There is no SB Nation Baylor sports blog, and the greatness that was Bearmeat has long since left the internets. Baylor also is located in tiny Waco, which although closer to Dallas than Austin, holds little sway in the Dallas media megaphone, especially compared to Texas. Baylor's also a small school so it lacks the Subway Alumni of other private religious schools you may have heard of.
Because of this, it's been pretty much open season on the poor Bears during the whole conference realignment saga. Baylor's been the most favored whipping boy, and there's been no one to stand up for the B. So, as a Baylor Law alum, the job to defend the honor of the mighty B is left to me. Please bear with me, Tiger fans.*
*Editor's note: that pun is both unfortunate and unintentional.
Let's be honest, Baylor football has been pretty terrible since the Big 12 formed. When Baylor experiences its next winning season, it will be the first since the SWC fell apart. I'm not going to argue that Baylor is a must have for any conference, but let's stop inventing history. Baylor earned their invite to the Big 12 on the field.
Yes, Ann Richards lobbied on behalf of Baylor to be a part of the Big 12. But it's not like Baylor wasn't a decent program. In the last 10 years of the SWC's existence, Baylor won at least 8 games three times and only had two losing seasons. They were a solid, middle class program in the SWC. Their success over the last 10 years of the SWC was better than, well, everyone save A&M and Texas. And they did it without cheating, a real problem in the SWC.
Using CFB Data Warehouse's all-time program rankings, Baylor ranks a mediocre 44th. Aside from Texas and A&M, only TCU (ranked #32) ranks ahead. Of course, these numbers are slightly skewed as, since 1995, Baylor's been falling and TCU has been climbing in those rankings. At the time of the SWC's collapse, the schools were historic equals, but with TCU on the recent skids and Baylor seemingly ascendant.
People think that TCU was some great power that got hosed by Baylor's political maneuvering. It's just not true. It would be foolish to deny there was no political maneuvering, but Baylor got to tag along to the Big 12 for one primary reason: they were the best program in the SWC outside of the Big Two, and they weren't stained by NCAA investigation. Look at the other options, from the prism of 1995:
Texas Tech - No conference titles. Perennial .500 team. Public school.
Houston - Five straight losing seasons in the wake of the NCAA hammer. Terrible facilities with questionable commitment to athletics after scandals. Public school.
SMU - Death penalty. ‘nuff said.
Rice- Small, elite private school. Two winning seasons in the last ten (both 6-5). Last winning season before that? 1961.
TCU - Three wining seasons in 10 years. Also under NCAA probation, though not as serious as SMU and Houston. Private school whose last conference title was 1959.
Baylor looks a lot more attractive, don't they? Of course, the move was terrible for the football team, as they were seriously outclassed in the new Big 12 and, unable to beat up on the patsies they left behind, couldn't sustain their decent winning ways. TCU, on the other hand, rebuilt their program by taking advantage of an easier conference (to their credit).
And, yes, football moves the needle, but Baylor has proven to be a competitor in every other sport. They've won more Big 12 titles than Tech (36 to 11). In fact, Baylor's 36 conference titles rank 5th in the Big 12 overall and 4th among current members once Nebraska bolts. Baylor's football team stinks, but they do pull their weight in all other sports, even winning two national titles in recent years.
Yes, Baylor is a religious school, but that doesn't stop conferences from wooing Notre Dame. The ACC has done just fine with Wake Forest and Boston College. BYU is tossed around as potential target for expansion. The religious thing is a red herring, and not a serious objection.
I'm not asking for Baylor to be included in the discussion of SEC expansion, but I do want them to stop being referred to as this worthless moocher. The SWC/Big 12 slander has become an accepted truth, but Baylor earned their way into the Big 12. Since the formation, they have pulled their weight in all sports save football. And the football team is getting better, at least.
Seriously, stop picking on Baylor. Now, Iowa State, on the other hand...