As an avid football fan, I watched Baylor’s meteoric rise to the top of college football with surprise, respect, but also a bit of suspicion. Art Briles seemed to be cooking something good even back in 2008 when the Longhorns were still strong, but to reach the heights that the Bears did was stunning after spending decades as a bottom dweller. Stories and rumors circulated that Baylor was doing everything they could to get talented players on campus, which of course includes illegally paying players. True, there are always accusations and rumors, and even if they were true, there are undoubtedly boosters in all major programs who give improper benefits to players, something that is difficult for schools to regulate. Still, Baylor has a reputation of being a conservative Baptist school that, as of yet, has not abandoned its Christian mission. It seemed especially amiss that they would try so hard to be noticed in the world of athletics. They had already been rocked with scandals before, most notably the basketball scandal back in the early 2000’s, but they recovered and were enjoying unprecedented athletic success.
However, this new scandal threatens to topple Baylor athletics, damage the city of Waco’s reputation, and more importantly, dishonor the Savior they claim to follow. As reports piled on that the university mishandled sexual assault cases over the years, many of them involving football players, the university was backed into a corner. They had no choice but to do the unthinkable: Fire by far the most successful football coach in their history and a figure pretty revered in Waco.
I won’t talk about the details of how Baylor failed on this issue; suffice it to say, it was a pretty widespread failure and it is bad that the football coaches were negligent or even complicit in trying to make such cases go away. This is extremely important, but plenty of articles around the web have covered that. I won’t talk much about the ramifications on football and recruiting either because, frankly, that stuff isn’t really all that important (or at least, shouldn’t be). What I will talk about is how Baylor’s failure has already given ammunition to people who want to criticize Christianity and has bewildered people who can’t understand that Christians could do this.