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Barnhouse: Baylor folks keep showing up, talking and making it worse

Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire

It’s called penance.

The definition: voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

Excuse me for being judge and jury, but there are multiple reasons why anyone associated with Baylor University should be penitent. Instead, a tone-deaf attitude persists long past the point where a reasonable person should have taken the hint.


Baylor played at Rice Friday and won, 38-10. Guess who was in the stands in the first half? Former coach Art Briles. Guess who was in the locker room after the game? Former defensive end Shawn Oakman, who is under indictment for sexual assault.

Baylor failing to plug the leaks in its public relations sieve is disgusting and discouraging. The school, Briles, the coaches, the players are acting like it’s business as usual, as nothing ever happened. Is there no one in charge to gather everyone in a lecture hall and say, “Enough! Shut up!”?

Briles was interviewed at the game by ESPN.com’s Sam Kahn Jr.

“I love these players and I love these coaches,” Briles said. “I love Baylor Nation. It’s the only time I’ve been able to show up for a game. I’m not trying to be a distraction. It’s about the coaches and it’s about the players.”

Baylor, obviously, had no control if Briles wanted to buy a ticket. Briles, whose redemption tour is as twisty as Lombard Street, has said he’s coaching again next season and he’s said he was sorry for what happened.

What he should be doing is pretending to be Tom Hanks in “Castaway” and spend time on a deserted island talking to a volleyball.

Briles’ attempt to not be a distraction was – you guessed it – a distraction. He has coached alongside his son; was it necessary to show up and watch him coach from the stands? Wouldn’t his penance be keeping a low profile?

Of course, we don’t know what mistakes Briles made. Baylor hired a law firm that apparently pointed the dirty finger at the football program. The school fired him and settled with the coach on his $40 million contract. The school either paid off a good man wrongfully accused or a scofflaw who benefited from his misdeeds.

Oakman, like Briles, had a right to be at the Rice game… but access to the locker room? What about that, acting coach Jim Grobe?

“I don’t know who Shawn Oakman is,” he said Monday.

Grobe know joins Libertarian presidential candidate Gary “What Is Aleppo?” Johnson in the Failed Answer Of The Year contest.

(Baylor issued a damage control statement Monday night. This indicates that the school understands Oakman’s presence in the locker room was inappropriate. It also shows that the school’s administrators concentrate on fixing instead of anticipating problems.)

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell also exercised his First Amendment rights that became verbal versions of a pick six.

On Oakman in the locker room: “That’s more of a personal deal, ‘what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room’ type of deal. He’s a great guy, just in a bad situation. We’re not going to hold anything against him. He was a part of the team and he’s still a part of Baylor. We’re going to love him just as much as anybody else.”

Russell also commented on sophomore receiver Ish Zamora, who was suspended for three games when video surfaced of him beating his dog. “He’s been bombarded by a lot of things. I feel for the guy,” Russell said.

Briles and Oakman can attend games, even if it sends a skewed message. Russell can support his friends, but it’s best not to talk about it in front of microphones and notepads. Pro tip: “No comment” is often the best answer.


This next item demands comment, because it stirred up so many people Friday night:

The MOB (Marching Owl Band) is known for its irreverent performances, particularly when a Texas school is involved. The MOB formed the Roman numerals “IX” as a dig at Baylor’s Title IX gaffes involving on-campus sexual assault. The band also formed a five-pointed star and played “Hit The Road Jack” in “honor” of former Baylor president Dr. Ken Starr.

More than a few writers ripped the MOB for “making fun” of sexual assault. The school issued an apology/clarification. It was unnecessary. The “IX” was actually a middle finger directed a school whose failings and lack of shame are equally appalling.

Baylor’s lawyers earlier this month filed motions to dismiss lawsuits filed by six former students who claim school officials were indifferent and failed to properly respond to their reports of sexual assault.

That’s right. Baylor is legally maneuvering to avoid trials. Six female students failed to receive support and compassion from the world’s largest Baptist university. That school is now trying to block their attempts at seeking due process through the legal system.

Too many at Baylor are denying reality. The school’s legal team is trying to deny justice.

Is penance too little to ask?

Barnhouse: Baylor folks keep showing up, talking and making it worse

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