Dallas Greg Cicero was the player that Baylor was rebuilding around. Now he is the quarterback the Bears are scrambling to replace.
A broken collarbone ended Cicero's season just five plays into the second game, and has left Baylor without the quarterback that coach Kevin Steele had virtually hand-picked during the off-season to be the team's leader.
Sure, Steele was aware of the danger of trying to build around one player. He also knew it was still one of the best options for Baylor (1-1), which was 1-10 his debut season last year. The Bears have won just 10 games since 1995.
"Obviously, you don't ever want to put all of your eggs in one basket, but when building a program, sometimes that happens," Steele said. Cicero "had been a coach on the field, the players had responded to him. We couldn't avoid that."
The Bears now can't avoid the fact they don't have someone of Cicero's stature to step up and take over the offense built around his passing ability.
Steele said the starter for today's South Florida game won't necessarily be junior Mike Odum or redshirt freshman Guy Tomcheck, the duo that was a combined 13-of-38 passing for 108 yards after Cicero was hurt in last Saturday's 34-8 loss to Minnesota.
Kerry Dixon and Aaron Karas, both freshman, also could get unexpected shots at being Baylor's starter.
The new starter won't be revealed until the first play today. Steele closed practices this week, made the quarterbacks off limits to the media and directed other players to refer all questions about the situation to him.
Steele found Cicero last season at a California junior college, where he threw for 2,800 yards and 33 touchdowns. What Steele didn't know at the time was that Cicero had experience in a Big 12 program.
Cicero had transferred to the junior college near his home after leaving Texas, where a knee injury forced him to miss his redshirt freshman season while Major Applewhite established himself as UT's starter.
Cicero still has at least one more season at Baylor, and he could get this year of eligibility back if the NCAA grants a medical redshirt.