Baylor football coach Art Briles is so smart he can teach his players how to win without using playbooks, according to ESPN. That's right, the staple of coaches across America since Knute Rockne was leading Notre Dame to its first national championships, playbooks are still used by coaches in the National Football League as well as college football.....except at Baylor University.
The brilliant Briles is nonchalant about his revolutionary teaching methods, saying, "Sure, we could give the kids playbooks, but they wouldn't read them in this day and time. They're into video games. So we teach 'em by showing them how to run the plays. We run the plays over and over again, and they learn by doing. I am a visual learner."
How has Briles been so successful with his quarterbacks? RG III, also known as Robert Griffin III, won the Heisman Trophy while studying under Briles two seasons ago and Nick Florence broke some of Griffin III's records last year for the Bears. This year's quarterback Bryce Petty has led the Bears to a perfect 6-0 record and a lofty rating of No. 5 in the nation following yesterday's 71-7 destruction of Iowa State in the Associated Press poll which uses people to vote.
The first BCS poll was published Sunday, Oct. 20 and rated the Waco, Texas school No. 8 in the nation despite the fact Baylor is the highest-scoring juggernaut in the nation. It's the computers who still don't respect Briles' powerhouse as it was their input that dropped the green and gold from fifth to 10th.
Wichita Falls, Texas attorney and Baylor graduate Bob Balch said recently, "You know there was a time when the Big 12 first formed that there was a question as to whether or not Baylor could compete with the big schools of that conference. Since Art Briles got to Baylor, that question has pretty well been answered that they can."
The innovative Briles explains he has his players execute the different plays and then they are tagged on i-Pads which is conducive to a generation hooked on video games. The fact the Bears don't utilize traditional playbooks doesn't mean they play street football where the receivers just run downfield and Petty throws the ball as far as he can in the hopes one of his receivers can run under it.
The sophisticated offense Briles employs also mixes in a potentially devastating running game with the likes of running back Lache Seastrunk who has remarked he wouldn't mind a Heisman Trophy of his own this year.
Briles, who grew up in rural Rule, Texas, where he starred on his dad's football team in the early 1970's, became a high school coaching legend when he took over the helm at Stephenville High School which had never won more than a coin flip before he was hired there. Four state championships later, the Yellowjackets and their coach were on the Texas Friday night lights' map.
One of his stellar quarterbacks at Stephenville Brandon Stewart was recruited by the University of Tennessee and was so highly thought of by the coaching staff there that he was in stiff competition with Peyton Manning for the starting quarterback position.
Current NFL quarterback Case Keenum was taught by Briles at the University of Houston where he was the head coach before accepting the Baylor job. Keenum started his first game for the Houston Texans today. Another NFL quarterback Kevin Kolb was coached by Briles at Stephenville and then at the University of Houston.
"We try to take the pressure off the quarterbacks as much as possible. Sometimes the running backs will call the formations and the ends the assignments. Quarterbacks have enough to think about and do without being overburdened," assistant coach Kendal Briles said.
The potent Baylor offense has scored 69 plus points in every game except the Kansas State game in which legendary Coach Bill Schneider was able to hold the Bears to only 35 points. Baylor still won that game 35-25. That tells a person just how far the program has come when fans feel like they have to apologize for the team scoring only 35 points! Schneider joked before that game his team would snap the ball and then retreat to the lockerroom until halftime to keep the score down.
The Bears will be on the prowl for their seventh straight victory in Lawrence, Kansas, this week against the Jayhawks.
But Briles is much more than just a brilliant innovator. He is also a real people person who connects to others. An example is when Robert Griffin III was trying to decide where to attend college. He had an offer from Stanford University where Andrew Luck was already recruited by Coach Jim Harbaugh.
When RG III's parents met with Briles they were real impressed. Griffith's dad said Briles was the only coach to sit down with his son and show him plays he would be running on films during his visit.
A devout Christian, Briles fits in well at Baylor, which is a Christian university.
Briles has overcome adversity in his life to be where he is now. He was a star player for the University of Houston when his parents were both killed in a car wreck caused by the driver of the other car. They were driving to see their son play when they were killed. He was informed by the coaches after the game of his parents' death.
Briles refused to be destroyed by this tragedy and has continued to overcome adversity to be where he is now.
He turned down a job offer from the University of Arkansas after last year's successful season ended with a bowl victory against UCLA.
Baylor would be wise to sign this coaching genius to the longest term contract their lawyers can devise because after this season's success, there is no doubt the major colleges will come calling with their wallets open. USC needs a head coach.
Baylor fans are hoping the school will retain Briles services into infinity so they can keep watching the most exciting brand of football in the universe.
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