Anticipation is growing over the question of who is going to be the head coach of the Baylor Bears in 2020. Commentators, experts, analysts, and of course the fans have speculated on names that they believe will be a good fit for the university. And as always with any coaching transition, skeptics voice their concerns over certain coaches. However, recent history both at Baylor and around the country has shown that sometimes popular opinion can be wrong.
From the beginning, coach Matt Rhule had his doubters. Although he had plenty of success at the G5 level, people wondered if he would be a good fit in Waco. Not only was he not from Texas, but the offense that had defined Baylor’s success would be different. But even after a shaky first season, his time at Baylor turned out to be successful. Though he wasn’t from Texas, he answered those concerns by hiring successful high school coaches around the state and by recruiting nationally. And although the offense was not putting up the same amount of points as the previous regime, the defense that was installed kept the Bears in the hunt for a Big 12 title.
Other coaches from around the country have also proven the cynics wrong in recent years. I remember when the Arizona State, Herman Edwards hire was widely criticized by “experts.” He was seen by some as a pure “NFL guy” at best, and other people even questioned how a guy who had been an analyst for almost ten years could relate to college students. Since becoming the head coach at Arizona State, Edwards has put together two winning seasons in a row and has one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the country. Mack Brown also did his part to silence critics in 2019. As an older coach who was questioned about his age and drive, Mack took a North Carolina squad that had only won 5 games the previous two years, and got the Tarheels to a winning season in his first year. And what about what happened right up the road at SMU? Sonny Dykes, although not as old as Edwards or Browns, was seen as a mediocre coach at best. That was the popular opinion until 2019, when coach Dykes transformed the SMU program into the national conversation, while defeating their cross-town rival in the process.
I’m certainly not advocating that fans don’t feel disappointed under any circumstance by the new hire. Everyone has their favorites and reasons for wanting a particular coach. Just keep in mind that the instant gut reaction from college football fans has been wrong in recent years. College football hires are always a gamble to a certain extent, and even “home run hires” don’t work out sometimes. The truth is nobody will be able to adequately judge a new hire until the results speak for themselves.