Monday, March 7, 2011

Auburn Wasn't the Only Cheater to Get to the National Championship

Highly touted guys from Texas don't leave the state of Texas, unless of course they go to Oklahoma. That's why I found it kind of suspicious that Lache Seastrunk took his talents to North Beach, better known as the sparkling Northern oasis of Eugene, Oregon. I don't mind telling you that the second most of these upper-tier recruits sign LOI's to colleges that are way off the radar, my first reaction is, "Well, they're cheating."

Seastrunk also fell into that category when he signed with Oregon last year. From Big-12 country to the rainy, Sasquatch-laden confines of the Pacific Northwest? Not without some heavy convincing... and by heavy convincing I mean STRAIGHT CASH! While it doesn't initially look like Seastrunk himself benefitted from attending UO, it does look like someone he knew quite well did. 

Willy Lyles, who owns a "recruiting service" in Texas and is also an athletic trainer, has been on Oregon's payroll for the last few years as a legitimate recruiting guru (GREAT READ ESPN- Schlabach and Schad) . From Chip Kelly's comments about Lyles, it seems as though almost all schools around the country purchase these type of services in areas of the country with which they aren't familiar. What probably isn't kosher is Lyles' relationship with Seastrunk. These are Evelyn Seastrunk's comments about her son's "trainer":

"Willie said he was a trainer. Now Oregon says he's a scout? Is he on Oregon's payroll? If Willie Lyles collected $25,000 off my son he needs to be held accountable. The NCAA must find out for me. I don't know how to digest someone cashing in on my son."

The story gets better as Mr. Lyles' involvement in Oregon's program grows deeper.

Last December, Oregon's star tailback LaMichael James was invited to the College Football awards, where James received the Doak Walker Award. You'll never guess who his guest was... that's right, none other than Willie Lyles, who described himself as James' trainer and advisor. Doesn't it seem like a little bit of a conflict of interest to be on the payroll and best chums with a player that you helped recruit to the university that employs your "recruiting service"? 

Add to this that Lyles and Sean Nelson of Auburn fame are also friends. If you don't recall, Nelson is the shady character that is getting Auburn grilled for their recruitment of Trovon Reed and Greg Robinson. Lyles and Nelson both accompanied Seastrunk on his visit to Texas and have been reported to have other ties with one another. 

Personally, these recruiting shenanigans are getting ridiculous. I can only hope that all parties involve get hammered here, but  if the recent past is any indication of what might happen, they'll probably get off scot free. Yet another example of how a painfully obvious wrong goes unpunished because of procedure and red tape. If you read the story, it's apparent that the Lyles and Oregon have an improper relationship with these recruits, but because they have exploited some loophole no one will get whacked. 

Could someone please inject some common sense into this whole process. I'm getting sick of it. Yeah, I know everyone cheats, but when you thumb your nose at the NCAA after you cheat shouldn't you at least get put in time-out?

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