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(All information as of June 20, 2007)
COACH AND PROGRAM
At first glance, it's hard to see improvement in Baylor's 2006 season.
The Bears slipped to 4-8 a year after barely missing bowl eligibility at 5-6. Their defeats included an embarrassing stumble at home against Army and three drubbings in which they allowed 55 or more points. Having risen from the Big 12 cellar for the first time in 2005, the Bears slipped right back last season.
A longtime bottom-feeding program that needed -- and expected -- another stride forward instead seemed to have taken a significant step back.
But progress, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. A closer look at Baylor's season reveals three Big 12 victories, the most in the program's history. It shows a team trying to adjust to a radical change in offensive philosophy that was 4-5 and competitive against all but the nation's elite when record-setting senior quarterback Shawn Bell was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury, leaving an overwhelmed redshirt freshman in his place. Among the three games Bell missed were a 55-21 loss at Texas Tech and a 66-24 thrashing at Oklahoma State.
So understand that when the Baylor staff sees the glass as half-full, it isn't merely wishful thinking -- at least, not completely.