Ducks Dare NCAA With Seastrunk, Opposite Day

Spring Practice got underway this week in Eugene.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Oregon Invoice To Lyles for $25,000

(What, Chip Can’t Afford To Cash Out?)

The good news for Oregon is that - as Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported Tuesday - after a disappointing freshman redshirt, Lache Seastrunk has been impressive this week during drills.

Or is that bad news? (That is, that Seastrunk is even on the field.)

According to Oregon Coach Chip Kelly it’s definitely the former.

On March 3, the same day Oregon confirmed it had paid $25,000 to the one-person “recruiting service” run by Seastrunk “mentor” Willie Lyles, Kelly told John Canzano of the Oregonian: We’ve done nothing wrong.”

So why then did Kelly and Oregon fork over $25,000 to Lyles, who went from not knowing Seastrunk before he became a college football prospect to reportedly living with Seastrunk?

The above invoice for the transaction confirmed Oregon was to receive “Game Film and Highlight Film” from 22 states - including Oregon.

But when Kelly was asked by Canzano what Oregon got for its 25 large, Kelly said, “names and phone numbers.”

The payment to Lyles, subsequent discrepancy over services rendered and Lyles’ “Complete Scouting Service” falling well short of NCAA “recruiting service” guidelines soon drew a visit from NCAA investigators to Eugene.

That visit though may now be an extended NCAA stay after a March 13 FOXSports.com piece by Thayer Evans detailing longtime Oregon assistant coach Gary Campbell’s relationship with Lyles in Texas.

In an article titled “Is Lyles most powerful street agent?“, Evans reported that Lyles accompanied Ducks assistant Campbell to at least two Texas High Schools - Clear Springs High School and Dekaney High School - while Campbell was recruiting football players for the Ducks in 2010. Evans:

Campbell said he did visit high schools with Lyles, but doesn’t recall how often.

Campbell on Lyles:

“I just don’t understand what the big deal about this scouting service and paying Will is all about.

“I don’t think Will did anything wrong. I mean, I know he didn’t do anything wrong with us because he knew that we weren’t going to do anything outside of the rules.”

Apparently Campbell is unaware of the NCAA’s criteria for a booster, or “representative of the institution’s athletics interests” (NCAA bylaw 13.02.14):

an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have been known) by a member of the institution’s executive or athletics administration to:

(c) Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;

Again, keep in mind that before Seastrunk was known as a high school football prospect, Lyles had no prior relationship with him or his family.

If Campbell isn’t aware of the rules governing recruiting, it wouldn’t be the first time. The Oregonian reported last January:

The lone blemish on Campbell’s reputation was his 2003 interaction with junior-college running back J.J. Arrington, who had committed to California but was wavering back toward Oregon. In Campbell’s presence, Arrington signed with the Ducks after the midnight deadline, forging his father’s signature. The NCAA gave Oregon two years’ probation.

“It was a mistake,” Campbell said.

But Oregon stood by him, as he had the Ducks for so long. He so appreciates his coworkers’ longevity that if the Ducks’ coaching staff ever fractures or moves to another program, Campbell said, he might just retire.

The verification of the forgery caused Arrington to subsequently sign with Cal and landed Oregon in hot water with the NCAA.

Speaking of (in this case, alleged) undue influence over recruits, Oregon starting quarterback Darron Thomas said of Lyles in another FOXSports.com piece:

“He brings a lot of Texas to this team — a guy that Coach Chip Kelly and them out there now recruiting in Texas a lot. Like I said, he’s a big recruiting guy just leading guys.”

Oregon star LaMichael James on Lyles in the same story:

He’s very influential to me and I know to Lache and just different players.”

For all we know Lyles is a good egg who had no design on personal gain when he struck up a relationship with Seastrunk and his mother. The fact that those relationships happened only after Seastrunk became a major college football prospect, and that Lyles has subsequently moved out of the Seastrunk home and cut off his relationship with Seastrunk’s mother after her son signed with Oregon may be complete coincidence.

Like the $25,000 from Oregon to Lyles right after Seastrunk signed with the school was only for “Game Film and Highlight Film.” (Or was it “names and phone numbers“?)

But as Lyles visited multiple Texas high schools with Campbell, by NCAA rules he’s defined as a booster who is forbidden any contact with Oregon recruits.

NCAA bylaw 13.1.2 (Page 96) on what constitutes a “Permissible Recruiter”:

All in-person correspondence on and off campus recruiting contacts with prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians shall be made only by authorized institutional staff members. Such contact, as well as correspondence and telephone calls, by representatives of an institution’s athletics interests is prohibited.

There are some exceptions to that rule, but Lyles doesn’t fulfill any of them.

Lyles and Oregon have already violated the booster-contact rule thanks to Lyles’ relationship with both Seastrunk and assistant coach Campbell. Campbell confirmed the violation himself to FOXSports.com with his comments to Thayer Evans.

That violation would not, unto itself, render Seastrunk ineligible. But we’re now to the point with Oregon where the circumstantial evidence is impossible to ignore: Read more…

Video Of USC AD: Kiffin’s Done ‘Sensational’ Job

When Pat Haden took over as USC Athletic Director on August 3, 2010, he was looked upon by Trojan faithful as a godsend. But motivation for the matchless enthusiasm for Haden hire came from two distinctly different places.

1) Haden’s unmatched qualifications for the job.
2) Outgoing AD Mike Garrett’s performance on the job the previous 17 years.

Though Haden was the absolute best candidate USC could’ve landed for the job, plenty of USC alumni, staff and students were just as happy to see Garrett depart the scene thanks to his notoriously arrogant attitude and indisputable incompetence.

The dynastic football program gave Garrett cover for many years, but once Pete Carroll’s loosely-overseen empire collapsed, the USC administration did what it had to do: Show Garrett the door. I’ve already written too much about Garrett over the years, so I won’t bog you down by once again chronicling his myriad workplace failures.

I’d rather talk about Haden, who I fully expect will do a spectacular job for his alma mater, but who also might be prone to getting a little loose with the superlatives.

In his first statement to USC alumni, students and staff, Haden wrote in an official letter:

Mike Garrett was a sensational athletic director. His 17-year body of work is about as good as it gets. Read more…

USC Alum Buss: Mike Garrett Tenure “Wonderful”

Mike Garrett has been savaged by media and fans since he was unceremoniously ousted as USC Athletic Director by school President-elect Max Nikias last week.

Jerry Buss at USC football game

After 17 years on the job, Garrett departs with USC having recently been saddled with the harshest NCAA sanctions against a college football program since the SMU death penalty. Characterizing those penalties as the result of “envyreportedly enraged Nikias and may have contributed to Garrett’s ouster.

But despite the dire consequences of NCAA-cited “lack of institutional control”, at least one prominent alumnus of USC is sticking up for Garrett in the aftermath of his ouster.

The LOS ANGELES TIMES published this letter from Lakers Owner Jerry Buss last Friday: Read more…

USC AD: Mike Garrett ‘Retires’, Pat Haden Hired

Bill Dwyre of the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports today that Pat Haden will take over as USC Athletic Director on August 3. An announcement from USC is expected from the school’s president-elect Max Nikias later today. Nikias is taking over for Steven Sample, who is retiring in August.

Mike Garrett

The Times reports that Mike Garrett, who has served as USC AD the past 17 years, “is expected to take the school’s retirement package.”

On January 10, 2010, I wrote:

When USC School President Steven Sample retires in August, I’m told the 65-year-old Garrett will be escorted to his car in the parking lot on the same day - with the school claiming that he “retired.” (Okay, the parking lot thing was an exaggeration, but he will indeed leave the school when Sample retires.)

Haden is a former star USC quarterback and NFL player. He’s also a longtime broadcaster who most recently has worked on NBC’s Notre Dame telecasts as a color analyst.

More from the LAT on Haden: Read more…

SC Counselor: Cheating, Breaking Rules ‘Different’

A member of the USC Board of Counselors, which the official USC sports website describes as, “the main advisory board for the Athletic Department,” made some interesting recent comments to the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER about the NCAA sanctions brought against the school.

Mark Larson USC Board of Counselors Member

USC Counselor Mark Larson said of sanctions:

“There’s a difference between cheating and breaking the rules. This was breaking the rules. It’s ludicrous to say USC was cheating.

“It’s comical that everyone cares about what happens at USC. If this were any other Pac-10 school, no one would care this much.

“The people who are boosters and really involved in the program are of the same mindset I am. Face it, most people in the Pac-10 would take the nine years we had in exchange for what happened (Thursday).”

Larson’s comments echo what we heard from USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett last week. Read more…

The Big Loser In USC Appeal? Trojans Themselves

Case you missed Pete Carroll’s canned, two-minute video reaction last week to (allegedly) unknowingly plowing USC’s football program into an NCAA-cast buzzsaw, he pledged to assist the university in an appeal to get the lifesucking sanctions reduced.

Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush Heisman Trophies

(O.J. Wants His Notoriety Back!)

Also promoting an appeal was USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush.

Most legal experts familiar with the NCAA appeal process have reportedly indicated that an appeal of such magnitude, especially in lieu of USC’s defensive public reaction to the penalties and lack of cooperation during the NCAA’s four-year investigation, would be a largely futile effort in the end.

Pete Carroll Book Signing In Huntington Beach

(Forever? Yes. Win? No.)

So why then are Carroll, Garrett and Bush pushing so hard for an appeal? Read more…

Source: USC AD Will Be Gone At End Of Summer

Ben Bolch of the L.A. TIMES reports on reaction from USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett to recently enacted NCAA sanctions now saddling the Trojans football program. Speaking to alumni in San Francisco last night, Garrett said of the penalties:

Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush Heisman Trophies

“As I read the decision by the NCAA … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they all were Trojans.”

Diamond Leung of ESPN.com describes exchanges with Garrett last night as Leung attempted to get a comment from the USC AD:

Wearing a striped cardinal-and-gold-colored tie — and a smile — Garrett had this to say when I approached him before the start of the event: “No comment. Don’t bother me. The world is great.” Read more…

AD to Floyd: ‘You need to get your ass back to LA’

The NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE reports that’s what Tim Floyd claims USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett said to him after news of Floyd’s alleged $1,000 payment to Rodney Guillory (to ensure O.J. Mayo’s USC commit) hit the media in May.

Mike Garrett Tim Floyd OJ Mayo

(Mike Garrett: modicum of professionalism while under fire)

USC has since self-imposed significant sanctions on its basketball program because of NCAA violations the school claims happened on Floyd’s watch.  Floyd though now says he did nothing wrong and that he left because of Garrett’s decided lack of interpersonal skills.

What’s more entertaining, Garrett’s delightfully consistent buffoonry or Floyd’s blanket denial after the school he was coaching punished itself?!

Good times.

Read more…

Farce: Kiffin ‘Recruiting’ Chow To Take Own Job?

UPDATE (7:43pm ET): Norm Chow tells Fox Sports Radio Thursday that he never talked to any USC representative about a job with the school. He added that Lane Kiffin left him one voicemail.

During the interview on the Petros & Money Show, Chow said he never seriously entertained leaving UCLA for USC because he never received an offer.

Quite a spirited recruiting effort by Kiffin.

As I wrote earlier today, Lane Kiffin has made it clear that he “anticipates” running the USC offense now that he’s been gifted the head coaching position by USC Trustees and Jerry Buss.

Mike Garrett

(Garrett expects Kiffin to ‘recruit’ Chow to take job Kiffin himself wants)

Figurehead Athletic Director Mike Garrett though does provide some comedy gold on the subject of Norm Chow in his interview with Gary Klein of the LOS ANGELES TIMES today.

Klein: How did Norm Chow enter into this? Was that you suggesting it? Was it Lane suggesting it?
Garrett: It was my idea. I said, you know, it would be nice if we brought that whole staff back and I don’t think Lane was against that. So that’s what we’re trying to do.

Klein: So you’re looking forward to . . .
Garrett: Well, it’s a possibility. It still has to happen and we’ll see.

Klein: Are you a part of that process in terms of a negotiating process?
Garrett: No, it’s really Lane’s deal. He’s going to recruit him and see how it works out.

If you read SbB you already know that Garrett isn’t involved in anything, so the fact that he’s claiming that the Chow recruitment is up to Kiffin, and not the real guys in charge, USC Trustees Ed Roski and Pat Haden, is no surprise.

You also know that if Chow does cross the street from UCLA, it will be despite Kiffin, not because of him.

Kiffin is the last person USC power brokers like Roski and Haden would ask to “recruit” Chow. The process involves doubling (at least) Chow’s salary into the mid-$1Ms range and forcing Kiffin to take his former colleague.

Though Chow’s agent Don Yee has denied that his client is jumping ship, along with UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel, we’ve yet to hear from Chow himself. No one would be surprised if Yee and Neuheisel end up being wrong and Chow does take a position with USC. But if he does leave UCLA, we know it’ll have nothing to do with Kiffin’s “recruitment.”

Besides Garrett’s farcical comments about Chow, Klein unearths one other gem from SC’s fake AD.

Read more…

Haden, Roski Making Final Call On Trojans Coach

Sources familiar with the USC Board of Trustees and the Trojans coaching situation told me today that USC Board of Trustee members Pat Haden and Ed Roski are leading the search for USC’s next football coach.

Ed Roski and Pat Haden will make call on USC football coach

Trustee Chair Roski is a billionaire real estate developer who also is the leading figure in the push to bring the NFL back to L.A. and Haden is a former USC and NFL QB, current football announcer and prominent local businessman.

Yesterday I reported that USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett’s decision-making power at the school had diminished recently and that Garrett was likely to “retire” at the same time USC School President Steven Sample does in August.

The past month, I’ve been told that members of the USC Board of Trustees were considering approaching Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay about succeeding Garrett. Perhaps not coincidentally, McKay signed a five-year contract extension with the Falcons just two weeks ago. The deal is worth $15M.

There’s been additional rumors that Haden was in the running to take over as USC Athletic Director. A USC administration source told me today those rumors are false.

Read more…