Tag Archive: Yahoo Sports


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

…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.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: