Baylor Athletics’ Success Has Spirits Soaring at Big 12’s Only Private School

Baylor sports
That “dear old Baylor spirit,” from the school song, has been tested
mightily for decades. Losing was so pervasive among the football and
men’s basketball teams, the Bears’ very membership in major-college
athletics sometimes was questioned.

Which is why recent events have fans of the Big 12 Conference‘s
only private school — and by far the smallest with an undergraduate
enrollment of 12,575 last fall — practically pinching themselves:

• Junior quarterback Robert Griffin III won the school’s first Heisman Trophy.
The Bears finished the regular season ranked 16th in the USA TODAY
Coaches Poll, then last week equaled the school record for wins in a
season with 10 by outlasting Washington in the Alamo Bowl 67-56.

• The
men’s basketball team is 14-0 and ranked fifth in the USA TODAY/ESPN
Coaches Poll. Sophomore forward Perry Jones III was the preseason pick
to be the Big 12 player of the year. This is a program that hasn’t won
a conference title since 1950 and was scandalized in June 2003 by the
murder of player Patrick Dennehy by teammate Carlton Dotson and subsequent coverup of related NCAA rules violations by then-coach Dave Bliss.

• Such achievements under football coach Art Briles and men’s basketball coach Scott Drew
have elevated those programs closer to the heights that Baylor women’s
basketball has occupied for more than a decade. Kim Mulkey’s Lady Bears
were 13-0 going into Wednesday’s game against Missouri, have been
ranked first in the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Poll since preseason and are
aiming for their second national title in eight seasons. Brittney
Griner, their 6-8 junior center, figures to contend for national player
of the year.

Click here to continue reading…

Source: Jeff Miller, Special for USA TODAY