BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU coach Les Miles told CBSSports.com Friday he didn't know who Willie Lyles was until he saw him in December at the college football awards show in Orlando, Fla.
Lyles is a Houston-based trainer currently under investigation by the NCAA. His name first became known nationally when a Yahoo! Sports report stated last month that Lyles was paid $25,000 for his high school recruiting service by Oregon. The school eventually signed standout tailback Lache Seastrunk who Yahoo! Sports said was mentored by Lyles. In subsequent reports it became known that Lyles provides a high-school recruiting service to several programs.
If it is determined Lyles is a booster, Oregon could have committed an NCAA violation.
Lyles' name came up most recently in an ESPN.com report alleging that he had asked Texas A&M for $80,000 to sign star cornerback prospect Patrick Peterson. Peterson, who denied any relationship with Lyles, eventually signed with LSU which is why Miles spoke out Friday during a wide-ranging nearly 1 1/2-hour conversation.
"In every recruiting scenario, sometimes it's a street agent, sometimes it's the guy's lifelong mentor," Miles said. "Sometimes it's the [high-school] assistant coach who really has [a recruit's] best interests at heart. Some people's interests are more self-serving."
Miles was particularly disturbed, like a lot of coaches, at the so-called third-party influence on recruiting. Coaches used to dealing with parents and high school coaches in the process now feel frustration at having to deal with a "handler" who may be marketing the recruit. While that has been common practice in college basketball for some time, it has just recently become an issue in college football. The NCAA is determining whether to form a focus group to concentrate on such issues.
During the conversation, Miles stressed the cleanliness of his program in terms of NCAA compliance. His reference to Lyles emerged from the nationally televised college football awards show at Disney World. Coaches typically accompany their players to the show.
Following LSU's spring game on Saturday, Miles was asked about the rash of scandals in college football lately.
“I still am very much an advocate of college football. I realize what it does for a great majority of the youth of our country. It is still a place where you reward hard work ... The reality of it is, there’s a difficult issue in perception because it’s not uniform ... [There] needs to be a common sense approach to this. College football is wonderful. It’s not something that should be viewed in a light, in any way, that’s anything but productive. The change that needs to take place is evident. And I think, honestly, there’s a want and desire to make those changes ... Don’t change the game so much that you don’t recognize it because, frankly, it’s magnificent."