There is a time-worn axiom that applies to all sports and all competitive environments, whether its athletics or life: It’s hard to get to the top, and even more difficult to stay there once you’ve arrived.
Baylor football coach Art Briles guided his Bear’s football squad, once the laughing stock of the Big 12, to a first-ever 11 wins and its first Big 12 Conference championship last season.
The 58-year-old Briles comes from a small Texas town and spend over 20 years coaching high school football in the Lone Star state, has lived and, actually, thrived on embracing the role of the underdog. He relishes the challenge personal gratification derived from taking on a perpetually down-and-out, seemingly forgotten team and turning it into the little engine that could.
Now that he has successfully scaled the summit with his Baylor team in one of the strongest football conferences in America, the Bear’s coach of six season aims to keep it there and prove to the college football world that Baylor is built to last.
Baylor has averaged nine wins over the last four seasons under Briles, including four consecutive bowl appearance and a BCS bowl last January.
Here is what the native Texan Briles had to say to Athlon Sports for its 2014 college preview publication about the coming season and on Baylor going from the prey to the predator in the highly competitive Big 12:
“It’s inspiring. I think it elevates your level without question. It keeps your senses more alert and brings an added level of responsibility. That’s the way we’re approaching it, that we have a responsibility to ourselves, to our program and to our university to maintain the level of respect we’ve earned.
“Once you get to that level, then you work your butt off to hang on to it.”