Kaz’s Korner

Joe Kazmar – For The Record

Last week the world came crashing down on the Baylor Bears’ football program as the board of regents said they will fire Head Coach Art Briles, demote president Kenneth Starr to chancellor and suspend Athletic Director Ian McCaw after a plethora of sexual assault incidents involving football players came to a head at the Waco campus.

On Monday the school announced that former Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe will replace Briles as acting head football coach and that McCaw had resigned as athletic director.

The action initiated by the regents occurred, not entirely because of the incidents, but because the people in charge opted to ignore these criminal acts on female students.

And to make matters worse, some of the football players charged and jailed for these heinous acts had transferred from other colleges and universities after being kicked out for serious crimes.

Some of those football players had been accused or even convicted of other crimes against women.

In his book, “Beating Goliath” authored by Briles, he boasted about how proud he was to be able to give troubled athletes a second chance.

Briles was quoted by ESPN in March 2014, “I think we do a good job of nurturing and giving these guys a chance to get their feet on the ground and start over.”

Shawn Oakman, a transfer from Penn State was arrested in April on sexual assault charges. Sam Ukwauchu, who transferred to Baylor from Boise State where he had disciplinary problems, went to prison for rape in 2015. Defensive end Tevin Elliot is spending 20 years in prison for two sexual assault convictions.

So the players that Briles gave second chances to were not dismissed from their original schools for merely breaking team rules, but for serious crimes. These players given second chances obviously needed closer supervision to correct their transgressions, but unfortunately didn’t learn their lesson.

Briles, most of his assistants and athletic department staffers were aware of the sexual assault allegations against football players and didn’t report them, but instead covered them up, giving the players ample opportunities to commit more crimes.

Baylor’s regents hired a Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton to investigate Briles and some of the school’s administrators. The investigation revealed the coaches and staff sought to “actively divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes.”

The investigation also uncovered that when other departments continuously raised concerns about how the athletic department handled these sexual assault allegations, Starr’s administration didn’t do anything and even discouraged students from reporting these sexual assaults.

Now the big question is what happens next to Baylor’s football program. Talk shows and the Internet have plenty of scenarios–from former football players and Baylor alumni walking around with grocery sacks over their heads to those wanting to give Briles the same second chance he’s given some of his players.

Art Briles is a highly-successful football coach and several high school juniors have already verbally committed to sign letters-of-intent with the Bears next February. But most of them made their decision based on the fact they wanted to play for Briles.

Briles began his coaching career on the high school level where he led Stephenville to back-to-back Class 4A state championships in 1994 and 1995 and again in 1998-99.

He landed his first college head coaching job in Dec. 2002 at the University of Houston where he compiled a 34-28 record and went to four bowl games.

In Nov. 2007, Briles signed a seven-year contract worth $1.8 million annually, inheriting a Baylor program that went 35-94 with no bowl appearances in the first 12 years of the Big 12. He agreed to a new 10-year contract on Nov. 14, 2013 and reportedly had a total compensation package of nearly $6 million in 2014.

His teams posted an overall 64-37 in his eight seasons at Baylor and went to bowl games the last six years.

I have to disagree with some of the loyal Art Briles supporters who wanted to give him a second chance. I believe that when a youngster is recruited to be a collegiate athlete, he is the responsibility of that head coach to make sure he attends all his classes, obeys the university’s rules and regulations and keeps his nose clean with the law.

If a coach recruits shady characters, what happened at Baylor University is what can and usually will happen in due time.

I hope that if Grobe is the next Baylor head football coach, he does a better job recruiting athletes that also must be good citizens.

KWICKIES…The Houston Astros are beginning to show shades of last season by winning six of their last seven games, with Sunday’s 8-6 victory in the 13th inning over the Angels in Los Angeles exciting to those listening on the radio. Astros’ side-arm reliever Pat Neshek gave up a triple in the bottom of the 11th inning, intentionally walked Angel sluggers Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to load the bases and then retired the next two batters to keep the score at 5-5. The Astros got a pair of singles in the top of the 13th inning and Manager A.J. Hinch, who had given shortstop Carlos Correa his second day-off of the season, used the 22-year old as a pinch hitter and Correa smashed a three-run homer over the left field wall giving the Astros an 8-6 victory. Correa was six years old the last time the Astros had a pinch-hit home run in extra innings. It happened on May 15, 2001 when Tony Eusebio hit it against the Chicago Cubs.

And while on the subject of the Astros, reliever Will Harris pitched a scoreless ninth inning Sunday against the Angels, which made 22 scoreless appearances covering 22 1/3 innings. It is the fourth-longest streak by an Astro and lowered his ERA to 0.38.

Twenty-two year-old pro golfer Jordan Spieth, who has won eight PGA Tour victories, won the first one in his home state of Texas Sunday by three strokes over Harris English in the Dean and Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. Spieth had rounds of 67-66-65-65—263 to win the $1.206 million first place money.

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers has joined a select group of Boston Celtics to reach his sixth consecutive NBA Finals. He joins the NBA era of Bill Russell and his Celtics’ teammates. The Cavs will meet the Golden State Warriors this week for the 2016 NBA world championship.

JUST BETWEEN US…Baseball fans were treated to some exciting games last weekend as both the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Battlin’ Bears and the Bridge City Cardinals went right down to the wire on their respective fourth-round high school playoff games with each outcome the result of mistakes. The Cardinals surrendered two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and lost to Waco Robinson 6-5 Saturday. The Bears were on the receiving end of Jasper’s mistakes in the bottom of the eighth inning. Drake Trawhon doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning and moved to third on a wild pitch. Jasper elected to intentionally walk the next to batters and then Michael Lee, who had driven in the tying run earlier, took one for the team when he was hit by the pitch forcing in the winning run. With the 5-4 victory, the Battlin’ Bears will play Waco Robinson for the Class 4A Region III championship in a best-of-three series that begins 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thurs.) at College Park High School, in The Woodlands, 5 p.m. Friday at Sam Houston State University field in Huntsville with Game 3 to follow if necessary.