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Barnhouse: Bowl ban is one way Baylor can reverse toxic narrative

AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

We now know more than ever what happens when integrity is sacrificed for a winning football program.

The best news to come out of Waco was that Texas Christian University embarrassed the Baylor Bad News Bears, 62-22. But that 40-point thrashing failed to cleanse the fact that Waco has become headquarters for Tone Deaf, Inc.

On Friday, news broke that the players would wear all black uniforms. It was reported that was to show solidarity for an underground movement to “black out” the game wearing shirts supporting former coach Art Briles. The report was disputed but … are there no adults around to say, “Fellas, this is sending a bad message”?

Later Friday, Baylor assistants tweeted a message signed by 33 assistants/staff members. 10 bullet points refuting/responding to regents’ comments that Briles had not reported a sexual assault incident.

A Twitter account called Baylor Revolution (“It’s time for facts and truth. Join the Baylor Revolution”) established in June was behind the “black out” movement. Before the game, black T-shirts ($25 for short sleeve, $30 for long) were being sold with #CAB – coach Art Briles. (And in a fantasy world of rainbows and unicorns those proceeds would be donated to a women’s rape counseling center.)

The 40-point shellacking was well-deserved; maybe the players wore black to mourn their season going down the drain.

Baylor’s sexual assault scandal has outstripped the meaning of that word. It has become sordid and toxic. The lack of leadership at all levels is appalling. It’s apparent that retaining Briles’ assistant coaches was a grievous error designed solely to salvage a few more football victories.

Interim coach Jim Grobe said Saturday that he didn’t know the assistants planned to tweet their statement.

“I think our coaches wanted their perspective known,” Grobe told reporters Saturday, “and I’m not going to stand in the way of that.”

Where is Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades in the midst of the mess engulfing his (new) program? (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Where is Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades in the midst of the mess engulfing his (new) program? (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

So Grobe’s assistants back-doored their coach and back-stabbed the school’s regents. That sort of insubordination should be met with immediate dismissal. Grobe certainly has no control over his staff and is no more than a caretaker. New athletic director Mack Rhoades is a ghost (no surprise to Missouri fans).

There are four more weeks and four more games for a team that is disillusioned and divided. Running back Shock Linwood, the school’s career rushing leader, was apparently upset over a lack of carries and got into a sideline shoving contest with a graduate assistant Saturday. If you’re keeping track, that’s the second Bear-on-Bear bench crime this season.

Baylor shutting down the season with four games to play isn’t an option. Neither was a “death penalty” season on the sidelines. Both options would impact other schools/teams.

The Big 12 Conference office and the other nine schools are disgusted with the ongoing disgrace. No on expansion but yes on expulsion – kick out Baylor, add Houston?

What Baylor should do is not accept a bowl bid. It would deprive the program of 15 bowl practices and would prevent more media interviews that would only lead to more stupid and insensitive comments.

A bowl ban would impact the players on this year’s team. There will be no sympathy from this writer regarding that. These are 100 or so young men who sadly chose the wrong coach and school. Mistakes provide education and experience. They will proceed with their lives and the vast majority will be happy and successful.

On Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ call, Grobe called the ongoing controversies a “distraction” for the players and the coaching staff. Using the word “distraction” is an insult to the victims, who number at least 17. Those are 17 lives that were forever altered in a heinous manner.

Brenda Tracy, a victim of a gang rape who is now a victim’s advocate, has found herself being victimized again. She spoke to the Baylor team in August – at Grobe’s invitation. Afterward she was accosted by Baylor wide receivers coach Tate Wallis who said Briles had done nothing wrong and that Tracy shouldn’t have spoken to the team.

The events of the weekend affirmed Tracy’s belief that Baylor hasn’t addressed its problems.

“You are intentionally doing things to be hurtful and spiteful,” a tearful Tracy said in an interview with USA Today Sunday afternoon.

“Those uniforms were so disrespectful … Those assistant coaches, I’m so frustrated with them. What type of leadership is that?

“My heart was breaking for these survivors because I know what they must be feeling like.I just couldn’t believe how cruel and callous and mean people can be.”

The school’s new public relations firm has urged some of Baylor’s regents to speak out. Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published a story with regents saying Briles knew about and failed to report a gang rape committed by football players.

“Knew about” can be interpreted in many ways, and the assistant coaches’ rebuttal tweets attempted to present their side of the story. But it was more he said-he said in a situation where the comments should be, “We’re sorry.”

The regents who spoke with the WSJ also said that before the surface details of the Pepper Hamilton report came to light in late May the Philadelphia law firm advised that a written version wouldn’t be available for nine to 10 months.

Pro tip: THAT INFORMATION WOULD HAVE BEEN VALUABLE TO HAVE ANNOUNCED SEVEN MONTHS AGO.

The conspiracy folks who also call themselves Baylor fans have yelled about not having all the facts and not believing that Briles was found culpable. Baylor’s administration was thought to be covering up the facts, but apparently there was a legitimate reason Pepper Hamilton supplied Cliff’s Notes instead of a detailed report.

That lack of common sense and clarity has made an abominable situation worse. It fostered the revolutionary reaction that created support for Briles and encouraged the assistant coaches – who had been off limits to media interviews – to go rogue with social media pot shots.

All of this ineptitude and lack of leadership – from the president’s office on down – has created a weekly peel-the-onion drama. When you peel an onion, you cry. What Baylor and its misguided fans are doing is causing more tears for Brenda Tracy and the victims who continue to be marginalized.

Shortly after World War II, Senator Joe McCarthy launched a crusade to root out Communists in the military and government. It was a witch hunt that ruined several lives and careers. McCarthy’s crusade didn’t stop until a televised hearing finally exposed the senator’s cruelty.

Joseph Welch, a lawyer defending one of McCarthy’s victims, changed the narrative and exposed McCarthy with this:

“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

On behalf of and in memory of Mr. Welch, Baylor should be asked the same questions.

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