FILE - In this June 3, 2016, file photo, then-Baylor interim head football coach Jim Grobe reflects on a question during a news conference in Waco, Texas. Grobe has a masters degree in counseling. While that helps him talk with players, Baylor's acting he
AP Photo
July 15, 2016

WACO, Texas (AP) Jim Grobe has a master's degree in counseling that comes in handy dealing with athletes on and off the field.

Yet, Baylor's acting head coach knows that doesn't qualify him to handle issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault.

''We coach and we recruit,'' Grobe said. ''That's our expertise. That's what we do.''

The 64-year-old Grobe had put in 19 years as a head coach in the Bowl Subdivision and just two months ago was semi-retired, living in a lakeside home with plans for Hawaiian trips and cruises with his wife. Now he is back in the spotlight and then some, leading a Baylor program reeling from allegations that it didn't properly handle claims of sexual misconduct against some of its players in the past.

Grobe's task is seemingly immense: He has to help the Bears move forward from scandal - lawsuits against the world's largest Baptist university are still pending - and keep Baylor among the top teams in the Big 12, one that was on the verge of the first College Football Playoff two seasons ago and still in that mix late last year. But Grobe said the players and staff have to ''focus on, first and foremost, our character and integrity.''

And he is making it clear that any potentially egregious issues in the future will be turned over to university officials.

''At the first hints of if we suspect in any way that there's been something really bad that's happened, we know to go to (Title IX coordinator) Patty Crawford,'' Grobe said. ''Then get out of the way, and be cooperative.''

When Grobe arrived in late May, within days after two-time Big 12 champion coach Art Briles was dismissed following the release of a scathing report , the former Wake Forest coach found a Baylor team that was discouraged, sad and embarrassed. He has discovered something much more encouraging during his short time on campus.

''The thing that I think's gone unnoticed is how many great kids that we have here,'' Grobe said. ''That's been a real pleasant surprise for me, because when you first come into this situation, all of the outside seem to think that we were a program rife with aggressive kids and kids that were kind of out of control, and that's not the case at all. We've got a great group of kids.''

Still, the Bears, who have won 50 games the past five seasons, are down to about 70 scholarship players. That includes only about half of Baylor's highly touted spring signing class of 22 players; six were eventually released from their letters of intent without enrolling and three others left after going through spring practice. Then backup sophomore quarterback Jarrett Stidham decided this month that he was leaving.

Briles and the school mutually settled on his departure last month and he has moved away from Waco, though the former coach was seen this week leaving a popular taco joint close to the Baylor campus.

''Just hanging with the guys, coaches,'' Briles told KCEN-TV as he got into his truck. Asked about his future plans , Briles said, ''I'm going to coach again'' without indicating where.

Grobe has a reputation of unimpeachable character and running clean programs. He has been a coach most of the past four decades, serving as head coach at Ohio (1995-2000) and Wake Forest (2001-13) before being away from coaching the past two seasons.

He plans to handle any serious allegations at Baylor the way he has in the past when issues have been identified. Grobe said he has no problem holding players out of games or practice if accused of egregious acts until they are able to prove their innocence.

''Treating these things in a serious nature, you have to start with the victim, with somebody that's accusing your players. You have to start there - we always love our players and we'd like to believe everything our players tell us, but honestly sometimes, they're not as forthcoming as they need to be,'' Grobe said. ''The problem is as a coach, you can't deal with the issues we're talking about.''

Briles' son, Kendal, is still Baylor's offensive coordinator and the former coach's son-in-law, Jeff Lebby, is also part of the offensive staff. An attorney for a former Baylor student who said she was hit and choked by a former Baylor player said the woman exchanged text messages with Lebby about the incidents in 2014 , and nothing was done other than to tell the player to stay away from her.

While Grobe was given authority to make any changes, all the Baylor assistants have been retained.

Grobe said his goal was to try to make as few changes as possible, and that he has seen a loyal group of coaches who care about the players.

''What I've tried to do with our coaching staff is let them coach, and not get in the way too much,'' said Grobe, who for now is signed only for the 2016 season. ''As far as X's and O's, things aren't broken here.''

Like the players, the younger Briles was still in shock when Grobe first arrived.

''But as time has gone on, I think he's great right now,'' Grobe said. ''I don't think he could be any better. I think he understands that being successful would be good for everybody, and I think Kendal feels a great responsibility to his players and to this offensive football team and to his coaches.''

The Bears open the season Sept. 2 at home against Northwestern State.

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