Baylor football looks for honesty in ‘Tell the truth Sunday’ as struggles continue

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda looks to an official in the second half of an NCAA college football game against TCU in Waco, Texas, Saturday. Photo by Jerry Larson | Waco Tribune Herald | Courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer

Baylor football’s loss against TCU was viewed by many as a disappointment, especially given Baylor’s history with the Horned Frogs. Eight of Baylor’s nine first half drives ended with the ball in TCU’s hands, one way or another.

Even with a valiant effort in the second half, players weren’t satisfied with a close ending either.

“Energy’s down, no one feels good right now, everyone wants to get back to the drawing board and get back to work,” sophomore tight end Ben Sims said after the game Saturday.

Fans were quick to point fingers, as armchair quarterbacks are prone to do, but Baylor head coach Dave Aranda thinks the entire organization has some improving to do.

“I think there’s a fair amount of accountability,” Aranda said. “I think that’s got to start from the top. It’s ‘Tell the Truth Sunday,’ so you strip away the emotion, strip away any ‘I want this’ or ‘I want that’ and tell what happened.”

‘Tell the Truth Sunday’ is a concept borrowed from Aranda’s time at LSU, where head coach Ed Orgeron employed a ‘Tell the Truth Monday.’ It had its benefits for the Tigers, as LSU was able to win a national championship to close last season. Baylor’s title hopes for this season are all but gone, but that doesn’t mean a little honesty can’t help.

“Anytime there’s this real strong accountability, you’re able to have answers,” Aranda said. “I think when you don’t have success, I think people want to know why and ‘What do we have to do to have success there?”

‘Tell the Truth’ days are also practiced by some professional coaches, including Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks, and Dan Quinn, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. Both of these teams have had success in recent years, in part by using days like these to hone in on mistakes. To Aranda, that time of correction is invaluable.

“I think it’s important, I think that’s where you grow,” Aranda said. “That’s where you see where things are at, and now you can talk about things that are real and get better with stuff … we’re excited to attack the right things at the right time, the right way.”

Another key point of accountability within the team is a greater sense of unity among the coaches, staff and players. For Carroll, making sure the team had a single mind was a point of emphasis.

“It was imperative on [‘Tell the Truth days’] that we think and speak as one, and move ahead in harmony,” Carroll said in his book Win Forever.

Carroll’s strategy has certainly been effective, and Aranda has expressed a similar desire for understanding within the team.

“The ability to kind of see what’s what and for there to be some ownership, for both the coaches and players I think is important,” Aranda said.

That increased ownership of responsibility could be key for the Bears going forward, as the remainder of their schedule consists of No. 17 Iowa State, No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 14 Oklahoma State, as well as Kansas State and Texas Tech. A single-minded Baylor would pose a much larger threat than the current team in its current state.