It started Friday night with one tweet, simultaneously sent out by a good portion of Baylor’s assistant football coaches and support staff.
It ended Saturday with a 62-22 blowout loss to TCU and more questions about the seemingly never-ending storm surrounding Baylor’s football program.
In this season of distractions that seem never-ending and unavoidable, this was just the latest.
Saturday, those distractions seemed to finally manifest themselves on the field.
“I hate to make excuses,” Baylor coach Jim Grobe said. “But I really don’t know how to put my finger on that.”
The tweet included a written statement with bullet points defending former coach Art Briles and was in response to a column on Thursday in the Dallas Morning News. It addressed Briles’ knowledge of one alleged sexual assault case and his actions after the allegation was reported to Briles.
It had the names of 33 Baylor assistant football coaches and support staff attached, including defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, Art Briles’ son.
Last week, a Wall Street Journal article stated that the sexual assault scandal that led to Art Briles being fired in May involved 17 women who reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 players since 2011, including four alleged gang rapes, according to the Baylor board of regents.
Grobe was the only member of the coaching staff who did not have his name on the statement. Grobe said he was not made aware of his staff’s plan to put out the mass tweet.
“I think our coaches wanted their perspective known,” Grobe said. “And I’m not going to step in the way of that.”
Baylor’s assistant coaches haven’t been allowed to talk to the media this season.
Baylor’s players were also in the dark.
“No, we weren’t aware of (the tweet),” Baylor quarterback Seth Russell said. “But, like I said, stuff’s going to happen. We knew something was going to come out. It’s Baylor, so stuff is going to come out the day before the game. We expect that.
“We have everybody against us, so we expect something negative, positive, whatever it may be, each week. There’s something that’s going to come out. That’s the bottom line.”
Friday night’s tweet wasn’t the only distraction.
Outside of the stadium on Saturday, Celsa Hurley of Hurley’s Graphics, a company based out of Lufkin, did brisk sales of black T-shirts with the hashtag #CAB in white letters on the front at a Baylor tailgate party. The hashtag was for former Baylor coach Art Briles, who was fired in May, and were being sold for $20 for short sleeves and $25 for long sleeves.
Inside McLane Stadium, a black flag with “CAB” in white letters hung from one of the suites, directly behind the Baylor sideline.
Distractions, numerous and almost impossible to avoid.
“Me, personally, I stayed off social media starting Friday,” Baylor cornerback Ryan Reid said. “So with me, a distraction from all that … no. Can’t really speak on my teammates, but one thing you have to do is just you can’t worry about that. You have to worry about who is ahead of you in this game we’re going to play.”