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12.29.2013 Morning News/Links -- It's Game Week!

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Baylor plays its first BCS bowl ever in just four days, ladies and gents! And ... the Art Briles rumors are now swirling harder than ever.

Ronald Martinez

So this is a fine Sunday morning to wake up to, isn't it?  With Fiesta Bowl preparation firmly underway and the team already in Arizona doing press conferences, practices, and what-not, we now get to hear all about how Texas is going to try to steal our coach again.  Yay.  I got six different emails last night with a link to either to either the Austin American Statesman story by Kirk Bohls and some other guy or the Dallas Morning News story from Chuck Carlton.  I didn't respond to any of them for a couple of reasons, primarily that I intended to do it here and I really didn't know what to say.

Here's the gist of both stories: Texas appears to have two top choices at this point for their head coaching vacancy in FSU's Jimbo Fisher and Baylor's Art Briles.  Both are outstanding coaches and would make a ton of sense should UT be able to land them for that position.  Depending on your rooting interests, you can make an argument for either over the other.  Nothing in the idea that Texas might be interested in either coach is surprising, nor do reports to that effect scare me with regard to Briles' future at the university.  But there was also this in the AAS piece that should probably be addressed.

Two sources, including one connected to Briles, said Briles would take the Texas job if offered. Briles recently signed a new, 10-year contract at Baylor that includes a $4 million buyout, which one high-ranking UT source called "a little daunting."

This is what is causing people to freak out, and for probably good reason, despite the fact that it is more than likely rank speculation.  Whatever you think of him and his biases, Bohls is a well-respected reporter in Austin with numerous connections at UT.  Whether it is true or not, simply reporting this information this way is going to cause ripple effects.  In the run-up to the game on Wednesday, expect to see this tidbit repeated ad nauseum on ESPN and in other places until something happens to either confirm or deny the report.

On that note, I can't really do either.  I've heard from people that I trust that $4 million is a joke and the buyout is actually much higher.  I've also seen it reported by people like Chip Brown and now Bohls as either $4 million or $5 million.  My bet is that the buyout is around that amount except for schools in Texas or Oklahoma.  It makes zero sense for Baylor to do so much to try to keep Briles, including building him a stadium as well as the BANC, giving him and his assistants significant raises to the point that he has 10 years of guaranteed salary ... and then agreeing to such a low buyout in a time when we knew the UT job was more than likely going to come available.  That, coupled with what I've heard, makes me think that Bohls, Brown, and others have no real clue how much the buyout actually is.  I don't know it to be true for sure, but that's what I think.

It also doesn't make much sense, as I've talked about at length before, for Briles to negotiate and sign his own extension 6 weeks before that same UT job came open.  What is the purpose of agreeing to a new deal with Baylor when you had no reason to and might potentially renege in a matter of weeks?  You've heard all that before, both on the podcasts and the blog.

Also, the idea that anyone at UT finds a $4 million buyout "daunting" is hilarious.

Now let's get to more important stuff, the news:

NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS NEWS:

As always, if you missed any bowl action yesterday, be sure to check out SB Nation's complete recap/coverage page for everything related to this year's bowl season. Kansas State got things started for the Big 12 last night with a huge win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and our guys were in the building to see it happen.

Examining just how bad Baylor was before Art Briles rebuilt the Bears - ESPN
Baylor fans savor BCS berth after being one of the country's worst programs for more than a decade before Art Briles' arrival.

"Now that we've established ourselves as Big 12 champions, it's not like we reached the mountaintop," Briles said. "There are a lot of things out in front of us we're shooting for, doing everything right in all situations across the board. There are other team goals we want to achieve. We've gotten to a good point with our program. Now the drive and duty is to maintain that."

AD Ian McCaw has seen Baylor take strides -- With Baylor football ranked No. 6 and about to unveil a new $260 million stadium, men’s basketball at No. 11 and women’s basketball at No. 9, Ian McCaw is in athletic-director heaven.

Texas reportedly considering Fisher, Briles, Franklin, Strong - SBNation.com -- An update on their search names just four main candidates at this point, although others could enter the picture soon enough.

The Numerical, Dec. 28 bowls: Bridgewater and Switzer star, Palmer does the Heimlich - SBNation.com
If field goals are failures, there was a lot of failure on Saturday. Still, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Switzer, Tyler Lockett, and (in the booth) Jesse Palmer came up big for fans on the last active college football Saturday of the season.

Fiesta Bowl Notebook: Baylor, UCF looking for nation’s respect - WacoTrib.com:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Baylor senior defensive end Chris McAllister sees the Bears and Central Florida in a very similar situation.

NCAA College Football Preview - UCF Knights at Baylor Bears - Jan 01, 2014 - CBSSports.com
Several factors led to the best seasons in school history for both Baylor and Central Florida.

Fiesta Bowl: UCF QB Bortles has everyone’s attention now - WacoTrib.com:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Blake Bortles wasn’t a five-star quarterback with 70 college football teams beating down his door.

UCF offense will look to slow the game down against high-flying Baylor in Fiesta Bowl - Orlando Sentinel
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - With much attention surrounding Baylor's top-ranked offense - and for good reason - there might seem to be pressure on No. 15 UCF to keep up when the two teams

Fiesta Bowl Notebook: Bears greeted by sunny skies, cool breeze - WacoTrib.com:
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Baylor couldn’t have ordered a more perfect day for its first Fiesta Bowl practice since arriving in Arizona.

UCFSports.com - Fiesta Bowl to showcase top quarterbacks
Complete football, basketball, baseball and recruiting coverage and breaking news of the Central Florida Knights.

Fiesta Bowl 2014: Baylor vs. UCF Provide Best QB Matchup of All Postseason Tilts | Bleacher Report
If glancing at the matchup for the Fiesta Bowl has led to you overlooking this New Year's Day game, hopefully the following will make you rethink that stance.

Baylor Tops McNeese State, 82-57 - Baylor Bears Official Athletic Site - BaylorBears.com

Odyssey Sims scored 27 points, and No. 9 Baylor beat McNeese State 82-57 Saturday night in the last game before the start of conference play.

Baylor Football - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Central

Wow!  That's a lot of news!

TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS TWEETS:

Just to let you guys know, we're doing a delayed family Christmas today, so I won't be around much until this evening.  We're recording the Fiesta Bowl podcast tonight, and I'm going to try to get the Stats Preview posted before tomorrow.  That's my plan.