The Baylor Bears stand at 0-2 in their first season under Matt Rhule, and the near future doesn’t look good. Unless things improve dramatically (they still could!), Baylor has an excellent chance of starting 0-8 before facing off against Kansas in a loser goes home match on November 4th.
Going winless until November may sound unbearable, but Baylor’s history is full of much worse. Most of you know about Kevin Steele by now, but even he doesn’t represent the lowest point of Baylor football. In fact, he doesn’t even make the top two, and he is nowhere near number one.
For your viewing horror, here are the worst multi-year coaches ranked by win percentage.
These guys did just fine
Morley Jennings (1926-1940) — .577
Grant Teaff (1972-1992) — .548
Ralph Glaze (1910-1912) — .545
Sam Boyd (1956-8) — .500
Enoch Mills (1908-9) — .500
You know, if a school’s worst multi-season coaches includes five guys who finished .500 or better in its bottom eleven, how bad could your history really be? Jennings and Teaff account for 34 years of Baylor football coaching, an enormous stretch of time. Can you imagine any coach today staying on at his position for another 10+ years? That two coaches could stay at one position for that long and win more than half their games is commendable.
John Bridgers (1958-1968) — .481
Frank Kimbrough (1941-2, 1945-6) — .402
Guy Morriss (2003-7) — .310
No one’s saying these guys were great, but things we’re as bad as could be imagined under the leadership of these three coaches. Frank Kimbrough stands out as deserving some attention for a truly odd career. Kimbrough went 3-6 and 6-4 in his first two seasons at Baylor before taking off for a different position. That different position? It was with the North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters. Yes, that is a real football program that played real football games. Here’s an excerpt from the school’s Wikipedia page:
The North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters represented the U.S. Navy pre-flight school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the college football seasons of 1942, 1943 and 1944 during World War II. The North Carolina Pre-Flight School was established on February 1, 1942, by the Secretary of the Navy and opened that April. The football team was later organized and competed against other military teams in addition to major college teams of the period. During their three years in existence, the Cloudbusters compiled an overall record of sixteen wins, eight losses and three ties (16–8–3).
In their sole season under Kimbrough, the Cloudbusters went 2-4. I can’t get over that this was a real thing.
After Baylor took a two year hietus from football from 1942-3, the Bears invited Kimbrough back to campus. He went 5-5 and 1-8 before getting canned. I understand that World War II was a chaotic time for everyone in a lot of ways, but what a weird 6 year stretch for Kimbrough.
Bad, bad, bad
Kevin Steele (1999-2002) — .200
Dave Roberts (1997-8) — .182
What a rotten stretch from 1997-2002. Baylor won 13 games in 6 years, just over two per year. That’s roughly equivalent to Kansas’ recent history. Plenty of schools go through tough stretches, though, and even if having those two back-to-back was particularly bad, it would be tough to find a coaching tenure worse than our star of the show.
THIS GUY GOT PAID TO COACH FOR THREE YEARS
Bill Beall (1969-1971) — .097
In 1969, Baylor was coming out of the John Bridgers era, a ten-year stretch that made the list a couple of sections earlier. Perhaps Bridgers’ tenure proves Baylor wanted to remain loyal to their man, and Teaff’s twenty-year tenure that followed Beall would seem to enforce that. So maybe that explains why Baylor, after winning two games in two seasons, would bring the same coach back for a third attempt.
Even still, it’s hard to fathom what a win percentage below .1 means. What does it feel like to suffer a winless season, feel the relative elation of a two-win improvement, only to backslide to one win the following year? Can even these wonderful GIFS from UCF’s winless 2015 season capture the essence of the Bill Beall dark ages?
When you break it down season by season, it makes even less sense. In 1969, the Bears scored 9 (NINE!) total touchdowns. A mere three came through the air against 25 (T-W-E-N-T-Y F-I-V-E) interceptions. Poor Laney Cook had only two more completions (12) than interceptions (10). Baylor’s highest point total in a single game was 15 in a 30-point loss to Kansas State. LSU, though, really put the hurt on the Bears, soundly beating them 63-8 in an era long before the spread offense roamed the earth. Surprise, surprise, the Bears went 0-10 its first year under Beall.
You have to give a man time to install his system, though! The following year Baylor tallied 16 touchdowns with a touchdown-interception ratio of a mere 7-19! Stunning improvement, really. The Bears managed to beat Texas A&M and Army, and only lost to #1 Texas by a touchdown. Things were really starting to look up for Beall’s Boys. With improvement like that, you have to give a guy one more chance.
Then 1971 came, and boy did it come with a vengeance. Despite the 19 losses in the previous two seasons, Baylor had only been shut out twice. In ’71, the Bears failed to score in 4 games. The lone win came 10-0 over an Indiana team that finished 3-8. Notable losses included 9-10 to the Aggies, 0-22 to the Jayhawks, and 0-23 to Rice.
The improvement in scoring from the previous season? Yeah, that died a painful death, too. Baylor scored 9 touchdowns in 1971. The passing attack surpassed its 1969 glory by notching 25 interceptions to 2 touchdowns. In ’69 and ’70, Baylor averaged 112 and 111 passing yards per game, respectively. In ’71, that number fell to 55, with a completion percentage of 20%.
(I will point out, to Beall’s credit, Baylor was one of the earliest schools to integrate its football team after desegregation, so there could have been a lot of challenging factors swirling around the team that its opponents might not have shared.)
I could go on, but you get the point. Right now, things look kind of bleak, but Rhule has enough talent on the roster to project improvement in the coming years. We’re nowhere near the depths uncovered by Bill Beall, and it’s still a good bet that Rhule will do much better than most of the coaches on this list.