Baylor fires football coach Morriss

WACO, Tx -- 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 told 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 then. 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 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 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.

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.

"You keep thinking any week now it's going to click, and it just never did," Morriss said. "We just couldn't get it going."