Tag Archive: LaMichael James


…when the circle-the-wagons strategy clearly is not working and your reputation and brand equity are in serious jeopardy. What are the golden rules for Crisis Communications? Tell the truth. Tell it all. Tell it fast. And say what you are going to do about it…And most of all: Don’t even think about covering it up.

As a 21-year University of Oregon football season ticket holder, a member of the Duck Athletic Fund for just as many years and now as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, pursuing a master’s degree from the UO School of Journalism and Communication, I am not exactly an unbiased and dispassionate commentator. Let’s face it: I bleed emerald-green and lemon-yellow or whatever combination of hues the Ducks are wearing sporting the Nike logo on a given Saturday…or Thursday, Friday etc.

At the same time, I have also been engaged in some very serious crisis comms activities during the course of my three-decade career in public relations most notably California’s response to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco. I have dealt with more-than-my-fair share of chanting demonstrators, taunting political hacks, screaming reporters and editors to last a lifetime.

Now that I have made this necessary disclosure, I have to admit that these stories about Oregon and its relationship with Texas high-school football stud “mentor” Willie Lyles are very difficult to read particularly as both a passionate Oregon fan and as a communications choreographer.

The story of Oregon’s $25,000 payment to Lyles for recruiting services (some allege illegal contact with intensely recruited running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk) refuses to settle down. It’s time to make the call: This story has legs and the submerged submarine strategy is not working, and will not work.

It was revealed last week that the Oregon Athletic Department hired renowned sports attorney Mike Glazier, otherwise known as the “Cleaner.” He and his firm, the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, have reportedly counseled Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota and others in dealing with NCAA investigations and probes. Oregon is paying big billable hours in the face of the Willie Lyles caper.

And obviously if you are paying that kind of money to someone who knows something about the NCAA, it makes sense to listen to him and his colleagues. Having said that, the typical advice from attorneys is usually to shut down all public communications. After all, the NCAA and Pac-12 will ultimately decide Oregon’s fate, even if the university later decides to self-impose penalties. And for a while that strategy appeared to be working. If Oregon Sports Information Director Dave Williford has nothing new to say, the story gets boring. And if the story gets duller by the minute the media goes elsewhere for news.

That changed today with the publication by Yahoo Sports of its interview with Lyles, complete with personal notes to Lyles from Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly. Lyles is contending that Oregon frantically was asking for recruiting information…any information…to justify the payment for recruiting services…not for assistance in landing four-and-five star players.

The time has come for a change in strategy and the attorney will most likely counsel to the contrary. The highly compensated cleaner and his colleagues should have their say and be part of the process, but this story is not going away. If Oregon does not talk, others will continue to talk. Oregon’s reputation and brand are in play in this social media world just like equities on the NYSE and NASDAQ and they are going downward to the right. Sometimes you reach a point when the reputation damage is permanent. Oregon is not there…yet.

The public needs to see University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Coach Kelly together on the same stage. Oregon should not be hasty in making them available, but the appearance should be sooner-as-opposed to later. They should be well prepared including “hot box” sessions with very difficult questions posed in preparation. Kelly in particular needs to be coached (coaching the Coach?) to drop the smart-aleck one-liners and to provide complete answers to these questions. This is not a sideline interview with Erin Andrews.

If the truth is that Oregon paid Lyles to deliver Seastrunk and/or James or others, the university should own up to it. Don’t even think about following in the failed cover-up footsteps of Anthony Weiner, John Edwards or Arnold Schwarzenegger…the truth will win out.

If the truth is Oregon behaved properly but has an Autzen Stadium-sized perception problem, the Big Three should calmly and carefully walk the reporters, editors, and bloggers through their side of the story. We really have not heard Oregon’s side of the story, just Nixonian blanket statements that the department has not done anything wrong.

No one wants the media to drive the story and set the agenda. That may be true, but in this case the blood is already in the water and the hungry sharks are circling. There is nothing else really happening in college football in July and this is a big story.

And it is made bigger by blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the literally the millions of computers tied together by zillions of miles of fiber-optic cable.

As Mike Riley, the head coach of Oregon’s rival about 40 miles up the road from Eugene said recently about the loss of control in this new world of social media:

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…”In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” Oregon State Football Coach Mike Riley

Coach Riley’s words don’t just apply to football players.

 

 

What does an engineering student ask?

How can I build it?

What does a pre-med student ask?

How can I cure it?

What does a business student ask?

How can I finance it?

What a liberal arts student ask?

Would you like fries with that hamburger?

There are many variations of this particular joke, but as your mom taught you: Much truth is often spoken in jest.

Today was the last day of the spring term and the end of my first year of Graduate School. During the past 10 weeks, I took Strategic Management and was surrounded by (soon-to-be) MBA types.

What impressed me was their unrepentant, unrestrained and unabashed celebration of capitalism. How can we drive revenues? How can we promote growth? Is gross margin expanding or contracting? Should we be investing in this business or that business? How can we promote sustained profitability…Notice the question was not about the promotion of “sustainable” profitability.

And by the way, they think it is cool to make a profit.

adamsmith

The spirit of the father of modern economics and capitalism – Mr. Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith permeates the dialogue. This is exciting. It is a reflection that entrepreneurs, free markets, capitalism produce the products that we need; provide jobs; and make global societies better.

Golly gee, just call me old-fashioned. And how do you finance that?

And then for my other classes I walked about 100 yards or a long LaMichael James touchdown run into another world, the world of redistribution and social justice. Adam Smith would not be welcome here, but a lecture by Che Guevara would be packed to the rafters.

In this organic, sustainable, free-trade, shade-grown environment I found out that Communism didn’t work in Russia, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, North Korea and even Guevara’s Cuba because they were/are dictatorial governments. Otherwise, the system is just swell.

For some reason, virtually every class needs to ponder the works and deeds of Karl Marx. I miss him; oh I miss him so…

che

I learned from my classmates that Internet access is a basic human right, and should be provided free of charge to the proletariat regardless of the R&D and all other up-front costs incurred by those who had the courage and foresight to build the system. Semiconductors, software, connectivity devices, fiber optic lines…who cares? Intellectual property? Smitellectual Schroperty!

KFC? Boo hiss. Microsoft? Grrrr. Monsanto? Ugh. Wal-Mart? Arrgh. Starbucks? Smash their windows…And the list goes on and on and on. Have you ever met a happy activist?

It took about two quarters, but I was eventually labeled by a few as the class Republican. In fact, over adult beverages I was asked in the context of my party registration and annoying voting patterns, if I was an angry person…What? The answer is no and besides unlike so many of my colleagues, my biggest moment in life did not involve being arrested or fondly dreaming of some form of civil disobedience.

To some companies are just evil. I worked for 10 years for custom semiconductor innovator LSI Logic. It was founded by a guy who came to America with zero money. He had a dream. He grew this dream into a company with $1.8 billion in revenues, employing more than 4,000 highly skilled people and providing the key microchip for the first two generations of the Sony PlayStation. Is that evil? Should he give his hard-earned millions to someone who has never built a billion-dollar-plus business from the ground up? Is that fairness? Is that justice?

So…if the majority of jobs come from the private sector which group of people is going to be more in demand by employers? Those who know how to read a financial statement from the top line to the bottom line or those who wouldn’t know fiduciary responsibility if it bit them on the backside?

Today, we learned that the number of jobs barely grew in May and that unemployment jumped back to 9.1 percent nationally. I really hope there is a job market out there for those demanding redistributive social justice. Maybe it will be the expanding nanny state or maybe it will be a place that offers both onion rings as well as pommes frites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Che_Guevara

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43265008/

http://www.cnbc.com/id/43267992

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSI_Corporation

“Right now, it’s difficult to find many good reasons why the heading coaching position at Oregon would not be attractive. The school does lack tradition, but the Ducks have averaged 8.4 wins per season since 1994.” – Athlon Sports, “Coaching Jobs from First to Worst.” http://www.athlonsports.com/college-football

Make that 8.5 wins per season for Oregon since 1994 with potentially three more this year.

Chip Kelly’s job as Oregon’s head coach (he is 19-3 in his nearly two years at the helm) is rated as the 15th best gig in all of college football. In contrast, Notre Dame is ranked as the 12th ranked coaching destination and the main reason is the “T” word for tradition. http://www.goducks.com/

“Notre Dame has three unique advantages compared to almost every school in the country – a national following, its own television contract (signed through 2015 with NBC) and an unparalleled history that includes 11 consensus national titles and seven Heisman Trophy winners.” http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/061908aaa.html

Holy Touchdown Jesus and Number One Moses that is friggin’ impressive until you start pulling down the recent numbers. In fact, Notre Dame defies the Almost DailyBrett Law of College Football: Tradition is Now.

bamaND

Do I dare infuriate Lou Holtz and Beano Cook by speaking ill of Notre Dame?

Will I be excommunicated by Rome?

Let’s just let the numbers do the talking.

Number One Oregon (10-0) has consistently out competed unranked Notre Dame (6-5 including a loss at home to Tulsa) over a span of the last 17 years and there is no doubt the Ducks with Darron Thomas and LaMichael James running the spread offense would blow the Fighting Irish off the field this year. According to the Jeff Sagarin ratings for USA Today, Oregon would be favored by 25 points, if the game was played in Eugene, and 19 points, if the contest was played in South Bend. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/fbt10.htm?loc=interstitialskip

But wait a minute…Notre Dame has won all these national titles…Quick when was the last time that Notre Dame was the best team in all the land (Hint, Reagan was president)? Wonder who is the number one team in the BCS rankings that came out tonight? Sorry Mr. Leprechaun, it is not you.

For the record, the last ND Heisman trophy winner was Tim Brown in 1987. Since that time, no member of the Irish has even sniffed the famous straight-arm. For Oregon, Joey Harrington and Dennis Dixon were serious candidates the last decade and James is expected to be at least invited as a finalist to the ceremony in New York in three weeks.

Let’s match up the two including this season in progress and going back to 1994:

Oregon is 145-62; Notre Dame is 120-84.

Oregon has been to 14 bowls and is 6-8 in these post-season contests (includes two Rose Bowls, one Fiesta Bowl, one Cotton Bowl and most likely either BCS championship game or the Rose Bowl this year). Notre Dame has been to 10 bowls and is 1-9 (interrupting a NCAA record nine straight bowl losses with a win in…the 2008 Hawaii Bowl).

Since 1994, Oregon has missed two bowls and recorded only one losing season. Notre Dame in this span has missed bowls six times and has recorded four losing seasons.

Oregon is on the cusp of winning its fourth outright Pac-10 title and fifth overall since 1994. The Ducks are second only to USC in Pac-10 titles, who dominated the conference from 2002 to 2008. Speaking of USC, who would the Trojans rather play, Notre Dame or Oregon? If you asked the Notre Dame and USC alums they would wax poetically about the “Greatest Intersectional Rivalry” in all the land. If you ask the USC players, they would grumble about the 100 points that Oregon has scored against them in the last two games.

DAT1

Since 1994 (they play this Saturday), Notre Dame has compiled a 4-11 record head-to-head against the Men of Troy, including losing the last eight. In contrast, Oregon is 8-5 against USC during this stretch including winning the last two and three out-of-the last four.

Using marketing speak, NBC’s Dick Ebersol described Notre Dame as the “most storied brand in college sports.” Really? Does that mean NBC will televise more ND losses to Connecticut, Navy and Tulsa for the benefit rapidly aging subway alumni, who fondly remember John Huarte and Paul Hornung? That is east of the Hudson River thinking that reflects the proverbial East Coast bias.

Let’s face it Notre Dame has a Little Napoleon complex as epitomized by their pint-size mascot and their relatively quiet stadium. Oregon in comparison offers college football’s loudest and most intimidating venue, Autzen Stadium, and the one-and-only triple-threat mascot, the Duck. http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=maisel_ivan&page=iZone091028

Yes, the push-up champion Duck can go by land, sea and air…Let’s see the sham(rock) Leprechaun pull off that feat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ve92hOixGo

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