Coach's Corner

In light of recent comments by Willie Lyles during an interview with an Oregon media outlet - 750 AM The Game - he essentially buried any doubt about Oregon's guilt in their most recent "scandal". The violations are obvious in lots of different areas and they implicate the head coach, two other football staff members and even the Oregon Compliance department.

I have followed it closely, and there is no way the Ducks will waddle out of this one.

Actually it's the price they are paying for having turned their football program around. The Ducks, like it or not, are the best football program in the conference, and played for all the marbles when they took on Auburn in the National Championship game. I predict that both teams in that game, Oregon and Auburn, will probably lose scholarships and be sanctioned for indiscretions in recruiting that involved Lyles acting as agent, counselor, friend, and consultant for some of the best high school football players in the greater Houston area.

In Houston, if you were good, Lyles found you. And for a price, he helped secured you a scholarship, even to the University of Oregon, because Lyles talked personally to the head coach and served as an extra set of eyes and an extra contact for recruiting purposes. ?

The Ducks were even bold enough to pay a fee of 25K for Lyles coming across the right players. It was for the ‘inside" information and access to players he could give them to help their recruiting process, and that's what made his "service" worth the price.

Lyles turned himself into more than just an evaluator of talent. He sold his knowledge and access to most of the best players in his area. He told Portland's John Canzano, who writes for the Oregonian and hosts the "Bald Faced Truth" on The Game, that he was not a "street runner". But in the sleazy world of agents and representatives more commonly associated with AAU basketball, that's exactly what he was.

Part of me believes he didn't know he was breaking any rules, but when Oregon called him and asked him to provide them with something to legitimize their "payment for his service", he should have realized then things weren't right.

The Ducks knew they hadn't received anything tangible from Lyles to justify the payment. So they orchestrated a cover up, plain and simple and it even involved the head man. It was so much like a Watergate or Jim Tressel's Tattogate that they'd be better off getting out it before it gets too deep.

The Ducks had been receiving person-to-person reports; Lyles kept them personally informed. He was using his influence, and he found someone who would pay him for it.

On the radio, Lyles sounded like a decent and sincere person who really wanted to help kids. As he gained their trust and his prodigies began to have success, he became an in-demand guy for Houston recruiting. Other schools began to pay, like Cal and LSU, so he was legit, right? Wrong. He was breaking rules on their behalf as well, and he now openly admits it.

Oregon did write the check, approved by Kelly, and they never offered to help him with understanding the rules that pertained to his "arrangement" with them. He was an extra contact for them, and as a result the Ducks had a direct pipeline to these kids.

NCAA rules explicitly restrict extra personnel outside the actual coaching staff in recruiting. Lyles clearly operated as a representative of Oregon's athletic interests, even going so far as to help the kids with their academic eligibility.

If the Ducks choose to fight this like Ohio State or USC, they will certainly lose, and it will drag on for at least another year. Their best bet is to come clean, assess what they believe to be a fair penalty for them, and then ask the NCAA to accept it and drop their probe.

I think losing four scholarships a year over three years, a one-year bowl game ban, firing the coach involved, and restricting coach Kelly to no off-campus recruiting for three years would be an appropriate penalty.

By doing this, Oregon can make it look like they are really ‘paying the price", have it done with and over with in three years and still not hurt their program that much. By making sure Kelly keeps his job, the Ducks should capitulate and work with the players they have for the next few years.

So my advice to the Ducks: Get it over with and move on. Accept your guilt, your lack of institutional control (remember, your basketball program is also in trouble) and confess that these things happened. Also make sure the NCAA understands that you're going to set up a better compliance approach.

By doing this, the NCAA leaves Eugene sooner, and that means they get to Auburn quicker. And I suspect whatever happened at UO is a drop in the bucket compared to what the SEC is hiding. That would be fun to watch!

From the Huskies' standpoint, none of this means anything, because UW still has to go out and beat the Ducks on the field of play. The November 5 game between Oregon and Washington will mark the end of Husky Stadium as we know it, and wouldn't it be a great victory?!

Remember the USC victory a couple of years ago? Beating the Ducks on television will bring the house down for sure - no pun intended. The bulldozer will take care of that soon enough. It would instantly become one of the all-time victories for the modern day Dawgs. It would be an epic victory for Husky football, and perhaps the beginning of the pendulum swinging back in their favor after the Ducks' recent string of success.

I think it would be the final piece that will enable all Washington fans to say - we are finally back.

That, and winning another Rose Bowl. Top Stories