The search for Art Briles' temporary replacement as Head Coach at Baylor University appears to have ended in a somewhat unexpected way with reports coming down now that the Bears will hire Jim Grobe, who coincidentally faced Art Briles in the latter's first game in Waco, to be the interim HC. ESPN, USAToday, and others have confirmed the report, which originated at Baylor's 247Sports site less than an hour ago, with a press release supposedly coming later today.
To those asking if the Grobe report is real. To reiterate: Yes. He will be named Baylor's interim coach, @USATODAY has confirmed— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 30, 2016
Baylor looked at every possibility. The logistics of moving a sitting coach from a good situation in June weren't going to work.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 30, 2016
Given all the factors in play it would be hard to find a better solution than this one.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 30, 2016
From what I've seen, reactions to this news appear to be mixed. Those wanting an immediate impact hire or the return of a certain Baylor legend are disappointed because whatever Grobe is as a coach, he's definitely not a sexy hire. Those wanting immediate stability with Grobe as a policeman of sorts and the retention of the rest of the staff seem slightly more excited.
For me, I'm going to agree with Dan Wolken that this is probably about the best solution Baylor could find in the time we had to find it. Make no mistake about what this hire means -- unless something crazy happens, Jim Grobe is not the long-term answer for Baylor as a head coach. But he can be a caretaker for a program in turmoil, since his ethics are unchallenged, and he's generally considered to be one of the best people in CFB. Combine that with a staff that has (so far) remained in place and two coordinators that should be mostly left alone, particularly Kendal Briles on offense, and you get an interesting combination of traits that could serve Baylor's interests well in both the short and long terms.
I have to believe that this move is intended to constitute a bridge between this summer and December/January, when the real hiring process for the next Baylor head coach will take place. By hiring Grobe now, Baylor has avoided what looked to be a looming firestorm in naming Phil Bennett as the interim coach, while also stabilizing things with a widely respected, if not incredibly charismatic, figurehead.
The bottom line here is that if you're looking for a reason why Baylor might have gone to Grobe instead of someone else, you probably need look no further than a letter that Grobe sent to Wake Forest fans in 2012 after suspending 8 players. From that letter:
We want to assure you that every decision we make in our football program and throughout our Athletic Department is with the future and well-being of Wake Forest and our student-athletes at heart. Winning is VERY important but it will not be pursued at the expense of our integrity. Our players need a reminder sometimes that their commitment to football extends beyond the practice field. We want our players to look back years from now and know that they were more important to us than winning a football game.
My guess is that our Powers that Be thought we needed an attitude about like this one right now. We will, as always, keep you posted going forward.