Last year was dubbed the "Year of the Bear," as Baylor University had a remarkable school year in athletics.
Heisman trophies, Elite Eights, Big 12 and national titles were all part of their historic accomplishments
The Year of the Bear set the bar high in Waco, Texas, and perhaps made the 2012-2013 school year the most important in Baylor Athletics history. Baylor had to show that they were not a fluke -- a one-year wonder -- especially in football.
Most people feel the men’s and women’s basketball programs are here to stay, and the baseball team should always compete in the Big 12, but its football that runs this state, and it’s football that had the potential to fall back into the cellar of the Big 12 in Waco.
The national media wrote off Baylor from the start, now that 2011 Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III is playing for the Washington Redskins. It’s one thing to take your bumps, especially after losing the greatest player in your program's history, but Baylor and Coach Art Briles had to keep Baylor competitive if they wanted to keep landing top recruits in Texas.
For the most part, Baylor has fought hard in every game, taking West Virginia and Texas to the wire. But even with Baylor’s high-powered offense, the bears struggled to stop anybody on defense, and the signature win of 2012 had eluded them.
Then came No. 1 Kansas State, with a Heisman hopeful of their own at QB, ready to storm Waco and leave the way they came in: still No. 1.
Baylor rose to the occasion, scored all over Kansas State and scored their signature win. The entire nation watched as Baylor took down the No. 1 team in the country -- and don’t think young recruits weren’t watching.
One week after Texas A&M got their signature win against then-No. 1 'Bama, Baylor decided they’d match the Aggies and keep some of their momentum from the Year of the Bear.
Now Baylor is one game away from being bowl-eligible again, with an in-state rivalry game in Cowboys Stadium against Texas Tech.
Beating Tech in the crown jewel of Texas stadiums would be another big step for Baylor, especially against a school that Baylor will continue to fight with for some of the state’s top recruits.
The Year of the Bear was nice, but the era of Coach Art Briles might just be getting started.
John Dyer is a sports blogger for KSAT.com. He also owns a sports website, Texas Sports Junkie.