No team had a worse offseason than Baylor and it had little to do with the football talent on the field but major issues off it. The Bears have won at least 10 games each of the past three seasons, but after a talent and coaching exodus they are given a total of 8.5 wins this season on NCAA football lines, with both options at -115.
Let’s Take a Look at the 2016 Baylor Bears Betting Predictions
Baylor Will Miss Briles Dearly
Because of a crisis of sexual assault complaints about football players over the past few years, the Baylor school administration had little choice but to fire ultra-successful head coach Art Briles and has since come to a settlement with Briles on the nearly $40 million remaining on his contract. There was talk a big group of boosters wanted Briles back in 2017 after a one-year suspension, but that won’t happen now. A report from Pepper Hamilton, an outside law firm hired by Baylor last fall, found the school “failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.” Baylor has gone 50-15 during the past five seasons under Briles, winning a pair of Big 12 Conference championships and reaching two New Year’s Six bowl games. Overall, Briles went 65-37 during his eight seasons with the Bears. So, yeah, it’s a big loss.
Jim Grobe Will Be One-Year Fix
To replace Briles for 2016, the school hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe. Not the most sexy hire, but the guy has a clean record. Grobe last coached at Wake Forest. He resigned after the 2013 campaign – his 13th with the Demon Deacons. Grobe amassed a 77-82 record during his time at Wake. He led the school to five winning seasons, including an 11-3 record and Orange Bowl appearance in 2006. The Demon Deacons won the ACC title that year and Grobe was the league’s coach of the year. That season was followed up by 9-4 and 8-5 seasons, both of which ended in bowl wins. But Wake never had a winning record again under Grobe in his final five seasons. Interestingly, right after AD Ian McCaw announced the Grobe hiring, he quit. McCaw, who had served as Baylor’s athletic director since 2003, was sanctioned and put on probation following the school’s investigation into its mishandling of sexual assault cases. Grobe is by all accounts a decent man and solid football coach, but he won’t be around past 2016 in Waco.
School Won’t Recover From This
Baylor might still be decent this year with some really good players back who Briles recruited. But several Class of 2016 recruits decided to leave, which means the team will have to rely heavily on walk- ons, etc., for depth. And the Class of 2017 recruits is very weak as parents obviously don’t want their kids going to a school in the middle of a scandal and without knowing who the long-term coach will be. Baylor will not be a national power for many years after 2016.
Seth Russell Will Have Big Year
Even without Briles around, most of the assistants are still with Baylor so the high-powered offense should still be there. And that means big numbers for quarterback Seth Russell. He put up huge numbers (and earned wide Heisman Trophy mention) and led Baylor to No. 2 national ranking before suffering season-ending neck injury in seventh game of 2015 (had 35 combined TDs and averaged 358.0 yards of total offense through seven games). Russell owns or shares seven school passing records entering 2016, including single-game TD passes (six) and single-game TDs responsible for (six). Also back is one of the Big 12’s top running backs in Shock Linwood. Last year, Linwood ranked 20th nationally and fourth in conference with 110.8 yards per game. He finished with 1,329 yards and 10 TDs on 196 carries and added 71 yards and TD on nine receptions.
Baylor Will Surpass 8.5-Win Total
While I think this program is in serious trouble after this year, if Russell stays healthy it should win at least nine games. The non-conference schedule is incredibly easy. Baylor gets Oklahoma State and TCU in Waco. The toughest trips will be to Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia.