All or Nothing
Baylor head coach Art Briles seems to have it all figured out.
“If we line up and we win 12 games this year, we’re going to be in the final four,” he said Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.
I’m still trying to figure out why Briles would go all-in with his comments to defend the Big 12 and the line of thinking that not having a conference title game is OK. A team from the Big 12 basically HAS to go 12-0 to ensure that they are in.
Look no further than last season. The absence of a Big 12 Title Game sealed the deal for both Baylor and TCU and they were on the outside looking in.
Here’s the problem – usually only one or two teams go undefeated. Last year, Florida State was the lone program, and even they were ranked third in the final seedings. The last time Baylor went 12-0 was…
Well, there is a first time for everything. My issue is that Baylor, TCU and every Big 12 team would have a much better chance of getting in the College Football Playoff with a conference title game. Ohio State last year: one loss. Alabama: one. Oregon: uno. All won their conference championship game. All got in.
Art, can’t you see that? But, you’ve got a decent non-conference slate to impress the committee, right?
Negative. Still, Art has an answer.
“The scheduling format, these things are made years in advance,” he said. “We’re actually working on our schedule to maybe make it look better to the public and help us, if it does come down to that, but I’ve never met a good loss or met a bad win.”
If you say so, Art. I still think Baylor was incredibly hurt in the committee’s eyes last season with a non-conference schedule that might rival playing against air.
All that being said, Baylor should be pretty darn good again this season. The media voted them to finish second behind TCU. And since they will meet up in the last game of the season in Ft. Worth, I guess you could have your conference title game right there.
Baylor is breaking in a new quarterback in Seth Russell. Briles plans to start slow with his signal-caller, but don’t expect that to last long. Not in this offense.
“With Seth, it’s still kind of a process to where we’re trying to fill out exactly how to coach him, what motivated him, what his strengths are, and make sure that we give him opportunities to be successful,” Briles said. “He’s got a tremendous amount of talent. He’s got a tremendous amount of drive. He’s a guy that I really respect his work ethic, his attitude, and his take on how he needs to perform.
“(He’s got) some pretty good people around him offensively. He just has to be good; don’t have to be great. You’ve just got to be predictable, and that’s what we’ll expect out of him, especially early till we get a feel, and then we’ll turn him loose.”
Defensively, Baylor returns nine starters, including the entire secondary. That bodes well for Briles’ Bears, who will need to keep things close early in the season as the offense works out any kinks.
“We really feel good about our D‑line, and that coincides with how your secondary can play. If we do a great job up front, then it certainly lets the secondary play a little more freely and have the offense have less time to make decisions.
“It gets magnified as you progress and get into the big games to where you might say, hey, that might be a weakness or a flaw, but you have to understand that to get to those big games, you have to win big games.”
Yep. All 12 of them, if Baylor wants to have a shot at the playoff. Sounds like Art’s got this though. Even with no room for error.