Baylor University named former Wake Forest University coach Jim Grobe as acting coach Monday for a football program shaken by a sexual assault scandal.
Grobe, 64, will take over on an interim basis after Art Briles was fired last Thursday following eight seasons at Baylor.
A Pepper Hamilton report revealed that sexual assault claims had been mishandled and covered up in the football program.
Searching for Grobe was Ian McCaw’s last act as Baylor’s athletic director. He resigned Monday night after nearly 13 years at Baylor after he was sanctioned and placed on probation last week by the Baylor board of directors in the wake of the sexual assault scandal.
“Jim Grobe is the right leader at this time to move Baylor University and the football program forward,” McCaw said. “He has successfully led two FBS programs during his career. Coach Grobe enjoys an impeccable reputation within the intercollegiate athletics community and is a man of great integrity and faith.”
Grobe was head coach at Wake Forest from 2001 to 2013 following a six-year stint at Ohio University from 1995 to 2000. He compiled a 77-82 record in 13 seasons with the Demon Deacons, and his teams played in five bowl games. In 2006, Grobe guided Wake Forest to an 11-3 record and an ACC championship.
Grobe resigned as Wake Forest’s coach after a 4-8 finish in 2013, his fifth-consecutive losing season. He has compiled a 110-115-1 record in 19 seasons as a college head coach. For the past three years, Grobe has served as a college football analyst.
Grobe is familiar with Baylor since he was seen as a potential candidate for head coach when Briles was hired in November 2007. Wake Forest beat Baylor, 41-13, in Briles’ first game in 2008 at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears came back to beat Wake Forest on the road, 24-21, in the opening game of 2009.
After the 2016 season, Baylor could opt to keep Grobe or open up the coaching search. He will have an opportunity to win as he takes over a program that has gone 50-15 in the past five seasons, including two Big 12 championships and five bowl appearances.
“It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to join the Baylor football program during this important time,” Grobe said in a statement. “I am looking forward to getting to know and working with the coaches and players in the coming days, and I have great respect for Baylor as an institution and its long-standing heritage.
“As a coach, winning is important. At the same time, I want to assure the Baylor family that every decision we will make in this football program will be made with Baylor University, her students and our student-athletes in mind.”
Former Baylor football coach Grant Teaff thinks Grobe has the integrity and foresight to take over the program in a difficult situation. Teaff said Grobe was formerly head of the ethics committee for the American Football Coaches Association.
Teaff, the former AFCA president, said Baylor consulted with him before hiring Grobe.
“It’s a great hire,” Teaff said. “He’s a wonderful man and a very sound football coach. He’s someone I deeply respect as a person and a coach. I think they can have an outstanding year and restore the program as they move forward.”
Teaff said he expects Grobe to attempt to keep Briles’ assistant coaches on board this season. Baylor hasn’t publicly acknowledged whether any of the assistant coaches were named in the Pepper Hamilton report.
“The key right now is to keep the staff together and the team together,” Teaff said. “That’s the reason Baylor expedited this process. It’s extremely important for him to be able to communicate through proper channels with recruits. That includes the (2016 signees) who didn’t come at this time and the 2017 recruits who need to hear from the head coach and try to get them back on track.”
Several of the top signees in the 2016 class indicated they wouldn’t report to Baylor on Monday for the first summer session of classes, including Port Arthur Memorial High School running back Kameron Martin, Silsbee High School offensive lineman Patrick Hudson and Copperas Cove High School offensive lineman J.P. Urquidez.
But other players reported to Baylor, including Spring High School defensive lineman Bravvion Roy, Kountze High School defensive back Grayland Arnold and Frisco Lone Star High School safety Chris Miller.
Additionally, four of Baylor’s six verbal commitments in the 2017 class de-committed within three days of Briles’ firing.
Several veteran Baylor football players came out in support of the program Monday, including quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham. Both posted statements on Instagram.
“This year is going to be different from the rest in many ways,” Stidham said. “But either way we will make a statement to everyone. Excited for the opportunity God has presented this team with to overcome adversity and become even closer as a family. Stick with us Baylor Nation, we got this.”
Russell is coming back for his senior year from a midseason neck injury. He underwent surgery and returned for spring drills and is ready for his final season.
“I’ve been blessed to have one last go-around with the family I love,” Russell said. “I’ve been with this team in some of the best and worst times. Now I get to finish my college career proving all the doubters wrong with them, which is sure to be a good time.”