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Justin Snow Gives Baylor a Player in Super Bowl
4:00 P.M., TUESDAY, Jan. 26, 2010

Even with the football team's struggles, I find it interesting that Baylor will have a representative in the Super Bowl for the 10th time in the last 14 years and the 26th time in the 44-year history of the game's biggest stage.

Indianapolis Colts deep snapper Justin Snow, a 10-year veteran and former Baylor defensive end (1996-99), will actually play in his second Super Bowl in the last four years when the Colts face the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7 in Miami, Fla.

The Colts defeated the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in a Super Bowl XLI matchup - also held in Miami - that included former Baylor offensive lineman Fred Miller in a starting role with Chicago.

Snow is trying to become just the fifth Baylor player to be a part of two Super Bowl championship teams, joining Thomas Everett and Robert Williams of the Dallas Cowboys, Ray Crockett of the Denver Broncos and Ethan Kelley of the New England Patriots.

Here's a little more Baylor/Super Bowl trivia for you (answers listed below):

I. Can you name the Baylor player who has made the most Super Bowl appearances?

II. And, which two former Baylor players made it to the Super Bowl with two different teams?

 

Snow, who was interviewed on John Morris' radio show Monday afternoon, said he was "very disappointed" with coach Jim Caldwell's decision to rest the starters in the Colts' Week 16 loss to the New York Jets, ending their quest for a perfect season.

"I think any time you can set history and be a part of that, it's important," he said. "There was a lot of uproar about that decision. But in the end, we're back in Miami, we're grateful for that and the coach made the right decision."

Even if some of the players didn't agree with the decision, Snow said, the team was not divided. At least out front, the Colts remained unified.

"That's how our team is. That's how we've always been," said Snow, who has the franchise's second-longest streak of consecutive starts with 160 (behind quarterback Peyton Manning's 192). "The Colts have been such a great organization. We have a solid group of guys in the locker room, and we listen to authority. They're paid to run the team. We're just paid to play. It's important for us to follow our leader, and our leader wanted to go in a different direction."

Baylor/Super Bowl Trivia Answers:

 

I. Offensive lineman Keith Bishop, who actually returned to Baylor later as a graduate assistant coach, played for the Denver Broncos in Super Bowls XXI, XXII and XXIV - all losses.

II. Running back Greg Hawthorne went to Super Bowl XIV with the Pittsburgh Steelers and then was with the New England Patriots for a Super Bowl XX matchup against the Chicago Bears and former Baylor players Mike Singletary and Dennis Gentry. Offensive lineman Fred Miller was a starter for the Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in XXXIV and then played for the Chicago Bears in that Super Bowl XLI loss to the Colts.

 


Players Reminded of How Good They've Got It
3:00 P.M., FRIDAY, Jan. 22, 2010

Baylor baseball players never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, much less about the quality of equipment they use or the ballpark that they call home.

Baylor Ballpark has few equals.

"We walk into this ballpark every day," senior catcher Gregg Glime said, "and we are blessed to play at one of the best places in the United States."

That point will be driven home even more as the Bears travel to Havana, Cuba, on a humanitarian trip that will include some work and renovation at a sports complex that was built in the 1980s by the Soviet Union.

In the 19 years since the Soviet Union pulled out of Cuba, the once-spectacular facility has fallen under disrepair and abuse and stands as a fading memory of what it was and hopes to be again someday.

Baylor's projects, in conjunction with the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba, include installing basketball goals and volleyball nets and re-working a baseball field that no longer has a pitcher's mound or home plate.

"We are talking about a neighborhood that could have a very playable surface and place to take care of, but they don't have it right now," baseball coach Steve Smith said.

"To be able to go to Cuba and be able to give back to someone else, I'm excited to do it," Glime said. "I don't take for granted playing here every day, and I'm sure after coming from Cuba, I will know why I don't take for granted playing here."

This trip, which got final approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury and Department of State just days before the scheduled departure, comes 14 months after Smith and the baseball team spent a week in League City, Texas, completely gutting four houses that were destroyed in the floods created by Hurricane Ike.

With a U.S. embargo making trips to Cuba close to impossible, this is truly a unique mission opportunity and could open doors for teams and other groups in the future.

"The first thing that came to my mind was that this was going to be an experience that I am never going to forget," said senior pitcher Willie Kempf. "When we get together 20 or 30 years from now, this is going to be something at the top of our list to talk about."

"I think regardless of where our players are on a spiritual spectrum, they will come back in a different place," Smith said. "I think in the context of Baylor University, I don't know that we could do anything more appropriate in line of what that mission statement is."

 


The Polls Don't Lie . . . Baylor Basketball Is All That
10:08 P.M. MONDAY, Jan. 11, 2010

When Scott Drew took over what was the shell of a men's basketball team at Baylor on Aug. 22, 2003, his long-range vision was developing an elite basketball program. "And if you're an elite program, you are ranked in the Top 25," he said.

And not just one of those flash-in-the-pan types. If you're an elite program, you become a regular in the national polls, not just an occasional visitor who comes and goes with the wind.

OK, maybe three years does not an elite program make. But with the Bears cracking the two major polls on Monday, this is the third consecutive year that Drew's team has made it into the Top 25.

"I think it does say a lot for our program to be ranked for three straight years . . . at some point," Drew said. "We like that consistency and like the direction the program is heading."

And it does put Baylor in some very elite company. In the Big 12 Conference, the only other teams that have been ranked in all three years: Texas and Kansas. Not too shabby.

Well, here's another little tidbit for you to chew on. With the men's and women's programs both ranked - the Lady Bears fell from fifth to ninth in the AP poll after Saturday's 78-65 loss at Oklahoma State - Baylor is one of just two schools in the Big 12 and one of 11 Division I schools in the nation that has both basketball teams ranked.

For the record, Texas is the only other school in the Big 12. The Longhorns' men moved up to No. 1 with Kansas' loss to Tennessee, while the UT women are 19th.

Otherwise, the answer to the trivia question (What are the other schools that have their men's and women's teams ranked?) is: Connecticut, Tennessee, Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, West Virginia, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Miami, Fla.

"But I think we've learned over the last couple years that the most important thing is who finishes in the Top 25 at the end of the year," said Drew, who's yet to survive what he calls "the Big 12 rigors" to be ranked at the end of the season.

For now, though, we'll revel in the moment. The polls on Jan. 11 won't mean a hill of beans come selection time for the NCAA Tournament. But for now, won't it be cool to see Baylor's name come up on the ESPN bottom-line scroller for the men and women?


Wait a Minute. . . I Think I've Seen This Movie
11:05 P.M. FRIDAY, Jan. 8, 2010

OK, maybe this was just my bizarre sense of reasoning.

But when I was watching the BCS National Championship game on Thursday, I got this feeling that I had "seen this movie before."

Call me crazy - and you won't be the first - but did that not seem like a condensed version of Baylor's 2009 football season?

Stay with me, OK? First, Texas starts out with a bang by getting a couple quick turnovers and taking a 6-0 first-quarter lead on Alabama. In much the same way, Baylor's season started out with a bang when the Bears won on the road at Wake Forest, 24-21.

Then on the Longhorns' fifth offensive play, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy goes down with a shoulder injury and never returns. Not to bring up the obvious, but in the Bears' third game of the season, they lose quarterback Robert Griffin to a knee injury and he misses the final nine games.

Eerie, isn't it?

Obviously not ready for the prime time of a national championship game, Texas true freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert misses on seven of his first eight passes. He throws two picks in the last three minutes of the half, one leading to a field goal and the second returned for a touchdown as the Tide take a 24-6 lead.

This is where the analogy gets a little skewed. Baylor did turn to a true freshman as well, but Nick Florence hit the ground running and led the Bears to a win over Kent State before hitting more than a few bumps in the road.

Seemingly dead in the water with McCoy out, the Longhorns staged a near miraculous comeback as Gilbert hit Jordan Shipley for two second-half touchdowns that pulled them within 24-21 with 6:15 still left in the game.

In similar fashion, the Bears lost four in a row and were given up for dead when Florence came out of nowhere to throw for a school-record 427 yards and three touchdowns in a stunning 40-32 win on the road at Missouri.

But in the end, Texas simply ran out of gas and luck, turning it over three times in the last 3 ½ minutes and losing, 37-21.

Back to Baylor. Two wins from a bowl bid with three games to play, the Bears were eliminated from bowl contention with losses to Texas and Texas A&M and then came up five yards short of possibly upsetting bowl-bound Texas Tech in a 20-13 loss in the season finale at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Now that you've had a moment to absorb all that, tell me that's not just spooky. Baylor's entire season was condensed into four hours of TV watching on a Thursday night in January.

In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, "It was like déjà vu all over again."


Women's Dream Team . . . Even Without Griner
5:45 P.M. WEDNESDAY, Jan. 6, 2010

As Chris Yandle so eloquently put it in his Full Court Press blog, "we have agreed to disagree" on his inclusion of Ekpe Udoh on the Baylor Men's Basketball All-Decade team.

And trust me, it's not because I don't think he's one of the best players to put on a Baylor uniform in the past decade. There's absolutely no doubt that he is one of the best - and might be THE best.

But here's my argument: Udoh played in all of 11 games in the decade. And since this season doesn't end until 2010 - which, whether you believe it or not, is NOT part of the 2000-09 decade - he did not make one All-Big 12 team in the decade. So I ask you: How is he eligible?

All that being said, if I used Yandle's thinkology, 6-foot-8 freshman phenom Brittney Griner would be a no-brainer first-team pick on the Baylor Women's Basketball All-Decade team. She's that good!

But other than throwing her the bone of an honorable mention selection, I did not include Griner on what is an impressive All-Decade team, even without her.

This was a memorable decade that saw the Lady Bears win 251 games and three Big 12 championships; make eight NCAA Tournament appearances and three trips to the Sweet 16; and, of course, win the 2005 NCAA national championship. It doesn't get much better than that.

Final Four MVP and two-time All-American Sophia Young heads a Dream Team-caliber All-Decade team that includes post players Danielle Crockrom and Steffanie Blackmon and guards Sheila Lambert and Angela Tisdale.

Also named to the Big 12 10th Anniversary Team, the 6-foot-1 Young finished her career with the second-most points (2,480) and rebounds (1,316) in school history and the most in the NCAA era (since 1982). The fourth pick overall in the 2006 WNBA draft, she's gone on to become a three-time all-star and led her San Antonio Silver Stars to the WNBA finals in 2008.

Crockrom and Lambert were part of the first wave, leading Baylor to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2001 and '02. Blackmon teamed with Young to form an impressive frontline that led the Lady Bears to back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances and ultimately the national championship, while Tisdale is the school's all-time assists leader.

Mental note to self: Don't forget about Griner when you're naming the 2010-19 All-Decade team. And trust me, I won't.

 

BAYLOR WOMEN'S BASKETBALL ALL-DECADE TEAM
First Team

Steffanie Blackmon (2001-05): 3rd-team All-American by AP, ranks No. 4 in career points with 1,955

Danielle Crockrom (1998-02): Averaged 21.2 points and 11.6 rebounds in leading Baylor to 1st NCAA Tournament in `01

Sheila Lambert (2000-02): WBCA All-American and Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner in '02, ranks 15th in scoring with 1,315 points in just two seasons

Angela Tisdale (2004-08): All-time career assists leader with 493, ranks 13th in scoring with 1,373 points

Sophia Young (2002-06): Two-time WBCA and AP All-American in '05 and '06, ranks No. 2 in career scoring (2,480) and rebounds (1,316)

Second Team

Rachel Allison (2005-09): All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Defense Team in '08, cracked top 10 in career rebounds with 850

Bernice Mosby (2006-07): Fourth-year transfer from Florida earned 1st-team All-Big 12 honors in '07, averaged 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds

Danielle Wilson (2006-09): All-Big 12 and Big 12 All-Defense Team in '09, career blocks leader with 249

Jessica Morrow (2005-09): Big 12 Championships MVP in '09, ranks 17th in scoring with 1,312 points

Chelsea Whitaker (2002-05): Transfer from Virginia was starting point guard on '05 national championship team, 2nd in career assists with 457

Honorable Mention: Nicole Collins (1998-02); Chanelle Fox (2001-05); Brittney Griner (2009-); Melissa Jones (2007-); Jhasmin Player (2005-09); Chameka Scott (2002-06); Jessika Stratton (2000-04)


Did You Hear the One About the Baylor Punter?
9:35 A.M. TUESDAY, Jan. 5, 2010

I know, I know, it sounds like a punch line from a stand-up comic's routine:

You know why the Baylor Bears were so good at punter and kick returner in the last decade? . . . . . . . Because they got plenty of practice.

Sadly, there's some truth to that. But as I prepared the ballot for the Baylor Football All-Decade team, that was the thing that jumped off the page.

While it was a struggle to find choices at some of the positions, this decade produced some of the best punters and kick returners in the program's history.

Starting with three-time All-America punter Daniel Sepulveda, who's arguably the most decorated player in 111 years of Baylor football. The two-time Ray Guy Award winner as the nation's best collegiate punter, Sepulveda set the NCAA record with a career average of 45.24 (for players with a minimum of 250 kicks) and established another mark - 94 kicks of 50 yards or longer - that might not ever be broken.

And while Sepulveda was the unanimous choice for the All-Decade team, and rightfully so, there were two other players who would have been shoo-ins at any other spot.

Junior punter Derek Epperson was a first-team All-Big 12 pick this season, averaging 44.8 yards per kick, and an honorable mention Freshman All-American when he followed Sepulveda in 2007; and Adam Stiles was a junior college transfer who earned second-team All-Big 12 honors at the start of the decade when he posted a 44.1-yard average.

To me, though, the omissions at kick returner were even more glaring.

Willie Andrews holds virtually every record in the books for punt and kickoff returns and was the no-brainer pick for the All-Decade team. But it was a hard thing to leave off Robert Quiroga, who established the standard in 2003, when he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and had a phenomenal 31.4-yard average.

And for that matter, you could have picked any of the five kick returners on the ballot and not gone wrong. The others were Shaun Rochon, who returned a punt and kickoff for a touchdown as a senior in '05; Mikail Baker, who will shatter the career kickoff return records if he receives a fifth-year exemption from the NCAA, as expected; and David Gettis, who set a single-season school record with 763 yards on 34 returns in '07.

To find out who else made the Baylor Football All-Decade team, CLICK HERE.

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