By Shehan Jeyarajah
Baylor football looked dead in the water in the middle of the fourth quarter on Saturday against TCU. The Bears were down 21 points to a hungry Horned Frogs team.
Soon afterwards, sophomore running back Devin Chafin ran for a touchdown to cut the lead to 14 with just over 10 minutes remaining. The crowd started to get back into the game, but then the video board showed a familiar sign: “We Are Going to Win.”
The sign had made appearances at a few Baylor games before, but only during the biggest victories. From that point on, the tide started to turn.
“After they showed the sign, I felt like the crowd started getting more into it,” Spokane, Wash., senior Matt Linnell said about his experience in the student section. “It was one of those things where it reminded you that we’re Baylor. We’re one of the only teams that can really come back from being down 21 points in such a short time. It was a game changer.”
The Bears used the crowd’s momentum to complete a 24-0 run in the final 11 minutes for a shocking 61-58 victory.
“This was probably the most magical game,” Great Fall, Va., senior Andrew Miner, one of the creators of the sign, said. “After the pick-six, things were looking pretty bleak. We were all talking like if we do this or that, maybe we can win. You’re always doing that in sports. You never think there’s really a chance. That’s the point that I really thought this might be magical.”
The sign made its first appearance back on Nov. 19, 2011, against No. 5 Oklahoma. After a crazy weekend of college football, the Sooners looked to get back into the national championship picture.
“We decided to make the sign about 10 minutes before we left for the Oklahoma game,” McLean, Va., senior Jeffrey Solomon said. “All we had to work with was the body paint that we painted ourselves with.”
A few weeks earlier, a friend of Miner’s who went to Virginia made a similar sign for UVA’s game against No. 12 Georgia Tech on Oct. 15, 2011. The Cavaliers upset the Yellow Jackets and dealt them their first loss of the year.
Miner tried to write the slogan out first in green, but said he wrote the first “W” too big. The group painted over it, and had Solomon write over it in the recognizable black writing. It was sloppy, but it worked.
Later that night, Robert Griffin III played the game of his life on the way to pulling one of the biggest upsets in Baylor history in the waning seconds. When Baylor fans stormed the field, ESPN gave the sign plenty of airtime.
The legend of the sign only grew in 2012, when it was seen during Baylor’s game against No. 1 Kansas State. The Bears dominated the Wildcats 52-24 to kill KSU’s national championship dreams and get themselves right back into the conversation for a bowl game.
Once again, the sign was featured extensively on the ESPN broadcast, both during the game and after the Bears stormed the field for the second time in as many seasons.
“After two big wins against top five opponents, we started to think maybe this thing has some magic,” Solomon said.
The magic has continued on. Miner and Solomon brought the sign to the game against No. 10 Oklahoma in 2013 (a 41-12 win) and the McLane Stadium opener against Southern Methodist University (a 45-0 win). Of course, do not forget to add the TCU win to that list.
Even before games when the sign is not brought in the gates, the guys bring the sign to the Bear Walk each week for players to touch on their way in the stadium.
“I think it’s wicked awesome that it’s become a tradition,” Miner said.
Both Solomon and Miner are seniors, but they want the tradition to continue on after they graduate. They are hoping that the athletic department will be able to take the sign and make it a permanent fixture in the stadium or locker room.
“I know Baylor touches the Be the Standard sign before heading out every day, we want them to try and come out with that mindset that they can win any game,” Miner said.
Even though the duo is looking ahead, Miner and Solomon are ready for what is sure to be another historic season for Baylor football.
“It’s wait and see, but with the season we’re planning on having, the potential is unrecognizable and the magic is very real,” Miner said.