When Matt Rhule walked on stage during Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday, he knew he was going to have to address how his administration was going to move Baylor forward in the wake of the sexual assault scandal that has griped the school.
“When I arrived in Waco in December, I knew that there would be challenges,” Rhule said. “But I also saw a tremendous opportunity to coach the game that I love in a tremendous football conference and at a university that shared my personal values.”
“What I’ve learned in my time at Baylor and Waco is we’re not running from the past, but rather we’re learning from it.”
Rhule accepts the unique, and rather challenging, situation he is walking into in Waco. Is it fair that he is left to clean up the mess he had no hand in making? Probably not, but he welcomes the challenge.
“We’re trying to build a program, not a team. We’re building a culture, not an attitude.”
But what does that mean? How do you build a culture? How can we trust that Baylor has truly turned a corner? For coach Rhule, it starts with accountability.
“We try to build a culture of excellence where everything counts. Where every single day, whatever you’re asked to do, you have to do it to the best of your ability. What you do off the field, what you do in the classroom, how you treat other people is just as important as how you run a curl, how you run a post. We’re trying to do that one man at a time. We’re trying to make sure our kids know what it means to be a man, that they see that in the way we interact with our wives, with our kids, the way we do what we say we’re going to do. It’s not easy. It’s hard.”
It is not easy to shape and mold young men. It it is not easy to return a program to the level Baylor was at before the scandal. Someone is eventually going to mess up again. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable. We would be foolish to expect otherwise. All we can ask is that when someone does mess up, they are held accountable, regardless of what it means for the team’s success on the field. Thankfully, it seems like coach Rhule will have no issue or hesitation in making that decision.
As far as rebuilding the program goes, Coach Rhule has done pretty well there to. He’s brought in coaches with ties to Texas high school football, and he was able to assemble a respectable 2017 recruiting class. And according to one recruit, he did by looking for guys that do the right thing.
The bottom line is, Matt Rhule does not seem to be backing down from what happened in Waco. Instead he sees it as a way to teach a lesson to his young players. For many Baylor fans, Matt Rhule is a breath of fresh air.
“That which we don’t acknowledge, we’re doomed to repeat. So at the end of the day, I don’t know everything that happened, but I just know something happened that was wrong. I know that you first get in there, and you’re kind of like a first responder. Mack was the first one that made the decision to come here and say, I want to go be — I’m going to leave the SEC and go be the athletic director at Baylor. I feel like I’m called to be here and to be here in this moment and to kind of fix this.”