Can They Recover?

Baylor university and college football. For a long time, those were two things that didn’t go together. That all changed when Art Briles got to Waco. In the 13-years before Briles arrival the Bears never posted a winning record. In fact, they were one of the worst programs in college football.

 

1999: 1-10

2000: 2-9

2001: 3-8

2002: 3-9

2003: 3-9

2004: 3-8

 

It goes on and on. As Briles got his teeth into the Bears program that began to change. He was able to recruit players with better skill. He was able to install a system that was fun to watch and made people want to come to the games. After a couple of rough years, the wins started coming too.

By year three of Briles tenure in Waco the Bears had become a very tough team to play. They’d also become a team that started to win games more than they lost. In 2010 Baylor logged their first winning record since the 1995 team finished 7-4 under then coach Chuck Reedy. They achieved that winning record largely in part to Briles coaching turning into Robert Griffin into a Heisman trophy winning quarterback.

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That wasn’t the end for Briles and Baylor. Things continued to trend upward from there. In 2011 (Griffin’s Heisman year) the Bears finished 11-3. In 2013 they finished 11-2 and won their first outright Big 12 Championship. Briles had officially turned Baylor into a football school. They consistently got top recruits. They were consistently in the Top 25.

Briles had done such a good job that the University of Texas came calling after the 2013 season trying to convince him to make the move to Austin. Baylor wouldn’t let Briles go. They signed him to reported 10-year contract worth 40-50 million dollars. They also stepped up and built a new state of the art stadium in Waco worth a reported 260 million dollars. College football had become big business in Waco. They loved winning and were all in.

With that kind of financial investment, no wonder they covered up what came next.

We all know what happened next. The program that Briles built came down in a cloud of scandal.

Girls paid for sex.

Rapes covered up.

Stuff probably even worse than that that we don’t even know about.

All of it happened under the watch of Briles. The coaching staff at Baylor University and the staff of the athletic department did whatever they could to cover it up. If you know anything about the town of Waco and its history with Baylor I have no doubt people in the town helped cover it up as well.

Waco is a decent sized city but the heart of it is Baylor University. If Baylor University ever ceased to exist or had to be shut down for any reason the economy of Waco would be crushed. The community would go from being a nice community to a town that was very poor and struggled almost overnight. They kept it under wraps for as long as they could but eventually just like the basketball scandal a few years previously it was too big to contain.

The school eventually had to do something. They were forced to make a PR move and get rid of Briles and his staff. They had a school to think about it. A stadium that is still brand new and most likely is still being paid for. They had to make a public show that they were taking this thing seriously.

Briles was fired right before the season last year. Jim Grobe was brought in as an interim coach. He was someone with a very positive reputation in a time where Baylor needed it. He wasn’t anything but a figure head. Just there to hold the fort down and get them through the season. At the end of the season Baylor hired Matt Rhule.

Matt comes with a very good reputation and the reputation of being a no nonsense high moral coach. Something sorely needed in Waco. The problem is Matt walked into a program in shambles. The damage was already done. You can see the damage this season in Waco.

The Baylor Bears have started out 0-5 under Matt Rhule. They have horrible losses to Liberty and UT San Antonio in those 5. That’s two schools you just don’t lose too if you are Baylor. Looking at Baylor’s schedule they don’t have many winnable games left if any. It’s highly possible that Baylor could fall to 0-11 under Rhule. If they do that could be an unprecedented fall from grace. It could be a fall from grace that takes years to recover from.

The big wigs at Baylor must ask their selves a couple of questions. How long is it going to take them to recover from this scandal? Is Matt Rhule the guy that can take the program back to where it was under Briles?  If it takes years what effect is that going to have on Baylor University and the town of Waco?

Two years they can handle. Another 13 years without a winning season I don’t think so. An empty 260-million-dollar stadium doesn’t look good. That appears to be where Baylor is headed.

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