In the last 72 hours, the idea that Baylor’s administration was mulling over bringing back Art Briles morphed from message board rumor to something that might qualify as “reported conjecture” to dead as disco.
It started on Monday with everyone’s favorite half-truther, Chip Brown, who dutifully relayed what his unnamed sources were saying about the thinking of literally dozens of members of Baylor’s board of regents. A report from Dan Wolken of USA Today hours later refuting Brown’s version of events did little to keep the story from gaining steam. Some anonymously sourced reports from TV stations and on-the-record pining from BU donors threw some more coal on the fire.
True to form, on Tuesday Brown semi-contradicted his original story with an update stating the pro-Briles push was "on life support." Not surprisingly, the movement flickered out on Wednesday, according to Brown.
As I suspected from the outset, it all amounted to nothing more than a fantasy conjured up by a cabal of egomaniacal rich dudes with more money than decency. It did, however, make for nice headlines to rile everyone up, and the reports generated predictably scathing commentary about how a bunch of assholes must be in charge of the school. (Oddly enough, I didn’t see many people trying to explain why Baylor’s leadership might have fired a beloved coach, who is owed $40 million, without a good reason.)
The fiasco did, however, give us a picture of what’s in store for the coach who takes over full-time in Waco. It sounds miserable.
Despite how his tenure ended, a vocal segment of rank-and-file Bears fans will always think of Briles as the football program's savior. That's expected. Aside from being a great strategist on the gridiron, the folksy former high school coach could charm the rattle off a snake.
Yet, this week's embarrassing events speak to just how much Baylor’s big spenders revere the deposed coach.
The fact that people like Bob Simpson and Drayton McLane would have their names attached to the movement to bring back Briles has to trouble attractive coaching candidates. It's tough enough being the guy following The Guy, but the booster culture in the state of Texas apparently requires an oversized dose of meddling with every oversized check. What's more, the media throughout the state appear all too happy to let a high-profile patron with a burr in his saddle vent.
New facilities and a big paycheck might help lure a solid coach to McLane Stadium in 2017, but the toxicity surrounding the program makes that increasingly unlikely. Whomever takes the job, I'd advise he keep his cell number to himself and pull his office's internet connection.