Steele likes returning to X's and O'sBy JERRY HILL Tribune-Herald assistant sports editor
After four years away from the NFL, Baylor head coach Kevin Steele said he's had a taste of that life in the last two weeks.
"All you've got to worry about is football," Steele said Sunday afternoon, following the Bears' 49-9 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma. "You don't have to worry about anything else. They're not asking me to call recruits. I don't have to speak at any alumni functions or fund-raisers. So it's really been football at its purest form. The challenge of trying to do the best you can do and go win and game plan and practice and do all those kinds of things. That's the fun part." Steele, who was fired 15 days ago, will finish his Baylor tenure when the Bears (3-8, 1-6) play Oklahoma State (5-5, 3-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Stillwater.
"Obviously there are things that if you dwelled on them, it would probably warp your thinking," Steele said. "But that's not what the game's really about."
Despite a four-year record of 9-35 overall and 1-30 in the Big 12, Steele said the Bears still have a lot to play for, "because we can finish this thing off the right way."
"It will forever be said that we just weren't competitive enough," he said. "But it's hard to argue that if the next line says they had the best record (at Baylor since 1996), won the most conference games (in a season) since they've been in the Big 12 and won the first conference road game. That's a pretty good counter."
But the Bears have to do it against an Oklahoma State team that has won three of its last four, including impressive victories over Nebraska and Texas A&M and Saturday's 55-20 dismantling of Kansas.
"They've got a quarterback (Josh Fields) and a receiver (Rashaun Woods) that on any given Saturday, they go out and produce," Steele said. "And defensively, they've improved a great deal. This time last year, they were still discombobulated a little bit defensively. But they've settled down and are playing pretty good defense. Physically, this is a good-looking football team."
Baylor is coming off one of its better offensive performances of the season, picking up 21 first downs and racking up 378 yards total offense against the Sooners. Running back Rashad Armstrong had 103 yards on 19 carries, becoming the Bears' first 100-yard rusher against a Big 12 opponent since Anthony Overstreet pulled off that feat four years ago against OSU.
"Rashad ran very hard and broke some tackles," Steele said, "and that kind of opened up some of the throwing game. And then, we really simplified (our schemes). We were very simple."
The Bears consistently moved the chains by converting on 7-of-20 third-down plays and 4-of-4 on fourth down.
"Somebody asked me if we went for fourth down a lot just because of the (coaching) situation," Steele said. "It wasn't the situation of the whole ball of wax. It was the situation of the game. I think three of those were six-inch fourth downs. And we haven't had a lot of those. We've had some fourth-and-threes and fourth-and-fours, but that's a whole lot different than six inches.
"I didn't sit there and say, ‘Well, who cares?' I felt like we were going to get it."