Both moves were legal, and as Drew points out, the hiring of someone like Clifton is, "if you look throughout college basketball ... very prevalent." He then produces a hee-haw giggle. "And I got crucified more than anybody else on that! And we didn't get the kid!"
True: Wall ended up at Kentucky. But Clifton still produced before he left Baylor in 2010; Bears blue-chippers Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello played on the D-One Sports team once controlled by Dwon and his brother Brian, now an agent. The Clifton hire was a point of no return. Baylor had signaled its intention to compete nationally. Two years later the Bears tore into the Elite Eight, losing to eventual champion Duke.
"Scott comes in, and they don't know if he's Billy Graham or Jimmy Swaggart," says Sonny Vaccaro, who's been a camp organizer and marketer in basketball for 50 years. "He gave up his virginity in dealing with John Wall and hiring [Clifton]. That's not something you do in the world he's living in. That's something you do if you want to get out of that world and win."
By any measure, Baylor has made an astonishing climb. "Like raising the Titanic," Lamar coach Pat Knight says. The Bliss scandal left Drew with nothing to build on and little to sell, but he says, "I felt led to come here. This is where I felt God wanted me." Then 32, the son of Valparaiso coach Homer Drew had just one season's experience as a head coach, six scholarship players and the prospect of recruiting to a school stuck in competitive limbo.
"And from Day One he was saying, 'We're going to build a Final Four team,'" McCaw says. "I mean, Final Four? We were a lot closer to the bottom four."
Oddly, considering the cautionary tale that had just played out before them, there was no call from faculty or alumni to rethink the athletic aims of Baylor 2012. After the Bliss scandal, the school had sanctioned itself for the 2003--04 and '04--05 seasons with scholarship limits and restricted schedules before the NCAA added five more years of limits in '05. But the moves were hardly radical. Each year thereafter seemed to bring the opening of a new facility. "Athletics is a part of the university, like academics," says executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Davis. "We weren't about to wind that back."
On the contrary, starting with the Lady Bears' emotional run to the 2005 national title, winning created excitement—and donations—that a new science building never could. "This kind of success is crucial for Baylor's future," says Lyon, the graduate dean.
Drew bulled forward. Jones says his coach "has so much charisma it's amazing," but his charm is that of constant sunniness, fist bumps (" 'Sup, big dog?") and toil. The Bears slogged along the bottom until 2007--08, when they broke through with 21 wins and their first NCAA bid in 20 years. "They never wavered," says Pat Knight, but he wasn't surprised: As a Valpo student, Drew had come after Pat hard in 1992, trying to persuade him to transfer from Indiana—and his father. "He's relentless," Knight says. "Baylor'd go after some kids they thought they had no chance at. He just worked his ass off."
It's no coincidence that Kansas coach Bill Self's loathing of Drew and Texas coach Rick Barnes's jibes at him increased with Baylor's wins. The refrain How's he getting these studs to go to Waco? was sung coast to coast once Jones signed two years ago. That he began this season finishing out a six-game suspension because his family, during his career at Duncanville (Texas) High, received impermissible benefits from an NFL player—which had nothing to do with Baylor—didn't help.
"When the poor get rich, it's an issue," Drew says. "When the rich get rich? If I'm at Texas and we do well? That's no problem: It's Texas. The one year we won, I think, four [Big 12] games, two coaches [we beat] got fired. I'd have hated me too. But now if people lose to Baylor, it's not like they're getting fired over it. It's, well, That's a good program."