DALLAS — In just three seasons, the Baylor football program has taken a huge turn in relevance not only in the Big 12, but in the national spotlight as well.
It could be thanks to head coach Art Briles, or maybe even 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, but whatever the case may be, Baylor football is here to stay.
Briles is no stranger to turning around down-on-their-luck programs, in just three years as the University of Houston head coach; he made the struggling program a winning one, including leading the Cougars to their first outright conference championship in 10 years during the 2006 season.
Even though many may look at Briles as the reason Baylor is now a successful football program, he doesn’t see it that he alone was the difference.
“It wasn’t just me,” Briles said during the Big 12 Media Days. “Great situtaions, getting good coaches, good energy through support and people who are unafraid to challenge the situations is the key for success.”
Individuals are also experiencing more success under Briles’ lead at Baylor, most notably Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman trophy in 2011. This season, running back Lache Seastrunk is even predicting he will be taking home the prestigious award in December, and if you ask his teammates, they agree he has a great chance.
“I believe in Lache 100 percent, I’m not just saying that because he’s my teammate or my homeboy off the field,” senior safety Ahmad Dixon said. “I know what he can do and there is nobody out there doing what he is doing… He’s blazing fast. To see him doing all that stuff, I don’t have a doubt in my mind about him with the Heisman.”
Of course, recruiting has played a big role in the success of the program, and the ability to land top high school talents over the other schools that perhaps have a better track record is a skill in its own for a head coach and his staff.
“What the coaching staff is doing as far as recruiting is through the roof,” Dixon said. “They are doing a great job of keeping the talent here and keeping the right guys around. It is great to be a part of this”
While Briles has high hopes for his team and players in the future, he is careful not to get ahead of himself in trying to predict what is in store for Baylor this season and beyond.
“You don’t ever have time to look outside the immediate,” Briles said. “The immediate for us is to make sure our guys are focused, making sure they are taking care of themselves off the field, making sure we have the best people at the best positions that fit our need and making sure our guys graduate.”
With all the great moments that have happened the past few seasons, the Bears aren’t afraid to show their teeth against tough opponents, believing they have the ability and talent to take down any team at any time.
“It is just reality, what we talk about now is real. So I think that is we focus on; what is fact and what is fiction,” Briles said. “What the fact is– We are a pretty doggone good football team, and when line up and kick the ball off, we are going after somebody’s butt, we are going to play hard. “