Video bought by LSU is old, low quality

Updated: July 21, 2011, 12:48 PM ET
By Kelly Naqi | ESPN

An "Outside the Lines" review of video scouting reports purchased by the LSU football program last fall from talent scout Willie Lyles has found they contain highlights of players who already were playing Division I football at other programs and poor-quality, full-game shoots that did not isolate or identify any players at all.

The analysis of video footage obtained by "Outside the Lines" through a public-records request concludes that the information likely would be of little use during the recruiting process.

Some of the clips did identify and show current junior college players who could be recruited, but some of the highlight packages appear to have been used without permission from online sports-video companies that assembled them, and at least four players' clips can be found on public video sites such as YouTube.

As part of the records request that LSU fulfilled last week, "Outside the Lines" received copies of the 32 DVDs Lyles sent to LSU last fall in exchange for a $6,000 payment. LSU officials acknowledged July 14 that NCAA investigators have spoken with several members of their football coaching staff about the payment to Lyles' now-defunct Texas-based Complete Scouting Services.

Lyles' recruiting service became publicly known in March after he was paid $25,000 by the University of Oregon shortly after a high school player he had a close relationship with -- highly touted running back Lache Seastrunk from Temple, Texas -- signed with the Ducks.

Lyles told Yahoo! Sports this month that Oregon coach Chip Kelly asked him to submit retroactive player profiles to Oregon in February, shortly before Yahoo! and ESPN broke the story about the payment made to Lyles. The NCAA is currently investigating Oregon.

Lyles did not respond to an "Outside the Lines" request for comment on this story.

Records show that Lyles invoiced LSU for $6,000 in December for his video reports. According to an LSU news release last week, the package LSU received included "typewritten material (consisting) of 91 pages of roster-type information ... pertaining to prospects that had finished junior college in 2009-10 and had already enrolled in a four-year college by the time LSU received the materials" as well as "video footage" that it deemed "was sufficient for its evaluation purposes."

Herb Vincent, LSU's associate vice chancellor for communications and senior associate athletic director, said in an email to ESPN July 14 that "LSU began receiving materials in early October 2010 according to our coaches. Our computer records show that much of the video from the DVDs were loaded into LSU's recruiting evaluation system by mid-November 2010."

When asked for further clarification, including which teams were playing, which players Lyles targeted for the school to evaluate and what date or year the clips were from, Vincent wrote: "I do not have this information and cannot provide this information at this time."

The "Outside the Lines" review of the video reports in Lyles' "2010 JUCO per State Package ... Game Film from California and Kansas Junior Colleges" shows some discs contain chunks of games that were of poor video quality -- some dating to 2007 -- with no information about specific players on them.

Four of the discs contain video of players that was publicly available on YouTube at the time LSU says it first began receiving video from CSS; one disc contains clips of nine players identical to video on scout.com; and two discs contain highlight packages from online sports video companies.

Footage from Digital Sports Video of Zach Mettenberger -- the former Georgia quarterback who committed to LSU in December -- also was sent to LSU by Lyles.

Richard Davis, national sales manager of Player Direct, the college recruiting arm of Digital Sports Video, said he was unaware his company's footage had been used by Lyles, who was not a client of the site.

"We had suspected some recruiting services got to our (video) library," Davis said. "We are a password-protected site."

Davis said his company has footage of 60,000 high school games on the site's server, and colleges pay up to $25,000 for access to the footage.

He said he recently has made some security adjustments to the site to prevent "third-party influences" from continuing to obtain access to it illegally.

"As Oregon shows, one mistake, the whole third-party process comes under scrutiny -- and it should," Davis said. "I don't like to see kids and their parents misled and taken advantage of."

Other video clips show two players who were already enrolled at other universities: Caleb Evans, a defensive end at Arkansas since fall 2009, and wide receiver Coleman Edmond, who played six games at Cal last season.

Video of offensive lineman Jordan Allred -- who already had signed with Kansas State in April -- also was supplied. Defensive end Joel Bonomolo, who committed to Auburn in July 2009 and didn't play last season, was highlighted on another disc.

And footage of defensive lineman Harrison Wilfley, who didn't have enough credits to graduate from American River College in 2009 and has been on a Mormon mission in Uruguay since March, also was supplied to LSU by Lyles.

Kelly Naqi is a reporter in ESPN's Enterprise Unit. Andy Lockett and Carolyn Hong, producers in the same unit, contributed to this report.

Kelly Naqi joined ESPN in September 1987, and is currently one of two full-time reporters assigned to the Emmy award-winning series Outside the Lines. Kelly also contributes to ESPNEWS and other ESPN news-gathering programs, including SportsCenter, NFL Tonight and Baseball Tonight. She is a native of Rumford, R.I., and graduated from Boston College with a bachelor of arts in philosophy.

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