Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Your Baylor moment for today

Some things you never hear, and one of them, these days, is "Hey, let's go to Waco, Texas! I hear people are completely normal there and not, you know, crazy."

No, sir, nothing crazy going on in Waco these days, home of Baylor University and its coddlers of football players who like to prey on Baylor coeds. You'd think that would be scandal enough for any major university in America, but, no. Now, allegedly, they're also into assaulting reporters.

This upon the news that associate athletic director Heath Nielsen was arrested Nov. 5 for trying to choke James McBride of The Texas Blaze News in Keller, Texas, on the field. Apparently McBride was trying to take a postgame photo with a Baylor player when Nielsen allegedly approached him, tried to knock his phone out of his hand and then grabbed him by the throat.

Couple of things about that.

1. The Texas Blaze News is, essentially, a community calendar and newsletter. I tracked it down online, and it frankly looks a lot like my subdivision newsletter. I have no idea how its "reporter" scored a credential to Baylor football, except that it's Texas and it's football.

2. But since McBride did, apparently, score a credential, he should have been expected to behave like someone who deserved one. Which is to say, you don't use your access to take photos with players. It's unprofessional in the extreme.

3. That said ... you also don't assault reporters, even quasi-reporters. You revoke their credentials. This is how these things usually are handled by normal media relations people in normal places.

Alas, Baylor seems to have departed Normal some time ago, instead purchasing a first-class ticket on the 5:15 to Crazytown. As extreme as the football culture in Texas is, there are lines you don't cross, and one of them is looking the other way while some of your football players assault the civilians among your student body. This is what allegedly happened at Baylor, and that it happened with the complicity of at least some of Baylor's well-heeled boosters -- there was actually a movement to rehire fired head coach Art Briles, who oversaw this prison yard of a program -- indicates just how far from any recognizable moral center the university has strayed.

And now?

Well, now you've got your associate athletic director, and the liaison between local and national media, assaulting a reporter. Even worse, for the well-heeled alums, was that it happened in the aftermath of TCU ball-peening Baylor 62-22.

So not only is Baylor embarrassing itself off the field, now it's embarrassing itself on the field, too.  Heck, the Bears even lost to Texas, which just lost to Kansas, which hadn't happened since a year before Hitler invaded Poland.

That's apparently sealed Texas head coach Charlie Strong's fate in Austin. But he'll depart with a chunky severance package, and with one additional bit of comfort.

At least he's not in Waco.

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