Remember when Baylor was that team every Big 12 team looked forward to playing?
Since joining the Big 12 in 1996, Baylor has played in exactly two bowls: The 2010 Texas Bowl and the 2011 Alamo Bowl.
It all started when a coach named Art Briles came along via Houston and delivered unto the Bear masses two consecutive winning seasons. And then, their first Heisman winner in Robert Griffin III.
Briles was well known in C-USA circles and was a Mike Leach pupil at Texas Tech prior to his Houston job. But when he took over at Baylor in 2008, a bowl game was a long shot. The team went 4-8 but managed to reel in some upsets, beating Texas A&M and Iowa State.
2009 was another 4-8 year, but again the Bears managed to upset two teams: Wake Forest and Missouri.
2010 was when everything changed for Art Briles and his Baylor Bears. Although Baylor was only favored in four games, they went 7-6, beating Sam Houston State, Buffalo, Rice, Kansas, Colorado, Kansas State and Texas.
Many probably assumed that this was just a fluke year. But Briles' 2011 season put his Bears in the spotlight, beating two Top 20 teams: No. 14 TCU and No. 5 Oklahoma. The Bears ended their spectacular season with quarterback Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman and Baylor beating Washington 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl.
The state of Texas loves its football. But once Griffin was selected by the Washington Redskins in the NFL Draft, many Texans probably thought that the program would revert to old Baylor football.
Briles, however, just reloaded with quarterback Nick Florence, who finished the season ranked No. 3 among the most productive passers in the country. Baylor ended up 7-5 in this regular season, including an upset over No. 1 Kansas State 52-24. Baylor also won its final three games of the season.
Briles' five-year overall coaching record at Baylor is 65-58. His team is exhausting to watch, due to its prolific offense, but it also has been criticized for porous defense. Baylor ranked last in Big 12 defenses, yielding an average of over 513 yards per game.
If Briles can get his defense to flex more muscle, the Big 12 could have another Oregon on its hands.
Like Baylor, the Oregon Ducks were "one of those teams" that most other teams could count on as a win.
The Ducks have played in three straight BCS Bowls and in January will play in their fourth against Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
If anyone can match Oregon's Cinderella-like story, it's Art Briles.
According to ESPN.com, Briles just reached a new long-term deal with Baylor.
It's a fairy tale ending.
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