Mac Engel

Baylor has short-term coach but should hire Mike Leach long term

Mike Leach has a contract through 2020 with Washington State but contracts don’t always mean a lot in colllege football.
Mike Leach has a contract through 2020 with Washington State but contracts don’t always mean a lot in colllege football. AP

Much as Baylor could not keep Art Briles there is no way it can retain his assistant coaches, either. The guilt-by-association factor is too high for everybody not to go on this one.

How can Baylor possibly retain offensive coordinator Kendal Briles after it just fired his dad?

Phase II of Baylor’s Texas-sized cleanup efforts that require a hazmat suit, began on Monday with the announcement it hired Jim Grobe as the “acting head coach.” Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett had the interim tag since Thursday.

Suspended athletic director Ian McCaw made the Grobe announcement in a release, suggesting he may be able to ride this out. McCaw announced his own resignation about 90 minutes later.

After much reflection and prayer, I have decided that a change in athletics department leadership is in Baylor University’s best interest in order to promote the unity, healing and restoration that must occur in order to move forward.

Former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw

Next to go will be Baylor “chancellor” Ken Starr, but that was not Monday.

There are other larger priorities for Baylor University to address, but the Baylor football team must continue. The NCAA may impose sanctions on Baylor but the Death Penalty will never be imposed again; the collateral damage of the SMU Death Penalty in 1987 was that the action hurt Southern Methodist University; the NCAA wanted to penalize the SMU athletic department.

Baylor may have briefly considered prized alum and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, but Grobe makes more sense. He is 64 and knows the college routine. Giving the timing, this is as good as Baylor can do.

It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to join the Baylor football program during this important time.

New Baylor football coach Jim Grobe

The actual Art Briles replacement will not be hired until December or January. Names such as Houston’s Tom Herman, SMU’s Chad Morris or Arizona State’s Todd Graham have been rumored for the job, but the Baylorites should consider this one — call The Pirate.

It would be a crazy hire, but Mike Leach could do this. He is college football’s biggest eccentric (remember, rich people are poor), and he has a history in Lubbock that is not pristine but nothing on the level Baylor is cleaning up.

Leach already has won in two places where coaches struggle to consistently win — Lubbock and Pullman, Wash.

No real candidate is leaving a good college job now. And Bill Belichik ain’t relocating to Waco before the NFL season starts.

Baylor has a slew of good players to put together a decent season, but Baylor is basically flushing 2016. Grobe is a roll of duct tape on a dented Mercedez Benz.

Try to ignore the fact that Grobe last coached in 2013, and his career record is 110-115-1 with one 10-win season in 19 years between Ohio University and Wake Forest.

Baylor is looking at least two years of lost recruiting over this. The current class of commitments is predictably fleeing to other locales; five top-tier recruits have already either decommited, or plan not to enroll when the summer semester begins.

Strictly from a football standpoint, replacing a head coach in late May is a white flag for two full years. Baylor’s current recruiting class is fleeing and decommitting. This year’s high school seniors are going to be recruited by a staff that likely will not be in Waco when the new group arrives on campus to start their college careers.

With plush facilities and a head coaches’ salary nearing $4 million, Baylor can be a good job again. but right now it is a college football landfill, only not as nice.

Under Jim Grobe from 2006 to ’08, Wake went 28-12 and played in three straight bowl games for the only time in school history.

Baylor is looking at potential NCAA sanctions, as well as the next head coach having to adhere to the letter of the law. It’s going to be awhile before Baylor can trust a head coach to take a few risks on anything.

By the time the new coach arrives, Baylor will need somebody with a proven record. Leach’s track record says he could make Baylor a winner again fast.

Football-wise, it would help if the new coach is a guy who runs a similar offense as Briles. That’s what the kids like, and his offense was a large point of sale for high schoolers.

The Pirate is still one of the most innovative offensive coordinators in the past 40 years in football. What he is not doing is leaving Washington State just two months before the start of fall practice.

Leach has plenty of Texas ties from his 10-year tenure at Texas Tech. Much like Briles at Baylor, Leach turned Tech into a top-10 player in Lubbock, albeit for not as long as Briles did in Waco.

Leach has been at Washington State for four years, and the Cougars finished 9-4 last season. He is signed through 2020, but contracts in college coaching are just about as valuable as toilet paper.

As much money as Baylor has borrowed to build its football program it will spend the necessary cash to rebuild the team from this fiasco. Now is not that time.

Jim Grobe was hired to be the bridge to the time when Baylor can take pride in its football program again.

The next move will be to find new assistants, then a new athletic director, and then a permanent head football coach.

When Baylor decides when that time is, it should call The Pirate.

Baylor head football coach Art Briles reacts in August 2015 to Baylor's decision to have an external investigation.

Baylor football coach Art Briles' response to his critics.

Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star Telegram with a report from Baylor after Art Briles and his players met with the media.

Baylor head football coach Art Briles responded to questions about the sexual assault scandal involving his players in August.

Jim Grobe record

Ohio U.: 33-33-1 from 1995-2000

Wake Forest: 77-82 from 2001-2013

Total: 110-115-1. Five bowl appearances at Wake Forest

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