Sunday, Aug. 31, will be a big day on the Baylor University campus in Waco.
That's when the Baylor Bears, under the guidance of Head Football Coach Art Briles, will play their first football game at 6:30 p.m. at the new McLane Stadium. The $266 million stadium is named for Drayton McLane of Temple, a 1956 Baylor graduate and a most loyal alumnus.
It will be Coach Briles first time to venture inside the stadium. He has followed a pledge not to enter the stadium until he leads the Bears onto the field Aug. 31.
The Bears opponent will be the Mustangs from Southern Methodist University (SMU). Many of you recall Briles was the head football coach at Stephenville High School from 1988-1999. During this 12-year period, his teams won 135 games, lost only 29 contests and tied 2. Included in these 135 victories were four state championships.
A native of Rule, Briles' teams in his six years at Baylor have produced 44 wins and 37 losses, including a Big 12 Football Championship in 2013.
He was employed at Baylor as the head football coach on Nov. 28, 2007. Immediately before coming to Baylor, Briles had been the head coach at the University of Houston.
The first game at the new stadium will occur on Friday, Aug. 29, when two high school teams – Aledo and Cedar Park – play.
This writer, a 1950 Baylor graduate, hopes to see at least one Baylor game during the 2014 season. The stadium is located on the east banks of the Brazos River, immediately south of Interstate 35 and across from the main Baylor campus. I had a chance to view the new structure from the west side of the Brazos earlier this year. It’s something to see with its 45,000 seats and the boat docks at the west end of the structure. A pedestrian bridge crosses the Brazos.
Having the chance to see the Bears play in their previous three stadiums, the McLane Stadium will afford this “Old Bear” an opportunity to see the Bears in their fourth stadium.
The first game for this writer to see a Baylor football team in action came in October 1934 when my dad took me to a Baylor-Texas A&M game at Carroll Field, which set where the present Bill Daniel Student Center is located. The Aggies won the game, 10-7.
Municipal Stadium at South 14th St. and Dutton Ave. became the home of the Bears in about 1936 or 1937. Here I saw the late Hugh Wolfe of Stephenville kick the winning field goal for the University of Texas Longhorns against the favored Bears. The ’Horns won the game, 9-6. Little did I know that Hugh and I would later become close friends, after my family and I moved to Stephenville in 1954.
The next stadium was Baylor Stadium, completed in 1950. It was located in what was then northwest Waco. It was later named Floyd Casey Stadium. The name change came about after Casey, a Baylor alumnus, gave about $8 million for renovation of the stadium.
And now a new stadium is about to make its debut for the Baylor Bears. If my present plans continue to materialize, this writer will see his Bears play in their fourth stadium.
Sic ‘em Bears!
Dr. Stuart Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He writes a weekly column, “Stephenville Snippets,” which appears each Tuesday in the Empire-Tribune.