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Baylor Football

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from Baylor's Week of Sports

August 7, 2023
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Here are my thoughts on The Good, The Bad & The Ugly surrounding Baylor Athletics the past week. 


THE GOOD

Mission Accomplished: No matter how great the realignment reporting or discussion around this website the past several months -- and it was sensational -- I'm still somewhat in disbelief at the coup commissioner Brett Yormark and associates pulled off with the additions of Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah  — completing the very public desire for a four corners landgrab after adding Colorado days prior. The commish, the ADs, and the league talked the talk and then walked the walk, unlike their west coast counterpart. They won every skirmish and let the enemy defeat itself in many ways. And that's why the Big 12 is now 16-deep with more options on the table while George Kliavkoff is scrambling to keep the Pac-12 brand from taking its last breath after over a century as a college athletics entity. 

If the Big 12 is looking for a mascot, I nominate the Phoenix. Not the market, although the league successfully added that heavyweight into the portfolio last week. Instead, like the mythical firebird, the league again found a way to rise from its ashes, refreshed and like new. But this time, reimagined and stronger than ever before. There are a lot of excuses and blame being thrown around out west, and many national reporters lamenting something they've cheered for elsewhere. But who cares? The Big 12 won some significant battles and did so without ever hiding their intentions. This wasn't a Pearl Harbor-style attack. This looming threat was repeated publicly, but despite the advanced warning, the Pac leaders' arrogance has left them reeling, while the Big 12 is deciding whether it's done shopping for now. Just incredible strategy and gamesmanship by all involved. Timing, too. 

The Four Additions: I love what each school can or will bring to the party, from the multiple benefits of their locations alone. The coaches, the potential rivalries, there's a lot still to unpack and learn over the next year, but I'm excited about the potential, and not just because of bragging rights. So long as some parties shape up. Looking at you, Arizona State leadership. 

Real Live Football: Realignment has remained a lot of fun these past few months, and one could successfully argue the past couple of years, particularly for Big 12 fans, who have seen the highs and lows. But I am looking forward to something different. And something that matters on the field, most importantly. Look no further than the start of fall camp around the country. Having been on vacation, I'm catching up on what I missed, but it appears to be business as usual in Waco. Realignment clearly isn't going anywhere, but the actual results are what I love most, and it's set up to be one of the more fascinating years for the sport in my lifetime. And certainly, that includes these Bears. 

NFL News: Awesome seeing Abram Smith finally getting another shot at the league after signing with the Vikings. This opportunity was a long time coming after a highly successful showing in the XFL. Elsewhere, Bravvion Roy was signed off waivers by the Bears shortly after his release from Carolina. And the Steelers signed John Lovett. 

Commits X3: It was a busy week in recruiting. The Class of 2024 grew with the pledges of Liberty Hill kicker Connor Hawkins and Comanche CB Kyler Beaty. At 14 pledges for '24, they're about where you'd expect numbers-wise at this stage. The staff also struck big with their second commit for 2025 in Duncanville OL Desean Bryant over TCU. That's a great win, but it's too early for victory laps. Still, there's reason to celebrate Eric Mateos landing great talent from a powerhouse like Duncanville. 


THE BAD 

Qualan's Departure: RB Qualan Jones is no longer with the team, and reportedly not by choice, which is unfortunate. This was one piece of news I initially caught returning to reality, and I was surprised. I trust Aranda's judgment on who deserves to be on this roster. Fortunately, the RB room was expected to be a strong suit for this team, and that doesn't change with Jones' departure. Still, I hate seeing anyone's journey end disappointingly. 

Realignment Woes: If you're not a fan of realignment, I regret to inform you that it's only getting started. And for now, that still includes the Big 12. They're clearly in the market, weighing various options, but many variables are in the mix. 18 teams? 20? Basketball-only or all-sports? When could other brands -- hey there, ACC schools -- realistically be available? Those are just some of the central questions remaining for now. All we know is the Big 12 isn't sitting still, and if there's a chance to get better, more prosperous, or more vital, they're prepared to seize the opportunity. I'm just fascinated to see how it unfolds. 


THE UGLY 

End of the Road: Jalen Hurd's stay in Waco was short but sweet and, unfortunately, far more memorable than his subsequent NFL career. Hurd retired from football a few days ago, shortly after signing with the Patriots, in what we hoped would be his ample opportunity after suffering three straight season-ending injuries, followed by a year out of the league. A third-round pick by San Fran four years ago, Hurd's career never fully lifted off, and he never played in an actual regular-season game. The thing is, at his best, Hurd indeed appeared talented enough to do so. And not just play but capable enough to play an impactful role and stick around for a while. Injuries are an ugly part of the game and life, in this case. So, best wishes to Jalen. 

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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from Baylor's Week of Sports

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