Baylor’s new football coach Jim Grobe is no stranger to taking tough jobs. When he earned his first head coaching position at Ohio, the Bobcats had the nation’s longest active losing streak. When he asked an alumni gathering on how to improve from a 0-11 campaign, a woman asked him if he had ever thought about playing a ten-game season.
When Grobe moved on to Wake Forest, the smallest school in a power conference, he longed for a big win to put the Demon Deacons on the map. At another fan event, a lady told him, he had 11 upcoming chances for a signature victory.
While far from ideal, those jobs didn’t provide quite the challenge of his current position at Baylor, a program tarnished from scandal, a popular coach in Art Briles fired and top notch recruits de-committing from their pledges.
“What I want people to understand is that we have great kids at Baylor University,” Grobe told a large gathering at the Houston Touchdown Club Thursday. “We have great kids. I have been around them for six weeks and I think nobody realizes, I know we have had some de-commits and I know we’ve had some issues behavior wise, but the kids we have in the program right now are just outstanding, off the charts great kids. I couldn’t be more pleased to be with them.”
Grobe answered a plea for help from legendary Baylor coach Grant Teaff. He was in semi-retirement with four trips planned including a pair of cruises and a vacation in Hawaii. Instead of setting sail, it has been full steam ahead in Waco, getting ready for the 2016 football season.
“It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “I think one thing that helps us is hard work. I think we just work hard and I am putting my arms around these guys. They know that I care about them and I think we are starting to develop a little level of trust right now.”
The 64-year old Grobe may not be the long term solution at a program that has contended for Big-12 championships in recent seasons, however he isn’t looking too far into the future.
“I think Baylor had a good plan with me being here,” he added. “We will see how things go down the road, but I am only focused on this season. We want to play great football this season and laying a great foundation in recruiting. We are at a great school. We have some of the best facilities in the nation. There is no reason why we can’t hit a home run in recruiting and what we are going to sell is Baylor University and Baylor football.”
There remain many more questions about the Baylor football and administrative failings, than answers. Grobe added that the camp is divided. Some feel like the school dealt with Briles and others too harshly.
“But I’ve got a ton of emails and letters from people thinking they didn’t do enough, unbelievably,” he stated. “Going forward Baylor is better. We have dealt with some issues that we are getting cleaned up and we’ve got better lines of communication.”
The Bears open their season September 2nd in Waco against Northwestern State.
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