3:05 P.M., WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2011
Every Baylor fan will remember where they were at 10:57 pm last Saturday night.
At approximately that moment, RG3, making the best throw of his season, found Terrance Williams in the corner of the end zone. Williams hauled in the 34 yard missile with just eight seconds on the clock and the party 21 games in the making began.
For the first time ever, Baylor had defeated OU.
This forum has spent countless words discussing the program's corner-turning moments over the past several years. Wins over Wake Forest and Washington State laid the foundation a few years back. Last season saw a momentous win in Austin and a return to the `postseason.'
In September, the Bears delivered a national televised win over TCU, a high-point that most of us would have been foolish to think would be matched again.
Or, at the very least, matched again this year.
Saturday night, Griffin and the Bears outdid themselves, shocking Oklahoma in primetime on ABC in a game that virtually all of America seemed to be watching.
The game-winning drive took 43 seconds. The build-up to this program-defining victory, however, was a development dating back several years.
Not all that long ago, this team's group of seniors agreed to join a program that despite making a bit of progress, was still in the abyss of the country's toughest league and division.
Throughout Central Texas summer heat waves, two-a-day practices and a grueling series of games that oftentimes exposed a shallow and unbalanced roster, these recruits continued to fight and oppose the oft-heard claims that they could never win at Baylor.
After all, nobody before them had.
On a night where Baylor football played at home on a stage bigger than any in recent memory, the Bears made one thing clear-they were, indeed ready for prime time.
It took all 474 yards of passing from RG3, all 200 plus yards of receiving from Kendall Wright and three forced turnovers by a gritty BU defense do get the job done.
If not for these three factors, we wouldn't be talking today about arguably the school's biggest win ever.
I couldn't help but think of all the OU-handed beat downs Baylor had received over the much-publicized 20 game losing streak. Like the win over Texas last year, those 30 and 40 point shellackings each seem like a distant memory now.
Thanks to a program that continues to stay hungry, continues to persevere and continues to improve, Saturday night was possible. It was 10:57p.m. Saturday. The game had taken nearly four hours.
Baylor's return to football relevance had not occurred overnight.
One Simple Word: Pride
10 P.M., FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011
I kicked off things this season here talking about the peculiar direction College Football is headed. It's no secret that the sport is bigger than ever, revenues have never been higher, TV exposure has never been greater. Nor has the pressure on coaches and administration. A growing list of schools have scrambled to find new conference affiliations amidst fear of their current league getting picked apart if and when super conferences form.
The historic and ground-breaking Big 12 Conference, just 15 years old, continues to change identity as now a fourth original member will officially depart. The still-breaking news of the events in Happy Valley have rocked the sport's landscape to a point that none of us could ever see coming.
The news out of State College, Pennsylvania will overshadow everything that takes place between the white lines on a national scale, sadly. Fortunately, the focus here however will remain on Baylor. BU won again at home Saturday night in an impressive (though at times, maddening) showing against Mizzou at our school's proudest homecoming in recent memory.
Be proud of Baylor.
It had been a few years since I was lucky enough to be back on campus and see what tremendous growth had occurred in Waco in such a short period of time.
From the school's reinvigorated student body, to the makeover of our gameday atmosphere in and surrounding Floyd Casey Stadium to our product on the gridiron, I'm happy, confident and most of all, proud to say we are headed in the right direction.
I simply can't say enough about the transformation from A to Z that the school has produced in answering the call and rising up in a critical era for our school's identity-athletically and beyond.
If only I were lucky enough to have seen this growth while I was still a student.
While tailgating with old friends, visiting with old colleagues in the press box and feeling the energy, camaraderie and passion with fans everywhere, I was left with one simple sentiment.
Baylor football is big time now.
Hopefully, we've just begun a strong and long return to relevant, competitive and a nationally televised brand, but there's no sense in not appreciating just how far we've come as a program. Lord knows we've all been a part of some leaner years.
Capitalizing on the fervor, the school finally released acknowledged what we had been whispering about for years, a plan now being put in place to eventually build a new on-campus football home that will only keep this train moving even better.
Saturday night was a victory on so many levels. Anytime a program like Baylor's can deliver a win on Homecoming night is a momentum builder. For BU to do it against an irritated conference foe, in a nationally televised night game in a season still offering more promise than simply a return to postseason is truly icing on the cake.
And to think, two years ago, I was just happy to have witnessed us beating Mizzou.
The Bears hit the road this week in search of big win number six, from there they have a very real chance at knocking down two conference giants in two games played in Waco where the Bears have played at an entirely different level.
It's only going to get more interesting in these final four Saturdays.
For now, Baylor fans everywhere should simply give pause and carry some peace of mind in knowing that our administration, our coaches and our student athletes have done a miraculous job in giving us plenty to be proud of.
Mama I'm Coming Home
9:55 P.M., FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2011
Spending my days amidst America's youth has its ups and downs. There are times when I realize on my drive home that I've yet to really talk with someone unaffected by their daily addictions to inane Twitter hash tags. At the same time, there are days when today's kids amaze with what their capable of, what they can grasp and how quickly they mature.
Moreover, having daily access to high school seniors is always a trip.
Today's seniors are unmistakable in the high school hallway. They've yet to come to grips with the fact that school will go on after their departure, they seem more worried about their spring break than their GPA and, for the most part, they have no idea what to look for in choosing a college worthy of the education they've received the past four years.
Basically, they're the same person you or I were in the 12th grade.
Of all my interactions with the class of 2012, the exchanges I truly enjoy most are those that pertain to their college interests. Obviously there's a variety of reasons and factors that go into the college of choice for these bright eyes. Students make this decision based on a college or major that will be offered at a specific school, to follow a group of friends and go somewhere familiar or simply because they wish to be as far from their parent's grasp as possible.
As a molder of these young mids, there's one constant that I tell the youth each year; go some place that brings you back.
It's why I chose Baylor and its why this weekend, I'm coming home.
Ahhh, Homecoming in Waco. The very sound of it brings a smile to my face. My alma mater's traditions are certainly nothing to scoff at. Heck, what's not to respect about a ceremony that's been going on for over a century?
Beyond all the pageantry with the bonfire, parade and an army of returning alumni will be a fairly significant football game played against Mizzou on Saturday. Baylor needs a win in the worst way. The Bears have lost three of four and are not showing the defensive signs of improvement needed for this team to achieve its ultimate goals.
But, five huge games still remain on our schedule, amazingly. The Bears can win each of them, yes I believe that. They are also capable of...should I say...the alternative.
A win this weekend can restore a lot of faith, credibility and most importantly, momentum. BU has yet to lose at home, a big crowd is expected and hey, we clearly may not be playing Mizzou for a long, long time after this one.
Flying in from St. Louis, the implications for me are obvious.
I'll be there Saturday night and I can't wait. Sure, I'm excited for the game. I'm pumped to see Griffin and the boys in person, but I'm oh so eager to be reunited with countless friends, many of whom I only get to see each year on this solo occasion.
These friends, these traditions and yes, this school bring me back each year and I never let myself or them forget how special the occasion is, win or lose.