Unless last week's news drove you under a rock or you just live there for fun, you probably know that Baylor's 2016 class reported this past Monday, May 30, for the first summer session at Baylor University. Whether a recruit reports and enrolls is important, since it both symbolically and somewhat formally binds the recruit to the school as they transition from being a signed recruit to a student athlete.
Of Baylor's 22 recruits in the 2016 class, it appears that 8 decided not to report on Monday and either have requested or will request releases from their LOIs. Those eight: OL Patrick Hudson, OL J.P. Urquidez, WR Devin Duvernay, WR/DB Donovan Duvernay, WR Jared Atkinson, RB Kameron Martin, CB Parrish Cobb and DE Brandon Bowen. For its part, Baylor has apparently denied the releases so far but has not issued any kind of statement about its intentions in the long run.
Let me begin by saying that I completely understand why these recruits and their families decided not to report and/or enroll, and why they might be seeking releases from their LOIs to pursue other options. Whether you believe Art Briles should have been fired or not (I do) or you believe the statements last night that recruits didn't know about the Pepper Hamilton investigation (I do not), the circumstances under which these guys signed have fundamentally changed. The Baylor by which they were recruited and with which they signed arguably doesn't exist anymore. I can't fault any of these guys from wanting the opportunity to talk to other programs (since those programs aren't supposed to talk to them yet) and see what kind of options they have.
I also can't fault Baylor for not giving it to them yet. When this post goes up, it will be almost exactly a week since Art Briles was fired, down to the minute. Going into the following weekend, we had no idea which, if any, assistant coaches would remain or who would lead them. Baylor met with Jim Grobe on Saturday over the holiday weekend, apparently, before announcing his hire on Monday. Because that was Memorial Day, Grobe had to wait until Tuesday to get the required certification to even begin recruiting. He won't be officially introduced as the head coach until tomorrow. His first official recruiting visit apparently happened last night, with CB Parrish Cobb.
The Parrish Cobb situation is illustrative of how I think this will, and probably should, play out. According to KCEN's Jessica Morey, new head coach Jim Grobe requested last night's meeting in order to introduce himself and try to convince Cobb to stay in the fold. It apparently changed little, but the opportunity was there in large part because (as much as I hate using this word in this context) Baylor has a bit of leverage with these kids in having signed LOIs. They can use that leverage to at least get Grobe's foot in the door to try to convince these kids and their families that the sins of the past will not be repeated under Grobe's watch.
I can't tell you if that's going to be successful with any of these kids, much less all 8. It certainly doesn't look that way, and like I said, I can't blame the kids. But I also can't blame Baylor for wanting the time to get Grobe installed and at least make their pitch to keep these kids around. After all, it's been exactly a week since we tore the foundation of our football program asunder, and we've been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.*
*NOTE: I am in no way suggesting Baylor Football is a victim of anything.
I believe that the right thing for Baylor to do here is to release these guys, and that it will happen eventually. If they don't want to be at Baylor, we shouldn't make them. The costs in terms of PR and negative recruiting would reverberate far longer than any of these guys would likely be on campus, if you could get them there at all. Once again, however, I don't really understand the outrage lobbed Baylor's way for taking a little time. I've skewered Baylor for a lot of the things we've done that lack compassion, don't make sense, or are extremely short-sighted. This isn't that, as far as I can tell.