Bevo 15 at his ranch outside of Austin. (Tamir Kalifa)

BEVO BEAT

Daily Longhorn football history: Sleepwalking deaths and the birth of Bevo, the first 25 years

Posted May 25th, 2017

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The Texas football program dates back to 1893. Each day, we look at a little piece of Longhorn history. We’re starting by looking at each Longhorn football season. 

Texas football from 1893-1916

The University of Texas began playing football in 1893. The Longhorns didn’t have an official head coach back then, and played “Dallas U” and “San Antonio” twice, going 4-0 in the first recorded season of Texas football.

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From 1893 until 1916, the first 25 seasons of Longhorn football, Texas had 15 different coaches, the longest tenured of those coaches being Dave Allerdice, who coached for five seasons. He was 33-7 from 1911-1915. Allerdice would be the Longhorn coaching wins leader for almost two decades, when Clyde Littlefield, coach from 1927-1933, passed him with 44 career wins.

Allerdice’s hiring is connected to one of the most tragic things to ever happen to the University of Texas football program. W.S. “Billy” Wasmund, a former standout quarterback for Fielding Yost at the University of Michigan, was hired to coach the Longhorns in 1910. He led Texas to a 6-2 record and became a popular fixture on campus. His contract was renewed for the 1911 season and he took the team to nearby Marble Falls for training camp in September.

But on Oct. 1, 1911, less than a week before the season opener, Wasmund was found unconscious near his apartment on campus. The belief is, despite rumors of foul play at the time, is that Wasmund had fallen during the night while sleepwaling. It was thought the injury wasn’t life threatening, but that changed through the week.

Wasmund believed he would die, so he recommended Texas to contact Yost to help select a new head coach. Wasmund died days after the fall and before the first game of the season. Before he passed,  Wasmund supposedly spoke of a former Michigan teammate, and then Butler (the current basketball power in Indiana) coach, Allerdice. When Yost also recommended Allerdice, Texas pulled the trigger and hired him.

During this time, Texas played its games at Clark Field from the 1880s until the construction of Texas Memorial Stadium in the 1920s. The field was named after James Benjamin Clark, an early influential leader on campus. The stadium was located on the corner of 24th street and Speedway.

This Clark Field shouldn’t be confused with another Clark Field, one that the baseball team played in from 1928 to 1974. That field was also named after James Benjamin Clark and known for its limestone cliff. The Clark Field the football team played on had wooden bleachers and L. Theo Bellmont, the Texas athletic director in the 1900s and 1920s,  sought to replace Clark Field with a concrete stadium. That happened in 1924.

From 1896 to 1924, Texas went 135-23-3, a winning percentage of 84.8 percent, at Clark Field. Before that, Texas was 11-1 from 1893-1895 in various places on campus.

In 1915, Texas joined the Southwest Conference. Before then, much like the rest of college football, Texas had been an independent. Texas remained in the conference for 80 years, winning 334 games in that time frame.

That first season, Texas went 2-2 in the conference in the final year of Allerdice as coach. Texas ended that season with a pair of losses, including a 13-0 loss to Texas A&M and a 36-7 loss to Notre Dame. Baylor and Oklahoma tied for the conference championship, with the Sooners beating the Longhorns 14-13. For some reason Texas didn’t play Baylor in 1915, who went 3-0 in the conference. Yes, the math doesn’t make sense to us either, Texas history books.

What’s telling about the end of this season? Allerdice left Texas because: “super critical nature of the Texas fans.”

(That breeze you feel is coming from Mack Brown violently nodding his head). 

In 1916, under new coach Eugene Van Gent, Texas went 7-2 and claimed its first Southwest Conference title with a 5-1 record. Texas beat the Aggies 21-7 and Arkansas 52-0 that season.

Of course most Longhorn fans know of 1916 and the Texas A&M game for another reason: the birth of Bevo. In that game against the Aggies, Bevo the Longhorn made his debut.  The story behind the Bevo orgin has long been told, but here is the true story. It had nothing to do with a break in and included a headline “His name is Bevo. Long may he reign!”

Since the debut, Bevo has been the mascot for Texas and we’re currently on Bevo XV, who debut in 2016:

[anvplayer video=”3921536″ station=”998254″]

Some accounts attributed to Texassports.com . Don’t miss the entire Daily Texas history post all summer at hookem.com

 

 

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