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Know your enemy: Baylor edition

Okay, so you’re waiting in line to return that sweater your sister got you and you just remembered the Cactus Bowl is tomorrow. Okay, okay...well, you've read the game preview and pretty much know what to expect from the game, but you suddenly realize that you know nothing of Baylor's venerated history or traditions. You start to panic. Stop. OBNUG is here to help you get to know your enemy in this special bowl edition of KYE.

10) Waco, Texas, the home of Baylor University, was originally inhabited by the Wichita Native American tribe known as the Huaco (read: "Waco") that lived along the Brazos river...and had for what Billy Joel would describe as for the longest time.

Things changed for the Waco tribe in 1824, when the area was explored by Thomas M. Duke and they began to draw the interest of the white man—because of his love of booze. After Duke scoped out the area, he reported back to "father of Texas" Stephen F. Austin that the Waco village sat next to a spring that ran so cold that it would be perfect for making "Ice Toddy". Austin was like, "hell yeah" and he made a treaty with the Waco tribe the following year...but the tribe eventually moved to the Fort Worth area because Austin and his cronies wouldn't quit dumping brandy in their creek. Despite the activity, Waco didn't really become official until 1849, when the first home was built at the settlement by a guy named Shapley Ross. The town of Waco was off and running...barely. The early inhabitants almost named it "Lamartine".

9) Baylor University was actually founded 4 years before Waco became legit, and that's on account of it being founded in Independence, Texas instead of Ice Toddy land. In 1841, delegates to the Union Baptist Association voted to acquiesce to the suggestion of Reverend William Tryon and R.E.B. Baylor that they establish a Baptist university in the republic of Texas. Baylor, who was a district judge and former Congressman apparently was more well-liked than Tryon because after they drew up the plans, it was Baylor who became the school's namesake and not the good Reverend when the school was chartered in 1844. The following year, the school was officially established and they even allowed females to attend for a whole six years until the school's second president, Rufus Burleson, decided that the fairer sex should inhabit Baylor Female College while the menfolk, who were suddenly much more cranky, inhabited Baylor proper.

A decade later, the civil war decimated the all-male university as the student body enlisted and after the conflict, the town of Independence was decimated as well as the residents ran off to live closer to the Santa Fe Railroad hubs. One of those Santa Fe Railroad hubs was the growing town of Waco, TX and the university pulled up stakes and settled there in 1885. Two years after that, the ladies were again welcomed in Baylor's hallowed the same president that had run them off in the first place—Rufus Burleson. Baylor was co-educational at last and the "sausage soiree" had ended.

R.E.B. Baylor aka Kris Kristofferson

8) Baylor played their first season of football in 1899, when coach R.H. Hamilton was able to arrange a four-game slate of home games against Texas A&M, Texas Christian, and "Toby's Business School". They won their first ever game, against the aforementioned Toby's Business School and when Toby hadn't had enough, they beat them again the next week. TCU and Baylor played to a double-aught tie in week 3 and then their season ended with a loss to Texas A&M. I believe that's called "hitting for the cycle". That "even-Steven" approach to wins and losses stuck with Baylor for the next century or so as they reached for the bronze-ring to own a lifetime .494 win percentage. Close, but no Ice Toddy.

7) The Bear was voted the official mascot of Baylor U by the student body in 1914, beating out nominees like the buffalo, the antelope, and the bookworm. Three years after the vote, the 107th Engineer Battalion from Fort MacArthur gifted the school with a live black bear because that's what people gave for gifts back then. The first live mascot's name was "Ted" but he also responded to "Bruin"...and you never called him by his first and middle name unless he was in a lot of trouble. Since 1974, every new bear mascot is known as "Judge" and then a unique surname for reasons that are unknown to me (the bears passed the bar?) and the current live mascots in Waco are known as "Judge Joy" and "Judge Lady", but if they become a Hollywood power-couple their contraction will be "Judge Judy" and all will be right with the world.

Here come da judge

6) The longest-tenured football coach in Baylor's history is Grant Teaff, who led the Waco squad for 21 years. As you might expect, Teaff holds the record at Baylor for career wins, with 128, and also the record for career losses, with 105. Teaff took over the program after Bill Beall had run it into the ground and won just 3 games in the previous 3 seasons. Initially, the job was offered to New Mexico's Rudy Feldman, but Feldman quit after just one day on the job and returned to New Mexico. Teaff turned the program around immediately, winning 5 games his first season (remember, Beall was 3-28, so PROGRESS) and delivering a Southwest Conference title in year 3. Teaff would only once more take Baylor to the heights of a conference title (in 1980) but was enough not-Beall to keep getting his contract renewed. If you ask folks around Waco, they might remember Teaff for a locker room stunt he pulled prior to Baylor's '78 upset of Texas in which he ate a live worm and told players he'd "keep the worms warm". As far as I can tell, the stunt was an object lesson based on the following joke:

A fisherman had out-fished his companion all morning long. They used the same live bait, the same equipment and fished together in the same mountain stream. But he had almost caught his limit of fish while his friend had yet to catch even one.

“What's your secret?” asked the friend. “I haven't even gotten a bite!”

The angler mumbled an unintelligible answer, causing his companion to ask again.

The successful fisherman emptied the contents of his mouth into a cupped hand and replied: “I said, 'You have to keep your worms warm.'”

That reminds me of the time that Bo Schembechler ate a live chicken prior to Michigan's upset win over Ohio State, remarking, "that's why the chicken crossed the road"

5) In October of 1917, Baylor hosted the Cowboys of Hardin-Simmons University and the host Baptists decided to baptize their guests in a font full of acid—not letting up until Hardin-Simmons had surrendered 103 points and all of their dignity. Baylor's coach that day was Charles "Bubbs" Mosley and 1917 must've been a rough year for him because he didn't play nice with too many teams. All told, his 1917 squad shut out 7 of their 9 opponents, but none got the unwarranted drubbing that he saved for Hardin-Simmons. Hardin-Simmons is named, in part, after Mary of the school's chief benefactors, and Mary Hardin was a forgiving and benevolent soul because 12 years later, her generous financial gift saved Baylor Female College from shuttering its doors and BFC is now known as Mary Hardin-Baylor. Bubbs Mosley killed em with fire, Mary Hardin killed em with kindness.

4) A lot of guys engage in playful towel-snapping by "ripping on" their peers, but rarely do guys take things as far as Baylor's NoZe Brotherhood...a secret society that formation was a giant dig at a classmate. In 1924, the shadowy NoZe Brotherhood was formed to make fun of a frosh named Leonard Shoaf...whose nose was of such "great length and breadth of nostril" that his chums proclaimed they could form a club around it. Then they did.

The society has many venerated traditions like writing satirical pieces for the school newspaper, poking fun at rivals and making sure Leonard Shoaf stayed super self-conscious. Key figures in the Brotherhood include the Lorde Mayor, Shekel Keeper, the bearer of the Enlightening Rod of Elmo and the none-too-subtle "Cunning Linguist" who edits the Rope (the Brotherhoods satirical spoof of school paper The Lariat). I was able to find a picture of Leonard Shoaf enjoying the Macy's Parade and honestly, I don't think his nose is that big.

3) In January of 1927, a bus carrying the Baylor basketball team (along with team managers, cheerleaders, and fans) to a game against the University of Texas collided with the Sunshine Special train outside Round Rock, Texas—killing ten of the bus passengers. After the tragic event, Baylor hosted a memorial service that drew over three thousand people and the mayor of Waco saw to it that local businesses closed and the city's telephone service was shut down during the ceremony. An article by Waco Times-Herald reporter Jack Hawkins stated, "Though Death's icy fingers have written 'finis' across the life of each of the immortal ten who are today mourned, their memory will never perish." and the group became known as the "immortal ten" ever since. In 2007, a statue of the immortal ten was dedicated during Baylor's homecoming and now sits in the school's Traditions Square.


2) Baylor plays their home football games at the brand-spanking-new McLane Stadium (capacity 45,140), which opened its doors in 2014. The stadium is named after alumnus and business magnate Drayton McLane, Jr...but I'd like to imagine it's named after the hero of the Christmas Eve Nakatomi Tower hostage crisis. Prior to McLane, the Bears played at Floyd Casey Stadium...which had about 5,000 more seats but a lot more old-people smell.

1) Although lately Baylor's reputation hasn't been squeaky clean, one must remember that it was still founded as a Baptist university and therefore maintained at least the appearance of piety for large chunks of their history (they even briefly discontinued football in 1907 because of the 'violence' inherent in the game). One long-standing bit of puritanism survived all the way until 1969 and that was the complete prohibition of shorts and slacks on female students. Even if a co-ed had a physical education class, she had to wear a long coat over her gym attire whilst walking to class. I assume the women's basketball team competed in Alvin and the Chipmunks-style floor length turtlenecks during this period. Naturally, the summer of love started a wave of bra-burnings across the United States, and the gals in Waco held a bonfire for their P.E. shorts-masking trench coats. The conflagration could be seen from the moon.