Streak ends at 40, but Baylor Athletics still among elite

Posted: January 17, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Last night, the Baylor men’s basketball team suffered a 92-74 loss at Kansas, their first loss of the season. To many, this would be no big deal. It’s just one loss, right? Wrong! This was also Baylor Athletics’ first loss since October 30. That’s right, the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams combined to go 40-0 since November 1.

Just last summer, when the Big 12 was going through major changes and maybe even possibly dissolving, Baylor was left out of the BCS conversation. Texas, Texas A&M and OU were all ready to jump ship and leave the Big 12 for other conferences. Baylor was left in the dust, as many conferences overlooked them because the football program hadn’t been very successful. Baylor then gained national attention when Texas A&M announced their admittance into the SEC and Ken Starr threatened legal action. Many thought it was uncalled for and ridiculous, but Baylor was just looking out for their best interests and the school’s future. Baylor was repeatedly called “irrelevant,” “the little brother,” and “nobody cares about little ol Baylor.”

After the 2011 football season and the 2011-2012 basketball season so far, I bet those same people are now shaking their heads and eating their words. Thanks to the “Baylor Big Three,” Robert Griffin III, Perry Jones III and Brittney Griner, Baylor fans can be proud of a great athletics program that is featured night after night on SportsCenter. The football team finished the season with a 10-3 record and a record-breaking 67-56 win over Washington in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and is projected to go in the top 10 in the NFL draft, possibly even before Andrew Luck. The women’s basketball team is currently ranked number one in the country and has earned a perfect 17-0 record. The men’s team is now 17-1 after last night’s loss to Kansas and boasts multiple NBA prospects. Baylor is the ONLY school in the country to have their football team, men’s basketball team and women’s basketball team ranked in the top 15 in the coaches poll. Still think Baylor is irrelevant?

It’s definitely been a long and strenuous road for Baylor fans. Baylor athletics has risen from the ashes, especially the men’s basketball team. In 2003, Carlton Dotson murdered his teammate, Patrick Dennehy, and then the staff covered up multiple NCAA infractions. This marred not only Baylor Athletics, but also Baylor University. For years, the men’s basketball team suffered setbacks from the scandal. But, with the addition of Scott Drew, the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Tournament in 2007-2008 and is projected to go to the Final Four this year after the addition of Quincy Miller and Brady Heslip, as well as the return of Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy.

For years, the only thing to cheer about was the Baylor Lady Bears. Two years after the scandal, Kim Mulkey led her team to a national title. Every year since, Mulkey and the Lady Bears have consistently dominated other teams. When Brittney Griner enrolled in 2009, she was immediately a big hit on and off the court. Standing at 6-8, Griner towered over everyone else on the court and became a blocking machine. She can also dunk, a rare feat for a woman. Last year, the Baylor Lady Bears were projected to win the national title, but they fell short in the Elite Eight, losing to Texas A&M. This year, Griner has more experience under her belt coming into the 2011-2012 season. She was the only collegiate player to make the USA basketball team and played on the 2011 European Tour. Add that to Odyssey Sims’ gold medial-winning performance with the USA Basketball team at the World University Games and you’ve got a recipe for a national champion-caliber duo.

After Robert Griffin III announced he was leaving Baylor to go pro, many people said Baylor football would slip back into obscurity. Not so fast, my friends! Coach Art Briles has consistently recruited some of the best players to Baylor. He notoriously persuaded Griffin to follow him to Baylor after initially committing to Houston. Second string QB, Nick Florence, shows promise to follow up Griffin’s winning performance. After Griffin sat out the second half of the Texas Tech game with a possible concussion, Florence scored 21 unanswered points and led Baylor to victory. Oh, and let’s not forget that Baylor announced plans to build an on-campus football stadium. The new stadium will definitely help with recruiting. Things are looking up for Baylor football.

As for basketball, both men’s and women’s teams look stacked for the future. The men’s team has consistently recruited some of the nation’s best players. Pierre Jackson is already being touted as a top 3 PG in the Big 12 in his first year. Many analysts have compared this year’s women’s team to UConn teams of the past because of their total domination of the competition, with margin of victories averaging 89-52. Coach Mulkey has continued to recruit the nation’s top players including; Odyssey Sims, Brittney Griner, Sune Agbuke and Jordan Madden.

#1, #3, and #12 sound REALLY good! 2011 was, as Robert Griffin III would say, “unbelievably believable,” and I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

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