Baylor readying for 'unfinished business'
Briles did it in his third season. He won seven games, four of them in Big 12 play, the most for Baylor ever since the conference's inception.
"It’s kind of like, we finally got to a bowl game and everybody’s like, 'Now what?'" junior quarterback Robert Griffin III said.
Tim Heitman/US Presswire"What we've got to do is build on what we've done," Art Briles said of his program.
"You’ve got to do more than maintain and sustain," Briles said. "What we’ve got to do is build on what we’ve done."
Briles is "not big on hitting a lot of firsts." The firsts will come with the program's growth, but simply achieving a first isn't good enough.
"We’ve got to make sure we establish ourselves as a program that’s got to be dealt with year in and year out, and we can’t be hot one year and cold the next," he said. "We’ve got to stay hot all the time. Our guys understand that, we understand that, and that’s our goal to fulfill to it."
The next logical step is to win a bowl game. The Bears made it after last season's 7-5 campaign, but were beaten soundly by Illinois, 38-14, in the Texas Bowl. The Illini led 24-0 at one point and ran for 291 yards in the game.
"Bad taste in my mouth. That’s what I take away from it," Briles said. "Embarrassment."
Griffin said he felt the team balanced the work and play of their first bowl trip well, it just didn't show up on game day.
"You look back at maybe things that you could do differently, from a game-management standpoint to a preparation standpoint," Briles said. "Anytime things work out well or not so well, you need to evaluate what you did and how you can do it better. So from that standpoint, we’ll evaluate everything we’ve done, which we already have."
Once that was done, it's officially "next year." Briles shook up his defensive staff and brought in new coordinator Phil Bennett from Pittsburgh. The move was to help shore up a unit that ranked 104th nationally and 11th in the Big 12 in total defense.
"We’ve got to make people respect us a little more," Briles said. "We don’t feel like we have quite the respect that we need to earn at this point."
Getting to a bowl game isn't enough to do it, especially a bowl game that ends in a lopsided loss.
Said Griffin: "[Briles] came here for more things. I know I did. It’s our job as leaders to make sure the rest of the team sees that."
The Bears have the talent to do it, and there are plenty of firsts on the board within reach of the program. To stay "hot," as Briles put it, is to make sure those firsts don't become lasts.
"We’ve got to win a bowl game and there’s two or three universities that we haven’t had a chance to turn the lights on against around here yet," Briles said. "We’ve got some unfinished business with a lot of folks."
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