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Oregon Investigation Could Lead Back To The SEC

As you likely know by now, the Oregon football program is currently being eyeballed by the NCAA.  But that investigation could lead back to the team the Ducks lost to in the BCS Championship Game — Auburn — and the Tigers’ home conference.

We’ll give you the simple version.

According to ESPN.com:


NCAA officials are examining whether a Texas man helped steer high school football prospects to defending Pac-10 champion Oregon, and Ducks officials on Thursday told ESPN.com that the school paid the man $25,000 in the spring of 2010 for recruiting services.

Sources close to the inquiry told ESPN.com that NCAA officials are taking a close look at Oregon’s recruitment of running back Lache Seastrunk, a redshirt freshman from Temple, Texas, who was one of the country’s most highly recruited prospects in 2010.  Specifically, the NCAA is asking what role Texas-based trainer Willie Lyles played in Seastrunk’s decision to attend Oregon, the sources said.


Seastrunk chose Oregon over LSU, California and Southern Cal.  He also attended Auburn’s first Big Cat Weekend (and brought attention to himself by calling out Alabama’s Nick Saban).

Schools use recruiting services to aid in the collection of tapes, etc.  But $25,000 is a steep price to pay for such a service.  It was more than Lyles had made in two previous years from Oregon.  It was paid shortly after Seastrunk signed with the Ducks.  And — get this — Lyles affiliation with the recruiting service had supposedly been terminated prior to Lyles billing Oregon on his own. 

Can you say street agent?

Back to ESPN.com:


Lyles, a Houston resident, has been tied to other high school players from Louisiana and Texas, who eventually signed with schools such as Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Oklahoma State, Southern California and Texas A&M.


Is that proof that Lyles, Auburn or LSU did anything wrong?  Nope.  But as we always say, it’s best to stay off the NCAA radar altogether.  It’s never a good thing to be tied in any way, shape or form to someone the NCAA is investigating.  Period.

But here’s the real concern for Auburn:


The NCAA, according to sources, is also examining Lyles’ relationship with Sean Nelson of Thibodeaux, La., whose own relationship with top football prospects has been scrutinized by the NCAA.  Last month, NCAA investigators interviewed former Thibodeaux High School coach Dennis Lorio about Auburn’s recruitment of receiver Trovon Reed and offensive lineman Greg Robinson this year.  Reed signed with Auburn last year; Robinson signed with the Tigers in February.  Robinson and his mother also were questioned by NCAA officials.


Thayer Evans of FoxSports.com first mentioned the Nelson-Auburn-Thibodaux connection back on January 8th.

The above is not proof at all that Auburn landed Reed or Robinson illegally.  But the fact that the NCAA is snooping around asking questions should worry Tiger fans more than any off-the-wall claims or audio snippets coming from an attention-seeking radio host.

And this story might not stop with Auburn, either.  We at MrSEC.com wouldn’t be shocked to learn that one, two or 11 other SEC schools had used a street agent at one time or another.

Rumor has it the HBO “Real Sports” investigation that’s now focusing on the SEC actually began as a look into the world of street agents… and that initial investigation led directly to the Southeastern Conference.  Supposedly.

All of this could just be a series of coincidences, of course, but it seems there’s some smoke forming on the horizon.  Mike Slive might want to put the fire brigade on stand-by just in case.

It appears the NCAA has street agents in their sites.  The best high school football players are in the Southeast.  As a result, the hottest, toughest, nastiest recruiting battles are in the Southeast. 

You do the math.

 


15 comments
bigshotbob
bigshotbob

it' going to be an interesting off season

wholestory
wholestory

Were are the comments linking Trent Richardson to the man in Texas? In the original story Richardson and alabama were in the list of players/schools associated with this guy. funny how that didn't make this story.

Thayerhater
Thayerhater

Oh, good, Thayer Evans is into this. That automatically renders it "a fictional piece of mud slinging journalism. Oh, excuse me, Thayer is not now, nor has he ever been a journalist. He is a overprices shoe salesman with a typewriter.

David
David

College presidents learned some painful lessons from basketball over the past 3 decades.

1 - A playoff tournament means a whole lot of hands in the pie, creating enough incentive for more schools to start more programs, which dilutes the regular season product.... (I am not defending this perspective - just acknowledging its existence).
2 - Once the competitive race to the bottom really gets underway, you've got a slimy underbelly that's beyond your control. (See: Calipari, World Wide Wes).

They will not relinquish control of their most valuable product in the same way. The NCAA (run by the presidents) will burn a program or two down the ground first.

rhett
rhett

Thanks for the read. This article made me read up a little on these guys. There is some interesting "information" in this article, complete with pictures: http://recruitocosm.fantake.com/2010/12/10/street.... As an Auburn man, I've taken more than my fair share of shots this season and appreciate Mr.SEC's attempt to stick with the facts. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of the story. As this subject is so pervasive (read the link), it will be too difficult to hammer individual programs and there will need to be MAJOR rule changes in the NCAA recruiting manual.

John Taylor
John Taylor

I played football at Tennessee. Coach Fulmer worked with a booster to get me $50,000 to sign with Tennessee in 1997. I also had deals in place with Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, UCLA, Penn State, Virginia Tech.

Now that I have made that accusation, please write a blog entry implicating all those schools and all those conferences.

I said it's true. Nothing else matters.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

John Taylor...

When the NCAA begins investigating your claims... and ESPN and Yahoo Sports start covering the NCAA's investigation... and their stories generate headlines and ticker crawls across the country... then, sure, we'll get right on that.

Gotta love the way some fans act on this site. "Shhhhh! Don't link to national coverage of our schools. We don't want anyone to know."

Mark this down: If the NCAA starts digging deeply into the issue of street agents, someone (or a few someones) in the SEC is going to get burned.

John

Patrick
Patrick

So the NCAA went looking into to it already, before this report. I don't think this should worry Auburn at all. It really had no point in being in the article if you ask me. First off, they just say "connected", which really means nothing. Auburn quit recruiting Seastrunk because of Lyles. If the coaches or compliance office were worried at all, I doubt they would have continued to recruit Reed since they stopped recruiting Seastrunk.

Justin
Justin

Seems kinda strange that as soon as someone other than Florida or Alabama wins the National Championship they suddenly get investigated by the NCAA. Don't you think? I'm not even a college football fan, just an observation.

Steve
Steve

Keep up and you will not be surprised.

Story41
Story41

I understand If they are indeed innocent they would say that first, I am implying that if they are proven wrong and are just trying to use the we had no knowledge argument. Then the NCAA may have opened this can of worms themselves with the ruling in the Cecil Newton case. It will get real interesting if this happens as the NCAA doesn't enjoy egg on their face. I hope for the SEC's sake they don't find this to be true because it will be bad for the league and bad for Auburn. The last thing I want to see is this street agent trend starting to take shape in the NCAA. It needs to be nipped in the bud and the NCAA knows this much and they will use a heavy hand to level any programs using these so called methods. Let's all hope for the SEC's sake that nothing ever comes of any of the investigations going on to the recruiting tactics in our league

Story41
Story41

Seastrunk's mother came out and said it is news to her If anyone got money on the behalf of her son. This is what the NCAA doesn't want to start hearing. This I knew nothing so I am not guilty argument will quickly become old and they will eventually have to drop the hammer on somebody. I am not suggesting that she knew anything. Nor am I suggesting in any way that anyone else that is in similar situations know anything as well. I just think It is interesting that her first statement was I had no idea and the NCAA needs to find out. She called Mr. Lyles by his first name which I'm sure she knows who he is but It sounds as if she knows him pretty intimately to use his first name. Now this could be pure coincidence, I hope for Oregon's sake it is but if it is not then you will start seeing the NCAA do some back peddling the last thing they want is for the other team that played in the BCS championship to have another parent claim they or their son had no knowledge of any payments. .

Runyun
Runyun

"But the fact that the NCAA is snooping around asking questions should worry Tiger fans." Kinda funny to hear that we SHOULD be worried. Guess what though, not worried in the slightest. Nice try though. Ok so listen close. Here's a promise. Auburn did/has done NOTHING wrong in the recruitment of any players, including Cam Newton, Trovon Reed, and Greg Robinson, nor has it paid any handler/recruiting service to steer a player to Auburn.

Steve
Steve

Runyun are you mentally impaired? If so I will show mercy on the stupid statement, if you claim to be sane you need counseling. There has never been anything more certain aubarn cheats.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Runyon...

"Nice try though."

This site has consistently defended Auburn and said that no evidence of wrongdoing has ever turned up. However, when the NCAA begins snooping around any school or its contacts, that's a bad thing and only a fool would think otherwise.

Maybe the kind of fool who lumps all sites together without any knowledge of who's made outrageous claims and who's tried to be an objective defender.

If the NCAA does turn something up on Auburn, however, I'll be thinking of you.

John

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