Baylor plays in the toughest conference in college basketball, the Big 12. They’re just 2-3 in the league through five games, but they’re also currently ranked in the Top 25; that’s what happens when three of those league games were against top 20 teams and a fourth came against a potential tournament team.
But on Wednesday, instead of enjoying a week off from Big 12 play to get healthy and rested for the stretch run, they’re playing a home game against NAIA school Huston-Tillotson.
I’ll repeat that: the No. 21 Bears are playing a 3-13 NAIA team on Jan. 21. Naturally, I questioned Baylor’s scheduling practices. Plenty of Division I basketball programs play opponents similar to Huston-Tillotson during the preseason or early regular season. Baylor is playing one in the middle of Big 12 play.
It just didn’t make much sense.
And that’s because the reason the game is being played is wild: according to a spokesman for the basketball team, Baylor’s game against Huston-Tillotson was scheduled because of a link that the Bears have to former high school coach Ken Carter.
I’m talking about Coach Carter; the namesake of the 2005 hit movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.
Carter moved to Marlin, Texas, to open his Coach Carter Impact Academy in 2012. The campus is less than 30 miles away from Baylor, and Carter occasionally attends their basketball practice. There was a plan in place for the 56-year-old Carter to play basketball for Huston-Tillotson during the 2014-15 season, and Baylor was supposed to be the big-named college opponent that Huston-Tillotson would face in a planned movie about Carter’s life.
The plans for the shooting of new footage fell through when Carter didn’t play for Huston-Tillotson this season, and Baylor is still honoring the contract for the game against Huston-Tillotson.
So if you’re wondering why a random game is being played between a top-25 program and a bottom-rung NAIA program in the middle of January, it’s because of Coach Carter.