Remember two years ago when our football team was one of the top programs in the country? Remember when we beat Texas Christian University 61-58? Remember when our football team had major bowl game appearances?
Conversations like these have been typical over the course of the past week, as older students reminisce on the days of good old Baylor football and the energy inside the stadium of a winning team. As Baylor football travels to North Carolina after losing to Liberty University two weeks ago and the University of Texas at San Antonio this past weekend, fans are losing faith and ridiculing the program, the players and the coaches.
It’s easy to write off the season after losing two games that “should have been easy wins.” But as we look at the past and recall our highs and our favored victories, we also have to look seriously at the impact of some of our lows on the football program, especially the sexual assault scandal that hit the program hard.
More than a dozen women have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Baylor, saying the university ignored or mishandled their cases. In those cases, football players were accused of criminal, physical or sexual assault. The scandal rocked the school in the early summer of 2016, and has since led to the dismissal of many prominent campus figures. As the 2017 season begins, all 10 of the coaches are in their first year working at Baylor.
A scandal like the one the school went through is life-changing for everyone involved, and it’s going to take more than just a few months to bounce back. As we begin to ridicule head football coach Matt Rhule for his coaching and blame the two losses on him, there are a few things we need to remember.
Baylor had to drain the swamp, so the entire coaching staff is new. Therefore, bonds and rules still need to be established. Sure, looking at the list of coaches, it’s hard to ignore the previous successes they had and wonder why nothing is working. But a team is about collaboration, and these 10 new people are still learning how to work with one another. Baylor is in a rebuilding period, so it needs to test different coaching methods and figure out what will work for this new group that’s still trying to figure out how to mesh.
Another aspect of college football that is often overlooked is the constantly changing roster. New coaches mean new recruiting tactics, which results in a roster completely different from the classes that were originally recruited. As the pre-scandal and post-scandal classes try to connect, there will be bumps in the road. The players who were here pre-scandal have all new plays to learn and all new coaches and teammates to adjust to. As the program attempts to make a complete 180, there will be trips and falls. The team element has to be rebuilt by the players and the staff, new playbooks have to be memorized and new patterns have to be established.
It’s now more than ever, in this rebuilding period, that we need to back the Bears. As our football team tries to bounce back, we need to continue to show our support. Sure, it’s disappointing to go into our third game without a victory on the board, but the football players are human just as we are. If the loyal fans and student sections give up on them, then who is left to support them?
Fans lift teams up, fans show up year after year and fans look forward to the next game. We wear shirts that say “Baylor Strong” and we sing about flinging our green and gold afar. So how about we let our actions speak louder than our words? Cheer for the Bears and show “dear old Baylor spirit through and through.”