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December 5, 2007

Briles has plenty of building to do at Baylor

Rivals Radio: New Baylor coach Art Briles joins Chris Childers

Just a few years ago, Art Briles was so buff it appeared he spent more time in the weight room than did the football players he coached.

"I've matured since then," Briles joked. "Now when I get out of the chair, I need somebody to help me."

Briles, 52, who last week was named coach at Baylor, will need all his strength and all the help he can get to lift his new program, which rivals Duke as the worst in a BCS conference, out of the Big 12's dungeon.

He received a seven-year deal that pays $1.3 million annually and the chance to earn $1.8 million with incentives.

"I want to take on that challenge," Briles said.

Several coaches have tried and failed miserably.

Dave Roberts managed four wins in two seasons. Kevin Steele celebrated nine victories in four seasons. Guy Morriss managed 18 victories in five seasons.

Baylor hasn't had a winning record since 1995 and has not won a bowl since topping Arizona 20-15 in the 1992 Sun Bowl.

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, coached Baylor then. Teaff admitted he was disappointed when San Francisco 49ers assistant Mike Singletary, perhaps the greatest player in Baylor history, turned down an offer to return to Waco and coach the Bears.

But Teaff said he was encouraged that the Baylor administration rebounded by hiring Briles, who was a marvelously successful high school coach in Stephenville, Texas, and posted a 34-28 record in five seasons at Houston, which had managed eight victories in three seasons before his arrival there.

"We need someone who understands the culture of Baylor, and there is a culture," Teaff said. "He understands that culture."

Baylor is a mid-sized private Baptist university with a conservative atmosphere. Dancing wasn't allowed on campus until 1990.

But Briles maintains that Baylor, despite its 11-85 all-time record in Big 12 play, has a lot to offer.

"The great thing about Baylor is we can recruit here," Briles said. "We have a 16-to-1 student-to-professor ratio. We're centrally located in Texas. We have great people at a faith-based university that had the second-highest graduation rate (among athletes) in the Big 12."

Briles already has received a commitment from quarterback Robert Griffin of Copperas Cove, Texas, the No. 44-ranked prospect in Texas. That's the highest-ranked prospect to choose Baylor in at least five years.

Can Briles get more top-flight players? Perhaps, but it won't be easy with powerful programs such as Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and now Missouri and Kansas competing for the same players. But he is remaining positive.

"If you don't believe, you've got no chance," Briles said. "I've always been one that believed good things will happen. Positives can come where negatives exist."

Negatives certainly exist in Waco.

Perhaps positives can, too, but it will take a strong man to bring them.

Rivals Radio: New Baylor coach Art Briles joins Chris Childers

Trivia question.

Despite two losses, LSU has a chance to win the national championship. Who was the last team to win a national title with more than one loss? (Answer at the end of the column.)

Tebow leads

Heismanpundit.com, a Web site that takes a weekly straw poll of nine Heisman Trophy voters, has Florida's Tim Tebow with a slight edge over Arkansas' Darren McFadden in its final poll.

Tebow received six first-place votes and 23 points, while McFadden received three first-place votes and 21 points.

Others receiving votes were Hawaii's Colt Brennan with four points, Missouri's Chase Daniel with three points and West Virginia's Pat White, Oregon's Dennis Dixon and Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree with one point each.

The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday.

$5 million donation honors Paterno

Patrick and Candace Malloy announced they are giving $5 million to start the Malloy Paterno Head Football Coach Endowment at Penn State.

The Malloys are long-time friends of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this week.

The $5 million gift is the largest ever for Penn State athletics.

Manning to chair Hall of Fame

Former Ole Miss All-America quarterback Archie Manning will succeed Ron Johnson as the sixth chairman of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame.

Manning, who finished third in the 1970 Heisman Trophy voting, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989. He currently serves in public relations and consulting capacities.

Trivia answer

Minnesota was voted the AP and UPI national champion in 1960 despite an 8-2 record.

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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