By Jeffrey Swindoll
The most monumental development for Baylor football in recent years has been the addition of the $266 million McLane Stadium.
Concerns about the stadium’s parking, the new ticketing system for students and its reduced size from Floyd Casey Stadium were ubiquitous in the weeks leading up to the opening kickoff at McLane Stadium.
With its first season in the books, student attendance rate at an all-time high, an undefeated record at home and a second-straight Big 12 Championship, McLane Stadium has proven to be a huge success for Baylor University.
Baylor head coach Art Briles had nothing but praise for the new stadium experience ahead of the season. More than anything, Briles was looking forward to the advantage the stadium would bring in winning football games. That is really what it all comes down to, Briles said.
“What I need to do as a coach, and what we need to do as a football team is understand that we have a job to do,” Briles said. “Our job is to take care of the people that cared enough to make all of this happen.”
Briles made sure his team’s priorities were left intact, of which were to keep winning at home and, most of all, win another Big 12 championship. Since 2011, no school has a better home record than Baylor (25-1). Baylor and Florida State were the only two schools in country to not have a single loss at home in the past two years. Baylor was the only team in the country to do it at two different home venues each year.
Going undefeated at home is one thing. Going undefeated at home and successfully defending the Big 12 title is a much harder thing to do, Briles said. As the defending Big 12 champions, the Bears had to take haymakers, not jabs in 2014, Briles said.
“We have three top-nine teams with Kansas State [Baylor and TCU],” Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw said. It is an incredibly competitive year for the Big 12.
I think it speaks to the fact that you do not have to have the largest enrollment, you do not need to have the biggest budget to be successful in college football and both Baylor and TCU have proven that.”
The Bears won the all-important Big 12 championship. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” However, it doesn’t hurt to have all the bells and whistles to go with it.
“From a spectator’s point of view, it’s got everything you want,” freshman linebacker Taylor Young said. “You’ve got wi-fi, replays, the big screen, and it’s just an awesome atmosphere.”
Baylor football’s focus was to bring another Big 12 championship to the university and its supporters. The university’s focus was to give fans the absolute best college football experience in America. From ‘sailgating’ to high-speed wi-fi, McLane Stadium is unparalleled, Briles said. It made the transition from Floyd Casey to McLane much easier, junior offensive tackle Spencer Drango said.
“There’s a whole bunch of tradition of history and tradition at Floyd Casey, but we get to make the history at McLane. That’s the fun thing about it. Not many people get to do that. We get to start the ‘we don’t lose at McLane,’ and that’s our goal. Floyd Casey was nice, but McLane is just… I can’t put one thing on it.”
Leftover student tickets are now a thing of the past for Baylor football. In addition, leftover seats anywhere for a Baylor football game are rare nowadays. Fans expect wins from the Bears at home now, and they get to see it in what Briles considers is, without question, the best college football stadium in America – McLane Stadium.