Tag Archives: Ian McCaw

Art Briles Will Coach Again

Former Baylor football coach Art Briles toured a number of NFL training camps back in August and one of his stops included the Dallas Cowboy’s training camp. During this stop, he made some comments about his involvement with the Baylor scandal that suggested that he was tone deaf to the situation that ultimately resulted in his having been fired.

The reason for this media tour, and let’s be honest, these training camp visits were just that, was to help him position himself for another coaching job. Needless to say, Briles did not help his cause with comments such as this – “I’ve never done anything illegal, immoral, unethical.”

Either Briles or his public relations advisor realized that comments like this would not help his cause and the tone and rhetoric heard in his ESPN interview on September 10 was drastically different than what he conveyed in his previous attitude. Briles seemed to be apologetic and remorseful when speaking with Tom Rinaldi, but only the former coach knows how sincere his new found attitude really was when taping his interview with ESPN.

Personally, I don’t believe that Briles is truly apologetic towards what happened at Baylor. His comments to Rinaldi were so drastically different from his NFL training camp comments, that it’s just too difficult for me to take him at his word. However, I do believe that he is remorseful. He’s remorseful because it cost him his job at Baylor. The situation that Briles ignored while at Baylor should never be minimized and I have serious doubts about his proclamation that he has never done anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. But contrary to popular opinion, Briles is far from unhireable.

Please, do not misunderstand what I mean when I say he is far from unhireable. I am not condoning what went on at Baylor and I am not minimizing what those women went through at the hand of the Baylor football players. But like it or not, Briles didn’t do anything illegal. I am confident saying that today, because until a court says otherwise, Briles hasn’t done anything illegal and therefore shouldn’t be treated as if he had broken the law. In my opinion, he has acted immorally and unethically but acting in these manners doesn’t make a person unhireable.

We all go to work each day and sit side-by-side with people who have been at least as immoral and unethical as Briles yet they have jobs. Yes, there is a fine line between this and actually breaking the law, but the line is there none the less.

With all of that said, the question then becomes this – What school could hire Briles to be their head football coach?

Briles has received the brunt of the criticism and public perception is that he was solely to blame in how the Baylor scandal was handled. That is not only unfair to Briles, it also lets Ian McCaw and Ken Starr off of the hook far too easily. There is enough blame and public scrutiny for all three.

The type of school who could hire Briles is one that has a strong Title IX coordinator, an even stronger athletics director and a President and Chancellor who truly expects transparent accountability. Because once again, it wasn’t just Briles who failed the women at Baylor, it was the entire structure of leadership that was in place.

Now when I say a strong structure of leadership would need to be in place, I mean a legitimate structure of leadership. The type of leaders who could hire Briles would need to be able to stand up to public scrutiny when times appeared to be at their worst. This is to say that actual proof would be needed prior to making a disciplinary decision. Once the facts were in, leaders such as these would be comfortable taking swift action.

Leaders like this would not make decisions based on public perception as was the case when Gus Malzahn and Auburn prematurely kicked Jovon Robinson off of the football team before the facts were known. Innocent until proven guilty is a thing and it needs to be adhered to in every situation. This would be a monumental task for any school hiring Briles based on his track record at Baylor but it wouldn’t be impossible.

Ian McCaw resigned shortly after Jim Grobe was hired to take Briles’ place on the Baylor sideline. As I said, McCaw played a part in how poorly the scandal was handled, but I don’t see a public shouting match over whether or not he is unhireable. Ken Starr completely mismanaged the situation and dug his hole deeper each time he opened his mouth, but he’ll get a high-level job somewhere else. But it’s Briles who takes the majority of the public’s outrage and is considered unhireable based on public opinion.

Briles takes the majority of the public’s outrage because he’s the football coach. The outrage from the public will get more attention going after the coach than it would by going after the athletics director or President/Chancellor. Going after the coach will keep attention on the scandal because people care about who the coach is. These same people probably couldn’t tell you who the athletics director or President/Chancellor were at the majority of schools. This isn’t to say that Briles is a scapegoat. He most certainly is not. The way that he handled the scandal was deplorable but no more so than the way that McCaw or Starr handled it.
At the end of the 2016 season, a handful of coaches will be fired. And of those fired coaches, a decent number will have been at either Power 5 or Group Of 5 programs. Someone will hire Briles to fill their coaching vacancy and if the leadership structure is strong enough at his new school, Briles could very well succeed in the face of public scrutiny.  

E-mail Seth at seth.merenbloom@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

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2016 Is All About Football for Baylor and Jim Grobe

When Baylor trounced the Northwestern State Demons last weekend, the Bears proved that the only thing new to Baylor football this year is head coach Jim Grobe. The on-field results were the same as they have always been and that is a high-scoring track meet. This is what should be focused on from this point forward with Baylor and I’ll tell you why.

Art Briles, Ken Starr and Ian McCaw were all shown the door and rightfully so. The former football players who were accused of rape have also been kicked out of the program. Again, rightfully so. Yes, Baylor had to be drug kicking and screaming to do the right thing, but eventually it did and personnel changes were made.

None of the legal or moral crimes that occurred at Baylor were the fault of Jim Grobe. Grobe was brought in after the fact to help clean up the mess that Art Briles contributed to. So let’s give Grobe a fair shot and not rule him guilty by association.

As for the players that remain on the football team? The same treatment should apply to them as applies to Grobe. I refuse to believe that every football player knew or was directly involved in the rapes that occurred at Baylor. Like Grobe, the players that remain on the team should not be considered guilty by association.

There is the argument that Baylor shouldn’t be fielding a football team at all this year. One of the more popular reactions to the crimes committed at Baylor was for the NCAA to levy the death penalty to the football program. As much as that would have pleased much of the country, it was never an option because, like it or not, the issues at Baylor never fell under NCAA jurisdiction.

So now it is about football and that’s exactly how it should be.

Jim Grobe and his Bears put the rest of the Big 12 on notice against Northwestern State. Seth Russell completed 70% of his passes as he threw for four touchdowns. Shock Linwood averaged 10.8 yards per carry and a stable of wide receivers raced up and down the field. And the Baylor defense held the Demons to 78 yards total yards. Not bad considering the Bears are not known for playing defense against anybody.

On a day when Oklahoma lost to Houston and TCU struggled to pull out a victory against South Dakota State, Baylor just kept doing its thing and nobody seemed to notice. All people want to talk about is Texas beating Notre Dame and what Texas’ rise means to the rest of the conference. 

It’s not the premature argument about Texas’ rise back to the top of the conference that should be our focus in the Big 12 after the first week. What should be our focus is the resiliency that the remaining Baylor players and coaches put on display against Northwestern State. And if conference favorites Oklahoma and TCU continue to falter, don’t be surprised if Jim Grobe’s Bears take full advantage of the opportunity.

E-mail Seth at seth.merenbloom@campuspressbox.com or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

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Saying Goodbye to Art Briles the Right Decision for Baylor

A Little Background Information…

This is one of the moments when writing about current events in college football takes a very dark turn. These dark turns seem to be happening entirely too often lately. So often that it pains me to be a football fan, at times.

I love football and I have for years. I deeply respect and appreciate the hard work and dedication that teams and their staff put into every season. This is where things get complicated.

I also love feeling protected by university and local law enforcement. I love people, both athletes and otherwise, being held accountable for their actions. I love the idea of justice being served regardless of how important an alleged assailant is to an institution’s success. In light of recent events at Baylor University, I find one version of myself at odds with a different version of myself.

As a victim of sexual assault myself, I simply cannot stand by and support, or even respect, an institution or a coach that seems to allow sexual violence. I cannot support a team whose players have been allowed to disregard the safety of the women around them. I can, however, support a Board of Regents that steps up and takes action to investigate this hostile environment their athletic department may have created.

I might add that I am in no way saying any particular individual is completely at fault in this situation. Truthfully, we may never know who is most to blame here, but any silent bystander is guilty enough to be held accountable in a situation like this. This is especially true when that silent bystander is responsible for a team of athletes who clearly were not held to the standards they should have been.

Whether or not Baylor University head coach Art Briles is directly involved in any Title IX violation is not something the public has been made aware of. What we can seem to gather from the findings of fact report from the Pepper Hamilton law firm is that somebody in a position of leadership needs to be held accountable for what happened at Baylor University.

Ken Starr is no longer Baylor’s president. Initially, he remained with the school as chancellor, but he has now resigned altogether, staying on only as a professor. Athletic Director Ian McCaw resigned almost immediately after the hiring of a new head coach. Head football coach Art Briles is no longer part of the staff at the university in any form.

It seems to some that Ken Starr may have caught a break while Art Briles got the short end of the stick. In the end, Starr was smart enough to remove himself from the situation. With Athletic Director Ian McCaw resigning just a couple days ago, the program is now getting a much-needed total overhaul.

Art Briles’ Daughter Said What?

Art Briles’ daughter, Staley Lebby, was quick to defend her father on social media, making it clear she thought he didn’t deserve to lose his job. She referred to this situation as a “media witch hunt” and voiced overwhelming disappointment with the way the university handled the situation. I have a lot of things to say in response to what Staley Lebby posted.

First of all, this was not just some nosy reporter finding out about one incident of sexual assault that went unreported. This was not just a media witch hunt, even if the media did run with the scandalous story. This was an independent law firm doing an in-depth investigation into years of Title IX violations, many of which seem to have involved the football program. Since Briles is the head of said football program, he is the one who is held accountable for how his team is disciplined. And in this case, it has become clear that his team was not disciplined well at all.

Second, how is a failure to properly implement Title IX for years an issue that can be blown out of proportion? Victims of sexual assault go through so many different types of pain and agony, all of which are made worse when justice does not prevail. Is their pain less important than football? Is ignoring their well-being and not taking steps to prevent future violent incidents against women something that can truly ever be blown out of proportion? If one of your friends were a victim, would you be able to say the same thing? Would you tell your friend that the coach’s firing for standing by while his player got away with assaulting her was due to things being blown out of proportion?

Third, Lebby talks about how her father resurrected the program and alludes to this fact as being a reason to fight to keep him. I get it, Briles has been a blessing for the football program as far as success on the field goes. But, does that success on Saturdays even matter when you’re failing the women of the Baylor community? When you’re allowing young men to avoid facing the consequences of violent (illegal) actions, are you truly winning? Where are the football fans who are fathers of daughters that attend classes at Baylor? Those are the kinds of people that should realize his success on the field couldn’t possibly outweigh the safety of the women on campus.

Fourth, Briles’ daughter says Baylor took the “easy way out” in this situation. I may be wrong, but is firing the coach you say has resurrected the football program really easy for them? Not only do they have to explain the decision to get rid of the man responsible for creating a winning atmosphere, they have to replace him as well. If they don’t win without him then things definitely won’t be easy for the administration. Firing such a successful coach for a situation that has yet to be completely revealed to the public is not really the easy way out.

Last, Lebby ends her post by saying that Baylor “did the unthinkable to one that matters most.” You know what “the unthinkable” is to me? Allowing young men to get away with crimes against young women and continue on with their lives like nothing happened. These victims will never be able to go on with their lives the same way. They will never be able to watch another football game, during which the fans are praising their assailant’s name. They will never feel safe on their own campus. That is unthinkable. Firing a man who stood by while this happened on his football team? That makes sense. That is “thinkable.”

Maybe, Briles didn’t do anything directly wrong, we don’t truly know. He did, however, stand by while serious wrongs were committed in his program, wrongs that are actually unthinkable. Some of these wrongs, like those of the transfer athletes he accepted despite their questionable pasts, could have been prevented.

At the End of the Day Baylor Did the Right Thing…

I can try to put myself in Staley Lebby’s shoes here, and if I do then I understand being upset. My dad losing his job after pulling his company from the brink of bankruptcy would upset me, too. (If he had allowed all kinds of tax fraud in the process, though, things might be different.)

What I still don’t understand about Lebby’s post is what else she thinks there was for the university to do in this situation? At this point, all of the members of the leadership have either lost their jobs or resigned. Even if Briles had not been fired last week, he probably would have been forced to join the resigning parade by now.

A winning chapter in Art Briles’ career may have ended, but this doesn’t have to be the end of his football story, by any means. When the entire situation comes to light (like Lebby assures the public it will), then the court of public opinion may offer a new judgment. With what we know now, it is clear that the leadership for the football team, the athletic department, and the university itself should all be held accountable in a way different from how they disciplined their players. With the current information, firing Briles was definitely the right thing to do. Hiring Jim Grobe to replace him? Now that’s a different story.

This is obviously a subject I speak very passionately about, as a sexual assault survivor and as a fan of the game. Feel free to respectfully reach out to me with any opinions to add on Twitter by following @OGKristenB!

Picture from Wikimedia user Djyueng.