By Ken Starr
President of Baylor University
Wow. Just wow. I’ll start with the obvious, in case you missed the game Friday night. In front of a packed house and a national ESPN audience, Baylor football knocked off 14th-ranked TCU, 50-48, in a game that can truly be described as “epic.”
You can read the recaps for all the game action (take your pick: Associated Press, Waco Tribune-Herald, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and so on) — about how the two teams traded punches through an explosive first half, how Baylor jumped out to a 24-point fourth quarter lead, only to see TCU storm back and regain the lead, before a Baylor field goal with 1:04 left put the Bears on top and an interception in the final seconds sealed the deal.
BaylorBears.com has all the records and notes from this barnburner — highest-ranked win since 1991, most points ever against a ranked team, career-high 189 yards receiving for Kendall Wright, career-high five TD passes for Robert Griffin III — as Wright and Griffin stepped out on a national stage. (Coincidentally, an RG3-for-Heisman site, BU-RG3.com, launched about 24 hours before kickoff. Griffin will also be on ESPN’s College GameDay set Saturday.)
This was a nationally televised ESPN game, on a night where there was only one other college football game being played anywhere, and it brought national college football writers from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, CBS Sports and Yahoo! Sports to Floyd Casey to see this historic win. (One result of the coverage: the story received great air time on SportsCenter and immediately became the featured story on ESPN.com, SI.com and Yahoo! Sports, among many.)
More than all of this, however, what stood out most to me was the Baylor pride that billowed all day leading up to the game and exploded after the clock hit 0:00. All day long, Bear fans all over the country shared photos via Twitter (to @BaylorProud) of how they were flinging their green and gold afar on College Colors Day (watch for a Baylor Proud blog post on that next week). Baylor took over Twitter for the evening, as “Kendall Wright,” “Robert Griffin III” and “BAYLOR WINS” all trended worldwide on the site. And when the final score was posted on the Baylor Facebook page, it took less than 20 minutes to gain more than 1,000 “likes.”
A letter to the editor from an alum published in Friday’s Lariat perfectly summed up the opportunity Baylor had Friday night. “We all need to show up early, stay late and make a lot of noise,” he wrote — and the fans did (43,753 strong). “We need to show the passion, pride and love we have for our university” — and everyone did: players, fans, the band, spirit squads, everyone. “This is a chance [for the nation] to see Baylor” — and they saw our best.
The team has the week off this coming Saturday — a well-deserved, much-needed respite after a game like this — and then hosts SFA on Sept. 17 and Rice a week later. There’s no reason for there to be an empty seat; if you don’t have tickets already, get them now. This team could well be back in the top 25 by then, and they deserve our support. Don’t stop now; we’ve got six more home games left — let’s continue to show up early, stay late, be loud, and wear gold. (Didn’t that look great?)
Sic ’em, Baylor football, and sic ’em, Baylor Nation!
Friday’s attendance of 43,753 was the second-largest home-opening crowd in Floyd Casey Stadium history (1975 vs. Oklahoma, 46,000). Baylor was ranked No. 20 in Tuesday’s AP Top 25 poll.