For years now the Oklahoma Sooners and their fans have known that all that Oregon money was going somewhere. While at first, no one was quite sure were all that Phil Knight money was going, evidence is surfacing of where the money is going and what it is being used for. News first broke of this scandal earlier this year in March when Yahoo! Sports learned that
The University of Oregon paid more than $28,000 to two men with ties to multiple recruits who signed letters of intent with the school.
The Oregon Ducks now find themselves with a can of worms they never intended to open. But as well all know, once the lid is off there is almost no sealing whatever comes out, back in. This will however change the 2011 season drastically.The $28k was split between Will Lyles who received $25k and $3,745 went to Baron Flenory. Lyles was the mentor of highly touted running back recruit Lache Seastrunk and you can bet he had a say in which school the kid went to. Flenory on the other hand runs a camp that has featured many of the Ducks most celebrated players including running back DeAnthony Thomas, defensive back Cliff Harris, defensive back Dior Mathis and wideout Tacoi Sumler. However, the problem is not their involvement with the players and their recruitment. But, if Lyles and Flenory were involved in the recruitment of any players at the University of Oregon, they would have been labeled as boosters and therefore any payment received was now in violation with the bylaws of the NCAA.
Flenory was paid for a recruiting service that was set up between the two parties after an NCAA rule was made that camps could not be hosted by college campuses. What was set up instead of the camp was a service that would provide names, birth-dates, and other pertinent information on recruits all in one package. The check was not written to Flenory specifically but rather the company he worked for. Again the NCAA would step in and make a rule against this type of conduct and Flenory claims that his company stopped once the rule was enacted.
Flenory and his ties to Chip Kelly go much deeper than that seeing as he played under Kelly at the University of New Hampshire. He continues to run some of the most prestigious camps for high school players.
Now we have Lyles side of the story. Oregon has openly said that Lyles was paid $25,000 and it showed up in their budget report for the fiscal year under the books, publications, and other references section. The check specifically had Lyles name on it and was not addressed to a company for their "services." Lyles did however work for a company that provided highlight films and info on recruits. It was this $25,000 that sparked an NCAA investigation.
Lyles has outed Josh Gibson, an assisstant director of football operations, claiming that Gibson knew of all the on-goings of Lyles and Temple (Texas) High School star Lache Seastrunk. Allegedly, Lyles had Seastrunks grandmother sign the letter of intent instead of the mother who opposed him going to Oregon.
In addition to working on Seastrunk’s national letter of intent, Lyles said he secured a study course at Sylvan Learning Center in 2009 for the then high school junior in an effort to help him with schoolwork and standardized testing. Lyles said Jeff Wood, the father of then University of Texas quarterback recruit Connor Wood, paid the $4,000-plus bill. Connor and Seastrunk were teammates on a 7-on-7 squad coached by Lyles. Jeff Wood declined comment when reached by Yahoo! Sports. Lyles said he personally asked Wood to help and Wood did so "out of the goodness of his heart." He said he doesn’t believe Wood was seeking to influence Seastrunk’s recruiting and said, to his knowledge, neither Oregon nor Texas knew of the tutoring.
Lyles also had worked with LaMichael James:
In 2007, Lyles counseled the family of current Ducks’ star LaMichael James on how to avoid a Texas standardized test required for high school graduation. James had yet to pass the math portion, putting his college eligibility in jeopardy. Lyles suggested James transfer for the final semester of his senior year to a high school in Arkansas where no standardized test is required. James did and later signed with Oregon. According to Lyles, Kelly, then the Ducks’ offensive coordinator, praised the transfer as a great idea.
Lyles continues to claim that the University had knowledge of everything he was doing while Oregon still holds there was not wrong doing. There is a clear line of who can recruit and who can't: if falls on the shoulders of nine guys
So how does this change the 2011 season? If there is anything that has been shown by the NCAA, it is that they are very inconsistent in dealing with similar cases. Earlier this year, Jim Tressel was forced to resign for "not educating" his players on rules of conduct. Now it looks as though, as more the sweater continues unravel, that Kelly will be taking the walk of shame as well. Oregon was heading into the season as a likely contender for the NC. While some players may be required to serve a suspension, their chances of going to the NCG again are going to dwindle. It will open the door for LSU who has an early match-up against the Ducks on a neutral field. USC, who has already been serving a suspension, could see another PAC-12 team join them in 2011 in their pain. Will two teams miss out on the post season in the same conference almost defeating a conference championship game? Stanford would be the shoo in to win the conference and have a higher shot at playing the NCG and Andrew Luck would no longer compete against LaMichael James to win the Heisman.
Kelly who has been described as a master tactician (must have taught Lyles his tactic ways to get a player to transfer as a senior as well as manipulate a guardianship issue) will likely be forced to leave the game he loves and knows so well. Oregon has yet to have the hammer drop on them if at all. While they have spent the past decade establishing themselves as the "cool school" with the flashy uniforms and offense to boot, it may have all been in vain.