Baylor coach Dave Aranda will return for the 2024 season, athletic director Mack Rhoades confirmed to The Athletic. Here’s what you need to know:
- Aranda, who just completed his fourth season in charge, led Baylor to a No. 5 ranking with a 12-2 record in 2021, but the Bears are 9-16 since then.
- The Bears went 3-9 this season, a disastrous campaign that started with an upset loss at home to Texas State and ended with a last-minute loss to West Virginia on Saturday.
- Aranda is only two years into a contract extension he signed in February 2022 that runs through 2029.
Why is Aranda returning?
Despite Baylor’s dreadful performance this season, Rhoades still believes in Aranda. The talent seems to have dropped off substantially, and Baylor looked like one of the Big 12’s worst teams this year, two seasons removed from the Big 12 title. Aranda has been forthcoming about his own shortcomings, acknowledging that he was too tepid using the transfer portal after the 2021 season, which contributed to some of the roster issues. He adjusted that approach and used it more last offseason, adding 10 transfers.
Aranda recently said that he’s also a reason why Baylor isn’t as competitive as it should be in the name, image and likeness space. But Aranda has pledged to adjust his approach and evolve accordingly.
Thanks to the contract extension Aranda received after the 2021 season, he likely has a substantial buyout (Baylor is a private school and thus not subject to open records requests for his contract). Aranda’s “person over player” mantra and his unique approach are something that fans and administration admired as he succeeded earlier in his tenure. But the steep and swift on-field decline is hard to reconcile.
Additional staff changes won’t be surprising, but they will really put Aranda under the microscope because his staff has already turned over substantially in his time at Baylor. He overhauled the offensive staff after 2020, his first season, and fired the defensive coordinator and safeties coach after 2022. There’s one constant in the program at that time, and it’s Aranda.
He has shown in the past that he’s willing to change, but at some point, the changes have to equate to results. Baylor has won three Big 12 championships since 2013 and played in two conference title games since 2019. There’s no doubt that 2024 is a make-or-break year.
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