The initial response to the preseason poll tells the tale.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty, receiver Antwan Goodley, linebacker Bryce Hager and defensive end Shawn Oakman weren’t exactly thrilled to see Oklahoma atop the Big 12 preseason poll with the Bears sitting at No. 2.
Oakman: “Same ol, same ol.”
Goodley: “I couldn’t believe it.”
Petty: “Let’s go, that’s all I can say.”
Hager: “Just another thing to motivate us.”
These are the same players that handed the Sooners a 41-12 defeat in Waco, Texas a year ago, making their displeasure very easy to understand.
“We beat them last season and won the Big 12,” Hager said. “So that is just another motivation heading into this season.”
All four players took it as a sign they still have work to do, both on the field and off the field.
“That’s not up to us to vote, it’s up to us to play,” Petty said. “That tells us that we’re not there yet, and that’s fine with me. I don’t think you’re ever there. Once you think you’ve arrived, that’s when you're in trouble.”
The Sooners, with their Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, carried more momentum into the offseason while the Bears stumbled into the offseason after a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl loss to Central Florida. OU’s win helped cement Bob Stoops program in the national spotlight during the offseason while Baylor got overshadowed.
“They deserve it, they beat a good football team on a big stage,” Goodley said. “We have no control over that. I guess we still have a lot to prove, we still don’t get the respect we deserve, but we haven’t been at the top that long. I feel like we’re going to get there though.”
Even with the feeling of disrespect helping the spur them into the preseason, the Bears understand their 2013 accomplishments mean nothing. Art Briles squad outscored opponents by 375 total points a year ago but those points don’t carry over into 2014, so this season’s team will still has plenty to prove. It’s part of the reason the Bears still consider themselves the hunter instead of the hunted despite entering the fall as the defending Big 12 champions.
“At Baylor we’ve been fighting for respect,” Oakman said. “One day we’re going to get it, but not today.”