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Ken Starr a PR disaster for Baylor in ESPN interview

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If you thought the leadership at Baylor could not look any worse than they have over the past week, think again. On the day he announced he was resigning from his position as chancellor a week after being demoted as university president, Ken Starr sat down for an interview with Joe Schad of ESPN and served up some even more tone-deaf statements regarding the situation at Baylor than you could imagine.

While admitting Baylor’s response to various sexual assault allegations did fall short of what was expected of them, Starr claimed none of the incidents happened on Baylor’s campus, as if that makes the situation any more tolerable.

“We’re an alcohol-free campus,” Starr said in his interview with ESPN. “It’s not happening on campus, to the best of my knowledge. They are off-campus parties. Those are venues where those bad things have happened.”

OK, fine. But those bad things happened involving representatives of your university and football program, and your coaches reportedly interfered with the investigation process, thus protecting them from more extreme punishment and failing to give your victims, who are students at your university, a fair chance at justice in any form possible. Just because an incident happens off your campus, does not mean you are excused from failing to uphold the investigation process and response accordingly. Your students may not live on your campus, but they are a part of your community and it is your job as a university to assure all students they can feel safe and secure while attending your university. Starr’s ridiculous comments about “those bad things” happening at off-campus parties does nobody any good in this conversation.

Making things worse, Starr went out of his way to sing the praises of now former head coach Art Briles, who was placed on an indefinite suspension by the university wiht the intent to terminate his contract. His replacement, Jim Grobe, has already been hired this week amid a flurry of changes at the university. Praising a man fired for overseeing a program riddled with such negative attention connected to “bad things” is a bad public relations move.

“Coach Briles is a player’s coach, but he was also a very powerful father figure,” Starr said. “[It’s] not one strike and you’re out. That’s not coach Briles and that’s not what Baylor is.”

Can we pause for a brief moment and come to an agreement that all strikes are not considered equal? Stealing ketchup from a Burger King o a can of soda from the university book store is one thing. Sexually abusing another student at your university is something else. Not every crime or incident may be deserving of a one strike and you’re done response, but what was happening at Baylor warranted that kind of action. Even if it happened off your campus.

It is somewhat amazing Starr was allowed to sit down for this kind of interview with ESPN. On the one hand, getting Starr in front of a camera could help shed some light on the situation from a different perspective, and perhaps that was the intended hope for Starr or Baylor. On the other, there should have been a PR representative on hand to interrupt and drag Starr out of the room the moment he started praising Briles and saying some of the things he said on camera.

Illinois loses WR Trevon Sidney to season-ending injury

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After a series of high-profile renegings by transfer wide receivers this offseason, Illinois was able to hold on to a commitment from ex-USC Trojan Trevon Sidney.  Unfortunately for both the player and the program, that first season in Champaign has turned out to be a truncated one.

During the loss to Minnesota in Week 6, Trevon Sidney went down with an unspecified lower-leg injury.  Sidney missed the next two games, including the huge Week 8 upset of then-No. 6 Wisconsin.

Three days later, Lovie Smith confirmed that Sidney will miss the remainder of the 2019 season.  According to the head coach, Smith recently underwent surgery to repair what is still an unspecified injury.

Despite missing a pair of games, Sidney is still third on the Fighting Illini in receptions with 16.  His 123 yards are also fourth on the team.

The good news, such as it is, is that Sidney has another season of eligibility he can use in 2020.

Jerry Jones: Urban Meyer’s comment on Cowboys job a ‘compliment’

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How ’bout them Cowboys?  Urban Meyer‘s answer to a somewhat similar question has kicked up a bit of a kerfuffle.

Meyer, less than a year into his second retirement from coaching and in the midst of being lauded for his work as a college football analyst, appeared on Colin Cowherd‘s radio show late last week.  During the course of the interview, the ex-Ohio State and Florida head coach was asked about the not-vacant-yet job with the Dallas Cowboys and if he would want it.

Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. That one? Yes.

Fast-forward a couple of days and the Cowboys’ owner has responded to what many are considering a not-so-thinly-veiled overture on Meyer’s part.

Jason Garrett, the current Cowboys head coach, is in the final year of his contract, which has led to the RPMs on that section of the coaching rumor mill ratcheting up significantly.

In addition to the Cowboys, Meyer was connected to the not-yet-vacant job at USC perhaps nanoseconds after his retirement was official.  Yesterday, our own Zach Barnett put Meyer as Florida State’s top target if the Seminoles move on from the Willie Taggart experiment, which thus far has been an abject failure by any measure.

Of course, if any of the upper-echelon Power Five schools end up searching for a new coach, Meyer will be at the top of their list as well.  Whether Meyer is attainable is another matter entirely.

Miami WR Brian Hightower tweets move to transfer portal

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All of a sudden, there’s a bit of upheaval in Miami’s receiving corps.

Earlier today, we noted the long-running, ongoing drama that is the Jeff Thomas Experience at The U. Monday evening, Brian Hightower added to the collective positional brouhaha by announcing on Twitter that, “[a]fter careful consideration and discussion with my family, and THE University of Miami coaching staff, I am entering my name into the transfer portal to openly explore the best opportunities to utilize my remaining eligibility and pursue my education.”

A four-star member of Miami’s 2018 recruiting class, Hightower was rated as the No. 27 receiver in the country.  Mark Pope was the only receiver in The U’s class that year rated higher than Hightower.

Hightower played in 17 games during his time with the Hurricanes — 10 as a true freshman, all seven this season.  He totaled 148 yards and one touchdown on 12 receptions, with eight of those catches and 88 of the yards coming in 2019.

Iowa could be without leading receiver, top tackler for Northwestern

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When Iowa kicks off its Week 9 matchup with Northwestern, the Hawkeyes could very well be at less than full strength on both sides of the football.

The Hawkeyes released its depth chart Monday for this Saturday’s game against the Wildcats, and neither wide receiver Brandon Smith nor middle linebacker Kristian Welch weren’t listed.  Smith suffered an injury to his lower right leg in the win over Purdue this past Saturday, while Welch suffered an undisclosed injury during the loss the week before to Penn State and didn’t see the field against Purdue.

Official word on the pair’s status for Week 9 probably won’t come until later on in the week.

Smith currently leads the Hawkeyes with 33 receptions and four receiving touchdowns.  His 407 yards receiving are good for second on the team.

Welch’s 47 tackles are nine more than the Hawkeyes’ second-leading tackler, Jack Koerner.  With three tackles for loss, he’s second only to Chauncey Golston‘s five.