On Saturday, Baylor lost to rival TCU 62-22, an ignoble defeat for the previously 6-1 squad that had been ranked #17. But even a 40-point loss wasn’t the thing that brought the most disgrace to Baylor, as both a team and a university.
A pattern of abuse
As exposed by a group of brave journalists led by Jessica Luther and Dan Solomon of Texas Monthly and Diana Moskovitz of Deadspin, there has been a massive pattern of rape and other sex crimes by Baylor University football players, with #Football coaches and university administrators looking the other way or slow-walking investigations. The scandal, at this Christian university, has led to the departures of both football coach Art Briles -- the man who led Baylor football back to respectability -- and to university president and chancellor Kenneth Starr -- yes, the same Kenneth Starr who was the independent counsel during the Bill Clinton impeachment.
Some players and the team’s remaining coaching staff, which includes Briles’ son, have continued to defend the former coach. According to a tweet by wide receiver Chris Platt, the team decided to wear all-black uniforms for Saturday’s game as a protest against Briles’ firing, though Platt and other players later claimed that wasn't the reason for it. And then, outside the game, Baylor supporters sold black shirts that said “#CAB” (for Coach Art Briles) and a “CAB” banner hung from a suite at the stadium.
Of course, it’s important to note that not every Baylor (or Penn State, or Florida State) fan, student, or alum feels this way. Many have been vocal in their disapproval, often in the face of intense pressure and hostility on campus, such as the Penn State student journalists this year who editorialized that it's time to move on.
But those who did participate in this filth extended a metaphorical middle finger to every victim in the scandal. Saturday’s events show a sort of moral myopia that’s all too common, these days, at many different levels of football.
A perusal of the #CAB and ##truthdontlie hashtags makes something clear: it’s really striking how much the Baylor truther and Penn State truther worldviews have in common. The great coach MUST be a good man, because no coach I admired wouldn’t have been, and being a winning football coach is something that conveys automatic, indisputable virtue. That coach, despite presiding over the sex abuse scandal, MUST be honored, during a home game. The Board of Trustees/Regents that fired him is bad and must be destroyed. The news media is out to get us. Every official report is a lie, every major news account is a lie. The whole scandal is a conspiracy by people loyal to our football rivals. Sure, maybe lots of people were victimized -- but, some things are more important than that. Like football. Especially football.
Hopefully Baylor suffers significant penalties, and Art Briles is never allowed to coach a football team ever again. But in the meantime, it’s gladdening to know that a group of people espousing the worst values humanly possible were denied the thing in the world most important to them: A win on the football field.