Thursday, March 18, 2010

Rising From The Ashes

March Madness is in full swing and your favorite school might be in there. Or maybe its not.

Sometimes you have to look for other schools to follow because your team is eliminated early or simply didn't make the tournament at all. If you're one of those people, let me introduce you to the Baylor Bears.

The Bears have never been an NCAA powerhouse in basketball, but no one could imagine the Bears even sniffing the tournament after what the school has been through this decade.

Lying? Check. Major NCAA infractions? Check. Murder? Check and mate.

In 2002-2003, Baylor was coached by Dave Bliss. He recruited two players to transfer in order to play of him. Patrick Dennehy and Carlton Dotson showed up at Waco and shortly thereafter all hell broke loose.

When the smoke settled, Dennehy was dead, Dotson was arrested for shooting him, then hiding his car so the police wouldn't find out, and Coach Bliss was nailed for a laundry list of hideous violations including illegal payments, and attempting to paint Dennehy as a drug dealer and telling his players to lie to investigators about it in order to avoid sanctions. Bliss' actions were discovered when an assistant coach taped conversations after Bliss threatened to fire him if he didn't go along with the plan.

Turns out that Bliss was aware of all sorts of drug violations, yet did nothing and also paid money to several players. Then he tried to orchestrate an entire symphony of lies in order to avoid investigation into the Dennehy murder.

You had a one dead player, one player arrested and sentenced to 35 years in prison for murder, and a coach that ran a program dirtier than sceptic tank. Most players transfered away from Waco at light speed.

This is what coach Scott Drew took over when he became the head coach of Baylor in 2003. The Bears were never that good to begin with, now the program had this albatross to completely destroy recruiting.

But Drew just went to work and now in 2010, he has a team that is in the tournament as a number three seed.

There's no telling where the Bears will go this years since they haven't had much tournament history. Maybe they'll fall to Sam Houston State in the first round or maybe they'll make a Final Four run. Either way, this is a team to root for because they are building a program left in ashes. That's a good enough reason as any to wish them success.


  1. Until your column, I had been Blissfully unaware of the entire scandal. Sounds like it was un-Bear-able. Nice to see Baylor rebuild their program by going back to the Drewing board. If you'd told most people before the season that Baylor would be a #3 seed in the tournament, they might have thought you were Waco.

  2. Wow. I'm green with envy at your golden wordplay.