With a lead in a tight game against Oklahoma State on Saturday night in Waco, Baylor head coach Jim Grobe appeared to make one of the most ridiculous coaching decisions witnessed in a while when Baylor lined up to go for a first down on fourth and one from its own 24-yard line in the third quarter. After the game, Grobe said he was calling for a punt but a headset malfunction meant nobody heard his call.
That’s because Grobe accidentally turned off his headset.
“All season it seems like when our defense has our backs against the wall we play better, so I figured I’ll just spot them on the 20,” Grobe said in a laughing manner after the game. He was fortunate to be able to laugh it off, because that could have been a game-changing play.
The communications issue did not harm Baylor — the defense stuffed Oklahoma State on a fourth down play at the one-yard line and the offense moved 99 yards for a touchdown — but that is simply something that can never happen, and a head coach needs to find a way to step in and make sure his team is not going for it on a textbook punting situation. Oklahoma State could have settled for taking three free points with a short field goal kick, which would have trimmed the Baylor lead down to just one point at the time, but Mike Gundy went for the lead and a touchdown.
In Gundy’s defense, knowing how potent Baylor is on offense, going for the touchdown made sense in that situation. It is the obvious case of hindsight being 20/20, although it was just the third quarter, and not the fourth.
In a game that was delayed over an hour by weather, featured a bizarre coaching decision and over 1,000 yards of combined offense, No. 16 Baylor (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) managed to pull away and remain one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12 with a 35-24 victory at home over Oklahoma State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12). West Virgina is also undefeated after beating BYU earlier in the day.
Baylor quarterback Seth Russell passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns in the win, and he also led the ground attack with 65 rushing yards on 10 carries. Ishmael Zamora, in his first game back from a three-game suspension for beating his dog, caught eight of the passes from Russell for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Platt also hauled in a 100-yard day with a pair of touchdowns.
While the winning formula for Baylor typically revolves around the offense, Oklahoma State coughed the ball up four times, although they did pick up 30 first downs and run 100 plays of offense as well. It was far from pretty for Baylor, with seven penalties and giving up 28 first downs, but the Bears will take it and enjoy the undefeated start to the season regardless.
Baylor head coach Jim Grobe did make one puzzling coaching decision late in the third quarter when he kept the offense on the field to try to pick up a first down on fourth and one from Baylor’s 24-yard line. You read that correctly. They went for it from the Baylor 24-yard line, with a lead mind you, in the third quarter. Oklahoma State stuffed the play for no gain and the offense was unable to capitalize. That may have cost Oklahoma State, and it bailed Grobe out for an absolute bonehead coaching decision.
But the defensive stop was just the start. Oklahoma State’s defense could not hold Baylor down and the Bears put together a 99-yard touchdown drive, with Seth Russell finding Chris Platt from 15 yards out on third and goal. It served as the knockout blow from the Bears offense, who had four touchdown drives of at least 73 yards on the night.
Baylor will be on the road next week for more Big 12 competition. The Bears hit the road to take on Iowa State for an early kickoff next Saturday. Oklahoma State will be home next week for a meeting with the Texas Longhorns. Texas will be coming off a bye week after losing on the road at Cal last weekend.
Baylor football improved to 3-0 in the early going of the 2016 season under new head coach Jim Grobe. After the game, a former Bear was spotted in the team’s locker room, which drew some questions for the head coach of the Bears today. Shawn Oakman visited his former teammates to exchange a few words of encouragement, and it must have been difficult not to spot him considering his considerable size.
When asked about Oakman being allowed inside the Baylor locker room after the win against Rice, the head coach of the Bears denied having any knowledge of who he was.
I’m sorry, but that is just not an answer that should be allowed by the head coach fo the Baylor football program, even if he had no previous ties to Oakman. There is no possible way a head coach hired to regain control of the program and provide it with a level of respectability sorely needed through well-respected leadership can have absolutely zero clue who Oakman is.
Not when Oakman was indicted in a sexual assault case this past July the very next day after Grobe suggested there was not a culture problem to address at Baylor (which, by the way, is the exact reason he was even hired in the first place). Oakman was arrested on sexual assault charges in April, and this was not the first time Oakman had gotten into some legal trouble just since his arrival at Baylor.
Even if you do want to believe Grobe is so out-of-touch with his own program or want to believe he is among the most naive people in Waco and honestly does have no clue who Oakman is, then what is the excuse for anyone else tied to the Baylor program who would have been able to grant locker room access to Oakman? Somebody knew who he was, and somebody should have had the awareness to realize now is probably not a good time to be allowing him entrance to the team’s locker room.
If hiring Grobe was supposed to spin the PR around Baylor in a positive direction, that mission is failing spectacularly.
The fallout from the bombshell at Baylor continues to leave a deep impact a week later. According to Joe Schad of ESPN, former president Ken Starr says he will resign from his role as chancellor. Meanwhile, Dan Wolken of USA Today reported last night two more staffers from Baylor’s football program have been let go.
Starr was demoted from his role as university president last week by the board of regents following the release of an investigative report on Baylor’s Title IX violations within the football and program and athletics department. Starr was given a chancellor’s role with the intent of being a voice in front of donors. That will no longer be the case, per Schad’s report. Starr will remain a law professor at the university, however, which sounds just as confusing as anything you may read or hear today.
The two football staffers let go by the university are reportedly Colin Shillinglaw and Tom Hill. Shillinglaw was the athletics director for football operations. Hill was a longtime staffer that was apparently there to fill any need necessary. Shillinglaw reportedly worked closely to former head coach Art Briles. Briles was put on an indefinite suspension with the intent to have his contract terminated by the university.
Earlier this week Baylor announced the hiring of Jim Grobe as active head coach. The news of the former Wake Forest head coach joining the Bears during this troubling time preceded the announcement that athletics director Ian McCaw was going to resign.
On the same day Baylor made the coaching hire of Jim Grobe official, athletics director Ian McCaw has announced his resignation.
“After much reflection and prayer, I have decided that a change in athletics department leadership is in Baylor University’s best interest in order to promote the unity, healing and restoration that must occur in order to move forward,” McCaw said in a released statement Monday evening.
The resignation of McCaw is not to be unexpected given the serious nature of the revelations surrounding the Baylor program in the last week. Art Briles already lost his job and president Ken Starr was reappointed to a different position within the university as it looks to regroup from some egregious violations of Title IX and a complete system meltdown in responding to sexual violence involving Baylor student-athletes. That he lasted this long is puzzling to some, and his resignation is very likely a forced one. McCaw was placed on probation by the university last week.
“We understand and accept this difficult decision by Ian McCaw to resign as Athletic Director and we are grateful for his service to Baylor University,” a statement from Baylor’s Board of Regents read. “We also appreciate Ian’s commitment and involvement in bringing a person of integrity such as Jim Grobe to the University before making this decision.”
It should be expected McCaw let Grobe know of the situation when making the quick coaching hire, although Grobe likely knows this is a short-term deal anyway.
McCaw joined the Baylor program in 2003.