Whatever details the two investigators from the law firm of Pepper Hamilton discovered were so lurid and damaging that not only did it warrant the dismissal of the most popular coach in the history of the school but the specifics are being kept hidden.
Chances are good that whatever is secret is far worse than what has been revealed.
The only way the Pepper Hamilton report will be released to the public is if a rogue member of the Baylor board of regents hands it to the media, or a Julian Assange-type of hacker finds the thousand-plus page document online.
Those in charge are not coming forward or showing their faces. They will issue emails, press releases, Facebook messages and send out acting football coach Jim Grobe and interim athletic director Todd Patulski to speak for the school.
On Friday afternoon in Waco, Grobe and Patulski met the media and answered questions that they should not have to address.
Grobe is here for six or seven months to help clean up a mess that was several years in the making. He is retaining the same offense and defense and, unbelievably, all of the assistants, too. That includes the two who are related to Art Briles.
Grobe spoke well of character and integrity, and the need for his players to be good citizens.
This is the area that may be Baylor football’s undoing moving forward, and why it is in this position now.
In reviewing the available portions of the Pepper Hamilton report and speaking with Baylor officials, it is evident where the school failed Art Briles, and where Art Briles failed the school.
Baylor’s inadequate procedures and administrative offices put too much on Briles and his coaching staff to act as both investigators and the law to the players who crossed the line.
There is such an inherent conflict of interest that no coach, no matter how successful or powerful, should be trusted with both responsibilities. Ever.
As Grobe said Friday, they are just football coaches.
Baylor trusted Briles and his staff to be everything when, in the end, they are “just football coaches.”
In the past week, Briles’ defenders have cried that he was made the scapegoat when it is the university that left him exposed to this fiasco by not having the proper protocols in place to prevent such problems.
The PH report outlines as much.
What it does not outline was that Briles had been routinely gambling on kids who would help his team win, and yet put him in this position with their criminal behaviors.
Briles made it no secret that he wanted players “with an edge” and if you watched his teams from Stephenville to Houston to Baylor they did play with a swagger and arrogance that bordered on or crossed that edge into stupid punk. But they won a lot of football games.
He was comfortable with the on-the-field behaviors from safety Ahmad Dixon, whose play and behaviors routinely went over that edge.
Briles was comfortable with all of it because he won.
That is on Briles, and why the school is in this position. It trusted him when no coach should have that much power because a coach will always find a sliver of reason to justify having talent on the team.
When a men’s basketball or football team wants to “get good” the route is always to accept the kids that Texas, USC, Notre Dame or the established powers of the sport will not.
Whether that is the kid with suspect academic credentials or a few episodes with the law, these are the risks that can turn a team around. And destroy it.
Every program does it; it’s a matter of degree and whether the team polices itself well.
Anybody who has spent a few minutes with the majority of the Baylor football players over the past five or six years will tell you they are good college guys. Most of them are fine and nothing happens.
But the ones who are not cost the good guys their reputation, the head coach his job and the school its soul.
If Briles had the power to dismiss former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon for weed, he had the authority to kick off any of the players who were accused of rape before the authorities walked on campus. It’s called a “violation of team rules.”
So if Briles wants to blame the school for not having certain procedures in place, or the board wants to blame Briles for taking these guys on, in the end they all contributed to a waste dump that Grobe is left to clean.
He is a solid choice and a perfect candidate to guide this team through this mess, although he should have the decency to allow any of the 2016 recruiting class out of their commitments if that is their wish.
Baylor has enough talent on its roster that Grobe can put together a good season. Next season, however, be concerned. Briles’ departure is essentially going to kill two years’ worth of solid recruiting classes.
One of the reasons for Baylor’s football turnaround was Briles’ willingness to fill portions of its roster with risks that helped his team win as it was sabotaging the entire program.
Grobe and his team will have no margin for gambles, because whatever else the Pepper Hamilton report says, the risks killed Baylor.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.