Matt Rhule really couldn’t care less what you, I or anybody else thinks.
The Baylor head coach came under heavy fire when, prior to the Week 3 game against Duke, he had his players run the “Oklahoma Drill,” a full-contact drill developed by the great Bud Wilkinson, as part of their pregame warmup. Afterward, Rhule defended a drill whose use in practice settings is dwindling in this era of safety and is rarely seen in pregame.
“It’s a great opportunity to come together and establish our physicality as a team before games,” the coach said last week. “It’s something I’ve always done. We try to do it before Tuesday and Wednesday practices too.”
Prior to the game against No. 3 Oklahoma, fittingly, Rhule went back to that same well.
The Bears are currently 0-3 on the season, including a season-opening loss to FCS Liberty and one the following week to UT-San Antonio of Conference USA. BU is one of two Power Five teams, along with Florida State, without a win this season.
The future of the Big 12 conference still seems a little murky but one thing remains clear: commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be in charge no matter which way things go.
The league announced on Friday morning that Bowlsby’s contract was extended through 2025, keeping him at Big 12 headquarters through the next round of television negotiations and right up to the expiration date on the conference’s grant of rights.
“This is an important time for college athletics. This is an important time for the Big 12,” West Virginia President Gordon Gee, the chairman of the conference’s board of directors, said in a video statement. “To have a valiant and committed leader and someone who understands athletics as well as anyone in this country leading our conference is something that is very much important to the league and to the individual schools and I believe to college athletics.”
Bowlsby notably guided the Big 12 through on-again, off-again rounds of conference expansion the past few years and played a big role in bringing a football championship game and new tiebreaker scenarios to the league since he took over in 2012. The former Stanford and Iowa athletic director will be 73 at the end of his new contract, which is paying him right under $2.7 million a year according to USA Today.
They may be winless, but at least Baylor will be getting some much-needed reinforcements for their game against No. 3 Oklahoma this weekend.
According to head coach Matt Rhule, three projected starters — running back Terence Williams (pictured), safety Taion Sells and cornerback Grayland Arnold — are all expected to play in the Week 4 game against the Sooners. Neither Williams nor Arnold have played this season because of injury, while Sells completed a three-game suspension last week.
Williams led the Bears last season with 1,048 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. The junior underwent offseason shoulder surgery, leading to his absence for the first quarter of the year.
With Williams rehabbing the injured joint, John Lovett currently leads the 0-3 Bears in rushing with 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As a team, BU is averaging just 150 yards per game and slightly less than five yards per rush; last season, they were at 241.8 and 5.0.
“I think it takes a little bit of the pressure off the young guys,” the first-year head coach, by way of the Associated Press, said of Williams’ much-anticipated return. “I think Terence gives us the physicality and a presence running the football that you can clearly see on tape. … He brings us that ability to run you over and make you miss.”
Arnold started four games last season and was listed as the starter heading into summer camp before breaking his left arm in August. After starting four games in 2015, Sells sat out the 2016 season because of an injury. Prior to the suspension for unspecified violations of team rules, Sells too had been listed as a starter in camp.
Baylor is off to a — how do you say it? — terrible start to this season. The Bears have dropped games to Liberty and UTSA, with a road trip to Duke and entire Big 12 schedule awaiting them.
The situation Matt Rhule inherited is the exact opposite of ideal, with quotes like this floating around out there.
Baylor is going to be bad this season, and if you’re going to be bad you might as well be young. Baylor is going young at quarterback.
Rhule announced Monday that sophomore Zach Smith will supplant graduate transfer Anu Solomon at quarterback. An arrival from Arizona, Solomon started both of the Bears’ first two games, hitting a pedestrian 22-of-54 passes (43.6 percent) for 399 yards (7.3 yards per attempt) with four touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing 16 times for 106 yards.
Smith has started previously, and is responsible for Baylor’s only victory since Oct. 15 of last season, hitting 28-of-39 throws for 375 yards with three touchdowns and an interception in a 31-12 win over Boise State in the Cactus Bowl last December.
Solomon was not named starter until four games before Baylor’s opener, and an ankle injury Smith sustained in August contributed to that. And now it’s clear Smith is Baylor’s best option — if not explicitly for 2017, then for 2018 and ’19.
“Zach will go and we’ll rally around him and see what he can do for us,” Rhule said.
Baylor visits Duke on Saturday before opening Big 12 play with a back-to-back-to-back streak of top-20 opponents — vs. No. 2 Oklahoma, at No. 18 Kansas State and at No. 9 Oklahoma State.
Everybody is busy during football season but few may be able to claim two full-time jobs related to America’s greatest sport. One exception? Walt Anderson.
The NFL announced that it has hired 21 full-time game officials on Wednesday, designed to “improve consistency, efficiency and accuracy” in their work at the professional level. What does that have to do with college football you might say? Well, one of those 21 officials happens to be Anderson, who also moonlights as the Big 12’s coordinator of officials when he is not busy on Sunday, Monday or Thursday during the NFL season.
“We believe that we will learn a great deal over the course of this initial year working with the full-time game officials,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Alberto Riveron in a statement. “Our collective goal is to make a positive impact on NFL officiating overall.”
Anderson, who retired from his other day job of being a dentist years ago, has been with the Big 12 for nearly a decade in the same post. A spokesperson for the conference confirmed to NBC Sports that he would remain the league’s coordinator of officials despite being hired “full-time” by the NFL.
According to the NFL, “full-time game officials will work throughout the calendar year on game preparation and game administration, analyzing current game trends, communicating with the officiating roster, and assisting to ensure that there is a qualified pipeline of future officials through scouting efforts.” Anderson appears to have plenty of experience doing that already thanks to his job in Dallas with the Big 12 but going forward he will be quite the busy man pulling double-duty.