Baylor is an original member of the Big 12 but until recently was a conference doormat. From 1996, the first year of the Big 12, until 2009, the Bears never finished with a winning record.
But Baylor head coach Art Briles believes the program is on the verge of permanently changing that reputation.
The Bears have made a bowl game each of the last four seasons under Briles, including the school's first Big 12 title and BCS bowl game — a 52-42 loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl — last season.
Excitement was high after Robert Griffin III became the school's first Heisman Trophy winner in 2011, and optimism abides with the construction of a $250 million building — McLane Stadium — that will open on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco this season and feature 12 boat slips so fans can "sailgate" before games.
Briles thinks a Baylor Big 12 dynasty is in the making.
"Jump up there and start driving it," Briles told Fox Sports Southwest about Baylor taking the conference by storm this week. "We ain't gonna just catch it and touch it and say 'Tag, you're it.' No, we want to run the show. That's the plan."
The Bears will be the first Big 12 team to open spring practice, as they begin on Friday with a top-25 recruiting class.
"We're still in the infant stages," Briles said. "We were scooting around a couple years ago and now we're crawling. I think there's so much more growth out there for us as a program and in perception and then on the field with production. At the end, we want to be the premiere place to go to. That's why I say we're in the infant stages. We need to get this program where I want the program to be."SI WIRE: Pete Carroll says NCAA made 'terrible error' with USC sanctions