Last month I did a podcast on 1310 The Ticket, the sports radio powerhouse here in Dallas. We spent 50 minutes talking Aggies, Longhorns and Sooners and hardly any time at all talking about the Bears, until I stopped things down to say we -- the public, the media -- weren't talking enough about the 100 mph heater Baylor was throwing 100 miles south of the studio, and I included myself in that group.
So here I am holding myself accountable.
After a 2-7 debut in which his offense was among the worst in college football, first-time head coach Dave Aranda completely changed his offense. In a year's time, Baylor went from 123rd nationally in rushing to 10th, and in the process won the Big 12 and the Sugar Bowl.
If UT or A&M ever saw a 1-year turnaround like that, none of us would ever hear the end of it.
The 2021 season was another data point in what's been a transformational decade-plus for the Baylor football program. The 2009 season marked Baylor's 14th in the Big 12, and the 14th time the Bears finished at or near the bottom of the Big 12 South. By 2011 the Bears had a Heisman Trophy winner; in 2013-14 they won back-to-back Big 12 championships; by 2016 they'd burned the house to the ground; in 2017 they went 1-11; in 2019 they reached the Big 12 championship and the Sugar Bowl; in 2020 they went 2-7 and finished next-to-last in the conference; and in 2021 they won the league and the Sugar Bowl, and posted the school's highest AP poll finish (No. 6) ever.
But that's only part of the story.
While Baylor football was building, self-destructing and rebuilding, the Bears were also becoming the premier basketball school in the country.
Over 20 seasons, Scott Drew has steadily built Baylor into a national power. His teams finished 11th or 12th in the Big 12 in each of his first four seasons; now they're defending national champions. Kim Mulkey won three national titles and reached 10 Elite Eights in her 21 seasons in Waco; now in her first season, Nicki Collen is 25-5 with a No. 1 or No. 2 seed coming her way.
Simply put, Baylor is one of the premier athletics departments in the country, and they've got the hardware to prove it.
Baylor is the reigning Big 12 champion in football, men's basketball and women's basketball. (They're actually the 2-time defending Big 12 regular season champ in men's basketball and the 12-time champions in women's hoops, an astronomical 202-12 in regular season conference games since 2010-11.)
I wanted to know how often that feat has been duplicated, so I looked it up.
For starters, the football/men's basketball double dip has only been matched 16 times at the Power 5 level. (Conferences didn't begin officially sanctioning women's basketball until the 1970s and '80s.)
2012-13 Kansas State
2005-06 Ohio State
2006-07 Ohio State
2009-10 Ohio State
Across my research, I found four instances of a football-men's basketball-women's basketball trifecta, accomplished by two institutions.
2005-06 Ohio State -- football co-champs, Fiesta Bowl champs, No. 4 final AP; outright men's basketball champs, NCAA second round; outright women's basketball champs, NCAA second round; 40-6 vs. Big Ten
2006-07 Ohio State -- outright football champs, BCS runner-up, No. 2 final AP; outright men's basketball champs, NCAA runner-up; outright women's basketball champs, NCAA first round; 43-3 vs. Big Ten
2009-10 Ohio State -- outright football champs, Rose Bowl champs, No. 5 final AP; men's basketball co-champs, NCAA Sweet 16; outright women's basketball champs, NCAA second round; 42-8 vs. Big Ten
2019-20 Oregon -- outright football champs, Rose Bowl champs, No. 5 final AP; outright men's basketball champs, NCAA tournament canceled; outright women's basketball champs, NCAA tournament canceled; 41-7 vs. Pac-12
2021-22 Baylor -- outright football champs, Sugar Bowl champs, No. 6 final AP; men's basketball co-champs, NCAA TBD; outright women's basketball champs, NCAA TBD; 37-9 vs. Big 12
Ohio State's 2006-07 gridiron and hardwood season remains the gold standard, with two runner-up finishes and two combined conference losses across the three sports. As fate would have it, that happened to be the only time the same school has won national titles in football and men's basketball, with Florida topping Ohio State in both title games. (Alas, the Gators' women's basketball team went 9-22 and finished 11th in the SEC that year.)
Baylor has a chance (two, in fact) to cash in with national champions in men's and women's basketball. And if they can't, that's okay. They'll be back. Because Baylor is one of the premier athletics departments in the country.