Audio: Cal Paid NCAA-Targeted Lyles Five Thou

On March 3, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports broke the news that NCAA officials were investigating a $25,000 payment made in 2010 by the University of Oregon to a Houston man, Will Lyles, for providing recruiting services for the school’s football program.

Willie Lyles and Jeff Tedford

After Robinson’s report, Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported, “Lyles has a mentoring relationship with Oregon running back Lache Seastrunk.” (From 2009-2010, Seastrunk was a heavily recruited high school football prospect from Texas.)

11 days after Robinson’s initial report, Thayer Evans of FOXSports.com reported that LSU had paid Lyles $6,000 in 2010 for providing recruiting services for the school’s football program.


During an interview on FOXSportsRadio.com’s Real Talk With Jason Whitlock podcast (full interview) last week, Lyles said he was also paid $5,000 by Cal for his recruiting services.

After noting that Lyles had told him he made $36,000 in 2010, Whitlock asked Lyles:

“You got a check for $25,000 from Oregon, where was the other $11,000?”

Lyles:

“The other $11,000 was $6,000 from LSU and the other $5,000 was from Cal-Berkeley.”

On Feb. 26, 2009, Greg Biggins of ESPN.com reported that then-Texas high school football prospect Lache Seastrunk took a recruiting visit to Cal the last week of February.

In the same piece about Cal’s “Junior Day” recruiting event, Biggins noted of then-Louisiana High School recruit Trovon Reed:

Trovon Reed (Thibodaux, La.) was expected to be on hand but won’t be able to make it. Reed is one of the elite receivers in the South and is holding offers from schools like Texas, Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

“I couldn’t get out there but I’m going to try and make it for their next Junior Day,” Reed said. “I like Cal and I liked how they used Desean Jackson. They want to use me in a similar way so I’m definitely interested in checking them out.

On April 1 I reported of Reed’s close association with Lyles and Seastrunk. Excerpt from that report:

On Feb. 16 I broke the news that NCAA officials had recently visited Thibodaux, Louisiana, to investigate the recruitment of a current Auburn football player, Trovon Reed, and a recent football signee to the school, Greg Robinson.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Sean Nelson

At the heart of that NCAA investigation was Thibodaux resident Sean Nelson. Nelson, who is an associate of Reed and Robinson, has been characterized as a street agent who exerted possible undue influence on the two recruits in their decision to choose Auburn. Nelson is also a known associate of the NCAA’s current public enemy #1, Will Lyles. Lyles’ one-man recruiting service was recently paid $25,000 by the University of Oregon for recruiting videos that the school has yet to produce to the public.

Oregon has, to this day, not produced any materials to the public that it received from Lyles for his recruiting services.

Speaking of Cal, on March 13, Thayer Evans reported on the relationship between Lyles and Houston-area high school football prospect Trevon Randle:

Randle said Lyles talked to him a lot about California and Miami. He said Lyles didn’t have to talk to him much about Oregon, because “I told him about Oregon.” But Randle said Lyles knew Ducks coach Chip Kelly well.

Just over a month after meeting Lyles, Randle committed to LSU at a Tigers junior day. Randle said he consulted with his parents before choosing LSU, but said his father is “pretty tight” with Lyles.

Having committed to LSU, Randle said he later spent time with Lyles while attending LSU summer camps. He said Lyles was particularly close with (LSU Assistant Coach Brick) Haley, who recruited him for the Tigers.

It was Haley who cut the $6,000 check to Lyles on behalf of LSU.

Despite that transaction, and LSU commit Randle saying Haley was “particularly close” with Lyles, Haley denied even knowing Lyles in the same FOXSports.com story:

A week later, (Trevon Randle’s Clear Springs (TX) High School Football Coach Clint) Hartman crossed paths with Lyles again. This time he was with LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley, who had come to see Randle. When Lyles tried to walk onto the field, Hartman told him to return to the parking lot.

Hartman later called Haley and told him that Lyles was never to return to Clear Springs High.

“I didn’t know the guy, Coach,” Hartman recalled Haley saying of Lyles. “He showed up and said he was helping the last guy here for LSU.”

Hartman knew that wasn’t true. After all, LSU had never previously recruited at Clear Springs High.

Three weeks ago Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt of SolidVerbal.com interviewed Cal football coach Jeff Tedford. During the visit, Rubenstein asked Tedford:

“I want to call them characters in the nicest possible way that we’ve been seeing this offseason on the fringes of recruiting.  How do you and your staff address those types of situations?”

Tedford:

“We haven’t run across that. We typically deal with the player, the coaches and their families so we really don’t get involved in any of the other stuff.

“Obviously everyone uses recruiting services but that’s just to gather data and not depend on what they have to say or what their opinions are or anything like that. It’s really solely collection the information that you need on where the prospects are so you can have a pretty good idea on where to go recruit.

“But as far as people being involved, we haven’t really run into that. We’re really just focused on what important to the kid and go through the school and his coaches.

” … You do have to keep your head on a swivel and you have to know what’s going on out there because you don’t want to bury your head in the sand but on the other hand you really need to keep everything close to us and try to communicate as much as you can just with the recruits, the student-athletes and their families to make sure the lines of communication are open and everyone is on the same page.”

The year before Cal and Tedford paid $5,000 to Lyles for his recruiting services - and three weeks before Lyles associate Lache Seastrunk made a recruiting visit to the Cal-Berkeley campus - Tedford said the following at Cal’s 2009 signing day press conference:

It’s a little unsettling because sometimes they go underground and you can’t get hold of them. You don’t know what’s happening, so you just continue to try. With not being able to text now, now you just have to call and you get an answering machine. So you’re really at their mercy. It’s a helpless feeling when you don’t know the information. You can’t counterpoint something you don’t know about, so that’s some of it. But it’s so competitive. No one’s going to give up. Everybody is going to always continue to battle right down to the end. Obviously, the people we are recruiting against are very good programs and very competitive that way.”

Is it unreasonable to think that at least part of the reason Tedford’s Cal paid Lyles $5,000 was to ensure a unique level of access to Seastrunk and other Texas recruits associated with Lyles?

That isn’t to say that Tedford was directly involved in the recruitment of Seastrunk. That duty fell to Cal football recruiting coordinator Kenwick Thompson, who shares a hometown with Lyles: Houston.

There’s nothing wrong with Lyles tipping off schools to talent in his area. Nor is there his taking money for such services, regardless the amount. (Because the NCAA does not stipulate a limit.)

Though Lyles’ “Compete Scouting Services” does not come close to fulfilling the NCAA’s official definition of what constitutes a legitimate recruiting service, the NCAA rules regarding such activity are so vague that until the NCAA gets serious about governing them, it’s hard to hold even Lyles to any sort of NCAA-borne standard.

But Lyles did indisputably violate the NCAA booster rule as it pertained to Oregon’s recruitment of Seastrunk thanks to on-record comments from Oregon assistant coach Gary Campbell. What, if any, penalties Oregon will receive from the NCAA for that misstep remains to be seen.

During the same interview last week in which he confirmed receiving a $5,000 payment from Cal and a $6,000 payment from LSU,  Lyles was asked by FOXSports.com columnist Whitlock:

“Do you ever steer kids to schools?” Read more…

Whitlock Betrays The Man We All Grew To Admire

I’ve written way too many ugly things about people in this space over the years. Mean-spirited, nonsensical rants targeting innocent media members that had no purpose except to exorcise my anger at an industry I couldn’t conquer on my own terms. (Though millions of you apparently loved every inch of it.)

Jason Whitlock

With that admission, I confess that rarely has a column affected me the way a piece by Jason Whitlock on FoxSports.com affected me today. I was truly saddened to read his unprovoked, unexplained rage against a wide variety of his media colleagues.

Whitlock is one of the sports journalism’s most prominent originalists. A man who has parlayed true talent to the height of the biz. Yes, we warred for a very short time while broadcasting on Kansas City radio waves, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for what he’s done in print and the electronic media.

Until now.

Whitlock’s piece today, designed to embarrass virtually every prominent media member whom he’s crossed paths with over the years, only served to permanently mar his own reputation as being an eminently fair, well-measured sports and cultural commentator.

His cowardly, unprovoked attacks were a direct contradiction to the guy we’ve grown to admire. A man who has shown unimaginable courage in standing up for the oft-times unpopular societal standards he believes in.

His lede in the FoxSports.com piece, comparing himself to Erin Andrews because both have now appeared on Oprah, was largely incoherent and came off as a flimsy excuse to unleash a torrent of toxic commentary aimed squarely at his sports media peers.

Perhaps some found it oddly amusing, but my takeaway was decidedly different. Read more…

Whitlock: Racism Victim Or Too Old For The Club?

I grew up in Kansas City and also spent a few years in town programming a sports radio station, hosting a midday sports radio talk show and broadcasting KC Royals baseball. Ten years ago, my sports radio talk show - for a short while - competed directly with a show hosted by KANSAS CITY STAR columnist Jason Whitlock on another KC station.

SbB Girl Wendy At Kansas City Power & Light District

(If I didn’t have a ringer that night, I’d have been behind Whitlock in line)

The 41-year-old Whitlock, in case you don’t know, is by far the most popular (and notorious to some) media figure in KC, and most likely the biggest celebrity inside the city limits, save George Brett. Back when I was doing the radio thing, I was in hyper-competitive mode, so I probably said some things about Whitlock that were unfair and downright distasteful. Since I left KC, I’ve grown to more appreciate his media work and contrarian-yet-compelling perspective on black culture.

So it pained me to see the piece he recently wrote in my hometown paper about the relatively new Kansas City downtown entertainment venture, called the “Power & Light District”. In the column Whitlock, who is black, essentially damns the entire District as a failure because the bouncer and manager of one of the P&L’s clubs would not initially allow him entry on a Saturday night. He asserts in the column that he and his two companions, also black males, were stonewalled solely because of race. (They were eventually let into the club.)

Coincidentally, I myself was at P&L last month and gained entry to the same establishment, called “Shark Bar”. On that Saturday night, about 30% of the patrons I observed inside the bar were black - male and female.  That was also reflective of the overall demographic at P&L that night.

Just as important, I saw no signs of black males being unduly turned away at the door, despite massive overcrowding around the entrance. None, at least at the time I was there, were passed in line at the door or being unduly refused entrance while white males were allowed in. All males were treated the same.

I was fast-tracked into the club solely because of my lovely female companion. (You know who.) If I was there with another male, I would’ve expected to stand in line - unless I knew someone that worked at the club.

Whitlock has no doubt frequented night clubs and bars in the biggest cities in America, and around the world for that matter. He knows that everyone who goes to clubs can occasionally be denied entrance for no good reason. God knows I’ve had it happen to me dozens of times!

Whitlock, I would hope, also knows that the bouncer’s job at the KC club that night was to not just let everyone into the bar. His job was to filter the crowd so hot, young, 20-something females got in first. Followed by young, similarly-aged, binge-drinking males. That’s the prevailing demographic of Shark Bar, and most of P&L for that matter. For that obviously preferred demographic, the color of skin, from what I observed, was incidental.

So where does that leave three forty-something black men trying to crash the club?

Outside, brah.

Nothing is fair about trying to enter a crowded club on a Saturday night. Especially if your group is all male, non-celebrities and outside the prevailing age demographic.

The same would’ve applied that night if three white, well-dressed 40-something gentlemen pulled up at Shark Bar wearing expensive cowboy boots and bolo ties. Odds are, they won’t be in the express lane.

So why would a worldly Whitlock lash out at the bar in such a public manner - in an obvious, albeit clumsy attempt to damage P&L’s reputation?

I think I may know the answer. Read more…

Do The Kansas City Royals Want Barry Bonds?

Whether you love or hate KANSAS CITY STAR columnist Jason Whitlock, you’ve got to admit that the man knows how to get people talking. Fans seem to disagree whether he loves or hate their teams, and while he frequently writes about race, he often addresses the issue from unexpected angles. The one thing everyone can agree on is that his love for Jeff George is out of control. But I digress.

Barry Bonds and his big game
(The only game Barry’s got left?)

In today’s STAR, the man who introduced America to the concept of the “Black KKK” is at it again with a column pleading for the Kansas City Royals to add infamous slugger Barry Bonds to their lineup. Amongst some typically Whitlockian hyperbole comparing the plight of Bonds to that of Muhammad Ali are some pretty interesting quotes on the matter from various members of the Royals themselves.

Read more…

Speed Read - NYT: Urine Links Bonds To Steroids

Barry Bonds may be getting his own Southwest Airlines “wanna get away?” commercial in the near future. The NEW YORK TIMES reported late last night that federal authorities have urine samples believed to belong to Bonds that have tested positive for anabolic steroids, and not just the “cream” and “clear” that Bonds has already admitted to taking.

Barry Bonds

(This wood shack in Manitoba is where you can find Barry for the next six months)

The news came as authorities raided the house of trainer Greg Anderson’s mother-in-law in an effort to put pressure on Anderson to testify against Bonds, which he has thus far refused to do. Anderson has been in prison for more than a year for contempt of court. Much more on this to come today, I’m sure.

The Internet was abuzz when Mickey Rourke called out Chris Jericho on the red carpet at the SAG Awards the other night and said he would participate in April’s Wrestlemania, presumably as his Randy “The Ram” Robinson character from The Wrestler. Well, that excitement lasted all of three days.

Rourke has released a statement saying that he won’t be getting into the ring after all. Perhaps Rourke decided that he wouldn’t stand a chance unless maybe he could get the Ultimate Warrior out of retirement.

Mickey Rourke Wrestler

The last thing anyone wants to be these days is the #1 team in college basketball. For the third straight week, the top-ranked team went down. This time, it was last week’s #1 Wake Forest taking down Duke, which rallied from a 13-point deficit in the 2nd half but forgot to play defense on the last play of the game. James Johnson’s virtually uncontested layin with 0.8 on the clock gave the Demon Deacons a 70-68 win. Here’s the end of the game. If you want to see the last play, skip to about the 3:50 mark:

Elsewhere, #6 North Carolina got a three-pointer at the buzzer from Ty Lawson to beat Florida State, while #21 Villanova handed #3 Pitt its second loss of the year in the last college game ever at the Spectrum in Philly.

• SI.COM isn’t bowing to the liberal media, as they’ve brought conservative pundit (and vaguely Palin-esque) S.E. CUPP (yeah, that’s her name) on board as a columnist. Her first subject? Bull-riding, of course. THE BIG LEAD has more.

• Everybody thinks they can run an MLB team. Now, 2K Sports is giving you the chance to prove it. Billy Beane is the pitchman for MLB Front Office Manager, which lets you run a franchise as a GM and see if you can screw up as badly as Steve Phillips. There are some other titles out there along these lines (I like Baseball Mogul), but this still looks like it could be pretty cool for all the seamheads out there.  CNET’s GEEK GESTALT blog has a story on the launch.

• DEADSPIN has a photo of columnist Jason Whitlock with a couple of strippers:

Jason Whitlock strippers

•  The OKLAHOMAN says that Oklahoma City sports anchor and former ABC sideline reporter Dean Blevins fell and hit his head on some ice on Monday, causing him to miss the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game. He says he actually was laid out unconscious for at least 45 minutes in broad daylight before a neighbor noticed. Yikes.

• The ORLANDO SENTINEL says that Bobby Bowden has agreed to a one-year contract to remain at Florida State, but there appears to be no commitment beyond that.

• Iowa radio broadcaster Ed Podolak, who resigned after photos of him enjoying himself a little too much in Tampa before the Outback Bowl hit the web, is seeking “professional treatment,” according to THE WIZ OF ODDS. If everyone who’d ever had pictures taken of them drunkenly hitting on a questionable girl sought treatment, half of America would be in rehab.

Ed Podolak

Stephon Marbury still isn’t playing, but the NEW YORK POST reports that he’s still in business. The store that sold his cheap Starbury sneakers closed, but now he has an arrangement with Amazon to sell the shoes online.

Jason Caffey, who might have the worst illegitimate-children-to-points-per-game ratio in NBA history, now has a warrant out for his arrest for failing to pay more than $200,000 in child support, says the AP.

• PRO FOOTBALL TALK reports that Jon Gruden finally spoke out after getting thrown under a entire fleet of buses over the last two weeks by his former players. He called himself “Chucky,” and didn’t outright deny interest in the Notre Dame job.  He probably would’ve been better off just staying disappeared.

With the news that Barry Bonds’ urine tested positive for steroids, will he ever admit to being a user?

View Results

Blog Jam: Torii Hunter’s Tribute To Michael Phelps

• YOU BEEN BLINDED splashes up a clip of Torii Hunter celebrating the Angels’ AL West title with a tribute to Michael Phelps.

Torii Hunter is Michael Phelps

We understand that Stephanie Rice is swimming her way to Anaheim as we speak.

• Sure he can do a mean Milli Vanilli, but LARRY BROWN SPORTS discovers Jonathan Papelbon’s real talent - cross-dressing for high school productions of “Dirty Dancing“.

• If New England is looking for a QB, Jason Whitlock of the KANSAS CITY STAR suggests the Pats get on the phone with Jeff George.

Palmer? Bush? Leinart? FIRST & BIG TEN has an interesting interview with the USC player really responsible for the Trojans’ re-emergence: former WR John Zilka.

Read more…

Blog Jam: Michael Phelps’ Thug Motivation 101

Blog Pound: Will Candace Parker Save The WNBA?

  • Unsilent Majority wrote a WNBA post over at DEADSPIN. Beware of flying pigs during your morning commute tomorrow.

Candace Sparks WNBA

  • BRAHSOME has this Manchester riot video that’s been everywhere else lately. It’s worth another look. Read more…

Blog-O-Rama: Can Whitlock Score A Pulitzer?

  • BOING BOING wonders if you could play Tecmo Bowl with this controller.

Giant NES Controller

  • YOU’VE BEEN BLINDED sits down with Jason Whitlock. And by “sits down,” we mean “probably exchanged emails.”

Read more…

Blog-O-Rama: Adriana Lima Dating Some T-Wolf

• LE BASKETBAWL finds at least one winner on the 10-39 T-Wolves, as Marko Jaric is apparently dating Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima:

Adriana Lima Marko Jaric

• SOCCERLENS focuses in on the real goal for a successful World Cup in South Africa - legalizing prostitution.

Jason Whitlock of the KANSAS CITY STAR wants his March Madness now, as he’s bored with the college b-ball regular season.

• THE BIG LEAD is rooting for Dudley Hart to win the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, considering he missed a lot of golf time caring for his lung cancer-stricken wife.

• FAN IQ’s 100% INJURY RATE suggests that if the Olympic discus toss doesn’t thrill you, why not try the live-goat-into-the-lions’-den toss?

Read more…