Just nine days ago I wrote a post entitled, "Will Lyles, Oregon, and the Slow Unfolding of a Scandal." I was right about the scandal, but wrong that things were unfolding slowly.
In a comprehensive article at Yahoo! Sports, Will Lyles tells his side of the story about his relationship with Chip Kelly and Oregon football. While some aspects of his story are his-word-against-theirs, Lyles provided Yahoo! Sports with a mountain of damning documentation that includes handwritten notes, emails, and phone records, all of which make difficult, if not impossible, to believe that Oregon's relationship with the Texas recruiting businessman was compliant with NCAA bylaws.
As I wrote last week, the useless information in the scouting report that Oregon provided as documentation of a legitimate purchase from Lyles strongly suggested that the football program had paid Lyles for something else, and how hot the water they would be in depended on what, exactly, they really did buy with that $25,000 payment.
If Lyles' story is accurate, the water is boiling:
“I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits,” Lyles said. “The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should … I made a mistake and I’m big enough of a man to admit I was wrong.”
[As for the recruiting package he sent Oregon,] Lyles said he took old profiles off a computer, copied some information from elsewhere and tried to accumulate a last-minute recruiting package. He said he never bothered to consider the quality because he felt Oregon didn't care, they just needed to show something, he assumed, to some bean counter in Eugene... Lyles believes Oregon was trying to retroactively comply with the rules. He says in mid-February the football staff became aware of a pending Yahoo! Sports investigation into its payment to Lyles and the Dallas-based scouting service New Level Athletics.
"They were covering their tracks," Lyles said. "They were covering their asses. They were scrambling."
That Oregon and Will Lyles were in a payola bed together was first reported long ago by the FanTake crew. Six months later, Yahoo! Sports started in on the trail. Four months later, the story of Oregon's phony documentation broke. And just nine days later, we have what may be our first smoking gun. The slow part is over.
Oregon, good night and good luck.