Fifth-year receiver Charlie Moore was recruited by Briles and attended Baylor camps and a spring game while at Bullard High School in East Texas. Craig, a senior from Spring Branch near San Antonio, was frequently hanging around campus while visiting his sisters and also went to camps.
“When I was getting recruited, that program wasn't quite there yet,” Moore said. “But (Briles) was preaching everything you're seeing now.”
Added Craig: “They've had a bad rap in Texas. When my sisters were there, they were not good … You can see them building up each and each year. This is kind of their huge breakout year.”
Gundy, who spent one season as an assistant at Baylor in 1996, estimates between 100 and 150 Division I prospects are within a four-hour drive of campus each year. That's allowed the Bears to snag a few big-time players — including 2011 Heisman winner Robert Griffin III — and build from there.
“(The administration) backed (Briles) from the start,” Gundy said. “A little more progress. A little more progress. Hit on a couple players. Their talent level now on offense, obviously, is excellent, and defensively they continue to get more and more players each year.”
Do Baylor and OSU have staying power? Or are they merely short-term blips in this revamped college football universe?
Parity, Gundy believes, will continue as a yearly trend in the sport. But OSU certainly offers more proof than Baylor that it has established itself as a consistent program, with 58 wins compiled since 2008.
Arguably the biggest key to sustaining success is coaching stability. OSU and Baylor appear to have that, despite Gundy and Briles often being brought up as candidates for other jobs. Briles signed a new 10-year contract last week, while Gundy is in the middle of a lucrative long-term deal signed following the 2011 season.
So here we are. It may have sounded like crazy talk 10 years ago. Maybe even five years ago. But OSU and Baylor are about to square off in college football's biggest game of the week — one with Big 12 and national-title stakes.
“They're the best team we've faced all year,” Moore said. “That's all we're focused on.”