Baylor acting football coach Jim Grobe called for more focus this week from players and assistant coaches as the Bears (6-2, 3-2 in Big 12), the No. 17 team in the College Football Playoff rankings, prepare for Saturday’s game at No. 14 Oklahoma (7-2, 6-0).
The Bears are coming off consecutive losses, including last week’s 62-22 rout at the hands of TCU that followed a pregame surge of social media posts from players and assistant coaches in support of former coach Art Briles. Grobe, 64, was placed in charge of the program after Briles was dismissed in May as part of the school’s reaction to a sexual assault scandal involving multiple football players that dates back several seasons.
Although Grobe acknowledged the need for Briles’ former staffers to share their perspective, he urged his assistants (all of whom coached for Briles last season) to join players in tightening their focus for Saturday’s game at Oklahoma (11 a.m., WFAA/Ch. 8).
“We talk about players being distracted. But these things can be a distraction for coaches, too,” Grobe said during Monday’s teleconference with Big 12 football coaches. “I think it’s important these last four games to give our players their best chance to win. It’s easier for the players to stay focused if the coaches are focused.”
Grobe also offered a clarification about a report of a sideline scuffle between Bears’ running back Shock Linwood and receivers coach Tate Wallis during the TCU game. Grobe said Linwood, who carried only six times for 27 yards during the contest, was involved in a sideline incident but not with Wallis.
“He got into it a little bit with one of our grad assistants,” Grobe said, citing the team’s poor play against TCU as the trigger for the incident. “But not anything I have any issues with.”
In terms of the light workload for the school’s career rushing leader, Grobe said Linwood made “some mistakes against Texas” in the previous game that led to more carries for other players. At this point, Grobe indicated the team has hit a crossroads in efforts to finish strong against four teams with comparable talent levels to Baylor.
“If we can get our guys to rally and regroup, we can compete,” Grobe said. “But we’re not good enough to not do the little things and still win.”
After watching film of Oklahoma, Grobe said: “They’re the most talented team we’ve played. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
Grobe also reflected on what he has learned over the past six months about the difficulty of the challenge he has undertaken in Waco. During Saturday’s game against TCU, pro-Briles T-shirts were sold by a private vendor near McLane Stadium and a black banner in support of Briles dangled below a window in one stadium suite.
“This is a university that is trying to get it right and trying to get their house in order,” Grobe said. “I’m trying to help the kids heal, help the coaching staff heal and help the university heal. It has been a little more caustic than I expected, the environment outside of Baylor.”