Guess which team that played for the BCS title is in trouble

Cliff Harris intercepted a Cam Newton pass in January. He has since been suspended. (AP photo)

Cliff Harris after intercepting a Cam Newton pass. He has since been suspended. (AP photo)

It has been a bad summer for championship-caliber football programs. Southern Cal, the 2004 BCS winner, has been stripped of its title. Ohio State, the 2002 BCS winner, has seen its coach resign under duress. And one of the schools that played for the 2010 BCS title has been rocked with allegations that indicate its presence in Glendale, Ariz., might not have been the feel-good story of the winter.

And no, that school is not Auburn.

The Oregon Ducks lost the BCS title to Auburn on a field goal. In the run-up to the game, the scrutiny fell on Cam Newton, the Auburn quarterback from Atlanta. In the months since, no evidence has come to light to indicate that Auburn broke any rules in its recruitment of Newton. (Yes, Mississippi State sources have said Cecil Newton wanted money for his son to play – for Mississippi State.)

As for Oregon … whoa, Nellie.

Eyebrows were raised when Duck cornerback Cliff Harris was cited last month for driving 118 mph in a car rented by a university employee. (Harris has been suspended.) But the hammer dropped Friday, when Willie Lyles of Houston told Charles Robinson and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports that the $25,000 fee he’d been by paid by Oregon wasn’t so much for “scouting services” as for his influence with Texas recruits.

(Then again, it’s possible he was offering only geographic counsel. As we know, locating Oregon isn’t always easy. The day before his team was to play Florida in the Elite Eight of the 2007 NCAA tournament, Ducks guard Tajuan Porter, who was from Detroit, conceded: “I didn’t even know Oregon was a state.”)

The Yahoo! report is extensive and damning. Said Lyles: “I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits. The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should.”

Lyles told Yahoo! that, in the attempt to make the $25,000 payment look legit, Oregon demanded written ex post facto scouting reports. “They said they just needed anything. They asked for last-minute [stuff]. So I gave them last-minute [stuff] … I gave them, like, old stuff that I still had on my computer because I never thought that stuff would see the light of day.”

Lyles also provided his cell-phone records, which indicated he’d connected with Oregon coaches or officials 44 times in a 10-day period in January 2010. Seven of those calls — three incoming, four outgoing — were made to head coach Chip Kelly’s cell phone.

But wait. In March, Kelly told John Canzano, a columnist for the Portland Oregonian, he didn’t know who Willie Lyles was. Following the Yahoo! report, Canzano asked Kelly why he’d lied. The coach said he’d gotten confused, that “around here, we call him ‘Will.’ ”

(A guy named “Willie” sometimes goes by “Will” — who’d have thunk it?)

It will come as no shock that NCAA investigators are on the case, and it’s not as if the Ducks will be able to hide once the new season commences. They figure to be ranked in the preseason Top 10, and their first game — on Sept. 3, the same night Georgia plays Boise State — will come against LSU in Jerry Jones’ stadium in Arlington, Texas. And it’s not as if Oregon is a low-profile school: Its chief benefactor is alum Phil Knight, who’s the chairman of Nike, which rules the world.

Oregon’s rise to football eminence hasn’t been the smoothest. Running back LeGarrette Blount’s punching of a Boise State player after the 2009 opener became a national flashpoint. (Kelly originally suspended Blount for the remainder of the season but reinstated him for the final four games, the Rose Bowl included.) Starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was kicked off the team in 2010 after multiple arrests. (He wound up transferring to Ole Miss.)

As rocky as its path to the BCS title was — you’ll recall that Cam Newton was ruled ineligible for a day by Auburn, only to be reinstated by the NCAA the next day — Tiger backers have insisted all along their school committed no violations. The offseason has seen HBO interview former Tigers who claimed to have been paid for their services, but still nothing has surfaced to put that championship in immediate peril. And the longer it goes, the more we wonder:

Is it possible Auburn was the only team that wasn’t cheating in 2010?

By Mark Bradley

144 comments Add your comment

rawdawg

July 6th, 2011
11:16 am

Mark Bradley

July 6th, 2011
11:16 am

The rawdawg roll continues apace. Kudos apace.

me

July 6th, 2011
11:18 am

If you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin.

Benjamin

July 6th, 2011
11:20 am

Top three finish. I’ll take it.

Georgia’s waters are starting to get a little hot again too, aren’t they? Any rumblings with the recruiting coordinator resigning, MB?

KennesawFAN

July 6th, 2011
11:20 am

Do you honestly feel Auburn wasnt cheating in the recruitment of Cam or they are just better at hiding it?

NeoDawg

July 6th, 2011
11:23 am

Stop wondering – it isn’t possible.

Curious George

July 6th, 2011
11:23 am

Why is so long for Auburn University to pay for its sin for the deal with the Devil to obtain the $ervices of Cam “The Scam” Newton?

SEC is a bunch of cheaters

July 6th, 2011
11:25 am

Aaah, that’s what they all like to say…hypocrites.

Curious George

July 6th, 2011
11:25 am

Why is it TAKING so long?

Was I channeling the vocabulary of Cam “The Scam” Newton when I wrote that?

Jamaaliver

July 6th, 2011
11:25 am

Collegiate athletics, particularly football and basketball, are so corrupt it’s ridiculous.

I get so disgusted with the under the table dealings and with the millions and millions the schools make on the backs of their amateur athletes.

I can’t wait til the NFL comes back so I can return to a league that’s fair, noble and where the people are of the highest moral fiber.

Southside Dawg

July 6th, 2011
11:28 am

Just remember: Rubbin’s Racin’

Jamaaliver

July 6th, 2011
11:28 am

Collegiate athletics, particularly football and basketball, are so corrupt it’s ridiculous.

I get so disgusted with the under the table dealings and with the millions and millions the schools make on the backs of their amateur athletes.

I can’t wait til the NFL comes back so I can return to a league that’s fair, noble and where the people are of the highest moral fiber.

And rawdawg, seriously, let it go and try to actually contribute something to the conversation. That’s why it’c called the comments section. You’re supposed to actually comment on the stories.

[...] Guess which team that played for the BCS title is in troubleAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)He has since been suspended. (AP photo) It has been a bad summer for championship-caliber football programs. Southern Cal, the 2004 BCS winner, has been stripped of its title. Ohio State, the 2002 BCS winner, has seen its coach resign under duress. …Recruits watch programs the NCAA is investigating before making any decisionsESPNall 41 news articles » [...]

Curious George

July 6th, 2011
11:29 am

Why does Coach Nick “Satan” Saban graduate men with such higher character, greater moral fiber and so many FEWER felonies than those who “graduate,” turn into dropouts and/or junior college transfers under the tutelage of Coach Mark Richt?

Curious George

July 6th, 2011
11:32 am

Why is it okay for Coach Mark Richt to use bad words and make less-than-accurate statements but not Coach Nick Saban?

dagnabit

July 6th, 2011
11:32 am

It’s dangerous to complement anyone on their UGA t-shirt in Florida?

Marcus

July 6th, 2011
11:34 am

At some point, the house of cards [in big $$ college football] is going to teeter …. but I seriously doubt if it falls. Too much money, too many fans esp. those fans who have bank accounts that have a digit with a lot of ZEROs behind them vs. “just ZERO” (LOL) and ancillary industries that would be impacted.

We shall see, but the outrage won’t last. That is who we are.

Curious George

July 6th, 2011
11:37 am

Why doesn’t Coach Nick Saban need tacky black jerseys, diving board backflips or silly end zone dances to motivate his players to perform at a championship level?

Big Ten Champs Nebraska

July 6th, 2011
11:38 am

Big Ten Champs Nebraska

July 6th, 2011
11:39 am

Nick Saban is a has been.

WDE

July 6th, 2011
11:39 am

Sorry Mark. I know you were hoping it was Auburn.

Paul in RDU

July 6th, 2011
11:41 am

Mark – So far the allegations concern Oregon, but what are the chances that there are other schools that have paid Lyle money for “scouting services” and then signed high school players?
I would also hazard a guess that this isn’t the only case where people who run scouting services have steered kids to schools. Heck – the big schools have line items in their budgets for these services.

Mr. Obvious

July 6th, 2011
11:42 am

Oregon lost the 2010 BCS Championship Trophy in January 2011.

Auburn will lose the 2010 BCS Championship Trophy in January 2014.

Tweet THAT on your stolen laptop, Cam Newton!

Remarkable

July 6th, 2011
11:42 am

Is it possible Auburn was the only team that wasn’t cheating in 2010?

Not likely!

Joey

July 6th, 2011
11:45 am

Try to say this outloud without laughing: “Cam Newton didn’t know his dad Cecil was trying $180,000 for him to play football.”

You just can’t do it, right?

*All-Involved

July 6th, 2011
11:46 am

If *AU’s not punished, I give up on college football. Everyone interested in college football knows that they cheat on a massive scale. If the NCAA doesn’t do the right thing, then they must be on *AU’s payroll like the players are.

Mr. Dawg

July 6th, 2011
11:48 am

At this rate of attrition is it any wonder the Bulldogs are moving up on everyone’s pre-season rankings? Keep up the good work Coach Richt! Georgia will be among the country’s elite again in no time!

Jamaaliver

July 6th, 2011
11:49 am

Curious George: You do realize this article isn’t about UGA, Alabama or Georgia Tech, right?

Or do they not teach reading comprehension at ‘Bama?

mike

July 6th, 2011
11:50 am

I am really glad they are going these high profiled criminal college athletes. The best time to do it is after they have made the NCAA, the school, the coaches, and the local economy millions of dollars. You know we have to treat these athletes like terrorists and stick it to them the best way it can be done. God forbid the people who benefit the most have to give back all the money made from these criminals playing football.

Un-Tank

July 6th, 2011
11:50 am

I have no idea whether Auburn paid the Newtons or not and really don’t care. Why? Because there is no doubt in my mind that Cam knew his dad was pimping him out. That makes him ineligible to play. Cam knew about it, and Auburn knows Cam knew about it. They’re both cheaters. Auburn is a scum program with a sordid history of rulebreaking. Everybody knows it, including the select few Barners who don’t live with their heads in the sand.

Barner B. Jones

July 6th, 2011
11:55 am

I sure hope our War Cattle aint stomped to much by the ncaa.

Bill

July 6th, 2011
11:56 am

And the longer it goes, the more we wonder~~~~~damn you must not have much to do.
Do you also wonder who killed Calee Anthony? Where the missing 31 billion stimulas money is? Whoa Nellie is right!

From 3 Days Ago

July 6th, 2011
11:59 am

Alabama self-reports 44 secondary NCAA violations

Alabama has self-reported 44 secondary NCAA violations, 16 of which were committed by the football program. While on probation no less……

Ted M

July 6th, 2011
12:00 pm

“In March, Kelly told John Canzano, a columnist for the Portland Oregonian, he didn’t know who Willie Lyles was. Following the Yahoo! report, Canzano asked Kelly why he’d lied. The coach said he’d gotten confused, that “around here, we call him ‘Will.’ ”

Everybody knows he lied then and he’s lying now. So why can’t someone say “you are a liar”

david

July 6th, 2011
12:00 pm

The national title will now go to TCU after UO and Auburn forfeit their victories from 2010.

PMC

July 6th, 2011
12:02 pm

Always, pay in cash. Geez.

WDE

July 6th, 2011
12:04 pm

@Un-Tank tell it brother tel itl..sing it from the rooftops..and Joey that was funny I tried 3 time to say it and laughed everytime..

The record book will soon read...

July 6th, 2011
12:05 pm

2010 BCS Title Game* – Vacated vs. Vacated

joe

July 6th, 2011
12:06 pm

The UGA fan in FL who punched the 2 front teeth out of the mentally disabled grocery store worker should have his teeth punched out…yet another example of pathetic UGA fans…ya’ll must be so proud.

Give It A Rest Already

July 6th, 2011
12:09 pm

Funny how sour grape dawg fans are still on here whining about Cam Newton 9 months later, and yet still no evidence has emerged linking Auburn to the pay-for-play allegations. Not only that but the reporter who pushed the story for espn {Joe Scab} has been reprimanded by the network & now has to have all his stories run through upper management before he goes to print {via yahoo from a couple weeks ago, i’ve got the link} It seems like every other school BUT Auburn has had NCAA trouble in the past few months. The endless stream of venom and hatred coming from the haters has also led some crazy fool to poison the trees at Toomer’s Corner & cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention crushed a tradition celebrated by AU fans for generations. Don’t you guys think it’s time to give it a rest & look forward to this season? WDE

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

GEICO

July 6th, 2011
12:09 pm

RE: “Did both Auburn and Oregon their way to the BCS Title Game?”

Is the Atlanta Spirit Group the “AJC” of pro sports ownership, or is the AJC the “Atlanta Spirit Group” of journalism?

Rebounding Dawg

July 6th, 2011
12:09 pm

Someday Auburn’s cheating will be exposed, and the last line of your column will look foolish.

GeoffDawg

July 6th, 2011
12:10 pm

Apparently not Jamaaliver. The library burned and both books were lost.

FinanceBuzz

July 6th, 2011
12:11 pm

What in the world is the relevance of “on Sept. 3, the same night Georgia plays Boise State.” Does this paper sit around trying to figure out ways to link every last story to UGA in some manner???? Absolutely ridiculous.

GEICO

July 6th, 2011
12:11 pm

RE: “Did both Auburn and Oregon CHEAT their way to the BCS Title Game?”

Is the Atlanta Spirit Group the “AJC” of pro sports ownership, or is the AJC the “Atlanta Spirit Group” of journalism?

George G.

July 6th, 2011
12:12 pm

Anyone with knowledge of the situation will tell you that Cecil Newton had more of a conversation with Mississippi State boosters, more than a true solicitation. That’s a Mississippi State problem, not an Auburn problem. No chance Auburn’s championship is vacated. It wasn’t a new issue when it was first reported in the media, and Auburn had been working hand-in-hand with the SEC and NCAA since last spring to make sure it was handling the situation properly. Sad that most people either don’t or refuse to recognize that.

DC

July 6th, 2011
12:14 pm

Someday…some day…blah blah blah…keep holding on dawgsters…keep holding on…

You know how easy it would be to trace 180K?…lets just say it would have been found at the beginning of the 2010 season…

GEICO

July 6th, 2011
12:14 pm

RE: “Is paying for college athletes who are too stupid to even work as TSA Screeners a good way get your school’s football program in trouble?”

Is Mark Richt going to be “stepping down” from his coaching position in about 5 months in order to “spend more time with his family” and “focus on his ministry work?”