Year of the Bear

July 5, 2012
Year of the Bear featuring baylor athletics

2011-12 Baylor Athletics: 
Best in NCAA history?

Two national championships. Two national players of the year, including the Heisman Trophy winner. Three Big 12 titles. All 19 varsity sports reaching postseason play.

The 2011-12 school year was clearly the best in Baylor history, but that's not all. One can make a strong case that it was the best single year any university's athletic department has ever had.

There are plenty of ways to measure such success; let's take a look at a few of them to see how "The Year of the Bear" matches up historically.

"Big Three" success. When you look at attendance and TV ratings, football, men's basketball and women's basketball are clearly the most prominent NCAA sports. Baylor this season became one of just eight schools ever to win a bowl game and have both basketball teams reach at least the Elite Eight in the same year.

But none of those programs -- in fact, no school ever -- has combined for more wins than Baylor's Big Three tallied in 2011-12.

YearSchoolFBMBBWBBCombined record
2011-12Baylor10304080-11 (.879)
2008-09Connecticut8313978-10 (.886)
2007-08Tennessee10313677-11 (.875)
2010-11Connecticut8323676-16 (.826)
2006-07Ohio State12352875-9 (.893)


You can also stretch that out to the "Big Four" -- including baseball -- with similar history-making results:

YearSchoolFBMBBWBBBBCombined record
2011-12Baylor10304049129-28 (.827)
2003-04Texas10253058123-31 (.799)
1984-85Oklahoma9312355118-29 (.803)
2008-09Oklahoma12303243117-33 (.780)
2002-03Texas11262950116-35 (.768)


Individual success. Thanks to Robert Griffin III and Brittney Griner, Baylor claimed two of the Big Three sports' national player of the year honors this year. BU is just the second school ever to win the Heisman Trophy and earn consensus national player of the year honors in basketball during the same academic year.

  • 2008-09 Oklahoma: Sam Bradford and Blake Griffin
  • 2011-12 Baylor: Robert Griffin III and Brittney Griner

Bears also claimed Big 12 Player of the Year honors in three of the Big Four sports, with Griffin, Griner and baseball's Josh Ludy -- only the third time a Big 12 school has accomplished that trifecta.

Success in all programs. All 19 of Baylor's varsity sports reached the postseason in 2011-12 -- a first for Baylor athletics, and only the third time a school has accomplished the feat in Big 12 history. In addition to the bowl victory and two national championships, one Baylor team finished its season in the Elite Eight, three others reached the Sweet 16, and a total of 10 programs reached the finals site for their respective sport.

Baylor was the only school in the nation to have each of its Big Four sports finish 2011-12 ranked in the top 25. In all, 10 of Baylor's 19 programs ended the year among the top 25: women's basketball (No. 1), equestrian (3), acrobatics and tumbling (5), men's basketball (8), baseball (9), football (12), women's tennis (13), women's indoor track and field (16), women's golf (17) and men's tennis (18).

Year of the Bear, indeed.