<
>

Baylor fires Morriss; school has dropped 12 straight Big 12 games

Baylor coach Guy Morriss was fired Sunday, a day after the Bears
finished their 12th consecutive losing season with their 12th
straight Big 12 loss.

Morriss was unable to produce a winning record in his five
seasons, going 18-40 overall and 7-33 in conference games. He had a
year left on his contract.

Athletic director Ian McCaw said he informed Morriss of the
decision Sunday. The move had been anticipated for several weeks.

The leading candidate to replace Morriss is Baylor icon Mike
Singletary, a linebacker for coach Grant Teaff and the Bears from
1977-80. Singletary was selected to 10 straight Pro Bowls during
his 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears and was elected to Pro
Football Hall of Fame in 1998.

"I want to publicly express my appreciation to coach Morriss
for his contributions to the Baylor football program," McCaw said
in a statement from the Waco campus. "The football program is on a
more solid foundation than it was when he arrived at Baylor."

The Bears (3-9, 0-8 Big 12) ended their season with a 45-14 home
loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday night. Morriss met with the
players Sunday afternoon after he was fired.

"I would like to thank them publicly for their hard work and
efforts on the field as well as in the classroom," Morriss said in
a statement. "I believe the football program is in better
condition now than when I inherited it. I wish Baylor well in all
future endeavors."

Baylor interviewed Singletary before hiring Morriss five years
ago, but Singletary had no coaching experience at that time. He
does now.

Singletary is in his third season as assistant head coach of the
San Francisco 49ers, who played at home Sunday. He was an assistant
in Baltimore two seasons before that and has interviewed for three
NFL head coaching jobs, including the Dallas Cowboys last winter.

Other potential candidates are Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, who
has strongly denied reports that this will be his last year with
the Razorbacks, Houston coach Art Briles and Oklahoma State
offensive coordinator Larry Fedora.

McCaw said a national search would begin immediately, and that
there was "no precise timetable" to name the new coach. He said
he wouldn't comment on potential candidates.

Whoever replaces Morriss faces a difficult task.

Baylor's 12 consecutive losing seasons have all come under the
four coaches since Grant Teaff left in 1992 after 128 victories and
eight bowl appearances in 21 seasons.

The Bears are the only Big 12 team without a bowl appearance
since the conference's inception in 1996. Only two teams from Bowl
Championship Series conferences have gone longer without a bowl,
but Indiana (7-5) is expected to play its first postseason game in
14 years and Vanderbilt (5-6) can get bowl eligible by winning its
regular season finale.

This was the fourth time Baylor didn't win a league game. Only
two other teams have gone 0-8 in the Big 12 -- Kansas in 2002 and
Iowa State in 2003. But those teams have had some success in the
league.

Second-ranked Kansas (11-0) could play for a national
championship this season. Iowa State went to five bowls in a
six-season span, the exception being that 2003 season.

When asked after Saturday's game what needed to be done to make
Baylor a winner, Morriss didn't give an answer.

"I don't know if I have enough time right now to answer that,"
Morriss said. "I'd have to give that some thought."

There were some positive accomplishments under Morriss, a
15-season NFL lineman who was 9-14 in two seasons at Kentucky
before taking the Baylor job.

Baylor beat two-time defending North Division champion Colorado
in Morriss' conference debut in 2003. The coach also delivered the
first Big 12 road victory, in 2005 at Iowa State, and then last
year the Bears won three Big 12 games in the same season for the
first time.

"If someone told me going into the season we'd be 0-8 in the
Big 12, I would have laughed at them," linebacker Joe Pawelek
said. "As players, we have to learn from practice and take it out
on the field on Saturdays. It's not a coaching deal. ... The
100-and-something guys down there in the locker room are the ones
who have to realize that it's our team."

The Bears had 37 turnovers this season and their 33
conferences losses under Morriss were by an average margin of four
touchdowns.

"It's been disappointing that our execution just hasn't been
there this year like we needed to be," Morriss said. "You keep
thinking any week now it's going to click, and it just never did.
We just couldn't get it going."