The University of Trouble

From growing up, I think most of us have known at least one person who simply cannot stay out of trouble.  No matter what they do, they’re in trouble with their parents or the school or the police.

And why is that?  Usually it’s not because they’re a bad person.  Instead, it’s because of two reasons:  One, they don’t like to be told what to do, and two, because of that they’re always looking for a loophole.  Or they’re always testing to see just how much they can get away with.

And I’m not just talking about kids or teenagers.  There are plenty of adults who are the same way.  I met a guy several years ago who simply couldn’t have fun unless he was doing something illegal.  And it could be anything.  Playing cards wasn’t fun unless you were gambling illegally.  Then it was great.

Driving wasn’t his way to get from point A to point B.  It was a game you played with the police as your opponent.  He drank until he was old enough to drink, and then quit because it’s no fun when it’s perfectly legal.  Of course, he moved on to harder stuff.  And if things were going too smoothly on a given evening, he always had the ability to say just the perfect thing to get himself punched.

We weren’t good friends, in case you were wondering.  I just knew who he was.  When I was a kid, my favorite thing was getting praise from adults, which is only possible when you’re NOT getting into trouble.

Anyway, that brings us to tonight’s opponent for Boise State in the Cactus Bowl, the Baylor Bears.  The past several years, Baylor has been that guy who can’t stay out of trouble.

Last week the NCAA accepted Baylor’s self-imposed sanctions for various recruiting violations.  Those violations followed unrelated sexual assault charges against various players.  Those charges were either covered up or ignored.  If you saw the movie “Spotlight”, you know those things don’t go unnoticed and unreported in the year 2016 like they used to.

In the latest instance, the NCAA found that Baylor’s assistant football coaches exceeded the number of visits that are allowed when you’re trying to recruit a player.

Now, here’s the reason I compare Baylor to that guy who can’t stay out of trouble:  There was a bizarre episode in which a coach asked the school’s compliance office if the staff could travel to a high school track meet where a top recruit would be running.

Obviously, they were there to check out just one guy, but the coaches promised that when the recruit was on the track, they would turn their backs and not watch.  The compliance office decided that would be okay.  The NCAA saw it differently.  They said it would be impossible to determine when coaches were paying attention and when they weren’t, so they should have stayed away from the track meet altogether.

My point is…instead of concentrating on staying within the NCAA’s guidelines, the Baylor coaches were focused on bending the rules as far as possible and finding loopholes.  And that’s been the habit or attitude of Baylor for quite some time.  It’s like the kid who’s been told not to touch the stove, so he stands right next to the stove and only touches it a little.

Is it really that surprising that in the world of big-money college sports, a school would try to skirt the rules a bit?  No, but in Baylor we’re talking about the largest Baptist university in the nation.  And I looked it up in the official Baptist doctrine.  You can’t preach against greed, envy, wrath, sloth, lust, pride and gluttony but continue to cheat at football.

Not all sins are deadly, but they’re all a really bad idea.

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