For the last 24 hours or so, rumors have been swirling around the Baylor Football program about the dismissal of a few, several, or even all of our roster (the last part is sarcastic). I’ve seen speculation that it was as few as 1 guy with others repenting their sins and as many as 8, a number that was never substantiated in any way. At some point this morning, social media supposedly confirmed it was at least 1, but now that “confirmation” has turned out to be anything but.
In this afternoon’s media availability, Coach Rhule laid the issue to rest. Two players—OL Ishmael Wilson and DB Jourdan Blake— have left the team for undisclosed reasons that I don’t believe have anything to do with drugs or allegations of criminal wrongdoing of any kind. My understanding is that these dismissals/departures have more to do with what could be called “philosophical differences” than anything else, and the players in question have been vocal in their dissent. I have no idea if it’s possible for either of them to come back at a later time once they mend their fences.
I’ve avoided posting about the rumors of the last day for an obvious reason: nobody really knew anything until it was confirmed by Rhule himself. Fans/observers “hear” things (which mostly means they read them on message boards from other people that “heard” things), other people “hear” other things, and the two often conflict. That typically doesn’t stop them from relaying what they heard, even if they’re unknowingly relaying it to someone that heard the same thing from the same person, creating a kind of feedback loop that makes “fact” out of something about which nobody really knows. This is a perfect example—3 hours ago, it was “confirmed” that Terence Williams, our star returning RB, was gone. That was reported as certainty by several. Now, according to Rhule himself, he’s still here after the two met and the team’s leadership council voted to give him another chance. It’s almost like tempers were running high for a while and people needed a chance to talk things out in the background.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term. There’s always turnover with a new coaching staff, and friction between that staff and the players they inherited is inevitable. These particularly departures certainly won’t help our OL, which already lacked depth and is now losing a previous starter, or our secondary, where Blake had gotten quite a bit of playing time in recent weeks. But all things considered, this appears like an early watershed moment for Coach Rhule’s tenure at Baylor. If it’s true that the issue here was disagreements with the staff, that’s something that has to be dealt with swiftly or it will fester. The last thing our coaches can allow is insubordination, particularly from star players, and by holding his ground, Rhule has sent a message that the rest of the team knows they either fall in line or hit the door. If, on the other hand, he had caved through inaction, you might as well call it quits already. In the end, he was able to convince Williams, the best of the three players, to stay and be part of the team, which is what both sides probably wanted the entire time.