Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ken Goe, as always, a voice of reason

Ken Goe repeatedly gets it right.  Never a homer, the Oregonian reporter balances an appreciation of college athletics with a persistent determination to report accurately, and the balance, candor and evenness of his approach is a godsend for fans amid the noise and sensationalism the web tends to foster in the world of sports.

Friday he ran a piece on several Texas high school coaches and their impressions of Oregon recruiting.  Some highlights from Goe's story follow, in italics:

LaMichael James' high school coach credits Willie Lyles with a key and ethical role during James' recruitment to the University of Oregon.

Pat Brady, James' football coach at Liberty-Eylau of Texarkana, Texas, said he doesn't recognize Lyles as the man described in recent national stories as a "street agent" who possibly benefited financially from under-the-table payments after becoming directly involved with Texas high school recruits.

Brady and Shepherd (Texas) coach Bob Jones spoke to The Oregonian this week. Although Jones has not coached any players reportedly linked to Lyles, he did coach UO quarterback Darron Thomas and former Oregon running Dontae Williams while at Aldine High School in Houston.

Neither Brady nor Jones said they witnessed anything in their dealings with the Ducks that was unusual or made them uncomfortable.

"Nothing I've read, seen or heard has made me believe this is a shady deal," Brady said of the NCAA investigation into Lyles' dealings with Oregon.

Goe also includes several tidbits from an interview with Darron Thomas' high school coach, Bob Jones, who states he has grown to know and trust the Oregon coaches.

Chip Kelly rose through the ranks in coaching, worked the clinics, built a reputation as a man of integrity, tireless energy and innovation.  He's well respected, and understands the devotion of high school coaches to their players and the game of football.

Ultimately it's this fundamental character, and the relationships it fosters, that will be Oregon's strongest asset in the recruiting wars.  This is the explanation of the Ducks success.  Sometimes the scandal-mongers strain too hard in stretching a story to fit their lurid expectations.  Oregon probably made a mistake in dealing with Will Lyles, and they're unlikely to partner with him going forward, but the heart of their approach is based on relationships, a desire to win and develop athletes into young men, and a passion for the game they love to coach.

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