Mac Engel

Baylor’s scandal killed its wonderful rivalry with TCU

Acting Baylor football coach Jim Grobe said he has not spoken with the university about a possible contract extention after his one-year deal concludes at season’s end. The Bears are 6-1 after losing Saturday at Texas.
Acting Baylor football coach Jim Grobe said he has not spoken with the university about a possible contract extention after his one-year deal concludes at season’s end. The Bears are 6-1 after losing Saturday at Texas. AP

For TCU, it’s Baylor week, but the best rivalry in the state is dead because the Frogs are barely average and talk of the Bears continues to be a rape scandal that remains a sharpened blade across the entire school.

The school tried to have it both ways and do right by a number of people, but the fallout continues to drip at a glacial pace. As a result, this bitter rivalry is not going to be what it once was anytime soon. Because Baylor is not going to be the same.

For the past eight years, TCU vs. Baylor was brilliant theater because the head coaches just could not stand each other. But with Art Briles gone, so too is the sports hate.

“Gary (Patterson) and Art had a little bit of a very competitive relationship, I would say,” acting BU coach Jim Grobe said on Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference.

Think Trump and Hillary.

Patterson said: “I don’t know. The most amazing thing to me is Baylor is a great university. I think (the rivalry) helped the Big 12 and both universities. For us, we are trying to get bowl eligible. Outside of those three thoughts, I had not thought about it.”

Yeah — I don’t believe him either.

The single biggest reason the Bears are 6-1, aside from the talented group of players recruited by Briles, is the school kept all but two of Briles’ assistant coaches on staff. That decision infuriated Baylor’s critics, but the decision to keep offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and defensive coordinator Phil Bennett are the reasons a team that should have checked out is engaged.

“No question that’s been the No. 1 thing I thought coming in,” Grobe said. “I came in thinking I wanted to help the players, (and the best way) was to keep the staff intact. There is no question the staff was really solid.”

Kids sign to play for a head coach more than they do a school. When Briles was fired, their main reason to sign with Baylor was gone. The only way the majority of the players remained interested is because Briles’ assistants had their trust and sold them on the concept of playing.

In doing so, however, it furthered the perception that football was more of a priority than anything else.

The staff is off limits to the media, and their presence continues to serve as a link to a scandal that could cost this school nearly $100 million. Grobe said Monday he has not had any discussion about next season only that he will meet with athletic director Mack Rhoades after the schedule is complete.

He did not say this, but they are all gone. And he didn’t say this, either: This is going to get worse.

Baylor remains a deeply divided campus and the wounds are so deep that a full healing will not occur until all parties are out.

In the last few days, Baylor’s beleaguered power brokers engaged in an offensive at critics, who insisted that its firing of Briles was excessive. In the process, it has exposed more ugly details about an array of people in the effort to restore Baylor’s battered reputation.

Between Briles’ lawyer, the school’s former Title IX coordinator, former president Ken Starr and Briles himself, the board has taken a beating in the last few months.

But a new report in The Wall Street Journal included damning quotes from a member of the Baylor board of regents that made Briles look worse, and will likely end his coaching career.

The school has retained a pricey public relations firm from California. It’s not a coincidence that it picked a publication like the WSJ to blast Briles in an effort to defend their decisions. Until this, it had deliberately kept silent other than a handful of press releases.

The school also agreed to participate in a report by 60 Minutes Sports and is revealing the types of details that all parties, from Briles to the administrators, would have been wise to write a check to keep buried.

Now, more details are coming out and a school and its leadership that already looked bad is worse. With an investigation from the Department of Education looming, this scandal will most assuredly continue its Dante trajectory.

And a once great rivalry between TCU and Baylor will continue its sad spiral toward irrelevance.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram