Baylor won 10 games in 2011. There’s no need for elaborate commentary or waxing poetic on Art Briles‘ talent because six words do the trick. Robert Griffin III claimed the Heisman Trophy and jetted off to Washington as the second pick in last April’s NFL Draft. Wide receiver Kendall Wright found a home in Tennessee, another first-round selection. An Alamo Bowl victory might have happened sans defense but Bears’ fans will always look fondly on last season, especially the Waco upset over Oklahoma, green with envy.
Replacing the most recognized, accomplished and perhaps gregarious player in school history, Briles turns to senior Nick Florence. Slated for a redshirt in 2011, plans changed for the South Garland product when Griffin suffered a first-half injury against Texas Tech. He tossed two touchdowns, rushed for another and enters 2012 the leader for the full-time gig ahead of sophomore Bryce Petty. Terrance Williams and Lache Seastrunk assume larger roles in the Bears’ prolific offense but without the trigger-finger of Griffin, it’s difficult to imagine Baylor equaling the sterling success of last fall.
A gorgeous, on-campus, lakefront stadium should open in time for the 2014 season. The 45,000 seat palace is priced at $250 million but donations flooded Waco when every program in the athletic department seemingly produced a national title contender. Football pays the bills though and the facilities arms race in Texas requires state-of-the-art in order to keep up with the regional recruiting behemoths. In the 2013 cycle, the Bears are ranked 18th by 247 Sports, boasting commitments from 4-star wide receiver Robbie Rhodes and 4-star dual-threat quarterback Chris Johnson.
2012 regular season prediction: 8-4