While we've got some time here in the offseason, let's go over our history. Those who don't know their history are bound to think that the world started and stopped with Nick Saban. Perish the thought. If we're going to pull together to start a new, beautiful Southwest Conference, we may as well know who the hell we're inviting. This week let's get to know those plucky, pesky, Baylor Bears.
Baylor kicked off football in 1898, the first reference we found for Baylor football came in 1899, when the Bears kicked the hell out of cross-town rival Toby's Practical Business College 20-0. We don't know what happened to Toby's Practical Business College but we blame Mark Emmert.
The average weight of a Baylor football player in 1899 was 164 pounds.
In 2017 the average weight of a Baylor football player was 230 pounds, with zero Bears weighing under 165.
That one time back in 1910
Most considered the 1910 Bears the best in the school's brief history, and when they welcomed Texas to Carroll Field, the University was buzzing. Baylor students marked their calendars by how many days were left before the Texas game. The Governor-elect Oscar Branch Colquitt and a couple State Senators were in attendance. Texas reserved a special train so that several hundred of its students could make the trip north. The fans watched as a deluge hit and the game devolved into a muddy quagmire.
Questionable officiating threatened to end the game with violence from the assembled 2,000 fans. The Bears, angry at a perceived officiating bias, eventually quit the game in protest. Officials awarded the game to Texas, 1-0.
National Titles: 0
Conference Titles: 9
SWC: 1915, 1916, 1922, 1924, 1974, 1980, 1994
Big 12: 2013, 2014
Controversy abounds in this opinion, but we're saying the Briles era, especially from 2011 to 2015. The Bears averaged ten wins a year, including a conference title, their first since 1994.
The Bears came within a hairsbreadth of a playoff appearance and set the world on fire with a no holds barred offense that dominated the Big 12 and the FBS. Briles' tenure was brought down by one of the low points in school history, but for folks who chuckled during his opening press conference when he said the Bears would compete for titles, they weren't laughing for long.
From 1997 to 2004 the Bears ran through three head coaches and won an average of 2.3 games per year.
Let us introduce you to Dave Roberts, if his name sounds like melba toast, you should have seen his football teams at Baylor. Roberts coached the Bears for two glorious years. The Bears had a choice between Roberts, Hal Mumme, and Houston Nutt, Baylor chose poorly. Roberts claimed that the Bears were "going to prepare and try to win right out of the chute." The chute never opened. Roberts won four games in 22 tries.
Speculation was that Baylor would then turn to former Alabama head man Gene Stallings. Instead, they landed Kevin Steele.
The Miracle on the Brazos
For Baylor fans, the year 1974 warms the cockles, whatever those are. Grant Teaff's Bears won their first SWC title in fifty years, shocking the college football world. Teaff's '73 team finished 2-9 overall and with Texas, Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Texas A&M all returning solid squads in 1974; the Bears were considered challengers for the title or even the top half of the league. A preseason poll picked the Bears 6th in the eight-team league.
For Teaff, he knew the Bears could play after one half against No. 1 Oklahoma in September, but the seminal moment came when Baylor welcomed Texas to Waco in November of 1974. The game looked like business as usual with Texas taking a 24-7 lead over the Bears at halftime. Baylor, however, didn't wilt. Instead, the Bears outscored the Horns 27-0 in the second half. Neal Jeffrey threw for 351 yards, and Baylor's defense became a turnover-causing machine.
A few weeks later the Bears would dispatch Rice, avenging a 27-0 thumping by the Owls in '73 and securing an outright conference title for the first time since 1924. Along the way, Steve Beaird became the first Bear to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Baylor headed to the Cotton Bowl where Joe Paterno and Penn State handled the Bears, but even the loss couldn't damper Baylor's magical, miraculous season.
Spencer Drango OL 2014, 2015
Corey Coleman WR 2015
Cyril Richardson OL 2013
Terrance Williams WR 2012
Robert Griffin III QB 2011
Daniel Sepulveda P 2006
Santana Dotson DL 1991
Thomas Everett DB 1986
Mike Singletary LB 1979, 1980
Gary Green DB 1976
Lawrence Elkins E/B 1963, 1964
Bill Glass L 1956
Barton Koch L 1930
Highest AP Preseason Rank? 4 (2015)
Did you know the 1962 Bears were ranked 7th in the preseason AP Poll. Sam Boyd's team finished the season 3-6-1. The Bears started 2-0 but finished losing six of their last eight.
Highest AP Regular Season Rank? 2 (2015)
The 2015 Bears ranked second in the AP for three glorious weeks until a close call loss to Kansas State dropped them out of the top two. A week later a loss to Oklahoma dropped Baylor to seventh. Baylor lost three of their last four after starting quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham both went down with injuries.
Highest AP Post Season Rank? 7 (2014)
Baylor currently plays in McLane Stadium, it's been home since 2014, it's capacity is 45,140. Prior to that the Bears played in:
A Grand Opening
Baylor Stadium opened September 30, 1950, as the Bears welcomed Houston to Waco.
The largest crowd in Baylor history, 24,500 watched the game.
The Stadium eventually housed 49,000, but only 35,000 seats were available for use in the opener.
Baylor beat Houston 34-7.
The game was Houston's first versus a SWC opponent.
The Stadium cost $1.6 million to build compared to the $266 million price tag for McLane Stadium.
In 1988 Baylor Stadium was renamed Floyd Casey Stadium by Casey's son and University Trustee Carl B. Casey.
Lawrence Elkins was a time traveler, a man from another era. Elkins played for Gordon Wood at Brownwood, and when it came time for Elkins to pick a school, Wood did the unthinkable, advising his protege to forgo Texas and the legendary Darrell Royal and go to Baylor. John Bridgers brought a pro-style system to Waco including a tactic most colleges were allergic to, the forward pass.
Wood's advice paid off as Elkins became one of the greatest receivers of the era. In 1963 Elkins hauled in 70 passes, nineteen better than any other receiver in college football and led the NCAA in yards by nearly 100. He did all that in spite of playing through leg and back injuries that limited him, even costing him three quarters of the Kentucky game.
His reception mark set an NCAA record. In terms of the SWC, Elkins' 70 catches held up as well, Jerry Levias caught 80 in 1969, and Rice's Jerry Sykes caught 76 in 1976. The league would have to wait until the Run-and-shoot era to find receivers who consistently caught as many passes as Elkins.
Texas' leading receiver in 1963 caught fourteen passes. Gordon Wood knew what he was doing.
Well, we have to do it. The lamest bit in sports - the Mount Rushmore bit. We hate it, but at this point it's obligatory. The four greatest players or coaches from Baylor's vast, Baptisty history.
The Great - Grant Teaff
Any Baylor Mount Rushmore that doesn't have Teaff is a pile of rocks not fit for a bird to shit on. Teaff MADE Baylor into a SWC and near national power. Teaff coached at Baylor for 21 years, got the Bears to their first-ever Cotton Bowl and another conference title to boot. The 1974 Miracle on the Brazos alone endeared Teaff to Baylor fans forever.
Iron Mike Singletary
Singletary, the Pride of Houston Worthing, was the face of the Baylor program well into the 90s. He made All-American in 1979 and 1980, winning the Davy O'Brien Award in both years as well. He went onto become one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history, twice winning Defensive Player of the Year, ten Pro Bowl trips, eight-time All-NFL, and a Super Champion anchoring the most dominant defense in NFL history.
Robert Griffin III - "RG3"
You have to put the Heisman winner on the list. Griffin transformed Baylor from laughing stock to a Big 12 contender. He won the big trophy in 2011 when he was also an All-American and First Team All-Big 12. Griffin was a legitimate world-class athlete who melded with Baylor's offensive system to become the most significant offensive threat in college football.
The Pariah - Art Briles
Boo and hiss if you must, gnash teeth, but Art Briles executed the greatest program build since Bill Snyder or Frank Beamer. Flip a coin. The Bear football program was first in your hearts, sixth in the Big 12 South before Briles arrived. Five years later the Bears were on the cusp of a playoff bid and the most dominant offensive team in the country. Do you like that pretty new stadium? The beautiful new indoor facility? The amazing sports performance center? The picturesque athletic nutrition center? Facilities that brought the Baylor program out of the dark ages? Grit your teeth and thank Art.