Can Somebody Tell Coach Briles I Said Hello?
10:30 P.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
Lest you take it the wrong way, I'm never going to complain about the opportunity to cover an NCAA Tournament women's regional in Raleigh, N.C., and a men's NIT Final Four in New York City in the span of a memorable few days. As my buddy, Chris Yandle, would put it, "I'm living the dream."
But a clear sign that I've been away from home a little too much is that I'm getting my Baylor football news from sources outside of Waco.
I've made it to a handful of spring training workouts since they opened March 2. But if you asked me, I couldn't tell you if there's anyone making a big-time move this spring.
First off, I want to thank assistant AD and primary football contact Heath Nielsen for his report from Thursday's practice and a heads-up about a blog from www.newsday.com.
Sometimes you feel like you're too close to the program. So even though I believe second-year head coach Art Briles is getting it turned around and the Bears are headed to a bowl game in '09, it's nice to see someone else take notice of what's happening.
In a blog titled, "Five programs on the rise in 2009," the writer mentions traditional powers like Michigan, Tennessee and North Carolina that are on the way back up. But right there at the top at No. 1 is our very own Baylor Bears.
"Yes, Baylor was just 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the Big 12 in 2008. But I really think this program is ready to turn the corner. . . . Baylor led Texas Tech at halftime and into the fourth quarter in its final game of the 2008 season. I think it was a glimpse of what you'll see more of this season from the Bears."
Good call. Here is the link to the newsday.com blog:
And by the way, since I'll be stuck here in Raleigh covering the Lady Bears, why don't one of you loyal readers and faithful fans go by and give me a report from Saturday's scrimmage. Is that Robert Griffin kid still looking OK?
Baylor-Tech Football Moves Off Campus for First Time
10:30 A.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
After playing the first 67 games in an 80-year-old series at campus sites, Baylor and Texas Tech have agreed to move their next two football games to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
This year's game, originally scheduled for Floyd Casey Stadium, will be played Nov. 28 at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, Texas. And then the 2010 game will be played Oct. 9 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the Texas State Fair.
"Baylor football is on the rise, and we are excited about the opportunity to showcase our program in the Metroplex against a Big 12 rival for the next two years," Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. "Both Cowboys Stadium and the Cotton Bowl are attractive venues for different reasons. Cowboys Stadium has the finest amenities of any football facility in the world, and the Cotton Bowl is rich in tradition and an ideal place to play during the State Fair."
With over 41,000 alumni and friends in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the game will give Baylor a chance to showcase its football program to those in the Metroplex.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for our football program to gain visibility and credibility in front of our fans, alums and friends in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex," second-year head coach Art Briles said. "Our players and coaches are excited about having the chance to play in the Cowboys' new stadium this fall and the Cotton Bowl in 2010. This is a good move for our program that will pay benefits in many areas, including recruiting."
Ticket prices for the 2009 game have been set at $100 for club seating, $60 for lower-level seats and $40 for upper-level seats at the Cowboys' new stadium. Baylor and Tech students will be able to purchase a ticket for $25.
||at Wake Forest
||at Connecticut (Parents' Weekend)
||at Iowa State
||Oklahoma State (Homecoming)
||at Texas A&M
|# at Cowboys Stadium
You Couldn't Pay for This Type of Publicity
11:10 P.M. FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2009
JERRY HILL (E-MAIL)
Athletic director Ian McCaw couldn't get the Baylor Board of Regents to approve a check big enough to provide the kind of advertising the football program will get over the next couple of months from having one of the hottest NFL draft prospects in the nation.
Jason "J-Smooth" Smith has already generated more positive publicity than any player or coach at Baylor in a long, long time. And remember, he's a 6-foot-5, 309-pound offensive tackle. He's not at one of the traditional glamour positions like quarterback, receiver, running back or even cornerback.
"We're big, fat and ugly," Smooth said.
But if the projections hold true, Smith will be the first or second player taken in next month's NFL draft. If the Detroit Lions go ahead and take Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford, the St. Louis Rams are expected to take Smooth with the second pick overall in the draft.
Trust me, it's not every day that Baylor has a player drafted that high. In fact, it's been 59 years since Baylor quarterback Adrian Burk was taken by the Baltimore Colts with the second pick overall in the 1950 draft. Eight years earlier, the Cleveland Rams selected Jack Wilson with the same pick.
"It's big-time," Baylor football coach Art Briles said. "We could put our caps on backward, put a pencil in our ear and have one in our hand and sit around for three or four hours, and we couldn't do what he's going to do in the next three months as far as positive respect and positive publicity for Baylor University and Baylor football. Because that's a big deal. There's a lot of guys that think he's going to be the first or second player taken in the draft, and that's a huge accomplishment for him and great that it happened right here at Baylor."
Baylor could not have gone through the best talent agencies in the world and found a better "face for Baylor football." In media interviews, Jason definitely lives up to his nickname. And it's not fake. He's definitely a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy.
"You don't have to remember what you said as long as you don't lie," he said.
When he was on ESPN's "First Take," Smith talked about his experiences at Baylor and how Briles and strength coach Kaz Kazadi prepared him for the NFL. That alone should attract a few 4-star recruits, especially in the offensive line.
Between J-Smooth, Briles and sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin, I can't think of any better three-headed publicity machines in the history of Baylor football.
Man, I can't wait until April 25: "With the second pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith." Sweet.