"Unbelievably believable."-- Robert Griffin III. I was always going to use this picture. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Heisman Trophy Trust via Getty Images)
We should have known when Baylor's 2011-2012 athletic season began with a thrilling Friday night victory over TCU on national television that this year was going to be special. A 10-win football campaign capped by a Heisman Trophy, a school record for MBB wins en route to our second Elite 8 ever, a dominant 40-0 WBB run to a national championship and national player of the year award, and a Big 12 Championship-winning, regional-hosting baseball team later, we finally know how special. Today's 11-2 victory over Kansas State by Steve Smith and company in the Big 12 Tournament was the 124th victory of the year for Baylor's Big 4 programs, breaking the record previously set by Texas in the 2003-2004 season. That makes this year not only the best in Baylor athletic history but also the best for any school ever across the four major sports. 124-24. A winning percentage of .838 ... and our baseball team isn't even done yet!
Things like this didn't happen when I was in school. When I was there we lost football games to Army, UNT, and UAB (twice). Our basketball team only played half a season once because of a scandal that nearly scourged our program from the Earth. We deserved (almost) every insult and dismissive comment thrown at us because we couldn't compete. It was embarrassing. We were the "scrubby little Baylor" the nation believed us to be. Aside from the first national championship in our WBB program's history and a memorable baseball run to the CWS, our athletic department was in ashes.
That was then; the Year of the Bear is now.This year, every single Baylor team playing a sport that has a postseason made it. All 4 major sports will likely end their seasons ranked in the top 12 (FB: 12, MBB: 8, WBB: 1, BB: currently 6). More Baylor players (5) were drafted this year than any other school in Texas, with 2 going in the first 20 picks and Robert Griffin III selected second overall by the Washington Redskins. 60% of our starting roster against Kentucky will be drafted by the NBA, 2 of them likely in the first 20 picks again. Baylor is the only team in the country to win a bowl game and put teams in the Elite 8 (MBB) and Final 4 (WBB). Our fans set home average attendance records in FB (41,368), MBB (7,914), WBB (8,563) and SB (1,014). I could go on and on.
Despite what anyone may tell you, however, this is not the end. This year is not a fluke. At no point in our school's history has the arrow ever pointed more firmly up. We have on the horizon the best recruiting class in our MBB program's history, two more elite WBB recruits to reload Kim Mulkey's squad, and a riverside on-campus stadium that will be the envy of the entire college football world. Our basketball and football teams are led by three of the best coaches Baylor has ever seen in Kim Mulkey, Scott Drew, and Art Briles. All three will be here for years to come. The last has been made first. Competing for championships is not some far off dream; it is our reality.
On that glorious in NYC when he accepted a bronze trophy the likes of which Baylor had never seen before, RG3 told the world that "Baylor we are, and Baylor we'll always be, but it's up to us to define what that means." I don't think he realized then that the tone he set on that incredible Friday night in September would carry through so clearly 9 months later; Baylor means unparalleled excellence.