- The president of the Texas High School Coaches Association is no longer a high school coach. From my San Antonio dot com.
David Wetzel, who has been the head football coach at Reagan since 2004, said Friday he is leaving to take an undefined job on Matt Rhule’s staff at Baylor University.
“It’s always hard to leave a place that you invested so much of yourself and your family and your time and energy,” Wetzel told the Express-News. “It’s hard to leave, but it’s an incredibly great opportunity which I’m excited about.”
The 47-year-old Wetzel, a Goldthwaite graduate and former wide receiver at Baylor, also has been a head coach at Austin Hyde Park Baptist and Killeen Ellison. This year he guided Reagan to its fourth consecutive undefeated district championship.
ODB’s Mark Seymour has more on the David Wetzel hire: Building the Staff: Baylor Hires THSCA President David Wetzel.
- Three defensive coaches from Temple University’s staff will join new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, according to reports. BearsExtra has this story.
Defensive backs coach Francis Brown, defensive line coach Elijah Robinson and linebackers coach Mike Siravo are planning to follow Rhule to Baylor.
Rhule was named Baylor’s coach on Tuesday after compiling a 28-23 record in four seasons at Temple.
The Owls’ defense ranks third nationally by allowing 275.9 yards per game.
- Baylor football players are taking to twitter to welcome newly hired Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule while one former Baylor star (Ganaway above) posted a heartfelt tribute to ousted coach Art Briles. From KWTX TV 10.
Rhule was introduced to an excited crowd as the new head coach of the Bears in a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Ferrell Center on the Baylor Campus.
Rhule, 41, was hired more than six months after Briles was fired in late May following the scathing report from Pepper Hamilton about the school’s response to sexual assault.
Rhule said he took the job at Baylor because he felt “called to come.”
Rhule’s hire has been widely praised by fans from Temple University, where he won an AAC Championship this last year, and by media from around the country.
Baylor freshman quarterback Zach Smith, who started under center for Baylor after Seth Russell’s season-ending ankle injury, tweeted “Welcome to the family Coach Rhule.”
Baylor Offensive Tackle Kyle Fuller also tweeted a welcome to Rhule and followed it by saying:
- Former Baylor University head football coach Art Briles is alleging libel, slander and conspiracy against three Baylor regents and a senior administrator through a lawsuit, first reported by Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press. From WacoTrib.
Briles sued board Chairman Ron Murff, Regents J. Cary Gray and David Harper and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Reagan Ramsower Thursday in Llano County district court.
“These defendants have been relentless in their false attacks upon Coach Briles in the media despite his repeated requests that they cease and retract their onslaught of untruths,” the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit points to comments regents gave the Wall Street Journal in October, when they said 17 women reported sexual or domestic violence against 19 Baylor football players, including four alleged gang rapes, since 2011. In the suit, Briles said these statements made to reporter Brad Reagan are false and manufactured by G.F. Bunting & Co., a public relations firm working with Baylor.
According to the Journal article, regents said Briles knew of at least one case of violence and did not report it to police, Baylor’s judicial affairs staff or the Title IX office.
This information was never disclosed to Briles before the article’s publication, the lawsuit alleges. Briles also claims comments by the defendants have prevented him from getting another job as a head football coach.
Calls placed late Thursday to Murff, Harper and Ramsower were not returned, and Gray declined comment. The four have no comment, nor does the university, Baylor spokeswoman Tonya Lewis said by email.
Briles’ Stephenville lawyer, Ernest Cannon, said Briles has had “plenty of opportunities” to coach again, until the named regents spoke out against him.
“Tell (the people of Waco) that Art Briles will see this through,” Cannon said. “He is hurt terribly, he will get his name back, he will coach again, and the people of Waco will know what the truth is and know what happened over there, why and who was responsible.”
SI analyzes Art Briles Lawsuit
- On Thursday, Briles was back in court. From Sports Illustrated dot com.
His lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Llano County (Texas), alleges that three Board of Regents members—J. Cary Cray, Ronald Murff and David Harper—along with Baylor senior vice president Reagan Ramsower libeled and slandered Briles. Those officials, Briles charges, publicly and knowingly asserted lies about Briles. The most damaging alleged lie, according to Briles, is that he knew that his players had committed sexual assault and then failed to take the appropriate action.
Briles contends that purported lies about him reflect a media strategy hatched by “spin doctors” at the public relations firm G.F. Bunting & Co. This company, which Briles not so gently directs the Texas court to observe is from out-of-state California, has “embarked upon a campaign of malice” against Briles, a native Texan. This “campaign,” Briles insists, “includes re-creation and invention of facts to manipulate public opinion and to cover the past and ongoing wrongdoing, mistakes and failures of the Baylor University Board of Regents.”
Briles also asserts that his inability to secure a new coaching job reflects a conspiracy by the defendants to dissuade other schools from hiring him. This past Saturday, the chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, Tilman Fertitta, took the unusual step of issuing a statement expressing that while Briles was interested in the school’s open coaching job, the school would not consider Briles. Fertitta’s announcement may have played a factor in Briles’s thinking, as it seemed to confirm that he is “damaged goods” on the coaching market.
In Memory of Bill Menefee
- Bill Menefee, a Baylor Hall of Fame inductee and former Baylor basketball coach and athletic director, died Thursday in Waco at the age of 95. Baylor Bear Foundation’s Jerry Hill has the full story at Baylor Bears dot com.
Funeral services are tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. next Saturday, Dec. 17, at Austin Avenue United Methodist Church in Waco (1300 Austin Avenue). Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home (6101 Bosque Boulevard).
A native of Grandfalls, Texas, Menefee originally came to Baylor in 1947 as a physical education teacher and assistant basketball coach under Bill Henderson. He also coached the freshman basketball team and was Henderson’s aide when the Bears finished as the national runner-up to Kentucky in 1948 and made it back to the Final Four in 1950.
Taking the reins of the varsity basketball program in 1961 when Henderson retired, Menefee had a 12-year record of 149-144 that included Southwest Conference runner-up finishes in 1967, ’68, ’69 and ’71. He earned SWC Coach of the Year honors three times and was 108-65 (.624 winning percentage) over his last seven seasons before retiring in ’73.
Menefee’s 1968-69 team finished 18-6 overall, 10-4 in the SWC and earned a No. 19 national ranking by the Associated Press – the Bears’ last national ranking until Scott Drew’s squad entered the poll at No. 24 in 2008.
- Famous OBF Quote: “Bill Menefee’s Bears were the team my dad took took me to see at the Colosseum.”
Robert Griffin III to Start for Browns this Sunday
- Browns coach Hue Jackson said on Wednesday that he wanted to see how Robert Griffin III did in practice this week before making his decision about who will start at quarterback. From NBC Sports.
By the time Thursday rolled around, Jackson had seen enough to make the call. The Browns announced on Thursday morning that Griffin will be in the starting lineup against the Bengals this Sunday.
It will be Griffin’s second start of the season. He started the season opener for Cleveland, but has missed the last 11 games after breaking a bone in his left shoulder during that loss to the Eagles. He resumed practicing over the last few weeks and will now return to the lineup with hopes of leading the team to their first victory of the season.
- On the day after learning he’d be the Browns’ starting quarterback, Robert Griffin sported a “NO PRESSURE, NO DIAMONDS” sweatshirt after Thursday afternoon's practice. From Cleveland Browns dot com.
Griffin, who will return to the field for the first time since the season opener, outlined the origins of that approach and how he might apply it to the final four weeks of Cleveland’s season.
Griffin, who played at Baylor and won a Heisman Trophy in his final season there, said “we had these chants that we did at the end of workouts, whether we were doing abs or running and ‘no pressure, no diamonds’ was one of them. Because for a long while, at Baylor, there was no pressure on anybody to get anything and there was no opportunity to get a diamond … we used that motto to kind of build our way to what we became.”
In some ways, it’s a fitting mantra that might currently illustrate the kind of backdrop that will accompany Griffin’s second start in two seasons and Cleveland’s approach over the next four weeks.
“It’s nothing that I forced on anybody,” he said, “but it speaks volumes to what we’re going through here, we’re trying to change the culture.”
Bryce Petty will Continue to Grow
- Second-year QB Bryce Petty will make his first road and second career start Sunday against the 49ers, marking his first full game since Week 10 against the Rams. From New York Jets dot com.
Head coach Todd Bowles, along with his coaching staff, is excited to see Petty’s growth in the last quarter of the season, but also recognized the strides he’s made from last year, as did offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
“When he came here, coming from Baylor where they didn’t even huddle, he had to learn huddle,” Gailey told the media Thursday. “He had to learn calling out the Mike, protections, everything. He’s come an extremely long way since he got here, but there’s a long way to go. There’s still some more that he’s got to do and I think as time goes on he’ll get better at.”
NCAA President Wants Eight Team Playoff
- NCAA President Mark Emmert joins the many other voices who would like to see the College Football Playoff expand to eight teams. From Athletic Business dot com.
"It's not my decision, obviously," Emmert said Wednesday at the Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. "But I think conference championships ought to really matter. I'm kind of old school, I guess, and it would be really fun to have a model where those five champions all got a crack at moving forward."
The NCAA doesn't have jurisdiction over the Playoff, which is controlled by the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences.
This season, Penn State and Big 12 champion Oklahoma did not make the Playoff field and Ohio State, which did not win the Big Ten, did.
"The conference championship ought to keep you in that hunt," Emmert said. "When kids win that championship, the banner ought to be really, really important."