Matt Rhule’s second season at Baylor begins with nowhere to go but up.
In case anyone has forgotten, Baylor dropped its season opener against FCS opponent Liberty last season, 48-45 at McLane Stadium. That was bad footing and then injuries beset Baylor on the way to a 1-11 campaign.
As game week began and Rhule met with the media at his weekly press luncheon on Monday, he visited last year’s failure on a couple of occasions. Fortunately for Rhule, his job is as much about restoring the program’s reputation as it is about winning and losing at this point, so his position is secure for a while. That gives a coach a chance to be relaxed and optimistic.
Even so, Rhule doesn’t want to dwell on 1 win and 11 losses.
“I don’t think last year has anything to do with this year,” Rhule said. “If we were 12-0, I’m sure Nick Saban is telling his guys, ‘Hey, let’s get off to a good start.’ And I will say, and I mean that very respectfully, I just want our kids to go win because they want to win. I think sometimes when we focus on the past, we end up being victims of that. Last year is over, we have to go play.”
Once again Baylor opens with an FCS opponent as the Abilene Christian Wildcats come to town. The Bears have a more experienced team this time around and they’ve worked in Rhule’s system for more than a year. Add to that ACU’s bumpy record the last two seasons — the Wildcats are coming off consecutive 2-9 seasons — and this should be a Baylor win.
Rhule is taking ACU seriously, of course.
“I know a lot of ACU, as much as I can know, but first week opponent is always hard,” Rhule said. “They might have changed things in the offseason, and we have to have a lot of confidence in the things we have done in this camp. It just comes down to who plays the best, which coach coaches better. I know they will come to play, and they are excited to come and play. I know our guys are excited to come play as well, hopefully we will find a way to get it done.”