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ODB Mailbag 3/28—Football, Basketball, Recruiting and America!

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

It’s been forever since we’ve done a mailbag. We’ll start doing one again every week. I know folks also would like us to get back to football stuff. We will get back to a lot of football stuff.

But we’ll still have quite a bit on Baylor hoops. I like to take a second to unwind after the season. Before too long, we’ll have a deep-dive on the last season and hopefully some cool feature stories.

BNT is moving back to Waco and working on his business. He’ll return soon. Also, follow him on Twitter and be a customer for BNT.

I’ve also been a scrub and not stepped up and done the mailbag.

A good question that could be a series of posts.

I think Baylor could finish as high as third, if things really break right. But I think the Bears have the sixth or seventh best roster in the league. This team went 1-11 last season. In football, it’s hard to suddenly get that much better.

The Bears should be significantly better. Matt Rhule’s set the expectation at a bowl game. And that should be the expectation. Baylor’s quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and corners should be top five Big 12 units. The linebackers, offensive line and defensive line needs to be closer to the middle of the league on most non-Kansas nights (Baylor should still be much better than Kansas) to win. I’m worried those spots may not be.

Per Matt Rhule’s first spring press conference, that’s not a crazy thought. Platt and Sneed should be ready. Holmes had a pretty gruesome injury late in the season. But I think they’ll all be available early in the year.

Surviving along I-35. I think that’s the only way to group everyone, but Michael Nichols and Ken North, that writes for us. I believe those two are eating chili or whatever people do up there.

I’m excited for football. The expectation is a bowl game. There are few nights in the Big 12 where the Bears should feel doomed or get blown out. This team isn’t going to be anywhere near the 2013 or 2014 teams in terms of talent. They also shouldn’t be close to 1-11.

I’m not. I do understand the sentiment after a two year run of #MajorKeyAlert. The 2019 class will be much smaller with large 2017 and 2018 classes.

The biggest worry is that Baylor fails to perform this season. This staff has recruited about as well as anybody could, given the situation. You can’t sell hope when reality stays bad. This team has sold guys on a lot. Time to deliver.

Jalen Hurd might be Baylor’s best player. I think Denzel Mims deserves that title, and JaMycal Hasty—assuming he’s healthy—might be as well. But Hurd has phenomenal physical traits and sat out a season. He’s going to get drafted, possibly on day one or two.

The offensive line was the worst group last season. Johncarlo Valentin and Jake Fruhmorgen should substantially improve that unit.

I am horrendously unqualified to answer this question. But until BNT returns, I will offer my answer.

Odyssey Sims, Sophia Young, Sheila Lambert, Kalani Brown and Brittney Griner. Those five would be so dominant that issues with a few folks playing out of position would be mitigated. But I know way less about women’s hoops than Ken North, Lewis Franklin or a bunch of other people posting on here.

A lot of people will freak out, even if the team finishes with 10 wins. But if the team finishes 5-7, then some of the panic will be justified. A lot of folks will still shout Jersey or other weird insults.

If Baylor football does finish 5-7 or worse, then the staff will have earned a fair bit of criticism. Rhule has said this team should go bowling. The Big 12 will be down. They have quite a few transfers and were close last season. This staff has recruited well and has a plan. Those two things need to start paying off with wins.

I haven’t heard anything about the Pitt guys. A lot of them could end up staying with Jeff Capel getting hired.

The Tournament question is tough to assess right now. I’m assuming Baylor lands Tyler Harris and Makai Mason plays. I’ll also say that nobody else transfers out. And I reserve the right to change this. So, I will not turn myself into Old Takes Exposed if I’m off.

I’d put the Bears at 80% to make the NCAA Tournament. The team may need to play differently (faster and more man-to-man). Still, Mario Kegler will give them a new wing threat and Mason—if healthy—won’t be much of a drop, if he’s one at all, from an underappreciated Manu Lecomte.

The big concern is in the front-court. If Baylor doesn’t land somebody else, they’ll need Mark Vital to bang in the post or a 3-star freshman to play big minutes. And the Bears’ days of having two good post scorers could be on hiatus.

I think everybody but Gerry Bohanon could. It’s early in this part of the process, and it’s tough to figure out who gets injured. But JT Woods or Christian Morgan could get some special teams time or break through at safety too. I like the question, but it’s so early for me to feel comfortable on guessing who redshirts.

Tweety Carter in 2007. There’s still the risk Penny keeps him in Memphis—I’ll have a longer post on Harris soon—or that Rick Barnes directs him to Tennessee.

I’m a big Tyler Harris guy. He’s an insane scorer. He was the best basketball player in a very good Tennessee high school senior class.