Art Briles: The Architect

By D.J. Byrnes on October 23, 2013 at 11:23 am

Chris Brown, aka @smartfootball, posted this article to Grantland a couple of days ago, and it's still making its rounds because it's awesome.

Baylor, as many of you are aware, didn't always used to be the offensive smoke-show it is today. In fact, it was sort of a smoke-show, but that's because the program was a raging dumpster fire in the basement of the Big 12.

That's changed since Baylor hired away Art Briles from Houston. Brown details the rise of Briles and his dynamite offensive philosophy, and shows how Briles has channeled it and turned Baylor into the Big 12 force it is today. (Many have Art Briles on the shortlist of coaches Texas will make a run at if/when the Longhorns sever ties with Mack Brown.

Here's the lead-in:

The season before Art Briles's arrival was more of the same for Baylor. In 2007, the fifth year under Guy Morriss, Baylor went 3-9 — good for its customary last-place finish in the Big 12 South. Since the first football game of Big 12 play, in 1996, the Bears had finished sixth on their side of the conference 11 times. The last time they'd been to a bowl, the Big 12 conference didn't exist. The only time of the year Baylor was relevant in college football was when the other schools in the conference wanted to schedule their homecoming games.

Six years later, Briles has turned Baylor football into the state of Texas's answer to the Oregon Ducks: fast players, fast tempo, and even faster scoring, all infused with a long drawl and a gunslinger's mind-set. Over the past three seasons, Baylor — a 15,000-student private school in Waco — has gone 24-8 behind some of the best offenses in football, and it has done it with a revolving cast of players. Led by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, Baylor won 10 games in 2011 and finished second in the nation in total offense. In 2012, after losing Griffin to the NFL, as well as their leading receiver and rusher, the Bears finished second nationally in total offense, upset the no. 2 team in the country, and crushed UCLA 49-26 in the Holiday Bowl. Before this season, Baylor again lost its quarterback and leading receiver to graduation. So, of course, Baylor is undefeated and has college football's best offense by every conceivable metric, having scored 70 or more points four times (and 69 in another game). All of this has happened at a program that, before the 2010 season, hadn't gone to a bowl game in 15 years.

Briles has made believers out of players and fans conditioned by years of disappointment by having the audacity to expect success at a place that has never really known it. If this weren't happening at Baylor, Briles's approach would be something like arrogance: We are going to score, and we are going to win. "We do not try to go to the body to set up the knockout shot," Briles said at a recent coaching clinic. "We try to score on every snap."

I won't say the full article is "worth your time," because who am I to judge your time? But, the article is a fun, in-depth read you won't see from many other outlets. It's turned me into an outright Art Briles fan.

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