The year was 2008 and Baylor was looking to hire their fourth head coach since the inception of the Big 12 and it looked like they had a chance to make the semi-splash hire in Houston Nutt or former Baylor All-American Mike Singletary.
Art Briles left Houston to take the Baylor job in 2008.
But once again, Baylor missed out. Or did they?
"Rodney Dangerfield should have graduated from Baylor. Like the late comic, the Bears receive no respect in college football. Since joining the Big XII in 1996, BU’s conference record stands at an abysmal 11-85.
"But Baylor may enjoy the final laugh with its hire of head coach Art Briles to run its woeful program. In his 29-year career, Briles, 52, has won in seemingly hopeless situations," one blog wrote after the hiring of the University of Houston head coach Art Briles.
The impact of the hire was immediately felt.
Briles had Copperas Cove dual threat quarterback Robert Griffin committed to play for him at Houston and because of the relationship and bond between the two, Griffin decided it was best for his future to follow Briles to Baylor.
Between 2002 and 2007 Baylor had signed quarterbacks Shawn Bell, Dane King, Twaneil Speed, Blake Syzmanski, Tyler Beatty, Anthony Norris, Brad Taylor, and John David Weed. Bell, King and Syzmanski would prove to be the only true quarterback prospects over the course over those six years while the other either never played a down of football at Baylor or changed positions.
Briles then followed up by bringing in quarterback transfer Kirby Freeman from the University of Miami. Freeman was a graduate of Miami and would immediately bring experience to the quarterback battle in 2008.
There was no doubt that Briles was going to find, recruit, and win the offseason battles that Baylor had not seen in almost a decade.
RGIII was Briles' first commitment to Baylor.
Between his first two seasons, Briles went 8-16 and it wouldn't appear to the casual fan that the team was beginning to improve.
But oh how it was.
The excitement began to brew seeing Robert Griffin's first action against Wake Forest when he broke down the sideline on a designed run, ducking and dodging a stout Wake Forest defense, and showing a incredible ability to stop and start when a defender flew through the air looking to crush the thin freshman only to wind up somewhere between the parking lot and creek behind Floyd Casey.
"I think we might have something going here."
"Did anyone see this coming?"
"Wow, I am ready to see this kid play an entire game."
The buzz filled the air even after an overall poor performance from the Bears. But excitement was beginning to sit in with a fan base that was hungry for success.
After two years of seeing improvement in personnel without direct results on the field, a span which was also defined by set back when Robert Griffin tore his ACL, the 2010 season brought something to Baylor fans that they had been looking for a long time.
Cyril Richardson started 13 games at left tackle in the 2011 season.
Seven wins and an opportunity to play in a bowl game in their own back yard. It couldn't get much better than that.
But it could.
After losing a record-setting running back, another offensive lineman to the draft, and an all but memorable bowl game performance, many thought the cap for the 2011 team would be limited. That wasn't even to mention the loss of No. 2 receiver Josh Gordon and Willie Jefferson who had looked promising after moving to the defensive line.
Who would replace Danny Watkins at left tackle? What running back would step up to take Finley's place? Would there be a deep threat emerge to make the offense run smoothly? Can the offense continue to improve enough to carry the defense?
The answers surely arrived.
Cyril Richardson began emerging at the left tackle position, Terrance Ganaway shattered the records set by Jay Finley in 2010, Terrance Williams became a legit second receiver after nearly 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns to counter Kendall Wright, and the defense did enough behind new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett the entire season to help Art Briles and the Bears to their second 10 win season in school history.
But it didn't stop there.
Griffin was the first Heisman trophy winner in school history. A dark horse throughout the season to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Alabama running back Trent Richardson, Griffin lit up the stat sheet in every game and had four defining Heisman moments or wins.
Tevin Reese caught two touchdown passes in Baylor's come-from-behind win against Kansas
Opponent: No. 14 Texas Christian University
Griffin shocked the college football world in the first game of the 2011 season on a Friday night against TCU when he torched the Rose Bowl champions for 359 yards and 5 touchdowns while Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs refused to play zone defense against the speedy Baylor offense. Deep pass after deep pass was connected, and when the game was on the line, Griffin sacrificed his body and went across the middle to catch a pass from senior receiver Kendall Wright to help the Bears win the game.
Opponent: N/R Kansas
Coming off of win No. 5 against Mizzou during homecoming the previous week, Baylor looked at Kansas as a defining moment in the program's history. Two consecutive bowl games and the confirmation that Briles' was building a program in Waco. But they obviously didn't take that serious enough.
Finding his team down 24-3 going in the fourth quarter, Robert Griffin took over the game. Baylor's only touchdowns of the game were four passes combining for 117 yards and one 49 yard run by Griffin. His leadership and ability to win a game single handedly was impressive and kick started the Bears to end the season strong.
Opponent: No. 5 Oklahoma
Moment: The Throw
Baylor was bowl eligible and everyone seemed to concede the game to Oklahoma the following week. The crowd was sparse and nary a person expected a win over No. 5 Oklahoma. That was until halftime when Baylor was up 17-10 and seemed in control of the game.
Oklahoma countered in the second half, taking a 24-17 lead. Baylor responded and took a 38-24 lead in the fourth quarter, only to give up two quick scores to even the game at 38-38.
Terrance Williams was the recipient of "The Throw" that won the game against Oklahoma.
Then it was Griffin's time. With time winding down and Baylor driving the field after an Oklahoma time out, it looked as though Griffin might rush to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock. He did the opposite. Searching for a receiver like he had done all season, Griffin rolled to his left, finding Terrance Williams in the corner of the end zone. Knowing he would get hit, Griffin stepped into the throw and it fell perfectly between two defenders and Williams made the play that won the game.
The Heisman was alive.
Opponent: No. 24 University of Texas
Moment: Heisman- Check
Robert Griffin took the field for what could possibly be his last home game at Baylor University against a defense that was considered the best in the Big 12 and a defense that liked to talk about their ability to stop good offenses and prevent the big play.
A game that was sandwiched between 59-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright only :22 seconds into the game and a 37-yard touchdown pass with 7:43 remaining in the game, Griffin had put the final touches on his Heisman campaign against the best defense in the Big 12 to make him believe he had won the coveted award.
Griffin finished with 320 yards passing and 4 total touchdowns.
Even after a combined eight wins in his first two years, with a Robert Griffin ACL tear somewhere in the middle, the optimism was still high for Art Briles and the Baylor fan base. And that was beginning to rub off on the recruits as well.
Baylor had signed a total of 41 three-star and 3 four-star recruits between 2002-2007, three times as long as it took Briles' to sign 22 three-star recruits and 4 four-start recruits in his first two classes at Baylor.
Baylor's top 2013 commitment Robbie Rhodes is the No. 1 receiver in the nation.
Now in his last four classes, including the current 2013 class, Briles has only continued to attract better football players. He has signed 2 five-star recruits, 10 four-star recruits, 67 three-star recruits. Over that same span he has also added top rated transfers from Penn State, Oregon, Michigan and Colorado State.
Briles' Journey is not over
With what will be one of the nicest stadiums in the country on the way in 2014, a recruiting class that is currently Briles' best ever at Baylor in 2013, and a developing reputation as the coach that will win the media days, but also develop quarterbacks, offensive lineman and wide receivers into first roundn draft picks on top of a recently extended contract, this journey is far from being over for Baylor fans.
It is only beginning.