Aug. 14, 2000
Editor's Note: Dave Campbell's column appears in each edition of the Baylor Bear Insider Report, available upon membership in the Baylor Bear Foundation. For information on joining the Bear Foundation, click here. For an archive of his other columns, click here.
The figures have been totaled and the report has been published: Baylor officially finished No. 43 nationally in the Sears Directors' Cup standings that provide an annual yardstick of how athletic programs of various NCAA members rank.
Another yardstick of considerable interest is provided by the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. That newspaper, using a point system based on how a school finishes in each sport, annually grades the athletic programs of Big 12 Conference members, both on the men's and women's side. In that system, Baylor finished sixth overall among the 12 members of the conference in the 1999-2000 school year.
Those numbers reflect a commendable record of success for Baylor. They put to flight that ridiculous chant of some critics who claim Baylor can't compete in the Big 12.
In the Sears Directors' Cup competition, Baylor finished No. 6 among Big 12 schools. The final figures put Baylor's athletic achievements strictly in NCAA post-season competition (those are the only achievements that earn points in the Sears Cup race) ahead of those of Colorado (finished No. 44 nationally), Oklahoma State (No. 49), Missouri (No. 52), Kansas State (No. 67), Kansas (No. 82) and Texas Tech (No. 83).
In the DALLAS MORNING NEWS' measure of Big 12 athletic programs, Baylor finished ahead of Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Colorado, Kansas State and Texas Tech, in that order.
Interestingly, while Baylor finished behind Texas, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Missouri (in that order), the school's athletic program actually won more conference championships (two, in baseball and men's tennis) than any of those schools except Texas and Nebraska. A&M managed its third-place finish despite not winning a regular season conference crown in any sport.
BUT THERE IS A STORY in the DALLAS MORNING NEWS report that the figures do not tell.
Paul Bradshaw, Baylor associate athletics director for compliance, has looked behind the NEWS' figures in making this observation: "I think this (the NEWS' point system) is a good measure of how we compete in the Big 12 (but) one of the problems with the use of this measurement is the fact that sports in which Baylor does not compete are used in awarding points (that is, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics)."
So while this is a good measure for the overall strength within the conference, "it does not necessarily measure how Baylor is competing within the Big 12 in those sports which we do sponsor," said Bradshaw.
Thus Bradshaw took the newspaper's totals and adjusted the figures to measure how Baylor competed against Big 12 rivals based only on those sports in which the Bears and Lady Bears did take part.
And in that calculation, Baylor men tied for fourth with Oklahoma State, and Baylor women were fifth. "This gave us an overall (conference) ranking of fourth," said Bradshaw. His figures show Baylor with 136 points, behind Texas (207.5), Nebraska (186) and Texas A&M (149).
WHATEVER METHOD is used, Baylor achieved its upper division ranking mainly by getting big points on the men's side from tennis, baseball, and indoor and outdoor track, and, to a lesser extent, from golf, and in the women's category from tennis, soccer, volleyball and outdoor track.
The school's athletic program did well despite meager point contributions from football and women's basketball (last-place finishes) and scant points from men's basketball.
There are those Baylor fans who will assure you, of course, that they would rather have blowing-and-going football and basketball programs than lofty finishes in all of the other sports.
My reply: patience, patience, you guys and gals, dramatic upsurges in those gridiron and thump-thump sports are on the way. Surely all Baylor fans have noticed that Tom Stanton now has in place savvy, hard-working, highly-respected, up-and-coming coaches who are going to get the Bears and Lady Bears on a rocket ride in basketball (and new coaches who also are going to do the same in softball and cross country). As for football, my vote remains solidly on Kevin Steele and the program he is building, and never mind what the naysayers might tell you.
Incidentally, nobody wants the Bears to become a major force in football and basketball more than I do. Those are the meal-ticket programs. Those usually get the biggest headlines. It is vital that they do well.
But I want ALL Baylor sports to march forward in impressive fashion, to command respect on all levels. And that obviously is what Baylor decision-makers -- Tom Stanton, the Baylor administration, the Baylor regents -- had in mind in bringing in the high-quality coaches they have, giving Baylor overall the best overall lineup of coaches, in my opinion, that the school has ever had, and they have done so while dramatically upgrading Baylor facilities to a state-of-the art level.
CONCERNING BAYLOR'S No. 43 finish in the Sears Directors' Cup standings, it is interesting to compare that finish with what the school accomplished the year before, and how far the program has come in the past four years. In 1997 Baylor finished 125th, then 65th in '98, then 39th last year.
Actually, Baylor finished in a four-way tie for 39th (with Florida State, Texas A&M and Alabama) last year. So while the school's athletic program got a share of 39th, it also can be argued that it got a share of 42nd. This year it was 43rd. The difference is hardly worth a widespread wringing of hands.
It is instructive to compare Baylor's final Sears Cup finish with some of the other major institutions. Florida State, which finished in a tie (39th) with Baylor last year, fell to 46 this year, just ahead of Maryland. And here are some other finishes: Miami 48, Wake Forest 50, Mississippi State 51, Boston College 56, Georgia Tech 58, Syracuse 61, Ole Miss 62, Virginia Tech 63, Houston 66, Kentucky 70, Oregon State 72, West Virginia 77.
SO BAYLOR FINISHED ahead of a number of highly-regarded programs, and it is interesting to note that the Bears were oh so close to moving into the ranks of those who finished in the top 35 to 40.
Just one victory in the NCAA regional baseball tournament would have been worth 10 points in the Sears Cup competition. The Baylor men's tennis team defeated TCU in their two meetings in regular season play. But the Bears were upset by the Frogs in the NCAA tournament. That made a difference. The men's golf team missed out on winning a place in the NCAA championship tourney by a mere two shots. That also made a difference. The women's cross country team barely missed out on qualifying for the NCAA meet.
"We could easily have finished in the top 35 (nationally)," said Tom Stanton, who went on to note: "Two years ago we finished 16 shots out of the (NCAA) national tournament in men's golf. Last year we missed by 8 shots, and this year by just two. We're putting ourselves in position, and the more we do that, eventually we'll break through.
"In my view, we still have a significant upside in the Sears Cup competition. Obviously our point totals will fluctuate from year to year. But as our programs grow, we have a great opportunity to move into the Top 30. That becomes a new immediate goal."
MEANWHILE, HE CONTINUES to pursue those projects which have moved front and center in the campaign to do those things that will enhance the Bruin image and strengthen the team's chances of success.
Construction on the new tennis complex has begun, both men's basketball coach Dave Bliss and Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson and their staffs have moved into their roomier and well-appointed new offices, the new VIP room downstairs at the Ferrell Center is being completed, and the basketball locker rooms and weight room facilities are being expanded and upgraded.
"Our locker room and coaches offices will be as good as any in the country," Bliss told John Werner (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD) last week.
Stanton also told the INSIDER that "we're in the final stages of lawyers dotting the I's and crossing the T's that will enable us to launch work on our new golf course practice facility. Hopefully, by the end of August we will have finished the documents and be able to make the much-anticipated announcements concerning that project."
If so, said Stanton, ground-breaking could come in mid to late September in anticipation of a playable golf course being ready by the fall of 2001, and the driving range and locker room facilities being completed and operational in the summer of that year.
"We hope when Tim (Hobby) and Sylvia (Ferdon) have their recruits on campus this fall, they will be able to show them our plans."
ALSO, CONTINUED STANTON, "I'm conceptualizing with Kevin (Steele) on a master plan to make improvements in Floyd Casey Stadium, and the initial emphasis will be on weight room expansion and training room enhancements and expanding the locker room. Those are things we want to do for our student-athletes.
"Second, we will focus on the outward cosmetic look of the stadium as well as finalizing the paved parking scheme with appropriate landscaping built around the Grant Teaff Athletic Plaza."
The INSIDER will have more details on the latter project as they become available, but among the things being planned are cosmetic and beautification additions that will eliminate the road that currently runs immediately in front of the west and east sides of the stadium.
IN SHORT, THE BEARS are on the move in a variety of ways on a number of fronts. They're leaving no stones unturned as they step up the pace. They are doing those things that lead to momentum, and momentum leads to success.
A Baylor partisan just back from a 5-year stay in another world would have a difficult time believing what the old school hath wrought in its athletic program and facilities.
And my guess is that the next five years will bring progress even more difficult to believe. Stay tuned. And make sure you are in position to enjoy that progress first hand. You know, up close and personal.
Dave Campbell's column appears in each edition of the Baylor Bear Insider Report, available upon membership in the Baylor Bear Foundation. For information on joining the Bear Foundation, click here. For an archive of his other columns, click here.