Slant Routes: Will Lyles; SEC Expansion

Will Lyles

Will Lyles showed up again Wednesday night.  It has been well documented that LSU paid $6,000 to Complete Scouting Services, a recruiting service run by Will Lyles.   LSU paid for the “JUCO per state package” for the states of Kansas and California.  This package was listed on Complete Scouting’s website for $3,000.   Purchasing two states is where the $6,000 figure comes from.   

On Wednesday evening, ESPN’s Kelly Naqi released a story that detailed the videos and materials that LSU received for that payment.   The story claims that many of the videos that LSU received were old or that highlighted players that LSU may not have had any interest in.  The story also points out that many of the videos were of poor quality.  The headline to the story read, “Video Bought By LSU is Old, Low Quality.” 

Well, the national media took this story and ran with it.  In fact, ESPN’s Pat Forde took the story and sent it out via Twitter with the following note:  “Willie Lyles sold video to LSU with no recruiting value.”  Well, that’s not really what Naqi’s story says, but that did not seem to matter to Forde.  It’s shameful that Forde will get away with twisting words like that, but he will.  Bloggers and local media outlets took Forde’s message and blasted it all over the place.  Within an hour, it was a given that LSU paid Lyles and received nothing worthwhile in return.   I’d venture to say that less than half of the people that re-tweeted Forde’s headline did so prior to even reading the story….if they read it at all.   And I’d say that 10% of them even care about any of the facts surrounding the story.   After all, there is nothing like a controversy to generate web traffic.   

I figured I’d at least offer some counter points that are based on facts and some pretty reasonable assumptions:

1) As mentioned, LSU purchased the “JUCO per state” package for Kansas and California.  It just so happened that LSU offered and ultimately signed 4-star quarterback prospect Zach Mettenberger from Butler Community College in Kansas.  LSU also briefly recruited a receiver from Mettenberger’s team, Marcus Kennard, who ultimately signed with Texas Tech.   Included in what LSU received, and what they were really after, was video from Butler that showed Mettenberger and Kennard.  As for California, LSU heavily recruited a wide receiver from East Los Angeles College named Anthony Denham who ultimately signed with Utah.  So when LSU pays for and receives video of prospects they actively recruited and in one case, signed, how does that constitute “no recruiting value?”.   The answer is that Forde was wrong to say that because he either did not understand the situation or did not want to.  

2)  In purchasing the “JUCO per state” packages from Complete Scouting, LSU purchased all material that Lyles had from the states of Kansas and California.   Since LSU was after film of the aforementioned players, is it really incriminating that they are not familar with all of the material that Lyles sent?  It’s what they paid for!  This is not hard.  

3)  Lastly, the assertion that the junior college film was of “low quality” is not really newsworthy.   I have been following recruiting for quite some time, and I have yet to see any JUCO film that is worth a damn.  It’s not like these junior colleges have HD cameras set up from several vantage points on the field.  It is what it is.   To act as if the poor film quality is a revelation and to include in the headline is a stretch to say the least.  

I’m not naive.  I realize that Will Lyles and Complete Scouting are not the typical scouting service.  But the $6,000 payment from LSU to Lyles is not going to get them into any trouble.  ESPN went looking for a story.  And when they did not find anything, they wrote the story anyway.  

Edit:  Apparently the title of the original article was “Willie Lyles sold video to LSU with no recruiting value” but was changed a while later.  Therefore, Forde’s tweet with the same title makes more sense now.  However, once the title of the article was changed, Forde probably had an obligation to clarify what he sent out. 

SEC Expansion

Conference realignment talk has heated up again over the last couple of days, and the talks have focused on Texas A&M and to a lesser extent, Oklahoma.  Both schools are upset and A&M is threaning to leave the Big-12 for the SEC.  Why are they upset?

Texas, of course.  

We have all heard about the sweetheart deal that Texas received from ESPN in the formation of the new “Longhorn Network.”   Recently, the Longhorn Network has announced their plans to televise several high school football games in the state of Texas.   Undoubtedly, the network will seek to televise games that feature prospects that are committed to Texas or that Texas is recruiting.   That is logical since the viewers of the Longhorn Network are Texas fans.  However, it also provides Texas with a unique and perhaps unfair recruiting advantage.  

“Hey son, how would you like to play football at Texas?  We can get one of your high school games put on television.  How does that sound?”

This possibility has Texas A&M up in arms and to the point where they are discussing the possibility of leaivng the Big-12.   Somewhere along the way on Wednesday, Oklahoma also got thrown into the mix too.   While I do think that both schools have a legitimate beef over this issue, I believe they are simply doing a bit of posturing.  I find it hard to believe that this issue would be the one to push the Aggies over the edge and destroy the Big-12 conference.   But the Aggies are smart by taking a stance on this issue and using it to their benefit.   It seems to be working.  The Longhorn Network has temporarily shelved the idea of televising high school games.