Somehow, it seems like the Orlando Sentinel may have broken the biggest Baylor news of the bowl season. From their article this evening about the Baylor-UNC matchup:
Johnson will get the start for Baylor in the bowl game as Briles confirmed that Stidham won't be ready in time to face UNC in Orlando.
"It doesn't look like he's going to be ready," Briles said.
Wow. We've known since the bowl press conference that today could be the day to find out about Stidham's availability, but when virtually the entire day went by without news, I just assumed we wouldn't get it.
Now, understanding that the above is a direct quote from a named source (Briles), this article raises just about as many questions in my mind as it gives answers. First and foremost, how is the Orlando Sentinel breaking this story? I assume it has something to do with bowl media contracts/requirements, but even then, that's amazing. Second, if this is a known thing today, why didn't anyone pick it up after the Sentinel reported it? Where are Bruce Feldman and co. from the national ranks, or even our own John Werner from the Waco Trib? This is a weird situation.
If we assume the report is true, this news has far-ranging implications for this game aside from a probable seismic shift in the current odds (which, as of this writing, have Baylor -3). Chris Johnson will again assume the starting role coming off concussion-like symptoms that kept him out for nearly all of the game against Texas. He'll have two full weeks to prepare for the game, and there's no real way to know how he'll perform considering he's yet to start and play a full game under anything resembling normal conditions. Behind him will probably be Lynx Hawthorne, although I'd argue strenuously for a Wildbear-focused offense run by Johnny Jefferson and Terence Williams. Considering I'm on record professing my undying love for that attack, I might argue for it, anyway.
Before anyone says it, I realize that Briles stopped just short of definitively ruling Stidham out for the bowl. My guess is that's largely strategic (to give UNC something else to prepare for, potentially), particularly considering Briles' earlier statements about how difficult it would be for Stidham to get ready even if cleared today. From this quote, as short as it is, it really does sound like the news that came back today wasn't good, and we'll be seeing Chris Johnson take the field on December 29.