In the latest headline of what's been a solid week of scandal in college football, reports broke last night that now-notorious trainer/scout Will Lyles -- already under investigation for receiving a $25,000 payment from Oregon for his services -- had told assistant coach Van Malone of Texas A&M that the Aggies would need to "beat" $80,000 if they wanted a commitment from eventual LSU All-American Patrick Peterson, then one of the country's hottest high school prospects.
Today, Peterson responded to those allegations by speaking to a Baton Rouge radio station , calling them "baloney" and claiming that he had never even visited Texas A&M. "Why would I jeopardize my future over going to Texas A&M and $80,000 when I knew that my future was playing football," Peterson reportedly said.
There are two problems with these denials, though. First, no one has publicly accused Peterson of asking for any amount of money, much less accepting any; Malone's statements refer to Lyles and Lyles alone, and in the report Peterson's father (while calling businesses like Lyles' "escort services") specifically denies the family having ever requesting money in exchange for Peterson's signature. Peterson appears to responding to implications drawn from the report rather than the report itself, which doesn't claim he had done anything wrong.
Second, Peterson almost certainly did visit College Station; this Rivals article offer multiple details on Peterson's surprise visit (from the days he was using the last name Johnson) and his father himself said Peterson had enjoyed a "good visit" to A&M (one that included meeting up with Malone).
Neither of those issues mean that Peterson's denials aren't perfectly valid; the only real thing they probably indicate is that the interview was more off-the-cuff than carefully planned out.
But it also shows that it's an issue that Peterson and his family are taking seriously, and that despite his and his father's responses, it's one we haven't heard the last of yet by a long shot.
UPDATE: LSU has released an official statement from Peterson, which reads:
“I have never had any type of relationship with Willie Lyles and he had no influence on my decision to attend LSU, or any other school for that matter. He had no involvement with my recruiting process and I resent the fact that my name has come up in these allegations. I chose LSU because it’s a great school with a great football program. I never received nor was I offered anything to go to LSU and anyone saying otherwise is being dishonest.”Unlike Peterson's previous statements on the radio, there's nothing much confusing or contradictory about that. Assuming Peterson is being truthful, expect the NCAA's microscope to focus even more intensely on Lyles than it already is.
HT: @Year2 .