Street agent is much too favorable a description of Willie Lyles.
Sellout, attention whore and snitch more accurately describe Lyles, the brand-new media darling of so-called college athletics “investigative” journalists.
Speaking to Yahoo! Sports reporters last week, Lyles ratted out Oregon football coach Chip Kelly for allegedly personally authorizing a $25,000 payment for Lyles’ bogus Complete Scouting Services. Lyles also detailed several other possible Oregon recruiting violations, and he insinuated that he helped one Oregon recruit circumvent Texas high school academic standards by advising the prospect to transfer to a high school in Arkansas for his final semester.
Lyles claims he flipped on Kelly because he now realizes that Oregon used him to influence Texas-area recruits such as Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James. Lyles pretends he previously thought the Ducks were sincerely interested in his scouting service.
There is no truth to the rumor that Lyles, 31, also told the Yahoo! reporters that he recently realized Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy were fictional.
Regular readers of my column know where I stand on the NCAA rule book. I have no respect for the integrity of the rules and no interest in serving as the NCAA’s volunteer enforcement staff. College football and basketball are institutions rotting from institutionalized corruption built on the foundation of financially exploiting kids by upholding the myth of amateurism.
In the era of the $5-million-a-year coach, busting schools, coaches, athletes, administrators, parents, office agents and “street agents” for violating NCAA rules is one of the easier tricks in sports journalism.
Willie Lyles is the lowest-hanging fruit, an imbecile who desires fame.
You might remember, I interviewed Lyles for my podcast in May. One of his then-handlers repeatedly contacted Roj Grobes, my producer, about appearing on my podcast. Perhaps out of impatience, Lyles eventually emailed me directly about appearing on my podcast.
Lyles, his then-lawyer, James Walker, and another man introduced to me only as Guy talked with me on a conference call for about an hour. They wanted me to do a podcast, a column and help them get a television network to shoot a documentary on Willie’s life. Guy wanted to narrate and/or produce the documentary.
I taped the podcast. The interview focused on Lyles’ denial that he steered players to Oregon, that he told Texas A&M that it would take $80,000 to deliver Patrick Peterson and what a small fry he is/was in college corruption. I transcribed a few of Willie’s quotes for a news story to promote the podcast. I told Lyles and Walker that FOX Sports had no interest in a Lyles documentary or television interview at the time.
Three or four weeks after the podcast, when Willie was no longer in the news, Walker called me to complain that I hadn’t interviewed Willie on television or assisted them in their hunt for a documentary. Guy also sent me a follow-up text.
Do you see where I’m going?
This isn’t investigative journalism.
Willie Lyles is no different from every other American low-life who wants to be famous and doesn’t care how he courts it. The Yahoo! interview is a leaked sex tape. Both parties, Lyles and the reporters, want the attention.
The sex is real. I’m sure there’s some truth in what Lyles said about Oregon and Chip Kelly. I’m sure Kelly and Oregon broke some NCAA rules.
It’s the motives that are impure. No one is trying to fix or improve college athletics. No one is eliminating any corruption. Willie Lyles isn’t doing the “right” thing and he’s not motivated by righteousness.
Since May, I’ve talked with Willie Lyles at least a dozen times. He never indicated any respect for NCAA rules. I talked with Lyles on Friday, when the Yahoo! story appeared. Lyles was giddy about the media onslaught that was coming his way.
You can read the Yahoo! story and the subsequent follow-up interviews he’s done with media members in Oregon and easily see Lyles mostly wants to be important and famous. He will settle for infamy.
According to a story in The Oregonian, Lyles is baking bread for $8 an hour at a grocery store. He’s tried his luck as a coach and failed. He told me that, at 22, he lost a job at a high school because a female student accused him of making inappropriate comments on a ride home from track practice.
Why am I mentioning this now?
Because what most bothers me about Willie’s latest attention grab is the possible harm he has done to two kids, Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James. Their eligibility could be jeopardized. Oregon could land on probation, lose its coaching staff. James is likely to face ridicule from opposing fans for the allegation of academic impropriety. His Heisman Trophy candidacy might be hurt.
These kids came from tough backgrounds. Lyles portrayed himself as someone who wanted to help.
I’m going to keep it all the way real. Lyles portrayed himself as the black man willing to help these young black boys. But now that there’s a little heat, a chance to strike back at the white football coach who committed the reprehensible crime of giving Willie’s fledging business $25,000 in startup cash and getting quiet when the NCAA started asking questions, Willie threw everyone under the bus.
Sellout. Attention whore. Snitch.
On Friday, Willie’s lawyer, James Walker, copied me on a text message he said he sent to Willie after reading the Yahoo! story. Walker said he hadn’t spoken with Lyles in several weeks.
“You have totally ruined it for these kids and they will now be in a Pete Rose, Reggie Bush, Terrelle Pryor category of negative scandal on their names. Why? Why? Why?” the text concluded.
Some people will work for food. Others will say and do anything to avoid making bread.