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Friday, July 22, 2011
Les Miles: Recruiting video a must-have news services

LSU coach Les Miles says video purchased as part of a controversial scouting package was necessary so he could see potential players in action.

Miles, speaking in the wake of an NCAA ruling that resulted in a one-year probation of the Tigers and amid questions centering on the recruiting services, said contrary to an ESPN "Outside the Lines" report, video received as part of the package was of value.

"What I need to have is film," Miles said Thursday, according to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. "Because we make all the decisions ourselves on whether the guy's good enough to play, nobody else. As long as they give us the video, that's all we really need."

Zach Mettenberger
Les Miles says a recruiting service held value thanks partly to video of Zach Mettenberger, a junior college quarterback who has played for Georgia and committed to LSU in December.

An ESPN review of video-scouting reports purchased by LSU last fall from talent scout Willie Lyles found they contained 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 the video footage obtained through a public-records request concluded the information likely would be of little use during the recruiting process.

But Miles countered the report, saying thanks partly to video of a junior college quarterback who has played for Georgia and who committed to LSU in December that the service played a role in his recruiting efforts and wasn't worthless.

"The ones I saw on Zach Mettenberger, they weren't," Miles, talking during a promotional tour stop in Covington, La., said of the junior college transfer to-be. "I can't tell you that I saw that it was exactly from Lyles' database. For me, I require that the country's covered, and I require that I can watch film and that I can see the guys we're going to recruit. As long as that's done, I'm pretty happy about it."

The Mettenberger footage originated from Digital Sports Video, though the college recruiting arm of the company has said it was unaware its 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," Player Direct national sales manager Richard Davis told ESPN for the "Outside the Lines" report. "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.

Meanwhile, a recently concluded NCAA investigation found that former LSU assistant coach D.J. McCarthy improperly arranged for transportation and housing for former junior college player Akiem Hicks in 2009 before later trying to cover up those actions.

The infractions were considered major violations, and the school was placed on probation for a year and McCarthy was cited for unethical conduct in a ruling handed down Tuesday.

Miles said that even amid the NCAA probe, the questions surrounding the recruiting services have not been an added source of stress because LSU was not in the wrong on that count, The Times-Picayune reported.

"Certainly, it stands to reason that if all the athletes were mentioned went to other schools, there wasn't any secret deal to come to ours," Miles said, according to the newspaper. "So you'd have to think we paid for the film, nothing else."

In addition to the probation, the NCAA accepted LSU's self-imposed reduction of two scholarships during the 2010-11 academic year, as well as a 10 percent reduction in official visits and reductions in recruiting calls. LSU had already begun reducing official visits during 2010-11, but the NCAA expanded the punishment to include 2011-12.

Miles said he didn't expect more penalties.

"I think what we did was exactly right," Miles said. "Mistakes were made. We removed the mistakes. We paid a tremendous price. We lost the use of the scholarship. We lost recruits because of it. It was a very significant burden. It was the correct thing for the NCAA to not add anything else because we already lost. ... I can't imagine that anybody could see where we took an advantage."

Information from ESPN's Kelly Naqi and The Associated Press was used in this report.