Jim Grobe retaining Baylor assistants, hoping to keep signees

ByMax Olson ESPN logo
Saturday, June 4, 2016

WACO, Texas -- New Baylor coach Jim Grobe is retaining all of Art Briles' assistant coaches and hopes to keep all of his recruits, too.

Grobe had to address those two issues frequently during his introductory news conference Friday at BU's McLane Stadium. The interim head coach was hired Monday and said that keeping Briles' staff intact was his best way to try to maintain some consistency as the program recovers from the sexual assault crisis that cost Briles his job.

"Our goal right now is to steady the ship and be as consistent day-to-day as we possibly can be," he said.

Grobe said he feared the impact that hiring a new staff of assistants might have on Baylor's players. When he met with the team Tuesday morning, he assured it that Baylor will not be making any changes to its offensive or defensive schemes.

Among the staffers Grobe is keeping are Briles' son, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, and son-in-law Jeff Lebby, the team's passing game coordinator. Grobe acknowledged they're "very discouraged" by Baylor's coaching change.

"On one hand, I know they're sad Coach Briles is gone," Grobe said. "But on the other hand, I think they're excited they can continue to be coaches at Baylor University and take care of their families. And I think the players are excited to have their coaches still here."

The findings of fact from the Pepper Hamilton investigation that Baylor's Board of Regents released May 26 said unnamed Baylor "football coaches and staff" had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters and engaged in improper conduct. The investigation also found "football coaches or staff" met directly with complainants and didn't report misconduct.

Thus far, only Briles and two staffers -- assistant athletic director for football operations Colin Shillinglaw and director of facilities Tom Hill -- have been fired as a result of the findings. Athletic director Ian McCaw resigned Monday, and Ken Starr resigned as chancellor Wednesday after having already been removed from his post as Baylor's president.

Asked whether he has been assured by Baylor officials that the assistants are not implicated in the Pepper Hamilton findings and won't be penalized, Grobe said: "I know of absolutely no issues, no problems. That doesn't mean that there aren't. I would honestly tell you, I've not heard of any problems."

Grobe said he does have the power as interim coach to hire and fire assistants if he thinks he needs to make changes.

With those assistants' help, Grobe is working to convince Baylor signees who have not yet enrolled to join the program. Seven have told ESPN.com that they are requesting their release from their national letter of intent and do not want to attend Baylor.

Grobe wants to visit those recruits and their families before Baylor makes any decision on releasing the recruits. The school has 30 days to respond to each recruit's release request.

If those signees still do not want to attend Baylor after meeting him, will Grobe agree to part ways? He would not say on Friday.

"The thing I didn't want to do was knee-jerk and do something really quickly and then look back and wish we hadn't. And I don't want parents and kids to hurry up and make a decision right now," Grobe said. "Everybody calm down and think things through, because I don't know of a better place in America to get a degree from. To have the combination of great academic degree and play championship football, I don't know of a better place to do that."

Grobe has already visited with the family of cornerback signee Parrish Cobb, who is still seeking his release despite that meeting. His father, Collis Cobb, stood outside McLane Stadium after the news conference Friday in the hopes of once again demanding the staff release his son.

Another question Grobe had to address Friday: How long will he be at Baylor? He confirmed his agreement to serve as interim coach ends after the 2016 season.

Grobe knows recruiting with the interim tag could be challenging. But after spending two years out of the coaching business, the 64-year-old does hope he can stay beyond 2016.

"If things go well, I like coaching," he said. "I could see myself being here for a while."