When Art Briles left Houston in 2007 to take over Baylor, everybody said it would be a mistake and career suicide, because nobody had been able to win successfully at Baylor since the 80’s. But Briles didn’t listen to the detractors and he took the Baylor job in 2008. While it wasn’t easy in the early go, he has since turned things around immensely and brought Baylor back into national prominence after a long hiatus, which some thought would never end. Under Art Briles, the Bears have had a run of four straight bowl games, winning back to back games for the first time in 25 years before their shocking loss at the hands of Central Florida in their first BCS game at the Fiesta Bowl. But the loss in the Fiesta Bowl hasn’t slowed down the momentum, because after winning their first outright conference title since 1980 this past year, a lot of Baylor fans are looking for back-to-back Big XII championships this season.
Not to mention the fact Briles had a Heisman trophy winning quarterback in Robert Griffin and looks to return his starting quarterback from last year. While Baylor has not been a team on the tips of national media’s tongue, they are slowly starting to get more and more attention the longer Briles hangs around in Waco. After finishing up what was one of the best years in school history, some people will say they need to lower expectations because it will be hard to repeat that feat. But Briles will probably tell you he wants to be better than they were last year. And for teams in the conference, that could be a scary thought.
Briles is 44-32 in his time at Baylor and looks to have Baylor on the right track to possibly become a team in the national spotlight year after year. During his tenure, the school has done everything it can to help him bring in some of the best players he can, and this coming season he will be leading the football team out onto a new field when they open McClain stadium at the start of the year.
Can Briles lead the Bears to the promised land? It is tough for teams who have been there to return, and it is even harder for teams to break through and get to that national title game(unless you’re in the SEC, then it is practically given to you). I don’t think Briles would be happy until he can get Baylor to where they have a legitimate shot, but in the mean time, the administration will be more than happy with bringing home conference championships and big time bowl bids.
For the first time in a very long time, there is a winning culture starting to form around the Baylor football team, and that is all due to Art Briles and the fact he had faith to believe he could win at Baylor. He was mentioned for the Texas coaching job this past off-season, but he withdrew his name to stay put, and I am sure another 11 win season or better, he will be able to name his price. Even in the event Briles did leave for a bigger job, chances are Baylor would be just fine, he has instilled a culture change and that doesn’t go away just because a coach leaves.Please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook