Posted by Tom Fornelli
On Monday we learned that Oregon had paid talent scout Willie Lyles $25,000 for some recruiting reports that were apparently two years old. That discovery means one of a couple things. There was either a clerical error that resulted in Oregon getting the wrong report, somebody at Oregon is really stupid, or there's something funny going on here. Then there's a fourth option.
Maybe Oregon was paying Lyles' cell phone bill.
According to a report in The Register-Guard, over the last four years, Oregon coaches have exchanged around 400 text messages and numerous phone calls with Lyles.
Records released by the University of Oregon, in response to media requests, show that Oregon coaches made or accepted 70 calls in a fourth-month period that ended in March of 2010, when the football program paid $25,000 to Lyles for outdated recruiting information just a few weeks after Texas running back Lache Seastrunk signed with the Ducks.
Lyles had been serving as a mentor to Seastrunk.
The records of cell phone calls shows that Gary Campbell, the UO running backs coach, made 27 calls to Lyles during that time and received 11 more from Lyles, while Kelly’s cell phone showed only one call made to Lyles, for a three-minute duration.
The UO records also show some 400 text messages exchanged between Lyles and UO coaches over the past four years, the heaviest volume of those involving Kelly at a time when he was still the offensive coordinator.
Kelly traded 12 texts with Lyles on the two days before Jan. 17, 2008, when UO received a verbal commitment from LaMichael James, who has described Lyles as an advisor.
The report also goes on to detail a couple of specific incidents in which Chip Kelly and Lyles were in constant contact via text message, with one such instance coming the day before Chip Kelly was named as Mike Bellotti's successor at Oregon. Now, it's important to point out here that just because Chip Kelly and Willie Lyles were texting a lot before LaMichael James made his decision and before Kelly became head coach, that doesn't mean there was anything funny going on here.
For all we know, Lyles and Kelly were texting the night before James committed to talk about James coming to a decision. Unless a record of the text emerges from Kelly to Lyles' phone that says "Thanks, the check is in the mail" there's not exactly a whole lot anybody can prove here.
But you do have to admit, fresh off the news that Oregon paid Lyles $25,000 for two-year old reports, it does smell a bit fishy.