Here's some reaction to Oregon's release of documents on Monday that seem to fall woefully short of $25,000 worth of recruiting information paid to Willie Lyles.
  • Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples, "The Price is Wrong, Ducks." Writes Staples: "If [coach Chip] Kelly or any of his coaches tried to pass off the booklet released Monday as legitimate, NCAA investigators might consider that a fib on the level of, say, claiming a recruit wasn't at a cookout at a coach's house when he actually was or, possibly, conveniently forgetting to mention that series of e-mails about the tattoo parlor. Ask former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel how those fibs turned out for them."
  • Writes Doc Saturday: "If this sounds too stupid to believe, well, that's because it probably is. The merely unflattering explanation is that Oregon was ripped off by a con man who stuck the Ducks with a shoddy product — embarrassing, maybe, but there's no NCAA rule against being gullible. The more cynical assumption is the same as it was when Lyles' name first slithered up from the gutter of the recruiting trail in the spring: That Oregon found a loophole in the system that allowed it to 'legally' funnel money to a middle man (Lyles) in exchange for access to certain recruits it already knew more than enough about."
  • Ken Goe of The Oregonian, "Documents released Monday by the University of Oregon raise more questions than they answer about the football program's association with a controversial scouting service."
  • The Eugene Register-Guard notes that one of the players on the list played against the Ducks -- and for Auburn -- in the national title game.

The guess here is many Ducks fans are slapping their foreheads to distract themselves from a sinking feeling in their gut. Others are shaking their fists at the messengers, because they really don't like what the message suggests.

The issue is fairly simple: Can Oregon sit in front of the NCAA and claim it got something of reasonable value from Lyles, who is known as a "street agent" by folks who speak ill of him. It doesn't have to be $25,000 worth of recruiting info. Oregon has a right to get ripped off. But there has to be at least an iota of legitimacy.

Otherwise, the Ducks could face some significant NCAA issues, even if the rules governing scouting services are murky.

There perhaps is space here for an explanation. Maybe Lyles was light on the book evaluations, heavy on the video, which hasn't been made available to the media. And if you don't hear from an Oregon spokesman immediately, that doesn't necessarily mean the Ducks are sunk. The process of an NCAA investigation typically yields information only begrudgingly.

Still, behind the yuck-yucks from reporters over the absurdity of Monday's revelations, there lies the potential for real consequences for a program that had stepped firmly into the void atop the Pac-12 after USC's tumble.

Video: Oregon State's supporting strength

June, 21, 2011
6/21/11
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Ted Miller looks at Oregon State’s supporting strength: the Beavers' middle linebackers.

Stanford picks up O-line commit

June, 21, 2011
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One of the top offensive linemen in the Southeast has committed to Stanford, according to ESPN Recruiting's Greg Biggins, as Graham Shuler (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) has given a pledge to the Cardinal.

"I'm actually here right now and this is the perfect place for me," Shuler told Biggins. "My plan was to commit before school started so I could focus on my senior year, and nothing compares to Stanford. I didn't necessarily plan to commit on the visit, but I saw all I needed to see here.

"Stanford has an unmatched atmosphere and I'll have a chance to play very competitive football and get a world-class education at the same time. I love the coaches and I can tell they really care about you as more than just a football player. I'll have extraordinary teammates as well and this is just the perfect fit for me so I didn't see any need to put my decision off any longer."

Shuler chose the Stanford over offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi State, Purdue, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.

Stanford now has five commitments.

Harris a no-show at Ducks' workout

June, 21, 2011
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First of all, summer workouts are not mandatory. So when the Eugene Register-Guard reported that suspended Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris played hooky from the Ducks' first voluntary summer workout, it's important to maintain some perspective.

But, really, this wasn't a great time for Harris to be a no-show, particularly if he wants to prove that he's a team player willing to take his medicine from coach Chip Kelly -- at minimum, sitting out the Ducks' marquee opener against LSU on Sept. 3.

Harris' suspension was announced last week after he was cited for driving 118 mph in a 65-mph zone on Interstate 5 with a suspended license. Reports the Register-Guard, "It’s the latest in a string of traffic violations for Harris, who has racked up at least $4,000 in unpaid fines in Oregon and California."

The newspaper further reported that linebacker Kiko Alonso did participate in the workout Monday. Alonso, a likely started at middle linebacker after a strong spring session, was arrested on May 1 for breaking into a local woman's home, for which he later pleaded guilty to criminal mischief.

Any punishment for Alonso -- he was suspended for the 2010 season for DUI -- has not been announced.

As it is, the Ducks' defense will be missing at least an All-American cornerback and perhaps another starting LB when it takes on a top-five LSU team. Oregon thought it'd have both players on the field when spring practices ended.

Video: Overtaking the SEC

June, 21, 2011
6/21/11
9:00
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Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg, David Ubben and Ted Miller discuss what it will take to overtake the SEC.

Did Ducks get money's worth from Lyles?

June, 20, 2011
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Oregon supposedly paid $25,000 to Willie Lyles for a 2011 national recruiting package. What it got was a was a 143-page publication that mostly featured players from Texas. And the "2011" part is a bit of an issue, too.

Many of the profiles provided to Oregon were for recruits from 2009, according to The Oregonian:
Amid the documents released by Oregon related to the football scouting services inquiry were 140 recruiting profiles of high school players under the heading “2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet." Above each individual profile, however, reads “Player Profile 2011.” The related invoice cites the "2011 National Package."

A search of all the players listed revealed that virtually all graduated from high school in 2009 with a few graduating in 2010 or 2008.

It appears Lyles publication was pretty sloppy, unless there is another explanation.

More from The Oregonian:

One of the recruits in the package dated 2011 was defensive lineman Nosa Eguae out of Mansfield Summit High School in Arlington, Texas. Eguae signed with Auburn in 2009 and started 11 games for the Tigers last season, including the BCS National Championship game against Oregon. He had four tackles, one for loss against the Ducks.

Two profiles appear of the same player. One profile was a redacted bio page for privacy reasons, presumably a recruit who wound up at Oregon.

Tragically, another listed recruit, wide receiver Josh Rake out of Southlake Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, died in a car accident in on Sept. 30, 2010 during his freshman year at the University of North Texas.


By the way, The Oregonian includes a list of the profiled recruits. Judge for yourself.

It's still unclear how much video Oregon got for its money. And whether it was of 2011 recruits.

Where do the Pac-12 profits rank?

June, 20, 2011
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Kristi Dosh -- the SportsBizzMiss -- has sifted through the numbers to find out the most profitable college sports programs for the 2009-2010 school year -- football and men's basketball -- and the Pac-12 does not do so well.

No Pac-12 team ranked in the top-25 in terms of profitability. Utah football, apparently, isn't among the 140 most profitable programs, and that includes teams operating at over a $2 million deficit.

The new, $2.7 billion TV deal can't arrive soon enough, eh?

Texas football is No. 1 with a profit of $68.8 million after $25.1 million in expenses.

The number next to the school is national ranking.

27. Washington
Total revenue: $33,919,639
Expenses: $19,207,560
Profit: $14,712,079

32. Colorado
Total revenue: $26,233,929
Expenses: $12,558,503
Profit: $13,675,426

37. Arizona State
Total revenue: $29,587,236
Expenses: $17,977,987
Profit: $11,609,249

39. Oregon
Total revenue: $29,505,906
Expenses: $18,071,012
Profit: $11,434,894

40. Arizona
Total revenue: $24,398,253
Expenses: $13,685,931
Profit: $10,712,322

48. USC
Total revenue: $29,080,117
Expenses: $20,820,468
Profit: $8,259,649

53. Oregon State
Total revenue: $19,056,237
Expenses: $11,981,026
Profit: $7,075,211

55. UCLA
Total revenue: $22,298,856
Expenses: $15,261,681
Profit: $7,037,175

66. California
Total revenue: $24,421,437
Expenses: $18,519,523
Profit: $5,901,914

82. Stanford
Total revenue: $21,309,949
Expenses: $17,236,945
Profit: $4,073,004

86. Washington State
Total revenue: $12,754,541
Expenses: $9,181,495
Profit: $3,573,046

More on Oregon releasing documents

June, 20, 2011
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Oregon released documents Monday to news organizations that made public records inquiries related to the football program's use of recruiting scouting services.

As of yet, there is no smoking gun. You can view the documents here, as well as read Ken Goe's breakdown of where things stand. There's more here from the Register Guard.

Some notes from The Oregonian story.

Oregon paid Willie Lyles, a figure of some controversy in recruiting circles, $25,000 for his recruiting services. Point A of this story is what Lyles provided Oregon for that money, which is more than is typically given to recruiting services.
The documents released so far include a 143-page publication evaluating high school players, provided by Willie J. Lyles' Houston-based Complete Scouting Services that was part of services rendered for a $25,000 payment.

Also:
Few videos appeared in an initial scan of the documents, but a UO spokesman says the Ducks did receive such material from Lyles' company.

Oregon will want to show the NCAA that it got something of value from Lyles for its 25 grand, otherwise the NCAA might look with skepticism on players associated with Lyles -- such as running back Lache Seastrunk -- signing with the Ducks.

It's still difficult and premature to make a judgment on this. The NCAA has not made its investigation official yet.
An Oregon spokesman said today that Oregon had not received a notice of inquiry from the NCAA, which would signal that the NCAA was compiling a case against the school. The NCAA refused to comment on the matter this morning.

There likely will be more chapters in this story. Only at this point, this isn't exactly a John le Carré thriller.

Pac-12 lunch links: Oregon releases documents

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
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Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel.

Heart of the City: Washington

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
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We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises. And we're including L.A. just because.

School: Washington
Location: Seattle
Enrollment: 42,000
Bowl appearances: 28
NFL first-round picks: 15
Losing seasons: 21
10-win seasons: 8
Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: Numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: Washington is an outstanding school located in one of the most scenic cities in the country. And, yes, it's a bit wet.

While the Huskies only this year climbed out of a lengthy program swoon that began after winning the Rose Bowl following the 2000 season, the program has long rated among the West Coast's elite, particularly under Don James, who won the 1991 national championship. Washington has won or shared 15 conference championships over nine different decades, including seven from 1980 to 2000.

Husky Stadium, which is the centerpiece of a major athletic facilities renovation plan that will start after the regular season, is one of the nation's loudest stadiums. Washington entered this past season without a winning season since 2003, but the Huskies averaged 66,264 fans, and their 91.4 percent of capacity ranked fifth in the Pac-12.

Husky football has never seemed to suffer in the shadow of professional sports in Seattle. In fact, it's typically been viewed as the No. 1 attraction.

The bad: If you are sunshine-obsessed, Washington is not the place for you.

Further, the program has trended downward since getting hit with major NCAA sanctions in 1992. While the Huskies finished ranked third after the 2000 season, a 27-year streak of non-losing seasons ended in 2003 and the program didn't post another winning campaign until finishing 7-6 in 2010. Things bottomed out in 2008 when the program went 0-12, the worst finish in team history.

And some fans have turned away, though not in huge numbers. In 2000, Husky Stadium attendance was 71,638, or 99 percent of capacity. It is fair to say that Husky football, at present, is not the tough ticket it once was.

Heart of the City: USC

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
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We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises. And we're including L.A. just because.

School: USC
Location: Los Angeles
Enrollment: 35,000
Bowl appearances: 43
NFL first-round picks: 55
Losing seasons: 10
10-win seasons: 17
Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: Numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: USC is probably the best program in college football history, so it's got that going for it. Which is nice. Of course, USC's critics would note that the Trojans also ensure L.A. has always had a professional football team.

USC is USC. It produces NFL players -- and NFL Hall of Famers -- like no other program. It's spent 90 weeks ranked No. 1. It's won 11 national titles in five different decades. It's produced six Heisman Trophy winners.

After a lull in the 1980s and 1990s, USC again became the "it" program of the new millennium under Pete Carroll. The Trojans were feared and admired. And hated for being so darn good.

Even when the NCAA, in a fit of pique, walloped the program with unprecedented sanctions, new coach Lane Kiffin reeled in a top-five recruiting class. Why? Because young men want to play for USC, the premier bright lights, big city program in the nation.

The bad: USC doesn't have a great recent or past history with NCAA violations. And if you like fancy pants facilities, USC is not your school.

Further, USC doesn't have the maniacal and dedicated fan base of some other elite, big stadium teams. In 2005, USC played in front of an average of 90,012 fans -- 99 percent capacity at the Coliseum. This past season, they played in front of 79,907, a percentage of capacity -- 85.36 -- which is less than new Pac-12 member Colorado, which has suffered through five consecutive losing seasons.

In 2000, the year before Carroll arrived, USC averaged just 57,399 fans, just 62 percent of capacity in the Coliseum.

Finally, while USC goes to great lengths to emphasize how safe its campus is, it is still fair to say the mostly idyllic campus is not located in the most scenic, touristy area of L.A.

Heart of the City: UCLA

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
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We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises. And we're including L.A. just because.

School: UCLA
Location: Los Angeles
Enrollment: 38,476
Bowl appearances: 30
NFL first-round picks: 21
Losing seasons: 21
10-win seasons: 7
Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: College numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: UCLA is one of the best schools in FBS football and its location, Westwood, is pretty righteous.

Folks forget that the Bruins took over big-time football in L.A. before USC did, particularly in the 1990s when the NFL abandoned town. The Bruins won eight in a row in the rivalry with USC, and in 1998, with swashbuckling quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Cade McNown running the show, the Bruins averaged a school-record 73,709 in attendance while the Trojans drew 60,903 per game at the Coliseum.

UCLA has one national title -- 1954 -- and 18 conference championships. It also boasts a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Gary Beban (1967).

The Bruins' home stadium is perhaps the most storied venue in college football: The Rose Bowl in Pasadena. And when the Bruins win, fans show up.

The bad: UCLA has been successful in football, but most folks consider it a basketball school with fair-weather football fans.

UCLA is a basketball school, in large part because of the extraordinary success of legendary former coach John Wooden, one of the great sportsmen of all time, across any sport. Nothing to be ashamed of about that. But UCLA football fans are notoriously fickle.

In 1998, the Bruins were on the cusp of playing for a national title before an injury-ravaged team lost at Miami in the season finale -- a make-up game due to a hurricane, no less. After then losing the Rose Bowl to Wisconsin, the Bruins began the 1999 season with three losses in their first five games. Just a year removed from winning a school-record 20 consecutive games, attendance imploded, as the LA Times pointed out: "[UCLA's] attendance average at the Rose Bowl dropped nearly 24,000, to an average of 49,825, the third-lowest since UCLA moved to Pasadena from the Coliseum in 1982."

A year after averaging 73,709, UCLA averaged 49,825.

The rise of the Pete Carroll dynasty at USC didn't help. In 2005, USC averaged 90,812 fans. UCLA 64,218.

UCLA averaged 60,376 fans in 2010, which ranked third in the Pac-12. But it ranked 10th in percentage of capacity (66.25).

There's a lot to do in L.A., and UCLA football doesn't top the list unless the Bruins are winning.

Heart of the City: Stanford

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
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We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises.

School: Stanford
Location: Stanford, Calif.
Enrollment: 15,000
Bowl appearances: 15
NFL first-round picks: 13
Losing seasons: 33
10-win seasons: 3
Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: College numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: Stanford is the most elite academic institution in the nation playing football at the FBS level. It's located in an area of the country where the median home price is $1.4 million. Its provost is a former Secretary of State. And word is Condoleezza Rice is a huge football fan.

So if elite is a good thing, Stanford has plenty of it.

The football history is probably better than you think. Stanford won the 1926 national championship. It's won or shared 12 conference titles in six different decades, the most recent coming in 1999. Quarterback Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy in 1970.

The present is pretty darn good, too. Stanford, after a 2006 renovation, plays in one of the best stadiums in the conference. It is the only Pac-12 team to win a BCS bowl game over the past two seasons. It finished ranked fourth in the nation after whipping Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. It's produced two Heisman Trophy finalists over the past two years, running back Toby Gerhart and quarterback Andrew Luck. And Luck is the preseason Heisman favorite this fall after he opted to finish his degree instead of becoming the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick this spring.

The bad: The big present question about Stanford is how the departure of coach Jim Harbaugh to the nearby San Francisco 49ers is going to affect the program he rebuilt. There's plenty of pressure on David Shaw to maintain the Cardinal's 2010 breakthrough, particularly with Luck back.

While it's difficult to call it a "bad," Stanford has far more rigorous academic requirements for athletes than just about every other program in the nation (even if there have been some recent admittance accommodations). The football coaches can look at only a small handful of truly elite athletes a year, and that makes consistent winning more difficult.

But winning inside a beautiful stadium hasn't been an absolute panacea, either. The Cardinal averaged only 40,042 in attendance last year, which ranked 11th among Pac-12 teams. Also, that was 80.1 percent of capacity, which ranked ninth in the conference. The biggest reason cited for this muted response is that Stanford is a national university with a small -- 6,887 -- undergraduate population. But Stanford did regularly attract 70,000-80,000 fans in the 1970s and 1980s.

It's possible that many in the area -- alumni and local fans -- turned away when the product went into a slide during the Buddy Teevens-Walt Harris eras from 2002 to 2006 and have been slow to return during the rapid rise. If Stanford becomes a consistent winner under Shaw, the fans might start showing up.

Heart of the City: California

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
10:00
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We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises.

School: California
Location: Berkeley, Calif.
Enrollment: 36,000
Bowl appearances: 17
NFL first-round picks: 23
Losing seasons: 35
10-win seasons: 7
Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: College numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: Great school, and the Bay Area is a great place to be.

California, the nation's highest rated public university, is close to not only San Francisco and Oakland but also San Jose and Silicon Valley, the high-tech capital of the U.S.

Cal was once a West Coast football power, winning national championships in 1920 and 1922. It won or shared 12 Pacific Coast Conference championships from 1918 to 1958. It won 103 games in 10 seasons -- 1947 to 1958 -- under Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf. There was a lengthy downturn, yes, but under Jeff Tedford, the program had played in seven consecutive bowl games -- going 5-2 in those games -- before finishing with its first losing record since 2001 this past fall.

Memorial Stadium, perched above San Francisco Bay and nestled into Strawberry Canyon, is one of the most scenic venues in the country. It also features one of the top home crowds in the Pac-12. The school is in the process of major facilities improvements: a major stadium renovation project that should be completed before the 2012 season and the construction of a new Student-Athlete High Performance Center.

Further, recruiting in Northern California is underrated. There's a reason Cal has produced eight NFL first-round draft picks under Tedford.

The bad: Cal fans are Cal fans, but there's a lot to do in the Bay Area. Pro sports? Heck, there are two NFL and two Major League Baseball teams.

Moreover, the program fell into a swoon after Waldorf departed. Of the 11 coaches since him and previous to Tedford, only Mike White and Bruce Snyder would leave with winning records. The venerable Marv Levy went 8-29-3. In 2001, Tom Holmoe's final season, the Bears' average attendance was 33,443 -- just under 50 percent of capacity.

Tedford brought the fans back. Even during a down 2010, the Bears averaged 57,873 fans, but that's down from 64,019 in 2004. The Old Blues are no longer satisfied with merely solid to good. They want a Rose Bowl, where the program hasn't been since 1958.

Heart of the City: Arizona State

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
9:30
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We are taking a look at FBS programs located in major cities alongside NFL franchises.

School: Arizona State
Location: Tempe, Ariz.
Enrollment: 70,000
Bowl appearances: 20
NFL first-round picks: 20
Losing seasons: 12
10-win seasons: 11

Source: ESPN Stats & Info (Note: College numbers date back to 1936, the first year of the AP poll. NFL numbers date back to 1970.)

The good: Have you been in Tempe in December? That's a pretty darn good place to start: the weather. Sure, it ain't too pleasant in July, but, hey, school's out.

The Sun Devils have posted several good runs through the years, the best being the Frank Kush era from 1958 to 1979. From 1970 to 1975, the Sun Devils under Kush finished ranked in the top-10 four times and 13th another. They finished ranked second in 1975. They finished fourth in 1986 and 1996.

Arizona State is the nation's largest university, so the student population is huge. If the program won consistently, it's not hard to imagine a 71,000-seat Sun Devil Stadium filling up.

Sun Devils football was a big show well before the arrival of the Arizona Cardinals in 1988. In fact, the Cardinals were Sun Devil Stadium guests for 18 years, before they moved to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The bad: Arizona State has long been considered a "sleeping giant," and more than a few folks have asked why the program hasn't consistently won since the end of the Kush era.

Arizona high school football hasn't traditionally been terribly strong, but it's vastly improved over the past 10 to 20 years and now the state regularly produces a solid number of FBS-level prospects.

Still, many of those prospects leave the state, perhaps because ASU has never consistently filled Sun Devil Stadium. The program averaged more than 70,000 fans in 1987-88 but hasn't hit that number since then, despite huge population increases. Even during an undefeated regular season in 1996, the stadium averaged 63,884. ASU's average attendance of 47,943 last fall was at 65 percent capacity, the lowest percentage in the Pac-12.

Professional sports really aren't the problem. While the Sun Devils have their rabid supporters -- like every program -- they haven't been able to fully tap into local fan passion in a major metropolitan area.

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