After a year in which it was the only conference to place a team in the College Football Playoff and the Final Four and send three teams to the College World Series, the focus as Big 12 media days opened Monday was what was wrong in the conference. When one of your schools gets swept up in the biggest scandal since Penn State, that tends to happen.
Six of the nine questions following commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s annual State of the Conference address, plus a 20-minute huddle with the press afterward, were related to Baylor’s sexual assault scandal and the conference’s involvement therein.
And hardly any of them added up.
Bowlsby first made waves by telling the assembled media that Baylor’s troubles have damaged the rest of the conference. “I think that there are certainly those among or Board… that have felt that the image of the Big 12 and the other members of the Big 12 have been sullied as a result of this incident,” he said.
The Big 12’s Board of Directors is investigating Baylor and will meet with the Bears’ brass on Tuesday.
What, exactly, the conference office wants to know remains unclear — and Bowlsby was also unclear on what the Big 12 itself knew, and what they’d do with the information once they received it.
Here’s Bowlsby answering one question about how much the conference leadership knows or will learn from Baylor’s leadership tomorrow: “We will get more than the public. There isn’t any doubt about that. We already have more than the public on an oral basis.”
And here he is answering a question on how he feels about Kendal Briles, Jeff Lebby and Phil Bennett remaining on Baylor’s staff this season: “Well, I don’t know that I can adequately address that because I know what you know.”
There is no written report from Pepper Hamilton that the Big 12 can review — or that a media outlet can publish, or an attorney can subpoena — and Bowlsby admitted the conference doesn’t know what they’ll do with Baylor’s information once they actually have it. “To say that we have a vision for what the end game is would not be accurate,” he said.
So what, exactly, is the point here? Your guess is as good as Bowlsby’s. But amid his time at the podium, the Big 12 commissioner did stumble upon an answer that summarizes the post-house cleaning portion of the Baylor sex scandal as well as anyone possibly can.
“This is going to be a process,” he said. “It isn’t going to go away soon, and I don’t know how to characterize it other than that.”