Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baylor Stadium Update: 12/30/13

The biggest Baylor Stadium update this week is that Baylor Stadium will not be called Baylor Stadium, but McLane Stadium.  You may recall that when the Drayton McLane family made the initial seed gift (amount undisclosed, but it was a lot), they said that the stadium belonged to the Baylor family, and they wanted it to be named Baylor Stadium.

I don't know what all went on behind the scenes, but the regents apparently thought the McLanes ought to be recognized for their generosity for the life of the facility, so they decided to change the name.  As long as the McLanes are OK with that, I'm OK with that.  I am grateful for the McLane family's generosity to Baylor and will enjoy many games at the new stadium.

On the way to meet my mom and dad in Salado, to join them for the drive west to Glendale, Elliot and I stopped for a look at the progress.  The crews had been busy, even during the holidays.
 The roof is coming along, and you can see the first set pedestrian bridge pilings on the right side of the picture below.
 This picture shows the second pilings out into the river.
 And here the next one going in . . . .
 In this picture, it appears that the suites dominate the west side of the stadium.  Again, I'm pretty excited that so many people put up big bucks to sit in these premium seats.  If they want to give more to the stadium building project than I'll probably ever make in my lifetime, let them have an air-conditioned, catered, fifty-yard-line seat with all the perks!  (And if they want to invite me to join them for a game, well, I'd be delighted to come!)

Sic 'em!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bowl Week: Fiesta Bowl Game Day

Well, what can we say. It's been a great, record-breaking season for Baylor. Six months ago, if someone told me Baylor would finish 11-2, be outright Big 12 champs, and play in a BCS bowl, I would not have argued with an outcome like that. 

But last night's 52-42 loss to the University of Central Florida ends the season on a sour note. The OSU loss was tough. We knew Baylor's chances  of playing for a national championship were slim, but the OSU loss took away all hope. However, we knew we could still win out and get at least a Big 12 co-championship. Not only did the Bears win those last two games, but OU beat OSU, giving Baylor the outright championship. But now the season is over and the pain of this loss to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl will sting all the way til next season. 

But enough whining and negativity!  We had a fun trip, and got to experience a great BCS game in the last year of the BCS. Elliot did not want to get in a picture here with dorky me ....
.... so I had to sneak this one of him.
We went to the Tostitos Tailgate Party at the stadium, watched the band march in and sang the fight song with many other Baylor faithful.
Somehow I convinced Elliot to dress up like a jar of queso.
When we'd had our fill of the tailgate, we found our way to our seats. We had great seats--10 rows up behind the bench. Thanks, Mom and Dad!  The stadium feels like a big, drafty barn. (After going to games at Jerry World, I think every other stadium will feel like a dump.) There was a nice-sized Baylor crowd on hand, pretty clearly outnumbering UCF fans.  The team ran onto the field looking ready to play. 
Unfortunately they weren't. The Bears spotted UCF 2 touchdowns, so they were down 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. The rest of the night was playing catch up, and they never quite could get in front.
They committed way too many penalties, including 2 key pass interference calls which extended drives resulting in TDs. They did not capitalize on turnovers. And, most disappointingly, Tevin Reese was a non-factor; the revived passing game I was hoping for failed to materilaize. 
What a horribly disappointing end to an unimaginably fantastic season. We have had some good times going to every Baylor game this year. We may never get to every game in a season again but we will certainly get to every one we can. Lots of starters will be returning next year, the new stadium will be opening, and a Big 12 title is not out do the question. Now to start counting the days until kickoff against SMU. Sic 'em!
By the way, we saw some cool desert scenery while we were in Arizona. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bowl Week: Fiesta Bowl Pep Rally

We finally arrived in Arizona (it's a long way out here!).  We decided to go straight to the pep rally, at the team hotel in Scottsdale, before going to our hotel in Glendale. 

The timing was perfect. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw a young lady leaving the hotel. I thought, "That looks like RG3's wife." Then I realized that the man just ahead of her was RG3!  I fell in step with her and said hi, then I found myself standing there with Coach Art Briles and RG3! I was a bit star-struck, I must admit. 

I wish I could tell you about the great conversation we had, but needless to say there were a few other people who wanted to chat. I did get to shake hands with RG3 and talk to these two Baylor greats for a moment. 

We stayed there in front of the hotel and watched as the team loaded the buses to go to their final practice. It was fun seeing them in their street clothes, joking around with each other and with the fans present. 

After milling around for a bit, we headed to the back of the hotel where the pep rally would be held.
It was a good sized crowd of Baylor faithful. The band, the cheerleaders, Bruiser, and the Voice of the Bears, John Morris, rallied the crowd.
Baylor great Walter Abercrombie, who led the Bears to their last conference championship, had some good words. 
Briles and the team came back from practice in time for a Walk of the Bears. Briles is here with the seniors, the winningest senior class in Baylor history, getting ready to play on their fourth consecutive bowl game. 
The highlight of the night for Elliot was getting to meet Lache Seastruck, the Big 12's leading rusher, and Antwon Goodley, who leads the Big 12 in receiving yards. Both of these young men  were very friendly to Elliot and seemed happy to visit with fans.

The rally has us pepped up, the players seemed excited and ready to play, and the fans are ready for some football!

Sic 'em!