Jul 23, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Baylor Bears cheerleaders pose for a photo during Big 12 Media Day at the Westin Galleria. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
I decided to make a story on this because it deserves it; it's that good. SBNation's Bill Connelly has been engaged for most of the summer in previews of every team in the country, and now it's Baylor's turn. His preview, which is available here, focuses first on Art Briles and how he transformed a middling team (to be generous) into an offensive powerhouse, before moving to the recruitment, arrival, and impact of Robert Griffin III-- a program-changing player in every sense of the phrase-- and now the aftermath of his departure to the rarefied air of the NFL. It is an outstanding read.
Just for a tease, I'll give you my favorite part:
When my colleagues Dan Rubenstein and Spencer Hall tried out EA Sports' NCAA '13 video game a month ago, they did the meanest thing they could think of: to test out the "put an old Heisman winner on any team" function, they apologetically put Robert Griffin III on the Indiana Hoosiers. Here's the deal, though: that basically really happened. When Griffin followed Art Briles to Waco, he willingly became the face of one of the country's worst BCS conference programs. From 1997-2007, Baylor averaged 2.8 wins per season. They were consistently mocked, consistently vilified as the school that had stolen TCU's rightful Big 12 bid through politics. (This is incredible revisionist history, by the way: when the Big 12 was coming together, Baylor was not far removed from a run of decent play, and TCU was horrible. But I digress.) They were worse than Indiana then -- the Hoosiers, after all, were coming off a bowl bid in 2007.
Griffin is now a Washington Redskin, having left behind a completely different program, one that is building a new stadium, one that is becoming a safe haven for talented second-chance kids with talent (for better or worse), and one whose name just means something different than it did four years ago. Griffin also leaves behind Briles, a winner in his own right who inspires loyalty in his players and who should be able to keep the bowl bids coming in while he searches for the next RGIII.
Oh, that's good. Check it out. The only part where I disagree strongly with Bill C is on the strength of our offensive line. Where Bill sees question marks resulting from the shuffling of players, I see an attempt to strengthen the interior line with known contributors while breaking in quality recruits on the outside. I believe strongly that Ivory Wade will be one of the best centers in the country this year after being one of the best guards for the last three, and that with Cyril Richardson and Cameron Kaufhold on his flanks, Baylor may have the best interior unit in the conference. Spencer Drango and Troy Baker are unknowns, to be sure, but they are both extremely talented recruits who beat out more experienced players to earn their spots. This isn't a situation (and I'm not putting words in Bill's mouth, I know he didn't say it is) where we are filling a hole with a player that might be good someday-- if Briles and Clements didn't believe that Drango and Baker could protect Nick Florence right now, they wouldn't give them the chance. This season is too important.
To reiterate, though, you should absolutely read Bill's post today. It's worth whatever time you have.