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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.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.