Tag Archive: Willie Lyles


200px-MikeRiley

Hanukkah in Seattle?

New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles? Ditto for Austin, College Station and Lubbock?

Or maybe it is the equivalent of a New Year’s Day hangover in Corvallis and Seattle with the Oregon Ducks playing in the Rose Bowl?

Isaac and Big Suke, the talking heads on Portland’s “The Fan” (1080 AM) were discussing Tuesday how Oregon State Beaver fans were anticipating the equivalent of Christmas Eve with the NCAA bestowing gifts to be opened in the form of crippling sanctions on the University of Oregon football program.

There were some stocking stuffers indeed, but not what were prayed for in Corvallis, Seattle and other exotic locales. There are a few sore wrists in Eugene…but nothing more.

What do you get when you cross a Washington Husky with a ground-hog? Six more weeks of NCAA probation.

Will Husky fans try to reverse this joke, substituting an Oregon Duck with a ground-hog? Probably. Deep down they know that the rampant “loss of institutional” control under former Washington Coach Don James doesn’t even come close to the relatively minor offenses committed by Oregon.

Now that Washington’s dreams of crippling punishment against Oregon have been dashed, the pressure is on the Huskies to end Oregon’s unprecedented nine-game winning streak over the Dawgs will intensify. Circle October 12 in Husky Stadium on your calendar.

For those of you scoring at home, Oregon received probation of three-years, a loss of one scholarship per year for the same time period, an 18-month “show cause” penalty against former Head Coach Chip Kelly (who will serve out his sentence in the NFL) and a reduction of paid recruiting visits from 56 to 37 in the next two years.

No bowl ban.

The penalties arise as a result of a $25,000 payment to Willie Lyles and his Texas-oriented “recruiting service provider” firm.

Yahoo Sports, which broke the story two years ago, clearly wanted blood to flow. They still want blood to flow, particularly from Chip Kelly, as evidenced from today’s coverage. Sorry to disappoint you, sorry indeed.

What is also causing the crucify Oregon crowd to gnash their collective teeth is the massive coverage of New England Pats tight end Aaron Hernandez being charged with murder in the same news cycle. Sorry Yahoo Sports, but an East Coast murder investigation trumps a West Coast recruiting service snafu any day of the week. In fact, God’s time zone transgressions (e.g., EDT or EST) beat anything on the Left Coast virtually any time.

They say that a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Did the institutional model of arbitrariness and capriciousness (a.k.a. NCAA) actually get it right for a change? Is that different from a slap on the wrist as interpreted by ESPN’s Joe Schad and Brock Huard (former Udub quarterback).

Consider there are no NCAA regulations governing recruiting services. Cal, Tennessee and others used the services of Willie Lyles. Where are the sanctions against Cal and Tennessee, both Autzen Stadium visitors this season?

In direct contrast with USC’s former AD Mike Garrett, who fought the NCAA tooth and nail, Oregon cooperated with the institutional giant from Indianapolis, Indiana, even proposing sanctions and asking for a summary disposition, basically a plea bargain. To USC’s credit, new AD Pat Haden demonstrated how honey as opposed to vinegar wins more friends than enemies, including the NCAA.

Even though I have no evidence to back this up, one must wonder how it would look if Oregon was slapped with a bowl ban for a $25,000 payment to Willie Lyles with NCAA boss Mark Emmert having previously served as the President of…you guessed it…The University of Washington.

Finally, the key player in Le Affaire Lyles was Texas five-star stud Lache Seastrunk. He was buried on the Oregon running back depth-chart, transferred to Baylor in Texas, and never played a down for Oregon.

Where is the benefit to Oregon?

This is a case of so many, waiting way too long for so little.

Has the NCAA shed its record of inconsistency? No.

Has the ground shifted in terms of Oregon Football? You bet ya.

The program that was at best ignored for decades is today respected, feared and in some cases hated.

There is a love-hate relationship with Oregon, its fancy uniforms, incredible digs and Uncle Phil and his Nike money too.

To the good folks in Corvallis, Seattle and elsewhere, there is more to come from Eugene, starting August 31.

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/9424556/oregon-ducks-put-probation-ncaa-lose-scholarship

http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/30077980-76/oregon-ncaa-recruiting-lyles-kelly.html.csp

http://www.oregonlive.com/

http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2013/06/canzano_blog_ncaa_was_as_tired.html#incart_big-photo

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf–chip-kelly-is-latest-successful-coach-to-skate-free-of-ncaa-harm-174023192.html

http://www.1080thefan.com/pages/12623116.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_James_%28American_football%29

“As I read the decision by the NCAA, I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.” – Former USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett

“… We’ve cooperated fully.” – Oregon Football Coach Chip Kelly

“Part of the NCAA’s problem here is fairness and consistency, never an organizational strong suit.” – ESPN Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller.

How come the Founding Fathers understood the temptation and eventual tyranny that comes from absolute power being given to one omnipresent body with virtual dictatorial control?

They enshrined in the nation’s Constitution the doctrine of  “Separation of Powers” between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. I know this policy to be true because I read all about it in civics class back in elementary school. We can also watch it in action as the nation is poised to go off the “fiscal cliff.”

powers

Where we don’t see a similar separation of powers is the NCAA or the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Instead, the process appears to be arbitrary and capricious (words that make lawyers happy).

How long will a process take? A week? Two years? Four years? Who knows?

If one university is permitted to go through the summary disposition process (e.g., Tennessee) involving its dealings with recruiting “mentor” Willie Lyles, shouldn’t another university (e.g., Oregon) be permitted to go through the same process involving the same Willie Lyles? That makes sense, except that is not the case.

Former USC Athletic Director (and Heisman Trophy winner) Mike Garrett pursued a course of confrontation with the NCAA. The result was four years of probation, a two-year bowl ban, and a drastic reduction of scholarships.

Conversely, Oregon has chosen a path of accommodation with the NCAA, one subsequently advocated by new USC Athletic Director Pat Haden for his school. And yet, after two-long years, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions (COI) wants to hold a hearing to drag Oregon figuratively through the burning coals.

ESPN blogger Ted Miller wrote recently, “It’s possible that the COI just wants to talk.” And talk they will in February or April or June or August. Heck, why not all of them?

As a resident Duckologist and super Oregon fan and informal commentator for a generation, I am frequently asked what will happen to the Ducks before the NCAA because of Le Affaire de Lyles (e.g., $25,000 payment to Lyles allegedly to recruit a player, Lache Seastrunk, who was buried in the Oregon depth chart and never played a down for the Ducks).

I am also asked if Chip Kelly with a record of 45-7 will bolt for the NFL (there are jobs galore open today) purely because of the NCAA and Willie Lyles. The insinuation is that Pete Carroll left USC for the Seattle Seahawks because of the NCAA, so why shouldn’t Kelly do the same?

My answer to both questions is HIIK…Hell If I Know.

And that is the point. Even if you look to dysfunctional Washington, D.C., you can reasonably expect a Democratic White House to behave in a certain way. You can anticipate the Democratic Senate to go one way and the Republican House of Representatives to go the other. The Supreme Court with its 5-4 conservative majority more times than not will come down in the predictable fashion.

The NCAA and predictable fashion are oxymorons. The NCAA almost wiped out the economy of State College, Pennsylvania. What will it do to Oregon? Yes, I fully understand the difference between Jerry Sandusky and Lyles, but I still see no consistency of deliberation and enforcement…what the lawyers like to call, precedent or precedence.

emmert

What I do see is NCAA President, Dr. Mark A. Emmert, sitting in judgment over the University of Oregon. Emmert was the president of the University of Washington for six years and received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the same school that is the most intense rival (putting it mildly) of the University of Oregon.

 

He should recuse himself from this process.

In the final analysis, I am hoping for the best from the NCAA and fearing the worst. Something tells me to anticipate the latter. That will make the folks in Seattle and Corvallis real happy…until it is their respective turns.

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

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf–oregon–ncaa-reach-impasse-in-football-investigation-215913743.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/pac12/2012/12/21/oregon-ducks-chip-kelly-ncaa-investigation-recruiting-services/1783763/

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/21/sports/la-sp-usc-garrett-haden-20100721

http://bleacherreport.com/tb/d9cHT?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=oregon-ducks-football

http://espn.go.com/blog/pac12/post/_/id/51448/oregon-fans-should-be-worried-and-angry

http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8764076/oregon-ducks-ncaa-hearing-scout-willie-lyles-according-source

http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/ncaa+president/mark+emmert+biography

The number three-ranked Oregon Ducks begin practice tomorrow with a big-time, storm-cloud hanging over the program.

It is the prospect of some kind of NCAA penalty (ranging from the proverbial wrist slap to something much more substantial) arising from a $25,000 payment to “recruiting services” guru/ “street agent”/stud athlete “mentor” Willie Lyles of Houston, Texas.

Under the advice of the department’s hired legal gun, sports attorney Mike “The Cleaner” Glazier of the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, Head Coach Chip Kelly and/or Athletic Director Rob Mullens will deliberately be both cautious and boring with the media when asked about Lyles. Why unintentionally resurrect the incident, when a more interesting competing story is at hand…the commencement of fall practice and the preparation for the nationally televised opener Sept. 3 against LSU?

Kelly as expected tomorrow will mumble something about allowing Glazier’s internal probe of the le affaire Lyles while continuing to cooperate with the NCAA. This is a textbook public relations punt formation.

But is there another course that Oregon can take that may even win the approval of legal counsel and at the same time improve the program’s reputation and brand?

How about being on the side of working with the NCAA on legislation that essentially curtails so-called “street agents” that are trying to ultimately make big bucks off high-school football prodigies? Isn’t this another way of cooperating with the NCAA? Instead of being seen as being part of the problem, why doesn’t Oregon become part of the solution?

Former President Bill Clinton confounded his Republican critics in the wake of charges that he illegally raised campaign funds for both himself and the Democratic National Committee from the Oval Office. After the allegations were made, he quickly pivoted and became a champion of “campaign finance reform.” Some offered the metaphor of Al Capone opposing bank robbing after he was caught red-handed to describe Clinton’s actions. Nonetheless, Clinton offered a solution to the issue and took political steam away from his critics.

In no way in offering this aside am I comparing the Oregon Athletic Department to the Clinton administration. What I am saying is that street agents are a clear-and-present danger to the integrity of high school and college football. It all arises from gobs and gobs of guaranteed millions being thrown at NFL rookies (regardless of the recently adopted Collective Bargaining Agreement).

It certainly has not escaped the attention of these youth “mentors” the size of the bank accounts of Leigh Steinberg, Scott Boras and other mega agents in professional sports. Ten percent or more of multi-million contracts is 10 percent or more of multi-million contracts. As Cuba Gooding Jr. made his agent Tom Cruise repeatedly recite in Jerry Maguire: “Show Me the Money.”

And if a “mentor” running a “recruiting service” can befriend a precocious super stud at a young age in making a decision regarding a big name college program?…That potentially leads to a successful collegiate career…Might that grateful student-athlete then turn to this “friend” as his agent when it comes time to sign a multi-year contract and related athletic shoe endorsement deal? Can you say: “Ka-Ching?”

The issue of real agents, street agents, mentors, recruiting services, seven-on-seven sponsors, football and basketball camp coordinators or whatever the cute names for the services these individuals offer, the issue is here and now before the NCAA. Oregon and by extension LSU and Cal (which also have engaged in business relationships with Lyles…and most likely others) has specialized knowledge. Can this unique insight be put to work without endangering an institution’s legal position with the NCAA?

Obviously, Oregon needs to protect itself in proceedings undertaken by the NCAA and Pac-12 conference. That is why “The Cleaner” and his firm were hired. Having acknowledged that, the Oregon Athletic Department can be a force for good. It should be working…cooperating with the NCAA in severely restricting the access of these leaches to immature and impressionable young men. They are not in the position of deciding who should represent them as a professional agent at 17-years of age.

The NCAA should pass tough legislation directly aimed at these individuals that prey on young athletes for their own long-term gain. The member schools have a direct interest in curbing this obvious abuse that is only going to get worse if it continues unchecked. Besides cooperating with the NCAA’s request for information about Lyles, Oregon (and presumably others) should work with the NCAA to resolve this problem.

It is not only good public relations with the NCAA and the general public; it is the right thing to do as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaiSHcHM0PA

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/report-seastrunks-family-suggests-little-influence-from-lyles-in-recruiting/

http://oregon.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1248695

http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2011/08/oregon_ducks_rundown_sunday_mo.html

http://articles.cnn.com/1997-09-29/politics/poll_1_clinton-and-gore-gops-republicans?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/gen/resources/infocus/reform/index0.html

 

…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.

 

 

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