It’s hard to believe that the 2011 season is coming up on 10 years. It was a historic season full of unbelievable plays, exciting games, and just overall great moments. I personally think you can argue that the 2011 team was the most memorable of the decade. Sure, the team did not get the opportunity to play in or win a Big XII championship, but they also didn’t have the excruciating heartbreaking loss like the 2014 & 2019 teams.
Of course, you can’t talk about the 2011 season without highlighting Robert Griffin III. Back when I was somehow free to watch tv in the middle of the day, I remember the growing popularity he was gaining throughout the season on all the sports shows. At one point he had thrown more touchdowns than incompletions. His heroics are well documented and thanks to to the internet we can indulge in nostalgia and relive those moments. The best and probably the play that the nation remembers the most is obviously the winning TD pass to Terrance Williams in the corner of the end zone as time was winding down against # 5 Oklahoma. But I think fans need to take a deeper dive into the play that was never supposed to happen—not because of anything on the field, but rather off the field.
Remember, prior to the 2011 season the past two summers were filled with rumors, speculation, and concern over the stability of the Big XII. A few of the schools moved to different conferences’ and the Big XII was forced to restructure the schedule. Thus, instead of the usual rotating of home/away series, Baylor and the rest of the Big XII teams would get to host a conference opponent in back to back years. For the Bears, that team was Oklahoma. That 2011 game in Waco against the Sooners was never supposed to happen. The game should have been played in Norman, Oklahoma. Just a weird thought. Without conference realignment there is no need to change the schedule. Without the schedule change Oklahoma is not forced to play in Waco two years in a row. And I’m not sure we get that Heisman moment if the game is Norman. There was just magic in the air at Floyd Casey that night. The defense, supporting cast, and home crowd all played a role for some entertaining prime-time TV.
I think it’s worth recognizing a few other aspects about the personnel that year. People forget that Terrance Ganaway rushed for over 1500 yds that season. Not only was he one of the popular players among the student body, he carried the team in the bowl game against Washington. The defense wasn’t always perfect, but when it mattered most in big games (TCU, Texas, Oklahoma) they forced some big turnovers to help win games. And although the supporting cast for RGIII was excellent, I think fans often forget that it was not loaded with traditional high caliber recruits. Kendall Wright was a quarterback in high school. Tevin Reese and Terrance Williams were also not highly recruited. And yet all three were critical in the success of 2011 and would eventually get drafted.
A few other key moments from that season that I wanted to highlight.
- Mike Hicks game-clinching interception against TCU
- Halftime of the Homecoming game against Mizzou was when it was confirmed that Baylor would be getting a new football stadium
- The exciting matchup to open the season against TCU was on a Friday night and had the CFB world attention.
- Before the trend of star players sitting out bowl games, Baylor fans got to witness Heisman winner RGIII showcase his talents against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.
The 2011 team changed the course of Baylor football. The Bears were no longer a program that was just hoping to pull of an upset or win against inferior teams. Opposing teams knew that Baylor was a team where you had to bring your “A” game if you wanted to win. The offensive identity for the program was created. Combine that with the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner, and I could see how some may view 2011 as the most memorable season of the decade.