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Baylor slips against Illinois, but progress is clearly being made

Gary Mason, Bryan Swindoll

It’s tough being the private school in a BCS conference.

Just ask Northwestern and Vanderbilt.

Academic standards are higher, it’s tougher to recruit and success is often few and far between.

Yet, Art Briles has been able to do what no coach in 16 years had done at Baylor — the Big 12’s lone private university — and that’s go to a bowl game.

Yes, the scoreboard shows a 38-14 loss to a 7-6 Illinois team in the Texas Bowl, but to be honest, that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. At one point in the 3rd quarter, Baylor trailed the Illini 24-0. Illinois was doing a great job of containing Robert Griffin and, consequently, Baylor’s offense was stalling.

But the Bears kept fighting back, and eventually, were able to cut the lead to 10 with plenty of time left to play in the game. The comeback never fully evolved, but Baylor nonetheless showed a tremendous amount of heart.

And that is 100-percent a product of the players buying into what Briles is selling.

For a program who has struggled so mightily in recent history, to even make it to the postseason is an accomplishment. I’m not typically one for moral victories, but what Briles has been able to do at Baylor is one hell* of an accomplishment.

(*Quick note: I fully understand, and embrace, the irony of using the word “hell” in regards to the success at a Baptist university)

Baylor is headed for success under Briles. He’s recruiting well and the players are believing in his system. That does not, however, mean a conference championship is coming to Waco next year, or even the year after that. The climb up the ladder of success is still steep for the Bears, but as long as they have Briles, they have a chance.

That is, of course, assuming Briles is still the coach in Waco for years to come.

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10 Responses to “Baylor slips against Illinois, but progress is clearly being made”
  1. agidoc says: Dec 29, 2010 11:01 PM

    “Academic standards are higher”? Than what? High school? You have apparently not researched Baylor very well. How about…”they have low admission standards but pay their students to up their SAT scores after they’ve matriculated”?

  2. jersey73 says: Dec 29, 2010 11:09 PM

    Not to mention the writeup is like someone who didn’t watch the game.

    It was 24-0 after the first drive of the second half. Baylor scored a TD and then another one (on a prayer 4th & 14 play) to make it 24-14. Then the Illini scored two more TDs.

    To say the scoreboard doesn’t tell the story is wrong. The Illini manhandled Baylor all game.

  3. crv82 says: Dec 30, 2010 12:45 AM

    Let’s see how swell Briles looks after RGIII goes pro. Briles lost every bit of my respect based on his “punishment” of the players that were arrested for marijuana possession after falling asleep in a drive-thru. The starting WR was suspended for one quarter while the back-up was suspended for the game — rather Urban-esque in my view. I suspect they might have received a stiffer penalty had they been caught dancing.

  4. frug says: Dec 30, 2010 1:31 AM

    Baylor maybe a private school in a BCS conference but it no way faces the same academic hurdles that Northwestern or Vandy do. Baylor’s Fall 2009 acceptance rate was 50%. While that is low for an AQ school, it is substantially higher than Northwestern’s (27%) or Vanderbilt’s (20%). (Hell, UT has an acceptance rate of 45% and it’s public.)

    In short, does Baylor’s private control result in some structural disadvantages relative to it’s public conference mates? Yes. Is higher academic standards one of those structural issues? Yes. Is it one of the biggest issues? Not even close.

  5. lostdupree says: Dec 30, 2010 3:26 AM

    I’m not sure why everyone is hating on Baylor. Yes they got smacked tonight, but the programs advancement is pretty remarkable. Being an OU alum I’ve always scoffed at Baylor Football but this year I was quite impressed with their progress… Academic standards aside, the school faces immense hurdles in recruiting. With Oklahoma Texas TCU A&M OKState LSU Texas Tech and even Nebraska recruiting in the same zone, the absolute misery that is Waco Tx, and a history of being the Big 12s doormat it’s amazing to me that they even can field a football team let alone one that can make a bowl game. Hopefully the program stays on this upward swing bc the “Big whatever it is now” needs a team to step up and partially fill the void left by Nebraska and Colorado

  6. Ben Kercheval says: Dec 30, 2010 10:19 AM

    Well, when you’re wrong, your wrong, and I was wrong about the academics part.

  7. chawamo says: Dec 30, 2010 10:20 AM

    Oh I get it, since Baylor is private it MUST have high academic standards or high entrance requirements right? The writer might want to do a little research on this…it simply isn’t true.

  8. scardino says: Dec 30, 2010 2:31 PM

    You’re wrong, Ben.

  9. rmbeach says: Jan 10, 2011 6:22 PM

    Just for the record, Aggiedoc, Baylor has more selective admissions (50% compared to 67%) than A&M and essentially the same SAT scores (A&M students have slightly higher math scores & Baylor students higher verbal). Apparently, you have not researched A&M or Baylor particularly well.

  10. jdyeah says: Jul 2, 2011 7:57 AM

    I had a very high SAT and ACT score set coming out of high school and honestly, it is not the best way to gauge a students would-be success in college, nor is it a good way to rank colleges. When I tell people that and leave out the score comment, most assume I had low scores…

    Simply put, the US News and World Report is crap and the way the “rank” schools is entirely subjective and biased. I can take statistics and spin them all day to make almost any point look good. That in itself doesn’t mean crap.

    For example, a big party school in CA is Santa Barbara (UCSB). It may not have the best academic rep, but if a pile of students apply, with many on the intent of partying, then the school can be more selective and spin that number, or say we have this xyz acceptance rate, and spin that number.

    Almost all of it is crap and bs. Just apply yourself, no matter what school you attend and you should come out OK.

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