When not listening to the new Metallica album, I’ve had the opportunity lately to listen to sports talk radio during my holiday shopping runs. I heard a couple of talk show hosts and their callers discussing the alleged belief that Baylor’s senior running back, Shock Linwood, is a malcontent. The argument was made that Linwood’s absence in the locker room is actually addition by subtraction for the Baylor Bears. This was news to me to be perfectly honest. Linwood, who leads Baylor in career rushing yardage (4,213) and rushing touchdowns (36), made the decision to not participate in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl to focus on the 2017 NFL Draft in case you haven’t heard.
I decided to dig a little deeper regarding these alleged statements. Some of the things I’ve read and heard could lead one to believe that there might be some merit to the allegations. I’m not sure anything concrete can truly be ascertained about this situation unless it comes straight from the horse’s mouth. That kind of thing rarely happens. But I digress, my real point is that the topic of the talk radio conversation got me to thinking about Baylor’s season as a whole.
After one of the most tumultuous off-seasons of any college football program in recent memory, which is a horse we’ve all severely beaten beyond death, the 2016 version of the Baylor Bears dusted themselves off and finally played some football with interim head coach Jim Grobe in charge. To start the season they were a defiant bunch, devoted to working together as a unit to overcome the dark cloud seemingly hanging over their collective heads – whether fairly or unfairly. Baylor vs. The World as it were. The Bears won their first six games, secured a bowl berth, and climbed as high as number eight in the rankings.
Yet, all the while, the off-the-field antics overshadowed the effort on the field. And as quickly as they had ascended, their downward spiral began. Baylor would go on to lose their next six games, some of them quite badly. The dimmest low-light being a 62-22 November home thrashing at the hands of their hated rivals, the TCU Horned Frogs. Carrying the weight which the Baylor players did this season would’ve tested Atlas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferigno, John Cena, Mark Henry, and anyone that they know.
So, here we are as bowl season is in full swing. The Baylor Bears, and their accompanying fan base, fittingly arrive to the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl as very weary travelers. Their last appearance in Arizona for 2014’s Fiesta Bowl feels like a lifetime ago. The Bears are hoping for a victory, something…anything, to provide some solace after enduring a season which has been riddled with more outlandish twists than an M. Night Shyamalan screenplay. How far off are we from hearing the infamous ESPN “30 For 30” teaser-trailer statement of “What if I told you?”, promoting a future episode on this Baylor season? You simply can’t make this stuff up.
If Tom Bodett is right, then Motel 6 will leave the light on. The Baylor faithful would be best served by watching their team one last time, letting 2016 season fade into the inky Arizona night, turning off the light, and dreaming peacefully about what possibilities lie ahead in 2017 under Matt Rhule.