By Jeffrey Swindoll
The attention and excitement surrounding Baylor football and McLane Stadium, both physically and figuratively is at fever pitch.
The sheer physical majesty of McLane Stadium is hard to avoid without using unnecessary back roads and detours. The presence of Baylor football this time of year in the Waco area is logistically inescapable. Baylor fans get the feeling that something magnificent is just about ready to burst open right in front of their very eyes this season and for the years to come.
From the player’s and coach’s perspective, the stadium is something to be thankful for as well as something to keep a fire burning within to make Baylor football continue to be great, head coach Art Briles said. Players and coaching staff alike see the stadium as a figure of motivation and a fortress to be defended, senior quarterback Bryce Petty said.
“Speaking on behalf of all the guys, I think we’re extremely excited to open that thing up,” Petty said. “We want to protect that palace with everything that we’ve got, and put a team out there that’s just as great as what we’re playing in.”
Petty speaks of his spot on the team as a responsibility to Baylor nation, and the stadium is another reason why he expects excellence from himself as quarterback and a representative of Baylor.
“I’m so, so blessed to be a part of this opportunity for us,” Petty said. “There are a lot of past, present, future bears that have put in a lot of work to get to this point,” senior quarterback Bryce Petty said. “To be able to trot out there as the quarterback of the 2014 Bears and open up a new stadium is huge for me.”
Petty echoes the vibes coming from Briles and the rest of the Baylor locker room.
“The thing that I’ve got to do as a coach, and what we’ve got to do as a football team is understand we have a job to do,” Briles said. “Our job is to take care of all the people that cared enough to make all this happen.”
Baylor football’s primary focus remains on winning football games, but the stadium has become something much more than just a venue. Briles called it a crown jewel to the hard work and outlook that others had for the program at Baylor University.
After playing a scrimmage at the stadium last week, and game-day coming ever closer, McLane Stadium is feeling more and more like home sweet home for the Bears. Offensive tackle Troy Baker said McLane Stadium still has a little taste of Floyd Casey.
“The best part about [McLane Stadium] is that it’s just like Floyd Casey on field. The turf is the same,” Baker said. “Then you just look up and see a brand new stadium for us, based on what we’ve done. It’s just unbelievable.”
Baylor football players all over the roster said now that they have practiced in the stadium. Now that they are in a game week, McLane Stadium really feels as a part Baylor football and it is here to stay.
“It’s a reality,” Briles said. “It’s not a hope, not a vapor, not a vision. It’s real. We all get to witness it and be a part of it. So we need to be thankful.”