gullible. The more cynical assumption is the same as it was when Lyles' name first slithered up from the gutter of the recruiting trail in the spring: That Oregon found a loophole in the system that allowed it to 'legally' funnel money to a middle man (Lyles) in exchange for access to certain recruits it already knew more than enough about."
- Ken Goe of The Oregonian, "Documents released Monday by the University of Oregon raise more questions than they answer about the football program's association with a controversial scouting service."
- The Eugene Register-Guard notes that one of the players on the list played against the Ducks -- and for Auburn -- in the national title game.
The guess here is many Ducks fans are slapping their foreheads to distract themselves from a sinking feeling in their gut. Others are shaking their fists at the messengers, because they really don't like what the message suggests.
The issue is fairly simple: Can Oregon sit in front of the NCAA and claim it got something of reasonable value from Lyles, who is known as a "street agent" by folks who speak ill of him. It doesn't have to be $25,000 worth of recruiting info. Oregon has a right to get ripped off. But there has to be at least an iota of legitimacy.
Otherwise, the Ducks could face some significant NCAA issues, even if the rules governing scouting services are murky.
There perhaps is space here for an explanation. Maybe Lyles was light on the book evaluations, heavy on the video, which hasn't been made available to the media. And if you don't hear from an Oregon spokesman immediately, that doesn't necessarily mean the Ducks are sunk. The process of an NCAA investigation typically yields information only begrudgingly.
Still, behind the yuck-yucks from reporters over the absurdity of Monday's revelations, there lies the potential for real consequences for a program that had stepped firmly into the void atop the Pac-12 after USC's tumble.