While Oregon fans have been enjoying all the fantastic publicity Willie Lyles has provided them this summer, the Ducks aren't the only football program that worked with Lyles.
California, in fact, also paid Lyles for his "scouting services."
Jon Wilner chatted with Bears coach Jeff Tedford about that business relationship -- here's his additional blog entry on the story -- and the general gist is this: It doesn't appear at present that Cal has the same potential NCAA exposure as Oregon.
While it might be premature to completely close the book, it appears Cal has dotted its T's and crossed its I's in this matter. (And, yes, that phrasing was purposeful because everything associated with Lyles feels squirrely).
The NCAA contacted Cal about Lyles in the spring, Wilner reports, and athletic director Sandy Barbour expressed confidence that the matter is over.
“Given that it’s been a while, I don’t expect that they have concern about what we sent,” she said, adding that she believes Cal’s dealings with football scouting services “fully comply with the rules.”
Barbour said the school has not received a notice of inquiry from the NCAA, which signals the start of an investigation.
Neither has Oregon, by the way, so that doesn't necessarily indicate Cal is free and clear.
Some other highlights:
Wilner: "Tedford said he has never spoken to Lyles on the phone, never text messaged with him and only met him once -- they were introduced during Lache Seastrunk’s official visit to Cal." That would mean Tedford's relationship with Lyles was different than Lyles and Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who called, texted and wrote personal notes to Lyles.
Wilner: "Cal used Lyles’ former company, Elite Scouting Services, in 2009 but dropped ESS when Lyles formed Complete Scouting Services. When asked why the Bears went with Lyles’, Tedford said: 'He was charging half what [ESS] was charging. Why pay $10,000 when you can pay $5,000.' He said Cal used Lyles’ service for one year, then dropped it in favor of 'a more inclusive service.'"
So what did Cal get? That's always been the question with Lyles, and it has yet to be answered. Does Lyles actually produce high quality recruiting material worth thousands of dollars, $25,000 in Oregon's case; $5,000 for Cal?
Again, there's just a bit of murk here. Cal also received a “2010 National package."
The only document reviewed by the Mercury News thus far was sent from Lyles to Cal in 2009 and included contact information on prospects in the class of 2010.
Last week, Cal released (to the Merc and the Oregonian) an invoice from Lyles for $5,000, with a ship date of March 23, 2010.
Wilner notes that means Cal received 2010 recruiting information after signing day in February. But there's an explanation.
According to a Cal official, the Bears paid Lyles for two classes worth of information.
They received game film, player reports and contact info on class of 2010 prospects during the fall of 2009, and they received player reports and contact info in the spring of 2010 on players in the class of 2011.
The date on the invoice (3/23/10), according to the Cal official, represented the date Lyles shipped reports and contact info on the class of ‘11.
“What he really should have done for the ship date,” the Cal official said, “was include a range, from Sept ‘09 to March ‘10.”
But Tedford said Cal used Lyles for "one year" (bolded above).
While the NCAA apparently has seen what Lyles provided Cal -- and perhaps is satisfied with that material -- there's just enough sloppiness here to inspire a "hmm."
Further, if Lyles actually produce a reasonably good recruiting product, why didn't Oregon get it?
Your feelings are correct. It does feel like we are wandering around in an ever-expanding gray area with Lyles and his clients.