Oregon releases more Lyles info -- and raises even more questions
Oregon release more documents Tuesday about Will Lyles' recruiting services
But the services still didn't seem to be worth the $25,000 that Oregon paid
The big question remains: What did Oregon pay $25,000 to Will Lyles for?
The University of Oregon's public records officer apologized for the omission. It turns out one booklet of outdated, possibly plagiarized information was not the only tangible product the Ducks' football program obtained for its $25,000 payment in March 2010 to Texas-based scouting service operator/alleged recruiting middleman Will Lyles.
According to records released Tuesday to the Eugene Register-Guard and The Oregonian, Oregon also got four spreadsheets that appear to contain legitimate recruiting data for players in the classes of 2012 and 2013 for four states (Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas). Unfortunately for the Ducks, the new documents raise even more questions than they answer.
Is this really it? Because if the "2011 National Package" only covers four states, it still isn't much of a national package. It also has nothing to do with 2011. Not a single class of 2011 recruit was mentioned. Oregon still claims it can't parse which of the videos in its recruiting database came from Lyles.
Why does the material provided seem to contradict the description of the package given by Lyles himself in a Houston radio interview on Sunday? (Lyles did not return a voice mail Tuesday night.)
Why did Lyles wait more than 10 months after Oregon's check arrived to send the first batch of material? According to emails released by the school, the Louisiana and Texas spreadsheets arrived Feb. 17, 2011. The North Carolina and South Carolina spreadsheets arrived the morning of March 3, 2011, only hours before multiple news outlets published stories detailing the $25,000 payment.
Those answers won't be coming from Oregon anytime soon. Tuesday, the athletic department released the following statement: "As we have previously stated, we have and will continue to work with the NCAA on this matter. Until this is resolved, we will offer no further comment."
Presumably, Oregon coaches and officials will provide answers to the NCAA, which has had this material all along, according to athletic department spokesman Dave Williford. As long as their stories haven't changed since March, everyone in green and yellow should be just fine even though this thing smells worse than a pile of game-worn jockstraps.
Because while the NCAA may have a mountain of circumstantial evidence that the payment had something to do with the recruitment of Temple, Texas, tailback Lache Seastrunk, investigators will have a difficult time proving Oregon's staff is guilty of anything other than being a lousy bunch of consumers. At best, the NCAA could ding Oregon with a ticky-tack violation of one of the January 2010 additions to the bylaw governing scouting services that requires services to provide information quarterly.
If someone's story changes, however, then that person could be veering into Bruce Pearl/Jim Tressel territory. That is Oregon's greatest challenge right now. The athletic department must explain this transaction in a plausible way, and everyone's stories must match.
The material produced so far doesn't come close to matching the description Lyles provided on an invoice he sent the school on Feb. 22, 2010. The invoice claimed Lyles would send game film from "Texas, Florida, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri, California, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Oregon and Washington." If that's the case, Lyles is still a few states short.
And then there is Lyles' own description of the service he provided. Speaking on KCOH-AM on Sunday, Lyles described a "national package" like this: "A national package, you cover basically all or most of the states in the United States and you give film, player information, things of that nature to the university. The one thing I felt that my service provided that other services don't provide is that I actually evaluate football talent. I don't just send them game film. Say, for instance, a scouting service sends 500 to 1,000 films and they only find 10-12 kids that can play for them. I send them 30-40 films, and they can find 20 kids that can play for them. Which would you rather have?"
Lyles' deal sounds great. Such a service would make a coach's life much easier, even if $25,000 is an awfully steep rate to pay for 30-40 films. Yet the spreadsheets Lyles sent run counter to that particular business model. For South Carolina, Lyles sent information on 208 members of the class of 2012 and 81 members of the class of 2013. Each player is ranked either a I-AA (FCS) player, a Division I (FBS) player or a "STAR."
According to Lyles, there are 34 "STAR" players in the class of 2012 in South Carolina alone. One of Lyles' stars is Lexington High wide receiver Shaq Roland, who is ranked the nation's No. 8 receiver by Rivals.com and who has offers from much of the SEC and ACC. Another star is Leshawn Cromedy, a defensive tackle from Georgetown High who might be a fine player but who doesn't hold any BCS automatic-qualifying conference offers according to any of the major recruiting sites.
Meanwhile, Lyles' list doesn't even include Mount Pleasant Wando High defensive end Gimel President, who is being sought by schools from the SEC, ACC, Big East and Big 12. How could the provider of a national recruiting package completely miss a star player with a name like Gimel President? That doesn't seem to be a very thorough evaluation of football talent.
Unlike the Lyles document released Monday, which profiled only class of 2009 players, at least the players listed on the spreadsheets Lyles sent to Oregon can still be recruited. Of course, they aren't members of the class of 2011, the group Oregon paid to be informed about.
So, after a dump of more documents that raised even more questions, the most important query still looms. Why, exactly, did Oregon pay Will Lyles $25,000?