By Flint Wheeler
Baylor has won a lot of football games. An inherent part of that process, it turns out, was Art Briles playing Father Figure for troubled, talented football players and the program, the athletic department, and the university exhibiting profound ignorance toward the safety and welfare of its female students.
This did not happen at a broad, socio-economically troubled part of a city or county. Or in a third world country half around the globe. It happened at Baylor, a small, private, religious institution supposed to aspire to something better, or at least more scrutinized.
Full details of Baylor’s independent investigation have not been released. But, it’s safe to say they were damning. Heads on pikes now include the head football coach, the athletic director, and the university president–the three most powerful figures at Baylor.
The scale, speed, and decisiveness of Baylor’s actions feel incredible. The fact they feel incredible in these circumstances tells much about where we are with college football. So does the college football media’s collective reaction: recoiling in horror, staring at the screen for a long while, tepidly throwing out hypothetical coaching hires for 2017.
Fox Sports 1’ Colin Cowherd among others have suggested Baylor take a year off or more from football to regroup. A former football rape victim called for Baylor to stop playing football altogether. Both suggestions, given the magnitude of this scandal, seem rational and reasonable. Neither will happen.
This has nothing to do with the “student-athletes.” Their concerns, while real, are unfortunately mute here. Nor would it have to do with sudden scheduling difficulties for Northwestern State, Liberty, Abilene Christian, and the University of wherever would not have a problem finding a place to play on any given Saturday.
It’s about money. That could be the money for the $266 million Baylor just spent building its fancy new football stadium. That could be the TV money needed to fund the rest of Baylor’s athletic department. That could be the perceived effect on money from alumni engagement with the academic university in a post-football world.
Baylor football, while hardly big relative to its Power 5 competition, is too big to fail. We’re too far gone for sheer inhumanity (probably systemic), not to mention frightening ongoing health concerns, to dent the sport. Media outlets that could hold football to account, depend on football.
College Football may, someday, face a reckoning. It won’t come through reason. It won’t come through empathy. It will come when the dying embers of the cable television model meet escalating insurance costs. In short, when the money train stops. This is years and years away – but there will be a day when the chickens come to roost.
On a happier note – Warriors took a commanding 2-0 lead versus the Cleveland Cavaliers of Sunday. Quick research tells me that 94% of all teams in an NBA series when up 2-0, have gone on to win the series. Easy to love MVP Steph Curry is leading a real team playing real basketball. It’s fun to watch, not competitive, but isn’t that the point when a team is simply better, in this case of a watered down NBA, WAY better. Now with Love questionable, Kyrie doing I’m not even sure what you call it, and the splash bothers yet to really even wake up offensively. Chill the Champagne – this will be a quick series. LeBron needs a miracle.