SMQ is not sure whether the "investigative team" at Yahoo! Sports exists for any end but putting the screws to his new Saints fan crush, Reggie Bush, but Charles Robinson and Jason Cole continue to cultivate their baby by reporting Wednesday that a federal grand jury probe into "Lakes Gaming & Entertainment," a smarmy San Diego agency apparently begun for the sole purpose of recruiting Bush as a client, has "revealed the existence of taped conversations that could confirm Bush took cash and gifts while he was playing football for the University of Southern California." To wit:
If such taped conversations involving Bush become public, Bush and USC could face penalties from the NCAA and Pacific-10 Conference, which are conducting ongoing investigations into reports of extra benefits.
Yahoo! Sports has learned that LaMar Griffin spoke with federal investigators in the spring of 2006 and acknowledged the existence of the tapes. In an appearance before a grand jury on Jan. 12, 2007, Lake's mother - Barbara Gunner - testified that she had heard portions of tapes made by her son, in which LaMar Griffin states that Bush intended to repay New Era Sports financiers "their money," as well as for a car that was purchased for the former USC running back.
Multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports that Lake made the tapes in late 2005 to protect his financial investment if Bush backed out of their alleged agreement. New Era's goal of landing Bush as a client officially failed when Bush signed to be represented by agent Joel Segal and marketing agent Mike Ornstein in January of 2006.
Lake and Michaels told Yahoo! Sports in April 2006 that Bush and his family agreed to be partners in New Era Sports in 2004, then backed out of the venture after accepting the finances Lake and Michaels provided as part of the deal. The bulk of the benefits Lake and Michaels claim they gave to Bush and his family - including direct cash payments, rent-free living in a new home, paying off credit card debt and money for a car for Bush - were allegedly provided over a one-year period starting in late 2004.
Self-referential though they may be, Robinson and Cole have got themselves a smoking gun here if the tape turns up without untimely "gaps," like some other incriminating audio evidence we know.
I told him, I said, "Always destroy the tapes, Reggie. Never keep a record," I said. But does he listen to ol' Dick? Nooooo. Nobody pays attention to Nixon!
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If Cole and Robinson are college football's Woodward and Bernstein, give your candidates for "Deep Throat" in the comments. ESPN has a rundown of the Bushgate history (far right box); last April, SMQ wrote why the Bush case matters to the integrity of college football and its primary value (competition), then why he loves Bush anyway.