Yesterday, we began setting the scene by looking at interesting facts and coincidental acquaintances, and examining the first 5 of our players underlying the malaise presently afflicting college football, particularly The Auburn Assistants and Oregon generally, and Chip Kelly in particular.
Cash money: Not just for Lynn Lang anymore, y'all!
Today, we'll delve into more background, specifically some secondary schools in this rot, and the Mayberry Machiavelli known as Willie Lyes. I maintain we are dealing with a largely negligent, largely accidental conspiracy that stretches from coast-to-coast, and has at its roots two programs, with two new head coaches, both of whom were facing must-win scenarios.
Let's continue, shall we.
6. Willie Lyles loves some Chip Kelly/Mike Belotti, Auburn's Stench Continues, & LSU has got some 'splain' to do - Willie Lyles is, by now, pretty much at the forefront of the news. The story du jour is of Lyles receiving $25,000 for backdated "recruiting" information on guys 2-3 years into various college programs. The Texas huckster is most intimately connected at the moment with Lache Seastrunk and the Oregon Ducks.
But, Lyles influence (and ultimately the rot) goes far deeper than this 5-star knucklehead and the Ducks alone. Remember, at one point, six teams were in serious contention for Seastrunk's services: The Crimson Tide, the Cal Golden Bears, Oregon, the Texas Longhorns, the LSU Tigers, and our Lil' Sister, the Auburn Tigers. Seastrunk did eventually jilt Texas, Cal and LSU, narrowing the field to three: Alabama, Oregon, Auburn. Then, following the "Big Cat Weekend", Seastrunk famously tried to rip on Nick Saban. This left three players: Auburn, Oregon and Willie Lyles.
Nico 2.0 called, he wants his hipster glasses back.
And, though Cal and LSU were jilted, it wasn't before the Bears and Whos had already paid Lyles for his "recruiting services", although "not as much [as Oregon] did". Auburn and Oregon remaining, we are left to the recruiter/street agent/handler Wilie Lyles to provide access to Seastrunk and, by his own admission, function as an influence peddler.
Lyles told Yahoo that he now believes Oregon paid $25,000 for "my access and influence with recruits."
"The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should …," Lyles told Yahoo. "I made a mistake and I’m big enough of a man to admit I was wrong."
Is this all for Lyles? Not even close. Before the Seastrunk incident blew up, Lyle's fingerprints were all over several other Texas recruits, including the entire rest of the backfield of the Ducks '10 BCS team. In December 2007, Mike Belotti is asked to interview for the UCLA job, thus recruiting during the post-bowl period is left largely to the staff. Who do the assistants meet through Willie Lyles? None other than Heisman candidates Darron Thomas (Texarkana) and LaMicheal James (Houston). And, who went with Lyles on these January 2008 recruiting junkets in Texas? None other than Belotti assistants OC Chip Kelly and RB Coach Gary Campbell.
Less than a week after Kelly meets with James, Lamichael verbally commits to Oregon. Darron Thomas follows suit two weeks thereafter. Both sign LOIs a month after meeting Kelly/Campbell. Then, in May 2008, and twice in July 2008, Oregon writes three separate $6500 checks to Willie Lyle's "recruiting service". (Sound familiar? This is the exact pattern that would be evident in Seastrunk's recruiting a year later, when Chip Kelly was the head man.).
December 2008, Chip Kelly flies to Texas and has dinner with Lyles. A week later, Kelly is named HCIW. Chip and Gary Campbell again go to Texas, and through Lyles recruiting packages, begin to recruit some more 4-5 star guys. This time, in Feb and March of 2009 they recruit RBs Dontae Williams and Lache Seastrunk. Kelly is appointed Head Coach in March 2009, and Lyles receives two separate $10,000 checks from Oregon therafter, via the athletic department ran by former coach, Mike Belotti.
But, who else was receiving Lyle's "recruiting packages" for these guys: Darron Thomas, Lache Seastrunk, LaMichaal James? None other than LSU (Seastrunk/Thomas) and Auburn (Seastrunk). Despite good money, all three recruited by Chip Kelly personally, and through the advice and influence of Willie Lyles, would - along with Dontae Williams - become Ducks.
..and we're still not done with Lyles...
Well, we've got it established that Auburn paid for Lyles' services, but lost out on Seastrunk to Oregon through Lyles' influence. We've got Cal and Texas A&M trying to bid their way into contention through recruiting payments to Lyles, but both eventually being outbid by Oregon and Auburn in the competition. We've got a pre-existing cozy relationship between Kelly and Lyles while Kelly was still OC. And, more damning, we've got payments to Lyles, through Belotti, that started while Belotti was the HC. So, Belotti signs off on the checks as head coach following the pickup of Thomas/James; then, as AD, would continue signing them following the LOIs of Seastrunk/Williams.
Enter the curiouser and curioser case of LSU, a team I don't believe necessarily cheats, but, the paper so far indicates LSU paid for unsuccessful "recruiting packages" to Lyles for both Thomas and Seastrunk. Surely some of the teams that had a little uncle sugar in the pot don't get Ducked all the time do they? Let's ask then about the odd recruitment of Patrick Peterson, shall we.
Bwhahaha, of course it was in, silly Corndogs.
Patrick Peterson, all-everything LSU CB, out of Ft. Lauderdale was once upon a time going to be a Texas A&M Aggie. What is the route to College Station from Ft. Lauderdale? Through one Willie Lyles, who in addition to the "Texas" package, also offered a "Florida" and "National package". As you may recall, Lyles, who had chummed up with Peterson, visited A&M with Willie Lyles. Also in the mix, were Florida, LSU or course, and Auburn (under Eddie Gran, of whom we shall see more of later).
But, of all the things that rang hollow about the recruiting of Peterson, was the later discovery that Lyles offered "access" to Texas A&M for a meager $80,000, and eventually shopped PP to other teams as well. Lyles involvement continued throughout the recruiting process, and all sides have denied payment to Lyles for "recruiting packages" (including a very botched series of lies by Peterson regarding even visiting A&M)
But isn't it odd, that a known influence peddler handled the Nation's Number 5 recruit, shopped said recruit, LSU vehemently denies paying Peterson, yet checks were written by the Whos to said peddler...for the next three years for "recruiting packages". And, further, take a look at the assistants and schools who were "recruiting" Peterson at the same time Lyles was known to be shopping him around:
- Eddie Gran, who worked for the corrupt Miami teams of the early 90s (with Tubs as DC), the sanctioned Ole Miss Tuberville teams of the mid 90s, Auburn (under Tuberville), Tennessee (under paragon Lane Kiffin), and now a resurgent, immediate recruiting dynamo in Tallahassee.
- John Blake, who hasn't been in the news, at all. Nope. Note also, it's not like he doesn't recruit Texas or anything...
- Kenny Norton Jr, USC under that also wholesome guy, Pete Carroll.
But, LSU sends in Earl Lane, D-Line coach. That's it. No D Coordinator' no position coach, no Hat: Just a guy who promptly and abruptly leaves after that season to go work with Jim Leavitt at the friggin University of South Florida.
If there's not a lot to explain, then why does it smell so bad? And, the best that can be said for this chapter of the Lyles book, is that hey, at least Oregon wasn't in the picture.
Up next we get Californified, meet Miami (Hialeah) Vice, and have a Sevensome.
ED: Don't think for a second I've forgotten about Auburn/Lyles guy, Trovon Reed and others. They will appear when we start making sense of it all. BUT, in the meanwhile, Crimson and Cream Machine has even more information on the Kelly/Lyles/Ducks troika.
Good read; here's an excerpt:
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.