The Baylor Bears are seeing some of the best days in the history of their football program since the Grant Teaff glory days of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Heisman Trophy win by Robert Griffin III– who has had two excellent starts so far with the Washington Redskins and could be on the way to the NFL‘s Rookie of the Year Award– has elevated the program to new heights not only regionally but in recruiting circles as well.
Under head coach Art Briles– who worked his way to prominence as a high school coach in Sweetwater, Texas– the Bears have finally appeared to have reached a tipping point in Waco which is making the program more attractive than ever. The program is so attractive, in fact, that Briles’ name is starting to be the subject of “hot seat” conversations across college football media. While this is a pleasant side effect for Baylor in terms of publicity, it’s also a sign their sudden success is about to have some unexpected side effects.
One program in particular which has become a subject of conversation– especially given its early season struggles– is the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas interim head coach John L. Smith is on a ten-month contract, which it is being assumed now, will not be up for renewal. In fact, according to some, Smith may even be lucky to be able to ride out the entire season in Fayetteville.
Art Briles has built a program at Baylor in his own image. A program based on hard work, recruiting the right players for the environment, and finding that occasional diamond in the rough that can change the trajectory of the future. With the resources Briles would have at his disposal at a program like Arkansas, who knows how successful he could be?
The point is this:
Regardless of who the program may be– Arkansas, or whomever else– the side effect of the Baylor Bears’ continued success will have to be a willingness to open their pocketbooks and/or sell the school’s Board of Regents on the fact Art Briles needs to be paid first-tier money or they will run the risk of losing him to a first-tier program.
Plain and simple.
Think I’m overstating the level of success Briles has had at Baylor and the impression it’s making on opposing Division I coaches across the Nation of Texas? Just ask one of them and see what response you get.
It’s uniform. The respect for him and the job he has done is unwavering.
Baylor just can’t assume they will be able to hold onto Briles forever simply on good will and a good ole boy relationship.
Money will talk soon enough.
They might as well make it talk now and head off the other athletic directors and school presidents who have Art Briles firmly in their cross-hairs– or, in turn, watch him move on to greener and more lush pastures.
Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
Kris is also the host of the Rant Sports College Football Hour on the TSC Radio Network on Sunday evenings at 8 Central Time and Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.