Posted on: September 17, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 1:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So much for just being able to enjoy a Saturday of college football. Along with the latest in conference expansion from CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy, Oregon also released a statement on Saturday morning saying that it has received a Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA.
“This notice has been anticipated and is simply the next stage of the process,” said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens in the statement. “The University of Oregon football program, from Head Coach Chip Kelly through the entire organization, has tremendous respect for the NCAA’s important role in monitoring collegiate athletics and, to this end, continues to fully cooperate with the NCAA ‘s ongoing examination.
“The Athletic Department, Coach Kelly and the entire staff remain committed to operating the athletics program consistent with the highest standards and ensuring our program follows best practices.”
While Oregon wouldn't get into details in the release, this is related to the school's connection to Willie Lyles and his scouting service. Oregon originally paid Lyles $25,000 for scouting reports on high school recruits that was reportedly two years old at the time. Some have speculated that rather than pay for Lyles' scouting reports, Oregon was paying Lyles for his influence with recruits like LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk.
In fact, Lyles himself has said that was the case.
As for what this Letter of Inquiry means for Oregon at the moment, the truth is not much. At least, not yet. It's merely the NCAA's way of letting a school know that it has begun investigating the school.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:59 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 9:50 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
UPDATE: The suspension and Shepard's eligibility for the West Virginia game were confirmed by Michael Bonnette, LSU's SID, on Thursday.
After uncertain compliance issues held LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard out of the Tigers' opener against Oregon, local reports suggest the talented wide receiver is serving a three-game suspension and will return for the Tigers Sept. 24 matchup with West Virginia.
Sources have confirmed to both The Times Picayune and the Associated Press that Shepard's punishment for violation of an NCAA rule will be three games, including the opener against the Ducks. Shepard jeopardized his eligibility by discussing the details of an NCAA investigation with teammate Craig Loston. The investigation was centered around the infamous Will Lyles, who was paid by LSU - along with Oregon, Cal, and others - for recruiting services.
The touted junior will be an immediate upgrade to the Tigers' offense, which currently lacks that big-play threat that you would want on a National Championship contender. Everything else about the Tigers' performance on Saturday suggested that they deserve to be in that discussion, but there was not evidence that the offense is prepared to put up points quickly. Getting him back for the trip to Morgantown to face Dana Holgorsen and the high-powered West Virginia offense could end up being a difference-maker in an otherwise trap-game scenario.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 5:07 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:25 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
USC defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza resigned from his position Thursday due to his involvement with a NCAA recruiting probe, two sources told CBSSports.com.
Garza cited personal reasons unrelated to the school as the reason for his departure in a statement but sources said his resignation was a direct result of his involvement with former scout Will Lyles and a related NCAA probe into possible recruiting violations.
Lyles interviewed with NCAA investigators for several hours with his lawyers present on Tuesday. During the interview, Lyles revealed that he had a "relationship" with Garza prior to becoming an assistant at Tennessee according to sources. USC officials were notified on Wednesday of the connection and moved swiftly to work out Garza's departure.
NCAA enforcement staff is currently investigating Lyles' scouting service connections to several programs, including Oregon and LSU. A source said it was not related to Tennessee's NCAA case that was recently completed.
Garza, a former safety at Texas, followed head coach Lane Kiffin from Tennessee to USC in 2010 and was entering his second season with the Trojans before abruptly resigning. USC is currently on NCAA probation stemming from the school's major infractions case involving former running back Reggie Bush.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The recruitment of highly-touted running back Lache Seastrunk has been well-documented for very different reasons over the last year. After being granted his release from Oregon over the weekend, Seastrunk has decided to take his talents to Waco, TX.
Baylor announced on Tuesday that Seastrunk has signed a financial aid contract and will enroll at the school with plans of joining the football team. He redshirted the 2010 season in Eugene and hopes to join the Bears immediately.
"I think Lache is back where he needs to be," head coach Art Briles said in the school's release, "on Texas soil at Baylor University where he will have the opportunity to get a quality education and play football at the highest level. We're looking forward to him being a great teammate."
Oregon was once thrilled to land the top-ranked Texas-native, but Seastrunk's presence on campus fell under a cloud after the NCAA began looking into his relationship with Will Lyles. Oregon paid Lyles, a mentor to Seastrunk, $25,000 for recruiting services, and NCAA is concerned that those services violated recruiting regulations.
Seastrunk, though unproven in game action, should make a dynamic pairing in the Baylor backfield with talented quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Bears open the 2011 season on Sept. 2, hosting the defending Rose Bowl champion TCU Horned Frogs.
Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:43 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Another release was made on Monday from a client of highly-discussed Houston talent scout Willie Lyles. The California athletic department released a 4-page document listing names and basic information about 49 players listed as 2010 Texas recruits, according to The Oregonian.
Lyles previously had said he sold packages to Oregon ($25,000), LSU ($6,000), and Cal ($5,000). Cal reportedly has a DVD they are ready to distribute, but the documents were the only release from Lyles' invoice. LSU has released video they say was provided by Lyles, which came under hard scrutiny for lack-of-quality and the inability to actually identify prospects.
As for the prospects on the list that Cal's athletic department released, none of them ended up enrolling with the Golden Bears. Oregon commits Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams were included in the group.
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 12:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Oregon football program took a beating on Friday when a Yahoo! report carpet bombed the entire program with allegations by scouting service owner Willie Lyles. Lyles went into detail about his relationship with the school and recruits he helped Oregon land, such as Lache Seastrunk and Heisman finalist LaMichael James. Lyles even addressed the infamous outdated scouting report that Oregon paid him $25,000 for. That report brought all this attention to the school and to Lyles.
As you'd expect, the school issued a statement about the story on Friday evening, though it didn't say much of anything.
“The University of Oregon athletic department has and will continue to fully cooperate with the NCAA inquiry,” athletic director Rob Mullens said in the statement. “Our department is committed to helping the NCAA in any way possible and until their work is complete, we are unable to comment further.
“Oregon athletics remains committed to operating a program of integrity.”
If Mullens and Oregon are really committed to operating a "program of integrity," well, I know of at least one step they can take.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 6:49 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 7:17 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
As reported earlier, controversial scouting service owner Willie Lyles told Yahoo! Sports that he received money from Oregon to indirectly steer recruits to Eugene, and that the infamous obsolete scouting report was sent in order to make the $25,000 payment appear more legitimate. Lyles also told Yahoo! that he met with the NCAA in March, and that he withheld details at that meeting that he would later reveal to Yahoo!.
Oregon's options at this point are simple: dispute heavily Lyles' version of events, or fire head coach Chip Kelly.
If Lyles isn't telling the truth, obviously, that's not Oregon's fault, nor should it necessitate any discipline for Kelly. That said, Oregon had better be on the offensive about that right now, and have a paper trail to back it up. Simply repeating that Oregon doesn't think it did anything wrong isn't going to fly anymore -- not with Lyles' statements out there and the litany of NCAA violations possible here. Lyles said what just about everybody was thinking -- that the "scouting report" was a sham, and that the money was really for some sort of indirect coercive influence -- and he's got the ambiguously worded cards from two different Oregon coaches (including Kelly) to back it up.
That all said, the existing evidence as of right now paints Kelly and Oregon as brazen flouters of NCAA rules, to the point that the best thing Lyles said about recruiting arrangement was that he wasn't directly influencing the prospects' decisions. That appears to be a distinction without much of a difference, however. Look at what Lyles said about getting five-star RB recruit Lache Seastrunk to Oregon:
Lyles then says outright that it was an indirect but pivotal role in getting Seastrunk to Oregon, but... that sounds pretty direct. And as for the amount of influence was involved here, Lyles basically says outright that Oregon went around the wishes of Seastrunk's mother. To see Seastrunk not only calling out Alabama head coach Nick Saban at Toomer's Corner while being recruited by Auburn in 2009, but still talking fondly of the Tigers in the lead up to the BCS Championship Game, it certainly appears that a significant amount of work was put into getting Seastrunk to Oregon instead of Auburn. Whether that was legal work is for the NCAA to decide.
Here's how bad the situation is for Oregon: the best argument Kelly and the Ducks can make is that the $25,000 couldn't have been used to land Seastrunk and the other recruits, because if there's one thing the Cam Newton ($180,000) and Patrick Peterson ($70,000) situations showed us, $25,000 is far below asking price for even one high-profile player. And they'd be right. It still doesn't answer the question of what the $25,000 was really playing for, though, and that's the question that may derail Oregon's program and Kelly's career right as both were getting good.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:20 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Dennis Dodd posted his annual list of Hot Seat Ratings today, so if you haven't perused them all, do so at once. At once, I say! Right now, let's focus on some of the untouchables, the 32 coaches who scored a 0.0-0.5 rating. Suffice it to say none of them are getting fired this year (or even next) without a major, unforeseeable catastrophe befalling the program. But past that, what coaches are truly untouchable, and who's just still on a honeymoon? Here's a look at 15 of those coaches, five for each category in the schools' alphabetical order, listed with Dodd's hot seat ratings.
THE HONEYMOONERSGene Chizik, Auburn, 0.0: Hear me out. Chizik is absolutely a 0.0 on Dodd's scale this year, and he would be even if the NCAA somehow finds a way to make Auburn vacate the 2010 BCS Championship (though that seems extremely unlikely at this juncture). But Auburn is expected to struggle this year, and while it's easy now to say that the title has earned Chizik a five-year grace period, what happens if Gus Malzahn gets a high-major head coaching offer and Kiehl Frazier doesn't pan out? If Auburn struggles through two straight .500 seasons and Malzahn takes off, that 0.0 turns into a 2.0 pretty soon.
Will Muschamp, Florida, 0.5: Muschamp is one of the most dynamic and promising new head coaches in the last decade or so, but the fact remains that he's a 39-year-old, first-year head coach at a "win right now" program. Oh, and John Brantley is still his quarterback. If Muschamp can't get his Gators back above the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC East pecking order, his seat's going to ignite in a hurry.
Chip Kelly, Oregon, 0.0: The other coach coming off a 2010 BCS Championship berth also has two things working against him: a track record of only two seasons as head coach, and the possibility of major NCAA violations. For Kelly, the worry is more the latter than the former, and depending on where this business with Willie Lyles and Lache Seastrunk's recruitment ends up, Kelly could find himself in way more hot water than a 22-4 coach has any right to be. That's all "ifs" right now though, so for now, the honeymoon is still on.
Doug Marrone, Syracuse, 0.5: Marrone enters his third year with the Orange after guiding the once-proud program to a 36-34 Pinstripe Bowl victory over Kansas State last year -- Syracuse's first bowl win since 2001. He's got a solid core of skill players back, but the overall talent level at Syracuse is still low enough that a moderate rash of injuries could be enough to plunge Syracuse back to the level of 3-5 wins in 2011, and that's a good way to snap fans back into remembering that the Pinstripe Bowl is just... the Pinstripe Bowl. Marrone's still got a lot of work to do.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington, 0.5: Like Marrone, Sarkisian has performed the rather remarkable feat of turning around a program that had been mired in sub-mediocrity for the majority of the '00s. But like Marrone, the program's talent level isn't BCS-caliber yet, and unlike Marrone, Sark has to contend with losing a first-round draft pick senior quarterback, Jake Locker. Further, Washington's road schedule is brutal this year; the Huskies'll probably have to win at least two home games between California, Arizona, and Oregon just to get back to .500.
HAPPILY MARRIEDJimbo Fisher, Florida State, 0.5: That Bobby Bowden transition wasn't so bad after all, was it? That's because Fisher guided FSU to 10 wins in his very first year... unlike the last six years of the Bowden era. Seminole fans are going to start raising expectations to the levels of the mid-'90s, so four losses and an ACC Championship loss aren't going to cut it forever, but Fisher's recruiting well enough to restore FSU to glory quickly.
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa, 0.5: How comfortably ensconced at Iowa is Ferentz? He's been coaching at Iowa for 12 years, and in seven of them, Iowa has suffered at least five losses. Ferentz runs a clean coaching staff, but there have been a couple isolated stretches of off-field embarrassments for the Hawkeyes -- and the rhabdo case certainly didn't help matters. But he's well-loved in Iowa City all the same, and the fact that he has turned down offers from Michigan and several NFL teams is not lost on Iowa fans or administrators. Moreover, his teams haven't been bad since his first two years on campus, and he's producing a double-digit win season once per three years; if he keeps that pace up, he'll be at Iowa for as long as he wants.
Charlie Strong, Louisville, 0.5: Strong has only been at Louisville for one season, but he's already got a winning season under his belt (unlike the disastrous reign of his predecessor, Steve Kragthorpe), and he's recruiting well enough (in particular, QB signee Teddy Bridgewater) to keep Louisville winning in perpetuity. If Strong leaves, it's because a powerhouse came calling; he's legit, and everybody at Louisville knows it. If he delivers a BCS win, you can move him into the last category here.
Mark Dantonio, Michigan State, 0.5: Dantonio has been more successful at Michigan State than Nick Saban was. Mark Dantonio is therefore a better coach than Nick Saban. QED. If Dantonio can avoid any more health scares and start routinely challenging for Big Ten (sigh) Legends division championships, he's set for life in East Lansing. Easier said than done with Nebraska coming to town and Michigan likely to rebound from the recent swoon, though.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska, 0.5: Bo Pelini has done a fine job in his first three years as Nebraska head coach, and on first glance, it appears the young coach is the perfect candidate to lead the Huskers into the Big Ten. There's been an odd sense of impermanence from Pelini's stay at Nebraska though; it's unclear whether it comes from his tempermental sideline behavior (and his brother's) or his itinerant career thus far -- this fourth season as Huskers head coach makes this the longest coaching job Pelini has ever held. Whatever it is, he seems to lack the stable, staid nature of his longer-tenured fellow coaches. That's not insignificant; if a coach can make his fans and boosters believe he's got everything under control when things go south for a year or two, his seat can stay nice and cool for longer. Pelini is respected, but he's not quite there yet.
YOU'LL HAVE TO PRY THEM FROM OUR COLD DEAD HANDSNick Saban, Alabama, 0.0: Saban delivered a national championship to Tuscaloosa in his second year there, and his Crimson Tide have finished with three straight AP Top 10 finishes. He's the highest-paid coach in college football for a reason: he earns it.
Chris Peterson, Boise State, 0.5: Peterson basically ruined the WAC for everybody else, going 61-5 as Boise's head man. Sure, you can wonder where he'd be without Kellen Moore, but Peterson did beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with Jared Zabransky behind center. Now that Utah and TCU are both running off to BCS conferences, expect Boise to dominate the Mountain West for as long as Peterson's there.
Chris Ault, Nevada, 0.0: If this scale could go into negative numbers, Ault would be at least a -10. He's a College Football Hall of Famer who has overseen Nevada's rise from Division II to the upper echelon of the FBS mid-majors. Ault is a true Nevada lifer: he played QB for the Wolfpack in the '60s, and he's on his 26th year as a head coach with the program (his 39th overall in some facet with the Nevada athletic department). He is never, ever, ever getting fired.
Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern, 0.0: Fitzgerald just signed a contract extension that has 10 years on it, but is a de facto lifetime contract. He'll probably be in Evanston for at least the next 20 years. Seems crazy to say something like that about Northwestern football, doesn't it? But here it is and here we are.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech, 0.0: The Hokies owe as much to Beamer as just about any program and current coach in the country (other than the aforementioned Nevada and Ault or Penn State and Joe Paterno, who might as well get the school named after him upon retirement). When the ACC realigned in 2005 to include a championship game, the divisions were set up to ensure the possibility of Miami and FSU meeting every season. Instead, it's been Virginia Tech dominating the conference, appearing in four of six championship games and winning three. The ACC is Frank Beamer's conference, so the very notion of a hot seat for Beamer is essentially unimaginable.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bo Pelini, Bobby Bowden, Boise State, California, Charlie Strong, Chip Kelly, Chris Ault, Chris Peterson, Doug Marrone, Fiesta Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Frank Beamer, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Hot Seat Rankings, Iowa, Jake Locker, Jared Zabransky, Jimbo Fisher, Joe Paterno, John Brantley, Kansas State, Kellen Moore, Kiehl Frazier, Kirk Ferentz, Lache Seastrunk, Louisville, Mark Dantonio, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Nevada, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, Pat Fitzgerald, Penn State, Pinstripe Bowl, Rhabdomyolysis, SEC, South Carolina, Steve Kragthorpe, Steve Sarkisian, Syracuse, TCU, Utah, Virginia Tech, Washington, Will Muschamp, Willie Lyles