Is Baylor set up long-term? 

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
10:00
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Art BrilesAP Photo/LM OteroArmed with a contract extension, new facilities and top recruits, things are looking up for Art Briles.
WACO, Texas -- When I met with Baylor coach Art Briles last week, I told him I was writing a story about the program’s sustainability, whether the Bears could become something more than this one-year wonder.

The least Briles could have done is let me know he was receiving a three-year extension the following day.

In a way, I suppose he did at least hint at it. He said he wasn’t going anywhere, and now he’s under contract for the next 10 years.

“We’re still in the infant stages of building our identity here,” he told me.

I responded by saying that a lot of people, including Bears fans, wonder if he’ll be around to see baby Baylor grow up.

“I’m planning on it,” he said. “We are focused and dedicated to Baylor.”

That’s a good sign for the school, because more than anything else, a bigger program -- say, Texas -- coming in and poaching Briles is the biggest threat to sustaining growth.

After two 4-8 seasons to start out, Baylor is 34-12 under Briles in the next four-plus years. The three BU coaches before Briles won 31 games in 11 seasons. The Bears had not had a winning season since 1995, and had won more than four games in a year just once until Briles won seven in 2010. It makes you appreciate Art, doesn’t it?

“He’ll outwork you, outthink you and he’ll cut your throat,” one coach said about Briles. “He’s one tough son of a [gun].”

The Bears were one of the country’s hottest teams a year ago, finishing on a four-game win streak. And they’ve continued that on this 9-0 start that has them as first alternate in the BCS title picture should Alabama or Florida State slip up. The season’s toughest test so far, playing Saturday at No. 10 Oklahoma State (8 p.m. ET, ABC), is next for Baylor.

So can they keep it up? Can Briles make Baylor something more than a fun story and an explosive offense?