March 3rd

Oregon under NCAA investigation

An ESPN report states that NCAA officials are examining whether a Texas man helped Oregon point high school recruits toward Eugene.

The NCAA are looking into the recruitment of running back Lache Seastrunk, a redshirt freshman from Temple, Texas. Seastrunk was one of the most highly sought after recruits of the Class of 2010, choosing Oregon over Cal, LSU, and USC. Specificially, the NCAA is asking whether Texas-based trainer Willie Lyles played a role in Seastrunk’s recruitment.

Oregon athletics department spokesman Dave Williford confirmed to ESPN that Oregon paid Lyles $25,000 for Lyle’s recruiting services. The payment was made shortly after Seastrunk signed a letter of intent in February, 2010. “Most programs pay for recruiting services,” said Oregon coach Chip Kelly. “Our compliance office is aware of it. Will has a recruiting service that met NCAA rules and we used him in 2010.”

Okay, so far, so good for the Ducks.

Here’s where it gets interesting …

ESPN is reporting that a person who once worked with Lyles said the $25,000 payment exceeded the $16,500 Oregon paid the recruiting service for its work the previous two years. A survey of FBS coaches found that recruiting services usually charge $5,000 or less per season for their services.

So, Oregon paid Lyles about three times the normal rate, doing so shortly after signing day, 2010.

And …

The ESPN source also said Lyles’ affiliation with the recruiting service had been terminated prior to Lyles’ billing Oregon on his own.

Ouch.

The investigation has also learned that Lyles attended several practices during Seastrunk’s senior season at Temple high. “All of the sudden, I notice Lyles was hanging around Temple, Texas, a lot,” said Bryce Monsen, Seastrunk’s high school coach. Monsen also said that Evelyn Seastrunk, Lache’s mother, informed him that Lyles was coordinating Seastrunk’s recruiting. “I was told to stay away from Lache and his mother, as far as recruiting,” said Monsen.

The NCAA is also investigating Lyles’ relationship with Ducks’ star tailback LaMichael James, the nation’s leading rusher in 2010, and a Heisman trophy finalist. This past December, Lyles was James’ guest at the ESPNU Home Depot College Football Awards show, with Lyles describing himself as James’ trainer and advisor.

But wait, there’s more …

NCAA officials are also talking with a Dallas man, Baron Flenory, about his connections with Oregon. Flenory is the co-founder of New Level Athletics and Badger Sports Elite 7-on-7 camps, and just happens to have played football at New Hampshire when Chip Kelly was the coach there.

According to Oregon state records, Flenory was paid $3,745 by the Ducks in 2010. Flenory has denied any wrong-doing.

The report also notes that the University of Oregon also paid at least two other scouting services: $8,000 to Gary Howard of Northern California Scouting; and $1,995 to PrepTracker, LLC, of Nashville, Tennessee.

Here is the University of Oregon’s press release on the matter: “The athletics department paid for services rendered by a pair of scouting services that were processed through the athletics department business office to Complete Scouting Services and New Level Athletics. This is no different than services purchased by a number of colleges and universities throughout the country. This is something we remain confident that is within the acceptable guidelines allowed by the NCAA and occurred with the knowledge of the department’s compliance office.”

One CBS columnist’s take … No, Oregon didn’t break any rules, they just cheated

We have nothing to hide,” says University of Oregon spokesman Dave Williford.

Stay tuned … this could be an interesting spring …

March 2nd

ESPN’s Colin Cowherd – “Top 10-12 program” facing major violations

Maybe it’s just a slow news day … Or maybe there is something to it.

Colin Cowherd, on his radio program on ESPN, reported that “a major program in this country is going to be outed very soon for major recruiting violations. It is a top 10-12 program.” Cowherd cited several unnamed sources stating that, “it is a major program and a major publication.” Cowherd also stated that, despite all of the problems with Cam Newton last fall, that the program in question was not Auburn.

There was some speculation early on that it was Texas or Tennessee, but neither program right now fits the criterion of being a “top 10-12 program”. There are also rumors that Oregon may be the school targeted, but John Canzano of the Oregonian wrote, “A reliable source high in the athletic department said everyone there was ‘surprised’ to hear about the rumors. They have not been contacted by the NCAA on this matter, nor anyone else.”

We’ll just have to wait and see if this story has any legs …

College football and crime

The cover story of Sports Illustrated this week investigated the preseason top 25 teams from 2010, and discovered that there are a number of recruits which are playing for major college football programs which have a criminal record. “College football and crime” found that, of some 2,837 players on the rosters of the 2010 preseason Top 25, about 7% of had criminal records.

The school found to have the most players with criminal records was Pitt, with 22 players charged. Only one school in the Top 25, TCU, was free from having players on their roster with a criminal record. [Of schools in the Big 12 and Pac-12, Oklahoma came in 7th, with nine players; Oregon and USC were tied for 11th with seven; Utah was tied for 15th with five; Nebraska and Oregon State were tied for 19th with four; Texas was at 23rd with two; and Stanford was 24th with one].

In all, 277 offenses were uncovered, with nearly 40% for serious offenses, including 56 for violent crimes. In cases where the outcome was known, players were guilty or paid some penalty in nearly 60% of the total incidents.

While not excusing any of the above, the report to me seems to be exploitive and biased. Just a few questions ….

– What is the percentage of the total school population which has a similar record? Without comparable numbers from the general college population, no conclusions can be drawn.

– According to the report, less than 60% of the players plead guilty or paid some penalty. Which means over 40% were not guilty of the charges, reducing the population of “criminals” on team’s rosters from 7% to 3%.

– According to the report, “nearly 40 percent involved serious offenses”. Read another way, that would be, “over 60 percent involved minor offenses”. Again, how would the actual number of serious offenses compare with the student population involved?

– While the report indicates that some states, like Florida, do allow anyone to check juvenile records, it is silent about those states in which juvenile records are sealed.

Again, I have no problem with criminal offenders being punished to the full extent of the law. If Michael Sipili, for example, is found guilty of sexual assault, my sympathies are with the victim and her family, and Sipili, Buff or not, should be held accountable for his actions. That being said, however, for the article to paint such a broad brush of accusation, over a relatively small sample, and without any similar investigation of the general population or any other group (whose to say that a review of students in the journalism school do not also have a track record where 3% have been charged with a “serious crime”?) is, to me, over-the-top journalism.

Perhaps Sports Illustrated should have run a second week of swimsuits instead …

 

 

First (un)official visit for 2012 set

Elijah Shumate is a 6’1″, 205-pound four-star safety/linebacker prospect from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, New Jersey.

And he will be in Boulder for the CU Spring game.

Shumate may be a long-shot for the Buffs, as the high school junior presently favors South Carolina (“I’ve got a great relationship with the coaches … I love how they recruit me”) and Rutgers (“I’d like to stay close to home”), but he is willing to take a look at Colorado.

“My coaches say that Colorado is a good school, and wanted me to check it out,” Shumate told SuperPrep.com. “I know two guys from this area that go there, too. They’ve got (former teammate) Tony Jones (red-shirt freshman tailback) and Paul Vigo (sophomore defensive back from New Brunswick, N.J.). I’m cool with them.”

Shumate may favor South Carolina and Rutgers, but he has offers from all over the country. Scout.com is showing offers from North Carolina, LSU, Penn State, USC, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech, amongst others.

“I want to focus on my senior year and be done this summer,” said Shumate. I want to feel at home, and be very wanted by the program. I’d like to come in and compete early.” As a result, though Shumate’s visit will be unofficial (official visits don’t take place until the fall), the spring game may be as close to an official visit as the Buffs get from Shumate before he makes his choice.

True, Colorado may not be high on Mr. Shumate’s list, but the Buffs are on his radar. Colorado is now after recruits who are considering USC, Penn State, Virginia Tech and LSU.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the Buffs are after bigger fish under the new coaching staff.

Got to go after ’em to get ’em …

A wide receiver for the Class of 2011 still in the offing? … Perhaps not …

It’s been a rumor for the past week or so … a “high-profile” wide receiver candidate from the Class of 2011 will be taking an official visit this weekend.

There has been no confirmation, but if there is a wide receiver visiting this weekend, odds are that it would be the elusive Michael Thomas, the four-star wide receiver recruit from Woodland Hills, California.

In case you have been on vacation since signing day, Michael Thomas is 6’3″, 180-pounds, and is considered to be the 36th-best wide receiver of the 2011 Class by Rivals. Due to the death of his grandmother, Thomas postponed his recruitment past signing day. For the past three weeks, there have been rumors about the Buffs recruiting Thomas, and about Thomas coming to Boulder for an official visit.

We’ll see  about Thomas …

Meanwhile … BuffStampede.com is reporting that 2012 prospect Jordan Payton is in town this week for an unofficial visit. Payton is a 6’2″, 200-pound wide receiver from Westlake Village, California. Payton verbally committed to USC last spring as a sophomore, but he is keeping his options open.

Payton is taking an unofficial visit to SMU on March 25th. “I have been talking to some schools like Florida and Michigan,” Payton told PonyPride.com. “Everyone just wants me to come and take a visit and see their campus.”

As to his commitment to  USC, Payton remains a Trojan, for now. “I am going to make sure that I have everything in order this summer,” said Payton. “I will know exactly what I am going to do, and if I will stay committed to USC or decommit from them. Probably in June is when I will know.”

One Reply to “Recruiting Roundup”

  1. On today’s poll, about Oregon getting sanctioned by the NCAA, couldn’t there be at least one answer that suggests they might get more than a handslap? There are those of us innocent naive people who still think that bad behavior might get punished, the the NCAA might make an example of somebody (even somebody who is practically NIKE itself…)

    all three answers say “no penalty will be issued – no big deal.”

    I’d like to think there is a possibility of some type of sanction against a school if the illegal recruiting rumors are proven true.

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