Posted by Adam Jacobi
One of the more unsettling storylines to come out of this offseason has been the possibility that Oregon may have been paying large sums of money in exchange for high-level recruits. In particular, the school's athletic department paid $25,000 to Willie Lyles, a talent scout with close connections to superstar running back recruit (and eventual Oregon signee) Lache Seastrunk.
Lyles denied any wrongdoing, of course, and Oregon asserted that the $25,000 was in exchange for general recruiting information and was in no way used for the purposes of steering a particular recruit to Eugene or anywhere else. This explanation seemed to pass the smell test -- no school would leave a paper trail for such an illegal act, right? -- and as a result Oregon hasn't been drawing nearly as much national attention as, say, Ohio State thus far this spring. Also, as it turns out, Lyles' company, Complete Scouting Services, did provide Oregon with scouting reports on numerous recruits in the spring of 2010. Non-story, then, right?
Well, tiny problem. According to The Oregonian, Lyles' information was already two years out of date by the time he sold it to the Ducks:
A national recruiting package purchased by Oregon in February 2010 that included the player profiles for 140 players with the heading “Player Profile 2011” is made up of virtually all 2009 high school graduates.
Further, although the service was billed as a “national package,” the vast majority of the players are from Texas. Forty of those profiled are from Houston. Of the five from outside Texas, two were from South Carolina, and one each from California, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
Amid the documents released by Oregon related to the football scouting services inquiry were 140 recruiting profiles of high school players under the heading “2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet." Above each individual profile, however, reads “Player Profile 2011.” The related invoice cites the "2011 National Package."
The full report itself is available here (opens in new Google Docs page).
It's important to note that Oregon has not given any statements about what information was requested and when it was received, so until that's known there stands the possibility (remote as it may be) of this being a clerical mixup that was later rectified to Oregon's satisfaction. There's no evidence to suggest that as yet, though, and there most certainly is evidence that there's some funny business going on here.
So let's ask the question again: why did Oregon really pay Willie Lyles $25,000?