There's credible buzz going around that 2016 Baylor recruits have been informed that Baylor will let them know the nature of their binding LOI status as early as tomorrow. How will Baylor play this delicate situation?
three two and a half rough possibilities:
1. Baylor's answer could be: "You committed to Baylor, not Briles. Pound sand. We're gonna weather the backlash because the alternative is a fast track to irrelevance." The Bears will have to deal with an outpouring of vitriol from a national press seeking sports filler until August. Most elite 2017 recruits will take pause. Given several prominent tone deaf Baylor alums trying to bring back Briles and a school administration that has behaved rather cynically at times, this is not absolutely out of the question.
Texas fans tend to assume everyone else wrings their hands about appearances as much as we do.
That written, some media savvy parents could make things very uncomfortable for the Bears. But it will be on them to push the issue cleverly and keep media pressure focused past the first 72 hour backlash.
Baylor can grant conditional releases. They're free to go, but not to Big 12 schools. Some athletes will be pissed, but they get an immediate resolution and don't have to place their futures in eligibility limbo. Baylor doesn't mind strengthening SEC rosters, can offer that this is standard practice from their conference mates (save Texas - Rami Hammad was released without condition), and most players will grudgingly accept this compromise, forcing some who might have left to stay at Baylor. It's a percentage play compromise for deflecting media scrutiny. Some will contend that Baylor CAN'T grant conditional releases, but that's settled by legal processes - the players are left hanging while that's sorted. Does a gutless NCAA really want to create precedent with a summary ruling?
Amendment: I'm being informed that this is simply not an option. Baylor has to grant full releases or none at all. Whoa. No compromise. It's possible that early enrollees could be conditionals, but if a 2016er hasn't registered for classes yet, Baylor has no conditional say on the release. Baylor had several early enrollees, but their best one (Dickson) has already skipped town. Twelve recruits are not enrolled. They include Duvernay's bro, Patrick Hudson, Kam Martin, Parish Cobb and JP Urquidez.
3. Baylor can grant unconditional releases. This would be another step towards cultural atonement, rebooting a questionable athletic program culture that preceded Briles in football (Reedy and Steele fired despite strong values) and basketball (Darrell Johnson begat Dave Bliss who begat Scott Drew) by three decades. Briles didn't create a troubling athletic culture in Waco. He fulfilled it. His mistake was kicking the hell out of enough people on the football field such that he earned media scrutiny outside of Waco's parochial press corps.
If this happens, you could see a lot of their 2016 class find their way to Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, LSU and Texas A&M. It'll win pats on the head from the media for integrity, but it's effectively program suicide. Several prominent Baylor alums will turn off the spigot and they'll create a depth hole that will look like a late era Mack Brown recruiting class.
Baylor has put themselves in a rough spot.
Texas realistically has its eyes on 3-5 Baylor recruits. The jewel of that group is OL Patrick Hudson. Stay tuned.