By CLAY HORNING
DALLAS — Given Art Briles’ tenure at Baylor — three straight bowl games, two bowl wins and a Heisman Trophy winner — one wonders how the lone private school in the Big 12 Conference can afford to keep him. Also, given that tenure, one also wonders if the Bears can afford not to.
Listening to Briles at length always offers a glimpse into the unvarnished charisma he’s brought to Baylor, not to mention the homes of so many young athletes who have chosen to attend Baylor.
Tuesday, the final day of Big 12 football media days, Briles waxed upon a big part of his legacy, the new Baylor Stadium, set to open for the 2014 season. By the way, it sits on the banks of the Brazos river.
“What it’s going to do is not just change Baylor, but it’s going to change Waco and central Texas, because it’s on I-35 and the Brazos River,” he said. “If it sounds rehearsed it’s because I’ve said it a million times. There’s people going to be driving by there with 6-year-olds and 86-year-olds in their vehicle and they’re going to look over there.
“Where they’ve driven by for the previous 50 years, they’re going to look and say, ‘That’s Baylor University? That Stadium on the Brazos River? That’s their campus? That’s unique. That’s different. That’s something I want my grandchildren to be a part of.’ And, as a 6-year-old, ‘I want to be a part of.”
Briles was reminded he had three open dates before his team will have played eight games.
“Is that what it is? Speed limit is 55, drive 55,” Briles said. “You got three open dates, deal with it.”
On the perceived dominance of the SEC over the Big 12?
“I thought we had nine teams in bowl games last year,” he said.
And, about the writers and broadcasters preseason conference poll, of which three votes put Baylor atop the league?
“I don’t know how many people vote. I guess 25,” Briles said. “I was wondering why those other 22 don’t believe in us.”
Dana delivers: Perhaps even better with a quip than Briles is West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who was asked about some coaches across the nation — like Alabama’s Nick Saban — who have expressed, dubiously perhaps, their belief that injuries are up in the college game as a result of so many uptempo offenses.
“Yeah,” Holgorsen said, “I’d tell them to get over it because it’s not going to change. It’s going to the NFL for crying out loud … Don’t see it changing any time soon, so you you better learn to adapt to it.”
Mack makes news: Hearing from Mack Brown that Texas plans to join the pack and go to an uptempo, fast-break offense is no small thing on many levels.
It means Texas is once again going with a new scheme or approach on at least one side of the ball and it clearly puts more pressure on quarterback David Ash, who’s experienced at this point, but has yet to thrive. Still, the most interesting thing was Brown’s belief that the new approach would help his defense even more than his offense. There’s even merit to his reasoning.
“Last year, I saw … defenses in our league having trouble getting defensive calls in the game because nobody was substituting (because) the ball was being snapped so quickly,” he said. “I also saw that players were getting very tired across our league on defense … We felt like it was areal disadvantage to our defense that they didn’t get to see tempo at any time during practice.”
Strange schedule in Ames: How strange? Well … Iowa State opens against Norhtern Iowa Aug. 31. Then the Cyclones have an off-week before meeting Iowa Sept. 14. Then they have an off-week before playing Tulsa on a Thursday, Sept. 26, before playing Texas on the following Thursday, Oct. 3, before getting back on a Saturday schedule, 10 days later, at Texas Tech.
“It isn’t until the second half of our season that we’re playing normal Saturday to Saturday football games,” ISU coach Paul Rhodes said. “And that will be a challenge for our staff and our kids.”