I have loathed the Baylor Bears football team, and their fans, since November 27, 1976. When the Bears traveled up I-35 those 88 miles that year, The Horned Frogs were sitting 0-10. This was the final chance that year to post a W to the results page. I had sufficiently recovered from seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Tarrant County Convention Center on Thanksgiving night to drag myself on foot from Pete's Palace to The Carter and plunk down - I'm guessing maybe five or six dollars - at the gate. While I did not yet loathe the Bears as I entered the stadium that day, I had developed a love affair with hot black coffee while sitting in those usually cold seats, and so strategically placed myself near the coffee concessions, as choosing any seat you liked was not a problem that season.
At the end of yet another long, frustrating game, the Horned Frogs had lost 19-24, were now 0-11 for the season, were the only team in the country that hadn't won a single game that season, and were dubbed by one national sportswriter as "The #1 team for coming from behind to lose." That hurt, but what was even more galling was the obnoxious pack of Bears taunting us as they left the stadium. While I'd already developed an unadulterated loathing of the Aggies for similar reasons - plus the 53-10 beat down they gave us in College Station, there was something about the Bears being on our turf - and the futility and finality of that 11th loss - that made it even worse. Besides, we don't have the Aggies to kick around any more. (Although, it's still open season on jokes - please leave one in the comments).
After I left TCU, I didn't pay much attention to Horned Frog football for the remainder of "the dark years" and really not for about three decades. When the Frogs resurgence finally washed across my "Western" consciousness, it was "mountainously" exciting, and I found new teams I loved to hate in both Boise State and San Diego State. And, although the blue-turfed Broncos come darn close, that has never really matched the intensity of the loathing of the Baylor Bears that has burned so bright within me.
Because of the ease with which I could travel a few hours to watch the Frogs at SDSU, and because I'd even managed to catch games against Boise State in Phoenix (sigh) and Boise (36-35!), I found myself a little disappointed when the news about the move to the Big East came out. That of course didn't last long, and the whole Big 12 possibility had just made the news when I attended the Frogs' game at SDSU in 2011. At the TCU Alumni Tailgate BBQ there at Qualcomm Stadium, I happened to sit at a table with a former Horned Frog football player from the 1960's. (Excuse me while I kick myself AGAIN for not getting his name. He and his wife were fairly dripping money, and it occurred to me later to wonder if he'd maybe even gone Pro. Okay, I'm back.) I naively asked him if he thought TCU would pay the $5 million to the Big East and go to the Big 12 instead. He laughed and said, "Ha! That's just one donor!" (I'm assuming he meant himself.)
So, TCU was headed to the Big 12 and a renewed rivalry with many of our former Southwest Conference foes. And while we don't get the play the Aggies, at least WE GET TO PLAY THE BAYLOR BEARS!
I have a cousin whose daughter was a freshman at Baylor in 2012. This of course instantly commenced trash talk that continues to this day. Saturday October 13, 2012 was Parents Weekend at Baylor, and my cousin and her daughter were there, getting soaked in the rain while we water-boarded the Bears 49-21. I kept sending her messages about how much I was enjoying the game on TV from my nice dry living room. Unfortunately, in 2013, it was like it was 1976 all over again as the Bears came to Fort Worth and taunted us with a close loss like the one I'd seen so many decades before.
Then came last year. I was attending a conference in Montreal, and my wife and I flew up there from L.A. the day of the Oklahoma game. I was completely in the dark about what was happening while we were in the air. I also had no data plan in Canada, so I had to wait until we got to our hotel's wi-fi to nervously check the score. When I found out we had beat Oklahoma, I was ecstatic. (Really. You can ask the people who were in the rooms up and down the hallway there that night.) We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Montreal and then went and spent a few nights in Quebec City. We returned to Montreal on Saturday October 11th, in preparation for our flight home the next day. We'd enjoyed the wine country of the Cantons de l‘Est on our way up to Quebec City, but on this day, we made a beeline back to Montreal. It was game day! And while we were definitely going to go enjoy yet another great restaurant in Montreal while we had the chance, my wife was pretty cool when the place we ended up at had a TV, and I suggested we could have the game put on where I could sit strategically within view of it.
As we enjoyed our dinner, the Frogs eventually got up three scores on the Bears, and I was feeling great. But then my worst fear happened...a bunch of Canadians came in and they switched the TV over to Hockey! We decided to skip the dessert we'd been on the fence about anyway, paid the bill, and caught a cab to get back to the hotel quickly. I swear I was only not watching the game for less than 15 minutes! When we turned the TV on in the room...utter shock. The game was tied! Something I'd neither feared nor even imagined had happened. The bad news Bears had come back from the brink. Well, we all know what happened next, and we don't really need to re-live it. I'm sure you remember the score, because it's not like those jerks in Waco have let us forget.
I'm kind of okay with what happened on both visits in Oklahoma this year. I've been to one of our games in Stillwater (Boykin's first there). That's a tough place to play, and I think there's something about the crowd there that gets to Boykin - even this year. And I was proud of the way the Frogs stepped up in Norman last week, and even prouder of the bold decision to go for the win when we had the chance - even if it didn't work out for us.
But the Baylor Bears beating us in our own house again THIS year? I don't think so! The day after my wife and I attended this year's home game against West Virginia, we drove down to San Antonio for another convention. This took us through Waco, where we made two stops. We visited the fascinating Dr. Pepper museum, and we photo-bombed McLane Stadium:
And so this Friday, even though I'll be the diameter of Pluto away from Forth Worth, screaming and cheering at a television in California, I'll be right there in spirit with all of you cramming The Carter full with the Frog Faithful. And in 2016 - maybe it's time for me to have a 40 year reunion with the Baylor Bears and their obnoxious fans!
GO FROGS!!! BEAT THOSE BUM BEARS!!!
1976 stadium, Montreal restaurant, and McLane photo-bomb photos by Warrior Horned Frog