President Ken Starr called it “epic.”
Coach Art Briles said it was “classic,” and junior Mike Hicks, whose interception sealed Baylor’s 50-48 win over TCU Friday night, couldn’t find the words to describe it.
It was all smiles at Floyd Casey Stadium as thousands of fans rushed the field to celebrate the Bears’ first victory over a top-15 ranked opponent since 1991. The excitement wasn’t limited to the stadium, however, with ESPN nationally broadcasting the game and re-broadcasting the game hours after its conclusion.
Now five days removed from the win, it’s time to look back and see what the Baylor family did right, how it could have been even better, and what the victory means for the green and gold faithful looking forward.
There was plenty to commend before, during and after Friday’s game. Obviously it began months ago, when the Bears accepted Briles’ vision of taking the program to a level where it can compete with strong teams.
The team also handled and presented itself professionally to the media. Despite the media’s best efforts to report storylines before kickoff, players never said their matchup with TCU was about revenge for last season’s 45-10 loss to the Horned Frogs.
“We’re not looking back; we’re looking forward,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said on the first day of fall practice.
The program wouldn’t be anywhere without the fans – the fans who showed up for both the spring and summer scrimmages, who packed the bleachers to the point of standing room only at the summer scrimmage held at Highers Athletic Complex.
On Friday, the team had every reason to carry momentum as it marched into the stadium. Players walked through a throng of tailgaters who showed up early and created as lively a gameday atmosphere as this year’s graduating class has ever seen.
The icing on the pregame festivities, though, had to be the Baylor Line. This year’s group of freshmen filled the ramp leading down to the field as well as the area behind the end zone, which is a stark improvement from many Baylor Lines in recent game history.
Baylor’s marketing efforts deserve credit as well after selling more than 15,000 season tickets.
As President Ken Starr said in his email to Baylor students, faculty and staff, Baylor pride billowed and eventually “exploded after the clock hit 0:00.” It was, in short, a great time to be a Baylor Bear.
But it doesn’t stop here and cannot stop here. If it does, Baylor athletics might not reach its full potential.
Perhaps Briles best described how Baylor is on its way to the goal but not quite there yet.
“It was a good win, great atmosphere,” Briles said in Friday’s postgame press conference. “I hate that so many TCU people were here in our stadium.”
He continued, emphasizing the shared vision for Baylor’s future.
“That’s the way it is. We’ve got to win a bunch more games and make it where it is our home stadium. So that’s another goal we’ve got to obtain here at Baylor.”
When ESPN’s cameras zoomed out and panned the entire stadium, it was impossible to miss the sea of purple on the visitor’s side. There were probably between 8,000 and 10,000 TCU fans, which gave Baylor the revenue from ticket sales but did not send the right message.
The Baylor family must continue to support its teams as best as possible, both students and alumni. Briles and Starr believe the visitor’s cheering section at Floyd Casey Stadium can decrease in future games, and, looking at stadiums of other Big 12 teams, it is not out of the ordinary.
Baylor students have already paid for their tickets, and free transportation to home games is available. It’s an easy and fun way to spend an evening, even for those not crazy about athletics. Friday’s effort was excellent. The team will need that attendance for the entire season.
Support of athletic teams is even more important now, given the uncertainty of the Big 12.
The Lariat originally wanted to publish an editorial discussing Baylor’s future with the Big 12, but it’s not plausible to speculate on those matters at this point.
It’s so unsettled that new stories are still emerging daily, sometimes directly contradicting stories published a day earlier.
All Baylor can do is continue to pour its support into its athletic teams, if not for interest in sports, then for the well-being of the university. Athletics, especially when televised, provide a great avenue for Baylor to show the country how our university can compete on the highest level.
We’re getting there, step by step. There’s no reason to stop.