It has been a whirlwind of a holiday for yours truly, and I am blaming American Airlines for the tardiness of this post. Either way, unlike roughly 15-20% of Georgia’s football team, I made it here for kickoff. So, here’s why I really hate Baylor...
As I’ve detailed in this space, I used to live in Texas. While in the Lone Star State I lived in a giant concrete hellscape called Dallas. For a time, I thought that there could be nowhere worse to live than “the big d.” That was before I drove through Waco. I stopped at a Whataburger (perhaps the only Texas things I will openly endorse besides the BBQ at Pecan Lodge) and looked around and realized something was amiss.
It was hard to put my finger on exactly what that amissness was, but much like Detective Rust Chole in True Detective, I felt something was wrong. Aluminum, ash... I tasted the psychosphere. Please note, I have no idea what the psychosphere is, but there’s a creepy feel to Waco. (Video includes language NSFW, children or those offended by the philosophical musings of @UGANihlist)
My inner-Marty kicked in, reminding me to quit thinking about odd stuff. And so I enjoyed my salty meat with that oh so lovely shredded lettuce. It was washed down with a Dr. Pepper because Dr. Pepper is literally the only drink you can find in Waco. Even water does not exist there. Still, the feeling lingered, and it returned every time I went through Waco.
You might think I’m picking on Waco for the whole David Koresh/Branch Davidians thing, that is how the town’s name came to be pronounced as “Whacko” after all, but the reality is that there’s just a vibe there that is creepy as hell. At the time, I wasn’t particularly familiar with the events of 1993 and the 51-day siege. Maybe some remnants of those dark days lingers over the place. Perhaps it was the energy building in that fertilizer plant that blew up. It may have even been the fates saying something tragic and horrible was building in the form of the tragic biker brawl in 2015. Whatever it was, I remember thinking that the place felt cultish.
It turns out that the cult in question was Baylor University.
First off, Baylor graduates any and everywhere run in strange groups. I worked with a few, and though there jobs had little to nothing to do with one another’s, they could be seen having meetings by the water cooler almost everyday. They would speak in tones no louder than a whisper. Whenever a Baylor grad discovers another person is a Baylor grad, they immediately cling to each other in any social setting. Perhaps it is to lament the fact that they could not dance on their school’s campus until 1996. Perhaps it is to celebrate the fact that they could not dance on their school’s campus until 1996.
Either way, Baylor alums are the odd ducks of the Texas universities. A quick explainer...
- Texas grads talk about Vince Young, their Dad’s money, how their team is “better than the score indicated” and Texas A&M.
- Texas A&M grads talk about how much hotter the SEC is than that nagging old bitch the Big 12 was and how much happier they are now that they left her behind... and Texas.
- Texas Tech grads are here to talk about how Graham Harrell > Colt McCoy, Craig James sucks and “do you know a good drug dealer around here?”
- SMU fans will remind your waiter that their father could buy this whole restaurant and have him fired.
- TCU fans are here to tell you how happy they are that they didn’t get into Texas after all because the people here are super sick brah and most people don’t even realize that Ft Worth is like actually a way better party town than Austin (this is a lie).
- Baylor fans are here to talk about how much they LOVE Baylor... and being from Texas. Texas Forever.
So, there is an insulated type of vibe to Baylor University. All you have to do is search Baylor on one of the many websites where students can leave thoughts and reviews about their universities to find that some students feel the traditional vibe and conservative rules of the school “feels like a cult.”
All year we have heard a ton of feel good stories about the Baylor Bears and their coach Matt Rhule. Rhule is no doubt a phenomenal coach. We have heard numerous talking heads talk about how he took over the team and lead them to a Big 12 title game appearance this season after going 1-11 his first year. Plenty of national college football writers have used the season the Bears have had to talk about the resiliency of the players and staff to rise from the ashes of that 1-11 season and come one win short of a playoff berth.
Rhule, his staff and the Baylor players deserve a ton of praise for that accomplishment. They bear zero responsibility for what happened before them.
However, the university that this team represents was responsible for one of the most reprehensible and disgusting scandals in the history of college athletics.
No, I’m not talking about the time Baylor’s head basketball coach told his players to lie about the character of their recently murdered teammate so the NCAA wouldn’t be aware of all the violations he was committing.
I’m talking about the institutional failure of Baylor to protect the students who attended school there in order to keep football players on the field, Art Briles in power and bad headlines about the university out of the press. It was a massive cover-up that spanned from 2011-2016, and coincided with the team’s rise from one of the nation’s biggest doormats to a national title contender.
While all of this improvement was happening on the field, Baylor’s administrators were directly discouraging complainants from reporting alleged sexual violence. At one point, they retaliated against a victim who did file a complaint.
You see, like many cults, Baylor believed it was a type of utopia. So much so that the Pepper Hamilton Report found that people in power engaged in “victim-blaming” and expressed belief that sexual violence “doesn’t happen here.”
Baylor’s administrators, Ken Starr and Art Briles fostered a culture that ensured that football players were above the rules, diverting sexual assault complaints and investigations. The cult of personality around the school and football program coupled with the influence of those who were running the university and program to make sure that even the Waco Police Department helped keep the crimes quiet.
There are a lot of great articles out there about the scandal and the victims of these crimes. The things that they went through were awful, shameful and disgusting. I encourage you to read about them if you can make it through without too much nausea and anger. The effects that the sexual assaults, and subsequent cover-ups, had on their lives was more impactful than any football game could ever be on anyone’s life. Baylor didn’t care. They wanted the joy of being a football powerhouse too much to care about the emotional or physical safety of the women who attended school there. Never forget that this “lack of institutional control” impacted real people with real emotions and altered the courses of their lives in unchangeable ways.
I remember when all of this information slowly trickled out despite the best efforts of the Baylor administrators involved, and that’s when I knew I hated Baylor.
I state again, this has nothing to do with this current group of Baylor Bears or their coach Matt Rhule. However, the simple fact is that people exist who think the school and its football program got a raw deal. I have met and talked to them. People also exist that think Art Briles should still be a football coach and molder of young men. People are living in mansions and making actual American dollars that made sure the voices of those women were silenced. Some of those people will be pulling for Baylor tomorrow night.
There are plenty of decent people who happen to be fans of the Baylor Bears. However, knowing that a victory for the Bears could bring joy to even one of the pieces of shit who presided over and supported the things that happened in Waco means I will pull for Baylor to lose every game they play in for the rest of my life.
So, the town is weird, the school is a cult and the program rose to prominence on the wings of some legitimate evil.
Yup, I really hate Baylor.
It is of course, not the job of a football game to wield justice upon the World. I really hope Georgia beats Baylor by 40 points tomorrow night anyways.
Thanks for following along this season. As always, Go Dawgs.