Another weekend in Waco, another bizarre list of occurrences around the Baylor football program. Typically a game with rival TCU would be showcase enough, but the sideshows quickly surpassed the forty point drubbing handed out by the Frogs.
Things started to heat up Friday with assistant coaches at Baylor posting a response, via social media, to various articles and news reports relating to Art Briles knowledge of sexual offenses occurring within the Baylor program.
The statement was endorsed or signed by over thirty members of the current coaching and support staff. The statement is the second time the football program has released a statement contradicting the statements of a University representative. The first came after Jim Grobe released a statement on the mechanics of the decision to dismiss JC transfer Jeremy Faulk. Globe's statement included the #truthdontlie hashtag that has become a favorite of the Baylor football staff and players.
As to Friday's statement, Grobe said after the game that he was unaware of it until its release. Clearly the remainder of Briles staff didn't tell Grobe what they were doing nor did they clear it with the University or Athletic Department.
Then Saturday, before TCU bled out the Bears on National TV, a group sold #CAB for Coach Art Briles t-shirts outside McLane Stadium. The shirts were a popular item. You could get them in short or long sleeves, you know, with winter coming and all.
But this isn't about t-shirts or hashtags. It's bigger than that.
Here's the bigger issue, we don't know what did or didn't happen over the last 5-6 years regarding sexual assault on the Baylor campus. We certainly don't know who at the University knew what, when they knew it and what they did or didn't do. We've been fed scraps of information. But the University felt there was enough evidence to warrant a dramatic change in leadership. The President, AD, and head coach were all let go. A bold move that has been followed by half measures.
Baylor's response to one of the biggest scandals in the University's history has been disjointed and inconsistent. It started in May when the decision was made to move on from Art Briles, but leave his staff by in large in place. That staff includes his son, son-in-law, and several coaches who've been with Briles since his days at Stephenville. The University hired a figure head in Jim Grobe and expected him to come in three months before the season and control the situation. Grobe is a nice guy, and a great coach, but he's not a baby sitter and he can't fix the toxic situation in the football building.
In most jobs in America when a decision is made to move on from an individual or group of individuals, there is no lame duck period. Certainly not a lame duck period that encompasses a significant period of public scrutiny, like a football season. Millions of people will watch Baylor this season, the message has to be consistent and unified: We are moving ahead, learning from the mistakes of the past but we're moving ahead. Instead the response has been, we're moving on, except we're keeping 99% of our coaching staff, and we aren't going to control their message.
After Friday's actions, it's time for a clean break. It was time to move on when Briles was let go in May. A clean break. If anyone in the football building is going to impede the message they need to go. It's one thing for someone to sell t-shirts at a tailgate, it's another to have the University's message undermined from its coaching staff.
Football isn't bigger than the message of the University. It's a message their sending to not just the Waco area, but also the world. It's also a message they're sending to 17 sexual assault victims. The University cannot let the football building undermine or dilute that message.