[Ed: Bumped, because this is sure to spark some interesting conversation. -jtlight]
Since last night, I have digested the latest recruiting scandal regarding 'Street Agents', primarily concerning Oregon and a Will Lyles. I also digested some roast chicken and a bottle of Tricerahops.
I had doom and gloom race across my mind, but when I stood back, and let my emotional reaction dwindle, I asked myself, "Wait, what's wrong?"
Like any good overweight college sports blog message board contributor, I went to find my answers on the internet. A commenter on YouTube inspired me to fictitiously got a job as a surveyor for the hit late 70s game show, Family Feud.
I asked 100 college football fans to describe Will Lyles with something that begins with an "S"
And the survey says:
3. Street Agent
Based on these results, I came to the conclusion that Will Lyles is (or was) a drug dealer. So I went to edit Wikipedia, but apparently I lacked the proper credentials and I also was wrong.
So who is Will Lyles? What has he done to earn the popular answers of "Shady", "Sleazy" and even "Squalid" (And by judging Google's results is a word that apparently has only been associated with Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion prior to this fictitious survey).
In my life experience I've found that to find the true answers of something, you need to find the incentives for someone's actions. This is often idiomatically phrased as "Follow the money".
What does Will Lyles get out of this deal? As famed Swedish economic think tank "Abba" said several times, "Money Money Money". Now before you start giving me the Pulitzer Prize for investigation, let me say this isn't a bad thing by itself. I actually work at a job for several hours every weekday to get money.
But Will Lyles isn't the only part of this, is he? No, he's is actually a wedge between universities and recruits. A middleman - like a real estate agent or a shopping mall.
So what does a university get out of this deal? As whiny California-based progressive/alternative professor Dr. Edg once said, "Just a little bit, just a little bit more information." I'm sure he said more than that, but I stopped listening to him, and I suggest you do too. But according to sources, there are exactly 300,000 high school senior football players in America (A rather astonishingly round number), assuming the university uses Microsoft Excel 2003, they would need FIVE SPREADSHEETS. So universities try and connect with other resources to get pertinent information. This means there is a demand in the market.
And finally what do the recruits get?. As I said before, there are EXACTLY 300,000 high school senior football players in America. And there are 120 NCAA FBS programs, and all of them want the best players in the country. Most of them want the better players, many of them want the decent players, and some of them want the mediocre players, and the worst programs want the biggest pieces remaining. If you're in the top 1%, you're still in a pool of 3,000 players. If you're in the top 0.05%, you're in a pool of 150 players, and every school is going to send you weekly letters, they'll be calling your phone, they'll want to visit your home, and they'll want to send you to their school. You'll likely have your choices about as well in alignment as my car. Oh, and you know those 3 schools you're really liking, they want you, but if you don't keep playing well and don't do well at camps, they won't want you any more, so you need to keep working your butt off. Oh, and this probably is the most important decision of your life, no taksies backsies. But - what if you had an experienced person with no interest in a specific school that could give good advice, help with your training, and has a great track record of getting well-known players, who happen to now be in the NFL, to their university where they had great success - with no cost.
So, let's have a quick recap of the incentives:
1. WIll Lyles gets money.
2. A university gets access to first hand information on pertinent information from a rather large pool.
3. A recruit gets an experienced and well-connected advisor.
I'm told he's sleazy, but I'm actually having a hard time seeing why Will Lyles isn't an entrepreneurial genius.
Is it because he's getting money by "chumming up to players"? Every single NCAA coach in the country is at the very least, equally sleazy. And why is chumming up to players bad?
Is this situation with Will Lyles worse because of how much money Oregon gave him? Maybe Oregon sprung for the expanded cable with HBO, while others were satisfied with basic cable.
Is there a comprehensive list of every player Lyles has been tried to be associated with? If Lyles wants to provide a service that a school will pay $25,000 for, he'll probably want to be associated with as many players as he can be. So why should we shocked or disgusted when we read that Lyles at least attempted to talk to a player from Texas?
There is a lot of speculation, unknowns, rumors (Did you know Will Lyles is also Rupert Murdoch?), innuendo, outuendo, downuendo, and upuendo.
The NCAA is looking into it, and is apparently in Eugene today. I'm cool with that. What happens - happens. As an Oregon fan, until the full story is told, and there is something to be ashamed from, I won't be ashamed, or let myself be shamed.
Will Lyles apparently is/was associated with LaMicahel James too. I think if I ever see him, I may buy him a drink.
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