While I was gone, the Baylor football program entered and executed self-destruct mode. The idea that winning football games was sufficiently important so as to justify the covering up of sexual assaults by players who would make said winning of football games more likely is unspeakably horrendous. Sadly, that seems to have been the case at Baylor. I feel no sorrow for the coach, the athletic director or the university president who all took a hit in this matter; all that happened to them was to lose a job or to have their range of authorities circumscribed as a result of this matter. To my mind, that is a small price for them to pay.
As scurrilous as this recent situation was, there is a historical piece to this which – believe it or not – makes this only the second worst scandal in Baylor athletics. Back in 2003, the Baylor basketball coach was Dave Bliss. The short version of the Dave Bliss saga is:
Bliss had a kid transfer to Baylor when there was no scholarship for him but he arranged for the tuition to be paid ‘under the table’.
The kid was found shot to death – it turns out a teammate was found guilty of that act sometime in the future.
To cover up the “under the table payments”, Bliss orchestrated a cover story that the victim was dealing drugs and that the shooting was drug-related.
An assistant coach secretly taped one of the coaches’ staff meetings that detailed how the cover-up/stonewalling would work and it all unraveled.
Back in August 2003, I wrote about the situation at Baylor as it was unfolding. Lest you think that I am exaggerating what I thought of Dave Bliss back then as a way to minimize any criticism of the current miscreants at Baylor, here is one paragraph from my rant then:
“I will not reserve any judgment on Dave Bliss. I have to admit that I never thought that I would be alive long enough to say that Jerry Tarkanian needs to haul his ass out of the bull’s eye that is reserved for the lightning bolt that I want to hit the all of the sleazy coaches in collegiate athletics. Until last weekend, Tark had been in that spot so long that I thought his feet would have taken root in the bull’s eye. Tark is antediluvian pond slime; Dave Bliss would need about a billion years to evolve up the biological ladder to reach that lofty status.”
Perhaps the recent football mess at Baylor completes the Devils’ Trifecta of three horrible things to happen in Waco Texas.
1993: Branch Davidian siege and raid
2003: Dave Bliss
2016: Art Briles and company
Bob Molinaro had this comment on the Baylor football mess in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot. I think he hits the nail squarely on the head:
“Dumbfounding: The saddest commentary on Art Briles’ dismissal is that, despite the report detailing violent incidents and sexual assaults by Baylor football players, what people find most astonishing is that the university actually held a wildly successful coach accountable for what took place off the field. People are surprised by Briles’ firing because we’re conditioned to assume the worst from big-time football. Our colleges are to blame for that, but so are fans and media that buy into it.”
Back before I left, Mets’ pitcher, Noah Syndergaard hit two home runs in a game. Partly because he plays in New York, that was given a lot of attention; but indeed, that is not a common happenstance for pitchers. I would like, however, to do another historical perspective bit here and mention a game back in 1971. The pitcher was Rick Wise and he played for a bad Phillies team that finished last in the NL East winning only 67 games. That year, the Phillies played the Cincy Reds 12 times and won only 2 of those games. One of those wins was a no-hitter by Rick Wise AND in the same game, Wise also hit 2 home runs.
The Reds that year won 79 games; they were not yet the Big Red Machine but you may recognize some of the names that were in the lineup on the day of Wise’s no-hit game:
Two other tidbits related to Rick Wise and the 1971 season:
In that same 1971 season, Rick Wise also hit 2 home runs in a game against the SF Giants.
Rick Wise is probably most remembered for being traded at the end of the 1971 season from the Phillies to the Cardinals even-up for Steve Carlton. Wise was better than average major league pitcher; Carlton was a Hall of Fame pitcher. The trade happened because Carlton and the Cardinals’ management got locked into a salary hassle that resulted in the trade.
Finally, since I cited a comment from Bob Molinaro above, let me close with another of his observations:
“Word play: It would make perfect sense for the 76ers to use their lottery pick on Ben Simmons. An Aussie is the right fit for a team that has spent so much time down under.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………