With Art Briles out, his athletic director out and Baylor's assistant coaches seemingly likely to finish the 2016 season -- if that makes any sense -- the discussion about the school can begin to include the state of the football program.
This is a sports-centric website, so suggestions about what should happen to Baylor's power structures are best left to the people who have covered this story from that angle in the greatest detail. And SB Nation's Baylor blog Our Daily Bears knows the community and has drawn deserved praise for its clear-eyed coverage.
As for football, there are many ways to show how Baylor now finds itself in dire straits on the field thanks to systemic woes elsewhere.
Despite major improvement, Baylor was only beginning to recruit like a national power. Recruiting now gets much harder.
Before Briles arrived in 2008, Baylor's last 10-win season was in 1980, and that was its only 10-win season ever. Its last eight-win season was in 1991.
Now the Bears haven't won fewer than eight games since 2010, and have four 10-win seasons in their last five.
But Briles' exit makes it easy (for opposing coaches) to argue (to recruits) that Baylor was a flash in the pan. The Bears had never finished in the top 25 in the 247Sports Composite class rankings until placing No. 17 in 2016. They finished within the top 30 a few times under Briles, though, and that was a giant leap from where they were.
Baylor finished 77th in 2007. The best class Baylor had under previous coach Guy Morriss finished 54th. Briles' Baylor never had a class worse than 55th -- and that 2008 class was underrated, given that it included Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and future NFL wideouts Terrence Williams and Kendall Wright, none of whom were considered top-250 recruits.
The Bears no longer have the coach responsible for helping those players become stars. The job security of the remaining staff is up for debate, at minimum. That's going to make recruiting, already tough for a historically forgettable program in a state with four other Power 5 teams, even harder.
Baylor will likely strengthen its vetting process for recruits and transfers. If Baylor won on the margins in recruiting by taking calculated risks on rougher players, that is not an option going forward.
That best recruiting class in school history? It could lose many of its best players before they make it to campus.
It would be reasonable for any Baylor player to consider transferring. Classes for Baylor's first full summer term don't begin until May 31. If a player wanted to be eligible for a scholarship at a new school as soon as possible, it might behoove him to avoid the red tape of enrolling and withdrawing.
As the enrollment deadline got closer, it became clear that some of Baylor's 2016 class wouldn't be making it to campus. On June 1, ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree reported that seven of Baylor's 2016 signees are requesting to be released from their letters of intent. Those players include top-50 prospect Patrick Hudson, an offensive guard, four-star offensive tackle JP Urquidez, four-star cornerback Parrish Cobb, four-star running back Kameron Martin, and four-star wide receiver Devin Duvernay, among others.
At least a couple have affirmed they'll enroll, but if BU were to lose those six four-stars, its 17th-ranked 2016 class would be more like a class ranked in the 40s. Baylor has 30 days to respond to a player's request to be released from their letter of intent. If a player obtains a release, he would be free to play for another school right away. If not, he would have to sit out a year like a normal transfer.
And the 2017 class has already lost basically everything.
Prior to Thursday, Baylor had six commits for 2017, three of them four- or five-star players. Baylor had the No. 34 2017 class, fifth in the Big 12.
By day's end, the Bears had lost tight end Kedrick James, one of those blue-chippers.
Due to the departure of Coach Briles, I'd like to open my recruiting and decommit from Baylor. Thank u Baylor staff esp Coach Lebby & Bedell— Kedrick James (@kedrickjames044) May 26, 2016
Friday, three-star defensive tackle Jayden Peevy decommitted, also citing Briles' exit.
Saturday, Peevy's Bellaire High teammate Donovan Stiner, a three-star safety, and four-star receiver Hezekiah Jones followed.
No interviews please....... pic.twitter.com/WVCCgdtzbf— 9️⃣ (@_hezekiahh) May 29, 2016
But the biggest blow came on Wednesday, when four-star quarterback Kellen Mond tweeted that he was decommitting.
THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/PeVzQwkPxH— .. Kellen™ ♛ ♰ ♛ (@TheKellenMond) June 1, 2016
Mond was Baylor's most important commit, a four-star just outside the nation's top 100. He attends IMG Academy in Florida with a smattering of future stars.
Following Mond's departure, the class has plummeted from No. 34 to No. 94, with only three-star athlete Jalen Pitre (a Stafford High teammate of Jones) still committed.
A handful of other players considering Baylor chimed in, including four-star Texas RB Eno Benjamin, former Baylor commit Jhamon Ausbon, and big-time Lone Star State LBs like Anthony Hines III.
So glad I made the right choice and decided not to pursue Baylor. Smh— Eno Benjamin™ (@eno_benjamin5) May 26, 2016
nooo way https://t.co/xdLCPb0bgQ— Jhamon Ausbon (@TheJhamonAusbon) May 26, 2016
You CANNOT base your decision on a Head Coach. The College football world is too unstable.— Anthony Hines III® (@TheAntHines_Era) May 26, 2016
As for players already on the team, an exodus doesn't seem to be in the works right now.
Star receiver KD Cannon announced he isn't going anywhere.
BAYLOR IS MY HOME AND THATS WHERE I WILL STAY AND FINISH MY COLLEGE CAREER— 9_MBC (@IAmTheOne_9) May 28, 2016
Promising running back Terence Williams announced the same.
I'm not going anywhere— Terence (@TW22_BU) May 27, 2016
Rising senior quarterback Seth Russell, Baylor's likely starter, seems to be staying put, though he's been in Brazil doing missionary work.
Sophomore-to-be Jarrett Stidham, however, was and is Baylor's long-term hope at QB, and his talent more closely parallels that of Griffin III than Russell or Bryce Petty. He'd been tight-lipped on Twitter, and it made all the sense in the world for him to find a school where he could start, but he took to Instagram on Monday to confirm that he will return to the school.
Can't wait to get back on that grind tomorrow with my brothers. This year is going to be different than the rest in many ways, but either way we will make a statement to everyone. Excited for the opportunity God has presented this team with to overcome adversity and become even closer as a family. Stick with us Baylor nation, we got this. Colossians 4:2-3 #BacktoBUsiness