When Art Briles was named Head Coach of the Baylor Bears Football team on November 27th, 2008, there was an excitement within the green and gold fanbase. Baylor had just finished a 3-9 season winning exactly 0 conference games. The previous 5 years under the former coaching staff yielded an 18-40 overall record. It was time for a change, and Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw's search for the head coach for Baylor football ended after meeting Art Briles.
Briles was introduced to BaylorNation as a coach known for turning around programs, an individual that was genuine in his actions, and a man who had overcome great adversity to succeed in life. It would be those traits that would set him apart from the other candidates. What Baylor fans did not realize is how perfect Art Briles was for the job.
"I probably don't need to say anything. Everyone right now thinks I'm a pretty good guy," Briles said as he took the podium after being named Baylor's new head football coach.
It was during that brief address that Briles talked of things like 'Greatness', 'Preparation', and 'Anticipation'. He spoke of things like 'Hope', 'Belief', and 'Reality'. But moreso, Briles also laid out a plan that then seemed broad and general and perhaps a bit lofty in terms of expectational boundaries. He spoke of Baylor becoming bowl eligible. After that, Briles said they would win the [defunct] Big 12 South. After that, he said the plan was to win the Big 12 Championship. Entering Briles' 6th season, it appears his plan is right on schedule.
In 2010, Baylor became bowl eligible in Briles' 3rd season as Baylor's head coach. The Bears snapped a 16-year bowl drought after accepting an invitation to play in the Texas Bowl against Illinois.
In 2011, the Bears had a magical season with Robert Griffin III leading the way. The Bears won 10 games, the first time since 1980, and beat the Washington Huskies to take home the Alamo Bowl trophy. The Bears finished the season ranked #12 in the Coaches Poll, but more importantly brought home some serious hardware. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy, a goal not listed under Briles' plan, to cap off a truly historic season.
In 2012, Baylor kept the momentum in another standout season. The Baylor offense ranked among the nation's best, and the Bears knocked off the UCLA Bruins in the Holiday Bowl. The Bears did it without Griffin III who was drafted into the NFL as the #2 overall selection, but instead relied on the arm of senior QB Nick Florence. Out of Baylor's 8 victories in 2012, none was bigger than knocking off #1 ranked Kansas State in a 52-24 rout.
So here we are in 2013. As Baylor prepares for the 2013 football season on their on-campus practice facility (indoors and outdoors), just across the Brazos River stands the silhouette of a brand new Baylor Stadium to be opened in 2014. This season, perhaps more than any in Briles tenure at Baylor, has brought more expectations than ever before for a Baylor program that 6 short years ago had none. Maybe it is because of the talent that Briles and staff have been able to bring into the Waco, Texas school. Maybe it is because of the development of that talent to allow his players to realize their dream of playing in the NFL. Maybe it is because Briles truly did have a plan when he addressed the Baylor crowd back in late November after accepting the Baylor coaching position.
Bowl eligibility? Check. Hope into reality? Check. Big 12 Championship?...Here is to 2013.
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