December 6, 2011 in Sports

Paths are similar

Baylor, Washington staffs have orchestrated big turnarounds
Scott M. Johnson Everett Herald
 
Associated Press photo

In Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Washington Huskies will face a Heisman Trophy finalist.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE – As of Monday afternoon, Baylor football coach Art Briles hadn’t had a whole lot of time to research his upcoming opponent in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl.

But Briles did notice one thing. When he saw that the University of Washington beat a highly-favored Nebraska team in last December’s Holiday Bowl, he knew it would be a mistake to take the Huskies lightly.

So even though 15th-ranked Baylor appears likely to be a significant favorite in a bowl game that will be played in San Antonio, Briles isn’t exactly reveling in the role.

“There’s danger in every game,” he said in a Monday conference call. “We certainly don’t feel like the hunted. We haven’t really earned that right. We realize we have to stay a hungry and grounded football team to have success in any game we play.”

During the conference call, Briles made it a point that he hadn’t yet studied the Huskies. But he did have a healthy respect for what UW coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff have done in three seasons at the school.

Part of that comes from a kinship he feels to any coach who’s been asked to make a quick turnaround. Briles arrived at Baylor two years ago, having made the move after five seasons leading the University of Houston, and inherited a program that hadn’t been to a bowl game in 16 years. The Bears were coming off a 4-8 season that saw them win just one of eight games in Big 12 Conference play.

Two years and two bowls later, he has a pretty good feel for what Sarkisian has had to do to put UW back on the map.

“They’ve done a phenomenal job up there – he has, his staff and his players,” Briles said Monday. “That’s certainly a credit to him. We’ve done the same thing here. They are two programs that are on similar paths.”

Those paths will meet later this month, and Briles knows his team will have its hands full.

“We’re up for a tough task,” he said, “I know that.”

Notes

Former Gonzaga University basketball player Demitri Goodson, a cornerback at Baylor, has been hobbled by a foot injury much of the season but Briles said there is “an outside chance he’ll be ready for the bowl game.” … The Huskies have most of this week off because of the NCAA’s 15-practice limit leading up to bowl games. UW will return to the practice field Friday afternoon and hold three sessions that last through the weekend.

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