HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Reliant Stadium is currently filled with 60,000 plus green and gold clad fans waiving their hands in unison and chanting.
It’s either December 29 or March 28. The Baylor Bears filled the home of the Houston Texans for two seperate sports this year: First for the NCAA Men’s Basketball South Regional, with the Bears making an impressive run before losing the regional final to the Duke Blue Devils.
Now the school is back for the Texas Bowl, its first postseason football appearance since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. The Bears are taking on the Illinois Fighting Illini, and are favored with a ‘home’ crowd.
Just those two events alone, knowing where both of the university’s marquee sports have been over the past decade, would make 2010 a banner year for the school, but other events both on and off the athletic fields made this Baylor’s year.
February saw the annoucement of a new university president. Former Solicitor General and Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was selected as one of the first people from outside the school’s circle to lead the largest Baptist university as its 14th president.
April saw the Baylor Lady Bears back again in the NCAA Women’s Final Four. This time the party was in San Antonio. Of course, the Bears were well represented before falling short to UConn.
June saw the school considered by almost everyone as the doormat of the league successfully lobby alumni, politicians and fellow Texas schools to keep the Big 12 alive, albeit in a wounded form.
These events mean a lot for Baylor fans and alumni. For years people have joked about the ineptitude of Baylor’s sports teams, and that has an impact on morale beyond the playing field. The fans take it personally, but they’re not taking it any longer.
A heavy rain storm the day of the game, cancelling the pregame tailgate party couldn’t keep the excitement down. With an hour to go before the game, the stands were filling up. The Baylor University Golden Wave Band was playing as fans flocked to their seats, and the team was warming up for a cap on a great year.
The school is hoping all of this pays off into a great 2011, but even if they go back to where they came from, Baylor University will always have 2010 to remember as the Year of the Bear.