May 10, 2010
Just as Baylor's rejuvenated basketball program has moved on from perhaps the darkest scandal in college basketball history, so too has the coach whose name remains synonymous with it.
Monday was Dave Bliss' first day in his new job as basketball coach, athletic director and dean of students at Allen Academy, a small college preparatory school in Bryan, Texas.
Bliss is now seven years removed from resigning from Baylor after ordering players to portray slain teammate Patrick Dennehy as a drug dealer to investigators to hide illegal payments the coaching staff made to cover part of his tuition.
In a phone conversation with me this afternoon, he expressed remorse for his past transgressions, explained why he wants to coach high school basketball and gave his response to those who don't believe he deserves a second chance:
1. You could easily retire or seek a fresh start in another line of work, yet you continue to remain in coaching. Why?
DB: Wanting to help young people is still really intrinsic in my makeup. I've spent the last seven years doing a number of things, but having coached for Athletes in Action in the 2008 Jones Cup, I got back dealing with young people and that's where I'm most comfortable. Doing Game Plan Ministries, I spent a lot of time with people and they kept telling me to take a look at coaching in high school. Eventually, I looked at it as a great way to get back into helping young people.
2. How did you learn about the job at Allen Academy?
DB: They had the job posted on a site for private school opportunities. I had a friend of mine tell me about the opportunity and I made all the inquiries and kept badgering them so to speak. I've been in College Station a lot of times, but I was unaware of this facility. It's a neat setting, a great academic school. No matter where I coached, I always tried to coach at places that had good academic settings because if it's good academically, the athletics can get there.
3. Do you look at this job as an opportunity to redeem yourself for your past transgressions and prove to people that you've changed?
DB: My whole thing about second chances is I'm not looking to get back into coaching so I could change people's opinions of me or do it for Dave Bliss. I've always been in coaching for young people. Now the fact I got my head turned by something seven years ago, it's something that happens in life and you decide if you're going to get bitter or better from it. I made a mistake and I really feel badly about the mistake for a lot of reasons, but most of my remorse is for the people I hurt at Baylor and certainly my family. What you do is the same things you teach your team. You get up, you get back into the fray and start doing things the right way.
4. What will you say to assuage the concerns of your future players and their parents about everything that happened at Baylor?
DB: I usually talk about that at the outset. I explain how all that occurred and how when the unfortunate murder occurred, things spiraled out of control. I usually start out with that, let them know what's transpired in my life since and that we deal with a God of grace and forgiveness and that my thing now is trying to get back to trying to help young people.
5. There are people out there who don't believe you deserve a second chance in coaching. Does that bother you? How do you respond to them?
DB: As a coach, you're pretty used to critics. But a second chance isn't for you. A second chance is for you to do what you were intended to do, which is helping other people. If the second chance was for me, I might agree with them, but this is a return to helping young people and we all need to be doing that.