By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer
With a disappointing 2023 Baylor football season in the rearview mirror, the offseason has officially begun. However, the Bears’ campaign — which saw them go 1-7 at home — combined with the early portion of the offseason has left a sour taste in the mouths of some of the Baylor faithful.
Following the Bears’ final game of the season, it was reported that head coach Dave Aranda would be back in 2024 — but with significant changes to the program.
“It was the unpopular choice, and I like that,” Amarillo senior Kyle Lindell said. “Aranda had success here, and I think with a few other changes, he will get it turned around.”
Lindell was one of few students who agreed with the move that showed confidence in the former Big 12 champion. Most of the others were in bitter disbelief.
“Coaches are getting fired at other programs who had better records,” Sandia senior Josh Meyer said. “If Baylor is going to compete, it has to take the same steps. This has been a consistent downhill spiral. Baylor should have been thinking about other options.”
While Aranda is set to return in 2024, he will be doing so without offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. To Baylor students, this may have felt like a sure thing. The season was a tough one for Grimes, as his offense was near the bottom of the Big 12 in several statistical categories. During the homecoming loss to Iowa State in October, the student section erupted into chants to fire Grimes.
“Getting rid of Grimes is a good start, but it’s not the offensive coordinator’s fault,” Meyer said. “It always comes back to the head coach. We need coaches that can better help the program, and neither of them have done that.”
A new wave of shock hit the fan base on Monday afternoon when news broke that junior quarterback Blake Shapen would be putting his name in the transfer portal.
“Look, Shapen was better than [backup] Sawyer Robertson, but that’s not saying much,” Meyer said. “It tells you a lot about him that he barely played because he was injured and didn’t get to play — then just decides to leave after their season sucks. I like Blake Shapen as a player; I don’t like him as a person, though.”
Despite Shapen having a career year and proving many doubters wrong, when the news hit Meyer and others, all was forgotten. Even with the haters, there were still students who shared their gratitude for a quarterback who gave his all for the program.
“You have to feel for the guy,” Plano sophomore Avery Robb said. “He laid it all on the line this year, and there wasn’t help. He is going to go somewhere and have success, and we are going to look back and wonder why we let him go. Honestly, I just wish him the best.”
The dominoes are only beginning to fall, and a fractured student fan base will keep its eyes fixed on the state of the program moving forward.
“We will see — maybe in the coming month, they’ll have a change of heart and Aranda will be gone,” Meyer said. “I guess there are some good recruits though.”