You may have heard that some bad things are going down at Baylor University right now. Head football coach Art Briles is in the process of being fired amid an enormous sexual assault scandal, in which documents have shown evidence of cover-ups in order to protect Baylor football players, two of whom have been convicted of sexual assault, while a third is currently under investigation.
But if you’re at all aware of the world of sports right now – or hell, if you’ve turned on CNN this morning – you know most of this. Like I said, it’s kind of a big thing.
And of course, with Art Briles being shown the door, the search for a new head coach is going to be ongoing. Yes, Baylor is naming defensive coordinator Phil Bennett the interim head coach, but as more of the sordid details emerge, don’t think for a second that anyone currently associated with Baylor football is safe.
Naturally, because we Syracuse fans enjoy sprinkling pessimism on our morning bowl of cereal, a lot of Orange fans have immediately begun to think about how this could impact Syracuse. Specifically, whether Dino Babers is going to become a candidate for the full-time job once Bennett is, in all likelihood, tossed out the door after one interim season and the smoke is allowed to clear.
And to those Syracuse fans talking about Dino Babers to Baylor, and thinking it’s a realistic possibility, I say to you:
Stop it. Just…just stop. You’re only embarrassing yourselves.
I’m not trying to offend anyone, but really, you’re being absurd here if you think that Babers to Baylor is at all realistic, for a variety of reasons. For starters: how the hell does that move make sense for either side?
If you’re Dino Babers, you’re less than a year into a gig at a Power 5 school – your first head coaching job at this level. You’ve just been named to the search committee to hire your new athletics director, putting you in the very rare position of being able to pick your boss. Usually with coaches and ADs, it’s a matter of the AD hiring “his guy” to coach the football program. Babers is in the unique position to help hire his guy to run the athletics department.
On top of that, the University has just announced a quarter billion dollar renovation to your home stadium. We haven’t even gotten into the implications of what taking the Baylor job means, either. If you jump now, you’re putting yourself behind the 8-ball in terms of recruiting, and with details still coming out about exactly what went down at Baylor, you’re walking the tight rope without a net if you take that job. Who knows what the continued investigation could reveal?
There’s actual talk of, potentially, Baylor being hit with the death penalty over the things that went down in Waco, with administrators and local law enforcement alike not just covering up rapes, but actually – in short – more or less threatening the victims to keep quiet. This is a shitstorm that’s not going away anytime soon. The NCAA hasn’t gotten involved yet, and they may not, but that cloud will continue to linger for the next year or two, making the Baylor coaching job perhaps the most heavily scrutinized in the nation.
Who the hell wants to walk into that right now, when you’ve got a good thing going with (relatively) low pressure at Syracuse?
And that’s not even getting into how little sense it makes for Baylor, either. I went on a quick little Twitter rant yesterday when I saw people already going into panic mode about Baylor, laying out, in short, why it makes no sense from Baylor’s perspective. Put simply:
It makes no sense for Baylor to fire a coach amid such an enormous scandal, and then turn around and hire one of his friends and disciples.
With the stink that’s going to be surrounding the program, Baylor absolutely has got to make a clean break from the Briles coaching tree. I’m a little stunned that, for now at least, only Briles himself is in the process of being relieved of his duties, though to a degree, I can understand it. This is a precarious time for the football program at Baylor, and they will certainly be looking to bridge this year and move forward in a new direction after the 2016 season. It would be a staggering surprise if Bennett and the rest of the Briles staff is retained once Baylor has a chance to actually conduct a full coaching search, and I can assure you no big-time coach is going to want to walk in there in June or July, right before the season, and try to coach that sinking ship.
Baylor knows this, and I’d be willing to wager that is a massive factor in Bennett being retained – for now – as the interim head coach.
But at the end of all of this, Baylor will need to cut ties with the Briles coaching tree, because otherwise it’s a really, really bad look. You simply cannot remove a coach who was, by all accounts, at the very least knowledgable of the immense cover-ups going on and then hire anyone who refers to him as a mentor. How’s that going to look to the NCAA or, worse, to the victims and their families?
It’s why Penn State went outside of the Nittany Lion and Joe Paterno coaching tree to hire Bill O’Brien, and it’s why, when an actual murder scandal took place with the Baylor basketball program about a dozen years ago, Dave Bliss was fired and the Bears went well outside of the Baylor family by hiring Scott Drew.
I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. I live in Texas, in the DFW area, so when I get in my car and turn on ESPN Radio, I hear a ton of local perspective on football in the state. Yesterday on the way home from work, as you can imagine, Baylor was the dominant topic of conversation. Former Baylor head coach Grant Teaff, a beloved figure in the Baylor University community who coached the Bears for 20 years, was on the radio saying that there were only two options for Baylor right now: name Bennett the interim, or make an entirely clean break from Briles and his coaching tree.
The first option is the one Baylor is going with right now, but when it’s all said and done, I’d bet heavy money on the second following once the season is over or, god forbid, even more horrid details emerge linking other members of the coaching staff to this scandal.
And I hate to say it, but the more details that emerge and make Briles and his staff look worse and worse, the less likely it is that Babers – or anyone from the Briles coaching tree – would ever be considered for the job.
So settle down, Syracuse fans. Dino Babers isn’t going to Baylor. And from what I was told yesterday by someone I trust implicitly on all things Syracuse football, he’s not going anywhere.