Nick Florence didn't need this.
The Baylor quarterback already had his degree in economics. He was a fall semester from earning his MBA. Life could have been so simple.
Instead, he embraced a difficult job. A really difficult job.
A year ago, Robert Griffin III was the first player from Baylor to win the Heisman Trophy. There are weekly reminders, with Griffin having an exceptional rookie season with the Washington Redskins.
Florence was next up in Waco, Texas.
"I never told him that he shouldn't expect to be Robert," Baylor Coach Art Briles said. "But I put it out there that everyone else shouldn't expect that. I think, arguably, he had the toughest position to fill in America, following a guy who won the Heisman and is as dynamic as Robert is on and off the field."
The thing is, Florence has come close to matching that.
There was no trip to New York for this year's award ceremony, but Florence has put up Griffin-like numbers. He has passed for 4,121 yards and 31 touchdowns and run for 531 yards and nine touchdowns.
Florence didn't get a Big 12 Conference title for the Bears -- neither did Griffin -- but he did engineer an upset of then-No. 1 Kansas State. The victory started a three-game winning streak that closed the season and put Baylor in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against No. 17 UCLA on Thursday.
"For me, I looked at it as 'Hey, I get the opportunity to play college football,' " said Florence. "I had waited a long time to get the job. A lot of people don't get the opportunity.
"I happened to follow a Heisman Trophy winner. That had nothing to do with who I am. Football is a huge part of my life, but it is not my entire life."
Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk said: "Nick is not following anybody. He's not RGIII, he's Nick Florence. What Nick does makes him great."
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Before the Bobby Petrino era begins at Western Kentucky, there's a bowl game to play against Central Michigan. The game at Ford Field on Wednesday night is in Detroit, not far from the campus of the Chippewas (6-6). The Hilltoppers (7-5) will be run by interim coach Lance Guidry.
Guidry was appointed interim coach Dec. 8, a day after Willie Taggart left to coach South Florida. Two days later, Western Kentucky hired Petrino. The Hilltoppers are in their first bowl since becoming a top-tier college football school in 2009.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.