From the Bleachers: "The Griffin Effect"

A look back at a piece written in September of 2008. Baylor Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III was a true freshman and had made only 2 career starts at this time.

I am not going to talk about the awards he received this week, nor am I going to discuss in detail how highly ranked he was coming out of high school. In reality, those things really don't matter all too much. What does matter, at least to Baylor fans, is that the Baylor Bears are winning football games again. And a large part of that is due to true freshman quarterback Robert Griffin III.

The Baylor football team has been through its share of struggles since the inception of the Big 12. A once storied program has failed to reach true respectability on the gridiron in a decade. That's not a knock, that's the truth. Changing coaches, changing offenses, changing defenses, changing uniforms, nothing really seemed to make a difference. But things are different at this moment in time in the history of Baylor football. A new coach bringing in a signal caller once described to me as a "once in a decade type of player". That player is Robert Griffin III.

Baylor University's all time win/loss record has inched closer to .500 every fall. Week after week, year after year. And while there were memorable games, and some big wins in the last 10 years, it most always felt that one step forward always meant two steps back. Last year, Baylor failed to win a single Big 12 game, and Baylor hired a new coach again. Enter Art Briles, enter a new era.

So, in my rambling, you might be wondering, "What is this ‘Griffin Effect'?"

The Griffin Effect can perhaps best be described, rather than be explained. It is the excitement one feels when sitting in the stands at a Baylor football game. The feeling that at any time the big play possibility is there. Not only because of the coach calling the plays, but because of the quarterback running the play. It is perhaps what any college football fan feels any given week, but it has not been for Baylor football fans. Far too long, Baylor football fans have waited and hoped for something good to happen, for that one recruit to be the savior of the program. For far too long, Baylor fans have been kept waiting. The Griffin Effect allows Baylor football to be seen on the national stage, in a positive light. It brings together a fan base hungry for something good. So hungry in fact, there is a somewhat oddity in the fans reaction to the positives. The Griffin Effect has numerous fans wearing #10 Baylor jerseys in the stands during the freshman quarterback's second start of the season. The Griffin Effect has Baylor football talked about around the water cooler, in the Waco, Texas community, and in other places that have been vacant of Baylor football talk in a decade. The Griffin Effect has allowed the Baylor fans to embrace a player on the football field once again, a dynamic player, a leader.

It's only been three weeks. That's what they say. It's only been three weeks. I know. And look how drastic the effects are. Three weeks and the face of Baylor football has changed, three weeks and Baylor fans are believing again. Three weeks, and people are somehow finding more wins on Baylor's schedule than they could find before the season.

It is not all Griffin III. I agree. It isn't all about the kid. There have been student-athletes that have given their heart and soul to the program. There are Baylor players on the team that have seen the worst of times and now are part of the new beginning. It's not all about Griffin III. Not even close. A whole staff of new coaches were brought into the Baylor program, including Kaz Kazadi, Baylor's new strength and conditioning coach. But in football, that is just sometimes the way it goes. Griffin is the face of this year's Baylor football team. I can't change it, and there is nothing anyone can really do about it. I understand the need for team, and I whole-heartedly agree with the concept of all for one and one for all. But when the results of the addition of one player to an offense are so positive, you have to start believing that there is something special about that one player. I agree. It's not all about him. But, I must say, a lot of it is about him. And right now, I don't think anyone really cares.

The Baylor Bears are hungry. They are hungry for wins. They are hungry for positives. They are hungry for respect, and they are hungry for success. And now, Baylor players and Baylor fans alike have something to hold onto, and that is hope. It comes in the mold of an 18 year old true freshman quarterback out of Copperas Cove, Texas. A dual-threat quarterback, who in his second career start, broke the single game rushing mark in Baylor school history. A player that coaches can build a program around. A player who leads by example, and understands his role on the team. A player who is successful on the field and in the classroom. Maybe Griffin III needed Baylor, but Baylor needed Griffin III as well. As Baylor fans have embraced the other athletic successes found in other sports around the Baylor campus, there was something missing. Perhaps, just perhaps, Griffin III is truly a "once in a decade type of player". Who knows? It has only been three weeks.

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