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Our Daily Mailbag 5/4- Football, Hoops and Recruiting

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The mailbag returns!

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Baylor vs USC Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Rhule and his staff have had quite an April and May. The Bears have landed five commitments in less than a week, and they’ve appeared on a few final lists. There are some concerns about this team—particularly depth, but the long-term future of the program is incredibly bright.

On the hoops front, Scott Drew will need to make a couple of hires after Paul Mills brought Sam Patterson on board at Oral Roberts. Jerome Tang and Alvin Brooks are excellent assistant coaches, but Mills and Patterson have been big parts of the staff. Drew has done a good job hiring assistants in the past. Baylor will have giant classes in 2018 and 2019. The new staff will be important in rounding out those classes.

We’ll get a chat going about some of the more serious questions before too long. I’ve had several people ask difficult questions about the last era. I’m not avoiding those questions forever in the mailbag, but the plan is to bring back the slack chats sometime. When we do that, we’ll get a few more voices on some of those topics. Those questions are important and deserve a longer response.

This is a great question. Matt had a superb interview with Ish Wainright. You can listen here.

Wainright represents the best about college sports. He came to Baylor and worked himself like a madman and became one of the best defenders in college basketball. Not long after making his fourth NCAA Tournament—-the only Bear to do that—he is set to play football for Baylor.

A Wainright touchdown against TCU will be better than the McGowan TD in the Cotton Bowl. After the way the TCU game went last year, a former basketball player scoring on Gary Patterson’s defense is what the people need.

McGowan’s touchdown isn’t quite at that level because of the awful end to the Cotton Bowl, and the moment couldn’t be properly celebrated in a bowl environment. The McGowan touchdown against Oklahoma in 2015 was fantastic. Not much beats hearing “Hit the Quan” after a 420 pound man scores a touchdown.

“Why didn’t KD Cannon or Ishamel Zamora get drafted last week?”- Chris

I thought K.D. Cannon would be a late round draft pick. He’s a little small and rarely worked out of the slot at Baylor. He was impressive against Boise State, but some think he hit his ceiling at Baylor.

Ish Zamora’s problem is that he failed to dominate games, despite his supreme talent. He won the Oklahoma State game. But he rarely took over games and he had problems off the field. A franchise didn’t want to spend a draft pick given those circumstances.

Until the NCAA announces something, anything can happen. That’s not much of an answer, but the NCAA is tough to read and not an organization I’m connected with at all.

I’ve said all along that after Penn State, I didn’t think the NCAA would levy harsh penalties against Baylor. But the only guarantee about the NCAA is that they do not want to pay athletes.

The NCAA has broad bylaws. They could levy harsh penalties against Baylor. My guess remains that they won’t.

I am a terrible golfer. I am perhaps worse at ultimate frisbee. I am assuredly the worst at frisbee golf.

I’m a big fan of this approach. Matt Rhule has developed 2-star guys into a conference title at Temple. Hopefully blistering fast 3-star guys can win the Big 12. If anybody can get the best out of guys, it’s this staff.

Ultimately, the team will need to land some 4-star and 5-star guys to compete for national championships. That’s necessary but not sufficient. Just look at how bad Charlie Weiss did with that level of talent at Notre Dame. Yet, every championship team has had a top 10 recruiting class in the four years prior to winning a title.

The staff is blowing away expectations so far, and they’ve landed some guys that should shoot up the rankings. Still, this is going to be a process. I’ve predicted that Baylor will start 13-13 in the Matt Rhule era. I’ve also predicted they’ll play for a national title in year five. The incredible athletes they’ve landed should play a major role in that. Some 4-star talent in the next couple classes will too.

The Big 12 is going to be really good at the top next season. That opinion isn’t widely shared right now, especially after the conference had a bad draft showing and missed the playoff for the second time. But Oklahoma State returns a lot, Oklahoma has Baker Mayfield, West Virginia has an awesome quarterback and Bill Snyder returns a quarterback. All of those teams look like top 20 teams to me.

The Bears could win a few games against that group. They could also lose all of those games, and then fall to Texas and TCU. Kenny Hill still makes me nervous, and Tom Herman’s roster is still a little bit away. Those two teams will be good though.

Given all of those parameters, the Bears ceiling is probably 10-3. The team is going to once again struggle with injuries. The depth is not there yet. If the Bears suffer some poorly timed injuries and catch Iowa State or Kansas on a bad day, I could see Baylor ending 4-8.

I’m predicting the Bears go 7-6 this season. Transitions can be tough. There are real depth issues, and the Big 12 is way better than people think. The Matt Rhule era will be awesome. But this team would have to stay incredibly healthy and hit a new level to win the Big 12.

I think Baylor will beat Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State in conference play. Then they’ll win one more Big 12 game. That opponent will be much better than the three I’ve mentioned. This is a pure guess because it could be anyone, but I’ll say Baylor beats West Virginia in Waco.

Now that Byron Bonds is gone, I believe Bravvion Roy is the strongest man around. I don’t want to hear anything about actual lifting. I just see Bravvion Roy and know that you could go into Cane’s with him and they’d give you all the extra Cane’s sauce you want for increasing security in the establishment.

That’s it for this one. The mailbag will run every Thursday. Sic ‘Em!