Why Baylor is the College Football Playoff selection committee's worst nightmare

Wednesday on “CBS This Morning,” the former Baylor Title IX coordinator discussed why she resigned her post. It was one more turn in the perpetual cycle of disturbing news about the Baptist university in Waco, Texas.

“I never had the authority, resources or independence to do my job properly,” Patty Crawford told the network.

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“They were more interested in protecting the brand, I believe, than protecting students,” she said.

“The harder I worked, the more resistance I received from senior leadership,” she said.

The day before, ESPN reported that an investigator in the Baylor Title IX office also has left the university.

On Monday, two more women joined with six others in a Title IX lawsuit against Baylor.

Last Friday, visiting speaker Brenda Tracy, an alleged rape survivor at Oregon State in 1998 who has spoken at multiple college campuses, wrote about her experience with the football team at Baylor in July. She lauded interim coach Jim Grobe for inviting her to speak, and lauded the players for their attentiveness during her talk. But she also mentioned being pulled into an office afterward by an angry assistant coach.

“I left that man’s office feeling defeated,” Tracy wrote on The Huffington Post. “If he was any indication of how the rest of the staff felt, then the talk I just gave to the football team was useless. He was going to undo any good that I had done.”

Those are your headlines within the last week at Toxic U.

Two more women, eight total, have joined the Title IX civil rights lawsuit against Baylor. (AP)
Two more women, eight total, have joined the Title IX civil rights lawsuit against Baylor. (AP)

In other news, the football team is undefeated – which could pose a significant issue for the College Football Playoff selection committee.

I’ll get to the playoff situation in a moment. First, some context: Patty Crawford’s primary complaints about Baylor centered on the administration, not the football program. It also should be noted that the administration fired back at Crawford, with a university spokesperson telling the Waco Tribune that she demanded a $1 million settlement from the school and wanted to retain book and movie rights. Other media reports said that Baylor offered $1.5 million and the school declined when Crawford countered with $2 million. So there is some crossfire over her departure.

But this very much remains a football issue, and a problem that will ride alongside the Bears throughout this season and who knows how much longer. Those are truths that some in the Baylor family need to understand and accept, instead of obscenely playing the victim in a situation where there are so many actual victims.

The lack of a proper penitence isn’t helping.

While Crawford is blaming a university culture that exists beyond the scope of athletics, it is indisputable that football was a significant part of the problem and may still be a significant part of it.

As ESPN has reported, at least 17 women have accused Baylor football players of violent acts since 2009. That’s a big, awful number.

The school made a dramatic move to deal with the football problem by firing the best coach in school history, Art Briles. But in keeping his entire coaching staff – including the unnamed assistant who allegedly accosted Tracy – it failed to start over. And that, in turn, undoubtedly left a feeling of resentment simmering in the football facility.

New athletic director Mack Rhoades and his staff are trying to start fresh. Grobe is trying to move forward. But they can only drag the leftover cadre so far.

When I attended Baylor’s season-opening rout of FCS school Northwestern State, multiple football staffers wore the initials “CAB” on their clothing. That stood for “Coach Art Briles,” and the unspoken inference was that the coach was unjustly terminated.

Two weeks later, Shawn Oakman showed up on the Baylor sideline during the Bears’ victory at Rice and was in the locker room postgame. Oakman, a former star player, has been indicted for sexual assault. Baylor subsequently issued a statement saying Oakman was not invited into the locker room that night, and will be kept out of it in the future.

The tone-deafness has persisted.

Meanwhile, the Bears are 5-0. And there is a solid chance they’ll still be undefeated when the CFP selection committee first convenes and issues its initial 2016 rankings on Nov. 1.

Baylor has no game Saturday. It hosts Kansas on Oct. 15, and the Jayhawks have not won a Big 12 road game since October 2008. Then comes another off week. That leaves an Oct. 29 visit to Texas as the only realistic chance for the Bears to be beaten before the CFP rankings begin.

If they win in Austin and are 7-0, where will they be ranked?

The committee undoubtedly will be charged with making a football-only decision. But these are human beings, and they might have a problem objectively slotting a Baylor program that has disgraced itself. Do any of them really want to answer for putting the Bears in the playoff?

Still, there are two things to remember:

• The Nov. 1 rankings are unlikely to resemble the Dec. 4 rankings, which are the only ones that matter.

• Baylor’s schedule gives the committee a tangible football reason for rating the Bears well down the list.

As usual, Baylor played nobody of any worth in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Northwestern State is winless and No. 215 in the Sagarin Ratings; SMU is No. 117 and Rice is No. 140.

Then there is the Big 12 itself. It’s a major disappointment, definitively the worst of the Power 5 conferences, which means the chances of marquee victories are few. Even at 12-0, Baylor might not have a convincing argument for being one of the nation’s four best teams.

Of course, some members of Baylor’s very active lunatic fringe would cry persecution if it came to that. They’d be better off keeping quiet and not adding to a news cycle of seemingly endless embarrassment.

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