Wednesday, July 27, 2011

July 27, 2011
I have a couple of belated thoughts on Chip Kelly's statements yesterday. They seemed pretty tame on the surface, not likely to get much attention. But let's look again at two different statements: "misconceptions" and "80 schools."

I think those two things give us a great deal of insight into what the Ducks strategy is with the NCAA.

In every business there is a worker who is new and working his way up that believes he can do it better and/or should be making the "big bucks" that the boss makes. Willie Lyles worked for a few recruiting services over the past 5 or 6 years. He had developed relationships with an unprecedented number of high school stars. Coaches saw this. He had given some exceptional verbal information to literally HUNDREDS of coaches... he was deemed a valuable recruiting asset. He wanted a chance to go out on his own and make that money for himself.

Unfortunately, like many good salespeople, he learned that selling and managing are two very different things. Unfortunately, he learned this at the expense of 3 schools (that we know of), LSU, Cal and Oregon. Nonetheless, his poor business skills do not entirely negate his legitimacy as a recruiting service. He had legitimate skills as a talent evaluator. And Chiop Kelly gave us a glimpse of just how many people trusted his opinion: 80 schools!

This was a critical piece of information. Oregon was not some lone wolf paying a fly-by-night snake oil salesman, they were amongst a hoard of other schools Lyles worked with... the indications of his ability as a scout with other companies was that he knew what he was talking about. IT was also widely known that he was very close with many talented football players. Those relationships garner things more important than just height, weight, position, speed, etc., then relationships gathered information critical to making connections... if you know what a kid wants to study in college, it gives you a chance to talk about how your school can help him. If you know what music he likes, it gives you soemthing to talk about, a way to build your own relationship.

NCAA Guidelines do not prohibit this kind of information and banter. In fact, in bylaw 13.14 dealing with Recruiting Services, it is explicitly stated that a recruiting service should provide more than demographic information and ratings... Lyles brought that kind of additional information to the table.

This is where the "misconceptions" come into play. Far too many people are lookign at the 3 schools that paid and assuming that these are the only 3 schools to ever do business with Will Lyles. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is, Will Lyles has worked with more coaches than most of us could name... he had a history in the business.

Now, do NOT take this to be me defending him... we have all followed someone we had a good relationship with from one business to the next... when someone we liked and trusted went out on their own, we followed them. Sometimes this worked great, sometimes it did not work out so well. A great mechanic cannot always run his own shop.

In Lyles case, the other red flags got lost in the shuffle of his exceptional value as a scout. Those red flags have more to do with character than with ability. And when a great employee with character flaws takes to his own business it is a very risky proposition to follow along. Chip Kelly, Les Miles and Jeff Tedford found some value in Lyles' service at first... all indications are that they lost faith in his ability to do it all by himself was not as good as Lyles promised.

In the end, Lyles was looking to "make it big" and failed miserably. As with many cowards on a sinking ship, he tried to take someone else down with him. I doubt that Kelly goes down... but we now have a clue what fight he is putting up... he is going to rely on the fact that 80 other schools trusted the guy, so he is not a lone wolf; and that is the misconception!


  1. All I can say is when you are at the top,someone is always going to try to find a way to bring you down.The proof is in the pudding.And I am sure that the NCAA knows all to we'll that there is going to be someone out there that's is going to try to make it at the cost of someone else.I do not believe that Chip or his staff did anything that would constitute a NCAA violation.

  2. Just started reading your blog. I like it quite a bit and will forward it on to the crew of alumni that i supply with info, updates, etc.

    I also have linked some of your stuff to the Duck Sports Now site as well. Hope it brings you more traffic.

  3. I agree with both posters above. You have a well thought out voice and I appreciate it. Keep hitting those points and continue to hound the NCAA enforcement people to clarify positions. it could really come in handy in the future.