Tag:Willie Lyles
Posted on: February 24, 2012 6:53 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 6:54 pm
 

Oregon acknowledges NCAA violations in documents

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Oregon is dealing with several NCAA issues stemming from former scout Will Lyles and certainly knows when to dump release information regarding the case. The school released two heavily redacted documents late Friday afternoon to local papers as part of an open records request, detailing proposed findings of violations and shining a little light on an investigation that has been going on for several months following a Yahoo! Sports investigative report released last March.

According to the Eugene Register-Guard, the Oregon athletic department agreed that the football program did not follow NCAA bylaws and was not adequately monitored regarding use of recruiting/scouting services. The "proposed findings of violations" were sent from the NCAA enforcement staff to the school but is not a formal Notice of Allegations, which the report noted had not been received as of Friday.

At least three services did not conform to NCAA rules according to the documents and the program exceeded the number of permitted coaches recruiting by one between 2009 and 2011. Head coach Chip Kelly is believed to be near the center of the probe regarding his involvement. The school has retained attorney Michael Glazier, a partner in the firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, for his expertise in dealing with NCAA cases.

Oregon received a notice of inquiry in September to mark the formal start of the NCAA investigation into the Ducks' recruiting and use of scouting services. Lyles has claimed, among other things, that the school paid him $25,000 for influence with recruits in the state of Texas.

Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:59 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 1:52 pm
 

Chip Kelly jumps from Oregon to the NFL and back


Posted by Bryan Fischer

UPDATE: Oregon released an official statement from Chip Kelly on Monday, confirming both Kelly's contact with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers and his plans to remain as the Ducks' head coach.

“I am flattered by the interest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ organization," Kelly explained.  "I enjoyed meeting with the Glazer family and General Manager Mark Dominik but after numerous discussions, I concluded that I have some unfinished business to complete at the University of Oregon.”

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers asked for permission to engage in conversation with Coach Kelly, which was granted,” Oregon Athletics Director Rob Mullens said. “The University of Oregon is one of the nation's preeminent college football programs and, as such, it comes as no surprise the NFL is interested in our personnel. We are pleased with Coach Kelly’s decision to remain as our head coach. Coach Kelly has provided great leadership and remains committed to building on our position among the elite college football programs in the country.”



Two sources with direct knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly had agreed in principle to take the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was in the process of finalizing details of a multi-year contract but has changed is mind and will stay at Oregon. The Register-Guard first reported the news of Kelly's departure and that he would be staying in Eugene Sunday night.

"I don't know what to say... he changed his mind," one source said via text message.

News of the possible departure first surfaced during the middle of Sunday's NFC Championship Game with a report from Portland TV station KGW sports reporter Michael Berk. Tampa Bay fired head coach Raheem Morris in January after 10 straight losses to cap a 17-31 mark over three seasons.

Kelly, 48, is coming off the most successful three-year stretch in Oregon history, capped off with the program's first Rose Bowl victory in 95 years at the beginning of this year. The Ducks are 34-6 in three seasons with Kelly as head coach, including three straight BCS bowls and an appearance in the national championship game in 2011. He came to Eugene as offensive coordinator in 2007 after spending eight seasons at New Hampshire and promptly set a host of school and conference records on the offensive side of the ball.

Numerous questions surround the timing of the move to Tampa Bay, beginning with Oregon's still-open NCAA investigation into recruiting violations surrounding supposed scout Willie Lyles. Kelly is believed to be at the center of the probe regarding, among other things, a $25,000 payment to Lyles for scouting services and any improprieties surrounding former Ducks running back Lache Seastrunk. The school has retained attorney Michael Glazier, a partner in the firm Bond, Schoeneck & King with the nickname 'The Cleaner' for his expertise in dealing with NCAA cases. Oregon received a notice of inquiry in September.

There is also the issue as to whether Kelly's fast-paced spread option offense can translate to the NFL. The Ducks have finished in the top 12 in the country in scoring offense since he took over the reigns and he's terrorized Pac-12 defensive coordinators with an explosive run game and quick passing game. Kelly has zero NFL experience but has not exactly been shy about jumping up a level, telling multiple people that he's wanted to coach in the league at some point in his career. According to The Oregonian he was making around $2.8 million per year under a recently re-worked contract with a buyout in the neighborhood of $3.5 million.

Multiple reports said Kelly was pulled off the road and did not make scheduled in-home visits on Sunday as his contract was being negotiated with the Bucs.



Posted on: January 12, 2012 12:01 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:02 pm
 

LSU's Russell Shepard entering NFL Draft

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In a rather surprising decision, LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard announced that he was leaving school to enter the NFL Draft on his Twitter account Wednesday. Shepard said that it was "a hard decision to make" but that he had "to do what's best for me and my family." Whether leaving school to go pro is doing what's best for Shepard and his family remains to be seen.

He wasn't expected to leave school, and as a result, he's not even listed on CBSSports.com's top draft prospects at wide receiver. Even if he had been listed, there's no guarantee that Shepard would be drafted.

After coming to LSU as a quarterback, Shepard was moved to wide receiver, and while he had a fair share of rushing attempts in his three years with the Tigers, Shepard only caught 52 passes for 478 yards and 5 touchdowns. Only 14 of those receptions, and 4 touchdowns, came this season. This is due to the suspensions that Shepard had to deal with in 2011.

There was a housing issue that he was cleared of, but he was suspended for three games due to an NCAA violation after talking to the NCAA about his relationship with Willie Lyles. It was because of this suspension that he was passed on the depth chart by freshman Odell Beckham Jr. who joined Reuben Randle as LSU's starting receivers.

And that's likely the reason why Shepard has decided to leave the school. For further evidence, you don't have to look past his Twitter account once again. Shortly after LSU's 21-0 loss to Alabama on Monday night, this tweet appeared in Shepard's timeline.



The next tweets on his timeline were the ones that explained he was leaving school, so I hardly think it's a coincidence.

Shepard has until January 18th to withdraw his name from the NFL Draft should he choose to do so. 

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home 

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Oregon releases more Will Lyles documents

Posted by Bryan Fischer

With most of the college football world focused on the developing story at Penn State, Oregon found a convenient time to release multiple documents related to their ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program's relationship with scout Willie Lyles and possible recruiting violations.

According to the The Oregonian, the pages and pages of documents detail aspects of the combined NCAA and school investigations and include scouting reports, the cell phone records of head coach Chip Kelly, an invoice from the law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King - which is conducing the school's internal investigation - and email exchanges.

Also included was correspondence from attorney Michael Glazier, a partner in Bond, Schoeneck & King, indicating that he expected the firm to conclude it internal investigation by November of this year at the latest, and correspondence relating to NCAA interviews with Lyles.

The school released email exchanges between Glazier, Ron Barker, Pac-12 associate commissioner for governance and enforcement; Steve Duffin, NCAA associate director of enforcement; Angie Cretors, NCAA associate director of agents, gambling and amateurism activities; Bill Clever, UO executive assistant athletic director for compliance, and James O'Fallon, UO law professor emeritus and the athletic department's faculty rep, about interviews with UO coach Chip Kelly, and Josh Gibson and Jim Fisher, both assistant directors for football operations.

The NCAA is looking at Lyles, a Houston-based football scout, and his relationship with several current and former Oregon players from the state of Texas such as LaMichael James, Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams. Lyles met with enforcement staff members in Los Angeles in late August to talk about the case. Following the meeting, USC assistant coach Willie Mack Garza abruptly resigned from his position after being connected to the probe after it was discovered he wired Lyles money for an unofficial visit while coaching at Tennessee.

The issue at the heart of the case stems from whether Oregon's $25,000 payment to Lyles for a national scouting package was similar to what it paid for other comparable packages. An invoice from Digital Sports Video Inc., of Aliso Viejo, Calif., was released to The Oregonian Tuesday showing at least one other scouting service billed the school $25,000 for scouting services.

Oregon received a verbal notice of inquiry from the NCAA in September.
Posted on: October 10, 2011 9:36 am
Edited on: October 10, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Surveying the Field: Reviewing Week 6



Posted by Bryan Fischer


There wasn't a particularly appetizing slate of college football games this week. Sure there was the Red River Shootout Beatdown Blowout Rivalry and a few other entertaining match ups but there truly was not a must watch game from kickoff to the final whistle most of the day. AP Top 25 teams in week 6 won by an average of 24.8 points, with Florida State being the lone upset to an unranked team.

It was another good week of college football, don't get me wrong, but the drama was a bit lacking until late Saturday night when Ohio State-Nebraska took the stage down in Lincoln. The game itself was nothing to write home about in terms of style points but it made up for it in second half theatrics. Taylor Martinez helped lead the storied program's biggest comeback ever, from down 21 points, with three scores, 102 yards rushing and an efficient 191 yards on 16 of 22 passing.
 
When I watched OSU against Miami, I saw a team that was half a step slower than the Hurricanes and looked like they were going through their first spring practice execution-wise. They were a solid Big Ten team but one who just couldn't execute like previous years. It was much different from when my colleague Gregg Doyel watched the Buckeyes in their opener in early September. There was a sense of relief then after a tumultuous offseason and, just as important to the OSU faithful, hope that they would be ok until most of the 'Buckeye Five' returned from their suspensions. Luke Fickell was a coach to believe in and this was a team that still had seemed to have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, according to Doyel:
It was Akron, so who really can say, but what the heck -- I'll go ahead and say it:

Ohio State has two solid quarterbacks in Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller. Ohio State has a promising coach in Luke Fickell. And Ohio State has a team that won't be as bad as some people (OK, me) would have thought, given the terminations, suspensions and distractions of recent months.

Well, that was Akron and things certainly have changed since Doyel wrote that column (one he'd love to have back, I'm sure), including the step up in competition with Nebraska. Granted this isn't your father's Cornhuskers team. They're 46th in total offense and, even more surprising with the Pelini brothers patrolling the sidelines, 59th in total defense. They got whacked by Wisconsin and have flirted with several close games before putting inferior opponents away late. They are no Akron but they're not a top 10 team either.

The Buckeyes looked like they were on their way to a win Saturday by a surprising margin, ruining the Big Ten debut of Memorial Stadium. Things weren't going great but they were at least good. Freshman Braxton Miller looked comfortable running the offense, making plays with his feet and doing plenty to stake the team to a 27-6 lead in the 3rd. After the offense had looked pitiful against Miami and Michigan State the previous two weeks, there were signs of life for the scarlet and gray. With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Ohio State led 27-13 and had rolled up 312 yards of offense.

Then Miller sprained his ankle and all hell seemed to break lose.

"I'd like to say no," tight end Reid Fragel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer when asked if Miller's absence affected the whole team, "but it's one of those things at the back of everybody's mind. I'd like to say no, but at the same time, everybody cares about our quarterback and was kind of worried about him."

Senior Joe Bauserman came on to replace him and went 1 of 10 for 13 yards while the team as a whole had just 39 yards of offense the rest of the game. The Buckeyes went from grabbing an uplifting win on the road to a devastating loss; from a good team to mediocre to bad in a span of about 20 minutes of game time. There were mistakes in every phase of the game and at every level. Execution was lacking and any playmakers on the team seemed to be sitting on the bench drinking Gatorade.

Who deserves blame for it? Well there's plenty to go around. Bauserman, certainly, for the interception and stagnant offense. The defense too, for allowing Nebraska to rush for nearly 200 yards in the second half after holding them to just 37 in the first half. Many OSU fans are quick to blame offensive coordinator Jim Bollman and he rightfully deserves the lion's share for one reason: he didn't have a game plan for Bauserman. At all. He bet big on Miller and when it came time for Bauserman to take over at a key point in the game, Bollman seemed to panic and out-think himself.

What makes it interesting is that Bauserman was at one time the starter and he's played in every game this year. You'd think they would adjust the play calling so that he could nurse the lead and allow the senior to manage the game. Following Miller's injury, there were eight rushes and 10 passes, one of which was intercepted.

"No, Joe is not as mobile," Fickell said after the game. "We have to do a better job of putting him in situations he can handle a little better."

"The floodgates kind of opened and we started to panic a little bit and we never got ourselves back on track."

Those are not the words of a head coach. Jim Tressel - despite his compliance issues - was a terrific head coach because he had everybody buy in to what he was doing. More importantly, he knew what he was doing.

Fickell, a Buckeye through and through, seems to be in over his head and the inexperience really came through Saturday. There are plenty of people rooting for him to succeed but there's a reason why so many other names have been mentioned as the head coach of the team in 2012. Fickell has been thrown into the fire, a very hot one, and is doing the best that he can. Knowing how to manage a program, especially one like this, is not something many know how to do. It takes time and it takes a very good coach, one who is in control of everything and knows just what button to push at the right time. At this point in the season, it's hard to say Fickell has total control nor knows what to do. It's unfortunate but it's also life.

Ohio State's 3-3 with six games left, four of which they'll likely be decided underdogs. A bowl game is probably still likely but the program seems like it's adrift and capable of falling off the cliff if the staff isn't careful.

"You've got to rely on some guys," Fickell said. "And it's about leadership. But I don't know. That's what we're going to have to really look back at."

The leadership has to come from Fickell and the upperclassmen on the team, it shouldn't be 'I don't know' coming from the head coach or something that they'll 'have to look at.' There will be a lot of soul-searching going on in Columbus this week as well as some growing up for Fickell and company.

Stat of the week

According to the Associated Press, the state of Florida has been shut out of the AP poll for the first time since December 6, 1982. Not just the big three of Florida, Florida State and Miami, the entire state. There's just one California team (7. Stanford) and four from the state of Texas (20. Baylor, 21. Texas A&M, 22. Texas, 25. Houston).

Stats of the week

- Florida's loss to LSU was the worst loss for the program since 1996.

- Texas A&M is ranked in the top 25 but feature the nation's worst pass defense at 347.6 yards per game. They're behind Kansas and UNLV who have three wins between them.

- There were five SEC conference games and the winning quarterbacks had a combined 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

- Mark Richt earned his 100th win at Georgia and has a 100-36 overall record with the program.

- 27 players across the country are averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. Last year, just 19 finished with an average over the century mark.

- Arizona's Nick Foles leads the country in completions per game, is third in yards per game, second in total yards, fourth in total offense and has a 5-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Yet his team is 1-5 because the defense is 115th in total defense, 117th in scoring defense and second to last in the country in sacks.

- With a touchdown catch against Texas, Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles is the active leader in career receiving touchdowns with 10 more than the next guy, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd.

- Surprisingly Illinois is tied for the nation's third longest winning streak at seven games. Stanford has the longest (13) followed by Oklahoma (10). Alabama and LSU both have seven game streaks as well but obviously will play each other in November. New Mexico and Florida Atlantic have the longest losing streaks at eight games, while Memphis has lost 15 straight in conference.

- The Pac-12 leads the country in passing and has 31 more passing touchdowns than any other conference (153 total). The Big Ten leads the country in rushing and has 11 more rushing touchdowns than any other conference.

- UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel improved to 9-0 against Washington State at three different schools (Colorado, Washington, UCLA). One of the wins came as a non-conference win while at Colorado. With eight wins in conference play, that would mean 25% of Neuheisel's Pac-12 conference victories have come at the expense of the Cougars.

- According to the Big Ten Network, every time Michigan has started 6-0, they've gone to the Rose Bowl.

Yard-by-yard

- There was plenty of Boomer Sooner at the Cotton Bowl this weekend, enough to cause Bevo to turn away from the field of play so he didn't have to see anymore of the Longhorns. Most saw Texas as overrated, moving into the top 10 largely because they hadn't lost and because they're, well, Texas. They had some momentum coming into the game and thought they had a solid backfield that would be able to make a few plays in Bryan Harsin's offense. Nope. The story of the game wasn't Oklahoma's potent offense, but its spectacular defense that had a coming out party and reminding everyone that though they might not be Alabama or LSU's, they are still pretty good. The Sooners set six defensive school records against the Horns, including eight sacks. Final score: Oklahoma's offense 34, Oklahoma defense 21, Texas 17.

- It really didn't matter what true freshman quarterback took snaps under center for Florida, they were getting fed to the wolves. Or at least one Honey Badger, who picked off starter Jacoby Brissett's deep pass in the third quarter. It's rare for LSU to have the advantage at the quarterback position but it was pretty clear they had the advantage at just about every position in their 41-11 rout at home. The Gators have issues but they're still a solid football that's just trying to find some footing. The Tigers, meanwhile, look like they used the weekend to tune up every phase of their game, controlling throughout and limiting their opponent to 2 of 11 on third down and 213 total yards. The lasting images of the game might have come from a punter and a back up quarterback. Much-maligned quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw a touchdown pass in a manner Florida fans are quite familiar with - a jump pass near the goal line. Brad Wing became an overnight sensation after faking a punt and taking it 52 yards to the house late in the first. Wing, however, raised his arms slightly before crossing the goal line and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that took the points off the board. That was about the only thing that went wrong all day for Les Miles' crew.

"We showed everybody that we are capable of some special things against a really good Florida team," said Tigers defensive end Sam Montgomery. "I want more. I want a National Championship. I want to play the best ever."

- Virginia Tech just doesn't lose back-to-back games at home under Frank Beamer. Perhaps it's the 'Enter Sandman' music the PA announcer puts on late in games but there's not much you can do to stop the Hokies. Miami thought they did thanks to Lamar Miller, who broke off several big runs in the fourth quarter before catching a throwback pass for a touchdown to pull the Hurricanes to within three. He gave them the lead with a 30 yard run late in the game before Tech quarterback Logan Thomas said 'Sorry, I'll take that' on an option on fourth-and-one to scamper 19 yards for the game-winning score. The comeback by Thomas capped an overall great day for him, going 23 of 25 for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

- Staying in the ACC, the surprise team in the league might be Georgia Tech, not Clemson. The 6-0 Yellow Jackets held off a late charge from Maryland after building a 21-3 lead going into the fourth. "They whipped our tail pretty good in the end," Tech coach Bobby Johnson said. Still, his squad is undefeated and among the top 10 in a good number of offensive categories. The passing game wasn't there against the Terrapins like it was in previous games but they still managed to eek out a victory. By the way, it's ok if you missed watching this game on account of Maryland's uniform combination, which featured mustard yellow pants.

- Arizona State has finally started to live up to expectations while Utah hasn't even come close to them. The Sun Devils defense forced three straight turnovers at one point in the third quarter, quick enough that quarterback Brock Osweiler couldn't even get his jersey cleaned in time. "They were cleaning it one second and the next second it was, 'Hey, you got to go,"' he said. "But that's a credit to our defense. They were staying focused, playing with a lot of intensity, creating turnovers." As sharp as the defense has looked the past few games, the offense has shown off an explosive side as well, scoring 18 straight points in four minutes. Dennis Erickson's squad also won a road game, big because they have a showdown and possible championship game preview with Oregon this week. For the Utes, we all worried about the grind of a BCS conference and it does seem like they're wearing down in the second half of games after starting relativly strong. Of course, it helps to have a healthy quarterback but they just haven't had one as Jordan Wynn missed yet another game. They've lost six of their last 10 and need to do something against the back half of their conference schedule to make a bowl.

- Remember when Florida State was fifth in the country and everybody was whispering they were back? Me neither. The only ranked team to lose to an unranked foe, the Seminoles had their issues with Wake Forest. After a previously injured E.J. Manuel returned in the second quarter to replace starter Clint Trickett, he threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene and many expected FSU to start moving from there. Wake running back Josh Harris had other ideas, breaking off big run after big run on his way to 136 yards and an upset. The Demon Deacons have now won four straight and are undefeated in ACC play even if they are flying under most people's radar. Wake has only five wins against Florida State all-time but have won four of them since 2006 and four of the last six.

- On one hand, it was Kentucky. On the other hand, it was an impressive showing by South Carolina. Steve Spurrier made a change at quarterback and Connor Shaw paid off as the Gamecocks had more yards on offense since the Old Ball Coach started calling plays in Columbia. The 54-3 win was also South Carolina's biggest victory since joining the SEC, thanks in large part to the sharp play of Shaw, who went 26 of 39 for 311 yards and four touchdowns. About the only one who didn't score was running back Marcus Lattimore.

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Video
Quote/Tweet of the week

"That #11 ranking was such a farce. If Texas had Complete Scouting Services they wouldn't lose to OU so bad."

- Infamous recruiting scout Willie Lyles.

Fisch's Finest

Like the AP poll, my top 10 does not change.

1. LSU

2. Alabama

3. Oklahoma

4. Boise State

5. Wisconsin

6. Stanford

7. Oklahoma State

8. Oregon

9. Clemson

10. Georgia Tech

Where we'll be this week

Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart will see if Connor Shaw is the real deal as South Carolina heads to Starkvegas to play Mississippi State. Dennis Dodd will take in the sights and sounds of Knoxville as LSU plays Tennessee. Brett McMurphy will see if Texas shows any improvement as they host Oklahoma State while Bruce Feldman will head to the Pacific Northwest to see a possible Pac-12 Championship Game preview with Arizona State and Oregon.

Leaning this way

Michigan at Michigan State

Anything can happen in rivalry games and it would certainly make the Spartans' season if they pulled off an upset of Big Blue and a top 10 team. Mark Dantonio has had a bye week to help prepare to stop Denard Robinson but Michigan's improved defense will be enough to help squeak by in a close game in East Lansing.

Oklahoma State at Texas

Those 55 points Oklahoma scored? Oklahoma State had that by halftime last week. The young Texas defense will have their hands full again this week with what might be an even better passing offense. The defense for the Cowboys is nothing special so the Horns should be able to put up some points of their own but there's just too many weapons for Brandon Weeden to keep it close.

Arizona State at Oregon

Dennis Erickson's squad got a road win and have been playing as well as anyone on defense the past couple of weeks. They've been forcing turnovers left and right and will need to continue that if they're to have a shot against the Ducks. LaMichael James won't play but the offense is still potent with Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas coming out of the backfield. This could be a championship game preview and Oregon wins thanks to another big second half.



Posted on: September 29, 2011 7:40 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Seastrunk's hardship waiver denied by NCAA

Posted by Tom Fornelli

After transferring from Oregon to Baylor in August, running back Lache Seastrunk applied for a hardship waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to suit up and play this season rather than sitting out the entire year. Well, that request has reportedly been denied by the NCAA.

"NCAA informed Baylor University officials this afternoon that redshirt freshman running back Lache Seastrunk’s waiver and subsequent appeal of the organization’s transfer residency requirement have both been denied," the school said in a statement.

"The Temple, Texas, native and University of Oregon transfer will have three years of eligibility to play three seasons when he takes to the field for the 2012 Bears. Seastrunk redshirted as a true freshman at Oregon a year ago."

Seastrunk, of course, found himself in the midst of a gathering storm while at Oregon thanks to his connection to Willie Lyles. At the time his transfer was announced, Seastrunk said that he "felt like something was about to go down" at Oregon. Something did go down, too, as the school was hit with a notice of inquiry from the NCAA three weeks later. Seastrunk's name also came up in regards to former Tennessee assistant Willie Mack Garza allegedly wiring Lyles $1,500 to bring Seastrunk to Knoxville on an unofficial visit.

That's a whole lot of attention from the NCAA for a running back who has yet to see the field in college.
Posted on: September 27, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 11:45 am
 

PODCAST: The Doddcast on Oklahoma St., more

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

CBSSports.com senior college football writer Dennis Dodd spent his Saturday in College Station watching Oklahoma State pull off a furious comeback against homestanding Texas A&M, and in this edition of the "Doddcast," he breaks down the good and bad of what he saw from the Cowboys. He also discusses the Wisconsin-Nebraska showdown for the favorite's role in the Big Ten, talks Tennessee's Willie Lyles troubles, Alabama-Florida and more.

Listen below, download the mp3, listen in a popout player to keep browsing, and subscribe to the CFB Podcast in iTunes if you'd like to hear the next edition.



Posted on: September 27, 2011 2:16 am
 

Report: Former Vols assistant wired cash to Lyles

Posted by Adam Jacobi

USC fans wondering why former assistant Willie Mack Garza resigned so abruptly two days before the start of this season now have an answer -- and that answer has a paper trail. According to a report by Yahoo Sports, Willie Lyles informed NCAA investigators that Garza had wired him $1,500 in 2009 to get coveted tailback Lache Seastrunk onto the Tennessee campus for an unofficial visit; Garza had been an assistant of Lane Kiffin at UT at that point, before Kiffin brought Garza with him to USC's staff in 2010.

On unofficial visits, recruits and their families are responsible for all costs incurred, so if Garza supplied that money to Lyles for the purposes of getting Seastrunk to campus, that's a serious violation of NCAA rules. Whether Garza gave money to Lyles is not in question, though; Yahoo Sports has a copy of the Moneygram record of that transaction, and sure enough, there's $1,500 going from Garza to Lyles. Being that Lyles himself told the NCAA that the money was to pay for Seastrunk's plane tickets, which totaled $1,446.80 in a purchase two weeks prior to the Moneygram transaction, there doesn't appear to be much wiggle room for Garza.

CBSSports.com first reported that Garza's departure from USC was related to an NCAA probe of Tennessee's recruiting practices on the day that Garza resigned, on September 1. That report has now been proven accurate by this Yahoo story. 

For Garza's efforts above and beyond the NCAA guidelines, Tennessee didn't get much; not only did Seastrunk not commit to the Volunteers, of course, he didn't even take an official visit to Knoxville once it was time to make those choices. Seastrunk famously chose Oregon over Auburn in a recruiting process that still leaves a sour taste in Tigers fans' mouths to this day, and once the reports surfaced of Lyles maintaining close relationship with recruits even while getting paid large sums of money by the schools recruiting them, Seastrunk ended up transferring to Baylor.

For as bad as this report makes Garza look in the eyes of the NCAA, however, the real entity in danger here is Tennessee; that athletic department was hit with a failure to monitor charge in August among various major infractions perpetrated by then-head basketball coach Bruce Pearl, and the program is nowhere near completing its two years of probation handed down by the NCAA. If the NCAA finds this to be another egregious flouting of recruiting regulations, Tennessee is liable to be considered a "repeat offender" by the Committee on Infractions, and that easily could mean serious, long-lasting consequences for the entire athletic department.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com