It is so easy to paint Baylor University as a renegade football program that allows in bad dudes all in the name of winning, because it has done just that.
Lost and overlooked in the Sam Ukwuachu case is that while Baylor head football coach Art Briles has taken his share of questionable characters in the name of talent, more often the case is the players he does have are fine, they graduate and nothing happens.
Talk to Spencer Drango, RGIII, Nick Florence, Terrance Williams, Bryce Petty and on and on and you will soon realize Baylor has been and is represented by good young guys. It also has its share of stupid, too.
Like any other top level big-time program, there is entitlement and there is favoritism for the winning football team, but that does not mean they are criminals. Baylor is comprised of good people, and some times good people screw up huge. The smart thing to do is to eat their veggies, to write a huge check to the victim in this rape case, and to never let something like this happen again.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
The pain does not compare, but other good people are hurt in these cases beyond just the victim and her immediate support system.
Briles and the adult leadership at Baylor screwed up royally in this case, but most of the young men that wear a Baylor uniform are trying to do the right thing. Part of the collateral damage in a situation such as this is the collective reputation of mostly a group of good guys takes a hit when they did nothing wrong.
“As a team we are focused on playing on SMU, everything else we are not paying attention to,” senior offensive tackle Spencer Drango told me on Monday when I asked him if he was aware and took exception to some of the things that had been said and written about his program over the past week.
All of the players available on Monday at the Baylor press conference were obviously told to say absolutely nothing in regards to the Ukwuachu case.
I do not believe any of them that said they are not aware of some of the things that have been said about their team and their head coach. These guys are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, the follow college football closely, and they are not going to deliberately turn away from something that is being said or written about them; it’s human nature to pay attention to something that is being said about you. It takes a long time to ignore it.
Opposing college football fans can be brutal, and when the Bears travel they will no doubt hear and read chants that will include the words “rape” and “sexual assault”; it’s tasteless, but decorum and college football don’t always play well together.
Chances are 100 percent some of the things said and written have taken a hit on a lot of these players, regardless of their “we don’t pay attention to that” rhetoric.
It is doubtful that this case will prevent Briles from taking a risk on the next player with a troubled past that comes available and wants to play for his football team. The process of vetting a kid may be more cumbersome, but good football players that can play will always receive a second, third and tenth chance.
Baylor has good football players, and mostly good guys that we will never hear about after their time at Baylor is done. To cast the entire program, or the individuals that comprise it, based on this one horrible case would be unfair, and terribly incorrect.