Saturday, July 30, 2011

Who was Lache's Mentor? Part II

The more in depth you get into Lache Seastrunk's life, the more you understand his desire to get away from Texas.

During the Summer before his Senior year in Temple, Texas, Lache Seastrunk should have been on top of the world; a dream was about to come true. Yet through this dream, turmoil reigned. Turmoil in his personal life truly took a toll. We all heard of Lache Seastrunk as an incredibly talented running back who was bound for glory. But something happened along this path; he saw diminishing returns. In his Sophomore season, Lache rushed for 1532 yards on only 130 carries, 11.8 yards per carry. Not bad for a sophomore, he also scored 19 touchdowns.

In the following season, his performance slipped some, carrying the ball considerably more often, but rushing for nearly the same amount of yards; his yards per carry dropped to 9.0. The argument could certainly be made that his opponents adjusted. Nonetheless, he was still one of the top 3 running backs in the nation; he was going to college and he was going to receive a full athletic scholarship. The only question was where.

Chaos started to reign during the summer before his Junior year. His mother had recently gotten out of jail, those "bad decisions," when she accompanied Lache and Lyles to an LSU camp. At this point, it appears that everyone involved in Lache's life began infighting. His high school coach was worried about Lyles.

After learning of this new influence that summer of 2008, Bryce Monsen called Texas Offensive Coordinator, former Longhorn QB Major Applewhite. Applewhite was not very complimentary of Lyles; this is the first time Coach Monsen had heard Lyles referred to as a “street agent.” Now, it is no surprise that Applewhite spoke lowly of Lyles, the Longhorns, who still own the state when it comes to recruiting, had seen what they considered a few too many top flight recruits leave the state; kids that they used to land were leaving and they were not happy about it. This does not negate their characterizations, they may have truly believed it when they told Coach Monsen that Lyles was “bad for kids.”

There were now competing interests for Lache's allegiances. It became Willie Lyles against Coach Bryce Monsen. Understand that Monsen felt a great amount of empathy and compassion for Lache. He had seen Lache bounce around being taken care of by various family members, churches and even coaches during his tumultuous life.

                                    Coach Bryce Monsen
As has already been documented, Lache's father has been in and out of prison most of Lache's life. His mother was in and out of prison as well. Some of the charges which she served time for are what most would expect like delivery of a controlled substance (cocaine); she dealt drugs. She also served time for assault causing bodily injury. This was not the most stable home, which is why he was raised, for the most part, by his grandmother.

Coach Monsen, having worked for the Temple School District for nearly a dozen years, felt close to Lache and had seen him grow. Despite all of the turmoil in his life, Lache was deeply spiritual, but also deeply in need of a father figure. With Lache's father in jail, many would hope the coach of his football team would fill that void. But there is a cultural difference that made it difficult for Lache to connect with Bryce Monsen. That divide left Lache still looking for a strong father figure; or ANY father figure.

Soon after Lyles met Evelyn Seastrunk, Evelyn was fairly blunt with Coach Monsen. He was just the coach and was to have no involvement with the recruiting of Lache; the family would take care of recruiting.

Coach Monsen openly worried, he drove down to that LSU camp in 2008 to speak to Lache, he wanted to make sure Lache was very careful; warned him about ensuring he took no gifts, no money, nothing that could be considered an extra benefit. Lache assured him that Lyles was only trying to help with getting a scholarship.

This is where the stories begin to diverge. Each member has a different recollection of how the relationships moved forward. Coach Monsen says that Lyles was in town three or four days a week, while Lyles says he only stayed at Evelyn Seastrunk's house a couple of times when he was in town for video. We will likely never know the true nature of Lyles' relationship with Seastrunk's mom. What we do know is this, she had a lot of pull with Lache. This is pretty common in situations like theirs. Lache, though she was frequently in jail for an assortment of drug and other offenses, loved his mother very much. He was encouraged by those that loved him, like his grandmother, coaches, church family and high school counselor to not give up on her. When she got out of prison, he felt her influence.

Monsen does not say that Lyles and Evelyn Seastrunk were romantic, only that he stayed there sometimes three or four days a week. Lyles spoke to Jason Whitlock in May of this year and refuted the notion that there was a romantic relationship. "His mother and I had a friendship, but as far as a relationship, that's false. There was only dealing with Lache, and that's as far as it went."

Evelyn Seastrunk was very high on LSU for Lache; he had a cousin that attended LSU and the family was from Louisiana. There is no word how they afforded a trip for Evelyn, Lache and Lyles to go to the LSU camp. But we know that she later became contentious with Oregon Running Back Coach, Gary Campbell, when he would not fly her to Oregon for Lache's visit.

I don’t know how he got there, but I know Lache’s mom didn’t come to Oregon and she was pissed at me because we didn’t bring her up here and everything. We couldn’t do it and we told her there was no way that we could bring her in. We didn’t do that and I don’t know what other people did.” Campbell said.

Coach Monsen was also worried about Laches multiple visits to schools. We know he went to Auburn three times and Monsen remembers both Lache and Evelyn making two unofficial visits to USC.

Many Duck fans will recall that Gary Campbell was able to successfully recruit Jonathan Stewart. One of the main points in Stewarts connection with Campbell was Coach Campbell's faith. And this is the same connection that Lache had with Coach Campbell. Lache's grandmother, whom he affectionately refers to as 'nana,' provided an incredibly strong spiritual background for Lache. We even see that today as his entire life is devoted to faith. He constantly refers to reading his Bible. It is this connection that all parties agree helped lead Lache to his decision to attend Oregon.

That, and the fact that he really believed Chip Kelly's offense fit his style and that he was a perfect fit at Oregon.

Lache's senior season was an even bigger disappointment statistically than his junior season. In his senior year, he carried the ball 177 times for 1179 yards and 11 TD's, that's only 6.7 yards per carry... a far cry from his stellar sophomore season that got him on the recruiting map. Something was happening and it was not defenses keying on him, his life was in turmoil. His mother, in and out of prison for most of his life wanted him to go to LSU, a man he had begun to trust was being called by everyone around a “bad guy." Even Texas OC Major Applewhite told Seastrunk in a phone conversation that Lyles was bad news. Lache did not want to hear this. Texas, which wants it's players committed before their senior season, had begun pressuring Lache for a commitment in Summer 2009. Lache revealed he was feeling some heat in an interview with Mike Farrell that summer.

In the end, Lache chose Oregon for various reasons, most of which have to do with the coaches at Oregon as well as the atmosphere. 

The final decision on whether there were violations committed will be based upon one basic question, was Will Lyles paid to get Lache Seastrunk to Oregon? And, unless one of the two principle players, Seastrunk and Lyles, change their stories, I think it is safe to say that he NCAA will have a difficult time proving this charge. At this point, the only person we know of that “pushed” Lache to Oregon is Deanna Carter, and she is not yet talking.

Ohio State Mentor

I am working for a national distribution for the previous post... there has been great demand for which I am grateful!

Today, though, just a brief snippet of another subject I am looking into; the broader problem of mentors and where they fit into NCAA guidelines.

The NCAA is keenly aware of mentors and their relationships with athletes. However, most of their literature is related to mentors and current athletes at member institutions. There is very little mention of them in their bylaws. This does not mean, however, that the NCAA is blind to them. As far back as 2002, the NCAA created a program to assist prominent 8th grade basketball players (top 50 in a region) receive proper guidance from Mentors. The program was called "The First Team" project, it was designed to help young athletes navigate the world of being a student athlete.

This program, however, was a basketball program. The hope was that the First Team Project would help to eliminate the very real problem of the "street agents" in basketball.

There are, of course, problems with this program. The biggest issue is identifying which kids are eligible. Many times, the 8th grade superstar may not be the one that needs help. Quite often there are those people who need help that maybe don't play AAU basketball.

Another issue with this program is that it takes young boys whole may already have a feeling that the rules of the rest of society do not apply to them. They have had everything handed to them already, now being "set aside" as special by the NCAA itself opens the pratfalls of engendering even more special treatment. But at least the NCAA gets to choose who mentors these kids. This gives a little bit of control and helps reduce the role and influence of what I call "clingons."

Football, though, has no such program... yet. They may someday in response to our current ongoing issues. The most notable "mentor" in college football right now is Ted Sarniak. Mr. Sarniak is a well known businessman in Terrelle Pryor's hometown of Jeanette, PA.

And his name might be important in Oregon's case as well.

As most are undoubtedly aware, the NCAA actually investigated Sarniak's relationship with Pryor back in 2008 when Pryor was beginning classes in September 2008. As a result of this investigation, the NCAA determined that Sarniak was not considered a "representative of athletics interests" for Ohio State.

There are many tht wonder why, then, he was prohibited from giving further gifts and benefits to Pryor. If, after all, he was deemed a legitimate "existing relationship" then he should have been permitted to continue whatever relationship they had prior to enrollment.

The NCAA, though, changes their stance on that relationship once a PSA enrolls at the university of his choice.

If you intend to mentor a current intercollegiate student-athlete with eligibility remaining, specific rules apply to you that do not apply to alumni athletes.

Representatives of Athletics Interests – What You Must Know: Under NCAA rules a "representative of the institution's athletics interests” (athletics representative/booster) is any individual who:

1. Made any type of contribution to a University or Athletic Department;
2. Joined a booster club or any sport specific support group;
3. Provided benefits (e.g., summer jobs or mentoring relationships) to prospective or enrolled student-athletes or their families;
4. Assisted, in any manner, in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;
5. Participated as a varsity athlete at the University;
6. Is the parent or legal guardian of an enrolled student-athlete;
7. Promoted the athletics program in any way.

There is not a lot of clarity from the NCAA on this issue and the recent ruling does little to help our understanding. The problem with Mr. Sarniak and his relationship with Pryor was not their pre-existing relationship. As Terrelle's high school QB Coach once said:

"Teddy has done a lot for Terrelle, and Terrelle has done a lot for Teddy," said Ray Reitz, Pryor's former coach at Jeannette High School. "Terrelle is loved back here around Jeannette, and I think he and Coach Tressel have done a helluva job at Ohio State. He is a kid and has made mistakes, but there are some people that have wanted to see Terrelle fail since he left here."

The relationship between the two started before high school. The family sought his advice during the recruiting process. However, a mentor, by NCAA standards, is not someone who provides monetary gifts, gratuities or other benefits. He is someone that offers strong representational advice, counseling on academics, life choices, etc.

The reason, then, that Mr. Sarniaks relationship was approved, yet his role was limited to no gifts was simple, once Pryor became enrolled, his former employment of Pryor made him a representative of athletics interests; a booster. Once you are a booster, unless you are the parent or legal guardian, you are not permitted to give extra benefits to the athlete.

This is related to Oregon, I promise. There is a message that the NCAA recognized; mentors, prior to enrollment in the chosen University, serve a legitimate purpose. If the mentor/mentee relationship began prior to high school, then, pretty much, anything the mentor did is protected based on their prior relationship.

This is where it gets difficult to predict for Oregon as it is well known that Will Lyles did not have a relationship with Lache Seastrunk prior to 9th grade. The met in July 2008 at a Texas A&M camp where Lyles was working. A relationship developed that the NCAA may deem inappropriate. However, based on all records we have seen so far, no extra benefits were ever given to Lache Seastrunk by Will Lyles.

Then what we are left with is the possibility that Lyles will be deemed that aforementioned "representative;" a booster. The NCAA will surely look at the facts and determine that, while Lyles may have advised many young men, because he advised them toward several different schools, it is unlikely to determine he was a booster of any specific school.

I have an email in to Josephine Potuto a former NCAA Chair of the Committee on

Infractions to determine what constitutes a booster when discussing the mentor problem in college football. I do believe, however, that the ruling that the relationship was acceptable for Sarniak bodes well for Will Lyles' relationship with Lache and Lamichael James.

For the moment, this is mostly conjecture. The mine-field that is the mentor relationships in college football is very new and there is not a lot of public case precedent in the area.

Sarniak's relationship with Terrelle Pryor is the first public ruling regarding a mentor. Soon, we will likely have our second.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who was Lache's Mentor?

Time for a new tidbit that might shed even more light on how mangled Lache Seastrunks relationships were during his last two years of high school.

We have heard Lyles call himself Lache's “mentor." Yahoo printed such statements as fact simply because they came from the man's mouth. But that's the thing about mentor's; typically, kids who are mentored by someone appreciate their mentors and talk candidly about how important the mentor is to their life. I have spent countless hours scouring through every recruiting article with Seastrunk all the way back to the July 2008 Texas A&M camp where Lyles says he met Seastrunk. I do not doubt that they met at this camp, I do not doubt that Lyles planted himself firmly in the mind of Lache Seastrunk; but I doubt Lache Seastrunk ever considered him a mentor. In all those hours in front of every Lache Seastruink article, not once is there a mention of Will Lyles. Not once. But he does mention a mentor! It just isn't Will Lyles!

Before talking about his mentor, his recruitment bears mentioning and detailing just a little bit. In an article on the Rivals Network titled “The Next Internet Sensation?” Lache first mentions his troubled upbringing and where he had began to seek advice:

Seastrunk already has faced the obstacles of an at-risk youth and handled them well. His father hasn't been part of his life. His mother hasn't been there much of the time, either. 
"She wasn't around for a while," he said. "She made some wrong decisions in life."

Seastrunk was raised by his grandmother, and received sound guidance from an uncle and from a cousin, Terrell Jackson, a wide receiver at Buffalo. "He (Jackson) was always telling me to stay focused and don't let anyone get you off-track,"

Early on, it was fairly clear that Lache was fully aware of his mother's issues. He is fairly clear from LONG before he needed to find approval for his grandmother to sign his Letter of Intent that it was she who deserved the credit for raising him. This is no indication that he did not love his mother... quite the opposite is true. In fact, the recruiting world was abuzz when Lache wore USC socks to a summer camp, many assumed he had become a silent commit. However, in an interview with Mike Farrell, Lache dispelled that myth rather quickly by telling Mike that he only wore them because they were a gift from his mother and “anything momma gives me is good luck.”

When recruiting began to heat up, though Texas was often mentioned, another school began to stand out: Auburn. In fact, he was so spellbound by Auburn that he actually hung their mail on his wall! Only two schools received that honor early on... Auburn and LSU. He revealed that in March 2009.

From that point forward there were two early leaders, hanging on his wall. LSU was high on his list, not because of any mysterious force (recruiting service) but because he was originally FROM Louisiana! Yep, his family moved from Louisiana to Texas. Now we know one of the reasons his mother favored LSU. He lost contact with LSU, however, when their running backs coach left for Memphis. And this is the theme of his recruitment, he made very good bonds with people and let those bonds guide him.

The team with the biggest early lead, though, was Auburn. Between April 2009 and July 2009, Seastrunk visited Auburn three times. On his first visit in April 2009, he was accompanied by his mother. He visited again in late May for what Auburn called “Big Cat Weekend.” This was an informal gathering where there were no evaluations or football drills, only a bunch of high school juniors gathering for fun and food. It is likely this incident which triggered the NCAA to look at whether Auburn was violating rules in regards to his recruitment.

In Lache's third visit, he became involved in a celebration at Toomer's corner. During this, visit he was recorded on video as saying “What's up Nick Saban?” He later apologized for the actions, but it is believed that this was considered a violation due to the manner in which he was taped while recruited. Lache later apologized to Nick Saban personally. It was after this visit that Auburn began to back off of recruiting Lache Seastrunk.

It is fairly well chronicled that Lache was widely believed to be a strong USC lean after Auburn backed off and LSU lost their running backs coach. He even indicated this was true in an interview with Brandon Oliver of Duck Sports Authority in January just after he verbally committed to Oregon.

“The home run threat was thought to be a Southern California lean by some while Pete Carroll was still in charge. That was also before he visited Oregon in December and had a chance to familiarize himself with the Oregon staff, players, facilities and community.

"I couldn't picture myself at USC anymore, so I started picking coach(Chip) Kelly's brain and asking him questions. The more and more I learned about him it felt more and more right. I love his system."

And, here comes the important part, in February, 2010 shortly after signing his Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Oregon, Jason Vondersmith of The Portland Tribune interviewed Lache.

I have discussed this article in the past, but there is a tidbit in there that might shake the foundations a little bit... Lache Seastrunk refers to a mentor in this article!

From the article we find the following quote:

“Seastrunk had originally intended to sign with USC, until coach Pete Carroll left for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Oregon quickly became the front-runner for his services, and Seastrunk had his mentor, Deanna Carter, pushing for the Ducks.”

Deanna Carter was an Assessment Specialist at Temple High School as well as Lache's Counselor. This is important because in her words “They’re excellent men of character,” (referring to Oregon Coaches) says Carter, also a counselor at Temple High. “After 30 minutes meeting with Coach Kelly, I knew it’s where he [Seastrunk] needed to be.”

And this is a potential bomb. Could it be that Willie Lyles has deluded himself into being more integral in Lache's life than he really was? Could it be that Willie Lyles was just another coach from a summer camp? A guy that worked for a recruiting service and just gave some information regarding Lache Seastrunk to coaches around the country? Could it be that Willie had delusions of grandeur? According to one Houston area coach, Willie Amendola, “He [2012 Running Back Trey Williams] wasn’t quite sure who Mr. Will was and what his angle was,” Amendola told last month. “I guess he kind of plays himself off as being a trainer of some kind. I don’t know how far that went.”

The mentor angle is one I have more follow up to perform.. Deanna Carter is the person who forwarded an email to Willie Lyles and Josh Gibson regarding the information they requested about Lache. She no longer works for Temple High school, but I have been able to find where she works. I have emailed her in hopes of gaining even more insight into the dynamics of Laches relationship with herself, Will Lyles, Evelyn Seastrunk and his high school coach (Bryce Monsen) who was also very supportive of Lache's decision to come to Oregon. If I get a response from her, I will absolutely make sure to dictate the conversation and post the information I receive!

In another interesting side-note, Willie Lyles told Yahoo (referring to Lache's mother Evelyn Seastrunk)
“I don’t think she had enough knowledge to understand that he could sign without her,” Lyles said. “She basically just kind of never knew, and she felt that Oregon cheated some kind of way because they got him to sign the letter of intent and she didn’t sign it.”

What he does here is paint the mother as angry about Lache going to Oregon and confused that he could sign the letter of intent without her approving the choice.

If this is true, why then, was she pictured flashing the “O” at a press conference held at Lache's High School when he announced his decision?! OOPS!

Here is the photo:

      Mitch Green/Telegram

That sure does not look like someone confused or upset by Lache's choice of schools does it? And, just so it is clear, his announcement came at his school PRIOR to Letter of Intent Day. He committed on January 27, this picture appeared in a Rivals article dated January 30, 2010; three days after his commitment and 4 days BEFORE he signed his letter of intent. Looks to me like mom made it on board with Lache before he actually faxed in his Letter of Intent!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Did Chip Kelly Give us a Hint?

I have a couple of belated thoughts on Chip Kelly's statements yesterday. They seemed pretty tame on the surface, not likely to get much attention. But let's look again at two different statements: "misconceptions" and "80 schools."

I think those two things give us a great deal of insight into what the Ducks strategy is with the NCAA.

In every business there is a worker who is new and working his way up that believes he can do it better and/or should be making the "big bucks" that the boss makes. Willie Lyles worked for a few recruiting services over the past 5 or 6 years. He had developed relationships with an unprecedented number of high school stars. Coaches saw this. He had given some exceptional verbal information to literally HUNDREDS of coaches... he was deemed a valuable recruiting asset. He wanted a chance to go out on his own and make that money for himself.

Unfortunately, like many good salespeople, he learned that selling and managing are two very different things. Unfortunately, he learned this at the expense of 3 schools (that we know of), LSU, Cal and Oregon. Nonetheless, his poor business skills do not entirely negate his legitimacy as a recruiting service. He had legitimate skills as a talent evaluator. And Chiop Kelly gave us a glimpse of just how many people trusted his opinion: 80 schools!

This was a critical piece of information. Oregon was not some lone wolf paying a fly-by-night snake oil salesman, they were amongst a hoard of other schools Lyles worked with... the indications of his ability as a scout with other companies was that he knew what he was talking about. IT was also widely known that he was very close with many talented football players. Those relationships garner things more important than just height, weight, position, speed, etc., then relationships gathered information critical to making connections... if you know what a kid wants to study in college, it gives you a chance to talk about how your school can help him. If you know what music he likes, it gives you soemthing to talk about, a way to build your own relationship.

NCAA Guidelines do not prohibit this kind of information and banter. In fact, in bylaw 13.14 dealing with Recruiting Services, it is explicitly stated that a recruiting service should provide more than demographic information and ratings... Lyles brought that kind of additional information to the table.

This is where the "misconceptions" come into play. Far too many people are lookign at the 3 schools that paid and assuming that these are the only 3 schools to ever do business with Will Lyles. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is, Will Lyles has worked with more coaches than most of us could name... he had a history in the business.

Now, do NOT take this to be me defending him... we have all followed someone we had a good relationship with from one business to the next... when someone we liked and trusted went out on their own, we followed them. Sometimes this worked great, sometimes it did not work out so well. A great mechanic cannot always run his own shop.

In Lyles case, the other red flags got lost in the shuffle of his exceptional value as a scout. Those red flags have more to do with character than with ability. And when a great employee with character flaws takes to his own business it is a very risky proposition to follow along. Chip Kelly, Les Miles and Jeff Tedford found some value in Lyles' service at first... all indications are that they lost faith in his ability to do it all by himself was not as good as Lyles promised.

In the end, Lyles was looking to "make it big" and failed miserably. As with many cowards on a sinking ship, he tried to take someone else down with him. I doubt that Kelly goes down... but we now have a clue what fight he is putting up... he is going to rely on the fact that 80 other schools trusted the guy, so he is not a lone wolf; and that is the misconception!

Caught Up Yet?

Okay, I believe I have caught up with most of my posts over the last week or so, from this point forward, I will attempt to share my thoughts here with full permission for others to share these thoughts as they please!

Response To Adam Gorney's Article:

Some real problems with his story:

So I am going to break down the inaccuracies point by point:

“Dodging questions about the ongoing NCAA investigation”

There was no “dodging” involved. Coach Kelly made a statement at the beginning of the press conference that mirrored the released statement. He is not permitted to answer these questions at this time. Dodging implies he is allowed to answer them, but chose not to.

“Ducks coach Chip Kelly did little to clarify the role recruiting services play in his program.”

This was not the point of media day, the point was to talk about the upcoming football season. It was clear from all indications prior to today, that these questions would not be answered.

“Specifically, Kelly sidestepped all questions regarding a $25,000 payment to Houston-based Will Lyles' recruiting service ? Complete Scouting Services (CSS).”

Again, he did not side-step any question, he simply made the statements regarding his inability to answer them.

“Lyles has told Yahoo! Sports that Oregon... paid for his influence with top recruits” This is a completely inaccurate reflection of what Lyles told Yahoo... what he told them was that “I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits,” Now, I think the writer might be intelligent enough to deduce the truth of what Lyles said here... he is stating that, LOOKING back, in his OPINION, he THINKS Oregon paid for influence. He never indicates that Oregon directly told him that they were only paying for access.

“and his ability to aid prospects through the signing and eligibility process. That simultaneous role is believed to be a focus of the NCAA probe.”

This statement is an outright fabrication. Lyles never said any such thing.

It's too bad that the early part of your story deals in such bad recollection of reality and that the writer doesn't make any real effort to research your information before printing.

An even bigger problem is that the reporter who asked the question which dovetailed from Tedford's answer absolutely blundered the situation. He should have immediately asked that question of Tedford. The fact is, if he feels the Head Coach should know his recruiting services personally, why did he not have the intestinal fortitude to ask the tough question of that Head Coach? I think that question is rather rhetorical as we all know that particular reporter has no intestinal fortitude.

Inappropriate Question Followed By An even MORE Inappropriate Video

I have laid off of Mrs. Canzano because she had, for the most part, attempted to separate her professional and private life and had not taken any cheap shots.

Yesterday, a very disturbing video was posted to YouTube by one of your newscasters, Anna Canzano. Someone needs to sit Mrs. Canzano down in a classroom and teach her the difference between the First Amendment and censorship. The First Amendment does not guarantee that everyone can say anything they want, whenever they want, where ever they want. Rather, the First Amendment protects us from government laws which abridge free speech.

The Constitution of the United States protects us from governmental censorship. I am not sure if anyone has told Mrs. Canzano this, but the Pac-12 is not a government agency. They are a private entity supported by funds provided by its members. As a private entity, it is certainly entitled to what image it chooses to portray in any events. The conference leadership is fully within their rights to deem appropriate content for their events.

Further, for Mrs. Canzano to shamelessly compare the Pac-12 Conference to dictatorial communists is beyond shameful. Such a statement only ridicules and diminishes the REAL struggles that Chinese citizens face on a daily basis given their TRUE lack of rights. In China, Mrs. Canzano would have been jailed and/or shot for her actions yesterday. Her husband is not, in any way shape or form an oppressed member of society.

I am quite certain there are people in China that would have loved to be in his place yesterday. Would he be so willing to switch places? Not likely.

Mr. Canzano is a well known self aggrandizing columnist whose main goal has always been self-promotion. Until yesterday, his wife had, for the most part, avoided his delusions. Sadly, she has noW been sucked into Canzano's warped world of confusion.

Here is the most important part of any letter... a demand. KATU owes the public an apology for Mrs. Canzano's statements... comparing a ritzy press conference in California to a Communistic Nation is beyond reprehensible. Chinese citizens struggle for basic human rights; they are killed for voicing divergent opinions. Mr. Canzano did not face any such oppression. Mrs. Canzano and her employers should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such childish indignation's to be posted publicly. I can guarantee you this, without an apology there WILL be a large contingent of viewers (tens of thousands) who turn the channel... and I am also aware of several advertisers willing to pull their advertising revenue.

The Only Legitimate Source!

(This was a response to an individual poster at the Register Guard)

At no point did I personally ever attempt to exonerate Oregon as safe because Lyles is legit… when the story first broke, the only answer was, all schools use recruiting services… until we see evidence that Lyles was paid to steer, there is nothing to see here…

When Lyles attempted to paint Oregon as a rogue program, while formally biting his tongue when asked about other programs, combined with Whitlocks story detailing Lyles’ TRUE motives… it became clear that Lyles was not a very believable character…

You are using some sort of…“but they spent a lot of money” to draw a darker conclusion than we currently have evidence of… all indications point to a much rosier picture… including the fact that now FIVE months in, we still have not seen a self-reported violation or self-imposed sanction take effect. We KNOW this is Glazier’s M.O. yet it has yet to happen… reading between the lines, this bodes well. Chip seemed a LOT more relaxed yesterday than most expected… that indicates he feels comfortable with what is going to happen.

To call something a “fake” national report is quite disingenuous… it was not fake, it was simply crap. As Chip mentioned yesterday, Lyles has worked with over 80 schools during his time as a scout for other services. Many people believed his information to be worthwhile… what they found out is what many people find out about a person who works for a business then thinks he can do better on his own… not all people are good businesspeople. Lyles attempted to restore his name by throwing Oregon under the bus because he felt he got screwed by them. The motives behind the Yahoo story are questionable at best… he sat down with them because he was angry… angry that he had been made out to look like a fool… angry people have agendas… he had an agenda… the further we dig, though, the less his information looks credible.

Right now we have one credible source on why Lache Seastrunk chose Oregon; Lache Seastrunk.

Portland Tribune Article:

With this all important quote:

“He had a vision,” Seastrunk says, of his father. “He said he had a dream one night. And he saw me in an all-white (Ducks) uniform. I was like ‘OK.’ And I kind of blew it off for a minute. But that’s when Pete Carroll left (as USC coach), and I didn’t want to go to USC anymore. And all my other schools just kind of faded away. Auburn stopped talking to me. I don’t know why.”

The night before he signed a letter-of-intent, Seastrunk asked God, “Where do you want me to go? Can you please let me know? I can’t lay it on my heart. Give me a sign.”

The school that stood out was Oregon.

“So I was like, ‘OK, I believe in you,’ ” Seastrunk says.

This is the source that, until someone shows me proof otherwise, the rest of the story is smoke and mirrors. The NCAA rep saying that there are “people who fall outside the definition of boosters and agents” and that the new legislation goes “beyond Cam [Newton]” is pretty clear in my mind that Lyles will NOT be ruled a booster… but that the definitions will be updated to weed people like him out

Hypocrite, Or Just A Fan?

Rob, it is fairly clear that Yahoo did not make a FOI request for LSU’s recruiting material AND wait for it to determine if they did indeed receive the quality information Lyles implied he gave them. This is clear based on how swiftly LSU did respond when asked.

As for me being hypocritical, first i am not an impartial journalist and do not pretend to be one. Second, I am not ignoring anything, I am simply providing additional information that, when looked at can present a completely different picture. There is no doubt in my mind that some minor sanctions are coming… I also fully recognize the possibility that Oregon is might have committed something worse…

But, if you read those quotes FROM NCAA reps carefully you will see that there is some indication of what is going on within the NCAA regarding this case.
I am not going to debate whether or not the articles are presented objectively… That would be pointless because your beliefs are not going to change… What I will continue to do is scour the internet for information that shows the other side of the story and present what I find.

Finally, as for the “jabs” that last one was at Yahoo… Their story would have had a lot less cache had it been revealed that Lyles never gave anyone anything of quality. The cover-up angle loses a lot of validity if we know up front that Willie Lyles was implying something that just is not true…

I am, in the end, a fan, with a fans perspective. I am not naive… I know Oregon played in some muck. But I see the story differently. If we are to believe that a columnists job is to present an opinion that garners discussion (hence readership), then it is my job, as a fan, to provide the fan perspective. Unless, of course, a newspaper wants to pay me for it, I will continue to present that opinion wherever I can to give all Duck fans this perspective.

Is The NCAA Hinting At An Outcome?

(This was a response, once again, to Rob Moseley playing devils advocate)


The point is pretty simple… Lyles tries to justify his poor material to Oregon by saying that he “rushed it” together. He uses that concept to paint a picture of a cover-up.

Yet, we now know that the material that wasn’t rushed was also garbage. He contradicts himself within the same article. Oregon’s material was “rushed together” which was in “stark contrast to LSU.” That statement is entirely inaccurate. What LSU got was not in stark contrast to what Oregon got as far as written material. He attempts to paint the picture that, given the proper information by the school of what was needed, that his information is better, more complete. Again, this just isn’t true.

For the life of me, I cannot see why there is no mention ANYwhere, other than by Jason Whitlock, that this second Yahoo article looks more like a Lyles problem. The timing of his talking, combined with the timing of the 94 minute call to Josh Gibson along with the wild inaccuracies in the article itself make it clear that the “jilted lover” was doing anything and everything he could to hurt his ex.

I am further confounded as to why Yahoo did not attempt to verify the truth of his insinuation that LSU got much better information before they went public. Everyone wanted to believe him, so they took a few facts and ran with those withtout verifying the entire truthfulness of those statements.

Truthfully, without a “cover-up” angle, this story is pretty boring… which is why people took the word of Lyles without any verification of Lyles’ credibility. Lyles attempted to paint himself in the 1 week media barrage as some kind of “innocent victim” who was “screwed over” by Oregon. Without the cover-up angle, this is nothing more than a few secondary violations involving paperwork from Oregon’s perspective.

I have said all along that I believe the NCAA is involved in this not as an investigation of Oregon… they have ALWAYS been interested in Lyles.

And, guess what, there is recent evidence to support this. In a recent article about the NCAA’s pending legislation comes this ststement:

“It’s broader than Cam Newton,” said Potuto, a former chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions. “Cam Newton is one of the reasons for it but it’s broader than that because there are other situations in which third parties are interceding with regard to prospects or student-athletes. If you’re a booster, then you’re covered by NCAA legislation with regard to contact with prospects or giving prospects money or giving extra benefits to athletes. If you’re defined as an agent, you’re covered by NCAA legislation. But there is a whole category of people who do not have an association with a particular institution but are involved with prospects or student-athletes.”

As well as this:

“Although many governing bodies have attempted to impose regulations on these individuals and their activities, the competitive nature of the industry has resulted in finding ways to skirt the rules. These third parties operate free of any governing body’s jurisdiction, and historically they do not trigger the NCAA definition of an agent. For the NCAA to regulate these individuals, the cabinet believes the definition of an agent must be expanded.”

Those two statements paint a pretty clear picture, the NCAA is looking to re-define what an “agent” is in light of Willie Lyles… it further tells us something very important… that Lyles fell outside the definition of an agent or a booster… and THAT is what they are attempting to do right now… re-define people like Lyles to get them out of the game…
But that just ain’t sexy…

Glaring Contradiction!

Okay, something is really driving me nuts here…and Schroeder’s article only puts this over the top for me…

The problem is the, so-called, cover-up. George, Canzano and every other pundit all point to one paragraph from Willie Lyles’ statement in the July 1 article for their “proof” of the cover up:

“They said they just needed anything,” Lyles said of the embarrassingly thin recruiting profiles that Oregon made public earlier this month. “They asked for last-minute [stuff]. So I gave them last-minute [stuff] … I gave them, like, old stuff that I still had on my computer because I never thought that stuff would see the light of day.”

BUT, and this is a big BUT, later, in that same article he states:

“that is a stark contrast from LSU, which Lyles said sent him a checklist to follow when submitting reports for the junior college package purchased by the Tigers. Their standards required written reports on two different dates and film on a continual basis over the length of the deal. Lyles said Cal requested nothing specific, so he sent the same spreadsheet databases to the Bears that he eventually provided to the Ducks.”

So, this information he supposedly “just threw together” had already been compiled and given to Cal and LSU… so, he ATTEMPTS to paint the story of a cover-up, but, in fact, Lyles contradicts himself in the same story…and no one, I mean NO ONE, has mentioned this BLATANT contradiction. The “continuous video” he sent LSU was 36 DVD’s, many of which were less than amateur quality… some of which looked like they may have been taken with a camera phone!

Further no one has yet thought to ponder that, it is entirely possible that Oregon had been asking Lyles for information for MONTHS only to be rebuffed by an obviously disorganized inferior businessman… maybe the “demand” was simply because they were tired of playing softball… Certainly we cannot simply take the word of Willie Lyles… he cannot even keep his story straight in the Yahoo interviews… how are we supposed to believe him?

Sorry, George (Schroeder), your additional conclusions about Lyles being labeled a booster are likely inaccurate as well… much to your dismay, Chip pointed out one tidbit today being missed by all, in his years as a scout, Willie Lyles has worked with over 80 schools… I sincerely doubt that the NCAA is going to rule that Lyles is a booster to 80 different schools… And we know he mentored kids that ended up with at least 6 different schools… I doubt the NCAA rules he was a booster to 6 schools… he had enough of a background in the industry that there were some people who trusted him… should they have? Probably not… did their trust violate NCAA rules? Not likely.

A final thought, In the Charles Robinson story, Lyles says that LSU paid $6000 for a JC package, Cal paid $5000 for a Texas only package… so, the “cost difference” is not relevant… they were different levels of service. but again, that does not fit the aspired narrative, so it gets left out of most conversations.

The Hack Proves He is a Hack!

Let me explain why Canzano’s question was not a good question… it has nothing to do whether it was his ‘job” to do so or not. I hear his radio compatriots saying that he wasn’t sent down there to ask about whether James or Thomas would play well this year… that the plane ticket was not paid for to ask questions that could have been asked from here… really? Given the fact that everyone on the planet knew the answers to the questions he DID ask going in, and that those answers were explicitly stated as part of Kelly’s opening statement, then wasn’t the plane ticket even more of a waste? You sent someone down there to get “no comment?” Seems like a pretty stupid business decision to me…

But wait… there’s more…

The fact that Canzano focused on Tedford’s answer of not being able to know who Will Lyles was if he was in this room, it seems to me that Canzano showed an incredible lack of stones, professionalism or decency by not posing the question to Tedford… if the man was truly concerned with the STORY and not with self-promotion, he would have jumped all over Tedford for that answer.,.. instead, he hid like a coward in the corner waiting to grandstand because he knew that he was going to get a long-winded “no comment.” This incident only proves that he is not, and never has been, a journalist. He is simply a muck raker.

And, BTW, I am quite certain that the CEO of Johnson & Johnson does not know every vendor that the corporation has an agreement with… Tedford, like his CEO mentor, Bellotti, delegates certain responsibilities to staff… his staff likely determined which recruiting services to use based on the budget that Tedford gave them for such services… it is not surprising at all that the Head Coach had not met the owner of every recruiting service he uses…

But, you know what, Canzano knows this… he was simply grand-standing for attention… in the process he proved exactly why he will never go “big time.” He just doesn’t have the stones or journalistic instincts for anything more than what he is… a hack columnist for the 21st ranked (by circulation) paper in the nation… whoopity-doo!

Extortion? Draw Your Own Conclusions

Simply put, there is another side to this story that has been almost entirely ignored. To many this makes the stories we do see appear to lack objectivity (notice I said APPEAR to lack). This is what the fans are lamenting… that we don’t hear any real speculation about the other possible outcome.

As an example of how basic facts can be read to tell an ENTIRELY different story than we have seen presented:

FACT 1: Lyles has said he expected a second payment this year.

FACT 2: Lyles refused ALL interview requests between March and Mid-June.

FACT 3: Lyles spoke to Gibson for 94 minutes on June 2.

FACT 4: Lyles began meeting with Yahoo in mid June.

FACT 5: Prior to the Yahoo article Lyles had said Oregon did everything right.

So, what changed? Well, it would seem that what changed is Oregon made it very clear to Lyles that his product would not be re-purchased… and then he started telling a different story…. Now, having read Whitlock’s article which said that Lyles has been looking for a way to cash in on this story for a long time, reasonable people might begin asking a simple question: Did Lyles promise Oregon his silence if he got paid for a second year? Did he threaten to “blow them up” in the press if Oregon didn’t pay him?

This is a reasonable question for investigative type reporters to chase down… I know I have talked to a couple of people who work in the Athletic Department and this is something that has been expressed to me as a real possibility… I do not know Gibson and have not talked to him, so I cannot say what actually happened on that 94 minute call… certainly he is not going to talk, but there are people with back-door access that reporters might be able to get to speak anonymously…

Does that speculation mean it IS what happened? No.

Here is another problem… about 3 days ago, we saw that LSU got the same pile of crap information that we got… and their video was garbage as well… Lyles told Robinson that the only reason our information was garbage is because we “rushed” him into getting us “anything” as soon as possible… so, why is LSU’s stuff so crappy? Apparently, this guys written material and video was garbage and everyone now knows it… this fact actually, partially, at least, paints a different picture for Oregon… maybe the really DID just make a horrible business decision (very likely) and that the intentions of the original deal were not as nefarious as people thought. There is no doubt that EVERY recruiting service provides something more than videos and demographic information… they provide a personal touch with each recruit. Regardless of the quality of Lyles’ written materials and videos, he was very close to a LOT of great players… he had value as a recruiting service… it just wasn’t value that translated well to bylaw 13.14… and that angle has not been approached… the people simply want a counterpoint to the points that have been made… and because it appears that the counterpoints are not going to come from other columnists, the fans are taking every opportunity to avail themselves of the ability to write their beliefs in a public blog.

Inaccurate Statements drive me crazy!

(This was a response in one of Moesely's blogs)

Couple of points here…

Rob, Snuffy said:

“But the thrust of his argument in that article was that Lyle’s steered Lache Seastrunk to Oregon.”

To which you replied:

“Snuffy: The thrust of George’s argument wasn’t that. He wrote:
“What skeptics suspect, though, is that Lyles delivered Lache Seastrunk.”

Ummm… that’s the same thing… saying that the point of George’s article is that “Lyles delivered Seastrunk” is simply restating that “Lyles steered Seastrunk to Oregon.”

So, if your interpretation of George’s intent is accurate, then you simply restated snuffy’s point with less harsh wording.  Nonetheless, those two statements can reasonably be thought of as synonymous.

Later you state: “Many Oregon fans are clinging to Lyles’ assertion that he never steered a player to a school, and somehow allowing themselves to trust that statement while casting doubt on all others.”

Let me answer this as simply as I can… very few fans are casting aspersions on every single statement Lyles makes as fabricated… we simply see the many inconsistencies in his statements and recognize that his capacity for truth is severely compromised. However, there is ONE statement which has never differed: “I never steered a player to any school.” Even compulsive liars make consistent statements. Typically, when a statement remains consistent, people tend to believe that statement. Further making the statement seem reliable isn’t only that Lyles made it, but that EVERYONE is saying the SAME thing… when you have a consistent statement, corroborated by others, it tends to be considered reliable.

The rest is just click-able headlines… because, let’s be honest, no one wants to read a story that says “Nothing to see here folks, move along.” Don Henley said it 30 years ago, people love dirty laundry… in the end, most national pundits still believe that this will be a slap on the wrist type deal and life will move forward for the Ducks… we are now in “big-boy” football…

Debating the Devils Advocate (AKA Rob Moseley)

This was a response to Rob Moseley:

Considering that Oregon had an existing relationship with Lyles from his days at other recruiting services and had a Freshman Rb who had just set a Conference record for yards by a freshman… not a very likely scenario…

Again, because the Ducks had agreed to be Lyles first client when they though Seastrunk was long gone… seems like a weak argument. Now, the thought process that they only paid Lyles so that he would steer Seastrunk there… meh, that just doesn’t hold water since even Lyles, while being angry at Oregon for canceling the service and trying to impugn their statements, says he never steered players and did not want to… So, again, the only thing we are left with the facts… and the facts are that either the NCAA has to rule all 3 schools (Cal, LSU, Oregon) violated the Recruiting Service bylaws and name Lyles a booster of all 3 schools… or they have to say that Lyles WAS a legitimate scouting service and that Oregon simply made some paperwork errors.

The main important fact is that with today’s announcement of LSU’s punishment, I think it is safe to say that their violation in 2009 was significantly worse than Oregon’s problems here… it was willful and intentional violations of recruiting rules AND they provided extra benefits to the player… their cooperation led to a fairly light set of sanctions (most of which was self imposed).

Given Michael Glazier’s propensity for having his schools self report and self impose sanctions and the fact that the Ducks have yet to announce any findings and any self imposed sanctions… and the fact that Michael Berk last week received a text that the NCAA had only found a “few violations”... further combined with a particular assistant coach talking with another local sports figure (being vague on purpose here) over a round of golf just last week and still saying emphatically that the Ducks did nothing wrong in the Lyles case, I am fairly certain that it did not go down as you propose…

The Unreported Facts-The beginning of a case for innocence?

(The following was originally posted in response to a blogger intimating Chip Kelly should be suspended)

There is one MAJOR problem with the thought process the pundits are shaping in the public mind, that the “required documents” were not obtained. Unfortunately, very few of those writing on the topic want to point this out: When Oregon first contracted with Lyles, quarterly updates were not required in written format. That rule changed in August 2010 several months AFTER Lyles was paid. There is an incredible LACK of information about whether that rule was retroactive to the 2010 services or whether it was only relevant going forward.

This, of course, paints a different light on the whole “cover up” angle professed by columnists; it could simply be that Oregon knew the NCAA was coming and wanted to give them something in writing. And it is also very good proof of why the Ducks chose to FIRE Lyles; considering LSU has ALSO divulged that the written information from Lyles was not very good, it strengthens the perception that Lyles oversold himself and under-delivered.

This is just one of a plethora of facts reported partially to sculpt a narrative that grabs headlines.

But, here is MORE to think about:

First, Lyles was not paid by Oregon when LaMichael James was recruited. Like many of the media members the writer scolds, he fell into that trap. James’ recruitment is not, and should not, be an issue regarding Lyles. At the time, Lyles worked for a different scouting service. His help with James does not qualify in this debate.

Second, there are 2 problems with even talking about vacating anything… IF it is found that Oregon violated bylaw 13.14.3 Recruiting or Scouting Services, then there is a very applicable part of this rule at the end of the bylaw which reads: Effect of Violation. Violations of Bylaw 13.14.3 and its subsections shall be considered institutional violations per Constitution 2.8.1; however, such violations shall not affect the prospective student-athlete’s eligibility… therefor, no player(s) will be ruled ineligible, hence no vacating of wins. Second problem is that, supposing for a moment that Oregon is found to have violated different rules regarding the 2 players who Lyles mentored during the same recruiting season as Oregon signed them (2010), neither of the players played last season, again, negating the concept of vacating wins.

Third issue is the mere fact that Cal and LSU are also involved with this. By all accounts, Cal and LSU supposedly “did it right” by getting documentation. If this is true, then the NCAA would be, in effect, ruling that Lyles service was legitimate. If he had a legitimate service, Oregon’s violations are minimal, not obtaining and maintaining proper documentation (MAYBE). If the NCAA rules that Lyles service was not legit for any of the 3 schools, then they are left defining Lyles as a booster for multiple schools. If that is the case, considering one of those schools is an SEC team, I cannot see them taking away 12 scholarship. That is actually insane, especially given what was announced today regarding LSU’s OTHER violation which was a clear and willful violation of recruiting rules and extra benefits to a player: 2 TOTAL scholarship reductions. No way Oregon gets 12.

Fourth issue, you are using the rules, as they exist now, to condemn the program for what happened over a year ago. The importance of the distinction is that the bylaws regarding recruiting services changed in August 2010. Prior to this the “quarterly written report” was NOT required by the NCAA. So, regarding the written reports, at worst, the Ducks are guilty of not obtaining proper documents after the rule change. And, it may be that they thought the agreement with Lyles was “grandfathered” in so that they did not need to go back in time to produce the records; it COULD be that the “scramble” was nothing more than Oregon getting direction from Bill Clever that they should attempt to obtain some information anyway.

Fifth issue, and this is huge. There are some facts not being reported ANYWHERE which might cast a different light on the subject.

FACT 1: Lache Seastrunk made several unofficial visits to Auburn in Summer 2009

FACT 2: On each of these unofficial visits, there were a few minor recruiting violations that occurred.

FACT 3: Lache Seastrunk was originally committed to Auburn.

FACT 4: The NCAA, in light of a host of minor violations told Auburn to stop recruiting Seastrunk.

FACT 5: Oregon agreed to become Lyles’ first client in December 2009

FACT 6: USC was Lache’s 2nd choice, until the coach left

FACT 7: Pete Carroll’s departure from USC was announced January 11, 2010

FACT 8: Josh Gibson’s email to Bill Clever re: Lache’s signature was dated January 12th

FACT 9: Lache Seastrunk did not officially commit to Oregon until January 27.

FACT 10: Lache’s mom visited LSU with him

FACT 11: She wanted him to go to LSU

FACT 12: Lache Seastrunk’s mom was in and out of his life as a child, she had her own demons and did not raise him.

You see, Oregon was actually his 3rd choice. Yet, the Ducks had agreed to be Lyles 1st client while Lache was committed elsewhere… and Oregon stayed true to this even when Lache committed to USC (silent commit)... so, to say that the 25K was to get Seastrunk is extremely naive… the problem is that the facts I present do not generate clicks or sales… they are not “headlines” that make people happy, so they get tossed on the side of the road… sometimes headlines are better than facts… 

The Beginning

Recently, I have been sharing my thoughts, as rationally as possible, regarding Oregon Duck athletics. Certainly, I feel like a salmon at spawning time swimming upstream as local media has made this water very difficult to tread. Navigating through them as a fan, yet still attempting to bring a reasonable "other side of the story" to the table has been, well, a little trying.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled to share those thoughts. At first, I felt only the necessity to share them on various message boards. However, the sheer volume of time spent perusing the internet attempting to bring my own view to the subject seemed to be more time consuming than simply creating my own little corner of the internet world to share those views. Hopefully, this is that place.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

About The Other Side of Duck

The Other Side of Duck began as a small concept. I was writing bits and pieces on a major newspaper blog. As I presented a couple of little known or little talked about facts, others on the blog suggested I create my own blog to discuss the topic in detail. So I did.

I expected nothing more than a few readers to migrate over and take a look at the facts. However, shortly after posting the first full fledged article, the concept began to take off as I received phone calls from different radio hosts. From there, I decided to keep bringing whatever I could to topics.

As the original story grew, the third part received some national attention as the article was picked up by the Rivals network.

Now, I try to bring you a full fledged site with more than just a couple of articles about one person. I am constantly looking for new information to bring as well as new concepts to the readers. Recently I have been asked to write for Duck Sports Authority, so I will be adding that to my list of writing duties. I look forward to continuing my efforts to bring you the very latest news that I am able. If ever there are people talking about the Ducks, I will look for the other side of the story.

If you have anything you would like to know, feel free to drop me a line via email. If there is a story you know about that you think the readers would like to see, please let me know and I will see what I can do about getting the story out there.
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