Q&A: Baylor great Mike Singletary

This year has been a fun one for Mike Singletary.

The former Baylor great, Chicago Bears legend and current Minnesota Vikings assistant coach has won plenty of T-shirt and hat bets this season, thanks to his Bears.

This week, though, none of the Texas alums and fans on the Vikings would bet him on Baylor’s final game at Floyd Casey Stadium, against the Longhorns.

“The guys have come to grips that Baylor is a good program,” Singletary said. “It’s gonna be hard to win any [bets] against me from here on out.”

Before Robert Griffin III came along, Singletary was by far Baylor’s most iconic football figure.

More than three decades ago, he was the backbone of a Baylor defense that allowed just 12 points a game. As a result, the Bears won the Southwest Conference in 1980 by three games and advanced to the Cotton Bowl against Alabama.

Singletary set single-season and career tackling records with Baylor, and famously cracked 16 of his helmets during his college career.

After Baylor, he went on to one of the best linebacking careers in NFL history with the Chicago Bears, and in 1998 was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With Baylor one victory away from at worst returning to the AT&T Cotton Bowl for the first time since he donned green and gold, Singletary spoke with ESPN.com ob Friday about the success of his alma mater, RG III and the job coach Art Briles has done in Waco:

What has this season been like?

It has been great. Being able to have conversations about championship games, where you’re ranked, all that has been pretty cool.

I think if you look at what Baylor has been able to achieve, where it’s at and the job Art Briles has done, it has been pretty cool. Now, it’s just a matter of growing the program. But it has been really exciting. I’m excited for the kids there. Baylor has been through a lot. To be where they are right now, it’s pretty fantastic.

Because there were so many down years, did you ever think Baylor would be playing at this level again?

I certainly thought it was possible. That goes to show you what happens when you bring great people into your program. A guy like RGIII, what he did for Baylor in this era. It has been pretty wild to look at what they’ve been able to do, how Baylor has caught up with the changes in college football and thrived as well.

What has been your favorite moment of this recent era of Baylor football?

My favorite moment was probably Robert Griffin winning the Heisman. That showed anything could happen at Baylor. Spoke volumes for what Baylor could become.

I remember watching Robert Griffin’s first game that year against, I think it was TCU. We won that game, and I told my wife, you know what, if that kid stays healthy, that’s the Heisman Trophy winner right there. And it came to pass.

What was your favorite moment playing at Baylor?

My favorite moment when I played at Baylor was probably beating A&M for the first time (in 1978). That was probably my favorite moment. I remember we hadn’t beaten them in a while (six years). That said we had arrived as a school that could compete against anybody in our conference. Then my senior year, of course, we beat everyone in our conference.

How will the new stadium help Baylor?

When a kid is looking around at a school he would like to go to, he’s always looking what this school has, what that schools has, always measuring, always comparing. To see the program at Baylor have so many amenities, the education, the sights, what they have to offer, and now the stadium itself, which I hear is just fantastic -- that’s just one less drawback. Baylor has that now. And it becomes a plus.