I sat down tonight to do as I promised I would yesterday and address the concerns people might have about the newest confirmed Baylor Bears-- Shawn Oakman, Darryl Stonum, and Mike Orakpo, 3 recent transfers who have what can be delicately described as "legal troubles." Those concerns came, as most related to college football do, in the form of message board chatter on the subject. That chatter culminated in an extremely sarcastic piece on CBSSports mocking Baylor's faith-based mission and referring to our team as the "second-chance all-stars." Though most stated their apprehension differently, CBS was not alone in its criticism.
I didn't know what I would say when I started, but in describing the individual situations and my general outlook, I soon had about 500 words that didn't really go anywhere and ended with my uncertainty about the latest and most-controversial transfer, that of linebacker Mike Orakpo, who was suspended and dismissed from Colorado State following two violent incidents. Because I didn't really say anything I thought worth publishing, I saved the draft and went searching for something else of note to write about. I do that more often than I'd like to admit.
"Let's find the good in people. We're in the kid-saving business. And, along the way, they're gonna love Baylor."— Amy Graham Pagitt (@amygpagitt) July 26, 2012
That's when I came across a tweet from a fellow Bearyer (that's a lawyer who went to Baylor... I don't think it will catch on). The tweeter, a Briles devotee to say the least, was at the Gaylord in Grapevine tonight giving a play-by-play of Art Briles' appearance there. Because it's apparently on the minds of Baylor fans even off the web, he was asked about the transfers. After first responding that he would defend his new players, he said this:
I don't think I've ever heard Baylor's purpose summarized in a more succinct and effective way. I doubt he intended to do that-- he was just answering a question about his players-- but he did. He enunciated, in three short sentences, everything that Baylor and its fans hope that it will be. It's fairly incredible.
It's also pretty much all I needed to hear. People need to remember that if this situation blows up and something negative happens with one of these players, it's not you or me that will get the blame. It's Art Briles. He heard their stories, talked to the players, and made the calls to bring them in. If Darryl Stonum's problems are not truly behind him or Mike Orakpo becomes what people think he might be, it will reflect on Art Briles the worst. Baylor may get a little negative publicity, but not much. None of us have nearly as much to lose in this as those players or their coach.
So if Art Briles, the man who knows more about these players and their individual situations than anyone not related to them, believes they will be valuable contributors in their time at Baylor, I'm in. I may not be entirely comfortable with it, but so far they haven't called me to ask. They probably won't, either.
UPDATE: Props to Bear89 for posting the perfect name for a Baylor lawyer ever-- a Bearister. So it shall be.