LaMichael James spent his draft day with Willie Lyles

The 49ers used the 61st pick of the NFL Draft on Friday to add Oregon’s LaMichael James to their crowded backfield. It was a big day (as evidenced by the logjam of messages on his phone) for James, and there to share the moment with him was none other than Willie Lyles, the very man at the center of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into alleged recruiting violations by the Ducks football program.

Lyles has been a confidant to James even before he and the Ducks came into the NCAA’s crosshairs. Lyles accompanied LMJ to a college football awards show in 2010, calling himself a trainer and adviser. And on Friday, a story by The Register-Guard in Eugene about James being drafted used a photo showing the two together at LaMike’s draft party.

This shouldn’t be surprising to close followers of Oregon football. James has always said positive things about his relationship with Lyles, even while the media and Ducks fans were hammering the so-called “street agent.” “Him and me are really close,” the running back said last year. “I talk to him all the time. He has never steered me wrong or given me bad advice.” That tone didn’t change when James addressed fans who wondered about Lyles being at the party:

Somewhere Chip Kelly is cringing.

Photo credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Willie Lyles’ Patrick Peterson Recruiting Report Only Makes Oregon Look Worse

A report published Wednesday evening alleges that Willie Lyles told a Texas A&M coach in 2007 that he had to pay at least $80,000 to land Patrick Peterson who was one of the top rated defensive backs coming out of high school. Peterson became a star at LSU and is considered to be a likely top-five pick in the NFL draft, but this story is less about him and more about Willie Lyles.

Lyles’ name should be familiar to you because he’s the proprietor of Complete Scouting Services, a recruiting service that was paid $25,000 by Oregon a few weeks after highly touted running back prospect Lache Seastrunk committed to the school. The amount of money Oregon paid for the services renders seemed absurdly high and like something that should not have cost more than $5,000. Many people suspected that the $25,000 to Lyles’ company was a way of disguising a payment issued to the trainer for helping to steer Seastrunk to Eugene.

[Read more...]

Oregon Paid $25,000 to Willie Lyles for Scouting Services, Appears Guilty

If you look back at programs that lacked tradition but gained instant success in collegiate athletics, you’ll often find a trace of violations committed during recruitment. Just look at Baylor and Tennessee basketball recently — neither program had success, yet both have done well the last few years, and both programs also have been involved in recruiting violations. Oregon is in a similar spot in football — they’ve enjoyed some success over the years, but they’ve never been a consistent national power until the last two years. They’ve also never really been a program that could pry top-level recruits on a national level. But lately they’ve been able to do it, and the recent investigation of the school’s relationship with Willie Lyles leaves a trail indicating why that may have been possible.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Oregon had paid Lyles’ Houston-based Complete Scouting Services $25,000 a few weeks after highly-touted Texas running back recruit Lache Seastrunk (pronounced Lake) signed with the school. Though it’s completely ordinary for schools like Oregon to pay national scouting services for video and contact information of players, it usually doesn’t cost more than $5,000 or so. A $25,000 payment seems exorbitant, and it looks like the scouting service Lyles was a part of is a business front for steering players to the school.

Now here’s the kicker from The Oregonian as pointed out by Sports by Brooks “if you ask [football coach Chip] Kelly what was provided he’ll tell you the Ducks received contact information for players — ‘names and phone numbers.'”

That doesn’t really match up with what was listed on the invoice regarding services rendered by Lyles’ scouting service:

[Read more...]